The trail got . . . weird. The kids and the kingpins crawled hand over fist along uneven and irregular patches of treacherous rocks that littered over a half mile of the trail. Sometimes the trail disappeared into swirling waters and wandering creeks, only to emerge a mile later. They took a lot of the trek on faith, faith that they would make it, faith that they would get where they needed to go, faith that they would not pitch themselves off a cliff in the dark.
Turned out there were plenty of cliffs, plenty of thousand-foot drop offs, plenty of twisty turns and walking through shadows. Just when they thought they were safe, they weren't.
Scarlet mountain was a mountain of granite and you wouldn't think it was be a magnet for thunder and lightning storms. But storms haunted the peaks and slipped down the sides of the mountain, reenergized somehow and popped back up, even more powerful, even more devastating than before. It was very loud, loud, enough to hurt their ears, and the closer to the top they got, the more continuous the thunder became, the closer the lightning strikes occurred. It was a bad place, where bad things gathered to do their worst.
A horrendous black cloud, that spiked lightning every other second, filled the night sky and blocked the light of the stars. Then the black cloud began to form shapes, massive, thick shapes that begrudged light and life. They looked like snapping turtles, wild wolves, black bears, a dense, dark cloud with the processes of thought.
Then the sky exploded into a hundred thousand pieces of light; a lightning strike hit a immense, barren, pine tree a hundred feet high, shattering it into splinters and shards of wood. It was hot enough to set the resins inside the wood afire, sparks fluttering skyward.
"Fear not," Omega said.
"Why not?" Petey shouted.
"Cause that was me," Omega muttered. "Something got away from me. I'm not sure what, but
I'm thinking that power was mine."
"Couldn't ya be a little more careful? That coulda been me!" Tim was having a fit, turning in circles, and sputtering. "Calm down, Tim," Julie said. And he did.
But the cloud had stopped roiling, frozen in place. It was waiting.