Chapter Two: The Awakening

Chapter Two: The Awakening

The temple unsealed itself. Sacred air entered cleansing it, the breath of life entering death's palace. Fire followed, lit by an unseen hand, purifying the place. The ground shook, unearthing long kept secrets. Vines grew and surrounded the temple, sealing what was within. Animals circled the area, wary and alert, keeping filth that breathed away. Rain then fell, holy water, rinsing the temple and with one deafening clap of thunder, it was done.

Seven bodies formed by their beds one of fire, from embers to flame then skin. One with petals and leaves that swayed until a breath escaped. One by feathers, fur, scales then muscle. Next to it was one by silver, gold then diamonds, twinkling in the light then from there a body. Lastly, two bodies formed as Gemini, entwined from mist water and ice, to become with a bond of love.

Moonlight broke through the clouds, sealing them in safety, blessing them with secret hands and whispering words that set their unknowing hearts to sleep. Tonight my children you will sleep in the safety of my bosom.

Ari groaned as she felt herself coming awake. The sun was too bright. She forgot to draw the curtains last night. She turned away from the window but there was no escaping the sun. She felt for her pillow but couldn't find it. She groaned again. She celebrated too much last night. She must have had so much fun that as an effect she couldn't remember a thing. She thought life was ironic that way. She wasn't in the mood to philosophize about anything just yet though.

She stretched her hand looking for her pillow to put over her head.

There were stones on her bed. Smooth stones of different sizes. This bed had the worst lumps! She stopped all movement. This wasn't her bed at all. She fought back a mixture of panic, disgust and disbelief as she entertained another thought. She partied that hard? He better be good looking. That came as an afterthought. She wrinkled her nose as she tried to remember his face, any face at all. She could not remember a thing after Li came into her dressing room and... she shied away from the thought. She remembered the burn that interrupted them. The scar would be hideous. That thought brought on panic and fear that surpassed waking up in an unfamiliar bedroom.

She jackknifed into a sitting position, breathing hard. She searched for the burn she felt on the left set of ribs. She feared for scars. Her eyebrows furrowed as she found no scar or wound. In fact there was no trace of it at all. How could that be when it felt like someone had poked her with a cow brand?

She noticed what she had on then, a white gown on that was cut asymmetrically. It bared everything from her left rib to her upper left thigh. A cloth underneath saved her from exposing herself to the world. It fit around her like a pair of very snug but comfortable beach shorts. There was a slit that began at her right upper thigh. She also noticed rope after rope of black silk around her. It was fine and soft and it felt like hair. She pushed it away from her legs. She grabbed fistfuls and yanked it out from beneath her. She yanked too strongly and cried out as she realized too late that it was attached to her head. She held her head and run her fingers through the strands. But she cut her hair already! She stood up to see how long her hair was. She let out a silent cry of frustration when it reached her knees.

She looked around. Where was she? She turned in a circle and noticed other bodies sleeping on beds similar to hers. It was a kind of marble stone that was raised a foot from the floor. They were laid in a circle. Kind of like a pie she thought.

Has she been drugged? Kidnapped? Sold to white slavery? Was this a new reality show? Were there hidden cameras somewhere around to watch her make a fool of herself? If her friends set her up, she thought she would beat them all up somehow. She happened to have a collection of pictures that were black mail material… very, very good black mail material. She relished the idea of finally being able to use them. She thought of other ways to torture those traitors.

She approached the bed next to her. It was decorated with flowers and petals. She looked back at her bed and gaped at the gems that was scattered. Those were the lumps? Fist sized gems of ranging hues. Were they real? She tried to bite one and nothing happened to it. It just hurt her teeth. How would she know the effect to the real ones when you bit on them? She was fascinated by the way the gems barely fogged up from her breath. The surface seemed to be in a race against each other to get rid of her breath. She shrugged as she put the green gem she held down and approached the bed nearest hers.

She reached out, intending to shake the girl awake. The petals that lay dormant blew up as if a strong breeze blew and somehow cut her. She withdrew her hand with a cry and cradled her bleeding fingers to her chest. She squeezed her wounded hand with her other one, applying pressure secure in the knowledge that she would at least not bleed to death.

"Are you alright?" The woman on the bed blinked at her, her eyes bleary with sleep. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.

Ari could only stare at the woman, speechless for a second. The woman had the greenest eyes she had ever seen. Angel eyes was a thought that came unbidden to her. It felt like she was staring at the eyes of an angel that could see right through you. The shade of green that movie stars wore contacts to achieve.

"Hey," the girl called softly. She was about to reach out but Ari's cry stopped her. "What's wrong?" She said with caution and wariness in her eyes. There was also compassion in her eyes. And pity that Ari would have resented at any other time because it was the look that you gave when you realized you were talking to a mental patient. She didn't resent it now because she felt like a mental patient.

"It's the beds, they're weird, they hurt you when you go past—" she stopped abruptly. "Oh God, I sound nuts, go ahead, reach out and see what happens for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you." Ari answered in a dry tone.

Angel eyes, as Ari called her in her head didn't have the chance to answer because the woman on her other side sat up and scowled at them. It was very effective despite the fact that she didn't open her eyes.

"I don't care how you people got into my room but if you want to stay here and remain breathing you would shut the hell up and let me go back to sleep." The husky, smoky voice snapped at them. She had red hair that curled madly on her head. She lay back down with her back to them and tried to go back to sleep.

"Was she the one you were warning me about?" Angel eyes asked Ari, her eyes twinkling with humor.

"Not quite but it's similar." Ari shared the amusement. "She's just like my friend Claudia. She's very surly in the morning."

"Oh, you know Claude? She's my friend too—"

A hiss reminded them of their surly companion. They softened their voices more.

"That's comforting somehow. Do you know where we are and how we got here?" Ari asked.

"I don't know. I'm sorry. I was hoping you knew that."

"I hoped so too. Anyway, since you're Claude's friend too and that seems the only thing we have in common, I thought that maybe she set us up for some reality TV show. What do you think?"

"That sounds like something she would do—"

"Please," a pleading voice came. "Please let me sleep. Take whatever you want just go. Go." The redhead came again. She was in a fetal position, her hands over her eyes to block out the sounds and light. "And stop talking about me as if I'm not here. Please. I know my friends and they don't sound like you… nor would they be evil enough to disturb my sleep."

"We're not talking about you. We're talking about our friend Claudia Williams." Ari answered already a little annoyed at the woman.

"Are you people blind? I am Claudia Williams!" the redhead sat up, abandoning her position to face them with outrage etched on her features. "I do not look that hideous in the morning that even my friends would not recognize me. Trust me, I check in the mirror everyday. Plus, you are not my friends. I do not know you." Her eyes were bleary, almost blind as she looked at them.

The two women looked at her, not knowing how to deal with her. "Well, you certainly talk like her in the morning. You have a different voice though—" Ari stopped midsentence and as if testing something she just realized. "In fact, I do too." She finished haltingly.

"Yeah well I think I've flu or something because this is definitely not my voice. It sounds sexier than I usually do."

"Well, Claudia had black hair and brown eyes." Angel eyes said.

"Are you people blind? What color do you think—" She held a coil of her hair and held it before her with the obvious intention of asking them to identify its color. She stared at the coil she held because it was so glaringly red with no other way to define it. The color drained from her face.

"Don't worry. You're not alone." Ari said in understanding. "I cut my hair yesterday and now my hair grew past its previous length."

The redhead stared at her with big purple-blue eyes. "Ari? I'm Claudia."

The green eyed woman who sat between them eyed them both and said. "I'm Helen."

"I guess I don't look anything like I usually do huh?" All three turned towards the man that sat a bed after Ari. He had long black hair that reached the collar of his clothes. His eyes were pale green and it looked back at them. "I'm Nick." He moved towards Ari despite her cry and shards of diamonds flew up and cut his hand.

He hissed and all three of them stood up but was helpless to approach him.

"Are you alright?" Helen called out, concern on her face.

"I'll live." Nick grimaced as he examined the cuts.

"Okay, let's all be careful and not touch each other's territory." Claudia sat down and drew her knees up and hugged them. They looked around, only then noticing the lack of a ceiling over them. They looked at the brilliance of the sun against the blue sky. "It's beautiful." Whispered Claudia.

"I wonder how we got here. All I remember was that I was flirting with this cute guy and suddenly my palm was burning and then nothing. What was the last thing you guys remember doing?" Helen asked looking at the three.

Claudia mumbled something and buried her face in her arms.

Nick stopped bandaging his wounds and stared at Claudia. "I was drinking with Claude." He answered vaguely with a cough.

Helen's brows furrowed as she looked back and forth between Nick and Claudia. She was too busy speculating that she didn't notice the silence from Ari.

Ari frowned at her cuts, not really seeing them. Last night kept flashing back and she was helpless against it.

She entered her dressing room hunting for the water bottle she had left before the set. She was looking in her carry all when Li entered. Their eyes met through the mirror.

"Hey Li, is Nick still drinking?" She bent and looked for it beneath the vanity.

"Yeah." Li tapped her and gave her a fresh water bottle that was room temperature. "I need to talk to you about something Ari."

"Oh yeah?" Ari twisted the cap off and drank half the bottle. "What about?" She leaned against the vanity and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, not worried about the lipstick that swore to be water proof.

Li looked at her in that quiet way of hers and moved towards her. She put her hands on either side of her and looked at Ari in the penetrating way she looked at people. "I think you know." She said softly.

"No. I don't know. What's this about?" She took another drink before recapping the water bottle just to have to do something with her hands.

"Ari, I love you."

"But you're a girl!" Ari dropped the water bottle but she couldn't bend down to pick it up. Nor had the thought occurred to her.

"Does it matter?" Li whispered then bent down and kissed her.

A scream pulled her out of her reminiscing.

"Who are you and what have you done to me?" The woman screamed louder. "And what have you done to my boyfriend? Do you know who I am? Do you know who my father is? You made a big mistake you pervert! My daddy's going to find me and kill you so you better start talking!" she was taking deep breaths.

"I didn't do anything. I don't know how I got here too and… Dani?"

"Don't you 'Dani' me! I don't even know you! I'm not even supposed to be talking to you! Help! Help! This guy kidnapped me and dressed me in a weird, white, kinky porn thing! Help!" She got louder with each word.

"Which looks great on you by the way but no, even if I would have wanted to have dressed you in that porn thing and saw whatever it's not covering, I didn't do it. My girlfriend would have killed me if I did." His hands raked through his sandy blond hair that was a tad long and unruly. "You sound like her though."

"That is one sucky pick up line." She was outraged. She glared at him.

"I'm not trying to pick you up. I've a girlfriend remember?" he glared right back. "Jesus, you somehow even pout the same."

"I do not pout!" she spat at him and struggled to stand up.

"Don't step out of the boundary!" Ari called out as she regained her voice. The four of them knew who these two were and were morbidly fascinated by their bickering.

As if on cue, the shrieking woman they knew to be Dani slipped on the white porn thing and would have fallen into the other bed if Justin didn't pull her to him. She fell on the floor between them with her feet towards Justin and her head just inside the bed. Justin pulled too hard and he in turn was pressed into the bed behind him. Volts of electricity run through him.

Dani screamed and would have touched him if Nick didn't call out a warning that she'd be electrified too. They all watched him helplessly for a few seconds. The volts stopped abruptly as another voice rung out in horror. "What is going on here?" A deep voice came.

Dani let out a small cry of anguish as she knelt beside the man she did not know to be Justin. "Are you alright?" she sobbed.

The man who called out stood and walked towards Dani. They all let out a cry as he stepped over his bed. Nothing happened.

Ari, Helen, Claudia and Nick took this to be a good sign and rushed over to where Justin and Dani were. They circled them.

Dani was shaking as she brushed Justin's hair back from his face. She tried to choke up words but all that came was the word "Hey,"

"You just watched him fry." The man swept an accusing gaze at all of them.

"Oh yes, it'd have been smart to hold on to the man while he was being shocked. We should've held him and shared his pain." Claudia stared up at the man and smiled sweetly at him.

"Stop it!" Ari hissed at Claudia then winked at the man with the pale blue eyes. "We couldn't exactly walk out of our beds before you woke up. We get injured." She waved her bloody hand at him before bending down to Dani.

"He's still breathing." Helen said as she put her hand in front of his mouth to check for air.

"I think he's waking up." Nick said not noticing Claudia jump slightly when she realized he was directly behind her. Ari narrowed her eyes at them. Jumpy she thought.

"Justin? Are you alright?" Helen asked anxiously.

Justin coughed and groaned. "No." he said weakly. He closed his eyes. "God, why didn't you just kill me?"

"You saved me!" Dani sniffed.

"Yeah. Sorry." He brought a hand up to rub his face.

"Can you move your toes?" Helen asked again. "Do you know your name?"

"I think so." He wiggled his toes. "Justin."

"Hey, you're named like my boyfriend!"

"Dani, he is Justin. We all look different but—" Nick began explaining but Dani waved him off.

"Don't be ridiculous, plastic surgery isn't that great yet."

"Tell Dani I love her and that I'm sorry we weren't able to—" the rest of his words were smothered by Dani's hand over his mouth.

"Okay I believe you. You're Justin and I'm Dani and I'll kill you if you die." She lifted her hands off his lips. "Or do anything strenuous such as talking."

Justin nodded and blinked until there was only one pair of hazel eyes looking at him. "I need to sit up." He struggled to sit up. The room began spinning and he held out a hand that Dani took. Another pair of hand supported his back.

Helen hissed from behind him.

"What's wrong?" The man with the deep voice asked.

"His skin is so cold." She said through gritted teeth and continued holding him up.

"No it isn't. It feels normal to me." Dani said.

"Helen let go and let Dani support him." Ari frowned at the blue tinge of Helen's fingers. Helen did immediately and rubbed them together to get circulation back.

Nick looked at Helen's hands then down at Claudia's bare shoulder before him. He startled Claudia by brushing a finger on her shoulder. He withdrew his hand instantly and blew on it. "Damn Claudia you're hot!" he said, shaking his hand and breathing threw his teeth. "Literally."

Claudia stared agape at him. "Are you kidding me?" she said irritated.

"No!" he said and met the eyes of the man with the deep voice. "Go ahead, poke her and see—" he broke off. "Oh God that was horrible. I'm sorry Claude, that came out really, really wrong." Nick apologized.

The man shook his head and bent for Helen. "Does it still hurt?"

"No, it's getting better. Thanks." She smiled.

"Maybe you should hold her hand Claudia and warm her." Nick said. All the faces turned to him in annoyance. He held up his arms in a gesture of surrender. "Please don't hurt me, I'm sorry. I'm gonna shut up now." Nick said and stepped back and sat on the bed.

"So you're Nick, Claudia, Ari, Helen," Dani gestured to each of them as she called their name. "This one here is Justine." She bent her head to kiss his forehead. She then turned to the man with the low voice. "Who does that make you?" she asked.

All their faces turned to him. He was tall and muscular but not too much. His skin was tanned. His hair was long and curly, rich mahogany. It was tied at his nape. He looked like a Viking but his eyes held a gentleness that reminded you of a kind but strict professor. Those eyes blinked at them. He looked down on his body and narrowed his eyes at something that they all somehow missed.

He lifted his eyes again and stared at them helplessly. "I'm Li." He said.

A loud crash cut off what would have been multiple interesting reactions. They all turned towards the wall on the opposite side of the room. It imploded and showered them with dust and debris. Two figures rushed in shouting even before the dust cleared.

"Run!" Came a deep, male, booming voice.

They all scrambled to their feet, hissing but generally ignoring the pain of accidentally touching each other.

"Why?" Ari demanded, even though deep inside in a place she refused to acknowledge how she was thankful for the interruption.

"What is this now?" Came a whine from Dani.

"What are you waiting for? It's coming!" A woman emerged from the dust holding a whip and herding them towards the wall.

"Oh great they expect people to run through walls now." Ari almost giggled at Claudia's sarcastic comment. A shadow fell over Ari and she looked up to find the source of the big booming voice. All she could do was stare. He was huge.

"As you wish my lady," he said, bowing to Claudia before running head first into the wall.

At the same moment a huge, drooling and smelly mouth pushed its way through the wall the earlier two had created. It would seem that they were not the only thing awakened this day.

Helen screamed as she saw the slimy and moss covered worm eat its way through the hole the two people made. It had pointy and jagged teeth that formed a ring around its mouth. It had several yellow rows of them inside his mouth and it happily munched on the wall like it were a crunchy bar of chocolate instead of a solid marble wall. It was disgustingly fascinating.

She turned away to help Dani and Li—Oh God Li—get Justin up. They headed towards the other hole in the wall that the huge man made. Ari was leading the way and she was followed closely by Li and Dani who were helping Justin. Helen felt Claudia pull her to the exit and Nick, ever the gentleman followed behind them.

They ran as fast as they could, following the couple that led the worm inside in the first place. They run up a grand staircase and turned left. There was a row of torches that were unlit and the couple grabbed one each. Ari grabbed two torches, Li, Helen, Claudia and Nick grabbed one each. The path curved sharply and they found themselves in a dark and narrow corridor. There were rows and rows of pillars that they did not have time to examine. Helen was awed when they entered a hall and found themselves in an even more beautiful room than they were earlier. The room was large and dome shaped and it was grand despite its emptiness. The dome reminded her of jello. The shape of the molds often looked like this. Interesting. Did the structures influence the food design or did the food design cause the structure? Perhaps it was another one of her chicken and egg question… but then she firmly believed that it was bacteria that started everything. Not egg or chicken… but that wasn't really the question of the— Helen broke off when she saw the main sculpture of the room.

Before them, in the centermost part of the hall was a figure that somehow called to her. It was a woman with her arms outstretched to the heavens, offering herself or taking for herself but Helen had little time to look because the couple grabbed either hand and pulled down. This made the figure's arms stretch sideways in a pose of surrender. She blinked away a sense of déjà. There was a deep rumbling and beneath the statue opened a narrow staircase.

They ran to it and followed the spiral down as fast as they dared to. The threat of falling or tripping seems trivial when compared to getting chewed on by that hideous worm creature. Helen gagged as the stench of the creature reached them. She covered her mouth to keep away the putrid smell. She gagged again but stopped herself from throwing up. Perhaps it ate rotten meat. Why would it be running—well, crawling after them if it were a scavenger? Or maybe it ate both live and dead creatures. Like komodo dragons. The thought scared her even more as she thought of all the bacteria that would eat away at her flesh—

"Helen! Are you alright?" Claudia asked her and it was only then that she noticed they had finally stopped.

"Yeah, sorry I was daydreaming… thinking." She said as she slid down to her feet and breathed her fill of none toxic oxygen.

Claudia looked at her weirdly. "You were daydreaming while we were being chased by that smelly worm?"

"I was thinking about komodo dragons."

"Right. Nothing like a big giant worm to remind you of dragons."

"Hey, you're one to talk! Soy sauce reminds you of—"

"You stop right there or I'll burn something really vital!" Claudia raised both her hands as a threat. They smiled ruefully at each other and the silliness of their actions.

"What the hell was that?" They turned towards Ari who was addressing the couple who were sprawled on the last steps of the stairs.

"Worm, it's come to eat you." The huge man was panting. He hated having to exert himself and it was apparent as he wiped sweat off his forehead with the back of his arms.

"Really? They've come to eat us? I would never have known! I wouldn't even have recognized it as a worm." Claudia muttered under her breath even as Nick asked the couple who they were.

"Pardon us," The huge man said again and they stood up as if in attention and would have bowed if it weren't for the rumble they heard from above. Dust showered over them as they sensed something heavy pass directly above them.

"We need to get somewhere safer first." The woman said and gestured towards the furthest part of the room. Twin doors stood at its center. It looked heavy and somehow intact despite the fact that it looked ancient to Helen. Another shiver tickled her spine as she felt apprehension and attraction.

"What is in there?" Dani asked rubbing her shoulders to warm them. Helen could tell that the shoulder was hurting but Dani was not complaining. Perhaps she didn't want Justin to feel bad for causing it.

"Weapons." The huge man said. "You should go in there and gather weapons while we try to find the worm." He picked up the torch he took and scraped it hard on the floor. Sparks flew in a graceful arch. They were bathed in a golden light. He extended the torch towards them and they lit their own torches. Ari passed one of her torches to Dani who was staying close to Justin. Helen wanted to try to light her own torch but then no sparks flew from her efforts.

"You need a little more speed and weight." Justin sidled towards her.

"Justin? Are you feeling better?" Helen asked. She wasn't sure what to do with shock patients but she's willing to bet he felt like hell and his heart hurt like hell-er.

"Yeah, I feel better when I'm not touched." His eyes looked somewhat dizzy. He shook his head as if to clear it. "I think I can walk, or hobble my way towards the door. Let's save the touching when the worm is around and I've to run."

Dani glared at Justin as she rubbed circulation back into her arms. She then stood up and bumped against him as she moved forward. She didn't look back. Justin looked at her with narrowed eyes, as if wondering why she was acting this way. Helen's lips twitched because she could hear Dani muttering even from where she was.

They reached the door and only then did they notice the gem hued flowers that decorated the door. Their vines crisscrossed the door. Helen was pretty sure she never saw a flower quiet like it, or even with this particular shade. She reached for the flower and squeaked as thorns grew out of her skin from contact. The thorns of her skin shredded the pretty flower. The petals drifted down gently. The golden light and the petals caused her to feel another wave of familiarity. She shook it off. "What happened just now?" she turned around to address the group.

"You killed the flower." Claudia said staring at the petals. She also had a look of bewilderment, as if the scene was familiar somehow.

"No kidding, I just touched it—" Helen stopped when she looked at the huge man looking at her with a look she didn't recognize.

"You have no control yet… the legends, they say your body protects you so any living creature that you touch or touches you, dies."

"But I touched Claudia." Nick pointed out.

"The warriors are immune to each other. They will feel the pain but they will not die of it."

"That explains the not wanting to touch thing of Justin." Helen looked at him. Dani's muttering stopped. It was only Justin who seemed oblivious to her mutterings. Helen's eyes narrowed. Justin was both the most perceptive and the most oblivious to Dani. He seemed to choose the time to be oblivious. Li's softly voiced sentence distracted her.

"Then why don't just touch the worm?" Li hated drawing attention to him but thought it was worth it to be able to know the answer.

"It's a messenger. Once the messenger dies they will know you are alive. We must keep them from knowing."

"Who are they?" Dani asked.

A rumble came from somewhere above and there was that awful bacteria smell again. They covered their mouths with their hands. Helen thought of all the bacteria she the worm carried in its mouth and shuddered visibly.

"We do not have time. Only the warriors can enter the room. There will be a river inside and you must drink from it. It heals so you should wash your injuries with it. Also, there in the room are the Pebbles of Power. You must take one each. We must go and lead the worm away." The woman and the man turned and run swiftly up the stairs.

They stared after them even after the light of their torches disappeared into the next hall. They turned around and stared at the twin doors. They pushed it open.

Light bathed them again. It was as bright as the hall they woke up in. Instead of a river though, they saw a fountain. The fountain had a complicated scale in the middle of it and it had stones of varying sizes balanced on it.

"Shouldn't we be careful? Or be wary about going in and out halls just because they tell us to?" Helen said as they all remained outside of the room.

"Or wary that we've to get pebbles?" Ari asked.

"There's nothing wrong with pebbles." Helen said. "But I don't think I want to touch that scale and shift it."

"I don't care about the scale or the pebble but I want Justin well so I can have a fight with him fair and square. He's using his injuries as an unfair advantage." Dani stormed into the hall despite the cries of everybody else.

Nothing happened. They took this as a good sign and walked inside too. They closed the door after them. Helen sat down, no sank down the floor in relief. The others must have felt as exhausted as she did because they did the same.

They caught their breath and for a short time nobody spoke.

Helen felt Claudia sit up and stare at someone beside her. She turned to see Li sitting with his or her back to the door. Everyone noticed too. And the room became thick with silence.

"You're hot!" Claudia grinned, breaking the silence.

"Thank you… I guess." He looked warily at them. "I'm ah, male." He said in his newly deepened voice.

"Yeah, it's kind of hard to miss… so, are you really male? With all the good parts?" She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

Claudia's teasing seemed to have eased the tension that had somehow surrounded them. Li opened his mouth and closed it again, not knowing how to answer Claudia.

"Stop it Claude, you're embarrassing him… her… er Li." Dani saved him.

"How do we know you really are Li and not another person?" Ari asked as she looked at him, her expression ready to smother him if he told them anything she didn't want them to know. Assuming he was the real Li.

"Can we set our priorities straight here? Can we check if he really is male… first?" Claudia was still grinning.

"Claudia you will not have a look at my male parts. You never saw my female parts and I wouldn't want to start now."

Claudia grinned wider. She was sure that this was Li. The first time she met the female Li she wouldn't believe he was female and so asked for a little preview. It had been an ongoing joke between them.

"Maybe we could worry about that later and find the weapons they were talking about. I don't know about you guys but I do not want to be worm food." Nick strode into the room towards the center.

"I don't see any weapons nor do I see any rivers… therefore, we should just all play doctor! We'll be the doctor, Li'll be the patient!" Claudia piped in but she followed Nick into the room.

The rest followed into the room.

"When I find out who sent us here I am so gonna skin that person," Ari took a breath. "Alive!" She screamed. "And I'm gonna start with his or her little pinky. I'll skin it then pull off the nail then pinch off the muscles…" She followed into the room. "Where are those weapons? I need a sword to cut my hair off. It's annoying. It gets in the way of everything. It reminds me of the asshole I slept with. I'm gonna call him a worm. I'm gonna feed him to that disgusting worm out there and not feel a drop of pity. Well, I'd pity the worm but then he tried to kill us so whatever. He deserves eating another worm. They're cannibals anyway. Then I'm going to burn them alive but not before the worm digests him a lot. I'm going to fry them. I'll electrocute—"

"Ari? Can we please the stop the electrocute talk? I still feel the shocks going through me." Justin came cutting Ari's monologue. Dani rolled her eyes but Justin didn't notice.

"Sorry baby, I'm just pissed. Nothing like a worm, another worm and the hair to ruin my day." Helen looked hard at Ari. She was taking things well until the mention of Li. Helen narrowed her eyes at Li who was walking around the hall quietly. Perhaps Ari did not like Li male. Why? Helen thought to herself as she scrutinized Li. He…she…he was walking around the fountain studying the scale. He seemed caught up in whatever he was studying. Li still retained his gracefulness though, she noted. He still walked like a cat. He was definitely more male now though, what with those shoulders. Helen laughed at herself. She never knew till now that she had a certain partiality to shoulders.

Dani was following behind Helen and the director was muttering to herself again, studying the room already. Helen wished she could hear and see the film that was already running through Dani's head. Dani seemed to be already doing the casting; she was eyeing the people around her, looking for the perfect person to cast.

Helen immediately walked behind Claudia before Dani could point her dangerous eyes at her. Helen sat on the mouth of the fountain while Claudia stood and looked at the scale.

"I don't think we should touch it." Claudia told the room.

"I agree… I don't think we should trust them." Nick answered.

"Where is the river they told us to bathe in?" Justin asked, obviously bothered by his unseen injuries.

"The same place the weapons are in. Can't you see them?" Claudia remarked, her sarcasm apparent. She looked at the water to check her reflection. "Oooh!!" She pointed at the water. "There they are!"

"Helen I think with your new look you could star in one of my projects.

Helen didn't even bother looking. She just closed her eyes and groaned. So much for hiding. She was shaking her head as a no.

"Dani? I think you should concentrate on Justin now and not me. He's injured."

"He's running around, living without me already—"

"Honey, don't be like that! You know I love you—"

Helen groaned louder. The bickering was not something she felt like putting up with right now. She was thankful they were in some other world that did not have any cameras whatsoever.

"I'm serious!" Claudia reached for the sword nearest her. They floated around the scale, tip pointing towards the water. Her hand closed over the handle and it materialized. Ari, Nick and Li stepped towards the fountain and reached for the swords nearest them. Swords materialized as they gripped the handle.

"Don't you dare pick up a sword over apologizing to me! I swear I will stab you with it!" Dani cried.

Instead of answering Dani's demands as he would have usually done Justin called Helen's name in alarm instead.

Helen turned around to face the couple questioningly, not quite hearing what Justin called out then something pulled her in. Water pulled her under and after a breath, everything went black.