Oetho tried to smile but it was too much effort. Instead, he closed his eyes and fell unconscious, deep into a sound sleep, dreaming of better things. He awoke much later to another scream. His whole body ached, yet he managed to rise.
Amana sat upright, her chin tucked into her knees and her fists clenching tightly to the fabric of her dress. Tears streaked from her eyes.
Oetho crawled to her side. “Amana, it’s alright now. Everything is under control.” He put his hands onto hers.
“I saw you lying there. I thought you were dead.” she said.
“It takes a lot more than that to kill me.” He pulled her near and they embraced. Amana continued to cry.
“You’re cold.” she said.
It was true, everything was cold; the floor, the air, each of them. Oetho looked around. Everything was still vibrant. Everything was the same, except the emptiness around them was now somehow bigger, almost double in size.
“Itz growing,” said the rumbling voice of the Ban-Tho. Oetho felt a lump in his throat. The creature sat in the center of the room, its snout almost touching up against the barrier. “The whole plazce,” it added; the timber in its voice subdued.
“Ignore it,” Oetho said to Amana. “It is trapped behind the line. I cannot hurt us anymore. The magic binds it.”
“Ignore me,” said the creature. “But not ignore what is happening. Plazce is changing.”
Amana wiped her nose on her sleeve and cleared the tears from her eyes. “Where are we?” she said.
“It’s just another place, another world perhaps. The stone brought us here. Of course, I did not expect this. Years ago it sent me to another world lush with life, tall trees, grasses, mountains, streams. I just assumed it would be the same this time.”
“Well, it is not the same.” Amana said. “It’s nothing like it.”
“It’s just temporary.” said Oetho, trembling. “I will find a way out of here. I promise. It will just take some time.”
“No more promises,” Amana said, turning away.
The Ban-Tho rose to its feet. “Go on. Find door, Myztic. Free yourself, if you can. You killed everyone else. Escape. Leave me to die.”
Oetho stood. “You expect sympathy from me?”
“Expect nothing from youz.” The creature snarled.
Oetho lifted the Amulet from his pocket and squeezed it between his palms. Its warmth had faded, much of the energy spent. Still, Oetho concentrated, his eyes closed, his thoughts on opening the lock that would unleash the remaining power.
“Problem, Myztic?” The creature chuckled.
Oetho curled the amulet up into its chain and shoved it back into his pocket. Then he trudged to the far corner of the void, a conic endpoint, and sat down against the slope.
“It will take some time,” he said.
The Ban-Tho sneered. “You no have time,” it said. “How long you last? I have the food.”
On the floor next to the creature was the crumpled form of the young kid, its neck pitched awkwardly back. Amana screamed, and flung her face to the ground, her fists pounding at the unyielding white.
“I will find a way out of here, I assure you.” Oetho spat. “And the new world we find will be free of your vile kind.”