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Rated: E · Book · Other · #1811445
A boy finds a tunnel under his bed filled with all sorts of strange creatures
#833616 added January 27, 2015 at 1:26am
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Chapter 7
“I’m begingin to wonder if this was such a good idea.” The cart jostled me again. The winter had opened up some pot holes and deep grooves in the dirt road leading from the village and the wheels of George’s cart had fallen into more than one already.

Gavin smiled over his shoulder as he looked back at me from where he was leading the goat. “Well at least we can still keep you moving when you pass out.” He had been kind enough to stop the first time I lost consciousness, but he decided not long after the third time that he might as well keep moving, which I think he was doing at a faster pace, since I was unaware of further pain while in that state. I did my best to smile back though I’m sure it looked like a grimance. “It should get better when we reach the cobblestone road.”

“How was winter down here?”

“Mild, I spent most of the winter in the mines with my uncle, we got a lot done, we’re waiting for the first traders to go though so we can lighten some of our stores. Otherwise I would have been there and not here when you arrived.”

Another jolt kept me from forming a reply. Then another one. “Are you trying to find all the ruts?”
“We’re almost to the smooth section.”

The cobblestone was not that much smoother than the dirt had been, it was more like a contant virbration then the occasional jolt though there were still those too.

“They really need to start some more repair on these.”

“We have the rocks for it, the longer we wait the more perfectly the carvers make them to fit together. Some of them are even doing the measurments to pave the path to the village, we’ll have to put up a sign post then…”

“How much rock did…”

“Enough to pace the mountain from the base up to about your village.” He smiled back at me, “we hit a major gold vein, so our stores filled up quickly, we’ve been a little bored.”

“No kidding.”

“What about you?”

“It’s been colder for us I think.” We rode for a few moments in silence.

“So how are you going to take the goats out with those ribs?”

I hadn’t thought of that. “How long did it take your uncle to recover?”

“Umm, well it seems to me that he was laid up at home for nearly a month before he was really able to go out much again, and by that time he was getting a bit of what I’ve heard the traders call cabin fever. But he was older too, and that can make a difference.”

“I guess I’ll have to wait and see then.”

“So what happened anyway, all I’ve been able to put together was that you fell.”

“Well, I found a tunnel under my bed and while I was exploring it I fell into a cave.”

“Seriously? Wow. Is it large?”

“the tunnel or the cave?”

“Both.”

“Well I thought the tunnel was big.”

“Maybe I should take you all the way up and get you to show me. So how about the cave?”

“that thing was huge. I don’t know how I was able to get out. The fall was too far to climb and I couldn’t see anything,” I continued telling of my adventure until I got to the part about the lake, then I hesitated.
Gavin kept walking every now and then looking back at me to encourage me t continue my story. “Well, then what happened?”

“Gavin, what I’m about to tell you I don’t want you to repeat back at your village, you can tell them all about the rest that is fine, but if you tell the wrong people, it could cause a panic.”

He made the goat stop, “What on earth did you find?”

It all came out in one giant steam. UNinterupted I told him everything from when I found the tunnel and all the way back through my experience in the tunnel. We didn’t move at all for the whole length of my story. Gavin stared at me, his mouth slightly agape, his eyes wide, occasonaly darting from side to side. Sometimes he would laugh, stare in horror other times he looked confused. It took quite some time. AfteR I FINISHED HE SATARED AT ME OR A FEW MOMENTS BEFORE TINING BCK TO THE ROAD AND getting the goat to move along again. I waited in no small amount of agony from the ride for him to say something, a couple times he stopped the cart turned to look at me then closed his mouth and continued on.

“Your whole village knows about this?”

“About, Kyle yes, but not about the other wyrms, the tunnel, or the dragons.”

We continued on, “what about me, when were you going to tell me?”

I rubbed my neck, “at the next picnic I suppose, I didn’t think I’d be seeing you this soon.”

“So are you going to show me?”

I attempted to lean forward, gave a sharp intake of air and laid back down. “Not in this condition.”

“I suppose not, but I am taking you home.”

“Won’t your family get worried.”

“My father won’t even notice.”

It was a nice day out, warming with the assurance that spring was here to stay and readying for what was almost always a rapid transition into summer. As I adjusted to the now almost constant pain of the jostling, I noticed that there was still an absence of the songs of birds we usually had. Some small spring flowers in the underlaying shrubs were giving more colort to the landscape, mostly in soft pinks and vibrant yellows.

The new cobble stones for the road have some designs on the larger ones that would accommodate them. They had already started the repaving process and were hoping to have it done by the time the winter stated to set in again. With the road bed already being worn in it wouldn’t take as much time as the original laying, that was to say nothing of the road on the other side but that one was known to be much better maintained. Thus we talked but more often were silent for the remainder of the trip, we stopped once in the early afternoon at one of the villages where Gavin attempted to use some coins to buy us a meal, thankfully he wound up finding one of his aunts that he had somehow forgotten and she gave us a packed lunch and allowed us to change our goat for a fresh one.

“How do you forget an aunt?” I asked when we were on our way and had waved goodbye.

“My mother has eight sisters, they live all over the mountain and we rarely get to see any of them, most of my dad’s family lives close so I’m more acustom to them. You?”

“One uncle on my mom’s side, he lives further up the mountain, my dad didn’t have any siblings.”

“Cousins?”

“three, you might have seen Alexa at the picnic in the fall, she’s sixteen, quite slender, long fair hair, green eyes I think, or are they blue.”

Gavin stopped for a moment but continued on without saying anything.

We would be in view of the village soon, good thing as it was nearing nightfall now, “I’m sure my parents can put you up.”

He smiled back at me, “I have an aunt in this village too.”

The village seemed to be a mess of activity, ropes were piled outside of houses and we could hear people yelling at each other from within the buildings. Gavin looked back at me, “looking for you?”

I nodded as I assumed that was what was going on as well. At least my showing up ought to ease some tension.

Letti’s high pitched squel of “big brother” was enough to make them both flintch and cover their ears. She raced toward them from where she had just come around from the corner. I have got to stop coming home like this.

She began to climb the cart, Gavin noticed my look of dread against her pouncing on my wounds and took the initiative to pluck her off and set her on the goat with a “why don’t you help me take your brother home, I need you to point it out anyway.”

Letti nodded though how she could assist I wasn’t sure as she insited on rideing backwards so she could see me clearly. Best get my initial questions out of the way.

“Letti how long have I been gone for?”

“Four sleeps,” she held up the appropriate number of fingers. I slumped back a bit, four days, what had gone on since then. We were still three houses away from mine when my parents and what seemed like every other family in the village emerged out of one or another front door in a state of near shook mixed in with a bit of hope. There seemed to be a collective letting out of breath as my father screamed my name and ran forward, my mother not far behind.

“Ed where the devil have you been?” He hugged me before I had a chance to warn him or Gavin had one to impose between us. “Small matter you’re here now.”

I wasn’t able to answer till Gavin grabbed my dad’s arm, at first my dad gave him a warning look, until he saw the concern in my friends face.

“Please, Gareth, he’s been injured in the fall.”

“Fall?” the question held in his voice and he managed to release hold on me. “Where have you been? When you weren’t in your room that first morning, I assumed you had just taken the goats early, when evening came and there were still no signs of you we began to fear the worst. We thought that maybe Kyle…”

The blood fled my face. Had they done something to Kyle thinking that he was responsible?

“It wasn’t until late yesterday that Kyle appeared in our hallway leading to the kitchen, he was making the most aweful noise. I was so angry, I thought…” he shook himself, “ I chased after him, intent on doing him some harm, he went straight back to your room and under your bed. I threw it out of the way in my rage. I found the tunnel. Kyle continued down it, stopping only when I didn’t follow. I couldn’t of course it was too small. But by that moment another though that occuered to me. I got some of the village men and we made the entrance bigger. We followed Kyle down the tunnel, past a rather large gathering of wyrms to where there was a massive statue of a dragon.”

I nodded speaking for the first time, “that was where I fell.”

“That’s what we thought might have happened, what I now understand Kyle must have known. They illuminated the cavern enough that we could tell we would need a ladder to get down, we’ve been working on one,” he waved his arm to indicate the gathering of ropes. Well,” he laughed, relief evident on his face, “it won’t be for naught, you’re back and we can investigate the tunnels and caves for possible mineing opertions.”

Gavin and I both started tripping over our words nad waving our arms in an effort to dissuade them, though I’m sure the only thing that was able to make it though the garble was the words “no” and “can’t”.
Everyone looked at us in a puzzled manner then. This would take some explaining. Best to start from the top, I recounted as best I could what had happened to me, with the allowance that my time table was likely off. Gavin listened to my story again with only slightly less wonder. When I had finished, I was sitting in a goat cart, surrounded by a village full of people sitting on the ground or overturned buckets some on fetched stools or bales of hay. I waited for someone to say something, anything. They all sat in silence, some of the ladies seemed to become more aware of the time and rushed home to prepare supper. Everyone was sure to have an appetite after all the happenings of the day. Gavin’s aunt, Maria, invited my family over to her house to eat so both my parents could focus more on me. They were a bit more wary and reserved with their hugs nad it took some convincing to make Letti so. She is a good cook, being as she is a widow she is often the fist place travelers go if they are in need of a sit down at a table type comfort on a long trip from home. She kept Gavin in the kitchen with her for the better part of the meal prep, I could hear her in a nearly constant chatter about how her sister and brother and all hre dear nieces and nefews were doing, rarely giving Gavin the space in the conversation to give her the replies she requested. He was becoming a man of remarkable patience. I seemed to be becoming a magnet for trouble and predators.

My mom was trying to arrange my hair that had already been getting a bit overgrown before I disappeared. “I was so worried about you. The entire village was in a uproar. When your father nearly fell down that cave…”

“Eva, that isn’t necessary.”

“You almost fell?”

“Kyle caught him,” Lettie smiled up at me while she demonstrated her new mending skills on a sock that I had been wearing a moment ago and wasn’t sure how she had managed to get it off unnoticed.

The cat out of the bag, my father reluctantly admitted that he had nearly fallen as well when he was first looking down it to see if he could catch a trace of me. “I leaned too far and overestimated my ability to hold a tight grip on the glass. Kyle had been beside me at the time, blowing fire to light the space. He was barely able to catch me and if we hadn’t had help there, I’m not sure that he could have pulled me back up.”

“Where is he?” it wasn’t until after the question had left my mouth that it occurred to me ath I might not want to know the answer.

My father shook his head, “after he led us down there he took off down a much narrower path that there was no way we would be able to follow, but he didn’t seem to want that anyway. He did hear him a few times, or maybe it was just another wyrm, as an echo from the cave, but every night he always came backt o check your room. You were right about him being like a dog. I assumed he had found some kind of wyrm back way down there and was trying to sniff you out. From what you told me it sounds like the wyrms have good reason not to want to go down there. That does put me in an odd place over what to do about the tunnels.”

“I don’t think those other creatures can get into that tunnel.”

He rubbed the bridge o his nose between his eyes. “It could be useful to know what the extent of the cave system is, it could even prove usuefull perhaps in time for transportation means. As it is though. Ed, I don’t feel comfortable housing my family over the entrance.”

It was then that Maria called up to the table for a stew with fresh sourdough dumplings. I dug into it like I hadn’t seen food in a week, which I suppose I nearly hadn’t. it was a thick stew with a rich brown gravy and the chunks of previously roasted goat meat were dwarfed only by the potatoes that were so large that they hadn’t quite cooked in the middle. Maria waited till everyone had tried it and she had received at least three words of praise for her cooking before tucking in herself. I did my best to offer an encouraging smile as I wolfed down my portion. My father had remarked upon my finishing a third bowl and Gavin offering to get another for both me and himself that we much be tring to outgrow him when I heard a familier chirping sound outside the door. I stood too quickly in my excitment about the sound causing me to have to sit down as my mother fawned over me and tried to find some comforting words that would make me feel better. My father barely gave Letti permission before she bounded from the room and raced to the door.

Chriping and the sounds of scales scraping on the floor precipitated Kyle’s arrival, flanked by another five wyrms. He made straight for me, climbing up into my lap and curling as best he could before lifting his body up and placing his head under my chin. He let out what I chose to call a sigh of contentment. Then my mom truly astounded me, she reached over to him and patted him on the head before scratching his chin.

“Kyle being curled up at the entrance of the tunnel was the only way my mother could sleep after its discovery.”

Maria offered her house if we would prefer to stay here. I started to decline, but my father cleared his throat. “That would be lovely, though it would only be for Ed. Your room is a bit of a mess I’m afraid my boy. The bed was been moved completely and the excavation has left it rather dirty to say nothing of the size of the hole.”

“May I see it?”

“Tomorrow perhaps. Tonight it would be too late. The healer said he would prepare some more medicins for you, he also said that a full immersion bath with some of the mountain salts in it would benefit you. He went to prepare some.”

I nodded reluctantly, disappointed that I would not be able to spend the night in my room. I ran my hand along Kyle’s smooth but still textured back.

Maria laid a hand on my shoulder, “he may stay if you wish. I think many of us are getting much more used to them than we ever thought possible.”

I smiled at her, and hugged Kyle’s long body, greatful that he was alright and in memory of how the only time I had felt truly safe in the last few days was in the prescence of a fire breathing snake. All at once I began to feel tired. My mom noticed first, as I suppose mothers are apt to do.

“Do you have a room ready now Maria? Do you need any extra blankets? I could bring Ed’s quilt from home.”

The thought of sleeping in a real bed with real blankets and a real pillow made me want to cry. Never again would I be ungrateful for them. In fact I might go so far as to kiss it when it next saw it. My mother departed to get the items from my room, and Maira went to prepare rooms for me and Gavin.
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