Eating Clouds

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Chapter 15: Intruder

Chapter 15: Intruder

The fact that he was still naked for everyone to see didn’t cross Ozzy’s mind even once as he stood there, surrounded by rocks and dust. Buck breathed heavily and shivered on his feet. He could lose consciousness any second.

Ozzy licked his lips. “What happened?”

Dawn’s head suddenly jacked in his direction, her eyes filled with rage. “You! That’s what happened! You lost your damn mind, you let your fears get the better of you! This is YOUR fault! You did this! You…you…”

She couldn’t finish her sentence as tears were welling up in the corners of her eyes. Buck coughed and placed a hand on the nearest rock. Leaning heavily onto it, he let go of Dawn and sat down. A loud thud echoed through the remains of the cave as he hit the ground.

“That’s enough, Dawn. I ain’t dead yet.”

Ozzy stood in shock. He felt really cold again, but not because of the bird. It was guilt which he felt. He’d hurt the man who was willing to do so much to help him. And this was how he repaid that.

“I…I…” he stuttered, while taking a few steps back. “I had no idea…”

Buck looked in the boy’s direction, and he somehow managed to crack a smile through the pain. “It’s alright, Osman. Dawn’s just bein’ dramatic. I’ll be back on my feet before you know it!”

With that he swung his arm in a jolly way, but immediately halted when he felt the pain going through his shoulder. His face got paler and his eyebrows got caught in a deep frown. Dawn kneeled down next to him, with a worried look on her face. She started to search through her many pouches, whispering to herself.

Eddy, who hadn’t said anything yet, came flying up to Ozzy, dragging the blue robe with him. He threw it in the boy’s arms. “For the love of the Lord, please cover yourself.”

Ozzy threw the costume around his shoulders in an almost robotic manner. He tried to remember what had happened after he entered the lake. It seemed obvious to him that someone else had entered the cave, otherwise there wouldn’t be a huge crater where the ceiling used to be. The afternoon sun shone on what appeared to be the aftermath of a fight between giants. Whoever did this to the cave must’ve been incredibly strong.

“Don’t let her words get to you” Eddy said softly, as if he didn’t want Dawn to hear it. Ozzy turned to look at the little elf, who landed onto a rock and swung his legs over the edge to sit down. “It’s not exactly as she says it is.”

Ozzy glanced over at the blonde girl, who was still whispering. She held a fist full of some kind of dark powder. It slid between her fingers, onto the wound on Buck’s stomach.

“Then what is it?” he asked the little elf. Eddy sighed and scratched behind his ear.

“Well…” Right before he was about to speak, a cold breeze entered the crater. It echoed between the many rocks and pillars like flute. Eddy’s eyes widened and he seemed to lose some weight in that very moment. Next, the sound of air being pushed under giant wings sounded. It got louder and louder.

Buck softly pushed Dawn away and sat up, his face directed at the sky. Ozzy followed his eyes, staring at the hole in the ceiling. Slowly but surely, a shadow appeared. It moved slowly, as if it had all the time in the world.

The boy didn’t blink even once, afraid the shadow would be right next to him if he missed even the slightest movement.

“Dawn” Buck said softly, “please hurry. He’s coming.”

He didn’t need to say more. Ozzy already knew who was coming. Who else could bring the cold with him like this shadow did?

Buck turned to look at Eddy. They seemed to have a conversation only they could hear, as the little elf nodded. He flew over to the boy, grabbed the end of one of his sleeves and dragged him away.

“Wha-? Eddy, what are you doing?” Ozzy cried out. He looked over his shoulder to the demon hunter and the girl. Dawn continued whispering with the powder as Buck stretched his shoulders, as if preparing for a fight.

“I’m savin’ your life, idiot!” the little elf replied, leading the boy on a path between the many rocks. They were going the opposite way from where the tunnel to the underground castle was, yet when the neared the end of the crater there was another hole in the wall.

Eddy continued dragging the boy with him, but Ozzy resisted. “No! We can’t! That bird…it’s my fault he’s here!”

The little elf grunted and kept pulling, even though he was no match for the human. “Listen, piglet. I’m not savin’ you from that damn bird! It’s the demon hunter that will get you killed!”

Ozzy’s strength suddenly disappeared, causing the little elf to fly back by the lack of resistance. The boy was too confused to do anything. “Buck? What are you saying?”

Eddy regained his strength and pulled the boy further into the tunnel. “I’m saying that if you stayed here you would get killed by the power of that hunter. He’s too powerful for you to be around.”

Ozzy glanced over his shoulder, and saw the silhouette of the demon hunter rise to his feet. He seemed not to be in pain anymore. Dawn stood next to him, her hands placed on her hips. Right before Ozzy completely entered the tunnel, he thought he saw the eyes of the girl light up. Not like a glimmer, but like actual candles being lit.

Eddy dragged him through the dark of the tunnel. There was no light after they left the crater behind, yet the little elf didn’t seem to have trouble with finding his way around. Ozzy just hoped he wouldn’t let go of him. Neither of the two spoke. The only sound noticeable was that of Ozzy’s hesitating footsteps and the flapping of Eddy’s wings.

There was a lot the boy didn’t understand. First, he woke up in the cave, but the cave was destroyed and was now a crater. Next, Dawn blamed him for the destruction he didn’t even remember causing. Then the bird suddenly appeared who, according to Buck, shouldn’t even be able to enter the sphere surrounding the field with its many underground passages. And lastly, Buck seemed to be more dangerous than the bird.

Ozzy kept all these things in mind and decided to wait till they’d reached wherever they were going to ask Eddy about it. And he also had to find out more about the gnome-elven war. It was all very dazzling. The boy thought he knew so much about magic, yet new things appeared every second he was in this forest. It was also clear to him that he wasn’t near the city anymore. The book store and Gerald were far away now. He would probably see neither any time soon. Maybe never.

The thought scared Ozzy and he suddenly felt really sick. He wished he’d never got his hands on that stupid blue book.

Finally, a warm light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Ozzy sighed of relief, which made the little elf chuckle for some reason. “Don’t get your hopes up. We’re still far from being safe.”

The light came from a large underground space similar to the home of the demon hunter, with the exception of furniture. It was mostly made from the ground itself. The light came from a large lantern standing on a rock in the middle of the space, revealing every corner of the round room.

The little elf finally let go of the boy and flew over to a rock to sit down. He seemed exhausted from the long flight and struggled to keep his eyes open.

“Eddy” Ozzy called out, as he sat down close to the little elf. He couldn’t let him fall asleep. “About what you said about Buck…what does that mean?”

The little elf sighed, opened his mouth to say something, but right as he’d found the right words the whole room started shaking. A loud thunders seemed to echo through the underground maze. Sand and small pieces of stone came down from the ceiling, covering both the boy and the elf in dust.

Eddy chuckled in a grim way. “That. Do I need to say more?”

“That’s…Buck?!” Ozzy stuttered, as another earthquake happened. The little elf nodded.

“Yup. He’s one scary bastard, I can tell you that much. He sure is a handful to demons, but I think he wouldn’t be a match to an actual wizard.”

Another earthquake. Ozzy suddenly saw the lightning eyes of Dawn before him. “What about Dawn?”

The little elf leaned back, making himself comfortable. “Look kiddo, I know these people very well. I wouldn’t say we’re the best palls, but I ain’t going around sharin’ their secrets to the world and everybody.”

“Oh” Ozzy said softly, “Sorry.”

Eddy placed his hands on his round belly, plucking at one of the yellow buttons on his jumper. “Buck’s an idiot, but he’s not stupid. There are a lot of things he can tell you about anything. He’ll tell you when he wants to. When, according to him, you’re worthy of knowing. I don’t know much about Dawn. I’ve only seen her two or three times before. Buck introduced her as his ‘niece’, that’s all.”

Eddy placed one hand under his head and lay down, his back turned towards Ozzy. “I’m gonna take a nap. Wake me up when they’re done.”

Ozzy felt his stomach turn. “Wait, Eddy…I need to know about the war.”

The little elf froze, and seemed to hold his breath. “Some other time, alright? I need sleep, otherwise we’ll never get out of here. All I’m saying is that the gnomes killed my parents and I hate them for it.”

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