The Traveller's Search
The traveller hurried furiously through the winding tunnel of the dark cave, the tail of his heavy coat dragging behind him. Beneath his dark hood nostrils flared at the end of his long mouth, and red eyes gleamed dangerously. Anger and frustration reverberated off the walls of the cave with his every step.
The bright morning sun of Mystery Island shone through the mouth of the cave as the traveller sought his leave and found himself in a field full of a lush green grass and gorgeous foliage. Large flowers in assortments of colours, from red to azure to purple, greeted him.
The traveller spat on the ground, his loss making him more sickened by this beauty than usual.
He trawled through the grass towards a large forest of trees and bramble, turning intently to find his missing possession in the overgrowth.
For hours he searched, furrowing uselessly through the forests and across small streams. He tried to follow the path he had weaved on his trek to the cave but in the middle of the scrub and off the beaten track it all looked the same and the traveller could not determine which exact route he had followed.
"Any luck?" asked a ponderous voice from behind him.
The hermit, who the traveller had trekked all this way to find, sat cross-legged on a large rock, overseeing his search. His brown tattered vest barely covered the Gelert's red, grey-flecked, fur.
"You!" spat the traveller. "This is your fault!"
"Blame me if you will," replied the hermit, "if it makes you feel better."
"I'll show you what makes me feel better!" seethed the traveller through gritted pointed teeth.
He cast off the heavy cloak, throwing it in a heap on the ground. At the side of his scaly body a silver blade gleamed. The traveller thrust it out of its scabbard by its large golden handle.
Sword in hand, he approached the large boulder on which the hermit had taken up residence.
"Now, just as you are threatening me with violence is when you should find what you are looking for."
The traveller looked around, eyes peeled.
"You read too many books, old man."
"The ghost is calling me old. That is a new one," the hermit chuckled.
The traveller sighed, his translucent body almost invisible in the Mystery Island sun.
He sheathed his sword and replaced his cloak, to block out the oppressive light.
"It had to be the crazy old hermit on Mystery Island who lives in the middle of nowhere that I had to climb half-way up a volcano to get to," ranted the Krawk, waving his arms around angrily. "It couldn't be someone civilised, in Merivale or Faerieland. Or even a Grarrl in Tyrannia; they don't live anywhere higher than their tiny arms can reach."
The traveller stooped wearily.
"I spent most of my life and then some looking for the meaning behind that note. All for nothing."
"How long did you have the note?" asked the Gelert, stroking his chin ponderously.
"More years than I suspect you can count," growled the traveller.
"Can you not remember what it said?"
The traveller retrieved a small broken branch off a nearby tree and began to draw in the dirt, as best as he could remember, the symbols on the mysterious note.
After several moments he stood back to admire his handiwork.
"Nothing," said the hermit.
The traveller waved the stick angrily and muttered something under his breath before adding some more lines and dots to the drawing.
Still the hermit shook his head.
"How do you know it's not right and you wouldn't have understood it anyway?" demanded the traveller.
"I read a lot of books," replied the hermit thoughtfully.
After several hours the Mystery Island sun began to sink behind the mountains, and in the fading light the traveller threw down the stick in defeat.
"I would suggest you return to where bought you here," said the hermit.
The traveller nodded and the old Gelert climbed down off his rock and began to trek back towards his cave.
The traveller climbed into the overgrowth to head back towards the path. His thoughts racing, planning his next journey. He planned to return to Merivale, to speak to the Kau who sent him to the hermit. At the very least it was possible she may remember some of the runes from the note.
Just as the light was failing the traveller reached the densest part of the woods, a mess of brambles and vines blocked the way. The traveller pushed through it, treading over prickles and thorns as he made his way back.
The traveller reached the slope that would take him back to the track and off the Island. He began to climb, tearing at roots and flowers for grip. His gnarled claws dug into the dirt as he hauled himself up. As he neared the top the climb become steeper and harder. Dirt gave way beneath his feet and he scrambled to hold on. The sun had retired completely and somewhere in the humid night a Lupe howled.
At last the traveller was near the top, he reached up and grasped at a large purple flower with his claw. In a frenzied moment of pain and regret, large thistles from the flower dug into his scaly, pale skin and with a scream of anguish he let go and began to barrel down the slope.
Thorns and brambles greeted him warmly, breaking the fall, albeit painfully.
The traveller hauled himself out of the scrub covered in cuts and abrasions. He staggered to his feet, sore and weary. His heavy coat ripped and tattered by the treacherous plant life of Mystery Island.
He stumbled and fell into long grass, and let out a weary sigh. Lost and defeated the Ghost Krawk resolved himself to never finding the answer.
"I don't care anymore," he shouted to the still night, "just let me get out of here!"
After several long moments he stood again and began to stumble wearily along the edge of the slope, trekking aimlessly. For hours he walked until the morning sun of Mystery Island was climbing out from behind the mountains, a beam of light streamed across his face and he stopped to block out the oppressive sunlight with a gnarled hand.
A faint wind rustled the overgrown grass and the traveller turned to look at the long blades dancing in the morning air, small beads of water glistening as they waved and weaved to a silent tune.
"Perhaps I could get used to this," he thought.
And then he seen it. In amongst the grass, a tattered and torn piece of paper. He hurried towards it, pouncing on it and wrenching it out from between the foliage that had stolen it from him.
Ancient runes etched in black ink adorned the faded parchment. Its journey through the undergrowth had left the note with small new tears and it was now adorned with a smattering of dirt. The parchment felt slightly damp from the morning dew.
The traveller stared in amazement and disbelief. He blinked several times and pinched himself. He inhaled deeply as if trying to exhume the information from the tattered parchment lest he lose it again.
Grasping it firmly in his claw the Krawk set out back towards the hermit's cave, with renewed vigour and determination.
The traveller pushed through the darkness at the mouth of the cave and marched along its winding corridors towards the back where the old Gelert resided.
"You have returned," said the hermit, looking up from his small campfire.
The traveller held out the note, his gnarled claw shaking from trepidation.
The hermit unfurled the parchment and peered at the runes inquisitively. He nodded to himself and then turned to look at the traveller.
"Are you sure you want to know?" he asked, his tone serious, "some mysteries are best left as mysteries."
"Yes," gasped the Krawk breathlessly, "I must know."
"Very well," declared the hermit, his voice booming and echoing through the cave.
"It says, a dozen eggs, three bags of Chia Flour, and two bottles of chocolate Kau milk."