The Lost World of Stnaltia: Part Five
"Prince Djolapht said that they mainly live under the bridge
to the Misty Swamps, so this can't be it," Blackwingedbird tried to reason. "We
didn't cross a bridge; we just went through the maze with the playful meepits.
Surely they wouldn't let them play so close to dkarpalht."
They looked behind them to see the maze, with
its seeming endless boundaries nestled between two walls of the cavern they
were in came close together. It wasn't what they normally thought of as a bridge,
but it definitely could have been a bridge between the two parts of the cavern,
making Stnaltia an even bigger place to explore.
Brave_Eyes sighed. "He did tell us that things
were peaceful with them before. Maybe because of that, they didn't mind the
meepits playing so close to them. We relaxed once we met the meepits because
we thought they were watching us. Or at least I felt eyes watching; by the look
on your face I thought you noticed it too. What if it was really the dkarpalht?"
"I did notice, but the gardener didn't warn
us of any danger, though," Blackwingedbird whispered as she looked at the swamp
ahead of them. This mist only added to the eeriness and there was a distant
hissing noise. The dark, dim glow of the fading energy balls sent a chill down
her back. The swamp ahead of them looked as though it had been dead and dying
for years, and not just because of recent events in Stnaltia. It made Blackwingedbird
"Well," Brave_Eyes said as he grabbed Blackwingedbird's
wing. "This is where the path leads, and we need to follow the path to the castle.
Don't worry, Black, I'll keep you safe."
Blackwingedbird nodded, but the very thought
of Brave_Eyes being her protector worried her. He did have some training, but
not nearly enough. Also, the only weapons he had, the shield she won and his
Lost Desert Dagger, were new to him. He hadn't even had a chance to test them
on Punchbag Bob, and deep down she knew it was because she had to spend so much
Lurking at the swamp they needed to cross, Blackwingedbird
didn't like her catch of an adventure any longer. She took in a deep breath,
and started to slowly enter the cold, dark water of the swamp.
"How will we know which path to follow?" Blackwingedbird
asked. "There doesn't seem to be any clear markers. What if we end up going
the wrong way."
"We won't," Brave_Eyes smiled. "We're going
to go towards the hissing noise. It sounds like it's coming from a factory.
We can go there and ask where to go next."
"A factory!" Blackwingedbird smiled. "I knew
the hissing sound was familiar, though it seemed creepy. That's probably what's
causing the mist as well!"
Brave_Eyes cleared his throat. "You know, the
sooner we start crossing, the sooner we get there. You can admire my sound identification
Blackwingedbird gave Brave_Eyes an evil eye,
though she knew he was right. They slowly began to cross the swamp, carefully
stepping in the dark water. They weren't sure what a dkarpalht was, and certainly
didn't want to accidentally step on one! Not only that, but they didn't know
how smooth the ground was under the swamp. The flat, thick water proved to be
misleading in several places, and without careful footing, they could've found
themselves splashing and making a lot of noise in the mud.
With the factory in sight, Brave_Eyes stopped,
turned around, and perked up his ears.
"What is it, Brave_Eyes?" Blackwingedbird asked
when she noticed he wasn't following as closely anymore.
"Just keep going, Black." Brave_Eyes turned
to her with a gentle smile. "Keep going to the factory. I just thought I heard
something, that's all."
"Aren't you coming as well?" Blackwingedbird
"I'll follow not too far behind." Brave_Eyes
tilted his head a little. "I just want to make sure there's nothing to worry
about. Go on."
Blackwingedbird took a few steps ahead and heard
the noises that Brave_Eyes must have already noticed. It sounded like someone
was snapping their mouth shut.
Blackwingedbird looked back and saw dozens of
little creatures surrounding Brave_Eyes. They were floating on top of the water,
but resembled plants with 4 roots as legs. Their color was dark brown that faded
into a dark green towards their stubble arms and dark green through their neck
and heads. Blackwingedbird didn't see any eyes, only a mouth which split the
head into two to reveal what looked like soft teeth, only to be proved otherwise
by the sharp, crisp, loud sound they made when biting them closed.
"RUN!" Brave_Eyes yelled when he noticed Blackwingedbird
stood motionless, she attempted to turn to do as Brave_Eyes told her, but could
only sit back and watch.
Brave_Eyes, her dear friend, was living up to
his name. He whipped around the shield and dagger with great skill, sometimes
knocking away 3 of the dkarpalht at once. But they weren't giving up. They dkarpalht
kept coming back at him, even if they were beat and worn. They almost seemed
to want to wear down Brave_Eyes. More kept coming and soon they were surrounding
Brave_Eyes like bees around a beehive.
Brave_Eyes was getting tired, but he kept fighting
and pushing them out of the way, trying to conserve as much energy as he could
with each swing. The dkarpalht kept biting at him and surrounding him, closing
in a little each time.
They showed no interest in Blackwingedbird,
even though they noticed her standing with an open mouth watching in horror
as they kept attacking Brave_Eyes. She didn't have want they wanted, he did,
and they weren't going to stop until they got it from him.
The dkarpalht suddenly all became still, they
were watching. Brave_Eyes was noticeably exhausted, taking in deep heavy breaths
and lowering his dagger and shield than his previous fighting stance. The coolness
of the swamp made his sweat seem cold and chilly, but he knew Blackwingedbird
was still behind him and that she hadn't ran to the factory as he had wanted
"Black," he whispered in a deep breath, "you
need to take shelter in the factory. They are planning something and I can't
fight them off if I'm worried about your safety."
"But there's too many of them," Blackwingedbird
whispered through tears. "Why don't we make a run for it together?"
Brave_Eyes saw the deep look of concern on Blackwingedbird's
face. He knew she wouldn't leave without him, it was part of the reason she
had joined him in the unknown water pocket. However, Brave_Eyes knew they didn't
have a chance against so many of them, even if they were weakened. He knew Blackwingedbird
would be able to help the pets of Stnaltia; she was smart, caring, and a lot
braver than she looked. If only one of them would make it out of the Misty Swamps,
he wanted it to be her.
"I'm only running if you do." Brave_Eyes had
an idea. "And if you look back I might just push you down. After you go a few
steps, I'll start behind you. But don't look back until you're at the factory,
Blackwingedbird nodded, and while the dkarpalht
continued planning, she turned and started running for the factory.
She paused. What is wrong with me? she
cried to herself. I'm a fire Pteri! I can fly! And I can easily carry Brave_Eyes
to the factory so neither of us gets hurt!
Blackwingedbird turned to see a dozen dkarpalht
jump onto Brave_Eyes at the same time. She tried to scream but nothing came
out. She watched in horror as they pushed him down and chomped their mouths
at him. Try as he might, he couldn't keep them all away from him and she began
to see he was getting bruised and scratched. She raced towards him and began
flying. She flew down and picked away the dkarpalht as they tried to bite at
her feet. When she had cleared enough of them away, she reached for Brave_Eyes.
As she began lifting him, the dkarpalht started
jumping onto Brave_Eyes. She tried to shake them off, but as more piled on,
the weight grew too heavy and she began to descend. Poor Brave_Eyes was squirming
in a lot of pain trying to get away, but Blackwingedbird couldn't help but notice
they weren't after her. They did bite at her feet, but as she was on the ground
recovering, they left her alone.
What could they possibly want from Brave_Eyes?
Blackwingedbird suddenly knew the answer - the
bag! They were biting at him because he fell on it. They wanted the energy bubbles
Melvin and Calvin had given them!
Blackwingedbird took a deep breath in. She wasn't
a fighter, but she was going to show these dkarpalht what happened when you
messed with her best friend. She summoned all the strength she had left and
flapped her wings as hard as she could above Brave_Eyes. The force of the wind
she created knocked them away and before they had a chance to attack again,
she used her foot to grab the bag and quickly hovered in the air.
That will get them away from Brave_Eyes.
However, she noticed that the dkarpalht were
now in hot pursuit of her, and she was out of bright ideas.
To be continued...
Pronunciation guide : Stnaltia: stuh-null-tea-ah
dkarpalht = car-fault