Obrin cried and lurched forwards, his feet slipping in haste. Kal grabbed the front of Obrin’s shirt and pulled hard, yanking him bodily through the doorway before following on his heels.
A splintering crash, bits of broken wood pelted Kal in the back, and he fell. Obrin landed heavily beside him. Kal looked back. The beast’s shoulder was caught in the narrow frame. It let out a howl that shook dust off the ceiling and heaved against the doorway. The remains of the ruined exit buckled as the brick framework shook and began to crack.
Kal lugged Obrin to his feet before turning to run. They thundered down the tunnel together, splashing through ankle deep water and skidding on wet stone. Obrin was breathing heavily, favoring one leg. When had he hurt his leg? The sound of sundering brick and wood filled the tunnel, followed by a triumphant howl that set the lamps above them to swinging. Obrin was slowing. He wasn’t going to make it.
Kal severed his connection to Pyrel. The weiyld slipped away from his jangled emotions with barely a whisper. Right now he needed speed. He needed the weiyld of Yhavos. He had little talent with Yhavos, but there were tools that could help. Kal focused his mind on the string of beads tied around his forearm. The beads were an auldane, an arcane tool that served as a reservoir of weiyld energy. He emptied his mind, drawing upon the training and discipline the Aleph Association had taught him. He ignored his beating heart, the snarls of the Githrox and his own growing panic. He forced his mind to focus on the auldane’s weight, the greenish gray color of the beads, their smooth texture and familiar pressure on his arm.
As he focused, the weiyld of Yhavos, the third sun, rushed from the auldane into his body. The energy pounded through him, a primal beat, a nervous surge, demanding, yearning for release. He could feel his limbs growing stronger, faster and more responsive. He reached behind him and grabbed Obrin by his shirt, hoisted him over his shoulder, and ran.
Obrin must have weighed almost three hundred pounds. His partially stone bones certainly added to his mass. Yhavos didn’t care. No. It was thrilled. The weiyld pounded in rhythm with his heart, chanting in triumph, urging him to do more, run faster, push harder. He obliged. He could feel the auldane growing colder against his skin. Its reservoir was running out fast. He kept pushing. If he ran out of weiyld before he was safe, he was dead, but he would be just as dead if he slowed.
His augmented limbs ate up ground, propelling him down the tunnel at superhuman speed. He glanced over his shoulder. The Githrox was gaining on them, using its tentacles as often as its legs to propel itself down the tunnel.
Obrin screamed, “It’s gaining on us!”
Kal increased his speed even more, drawing power from the auldane as fast and hard as he knew how, crossing the limits of safety. The rush of weiyld was heady. He could barely feel Obrin’s weight over his back.
A corner was fast approaching. No time to slow down. He jumped up and kicked off the wall, running along the side for a moment before dropping down again. Yhavos howled in triumph, and Kal realized he was howling right along with the weiyld. Up ahead he could see daylight streaming through an open bay door, illuminating a gently sloping concrete ramp. He wanted to shout for joy. It was the exit! Better still, two figures were standing in the light, a man and a woman. The woman was holding a rifle, kneeling and aiming down its length. The tall, lanky silhouette of the man was carrying something heavy in his arms. He knew that frame was graced with a mane of dirty blonde hair and a face like a marble statue, if that statue had been defaced repeatedly with a machete. Praise Ulmanos, it was Rena and Smudge, and they both had heavy weapons.