An Unfortunate Adventure! #freewritemadness: Day Four

It’s Day Four of #freewritemadness!!! 😀

My smiley-face and exclamation marks belie today’s reality. I sat in a stupor for half the day, unable to work out anything. Probably didn’t help it was around 37 degrees (Celsius). I wrote 700 words first thing in the morning, and I didn’t like a single one of them. I mean, it’s NaNoWriMo, I don’t have to like the words, I just need to get them out. But these were words I specifically didn’t think worthy of being in the story at all, and since I’m technically publishing it in all of its rough glory right now… well.

No-one wants to read about a depressed 25yr old sulking because she can’t use her phone and her life isn’t worth living. And it was bringing me down too. Damn you, Katéa! I wanted this to be semi-realistic and we all know how devastated the stereotypical millennial would be, but I’ve since decided that Katéa is stronger than that. Reality be damned. Let’s just say the pixie dust has done something to her. Yeah.

So, at lunchtime, I scrapped everything I had done today and restarted with humour in mind. Once again with a few ideas I came up with in October. Well, at least I know my week of in-advance-brainstorming worked. I never did come up with a plot, but I did scribble down a few funny things that will probably be exhausted by week’s end. Funny to me anyway. I have an odd sense of humour. I’m in my 30’s and still laugh at flatulence, so, you know.

ANYWAY! I’m rabbiting on, as usual. There was no prompt today, so I scoured the list of previous prompts and found – dragon breath – I thought that was fitting considering what was said in yesterday’s chapter, and, voila!

Today’s wordcount: 1942
Total wordcount: 8049

 

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CHAPTER FOUR

 

The black, lifeless screen of Katéa’s phone reflected her glare as she pressed the power button for the fifty thousandth time. Nothing happened. Useless fucking thing. The faint hint of roast chicken wafted in through a yet unexplored door, accompanied by the rowdy laughter and boisterous voices that always lingered in a never-ending cacophony. Her stomach heaved with hunger, but she ignored it. If the mead and accompanying pixie dust had given her a high to rival any back-alley drug, what the hell would the food do? Maybe it had just been the dust, but she didn’t want to take the chance. There’d be goddamned goblins running around next.

Tentative footsteps sidled up beside her and Nessie appeared, offering a shiny red apple. “I thought you might like something to eat, and… I’m sorry. You never told us your name.”

Katéa shook her head at the fruit and pressed the power button one more time —nothing.

“It’s Katéa.”

“Kat-aye-uh,” the elf slowly pronounced, before nodding at the phone clenched in her hand. “And what’s that… thing you keep staring at?”

“Useless, that’s what it is.” She pressed the button again and yelled, “Fuck!” and heaved it into the fireplace. “Fucking piece of shit.”

Oh no! What had she done? She frantically grabbed for the fire-poker and tried to extricate the phone from the burning flames, but it was too late; a melted mess of black and silver oozed across the wooden logs before fading away into nothing. Surely that was impossible. Could it really just vanish as instantly as… that? She fell back onto the cushioned rocking-chair and buried her head in her hands. That thing was her life; it had everything on it! Memories, photos, little videos, messages she had saved over the years, everything had been transferred to each new device whenever she upgraded, and now… she had nothing. There was only herself and her mind. She shuddered. This was just awful; she was the worst of company.

The elf cleared her throat, clearly worried by Katéa’s actions, and said, “The dust must still be affecting you… oh, I know! Let’s go out into the gardens. Some fresh air will help.”

“But, it’s night-time! Aren’t there spiders out there?” She paused, glancing over at the giant wombat head on the wall, it’s gaping mouth wide enough to fit her own head inside. Spiders might actually be the least of her worries. “Or perhaps other dangerous creatures? Lurking in the night shadows?”

Nessie grabbed Katéa’s arm and hoisted her up with an unseemly strength, surprising for a petite woman near half her height. “Not in my gardens,” she paused. “Not now, I mean.”

“Not now?”

“Well, see, there was a spider in there a few years ago,” she smiled. “But he’s gone now.” She placed a hand over her heart and bowed her head, her leaf-like ears trembling. “May he stay gone.”

“You didn’t just kill it?”

The elf leapt back, a clear horror spreading over her face. “My goodness, no! He’s a beast of many, many years. I would not decide his fate.”

Katéa furrowed her brow, opened her mouth, and closed it again as she instead nodded. Nessie was an elf and probably had some form of unspoken nature code written in her blood and mind. At least, that’s what all the fairy-tales seemed to insinuate. The elf motioned for her to enter the door opposite the tavern, and she stared at the unexpected corridor that lay before them: a well-lit tunnel with a hundred doors on either side that seemed to stretch on into eternity.

“Okay, how the actual hell does this even fit in a tiny, little cabin?”

“Not all is ever as it appears, miss. Surely you know that.” Draven was at her back, dragging a giant bushpig at least twelve feet in length behind him. Its mouth hung open and a tongue twice the size of the beast’s head protruded, covered in a green, gelatinous substance. Gross. She suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore. “Hey, Gruesome! Here’s your feed!”

“Yer coins are in Tweetie’s tits!”

Draven grimaced and shouted back in a voice that belied his evident distaste, “That right, eh? I’m sure you can dive in and fish ‘em out for me.”

Hearty laughter rose up alongside a mass of cheerful table thumps and she winced as Grissom appeared at the tavern door and dragged the boar inside, leaving behind a trail of blood and filth as Draven followed behind. Nessie tapped her shoulder and exclaimed, “This wa-ay!” in a childlike sing-song voice, and motioned towards the second door on the right of the corridor.

They stepped out into a paradise that would give the city botanical gardens a run for their money. Small glowing torchbugs flittered here and there, their lights brightening a small pond and accentuating two elf-like statues that stood either side of the aqua water, their heads bowed and hands on their hearts in a similar manner to how Nessie had performed back in the parlour when questioned about the spider. Green vines dotted with flowers shaped as snowflakes were wrapped around each statue, entwining themselves delicately along each arm and leg, and the area was bordered by large ferns with leaves as wide as she was tall, each leaf lined with a bright purple frill that shone beneath the full moon. Clusters of twisted, colourful trees grew into one another as a tangled web on all corners of the garden, each one a bizarre colour that held no place in the natural world she had once known, and criss-crossed from branch to branch were a thousand tiny lanterns, small enough to be held by the little pixie creatures, dangling from illuminated strings.

Nessie waved her arm in a wide gesture over the gardens and softly said, “If this doesn’t clear your head and your heart, I-I… well, I honestly don’t know how else I can help. Maybe Draven will have some ideas, he’s a clever young man.” She gently pushed aside a small grouping of white snowflake flowers and sat down on a small wooden bench that had been concealed. “The gardens helped Quint, though.”

There was that name again. Katéa entered the gardens and lightly sat beside the tiny elf, hoping her weight wouldn’t break the seat clearly designed for a more petite frame.

“Who is this Quint you keep talking about?”

“Oh, he stumbled into Glouweln much like you did. He flung some coloured paper at Grissom and demanded, ‘the house special!’, in a proud and noble voice,” Nessie giggled. “Grizzy tore them in half and told him that…,” she coughed discreetly, “Well, I won’t repeat his words. But Quint’s face went as white as those ice lilies and he fainted right there at the bar.”

“Did he, uh, say anything about,” Katéa moistened her lips. “Um, following some strange lights in the bush.”

“That he did, actually! I knew this was just the same!” Nessie gushed, “Oh, you’ll like him. He’s absolutely wonderful! He frequents the tavern every once in a while, and he’s the kindest man, not like most of you humans,” her hands flew to her mouth. “Oh, I am sorry! I do not mean to cause any offence, and you seem nice also…”

Katéah snorted, “Nice.” Standing up, she peered into the pond, near expecting to see her reflection staring back at her. Instead, the water was perfectly clear, boasting a thousand glittering crystal spears at the bottom, and tiny silver-coloured fish weaved and webbed around each of them. There was movement to the left, just on the edge of her peripheral vision, and she backed away as two gleaming golden eyes came into focus and stared out at her.

“Nessie… there are eyes watching us.”

“Oh, no doubt; the dragons are always keeping an eye on things.”

She froze. “Dragons? So, uh, T’rese isn’t crazy?”

“Don’t be scared! They are our great protectors.”

“What on earth do you need protecting from that you have domesticated fire-breathing dragons?”

Nessie sighed and stood up from the bench, moving back towards the door. “I have lived a long time, Miss Katéa. But, it was only twenty years ago a witch spread a curse that blackened our vibrant forests and poisoned our lands. It took us years, even with the help of the dragons, to eradicate her dark presence. Unfortunately, the wisps of dragon breath awoke an ancient spider who lived in the caves below these gardens. The one I mentioned before. It was with great effort I at last convinced him to leave. I do not wish harm on any creatures, no matter how many eyes or legs they wear,” she glanced at Katéa and bowed her head, once more performing her hand-to-heart gesture. “Nor do I wish harm on those who are two-legged, arrogant, and have a penchant for slaughtering my people simply because our emerald eyes and well-shaped ears make for fine jewellery.” She opened the door. “Please, enjoy the gardens. Allow them to bring you peace,” and swiftly exited, leaving Katéa alone with the dragon’s golden eyes still fixed on her.

Had she been offensive? She didn’t think that she had, but who knew when dealing with a strange people in an unknown land. It was bad enough trying to engage with other cultures back home. No-one except her own countrymen understood the tendency to turn everything —no matter how tasteless— into a joke, or the habitual sarcasm that she had been born with and wore like a badge of honour, and then there was the urge to swear every two seconds… it was a right pain in the arse and now she was going to have to deal with it every day for the rest of her life. Unless, of course, she could return, but that now seemed doubtful with that Quint person still here. Though the elf seemed enamoured with the guy, Draven was less than impressed when Nessie had originally brought him up. Why was that?

Katéa sighed. Guess she’d find out sooner or later. It was all so strange, and to think that this entire fiasco happened merely because she wanted to impress the world. Deep desires led to deeper downfalls. The lights of legend sure showed her.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuurp.

She whipped around, stunned to see two tendrils of smoke wafting out from where the eyes had been, wafting and weaving towards her. Did that fucking dragon just burp? Oh, sorry; that was crude. She meant, did that dragon just expel some gas? The smoke tickled her nose and she groaned. That was some dragon breath! It smelt as horrid as Gruesome Grissom’s stench-ridden wheezes. A black shadow thrice the size of her old apartment block rose up into the air and blocked the moonlight, its heavy wings beating in deafening bursts that released violent gusts of wind over the gardens and pushed her deep into the purple ferns.

The fumes infiltrated her nostrils and permeated her body, and she spluttered and coughed, her arms flailing futilely through the winds. What the fuck was that dragon’s problem? It knew she was there! What the hell was it doing to her? The ground softened beneath her feet, almost as though she were treading on a sponge, and then crumbled beneath her weight. It was as a children’s slide beneath her feet as she slipped and slid down the soft dirt, thrashing about like an unlearned surfer before stumbling free and rolling face-down onto cold, wet stone.

“Well, fuck.”

 

(An Unfortunate Adventure header made by me! Courtesy of an image from Pixabay, and images from Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Johny Goerend, Alan Labisch, Erol Ahmed on Unsplash!)