The flattened Rinko pushed the equally flat Lia away from her. Lia landed face down into a neatly folded heap. As Rinko was about to lift herself up, a curious-looking tube popped out from behind one of the nearby wall's stone bricks. The tube extended, placing itself over Rinko's mouth. A sudden blast of air escaped the tube and found its way inside Rinko. The continuous flow of air began to puff her up back to normal.
Unfortunately, Rinko couldn't seem to remove the tube from her mouth. As she pulled relentlessly at the tube, the air began to swell her up to gigantic proportions to the point where she resembled an airship's balloon floating over the Labyrinth. After a good five minutes of this, Rinko finally managed to pull the tube from her lips; she was surprised she hadn't burst at this point. The air quickly began to escape her body, blowing her in every possible direction as she slowly deflated. Before long, she landed elsewhere in the Labyrinth with an unspectacular *THUD*.
Lia unraveled her flattened body, and began coiling like a snake towards the air-gushing tube. Upon reaching optimal 3-dimensionality, she was easily able to dislodge the tube from her lips. What gave Rinko so much trouble with it was beyond her. Now, however, they were separated once more, and as Rinko had said, it was unlikely they'd bump into one another again. Then Lia was hit by a wave of inspiration: Rinko was the only real friend she'd ever made; there were no other girls of Lia's age from the village, and she spent most of her time with her mother. Lia lifted herself to her feet, determined to find Rinko again so they could escape the Labyrinth together. She began by heading in the direction Rinko had landed.
Rinko had regained consciousness. Her once again flattened body was draped over one of the Labyrinth's walls. She lifted her head and looked around. All she could see were more walls. Walls everywhere. She wasn't even sure where the ceiling was, as the space a few meters above the Labyrinth was pitch black. Obviously some kind of sorcery was keeping the Labyrinth itself lit, she thought, but whoever the sorcerer was had done a remarkably half-assed job. She slid back down to the ground in a flat heap.
Normally at this point, Rinko would simply hold her breath and pop herself back to normal. But she'd seemed to have lost a considerable amount of her strength; she was unable to leave her flattened state. As she stood up, her body wobbled back and forth until she regained her balance, which took some effort in itself.
"What's happening to me?" Rinko said to herself.
Something had indeed sapped her of her strength, but what? Perhaps there was more to this maze than simple competition.
"I have to find Lia," she said boldly.
After taking one step forward, however, she collapsed in on herself, her flat feet unable to take the weight of the rest of her body. She didn't even have the strength to shout out Lia's name. All Rinko could do was slowly drag herself around the colossal Labyrinth in search of her friend.
Lia was especially cautious of her steps. She knew something stupid could happen to her at any given moment. One misplaced step was all it took to delay her escape. She peeked around the next corner, anticipating a trap. What she saw perplexed her. A large pipe sat in the center of the corridor. The pipe stretched off into the distance and rounded the next corner. Lia wondered why such a thing was down here; it looked awfully out of place. She slowly approached the pipe. It looked just big enough for her to fit in. Lia suddenly stopped herself.
"No way. This is obviously another trap!" As she turned to walk away from the pipe, Lia forcefully hit the ground face down. She could feel herself being dragged backwards. She looked behind to see that the pipe was sucking her in!
"Ahhh!" Lia screamed. She desperately tried to crawl away, but it was no use. Unable to build the momentum necessary to escape, she was sucked cleanly into the pipe. She rounded each corner of the pipe with a painful sounding *CLANG*. Lia didn't know how long this would go on for, but eventually her ride came to an unexpected end.
Attached to the other end of the pipe was a glass jar fixated around it. Lia was forcefully ejected from the pipe into the jar. The jar then released itself from the pipe and rolled around in a circular motion on the ground, with Lia inside it. The jar was way too small for her to sensibly fit in, but the pipe had done its job. The right side of Lia's face was squished firmly against the glass, her soles pressed up on either side. Despite this pressing situation, Lia was miraculously able to control the momentum of the jar, and rolled herself around the next corner.
It seemed the unlucky pair were in a desperately hopeless situation. If they didn't find each other soon, they'd keep falling for the ridiculous traps and forever be lost in the Labyrinth. Well, they'd probably still fall for the ridiculous traps if they were together, but that's besides the point.
--TO BE CONTINUED--