The Groundlings rushed to discover the source
of the horn calls and what new danger shrilled
its challenge into the night; Henneth’s course
was set, he’d a babe to locate; he’d kill
the Undeem that interfered with that plan.
He needed a location from Chero.
His girl fluttered o’er to see how things stand.
Intercepting the black, moth-winged Chero
before he could follow the migration
t’other side of the cavern to the ramp,
and then up it, Henneth put his question
to the scamp to loosen the info clamped.
“Where’s the Undeem’s lair? There’s no cynosure
pointing to their plexus. Of that, I’m sure.”
~ ~ ~
Chero wrestled with the answer, tried on
and rejected, the idea of keeping
quiet, ’till compassion, his battle won.
“One whose’s submersible can do this thing.”
Henneth ignored that; the word meant nothing.
He hefted his scrip, hoped those horns meant no
harm and nodded for Chero to take wing.
“There a back way out of here? Do you know?”
Chero pointed to the bright pendulum
in its wire cage suspended o’er the cave.
Henneth looked at the nice ramp feeling glum
as he withdrew rope to climb like a knave.
Chero took the end, carried it aloft,
tied a knot and signaled Hen to be off.
~ ~ ~
Hen felt each of his five plus decades pile
drive him into exhaustion as he climbed.
Yet reach the oculus ‘neath which that phial
of brilliant light swung he did and he timed
his ungainly exit to coincide
with the returning tread of the groundlings.
Moonless night’s caress on his heaving side
as he lay there gasping, got him moving.
He’d wasted enough time since the babe’s loss.
E’ery sinew was tired but he started
off signaling his moth-winged guide to cross
into uncharted forest; they parted
ways with the light filled world of rescuers
heading to a land where nightmares skewer…
~ ~ ~
Melanin blended Chero’s wings with night.
Henneth wondered if that adaptation
developed to help hide them from Undeem sight.
He didn’t ask as miles piled up and action
neared; he stopped when the sun struck gold melting
night into nickel plated dawn over
a lake whose spoon shaped embankment, a thing
not of sand but by rocks smoothed by water.
“They’re down there with the kelp aren’t they?” Hen sighed
at Chero’s nod, ‘course the feckin’ Undeem
were a pelagic folk and he couldn’t bide
here to wait for them to surface; it seemed
a cold swim in water dawn painted blue
was inevitable, which he would rue.
~ ~ ~
“The lake’s bed runs deep enough that no sun
ever touches it,” Chero replied with
a nonchalant shrug that he didn’t feel, one
step away from the lair of death’s cruel smith.
He shuddered and then rose up beating wing
’till he clawed the sky high above chestnut
branches to see what he’d dreaded; winging
like a blue arrow ‘gainst the raw morn, what
he’d hoped to avoid, Anasril, who’d come
to join them on phase two of this quest; but
how’d she track them? She hovered and struck dumb
by this deviation from plan, he said,
“they’ll mutilate us both now, make us dead.”
~ ~ ~
Horn calls sounded in the distance and made
them look to the horizon for answers.
They saw none as they drifted on wind’s blade
which sliced through the trees on shore and their fur.
“It’s a party of men. That’s what I came
to tell you. They’re hunting some organic
thing–some herb that flowers by night and tames
fevers or panic with charms botanic.”
Anasril’s frank gaze declared that reason
an excuse and a lucky one for them.
Perhaps more than three would storm Undeem’s sun-
less bolt hole, adding more to be condemned.
He nodded and they dropped down to explain
to Henneth about help defeating life’s bane.
~ ~ ~
The Quest continues tomorrow…
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~ ~ ~