Chapter 40: Marlequant’s Quest
“Hello, Goodbye” Ismi said flatly to Marlequant.
“Sorry, we’ve places to be” Yerdl apologised.
“Is this alright?” Kejo asked.
Turmeric was still in bliss, and was considering the virtues of always wearing earplugs.
Loro as stately as she could manage with a caravamel tied to her back swam past a panting thoroughly exhausted Marlequant. It took Marlequant embarrassingly long to realise that they were leaving. He scrambled to his feet, almost tripping into the jade river from the stonepost.
“Fair Maiden of the Lake, I beseech you please wait!”
Loro exasperatedly blew some bubbles in the water, and then turned to face Marlequant. Truthfully Marlequant annoyed her, but Loro was a complete sucker for flattering comments. While it wasn’t really the case that she was a fair maiden of a lake, she really liked the idea, thus, she’d usually humour the flamboyant otter a bit.
“What is it Marle, I’ve got to finish bringing these folks to the entrance near the creepy dude’s place.”
“Creepy dude? Why am I suddenly worried about where we are being brought?” Yerdl worried.
“Oh hush dear, the otter looks like he is going to say something silly again, I don’t want to miss this” Ismi admonished.
“Ah a quest! Please, Maiden of the Lake, take me as your disciple and allow me to aid you in your quest!” Marlequant requested.
Loro grimaced. Many people were foolish enough to seek the training of a qurtille and thus gain unique abilities, but naturally few qurtille were interested in teaching a being that could talk back. The benefit of teaching fish and other similar aquatic life is that they would never question you unless you trained them to.
“No” Loro simply said.
“Hahaha then we shall depart! No trial will be too great when we come together!” Marlequant crowed.
Then he froze in his pose of triumph.
“Wait, you said no”
“That was what she said” Kejo confirmed.
“Yes, again. I always say no to that”
“You have to admire his perseverance” Yerdl muttered.
“Marle, what are you even doing here? I did tell you to stay out of the water, your frantic paddling spooks the fish” Loro said.
Marlequant let out a depressed sigh and sat down on the stonepost.
“Do I really have to say? It is a little unbecoming”
“Okay, now I’m interested” Ismi piped up.
“Mmm, yeah unbecoming sounds good, spill the beans” Loro ordered.
Marlequant stared up into the upside-down forest with a melancholy expression.
“I was practising my salmon jump when I landed on this signpost, and now I can’t jump back”
There was a moment of suppressed laughter.
“Just laugh, I’m used to it, after all I’m an otter that can barely swim” he said sadly.
Loro’s eye lit up, she had thought of something.
“Marlequant qu Marlequant, if you protect these uh… fru… frod… potpeople until they reach their village I shall take you on as my disciple!” Loro said, trying her best to sound fey.
“Potpeople?” Ismi objected
“Well, goodbye, I’ll just be here on this stone, I’m sure you’ll be fine without me. I’m glad that my services aren’t nee… wait, did you just say that you’d take me as your disciple?”
“That is what she said” Kejo confirmed again.
Marlequant leapt from the stone and landed adroitly upon the roof of the caravamel.
“WELL GOOD COMPANIONS LET US HEAD FORTH INTO ADVENTURE!”
They settled for heading down the river instead.
Why did Loro make this deal? She knew one vital thing about Marlequant, he had a terrible sense of direction, if he went to the surface, he might never find his way to her jade river again, and so, she’d never have to teach him. Yerdl and Ismi weren’t going to refuse having an extra helper, even if he seemed a bit unreliable.
Between Marlequant’s chatter and Kejo’s joke, the journey couldn’t end soon enough for Yerdl and Ismi.
The end was in sight however as a tower carved into the cave wall was revealed, a tower that extended up to a large hole, down which snow and sunlight trickled down like a stream of diamonds.