[See Part 1 for Disclaimer.]
Up, up, up, up. Neverending. Just higher and higher.
"How far underground could we have been?" asked Kimberly. "These stairs go on for ever!"
"It can't be much furthur," reassured Adam.
"Ya, but furthur to where?" asked Tommy. There was no answer.
"I'd feel ALOT better if I had my morpher," exclaimed Kim, trying to lighten the mood.
"Ya," replied Adam, trying to laugh. The sound of thunder rang through the long staircase as the rangers continued to climb.
"Guys!" exclaimed Kimberly. "Look! A door!" It was a door, exactly like the one at the bottom.
"Do you think it's safe?" asked Adam.
"Well," replied Tommy, "judging from the one at the bottom, I'd say so."
Tommy reached out and turned the handle.
"This room is HUGE!" exclaimed Kimberly.
"No kidding," replied Adam. The room was truely massive. There were no windows, with more torches providing light. The room was lavishly furnished with carpet, chairs and couches. On the far side of the room was a large fire place, unlit.
"So, where to next?" asked Kimberly.
"I'm not sure," replied Tommy. "I don't see any more doors."
The rangers conitnued to explore the massive room for another ten minutes, coming up empty, except for one disturbing fact - the door they had entered through had disappeared.
"It was right here!" exclaimed Adam, staring in disbelief at the spot where the door had been. "I'm sure..." Adam stopped, and began to look around the room.
"What is it?" asked Tommy.
"Listen." A faint sound could be heard, like blowing wind. Kimberly's hair blew into her face. As she brushed it back, she felt a coldness on her face.
"What's going on?" she asked. The coldness seemed to spread from her face to the rest of her body. A chilling coldness - a coldness to the bone.
"Do you guys feel that?" she asked.
"Ya," replied Tommy. A sudden gust of wind rushed past the rangers. It was followed by a creaking sound. It seemed to originate from the large fireplace.
"It's coming from over there," Adam said, motioning to the fireplace.
"Duck!" yelled Tommy, pushing Adam and Kimberly to the floor. The fireplace errupted in flames, shooting out into the room. The rangers could feel the heat from the flames overhead on the backs of their necks. The teens rolled away from the flames. When they were at a safe distance, the rose, seeing the flaming hearth.
"There's..." Tommy began.
"What?" asked Adam.
"There's something in there. IN the flames!" Inside the fireplace, ditinct figures could be made out. They were coming out, towards the rangers.
"Get ready," Tommy said, crouching to a fighting position. The flames ceased, revealing the figures. Kimberly screamed.
"Like, what are those things?" she exclaimed, fear evident in her voice.
"I don't know," Tommy answered. "But they don't look friendly." Before the teens were a dozen skeletons, each armed with midieval weaponry. They were walking towards the rangers, swords clutched in their bony hands. They attacked.
"I don't know about you, Hercules, but I'd feel alot better if I knew where we were!"
"Calme down, Iolaus," Hercules said. "It could be worse."
"You know," replied Iolaus, "you're probably going to regret saying that."
"You're probaby right. Now, how about a hand?" Before the two was a large wooden door, rusted shut. Ioluas came to Hercules' side and helped push.
"Darn thing...won't...budge!" Iolaus said between gasps of air. After more pushing, the door did.
It creaked forward, revealing a massive room. Before either of the two could get a good look at the interior, there was a large blast of light as a burst of heat rushed over the two.
"Let's check it out," said Hercules, pushing open the door a little furthur and entering. Iolaus followed.
"Ki-yah!" yelled Tommy as his jump-kick sent the bony warrior to the ground. He landed and watched the skeleton slowly staggered back to it's feet, ready for another round.
"So, you want some more?" asked Tommy. "Well, come and get it!" Tommy the warrior, jumped, extended his right leg, and spun, the outside of his foot smashing across the skeleton's jaw. Nothing.
The skeleton swung with it's bony hand at Tommy. He ducked and rolled backwards. He found himself next to Adam.
"Nothing hurts them," said Adam. "What can we do?"
"I don't know." The skeletons had surrounded the two. They each had to lash out at the skeletons to keep them back.
"Where's Kimberly?" asked Tommy.
"What-?" Adam replied, looking around. "I don't know."
"Hey!" a voice yelled out from behind the skeletons. They warriors all turned, revealing who had shouted.
There stood two figures. The left, shorted than the other, hand long, fairly unkept blond hair. He wore a purple vest and black leather pants, similar to Adam's. The one on the right was a head taller. He had long brown hair, a vest looking to be made of aminal skins, and brown leather pants, torn and re-sewn in places. They were both very muscular, striking imposing stances. Kimberly was behind the two.
The shorter, who had apparently called head, looked up to the taller one, who between his teeth, said : "Come one, Iolaus...". A look of despair crossed the shorter's face.
"Like I was saying..." he began, searching for words. "Uh, never mind." The skeletons attacked the two strangers.
"Nicely put, Iolaus," the taller said, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
"Gimme a break, Herc!" Before Iolaus could add to his already desperate attempt at an excuse, he was confronted by one of the warriors. He quickly smacked it in the face and dropped to his knees, where he grabbed the skeleton's legs and flung them upward, the skeleton flying backwards.
Kimberly flipped her way over to Tommy and Adam. "Any idea who these two guys are?" she asked.
Tommy, surprised at the question, said, "We were hoping to ask you the same thing!"
"I don't know," Kimberly said. "They just showed up out of nowhere!"
"It looks like they're here to help," Adam noted. The two strangers were fighting the skeletons.
"Uh, hello!" the taller called out. He smacked a warrior aside and continued, "We could use a little help here!"
"Right," answered Tommy. He looked to Adam, then Kimberly. Each gave a nod. "Let's do it!"
As the rangers charged, half of the skeletons left the two strangers to concentrate on the other three. Adam faced the first head on. The skeleton's bones creaked as it moved toward him. It seemed to look him over, almost judging if he was worthy of a fight. Adam took a quick step forward, but the skeleton jerked it's head and hissed at him. Adam wasn't sure what it was doing, and this put him at a disadvantage. He tried hard to remain ready, his knees bent, senses primed. He blinked.
He felt a sharp pain in his side, and the feeling of weght-lessness, before coming back to earth. He winced in pain as he grabbed his side, tender from the blow. When he regained the rest of his senses, he saw that he was just to the side of massive fireplace, now crackling with flames. The skeleton was coming towards him. He firmly placed his hands on the ground to push himself up. Under his right hand he felt something thin and cold, not like the carpet. He looked down, and saw that it was a large axe with a wooden handle and large metal blade.
"It isn't the Power Axe," he said to himself, standing up, "but it'll have to do." He firmly held the axe. It was in excellent condition, never used before. The light from the fire reflected off the silver blade, as the skeleton approached. But this time it was to be Adam who would make the first move. He held the axe in front of himself with two hands.
The warrior, seeing the axe, reached behind it's back for a sword which lay in a hoster on it's belt.
"Not so fast, skinny." Adam quickly swung the axe around over his head and sent it slashing downward. It cut smoothly through the air in a flash of silver. Before it hit the ground, Adam guided it back upright.
The skeleton looked down at it's arm, then back up at Adam. Then, with a sound like nails on a chalkboard, the skeleton's arm slowly slide off of the shoulder and fell to the ground, breaking into pieces.
Adam then brought the sword around his right side and slashed horizontally at the skeleton, slicing it in two.
The brown-haired stranger clentched his right hand around the skeleton's neck, the other around the backbone, lifted it above his head and with a grunt of effort sent it flying into the fire.
He wiped his hands against each other and then crossed his arms across his chest, all of the skeletons defeated. His friend joined him at his side.
"Could it be Hera's doing?" asked the shorter.
"I'm not sure," he said. He turned to the rangers, "Thanks."
"Ya," added his sidekick, "but...who are you?"
"I'm Tommy," answered Tommy. He extended his right hand. The stranger reached out and, rather than grasping his hand, put his hand around Tommy's wrist. Tommy did the same. "And this is Kimberly and Adam," added Tommy.
"You are all good fighters," replied the tall one. "We appriciate the help."
"I'm Hercules, and this is Iolaus."
"Hi," Iolaus chimmed in. The two strangers seemed almost surprised when no reply came to the giving of their names. Should we know these guys? though Kimberly.
"Hercules, huh?" asked Kimberly.
"Yes, is something wrong?" replied Hercules.
"No, nothing..." What am I supposed to say? thought Kim. Any relation to the Greek myth? Ya, that'd be REAL smart.
"So, Tommy," Hercules said. "I take it you don't know what you're doing here. Neither do me and Iolaus."
"Don't you have any idea?" asked Adam.
"Well..." Hercules began, but was interrupted as a flash of light filled the room. A framiliar green mass of light appeared and materialized into human form.
"That's enough of that," it said.
"Oh, not you again!" said Iolaus, approaching the being known as the Keeper. "You know I'm getting pretty sick and tired..."
"Cool it, Iolaus," said Hercules, restraining Iolaus. "Look, it's about time you start explaining..."
"My dear Hercules, we've been over this before. All-"
"-Will be answered in time. I know, I know," Hercules recited.
"Well, enough with the small talk," the Keeper said. He snapped his fingers, and in a flash of light Hercules and Iolaus vanished.
"What did you do with them?" demanded Tommy.
"It's none of your concern," the Keeper replied. His mood quickly changed, "Congrats on a fine job well done. Now, if you'll please exit through the door to your right, I have your next set of instructions.
Before anyone could protest, the Keeper vanished. The rangers all turned to the right, seeing a large door, just like the previous two.
"I'm not gonna ask," said Kimberly. The three rangers proceeded slowly to the door. Tommy reached out and opened it.
"Let's go." The three teens slowly passed though the door, and into the darkness beyond.