Chapter 4: Trapped
Eliot blinked open her eyes and took in the gray, black and blue landscape swaying above her. She placed a hand on the back of her head and was even more confused not to feel a bump; with the way she was knocked out and the way her head was throbbing, Eliot expected a knot the size of softball to be back there. Eliot blinked the cloudiness from her vision and bewilderedly analyzed the world around her.
It was a desert of black and gray. The rocks crunched under her damp sneakers as she shifted, trying as best as she could to take in what she supposed was her new prison. Hanging from the wet, crumbling ceiling were rubbery, thick vines, oozing with a foreign black liquid.
At one end of the cave Eliot could see an enormous gate. Under the dark muck and centuries of erosion, Eliot imagined the gate gleaming as a symbol of security and prosperity, but now the dull bars signified nothing but her impending doom. Eliot panned her head around and looked at the other end of the seemingly endless strip of blackened ground and ash and found a lake. No, it was too large to be a lake. It was a sea.
Peering through the gray fog Eliot felt her throat suddenly becomes absent of any moisture. Swallowing, Eliot tried to elicit some sort of saliva to soothe the burning, but it was pointless. Seemingly in a trance, Eliot began walking on wobbling legs and propelled her body to her sea of sudden salvation.
As Eliot walked deeper into the thick mist, the water seemed even clearer and crisper as she came closer. Eliot reminded herself of her mission as her throat tightened in anticipation at her mental foreshadowing of the cold water drenching her throat. Eliot stood on the edge of the sea, poised to bend at one knee and take the liquid in her hands, but before she could an ice cold grip on her ankle startled her into falling backwards onto the shore.
With a shout Eliot kicked out in blind panic, images of soulless black eyes and decaying skin flashing in her mind. When Eliot was released she scrambled as quickly as she could to a large boulder for protection. Crouched, scared to death (or more death) Eliot was surprised to hear the aggravated voice of the God of Death, yelling at her from behind her boulder of protection.
"Idiot! Stop hiding, get out here!"
Eliot poked her head out from the rock and echoed her thoughts "Than?"
Than rolled his eyes and snapped at her "Of course. Who else would it be?"
She walked out from behind the boulder and stopped in front of his reclined body. "Where the hell are we, man?" Eliot whispered, her voice bouncing out into the cave and quickly becoming lost in the fog.
Than swallowed thickly and let his hoarse voice pour into the atmosphere for his explanations "We are in the Cave of the Damned. It's the prison of souls that I deem unworthy to live in my kingdom."
Eliot looked around at the empty listless fog and heard trickling water and shifting gravel, and nothing else. "But where are the souls?"
"The souls are a floor up obeying my traitor brother. They're the things that sucked every bit of soul from your hand there."
Eliot looked down at her right hand and screamed in shock at its condition. Her hand was grayed and withered, looking as if it had aged one hundred years and should be six feet under being fed upon by maggots rather than be connected to her wrist.
"My hand, what the hell happened to my hand!?"
"Like I said, any particle of soul that was stuck in your hand was absorbed by when the damned touched you. They're own souls are cursed and festering so any fresh soul makes them delirious with hunger. It's a side effect of the sea."
Eliot turned around, forgetting her destroyed hand and stared at the water lapping at the dark sand adjacent to her feet. Eliot felt her throat parch, imagining how good it would feel to have a cool sip of water. "This water? Seriously? I was dying for a drink!"
Than huffed out a laugh and waved a gloved hand weakly at the large body of water. "Go ahead, you won't die from it. It'll just burn the soul in your body from the inside and slowly poison the rest of you terribly until you melt. I've heard it's an extremely pleasant feeling." He finished sarcastically.
Eliot felt her shoulders droop in disappointment. In rebellion, Eliot felt her throat her become dry even more, soon resembling a desert of some sort. "Crap." Muttered Eliot. Eliot grumbled for a moment before noticing Than's uncharacteristic silence. Than's motionless body was lying at her feet, his normally smooth dark skin was now ashen and grayed in color and beads of sweat slowly dripped down the sides of his face and under his strong jaw.
Eliot also noticed how his breathing seemed labored and harsh, as if doing something so simple and voluntary took too much out of him. "Than..." she began, "Are you alright?".
Than's eyes snapped towards her own to glare nastily as her before he used what was left of his energy to flip over and show Eliot his back. "I'm fine, leave me alone."
Eliot rolled her eyes and crouched down to nudge at his shoulder.
"Stop being stubborn, I just want to see if I can help...if even you don't deserve it." Eliot grumbled, tacking on the barb to end of her statement.
Eliot sighed and rolled her eyes again, becoming even more annoyed at Than for making her annoyingly repetitive. Eliot moved her hand away and set in motion to use her healthy hand to feel bare skin of Than's forehead and spoke to him. "Here, let me check if you have a fever."
Eliot jerked in shock as Than's hand gripped her wrist tightly, any sign of his weakness and fatigue gone. "Don't touch me!" he barked, before pushing her hand away.
At this point, Eliot was even more frustrated with her situation. She was trapped on the shore of the Sea of the Dead with an uncooperative, sour man-child. Here she was, just trying to help and the guy won't even speak to her with a polite tone!
"Stop being an ass! I'm just trying to help!" Eliot yelped back at, her voice cracking at her frustration.
"Look, I don't care what you're trying to do. Just don't touch me."
"Does it even matter if I touch you or not? What is the big deal?" Eliot exploded at him.
"The big deal is…" Than began, his voice raising angrily, "the fact that if you touch my bare skin, your soul will be bound to mine forever. And I do NOT want to see your ugly face for the next couple of millennia."
Like she had burned, Eliot snatched her hand back, even scrambling back a few feet to put a few feet of distance between the two of them before speaking.
"Seriously? How are we supposed to get out of here if I can't touch you?"
Than closed his eyes as his breath came out short and heavy as he spoke "Why do you need to touch me to get out of here?"
"You obviously can't walk on your own! What's wrong with you, anyways? You were fine when you floor upstairs."
"Getting dragged down a hole by a hoard of damned souls you imprisoned since the creation of human existence will do that to a guy." Than replied. With a sigh he continued his explanation. "Mortimer took my scythe. I had been using it for so long that my powers and its powers are intertwined. If we are separated for too long it will drain all of my power and soul out of me."
"Shit." Eliot muttered in disbelief.
"Yeah." Than agreed breathlessly, "Shit.
"So we're stuck here for the rest of our supernatural lives?"
Than let out a winded chuckle and muttered "I guess you'll just have to carry on my wayward son."
Eliot shot him a confused look, but Than just rolled his eyes and laid back down on the ground.
"We probably won't be here for long, anyway."
Eliot let a sigh of complete an utter relief and fell to the floor, exuberant. "You know how to escape?" She asked excitedly.
"No. Mortimer will probably send something down here to kill us, so we won't suffer for very long. I think."
Eliot threw up her hands towards the sky in exasperation. "Seriously!?" That's your plan? Wait here to die? What kind of crap is that?"
Than glared as hard as he possibly could with the sliver of energy he had left "Do you have a better plan? Because if you don't, you can shut the hell up!"
Eliot's shoulders slumped in defeat. She rolled on the ground and snuggled into the damp rocks. She might as well be comfortable while she died.
As Eliot laid on the wet rocks, quietly sulking about her upcoming death, she brought her hand to her face to wipe the sweat off of her forehead and was surprised to see she was trembling. She hadn't even noticed that.
However Eliot quickly realized that it wasn't her that was trembling, but the ground beneath her. Eliot jack knifed upwards and pushed Than with her foot.
"Don't you feel that?"
Eliot waited for his answer anxiously and impatiently for a moment before rolling him over to face her. Much to her demise, Than was out cold. Eliot felt rivulets of sweat trickle down the back of her neck as she heard the groaning creak of the dilapidated gate open, letting the rumbling grow violent enough to momentarily deafen her. A moment of blinding fear captured her, what the hell did they send down here to kill them?