The bundle of leeks Zurak was carrying smelled very pungent in the warm spring sunshine and made her stomach growl a little. Tonight there would be a fragrant soup for Zurak’s belly with succulent chunks of frog meat, but she would most likely be dining alone. Taeyo had left in search of food, the bear cub had grown very big since Zurak found him and now had to range wide to find enough to eat.
Taeyo was never gone for long, one or two days might pass before the shaggy golden brown bear would come back to the cave with a blooded face and full belly. It was getting time to leave the cave though, time to continue the search for the Well of Provenance, now that the seasons had changed.
The decision of where to go next was what kept Zurak where she was and she went over the details of her vision as she walked. Elune had come to Zurak the night of Zonate ritual; the moon goddess had taken Zurak into the heart of the
and shown her the way. But the vision
was hazy in Zurak’s memory and she was very concerned that she had missed one
of the landmarks along the way. Golden Land
That was all she really remembered, the landmarks; but so far she had found them all. First had been the sulfurous spring, which was easy to find because the damp stench traveled easily in the air, then Zurak found the two trees twisted into a lover’s embrace just a month after. She had been forced to wait many weeks by the place where four rivers joined together until the waters subsided enough for her to reach the banks of the one Elune showed her.
Zurak found her current cave by following the tongue of the laughing rock that was pointing east, but now she was unsure of how to proceed. She had to decide between east or north and Zurak was strongly considering another ritual for guidance as she picked a path over the flat rocks by the river. During her vision, Zurak had been bathed in the waters of a mighty spout that gushed out of the Earth straight up into the sky. So far Zurak had seen many kinds of water, ponds, streams, spring and even fizzy, but no geysers, no great water spouts at all.
All of a sudden, the air around Zurak went completely quiet, the birds stopped tweeting, the bugs stopped buzzing and it seemed that even the wind stopped blowing. Zurak froze in her place, looking all around for impending danger but seeing none, and dropped the leeks as she tightened the grip on her staff. All was heavy stillness around her for a long moment before the cacophony of thousands of birds all taking wing at the same ting shot out from the trees..
Zurak gasped, startled by the sound and sight of the sky filled with birds flapping madly towards the east. Cold fear began to run in her veins and a voice inside her head screamed at Zurak to run, then the very earth beneath her feet began to pitch wildly from side to side. A loud, ominous roaring came from deep below the rocks that got louder as Zurak was knocked to her feet, rocks big and small were falling all around her as Zurak curled up into a ball.
She prayed desperately to Elune as the ground continued to shake around her; she could hear the ground ripping apart and trees screaming in agony as they were violently uprooted and tossed aside. The shaking did not stop, not like the other small rumbles that Zurak had felt regularly as she walked, this time the Earth god was very angry.
Time fell away from Zurak as she clung to the rocks, she prayed for her own safety and prayed harder for Taeyo’s, but the shaking would not stop. The ground she was laying on began to buckle, Zurak could feel the ravenous earth trying to swallow her up and desperately tried to roll away. The fresh screams of the tree closest to Zurak drowned out her own, she saw it falling towards her as if seeing it in a dream, like it was not really real.
But it was real and it was coming down on her; she managed to find her feet but couldn’t keep her balance on the quaking ground. Zurak saw the shadow of the thick branch just a split second before everything else went dark.