What the zlurp had told us, touched me to the core. It was impossible! It couldn’t be true. Wyny didn’t believe it, and I tried really hard not to believe it either, but I knew. I knew some of what he said may be true. It was as if several pieces of my life fell into place. Why had I never questioned—like really questioned certain things? Trust. Because of trust in my parents? Perhaps. The only thing I knew at that point was that we had to leave the cave. And so Wyny told me there was only one way to exit it. *Flapping of dragon wings*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 15: flight
‘How do we get out of here?’
Nadec walked away from the room where Blackie burped the zlurp back to unconsciousness. She kept her stride firm, heart beat loud in her own ears. A glance to Wyny confirmed he was keeping up.
‘You believe him? Do you not believe we should discuss what he said? Think about it properly? You know he could have been lying.’
She shook her head, stopping to allow Kitty to jump on her shoulders. The things the zlurp had said… She wished she didn’t believe. It had rattled her to the core. She tried hard to hang on to calmness, but in reality she felt on the brink off hysterics. She hadn’t felt like this in… in three years. No, don’t think about that as well.
‘We can’t assume he was lying, there’s too much at stake. I’ll have to let you find your own way back.’ This statement made her even more upset—her perfect record broken, at least from her point of view. They entered the main caves. Sadness grew on top of the other emotions. In that brief time, she’d gotten attached to this place.
‘It’s too dangerous for you to come with me. My employers would kill me if I let you. They probably already do, after your disappearance. Oh.’ She stopped, staring out over the water.
‘Could they be the ones behind this? If what he said was true?’ Any other time, the intensity on Wyny’s face would’ve diverted her mind elsewhere. This was not the time for such thoughts though.
‘No, no, that wouldn’t make sense.’ She frowned. ‘Even if they aren’t happy with my uncompleted job—you, yes, you—they wouldn’t hurt me over it.’ She snorted at the ridiculousness. It sounded fake to her own ears. Come on, pull it together, keep making jokes, don’t let this get to you.
‘You realise I will refuse to let you go on without me, are you not?’
‘Are you trying to be the valiant hero, the knight in the night, the man who rescues all, the prince on the white horse, rescuing the damsel in distress?’ She’d meant for it as a joke, but it came out sounding bitter and annoyed.
‘I’ll have you know, I am the one who saves people here, buddy. I am the one they’d named the red knight. I am the one they send out to find missing people and do everything to get them back.’ She wanted to shout but couldn’t. Instead, her voice broke. The tears on her face were like a betrayal to the brave mask she worked so hard to keep.
‘They gave the responsibility to me! So don’t you think you can just come marching in and take over. I’ve been doing fine these past years by myself and I will keep on doing fine. Even if there is someone out there who wants to capture me or kill me because they—wrongly—believe I am some heir from a dead country. Bullshit! My parents were normal people. They were the best people. This is all horseshit!’
She inhaled, but couldn’t. Instead it became a broken sob. She turned away from him, keen to pick up Kitty. But Kitty was already on her shoulders.
‘It is alright, Nadec. It is alright. I will not leave you. We will figure this out together. Your employers can go eat goat dung.’
A sniffle-giggle escaped her—Wyny didn’t swear often. He enveloped her in his nice, strong arms. She returned the hug without hesitation. It had been too long since she had human contact like this. She allowed the tears, for now. Kitty jumped off her shoulders, but kept making an eight in between her ankles, headbutting and meowing.
‘We don’t have time for this.’
Forcing a stop to her pathetic behaviour, she pulled away from Wyny. His reluctance was obvious when he released her. The nod was confident.
‘I still am not completely convinced if we should go, I do not trust that creature. But,’ he held his hand up as she was about to protest, ‘I trust your judgment. We should be going. What shall we do with the zlurp?’
‘Leave him. He won’t wake up unless Blackie wakes him, right? Right. So we leave him. Not our problem anymore. I’m not in the mood for killing.’
As Wyny opened his mouth, she glared at him.
‘We go, now.’
She had to keep busy, anything to keep the whirlwind inside from getting out. Her little breakdown had been enough. No more of that now. Focus on the immediate threat, handle the larger issue later. Break it down in small steps, make the impossible, possible. She kept repeating those thoughts until she believed it.
‘Clothes. I need spare ones, can’t keep walking around in these rags all the time, do you need clothes?’
Nadec didn’t wait for his reply, she walked off straight away towards the room with the abandoned clothes. Many of those were not better than rags, but she selected several decent looking shirts, a skirt and trousers, which might fit her. She made a bundle out of them, and did the same for Wyny.
When she came back to the main chamber—after enjoying the luxury of the bathroom and its small waterfall one last time—Wyny looked ready to go. He had collected their blankets and put Kitty’s harness on. Blackie wagged her tail, panting with split tongue out.
The sight of her companions—one human, two non-human-animals—stirred something. As a ray of sunlight banishing a dark cloud. How poet, thought of that yourself? She did not appreciate her own self-mocking thought, but couldn’t help the sarcasm.
‘All good to go, I guess. Where’s the exit?’
‘Well, that is something I have not been able to tell you yet. There is no exit.’
‘Let me finish. There is no exit we can navigate through with ease. Thus, we fly.’
‘We fly.’ Her voice was flat in every way. She looked from Wyny to Blackie. The dragon winked. Oh no.
‘Can she even carry us all? She’s not matured yet, she’s still little.’
At that, Blackie puffed up, standing tall with her chest out, front legs straight but ass down. Sitting like a proud cat. Nadec had to admit the dragon was not small. Although not as large as Nadec had imagined dragons to be, she supposed they would fit on the animal’s back. Flying on a dragon. That could divert her mind for a bit. It could also make their journey easier.
Not wanting to speak for fear of a tremble in her voice, she glanced at Wyny. The man had a grin on his face. Of course, he’d flown before, when she was unconscious. He gestured in a polite way. She shoved his bundle of clothes in his outstretched hand. She hoped he knew how much of an art it was, making a perfect and solid package out of clothes.
Blackie ducked down, positioning one of her legs so it made a step. When Nadec settled down on the dragon’s back, Kitty jumped and settled in front of her. Wyny climbed up and got very cosy behind her. She supposed the wings and all, made things a bit awkward. The dragon was pleasantly warm underneath her—Wyny pleasantly warm behind her—and almost felt like a massive, supersized horse. Without the hair and the smell.
Before Nadec could prepare herself, a jump and flap of the wings took them off the ground. The lurch tickled her tummy. They soared over the water, into a tunnel at the end of the lake. Blackie maneuvered around the cave’s obstacles, higher and lower, fast and slow. The bioluminescence a brilliant blue against the dark rock. Unlike before, she now noticed other colours too.
The unfamiliar yet incredible sensation of flying on a mythical winged beast was enough to make Nadec forget about everything else for the moment. Then they exited into daylight.
Nadec’s breath stopped in amazement.
Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 15, Flight Narrated by myself, Nadec. Adventure by and lived through by Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. Before we get to those, [music on background] we just want to say that if you head over to astridjef.com, you can find transcripts and full chapters of this podcast. Even more, you can find the unedited draft of Nadec at least up to 15 chapters further than the podcast goes. So if you’re keen to know how the story continues, you have the option to go and read. Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
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