He was not sure whether he was the hero or the villain. Somewhere along the quest all lines, characters had blurred and now all that he cared for was to reach that pool.
Take a dip in the elixir of youth. Become immortal.
And as he was about to shed the last few garments he heard it. Faint at first but distinct.
A low melodious hum a remnant of a beautiful song, but broken.
It came from the mist surrounding the pool.
And as he stepped nearer ……………………………………………………………………….. (to be continued)
As he stepped closer he suddenly felt the ground beneath his feet give away and he started falling.
He was going down at a speed at which he could hardly see anything around him, everything was a blur and there was nothing around him, he was engulfed in a space maybe a time warp.
It seemed like an eternity before he hit ground (if that is what it was).
It was pitch dark with a rancid smell.
Shor was surprised that he had landed on his feet and unharmed. He dusted himself and hunted in his belt for the matches.
He could smell danger even before he hit the bottom, it seemed to follow him like a loyal puppy.
He lit a matchstick and almost jumped.
He was on the back of a creature he could only imagine about.
It had the horn of a rhinoceroses but he was half human and half crocodile. And was gigantic.
Luckily Shor had landed at a distance from which he could safely see that the croc man was sleeping.
But not for long, he stirred and sniffed. His crocodile tail slithering and he yawned exposing ugly gnawy teeth.
Stretching himself he suddenly stiffened. “Who goes there?”, he thundered and Shor was almost blown away by the velocity of his sound.
“I can smell ye, and you cannot hide you know that” his voice rang aloud in the space.
“I am Shor the brave”, Shor replied hardly believing his own words.
“Are you then?” the roaring reply made Shor want to turn around and run. But where was the big question. He could hardly see and barely make out the figure of the croc man. Besides his swishing tail could hit him any moment and knock him down.
“I am the king of the coral caves, you are in my territory and cannot move without my permission”. The reply was less angry than his previous enquiries.
Shor felt braver than before and moved closer.
“I did not come here by choice, I fell in here” he said hoping explaining that he did not want to encroach upon anyone’s territory would make him seem like an ally.
“So, you reached the pool, you must be something to have come so far” the croc man replied.
“You know about the pool? Where am I now?” Shor wondered aloud.
“You are three worlds below the pool, in coral caves, you must have slipped through the eye”.
“It must be decades since you fell, and you haven’t aged a bit, people are usually dead or old by the time they land here, I was a bit surprised to hear your voice, myself” the croc man replied.
Was he warming up or was he just being friendly enough so that he could grab him and devour him, Shor wondered.
As if he could almost read his thoughts the croc man replied “I do not eat humans, never have, at least a live one, no, I remember never eating one, my croc stomach turns up almost the thought of it”.
It was the first-time Shor relaxed.
“So can you help me get back up there? I was almost at the end of my journey when I fell?” Shor enquired feeling he should use the croc man’s mood to his advantage.
“I have no idea, I could climb you know, with you, if you let me take a dip in the pool once reach the top, only problem is I might get smaller as I go up and become a really tiny baby or worse an egg” the croc man was wondering weighing his options.
“But it’s a chance I am willing to take, after all I have been stuck here for ages now.”
“Ok, let’s start the ascend then, I am Shor” Shor extended an introduction. If they were to embark upon a journey it would help if they were at least civil to each other.
“Ya I heard that the first time around, Shor the brave you announced quaking in your boots” croc man guffawed.
“I was not! quaking in my boots” Shor replied indignantly. “I was a bit thrown off by the fall” he said.
“Well we are sure to find many creatures along the way who will test your bravery, so don’t loose your heart, you might still get a chance to prove yourself to me, I am Corac by the way” Corac said extending his hand.
Shor took the huge paw and tried to make the motions of shaking it where in reality the palm of Corac could just pick him up and shake the life out of him.
And thus they began the tideous upward journey on a more friendlier note.