A Whole New World – Chapter 3 – Marbas
We really should be on our way soon. The others are waiting for you. But first, there are things I must tell you. Warnings you MUST take to heart. As you were told, its beautiful here, but not always friendly…
Warnings? Such as? Before I have a chance to ask her, Millie stands, stretches her sleek black body, and steps down off my chest. I sit up to watch her as she wanders over to the nearest massive tree trunk. She walks around it slowly, her tail raised high, swishing back and forth behind her. She finds a mossy spot on one huge tree root protruding from the ground, and begins sharpening her claws. They look too long and sharp to be just mere cat claws, I think to myself, but shrug it off. “Tell me more about these warnings you spoke of, please?” She climbs to the lowest limb in the tree, and finds herself a spot to lay down. I lay back on the riverbank, hands folded behind my head, so that I can comfortably look up at her. She begins.
First and most importantly, the Crimson rose you were so enamored with. As I told you. Almost everything is beautiful here. But many things here are not what they seem. And there are some very ugly, mean, nasty things here. Some can and will hurt you. For example. The prick of a thorn from that rose will not harm you. It will, however, send you back to the land you come from, if your blood is allowed to touch the ground. If this happens, there will be no way for you to return here. Now that you know, you must decide. Do you wish to stay, and find your true family? Or do you wish to return to your home? The choice is yours.
I think a moment about what she has just said. Back home. To stress. To cold weather. To trying to please everyone all the time. To never having enough money. To always listening to someone bitch and moan about something. To all the reasons I wanted to leave there in the first place. Its warm here. And peaceful, quiet. And oh so beautiful. And my family is here. My fantastic Grue family. All I have wanted for so long is to be near them. My choice is already made. “What do you mean, return to my home? I am home!”
Good. I was hoping you would say that. I’m so happy you are finally here. Yes, I am a cat, but quite obviously I am something more as well. I desire and need companionship, not from just anyone, but from The One.
From birth I am meant only for one. I am what is called a Familiar, created to accompany only a certain someone on their journey, to be their life-long companion. Their guardian. Friend. Whatever they need. You are The One. I was given only so much time to find you. If you had not arrived when you did, I would’ve simply ceased to exist. I had very little time left when you arrived. I was already feeling weak, like I was fading away. The moment you arrived in this world, I felt my strength begin to return. Now, I feel stronger, better than ever.
I had turned to watch the crimson flow behind me, but I turned back to her when she said this. “Well. I guess its a good thing I got here when I did,” I said, and patted the ground beside me. She climbed down from her perch in the giant tree, and came to me. She brushed against my side, and purred like a motor as I scratched between her ears.
Now that your decision is made, we really must begin our journey. Your family is waiting for you. I will tell you much more on the way.
We both go to the edge of the river to drink, then make our way back to the Path. It is clear, easy to travel.
I hear a crash in the bushes, and jump a little. Just a….squirrel. Do they even have squirrels here? I think to myself, and if so, do they talk too? I snicker a little, and Millie turns to look up at me.
I feel totally comfortable with her, like I’ve known her always, so even though I’m a little embarrassed by my thought, I ask her, “Are there squirrels here? And other animals? Ones like back home? Or are there OTHER creatures here? And do they talk also?” Ok, now that its out, it sounds totally stupid, and I am not surprised to hear Millie laughing, although its an odd sound to me. Its more of a strange combination of a meow and a laugh. I look down and she is rolling on the ground in her fit of strange laughter. “Ok ok its not THAT funny,” and I reach down and scratch her belly.
Hey! That tickles!!
She jumps up and begins up the Path.
Yes. Yes. And yes. We have some animals here the same as you are used to back home. Squirrels, dogs, cats, birds, among others. But there are also other creatures here. Some friendly, some not. Some of them talk, some do not. Come. We should get moving. We must reach The Cave before dark.
She begins walking faster. “Ok. I’ll bite. What Cave. And why must we get there by dark?”
The Cave is the only shelter between here and our destination. We must reach it, and take refuge inside for the night. There are creatures out at night we’re best to avoid. Some wish to feed, others merely to play, torture, tear something apart. We want no.part of either. Besides, you wouldn’t want to wander off the Path in the darkness and into one of those giant thorns, now would you?
“NO!” So it was settled. We walked on, in search of The Cave. She told me of her adventure to find me, of nearly being caught and slaughtered by a giant half human-half demon creature named Marbas that only comes out at night. To feed. On blood.
I ran for what seemed like hours. Ducked behind trees, hid in bushes. No matter where I went, it could smell me, and followed close behind.I only made it by the tip of my tail. I found a small hole in a tree trunk and ducked inside, just in the nick of time. I climbed as far up the inside of the hollowed out tree as I could go, and waited there as the creature sniffed and slobbered all around the tree below me, before finally giving up and moving on to find bigger, slower prey. Even then I decided to wait until sunrise. Until I was sure it was safe. I was tired. Running out of time, weak, and completely unable to run another step. If the creature came back, I would’ve been a midnight snack for sure.
After hearing her story, I knew I wanted to find that cave. Way before dark. So on we walked. I told her of my home. Some good, some bad. I felt closer to her mentally, and emotionally, with every step we took. The feeling that I knew her grew stronger. Once while on our journey, we heard the river babbling close by. We decided to go have a drink. We had been walking for what seemed like days, it was warm, and I was parched. Millie was too. Once we left the Path, and entered the woods, it was much darker. And considerably cooler. The cover of the huge trees blocked out most of the sunlight, leaving only scattered rays shining through.
It was very pretty, but I shivered at the difference. The places that were blocked from the sun were darker than they should’ve been, I thought. And I can hear strange noises coming from that darkness. I feel very vulnerable, as I have nothing to use as a weapon if something were to appear from the shadows. Only Millie. Her claws did appear to be extra long and sharp, but still, she’s only a cat….
We reach the bank of the river, and stop to drink. The sanguine liquid is warm yet soothing to my dry mouth, my throat, my insides, all the way down. I reach my cupped hands to take another drink, and hear a huge crash in the bushes, across the river. I look at Millie. There is grue dripping from her whiskers, her ears are laid all the way back, her nose is twitching, and I hear a deep growl from far back in her throat. A much deeper growl, bigger somehow, than I expect from such a tiny creature. She looks up at me and whispers
Back through the woods we run. Staying as far out of the shadows as possible. But the rays of sunlight are growing thinner, and fewer, as the sun sets lower in the sky. We can hear the creature behind us, snorting, sniffing. It still hasn’t crossed the river, but its only a matter of time. I turn once to look back, just to be sure, and see nothing. Just as I turn back, I trip over a tree root. I fall, and feel a sharp stabbing pain in my hand. I look down, see blood, and what has caused my pain, and immediately wrap my hand in my shirt. Of course. I would. Fell right on one of those damned thorns.
Nice save Sister, but we gotta move!!
“SHIT!” I had momentarily forgotten the danger behind us, but was on my feet and moving in a flash. We made it back to the Path just as we heard the creature splash its way across the river. We continued running, even though we were now back in full sunlight. We could still hear it, crashing along in the now fully dark cover of the forest. We could no longer hear the river, only the snarling and growling of the hungry creature growing ever closer, as the sun sank lower and lower. The shadows of the forest were growing closer and closer to the edges of the Path. I had bled, not much, just a few drops. Now just a drying smear on my shirt. But the starving, angry creature could smell it. Soon, there would be no light, no safety. Soon, we would belong to it. I could hear the creatures heavy footsteps drawing closer behind me, could almost feel its hot, slobbering breath on the back of my neck, when I heard Millie yell,
As we ducked inside The Cave, I felt sharp claws slice across my back. Searing pain, like the claws were dipped in fire. I saw Millie run behind a rock as I fell to the ground, and I turned to surrender myself to this creature that would now surely have me for its dinner……
Special thanks to my kindred, Lesley Smith, for helping me pull this all together. I love you Sissy!!