Saturday, February 16, 2013


Moving On

Zurak’s mind came back to her very slowly; for a few ugly moments she thought that her body had washed up on the beach all over again.  There was darkness all around her and yet a hot wind was huffing against her hair as Zurak’s wits began to reassemble themselves.  She could taste dirt in her mouth and a sharp stinging pain in her shoulder made her cry out when she tried to move.

The hot wind began blowing afresh and an urgent grunting sound came with it; Zurak could feel something warm and furry pressing against the back of her head.  Her nose recognized Taeyo’s scent, and Zurak began to remember the earthquake as she gingerly moved her parts around.  Once she had started moving, Taeyo’s grunts became softer, as though the bear was relieved that she was still alive, but he kept on nudging her head with his muzzle.

The tree had fallen on Zurak, but the earth had opened up beneath her so that she was not pinned at all.  However, she was trapped beneath the branches of the tree and there was not much room to move in the crevasse; Zurak wiggled carefully because every movement sent fresh slaps of pain down her left arm.  Hot tears from the pain stung at Zurak’s eyes; she did not want to cry out and invite curious wolves to investigate.

After a few minutes, she was able to wriggle onto her back, Zurak could see the bright stars against the inky blackness of night and Elune’s light gleamed from Taeyo’s golden brown hide.  The tree branches were a cage around her; she ignored her screaming shoulder and grabbed on to one of the branches Taeyo had pushed aside.  If she could snap off some of the smaller ones, there would be enough of a passage for Zurak to escape.

The bear’s big head was pushed through the branches as he huffed and tried to lick Zurak’s face.  She was very happy that Taeyo had survived the rending, but he wasn't being very helpful, so Zurak opened up her mouth wide and showed the bear her teeth.  It was a favorite game of theirs, both of them would peel back their lips to expose all their teeth and playfully growl at each other.  Immediately Taeyo opened his mouth with a very welcome sweet grunt as Zurak quickly pushed one of the smaller branches inside.

Taeyo seemed startled at first and there was a little flash of something, possibly anger, in his animal eyes.  But he reflexively bit down on the branch, snapping it off and tearing it away from the tree with two powerful shakes of his head.  Zurak grabbed another branch over her head and began to pull her body out slowly; Taeyo pushed his head back through to help widen the opening.

It seemed like it took hours to get out of the crevasse, but Zurak finally pulled herself free.  She was exhausted and there wasn't enough light to try and find the cave, so she curled up next to Taeyo and fell asleep on the dirt.

The new morning sun showed Zurak the extent of the damage done by the earthquake.  She and Taeyo had been in the area for many months, but nothing looked familiar to Zurak anymore.  Many of the trees were lying on their sides, the course of the stream had been altered and the sweet spring had stopped flowing altogether.  Rocks and boulders were strewn everywhere, many featuring fresh rips like battle field wounds.

There was a new noise too, coming from the east, that was like a steady constant rumbling.  Zurak was only dimly aware of the new noise as she and Taeyo stood in front of their old cave with the remains of Zurak’s possessions between them.  Many rocks had fallen to seal off the opening, but she had found a small passage in to salvage as much as possible.

Her shoulder still throbbed dully, but none of her bones were broken, so Zurak had repaired her sled as best she could and prepared to move on.  Before they left, Zurak arranged a few rock piles; she had never stopped leaving messages for other Wanderers and still nursed the hope that someday her people would find her.  With that, Zurak and Taeyo started walking east towards the sound; she didn't know what else to do or where to find the next landmark and that was the best plan she could think of.

It took most of the day to scramble over the rocks because Zurak was being very tender with her wounded shoulder.  But they reached the top of their little stone valley just before sunset and stood gazing to the east, the bear and his girl.  Zurak fell to her knees to sing the blessings of Elune, crying and laughing at the same time with the delirium of relief.

Far in the distance, an enormous water spout had ruptured during the earthquake, sending plumes of blue water high up into the air.  This was the landmark Zurak had been searching for, Elune had told her to follow the water and the plume arced out towards the northeast.  Zurak’s excitement was palpable, because even Taeyo seemed excited, but her journey was almost over now.

The spout was the second to last landmark in Zurak’s vision, the Well of Provenance was not far now and maybe the monkey people weren't far away now either.

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