Nobody wanted to wait around to see what cause the loud thud. “Run!” Alhorn was the first to shout.
Everyone took off running back down the overly long hallway. Perhaps it was just a loud noise, but the continued sound behind us belied that possibility.
“Carlos! Move!” Halette shouted. Carlos was used to following behind the party. Socks hadn’t needed any prompting to start running, but Carlos was newly trained.
Pretty quickly it became clear who was fast and who was not. Socks was out ahead, and the only reason she wasn’t further away already is because she was remaining within the light- and waiting for us. Halette was next with Carlos, having been further back to begin with.
Kantrilla was lagging behind, and Kasner was even further back- such that Alhorn scooped him up in one arm merely a few seconds after we started running.
Kantrilla wasn’t doing much better, and actually stumbled and fell, possibly because of her foot getting caught between two invisible bricks combined with her subpar Dexterity, or just because it was the kind of thing that happened to her… or because there was a slight downward slope that we hadn’t noticed in the other direction. This put her in a position that was easier for me to pick her up… so I did.
A year before I couldn’t have dreamed of running while carrying someone. In fact, I barely even dreamed of walking. Now… it was easy. Well, not easy. Carrying Kantrilla was somewhat throwing off my center of gravity. That was what happened when adding a similar weight to your own several feet off the ground. It took a few moments to get used to the difference, but the sound behind me kept me motivated and running.
“It’s a boulder!” Kantrilla screamed.
That made me push myself even harder. First, I didn’t want to be crushed by a boulder… and second because if she could see it that meant it was far too close.
I got closer to the light out front… and that wasn’t a good thing, because Halette wasn’t speeding up but also got closer to the edge of Alhorn’s light. Kantrilla looked forward and started her own light spell, but the problem wasn’t the light itself.
“Just drop me!” I heard Kasner yell, “You’re not fast enough!”
While Kasner was much lighter than Kantrilla, Alhorn wasn’t able to adapt to his extra weight as easily as I could. That was what more than double the amount of Strength could do.
Alhorn didn’t say anything in response. I just heard the impact of his boots continue at a steady pace, even as they slowly fell behind.
Then I saw the turn in the corridor. It was only a short way away, and we could get out of the path of the boulder- unless it somehow could turn at right angles. In that case, we were dead.
Socks barked as she… ran past the opening that was filled with light, sprinting past it into the darkness.
“Umm, Socks?” Halette called. I heard another few barks come back. Halette shouted behind her, “Follow Socks! Keep going forward!”
I wasn’t sure what to do. Sure, I was carrying Kantrilla who had a massive amount of Luck with me, but a bad decision could still get us killed. Otherwise everyone would just increase Luck to the point where they were immortal. Unless they were locked into something dumb like only increasing Strength.
I only had a moment to decide, so I decided to listen to Halette. She would never intentionally steer us wrong, and if we all died together… well, that would actually be pretty unpleasant instead of a touching moment. I was really liking being alive.
I ran, straight past the turn in the hallway… and saw at least three minotaurs far enough back they couldn’t have been seen easily. There might have been more, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to look at them. I could have used Martial Trance to get a better look- but I wouldn’t have been able to turn into the corridor without choosing to do so ahead of time, and was glad I had listened to Halette.
I heard more barking- just as another intersection came into sight, with Socks’ rear end visible in it. Halette and Carlos turned into the opening, and I followed… to see that Socks was standing on top of a minotaur and covered in blood. I hoped not too much of it was hers.
I quickly set Kantrilla a few steps into the corridor- though apparently she wasn’t ready and fell onto her butt instead of standing. I didn’t have time to deal with that as I pulled out my heavy mace and ran forward to crush the minotaur’s head with it.
With that positioning, my Bash was strong enough to crush it’s head… and even break some of the weird black bricks below, from the sound of it. There weren’t many opportunities to put my full power into, where something couldn’t move out of the way… but I thought the results were pretty impressive.
At around the same moment, the boulder rolled by. As it rumbled off down the other corridor, everything became quiet.
I looked at Socks. The minotaur’s axe was actually stuck into her shoulder. It looked pretty deep… and was bleeding profusely. However, Socks managed to walk over to Kantrilla with only a bit of a limp, then nudged Kantrilla to remind her to heal. Kantrilla sprang to her feet and started healing magic.
The one furthest toward the corridor was Alhorn. Fortunately, he had made it… but something seemed off. Then I realized he was standing there, looking at his right arm. An empty right arm, but visibly covered in a layer of frost ice and water.
I looked around for Kasner, refusing to accept what I saw… but there was clearly nobody else around. Kasner was small, but not that easy to lose in an otherwise empty corridor.
Alhorn just stood there, staring and poking at the area on the crook of his right arm with his shield.
Then we were interrupted by the sound of several sets of hooves coming down the corridor.