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Chapter Nine: The Western Garden

The sun rises into the clear blue sky, as birds sing their morning songs, and the frogs crook their last several notes before heading for a nap. Stretching out widely, Damien sits up in his tent and looks next to him to find that the satyrs were already up and moving. Standing to his feet the young heir exits the tent to find everyone busy cleaning up the campsite. Of course Damien’s tent was the only one left standing, and everything else seemed to be pretty well packed away just as usual. As he looks around he spot Evelyn who was talking with Bredan as they look at the map. Evelyn’s eyes turned to look at Damien and she smiles big at him and then looks back down at the map.

Approaching Damien smiles, “Hey. What’s going on?”

“Just looking at the map. Bredan is showing me the route he is taking us through.” Evelyn comments. “Did you sleep well?”

“I did thanks for asking.” Damien grins. “You? Any more nightmarish dreams?”

“I slept fine. No, no nightmares.” Evelyn responds.

“So the Western Garden? What will we expect there?” Damien looks at the map next to Evelyn and Bredan.

“If we are to run into anything in there it be not much. Large man-eating Venus Flytraps, Bodytaker Plants, bloodthorns, bowtuckles, brownies, clabberts, maybe a Caledonian boar. But nothing we can’t handle.” Bredan comments. “The drake would probably be the worst of it.”

“Drakes?” Damien asks.

“Dragons with no wings. Large lizards that live upon the ground.” Razlyn comments over hearing the word of drakes. “A race of dragon that is so rare these days. Haven’t actually seen a drake for over three hundred years myself. And that is saying something.”

“Is everything packed?” Bredan looks at Razlyn.

“Brute is taking down Damien’s tent right now. We should be ready to go after he gets it packed away.” Razlyn comments.

“Um…where is Gordo and Liam? I don’t see them anywhere.” Damien looks around the area, view with his eyes only.

“No clue.” Evelyn glances at the area. “Must be down at the stream getting water.”

“Echo!” Bredan calls out.

The Kender lady with a high ponytail walks over, “You called my dear elven friend?”

“Will you please go see where our mischivious satyr friends ran off too?” Bredan politely asks.

“Oh no worries there. They are by the stream. I believe they found an interest there. If you know what I mean.” Kender winks at Bredan with a giggle.

Bredan sighs shaking his head, “Great satyrs thinking with their lustful eyes and not their brains. That’s all I need right now.”

“I’ll go fetch them. But it won’t be easy pulling them away from those woodland sprites you know.” Echo giggles as she walks away towards the stream.

With in moments, Brute was finished packing up the last tent, bedding, and other items that were inside, Echo returns with Gordo and Liam who looked unpleased for being dragged back over to the camp.

“What’s the deal? We were busy.” Liam huffs placing his hands on his hips.

“We are getting ready to leave. You’re desires of nymphs can wait.” Bredan comments.

“Well maybe we want to stay with the nymphs.” Liam crosses his hands.

“Suit yourself, but we will not come rescue you or come back to get you. You will be left here.” Bredan comments. “Lets go.”

Bredan begins to walk north west as the others begin to follow. Liam in the other hand stood there for a few moment with his arms crossed, tapping his right hoofed foot upon the ground.

Liam huffs, “Fine. Wait for me.”

The fellowship heads straight north west for a few miles until they reached the edge of the forest where they soon come across a large archway of tangled up jungle vines, purple and red flowers. As the fellowship walks through the vine archway they enter a large garden like area. Or at least that was what it looked like. Many different exotic unknown planets were growing everywhere. The colors of the flowers popped and were vibrate and stunning to look upon. With in the garden was a pool in which a waterfall showered down upon.

“This place is spectacular.” Evelyn smiles.

“Spectacular is taking it a little far in my opinion.” Echo comments.

“What are you talking about? Look at this place.” Evelyn looks at all the bright colored flowers, the willow trees, and the blossomed tress of white, purple, and maroon.

“This place may look pretty but it is quite dangerous. The Plants in here aren’t all pretty to look at you know.” Echo comments as she points to many different planet, including Sarracenias, bladderworts, sundews and enormous giant Venus Flytraps. “Watch out for the Flytraps. They’ll eat you up like no tomorrow.”

“I would suggest that we stay on the path. It’s the safest area in the garden. Don’t go wandering around.” Bredan tells the others as he continues to walk down the single path.

As the others followed, the curious of the pack, Ming the ferret decides to wander away from the others as he spot some sort of critter near the waterfall pool. As Ming got close to the pool what he saw was a shock, it was a martin with green fur with a long body much like a snake. Its eyes are yellow and its nose is like that of a hog, It stood on top of a large grey rock near the pool. Ming tilts his head with curiosity standing on his hind legs looking out over the tall green grass.

“Ming where did you go?!” Evelyn calls out.

Damien looks at Evelyn who was yelling from the path behind him, “What’s going on?”

“It’s Ming, he scurried off. Bredan specifically said not to leave the trail.” Evelyn huffs. “I sometimes think that Ming isn’t that great of a conscious if he can’t keep his own curiosities in check.”

Damien scans the garden with his eyes and sees the ferret near the pool looking at a green furred martin. “Over there Evelyn. Near the pool.” Damien points out.

Evelyn huffs and grabs Damien’s hand, “Come on. We need to talk to him.”

“Why we? He’s your conscious isn’t he?” Damien asks as he is dragged off the path and into the grasses towards Ming and the martin.

“Ming! Get over here! Ming!” Evelyn yells out to the ferret stomping her feet towards him.

Ming looks back at the upset teen girl and Damien who approaches him. “Evelyn, hey there.”

“Hey? Hey? Is that what you got to say? Didn’t you hear what Bredan had to say about staying on the path?” Evelyn huffs in frustration.

“Um….but….you’re not on the path either.” Ming points out.

Evelyn’s face turns red with anger, “That is only because we came after you. You say you’re a conscious but you’re just a stupid ferret.”

“Hey! Take that back!” Ming snickers.

“What are you doing off the track anyways?” Damien asks.

“This here martin caught my attention is all.” Ming looks over at the green furred martin.

“That is no normal martin Ming. that’s a Ramidreju. A martin who’s fur has properties to heal all sickness.” Evelyn tells the ferret.

“Shouldn’t we catch the fellow? His fur would be worth having.” Damien aks..

“No we must get back to the path now.” Evelyn replies.

Seeing that the two children left the path, Bredan calls out, “Evelyn! Damien! Get back on the path immediately!”

As Bredan looks out over at the teens, large grey and brown liana vines surface and slowly move towards Evelyn and Damien. Unsheathing his long sword Bredan runs towards Damien and Evelyn. The liana grabs both Damien and Evelyn and begins wrapping around the two teens.

“Ahhh! Help!” Damien yells.

“Hold on! I’m coming!”

As Bredan runs towards them, the others on the path begin to get worried. Gordo, Liam and Francis reacts and also begins to run towards the teenagers with their spears and swords in hand. As Bredan, Francis and the satyrs got closer the lianas snatched the four of them as well. As the laina begin to squeeze their prey, the satyrs try their best to shimmy out of it. The vines only wrapped tighter around the satyrs.

“Don’t struggle! They will only grip tighter!” Bredan calls out at the satyrs.

“We’re gunna die!” Liam yells out.

“What do we do Senoir?” Francis asks.

“Calm yourselves. Don’t move. It will likely loosen their grip if they realize you’re not a threat.” Bredan comments.

Seeing that the others were in trouble, Razlyn reacted and ran towards the others. As she moved through a bush a beautiful purple orchid looking flower appears and fires a barb into Razlyn’s neck.

“Ahh!” Razlyn grabs the barb and pulls it out of her neck.

“Red!” Bredan yells as he sits there calmed, hoping the liana won’t squeeze any tighter.

A sudden dizzy feeling falls upon Razlyn. Razlyn drops to her knees and pants. Brute and Echo rushes over to her. Brute using his axe cuts the head of the purple orchid like flower off so that it didn’t shoot barbs at him or Echo. Echo knees down to Razlyn and looks at her neck. A vine like image appears upon her neck, which began to spread down her neck and onto her face.

“This is not good.” Echo sighs. “She’s poisoned.”

“The Elixar. We must grab the Elixar!” Brute comments.

“Where is it?” Echo asks.

“Evelyn has it!” Brute comments.

“Then go and free her. Grab the elixir. Razlyn may not have much time. The poison is spreading fast.” Echo tells the minotaur.

Brute heads towards Evelyn, Bredan, Francis, Damien and the satyrs who are tangled by the lianas with his battle ax in his grips. With a great swing of his ax, Brute cuts through one of the liana vines and the grip around Bredan loosens and frees the elf. Bredan unwraps himself and runs towards Razlyn to find out what happened. Brute continues to swing and cut the vines of the liana, as they seem to awaken and turned their focus at the minotaur. The vines that wrapped around Evelyn and Damien lift up into the air, and Ming scurries up one of the great liana vines and chews into it near Evelyn’s body. The vine though was too thick for the ferret to chew fast enough to cut through. Suddenly Brute chops into the liana vine which had it’s grip around Damien. The vine falls with Damien and both the large vine and Damien hits the ground. Freeing himself, Damien stands to his feet and looks up at Evelyn who was still gripped by the large lively vine.

“Brute hurry! We need that Elixar!” Echo yells.

Damien runs out of the way from the liana vines as the great black furred minotaur hacks at the vines one by one with great force, until he reached Evelyn and cut her loose. With a great swing of his ax, Brute cuts the vine, making both Evelyn and Ming fall flat on the grassy ground of the garden. Brute rushes over the the young teen archer and helps her to her feet.

“Thanks Brute.” Evelyn brushes herself off as she stands. “I thought I was a goner for sure.”

“Do you have the Elixar? We need it now. Razlyn is in trouble!” Brute asks reaching out his hand.

Evelyn opens her satchel and pulls out the bottle of elixir. She hands it to Brute with a nod, “Here. Now hurry to her.”

Brute takes the elixir and begins to head towards Razlyn and the others, when several thick green vines grab the minotaur’s arms. Brute turns finding himself looking at a large plant. The plant resembles the head of a cabage almost with the mouth of a Venus flytrap with ridged sharp teeth. It was the colors of reds and greens, with long tendril green vines. The plant like creature opens it’s mouth as it lifts the great minotaur in the air. It’s large tongue stretched out as it licks the minotaur’s furred leg. Struggling and trying to get loose, Brute drops the elixir bottle. As the bottle fell, it shatters and breaks into many pieces, and the elixir itself was sucked into the soil.

“No!!” Brute calls out as his eyes widen as he is brought closer to the mouth of the giant plant creature.

Hesitating no longer, Damien unsheathed his sword and runs towards Brute. With both hands gripping the handle of the sword, Damien swings and cuts the tendril vines, cutting Brute loose. Glaring with a stern stare at the carnivorous plant, Damien slashes once more at the plant’s stem and cuts off it’s head. Evelyn rushes over and finds the shattered bottle glass on the ground. Brute rushes over with Damien beside him.

“No. Now what do we do?” Brute worries as he holds his hand to his forehead.

“I got a suggestion.” Ming scurries over.

“What? What is your idea Ming? I don’t think Red has much time.” Damien asks.

“The martin. Didn’t you state it’s fur as healing powers?” Ming looks up at Evelyn.

“I did.” Evelyn smiles. “Good thinking.”

“Ming have you seen where the creature went?” Damien asks.

“I saw it scurry up that willow tree.” Ming points at the willow next to the pool.

Damien, Brute and Evelyn follows Ming over to the willow and looks up into the willo’s branches. There they saw many critters. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and then they spotted the Martin sitting on the fifth branch looking down at them.

“There it is.” Damien points.

“Ming go get it!” Evelyn tells the ferret.

“How am I going to do that? I’m smaller than he is.” Ming snickers.

“Can’t you go talk to it? Maybe you can reason with it.” Evelyn asks.

“I’ll try.” Ming climbs up the trunk of the willow.

With in moments, Ming scurried back down the tree’s trunk with the Martin beside him. The Martin scurries over with Ming to Bredan and the others who surrounds around Razlyn. The dragon in the elven form wasn’t looking so well, as sweat ran down her face, neck and arms, and the poison seemed to spread quickly down her entire neck, chest, arms, and covered her face. The Martin scurries up into Razlyn’s lab and laid down.

“What now?” Damien asks. “Does she comb it’s fur and sing a song hoping it glows and heals her?”

“That’s silly.” Ming giggles.

The martin looks up at Damien tilts its head then looks up at Razlyn. IT then moves Razlyn’s hand with it’s head. Razlyn places her hand on the Martin’s back and suddenly the poison with in Razlyn moves like a snake to the tips of her fingers. The poison flows out of her fingers and onto the Martian which it’s fur turned a dark purple. The Martain stands to its feet and scurries off.

“What the hell just happen?” Liam asks.

“Not sure exactly but it seems Razlyn is healed.” Gordo states.

Razlyn opens her eyes and looks up at Bredan who held her tightly in his arms. “What happened?”

“You’re alive, that is all that matters.” Bredan smirks at Razlyn looking down into her eyes.

“She needs rest.” Echo states. “We should get out of this garden and finds a place to camp. I don’t think it would be wise to camp here.”

“I agree. We must move on out of the garden. Everyone get back on the path and stay on it.” Bredan commands as he helps Razlyn back to her feet. “We do not want another incident like the one we just had.”

Everyone got back on the path. Ming got up onto Evelyn’s shoulder as she hold’s Damien’s hand. Francis sits on Brute’s right shoulder, the satyrs walked between the teenagers and the minotaur, as Echo walked with Bredan and Razlyn. The fellowship moved on with caution for any other plant life like dangers until thy reached the edge where they come to a large cave like entrance. There they set up camp for the night with in the entrance. Lit a nice campfire and sat logs around it. Razlyn went to sleep early that night due to the effects that the poison had on her. The satyrs and Francis also went to bed, as Brute stood watch with Echo, and Damien, Evelyn, Ming and Bredan sat around the fire.

“ It was fast thinking on your behalf today Evelyn with the martin. After the elixir was destroyed I had no idea what to do.” Damien comments.

“I wouldn’t have thought about the Martin if it wasn’t for Ming. But than again we wouldn’t have been in the situation of he would have just stayed with us on the path.” Evelyn looks down at Ming who was eating on some elven bread.

“So now what? Where do we go from here?” Damien asks.

“Once we all get some rest and Red is back on her feet, we will head deper into the cave. The last time I went this way, the cave was empty and it was a pleasant trip through. I hope it has stayed that way.” Bredan gives a smirk then lights his pipe. “Though that was over a hundred years ago.”

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Author
BJ Swabb
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12 min read
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