Okay, we've made it to the base of a bunch of oak trees. It has remnants of a makeshift camp scattered throughout, and either the geckos were messy, or something happened that forced everyone out. There's a sleeping mat, an empty bowl, and... wow, a bunch of scrolls! They look super important. If the geckos were so careless, we'll be able to catch up to them in no time at all! For once, things are starting to look great.
But regardless, we don't know if Rainy is safe right now...
I walked over to the scrolls and tried to read them, but they were written in runes! If we can't understand them, there's really no point in even trying! I take all what I said before ba–
Happy can read them?
"Don't worry, I got this..." the pink elephant mumbled as he stomped over to the scrolls. He scooped up the magnifying glass and began to read.
"Happy, we really don't have time to pretend––"
"Shhh! I'm reading the runes. And don't call me by that name." Happy shushed me.
"If not your name, what do I call you then?" I responded irritably.
"Hmmm... HMMMM... Call me... Patches."
Why in the world...
Hearing that name from Happy I started feeling uneasy. Uneasy was an understatement, I was afraid. I remembered that evil lion who I had to fight a while back. He captured one of my friends, I remember! And to top it off, the war between the lions and the crocodiles is beginning, and if they knew we were coming to rescue Rainy... could a lion have used phantom magic to disguise themselves as Happy?
Okay, I need to stop being so paranoid. Happy is weird, sometimes he doesn't like things being too serious. I best go along with it to read the runes to go find our friend.
"Okay, Ha––... Patches." I sputtered out reluctantly.
There was silence, as Happy skimmed over the runes with uncharacteristic focus. I was anxious as I could be, but I can wait this out. Yeah, I can! I can do this! I can do this! Patience is key! Patience is key! Patience is–––
Happy stared at the runes for like, 20 minutes. The sun was beginning to go down. The stars were beginning to come out. I was being gently pushed down into sleepiness when Happy finally blurted everything out.
"BERRY IT'S A STORY!!!"
"EEK!! Happy, why'd you take so long! It's only a page!"
"Mmm... I kind of fell asleep. Haha. But that's how I figured it out! This is the story of––"
"Okay, okay, what? Start from the beginning––– what happened?"
Happy was silent and fidgety for a moment, and then he spoke. "...I was only understanding like, a 16th of the runes, and I was staring at it hard, not blinking... then I kind of gave up and went to sleep, but that's when I started dreaming!"
"What do dreams have to do with any of this stuff? At least tell me what you learned from that 16th of the––"
"But the dream was the whole story, Berry! I dreamed about the whole story! I'm so so so super certain that it is the story, and that it may help us!" Happy protested with lit up eyes.
There was a moment where there was nothing but the katydids making noise, but it was not enough to evaporate the heavy disbelief that squeezed the air.
I decided to just listen, but then I looked around and decided we didn't have enough water.
"Alright, Happy, I'll listen... but only after we go get some water from the stream over there."
He got up and we went together to the nearby water in anticipation. One we returned, I curled up in the abandoned sleeping mat and Happy began to tell the story.
Long ago, this was a world blossoming for the first time, back when Mira's starry feathers; cast in the stars that wrapped around the earth in a blanket, gently brushed every rock, every insect in the world--- except one desert. The desert was cold and hot, red and blue crystals dusted with sand rolled about in the wind in it's eternal night, and it was left untouched by Mira's wing.
The sun never lay it's rays upon the sand, each grain soaking up the steadily glimmering starlight to find every excuse to glitter. No creatures made home of this desert--- but Zios, looking down from the sun curled it's rays around the place, and the crystals shattered in the overwhelming light--- but even though as Mira was sad their beauty was gone, the reds and blues were not destroyed. Her sadness, however small in her celestial magnificence, made the crystals form anew together; knitting and collecting together their light like dewdrops drawn into a pool.
They created a red and blue lion. The lion, seeing Mira's tears on the horizon, tried to call out to tell her that the crystals had formed--- but he could not move. He stood still and proud as a statue, but with a crippled heart that Mira was still sad.
One honey golden morning 100 years later, when the once empty desert had grown trees and fruits and a ground cover of brittle grasses, Mira's starry feather swept over him. It was only slightly, but in that instant he opened his eyes and roared out to Mira "I'm okay! I'm okay!" and didn't see, but feel through his paws in the dirt that she was happy.
For the next many years, he was king of the savannah. But after those many years, on a starry night like the night where he was born, something vanished. It was Zios. Mira was anguished and despairing, cried out purple-black tears that stained the grasses murky. And it was from those tears the phantoms emerged, and one of Mira's tears landed on the red and blue lion. That phantom did not become a part of the lion, but rode on his back and all of the other red and blue lions' back's after. Mira cried even harder, creating more and more phantoms.
The red and blue lion tried to call to Mira "Stop! Please stop!" but she couldn't hear. The lion had to stop and go down into the bushes, where the phantom commanded.
And even after the alphas ceased the constant creating of phantoms, the wound on the world was deep. And growing. When the phantoms reached Mira in the stars, her last whisper to Jamaa before being locked away in the vortex of her own phantom creations was "Don't worry, animals. The phantoms are doomed. If every phantom was immersed in their own evil too deeply, they might be sucked away to the phantom vortex once and for all."
The red and blue lion was too deep underground to hear.
Me and Happy sat there for a long minute before we both said the same thing to each other.
"We can destroy the phantoms forever."
*TO BE CONTINUED IN NOVEMBER*