Kyrik tried to break free. He kicked back, found that the sole of his war-boot touched something soft and rubbery, but the downward tug was not to be resisted. Steadily he was drawn into the deeps of the cold water, with Adorla on his back.
The girl was hitting him with a fist, as though believing he was playing some game. She did not v know that something had hold of him, or if she did, then she was hitting him in an excess of terror.
The water was colder now, and Kyrik could feel a vague current flowing. There was something above him—a stone roof the top of an embankment?—and then he surged up into the air.
He gasped for that air, drew it into his lungs.
Beside him Adorla was sputtering and splashing. His arm drew her against him and he trod water, staring at a cavern that seemed cut out of rock, that was lighted by a tall pillar of glowing stone. His eyes touched that pillar wonderingly.
He knew of nothing it could be. Stone that glowed, with the cold radiance of the firefly. Yet it lighted up the cavern, it showed the rock walls and the stone ceiling from which encrustations of stone drooped downward, and the pool of stagnant Water.
That water rippled, heaved. Kyrik swam for the shoreline, if such it might be called, a low shelf of stone that rose upward from the water to form a little platform. He reached it, one arm about Adorla, and he dropped her, half-drowned, upon its surface.
He swung about and drew his sword. Whatever had gripped him in that river and drawn him here into its lair was still below the surface. The waters of the pool bubbled and churned, yet nothing appeared. Kyrik drew in deep breaths of the cold, wet air, and stared about him.
There were skeletons here, and bits of rusted armor, a broken sword, and here and there a golden chain that might have belonged to a woman. A chill raced up his back. Did all those who had been flung down that shaft end up here, in past years?
If so—how old was that thing which had clutched him?
“Illis—have you abandoned me?” Soft elfin laughter answered him. “Foolish Kyrik Have you so little faith in me?”
“Faith or no faith, you’ve tricked me somehow.” You will need the firestar! “Firestar? What magic is that?” He was so intent on what Illis might tell him that he came close to forgetting the thing that had dragged him here. But the waters swirled and broke, and a black head, wet and shining, in which two red eyes gloated at him, broke the surface of the pool.
His hand tightened on Bluefang’s hilt. The monster was coming up for him now. It rose slowly, water ran off its thick black hide, and up in front two arm-like appendages fitted with giant claws came stabbing upward through the air.
There was no name for this undersea monster—at least none he had ever heard. It was gigantic. He realized he was looking at only part of this thing that seemed almost to fill the pool. Those red eyes that glared at him were unwinking and steady.
They looked upon him as their prey. At his back, Adorla was sobbing. “What is it? Oh, gods of Alkinoor, what is that thing?”
Kyrik made no answer. He was too intent on watching those clawed arms that reached for him, that moved steadily closer—closer—as the behemoth moved almost lazily through the waters. Kyrik! Step within those claws—and strike! The thing surged upward. If it had legs, those legs braced and lifted it. Swiftly now those clawed arms reached outward—