“Olzenbeth! You idiot!” Artheena shouted, as she and dad hurried after her, franticly kicking obstacles aside, but they couldn’t keep up. Olzenbeth’s Guardian-like long legs made her a faster sprinter, and a higher leaper. She practically flew over garden paths, and gardens. Running and leaping in every which direction, like a disoriented insect. “ADNICK! ADNICK! ADNICK!” she kept screaming, wildly waving the lamp around. Burjiss and Artheena had no better choice, but to go against their own safety precautions, and leap through the gardens after her. No matter how loudly and persistently they called after her, she ignored them. She didn’t want to listen to reason or common sense, and she most certainly wasn’t going to wait for them to catch up with her. The wind started picking up again, but Olzenbeth moved through it, like lightning. Several times, they came close to catching up with her, but she leapt away before Burjiss or Artheena could grab her by the shell.
After last night’s search, Artheena could understand what Olzenbeth must be going through, but she really wanted to punch her. Not only was her refusal to cooperate infuriating, she had no regards for Artheena’s and dad’s lives. And here they were, trying to help her. Burjiss was just about to grab the side of Olzenbeth’s shell, when she made a sudden sprint in the opposite direction, and disappeared completely.
“Curse of Jyoseppy!” shouted Artheena, kicking some rocks and thrown produce across the garden path. “I can’t believe that girl! All she cares about is Adnick, without giving a second thought about leaving us to fend for ourselves, in near-pitch-dark, deadly weather!”
“Where the heck did she go?!” said dad, exasperated. They stopped walking, and strained their eyes to see around the yard. They couldn’t see her, or hear her. The shrill wails of the accelerating winds drowned out her frantic calls. Artheena’s intuition told her to look towards the direction of the house. She couldn’t see the house, but she knew which garden they were standing beside, by the emanations of the trees and plants individual living energies. They were back in the front yard again, but only ten garden paths from the front door. The moment Artheena looked towards the house, she caught a brief glimpse of the lamp hovering a little ways above where the roof would be. Then the light disappeared.
“She leapt onto the roof, dad!” said Artheena..
“You got to be kidding me!” said dad, getting angry again. “She’s crazy!”
“I think she used it as a short cut to get to the back yard!” said Artheena.
They sprinted for the house, pushing through the wind with all their strength. The moment they leapt onto the roof, they got struck by a narrow column of ice cold, pounding rain, which made them nearly lose their footing. Jyoseppy’s spit, is what this type of rain is called. The shock of its coldness made Artheena have a hard time breathing, for a few moments. She gasped and coughed, as they struggled to run across the roof. Both were shivering violently, which made them unable to sprint or leap. A few gusts of warm wind blew over them, but they were too sopping wet with Jyoseppy’s spit for the temperature change to relieve some of their discomfort. Just as they were about to reach the other side of the roof, another column of Jyoseppy’s spit blasted down on them. Artheena screamed in pain, as it did. The rain was so cold, it felt like it had serrated edges that sawed into her skin.
Without thinking, the two vervetts instinctively clung onto each other, in a tight hug, as their trembling bodies tried to recover from the icy blast. They stood like that for a moment or two, before it registered to them that they were wasting time.
“WE HAVE TO GET MOVING!” Burjiss strained to raise his voice through chattering teeth.
“LET’S SEE IF WE… IF WE COULD…” Artheena had a harder time trying to raise her voice through her chattering teeth, when her breathing passages felt partially paralyzed from the cold. “IF WE COULD… SEE THE BEAM OF… THE BEAM OF HER LAMP FROM… FROM UP HERE… THEN MAYBE… MAYBE…”
“GOOD IDEA!” said dad, not needing his poor daughter to finish what she was trying to say.
Still huddled close together, they turned their heads toward the back yard below, and scanned the dimly lit gardens.
“THERE SHE IS!” Artheena exclaimed, now able to catch her breath. She pointed at a wispy beam of white light that shone from within a cluster of vegetable trees.
IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE SHE’S MOVING!” said Burjiss. “SHE MIGHT BE HURT!”
“Serves her right.” Artheena couldn’t help thinking, as they jumped down from the roof, and started for the vegetable trees. As they did, a few more columns of Jyoseppy’s spit came down in other parts of the yard. They looked like black hecctropes reaching down from the darkness, and their sound wasn’t like that of heavy rain. It was a loud hiss, like venom from a thousand skullvick eyes. Artheena was reminded of the liquid hecctrossipy in her nightmare.
Thankfully, their run to the vegetable trees warmed them up enough to take away their shivers. They spotted Olzenbeth sitting on the ground, vigorously massaging her foot. The lamp was propped up against a large tree root beside her. She called out to them, once she saw them coming, but her words sounded like incomprehensible mumbling beneath the loudening wind.
It was getting so difficult to hear one another, Artheena and dad had to bend toward her, and almost yell in her face.
“ARE YOU OK?!” said Artheena.
“WHAT HAPPENED?!” Demanded Burjiss.
“I HURT MY ANKLE!” said Olzenbeth. “BUT IT’S NOT BROKEN! I TRIPPED OVER A ROCK, AND LANDED ON A TREE ROOT, BUT I CAN STILL WALK! I THINK IT’S JUST A LITTLE SPRAINED!” She picked up the lamp, and carefully got up, using a tree to keep her balance.
“FROM NOW ON, JUST STAY WITH US!” Artheena ordered. She still wanted to punch Olzenbeth. Or chew her out for running off on them. But that would have to wait until they were safely back in the house, or in the under-village—if they could make it out of the storm alive.
The winds began shifting in different temperatures, as they linked arms again, and headed out of the vegetable trees. It went from cold to warm to being as hot as an open oven, and then it was lukewarm, and back to being cold again. More columns of Jyoseppy’s spit hissed down from the thrashing, black clouds. Things were about to get deadly. A flash of white lightning lit up the yard, brighter than afternoon daylight. Then a low rumble of thunder shook the sky and ground with such power, it felt like the sound could shatter both elements. This thunder was followed by another rumble of thunder, that was a little higher in pitch, and it crackled loudly with scorching electricity.
“WE NEED TO GET TO THE UNDER-VILLAGE!” Burjiss urged..
Another flash of lightning allowed them to spot where the nearest patch of grass was, that had enough space for all three of them to summon grungols.
“OVER HERE!” ordered Artheena, pulling them in its direction.
“I’M NOT GOING TO THE UNDER-VILLAGE!” Olzenbeth protested through another world-quaking rumble of thunder. “WE HAVEN’T FOUND ADNICK!”
“IS ADNICK A WELL EDUCATED BOY?!” asked dad.
“OF COURSE HE IS!” she answered.
“WELL, THEN HE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO DO THE EMERGENCY GRUNGOL CALL, HIMSELF!” said Burjiss.
“BUT HE CAN’T CALL ON A GRUNGOL, IF HE’S LYING UNCONSCIOUS, SOMEWHERE!” Olzenbeth stubbornly argued.
“BUT WE’LL HAVE EVEN LESS OF A CHANCE AT FINDING HIM, IF WE’RE ALL DEAD!” argued dad.
An even brighter flash of lightening blazed over the yard, as dad and artheena dropped on their stomachs, onto the clear patch of grass. Olzenbeth however, still refused to cooperate. “I’M NOT GOING! I CAN’T GIVE UP ON HIM!” Then she tried to run away again, but Artheena went after her.
She and Burjiss would’ve been better off just letting her go, and looking out for their own survival, but Artheena was still in shock over Jo Joga’s death. She didn’t want anyone else to die, if she could help it.
Luckily, Olzenbeth’s sprained ankle slowed down her running, and prevented her from being able to leap. Artheena quickly grabbed Olzenbeth by her good foot, and knocked her down onto a garden path, flat on her face. In a mean sense, it felt good to slam her to the ground. Olzenbeth was being such a stubborn thorn-in-the-foot. The fall made her drop Mell May’s lamp. The force of the winds sent it bouncing and rolling to the other side of the garden path. “Thank you, Jumellica.” Artheena thought, when the lamp shined on a nearby Clinging Poccoleelee plant. Sincerely apologizing to the plant, she yanked off one of its long, bristly vines, and bound Olzenbeth’s legs. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!” Olzenbeth shrieked with rage. Artheena could tell she was crying, by the way her body shook. “YOU REALLY HURT ME! I’M GOING TO REPORT THIS TO THE GUARDIANS!” She wriggled her body, and flailed her arms, as Artheena grabbed another clinging vine.
“I’M SAVING YOUR LIFE!” Artheena screamed in her ear. Olzenbeth angrily butted her in the face with the back of her head.
“NEED HELP?!” asked dad, who had stayed behind Artheena, the whole time. She nodded and pointed to the Poccoleelee. He immediately got to work, pulling off vines, and helping his daughter hold Olzenbeth’s struggling arms behind her shell, and bind them. She stubbornly kept fighting, despite how it only made the vines cling to her even tighter. She bucked and thrashed her body this way and that, and swung her bondaged legs at Burjiss and Artheena. Fear and adrenaline allowed them to move fast, like the speeding winds as they pulled off more vines, and wrapped them around Olzenbeth.
The Poccoleelee vines constricted around her until she gave up the struggle, and cried with frustration and defeat. Artheena and dad picked her up and carried her, like a giant swaddled baby.
Because she was bondaged, Olzenbeth wouldn’t have been able to get into burrowing position on a grungol’s back, so seeking refuge in the under-village was no longer an option. They were just going to have to have faith that they would make it to the house. Father and daughter linked arms more tightly than before. Artheena carried the lamp in her other arm, and Burjiss’s other arm carried Olzenbeth.
They barely walked a few steps, when a sweltering wind kicked up a thick cloud of debris that rose from the ground and crashed over them, like a dirt tidal wave. They fell backwards onto the teppid stone, coughing and choking.
“Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.”
Final rough draft excerpt from HECCTROSSIPY book 2–Chapter 20, arriving tomorrow🌩