So, I had been caught, it seemed. Jodec was there in the throne room, but Patat wasn’t. My uncle didn’t come alone, and before I could skip away, massive hands lifted me upside down. I never thought to see any of those creatures again. Balls! While I hung there, memories of our previous encounter came back to me, things clicking in place. It had spoken about being trained, perhaps the training took place in the castle. Either way, Jodec had moved Patat but did, for some reason, allow me to speak to him one last time. When walking through he castle, we passed some people arguing loudly and *crashing sounds of things caving in*
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This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
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Episode 46: Caught
Nadec stiffened at hearing the deep and rumbling voice which unmistakably belonged to her uncle. She didn’t hesitate and without turning around to the source of the voice, she bent though her knees and began the Skipping process.
‘Ah, hah, aaah, none of that now.’ Jodec mocked her at the same time another, even heavier voice breathed in her ear.
A large purple hand swatted one of her arms, while another hand circled both of her ankles together with the dress’ hem. Before her mind cleared of the creator’s surprise appearance, she dangled upside down in front of the zlurp, her eyes level to his crotch. She couldn’t feel relief at seeing it wear a cloth, because one of the balls had escaped confinement, the fiery orange hairs nearly touching her nose as she swung back and forth. Better than all three balls, she thought to herself. It didn’t comfort her. She craned her neck to look around.
‘So you have been coming here every evening, hah. Sneaky little niece of mine. Very daring too, hah, very daring indeed, surrounded by people who are looking for you. No more. Your little friend gorwak is hidden away now. Squares, zlurp, turn her around.’
The zlurp did so, right in time to prevent Nadec from doing something she really hadn’t wanted to do to try escaping. Squeezing hairy, oversized balls was always the last resort.
‘But I’m not a bad person,’ Jodec continued. ‘I will let you talk to him one last time, hah. Don’t get anything in your smart little head. We will move him around daily, hah. You won’t get the change to Skip to him again. Come on.’
The zlurp dropped Nadec, but squeezed the back of her neck straight away, lifting her up and guiding her to follow Jodec. Had Patat betrayed her? How else had her uncle known about her coming here? Something else he said made her scrunch up her brows. Did he mean to let her go? It somehow felt like that was exactly his intention.
No one spoke as they walked. Nadec tried to keep track of where they went, but the castle’s hallway soon all became part of a labyrinth in her mind. At one point, they passed an area where the castle looked like a construction site. Two people argued against each other in a room, shouting loud enough to be heard throughout the hallway.
‘This is how Lord Pagewyn wants it, see, this is how he explained. Come on, you were there as well when he said what it looked like.’ A high-pitched female voice yelled.
‘Water sprinkling out of a round metal device sprouting from the wall. Does that sound reasonable to you? The Lord had been going through a lot, we can be safe to assume he might have been imagining things.’ The male voice didn’t shout, but was loud enough by itself.
‘Imagining things?’ The female voice sputtered. ‘We have been through this before, it is the same thing every night. If you didn’t insist on working at night, we could’ve scheduled time with him again and discussed it all anew. Instead, we’ve been wasting our time…’
Nade couldn’t hear anymore as they turned another corner. So Wyny wanted to install showers in the castle? Nadec guffawed aloud, earning an angry stare from Jodec. The zlurp gave her neck an extra squeeze, hard enough to make Nadec grunt.
She couldn’t help keeping the image of the workers out of her mind, trying to invent showers without knowing what they were. The more Nadec thought about it, the more hilarious she found it. If they’d been given only a description of what a shower looked like, without any technical explanation… Occasional giggles found their way out, and the more she tried to contain it, the more she needed to laugh. She vaguely realised the peril of her current situation caused her brain to misfire like this, but that knowledge did nothing to stop the laughter.
‘I am not doing it anymore like this. I am going to bed, and tomorrow we will do it my way, and we will hear out Lord Pagewyn again. Surely he has more to say about it.’
The voice broke out from behind them, followed by a door slamming and the obvious sound of the whole doorway collapsing.
That was the last straw for Nadec. Her laughter could no longer be held in. Tears streamed over her face as she gasped for air in between laughs. The zlurp tried to shake her out of it but it only made her howl harder. Jodec growled at her several times to be quiet. With every growl, she managed a second of silence before snorting her way back into full out frenzied laughter. Nadec thought she saw the corners of Jodecs’ mouth tug upwards. Laughter like that was contagious after all.
‘Keep her quiet,’ Jodec grumbled towards the zlurp. ‘No sound in the next area.’
No sound in the n—? The zlurp turned her face into its big belly. Her nose crunched slightly as it got squished. Her whole face felt sucked into the blubber. She couldn’t breathe. As the last of her laughter died, the shakes of giggles were indistinguishable from the trembles to fight against a lack of oxygen. She passed out.
The collision against the hard floor shocked her awake. She blinked as she heard Patat demand: ‘What have you burning done to her? If you’ve hurt her, I’ll grounding—’
‘You’ll what, ‘tat? You are not in any position to do anything. Hah, do not worry about your little princess, she merely had to be contained for a little bit while we walked passed Lord Pagewyn’s quarters. We did not want to wake him up with her laughter now, did we? Hah. There, see, she is awake. You can talk to her one last time. Then you say your goodbyes.’
Nadec struggled to stand up. The front of her head throbbed, which she thought of as a lingering side effect of the concussion from a few weeks back. Once she managed to get on her feet, she glared at the zlurp, and pulled a face at his ugliness. The small beady eyes, combined with the cavity in the form of a nose and the crack of a mouth. She wondered for a second if this was the same zlurp they’d left in the cave—asleep from Blackie’s burp—but decided it must be another one. The cave zlurp had a bunch of overripe pimples. This one seemed to have none. She moved her glare over to her uncle, and let it rest on Patat. The gorwak was still in the same cage. He flew a step backward at her stare.
‘What’s that grounding for?’ he demanded.
‘You told him about our meetings?’ She wanted to make it sound accusatory, but it came out sounding more hurt. Frankdamnit.
‘What burning nonsense is that? Of course I didn’t dripping do such a thing. Did he grounding say that to you?’ Patat turned towards Jodec. ‘I know I don’t know who you dripping are anymore, but I never took you to be a full-out grounding liar for no reason, not even now. Nadec, think about it, why would I burning betray you?’
The more he spoke, the more guilty she felt. She hadn’t actually believed he’d done it, it had merely been the easiest explanation. She felt her expression soften.
‘Hah, very cute seeing you together. You have five minutes to talk.’
Jodec signaled to the zlurp, but it only stared at him vacantly, obviously not understanding what the gesture meant. ‘Step aside, you towering ugly rock. She won’t run. Isn’t that right, niece?’ After a reluctant nod from Nadec, jaws clenched and lips pressed together, he uttered a satisfied ‘hah’. The zlurp took a few steps to stand next to Jodec, who grimaced almost imperceptibly, and shuffled aside a bit.
‘What’s with those zlurps?’ Nadec asked him. ‘I never heard of them before meeting the one in the forest. Did you take xlurps and do something with them? How did you make them speak? Did you go back for the one in the cave yet?’
‘Do you really want to use your five minutes to talk about these abominations? It’s only four now, hah.’ Jodec frowned. ‘Why did you assume we left it in the cave? This is that one.’
Nadec grunted. He was right, she shouldn’t waste time on this. Without replying, she turned to Patat, who perked up. He didn’t look good. The wings had lost their iridescence, and his slimy skin showed inconsistencies, mottled spots of dull areas covering where there were rainbows before. Nadec stepped closer to him.
‘You look awful.’
‘Very grounding observant. It’s burning nothing kid. I’m burning moulting soon, it is just a very annoying coincidence. Close you dripping mouth, you look like a burning fish.’ The familiar quip combined with his lopsided grin set her somewhat at ease. ‘I should be burning done with this in a week’s time. If I’m burning still alive in a dripping week.’ His black, liquid eyes flickered towards Jodec.
‘You will, ‘Tat, don’t you worry about that,’ Nadec’s uncle said gruffly, almost reluctantly.
‘I won’t let them kill you,’ Nadec whispered on top of him. ‘No matter what.’ She lowered her voice even more, hoping it was silent enough so Jodec couldn’t hear her. ‘Do you remember what I told you about the plan?’ Patat nodded. ‘Good. I wasn’t sure if you’d heard me, you weren’t very responsive.’
‘About that, I’m dripping sorry. What burning Jodec had told me, still lingers. But no time to dripping talk about that now. I grounding remember the plan, and I’m grounding so ready for it. How did Blackie dripping do today?’
‘It was perfect.’ Nadec smiled. ‘People are in awe of the appearance of the dragon, and I’ve heard whispers of many looking forward to the next appearance tomorrow.’
‘Enough whispering, hah. Time’s up, let’s go.’ Nadec heard the zlurp come closer again.
‘No,’ Nadec burst out, ‘that can’t have been five minutes already.
‘What in the names of the Lines is happening here?’ A new voice shouted out. Everyone stopped moving.
The zlurp blocked Nadec’s view, but her heart froze in her chest for a moment, replaced by flutters. It seemed she had been knocked out for no reason. Wyny was awake after all.
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 46 Caught
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, 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. [music on background]