Zyx and Nyx fell some twenty feet too surprised to scream and then hit the bottom so hard the wind was knocked from their lungs and they lost consciousness from the concussion of slamming against the hard stone. Sometime later Nyx groaned and opened his eyes. Staring up, he tried to imagine where he was and when he tried to figure out who set the trap he shuddered and looked for his brother who was still unawake next to him. Their gear looked intact however and even the stolen totem survived the fall. Still, the smooth walls looked difficult to climb and Nyx knew he wouldn’t be able to do it alone.
Nyx shook his brother to wake him and with only a couple shakes Zyx stirred and began to rise. He sat up and held his head which ached terribly.
“What happen?” Zyx asked eyes closed tightly through his teeth.
“We fall in trap, brother,” Nyx explained.
“Why trap here?” Zyx asked but his brother didn’t respond and instead was trying to imagine how to climb out. The walls slanted inward making gripping and climbing near impossible even with tools. It also appeared they were carved and smoothed making it even more of a challenge.
Nyx pulled out one of his daggers and tried to chip it into the stone but it failed to grip and after only a few tries he gave up on that strategy. He got his spear and measured how much closer he could get to the top of the trap with it by holding it up above him but the spear was only another three feet and together he was still far from half way from escaping. The leather hide that was used to cover the trap was with them also and Nyx picked it up and turned it over a few times but didn’t figure out any way that it could assist them in escaping.
Zy stood and surveyed his surroundings through squinted eyes. There was dried blood and hair from what seemed to be large cave rats. He didn’t see anything around on the floor of the trap that could be helpful; just some rocks and evidence of former victims.
Nyx picked up a rock and threw it up and out of the trap. It did absolutely no good at all so he did it again just to be sure. Still nothing. Zyx sat back down and watched his brother who next picked up one of the bows and fired and arrow directly up. It struck the ceiling then fell back towards them but tumbled harmlessly down; broken.
Zyx tried to save him from further futile acts of desperation, “Brother, no help. We stuck here.”
Nyx snorted then sat against the opposite wall. After all they struggled through in their short lives, they still ended up trapped. They sat in silence as a dark cloud settled over them and gripped their hearts. To pass the time as he tried to imagine a way out, Nyx pulled out a dagger and began scratching the floor with it in no discernable pattern.
Zyx closed his eyes and cleared his mind. He settled into a trance without trying and began to imagine his surroundings. Like before, he was able to navigate and see the trap they were in. It took a moment to realize that he was moving in spirit rather than body and when he did he moved up the walls and to the top of the trap. At the top, he saw where they fell directly into the hole. He inspected further and could see where someone could walk to avoid the trap. There were some clear footprints around the trap as well. They weren’t large but because Zyx had no experience in identifying such things he could not decide if he should be more afraid or less. It was clear though that someone or something had set and was likely checking the trap. There didn’t seem to be anything useful at the top of the trap either. Zyx was able to travel a short way past the trap before he again felt like he was losing the connection with his body. He wanted to travel further but was afraid what would happen if he went too far away so he returned to the trap, down the full twenty feet, saw his brother scratching the ground mindlessly and his own small form against the wall. In the next moment he opened his eyes, back in his body.
“I not see far past trap,” Zyx explained.
Nyx didn’t even look up but kept playing with his dagger. “We stuck.”
“Someone will come. Saw feet around trap.”
“They big or small?”
“Maybe they no kill us.”
“Who you think trap us?” Zyx wondered.
“No idea. Better to get out first,” Nyx answered, “Not know how. Need rope, ladder, something.”
Zyx sighed, “only have weapons and leather from trap.”
Nyx’s eyes widened and he stared at the leather then he leaped up and began cutting strips of the leather with his dagger. Zyx watched intently, leaning forward and cheering his brother on. Nyx worked quickly eyes focused and muscles tense but completely in control, sweat forming on his brow. After a while his fingers cramped and he ached but at last he created a leather rope from the trap’s cover.
Next Nyx tied his rope to one of the spears. He threw the spear up, trying to hook it somehow at the top of the trap. A dozen times he tried before the spear landed across the opening of the trap leaving the leather rope dangling. It was just long enough to reach but the task of climbing was left to master before they could be free.
Nyx gathered his gear and secured it to his tunic and then gripped the rope. It took a moment for him to get a grip on the rope and sort out his legs to steady him then slowly but surely climbed the rope. At the top, he grabbed the ledge and pulled himself over then, out of breath, rested on his back a moment. His arms swelled from the work and chest heaved from his effort.
Below, Zyx secured his spear and the totem and tried to grab the rope and climb but was struggling to get more than a couple feet from the ground. After a couple of tries he could get a decent grip on the rope and learned to use his legs but there was a significant difference in strength between his brother and himself. Zyx’s arms shook before long during each attempt and he released the rope and fell back to the floor of the trap.
Nyx heard he brother struggling and leaned over to look at how he was doing. “What wrong?” he asked.
“Can’t climb. Too hard,” Zyx answered breathing deeply.
“Have to. Get out of trap,” Nyx encouraged. “Can’t stay for trapper find us.”
Zyx again gripped the rope and climbed for a few feet before his lean arms gave out and he thudded back to the ground.
“Hurry brother,” Nyx called with a little more urgency in his voice.
“I trying. Can’t do it.”
“You hold it, I try to pull you,” Nyx suggested. Zyx grabbed the rope and wrapped his arm around it, holding tightly. Nyx sucked in air deeply then began to pull his brother. It was slow work but he was making some progress before he flew backwards. He scrambled back to the edge and looked down to his brother who was laying on his back on the ground.
“What happen?” Nyx called out.
“Can’t hold it. Too hard,” his brother sobbed.
“Can’t hold on? I pull, you hold on. It easy,” Nyx scolded. “Try again!”
Zyx gripped the rope again and tried to wrap it around his arm to ease his task. Nyx pulled and again slowly lifted his brother from the trap floor and towards the top. He stepped, all his strength lifting his brother away from the trap and then again, he flung towards the ground. The hard stone bruised his arms as he crashed against it and he squinted his eyes and tensed his back as he rushed to the edge.
“What happen?” Nyx shouted to his brother who was rolling around on the floor, himself bruised and sore. “Don’t let go! Hold the rope! I lift you out!”
“I can’t! I can’t!” Zyx cried. “I not strong like you.”
Nyx saw his brother, writhing on the floor and crying. He saw his weakness and tinge of resentment rose in him like water slowly boiling. He cinched his fists as he watched the small whelp on the floor of the trap and knew it was better for him if he left his brother who couldn’t even hold on to the rope long enough to be pulled to safety.
Nyx ground his teeth eyes fixed on the sad and pathetic sight of Zyx on the trap floor, then he turned away from the trap and walked away, leaving his brother at the bottom of the trap.