As we are standing on the porch I notice we are not alone in this scary swamp. Several fishy looking armed figures start appearing. They look smelly. I ask Mister Bird if he’s seen them too because I don’t want to be accused of being hysterical. He really seems out of it though so I turn back to alert Mister Mopan—who is really the embodiment of a whirlwind in a stout mustachioed dwarf—and he is through the door, at the ready for a brawl. This raises the attention of Mister Dwalin. He seems a bit more interested in learning more about these would be assailants and there’s not much I can tell him about their numbers or protective gear. The dark shady light in this terrain did not reveal much to my eyes. As the two of us make our way out the door and on to the porch, chanting begins. My hands get slick. I start to make out the words. THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT DOING UNSPEAKABLE THINGS AND FEEDING US TO SOMEONE.
I am going to be sick. But that has to wait because there’s an earthquake! I try to latch on to Mister Dwalin to steady myself but we all take a tumble into the muck. I’m thrown flat on my back and as my eyes pop back up to the front of my head, I watch as THE HUT WALKS WAY. WHAT IS HAPPENING—HOUSES ARE THROWING US OFF AND WALKING AND WE ARE GOING TO BE FISH FOOD! I try to get a good look at what’s happening but it looks like we are going to be surrounded if we do not get up and out of this stuff. The fish people are moving faster in this gunk than we are. I’m struggling to rise and I hear a snap and a plop. One of the fishmen falls to his demise. It looks like Mister Mopan has very scarily and easily snapped his neck. He looks pleased. Chauntea help me my comrades are maniacs! But what can I do? There are too many shadowy figures in the distance and most of my training was helping crops grow in Delimbryan. I can’t move anyway. I can’t move? I CAN’T MOVE.
I look over to my right and Mister Dwalin is also stone still. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Bodies are moving and I hope none of these fishmen see me as a threat. Or as food. I try to break free. It works? I shouldn’t be in this mix. I make my way around the fighting. What do I do? How can I help?
STOP THINKING LIKE THAT. YOU NEED TO BRAINSTORM.
I pray to Chauntea. I pray to Silvanus. I pray to anyone who will hear my meek voice and I call upon a storm cloud to strike down lightning to my aid.
AND OH MY GODS I JUST FRIED TWO FISH GUYS RIGHT IN FRONT OF MISTER MOPAN—I don’t want to kill anyone! All of my teachings so far have been to help things grow! But they don’t take a fall. They just smell a little crispy and I try to make my way toward Mister Bird as our two dwarf comrades are battling it out but everything is moving fast. There’s fishmen everywhere, either dead on the ground or assaulting us. Theres something happening above. My storm cloud shouldn’t be this powerful. There’s more rumbling in the sky and the air becomes more static, my hair is rising. I’m not doing this—this isn’t right. The thunder roars in my ears. I know what’s going to happen.
Lightning strikes down and everything is illuminated and I’m blinded by the starkest white light. The sick smell of singed hair fills my nose as everything starts to fade to black and I’m falling.
I’m standing in a wheat field-a beautiful sea of gold. A sudden breeze rises and the sheaves of wheat shift in undulating waves. It’s close to harvest. I close my eyes and I can hear the sound of the sea with my feet firmly planted in this field. This wheat field is familiar; comforting. I raise my hands to touch the beards of the grain. It brushes the palms of my hands and I scratch my palms from the tickles. I hear my name being called and I open my eyes and look towards the sound. In the distance I can see Ma and Pa Blossom standing out front of the Honey Hollow.
Smoke is rising from Pa’s pipe. It’s probably his favorite mint tobacco. He’s got his arm around Ma’s waist. She raises her arm up to wave. I wave back and she calls to me again. Speeding around the hill, Briar and Juniper come running from the back. He’s obviously done something to start a chase and I laugh. Juniper is on a mission to catch him and Briar is…
The wind is knocked out of my lungs and I’m struck down to the ground like the weight of the world is pressing down. Everything feels like I am dying. All the nerves in my body are screaming. The pain is excruciating. I need air! With all my will power, I try to look up to see an assailant but the sun is in my eyes. I raise my arm to shade my face and I’m on alert. What just happened? I raise myself up from the dirt. Dirt? No, leaves. I try to catch my breath and inhale deeply. The scent is refreshing and clean and woody. I hear my name being called again. This time it’s a man’s voice. I recognize it; I haven’t heard this voice in a long while. Am I dreaming? The pain has subsided and I take a look at my surroundings. I’m in a wood now. The crunch underneath my feet tell me it’s beginning of fall. The light is shining through the boughs of the trees and dapples the forest floor. I know these trees. It’s the Ardeep.
I hear his voice call my name again but the sun shining through the boughs makes it difficult to see where he’s calling from. As I make my way by the oaks and the beeches, I reach out and briefly pass my hands over their familiar bark. There’s a clearing ahead. Everything in it bathes in the warmth and light of the sun. Garrett is bent over in it. He looks like he is inspecting the growth of some flowers. He looks up towards me and stands up to his full height. He’s as tall as a redwood. His beard looks like it could use a good combing because as far away from him as I am, I can see that nature has left him some parting gifts in his beard. He’s smiling and he motions toward me.
I start running. My vision starts to blur as tears start streaming down my face. I blink them away and the trails they leave make my face feel cold as I run. Just as I am about to reach the space where the sun illuminates my Garrett, his wrinkled old face turns to laughter as he sees me coming. I fling myself to his open ar—and I’m thrown down like the force of a thousand Dwarven hammers have struck me and my body is strewn across the forest floor and leaves are flung aside as I hit the ground. It’s the same pain as before. My body is on fire. I’m gasping for air. I can’t breathe!
My vision starts to blur and I try to focus. No. No. NOOO. The light fades; I can’t see! I’m so tired. I just want to sleep now. I succumb to the darkness and float into nothingness.