Eddie tried blocking Phyllis's view of the stone. "Just forget you saw it," he said, waving her away.
Phyllis knocked Eddie aside. He hit the side of the bunker hard. She crouched before the hole, pried the stone out and stared at it.
Eddie rubbed his shoulder. "Phyllis, you can't put that stone in the stream. It's got some kind of curse on it."
"But it needs to go in the stream," she said, her voice soft, as if she were holding a baby rather than a rock.
"No, it mustn't. That rock came from the Lamia."
Phyllis jolted around and stared at him. "Her infernal majesty?"
"That's the one. She wants me to drop it into a river, so we can't let that happen."
Phyllis looked lost. She stared down at the stone in her hand, then back at Eddie. "We... we should bury it," Phyllis said.
"That's a good idea. Can you dig a hole?"
"Of course I can."
But Phyllis didn't move to comply. She cradled the rock in her mechanical palm, pushing it around with a finger.
"So, why don't you dig one now. We need to escape soon."
"Yes. From the stadium. We're going to swim out through the—"
"The stream!" Phyllis's face lit up. She bolted out of the bunker, her mechanical hand closing on the stone.
Eddie chased after her. "Phyllis, wait."
He couldn't keep up with the cyborg. She was halfway to the stream before he left the bunker. "Phyllis, no!"
Phyllis didn't hesitate. She ground her heels into the stream bank, startling the frog brothers who sat there, and threw the stone down into the burbling water.
Eddie ran to her side. He stared down into the water. It was done, but he might be able to get the rock back out.
"We need to get everyone together," Phyllis said.
"It's almost dark enough. We'll be going soon."
"But what about the stone?"
She turned away. "What stone?"
Eddie remained at the side of the stream for a minute. Nothing was happening.
"What's her problem," said one of the frogs. "Coming here and throwing in rocks and knocking me and my friend over and that was rude."
"Do you think you can find the rock she threw in?" Eddie asked.
"I don't want to find any rocks, they're all rocks the whole bottom of the stream is rocks what's one more rock?"
Eddie sighed. Well, it was done. Maybe nothing would happen.
He turned away and took a few steps back towards the others when the stream behind him began to boil.
The frogs went into hysterics. "Stream is hot stream is poison what is happening to our stream our last refuge oh we are doomed."
Eddie turned, terror creeping up his spine.
A red, scaly hand reached out of the water and caught a root on the bank. Eddie took a step back. The red hand was followed by an arm, then a malicious reptilian face.
The creature that emerged from the water was a cross between a man and a snake, its head bent forward, its tail long and slithering, but with hands and legs with clawed feet. It crawled onto the bank, stood over Eddie and hissed. A sword and shield materialized in its hands.
Eddie retreated another step. Was it there to kill him? It certainly couldn't take on an entire army. If the Lamia's plan was to turn this creature onto the world, she should have known it wouldn't last long on its own.
Then the next snake warrior crawled out of the stream.
And the next.
Eddie turned and raced away. Behind him, the frog brothers were wailing in horror, springing away from danger. Soldiers all around cried out in alarm. Gunfire began. Soon, even the refugees woke up to the danger—the soldiers casting the shroud now distracted by the new threat.
Phyllis and the others were all standing. The animation had returned to Syd's face. Inexplicably, they were all looking up.
"Guys," Eddie cried. "We've got a problem."
"No kidding," Bryce said, still looking up.
Movement above. Eddie found the sky above swarming with dragons. Flashes of blue and green light shot out in all directions. Soldiers ran, turned, fired, retreated. One by one, they fell to the attacks of the dragon riders.
The refugees were all racing back away towards the portals leading out of the stadium.
It took a moment for Eddie to realize that the soldiers and refugees were reacting to the dragons above, not the snake creatures below. Only a handful had recognized the new threat.
"Let's get to the stream," Phyllis ordered.
"We can't," Eddie cried. "Look."
There were now about forty snake warriors beside the river, forming ranks. Everyone in the playfield retreated away to the stands.
"Ah shit," Bryce shouted. "Where did they come from?"
A new thought occurred to Eddie. "Where's Kai?"
Bryce turned to him. "Haven't seen her in hours. Don't you know?"
Phyllis studied the chaos all around. "Looks like the refugees are getting away. We can escape with them." She grabbed Syd by the soldier and drew him up the stairs.
A blue bolt of light engulfed her. She gave a startled cry and fell sideways onto a bench.
Kardhoom stood above them, his hand outstretched, the ring weapon gripped against his palm. Galatina stood behind him, a smirk on her face.
"Where's the girl?" Kardhoom demanded.
"What is she doing with you?" Eddie shouted, pointing at the prophetess.
"I've chosen the winning side," Galatina said in her own language.
"The child!" Kardhoom bellowed. "Where is she?"
"I don't know," Eddie said. "Down there somewhere."
Kardhoom noticed the snake warriors. He gasped. "What are those... abominations?" He took a step back.
"What's everyone saying?" Bryce shouted.
Kardhoom aimed his palm at Bryce and fired a bolt of blue. Bryce fell unconscious.
Above, Kardhoom's red dragon descended just above them.
Eddie shied back. The dragon touched down where he'd been standing. Its wing flapped, knocking him into the benches.
Kardhoom leaped onto the dragon's back. He helped Galatina up to sit behind him.
"If I can't have the girl, I'll settle for this." He patted the dragon on its flank. It leapt back into the air, gripped Bryce's body in its talons and flapped away. Eddie lay helpless, watching as the dragon retreated with his friend.