Falcon couldn’t hear the countdown end, but he felt it. In the midst of the splashing and screaming, there was a shuddering jolt through the tunnel. A whooshing, rushing noise of a bomb exploded behind them. The heat of dragon fire chased them down, down, down the turns of the tunnel, luring them away in a sweaty, breathless sleep in the jolting twists of darkness. All they could do was obey.
Right when Gator thought they’d all fry to death, the space in front of them opened into a magnificent cavern. The fireball flew over their heads, acting as a short flare for their surroundings. In the few moments Gator had to take it in, the stone formations seemed to be subterranean castle ruins, like none he’d ever seen in the history books. The pillars they rushed by had mysterious carvings on them, and what remained of the archways had strange symbols on each one. Seven symbols.
The fire vanished. The trench dropped out from under them. They tumbled through the deep darkness, screaming in terror. They plummeted for what felt like hours with no end in sight. Then they hit water again. Children flew into each other, bumping heads. Some passed out.
Tracer opened his eyes for the first time since jumping in the boat and looked around. They were still in the boat in the freezing, smoldering tunnel. At least, it seemed like the same tunnel. But it couldn’t be. They’d floated away from where they’d landed, and another tunnel had swallowed them up. He looked back upstream. What did you expect to see? he thought, Something other than darkness? But there was light where they had come from and the orange glow of the fire. It appeared that there was more than one explosion caused by their escape, and it was following them. Fast.
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