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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, '10, 6:52 pm
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Chapter 9


The swamp that lay to the south of the Hollow Valley was unusually calm that day. The usually swarms of flies and mosquitoes filled the air with their buzzing, but the sounds of the great beasts, the many-headed hydra and fearsome dragons, were nowhere to be heard. The only real loud noise to be heard was the occasional splashing of some giant crocodile in the murky waters of those marshes.

It was near the entrance to the old Schattenalfen Cave, long since sealed by Corg and his compatriots, that the air began to move and stir. A distortion appeared, much like an invisible flame, that flickered and churned in the air above the ground. Bolts of electricity shot out of the distortion. Six small pillars of light formed in the midst of the lightning. The columns of light gradually took on human form. It was Corg and the others. They had returned.

Sari, Piotr, Laya, and Jack descended slowly to the ground, their illuminated bodies falling softly like a feather falling to the ground. Their bright figures contrasted greatly with the dark waters of the swamp and all animals in the area stopped to stare at the glorified personages. Corg and Mieu materialized above the ground and fell to the ground with a light thud. Mieu still wore her red one-piece leotard and battle vest while Corg wore but a single loincloth around his loins. They got up and approached their friends, who stood still in the air.

“Where are we?” Sari asked, looking around?

“This place looks familiar,” Piotr noted, pointing toward the cliff where the entrance to the Elven Realms once stood.

“Yeah,” Corg nodded. “We’re in the Southern Swamp.” He paused and looked around for a moment. “Dragon territory.”

“Well,” Laya said. “We had better make it back to the castle. We have some things to resolve before going back to the Alisa III.”

Corg put his hand on his chin and thought for a few moments. “Strange. I feel like I need to do something before you all go. There’s something weird calling inside of me.” He kept quiet for a few moments while the others stared at him, waiting for him to speak again. Then he looked up and smiled. “By jove, that’s it! A feast! We must have a feast like none other that’s ever been held in the Hollow Valley. We’ll invite all the different races in the valley, be it Palman, Alisian, or beast.”

“And how do you plan on doing that?” Mieu asked, confused.

Corg smiled. “Watch this.” He stepped away from the others and turned to the face the forest that surrounded the swamp. He took a deep breath and let out a loud, elephantine bellow that echoed all over the swamp. The others looked at each other in surprise.

“Dude!” Jack exclaimed. “That sounded like…hecka the…”

“Sounds like a modified double-bass sound,” Mieu observed.

Corg’s bellow was met with a similar roar, albeit one a bit less high-pitched that gave way to a deeper growl at the end. The trees began to shake and two large, reptilian figures emerged into the clearing. Huge bat-like wings sprouted from their backs and their huge, lizard-like faces opened their mouths, revealing rows of razor-sharp fangs. One of the creatures was covered with black, metallic scales. The other one was green. They moved swiftly toward Corg.

Laya let out a muffled scream. “Corg!”

Jack put his hand on her shoulder. “It’s all good. I think Corg is busting out the communication with them.” Laya stared and nodded.

The dragons stopped in front of Corg and let him pet them. Corg let out a couple of more smaller growls and then called his friends over. “They’ll take you back to the castle. It’s okay. I’ll join with you all later. I’ve got to invite the guests. Mieu, will you do me the honor of accompanying me?”
Mieu grinned and nodded. “Of course I will. Are we going to ride one of those?”

“Not quite.” With that, Corg took another deep breath and let out a different roar, this time a loud honk. He then let two more honks, slightly deeper in tone.

Out of another portion of the forest stepped another monster. It looked like a huge lion, more than twenty feet long. Out of its neck sprang two more heads: that of a large ram and that of a serpent. Like the dragon, it had a pair of bat-like wings protruding from its shoulders. It raced across the swamp and stopped in front of the heroes. It was a chimera, a very rare monster inhabitant of the Hollow Valley.

“Alright guys, you go back to the castle and start preparing things. Mieu and I will visit the other tribes and races. In three days, we’ll all be feasting at the castle.”

With that, Corg helped Mieu onto the chimera’s back and hopped up onto it himself. Jack and Laya mounted the green dragon, while Piotr and Sari rode upon the black dragon. The three great beasts began flapping their wings and soared off into the air toward their respective destinations.


***

Piotr and the others sat around a large table in the feast hall of the castle. It had been two days since they had parted company with Corg, who hadn’t returned yet. They were greeted with open arms at the castle by both the Alisians and Neo-Palmans living there. They had been sorely missed by their people. Their arrival had scared the town’s inhabitants, since they had never seen anyone ride a dragon the way they did. To be perfectly honest, no one in the castle had ever seen a dragon in the Hollow Valley at that point.

It was soon discovered that Queen Sari and Queen Laya, and their respective companions, were quite different now from how they had left. There was an unmistakable magnificence to them. The people felt some sort of god-like glory emanating from their person. When the people recognized them, they all fell to the earth and bowed before them in all reverence. It was not something that they were really accustomed to.

“So, how is it that we’re gods now?” Laya thought aloud. “What do we even need to do?”

“I don’t know,” Sari said. “Being a queen is one thing. Being a goddess—well—I don’t even know where to begin.”

“Athena did say that we’ll figure things out later.” Jack reminded them. “Just look at Corg. Athena didn’t tell him very much about what he had to do, but as soon as we arrived, he already had a good idea of what was needed.”

Piotr nodded. “Probably when we get back to the Alisa III, we’ll have the same epiphany. We’ll probably look at the current state of the world ship and soon have a number of ideas of what can be done to help the people.”

“Don’t forget, Sari,” Laya observed. “The people are still kind of divided into the Layans and Orakians. Even though you and I are Orakian and Layan, above all we are Palmans—no, we are Alisians. We’ll have a lot to do break down those barriers and unite the people.”

Sari pondered her friend’s words for a moment. “You’re right. Besides, the current state of our societies is not what it was in its glory days, be it by Palman or Alisian standards. We’ll have our work cut out for us trying to restore things to the way they once were.”

“And the Dark Force?” asked Jack. The others spun around and looked at him. Laya shuttered at the very name. “It’ll be back in a 1,000 years, right?”

Laya and Sari glanced at each other and nodded.

“Well, when you and Sean and the others fought the sucker, you were all alone. If and when it returns, we’ll be there to greet him. Ya’ know, I have a pretty good feeling that Corg’s probably going to be around to lead the assault on him. If that does happen, I think it’s safe to say that the four of us will be by his side.”

The others looked at each other and then nodded.

Jack continued, “As our motto goes—“

“Brothers—“ the others began.

At that moment, the chamber doors opened. Mieu stood alone in the doorway.

“Mieu!” Laya called. She ran over and hugged her.

Mieu walked into the chamber and to her friends. Her usual radiant smile still beautified her face. “Well, everything is okay for tomorrow. Corg and I visited six different races, all of whom will send their representatives to the feast.”

“Six?” exclaimed Sari.

Mieu nodded. “The beastmen, the minotaurs, the troglodytes, the lizard men, the trolls and the gargoyles. It was pretty neat, really. When they saw Corg and I riding atop the chimera, they already had a pretty good idea what was happening. And when they saw that Corg was well—the way he is now, and able to speak several different animal languages, they readily accepted the invitation.”

The other four were speechless.

“So where’s the sucker now?” Piotr asked.

“He didn’t say. He just left me here and said that he had some unfinished business to attend to and then went off.”

Piotr looked at Jack and then at Sari. He then pointed to his wedding band. Sari nodded.


***

Christy was in her dance studio putting away the tutus of some of her younger students. It had been a hard practice, but things were looking well for the upcoming recital. She wiped the sweat off her brow as she neatly folded the little dancers’ clothes and put them in a box. Her daughter Melissa sat on the ground playing with some of her toys.

Her attention was broken when the lights began to flicker. She looked up at the lights in wonder, but said nothing. Suddenly there was a loud crash followed by a dull thud. Melissa pointed behind her and spoke.

“Da-da!”

Christy spun around in fear and gasped in horror. Her strength failed her as she saw, standing in front of her, her husband Corg. Christy’s blood ran cold and she nearly fainted. Corg smiled and helped her up.

“C-C-Corg. But it can’t be! It can’t be!” Christy began to be hysterical.

Corg spoke calmly. “It’s okay. Calm down.”

“No! No! You’re dead. You died! H-How—“

“Yes, I did die. I was quite dead at that; Zafirah did a slam-bang job of it, I’ll say. This is my second life.” He looked at his arms and legs. “Quite a different one from my first life, I might add.” He chuckled to himself.

“How? Why?” Christy paused and tried to compose herself. “What happened to you?”

“Oh, this? Long story. In any case, I’m here because Piotr, Jack, Mieu, and the others went looking for me. They found me. They found me at the depths of the deepest hell and brought me back.”

“But—you were dead? I thought that was the end,” said Christy incredulously.

Corg slowly shook his head. “Do you think that death is really the end? Do you think that after travelling from one world to another…from one sphere to another by a mere thought, that death would simply be the end?”

“What did you want me to believe?”

Corg shrugged. “Doesn’t matter at this point. Thing is, Piotr and the others believed that they could find me, and they did. You’re here. I returned to this world, to find all of my friends waiting for me, except for my beloved companion.”

Tears begin to brim in Christy’s eyes. “I know. I was scared. I was horrified. I didn’t feel safe in that world anymore. I was afraid for Melissa. You gotta believe me.”

Corg nodded. “I believe you. I lament that you did not trust yourself into the care of my friends. Had you done that, I wouldn’t have had to come here looking for you.”

Christy looked carefully at him. “You’re so different now. You’re not human anymore.”

“Oh I am,” said Corg. “Just a little more than human. But that’s okay. I have a lot of work to do now. Which brings me to the purpose of my visit.”

Christy furrowed her brow. “What’s that? Do you want Melissa? She’s all that I have, besides this school. Don’t take her from me!”

Corg laughed. “Silly. I’m here for both of you. I want you two to come back with me to the Hollow World, to reign over the valley as my queen.”

“Your qu-queen? But how? Why?”

“That was kind of one of the stipulations of my return. Now I have several races to rule over. Well, not rule over per se. Probably just judge and mediate. But that’s okay. I guess rule is just a question of semantics. Hmm…but I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s the chance of a lifetime. Take it or leave it.”

“But, after what happened to you there before, how I can be sure that it won’t happen again?”

“Look, Christy. You’re about as safe there as you’ll be here. Will there be dangers? Yes. The same as there are here. Here you have muggers and drug dealers and carjackers and rapists and all sorts of loonies. There you have monsters and dragons. At least there, Melissa will have a father and you’ll have a husband who’ll most likely have more than enough to support you for the rest of your life. Besides, how many women here have the chance to meet up with their husband again after he was blown up by a fire spell? Not many, huh?”


***

The feast had already begun. The leaders of the different tribes had arrived and were shown to their prospective tables. Dozens of huge platters filled with strange and exotic dishes were placed on the tables. They ranged from the more traditional roasted boar to more exotic fare like giant crocodiles and owl bear steaks. Most of the other races were able to communicate with other and Mieu was able to pick up the languages fast enough to be a translator for them and the Alisian-Palmans.

The two royal couples, Sari and Piotr and Laya and Jack, sat at a table by themselves. Every visitor that arrived recognized the deity in them and reverenced them with the utmost of humility. There was almost no need for the light of torches or candles in feasting hall; the glory that the four emitted was enough to light the place several times over. After all of the formalities, they ate, drank, and conversed with each other and with the guests just like normal people.

It was a few hours after the feast had begun that the door opened and Corg appeared, accompanied by Christy. Her long, black hair was done up in many curls and she wore a dark pink dress that flowed like a stream. Corg wore a white plate mail and cape. His beast-like arms and legs remained bare as a symbol of his status as a mediator between the races. At first she seemed rather uncomfortable, but all of the guests recognized her as the wife of the great beast man and reverenced her the same way they reverenced Corg. Corg courteously greeted all guests present in a number of strange tongues. The two took up their seats at the head table alongside the new Alisian gods.

The feast went on into the early hours of the next day. There would not be such a banquet as this for many years to come.

Last edited by H-Man on Tue Sep 7, '10, 11:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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