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    There were two tunnels in the old part of the dungeon just past the torture room.  As they passed the door of the room, Jasper wanted to peek in and make sure nobody was hanging from the wall now that he had the key from the second alligator guard.

    "Be no time," Hitch said.  "Castle blow up soon, and eye be near."

    Jasper bowed his head and followed Hitch as he had done for so long.  "Which tunnel do we take?" he asked.  

    "Which be one Froop say to take?" Hitch asked.

    "He said to go left," Jasper said.

    "We go right," Hitch said.  As they moved ever downward, the tunnel air grew thick.  The torch wavered and died down.  Choking fumes enveloped them.  Malford's breath!  Bam, thump, Bam, thump. Bam, thump.  The sound like thunder grew louder.

    "Hitch,  Malford is here.  He is coming our way.  I can hear his heart."

    "He have the jewel.  We face him, now.  Is time," Hitch said.  "Do what I tell you to do the last time we crawl through his tunnel."

    Jasper took out his sword and the purple onion.  Our last onion.  Have to make this good.

    The tunnel curved and flames shot around it.  The walls smouldered and Hitch stopped.  The smooth walls in the light of the flames reflected a monster our of legend.   Snakes writhed around a beardless face.

    "Onion not work on Gorgon.  Run!"  Hitch said.  

    Jasper let Hitch squeeze by and then with one last look at the flaming tunnel he ran.  His thoughts raced with him.  So close and now we are running again.  Where did we go wrong?

    Jasper came to the torture room door and this time he stopped.  He stabbed the key into the opening, twisted it until he heard a click, and pulled the door open.  Hitch came back down the steps.  His face was grim.  "Hurry!"

    There was someone on the stretching table.  Bloody rags tied him down and his head hung over the side.   It was DePrave the pirate, captain of the Valiant.  He had no mercy for us when he whipped us while we manned his oars.

    "I know where the jewel is," the pirate said.  Jasper did not believe him, but he couldn't leave him to be turned to stone.

    He cut the rags and helped the man to his feet.  Time was running out even if the Gorgon did not arrive.  He should have stopped here when they first came by.  His new motto would be, Always check.  Never leave a possible enemy at your back, never leave a friend in trouble.

    "Show us," Jasper said.  

    "This way," the Captain said and pushed on a brick.  A door opened in the wall.  "It is a secret way to the treasure and then steps to a cave near the river," he said.  

    Jasper had a choice.  Trust him or not.  It could be a trap, a prison, a dead end.  

    There was a scratching at the lock and a long thin fingernail began twisting in the lock.

    "You first," he said.



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    by cfk on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 06:13:11 PM PDT

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