The Beast: Part Three
Ogza, Ugzo, and the Grumblebug huddled together in the doorway that shouldn’t have been there. If you’ve just joined us, they’re about a third of the way up the side of a volcano in the Tyrannian plains, the volcano that is said to be home to “The Beast”. They are just as surprised as you are, to be honest, at the whole situation. Who puts a doorway on the side of a volcano? Why was there a doorway but, seemingly, no real door?
Had “The Beast” had a door put in the side and changed his mind? What kind of “Beast” puts an easy entrance on the side of its evil lair? They hadn’t even vocalised any of these questions, but all of them had a lot of questions about the doorway.
And then came a singing noise, the same tune that Ugzo and the Grumblebug had been humming, and things took a turn. Ogza, in a swift movement, pointed the spear at the slorg who she had only minutes ago helped to the floor, and before that had been carrying across the plains and up the side of the volcano. Her eyes flickered with fear and anger, and her voice positively boomed in the little doorway, “You were working with the Beast ALL ALONG?!”
Ugzo backed up, clinging to the edge of the ledge with his slorgy slime. The Grumblebug, being buffeted about by the wind outside the rocky shelter the doorway provided, did all it could to even stay nearby.
“No, no, no, no, no!” insisted Ugzo. “We want to know what’s in there as much as you! We were humming the tune because it is the tune we heard before, before we got to your home.”
Ogza relaxed a little, but the spear was still definitely pointed at the slorg, and the Grumblebug didn’t feel safe enough to come close. Not yet.
“Why would you sing the same tune as the enemy in the volcano?”
“Who says it’s an enemy? Doesn’t sound particularly scary, singing a little tune in there, maybe even a little off-key. No beast, at least.”
Ogza considered this, and decided the spear could rest on her shoulder once again, which cause Ugzo and the Grumblebug to huddle back in the shelter very promptly.
“So,” Ogza started awkwardly, “what about this doorway? Looks like a door, but I don’t know if that bit of rock looks much like a door at all. Only seems to have a couple of cracks around the edge, anyway. Couldn’t even see the ledge from below, only found it because I climbed right into it!”
“One craaaaaack seems biiiiig eeeeeenough for meee,” squeaked the Grumblebug, inching towards the cracks.
“If I had a better idea, I’d give it now,” said Ugzo, “but unfortunately, I have nothing. It could be dangerous, but probably not moreso than dropping into the volcano from the top. Thinking about it, we really should have planned something else anyway.”
Ogza simply nodded pensively, and pointed her spear hesitantly towards the rock. It would be of no use, of course, as it was a wooden spear with a metal arrowtip, which wouldn’t pierce rock. It’s the thought that counts, though, and the Grumblebug appreciated it as he crept along the rock to the biggest crack he could find. It should still be a squeeze, but if he sucked his tummy in he reckoned he could squeeze through.
Strangely, though, it wasn’t a tight fit at all. In fact, he barely felt any resistance from the rock on his sides. He crawled through upright, gripping the groundrock tightly, until he could start seeing glowing light. He let out an apprehensive little squeak, and something about it sounded strange – it echoed more than you’d expect in such a small space. He didn’t think much of it though until he heard a “whooshing” sound, somewhere above his head. He instinctively went to look up, despite the fact there was no space – and found himself looking at the tip of Ogza’s spear, albeit through what looked like very very thick grey fog.
Ogza, by the sound of the shriek, was also taken by surprise by this. She held her spear in place, and all her and Ugzo could see was the bit she was holding. It seemed to have just disappeared into the rock. There had been some minor resistance which Ogza could feel, but not much at all. As she let go of the spear, it fell to the ground in slow-motion, almost like floating down. All three members of the party stared in awe at the spear, and no one moved for what seemed like whole minutes, but was only, really, about 10 seconds.
“Did you … see that? Do you see that?” Ogza stammered at Ugzo, who was still staring very deliberately at the end of the spear.
Ugzo did not respond. Instead, he slithered slowly closer to the rock, before poking his head THROUGH the rock’s face. Ogza stepped behind him, braced her hands on either side of the doorway, and tested out his actions for herself.
They both found themselves looking through what seemed just like thick grey fog. What had looked like solid rock from the outside, was actually just … fog of some sort? Was the whole volcano filled with this fog?
“Can’t be,” said Ugzo. “Looked flat from the outside. Must be magic.”
Ogza and the Grumblebug had not been thinking the same as Ugzo, but neither was quite sure how to feel about the magical fake barrier. Was it dangerous to be breathing inside it? Both of them quickly decided it wasn’t, and rushed forward. However, Ugzo turned back to look at the “wall” from the inside, and saw it looked just as solid from this side. He couldn’t see the sand being whipped around or the beige of the endless plains, of their little home oasis. He couldn’t see anything but the edge of the fog.
As he turned to join the other two, he came across a similar looking barrier, through which he could see nothing, before he slimed his way through to join them.
They had found themselves on a platform at the edge of the volcano. They couldn’t see much below them due to the heat and smoke stinging their eyes, but one edge of the platform did seem to have stairs which led down, and the other stairs which led up.
“Up or down?” shouted Ogza.
“Might need another lift, the floor is burning my belly!” Ugzo responded.
The Grumblebug looked both ways, and moved towards the downward staircase. His squeaky little noise would not carry over the echoing tune being carried around the volcano, but he thought it was coming from below.
Ogza lifted the slorg, took another leaf from his tusk to chew on, and started down the steps, with the Grumblebug leading the way. The steps were going down, around the outside of the volcano, and they were indeed very warm. They seemed to have been carved out of the stone which made the outside of the volcano, as they were made of stone and not supported by anything other than more rock. The heat was definitely noticeable, but not unbearable, and definitely less than anticipated.
Eventually the stairs stopped, and they were on just a flat stretch of rock. The lava laid out in front of them like a lake, bubbling gently. The most striking thing, at first, was that there appeared to be glistening vegetation here, growing up from the lava and stone itself. Glistening red leaves, orange flowers, and black fruits grew around them.
The next most striking thing was that the singing stopped abruptly. It did not seem to be the end of the song, but it just stopped. The quiet was deafening, and the Grumblebug started to hum the tune nervously and badly.
“Please don’t do that,” grumbled a deep voice. It sounded like it could come from a beast, but only if it was a small beast. “There is no need to make fun of my singing.”
The Grumblebug hid behind the Kyrii, and the slorg just stared at the tree the noise seemed to have come from. “Did that tree just accuse you of making fun of it?” he asked the Grumblebug, quietly.
His voice echoed in the volcano though, and an old, very old, blumaroo bounced out from behind the tree. The bouncing looked difficult and he looked tired.
“I’m not a tree. Why are you mocking me even more?”
Ogza seemed to understand something suddenly, and she started to speak herself.
“Hello, sir. I’m sorry we’ve invaded your home, but I promise my companions weren’t mocking you. The Grumblebug heard the tune before and has been humming it all day, and the slorg just couldn’t see you behind the tree. To be honest, we’re all pretty shocked there are trees and flowers at the base of a volcano. Is that true for all volcanoes?” Her voice shook slightly, and she didn’t know why she’d asked such a strange question, but she thought she’d got the point across.
“No,” said the blumaroo. “I bring the life for the plants with me. I keep them alive, and they keep me company.”
“What is your name?” asked Ugzo, trying to be polite.
The blumaroo sighed. “I don’t have one,” he said. “I’ve never needed one. Other pets just used to call me mean names, and now I don’t see anyone to call me by a name.”
Ugzo shifted awkwardly. “We’ll just call you sigh_, then?”
Ogza looked like she would burst if she didn’t ask her next question, but the blumaroo held up a hand for quiet and spoke himself.
“Why are you here?”
“Great question!” Ogza exclaimed, happy to have an excuse to ask her own. “We came to see what was making the noises in the volcano. Are you “The Beast”?”
The blumaroo sighed again. “No, but pets used to call me a beast when I was younger and I lived in the world. I moved down here and made my own little world.”
“So you don’t frighten pets directed from the wheel of Monotony?”
The blumaroo smiled, a fanged and cruel smile.
“I am not “The Beast”. But I do scare those who are dropped on the top from the wheel. They know to never come back.”
“Because I want to be alone.”
Ogza nodded. She understood, of course, wanting to be alone and be away from the crowds. However, she’d just asked two more creatures to live with her, and she knew she was quite happy to just have a little company.
“Is your fruit edible?” asked the slorg, eyeing it hungrily.
“Yes, it is very edible and has a lot of water in it. You may take some before you leave. How did you get in?”
“There’s a door made of fog.”
“Yes, a little more of my magic. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would find it, though.”
“Well… We did, I guess, but we’ll just get some fruit and be on our way if you don’t mind. Bit warm down here,” said Ugzo, nervously. The blumaroo just looked at him through glazed eyes.
As Ugzo and the Grumblebug collected some fruit, Ogza opened her rucksack and took out some of the fruit they had brought. “This is some fruit from my home, if you’d like some in return. Something a bit different.”
“A bit different, yes,” said the blumaroo, making no movement towards the fruit as Ogza left it in front of him.
Ugzo seemed much more nervous than the other two, possibly because he had to slide around on his belly and it was on rock not far from lava.
“So, sigh_, we know you’re not a beast, and if we promise to not make fun of you, would you like us to visit more in future? We’re practically neighbours,” Ogza said hopefully, although she wasn’t sure why. She just thought there was something lonely about living alone forever.
“You could bring me more fruit,” said the blumaroo. “The black fruit from the fire trees is nice, but some variety is good.”
That seemed about as inviting as he would get, and they made their way up the stairs and through the fog door without discussing what had just happened. They all knew their voices would echo around inside the volcano.
Ogza felt proud of exchanging some friendship fruit, and bringing company to someone who was otherwise alone forever. Ugzo felt kind of the same about Ogza, and the Grumblebug happily ate some of the delicious black fruit as they made their way back home, humming the same tune they could now hear again from the volcano. Ugzo nestled in Ogza’s fur again, and when they got home they all had a nice, relaxing bath in a hot spring up a cliff from the lake.