Once Sagebear had ceased with cleaning herself, she was back in gear to continue on. The humans really had no choice but to keep following her.
“Remind me to make sure this puppy gets plenty of treats and belly rubs when this is over!” Dennis said to Blaise as they and Marc tried to stay close to Sagebear.
Finally, Sagebear stopped once more in front of an elaborate-looking door. The three humans stood dumbfounded as she approached.
“Voice identification, please.”
Sagebear let out a hearty bark. To everyone’s surprise except hers, the door opened. Right away, she waddled inside.
“This dog has connections, it looks like,” Marc said after a brief period of dumbfounded silence.
“Well, whatever them connections are,” Blaise added, “I’m grateful for them right now.”
Then all three of them kept moving. Sagebear was already a good distance away when they got in.
By this point, Shark had woken up from his impromptu nap. He tried to shake the sleep from his eyes, and glanced about. His expression faltered when he realized he was still in the prison cell.
Sinbad noticed that he’d woken up, and scooted back to sit next to him.
“Yeah, sorry. We’re still in this shithole,” he said to Shark. You at least have good dreams?”
Shark nodded. “I didn’t want to wake up to this again, though.”
“I know you didn’t.”
Harwood just quietly knelt to the floor, watching the two hold each other close with a wistful look on his face. This expression didn’t go unnoticed by Annette.
Just as Annette was about to say something regarding it, however, the door to the prison room swung open again, making a ghastly slamming noise.
Now covered in a liberal amount of gauze bandages, The Builder stumbled back downstairs looking like an uncoordinated mummy. Upon reaching the bottom, they took a swig out of a decanter they held in their hand.
The sight of this was apparently relatively amusing to Sinbad, as he watched them sway about in between the cells.
“Yo, Crypt Keeper!” He called out to them. “Sonny Moore called, he wants his hair back!”
At this, The Builder snapped their head and gave off a few sarcastic chuckles. They then stalked over to Annette’s cell, and yanked her up towards the bars.
“Hey, let go!” Her struggling was in vain as The Builder pulled her closer, and whispered something into her ear.
What they said to her caused her to go limp, and give off a horrorstruck expression. Annette hardly even noticed when she was let go, only keeping an eye on the others.
“No…” She finally uttered, to which The Builder nodded furiously and said an amused and smug, “Yes!”
Then they smashed the prison cell open, yanking her out and toward the rest of the group.
“Now tell them what I told you, darling,” The Builder said to her in a sickly sweet voice.
Annette swallowed once before she could find her voice. “The Builder wants, uh, ‘the old dude’ and the ‘faggot’ to ‘bump uglies’ or else.”
Sinbad, Shark, and Harwood all turned pale at this ultimatum. It was Sinbad who then switched into a bit of anger.
“What you’re suggesting, that’s fucking disgusting! What do you mean, ‘or else’?!” In response, The Builder grabbed hold of his long hair, and pulled him towards them. Then they placed their hunting knife against his neck.
“Or else…Big Red here gets it!” To prove their point, The Builder pressed the knife closer onto his skin. This was enough to frighten Shark into complying.
“Please don’t kill him!” He leaned forward and took a begging stance in front of them. Harwood followed suit, pressing his forehead to the ground. “I’ll do anything, just don’t kill my fiance!”
Annette tried not to get too involved. She knew of Shark and Harwood being involved in her world, but of their own free will and not being forced into it.
“If it means my youngest child gets to live,” Harwood said while his forehead remained touching the floor, “So be it. I will…I will sleep with my future son-in-law.”
Sinbad was trembling when The Builder let him go. The Builder themself was quite pleased at how quickly it was resolved.
“Well, that was easy!” They chirped. “Best I go get two of my assistants to help with this.”
Once again, they started to leave. This time, they dragged Annette along with.
Sagebear and the others were now in a rather narrow sewer, barely big enough to fit all of them.
“Oh hell! We’re just about packed in here like a bunch of sardines!” Dennis remarked as he tried not to bang his head against anything. “Or maybe even sardines have more room than we do right now!”
“Aw, dangit Denny!” Blaise answered him. “Now ya got me hungry for sardines! When we get out of here, I’m getting me some cans of sardines and making me some fisherman’s eggs and-”
“Stop saying sardines!” Marc yelled out to quiet them both. “It doesn’t even sound like a word anymore!”
After that, all of them kept quiet as they followed Sagebear. Sagebear herself pressed on even as she began to get slightly submerged in the murky water.
Right above them, the sound of a frying pan and piteous sobbing could be heard.