"A Hole Lot"
Harror stepped out of the magical gateway and onto the surface of the Moonlands, shielding her eyes from the bright glare of the cheerful summer sun. She hissed involuntarily.
"It is bright out here, isn't it?" said a familiar, hollow voice as a shadow stepped closer.
"Korremar!" gasped Harror. "How -- whe-- what are you doing here?"
"I waited," he said enigmatically. "I knew you'd come."
"Well, thanks for the vote of confidence," said Harror sarcastically.
"He's not going to hurt us, too, is he?" asked Qwade tentatively, peering out at Korremar's imposing frame.
"Get out here, squidboy," Harror growled at Qwade, who stood just inside the gateway whimpering. "You're blocking the way for the others."
He reached out with one trembling hand and pulled it quickly back as if he'd been burned. "But it's all dry out there and stuff," he whined.
"Shh," said Harror suddenly. "Are those Warrada's footsteps I hear coming?"
In an instant, the other four Shadow Magi had exited the magical gateway and sealed it behind them. It faded with a twinkling of animite and a loud, hollow pop!
"What?" Harror asked Ashio, eyeing him suspiciously. "What's so funny?"
The Weave Shadow Magi leaned close to Harror and whispered in her ear. A bemused expression crossed her face as she fought the impulse to laugh.
The rest of the Shadow Magi brushed themselves off and took a look at their surroundings. They stood on the edge of a cliff. Looking down, they saw bank of a great river far below them, flowing north to the sea. Across the river the thick green grass of the Weave swayed in the gentle breeze. Behind them rose the great forest of Naroom. To the south, they could see a hint of the jungles of Paradwyn, and farther yet, Kybar's Teeth scraped the sky with its jagged pinnacles.
"Well, then," said Chur. "Where to?
"Cald," said Lanyx immediately.
"The sea," said Qwade plaintively, wistfully looking north.
Chur snorted. "Look at us: we're not wanted. We've been exiled from the Core. None of us is welcome in our homelands. I say we try to find what allies we can and join up with Korg and Zet."
"No," chorused five firm voices together.
"Oookay," conceded Chur. "Bad idea. It's easy to forget how very little you miss Korg until he's with you again. But that leaves us without a place to go, or a place to hide, or--"
"There's one," said Ashio, still trying to wipe the smile from his face. "The Weave."
For a moment, all was quiet. Then Chur spoke up again, saying, " Oookay, we have no place to go, no place to hide--"
"I'm serious," said Ashio.
"So's my hunger," said Qwade. "Anybody got a--"
"I've got a knuckle sandwich if you donít shut up," interrupted Harror. "Why do you think we can hide in the Weave, Ashio? Won't it eject us?"
"I'm still a part of the Weave," he said, "a part of the whole. But I've been trying to make the hole a part of the Weave."
"That didn't clear anything up," said Harror pointedly.
"There is a hole at the bottom of the Weave. I found it the day I decided to fight against the Weave. So while the Weave wanted me to be a part of the whole, this hole became a part of me. It gave me my powers.
"I crawled deep down the hole that day, exploring it, but it went on for quite a ways. I think it may be a back door to the Core. We could sneak back in and catch the twins when they're unprepared."
"I donít think I'm ready for that," said Qwade.
"Unless Lanyx goes first," chuckled Harror knowingly.
"Regardless," said Chur authoritatively, holding her hands out to either side to stop all further bickering, "it sounds like a good place to hide. A good base from which to work. I mean, none of us knew about it, and no one in the Weave knew about it until Ashio discovered it, so I'd say it's the best place for us to hole up right now. No pun intended."
"Indeed," said Lanyx. "You can get us there?" he asked Ashio.
"Of course. I'll Weave the grass around us as we move. No one will even know we're there."
"Good. At this point, secrecy is important," said Lanyx, trying to reassert control.
"Follow me," said Ashio.
Not wanting to be a follower, Lanyx immediately replied with, "Lead on, grasswalker."
"Sure thing," said Ashio. "Follow me."
"Go!" barked Lanyx. "I command you!"
In the end, Chur and Harror pushed the two arguing Shadow Magi forward just to get moving.
To be continued....
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