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The Beast: Part Two


by zirr

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      Our soon-to-be adventurers spent a few days lazing by the beautiful lake and waterfall and planning their voyage. Days ago, a wily little slorg and grumblebug happened upon this waterfall and found the lone Kyrii, Ogza, who happily lives alone in the shadow of a volcano. The rest of the citizens of Tyrannia believe “The Beast” lives in this volcano, so they live further away and Ogza has the beautiful spot to herself. The slorg, Ugzo, and his grumblebug, though, heard what they called “singing” from inside the mountain, and do not believe “The Beast” would be singing. Just to be sure, they want to find out what lives in the mountain before agreeing to live in the peaceful and beautiful area by the waterfall with Ogza.

      The adventurers faced some challenges which they thought about while they spent some time preparing for their journey to the volcano. It wasn’t long, but it was across the plains of Tyrannia which would not be so easy to cross. For starters, how would they have water? By the lake there was always clean, fresh, plentiful water. This might not be an issue in Shenkuu or Terror Mountain, but in Tyrannia water could be a real issue out in the plains. They also imagined that the volcano would make them very thirsty – they’re not known for being cool places!

      Then there was the issue of how they would protect themselves in the volcano. Ogza had a spear, but Ugzo couldn’t hold anything, and neither could his grumblebug. On the topic of protection there was also the issue of heat – how would they protect themselves inside the volcano? It wouldn’t just make them thirsty, but they also might get burned and seriously injured if they made any mistakes or missteps.

      Last of all, was the issue that the weather had changed in the few days since Ugzo made the journey from the volcano to the lake. Seasons changed quickly on the plains, and it was getting very wintry. This didn’t make the plains cold, but it did make it very windy and the nights lasted longer. Ugzo hadn’t mentioned that the journey they’d made before had included a fairly sizeable pack of money which he had been carrying, and that he had luckily found a wandering trader with a cart full of food and water. He’d had to pay a high price for every bit but it was the only reason he’d made it to the waterfall. He didn’t want to bring it up and put Ogza off of the journey, so he and the grumblebug stayed silent on how treacherous the journey could actually be.

      The adventurers fashioned a rucksack out of some of the plentiful plants around the waterfall. Ogza weaved together leaves and string-like vines to make the rucksack, which they filled with some of the fruit and nutritious plants. They chose the juiciest fruit, as Ogza had no bottles and they couldn’t make watertight bottles from the plants around. Ogza had never had reason to store water previously, living so close to the lake with all the fresh water she could want. Ugzo had tossed the bottled water he’d bought on the way, as carrying it had made him slower and more thirsty.

      So, in the way of preparation, that was about all that could be managed. Ogza practiced with her spear, Ugzo rested and talked in whispers with his grumblebug, until finally he suggested they should set off. At this point, Ogza hurried into her little shelter that she had lived in alone for some time, and retrieved a small pouch. She’d brought it with her when she’d moved to the area, from when she lived in the town, and had had no need for it up until this point. She put the string around her neck and tucked it and the small pouch into the thick fur in her ruff. This and the pointed spear she’d practiced with since she was young were the only two things she had brought with her from her old life. Ogza hoped that her new life wasn’t about to change too drastically. With a sigh, ahw joined the slorg and grumblebug by the lake.

      The volcano in the distance let out a long stream of dark black smoke. The three adventurers all stared while the smoke rose into the sky and dispersed. At least their journey would be easy to navigate, it was hard to miss the volcano in the distance. Ogza shouldered the rucksack, and the grumblebug gathered bunches of leaves into his tiny hands, before piercing them on the slorg’s tusks and pushing them on so that they stuck.

      “The leaves have water in them. These are the best ones, I think. You can carry a lot on your tusks, and I can carry some with my hands.”

      Ugzo made an odd noise, muffled by the leaves. Ogza nodded approvingly. When the grumblebug was done, they each started walking past the plants and into the plains. After the lush greenery and bright blue of the waterfall, the plains looked muted and so very … beige. It looked like an easy, straight walk over the hot sand to the volcano, and the adventurers were in good spirits. For about an hour, the walk was uneventful and the volcano looked to get a fraction closer. Ogza took a leaf from Ugzo’s tusk to chew on and quench her thirst, and the grumblebug flitted around ahead, giving the Kyrii and the slorg something to look at other than sand.

      However, it was still getting wintry. This involved some more breezy conditions than usual, but the adventurers were comfortable that they would not get cold, and indeed the sun beamed down from the sky, keeping their skin warm. The sand lashed around them though, stinging their skin and occasionally blinding them. It was making them feel so much more dry and thirsty, which was causing them to use up the leaves Ugzo had more quickly than they anticipated. At this rate they would make it to the volcano, but would run out on the way back, and that was assuming things didn’t get any worse!

      A bit of sandy wind and a lot of heat weren’t going to deter the adventurers. Ogza, now she thought about it, admitted to herself that she had always wondered why everyone thought “The Beast” lived in this volcano. It’s not like it was the only one in Tyrannia, or the only one in the plains. It wasn’t particularly close to the wheel of Monotony. She had never seen a large swooping monster entering and exiting the volcano. It was a curious thing, the folk-lore around the volcano, and it had always been just a little niggling thought in the back of her mind since she set up at her home. What stopped her, though, was a little bit of fear. A little bit of ”What if…?” What if she never made it back? What if “The Beast” was there and devoured her? What is there was no “Beast”, but the volcano erupted and she got trapped in lava? She still had a little of this fear even now, although she did her best not to show that at all. What if?

      Ugzo had no such fear. He’d heard the singing. That was no beast. It was strange singing, but it had carried an echoey tune out of the volcano, and it hadn’t been scary at all. He feared the plains more than the mountain, but agreed with his grumblebug companion that it would be better to know what was in the volcano before moving right next door, so to speak. The plains worried him though – whether they would make it back to their little corner of paradise at all?

      The grumblebug had simpler thoughts during their journey. He hummed a little tune to himself, not realising that it was the same tune they’d heard from inside the volcano. He flitted back and forth ahead of the Kyrii and the slorg, quite content with the situation, all things considered.

      As the sun started to set, though, the temperature changed quite rapidly. The winds kept whipping up sand which held some heat, but it was getting quite cold, quite quickly, and the grumblebug decided it would be best if they all decided how to proceed together.

      He got the two of them to stop, and sat himself directly on the slorg’s head, while the Kyrii crouched down next to them, huddling against the wind to be able to hear. They hadn’t had much conversation over the roaring sound of the winds.

      “Wh-“ *cough, cough*

      “Why have you made us stop?” asked Ogza, after wetting her dry mouth and throat with a new leaf.

      “I thiiiink weee need to deeeecide how to proceeeed,” squeaked the little bug.

      “Towards the mountain?” suggested Ogza helpfully.

      “The cold and the wind are slowing us down. We need to find a way to stay warm, or I’ll not be able to keep moving!” Ugzo pointed out.

      “I see,” said Ogza, rather pointlessly, and then she gazed at the volcano in an interested way.

      “I do not think we are far. I think I can make it,” Ogza continued when the wind dropped a little.

      “But you are not alone in this journey,” Ugzo stated, with a little worry and a little hope in his voice.

      “I don’t intend to go without you. The cold is not affecting me too much through my fur, so maybe if we could find a way for you to keep warm in my fur, I could get us to the volcano. Once we are there, heat shouldn’t be a problem, after all!”

      “I could stick to your rucksack under your fur, and grumblebug could join me?” Ugzo had already started moving as he suggested this, and Ogza helped him up and settle with the grumblebug, to continue her journey.

      As they hadn’t been able to talk much on the journey so far, she didn’t mind the quiet, but it did still somehow feel more lonely walking alone. The grumblebug started humming again though, and when Ugzo joined in she could hear the little tune and it perked her up, so she picked up her pace and reached the volcano in not too long a time. She started to half-hike, half-climb up the volcano, finding grooves which she used as pathways and grips.

      She found something the other two had not found when they were here though. Probably because they had climbed up one side and gone down the same way for safety’s sake.

      Ogza pulled herself up onto a ledge, and stopped. She was almost toppled by the wind before she tucked herself into the doorway.

     

      To be continued…

 
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