Chapter 18: Transported
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Previously: Madnes and his friends, Alice and Harrey, along with the runaway Ugly goose, find themselves drowning. Sinking down, ever down, through the Sacred Pond’s azure waters…there is no end in sight…they will soon die…
The blue grew dark as his conscious fought and failed to breathe, sinking, ever sinking, it wouldn’t stop; there was no end, no sandy floor you’d expected to find at the bottom of a pond.
Nothing but endless falling into endless blue…
It came as a shock when his back brushed against something, a something without any substance, and through it he fell backwards.
Air. It was air touching his body—his back, his head as he tried to right himself. Splashing and spluttering.
How could he descend an endless pond and find himself back up at the surface? But there wasn’t time to waste thinking. He spotted Alice beneath the surface and caught her elbow, dragging her up to the precious air. She coughed and gulped it in.
Wrapping his free arm around hers, he kicked the water with his feet, hurrying her and Ugly over to shore. Bullets would be raining down on them soon—actually, they should be already. It didn’t make sense why none had yet. It was eerily silent.
Pushing them up onto a grassy bank sprinkled with legume, he turned back for Harrey, only to see the guy dog-paddling toward them. “Guys? Is that you?” His aviator goggles were water sloshed and cloudy; in his panic to swim he didn’t dare pause to take them off even if it meant he was blind. Madnes quick caught the wrist of the hand that drew closest and tugged him up to shore.
“Take cover!” he urged the soaking wet group. But Alice remained seated on the ground and legumes, and staring up at a sea-green sky.
“Alice!” He made as if to pick her up, but…something felt off. ‘Sea-green sky?’ He straightened and let his eyes rove their surroundings.
A sky green as the sea stretched wide overhead and down to meet a hilly horizon. A field of grass rolled in all directions out from the pond, rolling up to a scatter of cliffs off to his left, and down to thin woods to his right. And the pond: it bobbed green and purple algae along its surface.
This wasn’t the Sacred Pond. And this wasn’t Okinala.
“Dude, where…are we?” Harrey’s question echoed his mind. A breeze carried salt to his nose; the ocean wasn’t far off—or maybe he should say “an ocean,” if this wasn’t Okinala’s.
He felt a sinking suspicion. Purple algae, sea-green sky…that didn’t sound like Earth, even if he hadn’t traveled every corner of the world.
Ugly coughed and honked, trying to get out the bits of water he’d breathed in from his terrible ordeal, and Madnes’ attention locked onto him. This bird…this foolish, young bird that had almost got himself—and them—killed…
“Ugly, whatever gave you the idea—of all the ponds in Okinala to choose from!—to go to the Sacred Pond?” he almost shouted.
The young goose—even though his last name was Duckling—jumped and trembled. “Wull…it…it sounded like a nice place, from what the crowv person said…” Ugly admitted timidly, cheek feathers coloring.
He waited for Ugly to say more, arms crossed, and then realization dawned. “Crowv person?” It was an effort to keep his tone even. “Did he have slick-back, blonde hair and cold blue eyes?” Ugly’s long neck bobbed his small, nervous head.
“Uh, yeah, I think so, sir. W-why? Who was he?”
“…Oz.” he growled, “He used you to get to me.” A hand ran aggressively through his red, wet hair. “This is the second time he’s risked someone else’s life to get to me…” teeth ground.
He had to put a stop to this. If only he knew how, and why Oz had so drastically changed from the sweet boy his faint memories still held onto. A person who used to dream and find the world fascinating…
He opened his mouth to say more when the ground beneath them suddenly tremored. They each paused what they were doing—Harrey mid-ringing water out his shirt and Alice her skort. Another tremor came and rippled away; he held out his arms for balance. Violet eyes scanned the field, the tree line, the cliffs.
Another tremor, and this time Madnes could hear the heavy footstep—if indeed that’s what it was. The cliffs: there was a cave there…and something coming out of it.
A deafening roar rolled over the grassy expanse, and a massive head followed by clawed, massive feet charged out from the cave’s depths. A monster of great size bearing purple armor scales. It was…a dragon.
Not the cute, cuddly kind you see in kid’s films. No. This was a terrifying, solid muscle, armored, and graceful creature; grand and dangerous. Towering over you, you were its plaything.
And it was charging straight for them.
“Oh crud—how many times today am I going to have to say that?”
“If we die you won’t have to,” Harrey tried a joke, but even his easy-going demeanor was wilting to terror. Madnes swallowed, mustered courage, and moved to intercept the grand dragon and keep it from crushing his friends.
Hands stopped him. Harrey and Alice both clung to him like glue, and Ugly sat on his head. “What—”
“We won’t let you sacrifice yourself. We either live together or die together!” shouted Alice.
“But—!” He desperately tried to shake them off. The dragon was almost upon them, massive wings spread out like sails. “Idiots! Run away! I can fight it—”
No, he couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t. Not unless he used up a great amount of his life for the Madness Solver power. But better that than die here and now, right? His friends, however, couldn’t understand that.
“Fine, I’ll tell you! I was given a special power to deal with difficult things—so let go and let me use it!”
They wouldn’t let go.
The dragon approached, almost on top of them. He could see the faceted orbs that were eyes—basketball-size eyes. Jaws of sword-like teeth opening wide…
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© copyright 2015 E. Rawls and Rawls E. Fantasy, All Rights Reserved
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful author Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Legume.” Check out the link, read other great stories there, and VOTE for your 3 favorite to win!
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