Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 155,374,082 Issue: 216 | 11th day of Storing, Y7
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Absolute Reality: Part Two

by shadowcristal


Kali spun around, startled by the one who had intruded upon his peace. He found a pair of wise eyes looking at him, measuring him as if he was a cup of bad carrot juice. The Kougra didn't like that, but he measured the stranger too, in return.

     The stranger looked friendly enough, being a male green Shoyru, like a bright light that lit up the dark forest.

     "You're here for the..." he started, but Kali quickly interrupted him.

     "Adventure!" the Kougra exclaimed, looking around with joy, and then quickly looked at the Shoyru, as if he could produce a sword out of thin air to give to Kali.

     "Oh," the Shoyru said, surprised and a bit shaken at being cut off. "Okay..."

     To Kali's disappointment, the green Shoyru did not give him a sword, but extended his paw and gave an introduction. "I'm Theo," the Shoyru said, happily shaking hands with the Kougra. "And you are...?"

     "Kali," Kali said.

     "An adventure..." Theo said thoughtfully. "Well, I'll be your guide, and I think I know just the route for us." The Shoyru grinned, picking up a stick from the ground. The red Kougra looked at it with distaste.

     "What am I supposed to do with that?" Kali asked, not feeling very adventurous. "And what's this about a route?"

     "W-well..." the Shoyru stuttered, looking rather shaken. "Don't you want to go through the Forest of Alstair? I'm the Guide, and rumor says that there is a treasure hidden within the center of the forest, in an open glade..."

     That sounded more like it. Kali smiled a little, and pointed towards the forest. "I see," he said, "So where do we start?"

     "Here," the Shoyru replied, taking a few strides towards an opening among the thick vegetation. "Let's go in, shall we?"

     They entered the Forest of Alstair. With each step, Kali took care not to stumble or fall on the numerous roots that stuck out of the muddy ground. Despite the fact that the these trees had no leaves, their branches tangled to blot out the sky, leaving weary wanderers to walk around in darkness that was equivalent to night in Neopia.

     With the wind howling in his face, the Kougra bravely stepped forward as he imagined that a hero might do. But this was different, because now he was the hero. Kali was just about to smile from satisfaction, but stopped himself as a chill ran down his spine. He looked around, and saw the trees grinning at him menacingly. It was as if they knew his thoughts, his pride, his fears, and they did everything to scare him...

     "This forest is magicked," Theo whispered to Kali, as they carefully walked down the indiscriminate little path that ran right and left, twisting and turning.

     That didn't really help. Kali frowned thoughtfully as they kept moving, occasionally falling from one of those evil roots sticking out of the ground. Soon his beautiful red fur was splotched with mud, but the Kougra didn't really care. This was an adventure!

     It was a rather bone-chilling one too. Every time he looked around, Kali thought that he saw shadows following him. But when he looked closer, there were none. Those shadows seemed to have been blown away with the wind, only to return when he wasn't looking. Soon the Kougra got annoyed, and decided to ignore them, but he couldn't. Just as the bracelet's presence intruded upon his mind, these phantom shadows did too.

     What did they want? Why were they here? Why did they haunt him? Theo did not seem to notice the shadows, but the Shoyru wasn't too happy to find that his companion got jumpier and jumpier by the minute.

     Slowing down his pace, Kali let more of those scary thoughts enter his mind. This was too creepy... He had asked for an adventure, but this? He looked at the bracelet, who was glowing happily, and his mere glance turned into a scornful glare, intended to scare it.

     I'm so going nuts, Kali thought. I'm thinking to a bracelet. As if it was alive...

     "What's that?" the guide asked, pointing to his bracelet. The Kougra considered for a fleeting second to tell his story to the Shoyru, but couldn't find enough trust in his heart and decided to remain quiet.

     "Nothing, really," Kali said. He wasn't lying, because he knew absolutely nothing about it. The description inside didn't make sense, and why it stuck to him like glue... With a surprised gasp from the Kougra, the bracelet slid off his wrist and fell on the ground with a loud clang. Quickly Kali picked it up and carefully hid it.

     Why had it fallen off? Maybe it was something that granted his wish. After all, that gust of wind had transported him here... Once again Kali entered the state of mind that he used to ponder upon things with, paying less attention to his surroundings.

     Yeah, that was probably it. It had fallen off because he now had his one wish granted, and maybe it was time to pass it onto the next person... Or maybe he was destined to keep it. In any case, the bracelet didn't glow as much as it did before, and the inscription seemed to fade when he looked at it.

     Falling into a pool of mud returned Kali to reality, as real as it was. The Kougra quickly got up, brushing off the dirt and started to ponder again. This place was as real as his home, him sitting there and eating his 2 PM snack. But was it really real? He had just wished to have an adventure, and he was pretty sure that this place was probably some figment of his imagination.

     Creepy. If this wasn't real, then what was? Suddenly Kali realized something. The reality in which he lived in was his reality, and this reality was something else... maybe Theo's, since the Shoyru seemed to be quite familiar with it.

      "So far so good," he heard the Shoyru's voice, as if Theo was thousands of light-years away from him. "No trouble."

     "Trouble?" Kali asked, surprised. Then again, all those chills down the spine hadn't been for nothing...

     "Well," Theo wrought his small paws. "You did ask for an adventure, so I took the Adventure Trail..."

     "You mean... There are several routes to the center of the Forest of Alstair?" the Kougra gasped.

     The Shoryu nodded. "If you had told me earlier..." Then he grinned at Kali. "But you're the brave type, aren't you? Nothing less than the best, or the worst, in this case, will satisfy somebody like you..."

     "Really?" Kali asked, surprised at the Shoyru's image of him. The Kougra felt that Theo was a nice person, and decided to show him the bracelet. After all, he couldn't bear all the problems of the world on his shoulders. Besides, sharing was something one should do, Liza had always claimed.

     "Nine en o Thyr. Nine a Dest," Theo read out loud. His face, scrunched up in concentration, told Kali that the Shoyru might actually understand the text that seemed to be incomprehensible to him.

     "It means..." the Shoyru started, looking at the Kougra. "Well, it says something about reality. Reality is a..."

     A ferocious roar interrupted the incredibly compelling translation lesson. Startled, Theo dropped the bracelet, and only Kali's quick reflexes saved the golden item from being devoured by the monster that had popped up beneath it.

     "Mine!" the swamp monster roared, trying to grasp the bracelet with a muddy claw. "My prettttyy..."

     When it couldn't get the bracelet, the ugly, deformed claw reached out to grasp the Shoyru and pull him in. Theo resisted, but there was no way his small wings and stubby feet could prevent him from getting closer and closer to the monster.

     "Help!" the Shoyru cried, while adding quietly for himself, "This is why I usually don't take the adventure trail. Too many of those stupid monsters..."

     Remembering that he was armed with a stick, Kali whacked the monster with the gnarled piece of wood as hard as he could. The monster yelped, but did not relent its grip on Theo. Panicked, the Kougra kept whacking as hard as he could, his other paw desperately clutching onto the bracelet, feeling the raw, fresh pain from the jagged points of the nine-pointed star cutting into his paw from holding it too hard.

     "HELP!" Theo cried again, trying to kick the monster. It just grabbed him with more clawy hands, and the Shoyru found his movements more and more limited as the seconds passed.

     "Come on!" Kali screamed in frustration, whacking the ugly monster with his poor, maltreated stick. His other paw glowed like the sun, and suddenly it didn't feel all that painful anymore. The Kougra released the bracelet, and the item rose up a few centimeters to hover above his paw, as if it was awaiting his command.

     "Go away, ugly monster!" the Kougra exclaimed, and light showered upon the monster. It gave a horrendous scream, lunging for Kali, realizing the real danger. With a powerful knock, the monster managed to get Kali away from his bracelet.

     Kali turned around and grasped the golden item again, his pain getting dulled down as he prepared to strike. That stupid thing had proven itself useful, and now was the time to test it again. By the awed look on Theo's face, he figured that it just might work...

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Absolute Reality: Part One
» Absolute Reality: Part Three

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