Thramuny glided across the waterspouts. She missed this feeling, the energy in the air, the electricity in the water, it set off all her nerve endings. This land, her homeland, teemed with life, and restored her power.
She launched herself from the top of a waterspout, below she saw the pink sand of the beach. Above, the mountain with a pink peak like a blooming flower. Eio arrived and clung to her back. He gently guided her decent to the beach. Up, way above the mountain, she saw the shape of Dungii flying off into the distance.
“Where are they going? Thank you Eio, I’ll be fine on my own. Please go help Dungii and Ang.”
After placing her on the soft sand. Eio flew off after Dungii and Ang. As she expected, the sand crabs uncovered themselves, a claw rose by her ankle, but Boa wrapped around it crushing it. The rest of the blue crabs rose out of the sand. They brandished their serrated claws and made the mistake of attacking Thramuny. She swung her hair, slicing the claws that reached for her. Taking Boa and gripping it with both hands, she jumped and smashed a crab’s exoskeleton. The other crabs tried to pounce on her, but her hair flailed wildly, beating them back. More crabs uncovered from the sand, scuttling her way. Huge hawks descended from the sky. They tore at the crabs with their razor claws.
“I have been wanting to try this, ANACONDA!”
She threw her staff into the air, as the form a gigantic serpent enveloped it. Its body made of emerald tendrils. It had eyes of fire and fangs of thunder. The staff at its core. It flew through the air biting and constricting the hawks. Thramuny fought below, swinging her hair and slicing the crabs to pieces. Between herself and the snake above, they were able to dispatch all the assailants. Thramuny stood firm on the bodies as the ground shook. An enormous sand worm erupted from the beach Boa’s anaconda form tiny in comparison.
The staff thrust upward as the worm came down. Rows of vicious teeth on display, dripping with hot phlegm. The snake shot straight into its mouth and hollowed out its body. Popping out of the ground beside Thramuny. The worm fell over dead, adding to the pile of crabs and hawks. She basked in the glory of a challenge overcome and reminisced about the days when she undertook pest control missions.
“It seems a few populations have grown unchecked in my absence.” Out of energy, the snake became a hardwood staff. She retrieved it and made her way up the hillside, nimbly climbing the sheer cliffs, in only a few short minutes she reached the top of the mountain. A tiny pale pink paradise, a few thin trees dotted the terrain, their branches drooping with the weight of exotic fruits. In the center a clear lake, teeming with rainbow fish. Vlux stood at the edge of the lake, surrounded by the bodies of rodents.
“There you are Thramuny, so funny story, on my way here literally everything tried to kill me. I swear that cloud looked at me mean, that tree swung at me, and I swear that rock has been getting closer. Also, I have some news about Dungii and Ang.”
Thramuny giggled. “Yes, I saw Dungii fly way over there. I already sent Eio after them.”
“I should have stayed with him. We both messed up Kiliyi.”
“Eio will find them soon, when he does I will know. Once we find my people, we can organize a rescue.”
“I’m worried about them. I mean they’re strong and resourceful, but will that be enough?”
“It has to be. Eio will find them much faster on his own. I had us meet here because my home should be just over that ridge.”
They walked through the soft cool sand to the far side of the summit. Thramuny barely recognized her home. The once gold pyramids turning brown, the statues crumbling, and smoke rising. Her people engaged in combat with hairy bipedal monsters. Wyverns fought with her tribe, some on land, some in the air, breathing down a fiery assault. The battle seemed at a deadlock.
“We must help them,” said Thramuny.
“We’re ready to go if you are.”
Together they raced down the summit. Vlux surfed down the sand on the tome, Splinter ready in hand. Thramuny jumped down the mountain in great bounds, propelling herself with palm blasts. As they closed the distance, Thramuny could get a clearer picture of the monsters attacking. They had long lean muscular limbs covered in orange fur, with black stripes, claws like swords, and sickle teeth. They attacked without control or restraint, cutting down trees, tribesmen, and each other.
“Vlux. Please try not to harm these beasts. They are not themselves.”
“Don’t worry Splinter is perfect for disabling.”
Thramuny leaped into the fray. Spinning her hair, she rendered numerous beasts unconscious. Using a slanted rock to ramp up, Vlux swung Splinter, raining thorns on the beasts. Having immobilized one mob, they ran to the next.
“Thramuny you’re back. We thought you were dead,” said a young man, wielding a spear. He wore forearm braces, a red and gold shoulder piece, exposed midriff, and loose sarong. A red reptilian companion fought next to him, spewing fire.
She responded with action. Putting her hands together, she charged power between her palms. Then she opened her arms and spread a superb wave through the monster ranks, knocking them against trees and buildings. Vlux jumped over her shoulder and used Splinter’s thorns to ensure the beasts couldn’t get back up without severe pain. The scales now tipped in their favor, the tribesmen gained the upper hand, forcing the monsters to sound the horn of retreat. Thramuny turned her attention to the monsters who did not get away and watched as they turned from beast to person.
“Thramuny, you’ve returned,” exclaimed a young female.
“Thramuny the Breeze.” said a middle-aged male.
“Thramuny we haven’t seen you in so long, where have you been?” asked the male with the reptilian companion.
“Drumya, my apologies for making you worry, what has happened here?”
“You’ve been gone a long time, a lot has changed. These are members of the Oskien tribe. Their nest beast has taken ill and isn’t producing as many young.”
“So they have resorted to doing this. This is not a solution; they are destroying themselves.”
“Actually, all the nest beasts have fallen ill, including Tial-Meh. And they seem unable to produce the hormone that creates an heir.”
“This is terrible.”
“Yes, even the once benevolent phoenix’s have been ferociously territorial. Between them and the more frequent attacks from opposing tribes, things have not been good. But, Thramuny the Breeze is back, you can help. Where is Eio?”
“Eio is here. I just sent him to do some scouting. I need to speak with the chief where is he?”
“It’s she now, remember Frumy, she’s the chief now. Oskien killed her father in a raid.”
“I see, where is she?”
“She should be in the temple over there.”
“Vlux, follow me.” They walked along the cracked stone road. People were putting out fires, tending to injuries, and beholding the returned Thramuny and her little companion. Thramuny could hear people whisper her name, but she paid them no mind.
“So, I caught some of what you and that boy said, but I’m not fluent in your language just yet. You mind explaining the situation to me,” asked Vlux.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed, this land is savage and unforgiving. The tribes across Kyxichen have come up with many ways of surviving and making life easier. Our method is to soulmate with a wyvern. By mating souls, we gain the ability to see through each other's eyes and communicate at a distance. Survival is much easier with an inseparable ally. These attacking tribesman, they are our neighbors and adopted a similar method, but they use Saberfang tigers. Now it seems they are using a different method; it’s driving them berserk.”
“So I gather, this nest beast is the creature that spawns the new potential familiars for your people, like a mother wyvern.”
“Yes, my tribe, the Pyoxien, have a close relationship with dragons. Our nest beast is a great dragon who births wyverns that partake in the soul mating ritual with us.”
“Um..but aren’t you soulmated with Eio? Cause he is definitely not a wyvern.”
“I’ll explain that later, we're here, and I need to speak with Frumy.” They stood before a large curved gold pyramid, etched with vivid runes, and an unpolished dragon statue. A thick red intricately embroidered curtain draped the entrance, flanked by two wyverns. They bowed respectfully, Thramuny returned the gesture and they moved to allow passage. She approached the heavy curtain which opened into a large domed chamber, all around were young children, elderly, and those unable to fight. All faces turned to Thramuny as she walked through the space, and down a large pathway, into a grand chamber with more people. Looking around, she spotted Frumy wearing the extravagant dragon headdress of the chief. She was tending to the wounded when Thramuny approached.
“Chief Frumy, may I speak with you.”
“Thramuny the Breeze, they told me you were back. I have been wanting to speak with you, where have you been all this time?”
“I was being held captive in a foreign land, but this pixie and her friends saved me, her name is Vlux.”
“She is very pukoo,” said Frumy with a smile, Vlux glared back.
“Frumy, please tell me what happened while I was away. How did things get this bad?”
“It started awhile ago. The nest beasts of all the neighboring tribes became ill and infertile. The tribes that did not rely on nest beasts took advantage of our weakness and started conquering the other tribes. The scouts tell me that the Triphu, have been the main dominating force, and only us and the Oskien have yet to fall to them. The Oskien have been trying to fight back. They asked us to join, but I do not agree with their methods.”
“So they’ve been weakening us with constant raids until we give in.”
“Yes, and I am almost at wits' end. They appointed me chief only a few months ago. I’m ashamed you’ve returned to see this. We are dying, the beasts are sick, our city is crumbling, survival is getting more difficult by the hour. The animals have been more vicious, many species have been wiped out, while others flourish. Something has disrupted the balance. Their method may be the only way left.”
“They are fusing their souls with the souls of tigers. Two beings cannot inhabit one body; they will destroy each other.”
“I know that, so do the Oskien, but they think they can perfect the ritual and merge the souls into one being.”
“That could turn them into actual monsters. I will put a stop to this at once.”
“Thramuny wait, there are many who would love to see you alive and well.”
“Please tell them I am alive and well for me. I cannot rest until I restore equilibrium.”
“I will tell them the Breeze blew in and then blew off to find trouble.”
“Thank you pukoo Frumy, I know you were suddenly thrown into this position, but you’re doing a fine job. Please keep doing your best.”
“You can’t call me that, I’m the chief now,” pouted Frumy. Thramuny laughed as she left the temple with Vlux in tow
“That word, pukoo what does it mean?” Asked Vlux.
“I guess the best translation would be cute or little.”
“That’s what I thought, I hate being called cute. So what’s your plan?”
“I am not good at planning like you are, what I am good at is infiltration and information gathering. We need to find out what’s going on with the Oskien, I have a close friend among them who will tell me all I need to know. I was afraid he would be among them, but I have yet to see him.”
“That’s why you didn’t want to harm them too much, you thought your friend might be with them.”
“Exactly, it seems they have tied up all the survivors, but your thorns are still causing them excruciating pain. Is there anyway you can get rid of them without detonating them?”
“Yes, but it still hurts, wouldn’t it be better to leave them in, aren’t they the enemy?”
“No, they are our neighbors. Something has misguided them. The tribes have always fought on and off, its normal behavior. But we do not have prisons or cages in Kyxichen. We return all captives mostly unharmed.”
“Well, here goes.” She lifts Splinter straight up, and a collective scream echoed through the city as she burned away the thorns, causing minor injury.
“Thramuny are you leaving already,” said the young man as he approached with his red wyvern.
“You know I cannot sit idle.”
“I know, you’re going to see the doctor aren’t you. Here you can take… Pukoo, he will fly you there, it will be much faster and safer.”
“And that way you can keep an eye on me,” teased Thramuny.
“No, it’s not like that, and Pukoo can prevent me from seeing.”
“You’re very generous Drumya, and if it’s alright with Pukoo, I accept your offer.
Pukoo let out a gracious roar and lowered himself so Thramuny and Vlux could climb on. Then he flew off into the sky toward the Oskien’s home.