The preparations begin
The gurgle of a bubbling spring filled the atmosphere. The air smelled like cut grass with a hint of dandelion. Davina took another deep breath and watched Ghost sitting with his mouth agape. He frowned as he watched the small stream increase in size and travel up the side of a rocky plateau towards a huge swirling pool. The funnel of water bent ninety degrees and disappeared into a gap between the rocks.
‘It couldn’t be simple,’ muttered Ghost, tracing his finger over the multiple colours and patterns making up the rock they were sitting on. That rock resembled the inside of a tree trunk. It was made up of lines and striations containing the full spectrum of colour but what made it even better were all the different textures. Some areas were smooth and cool; others were hot and gritty.
‘Right it is time to go,’ said Thalia breaking his textural exploration.
Ghost searched for somewhere to ‘go’. There were no paths or roads. So… Ghost jolted and glanced up at the giant spinning whirlpool suspended in space. ‘Oh no… not that…’
‘Davina it is time for you to focus.’ Thalia’s expression was serious and slightly desperate. ‘You must save your father otherwise Gargantuan will deteriorate.’
‘I don’t understand. Thalia what will happen to Gargantuan if my father doesn’t return?’ Davina felt a pang in her stomach.
With a saddened expression, Thalia sighed. ‘It will become smaller and smaller until it does not exist,’ her voice strained. ‘There will be nothing left to inspire those who live on the outside world. All the beautiful dreams and inspiration will be replaced by darkness and emptiness.’
‘But why? Why can’t those who live on the outside take responsibility for themselves?’ questioned Davina.
Thalia gazed at Davina intently. ‘Gargantuan released the Chimera into the world. When she turned to the dark side, she captured your father with the help of the Grotesques. She needs your father because he holds all the power to Gargantuan, the keys to inspiration and the Sanctus scripts. The Sanctus scripts are the blueprints for existence for both the inner world and the outer world. If those fall into the Chimera’s hands then she will have the power to control or enslave both worlds.’
Thalia paced beside the spring, ‘How do I make this simple?’ she asked herself. ‘The simplest way to put it is – whoever rules Gargantuan takes responsibility for everything. Leadership is both a priviledge and a burden. Since you are next in line to the throne, the responsibility lies with you to find your father and the key.’
‘Key?’ asked Davina searching Thalia’s face for a hint of her meaning.
‘The key as we call it is known as Rebis – it is a special egg containing the secrets to existence. The Rebis was the first egg to enter the outside world and begin life out there. Rebis has the power to generate dreams and inspiration with the help of the weavers who interweave lives.’
‘So where is the Rebis kept?’ asked Davina pausing. To her right Ghost began to shake violently. ‘Ghost what’s up with you?’
‘Something strange is happening with my body. I feel like this warm glow is moving up from my feet to my knees then to my stomach and… oh… how weird! I feel like I could run and jump forever… what did I eat?’ Ghost stood up urgently and bounded about erratically – he was like a giant blue bottle fly.
‘Thalia why’s he doing that?’ Davina asked with a wrinkled brow.
‘It looks as if he’s taken to our food. I’m surprised how well he absorbed it and didn’t die in the process,’ Thalia ended matter of factly.
‘What?’ cried Ghost in alarm. ‘I could have died?’
‘I didn’t think it would happen, but I have been told that those who live outside of Gargantuan can also die when they don’t eat too. We had to take the chance.’
‘But I could have died!’ bleated Ghost.
‘Well… anyway I prepared you both some dry algae for the journey ahead. I have listed the colours and qualities of the food inside each pack. I have written it in Gargantuan so the outsiders will not know what it is. If you want to read it Ghost use the nose bung. In the meantime, Ghost, I suggest you remove that particular bung because it will draw attention to you. Inside the bag there are some travel translators that you can use on your journey. They will allow you to befriend and talk to the Goyles if you so desire.’
‘Let me get this straight I could have died from eating that green stuff?’ said Ghost, his mind still churning.
‘But you didn’t,’ retorted Thalia.
‘That doesn’t make it all right!’ cried Ghost, waving his arms in despair. ‘I still could have died!’
Davina rolled her eyes, Ghost seemed to like making dramas out of everything.
With an obvious stomp, Ghost flew into a strop. ‘The fact of the matter is you forced me to eat Goyle snot and that snot could have killed me!’
‘Ghost would you stop going on,’ begged Davina.
‘Nope!’ he replied defiantly.
Davina turned her attention back to Thalia. ‘Do you know where my father is being kept?’
‘But… I could have died! You fed me killer snot…grr!’ Ghost folded his arms and sat down with an exaggerated huff. He wasn’t going to let it go. ‘Do you know how bad it is to be killed by snot? I would never live it down.’
‘Of course you wouldn’t – you’d be dead!’ snapped Davina.
‘That’s not the point!’
‘What is the point Ghost?’
With a shrug, Ghost realised he was not going to get any attention for his behaviour.
‘Right enough of this pointless behaviour the pair of you!’ Thalia said wearily. ‘Now let’s concentrate on the matter at hand. Davina your father is imprisoned in one of two places on the outer world – the Meru fortress or the Sideways Tower. Since both of these places have been created by the Chimera, using Gargantuan rules, they will both appear in completely illogical physical forms.’
‘So where in the world are they?’ asked Davina.
‘They move. You will have to use your intuition. The last sighting was by Clio, one of the Pumagoyles. She said there was something taking place in the Sea of Sand.’ Thalia leant on her staff and studied the pair, they had no idea what they were in for.
‘The Sea of Sand? Is that somewhere else I could die?’ demanded Ghost sulkily.
‘You can die anywhere Ghost!’ Thalia snapped impatiently. Now listen carefully… The Sea of Sand is a massive desert in Africa and is the ideal place for the Chimera to grow her army using the power of the Rebis egg.’
‘I don’t get it… why does the Chimera need an army?’ Davina scratched her cheek, something felt so awful about the whole situation.
‘Dearest Davina the Chimera’s intention is absolute destruction. She hates humanity because of the cruelty they inflicted on the Goyles and the pain she suffered during her years in prison. She is probably laughing knowing that her intended destruction is coming from the most obscure place. A place humans didn’t even know existed.’
‘But surely the humans must know something,’ asked Ghost.
‘There maybe a few but the world population will certainly never expect such an attack from a creature they have ignored for centuries. In fact they are more obsessed with attacking each other.’
Davina shot Ghost a look of despair. How could humanity have missed something so obvious?
‘I should warn you both now – the Chimera will be elusive. You will be lucky if you catch a glimpse of her. Most of the time she will be leading, plotting and planning from inside her lair. You will have to locate her lair and then find a way to draw her out. My advice is to never be drawn into conflict on her own turf because she will kill your father. Although she will kill him when she has drained him of his energy anyway.’
‘How long has he got?’
‘Until the armies are grown and she has found a way to use the energy of the Rebis without it being attached to his body,’ Thalia replied honestly.
‘Why doesn’t she just kill him anyway and get the egg then?’ questioned Ghost, with an expression of confusion.
Davina threw Ghost a look of warning – he was crossing the line.
‘Why are you looking at me like that when you happily fed me killer snot?’
A patch of red appeared on Davina’s neck, her nails began to transform into claws.
Thalia watched Davina struggle with her emotion, ‘That is the sign of your rage Davina – it will give you power but it can also consume you. Use it wisely… ’
The distraction from her feelings broke the rage cycle and Davina’s talons retracted back to nails. Ghost didn’t like it – whenever Davina was ‘losing it’ something weird happened to her. What happened if she completely lost control? Was she also a killing machine?
‘You were about to tell us something,’ said Ghost.
‘Oh yes… I lost my trail of thought. The Rebis egg is connected to the carrier and is passed from parent to child through the bloodline. Once the Chimera has grown her army of Grotes she will then extract the egg for her own devices; so be very careful Davina, she could force you to retrieve the egg and then make you her slave,’ warned Thalia.
‘How long will it take to grow a full army?’ asked Ghost with an expression of fascination.
‘Not long. It depends on Davina’s father’s life force, as he fades then the growing will slow too.’
‘I can’t believe an egg is being used to grow an army,’ exclaimed Ghost in disbelief.
‘The egg’s presence enables the Grotesques to grow at an accelerated rate. The Grotes are grown in eggs like most of the reptiles and birds in the outside world. To strengthen the creatures, they rise through the earth. When they are ready to rise in mass, it will be horrendous. The outsiders will not know what hit them. How does a human made of flesh and blood know how to conquer a Grotesque when it is made of a reforming material?
‘What exactly do you mean by reforming?’ Davina’s mind spun. What was she up against?
‘If a Grote is made of sand or rock and is broken apart, the parts are attracted back to each other, join again and reform. The Gargantuan egg energy used to create the creatures comes from different physical rules. Gargantuan limitations are different, so anything is possible if we want it to be.’
‘How do you kill them then?’ asked Davina with a concerned expression.
‘When you are ready Davina, the information on how to slay the Grotes will be granted to you. If the worst comes to the worst use salt and water. That will stop them for a short while.’ With a troubled expression, Thalia glanced at the porthole above them. ‘The outsiders have no idea what’s coming. So be careful!’
‘How would anyone know about this stuff?’ Ghost didn’t like it. A whole world was hidden behind the scenes and no one knew.’
‘What do the outsiders know of other worlds? They certainly haven’t noticed Fluxions amongst them. I doubt anyone notices the movement of the Goyles and the Grotesques on the churches. It certainly isn’t people’s minds playing tricks on them. The only people that notice such things are children and adults rarely believe them.’
Ghost shot a look of acknowledgement at Davina, they had both experienced that!
Thalia noticed their exchange and smirked. ‘How funny that the adults think children’s minds are playing tricks on them when it is actually the reverse. If they knew how close the Chimera is to taking over and controlling the Rebis egg then they certainly would have a different attitude.’
‘Will the Chimera turn the humans into slaves?’ Ghost asked with a frown.
‘Who knows what the cruel, twisted creature will do…’ Thalia replied with a shrug. She was already considering the children’s coming adventure. ‘During this journey I suggest that you remain aware at all times. There will be spies on the outside world. You will be watched and will be in constant danger. Use Ghost’s sight – it is already improving. Keep close togther and help each other. Allow the Goyles to help you, but only call them when you are in desperate danger. Your call will not only let the Goyles know where you are, but it will alert the Grotes to your presence too.’
The heavy weight of the world sat on Davina’s small shoulders. Why was it all down to her?
‘As the ruler of Grangantuan, this is your responsibility and this is your destiny.’ Thalia noticed Davina’s deflated posture. It was a lot for someone so young to take on, yet Davina had no idea of her full potential.
A loud squawk announced Elora’s arrival through the porthole. The white eagle circled before she swooped and landed on Thalia’s extended arm. ‘Elora says the Grotesques know of your presence and they’re searching for you. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Fluxions had informed the Grotes of your arrival, you were hardly subtle when you arrived at the Nadim home. I assume someone informed on you.’
Ghost guiltily glanced at Davina, she hadn’t been aware that she had been the focus of the school’s gossip. ‘It could have been anyone at the school. They would all grass you up for a fiver. There’s no loyalty among them,’ he babbled.
‘Don’t tell a single soul what you’re up to or who you really are. People do not need to know anything about you, they must not witness your skills or find out where you are from. There is no point for you to prove, you do not need to impress anyone or try and be special. Do you understand?’
With a sad gaze at the floor, Davina realised she had drawn attention to herself because she wanted to feel special and be liked. That need had landed her in difficult situations and had distracted her from her journey.
Thalia watched Davina mentally churn all the mistakes she had made. ‘There are Fluxions, Grotesques and spies all wanting to impress the Chimera. The only person you can trust is Ghost. Do you understand?’ Davina it is natural to make mistakes and you can learn from them. Now take that learning and use it for your benefit. Trust no one.’
Davina nodded sadly and glanced up at the spinning porthole. She wanted to trust people and she wanted a normal life but if she was going to rescue her father she had to be the best she could be. She had to do what she had to do without being distracted.