The back of my head was stinging as if a bee had stung it. But I couldn’t see or hear any bees. In fact, I couldn’t see or hear anything at all. It was so dark, I didn’t even know if I was dreaming or if I had gone blind.
“Anna?” I called.
There came no sound at all.
“Anna!” I tried again. “Anna!”
I heard coughing. “Miguel?”
“Are you okay?” I called.
I lifted my head off from the rock I was lying on. I stood up. The ground felt rocky. Then it felt slippery when my feet walked over some strange wiggly things. It felt like seaweed.
“Miguel, you got anything like seaweed under your feet?” called Anna.
“Yeah and very lively ones too,” I called back.
“What is it?” I yelled.
“I think I’ve got one wrapped around my leg!” shouted Anna.
Then I heard some hissing going on. It was completely dark in the place where we were; there wasn’t even a spot of light to help me to help me see.
“Ow!” I cried.
“Are you all right?” asked Anna.
“Yes,” I replied, as I rubbed my head. “I just bumped into a wall.”
“A wall, did you say?”
“While you’re at the wall,” said Anna, “see if you can find something that will bring light to this place. And hurry up because something’s caught my other leg!”
I pulled my arms to touch the wall. As I quickly ran along the wall and tapped it so I didn’t lose it, I was trying to feel something like a lever or something. Then I felt something and I pulled it down.
Finally, we had light! With all the torches on the walls lit up, I was able to see all the snakes on the floor and –
Snakes! So they were the slimy slippery things under my feet. And two of them wrapped around Anna’s legs! And now one was wrapping around her neck!
I looked around to see anything I could use to get Anna and myself out of this snake nest. But there was nothing but snakes and bones of human bodies and a sword.
Wait! A sword! Perfect!
When I picked it up from the chest of a human skeleton, a snake hissed and tried to bite me. I fell back and my sword was ablaze! Then I saw that the sword was lighting with fire. Maybe the sword had some stuff like oil on it – only the stuff must have been everlasting.
“Ha!” I cried, as I waved my sword in front of the snakes. It was working. The snakes were backing away.
“Uh, Miguel?” called Anna. “These snakes are getting a little hungry!”
She was right. Her body was wrapped in snakes! And their heads were snapping.
I waved my sword to the snakes to make a path to get Anna, which worked successfully. As I approached the princess, I quickly grabbed her left arm, touching the snake bodies, not the heads, in the process, and pulled her with me.
When we got away from the snakes, I spun Anna forward and she fell down. But, luckily, my idea worked: the snakes that were stuck on Anna’s body flew off. She was free. But the snakes were still coming for her, so I waved my fire sword at them to crawl away.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
Anna took my hand and I helped her up. Then she put her arms around me and kissed me. “That’s for getting those snakes off me,” she said. “Thank you.”
As she turned around, I smiled. I haven’t felt been this happy in weeks.
Then the room was lit with orange and then it went dark again. Anna and I walked out further and we saw a massive pool of hot lava. Some of it was shooting up.
“So how are we going to get across?” I asked, as I looked around. We were standing on the edge of a cliff. And we had to get across to the other side of the lava, where there was another cliff with a big hole on it.
“Are you crazy?” asked Anna. “There’s no way we can get across this. I’ll tell you what, we’ll go back and we’ll see there’s another way around. Maybe a staircase will take us up or down.”
I looked at the hole we had just come through. “And just how do you plan to do that with the whole group of snakes crawling towards us?” I asked.
She looked at the hole and she saw what I saw: the whole nest of snakes crawling towards us without hesitation. As we walked backwards, we tried to see if there was anything on the left or the right or above to jump onto. There wasn’t.
Then I heard Anna scream. I turned to face her only to find her not there.
“Anna!” I yelled. “Anna!”
“Miguel, down here!” I heard her call.
I went over to the edge and looked down. Anna was alive! She was hanging onto something like a vine. I lowered myself and tried to reach for her.
“Climb up and I’ll pull you up,” I said.
“No, Miguel, come down here,” she said.
“What?” I cried. The vines looked very old and could easily snap. I looked behind to see the snakes approaching. The ones in front opened their mouths.
I screamed and unfortunately fell off the cliff. I caught the vines.
“Oh, great idea,” I said to Anna. “We managed to lose the snakes, but how do we get to the other side?”
“You see the other vines on your right?” asked Anna.
I looked right and saw vines hanging down along from the whole wall. I saw that they all led to the cliff on the other side of the lava.
“Come on, I’ll race you,” said Anna.
I looked left to see Anna jumping on her left to jump and catch each vine like a monkey.
I smiled. “You may have had a head start, but you’ll see my toes touching that cliff first!”
Then I jumped right and caught the nearest vine. I jumped again and caught the next one. I kept jumping from vine to vine, until I caught the vine that was hanging from the cliff. I climbed up and I reached the platform of the cliff.
I couldn’t see Anna anywhere. I began to feel very pleased with myself as I beat her to the cliff.
“I did it, Anna!” I cried. “I beat you!”
Then I heard screaming coming from the left side of the cliff. I looked down to see Anna slipping on the vine she was holding.
“That’s great! Well done, Miguel,” she said very quickly. “But do you suppose you could pull me up this time?”
Then she lost grip, but I caught her right arm and pulled onto the cliff.
“We’re doing really well,” I said.
“Yeah, we are,” said Anna. “Uh, Miguel. Is the cliff cracking?”
I looked down to see if the cliff was cracking. It looked okay to me. Then I heard Anna laughing. I looked ahead to see her under the hole.
“I win, Miguel!” she laughed.
What else could I do but laugh with her?
“You’re very funny, Anna,” I said. “Very funny.”
“Yes, that was very funny.”
We couldn’t find where that old woman’s voice was coming from. Then Anna fell over into the darkness under the hole.
“Ow!” screamed a voice.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Anna.
That voice sounded exactly the one we heard before. I ran across the wall and looked for another something that might turn the lights on. I didn’t find anything, but torches on the wall lit up by themselves anyway.
I saw Anna getting off a very old woman. She had scruffy white hair and crinkly skin. She was wearing a ripped brown dress.
“How long have you been here for?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I think maybe weeks, months, years, decades… Who knows?”
“Have you ever encountered a witch while you’ve been in here?” asked Anna.
“A witch?” cried the old lady. “Don’t get me started with witches. I’ve been Thora’s slave and prisoners for I don’t know how long and I’ve tried to get over the pool of lava, but I just couldn’t. You two young people must be very clever to work out how to get over here and back.”
“My name is Anna,” said Anna. Then she pointed to me. “And that’s my friend Miguel over there.”
I waved to the old woman.
“Now, you’re not going to like this,” Anna went on, “but we’re trying to get to Thora to free the goblins from her. If you help us, we’ll help you to get out of this mountain and you will be fully rewarded.”
“By goblins?” the woman scoffed.
“No, no, no,” said Anna. “My sister is the Queen of Arendelle. She’ll reward you beyond your dreams.”
“Well, all right,” said the old woman.
Anna helped her up.
“But we have to hurry,” went on the old woman. “And be extra careful. This witch is not so easily fooled.”
The old lady took us to the end of the tunnel. There was a staircase all made out of stone and the only way to go was up.
“Thora’s throne room is at the very top,” said the old lady. Then she started to walk up.
“How many steps are there?” I asked.
“About six thousand,” the lady replied.
“Six thousand?” I couldn’t believe it.
“Well, we’d better make a start, then, hadn’t we?” said Anna, as she walked ahead.
I let out a frustrated sigh before I followed them.
It wasn’t long before I started panting.
“How many steps have we done, Anna?” I asked.
Anna groaned. “I’ve lost count. I don’t know if we’ve walked three hundred or three hundred and five.”
“Let’s hope it’s three hundred and five,” I whispered.
We kept walking our normal pace. Then suddenly Anna grabbed my arm and we ran up a few steps as if our lives depended on it.
“What was all that about?” I asked her, when we stopped.
“Look behind you,” she panted.
Still panting, I turned around to see a few hanging blades swinging faster than Anna and me on the vines over the lava pool. That was why she (and me, without realizing it) was in a hurry to get past them.
Then the steps we were standing on began to shake. Anna was about to fall, but I caught her just in time. We saw about the next ten steps had fallen down.
“Oh, great,” moaned Anna. “How are we going to get across now?”
I had an idea.
“Hey, what are you doing?” yelled Anna, as I picked her up. Then I threw her over the big gap and she successfully caught the next steps. She climbed up.
“Okay, make room for me now,” I said, as I walked seven steps down. Then I ran back up and jumped. I reached my hands out for the nearest step and I was about to touch it, but then I thought I saw the staircase move away from me and I started to fall down. But my finger was caught. I looked up to see that it was Anna who caught it.
“Boy, you’re heavier than you look, Miguel,” she groaned, as she tried to pull me up.
When Anna pulled me up enough so I could reach the step, I caught it and I climbed up.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t judge my distance properly,” I told Anna. “It was like something was trying to pull the stairs away from me and let me fall.”
“Well, that didn’t happen to me,” Anna told me. “That must have been some sorcery trick.”
“Speaking of sorcery tricks – ”
I grabbed Anna’s arm and we ran up the steps avoiding the falling rocks from the ceiling.
We kept running up and up the steps for I don’t know how long.
“Miguel, stop!” cried Anna.
“We can’t stop!” I shouted. “We’ve got to get to the top before it crumbles onto us!”
“But we are at the top!” Anna shouted.
I stopped and I looked around. There was no more stairs. We were in some sort of room. It was a giant room and with nothing but giant stone columns and a giant throne made out of stone.
“Miguel!” Anna pointed to one of the columns. A dark shadow was creeping out.
I reached for my sword, but I quickly realized that I left it on the cliff with the snakes. So I got my fists ready.
“Oh, there you are, my lovelies,” said the old woman.
“We were wondering where you’ve been,” said Anna.
“Well, here we are,” said the woman. “Thora’s throne room. All we have to do now is wait for the witch to appear.”
“Question,” I said. “Why didn’t you wait and help us on the stairs?”
The old woman looked worried. “Well…”
“Miguel,” whispered Anna. “Remember in the snake room you found a switch to light the torches but the torches in the tunnel where we met this woman came on by themselves?”
I started to think, too. “And if she’s been up here while we were downstairs, you don’t think – ”
We looked at the old woman.
“Let’s go,” said Anna.
I followed her to the giant door, but they closed before we could get out.
Then evil laughter turned us around and we saw that it all came the old woman. Then her white hair turned black and longer. Her crinkly skin turned fair and smooth. Her face lost all the warts and grew new sparkling teeth.
The first act this witch did was clapping her hands. “Well done,” she said. “You two are the very first humans to actually make it to the top. And I, Thora, have the reward you deserve.”
She lifted her hands up. The ground soon started popping and out came more snakes! It was a whole nest of snake crawling towards us. They cornered us at the wall.
“What is this for?” yelled Anna.
Behind the snakes, Thora appeared. “I know why you’re here,” she said. “The goblins sent you to free them from me, didn’t they?”
Anna and I looked at each other, not sure wherever to lie or tell the truth.
“Well, don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll tell them we failed for you.”
She was about to click her fingers –
“Wait!” I cried. “I – I thought if we could have one last piece of fun if you sentence us to death.”
“Like what?” Anna asked.
“Like what?” Thora asked.
“Well, I’d really like one last game of craps,” I said. “All I need is a guitar.”
Then my hands were holding a guitar. I was impressed. It was just like the one I had in Spain.
“Would you like some dice?” Thora asked, as the snakes moved away as she moved her arm to the right.
“No need,” I replied. “I got them right here.” And I got out Tulio’s loaded dice. He thought he was lost them during the storm we sailed through before we came to this island. But I found them and put them in my pocket. I was meaning to give them back to Tulio, but it always slipped my mind.
I gave the dice to Anna.
“What are we doing?” whispered Anna.
“We’re fighting for our freedom out of here,” I whispered.
“But I’ve never played this game before,” whispered Anna.
“Trust me,” I whispered. “With these dice, you can’t lose.”