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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 25th day of Eating, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 101 > Continuing Series > The Reality of Dreams: Part Fifteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Fifteen

by sabreur

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:::::::::  FILE NAME:  INCIDENT15.TXT  :::::::::

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It was nearly sunset, and time was running out. Oddly enough, I wasn't worried. It was too late for me to do anything except continue the course I had set, so there wasn't anything to worry about, really. For better or worse, we had reached the end.

End of Prologue

Location: The island in the sky
Time:  4:23 pm NST

I checked my watch for the fourth time in a minute, and was not reassured by what I saw. We hadn't even found Nightmare yet, and we were nearly out of time. Even Infernus was beginning to look nervous. We were in the mountains, and the going was difficult. Infernus could fly over the obstructions we faced, but was too tired to carry me as well. Considering all we had been through, I couldn't blame him. Still, I thought, climbing over a boulder, this would have been a lot easier to handle if we could fly.

     I dropped down on the other side of the rock and gasped involuntarily. The tug in my chest that had been guiding me towards our destination pulled sharply to the right. Infernus was about to turn a corner up ahead when he heard me. He turned around, concerned.

     "Are you all right?" he asked, concerned.

     "Fine," I replied, "but look at this." I pointed to the right. Infernus turned, his tail scraping across the rocks and dirt beneath us.

     A cave opened into the side of the mountain. I couldn't see very far inside, but I knew what the inside looked like already. After all, it's hard to forget the place where Nightmare had once hunted me.

     "Is this it?" Infernus asked, pointing his sword into the darkness.

     "You bet it is," I replied. I peered into the black depths as far as I could. "Should have brought a flashlight," I muttered. I drew my saber and crept into the cavern.

     "I'll watch your back," Infernus said from behind me, following.

     I had barely entered the cave when suddenly a rock hit me on the left shoulder. I looked at where it fell, puzzled. Suddenly more rocks and a shower of dirt struck me.

     "Cave in!" yelled Infernus as the ceiling collapsed with a dull roar of grinding stone. Frantically, I dove forward into the darkness, banging my already bruised left shoulder on a stalagmite I hadn't seen. What little light had penetrated into the cave originally was shut off.

     At last, the noise stopped. Wiping the dust from my eyes and brushing off my clothes, I looked around and waited for my eyes to adjust. It seemed to take forever, but at last I was able to perceive my surroundings. Ahead of me, a rocky path led into the depths. Behind me, a new wall of fallen rock blocked the exit. Infernus was nowhere to be seen.

     "Infernus?" I whispered, fear gripping my heart. "Infernus!?" I said louder, echoes trailing down the cave.

     "Sabreur?" came a muffled reply from the rocks behind me. I ran over, but couldn't find anything.

     "Infernus? Where are you?" I asked, looking for any sign of my Scorchio.

     "I'm behind the wall. I got out of the way, but I can't get to you. Are you alright?", Infernus replied, so muffled by the rock that I could barely hear him.

     "I'm fine," I replied, looking at the rocks, "but I don't think I can get to you anytime soon."

     "Hang on, I'll dig you out," Infernus said. I heard the noise of stones being moved.

     "Infernus!" I yelled. The noise stopped. "There's no time. It's only a few hours until sunset and we have no idea how long it will take to get this cleared." I sighed. I really didn't want to do this.

     "I'm... going to have to go it alone. Keep digging -- I'll need a way out when this is through."

     "Good luck, Sabreur," Infernus replied. I smiled. He knew as well as I did that this might be our final conversation, but he was intentionally acting like it wasn't.

     "Thanks Infernus," I spoke, turning to face the darkness. "I'll give Nightmare a smack and tell him it's from you."

Location: The cave
Time:  5:11 pm NST

I walked carefully, peering into the darkness as far as I was able. Twice I nearly fell into various pits, which were only visible as pools of darkness against slightly lesser darkness. I passed occasional pools of stagnant water as I journeyed deeper and deeper into the depths. The tugging I felt grew steadily stronger, alerting me to the proximity of my goal. I checked my watch again (which thankfully had a built-in light.) Less than an hour until sunset.

     I came to a large chamber, and stopped. Something about the chamber was... odd. At last, I realized the source of the strangeness. Unlike the rest of the cave, the walls were carved into smooth stone. While the rest of the cavern might have been natural, this section had obviously been made. I walked into the center of the room, and noticed that the dust on the floor had been disturbed recently. My pondering was interrupted when the tugging in my chest abruptly shifted to point back the way I had come.

     "Hello Nightmare," I said, turning around. He sat behind me, lying on the floor between me and the entrance to the room as if he'd been there all along. As I turned, he stood up, and I looked at him closely. He was huge, easily larger than a full grown Skeith. His low slung body rested on 6 legs, 3 on each side. Those powerfully muscled limbs were clawed like a Kougra's, explaining the odd clicking noise he made as he walked. A thin tail lashed back and forth slowly, and I noticed a barbed stinger on its tip. It was the face that drew the most attention, however. It was a simple rounded shape, almost lizard-like. Two red eyes blazed at me, flickering with what appeared to be amusement. A mouth stretched in a permanent grin, fangs of varying shapes and sizes gleaming. That horrible mouth opened.

     "Hello Sabreur. So kind of you to visit me before the end."

     "Whatever," I said, readying my blade. I reached into my backpack and drew out a healing potion. I downed it in one gulp, never taking my eyes off Nightmare. He watched, patient and amused. I pulled the last Improved Firebomb out of my pack and stuffed it in my left pants pocket, then tossed the backpack into a corner. It would only get in the way in a fight.

     "Finished?" asked Nightmare, idly inspecting a clawed forelimb. His barbed tail lashed once.

     "Yep, that's about it," I replied, inwardly marveling at how calm I felt.

     Without warning, Nightmare lunged, all 6 clawed limbs reaching towards me as he flew through the air. I dashed forward, sprinting underneath him. The ground shook slightly as he landed where I had been moments before. I turned to face him, Advanced Fire Saber ready.

     Nightmare half-turned, glaring at me with his red-coal eyes. His barbed tail lashed out, aiming at my eyes. My fencing reflexes took over. I backed up a single step, placing his attack just inches out of range. Simultaneously, I parried his tail with the edge of my blade. Nightmare howled in fury as he severed his own tail on my blade. He side-stepped, circling me.

     "You will pay for that, fool!" he growled. "You and your precious family!"

     "ACTIVATE SABER!" I shouted, furious beyond what I had believed possible. I dove at Nightmare, all thoughts of proper fencing tactics blasted aside by my overwhelming need to attack. Nightmare's gaze widened in shock as I flew at him, flames erupting off the saber like a molten tidal wave. He raised a claw to block my first slash, and howled as the flames flashed over the limb.

     "Nobody!" I yelled, hacking at Nightmare's head and missing. Nightmare retreated a pace.

     "Messes!" a low stab to Nightmare's side, scoring a cut and forcing him back another step.

     "With!" a slash at Nightmare's face, splashing flames across his entire front and knocking him back.

     "Family!" I finished, smashing aside Nightmare's claw as he tried to counter my rush. Nightmare was knocked against the wall of the cavern, stunned and vulnerable. I lunged, aiming towards Nightmare's center with my saber extended for a finish blow.

     A claw lashed out reflexively, catching me in the chest and blasting me backwards. I landed several feet away on my back, grunting as the wind was knocked out of me. I pulled myself to my feet, badly winded. Nightmare recovered and was on me in an instant, pressing his new found advantage. My furious attack had left me tired, and I was hard pressed to stay alive. A claw swept towards my head, and I parried it, wincing as the force of it jarred my arm. The other claw punched forward, catching me in the gut in an explosion of pain. The stub of Nightmare's tail lashed out, whipping my sword arm painfully. I retreated, and Nightmare's next attack fell short, tearing chips of stone away from the floor.

     I risked a quick glance behind me and realized I was far too close to the wall of the corridor. Nightmare tried to take advantage of my momentary distraction, lunging violently forward. I dove aside, feeling a rush of air as he flew past, tearing away a piece of my shirt. I rolled to my feet as Nightmare skidded to a halt, nearly colliding with the wall.

     This isn't working, I thought frantically, wiping sweat from my forehead with my free left hand. I was losing. I swept my blade back and forth, lashing flames across Nightmare's flanks as he turned. He shrugged it off, stalking towards me purposefully.

     Think, blast it! I mentally shouted at myself, ducking beneath a high slash from Nightmare's right claw. I performed a quick thrust, which Nightmare effortlessly batted aside, still ignoring the flames that scorched him. I quickly moved backwards out of his range, keeping the flames of my saber between me and Nightmare.

     The flames guttered and went out. The fuel indicator on the hilt of the saber read 0. Nightmare grinned.

     Time slowed down. With perfect clarity, I saw Nightmare bunch his muscles preparing to lunge. His mouth widened, ready to bite down and end my life. Idly, I calculated his trajectory.

     What are you doing!? I thought to myself. This is no time for physics! Nightmare is faster than I am, stronger than I am, the only advantage I have is my brain, and I've got to figure out what to do!

     Suddenly, I knew.

     I watched, my left hand in my pocket, my right hand holding my saber in an on-guard position. Triumph blazed in Nightmare's eyes. Front claws extended to tear me in two, mouth wide open to bite and maim, Nightmare lunged.

     Exactly as I knew he would.

     In one smooth motion, I drew my left hand out of my pocket and tossed the last Improved Firebomb upwards in a gentle arc. Simultaneously, I dropped my sword and dove sideways, rolling away from Nightmare's massive bulk.

     Nightmare landed behind me with an earthshaking crash, whipping around to face me. I scrambled to my feet, unarmed and defenseless. Nightmare glared at me, his hateful eyes filled with an emotion I had never witnessed in him before - fear.

     Stuck fast in Nightmare's throat was the round bulk of the firebomb.

     I threw my hands in front of my face, noting with satisfaction that my watch showed another 20 minutes until sunset. Then there was a bang like the end of the world.

To be continued...

:::::::::  END OF FILE:  INCIDENT15.TXT  :::::::::
Previous Episodes

The Reality of Dreams: Part One

The Reality of Dreams: Part Two

The Reality of Dreams: Part Three

The Reality of Dreams: Part Four

The Reality of Dreams: Part Five

The Reality of Dreams: Part Six

The Reality of Dreams: Part Seven

The Reality of Dreams: Part Eight

The Reality of Dreams: Part Nine

The Reality of Dreams: Part Ten

The Reality of Dreams: Part Eleven

The Reality of Dreams: Part Twelve

The Reality of Dreams: Part Thirteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Fourteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Sixteen

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