Shadow Slave - Chapter 1273
"Sunny! Wake up!"
Sunny opened his eyes and tensed. Sensing the world through the shadows, he couldn't feel any danger, but there was urgency in Neph's voice. Something was wrong.
As his mind entered a state of battle readiness, he pushed himself off the ground and briefly studied the fissure. It was still night, so everything was enveloped in deep darkness… that darkness, of course, could not hinder his sight. Sunny saw every detail of their small camp and of the weathered walls of black rock surrounding it.
Everything seemed fine.
Saint, who was guarding them from high above, was also calm.
He turned to Nephis and asked:
"What is going on?"
She pressed a finger against her lips and whispered:
"There was a sound."
The next moment, he heard it too. A dull, echoing crackle that came from somewhere below, spreading through the rock in a subtle vibration. Like a stone breaking.
'What is this…'
Sunny and Nephis froze, listening to the eerie sounds coming from within the carapace of the Black Turtle. They had not dared to venture there after salvaging the meat. The shell had been hollowed out, but they didn't know by how much, and even though they had heard the sounds of Nightmare Creatures inside the carcass of the Great Monster from time to time, this crackling was entirely new.
A small whirlwind of sparks appeared in the air, manifesting into a softly glowing paper lantern. Placing it on the lid of the Covetous Coffer, Nephis lowered her head and pressed her ear to the ground.
There was another cracking sound, and she suddenly flinched.
At the same time, Sunny's pupils narrowed as he noticed something that was out of place in their fissure.
A small, thin crack appeared on the floor of the ravine. Just as Neph flinched, it suddenly grew, spreading through the black rock in both directions.
Then, it climbed a few meters up the wall, and when the cracking noise disappeared, a small piece of rock splintered and tumbled down.
Neph's face suddenly grew pale.
"I think it's going to brea…"
Before she could finish, there was another sound, this one so loud that it was almost deafening. Sunny felt the ground suddenly shift under him, and then the entire island shook violently.
Before he even knew what was happening, Sunny jumped. As Nephis and he soared into the air, the floor of the fissure below them suddenly split and collapsed, revealing a vast cavern of darkness and crimson flesh below.
Their small camp was instantly swallowed. Except for the Memories like the Coffer that were dismissed and disappeared in a whirlwind of sparks, everything else — the fire pit, the sleeping bag, the bed made of soft moss, and the rest of it — fell into the darkness in a rain of stone shards.
But the collapse was not over yet.
As Sunny collided against the vertical wall of the fissure and grabbed onto the rocks, the walls tilted, too. A horrible stench of blood entered his nostrils, and he saw the small crack he had noticed before expanding. Countless new ones appeared, as well, and the entire ravine suddenly moved.
Struggling to outrun the disaster, Sunny pushed himself off the wall and jumped higher. He was aiming to repeat the process and send himself to the surface with the next jump, but the spot that he was aiming for suddenly broke off and plummeted down in an avalanche of stone. Cursing, Sunny manifested the shadows to create a foothold instead.
A split second later, he flew out of the fissure, rolled on the ground, then dashed back to its edge and grabbed Neph's hand, helping her climb out.
As soon as they rolled away in a heap, the entire edge split off and crumbled down.
A panicked thought that the entire island was falling apart entered Sunny's mind.
However, the devastation was not as absolute.
As the two of them watched, the landscape of the Black Turtle's shell was changing. It seemed that the schism originated from the location below the central region, where their camp had been located. Wide cracks spread through the black stone, and a wide surface either crumbled entirely or at least sank, forming deep craters.
The rest of the island was affected, to, but to a smaller degree. It was just a chain reaction that forced the ground to tilt and slide into the water by a few meters.
Nevertheless, their shelter was still afloat.
Sunny belatedly realized that he was practically laying on Nephis. Their limbs were entangled, and both of them were covered in stone dust. Struggling to breathe, he slowly pushed himself away and stood up. A couple moments later, she followed.
Standing dazedly above the newly formed pit, Sunny and Nephis looked down with bleak faces.
Their camp, where they had spent so many peaceful nights, was gone.
Much worse, the dark island was showing signs of breaking apart. It was just a part of the central region today, but there would be more collapses in the future. Eventually, the entire shell would crumble, leaving them stranded and lost in the sea of deadly abominations.
After almost a month of peace, they finally reached a true crisis.
Sunny and Nephis looked at each other, not knowing what to say.
Eventually, he broke the silence:
"We need to get off this island."
Nephis lingered for a moment.
"Yes. But how?"
Sunny looked away with a dark expression. He didn't know. It was not as if they had not been preparing for this inevitable situation — they had tried to come up with a feasible plan dozens of times.
However, there was no such plan to come up with.
The Azure Serpent was still waiting for them in the water, and the Dark Butterfly was still ruling over the sky. Worse than that, many more abominations were prowling the surrounding waters, including the harrowing swarms of krill.
If the island sank, they were going to die.
If it didn't sink, the Azure Serpent would eventually be killed, and they would be devoured by either the monstrous butterfly or some other Great Nightmare Creature.
There seemed to be no escape.
Staring into the pit filled with stone rubble, Sunny sighed.
'Now… now, it finally feels like a real Nightmare.'
A sad smile appeared on his pale face.