A Meeting at the Maw

Gill darted forward into the darkness.

"Wait damn it." Connor called after him, but it was too late. The boy was gone. The Ashen were quick to rise and follow with Emma and Connor running along behind. They could still hear the sounds of battle close by as the Elesians pressed in against the Delve defenders. Then something ahead, something different. Animal almost. A Delve Hound perhaps?

The rushed forward through the dark, stumbling and clawing their way forward. A soft glow began to build ahead of them as they ran. Emma fell headlong over what turned out to be a dead prison guard and Connor was instantly at her side helping her up and onward.

The glow grew closer and brighter, together with the increasing volume of battle and the groan of machinery. Connor pulled Emma back as they reached a large doorway into a place he knew all too well. They had come to the heart of the upper Delve, they had reached the Maw.

The Ashen were fanning out around the entrance, weapons in hand. A good distance away in the heart of the vast cavern a battle was taking place between the Delve defenders and... something. It appeared to be a man, but grotesquely misshapen. It flesh pierced with green glowing stones. It tore into the defenders with cold indifference and Connor and Emma shared a look of disbelief.

"What are they doing?" Emma asked, she was pointing towards the Ashen. They had lowered their weapons and were walking calmly towards the monstrous creature, seemingly heedless of the danger.

"They are lost." Gill stepped out of the shadows and glanced towards the Ashen, "You must come with me now, both of you."

"Where are we going?" Emma asked.

"Down there." Gill pointed towards the great crack in the centre of the cavern floor.

***

Josiah rushed through the halls of the Delve. Where ever possible he ordered men ahead to drive off trouble or divert danger that may be converging in them. By sheer dumb luck they managed to avoid the Elesians as they made their way from tunnel to tunnel.

"Josiah where are we going?" Abigail demanded as she limped forward. She had fallen and twisted her ankle early in the flight and was now only able to get on with the support of Serenity who held her propped up under the arm.

"I told you, we are getting out of here. The Delve has fallen, the Elesians are in charge now."

"No!" Abigail screamed, "No I will not allow it." She pushed Serenity away knocking the girl to the ground.

Josiah surged forward and grabbed Abigail by the wrists, twisting them painfully. She glared at him and he felt the familiar pressure in his mind trying to strip away his free will.

"Do not do this Abigail. I am trying to save us."

Eyes wide she gnashed her teeth towards his face and laughed. There came a sharp crack from behind and Abigail slumped to the ground. Serenity stood there panting, she held an iron bar which she had just used to knock her mistress out.

"I am sorry I..." her eyes met Josiahs filled with fear. Josiah shook his head.

"You did well. Now help me lift her."

Serenity obeyed and soon they were moving once more with an unconscious Abigail being carried in Josiahs arms. There came an explosion from behind and they redoubled their pace, not daring to glance back.

They were running so fast that they did not see the unlikely couple that were converging on their position, equally unaware. The two groups came together in a mangled heap just as two corridors opened up in a large entrance way. For a moment they were all a tangle of limbs in the dark until on of the strangers lit a lamp.

Josiah breathed a sigh of relief. They were not Elesians at least.

"Names Phyz." one of them offered, "this is Syren, and we are getting the fuck out of here."

"So are we." Josiah hissed, "mind if we tag along?"

The pair exchanged glances and shrugged. They were moving once more then but not for long. They soon found themselves entering the vast cavern of the Maw and the sight that met them there took their breath away.

"Who or what the fuck is that?" Josiah breathed as he saw the creature tear into his men.

Another group emerged out a nearby cavern. They were being led by Ashen and they watched in disbelief as the tall warrior lowered weapons and approached the creature in what seemed like reverence.

A man and a woman stayed behind and Josiah strained to hear their words above the sounds of battle.

"A child." Serenity gasped as she pointed out the boy standing at their side. The threat seeming less with the presence of a child they all moved closer to greet the out of place family.

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