PART 4 – THE SLOPES OF BERRONIC
The tree nets glimmoed in through the edges of Zarchia’s eye-scales as she slowly broke through the layer of sleep and dreams that had encrusted them. Dhacoopo stirred the topmost branches of the tall green trees between the trunks of which were strung the Gossmo nets. The current of breeze generated by the heat and density changes in the all-surrounding Blubbo stirred the internal branches of the settlo trees keeping the temperature just perfect for sleeping and relaxing. Zarchia still felt sleep and Floro and Grahoconno both caused small vibrations of the Gossmo net underfoot with their mouth-scale shaking.
Looking orbwards, she once again noticed the Pursho stalking a group of Candos. It had turned into a friendly game now, the Pursho obviously having forgiven, but probably not forgotten the indignity of their first meeting.
The fe-younger got up quietly so as not to disturb those still dreaming and walked into the reality of the Gossmo island. All around her was the beauty of the tree sheltos of glittogloing Gossmo and occasional glimpses of the surrounding vivid pink Blubbo.
Only a small number of Gossmos were asleep, most likely those who had been on duty during the non-purple orb out on missions in their craft on the Blubbo. Most were quietly engaged on tasks of varying complexity. Most seemed to have left the nets and to be working at ground level.
Floro stirred at just about the same moment as Thomporic ascended the nearest net ladder with great dexterity. Grahoconno had also woken and was standing upright staring around in every direction as if he couldn’t believe the signals his eyes were sending to his brain/. Zarchia, after acknowledging the Gossmo leader’s greeting, walked to the very edge of the net structure and stared out over the seemingly never ending pinkness. She wondered what Ambo and Aandt were doing and wished that they too, had been able to come on the voyage to Binga. She also thought of Maribo and the Splats and hoped all were safe and that no further tragedy had befallen the Shiveros. She was soon joined by Floro, Grahoconno and Krugok. Turning to acknowledge their presence, she burst out laughing as the Pursho was clinging precariously to Grahoconno’s right shoulder., almost overflowing on to his head. A Cando was sitting bolt upright on the middle of the demon’s back.
“Wheeeeeee!!!” The sudden pull of the earth with the Gossmo ropes tugging in the opposite direction was exhilarating and quite scale raising. Pursho and the Candos swung on the ropes grinning insanely, the white mischief making strange, long drawn-out noises of excitement which split the lmost otherwise serene calm of the foliated domain.
The herb and small brush were so bright that Zarchia had to almost shield her eyes from the glo from just about every colour known under any orb; a myriad of colour combinations that she could never imagined if she had not seen them with her own eyes. The flowers carpeted the ground and also reached high to orbward on long thin stalks. The yello orb was only just starting its rise and was just a blur way to Larward just above the horizon. They had descended from the Gossmo nets some distance inland from the Blubbo edge but its pinkness was clearly still visible. Glimpses could be had between the tall tree trunks and Gossmo nets of the unusual looking Gossmo craft busily at work out on the Blubbo Sea Many were most likely on missions to other islands further out or even to the mainland. Zarchia wished that Ambo and Aandt had made the crossing with her but her thoughts were distracted by a madly careering white blur being pursued by a party of seven Candos. They sent a tidal wave of shivers through the tall herb and the flowers mysteriously sprang aside to allow the passage of the invaders. Tall green herb with pale green and white seed pods shivered as they were touched by the mauring party and ripe seed was sprayed in all directions. Zarchia laughed loudly in pure joy and the others joined in.
Many featheros flew from the brush disturbed by the antics and the laughter. The leaping, running torrent was like a plague to all that it disturbed. As each creature had six legs, there seemed to be limbs flying in every direction. Not only were the seeds dispersed, but their was an explosion of small, mostly brightly coloured creatures. Many were almost transparent and on closer examination turned out to be the most peculiar looking creatures Zarchia had ever seen. The quickly dispersed and things quickly returned to quiet peacefulness.
Exploring the area under and close to the tree nets took half a purple orb. After eating quite pleasant herb and delicious roundos and other strangely shaped fruit, Zarchia was so tired that she lay down in a patch of dense green undergrowth, which felt soft and velvet like against her skin and scales.. She dozed. The others wandered off exploring further afield. Grahocoono was deep in conversation with Floro. Both were amazed at the variety of herb, trees, fruits and animals previously unknown to them.
“TICKKAWACKKATIKCKAWACKKA! TICKKKAWACKKAWAAWAAKATICKAA!” The sound itself wasn’t all that loud but it was somehow so brittle that it broke the silence underneath the tall trees and the Gossmo nets. Zarchia, on suddenly jerking awake, could see nothing in the clean carpet of herb and flowers, but then noticed a slight movement in a small incline not too far away. She arose slowly so as not to disturb whatever it was and peered at the ground in this area. There were definitely creatures there, thin and almost flat but quite long and wide. They were bright orange and were leaving a trail of fluorescent light green behind them. Sandodenna came and touched Zarchia on the shoulder. The fe-younger almost jumped out of her skin and scales. The creatures were apparently reasonably harmless if left alone. If touched they could secrete a toxin which irritated the skin and if absorbed into the eyes, could temporarily blind for several purple orbs.
Floro and Grahoconno joined them in examining the creatures without touching or annoying. None got in the way of the now retreating flatos which departed from the area without a sound.
A fairly old Gossmo naned Johonnoliwo joined the company and soon was engaged in deep conversation with Grahoconno. Sandodenna also joined in. The ma-Gossmo was deeply worried about the arrival of the Humos from Zettaward and the impact they would have on the humos of Binga and the other islands and also all the creatures that lived in the region. The Gossmo island must remain intact and unchanged. Zetta humos would be allowed to visit it when it suited the Gossmo humos for this to happen. None would be allowed to set up permanent residence there. There would be absolutely no building of humo sheltos. Anyway, the force of Dhacoopo would intervene if there was too much change to its realm. If was a force that usually seemed to prefer everything to act in harmony. Wind squalls and storms were very rare occurrences. But if Dhacoopo changed as it had done in times long past, it could unleash great flashes of power.
The party wandered fairly aimlessly for the rest of the purple orb, examining things of interest as they went. Eventually, the tiredness returned and they climbed the Gossmo ladders to the overhead nets.
Large groups of the Gossmo humos were present on the nets. After cleansing, much food and water was consumed. There followed many discussions on a wide range of subjects and there was even a bit of mouth-scale rattling led by Grahoconno. Pursho also howled along for a while but seemed to lose interest fairly quickly. Maybe it was just tired after its many Cando baiting and chasing. I went and slept soundly and loudly some way of. It ended up with six Candos curled on top or along side it, all mimicking its sounds of deep sleep satisfaction.
The yello orb had risen considerably in the sky during that reign of its purple sibling. The currents of air generated by changes in Bubblo temperature became much stronger just as the mainland humos were preparing for sleep and the swishing and swaying of the branches in the Gossmo shelto at first was annoying but it soon became quite worrying. The newcomers were worried that the whole structure might collapse about them. But Gossmo structures can withatand much greater forces than this.
Zarchia soon became aware of many of the gossmos pulling on huge plaited ropes of a bright orange colour. Slowly huge thin nets peeled off from the over head layer and came into place as a shield protecting the inside of the shelto. Glancing around, she noticed hundreds of the island residents performing the same tack throughout the whole large structure.
The force that is Dhacoopo howled in the higher branches and sent vibrations throughout the whole tree bound structure. The mainland humos found it much more difficult to walk on the Gossmo surface in these conditions and almost had to shout to be heard. Pursho had disappeared once again and there was not a sign of a Cando.
Johnnoliwo, in hushed tones that could barely be heard above the din, explained to Zarchia and Floro, how when the yello orb ruled the sky along with its purople sibling, the strength of Dhacoopo became much greater. The Gossmo vessels could skim very quickly across the Blubbo surface during these periods but it was dangerous so was only attempted in times of need. During this time it was not safe to attempt to climb the trees above the level of the topmost Gossmo nets. Most of the Candos had been active since before the dawn of the yello orb bringing their chrysalis down into the shelto itself or even to sheltos on the ground itself.
With the ending of the purple orb, all of the Gossmo ladders had been hauled up in the tree sheltos and the entry ways had been blocked by Gosmo guards brandishing strange looking weapons of two distinctly different types. These were the first weapons those from the mainland had seen the Gossmo humos display. One type of weapon was shaped like a triangular funnel and inside were layers of the finest spun Gossmo imaginable. It collected the light from the yello orb and concentrated it into a beam which was then projected outwards on to the target. These could kill small creatures if the orb was at its highest and cause pain to larger creatures which might make them think twice about trying to invade a Gossmo settlo. These were absolutely useless unless the yello orb was patrolling the sky alone. The other weapons consisted of very strong woven Gossmo about as long as an adukt male humo’s arm. At the end was a peculiar bowl-like structure which drew in air and a little of Da=hacoopo’s energy which put pressure on a diaphram made from a material unknown to the mainland humos. Zarchia thought that it might be made by applying extreme heat and pressure to Blubbo. Spear-like projectile made from small tree branches some having multiple points were placed into the tubes and if the power was strong enough, could be fired at great velocity for short distances.
Krugok told them that she feared, by the sounds and the wind, and the ferocity of Dhacoopo, that the green water would fall in torrents from the sky. When this was severe, quite a large portion of Binga could become flooded and if it was really great and flowed in large streams out onto the Blubbo, strange, often dangerous creatures were disturbed and arose from the Blubbo depths. Some were huge and even many of the small varieties were deadly. Sometimes they came up on to the land and prowled beneath the Gossmo nets. Luckily, at least so far, none had manage to scale any of the sheer tree trunks. A substance that was a bi-product of the production of the Gossmo was applied to the floors of all the entry ways making it almost impossible for any creature to gain a hand or foot hold. It was quite easily neutralised once the danger had passed.
And then the green downpour that Krugok had predicted happened suddenly, and streams of water fell and fell some more. It was so dense that the yello dominator of the sky was blotted out completely. The green torrent flowed from the topmost branches of the trees and the upper Gossmo nets but not a drop entered the shelto. The only ones able to sleep through this din were the Pursho and its newly found Cando allies. The restless humos, mainland and Gossmo Isle alike, stared out through the Gossmo at the sheet of falling greenness. When the purple orb arose no one could tell as it wasn’t visible at all. The green water spout continued for what they calculated to be two and a half purple orbs. Zarchia, Floro and Grahoconno roamed the treetop shelto, exploring new areas and talking as well as they could to any Gossmo who had the time and the patience to participate in the difficult exchange. They helped the island dwellers where they could, learned some basic Gossmo weaving skills but a lot of the time they just stood and watched the fall of the wet green. The insistent drumming of the huge drops on the trees and shelto added to the difficulties of conversation and also meant that the enjoyment of a mouth-scale rattle was impossible. Sleep was virtually impossible.
The mainland humos were deeply surprised to find there was one area of the Gossmo settlo that they were forbidden to enter. It was shielded by very thick Gossmo blinds behind which much activity was occurring. They were firmly but courteously steered from the area. Sandodenna said that this area was where some of the high quality Gossmo materials were made and their making was a secret that the Binga residents were not yet prepared to share with the newcomers. Dhacoopo would be very angry indeed if this happened.
Curiosity aroused the trio found it difficult to stop themselves from sneaking back and having a peek when all of the inhabitants of the glitogloing nets were occupied elsewhere. But this would be disrespectful and wasn’t really considered at all. Zarchie had seen the Pursho walking calmly from the area. If it could talk, the answer to the riddle would soon be known but alas it couldn’t. It now leapt from shoulder to shoulder, its red mouth-scales flashing and its knowing purple eyes grinning insanely.
Finally the drumming from the green downpour eased and the orbs were able to penetrate the downpour. Zarchia and her companions were able to discern vast rivers of green liquid flowing out over the pink of the Colossal Blubbo Sea. They extended as far out as the eye could see in all directions which were visible. Looking downwards, a large body of green water was clarly visible under the whole length of the tree shelto. Sandodenna told them that this was reasonablr mild compared to other fairly recent floodings.
Not even the Pursho was tempted to venture down into the greenness. The guards were still keeping a close eye on the entrance ways. The Gossmos were soon busily engaged in bringing the settlo back into some kind of working order.
A myriad of small creatures could be seen if one focused carefully, either floaring on the green surface or clinging to the lower branches and trunks of the trees. None of them seemed to pose any danger. Zarchia asked Thomporic where the water flowing out onto the Blubbo surface eventually ent. He explained that some returned to the sky. Dhacoopo at work again. The remainder sank down under the Blubbo, its sheer weight forcing it down into the depths, disturbing the creatures that dwelt there. Eventually it had to rise again and water and Blubbo do not mix at all well. It manifested itself as strange shapes rising through the Blubbo surface or in huge green balls of water combined with oxygen and whatever debris it had carried down with it or collected on its way back to the surface.
Six creatures each about as long as a prone ma-older humo rose through the Blubbo and the layer of green and floated to the submerged land and continued on under the tree sheltos. Every humo had tensed when “Zoioomicroom!” had echoed through the air. Padrummo, with his almost scaleless eyelids, had been the first to have tracked their movement and had alerted them to the creatures’ exact location. All noted their progress but Thomporic gave the word that no action needed to be taken at this stage. The Gossmo humos said it was Dhacoopo’s will that they not interfere or harm any other creature unless they became a treat to their lives or their survival. But the creatures identified by Sandodenna as doothbesican, were closely monitored. Four did a dog leg under the sheltos before crossing the now invisible coastline and disappearing back under the green and pinkness. The remaining duo were more of a nuisance careering around at will under the Gossmo sheltos obviously searching for food. Their eating parts were invisible beneath the green surface but occasionally an eye could be seen staring upwards, And what eyes they were, large and bright blue, the surrounds encrusted with a myriad of bright red scales. The search became more frantic which the creatures quite often banging into tree trunks sending shivers through the Gossmo floor and walls. Zarchia thought they were hunting other creatures brought to the surface by the green flood or maybe a careless Cando silly enough to have left the safety of the Gossmo safety.. The humos still took no action but remained alert. Thomporic said that the creatures would leave as soon as they had eaten or failing that, when the water level started to fall significantly.
All of a sudden, both creatures dived simultaneously and emerged gnawing on funny, almost square shaped purple quadrapeds. Sandodenna seemed surprised at the sight of these creatures. They were Didlymorphs and were very rarely seen this close to Binga. They were a type of squirip, the Gossmo further explained. They were harmless and quite defenceless creatures. Zarchia was sickened to her stomach by the horror of the two Doothbesicans frenzied feeding. Row upon row of vicious black mouth-scales could bee seen from time to time tearing into the hapless victims. The terrified squealing of the creatures was overpowered by the even louder boom of “Zoioocmicroom’” as eight more of the predators emerged from the green and pink to join in the feasting. Zarchia turned away not being able to stomach the sight any more. She noticed that Floro and the Soldat were staring open mouthed at the scene before them, transfixed by the horrific scene being played out below them. Zarchia felt the need to reassure herself that the Pursho was still safe, and to her relief, soon found it way back in the shelto cowering with a whole colony of Candos and their chrysalis.
Eventually the horror below subsided and the apparitions returned to their haunts beneath the Blubbo surface making barely a ripple on their re-entry.
All three mainland humos were very upset by the incident, even the Soldat. Zarchia was trembling. The Gossmos showed little emotion but were obviously affected as well. After a quick meal eaten with very little conversation, all retired to rest but Zarchia could not find sleep at all. She sought out the company of the Pursho and the Candos, and although almost enveloped by the small scaly creatures, still could not find peace. This orb with only the yello globe overhead seemed endless. Occasionally there were light showers of green but now heavy downpours but by the time the purple orb reappeared all was clear.
It was finally decided by Thomporic and Krugok that it was safe to descend to the ground. Three of the exit ways were cleared of their protective covering and a party of armed Gossmos was sent to check out the situation below. They did a thorough search and were soon joined by Grahocoono who now wished that he had been permitted to bring his weapon with him.
Eventually the signal was given that all was clear and the other exit ways were all cleared and Zarchia and Floro descended to the ground. Pursho and the Candos by now were away high in the treetops above the Gossmo structures. Most of the green had by now left Binga but large streams could still be seen way out on the pink surface. A group of Gossmos were detailed to check on the Gossmo craft which, from the distance at least, seemed virtually undamaged. Lying in puddles of green not far from the shore, The mainland humos noticed quite a few Pamurpho-like smallish red creatures. On closer examination of the area close to the shoreline, they seemed to be everywhere. Sandodenna assured them that they were not of any danger at all. They looked like large roundos but had strange bits poking out from the round ball structures. They were encrusted with overlapping scales and looked rough and bristly, but when touched their surface felt soft like new feathers. The creatures themselves felt quite slurpy and squashy. The Gossmos were pleased to find them in such great numbers as this meant good luck and prosperity. The islanders were soon busy collecting as many as they could and throwing them at a low trajectory from the green back on to the pink Blubbo surface beneath whose surface they quickly disappeared with a gurgle. The mainlanders soon joined it and Zarchia found the experience quite enjoyable.
He remainder of that purple orb was spent clearing debris from the flood and collecting what food hadn’t been washed away or destroyed by the downpour and water flow. The sly water was obviously finished as the Candos were busily engaged in replacing their expected offspring buck up in the high branches above the topmost level of Gossmo nets. Pursho went absolutely berserk now that it was free again and the danger past. It was unable to resist the remaining pools of green and returned back to base absolutely saturated and looking more green than any of the surrounds.
Zarchia slept much more soundly after this and the few times she had awoken, she had felt the Pursho stretched out along her legs.
During the next double orb, the mainland humos resumed their exploration of the island wandering much further into its interior. Climbing a small ridge, Zarchia was surprised to find their was a very steep incline on the far side that ended in the deep pink Blubbo. Padrummo and Sandodenn came and joined her and shepherded her away back from the edge. But before she turned back, she noticed that there were many of the Gossmo humos clustered near the shore line below and there seemed much equipment that she didn’t recognise and she had no idea to what use it was being put by the residents of Binga.
Their guides explained that this was the area where some of the materials used in the manufacture of Gossmo were collected and the machines were used in this part of the process. It was off limits to all except the Gossmo humos and they would not be allowed a further look at the activity. Questioning their hosts produced no further answers and so eventually she joined Floro and Grahoconno who had begun exploring some way off. They stopped and had some fresh water they had brought with them and ate some delicious roundos they found hanging from branches that had been above the waterline and so the fruit hadn’t been damaged. They relaxed and discussed their adventure so far and all that they had witnessed. They then continued their rambles with their two guides helping them to identify types of herb, fruit, trees and small creatures that they found from time to time.
Zarchia realised that the walk was starting to tire her and so she decided to rest for a while before continuing her exploration.
The duo of orbs suddenly disappeared under a cloud of deep, dark brown which obscured everything as far a Zarcia could see from her kneeling position. She had been crouched examining some very strange looking small creatures that were kicking themselves along through the thin herb close to her resting position. Pursho and a group of Candos were frisking nearby annoying every small creature in sight and these were obviously fleeing from the attentions of those pests. Zarchia soon became aware that the Pursho and the Candos were themselves being targeted by a quickly descending, huge black feathero. It was far bigger than anything Zarchia had ever seen in the sky. She had no time to react or even call out a warning before the creatures terrible front hands had clutched the Pursho and three of the island clows and had begun a rapid ascent.
Zarchia saw only a flash and screams of terror first of all from the captives and then from the feathero itself. It suddenly released its prisoners, dropping them fortunately just above ground height. It flew a little distance trying desperately to gain height, and then fell just out from the Blubbo shore, disappearing almost instantly under its pinkness with barely a ripple or any sign that it had existed at all.
Luckily for Zarchia Paddrummo had been returning to see her and since the torrent of green, had been armed with a projectile launcher just in case there was any lingering danger from the depths. His six pointed sharpened branch had hit the infiltrator soundly and bang on target. This was just as well as it was the only one he had carried.
He felt very sad that he had had to kill the feathero. Killing other creatures, even those that posed a threat, was abhorred by most humos especially those from the Gossmo Isle. Pursho and the captured Candos were basically uninjured but badly shaken and more than a little bit sore.
The alarm had been raised in the Gossmo shelto and along the Blubbo edge and many more Gossmos including Thomopric came quickly to their aid. All were elated that the danger had already passed but were dejected at the killing. Most of the party then walked back to the shelto and climbed the Gossmo ladders into the safety of the Gossmo nets.
There were still many creatures lingering just below the Blubbo surface and they made short work of the carcase of the downed feathero.
After a while, the mainland humos descended to the ground once more and were shown a section of Blubbo not too far away from the main shelto that was thought to be relatively safe for walloing. The Blubbo there was very shallow and sheets of very strong Gossmo had been erected on stands at the points where it deepened to help protect those enjoying its therapeutic properties from predatory creatures from the depths. The area had been thoroughly searched since the flood to make sure no unwelcome creatures had been washed there.
Zarchia and Flor bathed in its pleasures for some time while Padrummo, Grahoconno and Sandodenna discussing humo and Gossmo history. Padrummo also spent time making a few more projectiles for his weapon. After some time he and Sandodenna joined Zarchia and Floro in the Blubbo introducing some new Blubbo games to the mainland humos. One new game involving leaping as high as one could froim the Blubbo and splashing down backwards. The Pursho who had been nearby madly chasing Candos up the trees along the Blubbo edge left of this pursuit and almost instantly joined in the Blubbo game. Once his leaping began, the fun was on in earnest. It would climb up into the overhanging tree limbs and balance there for a while clinging with only its two back feet. When it judged one of the humos was about to leap orbwards from the pinkness, it would launch itself into space and try to catch on to the quickly rising form aiming for a shoulder to ride in style the rest of the way down to the Blubbo surface and beyond. Its red mouth scales flashing produced the most peculiar patterns imaginable. Sometimes it would misjudge the velocity of its prey, and would land awkwardly sending the pink spraying in every direction.
The first time it had tried its trick on the rapidly rising form of Sandodenna, she had let out such a yell of surprise that Grahoconno who was standing guard, came running with a loaded Gossmo weapon in his hands and had waded a fair way out into the Blubbo before he realised it was just the white demon up to its tricks. It was now seated on the shoulders of the still startled fe-Gossmo. The Candos joined in to a limited extent running up tree trunks and along branches trying to corner the white blur but they definitely weren’t game to try to join in with its Blubbo jumping antics.
After they had enough of the Blubbbo enjoyment, they decided to stay in the Shelto area that was closest to here for the rest time. The mainland humos were introduced to many more of the Gossmos and there was once again much festivity, games and even some mouth-scale rattling now that the danger from the downpour and floor and the creatures they had displaced had receded.
The newt double orb was mainly spent exploring new areas of the tree structure and making plans for further exploration. The mainland humos then made their way back to the area of the shelto close to the Blubbo edge where they’d first landed.
During the next rest period, they were asked by the island’s leaders, if they would like to visit the large mountain that occupied much of the interior of Binga. It was clearly visible but some way off from their present location. The easiest way to reach the most accessible part was by the Gossmo craft in which they had journeyed from the mainland. The island residents didn’t have land craft capable of travelling any great distance. Their craft were the masters of the Blubbo and could travel fairly well over the green water when required but they were useless over land surfaces.
The all-too-short journey in the craft to their destination was once again exhilarating with Dhacoopo again roaring in the Gossmo sails and the Pursho and three Candos who had been allowed to make the journey going absolutely insane. Luckily the craft were very sturdy.
Once the mountain had started to loom large ahead, Pursho had stationed itself at the very front of the vessel and had howled of their arrival to the orbs with its flashing red mouth scales and its purple eyes blinking like guiding lights.
Once ashore, they had to walk quite some distance from their disembarkation point before the rising of the ground became very noticeable. The mountain now loomed over them and was a lot higher and steeper than Zarchia had expected and the going soon became much more difficult and tiring. She and the other mainlanders were very grateful now for the strong Gossmo foot coveros that had been provided for them to wear during the expedition.
All three humos soon found the climb exceptionally difficult and they soon began to feel exhausted. Luckily the foot coveros had a gripping surface or Zarchia knew she would have had to have given up even this early in the ascent. Even Grahoconno who, as a Soldat, had been trained for situations such as this, was proceeding very slowly. Thomporic himself had decided to accompany this expedition. The top section of the mountain which the Gossmos referred to as Barronic, towered above them still seeming to reach almost to the now dimming purple orb. The vegetation was thick and lush, the herb and flowers thick and sweet. There were stilly plenty of trees but they were much more scattered than down closer to the Blubbo edge. There was much more variety in their colours than lower down the slop, and with green, orange seemed to dominate. And just about all carried myriads of trailing branches covered from tip to fork with garlands of flowers which gave off a fragrance so powerful that it made Zarchia feel quite light headed. The sight before her eyes was also incredibly beautiful. The Pursho had decided very early on that walking up very high mountains was not its favourite pastime and had henceforth graced just about every humo shoulder, leg, arm or head that presented its self.. It had been nestled amongst the topmost scales of the Gossmo leader’s head when it had stiffened and stared directly ahead and then climbed down and sat on his foot coveros as if to stop him from proceeding forward. Then they all saw them.
The Jumpostumpos were the strangest looking creatures the mainland humos had ever witnessed. Sandodenna explained that these creatures were only found on the steep slopes of high mountains or large hills. They were about a quarter of the size of a full grown humo and had about twelve legs positioned at very strange points on their bodies. Most even seemed to have one protruding from the middle of their foreheads. All of these limbs were almost totally encrusted with gloing black scales except for the regions around their multiple joints. By strange rhythmic movements of their limb joints they were able to walk over small shrubs, fallen tree trunks, other debris left by the downpour and even wildly careering Purshos and Candos without doing the slightest harm to them. All the mainlanders were amazed at their dexterity. The Gossmos assured them they were completely harmless and were most likely searching for roundos and other fallen fruit. They particularly fancied a purple oblong fruit known as an owyadoino. This particular fruit was the chief source of nourishment and grew in scattered pockets throughout the more hilly regions of the isle. Once they realised that there were other life forms present, they remained reasonably calm until the Pursho and the Candos started madly climbing trees and swinging down from the lower branches trying to grab the creatures. This put them to flight and they ran further up the steeper side slopes of the mountain where the humos could not follow and the now bored-with-the game Pursho and its silly accomplices probably couldn’t be bothered to pursue the pursuit. The highly unusual creatures soon disappeared completely from view. Pursho thought about going after them but realised it was too tired and ended up asleep on Zarchia’s shoulders. Six legs were obviously no match for the multijointed ones of the strange creatures.
The higher they climbed, the more pronounced the strange looking solidified pink became. Af first it had only been a fragment glimpsed under a bush or in a place where a rock had been dislodged. Now it could be quite often glimpsed gloing brightly through cracks in the rocks and even beneath their foot coveros on the track they were taking, in places where the soil had been eroded. It was obviously Blubbo, but it had been solidified into a type of rock. Floro and Zarchia,. Aided by a fallen branch, each gathered a handful of the substance. In the hand , it felt quite springy and soft. Zarchia rolled most of her collection into a ball and threw it over a low ridge on to the path below. She had expected it to bounce back over her head but it instead it just fell and hit the ground below as though it was twenty times heavier than it actually was. On landing it made a crater going right down into the bedrock. Floro had tried to fashion hers into the shape of a feathero and launched it orbwards, but it, too, fell like a dead weight, raising a small cloud of dust and setting pebbles and stones crashing back down the path. The Gossmo humos at first looked on in silence and then burst out laughing. Being native to the island, they knew all about the properties of the pink substance that they called metoubbo.
The path from that point wound round and round the mountain taking the easiest route but was still quite steep and difficult. From time to time, the pink of the Blubbo sea could be seen in the distance, but the higher they climbed, its vastness seemed to diminish. The higher they climbed the more densely planted the trees became. Soon the sea had vanished completely and they were surrounded by the trunks and branches of trees festooned with a myriad of other plants with flowers and fruit of every shade and shape known under the orbs.
As the foliage had ballooned, Grahoconno and Padrummo had become very alert contantly watching for the arrival of large featheros but all that were seen were a few of the smaller varieties.
On rounding one particularly steep curve, Zarchia, on glancing orbwards, was startle to see that above them the layers of trees had become very thin indeed, the whole of the top pinnacle of the mountain was in clear view. And the top point was glittogloing bright pink. At the very top, not one tree or bush had managed to establish a root hold.
It was quite obvious that at some time in the distant past, there had been a massive disruption in the Blubbo below on which the islands must actually be floating and this huge wave and its smaller cousins had been pushed orbwards by some powerful violent force, and Dhacoopo had held them suspended ever since and this force had somehow changed their properties, turning the pink substance into the new, unbouncable, ultra-heavy pinkness which Floro and Zarchia had recently experimented.
On and on they trudged. Even the Pursho and his Cando friends, were showing signs of being absolutely fed up with the entire procedure and had even tired of riding on any available humos, shoulder, legs or even heads. Coming through a patch of very tall vivid purple trees, the last big strand on this section of the mountain, , all were pleased to find a flat area, obviously not natural but made by humo means, nesting into the side of the mountain. On closer examination, Zarchia could see that a small Gossmo shelto had been erected very close to the edge facing Blubbowards and a much larger one right against the cliff face.
Thomporic, Sandodenn and Padrummo split the air with a simultaneous cry of arrival and welcome. At this two Gossmo humo heads followed by the rest of their bodies sprang out from each of the sheltos. This was a watch post to provide early warning if any danger threatened from Zoneward of the Island. Zarchia then noticed the taut lines of Gossmo rope fastened around the mid branches of the purple trees they had recently passed. The lines lead back towards the main Gossmo settlo.
Thomporic explained that those on duty here could tap messages using special codes on these Gossmo strands and these could be received and translated in the main settlo; warnings of danger and also requests for the needs of those stationed on the side of the mountain called Berronic.
Zarchia, Floro and Grahoconno were re-introduced to Johonnoliwo whom they’d met soon after their arrival on the island and Dawriggi who shared the Blubboside duty with him. She was a petite fe-humo with wavy purple hair which very closely matched the colour of the leaves on the nearby trees.
Then coming from their rest period in the shelto nearest to the mountain face were Morotex, the oldest looking Gossmo humo they had met thus far in their stay on the island. Despite his apparent age, he was still very upright and able-bodied. Thomporic introduced him with grave solemnity first to Floro, then Grahoconno and lastly to Zarchia. Thomporic indicated that Morotex was one of the leaders of the island tribe and he was in charge of this important task of guarding this part of Binga. The last to emege was a fe-older, who, to Zarchia’s eyes, appeared to be around about the same age as Floro who was called Kagarrig. She was obviously having trouble awakening as she’d obviously been in deep sleep when the party had arrived and disturbed her.
The view Blubbowards from the look out was quite overpowering. Pink engraved with touches of gold with great washes of black and around the horizon, dots of brown scattered in random patterns like crumbs of food spilt by a clumsy oaf.
“There are some of the other islands,” Zarchia thought to herself. And she wondered if one of those in her line of vision was the island of the strange Weinisplats, and this made her think of Babblo which made her in turn, think of Ambo and Aandt and the others of their party left behind on the mainland. She guessed that her time on Binga must be drawing to a close and that she, along with Floro and Grahoconno would soon have to head back. But she was in two minds. Seeing all those other islands scattered before her, she longed to explore them all.
Pursho and its clown like Cando mates soon just about drove them crazy with their carrying on. Thousands of invado humos, serpents or even Greeba-Greubas could have invaded from Blubbowards or from treewards and those at the guard post on Mount Berronic would have had little chance of relaying a message. A grinning dervish of a Pursho and darting Candos seemed to appear in every corner of the guard sheltos and communication equipment was flung in all directions and the guards were completely distracted from their duties.
Grahoconno got so angry with the stupid mouth-scale grinning creature with the bulging, mischievous eyes as he thought it would cause permanent damage to the guard posts. But before you can stop a dancing, darting, spluttering, zooming ball of fur and feathers and scales, you first have to catch it. Even trained Soldats and nimble Gossmos have the training or endurance to repeatedly zone up and sown steep slopes, twirl around and around tree branches, climb to the topmost branches, dive into the lower foliage, broadside off the face of the cliff towards Blubbowise and then disappear completely only to be found moments later enjoying a meal from the oldest humo present, Morotex, who had spent all of this frenzied, mad time relaxing and laughing and laughing. His old mouth-scales could hardly clamp together anymore. All except Morotex, the Pursho and the Candos were completely exhausted. Thomporic had shown great power and endurance during the Pursho experience but even he, in his failure to apprehend the main culprit, was looking tired. Pursho grinned a great red mouth-scale grin after it had eaten its fill and then it and the Candos were off again through the trees, up the slope and then down the steep cliff face again. All of the others were too exhausted by the chase, and this time, just let them go.
Johonnoliwo and Dawriggi resumed their guard duty. The rest of the party relaxed, had food and water and cleansed. Then there was much talking and discussion and then a little mouth-scale rattling from the mainlanders mixed in with the highly different tones of the islanders. Thomporic produced a small instrument which he plucked and then made to howl like a mob of Lyoungos. Morotex joined in and rattled tales of long ago, from the times when the Gossmo people had lived on the mainland and of the discovery of the islands. The stories told of their battles with the giant serpents which had forced those who had survive to move to Binga. There were also legends of a small Weinisplat like humos who lived on some of the more far distant islands.
In these days of these legends, the island Weinisplats had shells of every colour known under the orbs, but so many had been killed for food by the serpents, that only ones with shells of a greenish yellow hue were still to be found on the islands further out in the pinkness.
Even absorbed as she was in the tales and the stories being mouth-scale rattled as she was, Zarchia was so exhausted that she still fell asleep and didn’t awaken until halfway through the next purple orb. They decided to not press on further that orb but to further relax. They took short walks into the surrounds. Much time was spent staring up at, and deciding the best ways to take the steepness that rose above them and that they had yet to ascend. The climb looked so steep and difficult that both Zarchia and Floro had grave reservations about making it to the topmost point. Thomporic assured them that if they did make the effort and were successful, the spectacular view from this pinnacle would certainly be more than worth the effort.
Apart from the islanders, there was one in the party who had enjoyed this spectacle. The Pursho had of course, already made a few trips to the very top. The mountain air, the higher they had climbed, had really brought it out of its listless state of the bottom reaches of the climb. May the Purshos were originally high mountain country creatures. No one in the part really had any ideas on this question. When it had first made it to the topmost point, it had stood up on its short back legs and had made a loud gurgle of triumph to the pink expanse below him which had echoed down the mountainside and off the pink surface itself. With the double orb now almost together directly overhead, strange shadows were cast and the gleaming reflections off the demon’s red mouth-scales would certainly been enough on their own, to frighten off any would-be island invaders. They once again slept well during the next rest period after a short period of discussion. Pursho seemed, for some unknown reason, to be completely exhausted as were the Candos, even though these had only made one trip each to the pinnacle.
At the dawning of the next purple orb, they started to scale the heights of the pink outcrop of solidified Blubbo. The going was relatively easy for some distance as they were able to pick out well-worn paths in the remainder of the soil, rock and rubble from which the pink peak jutted.
And then the scaling began in earnest. Long, strong, fine Gossmo ropes had been brought from the camp, which, when used correctly, lessened the effect of the steep incline and considerably reduced the danger of falling. But somehow, three quarters of the way up the outcrop, Floro somehow managed the latter.
“Awwwwwweeeeeiioooowwwerrrreeeeooooo!”Floro fell face-scale down from about two humo-lengths above Zarchia. The Gossmo rope pulled taut almost displacing Thomporic and Sandodenna from their hand and foot holes up near the very topmost point. But fortunately, the Gossmos managed to retain their grip and Floro’s downward spiral was abated with only a little damage being done to her hide and some to her dignity. She had to remain swinging upside down for some considerable time before she could be completely rescued. Once they had realised she was in no real danger, the comical upside down position in which she was swinging and the strange look of utter bewilderment on her face, forced them, one by one, to burst out laughing.
The Pursho had rejoined them when all of the fuss had started and was now seated on Floro’s dangling right foot which was still pointing orbwards. It was trying to entice the tree Candos to try to balance on the other appendage. The humos were all concerned that the weight might send Floro into a spin again, so the Gossmo rope was hauled in much more quickly by more volunteer Gossmo hands and Floro once again found herself attached to the pink surface.
After a rest, and with much greater exertion on the sheer topmost part, all finally made it safely and stood and stared. The gradient of the land to Zoneward was considerably more gentle than the climb they had just undertaken. The view down these far slopes was absolutely stunning. Vines of pure green and yello ran down the slopes and coiled around the trees and the shrubs. The whole area was alive with flowers ranging in size from the minute to the gigantic. There were those of fiery pink shades, those of brilliant burning white, yello, red and orange which vividly contrasted with the mainly purple trees and brush. Thomporic warned them to be careful of the vines and they soon realised why. Although not poisonous to the touch, all were encrusted with long, scale-like projections which could cause damage to the outer layers of humos. Obviously Purshos and Candos were encased in something much tougher as there was just a blur of swiftly moving creatures zigging and zagging through the vines and other foliage. When the charge had started down Mount Berronic a whole flight of previously unobserved Jumpostumpos showered in to the air and bounded in every conceivable direction. Zarchia, in her suddenly confused state, even thought she saw some bounding over trees. One unfortunate creature, on its journey of escape, had a large unwelcome white passenger clinging to its back for quite a distance. The Pursho ended up much further down the slope than it wished to be, and as there were no rides going upwards, had to makes its way back to the party on its own six feet. On arrival back, it had consumed a large portion of their food and water supplies. Their beauty enveloped just about everything the eye could see to Clupward and Larward and part of that to Zettaward. The rest of the landscape was filled with the brightest pink imaginable, only broken here and there by the brown of the largest of the islands, the black dots of the small and the minute insect like lines which were Gossmo craft out on the Blubbo off on their mysterious voyages.
A temporary shelto was established in a vine-less area some way down the slope, the Gossmos returning to the lookout camp towards the pinnacle for the necessary materials and also more food. There were plenty of pools and small streams of fresh, pure, clean green water. Thomporic said that it would be fine if the mainland humos wished to stay for two or three more purple orbs to explore this beautiful area on the downward slopes. In conversation during the rest time, he indicated that there were four other Gossmo settlos on the island, all smaller than the main settlo they had already visited. The visitors were surprised that this fact had not been mentioned before. They had presumed that the settlo on the Blubbo edge to which they had been taken on arrival was the only one.
It was arranged very quickly. The mainland humos would visit the Gossmo settlo of Ort-tho on the very Zettaward tip of Binga if this was what they wished.
They did. Phosphoric had pressing business and had to return to the main settlo which he called Ooomu-tar or something very similar, the mainland humos now starting to understand the Gossmo speech fairly well but still not getting every nuance of the pronunciation of difficult words.. Their two other guides were free to travel with them and one guard could also be spared.
Zarchia wanted to sleep but wasn’t allowed. She tried to catch the sleep-time nuisance but failed miserably. What she would have done with it [most probably them] if capture had been made was a moot point. Even Floro had joined in the demon hunt at one stage and even Thomporic looked quite undignified for a leaded, when he was observed running in zig zag patterns, trying to avoid the sharp vine scales and calling unintelligible things after a disappearing white blur with a blinding red flash in the centre of its face.
Not much sleep was had by any of the party, and it was a tired, slightly down group that made their way back down to the Gossmo watch post. Despite his lack of sleep, Thomporic decided to return immediately to return to the main settlo alone. He had important duties to perform and had also decided to let the humos on the mainland know that all was well with those who had journey to Binga on the Gossmo craft. Pursho and its mischievous Cando mates had not been sighted at all on the descent or since their arrival back at base camp. Obviously they realised their presence would not be greatly appreciated after their hijinx.
Soon after a short rest, two Gossmo craft crept blithely up along the edge of the Blubbo heading Zettaward. Zarchia had named the craft shared by herself, Floro and Dawriggi, “Squabb” because of the flattened shape of its Gossmo sails. The vessels hugged a line close to the shore that was isolated from most of the influence of Dhacoopo and the Blubbo wind currents.
The lazy pace, the flatness of the pinkness, the lack of breeze, the repetitive patterns of the foliage which crept slowly by, the lack of sleep and the fact that those who had caused the lack thereof, were all in the other craft, led Zarchia and Floro to have to fight to keep their eyes open.
Zarchia was fully awakened by a spray of Blubbo hitting her fairly and squarely on her eyelid scales. Blinking and wiping the dripping pink mess from her face, she noticed a party of twenty strange looking, short creatures keeping pace with the craft. In her half wakened state, she could not work out if they were Feathos or land creatures that can float on both Blubbo and water or creatures from the Blubbo depths.
Their Gossmo pilot laughed loudly when she saw the startled look on the fe-mainland humo’s face. The sound was enough to bring the now fully dozing Floro back into the world. The short creatures, which were still keeping pace and very flat heads and strangely twisted looking faces. Their short, almost cut off legs, four per animal, seemed to be floating on the pink surface on large grid-like pads. Dawriggi said that they were called Wigpengo and that they were quite harmless but could become nuisances. All except the one that was completely brown, were covered in shimmering black and white scales and feathers except for a round section on the top of their skulls which was of the lightest, brightest gloing blue that Zarchia and Floro had ever seen.
The creatures moved very sluggishly and from time to time one would tilt sideways exposing a similar blue mid-stomach section. The followed the crafts for some distance before disappearing toward Larward. The vessels put in to land and all relaxed, cleansed and had food and water. There were strange noises from the trees and shrub nearby but it turned out to be only jumpostumpos although some were about five times as large as any the mainland humos had previously encountered.
Pursho and the Candos gave chase and hadn’t returned by the time the parties of the two Gossmo vessels wanted to leave. After lingering for some time, it was decided that the vessel containing Grahoconno and his two Gossmo compatriots would head at full speed for the destination settlo to Zettaward. The other craft would head slowly along close to the shoreline. There was a grove of peculiarly shaped purple fruit just a little way ahead close to the edge of the Blubbo that was certainly worth a visit. Everyone thought that if the Pursho and the Candos weren’t there eating their fill, then that they would soon rejoin the party. Just as the craft with the Soldat on board was about to leave, three Candos jumped aboard from shoreline shrubs. This meant that only the Pursho and one Cando was missing.
Zarchia and her two companions waited for some considerable time before deciding to head slowly for the purple fruit patch. After feasting and waiting for a longer spell, it was reluctantly decided that they would now have to increase speed and try to make up time on the other craft. Then from the last large purple tree close to the shoreline, there sprang a large white blur with a strange blob attached to its head; one missing Pursho and Cando had been accounted for.
The fastest way from this point to the Zettaward Gossmo settlo was to head directly to Zoneward out into the deeper Blubbo and to catch its strong currents which would deliver them to their destination. Dhacoopo would also be more accessible on this trajectory.
The slight breeze her close to the shoreline only just gave the sails enough power to propel the craft to Zoneward but the further from the Blubbo edge they got, the stronger the air currents became. Just when Zarchia and Floro thought that the craft were out of control and heading to far to Zoneward, Dhacoopo reasserted its authority and the craft veered abruptly to Zettaward. Pursho, who was clinging to the sails peering ahead, was thrown to the deck alongside Floro and Zarchia. The speed of the craft was now quite exhilarating and a little bit mind blowing. The other craft was obviously going very quickly too as no trace of it was spotted.
Suddenly there was a great “WWWWWRRRRRAAAAZZZZXXXRRRRYRRRRRR” noise. The craft, still travelling at speed, had hit something half submerged in the pinkness. Zarchias had gotten on quick glimpse before the collision and it had registered as a dead purple tree floating there just below the surface with part of its branches reaching orbwards.
On impact the Gossmo craft shattered and broke in to many pieces. There was obviously much more of the obstruction lying beneath the surface than above. After the impact, in the second before they were flung from their craft, short, fold-away arms became all too visible along the exposed sided of the supposed tree and they realised it was really some nightmare creature from the depths. It then suddenly rose it full length into the air pointing orbwards. The humos splashing about in the Blubbo became panic stricken and thought that their end had come. The creature then crashed downwards sending shock waves in every direction propelling the humos themselves orbwards this time and their impact on to the pink surface almost concussed them.