A/N- The community members are busy as expected, so I'm afraid readers that you may have to wait a slight bit more. However, the last time we went on a spree was in the middle of October (hehehehehe), so perhaps we will be able to get something together after all! In any case, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and I hope we will be back sooner than you think!
The goal of this round was to reach the Sunset Arch. There they would receive valuable provisions to continue on their long Journey of Death- or just maybe, of survival?
"First we need to find a way to get up."
Isaac could already tell that Karl and Shawn would certainly be a dynamic duo. He glanced at the other two. Cat was still ogling Shawn while creepily cleaning monster blood off her knuckle dusters with the edge of her shirt. Timmy had a blanker, more bemused expression. Isaac could tell he wasn't one to engage in strategising.
Yet, he knew, they all had their strengths. Shawn's wit and caution would be invaluable to the team, and Karl's childishness would bring much needed energy to counterbalance him. Cat seemed like she would also be determined to help them- even if it was for reasons beyond his world. Timmy's quiet sobriety would complement the loud supporting cast well, and Isaac could tell he was no less loyal than any of them there.
"Anyway, let's just try and think of a way to get up. I don't think climbing will work, especially with those worms everywhere." Isaac said, breaking the team out of their momentary period of thought.
Shawn nodded. "I am inclined to agree. I think…" he trailed off, realising as they simultaneously looked up once more how difficult the situation was. He raised his hand in a 'pause' gesture, flipping open his tome and reading voraciously. The rest waited in an awkward silence.
Isaac watched as Shawn's eyes, which had been scanning up and down quickly, came to a rest as he paused and his chin set.
"I guess… we could try this…" he murmured, still lost in thought. Isaac raised his eyebrow.
"Try what?" he asked.
"Hmmm… it says here that the Venomous Burrowing Spider is attracted to orange light… Isaac, do you have that setting on your blaster by any chance?"
Isaac glanced down at his gun, seeing a colour wheel labelled 'Party Mode'. -How utterly ironic, he thought.
"Yeah, I think so, actually…" he said.
Shawn nodded thoughtfully. "Well, that means we can attract them."
Karl was quite confused. "Can someone tell me why we are trying to ATTRACT monsters?"
"I presume Shawn is trying to hitch a ride." To everyone's surprise, Timmy was the one who spoke out.
Shawn nodded, continuing, "Yes, that is my intention. If we stay stranded here, we will be attacked by all sorts of monsters especially as they sense that we are in a group. Even if we could get up by ourselves- which we can't, we'd be killed first. The VBS (venomous burrowing spider) has its nests overground. Look at this…"
He thrust the book out for them all to see. They all leaned in, grateful in a twisted way that there were still people alive to be killed above them.
The Venomous Burrowing Spider, VBS for short, is one of the most dangerous monsters, especially in Round 2, where it is in its natural habitat. It is particular as one of the monsters who do not eat their prey immediately. Instead, it injects potent 72-hour sleeping poison through contact with its threads, and bundles up its victims. When it feels ready, it will bring them up to its nest overground, where they will be stored for 24 hours before being fed to its offspring.
While it can burrow underground, and does so to creep onto either stragglers below or to re-emerge from under any prey, it mainly focuses on its extremely good sense of smell rather than it's poor subterranean eyesight, which can only really see a few colours when they are bright. It's hearing is even worse, as it is basically deaf.
VBS's are attracted to orange light, as well as electricity. They will tend to go towards any source of the former, and also will keep sources of electricity close to it as electricity is helpful for their venomous threads. With that said, they hate blue light, and will normally run away from it; they also hate Sepulchral Bluebells, as they are an antidote to their venom.
Isaac finished reading first, realising Shawn's audacious plan. "You want us to let them bundle us up and take us overground."
Shawn nodded silently. "Yes. I think it might be the only way." The rest of the team looked at him in shock.
"N-no way…" Timmy stumbled, suddenly seeming quite nervous. Isaac's mouth also ran dry at the thought.
Karl huffed. "That sounds all clever and everything, but what is the point of being brought up there if we're knocked out and going to be eaten by spider babies?"
Cat suddenly cut in for the first time. "That means we first will need those… Seppuku Bluebells, or whatever they are called, right?"
Shawn nodded grimly. "Yes, that is correct. With them we can successfully stay awake and get out in the 24 hour storage period using our weapons. However, with that being said, there is one problem…"
He flipped to the 'Sepulchral Bluebells' page and explained it. "The Sepulchral Bluebell is notable as two things: first, as an antidote to the poison of the VBS- but second, as the favourite of Armored Scorpions. The Armored Scorpions live near any clusters of them, and will kill anything which tries to touch them."
As the realisation that they would first have to fight scorpions set in, Karl sighed loudly. "What is it with this place?! Can't even give us flowers in peace!"
"At least we are lucky that Armored Scorpions live underground, so we can find them." There was an awkward silence as everybody, including Shawn, realised how twisted their notion of luck had become.
"...Ahem, so let's go after the scorpions then. Where do they live, Shawnie?" Cat said, cracking her knuckles menacingly.
"Umm, they live near the large pools of water you find in caves. The best way to find them is to follow their shedded skins. You will apparently see the golden tips of their stingers lying around everywhere."
Isaac took his cue, changing his blaster to a 'flare' setting and firing it down a tunnel. Sure enough, they could see small but shiny gold bits leading a path into a tunnel to their right.
Karl sighed a final time, and shrugged, walking in the direction of the tips. Isaac and the rest of the team followed him.
They had been walking for some time when they suddenly noticed a blue glow emanating curiously in the horizon of their peripherals. Shawn nodded. "We're here."
As they walked closer, they finally saw a pool of water. Isaac felt his breath stop. It was an absolutely beautiful sight, with glowing clusters of flowers floating ethereally and reflecting in the water, turning it a brilliant blue. He heard similar gasps from his teammates next to him, with Cat's being especially loud and wistful.
However, he realised quickly that they were forgetting something.
Karl ducked his head just in time to avoid a mean, huge stinger. It smashed against the ground, shattering the rocks. With that, the whole team jolted to a familiar sense of concentration- the I'm about to get mangled concentration. Isaac fired his blaster aimlessly, hoping to illuminate the cavern better. When he saw the scene he wished he hadn't.
Down from the cave walls were descending colossal scorpions. There were eight of them, and their stingers dripped venom which burned through the rocks with an unpleasant hissing sound. They quickly retreated as one of the scorpions struck again. Shawn was quick to start thinking of a plan.
"There are eight of them, so we are outnumbered. That means there's no way we are going to be able to all get there. We have to try and squeeze one person in to take a small amount of flowers. That means-"
"-Me." said Karl. "I am the smallest so I make the most sense. I'll sneak as far as I can, and use my taser if necessary."
"I'll cover him with my shield then." said Timmy. "And Isaac can cover me with the long range."
"Agreed. I'll take out the scorpions as best I can to distract them." said Cat.
"Fine. Cat, hitting them on their underbelly is the most effective, apparently." said Shawn. And so they all set off to fight the scorpions.
Isaac blasted left right and centre to covet as Karl ducked bravely to avoid the reeling skeletons. He looked to his right and saw Cat doing her best to fight the scorpions as Shawn hid in the shadows telling her what to do. At least she was doing a decent job. Four scorpions were on her. But Isaac knew that she couldn't hold on much longer. Suddenly, he had an idea.
"Timmy! How large can your shield get?!"
Timmy didn't turn his head, still protecting Karl bravely, but managed to shout: "Large enough to use as a sledge for eight people, I think!"
In any other situation Isaac would have laughed at the oddly specific parameters Timmy had given, but in this instance he just called Shawn quickly. "Shawn! Come and help Timmy!"
Shawn didn't know what he was doing, but he came anyway, to Isaac's relief. With that having been done, Isaac called Timmy again.
"Timmy! Can you change the size remotely?"
"Uhh, yeah. I have a controller."
"Great! On the count of three, throw it up in the air with Shawn helping you and make it enlarge to maximum size!"
"JUST DO IT! Focus on protecting Karl after that. Karl: get ready to run! Shawn, go help Timmy. The higher the better!"
Shawn seemed to register what Isaac's plan was, and ran to the confused Timmy.
"3, 2, 1!" They heaved, and threw it in the air as high as they could. Timmy pressed a button on his controller and it indeed enlarged mid-air. Finally, Isaac got out his blaster.
"BAAAAM!" The scorpions screeched and flailed wildly in the air as Isaac blasted orange light into it, which reflected off the mirror surface and illuminated the whole cavern. Cat ducked as they crashed wildly into each other and rushed away up the sides of the cave. Isaac sighed in relief. So they did hate orange light after all.
"-Got it!" They turned to look at Karl, who was triumphantly brandishing a bunch of the glowing blue flowers.
Shawn turned to Isaac, and half-smiled. "Good thinking, I guess."
Isaac smirked back. "A 'good' from Shawn. Not too shabby."
"HEY! ARE YOU GOING TO FORGET ABOUT ME?"
"No Karl, well done." said Isaac and Shawn in unison.
"HMMPH! THAT'S MORE LIKE -"
Suddenly, pebbles skitted down from the ceiling. They could hear the sound of something sharp scraping it's way down towards them. Isaac's head snapped towards Shawn.
"I think it may be a good idea to get out of here…"
"Hmm, I think you are right…"
And with that, they took off speeding away, even Timmy demonstrating considerable pace.
The five newly-made teammates paused when they got back to the place where they had fallen, completely out of breath.
"Shawn… what do we do...now…" asked Isaac, panting heavily. Shawn put his hand up, signalling them to wait, as he hunched over and tried to catch his breath. The others were grateful for the short reprise.
"...Ok… What we need to do now is to attract the Venomous Burrowing Spider with orange light. Once it comes, we'll be bundled up. We have very little Sepulchral Bluebells, and by my estimation, using the book's statistics, it will only be enough for one. Thankfully, Karl has a taser." said Shawn.
Karl nodded. "Okay, so we'll be counting on me then. I'll take the bluebells, and once we're inside the bundles, I'll zap all of you to wake you up. Then we can use our weapons to break out?"
"Correct. Due to its victims always being poisoned, the spider silk of the VBS is luckily not especially strong. We won't have a problem trying to get out. However, it can sense vibrations in its bundles. Therefore, at all costs you, Karl, must move as little as possible, even when there are disgusting sticky webs on your face and it's uncomfortable. Moreover, keep us asleep until we reach the surface, to stop us from alerting the spider."
Karl nodded again. "You can count on me."
Shawn nodded too, and turned to face all of them. "Everyone, the spider will immediately be able to tell when Karl uses his zaps. We'll all still be unconscious when he zaps us, so when we wake up, we don't have any time to waste. The spider will be after us, so we need to get out straight away. No wooziness, no indecisiveness. We cannot afford to be slow. If we get out before the spider gets to us, it won't be able to see us with its poor eyesight. But if there is anyone still there by the time it picks up the bundle with its jaws- well, rest assured we won't be getting out in one piece."
Everyone gulped but nodded.
Isaac chimed in. "Judging by the fact that practically all the participants would have been unable to avoid falling down this massive hole, we should be able to assume that the surface will have less monsters for this round. It won't be more difficult than the first round, and then we weren't a team yet. However, we still must be careful. Focus only on running to the entrance as a team, and do not engage with any fighting unless it is absolutely necessary. Nobody gets left behind!"
-And so it was, that Isaac found himself toggling his colour wheel, with his blaster aimed at a hanging cavern still dripping with blood. He rued that he had never realised, when he started, that he would end up in a situation where he had to attract monsters.
The group of five watched nervously, waiting for the spiders to appear. Shawn turned to Karl.
"Now, Karl! Eat the antidote!"
And so Karl raised the fluorescent blue flower to his mouth and opened it.
Karl ate it with gusto and decisiveness, clearly very determined to survive.
"... it tastes terrible. I forgot to mention it. Oops."
Even the quiet Timmy chuckled as Karl bent over, retching out glowing blue saliva. It was quite the sight. But, as they watched, they felt a huge piece of string wrap around them all. Timmy turned, and his eyes widened in fear.
"W-why am I d-doing this-"
-And with that, they all blacked out.
Isaac groaned as he felt a sting run through his whole body. He opened his eyes, and saw Cat already sitting upright, with Shawn and Timmy likewise rising while groaning. Karl sat in the middle, looking like a poorly-wrapped mummy. Isaac looked up. The ceiling looked quite white and stringy…
"RUN!" All of them scrambled as they clawed at the silky walls of their cocoon of death. Isaac blasted all the blue light he could. Timmy pushed at the walls using the side of his shield, which had become very thin to get a sharper edge. Karl tazed it. Cat punched it. Shawn tried hitting it with his book before realising it was a stupid idea and waiting behind Cat. Finally, a sizeable hole opened. However, they could feel their chamber lifting in the air.
"JUMP!" They all scrambled out, thanking whatever presence there may be that Timmy could fit through the hole, and jumped as the chamber continued rising upwards. Finally, all of them were out, as the bundle was swallowed by a dripping set of vicious jaws.
"CRAASH!" And with that, five half-dead teenagers landed less-than-gracefully onto the dusty floor, panting. Isaac looked up, at the strange view of the white sun illuminating down on them.
"Hehe… it's sun…" Cat said, in a daze.
"-Yeah… it worked…" said Timmy, lying next to them.
Soon, though, they felt rain dripping on their face. But the rain was strangely sticky…
"OH MY FUCKING GOD WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE WOLVES NOW?"
Isaac was sure he would laugh incessantly when he watched this moment in the replay of his life from Heaven or Hell, wherever he may land. Imagine going to fight scorpions and then getting captured by a giant venomous spider on purpose to escape flesh-eating worms, just to finally get out and get killed by bloodwolves just after getting out of a spider cocoon.
Life is sad.
Isaac looked up from his moment of irony as Cat punched the bloodwolf ham in the face. Sharp canines flew out everywhere, and seemed to pierce the eyes of the other wolf. It looked like Isaac and the rest would have to die some other time.
"Come on, get on the ride!" said Cat, jumping on the top of the blinded wolf, which was thrashing around in pain. They wasted no time, and got on too. Timmy seemed to finally take control, enlarging his shield and pushing it against the top of the bloodwolf's head so it could not lift up and buckle them off. The whole way, Isaac lamented as his buttcheeks were split into sevenths by the roughest ride he'd ever had, Shawn screamed random instructions from his book to help them try to control their mount, and Karl tasered the wolf from time to time to make sure it stayed in one direction.
Finally, the sky ahead was cast in a beautiful orange.
"The Sunset Arch!"
"We've made it!"
Shawn even laughed in delight. Yes, they had finally made it. Now they could die another day.