We still had a way to walk, but there was no sign of life between us and the mountain which I wasn’t sure was a good sign or a bad one. But when we finally reached the mountain, I realized just how much more we had to climb. The others didn’t hesitate to start to climb so neither did I, but when we were less than a quarter of the way up I was unable to keep going. “I need a break. I need to rest.”
Tug glared angrily at me and the Sharkwoman looked annoyed. Werz, however, said, “We might as well stop. We’re not going to make it to the peak without stopping anyway. Might as well do it now.”
“Speak for yourself,” the Sharkwoman said. “I could easily make it without a stop.”
“Me too,” Tug said
“Then go,” Werz told them “Go without us”
“Fine. Stay behind, Shadoweater. We’ll do the work. If you catch up in time, we’ll even let you reap some of the rewards. Come on, Gruesser,” Tug said, moving on. After a few seconds, he paused when he noticed the Sharkwoman wasn’t following. “Are you coming?”
The Sharkwoman looked at me. She almost looked concerned, but she eventually turned away and joined Tug, leaving us behind. “You can go on ahead, too,” I told Werz. “I can catch up.”
The Shadoweater shook his head. “I need the rest, too. It’s foolish to face such a beast as the Tarrgair when you’re not at full health.”
“You know about the beast?”
“I know some. I know he is mighty. I know he is strong. I know he is to be feared. I know very few have seen him and lived.”
“Do you know anything else about it? Like anything about its horn?”
“I know the horn is supposed to hold great power. I know that it is said that were someone to have the horn they would have enough power to reshape the universe.”
I didn’t know how much to believe him. That seemed unlikely, but in this dimension anything seemed to be possible. “That’s a lot of power.”
Werz shrugged. “It may not be true. There are many things this is said of, very few of them are true..”
“But some are?”
“So then is this something we want to be giving the Wizard?”
“You think we have reason to fear him?” Werz said.
“I don’t know him.”
“They say the Wizard is wise and kind.”
Werz shrugged. “I know he can cure me and if doing this gets that done, then so be it.”
“You’d doom your world just to be cured?”
“You need to go home and the Gruesser needs her mate. Are these not worth the risk?”
“I don’t know. There has to be another way to get…” I closed my mouth as the mountain began to shake. “What is that?”
Werz looked up toward the mountain peak. “I fear they have awoken the beast.”
“Woken it?” I asked, looking upward toward the peak still very far away. “And we can feel that all the way down here?”
“Apparently so.” Werz rose to his feet. “I supposed our rest time is over.”
“We’re going to catch up to them, are we?”
“The Beast has awoken. What else is there to do?”
“You mean besides run away?”
“You would abandon our companions?” Werz asked, aghast.
“You mean like they abandoned us?” I replied, before adding, “No. I wouldn’t.”
“Then we must go, quickly,” he said before another quake shook the mountain. We tried to continue up but the mountain would not stop shaking. It was making it impossible to climb. It was pretty hard just to keep from falling off all together.
“What could be causing this?” I asked.
“They must be fighting.”
“If their fighting is causing this, then we’re probably already too late.”
“We must press on!” Werz said as he tried to keep climbing.
I did my best to follow, but the mountain wasn’t cooperating. Then there was something that sounded like an explosion off to my left. I turned my head and saw a massive landslide. But the rocks falling lost my interest when I saw an enormous furry hand emerge from the mountain. “Uh, just how big is this beast anyway?”
And then another hand smashed from the mountainside beneath us! I glanced behind me and saw that there were two on the other side as well! And the mountain wasn’t done shaking. But I saw it was no quake, it was the Beast breaking out. “We need to get off this mountain,” I screamed.
“Our comrades, if they’re smart, will be doing the exact same thing.” And without waiting any longer, I jumped off.
I spread my arms and was greatly relieved when the weatherwing cloth caught and I began to float. I looked back at the sound of a massive rockslide and saw that Werz had joined me. The two of us were now soaring away from the mountain. I feared for the Sharkwoman and Tug as the mountain continued to crumble. But that fear was quickly replaced by a greater fear, by a fear of what was beneath the mountain, of what was emerging from it.
The four massive arms swung angrily pushing the devastated mountain away clearing the way for the creature’s face and its many teeth and eyes. I couldn’t believe the size of the thing! From the Groklok to the Miboaq, I had seen monstrous creatures, but this one was so much larger. It dwarfed them. It dwarfed every other object I had ever seen before. I shuddered in fear at its great size.
And then it stood up.
to be continued…