The first thing the kids discovered when they left the RUINS was a huge, snowy forest ahead of them. A cleared path went through the trees. The dark cavern was full of twinkling ice. The snow was cold and thick beneath their feet. Behind them were purple doors that were locked tight. Way ahead was some kind of gate, then a sentry station.
"It's freezing...." Melody mumbled, rubbing her arms.
She was only wearing her ballet gear, so she wasn't exactly prepared for a voyage through a snowy area. Brayden found she complained a lot - especially about him. She could be really annoying. But Brayden found her being one of his best friends. Melody didn't seem to give up on him - and she was pretty much the only person who was an actual friend back in the day and not some stupid bully.
"You think you're freezing!?" Brayden asked her.
He wasn't in a great situation either. He was wearing a striped tank, shorts and trainers. At least Melody had a tutu. Well, he had his gloves and awesome manly bandanna.
"This doesn't make any sense - snow can't be underground." Percy mumbled, taking notes. Brayden found Percy... kind of funny. They didn't have a lot in common, but they got on reasonably well. Even if Percy really liked weird cartoons and books. Brayden didn't like books. He found them boring.
"Oh... there's a camera in the bush!" Faye observed a bush near the purple doors to the RUINS.
"A camera?" Clover asked, making a face. "Is someone watchin' us?"
Brayden thought Clover was cool and annoying at the same time. She got on his nerves, yet no-one else could kick butt like her. She'd be the one fighting alongside him. And she was pretty protective of her brother. Brayden was the baby of his family but he didn't like it when people bothered his older sisters or his friends.
"Hey, Brayden," Cody spoke up. He smiled. "If you're really cold, you can wear my apron if you want."
Brayden thought Cody was just a big softie - that guy who always wore his heart on his sleeve. Though he was always nice to people, Brayden knew Cody knew how to defend himself - and he had Clover, of course. And he made amazing food.
"I'm not gonna wear an apron!" Brayden replied.
The thought of wearing said thing disgusted him. Just nope. He saw the eighth human was looking at the sentry station in the distance. Brayden liked that kid. They ran into danger like he did - and they were pretty cool. They didn't seem scared of anything - wow they were cool.
"I think they want to go." Faye spoke up quietly.
She looked kind of cold too. Brayden and Faye had been BFFs for ages even though they were super different. Faye was cute and quiet. She didn't really know how to stick up for herself sometimes. She just took everything in. Brayden once told her he'd beat up anyone who got in her way and he really meant it. In return, she was just a great friend. She really understood him.
"Let's go then." Clover spoke up.
The kids proceeded. Brayden wanted to run off, but Clover started giving him that crazy death-stare. The eighth human was kind of ahead, though. Brayden went over to them.
"Think there are any monsters in those trees?" he asked. The eighth human shrugged. "I could take on a monster army right now!"
He and the eighth human walked over some tough stick on the ground. Brayden was looking out for any monsters who wanted to fight him. Suddenly, the stick snapped - it was destroyed as if it were nothing. Faye yelped. Clover brought out her gun, naturally protecting her brother. The eighth human looked unfazed.
"Who's there!?" Brayden yelled. He made a punching motion with his fists. "I'm not afraid of you! Come out and fight me!"
But nobody came.
"It looks like nobody is coming," Melody observed. She was standing next to Percy. "I suppose we had better keep going."
Everyone continued moving. Brayden kept looking around, brows raised. The kids walked a little further. A silhouette appeared behind them in the shadows.
"SHOW YOURSELF, COWARD!" Brayden yelled at the trees, clenching his fists.
"You better." Clover agreed, holding up her gun.
Still nobody came.
The eighth human continued walking. They didn't look afraid. They were nearing that bridge thing. So everyone followed them. They stopped at the bridge.
Snow was being crunched behind them; someone was there. The eighth human didn't flinch. Clover gripped her gun. Cody was holding up his frying pan. Percy was taking notes. Melody looked a little scared herself. Faye was hiding behind Brayden.
"Who are you!?" Brayden asked the silhouette, glaring at them. "You wanna fight!?"
The eighth human was shaking their head. They didn't seem nervous at all. Quite the opposite.
"Humans," the shadow thing greeted slowly. "Don't you know how to greet a new pal?" He held out his bony hand. "Shake my hand."
The eighth human shook his hand like they'd done it a million times. Everyone was sort of staring at them. Then there was a fart noise. A really long and awkward one.
"Did you just fart?" Brayden asked the shadowy dude who wasn't so shadowy anymore.
He was now a chubby skeleton with a blue jacket, slippers and a white shirt. His blue jacket had a fluffy hood and his black eye-sockets were kind of creepy. A permanent smile was plastered on his face. He was slightly taller than the kids.
Brayden giggled like an immature child. "Awesome!"
"Ugh," Melody rolled her eyes.
"heh heh, thanks kid," the skeleton replied, chuckling. "that was the old whoopee cushion in the hand trick. it's ALWAYS funny. anyways, you're all humans, right? that's hilarious. im sans. sans the skeleton. im actually supposed to be on watch for humans right now. but... y'know... i don't really care about capturing anybody."
"I think he's nice, Clover," Cody told his sister. He eyed her gun. "You can put that away."
Clover slipped her gun away, biting her lip.
"If you're a skeleton, does that mean you're an undead human?" Percy asked, bringing out his notepad. "How exactly would that work?"
"it's complicated, kid," Sans answered, shrugging. "it's probably for the best if we don't discuss it now. anyway, my brother, papyrus. he's a human hunting FANATIC. hey, actually, i think that's him over there. i have an idea. go through this gate thingy. yeah, all you kids, go right through. my bro made the bars too wide to stop anyone."
The kids went through the gate. On the other side was that sentry station and seven conveniently shaped lamps.
"quick, behind those conveniently shaped lamps," Sans told them.
"Why are we hiding!?" Brayden asked. He clenched his fists. "I wanna fight! I'm not afraid of, what's his name, Papyrus!"
"Let's not be rude and listen to Sans." Melody told him, giving him a look.
He sighed and followed her. He hid behind a lamp shaped like himself. All of his friends were doing the same. A tall skeleton walked over. He had large, red gloves, boots and a long scarf. He was wearing some kind of armour around his chest, a small symbol near his shoulder. He was also wearing blue pants, Brayden guessed. Brayden really didn't know anything about skeletons, apart from the decorative ones he saw on Halloween.
"'sup, bro?" Sans greeted his bro.
"YOU KNOW WHAT 'SUP', BROTHER!" Papyrus yelled, sounding grumpy. "IT'S BEEN EIGHT DAYS AND YOU STILL HAVEN'T... RECALIBRATED. YOUR. PUZZLES! YOU JUST HANG AROUND OUTSIDE YOUR STATION! WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!"
"staring at these lamps," Sans replied. "they're really cool. you wanna look?"
"Is he givin' us away?" Clover whisper-asked.
The eighth human shook their head.
"NO!" Papyrus retorted, stomping his boot on the snow. "I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT! WHAT IF A HUMAN COMES THROUGH HERE?! I WANT TO BE READY! I WILL BE THE ONE! I MUST BE THE ONE! I WILL CAPTURE A HUMAN! THEN, I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS... WILL GET ALL THE THINGS I UTTERLY DESERVE!" His cape flowed in the wind. "RESPECT... RECOGNITION... I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO JOIN THE ROYAL GUARD! PEOPLE WILL ASK, TO BE MY 'FRIEND'? I WILL BATHE IN A SHOWER OF KISSES EVERY MORNING!"
"hmm... maybe these lamps can help you." Sans told Papyrus.
"SANS! YOU ARE NOT HELPING! YOU LAZYBONES!" Papyrus responded.
"Blah blah, I'm bored," Brayden grumbled. He looked at Faye who was right next to him. "Hey, Faye, check this out." He flexed his 'muscles'.
"That's nice, Brayden." she replied politely. She seemed more focused on the skele-bros and their amazing skeleton puns.
"i've gotten a ton of work done today," Sans said, winking. "a skele-ton."
Faye was trying not to laugh. Melody silently groaned. Clover grinned. Brayden snorted and started giggling.
"WHAT'S THAT SOUND?" Papyrus asked, looking around.
"just the lamps," Sans told his bro. "told you they're cool."
"OH, I SEE," Papyrus replied. "WHERE WAS I...? OH YES!" He looked annoyed. "SAANNNSSSSS!"
"come on," Sans retorted. "you're smiling."
"I AM AND I HATE IT!" Papyrus grumbled. He sighed. "WHY DOES SOMEONE AS GREAT AS ME... HAVE TO DO SO MUCH JUST TO GET SOME RECOGNITION..."
"wow, sounds like you're really working yourself..." Sans winked. "down to the bone."
Brayden started laughing again, even though he thought the pun was garbage.
"Hey!" Melody whisper-shouted. "Brayden! Shhhh!" Faye started giggling as well. "Oh my goodness..."
"see, the lamps think i'm funny." Sans told his brother, raising his... bone-brow.
"UGHHH!" Papyrus groaned. "I WILL ATTEND TO MY PUZZLES... AS FOR YOUR WORK... PUT A LITTLE MORE..." He made a face. "'BACKBONE' INTO IT! NYEHHEHEHEHEH!"
He stared at the lamps. No one laughed this time. Papyrus frowned and walked away. Brayden almost walked out if Melody didn't grab him.
Papyrus came back one more time. "HEH!"
"ok, you kids can come out now." Sans spoke.
Everyone came out, relieved.
"FINALLY!" Brayden exasperated. Melody was staring at him. "WHAT!? I was bored! Faye was laughing too!"
Brayden stared at Sans and gave him a thumbs up. "Nice puns by the way, Mr. Fat Skeleton!"
"Wow," Percy commented emotionlessly. He faced Sans. "I can't believe your brother fell for that trick. Why does he look so different from you? I've many questions about skeletons."
"Your brother's not dangerous, is he?" Clover asked, walking over to Sans. "I dunno if he's safe."
"your friend over there will know," Sans answered, pointing at the eighth human. "they look like a kid who knows their stuff."
The eighth human shrugged like they and Sans were old pals.
"but if you ask me, no, he's not dangerous, even if he tries to be," Sans explained.
"I bet I could take him on." Brayden said confidently, cracking his knuckles.
"Brayden's not dangerous either, don't worry," Melody whispered to Sans. "He's just very silly and good at getting himself into trouble."
"I HEARD THAT!" Brayden yelled at her.
"We'd better move on, y'all." Clover spoke up, folding her arms.
Her brother smiled and waved at Sans. The kids headed right, following a snowy path into the forest.
"actually, hey, could you kids do me a favour?" Sans asked. "i was thinkin'... my brother's been kind of down lately... he's never seen a human before. and seeing you kids just might make his day. don't worry, as i said, he's not dangerous, even if he tries to be."
"I hope so," Clover muttered.
"It'll be fine, sis," Cody told Clover. "We can look after ourselves, right?"
"thanks a million, kids," Sans said. "i'll be up ahead."
He walked to the left.
"Oh, he went the wrong way." Faye observed.
"LET'S GO!" Brayden yelled, charging off.