Chapter 16: The Underground
They travel for a few minutes and then start to rise up.
‘Kneel down so we can just pop our heads up and see if it’s safe.’ Lance kneels down and
follows his lead. Arnold
The platform rises up a little. Lance stands up and his head vanishes from
sight. He motions with his hand for Arnold
to stand up too. Arnold stands up and is in a dark forest surrounded by trees
that creak as they sway with the wind. Arnold
‘I’ll go grab the bark,’ Lance says. Arnold pulls out the medallion and shines it into the forest for Lance. He hears a crunch and rip and then Lance runs back to the platform with a piece of bark in his hand.
They both kneel down and
breaks the piece
of bark in half. Arnold
‘How do we know where the survivors of Sysmiosis are hiding?’
’s surprise, Lance pulls out a gadget.
He places a part of it in his ear and slides the other part on the wall around
‘This way,’ he says.
They move through the underground and arrive at the top of a staircase. They follow the staircase down until they get to a steel door at the bottom.
‘Who is it?’ A voice asks from behind.
‘It’s Arnold and Lance,’
brought an antidote for the people of Sysmiosis.’ Arnold
Voices can be heard from behind the door, and then the door unlocks and begins to open.
Behind the door, five people stand with white tattered clothing draped over their bodies.
‘Come in,’ the one in the front says. They enter a room with limestone walls. The people are thin, with sunken eyes. They look at Arnold and Lance suspiciously. Four of them sit on benches along the walls, but the man in front remains standing and shakes hands with Arnold and Lance.
‘Welcome,’ he says. ‘My name is Suni and these are my brothers and sisters of the underground.’
‘Nice to meet you all,’
says, smiling. They
don’t smile in return. Arnold
‘We’ve been expecting you,’ Suni says.
the others, who don’t seem happy to see him. Arnold
‘Forgive them,’ Suni says. ‘They have been through a lot and their souls have nearly given up. If you were any later, we wouldn’t have made it. Please, tell us how you intend to cure our people.’
‘We have an antidote,’
says. He awaits
cheers, but is disappointed. Arnold
‘That’s fine,’ Suni says, ‘but the problem lies in our poisoned soil. It would be great to cure them, but without having clean soil to grow food, we are destined to be poisoned again.’
‘I understand your concerns,’
says, ‘but you
must have faith that this is only part of the process. I need to do this here
and then head back to Arnold to find out what to
do next. Your soil will become fruitful again, and this is the first step.’ Light
‘Okay then,’ Suni says, letting out a smile. ‘We will do what you ask.’
‘This is such great news,’ a woman sitting on the bench says, ‘it fulfils the omen.’
‘An omen?’ Lance says.
‘Yes,’ the woman says, ‘the other day while I was out searching for food, I found a beautifully crafted bag of sand. In our culture, sand represents rebirth, so we saw it as a sign that good things were coming.’
‘May I see this bag of sand?’
‘Certainly, but why?’ Suni asks.
‘I believe that it may contain something that I’m looking for.’
‘What is it that you seek?’ The woman asks, now standing beside Suni.
‘If that bag of sand is the one I’m looking for, it holds a woman’s voice. She used to heal people with it, but it was stolen from her and thrown into the sky.’
‘Well,’ Suni says, ‘let’s make sure that your potion works. If it does, we’ll give you the sand as your reward.’
The bottle bubbles and releases smoke, shining a bright light that causes everyone to shield their eyes. When they look back, the bottle has thousands of little pebbles inside of it.
then repeats the
process with the other bottle and hands one of them to Suni. Arnold
‘What now?’ Lance asks.
‘I guess we should go up to the city to see if it works.’
says confidently. He isn’t used to being the one to lead. Arnold
‘I would advise against that,’ Suni says. ‘It’s too risky to go up there until we know for sure.’
‘Why don’t we try it on Ray?’ The woman asks.
‘Good idea,’ Suni says.
‘Ray is a Pig-man that we captured. He’s nearly dead because we haven’t been feeding him sludge. Follow me.’ Suni leads them though an ivory white room and they arrive at a small jail cell. The jail cell holds a half pig, half man inside of it. He peers up and oinks as they file in.
Suni retrieves a pebble from the vial and holds it out for him to take. Ray approaches, smells the pebble, and then moves away.
Suni tosses it at Ray and when it hits his skin he morphs back into human form immediately.
Everyone cheers while Ray gains his posture back and stands up slowly. Suni unlocks the cage and Ray walks out, still attempting to focus his eyes on them all.
‘It’s over, Ray’ Suni says. ‘This man has brought us our freedom.’ Suni motions to
‘Thank you,’ Ray hugs Arnold and then turns to Suni and the others. ‘We must help the others! It’s torture- you see what you’ve become yet have no control over it!’
‘We should have enough for the entire city in these two bottles,’ Suni says. He turns to
with teary eyes. ‘You’ve
brought hope back into our hearts. Now we can begin to re-build our great city!
Mona, give him the sandbag.’ Arnold
Mona reaches into her small sack and pulls out a delicate sandbag with embroidery and beads sewn on it. She presents it to
with both hands. Arnold
Arnold stands with pride as he’s handed Tina’s voice in a sandbag. He places it carefully into his satchel. ‘This will help us rebuild this broken world,’ he says.
‘You must continue your journey,
. We’ll take this
task upon ourselves and await your return.’ Suni shakes hands with Arnold and
‘We’ll continue our mission and be back as soon as we can.’ Arnold follows the underground people through the limestone room and up the stairs. They open the concrete door and are inside an abandoned pawn shop. Arnold hears an army of pig-people all around, stomping on the ground and polluting the air with foul war cries.
Suni distributes piles of pebbles and nods to the others as they run outside. Lance takes out the platform and he and
onto it. They dip into the ground and Arnold takes out his map. ‘This is where
Light City is,’ he points, ‘hold onto the medallion with me and we’ll try to
rise up on the main street of the city.’ Arnold
They hold onto the medallion and travel for a few minutes under the ground.
Chapter 17: Debrief
Lance and Arnold rise up on the main street of Light City. The streets of the city are nearly empty, but a few wanderers populate the streets.
Arnold and Lance walk by the third door, which now has four people drumming outside of it.
‘Welcome back!’ Lucidia says as she gets closer. She hugs him and gives him a
peck on his cheek.
Arnold blushes. ‘It’s all thanks to Vialba, that silver ball, and Lance! This is Lance. Lance, this is Lucidia and Jed.’
‘Great to have you back,
!’ Jed says, placing
a hand on Arnold ’s
shoulder and looking like a proud father. ‘We should get back to the library.’ Arnold
As they walk, Jed talks to Lance while Arnold and Lucidia walk behind them holding hands.
‘I think I found Tina’s voice!’
suddenly says, realizing
that he hadn’t told Lucidia yet. Arnold
‘That’s fantastic!’ Jed yells from up ahead.
‘How did it happen?’ Lucidia asks as they continue walking.
‘It was a fluke- the underground people of Sysmiosis found it and gave it to me as a reward for the antidote!’
‘That’s exciting! Jed told me all about Tina and what to do if we find her voice! And I read a book about her!’
There’s a book about her?’
‘Yeah! I remember you said that she came from another planet, which is true, but she’s hardly an alien. She was born on another planet because her mother was stolen and hidden by an evil witch while she was pregnant. Apparently there was a prophecy that Tina would be a healer, so they hid her pregnant mother in the farthest edge of the universe. Her mother died giving birth, but a universal traveler found her and brought her (unknowingly) back home. It took her 40 years for her to get back here!’
says. ‘Have you seen her in your
dreams at all lately?’ Arnold
‘I have!’ They walk up the stairs to the library and go inside. ‘Let’s get in here and we’ll explain the plan.’ Jed and Lance are already sitting at the desk, so Arnold and Lucidia join them and they began to discuss the next steps to the plan.
Jed pulls out the list of the four tasks and puts a line over Sysmiosis Sludge. ‘That feels good, but we’re only at the beginning, unfortunately.’
‘What do we do next?’
asks, feeling a
‘First,’ Jed says, ‘I need to tell you about Two-Way Town. There’s a true origin that only I know, and an origin that has plagued the people there since the bomb. The people of Two-Way Town think the town was founded by two enemies who fought and killed each other over the land many years ago. Each side’s people are descendants of their side’s founder, and so each side avenges their side’s hero. The town is at war constantly, and their tourism industry is booming!
‘The true origin, though, is that Two-Way Town was founded by two brothers (Zack Two and Toby Two) who got along fine. But with this mirage origin, everyone’s at war with their relatives and they don’t even know it.’
Jed pulls out two laminated birth certificates and places them on the table. ‘You need to get these to the right people to prove to them that the founders were brothers. I have instructed Lucidia on what to do.’
Lucidia nods. Jed hands her a camera.
‘Another interesting and sad thing about Two-Way Town,’ Jed says, ‘is that every hour the sides are swapped, so they defend both sides as their own, back and forth inevitably.’
‘What do we do about Tina’s voice?’
‘I’ve been communicating with her in my dreams,’ Lucidia says. ‘She’s heading to Two-Way Town, but we just missed the last train.’
‘Why don’t you take this?’ Lance says, pointing to his traveling platform.’ She’s fast and she’ll get you anywhere.’
‘She?’ Arnold says with a garbled expression.
‘Yeah. Let me show you.’ Lance places the platform onto the ground and unlatches a small door on the back. They all bend down and look inside to see a small elephant with unicorns as legs. The unicorns are upside down so the elephant walks on the four horns.
Arnold, Lucidia, and Jed look with amazement at the small creature.
‘I’m sure she’d love to help!’ Lance says.
‘We’ll take good care of her, Lance.’
‘What an amazing little creature!’ Jed stares with wide eyes.
‘Thanks Lance,’ Lucidia says. ‘We should go now then!’
‘Yes,’ Jed says. ‘Good idea!’ He hands her a back-pack.
‘Just stand on the platform and think of where you need to go,’ Lance says. ‘She’ll take care of the rest.’
Arnold and Lucidia step onto the platform and drop into the ground.