It was true! Zarchia’s fe-older, Floro had told them, and if anyone should know, it was she. She was an important Topo in the Grano Dryo.
A large, colossal sea of Blubbo had been discovered quite some zeniths before, way to Larward of the Glurpo but it was a fairly closely guarded secret shared by only a small number.
This had been the only exciting thing to happen in many a purple orb since their return from their search for Aandt’s older brother, Yaart, whom they had found in the foul Grillo region far to Zettayard. Yaart was trying to find a way to help his ma-older, Arogatarno, who had been captured by the warlike invado humos who occupied the lands to Clupward of the Grillo. Yaart had become a Soldat and he’d managed to obtain a posting to this region.
Aandt himself had finally returned to Zarbal after three long yello orbs spent in Grillo Maino, still limping quite heavily from the now fairly well healed leg wound he’d obtained during an encounter with a group of invado humos in the area known as the red Tress in the area near the Blubbo bowl. The weapon used had been fairly primitive but the wound it had caused had been quite serious The party of invades they had met had been diverted into their path by a huge downpour of water.
Aandt lived with his fe-older, Maribo, just outside of the settlo of Zarbal. Maribo knew quite a bit about Weinisplats, the small, conical shelled humo-like creatures that the youngers had encountered during their search for Aandt’s brother, Yaart.
Zarchia and Ambo had not seen a lot of their friend since their return, as both were now working with their Olders, learning their jobs, so had not had a lot of free time. No more carefree jaunts in the countryside whenever they felt the urge, not thought of a return visit to Blubbo 1, where Zarchia, in particular loved to wallo in its pink effervescence.
Ambo, in particular had been absent for log periods of time as he’d been working with his fe-older, Sisa. Zarchia had been mainly working with her ma-older, and whilst some of the work required her presence at Blubbo 1, she certainly didn’t have any time for walloing. She had managed one short visit to the nearby settlo of Meikai where she had caught up with Newtobero, a fairly senior Soldat who had helped and befriended them during their search for the missing Aandt. He had since been promoted and was now in charge of a quite large and important area to Clupward of the Blubbo bowl. She was glad to reconnect with him and relive some of their adventures and hear of his trip with Floro to return the Weinisplat, Babblo to her group which had turned out to be a lot more easily found than they had feared and Bubblo had at once melded back into her environment and because of her adventures was regarded as an even more important Splat than previously.
Since their homecoming, a medium sized pipo system for energy, oxygen, water and Blubbo had been constructed from Pipo C to the youngers settlo of Zarbal. Zarchia and Ambo’s Olders had been heavily involved in the planning and had overseen the construction and the youngers had also played their own small parts in this.
Prior to this there had only been a very small Pipo system which struggled to meets the needs of their settlo. A while back it had been extended to Gerzan which had meant energy, water and oxygen supplies were quite often in restricted supply. This new, much larger pipo system would greatly relieve the problem when I’s construction was completed. It was even to be extended into the top secret area of the Grano Dryo.
The former Topo of the foul Grillo region, a knowledgeable and pleasant humo named Irojoh had recently been promoted and placed in overall command of the every growing project.
With the news of the existence of the Colossal Sea of Blubbo had come the announcement that a small settlo was to be constructed at its most Zettaward point and eventually, this would be linked to the Grano by three small pipo. Irojoh himself was taking personal control of this part of the project.
It was early on the dawn of the new purple orb in conjunction with it’s yello relative, that Ambo was awakened by the arrival of a reasonably large hovo on his doorstep. Looking out through the brown light, the still only half-awake younger could discern the shapes of Aandt, Zarchia and Maribo alighting from the machine. On closer examination, he was totally surprised to see the white Pursho clinging to Zarchia’s shoulders. This was the furred, feathered and scaled creature with six legs and red mouth scales that had attached itself to them on their journey to find the missing Aandt and his brother, Yaart.
It had kept Ambo and Zarchia amused quite often after their return to Zarbal but since they’d become quite heavily involved in their Olders work, they had hardly time to notice it at all. Maybe it had been around but they had just been too occupied with other things.
“We’re off to take part in a very important job,” said Maribo when the party had entered Ambo’s dwelling. “we thought you might like to join us.
She quickly filled him in on the details. A large colony of very strange Weinisplats had been found living close by the great sea of Blubbo, way to Larward of the end of the Red Tress. She had gone to the area with a trio of Soldats but the new Splats would have nothing to do with her and communication had not been established. She hadn’t been able to decipher any of their Splat talk which seemed completely different to that used by their friend Babblo and her group. After a while, the Splats had completely lost interest in the foursome and melded into the trees and herbs. She was now on her way to Meikai with Aandt , Zarchia and the Pursho to collect Newtobero who spoke and understood Splat talk much better than anyone else she knew. They were then to proceed to the area where Babblo’s group had last been located and to try to persuade her to go with them to see if she could communicate with the new group of Splats.
“Would Ambo like to join them?”
He certainly needed no persuasion, even though his fe-older, Sisa who’d managed to sleep through all this, was not pleased to be awoken so that Ambo could ask her permission to join the party.
During the fairly short trip to link up with Newtobero, Ambo was brought up to date on why not much had been seen of the Pursho in recent times. It had accompanied Maribo and Aandt to Larward on two expeditions and had even travelled with them once to Meikai and surprised Newtobero himself.
With all the increased activity in the Grano Dryo and to Larward, the settlo of Meikai had grown in size quite considerably since Zarchia and Ambo’s last visits. The larger settlo of Wahnar a little to Clupward was apparently now overflowing with humos of every description and many new settlos had begun to spring up, some in areas not easily protected, which had caused Newtobero and the Soldats under his command considerable problems.
Newtobero had news. He had been promoted once again. He would be able to accompany them on their search to find and to try to recruit Babblo and if they were successful, he would accompany the party as far as the settlo of Trinar near the red Tress. From there he was to proceed to the Grano Dryo as he had been placed in charge of security for this whole secret area and also of the area to Larward right up to the newly discovered Colossal sea of Blubbo.
His friend, Blamaro, who was a mouth scale rattler and well known to the youngers, was to be his second-in-command. She, too, had been promoted a few times since they had last met. As well, Nicosimo, Nangriffo and Boglo, Soldats whom Zarchia, Ambo and Aandt had encountered on their great adventure were part of Newtobero’s new security team.
When they departed from Meikai, Newtobero and two young Soldats unknown to the youngers went in their own Soldat hovo. Pursho was a pest as he was continually disappearing from one hovo only to reappear in the other. His flitting back and forwards continually almost made Zarchia’s head spin. It hung from strange points and red mouth scales were often flashed in any face that was to hand., making eerie noises and landing on or pulling at any extended face or leg scales. This, at times was quite disturbing and distracting. Even chastisement by Newtobero and Maribo had little effect. It was obviously too excited.
The Weinisplat sheltos, when they found them were quite some distance to Clupward of the Blubbo bowl and looked very strange., strange shapes to fit conical back shells, unusual and totally unknown plants and odds and ends used in their construction, weird colour schemes.
These were old hat to Newtobero and Maribo who had seen them before on previous visits but they quite startled the youngers. Not only the sheltos but there were many and varied very peculiar and strange looking shapes hanging from many of the branches of the nearby red and purple trees, some so high up, Zarchia wondered how on earth the Splats could place them this far from the ground. Pursho had been the first from the hovos when they had stopped. It seemed very familiar with the Weinisplat settlo. Maybe it had had a foot or two in the decorating process.
The rest of the party alighted and the noise of the constant jibber-jabbering of so many Splats in a small area soon set their heads spinning. The noise was so high pitched and constant Ambo wondered how long he would be able to tolerate it before he ran screaming back to the hovo. Zarchia was covering her ears but Aandt and the Olders seemed oblivious to the constant din.
As Zarchia and Ambo took in the sight of multiple Weinisplats performing seemingly ridiculous tasks by balancing on each other’s backs made the youngers almost burst out laughing but a sharp glance from Maribo stopped them. The Splats looked like towers but they obviously weren’t trying to be comical but were performing some necessary task in the only way they were capable of.
As the top Splat in each tower finished its task, it flipped backwards landing quite dexterously with a small spring and then immediately started on other tasks at ground level. The sheltos were obviously quite new and were still in the final stages of construction.
This was all very strange. Weinisplats are usually nomadic and only usually remain in the same area for around the length of a yello orb span. So their building of permanent sheltos didn’t fit in with what the youngers knew of the shelled humos.
The party was soon approached by a duo of ma-Splats, one being extremely large for a Weinisplat. Zarchia and Ambo recognised him as being the one from whom they had tried to glean information when they themselves had become lost in the search for Aandt and his missing brother, Yaart. The other ma-Splat was of normal Weinisplat size but had a more rounded and very brightly patterned shell. They were soon joined by four fe-Splats. Fe-Splats in general have much larger hands than the males and their coveros were more elaborate being adorned by a wide variety of leaves, herbs and in some cases animal feathers. As Splats only eats herbs, berries and roundos, these must have fallen naturally from the creatures. Splats will not cause harm to other creatures unless they feel severely threatened.
“We have nothing to trade,” the large ma-Splat said in Splat talk. “If we had anything we would have come to your settlo. So why have you come disturbing us. We are busy and have no need of any of your goods. Leave us in peace.
Newtobero and Maribo explained the situation to the Splat representatives as well and as quickly as the could but the Splats lost interest even more quickly and simply walked away and resumed their interrupted tasks. The humos were thus left to try to find Babblo themselves. None of the other Splats had shown the least bit of interest in their arrival or discussion with the Splat representatives but had just calmly continued on with their jobs constantly jibbering to one another.
It turned out to be a hard task to find Babblo amongst all the Splats and it took considerably longer than the youngers had been expecting but eventually, as if by magic, Aandt found her sitting near the very larwood group of Weinisplat sheltos performing some utterly monotonous, but obviously necessary task, extracting and sorting components from a variety of yello and purple herb. Quite obviously she’d been thus engaged the whole of the time since their arrival and they’d possibly walked right by her quite a few times.
She didn’t even acknowledge their approach at all until they were standing right beside her, peering down. And then her eyes looked up and Zarchia and Ambo both thought they saw a momentary sparkle there. Not pausing from her task one iota, she changed the tone of her jibber jabbering which she’d been unleashing on the air to no one in particular. The youngers soon realised she was actually communicating with Maribo and Newtobero in Splat talk. They replied in quick burst of the sing song language that Zarchia and Ambo still couldn’t comprehend. Aandt surprised them by occasionally joined in in a slower, more hesitant voice. He’d obviously been learning well under his fe-older’s teaching.. Ambo and Zarchia both new they’d have to persuade him to pass on his new-found knowledge as it was very frustrating to be left out of proceeding and to not have a clue what was going on especially as the conversation was becoming more earnest and rapid fire.
The Weinisplat stood up suddenly, displacing most of the herb with which she had been working. Surprisingly she picked up her carryo and headed straight for the nearest parked hovo still babbling loudly all the way.
Roughly translated by Maribo, what Babblo had said on being asked to accompany the expidition to communicate with the newly discovered Splats was, öf course I will! They’ll welcome me as a leader as soon as they see how wise and knowledgeable I am. I’m just being treated like nothing here. Me, with all my new found skills and knowledge have just been set boring, monotonous tasks of low skill which require no intelligence at all.. I’ve just been so restless and can’t wait to get away from all this drab dullness. I used to be a Splat of considerable importance when I owned these two youngers. Thank you for returning my property to me, Newtobero. Now I feel important again. Now let’s stop wasting time and be off.”
On being asked whether she thought she could understand and speak the strange Splat language, she had replied snappily, “Of course I will be able to. I’m much more knowledgeable in such things than you humos!”
Obviously she had lost none of her sense of self importance.
The other Splats took absolutely no notice or showed any interest what so ever in these goings on. The Pursho returned from its wandering and once they were all assembled near the hovos, Newtobero and Maribo decided to head back to Meikai and then head for Trinar, a fairly large settlo to Larward but slightly to Clupward close to the Red Tress. A new hovo way from Meikai to Trinar was in the early stages of construction. Other new hovo ways were being planned to link up the new and expanding settlos in this region. Once the discovery of The Colossal Sea of Blubbo became widely known, many new settlers would arrive in the region.
The lead hovo suddenly stopped when they were still about half a purple orb’s distance from Meikai. The jolt threw Aandt and Babblo from their seats and the Pursho from its perch. Mabibo, who was driving, just managed to keep hers. The hovo had obviously collided with something, but nothing could be seen. The second hovo had stopped alongside almost immediately when Newtobero had realised the lead vehicle was in trouble. On closer examination, it was discovered that the lead hovo had collided with an outcrop of almost totally transparent material which had obviously been dislodged during the construction ot the nearby hovo way.
Maribo was surprised when she examined the protrusion and found that it was gerros. It had been only thought to exist in small pieces in the Sliver of Nakka region. Recently parties from the secret region of the Grano Dryo had been collecting quite large amounts of the substance and had been hovoing it back for tests. What it was being tested for had not been announced.,
When she had time, Maribo would relay the information on their discovery to Zarchia’s fe-older Floro who was one of the Topos doing the research.
Luckily the hovo had suffered very little damage and those thrown from their seats even less. So onwards the party pressed, the trees becoming much more dense and lush. Pursho had been very cxalm and well behaved but the jarring had disturbed his equilibrium and he started to annoy the humos. Babblo was so thrilled to be escaping from boredom and non-entity, that she jibbered contentedly the whole time. Not even the jarring could affect her good mood.
It was decided to stop and set up a shelto and rest for the non purple orb. Everyone was tired but elated to be once again away from their usual environments. The Weinisplat babbled on continuously but very happily in a high pitched tone. The Pursho was free to climb trees at will and when it momentarily tired of this, appeared clinging to a wide variety of humo and Splat body parts, often yowling contentedly and being annoying but in an amusing kind of way. Zarchia stretched and thought and then dozed into dreams, Ambo rambled around the shelto for some considerable time before settling, Aant spent a lot of time looking up into the orb free sky and in listening to Babblo, trying to work out more of her quite complicated language. Eventually they had a meal, cleansed and settled. Newtobero was to take first guard duty but before he did, he surprised them. For the first time since they’d met him, he became the storyteller. He told tales of greatness and of dishonour, of mighty deeds and of events spoiled by cowardice or poor decision making. The youngers were surprised and awed by what he assured them were true stories of strange and dangerous creatures he had encountered during his orbs as a Soldat and of the situations he had encountered in the Zugkai Shards and the Sliver of Nakka. To meet up with the newly discovered Weinisplate, they would have to follow a route that took then near to, and possibly in to the highly dangerous and relatively unexplored region known as the Glurpo. This was a very strange land, very inhospitable, covered by swirling multi-coloured mists. The ground was covered in many bogs and swiftly flowing streams teeming with the most unbelievable variety of wild creatures. Much more dangerous compounds than water bubbled from the ground. Newtobero surprised them when he said there was another Glurpo to Clupward of the one they knew which extended way into the territory occupied by the Invado humos.
If we have to follow these Splats into even our Glurpo, we’ll need much more humo power than we have and we’ll need at least three more fairly large hovos to be successful,” the Soldat remarked. “But hopefully we’ll find them in the clear country before the start of the Glurpo,” he added as an afterthought.
Babblo, Newtobero and Maribo made such loud mouth scale rattling noises in their sleep that the others had trouble drifting off. Newtobero was by far the worst. Luckily he did a laong stint of guard duty first off and then again later in the non purple orb.
The only creature with evil intentions that they encountered during their stay was a grinning, red mouth-scaled, upside down hanging, furred, scaled and feathered restless and relentless mischievous Pursho who prowled and howled the whole of their stay. There had really been no need to post a guard but after past experiences, it certainly paid to be cautious. The sight of a dangling, evilly grinning White ball would have been enough to deter anyone or anything that tried to enter that camp site.
Aandt was the one who finally snapped. He rose and quickly picked up the nearest containo he could find and hurled it at the creature. The Pursho nimbly caught it and threw it back along with a collection of roundos it foraged from a nearby tree, one of which hit a just waking Zarchia fairly and squarely on her nose. Ambo, who had just settled after his turn on sentry duty copped roundos on three of exposed eighteen toes and Newtobero was jolted awake when the containo bounced off his pristine white forehead scales. He jerked upright with his weapon pointing right between the still grinning creature’s eyes. Luckily he was a highly trained Soldat and the weapon in any case was only on a low stun setting. When he realised it was only the Pursho, he let out a long mouth scale laugh and lay down again and was soon once again contentedly mouth-scale rattling in his sleep.
The rest of the sleep time passed uneventfully and not long after they were hovoing once again to Larward. The closer they got to the Red Tress, the more featheros there were hovering overhead. Babblo, although safe in the hovo, became very agitated and disturbed with good reason following the attack on her person during the youngers previous adventure.
And then the Pursho noticed something else, It shifted its attention from the high floating featheros and sat bolt upright, ready for action. Those in the lead hovo had obviously spotted the same creatures as the Pursho had as well. Both hovos stopped. Just ahead were a group of Pursho like creatures. They seemed to have taken no notice at all of the arrival of the hovos but once The Pusho emerged, they sat bolt upright, not moving, trying to blend in with the background rocks and shrubs. They seemed to be of the same race of creatures as their white friend. The three largest were of a vibrant, sparkling white blue. The remainer were, like the Pursho itself, white. All were incredibly lean. They’d obviously been feasting none too well of late. The humos didn’t know if they were friendly or would pose a danger. Newtobero remained on alert. The party all slowly emerged from their transport, careful no to make a sudden movement which might frighten the creatures. Even Babblo seemed somewhat interested and almost stopped her jibber jabber. Slowly and cautiously, Pursho started to approach the creatures. They, in turn held their ground but as if to show their contempt, the three blue coloured leaders sat down on the rocks. Suddenly the Pursho let out a blast of pure white static noise which echoed and bounced from the hovos, the rocks and every tree and shrub within a quite large radius. That certainly produced a result,. It got a reaction from the creatures that none of the party had been expecting. Newtobero raised his weapon and got into stun readiness. Two of the blue Pursho-like creatures had charged straight at their white friend as soon as he had started the piercing noise, but stopped suddenly when they noticed the humos. They quickly backed away and joined their white compatriots. Following this almost attack, Pusho too backed off and quickly backtracked to and into the nearest hovo. Once this had occurred the Pursho like creatures regained some of their confidence and began to circle the hovos but at a fairly great distance, some going clockwise and some counter.
Newtobero and Maribo indicated to the others that they, too, should quickly reboard their hovos. Newtobero didn’t want to have to injure the wild creatures. Usually they didn’t cause harm to humos, but the presence of the white Pursho in their presence had obviously changed things. The humos and Pursho were obviously seen as invaders of the wild creatures’ territory. When all were aboard, the hovos set off at a rapid pace, sending the wild horde scatting wildly into the bushes and trees.
At the strange sight of so many six legged creatures leaping frantically in all directions, the humos could help but do a little joyous mouth scale rattling and even Babblo jibbered loudly and contentedly. But the Pursho sat very still and stared continuously behind the fast escaping hovo.
The trees become much more dense the closer they got to the Larward settlo of Trinar. Babblo had become quite unsettled again as they neared this largish hub of humo activity. Quite a few other hovos, both private and Soldat were encountered approaching or departing fro the settlo. Weinisplats usually dislike humo settlos intensely and only enter them if there is a pressing need. Babblo had surprised Zarchia and Ambo after they’d made her acquaintance after fleeing from the dreadful Greeba-Greubas in the pipo system, by actually staying with them when they went to Grillo Maino. Still she had a reason then. She considered the youngers to be her property. Trinar was roughly the same size as the Grillo settlo and almost as bustling. It was also reasonable close to the area where Babblo’s group of Splats roamed. So it was possible that she’d visited the settlo before on one of the Weinisplats rare trading missions.. They were only making a stop at Trinar as Newtobero was to leave them there to take up his new appointment as the Topo Soldat for the region. He had arranged for two other Soldats to meet them at Trinar and to accompany on their Larward trek to try to make contact with the recently discovered Splat tribe.
Newtobero had departed with a grin and a “Catch you all again at the Great Sea of Blubbo!”
Ambo, Zarchia and Aandt were pleased when they discovered that one of their accompanying duo of Soldats was their old friend Nangriffo and she greeted them warmly. The other Soldat was a very unusual looking humo, not at all that tall with shorter arms than most. Hé looked neither really young or really old. He had glorious, shining red and white forehead scales that glittered in the dull brown light of the double orb. Grahoconno was his name and he’d become a Soldat much later in life than was usual. He’d been a worker in the Pipo Tunnelo system for many orbs before joining. He was a member of a group of humos who had come from the region they were now to traverse. His tribe was known as the Hawejop. Sometimes trouble had developed between these Larward humos and their relatives from Zettaward whom they considered too persistent and irritating.. Most now lived in Trinar or in small settlos nearby. Very few were to be found living in Meikai or Wahnar and not many were interested in working in the Grillo. But Grahoconno seemed quite friendly and more outgoing than most of his group. He knew Maribo and they got on well together. Grahoconno was bound to be of great assistance when they met up with the newly discovered Splat group.
Babblo relaxed considerably once Trinar’s outskirts were left behind, even joining in the conversation between Maribo and Graqhoconno. In the second hovo piloted by Nangriffo, the trio of youngers enjoyed the best mouth-scale rattling session they’d enjoyed in aeons. Pursho did its vanish and reappearing act from hovo to hovo of which the others took no notice, and in the end it became bored and tired and eventually it lay down beside Nangriffo and joined in the mouth-scale rattling in its own peculiar way.
A number of smaller settlos were seen but not visited, the party not needing supplies and the area was still too far distant from the last sighting of the Splats to be a source of fresh information.. Eventually it was decided to camp a reasonable distance from the Red Tress proper. Many large featheros had been sighted in the distance so a guard was posted. No further sign of the Pursho-like creatures had been seen.. A close eye was kept on Babblo as the featheros were only a danger to her. But just in case, the Pusho kept a wary eye skywards.
At their first stop, Zarchia and Ambo climbed as high as they could in one of the red trees and were soon joined by the Pursho, Maribo and Nangriffo. Grahoconno remained at ground level with Babblo who was not at all happy. She sulked in fact. Spats, no matter how hard they try, simply cannot climb trees and she was feeling very left out.
After a while, Aandt decided to join the tree climbers but had difficulty making it to their height. His leg was still giving him some trouble from where he’d been wounded by an Invado humo’s weapon.
Zarchia had hoped that from the high branches of the tree, she might be able to get a distant glimpse of the Colossal Sea of Blubbo glistening ot towards the Larward horizon. But she was disappointed in thisTrees, trees and more trees, mostly in different hues of red and purple with scattered shrubs interspersed were all that was to be seen stretching away to the dark mass of the red Tress proper. And there were featheros of all shapes and sizes everywhere. Babblo had been very lucky she couldn’t climb in to the branches. As the featheros climbed orbwards, she was surprised to find that every one was yello on the underside no matter what colour they were on the outer surfaces. The circling and soaring and spinning featheros cast eerie elongated shadows. After a while they all returned to the ground, the Pursho keeping very close to Zarchia, just in case.
After its big adventure, the Pursho ate a little and then crawled into the nearest hovo and slept. All the others were tired as well, and all except the one designated for guard duty, soon joined it in deep, dream-filled sleep. Guard duty for this period was to be shared between Maribo, Aandt and the two Soldats. Zarchia and Ambo would be assigned the first two spots at the next stop. Babblo was not included in the roster. As well as the feathero danger, Splats weren’t interested in things like that and would most likely be highly unreliable. She had just about got over her disappointment at not being able to join the others in the tree branches. The others were just too exhausted to know if she had jibber jabbered on after they had settled.
Zarchia awoke before the others, cleansed herself, making the feather-like white scales on her pale blue forehead shine and her lightly scaled eyelids glisten. Four rows of light purple mouth-scales gleamed as she yawned sleepily. Obviously no danger had threatened during their sleep time. She went and sat near Aandt who had the last round of the guard duty. They discussed the sea of Blubbo to Larward of their current position and tried to envision what it would look like. Aandt talked of his ma-older and wondered if a way would ever be found to free him from the Invado humos. Aandt wondered what his elder brother, Yaart, who was a junior Soldat was up to and where his Soldat duties had taken him. Zarchia persuaded Aandt to teach her a few basic words of Splat talk but found it extremely difficult to master even at so simple a level. One by one, the others awoke, chores were done, food was prepared and eaten and then it was on again towards the distant sea and the mysterious Splats.
The scenery had become quite monotonous, similar red trees and brush seming to go on forever. Very occasionally there was a slash of purple. Pursho was completely bored out of its brain and spent the whole time clinging to Zarchi’s leg. To help break the boredom, all three youngers had been given a turn at piloting a hovo before they reached the much rougher and more unpredictable country closer to the Colossal Sea. Even the WiniSplats constant jibbering had become very monotonous and was ignored and virtually blended in with the background hiss of the hovo in which she was a passenger.. Occasionally the screech of a low swooping feathero disturbed their sense of peace. The population was becoming even more dense the further Larward they proceeded. Close watch had to be kept on Babblo and the Pursho during their now infrequent rest stops.
Eventually it became extremely difficult to find a camp site to stop for food, cleansing and sleep. The trees had become very dense and the Red Tress proper was now starting to encroach on to their trail. Eventually a clear spot was found on a low ridge. There was just enough room for their purposes.
After cleansing and food and a few tales, Nangriffo burst into a beautiful mouth-scale rattle which enthralled all. Grahoconno was encouraged to join in with his low drone. Eventually he took the lead and mouth scaled in a very different way to the other humos they had heard. Being a Hawejop, he tales were of the lands which were virtually unknown to the rest of the company . They were tales of this region in the long ago, long before settlers from Zettaward had reached this area, tales from before the time of the Pio and Tunnelo. Trinar had been their main settlo but there had been others which no longer existed right the way to the Colossal Sea itself which for some reason had faded from the memories of most humos for a considerable time. The Hawejop had called the Sea by the name Tarbing. And then the settlos had been threatened by very large groups of huge serpents , many four times as large as the one encountered by Ambo and Zarchia in the tunnelo near Pipo C. Eventually the serpents had been killed or moved away to Zettaward, their descendents cropping up from time to time in the tunnelo system and in many other places. But a large number of Hawejop had also been killed in the battles and Trinar and the smaller settlos had eventually faded and contact virtually lost and this area and the great sea, Tarbing almost forgotten.
The mouth-scale rattling finally ceased and then Grahoconno told of his hopes of maybe finding some of his distant relatives who had been isolated from the remainder of his tribe during the serpent wars now that these lands were once again being explored and opened up. This is why he had applied for duty at the new settlo being built at the Zettaward tip pf the Sea. He had been overjoyed when he had received the posting. There were already rumours of humos being discovered along with the different Splats. But nothing had yet been confirmed by the Topos.
They rested. Zarchia, feeling strangely elated, took first turn of guard duty, quietly mouth-scale rattling to herself for a lot of the time.
The attack was a sudden as it was unexpected. The attackers had obviously come in from the main section of the Red Tress. They were humos. Luckily they were only armed with branches because even with these they caused enough damage, Maribo, Ambo and Grahoconno all being injured before anyone really knew what was happening. Not all humos as they had previously discovered are friendly or peaceful. There had been tales of bad humos in this area causing mischief and Soldat patrols had been partially successful in capturing some of these. The main trouble thus far had been a considerable distance to Zettaward of their current position. Their had been no reports this close to Trinar. They had camped a fair distance from the nearest small settlo and this had made them vulnerable. Zarchia hadn’t had the time to grab the Soldat weapon that was lying close by her side. It had been only set on cold so would have probably have had little effect anyway. Strong hands had gripped her and she’d screamed loudly. Pursho did a little damage to one of the attackers but was soon forced into a tall ttee. All were expertly pinioned very quickly. The Weinisplat had not had time to turn and cause any damage with the sharp point of her conical shell. Nangriffo had been asleep and hadn’t awoken in time to have been of any use with her weapon. The attackers not holding prisoners had quickly ransacked the coveros and the hovos.
Luckily then for Wilsobre being on hand. He lunged from the shadows into the yello light, swinging two large tree branches, seeming like a dozen humos. The attackers put up little fight when confronted by this swinging demon, knocking most of their captives to the ground and fleeing. It was little use giving chase into the thick red trees. Their rescuer checked the party, all of whom were slowly coming to their senses. None had been seriously injured. Grahoconno and Maribo were mainly bruised and shaken. Ambo had a nasty shoulder wound caused by the sharp, pointed end of a branch. Luckily none of the trees in this region were toxic. Babblo, jibbering half in relief and half in fright, was already collecting herbs to start the healing process. In the meantime Nangriffo applied some Soldat ointment. In otherwise stunned silence, they checked the strewn remains of their camp. Just about everything of use had been damaged and in some cases totally destroyed. Much had been thrown into the brush or trees or taken by the fleeing attackers. The interiors of the hovos had been trashed but started easily when tested, to the relief of all. Little mechanical damage seemed to have been done. Pursho, all fight now that the danger had passed, climbed down from his perch in the tree and perched on Aandt’s head, scowling and hissing at the enemy, trying to peer deep into the thick Tress.
Babblo had finally found and collected the required herbs and prepared her ointment and treated Ambo’s shoulder wound which looked messy and was very painful. But it wasn’t as serious as had been first thought. Nangriffo and Wilsobre went a little way into the foliage to make certain no attackers still lurked. The worst thing about the raid had been that the intruders had taken all of the Soldat weapons. Before these humos had only been armed with tree branches but not the were equipped to inflict much more damage. They would have to be tracked down and captured quickly or no one in the region would feel safe. The Soldat and their saviour were both armed with stout sticks but these would prove to be totally ineffective if they came across the armed rogues. Nangrifoo had given Grahoconno instructions to relay the information about their problems and the armed raiders to the Soldat base at Trinar.
Nangriffo and Wilsobre soon gave up the chase and returned to the humos. Quite a bit of stolen property had been recovered along the way but there was no sign of their attackers. A council of war was quickly convened. Wilsobre formally introduced himself. He was a scientist stationed in the top secret area called the Grano Gryo but he hated living even in small settlos. So he had chosen, when he was able, to live in a shelto in the tall trees just to Zoneward of the Red Tress proper. He wasn’t allowed to discuss any of his work even when he was informed that Zarchi and Ambo’s Olders were important officials there. He probably knew them or knew of them but wouldn’t acknowledge even this.
He was a fairly short and muscular humo with light grey and white forehead scales. Two other scientists who also liked their own company lived nearby and they shared the use of a mid sized hovo with Wilsobre.. Unfortunately one of his fellow workers had it at this particular time. It was decided after a hasty conversation to head to his shelto to recuperate and check the hovos over thoroughly and repair any damage.
Grahoconno had tried to get a message through to Trinar but had found that the communication equipment in one hovo had been much more severely damaged than at first thought and although the other seemed to be functioning perfectly, he hadn’t been able to get the message through possibly because of the nearness of the thick Red Tress. It was therefore decided that Ambo and Nangriffo accompanied by Wilsobre would go to the nearest small settlo and from there hopefully be able to report to the Soldat station in Trinar. A Soldat hovo had passed them about a half a purple orb before the attack. It seemed to be headed towards this small settlo. Hopefully it was still there and a bit of immediate action on the problem of the attackers might be available. There was one medical person based at this settlo and it was hoped that Ambo could also have his wound more thoroughly investigated. Babblo herbs seemed to be working well but still it should be checked by an experienced medical humo. Maribo and Grahocoono’s bruises were still sore but the Splat ointment had relieved them considerably. They would also have to acquire more food, clothing, and coveros to replace what had been destroyed or stolen.
Wilsobre’s shelto was soon reached and the party members who were to remain were shown where all the necessities were located. Wilsobre didn’t have a weapon except for a cylindrically shaped polished tree branch fashioned into a long handled club. Grahoconno would have to work out a guard roster and all would have to be vigilant for no one knew how far and in which direction the attackers had fled. Babblo was the perfect medico, tending those injured in the skirmish with ointment made from freshly gathered herbs. She jibbered contentedly as she went about her task. Pusho had decided it was going with Nangriffo, Ambo and Wilsobre right from the beginning and was already seated in its chosen hovo.
The hovo sped off Zettaward leaving Aandt armed with Wilsobre’s club and Zarchia with a sharpened branch on first guard duty near the shelto whilst Grahoconno did a wide and thorough search for quite a distance around their camp. Maribo prepared some of Wilsobre’s food and then rested in preparation for her turn on duty. Eventually Grahoconno came in and he two rested leaving the security of their shelto virtually in the hands of the two, now quite experienced youngers.
Zarchia and Aandt were still on duty when they heard a hovo approaching from Larward. Grahoconno hear it as well and had joined them before it hove into sight. The mid sized hovo had a trio of Soldats on board. The leader was called Cutlo. News of the situation in the region had obviously gotten through. He was further briefed by Grahoconno and then went and discussed matters with the now awake Maribo. They left the only two weapons they could spare. Cutlo asked that when Nangriffo and the rest of the party arrived back that they remain at the camp until his trio had examined the countryside for a good way around the site in the hope of getting on the trail of the bandits. Depending on the results, it might be possible for them to accompany the Splat expedition at least part of the way.
Grahoconno and Maribo assumed responsibility for the protection of the shelto once the patrol had departed. Aandt and Zarchia slept. Babblo slept in fits and starts, jibbering constantly no matter what state she was in. From time to time, the heard her going out side to check on those on guard.
After some time a loud noise started to resonate from a dense grove of very tall red trees not too far to Zettaward.. Zarchia, the Splat and Aandt almost collided in their haste to leave the shelto.
Maribo and Grahoconno, as well as hearing the noises, had seen flashes of light coming from some way off and had also thought that they had heard screams.. The Soldat armed with one of the weapons, gave instructions for the others to remain where they were and put Maribo in charge during his absence. He then went to the remaining hovo. Just as he was starting it up, Aandt, armed with the club and a sharpened stick, had scrambled on board. The hovo was on its way by then and the Soldat made no attempt to evict the younger. Instead he piloted the hovo cautiously through the quite thick red trees in the direction of the activity they had noted. Very few sounds could not be heard and the light flashes had stoped altogether.
The scene they found resembled something out of their worst nightmares. The Soldat hovo was lying upended completely blocking the trail. It had obviously suffered severe damage. Its nose was crumpled up against a thin, but very tall red tree. Signs of a fire ran along the whole length of the craft. One Soldat was shakily standing, trying to cover a group of eight prone humos with his weapon. Two of those on the ground appeared to be wounded. Cutlo sat near the wrecked hovo with his weapon also trained on the group on the ground, fluid dripping from an elongated gash in his right leg. The remaining Soldat was lying on the ground, on his back a short distance away. From the look of him, he was still alive but quite seriously wounded.. It was obvious that the Soldat hovo had been ambushed but the Soldats had manage to basically save the orb. It had been only good luck and their Soldat training that Had enabled them to survive.
“You took your time getting here!”said Cutlo who then passed out. Grahoconno went to his aid, took his weapon. Aandt brought ointment and a bandage from the hovo and the Soldat did the best he could with Cutlo’s wound. It was a pity that Babblo wasn’t present. The Soldat still standing wasn’t much more than a Younger himself and although he wasn’t injured, was very frightened. Coveros were ripped from the attackers to make cords to bind their arms and legs. The two wounded constantly yelled abuse and refused to let Aandt or Grahoconno examine their injuries.
Aandt and Grahoconno managed to carefully carry Cutlo and the other wounded Soldat and to load them on to their hovo. . The young Soldat who was called Stratoje was too shaken to be left to guard the prisoners by himself whilst the wounded were taken back to Wilsobre’s shelto. Grahoconno checked their tie ropes carefully and firmly tied the ends to strong saplings. Aandt would have to pilot the hovo with the wounded back to base by himself as Grahoconno was needed to help manage the prisoners. Four of the prisoners had almost managed to escape whilst Aandt and Grahoconno had been loading the wounded. It was very lucky that the Soldat had arrived back when he did. Aandt was to take a weapon and to be very careful on his return trip in case there were any more renegades about. Maribo and Babblo aided by Zarchia would have to tend to the wounded. If Nangriffo, Ambo, Wilsobre and the Pursho hadn’t yet returned, Ambo would have to come back and they would try to ferry the two wounded troublemakers back to Babblo for treatment, which, given their abusive behaviour, would be a very difficult task with the humo power available. If the others had then still not returned, Aandt might have to travel as far to Zettaward as possible to establish communications with the nearest Soldat base.
As soon as they arrived at the shelto, Maribo and Zarchia helped with the careful unloading of the two wounded. They were given the full story by the Younger. Babblo quickly set about sourcing more herb, obviously relishing her improved stuts once again.. Cutlo had regained consciousness but the other Soldat who was called Cambloo was in a very bad way and all were worried if he was to survive. The other hovo had not yet returned so after he had rested for a short while, Aandt took his leave and returned to Grahoconnor to try to bring the wounded invaders back for Babblo’s treatment.
Luckily he met the returning hovo not too far into his journey. It was decided that Wilsobre and Ambo would return to the shelto whilst Aandt showed Nangriffo to the scene of the attack. Of course the Pursho tagged along to see what was occurring. When Ambo and his new friend arrived back at the home base, they found everything under control thanks mainly to Babblo’s skills and knowledge. Ambo’s wound too, had healed well already although he still felt twinges of pain from time to time.
It wasn’t long before the first load of prisoners, accompanied by Nangriffo and Wilsobree arrived. And a very surly and unpleasant arrival it was too. Two more trips would be need to bring the full company of prisoners, guards and Pursho back to the shelto. The Pursho had decided to remain with Aandt and the nervous young Soldat standing guard over the well trussed prisoners.
The wounded soldier called Flufkit was slowly making progress towards recovery but was still quite ill and needed much attention from the hard working Splat. Cutlo had recovered significantly but was still having a hard time standing unassisted.
Babblo soon went to work on the two wounded attackers. They were so surprised to find they were being treated by a creature they had never seen before that they didn’t put up much resistence although their language was still foul. Maribo tried to treat the minor wounds and scratches of the others but although they were still bound securely, they still tried to resist.
Nangriffo had stopped on the way and from the top of a fairly high hill, managed to get a message through to the nearest Soldat base, requesting back-up, to scour the area for any more malingers and to take those captured to a secure detention centre.
They had to wait a full purple orb and a half of a second before help finally rolled up to the shelto. It consisted of three trios of Soldats and seven mid sized hovos, more than enough for transportation and search requirements. Ambo and Zarchia were pleased to find that one of the incoming Soldats was their old friend and mouth-scale rattler, Nicosimo. He was to be left with his former leader, Nangriffo and the party on their journey to Larward to try to link up with the newly discovered Splats as this area was obviously more dangerous than any of them had expected.
They decided to stay at Wilsobre’s shelto for three more purple orbs to rest, recuperate and plan their next moves. In the meantime, two of the Soldat hovos carrying full crew set out to make sure the area around their locality was secure.
The Pursho strangely hadn’t arrived back with Nangriffo and company. I had bored of travelling with speed, comfort and security and had decided to zone all the way back from Trinar on its tried and true, trusty six legs. It arrived shortly after the six Soldat hovos, exhausted, quite bedraggled and quite wet. It was also extremely hungry and in a foul mood.
Nothing suspicious was found during the Soldat patrols of the nearby areas.
The Soldats loaded their prisoners on to the hovos. With the increased number of guards, the renegades were much more co-operative and they departed for Trinar without incident. The two wounded., thanks mainly to the efforts of Babblo were now on the road to recovery. Cutlo and his two compatriots were also on their way to Trinar further treatment, rest and re-assignment.
Eventually the Splat search party restocked their Hovos from Wilsobre’s greatly diminished store and with their wounded pretty much recovered and refreshed and the Pursho once again more settled and in a much better mood, they said their goodbye’s to their new friend Wilsobre and headed Larward. They were now fully armed once again to meet any further threats and also had had their number increased by one wioth the addition of Nicosimo Much time had been lost through the foolishness of the renegade humos and all were immensely glad to be on their way once again. By the end of that purple orb they had made good time and had reached the final Larward settlo of Aion. It was a lot larger than the youngers had expected but not large enough to disturb Babblo. There wasn’t much hovo activity. They decided to have a shortened rest period here. It wasn’t necessary to maintain much of a guard so all were able to rest securely.
They departed again early on the next purple orb, proceeding ever further to Larward. There were no further dangerous encounters and they made very good time, the youngers even taking turns at piloting the hovos. The trees at first had thinned and now they were very scattered. With the decrease in trees also came the decrease in featheros. By the end of this orb they had virtually disappeared.
Finally they reached the outskirts of the Glurpo. Once again the number of trees greatly increased but they were much smaller and a lot were very twisted. Most were light blue with the occasional bright yello. The number of featheros increased but they were mainly small and very distorted and odd shaped. The air smelt of the stench of rotting vegetation and foulness. The small wasn’t nearly as bad as that which they had encountered in the mining area of the Grillo but it was still very unpleasant and quite nauseating.
They altered their course considerably to give the area as wide a berth as possible and were relieved as the air became cleaner and much more easy to breathe and the scraggy shrub and trees were soon left behind.
Suddenly Zarchia saw it, highly concentrated pink everywhere as far as the eye could see. It was glowing through the trees directly ahead. The others spied it at around the same time, the Splat stopped jibbering for the first time in ages and the Pursho down from Nicosimo’s forehead scales. The stopped and drank in the sight. The air here smelt very sweet and pure and the brown light of the double orb reflecting off the expansive pink surface was almost blinding.
The then the water started to fall from the sky and soon the green fluid was running everywhere. They reboarded the hovos and pressed on almost reaching the edge of the pinkness before they were forced to stop and try to erect a makeshift shelto on a low ridge where there were no trees or shrubs. The green fluid poured on to the pink surface and eddied but could not sink and soon green rivers were flowing across its surface in every direction. All would have preferred a drier welcome to the Blubbo sea of which they’d been dreaming.