226 The Snake, The Mice, and the Rats.

    "It should be around here.." muttered Daniel while looking at the pitch black corridor.

    The corridor that extended before Daniel was different from the ones in which he had previous been in. They were now in the bellows of the ship, and not near the cabins anymore. Everything that could be found here, were a few isolated cabins, and numerous utility room which only a few members of the crew had business being in. The corridors themselves were extremely narrow, and on their metallic walls, numerous tubes came out, and ran through the corridor before entering into either a part of the ceiling, or back into the walls.

    Amongst the rooms within this corridor, was the room that contained the water tanks, the room where perfect crystals were fed to the propulsors, and finally, the most important room of the ship.. The formation center room.

    It wasn't the first time that Daniel had seen the center of a formation. He had seen one back when he and Alis had entered the catacombs of the castle. There, the sword of the Dark Warrior and the heart of the Clear Mage, worked as the center of the formation that kept the latter imprisoned.

    There is no need to mention that each and every formation was created differently, and that the method to trigger, deactivate, or even take over control one, was probably going to be different from that of another. It was very likely that the method to take control over this one, which was either the key of the captain or the key of the second in command, had escaped the ship along with the two individuals.

    The bellows of the ship extended for dozens of kilometers and through hundreds small corridors.. And all of this within a radius of at least a couple of kilometers, so, losing one's way was extremely likely, if not careful enough.

    "I wish they had installed a few more light sphere in these damn corridors.." said Daniel with clear irritation. They had been walking for at least a couple of hours, and yet they still had not managed to reach the right way towards the propulsor room. On the other hand, they had found the door that took to the bottom of the water tanks, and just as they passed close to it, they heard a constant and disturbing ticking sound coming from the other side.. Of course, they did not stop to investigate the origin of the sound.

    After a third hour of seemingly pointless walking, Daniel and Jerigh finally started to see a few monsters in these dark corridors.

    These monsters were extremely big, in fact, they were much bigger than any other he had seen so far, and while they did not emanate any sort of mana like their weaker versions, just from looking at their movements, Daniel and Jerigh could see that they were slightly more composed than their dumber cousins.

    Keeping on going at their slowest and most quiet pace, Daniel and Jerigh went through one corridor after the other, and soon, they noticed that these few powerful monsters came seened tome from the same smaller area. The more they approached what they believed to be the propulsor room, the more of these monsters they saw.

    Daniel and Jerigh kept following the instructions given by the middle aged woman, and after this much time spent walking, they both started to wonder if the directions she had given to them were wrong, or if they had entered the wrong corridor by mistake, and were now currently lost.

    With this thoughts making an appearance in their minds more and more often, the two reached the umpteenth corner, and as they were about to turn right just like indicated by the woman, they suddenly stopped. Completely out of their expectations.. They had seen another human being walking through these dark and metallic corridors. This person was a young man, and was currently walking away from them, as if he was unaware of their presence.

    From the man's back, Daniel could not make out any detail about him except for the long black hair that flowed straight down his back, and the red robe with the peculiar pattern that he was wearing.

    Unaware whether this young man was lost or not, the two walked behind him in an attempt to approach him, but the man seemed to be walking carelessly, as if he wasn't bothered by the fact that any of his steps could attract one of the massive monsters he and Jerigh had seen roam these corridors. He was going too fast for the duo's slow pace.

    After about a minute of pointless following, just as Daniel was about to make a noise in order to attract the young man's attention, from a narrow and dark corridor to Daniel's left, a big hand appeared out of nowhere, and grabbed his shirt before pulling him into the corridor.

    Jerigh acted instantly, and with the speed of lightning, and the quietness of a spider, he immediately grabbed the throat of the person that had grabbed Daniel's clothes. He was about to squeeze this person's neck tightly, and stab the knife he was holding in his left hand on the person's neck, but then, he felt a tight grip around the muscles of his forearm, preventing him from tightening the arm around the person's throat.

    Thinking that it was the person who had attacked Daniel, Jerigh thrust his knife on the person's neck, but a second hand had gripped the wrist of the hand that was holding the knife, and squeezed it. Not hard enough to hurt,  but enough to stop him.

    After feeling two hands grab his arms, Jerigh looked downwards, and quickly noticed that both of these hands came from inside what looked like Daniel's sleeves.

    "Stop! It's Der.." Said Daniel with a wisp of sound essence.

    That was all it took for Jerigh to instantly lose any sort of fighting spirit, and let go of Der's throat. All of this had happened in less than a second, and none of the actions of the three had been performed along with the use of immortal essence.

    "Glad to see that you are still alive and kicking.." Said Daniel after the Jerigh stepped back, and Der let go of his clothes.

    Der ignored Daniel's words completely, and instead, he moved closer to the edge of the corridor, and peeked past it, to see if the young man was still in sight.

    After making sure that the young man had disappeared into the darkness, Der finally turned towards his two companions, and said "Do you know that guy?" His tone was serious, and from it, Daniel and Jerigh quickly understood that the matter was much more important to Der than any sort of greeting.

    "No, do you?" Responded Daniel with suspicion.

    "I have seen him once before.. He was in the reception.. The monsters don't attack him. I have a gut feeling about him.. He is bad news" Said Der while moving back to peek into the corridor once again.. But this time, he saw that the young man had reappeared, and was walking back in their direction.

    His eyes were shining of a bright red color, and his pure black hair became invisible while surrounded by the darkness of the corridor. On his face, was a large and amiable smile that not even a mother would be able to find sweet.

    "Oh, I know this smell.." Said the young man while slowly walking towards where Daniel, Der, and Jerigh were hiding. "I remember hearing about the little snake that crawled into the rat's den to eat, but that on its way in, found a couple of little mice first.. Don't eat them! I shouted as I was told the story.. But the snake always would."

    The three looked at each other in confusion. The young man's monologue was directed at them, but it didn't look like he could pinpoint their position exactly..

    "I was so sad for the little mice.. But now I get it. I never understood how fun it is to be the snake. Now, come here little mice.." Said the young man right before making the turn towards the corridor where Daniel, Der and Jerigh were previously standing in.. But there, he found no one. "I was wrong.. There is another rat here.."

    A few corridors away, Daniel and the rest of his group were standing in wait, while looking back to see if the young man was following them.

    "Who the hell is that guy.." Asked Daniel with confusion. "What do you mean that monsters don't attack him?"

    "I mean that I've seen monsters group around him, but despite how much noise he made, they kept ignoring him." Responded Der with just as much confusion. He knew nothing about the young man either, and yet, he could feel that the guy did not have a good bone in his body.

    "Fuck.. Jerigh, did you keep track of where we went?" Daniel then added before turning to look at Jerigh's face, only to see the latter shake his head left and right.

    They were lost.

    "I know the way." Said Der before suddenly taking a small map out of his pocket, and slowly opening it in front of the two. He then pointed to the part where he met the two, and said "This is where I found you.. And this is where the propulsors are."

    The moment Der's finger landed on the map, Daniel quickly realized that his former guess was right. The direction where all of those extremely powerful monsters arrived, was also the area where they needed to go to.

    "Oh come on.. If you have to run, at least run a bit further than this.." Said a voice that came from one of the corridors that formed the intersection of which the corridor the three were in was part of.

    Daniel immediately grabbed the map, observed it carefully, and thanks to 'Time is Precious', he committed it to memory in a matter of seconds. He then crumpled the map messily, and shoved it into his pocket while keeping the sound from reaching out in the same way he was preventing the sound sphere from attracting every monster within the ship.

    After that, Daniel turned towards another corridor, and started to run as quietly as he could.


    Two days later.

    Despite knowing the path towards the propulsor room, having to avoid the massive monsters, along with the relentless chase of the young man, had taxed gravely on Daniel's, Jerigh's and Der's mental health. They were now hiding within a cabin which they had already guessed was reserved for one of the crew members that worked in the area.

    The reason why they had hidden, was because there were truly too many monsters around. The corridors were so narrow, and them monsters were so big, thet going through them was impossible.. And whenever they found a corridor blocked by one of them, they had to change route altogether. They could have waited for the monsters to leave, but no matter where they went.. The young man would always reappear right behind them, and just a bit out of their sight.

    "There are only four paths to the propulsor room.. And all of them had one or more monsters in them.. If they don't leave, we will never reach it.." Said Der with clear anxiousness. They had spent the last couple of days running left and right in hope to find a way out, but no matter how much they tried, they hadn't succeeded.

    Daniel, clearly the most frustrated of the trio, said "If only we had control over that formation.. I swear that if I put my hands on the captain.. I'll snap his neck myself."

    "The captain is dead. Their shalop exploded the moment they tried to leave the barrier."

    After hearing Der's words, Daniel responded with mixed feelings "Suits him well.. But there goes our key.." He was happy to hear about the man's death, but not about the fact that what they needed now, was lost.

    "What key?" Asked Der with sudden curiosity.

    Without looking back at him, Daniel stood up and looked through the small porthole on the door. After seeing nothing in the corridor, he said "A pendant with a crystal on it. A golden icosahedron.." He then waited for Der to ask another question, but then, he heard three words than he would have never expected to hear.

    "Like this one?"
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