He wasn't entirely sure where he was searching in particular - only that it was the most difficult of places to search through, with cavernous stone spikes jutting from above and below that forced him to scurry on his hands and knees to search every last nook and cranny. It grew clear quite quickly however that there was nothing there. Not even a hint. It seemed like he'd made a mistake coming this way, but he didn't quite realise how big a mistake it had been until he turned to leave again. At first he wondered if he was going the right way, since these stalagmites certainly hadn't been as large and imposing as before. The first ones, he could clamber over at least, but these... he had to weave his way between them, inching through the gaps, sucking in his stomach as he wriggled against the cold stone. Dribbles of water flecked down the back of his neck from up above, chilling his spine.
It wasn't until he stopped, checking behind himself to make sure he was going in the right direction, that he noticed the truth. "Uhh." Calling it 'surreal' didn't even come close. It felt like the whole world was pulling away from him as he shrank, smaller and smaller - and he hadn't been a large person to begin with, there was no denying that. Soon it became downright ridiculous though. The stalagmites he'd been crawling over moments ago he could now squeeze between effortlessly, and the tight spots and narrow corners of the cave were of little detriment. However, it didn't change the fact that he was now so small that he could slide into someone's pocket, Greyhide included, and still have room to spare. Walking the cave, let alone what would come after, had just turned near-impossible if he didn't want to end up trekking for breaks at a time the same distance a normal person could make in a few bits. "So, this is what Tunawa feel like." He didn't care for it.
Did this constitute yelling? Probably. But as Greyhide prepared to unleash a howl that could have frightened the mightiest of termites, the cave exploded in light. The abrupt shift from pitch-black to midday sunshine forced him to cover his eyes, blinking back blurry tears and squinting until his eyes adjusted to the new ambiance. Light appeared to flood from both everywhere and nowhere, filling what had once been a pitch-black cave in the middle of nowhere into as bright a place as the middle of outdoors on a bright and sunny day. It didn't really make sense, but his mind skipped over that part as if it wasn't important - and it wasn't, actually. One of them had found the light that caterpillar had been going off about; that was about all they needed to know. It might have helped if he'd hinted about what the new light could bring from the shadows, though.
He didn't notice them at first. The shadows that came for him weren't the frantic, snarling kind after all. They were slow, methodical, almost humanoid in appearance, if with distinctly long claw-like nails dripping with acidic venom. They made no sound, had no scent, blending effortlessly into the dappling shadows of the stalagmites. His only real warning came from the odd rippling of their 'skin'. It wasn't smooth, or glossy, as one would expect from creatures made of pure shadow. It writhed with smoky tendrils rising on the surface, much like tongues of black flame snaking up its arms and legs. When they finally emerged into the full light of the cave, he swore he saw something familiar in their 'face'. The marks of a pointed chin and the outline of intense, burning eyes, intense and stern. Instinctively he took a step back. They approached.
"Fuck you." The words sounded courageous in his mind, but weak and quavering on his tongue. "F... fuck you!" The Shadow of Faldrun split its mouth into a grin too wide for a mortal, then crouched low like an animal and pounced forward with a rabid screech.
The two stood a head taller than most humans, and given Nir's new size, saying that he was at a severe disadvantage was an equally-severe understatement. Claws nearly as long as he was tall raked through the dirt to his left as he turned tail and fled for the gaps between outcroppings of stone Greyhide and Archailist in tow, hiding like a trapped animal from the creatures of dripping black flame as they made sounds of glass against metal. Were the others facing the same threat, or was this just another problem atop a problem? Surely it didn't really matter at this point. None of them had weapons that he knew of. All he had was a lantern - one that hadn't shrunk with him, and he now had no hope of lifting with his tiny hands. Had they done something wrong, had the caterpillar intentionally misled them towards unleashing their own demise?
A claw stabbed through the gap in the stone and came dangerously close to piercing through Greyhide like a sizzled wiener. "DAMNIT!" Another stabbed further ahead, struggling to rake through the small crevice and crush them against the walls. "We can't keep running!" Greyhide growled, stopping and turning to face the behemoth shadow-monsters moments before a full palm crashed down against the ceiling of shoddy rock, shattering it into pieces that rained down over their heads, threatening to crush the alcove with all of them inside.
"What, you think we can fight that?!" Archailist screamed, bouncing out of the way as another flailing limb grabbed the nearby stalagmite and ripped it straight off its grounding, tossing it carelessly across the cave behind it before seizing the next, tearing what little protection they had piece by piece.
They couldn't, of course they couldn't. So close to them he could feel the eerie heat of the black flames as they writhed over the flesh of the two shadow-Immortals. Somehow he knew that even with a lantern, a torch, anything of the sort, he couldn't fight fire with fire. It just didn't work that way. Another screech echoed off the chambers of the cavern and Nir covered his ears to frantically shield himself from its piercing noise... and then he felt it, tucked against his outer thigh, cool and round. The jar of sand.
"No," both Greyhide and Archailist said in unison. They knew exactly what his mind was thinking, but then again, he knew what they thought too - and they didn't have any better ideas. But Karem, it was stupid. It was incredibly stupid. Really, he didn't want to be here anymore, he realised. He really didn't. The Waiting Place didn't seem like such a bad place in comparison. His own bed sounded even better... but, staring down at the jar and unscrewing the lid, hearing the beasts up above prepare for another assault as their claws scrabbled against stone, hissing from their acid touch, something within his gut hardened. Horrid memories. Bitter truths.
The rock he'd been hiding against split in two with an earth-shattering crack and the beast scrabbled over it, flaming eyes boring down from above like twin lighthouses. "FOR KARLIAH!" Nir'wei screamed at the top of his lungs, flinging the open jar of sand straight at the creature's face, splattering it with sand that clung to its body and doused the black flames of its form. Immediately the creature reared back, and for a moment of spine-chilling fear he wondered if it was rearing to deal a fatal blow. But its mouth, once curved in a toothy smile, lay open in horror as the sand sunk through its body, turning the writhing tongues of fire into a smooth, glossy glass, black as midnight. He flung more, and more, dipping his hands into the jar to fling at the beast until most of its body had turned to stiff glass... and, with a hard shove, it toppled over backwards, shattering into jagged fragments of sealed shadow.
Galvanized, he spun on the second creature, that had watched from the side but now burst forward with a frantic run, until Nir gathered a handful of leftover sand from the ground and sprayed it loosely before himself in a swathe. The second beast recoiled as well, and he launched forth with more, and more, picking handfuls off the cave floor to toss at the creature when his jar ran empty. Hardened pieces snapped off its body one after another, broken away by the searing touch of the sand, until its remains fizzled away. Only when the last tendrils had vanished did Nir'wei collapse back onto his rear, panting heavily with exertion, his mind and body equally worn from such an experience. Something he'd treasure forever. He might never get revenge on Faldrun and that smug grin of his... but hell if he couldn't kick the shit out of his hideous clones. "Fuck you," he spat at the smoldering remains.