Invisible Villain

Dungeon of Fire

Without warning, a swooshing noise, like a giant bird landing, echoed off the grotto walls.

When I opened my eyes, Captain Kraken ordered his pirate crew to stand at attention.

The captain, nicknamed the Intimidator, stuck out his chest and strutted across the cave, pointing at me with his curved black nails.

He yelled, “Here’s the Earthlin’. Over here, Master Ex.”

That must be the Invisible Villain, I thought. Now I’m in deep trouble.

I couldn’t see him, but I felt Ex make his way toward me.

A foul odor, different from the disgusting smells of the trolls and hobgoblins and Kraken, overwhelmed me.

“Welcome ta my planet, Julia,” Ex said.

The low, reverberating voice came from six feet in front of me.

“How do you know my name?” I asked the voice with no visible body.

“I know all things,” Ex replied.

“I doubt that.”

Dungeon of Fire

“Ah, we got ourselves a spirited Earthlin’, full of defiance.”

“I’ve done nothing to harm you. Let me go free.”

“Freedom is hard ta find in my part of the world,” Ex said. “I’m willin’ ta set ya free, but I ask one small favor.”

“What’s that?”

“Tell me whar that pesky brother of yers is. Might he be with that pathetic sage with the mangy beard?”

I frowned at the Invisible Villain. “I don’t know where Hunter is.”

“Well then, we’ll have ta keep ya here ta help ya get yer memory back,” he said.

“You’ll have a long wait,” I responded, sneering in the direction of the evil voice.

“Jus’ so me crew doesn’t have ta wait too long, tell me whar Hunter Wainright is, or I’ll burn yer pretty little face.”

The troll on my right side let go of my arm, bent over and picked up a glowing, red-hot poker from the blazing fire, held it up for all to see, and jammed it back into the flames. A flurry of orange sparks flew into the grotto air.

The hobgoblins clapped their hairy hands, hissing and showing their sharp yellow teeth. 

“That’s not fair!” I screamed. “I’ve done nothing to harm you, or your friends. Let me go.”

“I’m fair as they come,” Ex shouted, “as long as ya keep an open mind.”

The hobgoblins laughed in their high-pitched voices.

Dungeon of Fire

“Silence!” Ex shouted. “Ta show my fairness an’ generosity, I’ll give ya a chance ta gain yer freedom. If ya can solve a simple riddle, I’ll let ya go.”

“What if I can’t guess the riddle?”

“Then, my alien visitor, ya’ll end up with a face that only a mother could love.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

I’m pretty good with riddles, I thought. I can guess the answer.

“The Riddle of the Sphinx is an easy one, Earthlin’. It is, ‘What walks on four legs in the mornin’, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evenin?’”

There’s thousands of choices, I thought. What animal has two legs, and then grows a third leg? This question’s not fair. The four-legged thing must be one of these weird Millennium creatures.

“I need yer answer, now,” Ex yelled. “Ya either know it, or ya don’t.”

“It’s got to be one of the creatures here on Millennium. I haven’t been here that long. Your riddle isn’t fair.”

“When I tell ya the answer, ya’ll know I’m righteous.”

I turned red with frustration, searching my memory for a possible answer. Trying to remember any weird animals I’d seen in Daddy’s library books.

Dungeon of Fire

“Well?” Ex asked in a deep, sinister voice.

“I don’t know. I give up. What has all those weird legs?”

“You do.”

“Me?”

The voice with no body laughed wickedly and said, “Humans crawl on all fours as a baby, walk on two legs as an adult, and walk with a cane in old age.”

I blushed. “A human, of course.”

Kicking the trolls in the shins with the heels of my boots, I yelled, “I’ve done nothing to hurt you. Let me go home.”

My lips quivered, imagining my fate.

“I’ll give ya another chance ta earn yer freedom,” Ex said, “I’ve heard how smart ya aliens are. I got a riddle that ya, an Earthlin’, should easily solve.”

I nodded, okay. What choice did I have?

“There are two sisters. One gives birth ta the other an’ she, in turn, gives birth ta the first. Who are they?”

Come on Julia, think. You’re on Millennium, so it’s got to be two goddesses who are sisters. All those mythology books you’ve read, you should know this one. Focus. Who are the two goddesses?

“Yer time is up,” Ex said, his deep, haunting voice three feet from me. “Who might the sisters be?”

“They are Hera and Gaea. Wait, maybe Freya and Hel. Or, they could be Ishtar and Inanna.”

“Ahhh, brilliant answers, but wrong.” Ex chuckled. “Captain Kraken, tell the Earthlin’ the answer.”

“Day an’ night!” the captain screamed, sneering.

Dungeon of Fire

His black iguana eyes gleamed in the morning light while he spit another glob of green seaweed phlegm onto the grotto rocks.

“Now, ain’t that answer ‘bout as Earthly as ya can get?” Ex asked, laughing.

The hobgoblins laughed with the Invisible Villain.

“Quiet, ya fools!” he shouted.

The pirates hissed and groaned. Brown, tobacco-stained drool dripped down the front of their waistcoats and breeches as they hung their heads in reverence.

Ex yelled, “Even though ya proved yer human stupidity, here’s me final offer. Forget yer stubborn brother. Join me, become an Extractor. I’m offerin’ ya yer last chance ta pledge yer allegiance ta me.”

I stared defiantly in Ex’s direction and shook my head, no.

“Ya have chosen poorly!” Ex screamed. “Ya’ll soon regret yer decision!”

Unexpectedly, I felt the gold chain around my neck being lifted up and over my head.

Someone help me, I thought, Ex is taking my Triamulet.

I screamed, “Give that back! You have no right to take my necklace!”

My thoughts ran wild. Pray Julia, pray.

Dungeon of Fire

Dear God, I knew I should have turned back when I had the chance. He’s got my Triamulet, now I’m never going to get home. I’ll be good, don’t let them torture me. I feel like I’ve died and gone to hell.

If I ever get out of this, I’m going straight to Time Island, go to sleep and get back home. Please God, help me. I’ll be good, I promise.

The gold chain and medallion floated through the air and remained motionless six feet off the ground. Ex had placed the Triamulet around his own neck.

The Invisible Villain screamed, “’Tis time ta rearrange yer young, flawless face ta somethin’ more appropriate, in case ya decide ta become an Extractor.”

The troll grabbed the glowing iron poker from the blazing fire and raised it slowly toward me.

“Hold ‘er tight,” Ex yelled. “After we burn ‘er pretty little face, we’ll take ‘er ta the ship. Kraken needs a first mate.”

With a cruel look in his wild, blood-shot eyes, the sadistic troll held the red-hot poker six inches from my face.

I felt the radiating heat waves from the glowing tip and smelled the smoldering stench of old burnt flesh rise from the poker.

This maniac is really going to burn my face, I thought. God, please, don’t let him hurt me.

Helpless, I closed my eyes and held my breath, praying for my life.

Within an inch of my face, the heat from the hot poker became unbearable.

I prepared to scream in agony.

During extreme fear, everything slows down. A strange silence overtakes your mind.

Instead of closing my eyes, I kept staring at the glowing red metal that headed straight for my face. I wanted to blow out the tip, like I would a candle flame.

Dungeon of Fire

GIRL IN TWO WORLDS

 

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