The journey can only get worse.
Stinky Ghost is forced to bathe.
Back at the clearing, Ghost carried an expression of intense displeasure. He had that pathetic look of a cat that had just fallen down the toilet. Yes, he had been allowed to rest, but was this his punishment? The thought of climbing into a cold running stream – at night was not appealing! If Ghost had a choice, he would have kept his clothes on and avoided the whole bath thing forever if necessary. The problem was that awful stink. It was making his eyes water.
‘Are you crying Ghost?’ asked Davina.
‘No! What do you think I am? A girl?’
‘No just a grunt!’ she replied matter of factly.
Davina sat with her back to the pool; she had already washed and dried her clothes using the wind. With gritted teeth, she bashed Ghost’s stinky clothes against a rock. Lumps of Grote wax washed away like disgusting, yellow boats.
‘Ghost how’s it going? Do you still stink?’ she asked.
‘How do I know if I smell or not? You can’t smell yourself!’ he replied.
Solomon and Wanda glanced at each other; they were entertained by human behaviour and their weird ways. They had heard how peculiar the creatures were in Gargantuan myths. The myths said that all humans did was complain and try to find weird and wonderful ways to generate wealth, often to the detriment of themselves. Although, none of the Goyles would have believed it until they witnessed it. In Gargantuan life was simple, if you needed to survive you did exactly what you needed to survive. If you needed to wash, you simply did it. From what they were observing, Ghost was putting up every fight possible to stop the water making contact with his skin. All the while, he muttered to himself whilst clinging to his underwear.
Davina watched Ghost cling to his under pants and glanced at the Goyles who were sniggering. It was apparent they were as confused by him as much as he was by them. They hadn’t seen a proper human child up close before.
Davina frowned, Ghost was huffing loudly and stomping about.
‘What?’ asked Davina.
‘Ghost you’ve been acting weird since we saved you,’ she said.
‘I was doing just fine; I just didn’t need you to save me. Anyway, it’s you who’s acting all weird with this wind thing… Anyway why do I have to end up in trouble and you always get to be the goody! It just isn’t fair!’
The Goyles watched, transfixed by Ghost’s behaviour. Why wasn’t he glad to be safe? Was it because he’d been saved by a girl? In Gargantuan the male and the female were equal. If you were a warrior, you were a warrior whether you were male or female.
Davina sighed; Ghost had red patches creeping up his neck. Davina glanced at both Wanda and Solomon who were attempting to cover their amusement.
‘I don’t get what the problem is Ghost,’ replied Davina with a shrug.
‘I didn’t want to be saved okay!’
‘What you’d rather be shredded by the Grotes?’ she asked.
‘It would have been better than be saved by a girl who acts all perfect! Anyway you never told me your weakness!’ said Ghost sharply.
‘What is going on with you Ghost? There’s more to this isn’t there?’ she asked.
Ghost stared at the floor and fidgeted.
‘Honestly… Do you really think I’m going to let you in after all the hurtful stuff you just said?’ she said.
A pained silence fille the air.
‘Have it your way then.’ Davina stared at him, she couldn’t work him out. ‘We leave in half an hour. You can come with us or you can stay here alone. Oh and if you had saved me I would have at least said thank you. Now imagine this situation from my point of view – I have to consider the fact that my father could very well be tortured and killed… Imagine how that feels!’
Davina stood up, threw the clothes at Ghost and stomped away.
‘So that’s your weakness, you’re moo…dy!’ he called.
Davina came to an abrupt standstill and gritted her teeth; she took a deep breath and turned quickly.
Ghost grinned an annoying grin at her. ‘Got yer!’
Davina turned, grimaced and marched towards the Goyles who were grazing.
Wanda and Solomon plodded over to Davina.
‘You are being affected by the human emotion,’ said Wanda.
‘Ohhhh! Grrrr! They’re so… complicated. None of what they do makes sense. So I end up reacting to them the same way they act towards me.’ Her shoulders rose to meet her ears and her jaw became rigid.
‘Davina don’t waste your emotions or energy on futile discussions,’ said Solomon wisely.
‘You are right. Negative emotions use up energy and I can’t allow that,’ responded Davina.
‘We need to sit down and discuss our tactics,’ said Wanda, padding to a clear area of grass. Solomon and Davina followed.
Once the Goyles were gathered, Davina picked up the Shamaventus, ‘Right I’m going to give this a go. I don’t know whether it will work yet so please bear with me.’
The Goyles nodded, the techniques for using the staff had to be learned.
‘The map of the Sea of Sand please,’ said Davina tapping the staff. From it folded out a map made of light. She grinned triumphantly, sat down next to Wanda and pointed at the map.
‘Highlight where we are please.’
An area showing their location lit up. ‘You see where we are? We’re right here. And this is where I think we have to get to. We need to fly to the edge of the forest, over the sea and then past the wastelands. Finally, we fly over the volcanoes to the desert. I think the flight will take up most of the night. What do you think?’ asked Davina.
‘Where can we eat on the way?’ asked Solomon studying the map.
‘There is volcanic rock which I assue will be a bit eggy because of the sulphur content. Are you okay with that? The other alternative is a pit-stop in the mountains,’ asked Davina.
Solomon nodded, ‘Long time since I ate volcanic rock, it can play havoc with the system… Maybe we could have some lava to wash it down, like human chilli sauce.’
Davina smiled, Goyle humour.
‘So are we agreed that this is the most direct route to Mortvlei?’
Wanda studied the map, ‘Admittedly it is a simple and direct route. Although the Chimera could have anticipated our route and may have set up ambushes.’
Davina frowned, was it possible? ‘Do you really think the Grotes are spurring us forward so we walk into a trap?’
Wanda stared intently at Davina and…
‘Aaah!’ screamed Ghost. Ahhhhhh! Ah! Ahhhhh! Ah! Ah! Ghost grabbed his eyes and stumbled across the rocks towards the group. Davina glanced about, had anyone heard the commotion? Davina ran to Ghost, ‘What is it?’ she said grabbing his forearms and guiding him to sit down.
Ghost shook his head and said nothing.
‘What now Ghost? Come on tell me!’ she demanded.
Ghost carefully removed his hands.
Davina gasped. ‘Oh… my..!’ she said staring at Ghost in complete wonder. ‘What colour algae did you eat?’
Davina shook her head in disbelief. ‘What happened Ghost?’
‘Well I was splashing about in the water and the next thing I felt a bit weird… and then this happened. At first I thought they were just spots.’
Davina turned Ghost round and studied him from all angles. ‘Ghost they’re not spots… they’re eyes.’
‘I… Oh God I feel sick! I think I’m going to pass out.’
‘Ghost we don’t have time for you to pass out. Sorry.’
Ghost frowned, numerous eyes squinted. ‘What? Oh sorry I feel a bit weird, hundreds of eyes are burrowing into my brain… Is it any wonder I feel strange and… And oh Ghost you don’t have time to pass out! Do you have any idea how this feels? Get fifty, no one hundred screw drivers and drill them through your skull and then see through those holes… Do you have any idea how I’m seeing the world now? Maybe I do need to have a little bit of time to pass out!’
‘Did you eat the algae before you were ambushed?’ she asked curiously.
‘And what were you thinking just before you were attacked?’
‘I was thinking I wish I could see through the dark and I wish I had eyes in the back of my head. Actually not just in the back of my head but everywhere… Oh…’
‘Well there’s your answer Ghost. You effectively asked to see at all angles. You have eyes in the back of your head. In fact you have eyes everywhere. Oh… And I also fed you extra algae just now. Bum! No wonder you have so many… So what can you see?’ asked Davina curiously.
‘Bum?’ said Ghost. ‘Bum? Bloody Hell Bum!’ said Ghost flushing red.
‘What else can I say? Anyway what can you see?’ asked Davina.
‘Davina bum is not the word okay? Anyway, I don’t seem to be able to control them yet. It’s like looking through hundreds of telescopes all at once. Some can see great distances others can see different wavelengths. It’s so strange… But Davina why is this happening?’
Davina glanced at Solomon and Wanda. They didn’t have answers either.
Davina squinted as she tried to piece together the sequence. ‘Ghost the algae you ate was manifestational algae for enhancing sight. Thalia said she expected side-affects, but I doubt she foresaw this… although, when you think about it – this is actually to our benefit. You said you could see great distances didn’t you? Look around and focus on what you want to know and then your eyes will adjust accordingly.’
Ghost huffed, why was it always him? He turned around and focused. Movement was coming their way accompanied by a sonorous pounding. A small puddle of water, resting on a rock, rippled with each thump. The pounding rhythm resonated through the earth with the force of thousands of feet.
Davina turned and made a call to all the grazing Goyles.
‘We have to move now! There are thousands on their way!’ Davina handed Ghost the staff, ‘Tap it and show us what you can see.’
Ghost had no idea what that meant, but still he tapped the staff hoping something would happen. After the third tap a three-dimensional ring of vision rose into the air, it represented Ghost’s view perfectly.
Davina turned full circle taking in the image. She could see Grotes marching from all directions. There were far more than she had anticipated.
The Goyles studied the projection before them: a sense of doom filled the air.
‘Ghost can you please use your sight to view the cities?’ asked Davina.
An image of the world’s closest cities rose into the ring of vision. The cities of the world were surrounded and soon to be under attack. Davina couldn’t believe it: Grotesques were everywhere – blending in with churches, cathedrals, towers, gates and houses. Anything stone they hid on, particularly anything ancient. While the Grotesques awaited orders, the humans went about their daily routines remaining completely unaware.
‘How can we warn them?’ she said scratching her face. ‘Ghost can you show me the school too?’
‘Can you stop being so bossy?’
‘Ghost I don’t mean to be bossy but this is urgent,’ she said folding her arms.
‘I’m the one with all the eyes, now ask me nicely!’
‘No all of it!’
‘Ghost can you show us please?’
‘That’s more like it,’ said Ghost looking smug.
Ghost concentrated his sight on the school, within the circle of vision appeared an image of children screaming inside the school while the Grotes pounded the walls. Steaming grunts flew through the air and two of the floors were on fire. Davina sighed, the image faded but the faces of hundreds of ugly Grotes appeared in the circle.
‘What’s that?’ asked Davina.
Ghost shook his head. ‘Davina they are now only about a mile away.’
Davina grabbed her kit. ‘Ghost quickly climb on Solomon, I’ll go with Wanda.’
Ghost didn’t move.
‘Come on Ghost we have to hurry!’
Ghost paused, listening.
Davina glared at him, ‘Ghost we have to hurry now! What are you playing at?
‘Can you hear that?’ asked Ghost seriously.
Davina quietened down; she could hear the murmur of the Grote chant as they made their way through the forest. She turned to the forest, the roosted birds evacuated, all flying erratically squawking at each other.
Ghost and Davina glanced at each other, the strange rhythm of the Grotesque’s chant was enough to hypnotise and terrorise. They had to leave… but first Ghost had to put some clothes on!