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LEVEL 10: AVATAR OF HOPE
Virgil. The name tugged on the seams of my memories. The name held a heavy significance and had to do with the Zach from my visions, which made sense. This guy claimed to be the Silver Star's guardian, but he appeared to be a talking corpse. I decided watching my tongue to be the best bet.
“We have little time.” Virgil crossed his arms. “I would ask that you travel with us back to our home. No violence, please.”
“And if we don’t?” Dyonna stepped forward, holding her hands out, ready to fight. “You gonna kill us?”
The other Lonely Ones in the back shifted on their heels, which had me on edge. If they were as strong and fast as Kiki told us, they'd rip us to shred in seconds. Even without super stats, they outnumbered our trio.
Virgil frowned. “To clarify, my asking was more of courtesy. It is a demand. You will come with us, or you will die. Even if we don't kill you, the level two will.”
“Level two?” Adrenaline trickled into my veins. No matter how fast we ran, we never could escape these guys; not with Kiki. I had a good idea he meant the transformed corpses; the ones as big as cars.
With a profound sigh, I held up my hands in defeat. “We’ll come with you.”
Dyonna threw her fist. “Ya gotta be kidding, girlo!”
Kiki gripped my arm, shaking her head. “I don't want to go. They're bad people!”
Glancing over the group of Lonely Ones, they didn't look evil, save the corpse status. I took Kiki's hands and kneeled.
“There’s no point in getting ourselves killed.” I turned to Dyonna. “We need to all stay alive, don't we? And we do not want to run into level two undead, I promise.”
“But they took our boys!” Kiki's voice dropped. “What if they turn on us?”
“Don't worry little girl.” Virgil held his hands wide. “We wish to no harm, but if you force our hand, we will not hold back.”
Dyonna crossed her arms. “Ya wanna eat us.”
“We have not the urges of hunger, or any other bodily needs.”
An echoing roar bounced through the caves. Dyonna, Kiki, and I jumped, spinning back.
Virgil he frowned. “If you come, I promise you safety, but I also promise you now the creatures that are now coming, only eat other corpses. These will tear you limb from limb.”
That set my adrenaline on full throttle. The time to move arrived. “We’re coming!”
As hesitant as the girls were, they both nodded their agreement.
Virgil smiled and pointed to the cave tunnel. “Then we fly.”
I prepared to sprint, but to my surprise, Virgil grabbed me around my waist, hoisted me over his shoulder, and took off as if launched from a cannon.
We were going so fast, a scream caught in my throat. The torch fell in the muck. I could see little, but more than once I spotted a stalagmite or stalactite in our path, but Virgil sidestepped each one. A crevice appeared, and it went so far across, I couldn’t spot the other side. My heart leaped into my throat, and I thought we'd taken a wrong turn, but we jumped. With one arm and foot, we kicked off a random stalactite somewhere in the middle of the pit, and continued to another and then landed as smooth as silk. After the insane leap, Virgil deposited me on the ground.
With adrenaline pumping through my veins, our run had been amazing. As they set Kiki by another guardian, she squealed, “Oh em gee that was the greatest! It was way better than roller coasters!”
They dropped Dyonna to the ground. She doubled over, grabbing her belly and dry heaving.
I regarded Virgil, hands on my hips. “Those things. Were they...?”
“They are level two. That happens when the virus evolves inside an undead's veins.”
I looked back, fearing they'd follow. “Those are the corpses that get stronger.”
The Lonely leader nodded. “If left alone, yes. This is why we often send out hunting parties to extinguish their general population, but not all evolve, just the ones that devour the most human beings.”
I shook my head and wiped my brow. “Like experience points, wonderful.”
After Dyonna had stopped hacking, she lifted her face. “Are ya guys undead, too? Do you evolve?”
Virgil closed his eyes. “Not evolve. We... exist.”
“How do you, um, happen?”
“Do not concern yourself. We have arrived at Hyrool.”
My eyes grew large as we stood before a cave of magnificent proportion. Lonely Ones stared, peeking out of holes in the walls of the city-sized cavern. Torches sat in sconces that I doubt they needed. Our blind run made that obvious. Did they have them because they knew of my travels?
Virgil didn't hesitate, he followed a path around the outer rim, and the Lonely Ones we approached stepped out his way, signifying either great fear or respect. The others in his posse had vanished, so the three of us followed only Virgil. Soon we walked in a network of caves, and halls. Did this city exist before the apocalypse?
Virgil led us into a room with mismatched furniture. Old couches sat around, with floor lamps tied together, and a series of fold-up table in the center—A makeshift war room.
My eyes landed on Arik and Charles lounging on a couch.
“Girls!” They leaped to their feet and ran to us.
I hugged them each. “You're alive!”