The Origin Of Mount Woe Chapter 4
Masa, Mune, and Doreen
Vigo unwrapped the scarf from around his face as he reached the top of the ridge. Roaring against the wind, he called a halt. Most of the men dropped to a sitting position from where they stood, not caring about the wet snow. Belthasar struggled up the hill toward the king. Flapping in his hands were the tattered remains of their map. "Well Vigo, from what I can tell, we'll reach the location of the Sun stone by nightfall, if we keep moving."
"I certainly hope so, Belthasar. I am incredibly tired of snow and howling wind. I hope the Sun Stone can help us in those respects."
"As do I. To my best estimate, the location is eight miles northeast of here. We'll need to move fast."
Vigo roared into the wind again. "Okay men! We'll be moving out in ten minutes!" There were probably a few groans, but Vigo couldn't hear them. He looked at the grey sky, then the grey-white ground, surveying the men. "Something isn't right." He said quietly. No one had heard him. He quickly studied the scene. Belthasar was walking back toward the men, who were divided into four distinct groups. All the men were there.
Still Vigo couldn't shake his bad feeling. A few minutes later, he realized what it was. All the men were accounted for, yes. Zeal was not there. Vigo ran full tilt back down the hill. "What happened to Zeal?!" The men looked around, startled. Questions circulated around, and soon Vigo learned that no one had seen her for quite some time. "Okay then. I'm leaving Belthasar in charge while I look for her."
"Your majesty!" Belthasar interrupted. He had not called Vigo by his formal title in weeks. Vigo knew he would not like what Belthasar had to say. "I brought a chart of weather patterns from Gaspar when we left. They indicate that there should be a blizzard approaching this ridge early this evening. We'll get buried alive if we stay here!"
Vigo scowled. "It won't take long. I'll just teleport back the way we came at regular intervals until I spot her." He mumbled a few spell words. Absolutely nothing happened. Vigo took a deep breath, and yelled the words out as loud as he could.
"Uh, your majesty..."
"What now, Belthasar?" Vigo asked, finally sure that his magic wasn't going to work.
"All of our magic is being disrupted by the magical energy of the Sun Stone. It will be chancy at best, if it works at all."
Vigo furrowed his brow for a few minutes, deep in thought. Finally, he spoke. "You will all continue on to try to get to the Sun Stone. I will go back the way we came." This announcement was met by protests from nearly everyone. "This is a royal order." He growled. "I don't want to hear another word about it. Hopefully, I will see you all shortly. Goodbye." With that, Vigo turned and ran back the way they had come, following footprints that were already rapidly disappearing in the snow.
A few hours later, Vigo began to get hungry. He took off his pack and rooted around for some ration bars. His stomach sank when he realized that he had eaten all his food at breakfast, and had failed to refill his pack from the main supply carriers. He considered giving up for a few seconds, but he had given a royal order. They would move on, and he could not catch back up to them. Sighing, he sprinted down the trail.
Shortly after, on a particularily difficult section of ground, he found her. Her lips were blue, and her skin was a pale color, but she was still fairly warm. "Okay." Vigo breathed hard. "For your sake, I hope we're far enough away from the Sun Stone for magic to work." Vigo placed one hand on her forehead, and one hand on the sickly ground. He whispered a few words. Again, nothing happened. "Crud! Still too close!" Now he faced a difficult choice. Would he rather live without Zeal, or take the chance of either dying with her or getting her back? With a grim expression on his face, he picked Zeal up and began running farther back toward where they had come from.
Vigo tried a simple fire spell every few seconds, but they all refused to work. After about an hour more of travel, Vigo felt strangely refreshed. He realized it wouldn't last. He was very cold and tired. Plus, he hadn't eaten in a good while, and his lovely burden seemed to grow heavier by the minute. It was his body's final push. A little longer, and they would both be lying in the snow.
Suddenly, Vigo heard an odd roaring noise. Looking up, he tripped over a stone. He landed hard, Zeal rolling away from him. He tried to push himself up, but he just collapsed again. "Damn Sun Stone." He mumbled. "It was supposed to help us..." After trying to get up one more time, he collapsed fully, then fell asleep.
A short distance away, an odd looking piece of machinery came crashing to the ground. A few minutes later, three odd looking figures shakily emerged. The smallest remarked disappointedly, "This is defintely not home."
"Do either of you know what happened to us?" The largest asked.
"Not me. Do you have any clue, Masa?"
"Not much." Masa sighed. "I just recall that something really big brushed the rear of our ship. Then the emergency cryo sleep must have activated." He winced. "And judging from the stiffness, I'd say we were in there for a long time."
The largest one sighed again. "Then we're even further from our goal, unless something on this planet has developed time travel. By the looks of things, we're out of luck."
"Don't be so sure Doreen." Masa told her. "I've seen places worse looking than this harbor geniuses."
Then, the smallest, who had wandered off, yelled excitedly. "Masa! Doreen! Over here!"
"What is it Mune?" Masa asked as he ran.
"Look. I think they're still alive." Mune pointed to where two still figures were lying in the snow. "Maybe we should try to save them."
"Now, Mune." Doreen scolded. "You know we're only supposed to interact with the most intelligent creatures on a planet, by order of the scientific board of directors on Earth."
"Unless we find a time machine, we'll never see the scientific board of directors again. Besides, who says we have to interact? These two are both out cold, literally. Anyway, I think they are the most intelligent species. It looks like they walk on two legs. See, those front limbs are too short to be used for walking, and those look like hands in front. And see," Mune rolled Zeal over onto her back. "This one even has mammary glands, like our early ancestors, the humans."
"Fine, fine!" Doreen said, amused by her brother's enthusiastic argument. "But where do you suggest we take them?"
"That should be fairly obvious." Mune said in a superior tone. "Just look at this snow. You can see the direction they came from. We better take them back the other way."
"What makes you think that?" Masa asked him.
"Listen Masa, I may be small, but I am smart! I leave the fighting to you, so leave the calculations to me!" With that, Mune began to drag Zeal back toward their ship. Masa and Doreen picked Vigo up, and carried him inside.
Later that night, at their camp outside the cave he presumed the Sun Stone to be in, Belthasar faintly heard voices. "Should we make contact?"
"No. We need to survey the planet first. Get an idea of the geography, cities, energy sources, etc."
"No, don't dump them out there! The others may never find them. Bring them closer in. That's better. Now right here, they should- No! You idiot! How are they supposed to breathe lying face down in the snow? Notstrils in the back of their heads? Think Masa!"
Next, Belthasar thought he heard soft footsteps. Then, everyone in the camp was woken up by a deafening roar.
Rushing outside, the men found Vigo and Zeal, lying oddly in the snow. Even though the wind had lessened, the snow was blown all around, as if the wind had blown outward from a central point. Everyone would make guesses about what had happened. None but Belthasar would come close to the truth.
"Never assume that what you see and feel is real!" - Doreen
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