Recknab leaned against the stone wall at the end of the long, dark corridor. He’d lit the floor and ceiling but the dust and fume from the collapsed stairs made it difficult to see and breathe.
Anders, still held by Recknab, hacked hard but managed to choke out, “All right, then. Thanks. You can put me down now. Please!”
The gargoyle smiled wanly and set him gently on the gritty floor. “I’m sorry about stepping on you…my attention had been elsewhere.”
“We’ve been over that,” Anders replied. “Don’t worry about it.” He bent down and ran his finger over his long, nasty new scar.
“OK, so where are we, and why are we here?” Peter said hoarsely.
Kimar slowly scanned his squad. “We have come to the entrance to the Temple of Kahrnahrgx,” he intoned.
“Ah.” By the tone of Peter’s voice, Danielle could tell he wished he’d not have asked.
“Why did we have to risk annihilation in running—and flying—here?” Amy asked. “Couldn’t we have just parted in, done our business, and then parted out?”
Lohxnahr smiled. “Simply impossible.”
“Why is that?” Amy pressed.
“Too many defenses are in place now,” the little gargoyle replied, beaming.
“Kimar, we don’t have time for this!” Mahtrance muttered, his head awkwardly tipped forward because of the corridor’s low ceiling. “The rubble above is already being cleared away. Our time grows short!”
“Agreed, Mahtrance,” Kimar replied, speaking quickly. “Amy, we cannot part into the Temple. Kahrnahrgx has mounted too many defenses for us to get through. This makes our mission much more difficult. But our enemies also cannot part into the Temple. So they, too, must come down the stairwell. But come they will.” He paused, motioning behind him. “On the other side of this door is the special Temple room. It is certain that it will be defended by sentries long stationed here. My comrades and I have already devised an attack sequence. We need Danielle to unlock this door with her key and then get to the center of the dais, which is in the far right corner, and then—”
“Wait! Where’s Kahrnahrgx? Where is he, Kimar?” Amy yelled. “Is he in…there?” She stabbed her finger towards the stone door.
Recknab stepped in front of the door. “We do not know, Amy. We have not been able to sense his location. We know he’s near.”
“Oh, that’s just great!” she hissed. “Just fantastic, really! So, you propose we simply march into this Temple—this certain trap!—and assist our daughter in…somehow…destroying…”
“Kimar!” Recknab interrupted. “We absolutely do not have time for thi—”
A horrendous explosion blew Recknab off his massive feet. Anders instinctively ducked his head and rolled into the hallway as much of the roof over the doorway collapsed inches behind him and onto Recknab.
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