Eight Turns of the Wheel

Forums Yurara Fameliki’s Stories Eight Turns of the Wheel

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  • #123
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    A Cave Story Reborn Of Eggs and Dancing Stars, With Shores of New Beginnings, Many Ongoings and Very Few Endings.

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  • #4592
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    (…)

    As Albie was staring at her, she quickly put away her dive tool and went back into the room. And so, she had to decide what to do with her new cat companion, who now had a strange personality and was very curious about her surroundings. Her room was very neat and not really crowded, but if she wasn’t careful a dog could find her and bite her. She also had her trusty flashlight and had her back window open to avoid being disturbed while she went swimming in the water.

    #4598
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Following the Cat inside the underground streams, Albie emerged in a large pond in the middle of a swamp.
    The Cat shook himself off the water, and slid off the scuba diving suit. He picked a pair of bright yellow gum boots hidden behind a jumble of crawling vines, and put the scuba diving suit and the little pouch full of pearls inside a bundle.
    Only then did he seem to notice the young out-of-breath boy gaping at the scene.

    “Are you coming or what?” meowed the Cat authoritatively. “I ain’t got all night. And she sure won’t like waiting.”

    The Cat then drew a magical symbol in the mud with his baton, spat a hairball in offering, and scratching the boy’s arm, drew a few drops of blood.

    A swirling portal opened in the bayou, leading to the abode of She, Mistress of the Cat Who Swims Underwater.

    With a kick of the Cat’s yellow boots in his bum, the boy went flying in, followed by the tittering Cat.

    #4600
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    (…)

    The pigeons dove from the thirtieth floor’s balcony in an attempt to mimic the planes it had seen above, or maybe in an attempt to mimic the ultrabright advertisement that its mother’s mother had seen long ago. It had left an unalterable trace in that lineage’s DNA.

    The pigeon that had seen at least one plane had been a pigeon, but when the pigeons dove and created a ripple, they didn’t leave a trace like the pigeons that had witnessed only the distant planes.

    In the air, they were flying against the wind, while on ground they were falling along a riverbank.

    “I guess they didn’t hear a loud noise because when they stopped for some distance they stopped and looked up, and what they saw looked as if they had died.”

    In the future, those pigeons, who could remember the names of the buildings they had seen during the war, could join together and explore another world and its inhabitants were not like them.

    On one of the banks of the river, a lone pigeon watched them from afar, and she looked at them with the calm of a mother on her child while saying,

    “Please tell me something. If they are so brave, then tell me anything.”

    She didn’t say any of the usual questions from a child, but she knew the answers in her

    #4601
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Mandrake love of chasing pigeons almost got the best of him, but he managed to keep on track in the whirlportal that opened doors within places.

    The Cat had gone for errands to the Doline, the only place that the Voodoo witch’s portals couldn’t reach. Only the underground streams led to it, as some sort of enchantment protected it and kept it hidden.

    The swamps of the bayou were well connected to such otherworldly places, but it still took him much more time to get there than he’d wanted. The pearls from the Doline were the price for a tracking spell that the Voodoo witch he was going to had promised him so he could find Arona.

    #4603
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Leörmn was hiding tranquil at the bottom of a watery hollow deep inside the Doline.
    His sleep was stirred slightly when Mandrake had swum past him, without noticing the large pale water dragon lying at the bottom.
    Mandrake didn’t know, but the pearls he’d found were excretions of the dragon who had a hard time digesting the mistletoe’s fruits that dropped in the pond from the large oak trees hanging over inside the Doline; the seeds were coated in magical dragon mucus, that dried and crystallized, giving the pearls… interesting properties.

    #4607
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The Voodoo witch’s lair was surprisingly well furnished, nestled underground, accessed through a staircase hidden beneath the bema of a derelict church.

    The decor wouldn’t have been to Arona’s tastes, Mandrake thought, but he wasn’t one to judge human likes. There were baroque displays of gaudy drapes, golden chains hanging from the walls, shrines dripping in red ointments with grotesque painted figures, and the usual paraphernalia one would expect in a Voodoo Witch’s lair. To a cat’s eye, all looked actually quite comfy.

    The setting had made an impression on the boy, and Albie was standing like a statue mesmerized by the shadows on the walls cast by the waving candles’ flames.

    “Have you brought ‘em my boy?” the rich voice of the priestess asked from the cabriolet armchair arranged under an extravagant canopy.

    Mandrake pushed the boy aside, and dangled the bag of pearls in front of her.
    “They’re yours as soon as you fulfill your end of our deal.”

    #4608
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “That’s three pearls you gave her, for very little information in return” Albie said to the cat once they were out of the lair. “Seriously, the bag lady gave me chills even in that hot damp weather.”

    “Don’t insult the Voodoo witch, boy” the cat meowed, it’s not safe while the vines are listening. “And her piece of information combined with the tracking spell recipe was valuable enough… once we get closer to her location.”

    “Who is this Arona by the way, that you are willing to give the witch precious pearls and your claws for her?”

    “She’d been many things, boy. An Enchantress, an Adventuress, a Master of the Arts,… and most of all, a good friend.”

    “You suspect she’s in trouble, don’t you?”

    The cat looked at the boy and squinted its eyes. “You are sharper than you let on. Now come on, we have some way to go, and with only a few pearls I managed to keep, we’ll be running out of portals before you know it.”

    #4609
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    While doing circles and cooling down at the bottom of the Doline’s pool, Leörmn in his white sea dragon form felt a rush in the probability streams, and pockets of dimensions long closed slowly re-opening.

    #4612
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Albie looked at the cat with a puzzled look. “What did the Witch mean when she said Arona was hiding in yarn from the past?”

    Mandrake yawned and moved his paw swiftly on his left ear. “You haven’t paid close attention to the rhyme, have you?”

    Deep in the maze of threads of past
    She hides and fails to cast
    A spell to help her float and ghast
    Moribund characters trapped there last

    Albie found the roaring voice of the black cat smooth like a roll of pebbles in a cataract, and felt mesmerized by the words so much he couldn’t focus his attention.

    “Sounds like she’s trying to help ghosts or something?”

    Mandrake shrugged “… or something.”

    He took one of the few pearls left, and started to work a vortex to go where it began. His earliest memory of her. Something to do with that cunning and crafty dragon… Clues were hiding in that moment he was sure. At the very least, the dragon would help power back the sabulmantium for the tracking spell…

    #4629
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Leörmn smiled a long smile.

    “What? Are you going to look at me stupidly and wait to say some mysterious nonsense? We haven’t got time for that.” Mandrake was clearly not impressed by the large scaleless pale dragon, with the green frills around the crest, reclining on the side of the pool, and still looking a few heads taller than him and Albie combined.

    “Of course not. Let me charge that for you.” With one flick of his long fingers, the dragon zapped the sabulmantium that was in the magical carry-all-you-can pouch the cat had at his belt.

    “Oh WAIT! Damn it, you ol’ reptile, you mind where you aim!” The zapping had gone a little too close.

    Leörmn smiled again, “Now, you wanted to know were she hides.” His smile disappeared. “I’m afraid there isn’t much I can do, she seems hidden from me too. But there is a chance. I’ve picked up her energy signature not so long ago. She’s in a different dimension, but never long at one place. For some reason, it’s like she’s entangled herself with other lives and get lost at times.”

    “Can you lead me to the place?”

    “Place & time, my friend. Yes, I believe I can. The Doline underground water tunnels can lead you to many places and times. I’ve drawn a path for you. Just take your scuba, and follow the glukenitch lights at the bottom.”

    Albie looked amazed and excited at the opportunity.

    The cat grunted in his whiskers “Don’t get excited lad. What he means is glukenitch poos.”

    #4637
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Before Mandrake jumped in the cold stream, he heard the dragon say “There, she’s here again. I can feel a steady pulse, at least once a day!”

    “Quantity over audacity… Pray she keeps the pace and we’ll get this over quick” Mandrake handed the nearly empty bottle of Nhum to Albie who was fitted with a spare scuba diving gear, ready to take on a journey to find in which story Arona was… pulsing.

    #4652
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Despite the underground currents, following the trail of blue glow from the glukenitches’ droppings was easy; far less subtle than old fashioned glow worms starmap reading…
    Mandrake was alerted to a sudden drop when the trail started to disappear abruptly, indicating the strong possibility of a chute of some kind.
    He only managed to catch Albie’s pants before he fell right in, and pulled both of them back to the shore. He had to be sure.

    “Good thing, that slimey dragon managed to power back the sabulmantium, we may get a hint of where we’re headed to.”
    “There’s no other way than the waterfall, is there Mr Mandrake?”
    “Shht. Let me concentrate, this thing is sensitive.”

    Under the paws of the cat, the sand inside the clear sphere started to move in shapes and describe a living story.

    “Mmm. Seems he wasn’t joking, never seen this thing behave so strangely before.”
    “What is this?”
    “It looks like something that I have seen a long time ago, but that wasn’t in this dimension… I guess we won’t know for sure until we get there. Ready boy for the dive of your life?”

    Albie didn’t have time to answer, as the cat wasn’t waiting for him.

    :fleuron2:
    :fleuron2:
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    :fleuron2:

    The fall seemed to last forever. But then a light appeared, and they started to float up, up, up.

    When they emerged, they were clearly out of swamp waters. Salty water was all they could see for miles around.

    “A blessing you had an inflatable zodiac in your purse, Sir.” the boy said to the cat once they were up on the boat, waiting for a sign as to where next.

    “Whales! Whales!” the boy shouted excitedly, pointing to the shapes moving under their boat.

    “Ah, finally, someone with some wits about that can tell us some valuable information.”
    It didn’t take long to Mandrake to grab the attention of one of the belugas and engage the conversation; it didn’t seem particularly long to Albie, but it seemed like a lot was exchanged.

    “We’re on the Gold Coast of Australia” Mandrake said. “That dimension is a bit tricky for my species, humans here take us for lazy playthings and don’t really understand us, so I may have to rely on you for some of the talking, boy.”
    “For sure, Mr Mandrake. Did you get any news as to where Ms Arona might be?”
    “Might be. That whale started to babble thing about granola cookies and dolls. I have no idea what she meant, she might have been popped in by some alien force. Luckily whales are used to manage multiple personalities well, so I managed to get the rest of the navigational hints once she got her channels back in order.”
    “So where to now?”
    “Starboard, son, starboard!”

    #4656
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “What’s that?” shouted Albie, pointing to a small blemish on the clear blue sky. “It’s getting bigger!”

    “Goodness me, I do believe it is a hot air balloon. And it is falling our way. Quickly, Boy, we must make preparations or our inflatable zodiac will be deluged. I bought it from Mr Jiboriums’s emporium, so it isn’t the best quality but it was a very fair price.”

    “Yes! preparations!” said Albie.

    He looked around uncertainly. “What preparations did you have in mind?”

    “At this point in proceedings, I suggest we put on these inflatable life jackets, also a bargain from Mr Jiboriums’s emporium, and prepare to tally ho!”

    “Look, it is slowing down!”

    “Thank the Felines for that! Water is not really my forte,” said Mandrake.

    When the balloon was only meters away, a small person could be seen on board, excitedly waving a tea towel in the air.

    “Do you think they are in trouble?” asked Albie.

    Mandrake! Mandrake! It’s me!”

    “They know you! How do they know you?”

    “Give me a moment, boy,” said Mandrake, hiding his face behind a paw and making loud sniffing noises. “I just need a moment … “

    Mandrake, it’s me, Arona!” shouted the person. “But I don’t know how to get out of this thing.”

    #4657
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Fortunately, Mandrake had a rope ladder which, with the assistance of a small remote control pigeon, he was able to throw to Arona.

    “Cool pigeon,” said Arona when she was safely onboard and appropriate introductions had been made. “Mr Jiboriums’s Emporium?”

    “Indeed! it really is a wonderful place,” said Mandrake. “Now, stop all that fussing, you will mess up my whiskers.”

    “I can’t help it. I am so pleased to see you, you cuddly old grump,” said Arona, ruffling Mandrakes head again. “Are those grey hairs I see?”

    Mandrake snuffled and slapped her hand away with a paw.

    “Do you care to stop all that nonsense and tell us what you are doing floating around in a hot air balloon?’

    Arona rolled her eyes. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a key.

    “I am looking for the doll which goes with this key,” she said.

    #4658
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Don’t look at me,” said Sanso. Everyone turned to look at him.

    #4659
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Except for Arona.

    Arona rolled her eyes.

    “He’s stalking me,” she hissed to the others. “And going on about having to meet his quota before the meeting. I really think he has lost it this time.”

    #4661
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    A small gecko head showed up from Arona’s hood. It seemed to shout loudly, but to Mandrake it sounded just like the compelling sound of a mouse. His instinct were stronger and he stretched his paw to catch it, but Arona was quicker.
    “Don’t think of it. Ugo the gecko helped me get out of that labyrinthine doline the other day. I don’t quite understand what he says, but I think he’s a bit jealous when I cuddle people… or cats.”

    #4677
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    There were strong wind currents when they passed above land, drafts of warm air competing with each other, and it took some skill to land the Jiborium Air Express without any damage.

    Albie was impressed as he observed Arona swinging between cordages, pushing the levers for added hot air, or throwing away some ballast to adjust their elevation.

    “It’s incredible the distance we can travel without refueling,” he mused aloud. As if Australia’s coasts weren’t huge enough, their travel inland seemed to have stretched for days. Sanso had been seasick most of the time, and at first Arona thought his retching was just emotion sickness, but it was only motion after all.

    “The secret is in the lard, boy. It burns longer.” Sanso said, before reaching for a bucket.
    He resumed. “Arona could have taken a Zeppelin you know, the Emporium always used to have few spares, they’re so much more comfortable, and still quite affordable.”

    “Guess your comfort wasn’t the priority, nor were you expected, were you?” Mandrake was in a somber mood, well, somberer than usual.
    “Mmh, someone’s sprightly today! Guess it doesn’t have anything to do with Ugo the gecko, does it?”

    The bickering continued a while longer after all the landing was done, and the balloon was folded back in a neat package.

    Mandrake! are you coming, or do you prefer to argument to death under the sun?”
    “Of course I’m coming.” The cat stretched and jumped on his feet, with Albie in tow.

    “Before we venture further in Mutitjulu land, we’ll need to seek permission from the local shaman.” Arona said.
    Noticing the boy, she asked “Aren’t your parents going to be concerned, you seem a little far from home!”

    “We can still send them a postcard?” he answered tentatively. “It’ll be like a quest, a rite of passage for me. After that, I’ll be a man in my village!”

    “Well, when you have had enough, let me know. I think most bodies of water are connected to the Doline, I can just send a magical trace with the last pearls to guide you home.”

    “That is kind and generous, Milady. Thank you.”

    “So what is our quest?” Sanso seemed to creep out of the shadows where he was lurking.

    “I don’t know about you Sir,” Albie jumped, “but mine is clear now. I am at Milady’s… and Milord’s (he added for Mandrake) service.”

    “Well, that won’t surely get us run in circles now.” Mandrake sniggered. He turned to Arona who was already ready to trek in the rocks and sand. “What about you? Has your quest anything to do with that key you got?”

    #4694
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    But Arona wasn’t quite ready to trek. On a pretense of tying her boot laces, she was trying to conceal laughter.
    “What’s that, Milord?” she snorted, “What is this quest of which you speak?”
    Mandrake’s tail shuddered in annoyance.
    “Do grow up, Arona!” said Mandrake. “We have only a few days and precious little progress has been made.”
    “I thought we had made excellent progress,” said Arona, deflated. “I mean, I found you, didn’t I?”
    “Well, technically it was me who found him,” said Sanso, puffing his chest out proudly. “Oh yes, you didn’t know that, did you! I was exerting my influence on the moon and the stars to guide us in the right direction.”
    “My word,” said Mandrake and Arona grimaced at him. “See what I mean!” she hissed.
    “The quest,” said Sanso, “is quite simple. We have a key and we need to find the door which it opens. And I suggest we make haste to the flying fish Inn where we will find said door.”

    #4699
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Albie was hurt by Arona’s mockery, but tried to put a brave face. Derailing of the quest was expected, and he had to prove his bravery.
    He had started to realize people outside the Doline had a different way of speaking —very vulgar, his Ma, Freda would say; and they weren’t even nobility, so he couldn’t know for sure what was proper or not. Maybe it was all make believe. In any case, he found the new style rather daring… and exciting.

    He had spotted a large sign with a tourist map on it, and ran to check it while Arona and Sanso were engaged in jubilant jousts of jest.

    When he came back, he had to raise his voice to be heard.

    HRRMEMN! Mil… I mean… Friends! Arona is right, it’s going to be a long trek, and the road doesn’t get any better than this.” He pointed at the lone road in the middle of the sandy reddish expanse traveled by deceptive winds.
    “How long?” Sanso asked apprehensively.
    “By my count, maybe 7 days of walk due East of the place, and that’s if we keep walking during most of the day.”
    “Don’t be daft, boy!” Mandrake interjected. “It’s not like Arona not to have a plan.”
    The following silence was astounding, so he added, his meowing voice thinning as he spoke… “like an e-scooter from Jiborium Emporium? maybe?”

    Sensing the growing doubts, Arona spake. “Milords, do not despair.” Then she burst into a hooting laughter.
    “You are enjoying this, don’t you?” Mandrake said, miffed at her debonair.

    “You’ve become all so strung up now, haven’t you?”
    “Well, it’s not like it’s the friendliest place on Earth, is it? I think I spotted 3 scorpions and one fat brown viper not moments ago, and they didn’t look all too happy with their new neighbours.”
    “…”
    “Us!”
    “Ah, but I told you, we need to go to the local shaman for protection and safe passage first. There at her camp, we’ll get a rental jeep with a GPS. From there, to reach the Inn, it shouldn’t take us more than 10h… and 21min drive. Más o menos, amigos.

    She winked at Albie “is it enough a plan for you, young man?”.

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