Unknown - Chapter 24
The jungle would have been a complete darkness had it not for the partials of light that penetrated the canopy above. The air smells of fresh spring dew and the sounds of the faunas reverberates the air around the slow moving silent caravan. Leaves from low branches and green overgrown bushes ruffles as the caravan past by them, alerting the small warriors amongst the shadows of the undergrowth to the danger. Hooves hits the damp undergrowth in a muffled thump and the caravan creaked as it vaulted over small rocks. Flies and mosquitoes swarmed the caravan like persistent peddlers.
Alen looked around, fascinated by the thick jungle around him. He lets his body jolt and vault with the caravan but held his head still. He slammed his palm onto a mosquito trying to stab his forearm. “Damn these mosquitoes!” he said and smacked another one on his finger.
The other closed their eyes and let the grogginess of the caravan lull them to sleep, ignoring the constant interruption by swarms of mosquitoes around them.
“We are coming to a junction, which way master Sazara?” said Edabu sitting at the front. The Guardian in the green robe turned his head towards the young man. “Take the right trail, please” he said with strange calmness.
Alen slumped back and turned to face the Wind Guardian. “I thought this was a scary jungle” he said almost smiling. Sazara looked at him. “It is, only not during the day” he replied. Alen took back his smile and looked outside. Let’s hope nothing happens tonight then…
“Did anyone hear that?” asked Edabu. He darts his eyes upwards towards the canopy above. The green roof swayed to the sides and stilled and swayed again. “Stop the caravan” said Sazara out of a sudden. Edabu jerked the rein hard and the horses came to a sudden stop, jerking the rest of the occupants to wake. “Why the hell are we stopping?!” said Shamah annoyed by the sudden stop. The Wind Guardian said nothing but left the caravan to stand on the damp undergrowth. He looks around, to his back and above, past the canopies. “Everyone wait here and prepare for camp, please” he said and gathered the wind around him. “What for-” but before Shamah could ask further, the Wind Guardian vanished with a sonic boom above the clouds. The trees around them creaked and bend to the sides, the canopies opened; revealing armies of gray clouds marching above head.
“Damn it” grumbled the old Earth Guardian. “You three, go set up camp!” he commanded Alen, Enil and Edabu. They nod and pulled out canvases and animal hides from the caravan. “Kalvel, come with me!” said Shamah, his hands gestured for the old warrior. “Girl, go and ready the meal!” he said and points to Eliza. Thunders rolled above the canopies as the six parted ways.
Alen watched the darkening sky above him. The wind blows with howling speed, thrashing the leaves up on the canopies like a mad little kid. “The sky looks different” he said like a whisper. His friends looked at him and to the sky. “Yeah, we better hurry up” said Enil busy with the tents. “It’s different” and Alen kept his eyes fixed to the sky.
“Come on!” Shamah shouts for the old warrior behind him. They shouldered enough firewoods to last them a week in the jungle behind their back as they made their way back to the caravan. Kalvel heaved for air, his muscles bulged and his veins twitched, sweats pours down his forehead and his legs felt chained to the ground. The wind swept past them again, almost knocking the old warrior from his feet. Shamah looked in anger. “You’re a warrior, damn it! Move faster!” he shouts at the heaving man kneeling on the ground. Kalvel grits his teeth and forced himself up. The sky had darkened as if night itself had fallen into the jungle. The Earth Guardian looked up. He watched as darker clouds move in, as the winds bend the canopies to its sides. He clicked his tongue. “Come on!” he shouts again to the old warrior.
The Wind Guardian swept through the darkening clouds, tearing the fogs away from his eyes as he looks for the source yet no matter how far or how high he flew he saw nothing. He flew above the clouds where the sun still brightly shines and watched as blue flames shot across the sky. “This is bad…” he said and he flew down, into the darkening sky where the blue fires battled against each other.
Alen, Enil and Edabu grouped together underneath a tent of animal hide watching the silver curtain drops down from the canopies above and flooded the ground below. The fire in the firepit they had tried so hard to light before had died almost instantaneously when the first downpour hits, leaving sad gray smokes and drenched blackened wood behind. Eliza curled up with her father inside another tent made of canvas, bigger than the animal hide but not more comfortable. Shamah sat alone inside a hole of a tree he found when everyone was busy trying to get into the tents.
Sazara swooped down with the heavy rain and splashed into the firepit. “Hey! Look where you’re landing!” complained Enil as he wipes the spots of mud on his robe. The Wind Guardian looked at him and cocked his head to the side. “Sorry, young Enil” he apologized. “But we need to get out of this place now” his words took everyone by surprise. “But it’s raining!” said Alen. “Yes, but this is no ordinary rain” the Guardian replied. “Young Edabu, take the caravan and prepare to move, I’ll go and talk to master Shamah” he ordered the dark skinned Guardian. Edabu nods and left the tent towards the caravan. The horses were restless but had held their nerves underneath the cumbersome rain. He pats the horses’ necks and jumped onto the driver’s seat. “Come everyone, let’s make haste” he said to the others. His whole body was obscured by the heavy downpour. Enil clicked his tongue. “Well, let’s go then” he nudged Alen’s shoulder and together they rushed into the curtain of water towards the caravan. Kalvel held Eliza in his arms and hunched forward, shielding the young girl from the rain as they trudge the muddy dirt towards the caravan. “What about the tents?” Enil asked as he stepped inside the dry caravan, clothes and body drenched.
The Earth Guardian stood and braved the heavy rain as he steps into the caravan with Sazara, both drenched and face grim. “Young Edabu, let’s go” said the Wind Guardian without looking at everyone else.
The Fire Guardian cracked the rein and the horses neigh yet their hooves where bound to the ground as if chained. He shouts at them and cracked the rein again ordering them to move but no neigh came from the, their heads fixed, stoned like a statue. “The horses, they won’t move!” he shouts back. The ground began to flood with water.
Sazara looked around him. The bushes jerked and jumped under the steady hammer of the rain. He tried to focus his hearing but the constant howling of the wind had robbed him of his senses.
“They are here” said Shamah who was already standing in the rain, palm touching the flooded earth. The bushes around them rattled and clashed at each other violently. The trees began to tremble as the earth shook underneath the caravan. The caravan went empty, the horses stoned, the rain never ceased and the earth shook.
Then the scream came.
It was piercing in the rain. Strained and getting louder. The rain obscured the visions but could not defend itself when a black object shot past the caravan and landed on a tree trunk where the tree explodes into splinters. The sound of rain ceased from the ears of the eyes that watched the event unfolding in front of them. The earth erupted in a wall of water when the tree explodes. The Wind Guardian, drenched underneath his robe, plough through the flood towards the destroyed tree. Smokes hissed as water clawed and clamored back at the blackened stump of the tree, dragging the unconscious body with them underneath.
“Don’t worry about him” Shamah turned away to face the trees where the object had flown from. “We got other things to worry about” his voice grim underneath the blanket of the rain. It was then that the others heard of the low growl coming from behind them at first and spread to their surroundings. Instinct forced them to into a circle, eyes out towards the trees and bushes and waters around them.
Sazara bend down near the body and ran his arms underneath it. The scarred face looked to the man. “Sa…za…ra…” it said with a woman tone. “Rest, Grear, we will take care of those hounds for you” said the Wind Guardian and he pluck her out from the flooded earth towards the caravan. Around him growls a pack of gray fur dire wolves, barring fangs and claws scraping the water beneath them. Their huge hind legs and the silhouette of spine than ran behind their back hardened as the glows in their eyes turned vicious. Drools of black liquid tainted the flood. Alen and Enil stood side to side, eyes darting to the two huge dire wolves in front of them. They gripped the sword Kalvel had given them earlier, wondering what happened to the cutlasses but said nothing of the thought.
“This is one whole lot of fighting for two teengers” said Enil with a grin flashed on his face. Alen smiled at the amusement his friend mentioned, though he knew it would not be anymore easier than before. “At least if we survive, we’d be able to screw our kids saying they were girls for never knowing adventure, eh?” he joked to which the two laughed.
Eliza gripped hard on her knife. Her father’s arms barred across her chest defending her from the wolves. She watched with scorn as the wolves steps closer. Her heart burns with anger and resentment to the animals.
Kalvel’s eyes jumped from one dire wolf to another, seeking their potential weaknesses though he found none. “This were bred wolves, not wilds” he said to the circle. Everyone eyed him. “How can you tell?” one of the two teenagers asked. “They are too perfect” he answered simple and said nothing afterwards.
Shamah and Edabu stood with their backs at their four companions. They watched as Sazara bend down and pluck the body from the water. They watched as his green eyes erupted in green flame. “It’s Grear” he said once he passed them. Shamah’s face grim. Edabu looked away from the scarred face of his fellow Guardian. “Kid, can you light anymore fire?” asked the old Earth Guardian. Edabu looked at the old man. “No, I’ve used too much of my own body fat, I’m going to need something else” he replied with vain. Sazara placed the unconscious body of the Water Guardian down at the center of the circle and joined the two Guardians. “I’ll call down a lightning, use that” he said calm. Edabu nods to the idea and prepared his magic.
The dire wolves roared at the circle of people in front of them and lunged with claws cutting the air and fangs opened.
“Now!” shouts the Wind Guardian.