Chapter III - Pendant of the Witch - Part one: The Journey of the Stone (pt 1)
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Tettle and a Dark Echo, the First Stop
Chime began to relax her sword arm after a short moment. To her, the cry for mercy meant these creatures were harmless. In the dark, Amphis spear remained ready to strike. She kept the tip pointed at the nearest creature, being sure that if it moved, she could attack it.
One of the creatures, the one nearest to Chime uncurled himself slowly. He appeared to have no weapons, only a few rags that hung from his small body. He slowly looked at Chime with his large, circular black eyes. ‘Please Miss, we don’t want to fight’ he pleaded.
The other followed by example and lowered his small arms ‘that’s right, we don’t even want you to harm us’ he explained.
Chime gently lowered her sword, pointing it slowly to the ground ‘then, who are you?’ she asked, not recognising their shape at all.
The second one answered first ‘we are Moofen’ he explained. The first one followed ‘Garg and Borg. He’s Garg and I’m Borg’ he said, slowly gesturing to his companion.
Amphi took advantage of their upper hand of the situation and kept her spear held tight as she interrogated the two Moofen. ‘Where did you come from?’ she asked sternly. She followed with another question only after she slowly pointed her spear closer to the nearest Moofen. ‘What is your business here?’ she demanded, her eyes fixed on her prey.
Being the one with the spear pointed at him, Garg was the one to answer. He did not answer immediately; rather, he hid behind his large hands. His hands resembled moles hands, large claws, shovel like in practicality. Neither Garg nor Borg seemed to have thumbs, and their fingers seemed joined, apart from the last knuckle. It was that last knuckle of each finger which allowed them any dexterity at all; otherwise, their long hands would literally be shovels. On the ends of their fingers, they had elongated and sharpened nails, the likes of which are often seen in tigers, or eagles.
Slowly, Garg removed these hands from his face and spoke, quivering ‘we come from Boon, we mean you no harm’ he said, his eyes widening to Amphi, hoping his answer was good enough.
Amphi paused for a moment, feeling pity for the Moofen in front of her, but she held her spear longer ‘go on’ she said, giving Garg his cue to speak further.
Garg waited a little longer before he continued; nodding to Borg to be sure it was okay to speak. ‘We came from Boon, me and my brother’ he began with a fluster. His breath was quickening in his panic ‘we were attacked. Lots of bone, bones of men. They came from the ground and they began killing’ he stopped, looking at his friend once more before turning his face slowly to the forest ground.
Borg paddled closer to his friend and nudged him, hoping to restore his friends’ moral.
Borg nudged Garg once more before looking towards Chime with his pale bald head and large black eyes. ‘They attacked us suddenly, mine and his kin. We tried to fight them, but we had to run. We ran so far, and now we’re lost’ his long toes dug into the soil, as if it were habit for him. ‘We need to find our new home, our place in the north’ he explained.
Chime raised her sword slightly from the ground, not taking her eyes from the Moofens ‘where, up north?’ she asked, trying to follow Amphis example.
Garg looked up from the ground, and then to Chime as he answered her question rather optimistically ‘we have brethren in Kaloo, a place past the seas. We want to go there’ he explained.
Amphi lowered her guard gently at this point, but still keeping her spear in view ‘how do you expect to get there? There is nothing for you in this direction’ she explained.
Borg answered this question as he looked at Amphi ‘we want to find the lands edge, we will find a ship and cross the waters’ he explained.
Garg looked down, then back at Amphi with his pitiful and worried eyes ‘but we cannot find the way, and we’re so hungry’ he said, breathing deeply as he spoke.
Amphi waited until she felt her own breathing calm down, then she placed her spear to her side so both her hands were free. Even after that, she waited before she spoke ‘Alright, we have some extra provisions. We’re willing to share some breakfast with you’ she said, being sure her voice still had the command of the situation. She followed by introducing Chime and herself.
Both Garg and Borg looked up with their black eyes. For a moment they remained lifeless until they both lifted their long arms in the air with a grin and a cheer.
With this small demonstration of gratitude, both Chime and Amphi glanced at each other and smiled. If anything, these two Moofen were much more welcome than an attack from something sinister.
It was now dawn, the moon of Rein had peeked over the horizon and it was time for a healthy breakfast of bacon, eggs and mushrooms, nearly prepared for the four travellers to settle down. Both Chime and Amphi sat either side of Garg and Borg, being sure to keep a careful eye on them. It was Chime however, who was left with the careful task of cooking for four people. She was not a brilliant cook by any means, but she was not the worse. She was trying desperately not to burn the bacon, whilst the mushrooms seemed to be constantly damp.
It was only when this haphazard breakfast was served, did everyone have a chance to relax a little.
Chime, who decided her breakfast was fine, despite the burnt bits, spoke first. ‘If you don’t mind me asking, what happened in Boon? I imagine a place like that would be hard to overrun’ she said, pretending she had known the place.
Garg spoke first, clumsily placing his fork on his plate and finishing his mouthful before speaking. ‘It is, yes’ he said, picking up his fork once more.
Borg dropped his fork, the moisture of the mushrooms splattering on the bacon ‘but we weren’t attacked from the tunnel entrance. Boon being so secure underground, we’re usually safe’ he explained.
Garg leapt into the conversation ‘yes, usually. But this time, we were attacked from inside’ he put his plate down, his memories putting him off the food. After placing the plate down by his feet, he continued ‘they came from the ground, all at once. They fought with all of us, those bones and blades’. As he spoke, Chime stopped eating her breakfast, her fork suspended between her mouth and her plate as he told his tale. She placed her fork gently back onto her plate before being compelled to ask further into this tale.
‘How did you escape?’ she asked, giving Amphi a concerned look.
Borg answered her question after a gulp of food ‘we pretended to be dead, until they left us unguarded’ he said, looking to the ground. His face grew sad as he spoke ‘we wanted to help the others, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone around us were already dead’ he stated, not taking his eyes from the dirt on the floor. Silence followed for a short while, broken only by the sound of small birds waking in the trees.
Amphi took this chance to interrogate both the creatures further ‘tell me, why you were skulking around us at the dead of night?’ she asked, her eyes jotting from one creature to the other. She took a moment to eye each creature before fixing her eyes on Borg, waiting for a reply that would satisfy her.
‘We did not know, if you were friendly. We only wanted some food and to find the lands edge’ he stated. Garg continued ‘we can give you payment’ he started, reaching under his shirt for a moment. Shortly, he produced a small purse and held it towards Amphi.
She looked at it, making no effort to reach for it ‘what is inside?’ she demanded.
Garg eyed the purse in his outstretched hand, then at Amphi ‘precious stones Miss. We have no use for them, but they are valuable. We can give payment to you?’ he enquired.
Amphi started at the purse for a moment as she considered his offer ‘payment in return for what services?’ she asked. She looked at the creatures in turn once more ‘food is not worth a bag of precious stones, what else are you trying to pay for?’
Borg looked at the purse, then at Amphi ‘to trust us, and to show us where to go. We are lost; we want to find the lands edge and Kaloo’. His voice was almost weepy as he proposed this.
Amphi looked at Chime, then back at Garg and Borg. Chime looked more lost than she did at this proposal. She wanted to trust these two creatures, but she knew it was always worth being cautious. Amphi broke the silence, her voice sounding a little more friendly towards the brothers ‘Give me time to consider’. She looked up at the sky, then back towards the creatures ‘after breakfast, no sooner and no later. Agreed?’ she asked.
Both Garg and Borg nodded gratefully ‘thank you’ they both said.
Amphi looked at Chime, waiting for her response ‘agreed?’ she asked Chime.
Chime, who had been listening intently to the conversation nodded slowly, ‘yes, Amphi’ she said. Chime had rather Amphi said yes straight away, but she also knew Amphi would often take her time to consider difficult matters.
Although breakfast was finished and everything was tidied away, Amphi still had yet to give her answer. After she finished her breakfast, she took a few steps from the group and sat, facing away from everybody.
As she was contemplating her decision, she was lightly fingering some dry leaves which had long been on the ground. Her eyes seemed concentrated on something distant in the forest, cutting through the tall pine trees.
There were a few minutes in which nobody spoke, sitting uncomfortably and fidgeting whilst Amphi was deliberating her answer. Suddenly, it came ‘we will take you as far as our journey takes us, which is to Zolk’ she began. She continued her point further ‘From there, you will likely find help to a harbour. With our errand, we can place you with company who may assist you on what has happened to you, but I will promise nothing.’
She turned her head slightly to meet the two Moofen ‘but I will not take payment from you. It will feel unfair as we will not take you to a harbour. However, you will cover ay expenses you incur whilst travelling with us. I do not have the wealth to pay for four peoples travel’ she explained.
Borg nodded and smiled brightly with joy ‘thank you, Miss. We agree to pay for ourselves’ he announced, looking at his brother, who was also smiling.
‘Alright’ Amphi said. She turned and stood up, looking at Chime with her eyes, but her head facing Garg ‘does anybody have any objections to this arrangement?’ she asked.
Nobody answered, everyone simply shook their head.
Amphi picked up her bag and pointed at the remaining luggage before smiling ‘very well, as we’re all in agreement, we shall make a start on the day. I wish to reach Tettle before dark’ she announced as she began walking, taking lead of the march.