Chapter Fourteen: The Crab, The Horned Beast and the City in Abyss
“How long have we been on this island anyway?” asked the Crab of the Horned Beast.
The Horned Beast looked up at the sky, which was filled with grey wolves, it was possibly going to rain. She didn’t like it when it rained. There was no sun or moon visible.
“We’ve been stranded a while, well, at least the island tastes good.” She said.
She took a scoop of the blue island. It had a spongy texture. Apart from the Crab and the Horned Beast there was a pale tall tree, one with circular black leaves. The tree seemed quite annoyed. The Horned Beast and the Crab were sitting on a picnic rug. The rug was chequered black and white.
“This was a terrible place to have a picnic” The Crab complained.
“Oh, I don’t know the view is quite nice, apart from the clouds” The Horned Beast said.
Deep inky void spread out all around the island. However, visible shining in the abyss, was a city, a delicate city, ghostly, filled with high spires, floating towers. A spiderweb.
“It is dead” The Crab said.
“Not really, I’ve seen movement there” The Horned Beast said.
“The city isn’t the problem, the issue is that it is dead”
The tree rustled irritably as if trying to draw the attention of the Crab and the Horned Beast.
“Can it really remain that way if there is life there?”
“It won’t wake, can’t wake”
“I don’t know if that is good or bad, but I don’t think I agree with you”
The Crab ate some of the island.
“I wonder what’ll happen after we’ve eaten all the island”
“We could drown, or we could end up in the city, I might like the city”
“Well I don’t think I’d like that, I don’t want to be there, just in case anything happens”
“I thought you said it can’t wake, won’t wake”
“I said it the other way around, and it doesn’t need to wake”
A wolf fell from the sky and was eaten by the inky depths.
“How do we know about this anyway?” The Horned Beast asked.
“We’ve eaten the island” The Crab mused.
“Does this mean we are part of it now?”
Wolves began raining from the sky. The Horned Beast pushed the things off the island, grumbling.
“This has happened far too many times”
“Why don’t we eat one?” The Crab questioned.
The Horned Beast looked at the Crab aghast.
“It was only a suggestion” The Crab grumbled.
There was the cry of a croaking bird.
The Crab and the Horned Beast froze.
The tree however, only got more agitated.
“He comes.” the Crab hissed.
“What’ll we do?”
“What can we do? He’ll cut down the tree and that’ll be it”
“Will something come from the city?”
“No, they let the huntsman roam”
It arose from the blackness, a dark figure. One with the head of a bird, bearing a heavy axe in the shape of a beak. It slowly walked over the abyss.
“What if we offered some of the island to it?”
“No good, the huntsman will hunt you, he will cut the tree down”
“What about you”
“I could escape to the city”
“Do you have no loyality?”
“None, I have a shell, so I’m going to be selfish”
“A fine excuse”
The huntsman was closer now. The wolves were all gone. The Horned Beast gazed up at the sky.
There was more void, but this one was filled with stars.
“If we could be stars, we’d be safe”
“They tried that”
-It didn’t work- said the huntsman.
He was right next to the Horned Beast. He swung at her. She turned her head away, she lost a horn, the tree moved a bit, the horn bounced off of the tree, and struck the huntsman right in the head. The huntsman burst into a thousand shadowy birds that tried to fly away, but the stars struck them down.
“Huh, well that happened” The crab remarked.
Cracking noises came from the tree. Where the horn had struck, there was a crack in the tree, the crack was getting bigger and bigger.
“We are done for!” The One Horned Beast cried.
They and the island fell through the crack in the tree.
* * * * *
The marble boat crashed into the black snow, sending up a massive swirl of snowflakes upwards.
Ivak, Claroosa and Fatho tumbled out.
“Anyone remember what happened?” Fatho said, standing up groggily.
Ivak rubbed the grittiness from his eyes.
“The dream bubble popped, and we entered dreammist, apart from that nothing”
Claroosa naturally was taking stock of their surroundings.
“I don’t remember anything either, but where-ever we are, Galshea is far away.”
The flames of the Awarthian Galshea were nowhere in sight. Instead the trio were near to a forest of oretrees, rocky growths that bear minerals, not normal fruits. They are a common replacement of the trees of Kigan. The trees were mostly sandstone, with hematite fruits. A fairly useful variety for the production of iron. Though, the seeds would have to be extracted from the ore first.
Awarthians concerned themselves with mining fruit more than they did having oretree orchards.
“How long were we inside the mist?” Ivak wondered.
Fatho scuttled over, and inspected Ivak’s beard, then he looked at Ivaks hair, eyes widening a bit. Part of Ivak’s hair was no longer hair, but blackish green circular leaves.
“Seems we were quite fortunate, we’ve only been there a little while, and…”
Fatho looked at his lower body. Where his crablegs had once been vestigial, they were strong limbs capable of supporting his body. His thin legs were hanging in the air, looking more like the vestigial limbs now.
Claroosa was fingering the large horn on her forehead, where once there was just two little stubby horns there a pair of far larger longer horns, even the one that was broken was thicker and longer than the stubby ones had been.
“…we’ve not experienced many changes to our bodies. You know, after this, I am never coming to Awarth again if I can help it”
Ivak was touching his head leaves, feeling the texture of them. He wondered if he’d grow new ones and shed old ones.
“So where is the castle Fatho?” Claroosa asked.
Fatho scratched the back of his head bashfully.
“Well, I have good news and bad news. The castle is here, my sense of direction was right. That would be the good news and the bad news”
Ivak and Claroosa looked around. There was no sign of any castle, or any construction. Nothing but oretree forest as far as the eye could see.
“Fatho, there is no castle here”
“That’d be the bad news”