A Bridge That Lives
A Bridge That Lives
Celobia helped a dazed and frightened Celosia to her feet.
He watched on with concern as the Boar glanced around shakily at the rest of the temple. The Lion couldn't blame his usually brave and bold sister for being so scared of her surroundings. All the charred bodies and the eerie silence that came with them gave him the shivers.
After a while, since Celosia seemed to be able to support herself, Celobia decided he wanted to help somehow. Seeing that all the fire altars had been put out, he slowly began to walk towards the exit. After leaping over the newly created crevice in the middle, the Lion looked back. For the first time in about a month, Celobia spoke, his voice hoarse from underuse.
"I'll go get some fuel for your fires. I know the closest place to get some is in the Waterfall Forest, so I'll go there and be right back. Okay?"
Celosia quickly turned towards him, appearing frightened.
"No! Stay here!"
The Lion slowly blinked then jumped back over to his sister.
"Okay… What do you want me to do?"
The Boar shivered.
"I don't know… just please stay here."
Celobia shook his head.
"No… That's not a good memory…"
The Lion looked on with amusement as Celosia "raced" some of the rowdy teens who had questioned her speed. She stayed comfortably in the lead, not even running her fastest as the boys sprinted after her over the plain. The gang had approached the Boar at her temple, and after some debate they had all decided to do the race in one of the dilapidated fields in the west. As they ran, Celobia and a group of locals watched from an overlooking ridge.
Celosia laughed when she crossed the finish line- a space between two boulders that had been rolled into place- and looked back at the panting teens. All of them were stooped in a mixture of embarrassment and exhaustion, and sweat dripped off their exposed muscles.
To the two Colossi's great amusement, the group of boys had taken off their cloaks prior to the race. This seemed to be because they wanted to show off their upper bodies to the teen girls who were watching the race. Celosia and Celobia had chuckled to each other about young male hormones.
Now one of the boys stepped towards the Boar, and bowed slightly.
"We were foolish to question your power and endurance. It is clear no man could ever out-run a Colossus."
Celosia was about to say something when a voice cried out from the audience on the ridge.
"What about a woman?"
Celobia looked in bewilderment with the rest of the crowd towards a grinning girl. The teen had choppy light-brown hair and blue eyes that were currently dancing with trouble.
Blue eyes? Hmm… She must be the descendent of a foreigner…
While most of the locals as well as the two Colossi stood in shock, all the boys who had ran just laughed.
"A girl?! Racing a Colossus?! Ha! If we couldn't do it, there's no way you can!"
The girl in question just grinned even wider.
"My parents believe in teaching me the customs of the people they emigrated from. One of their customs is training yourself from the day you can walk to run very fast for long periods of time. It has to do with a ritual where you must out-run a horse in order to be considered an adult. Both women and men go through it. Thanks to my training, I bet I could beat even Celosia in a race."
All the people scoffed, but the Boar appeared interested.
"Hmm… a bet, you say? How about this… if you beat me, I will carry you on my back across the land and roar to the heavens of your achievement. Every person in the land will know your name… whatever it is…"
The girl cocked her head to the side.
"Simina. So… what happens if I lose?"
Celosia appeared thoughtful.
"Well… how about this? These boys here get to ride me across the land instead, and they will laugh about your name so every person in the land can know your shame. Deal?"
Celobia was worried.
Isn't that a bit extreme…?
But the girl didn't seem too concerned.
The Boar nodded and gestured with her tail for Simina to come down. The teen confidently slid down the ridge and walked up to her opponent.
"Where will the finish line be?"
Celosia thought for a moment before pointing with her paw to the other side of the field.
"Right where the first race started."
Simina nodded and got into position. The Boar did the same.
Celobia shouted down to the two.
"Alright! On my mark… get set… GO!"
The crowd cheered half-heartedly as the two took off. But everybody was soon shocked into silence as the girl quickly pulled ahead, sprinting ahead of a Celosia who had clearly not been planning to give this her all. The Boar shifted in to top speed, tearing up the ground with her claws as she fought to catch up with Simina. When they were neck-and-neck, the girl looked side-long at Celosia for a moment before shifting into her own top speed. The crowd watched in amazement as the teen practically flew over the field, running even faster then a horse could. But when she crossed the finish line, the silence was broken as almost everyone yelled and cheered. As everybody ran down the ridge onto the field, the Boar walked up to an exhausted but happy Simina.
"Congratulations! Well, a deal's a deal. Get on my back now."
The girl was about to do just that when someone shouted,
Celosia and the girl turned to look at one of the boys who had ran in the first race. He seemed completely stunned.
"That was impossible! Every person on the planet knows men are more athletic then women!"
The Boar was about to growl something when Simina stopped her.
"Actually, he's right. The men from my parents' tribe do better in the ritual then the women. If you scrawny lot had the training, you probably could have beaten Celosia in a race even better then I did."
The boy seemed pleased before realization hit him and he looked ticked off.
Celosia chuckled and urged the girl onto her back.
"See you later!"
For the rest of the day, Celobia helped his sister roar Simina's name to the heavens. The day after, they attended a special ceremony and watched happily as the girl was decreed a full fledged woman by the community of immigrants from her parents' tribe. Afterwards, brother and sister walked with heads bowed as they conversed contentedly. When they reached the point where they had to separate, the two nuzzled sleepily and shouted good night to each other over their shoulders. As Celobia finally curled up on his temple in the Mountain City, he thought to himself about how wonderful the past few days had been.
The Lion lighted his eyes.
Looking down at the boar-shaped pile of dirt in the center of the temple, he smiled inwardly.
Yes…That was the perfect memory to remember her by…
"Hello, little fishy! Oh... um… good-bye, little fishy!"
Pelagia's voice gurgled as he attempted to speak to the creatures in his lake. At least, the creatures that hadn't been driven to jump off the waterfall from sheer annoyance. The Masked One had decided to hide underwater until the Wanderer came, which was the reason why he was driving all the fish and frogs insane. Despite his full schedule ( Wake up at dawn, collect rocks until noon, eat some algae at noon, shout what he thought the clouds were shaped like until dusk, then fall asleep at dusk) he had put in some electric-shooting practice. Pelagia had never bothered to use his tusks for anything except pushing things around, but he had decided that with a dangerous little Wanderer on the loose, it would be good to practice using them for what they actually were for.
The Masked One had limited sight thanks to his mask, but his senses of hearing and taste were excellent. Yes, you read correctly. Taste. Earlier he had tasted the air, and the bitter taste of human had been growing stronger on the breeze. The bitterness seemed to be mixed with both the grassy taste of horse and the metallic taste of blood. Pelagia decided right then and there that mercy was not a good idea.
If I am felled, that taste of blood will only grow more putrid.
The Masked One stopped trying to speak to a passing school of fish when he heard the sound of small, erratic splashes sounding from underneath the Arch. He hadn't been able to hear it earlier because the source had still been close to the waterfall. Now he waited, and when footsteps sounded on the base of one of the gazebos whose top had broken off, Pelagia began to rise.
He fully extended his legs so that most of him came out of the water. The only parts of Pelagia that remained underwater were the majority of his legs and his long lobster-like tail. The Masked One gave a low, aquatic roar and pumped energy into his tusks. The Wanderer leaped behind the table-like structure in the center of the platform as Pelagia blasted at him for the first time. While the Masked One tried to look at him, the boy shouted to the heavens.
"Why do the water ones have to be electric?! Why?!"
For a while, not much happened. Pelagia continued to shift around the platform, trying to get a good look at his intruder and occasionally blasting at the stone table. The Wanderer seemed content to circle around the table and stay out of the line of fire, occasionally glancing over his hiding spot at the Colossus with a contemplative look on his face. Finally, he appeared to have an idea.
The boy quickly rolled into the water and made a beeline for the space under Pelagia's front left leg. The Masked One almost immediately found out that his blasts couldn't reach the Wanderer while he was swimming underwater. Pelagia turned to try and find his intruder, but he ended up turning in circles as the boy swam faster past his side then the Colossus could turn to face him. The Masked One stopped when he felt something climbing up the algae on his back. He shook, trying to get rid of the nuisance, but before he knew it, the Wanderer reached his head. The boy shouted victoriously,
"This was so easy!"
And proceeded to stab Pelagia's cranium. However, the Wanderer quickly realized something wasn't right when his opponent didn't roar in pain or start shaking furiously.
"What?! Does this thing not have a brain?! Urg!"
Out of anger, the boy whacked his sword against one of the tooth-like things that stood up from Pelagia's mask.
Almost as if he were a bridled horse, the sensation made the Masked One groan and turn in the direction that the hit tooth was on the side of. The Wanderer was stunned for a second before banging a tooth on the opposite side of the one he had just hit. This caused Pelagia to turn in that direction instead. After a moment, the Masked One was forced to careen forward as a tooth in front of the boy was hit. Pelagia was soon steered across the lake in many directions as the boy contemplated what to do. Finally, he seemed to come to a conclusion. The Masked One found himself being forced towards the closest of the stone gazebos. When he was right in front of it, the Wanderer leaped off his head onto the top of the gazebo.
Originally, there had been wooden stairs that floated next to each of the gazebos so diners could enjoy the sun on the upper level. But now the stairs had long since drifted away and had either decomposed or gone over the waterfall. Pelagia had just been made into a living bridge for the Wanderer to access high ground that hadn't been touched for hundreds of years.
The Masked One quickly realized he could once again attempt to blast his intruder to pieces. But once again the boy dashed behind the central table structure. Unlike before, Pelagia found it harder to shift to get a look at the Wanderer. Fed up with being eye level with the platform where he couldn't see very well, the Masked One dunked down into the water, building power in his hind legs. Pelagia then thrust his entire upper body out of the water and placed his blunt front feet on either side of the platform with a bang. Looking down at the boy, the Masked One felt victorious.
Ha! There's no way he can escape me now!
But Pelagia's inner celebration was cut short when the Wanderer ran forward and leaped onto the now exposed lump that contained his heart. The Masked One felt the boy pull his sword back, as if building up strength, before plunging it into the vital. Pelagia quickly felt his energy be cut in half, and slowly began lowering himself back into the water. But he was not fast enough. Just as the Masked One's vital was plunged back into safety, the Wanderer put in the second and final stab.
Pelagia became limp, and he slowly fell backwards into the water with a crash. As the Masked One rested on the bottom of his lake, watching the world go black, he tasted his surroundings for the final time. In his last moments, Pelagia realized with dismay that his assassin's flavor of blood had in fact grown more putrid.
Celobia looked up, startled.
The Lion had been delving further into happy memories of Celosia, and the sensation of a Colossus being felled had shocked him back into reality. Celobia seemed to come to a conclusion and walked slowly towards the open end of the temple. Before jumping down onto the open ground, the Lion glanced back one last time at the dirt mound. While he ran across the desert back to his city, Celobia thought to himself,
There are only four of us left… and I must do everything in my power to make sure there will not just be two…