|Escape The Mask
“We are leaving. Now!” Tia called us quickly to her. “Pippa, you may unlock the cages as we go. Do not wait to see if the diggers open them. Bran, help her. I will start Coriko back as fast as he can go. Move now!”
There was no questioning her authority. She slipped her arm under my shoulders and I leaned on her gratefully, limping for the opposite end of the caves toward the new tunnel. The diggers needed no explanation when the cages began to open. They poured out from behind the bars like a school of frightened fish, following our voices toward the last remaining door.
“Pippa! Bran!” Tia yelled over our shoulders.
“How long will it hold, Tia?”
She shifted her arm on my shoulder. Diggers began knocking into us in their haste to get by. “It better last for a while longer. If the other diggers keep passing us, by the time we get to your new tunnel there is going to be a mess of people in the way.” She tried to help me by brushing bodies aside when they came too close.
And where was safety? The last time Thief and I had stumbled out the end of the new tunnel we had almost been killed by arrows.
“Tia! Where are you?” I could hear Bran screaming somewhere directly behind us.
“Bran!” We both yelled. We waited, calling out back and forth, until Pippa and Bran found their way to us. “I got every cage,” Pippa gasped.
Without hesitating Tia picked up the pace and started an awkward lope forward into the darkness. Her arm gripped me tighter. “You’ve got to go faster, Coriko!”
I tried not to limp and turned my jog into an agonized run. There was no one around us anymore, although I could hear shouts up ahead. Then a sudden crash came from behind and the roar of the ocean filled our ears.
“Oh no, oh no!” Bran groaned.
My side suddenly scraped against the wall of the new tunnel, and a hand gripped the neck of my work-cloth.
“Coriko!” Thief helped me through the door.
Tia sprawled forward, knocking me out of Thief’s helpful grip and landing on top of me. My head began swirling and Tia’s weight on my leg sent me into a darkness deeper than the blackness around us.
Excerpted from Escape The Mask by David Ward. Copyright © 2001 by David Ward. Excerpted by permission of Scholastic Books. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.