So, we left the cave in a hurry. I’m still a bit embarrrased that I hadn’t noticed the lack of an entrance before. But how could I know? There were all those tunnels? I couldn’t know where they lead! Either way, flying on the back of a dragon is incredibly surreal. Kitty didn’t much care, but I was able to forget all my worries for a while. The view was just too gutsing amazing. I admit, for a little bit I thought we’d found a solution for our coming journey. We could just fly on Blackie and travel much quicker. That thought fled after we touched ground again. Blackie dropped on her belly and *sound of slurping water*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Episode 16: Descending
When flying, Nadec loved looking out of the window. The view was alway wonderful, but in truth, it never showed all that much. Endless patches of green, brown, blue. Sometimes only clouds. Pretty, yes, but she loved it more when the airplane was closer to earth, when the real beauty of below showed. Close enough to see details, far enough to see a lot. She had never flown over an area of pure nature as what she saw now, stretching endlessly beyond her vision.
When Blackie turned around—perhaps circling was an easier way to descend with humans on one’s back—Nadec could see the tunnel through which they’d exited the cave. The opening let out a stream of water, dropping into a flowing waterfall cascading over multiple rocks. Around that one were many more waterfalls; all coming from other tunnels in what appeared to be the side of a small mountain. The sight was mesmerising.
Sun rays hitting the falling water shattered into a million different colours. The base colour was a shining golden, but hidden in between were thousands of small rainbows, caused by all the different levels, depths, strengths, speeds, and widths of the waterfalls. Then Blackie’s circling turned them back around. Once again, Nadec’s breath hitched before letting it out in an outstretched woah.
Definitely nothing she’d ever seen from an airplane. Perhaps people who did all the base jumping, and craziness like that, knew how pretty things could be. But surely even they had never seen anything like this.
‘It is quite extraordinary, is it not?’
Wyny almost had to shout to be heard over the wind rushing past them, but still managed to find the perfect volume. She didn’t have to cringe in the way it sometimes went when someone at a loud party tries to speak and nearly breaks the other’s ear drum.
She merely nodded—she knew how embarrassing her voice sounded when she had to yell. She’d already embarrassed herself enough in front of him. There were no words to express the magnificence of the view. The magnificence of The Other Realm; this area of it anyway. Perhaps it was a combination of New Zealand, with its lakes and large hills, a bit of Australia—the outside, not the inside—with brilliant beaches along cliff sides. A piece of Brazil, with vast jungles, green and moist and colourful. There was such a variety of diverse landscapes, she wondered how that worked with the climate. This place has magic, so why wouldn’t the environment be magical? She accepted that thought for now.
The best thing of what she could see, was the lack of people. No human settlements, no human interference. Her heart warmed even more at the sight. She loved what technology could do, but she resented what it had done to Earth, the amount of suffering and death it had brought, to both people, animals and nature. She didn’t allow her mind to wander of in that direction, but relished in the bliss of seeing something amazing.
Kitty didn’t care about anything around him. He appeared soundly asleep in front of Nadec, head towards her, tail fluttering besides him. How could he be asleep? Somehow he managed to look comfortable while on top of the dragon’s spine ridges. This was one of those times Nadec wished she could take photos.
Their flight soon came to an end. Blackie’s feet hit the ground. The landing wasn’t smooth, but none of them fell off during its bumpiness. Nadec slid off as soon as she could, almost before Blackie stood still. No matter how much she’d enjoyed the view, having solid ground under her feet did feel good.
Blackie had dropped them off next to a lake, formed by some of the waterfalls. The reason for her choice of landing spot became obvious immediately, as she stepped toward the lake and drank with big swallows, dropping on her belly as she did so. The flight must have exhausted her. So much for flying on a dragon to make the journey quicker, Nadec thought, with a relief she would never admit to anyone.
‘So, do you know where we are? Was there anything at all you recognised from the air? I know we’re likely not even near your Paralellogram kingdom, but you must’ve gotten a bit of general geography lessons, right? It would be easier if that zlurp hadn’t destroyed my bag with my map.’
She turned to Wyny while asking the question, grumbling that last bit. Her mouth stayed open after the last word, as he stood there with his upper body bare, in the middle of removing his pants. That was not what she’d expected.
‘I am not certain, but… what is the matter?’ He frowned at her. She realised she’d been staring and shook out of it, making a shooing motion with her hands. She was sure she saw a small smile before he ducked his head, to remove his underpants. He was naked once again.
‘Honestly, I would think you would be used to seeing me nude by now, you have seen me more without garments than dressed. I am taking a dip in the lake, it might make for an acceptable bath. The lake in the cave was too cold. This might be bearable. As for where we are, I am not certain, like I said,’ he jumped in the water, ducked down, and appeared again with a puff, ‘but I believe I did see the Spiralling Spinal Spine Pines. If that is so, we should go that direction. Not because I know where to go from there, but because there is a small city nearby and we could possibly find a new map there. And perhaps hear more about events.’
By the time he finished speaking, Nadec had also undressed and gone into the water, after making sure he wasn’t looking in her direction. It was cold at first—cold enough to evoke a small squeak—but quite good after a while. With her period in full swing, being in this much water was a treat. If only she could stay in the lake until it was over. She thought about what he’d said but didn’t have to ruminate on it for too long. There weren’t many other options.
‘Good. We’ll go there. I suppose you remember which direction they were?’
He gave her a look which said I am not an idiot, but nodded anyway.
‘It was where the sun sits now.’
Nadec tipped her hair back. She liked the crawling sensation on her scalp from the chill water. On the river side, Blackie had already snuggled up with Kitty. Nadec snorted at that. Those two slept whenever and wherever they could.
‘I never heard dragons are so odd.’
Wyny sounded amused and ponderous. He floated closer to her.
‘There, I do not have to speak quite as loud now. Dragons are elusive and not much is known about them. We know them most of all from stories. I do not believe I have ever heard someone claiming to have seen a dragon. Not anyone trustworthy. It is said that their numbers appear to be dwindling.’
‘Of course they are. It’s a classic, the dragons-are-rare-and-almost-extinct-trope. I should call this world Troponia instead of The Other Realm.’ She chuckled at her own joke.
‘Don’t look at me like that. You don’t even know what a trope is, but believe me, this planet of yours is full of them.’
His face contorted even more in confusion. ‘What is a planet?’
She rolled her eyes at him. Almost, she swiped her hands forward to splash him, but that was one trope she didn’t want to fall into, no matter how fun it might be.
‘If I tell you that, I’d have to tell you many other things and it would blow your mind. We have more urgent issues now beside mind-blowing. Let’s just say it has to do with the stars which are really all su—uh, doesn’t matter. Talking about stars, they might be one of my most favourite things here.’ She trailed off, stopping herself right in time from mentioning light pollution and the effect it had. That would’ve been even worse than telling him all stars are suns.
‘Maybe I can explain some things while we’re on the road.’ An idea struck her and she cooed. ‘Ooh, and perhaps you can teach me how to use that magic of yours. My employers have granted me with a little bit of magicness, enough to be able to skip, so maybe I could do other things too.’
Wyny had been coming closer to her, but she’d been steadily moving away from him. No matter what his intentions were, she didn’t want to take any chance. He’s hot and a ruler, but that didn’t mean she was going to throw away her rule of not sleeping with the guys she rescued. Even if they tend to invade her dreams.
‘I apologise, I would be more than happy to teach you.’ His face scrunched up, reinforcing his apology. ‘Only descendants of the Water Crown are able to use the power of the Squares, so I am afraid you would not. I can, of course, show you how it is done and how it works, but you will not be able to practice it.’
‘I should’ve expected it. Another trope, only royalty can use magic.’ She barked a laugh. ‘Classic.’
After making sure Wyny wasn’t watching, she climbed out of the water, and whispered something to Blackie. The dragon winked at her in understanding. She knew she probably could’ve thought it and Blackie would’ve understood, but that felt too uncomfortable.
About ten minutes later they set out on a walk, off towards the Spiraling Spinal Spine Pines. The name sounded familiar, she may have seen it mentioned on her maps. Not for the first time since talking to the zlurp, she wondered what her parents had been up to. Ensnaring Nadec in her own tropes. And now, Earth might even be in danger.
The biggest trope of them all.
Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 16: Descending
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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