Previously: Nadec walks away from Kitty and Blackie, under the guise of wanting to see if she recognised there environment, so she could pinpoint their location. She secretly wants to finds something else too. Her wanderings take her in to a peculiar tree grove. She recognises it as the mythical gorwak grove, in which she meets the even more elusive gorwak.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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The soft, overlapping whooshing sound of the wings gained a frantic quality to them. Nadec felt a whisper of air rush at her back. That damned gorwak isn’t going to leave me alone, is it? She was almost at the imaginary edge of this particularly tree, underneath the spot where the canopy shied away from another tree’s canopy. Crown shyness was a real thing. With a sigh, she turned around to face the creature. She didn’t want to be rude—and she really was quite curious to know more about these mythical beings—but this wasn’t the time to act like a researcher.
The gorwak was almost arm length to her when it stopped flying. No, that was putting it softly. It looked more as if slammed into an invisible wall, the impact sending rainbow coloured waves in the air.
It bounced back, fell down, and rolled over the ground.
‘What the fuck!’
A good old-fashioned Earthy curse was sometimes the best way to convey any current emotions. She wasn’t certain what to do. If she went over to check if the creature was alright, she’d be in a perfect position to get attacked by it. Ridiculous. Her own inward scolding felt right, if the forwak wanted to attack, it had a chance to do so before.
The creature untangled itself from its wings and unknotted one of the tails. It sat back on its haunches and looked at Nadec, mouth opening and closing. Ultimately, it scowled, jumped, and flew up again. It came closer to Nadec, this time careful and at a slow pace. When it was again at arm’s length, it hovered in front of her. Those black, liquid eyes conveyed a sadness.
‘What the fuck indeed.’
The gorwak’s voice no longer had the sweet quality from before. Instead, it now sounded more like someone who’d been smoking all their life.
‘I tried to burning be nice and help you with your burning emotions, but you grounding walked away. Very burning rude. You’re the grounding first human I meet in a burning fifty years, and you dripping even saw me yet you walk away. What the fuck is burning wrong with you?’
Nadec could only gape. If she was still on Earth, she’d look around to see if she was being pranked. She looked around anyway.
‘Close your dripping mouth, you look like a burning fish.’
‘I look like a fish?’ She laughed, incredulous, glad that she got her tongue back. ‘You’re the one with the fishy body parts! What the fuck is this? What happened to your voice?’
That was not the most urgent question she could ask, and she knew it. What she really wanted to know was everything.
‘Listen, sweetie, come back inside and I’ll burning tell you things. Being on the grounding dripping edge feels very uncomfortable.’
‘Don’t call me sweetie,’ she said. Her heart wasn’t in it though, her mind was busy trying to figure things out. ‘What do you mean, come back inside? What fucking edge.’
The gorwak made an annoyed throat sound, pointed up, then reached its arm towards her. Before it was fully outstretched, it stopped, touching something she couldn’t see, spreading rainbow waves out. The waves had a specific direction. They followed along the edge of the tree’s crown, as if something drooped from it, invisible to her.
‘I’m burning stuck here, kid. Now, you grounding coming? It would be dripping good to talk to someone again.’
It flew backwards before flying up to make a loop in the air. After completing the loop, it looked at her, wiggled its forehead, and nodded its head toward the tree trunk.
‘I’ve got boo-ooze.’
‘Well, why didn’t you tell me that first?’
She trotted after the creature. The second reason for her little exploration walk appeared to come in an unexpected way. Alcohol was even better than the mushrooms she’d been searching for.
There was a gap in the massive trunk of the tree. It was easy enough for the gorwak to slip through, Nadec had to go in sideways, and almost got stuck. Damn but.
Once she’d wriggled out of the gap, she couldn’t see much. It was dark, which wasn’t a surprise, seeing as where she was, and the fact that twilight had already started. She squeezed her eyes shut for a while. When she opened them again, she still couldn’t see much. A vague outline of something in some areas, but those could’ve been pieces of bark as well as a couch, for all she knew.
‘Why’re you burning standing there like a grounding fool? Come here.’ The gorwak muttered something more, but either Nadec wasn’t supposed to hear, or it didn’t care. Surely it didn’t just say that humans seem to have grown even more stupid?
‘I can’t see anything.’
She was getting annoyed at this creature’s behaviour, and knew she’d soon lash out. Or merely walk away again. That sounded like a brilliant idea, Kitty and Blackie might be getting worried, and in the end, they were more important than a night of drowning her sorrows.
She moved to put one leg back into the gap, but lights sprung on, one by one. She stared around in amazement. The space looked too large. It must be a trick of the eye.
‘I forgot you can’t dripping see in the burning dark. Aah, this is my last grounding bottle. Should be good.’
One of the lights flew up to her, growing until the only thing she could see was the light orange glow of the large insect. It filled her vision, destroyed her night vision, and forced her to duck down or lose an eye.
‘Those don’t always give light?’
She walked up to where the gorwak sat, and dropped herself on the ground in front of it. Fake it till you make it, she thought, snorting at the stupid saying. It glanced at her, gave a little shake of the head, and filled the two wooden cups between them.
‘They’re lazy—’it gave her a lopsided grin‘—fuckers, and I can’t burning blame them, there’s never a reason for them to turn themselves on.’
The crooked grin, though horrifying as it was, reminded her of Wyny. A deep pit of sadness welled up in her chest again. She lifted up the wooden cup, cheered toward the strange creature, and chugged the whole drink in one go. The familiar warm feeling of a strong drink spread in her body, awakening her veins, tingling reaching her finger tips.
She held out the empty cup, eyes wide with excitement. The gorwack downed his own cup and filled both of them again.
‘I worked a long time with burning sailors, and this was the best burning rum around. Aah, those were the grounding times. Before everything went to the dripping grounds. Us gorwaks were—’
‘Nadec! Dark is. Alright you?’
The voice cutting through her mind shocked her enough to spill some of the rum. The gorwak had stopped talking, noticing something had happened.
‘Blackie! Yeah, I’m fine, don’t worry.’
Oh, Kitty. Nadec felt like an idiot. She should’ve been back already.
‘I’m coming, tell Kitty not to worry, I’m on my way back.’
Nadec wasn’t certain if Blackie could speak to Kitty, but that didn’t matter. She looked at the cup, to the bottle, to the gorwak, and sighed.
‘I have to go. I don’t suppose I can, eh, take that bottle with me?’
‘Wait. Bloody fine. I’ll give a burning summary. I’m the grounding last of the burning gorwaks and have been dripping put here to be kept dripping safe. The only one who can burning release the safe zone, is a descendant of the grounding fella who’d put it up.’ He gave her a significant look.
Rolling her eyes, she stood up. ‘Yeah, and I suppose I’m the one. Blonking shallops. Classic. I might as well accept my own tropeness. What do I do?’
‘Don’t you burning know? Don’t bloody look at me like that. Here, the dripping man pressed his hand in the heart of the tree.’
‘Has anyone ever told you how annoying your curses are. So little variation…’ She trailed off as she saw the connection between cursing like a sailor and the start of his story. Damnit, I should’ve seen it before. Not important though. She stood in front of what the gorwak pointed at as being the heart of the tree. There was a hand print in rainbow colours, sunk into the wood. Shrugging, she put her own hand in there. It was warm. She remembered the cup of rum and drank it.
‘Wait, let me burn—let me test something out.’
The gorwak flew out in a flurry of wings and tails, coming back soon after, as excited and flushed as a cat after the zoomies. ‘That was burning it. It’s gone. I can go. I can burning go. I’m grounding dripping bloody free. Aah.’
‘Great. Have a good life.’ She eyed the bottle again. ‘That was really good rum. I wanted to get completemy hammered tonight, even on mushrooms, if there was nothing else. I guess that’s not happening after all.’ She made her way out of the trunk.
‘You’re just biurning leaving?’
‘What? Did you want to come along? You did!’ she shrugged. ‘I suppose I can’t see no harm in that. Bring your flying lights too, and don’t forget the booze! I have to say I’m pretty curious to know the rest of the story anyway. And why they use gorwaks as a swear word. Do you have a name at all?’
‘We made it as a burning swear? That’s absolutely dripping fantastic! Haa! You wouldn’t be able to pronounce my name. Patat will do.’
‘Patat? What kind of a name is that.’ She laughed, unable to keep it in. She had no idea what just happened in there. The gorwak must’ve been playing with her, she hadn’t done anything at all. Somehow though, the feeling that everything was going to be alright crept up to her.
The rum was doing its thing.
‘Be there soon.’ She thought towards Blackie. ‘And I’m not alone.’