Kyle groaned. His left shoulder hurt, and his back, and his head. The wind had been knocked out of him, and he was just now recovering his breath.
He rolled over, slowly, dirt and bits of heather falling off him, and looked around.
He could not see much. Light was pouring in from the hole overhead, and brightly illuminating the immediate area, and blinding him to the darkness beyond. He could not see any walls, so the chamber had to be fairly large. The floor was flat and stone, and he was sitting in a rather large pile of dirt and small stones. The ceiling looked like it was made of large blocks of smooth stone, and he had fallen through a hole where one of the blocks had fallen out. He could see it, just at the edge of the circle of light. The pile of dirt he had luckily landed in must have fallen through the hole before, and weakened that area until it was only a network of roots. And of course, his weight had carried him right through it. Head-first.
He was taking another glance around when he heard snarling from above. One of the men from the woods was looking down through the hole above, leaning over the edge and knocking more dirt down.
Kyle simply stared at the silhouette of the man against the light for a moment. What the hell was going on? Who were these people? Most importantly, why were they trying to kill him?
Maybe that girl had done something to deserve this, like stealing something. They must have assumed that he was her accomplice. Maybe if he could talk to this one, he could explain what had happened. Not that he was exactly sure what had happened, but still. It was worth a shot… Kyle started to wave to the man above him, opened his mouth to say something, and-
A rather large clump of dirt hit him square in the face. He rolled to his side, out of the way of the falling soil, rubbing at his eyes and spitting dirt out of his mouth.
And with a thud, a spear landed in the pile of earth where he had been a moment before.
Screw diplomacy, Kyle thought, and scrambled to the side, still spitting. Luckily, he had closed his eyes just in time, so not much had gotten in. He was able to look back up at the hole, where the man was trying to climb down. Kyle backed away, still on all fours, out of the circle of light. He moved slower then, as the light faded, testing the floor with each step. Clearly this chamber was not exactly structurally sound, and if the ceiling could collapse, he saw no reason that the floor would not do the same.
Kyle moved off of the pile of dirt, and out of the direct light. He trusted that his eyes would adjust eventually, but they had not yet, and it was nearly completely dark around him. Compared to the brightly lit dirt mound, the rest of the chamber was very dark, and even the dirt mound was dimmer now, as other man was covering most of the opening with his body.
The other man was now hanging feet-first through the hole. His torso was so thick that he barely fit, especially with the metal plates he had strapped to his body. Large clumps of soil and roots, stones, and other debris were raining down.
Suddenly, the man fell, and landed heavily on the dirt pile. However, unlike Kyle, the man had fallen feet first. Kyle could see that most of the impact had been absorbed through his legs, and even though the man toppled over, Kyle was sure he was in better shape. Kyle’s shoulder throbbed in agreement.
The other man scrambled to his feet, and Kyle stood, slowly, and started backing carefully away. He knew the light must be blinding the other man, just as it had blinded him before, so now all he had to do was keep quiet, and maybe he could avoid being skewered.
The man pulled his spear from the dirt with a heave, and Kyle shuddered at the way his arm muscles bulged. His arm must be as big around as my thigh, Kyle thought. The other man was only about thirty feet away now, and the monster mask looked a lot more frightening up close. And a lot more real. Kyle held his breath, and tried not to move at all.
The man looked around, intently, and then his eyes locked on Kyle. Shit.
Kyle threw himself to the side, almost in time to avoid the spear. Almost. It nicked his shoulder, a glancing blow that tore his shirt but only barely cut the skin. Still, the dull ache and numbness of his left shoulder blossomed with fresh pain.
Kyle glanced at the man, who had pulled out some kind of really large knife, almost like a machete, from his belt, and was charging towards him now, close on the trail of the spear. Kyle turned, and ran full tilt into the darkness, mortal terror sending adrenaline blasting through his veins. He ran blindly, heedless of the possible danger of something ahead compared to the absolutely certain danger behind.
And inevitably, after only a few steps, he ran into something. It was some kind of stone block, almost waist height, and at a slight angle to the direction of Kyle’s path. He hit the object hard, smashing into it with his foot first, and then his hip. He managed to get his hands in front of him in time to absorb some of impact, but the momentum still carried his face down to hit his left cheek against something hard with a wet thud.
He groaned, and slid to the floor, seeing stars.
The man was on him almost immediately, the huge knife swinging down at him. Kyle rolled, and with a ringing sound the machete hit stone instead of flesh. The blade rose again, silhouetted against the light, and Kyle grabbed for something, anything, to defend himself with.
His hand closed around something smooth and round, cylindrical. Without hesitating, Kyle grabbed it and pulled, his only thought on getting whatever it was between him and the machete.
The blade came down, and-