The first bonus chapter to 'Life of a Half-Roc Child'
|It took quite some time for people to stop staring at the tall hooded figure in the bus stop as Bella and her three friends were waiting in the relatively small crowd of twenty people waiting for a bus to the tourist destination they are all going to. They had to take a taxi there first as the bus stop was in town. It was the first time Bella is going to ride a bus, or rather any public transport. She was nervous and tried to hide it. To make it easier, she struck up a conversation.
“So, where are we going, exactly?” Bella asked, turning to Ji Min.
“I don’t know. George was the one who organized this. Ask him,” Ji Min said.
Bella turned to George on the other side, “George, wh-“
George cut Bella off, “I’m right next to you two so I know your question. We are going to a quartz crystal cave tour which is only open for a few months, I forgot why. My parents and friends recommend this place and I saw some pictures on Instagram. So I decided to take the chance. It’s also the first tourist attraction around here.”
Exactly when George finished, Leila alerted everyone else to the arrival of the bus. Bella was the last one still on the ground. She stared at the stairs for a second or two before leaning down, minding her head, to board the bus.
On the bus, Bella tried to take in the interior of it but couldn’t really take much in due to the stares around her that she could practically feel now. This is the most people she had been together with in an enclosed space.
Halfway to the destination, the scenery changed to those that has human infrastructure to that of a mountain forest. The bus slowed down, zig-zagging uphill up the Appalachian mountain. Each side of the bus took turns in seeing the view of the towns and forest as they went higher up the mountain. Bella sensed something familiar about this forest but couldn’t get a grasp of what it is. So she dismissed it.
When they arrived, they saw the entrance and ticketing of the cave as the speakers in the bus announced [You have arrived at your destination, mind your belongings and enjoy]. All the passengers dismounted the bus as they went to the ticketing booth to either buy one on the spot or, like Bella and her friends, scan their online, printed ticket.
They went into the cave and met a tour guide. “Good morning to everyone. My name’s Dave and I’m the tour guide that is going to lead you throughout this cave. Welcome to North Carolina Quartz Cave Tour! This cave was found just three months ago by a quartz mining company, but this half of the year, they had been busy licensing and organizing other mines around the world and couldn’t make this a mine now. So they made a tour business instead. You are lucky to come in now because the mine is planned to be licensed next month. Now, let’s start, shall we?”
Everyone gave a sign of acknowledgement and off they went into the cave with Dave. The wonders that were actually inside it, no one expected.
As another teenage boy saw the crystals first, he loudly called his friends over in awe, which made the others more excited than before. As Bella enters the underground opening, she muttered her own ‘Woah’.
This cave was like no other. It was big and there are no eerie shadows that appear on walls every time you pass through. The lights that were built shines at each crystal, which then refracts it to every end of the room. White and pink with blue areas are all over the walls, ceilings, and is occasionally avoided on the floor. Each crystal looked like they are perfectly carved and although very beautiful from afar, like a rose, you could see the sharp points at the ends that could stab you.
“This is the first chamber out of three that we are going through today. These types of quartz are fairly common, but in crystal form like these, they are relatively rare. This is the biggest crystal cave we found out of four in the Appalachian mountains, and we are still looking for more. Although our search is nearing to an end. The white crystals you see are named milk quartz and is the most common variety of quartz there is. The pink ones being rose quartz, relatively common; the blue one is just blue quartz, a fairly common type too,” Dave explained.
Leila turned to George with an awed expression, “Thank god you recommended this place!” While they had a light conversation on how cool the cave is. Bella’s attention was distracted by a woman who looks like she is in her twenties with green eyes and green hair. And she was the one who stares at Bella the most with piercing eyes. This made Bella uneasy.
Throughout the rest of the tour, there was a cavity filled with only blue quartz and another filled with milk quartz. But no one cared or paid any real attention to that. They are all beautiful. Bella is not fully enjoying this, as she can feel the glare of the green-haired young woman that was always in a 10-metre radius from her. The stranger always diverted her view every time Bella turns to her. She was about to confront the stranger but was stopped when Dave announced that the tour was finished and Bella’s three friends went out.
“Whew! That was exhilarating! I never imagined myself so engrossed in staring at minerals!” Ji-Min exclaimed. “What did you all think?”
“Goddamn, that was AWESOME!” Leila shouted close to Bella, triggering a ringing noise in Bella's avian ears.
“I love the place and stuff, but there is a young woman inside there with green hair who kept staring at me creepily,” Bella commented.
George was confused but then said, “Oh, that green girl before? Yeah, I noticed. It’s like she almost took her eyes off you. I never saw her. I think she doesn’t live here. There was another woman nagging her, but I think she didn’t notice the green girl staring.”
“But I didn’t see a green-haired woman on the bus. How’d she get there? Where is she now?” Leila wondered.
“Don’t know, Don’t care. She’s a weird one. Let’s go,” Ji-Min ended the conversation.
When the bus left, Bella seemed to sense the air of familiarity again. Then something clicked in her mind.
4 years ago…
Bella was hunting. But, unlike other days, she went north instead of south. She wanted to investigate why her mother disallowed her from hunting there at all. After about 3 minutes of flying at her normal speed (100mph/160kph). She lowered her altitude to look for prey, but she smells something different. And it was close to a cave full of what looks like… glitter?
Just as she was about to investigate, the sounds of wings flapping is heard behind her. She turns around to see the speeding figure and angry eyes of her mother approaching her. She lets out a sigh “Busted…”
“Bella! What did I say about going here huh?!” Ethelinda shouted while giving a warning peck to Bella’s head.
Bella flinched, “Ow… What’s wrong with going here?!”
“Just… don’t! Now let's go home.”
She remembers the cave she found and the out-of-place smell and realizes that this was the place she explored, relatively very close to the cave. Which means…
How close is Ethelinda to getting caught?