There was no way he was going in there. No way. No how. Not a chance. That place looked absolutely terrifying, and there wasn't anything she could say to make him budge from the spot he stood except to go home again to his nice warm bed where it was safe. Yes, safe, safe beyond a shadow of a doubt. Not this creepy crawly place where something nasty was going to jump out of the walls and bite his head off and gnaw on his toes and slurp his blood and pick its teeth with his bones and -
She turned just then and regarded him in concern. "Are you coming?" He shook his head fiercely. "Why not? This is the way out."
"It's scary down there, njika," he admitted.
She rolled her eyes at him and walked back to stand before him, leaning against the short ledge where he'd stopped. The boots she wore were covered in grimy stuff that he didn't want to think about; if they ever had to go back to a temple, she'd have to have new ones, since these looked beyond rescue. "Little one," she began, and he winced at the exasperation he heard building in her voice, "we really must leave now and this is the only way to do so. I know the passages are dark and scary, but we must go. Or do you want to stay here?"
He shook his head sharply. "No!" The passages were scary, but even they were better than staying at that temple any longer. He didn't want to be hurt anymore, and he didn't want to see his sister taken advantage of ever again. He was the man of the family now (well, he was the only man of the family now), and he had to take care of his big sister, even if she was twenty-two (and that made her ancient) and he was almost eleven (practically a man). But, man or not, he was a bit scared of the narrow dark passageways that led away from the temple.
"Then we must go now, njiki," she stated plainly, offering him a hand to help down the small drop.
"Okay," he agreed, ignoring the hand to sit and slide down. He winced again as whatever he landed on made a squishing sound and felt like it was oozing around his feet. Now that he could walk on an even level with her, he seized the hand she'd offered and walked just behind her. There was no room for him to walk beside her. "Where are we gonna go, njika?"
"Athena's temple," she answered immediately.
That was odd. She'd always said they needed to avoid the other gods. "You think the Greeks will help us?" he piped up a few minutes later.
She sighed softly. "No, I doubt that, but I think Athena will. She might can direct us to another of Her temples." He could tell the difference he meant between the two goddess, Athena and her own, and wondered again why her Goddess did nothing to protect them from the priests at Her temple. "She promised Athena would see us safely back to Her."
He stopped, tugging on her arm. "She told you that?" His big sister nodded down at him. "How? When?"
"The day before yesterday, when I was praying to Her." She gave his hand a gentle tug and started walking again, and he scampered to keep up. "She said we must escape this temple before we are consumed here."
He wanted to ask her what consumed meant, but he was pretty sure it was something bad and he didn't want to know then. He had enough bad dreams as it was. "By the priests?" he asked softly.
Again she nodded. "Yes, by the priests." They walked a few minutes in silence till she finally knelt down and pointed forward to a small shiny square he could faintly view. "Do you know what that is, Rain?"
He shook his head. "What is it?"
"The outside. We're almost free, njiki."
He bounced in his joy and started running, forcing her to stand and jog to keep up. The smile on his face grew larger and larger as the square of light became bigger and bigger. Then finally they were through it. Sunshine pulled away from him to drop onto a rock, panting lightly. He wondered why, knowing his sister was in good shape as was the custom for priestesses, till he remember she still wore her robes. With all those layers, it was no wonder she was tired. After a moment, though, she stood and began searching behind her rock. "What're you looking for?"
She was silent as she searched a moment longer then exclaimed, "These!" She held up two traveling cloaks and began wrapping one around him.
"Where'd you get these, njika?" he had to know.
"One of the worshippers promised me he'd leave them here," she explained, finishing adjusting his and starting on her own.
"And you trusted him to do it?" He was surprised. He thought his sister knew better than to trust worshippers at that temple. "What if he told the priests?"
She shook her head. "He wouldn't."
Confused at her complete confidence, he tilted his head to the side slightly. "How do you know?"
"He was one of us."
He shot out of bed, biting his hand to keep from screaming aloud. They were back, the dreams. Why did they have to come back?
Somewhere several miles away, Rachael jumped awake, a hand pressed over her heart.
She'd twisted the bed sheets around her body till they resembled the cloak Sunshine had put on, completely loosing them from the bed. She extracted herself from them then froze, looking down at herself. Her feet were filthy. She'd obviously been outside. Had she sleepwalked?
Or... had Sunshine...?
No, Sunshine and Rain were just figments of her imagination. There was no way they were real enough to affect her life. Right?
25 April 2004
Well, another chapter down and out of the way. If anyone is reading this anyway... I'm working on a sort of dictionary for the language the past-time characters use. Give me some time on it, though, okay?
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