Alicia turned and saw her mom, Ulla, and Mara looking down at her. Sharon quickly ran over and helped Alicia up.
"Sweetie! What happened?"
"I got swarmed," Alicia sighed. "I saw the Queen again, and that annoying woman from before." She started to relay what she had seen. The three women looked on with concern as they listened to the story.
"So, they are vampires!" Mara shouted. "I knew it!"
"But, why bite then?”
“It was as punishment." Replied Sharon. "It turned them into a zombie. Something isn't right here."
"But, where did they go?" asked Ulla. "A panic room?"
"Or a vault?" interjected Mara. "Must be big to fit all of those people."
"Unless!" gasped Alicia, "Tunnels!"
"Tunnels?" Ulla blinked with confusion.
"I read a thing about theme park design. They're often built on the second floor. The actual ground level is a series of tunnels, so you can easily get stuff in and out without needing to work out how to get supply trucks into the middle of your parks. It also lets you hide maintenance stuff."
"Do they have that here?" asked Ulla.
"I have no idea, but it might explain how these people got around so easily. Like, did we see anyone heading to the woods before the castle?"
"I didn't," mumbled Mara.
"So, unless they waited in there all day, or sprinted over while we were in the castle, how did they get over there?"
"That would make sense. One of us would have spotted something. That number of people couldn't move undetected unless they had powers. But if they all had powers, you would have been in way more trouble in there." Ulla pondered.
"Where does that leave us?" asked Sharon.
"They've fortified," mumbled Ulla. "This means that at the very least, we're in a siege situation. It puts us on the back foot."
"So, wait them out?" asked Mara.
"No. Hostages. And with that bite, we can't risk leaving them trapped for a second more than is necessary. So, we're going bunker-busting." decided Ulla.
"We should go investigate those towers," added Sharon. "They're likely guarding the door Alicia saw them enter. They might not be protecting the forest as they might not know that we know about their tunnels."
"If they exist, that is. I'm just guessing," responded Alicia.
"But, you've convinced me!" Sharon smiled. "It makes perfect sense! It also explains how they could whisk that other person away!"
"Right, I agree," nodded Mara. "The forest is worth a look. If we can find a tunnel, we can get the jump on them."
"Right, let's go!" Ulla nodded decisively as she started to walk towards the forest, the other girls following close behind.
As they walked, Alicia looked around the park. It was totally silent. If Alicia hadn't just fought her way through a crowd of vampires, she would have presumed that the place was abandoned. Outside of the few places that had been set up for the event, the whole park was horribly decayed. It looked very creepy, like something out of a post-apocalyptic film.
Ulla looked around as they moved, keen to make sure they were not ambushed by any lurking vampires. However, no one seemed to be in the forest. All of the props were just left outside.
Eventually, the group arrived at one of the towers. It, like the rest of the forest, was totally empty. Once they got there, Ulla nodded up at the tower. Alicia knew what to do and quickly scaled the ladder.
The top of the platform only had a full garbage can and an empty box resting upon it. "Weird," mumbled Alicia as she looked around the park. Even from this angle, she couldn't see a soul. She grabbed the trash can and headed back down the ladder.
"Anything?" asked Sharon.
"No one. But, I have their trash," Alicia smiled. "Might be good for some intel." She started to root through the can. "Lots of snacks in here."
"Interesting," nodded Mara.
"Oh?" Asked Sharon as she raised her eyebrow. "How so?"
"Well, vampires drink blood traditionally. Not snacks."
"Oh! Right, we're not dealing with traditional vamps then. We can put the garlic away."
"I wasn't planning on it," grinned Ulla as she smacked her fist into her other palm.
"Just got to see if there is a tunnel entrance around here." Sharon nodded as she started to roam around the area. The girls spend a few minutes looking around the forest, keen to see what they could find.
After a short search, Ulla called out. "Over here!" she beckoned, waving the girls over to a thick group of trees that were tangled in ivy. The girls ran over and realized that Ulla had found a small shack.
"Do you think?" wondered Mara.
"Why else would it be here?" asked Ulla as she stepped through the vines and gently pulled the door open. Everyone held their breath, but once the door was opened Ulla turned and smiled. "Stairwell."
"Great!" replied Alicia.
"So, keep close. We're going to take this area by area. Alicia, got your strength lined up?"
"Yep!" Alicia nodded.
"We're also going to want to take a hostage of our own so Mesmera can get some info out of them. We're operating in the dark and need to resolve that as soon as possible," added Ulla.
"Yes," Sharon grinned with a hint of excitement, "we need to learn as much as we can!"
"Right, then let's go," Ulla finished as she stepped into the stairs.
Ulla's steps echoed as she walked down the metal stairs. It was oddly amusing that a quaint wooden outhouse led into this very industrial stairwell. But it made sense; why spend money on something guests would never see?
At the bottom of the stairs was a long corridor. The white walls were damaged, with peeling paint and damaged tiles and more light bulbs than not which had burnt out years ago.
There were random props scattered around the place as well as loads of trash, suggesting that people had been here recently. The girls started to creep forward, keen to avoid being spotted.
The corridors were long and winding. There were very few turns or deviations making it very hard for the girls to hide, but also making them very hard to ambush.
Several minutes of walking later, the girls came upon a large and open room. It looked like it had been used as a prop production room as there were several tables covered in fabric, paint, and plastic scattered around.
"Several corridors branching off," nodded Ulla as she pointed to the exits. However, before anyone could respond, a voice crackled over a loudspeaker.
"Thought you could escape, did you?" came the Courtesan's voice. "You won't escape! The Lamia Queen demands blood and spirit, and yours shall be on the table!"
"What?" shouted Alicia.
"Must be cameras hidden around the place!" Ulla surmised as several vampires crawled out of the inky darkness of the tunnels, all hissing in unison.
The vampires all charged forward, fangs shimmering in the low light. The girls started to fight them, throwing vampires left and right as they did.
The tables and props got thrown about as Alicia knocked the vampires down, but whenever she took one out, another one would appear out of the darkness and charge in.
As Alicia started to get swarmed, a shout echoed from behind her. "Duck!" Alicia's body acted on instinct, quickly dropping to the floor. As she did one of the tables flew over her head, smashing into the crowd of vampires that were standing in front of her.
Alicia turned and saw that Mara was getting overwhelmed. "Down!" she shouted as she ran towards Mara. Mara hit the floor quickly, allowing Alicia to lunge over her and dropkick the vampires, sending them flying backward down the corridor.
"Good move!" remarked a relieved Mara as she climbed up off the floor and turned. At that moment, Alicia saw as Mara’s smile dropped into a look of terror. "No!" she cried out. Alicia turned to follow Mara’s gaze and realized that one of the vampires had Sharon over their shoulders. She was totally limp and looked to be unconscious.
"Mesmera!" Shouted Ulla as she started to chase the vampires. However, as she got to the end of the corridor, one of the vampires grabbed something and threw it towards Ulla.
Ulla dodged, but as the object hit the wall it exploded. The blast knocked Ulla back as the ceiling and the wall crumbled, forming a wall that blocked her process. Alicia and Mara ran over, quickly dragging Ulla away from the falling rubble.
"The hell?" shouted Mara. "Demolishing their own tunnels."
"How did they get the jump on her?" mumbled Alicia. "We were doing so well."
Ulla pushed herself up off the floor and walked into the center of the room. "I know you can see me." she screamed. "Just know, if you harm a hair on her head, I will make you regret ever coming up with this concept. Vampire or whatever you are!"
"What do we do?" asked Alicia.
"We move." Ulla asserted. "We'll catch up with them eventually, or find another one of them."
"She's property of the Lamia Queen now," chuckled a voice over the speaker. Alicia saw flames burn in Ulla's eyes. Pure, genuine rage. Something she had never seen in Ulla before.
"You'll regret those words." swore Ulla. "I'll make sure of it." She then waved to the girls. "Let's go."
"Right," replied Mara and Alicia in unison. As they got close, Mara gently rubbed Ulla's shoulder.
"We'll get her back," she whispered gently.
"I," growled Ulla.
"It's Mesmera," whispered Mara softly. "She won't go down without a fight. We both know that."
"Right," nodded Ulla. "Let's push on." She marched down further into one of the other corridors. As they did, the girls found more props and more junk but none of the vampires.
"Something is weird about this," mumbled Alicia. "How do they keep appearing and then vanishing?"
"Powers?" supposed Mara.
"Very weak if so, they're not that strong." sighed Alicia. "This makes so little sense." The girls continued to loop through the seemingly eternal corridors.
As they walked, Ulla continued to seethe. Her rage was hardly contained. However, nothing seemed to lead them any closer to the vampires or the Lamia Queen.
After what felt like an eternity of wandering through the tunnels, Alicia stopped as an idea flashed into her mind. "Wait," she mumbled as she pressed up against the wall.
"What?" asked Mara.
"Trickery," replied Alicia as she started to tap on the wall, "Trickery and deception."
"What do you?" started Mara as Alicia backed up a few feet before kicking a hole in the wall. However, rather than concrete, the wall splintered like wood.
"Fake walls!" Alicia grinned. "Just like in the house, it is how they're pulling off their teleportation trick!"
"Interesting!" Mara smiled as Alicia peered into the hole she had made. It revealed a very rough second corridor with plain concrete walls, illuminated only by sparse strip lighting.
"So, this place had two sets of tunnels. Great!" remarked Alicia. "Let's head towards that first corridor, the direction they took Mesmera!"
"Right!" agreed Mara as the girls moved through the hidden corridor with renewed purpose, the group finally feeling like they were getting closer to resolving this situation.