Chapter 79 Shabby

“Anneli…”

“Yeah?”

“There might be a problem.”

“What might the problem be?”

Castor did not reply immediately. He looked into the distance and then looked at Anneli. How far away was Pyropolis? How far away was the red continent? Did he even want to go home?

Anneli looked at Castor’s hand that was still holding his. “What’s wrong? Are we not able to go to the desert.”

Castor sighed looking at Anneli’s disappointed expression. “Let’s go back,” said Castor and lead Anneli back to the beach.

“What is wrong Castor?”

Castor let go of Anneli’s hand and picked up his shoes in one hand and the rose plant in the other. “Come on Anneli climb up.” Castor indicated the ladder leading to the docks with a nod of the head.

“Are you upset with me Castor?”

“I’m not, but we need to talk about something.”

Anneli climbed the ladder. Castor winced as he stretched to give Anneli the plant, a sharp pain along his body. Castor climbed the ladder after, slowly and carefully trying not to fall and trying to hold onto his shoes. He sat on the docks and let he feet dangle over the edge.

As he wiped the sand of his feet he spoke in an apathetic tone, “when I went to the ticketing office, they said there are no passenger ships from here to Pyropolis. We can ask if we can stowaway on a cargo ship to Pyropolis but that seems unlikely as well. We can go to main port first and then to Pyropolis but that will cost all the money I have now to buy the ticket for that and even then it might not still be enough.”

“Alright,” said Anneli.

“Alright? How is that alright?” snapped Castor.

“It will be fine. We will never know if we do not ask. We can try asking the cargo ships and if not we can figure it out on the way.”

Castor glared at Anneli, his insides were bubbling like a kettle close to boiling. Yet he retained himself. Anneli was right, it was too soon to give up.

“Okay,” replied Castor softly. He wore his shoes and stood up, “let’s go find a room.”

“What about the tickets?”

Castor chuckled, “we need somewhere to sleep tonight. We can think about the tickets tomorrow.”

Anneli and Castor got a small room in a shabby looking inn. The room barely fit a small bed and a small side table with a bowl and pitcher of water meant to be a make-shift sink.

“Should I sleep on the floor?” asked Anneli, staring at the bed that was half-a-foot between each wall. The bed could fit only Castor at best.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” replied Castor. “You can sleep on the bed.”

“I lived in the forest until just recently- I can sleep outside if I have to.”

“You will get arrested if you sleep on the streets you know. There is a communal bath downstairs, let’s go tonight when I get back.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going back to the docks and ask if there are any cargo ships that will let us stow-away on their ship.”

Anneli pouted and frowned at Castor. “Alright,” he mumbled and sat on the bed waiting for him to leave.

“I’ll be back soon,” said Castor and closed the door behind him.

Anneli watched the closed door for awhile as if simply wishing for it will bring Castor back faster. He quickly became bored. Anneli took off his cape, carefully folded it and placed it on the table. He climbed on the bed and opened the single small window on the wall. It only opened part way. The air felt heavy and suffocating but Anneli tried to ignore this feeling. Lying in the bed he noticed that the sheets were thinner and rougher than those in the last few inns.

“I’ve become spoiled,” whispered Anneli to himself with a smile and closed his eyes.

 

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Chapter 53 despite first impressions

As the sun rose in the distance the sky turned from black to creamy orange. The streams of clouds twirled in the sky as the cold wind cut through Castor’s thin clothing giving him a chill. The colder the air got as they climbed up the mountain the harder it was for Castor to breath, every breath was icy and painful which hurt his nose and burned his lungs.

“Are you alright?” asked Anneli who had noticed Castor pressing his hand against his aching chest.

“I’m fine, I’m just a bit cold.”

“Here,” said Anneli taking off his cape, “wear this, I still have my winter fur, I’ll be fine.”

Ding-a-ling-a-ling. The sound of a bell from a distance away was heard.

“What if someone sees you?”

“No one comes down this path this early in the morning, even if they do I can just hide until they pass.”

Castor knew he should not but at heart he as a selfish person so he graciously accepted Anneli’s offer and wore the cape. Soon they reached the midpoint of the mountain, the land had been levelled off and a settlement had been built. Small huts that were near the path were currently empty but Castor could see a stream of smoke some distance off. A stubborn few must have carved an existence on this steep and rocky mountain, where nothing much in terms of grain or vegetable could be grown here thought Castor. Yet he recalled how his own people once travelled the desert for decades and survived off its meagre resources stubbornly as well so he was in no place to judge. As Anneli lead him in to a small mountain thicket Castor observed the sturdy rough looking plants with thick trunks and thorny leaves and wondered if a flower as delicate as a rose could survive here. In the ticket, against the side of the mountain and small but deep cave had been dug many centuries previous. As they passes Anneli pointed to it and said in passing, “that is where I was born.” Castor was surprised, “Did you family live in the mountains as well?” asked Castor intrigued. “Probably,” replied Anneli, “but I don’t remember them anyway.”

Chapter 7 thoughtless 

The monster thought over and over in his mind about how to help the flower. 

“Must it be a bee to drink your nectar?” asked the monster.

“Yes it must!” saif the flower. “When the bee comes to drink my nectar it will carry some of my pollen to my destined one.”

“Who is your destined one?” asked the monster.

“My destined one is another flower like myself. Another flower just like me. When my pollen reaches them, they will bear a fruit. What is the purpose of a flower who cannot spread its pollen to bear fruit?”

“Why don’t you go search for them? Why don’t you look for your destined one? Then you will not need a bee.” said the monster. 

“But I cannot move,” cried the flower. “My roots are too deeply in the ground.”

This must be impossible. This poor flower is as lonely and sad as me. 

Then a light began to spark in the monsters memories. A memory from long ago. 

“Once I saw a bird,” began the monster, “it was bright green and red and shimmeres in sunlight. This bird was small but had a long pointed beak. Even though it was small it could beat its wings so hard and fast it could stay almost still in the air before a flower. This bird would dip the tip of its beak into the flower and drink its nectar. I’m sure it will be able to drink your nectar and carry your pollen. You just need to wait a bit longer.”

The flower listened attentively to the monster’s story. When the monster had finished the flower was no longer crying. It had lifted its head and swayed its stem to and fro in delight. 

“I will do as you say,” said the flower gleefully. “I will wait for this bird”

Chapter 6 Listless

Not knowing what the sea was or that all rivers flow to the sea the monster continued to follow the river up stream. He walked for what felt like hours not seeing anyone on the way. Most animals of the forest knew of the monster and knew well enough to stay away from him. 

Suddenly the monster heard a sound. This sound cut through the silence that surrounded him. It was the sound of crying.The monster curious of the sound strayed away from the river bank following the sound. 

The monster came upon a flower. From its lovely petaled head it wept and cried. 

“Why are you crying?” asked the monster. The flower, having no eyes did not know it was talking to a monster answered sweetly and honestly. 

“I am sad,” said the flower, “none of the bees like me. They all say even though I smell sweet my petals are too long and tight that they cannot reach my nectar. Now the bees won’t even look as they pass.”

The monster was perplexed. None of the flowers he had talked to before had had this problem. All the other flowers had wide spread petals and bright powdery pollen. 

“Have you tried opening up your petals?” 

“I have tried,” wept the flower its head bent in sadness. “My bud it too tight and it won’t budge.” 

Not knowing what to do or how to comfort the flower the monster sat besides it in silence.