Chapter 7. Part 2.

This is a continuation of a story begun in the post “Chapter 1. Part 1.” If you enjoy it, please like and share it with others!

Thrump slowly crept away from the clearing toward the trees behind Brew’s tent, extending the torch out to see through the darkness. Shishu glided behind him. He turned toward me and whispered, “Do not move.”

Suddenly a huge four-legged something burst in from the darkness, flew past Thrump and Shishu, and landed next to me in the clearing. It was the size of a small horse, and its most notable feature was its long green glowing teeth that extended far past its bottom lip. It whirled around snarling and Thrump acted immediately. He dove onto the creature wrapping up its hind legs in his huge arms. It thrashed and clawed at his face, and I stumbled back, falling to the ground in the process.

Shishu leapt swiftly into the air and momentarily joined the night sky above, but he quickly returned, landing on top of the creature’s head with a loud thud. Shishu and Thrump were struggling to keep the creature contained. As they fought they moved toward the fire. It wasn’t until Thrump stepped into the middle of the fire that he let out a yell and let go of the animal’s hindquarters. This gave the creature just enough time to squirm free of Shishu and turn to face them.

I could see it more clearly crouched in the light of the fire. It looked somewhat like a jungle cat, but with stripes of glowing green fur, the talons of an eagle, and one large hump on its back like a bison. It made loud hissing and spitting noises, but the translators in my ears worked perfectly in giving me the message.

“Mendrax will reign supreme. The morning star has risen and its light will blot out the sun.” The animal was repeating this over and over again as he circled around, teeth bared against Shishu and Thrump who were sizing up the enemy for the best place to attack.

The creature acted first. It launched at Shishu’s face, talons wide and ready to tear at him, but it met a surprise when it flew right through Shishu’s head. I made a note. Umbra could evidently become intangible at will. The creature flipped around in mid air, and landed shakily at the edge of the clearing, continuing to chant the whole time.

Thrump acted again. He rushed toward the creature, and it tried to jump out of the way. It almost worked, but Thrump reached out and managed to grab one of its hind legs. He swung it around and slammed it into the jungle floor. The ground shook slightly when he did so, and Shishu joined in, picking up the torch that Thrump had dropped. He gripped it like a bat and swung it hard into the creature’s head. It staggered around dazed slightly, but its off-balance movements helped to evade the following swings from Shishu.

It staggered toward me and I drew my sword instinctively. As it neared me it regained its wits and it reached out with one talon, swiping at the bag containing the seed. It missed and hit my breastplate square in the center. When the animal’s talon’s touched the special metal of my armor, it howled in pain and reeled back, keeping its injured talon off of the ground.

Shishu and I both struck at the same time. I lunged forward in a stabbing motion at its body and Shishu brought his flaming club downward onto its head. The effect was instant, and the animal collapsed to the ground, letting out a piercing wail of pain. It dragged itself forward obviously crippled. Glowing green blood leaked from its side where I had pierced its skin.

Suddenly, a loud CRACK met my ears and something was wrapped around the animal’s neck. Another CRACK and his back left foot was being pulled off of the ground. I looked around and saw Fwik and Fwish standing by the doors of their tents, whips out. The creature snarled and tried to bite at the whips, but he was clearly caught. Thrump reached forward and grabbed the animal’s free back leg and hoisted it into the air, so that it was dangling there. It thrashed around pitifully, but the whip secured around its neck prevented it from doing any damage to anyone.

All the while it kept repeating, “Mendrax will reign supreme. The morning star has risen and its light will blot out the sun.” Fwik pulled hard on his whip to try and disrupt the chant, but it was no use. None of the blows supplied to the creature had interrupted the flow of his repetitive message.

Shishu stood directly in front of the creature’s face and asked, “Are you alone?”

The creature snapped at him with its long teeth, and kept repeating its chant.

“Are you alone?” Shishu repeated, more forcefully.

It was no use. The animal had been programmed to say one thing and one thing only. Plink was awake now and walked toward the animal. She gently pushed Shishu out of the way, centered herself in front of the animal, and reached toward her hip. In one swift motion, Fwik’s whip went slack as the animal’s head left its shoulders and fell to the ground. The chanting stopped and Plink returned her weapon to its home.

Chak’s head emerged from his tent. “What’s all the noise about?” he asked as he clambered out from the flap. I looked around and the entire camp was awake, some more alert than others. Dr. Lee was buzzing around wildly on the edge of the clearing as if looking into the jungle to see if more attackers were on their way.

“Just a pest control problem,” said Thrump, “but Mendrax obviously knows we’ve found a suitable human, or he wouldn’t have sent this Felavis.” He tossed the rest of the animal to the ground next to the fire.

“Well, we all knew he would find out eventually, we just hoped it would be later rather than sooner. We just have to be on guard, that’s all,” said Chak.

He sounded worried. “The sun will be up soon. Let’s just pack up and get a head start on making it to Canyon Ridge.”

The mood of the group was depressing as they packed up the camp. Brew fitted everything nicely into the pack and just as there started to be some natural light in the air, we were off. Thrump and Plink were assigned to stay close to me as we walked and they both seemed jumpier than usual. Thrump would periodically grab my arm and stop dead in his tracks; it really hurt. Plink was similarly over-precautious, keeping her crossbow out the entire time and one hand on her hip weapon. Evidently, I was the only one fine with the situation that had transpired back in the camp. I thought that these Umbili looked like a perfect match for whatever Mendrax would try to throw at them.

We walked and walked, stopping periodically for breathers, but not much of anything exciting happened as we did. I had noticed that the group always became unusually quiet when our journeys would commence, but would talk non-stop when we rested. My only conversation on the move came in the form of Doctor Cornelius Spencer Lee.

He was a curious bug and the more we talked, the more I sensed that he was just as lost in this whole escapade as I was. Once I broke through his screen of pretentiousness I found him to be a level headed and logical individual, which made our conversations enjoyable. Simply working through ideas logically with each other passed the time as we walked and it kept my mind off my aching feet.

Even more interesting to me, Doctor Lee knew a lot about proper logic, so he would give me names and systems for concepts I had already thought about but didn’t know what to call. I discovered there was an entire language and structure to logic that I had never tapped into, and later found out would be invented in Greece not far from my hometown in Athens. He talked about the construction of a logical argument and the defining of axioms and premises, which I found fascinating.

“So you’re saying that a true argument is only created when the inferences and the conclusion come from a set of axioms and not when it points to them.”

“Precisely. An axiom must be stationary and self evident with minimal thought. Your axioms should prove something, they shouldn’t need to be proven.” He was buzzing excitedly as he spoke.

I silently processed the information.

This relates back to what I spoke of earlier when mentioning the relationship between premises and conclusions. Your argument is strongest when your premises are axiomatic!”

“So what would be an example of a proper logical argument?” I asked.

“Let me see. Very well, let me think of something basic. Ah, we’ll use our surroundings! Premise one: All trees have trunks. It’s axiomatic. You and I both know this to be true without further discussion. Premise two: All conifers are trees. Therefore, the conclusion is, all conifers have trunks. Do you get the idea?” he said.

“Yes, I think so. But what good is it to say that conifers have trunks?” I said.

“That’s an extremely basic example my friend. Using this method of reasoning, you can string together a chain of premises that inform each other and eventually reach some bigger conclusions about the world,” he said happily.

“Okay. We’ll have to work up to some of those,” I said still trying to understand fully.

“Indeed we will. However, for the moment we must postpone our discussion. It looks as if we are approaching our goal,” said Dr. Lee. I looked around to see what he was talking about. The trees and roots of the jungle looked thin a ways ahead of us, and a much clearer light was shining through them. We quickened our pace to reach the light and when we did the trees disappeared behind us.

A hard line separated the open field before us and the dense jungle behind. It was as if the jungle had been planted and the straight line was the final row in a perfectly plowed garden. The oddity of it caused a picture of my vineyard to flash through my mind, but it disappeared quickly after a few large breaths of the cool air that filled the field. Far ahead I could see only the horizon that divided the deeply green grass from the blindingly white sky. A few blue clouds interrupted the whiteness, and they gave me an odd feeling of clarity which I had not felt my entire time in the Syllogy. The blue goo had taken away my worries about my situation, but the open sky ordered them all neatly in a row so that I could make sense of the task ahead. There would be obstacles ahead, but I knew that they would be dealt with accordingly, and they did not deter me from my goal. I reached toward my leather pouch and grabbed hold of the seed inside, feeling complete resolve to save this world.

Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 8.”

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