Falling from the Moon

After Otto and Jay magnetise an army's compasses, they run away into the night and meet Lodello, the Vaguely Magnetic Armadillo who promises them the adventures they seek. Riding on his back, they fall asleep and awaken to a world that they never knew existed.


3. A Tale of Three Rivers


The water ran clear and smooth, glittering in the rays of sunlight that had broken through the thin coverage of leaves from the trees. There was birdsong in the air, and the sun was shining. An early butterfly flitted past Lodello’s nose, and the trees were beginning to blossom. A shoal of man-eating paraboli leaped out of the water and dragged a small brown bird, which had been flying over the surface of the river, down into the depths of the water. They then proceeded to strip the flesh from its bones with their tiny, needle-like teeth. By the time the bones had reached the bottom of the river, they had swum off in search of more food. A loud bark from Lodello woke up Otto and Jay, who were fast asleep on his back.

“We’re here,” Lodello said, yawning a bit himself. Jay leaned forwards to lean on Otto’s back, still half asleep. Otto slid to the ground and Jay slumped forwards, nearly rolling off Lodello’s back onto the damp grass. He blinked at Otto with bleary eyes.

“Meanie,” he grumbled sleepily.

But Otto had already turned away, and was surveying the surrounding area. They were standing on the bank of a large river. Not a minute’s walk away, Otto could see where the river split into three slighter small branches - one heading straight ahead, one directly to the left of them and the other in between the two. Otto imagined that from overhead it looked like a massive bird foot. The weather was warmer than he remembered it being when he had fallen asleep - he knew he must have been asleep for a while, but it was autumn, and yet the trees were beginning to blossom. He turned to Lodello to question this, but Jay had already noticed and was just asking. He was annoyed for a few seconds, but it felt wrong to be negative in the warm weather. He shrugged it off and tuned in to Lodello and Jay’s conversation.

“You mean we slept all throughout winter?!”

If armadillos could grin, Lodello was the Cheshire Cat. “Your first hibernation,” he said, his voice rumbling with amusement. “I can only travel on full moons, so a lot of time was wasted. Here we are, though. What do you think?”

“Well,” Jay ventured. “It’s kind of the same as home. It’s just a different time of year.”

Lodello shook his head, amused. “You’ll see.”

“Wait…does that mean we’ve been away from home for half a year already?” Jay asked, surprised.

Otto let their conversation fade out as he walked over to the water’s edge. He trailed a hand through the water, which was cold and clear. He splashed some on his face to chase away the last remnants of sleep, and peered into the water. Swimming just underneath the surface were hundreds of small silver fish. Nimmows? Otto could never remember the names. There was something weird about them, though, Otto thought. He peered closer. Did they have red eyes? Their heads seemed a little bigger than normal minnows, as well, and lots of them had torn fins. He dipped a finger in and tried to poke one. Instead of swimming away, it darted towards his finger and gripped it with needle sharp teeth.

“Arghhh!!” Otto yelled, and jumped backwards, the little fish still attached to his index finger. “It bit me! Get it off, get it off!” Jay collapsed into a fit of laughter while Otto waved his hand in the air frantically. He could feel it nibbling at his skin, but not gently. It was eating his finger. “It’s biting me!” Jay tried to draw a breath through his laughter, but just succeeded in laughing even harder.

“Stop,” he wheezed. “Stop it, I need to breathe!”

Otto’s hand was still flailing about like a fish itself, though, and Jay gave into the laughter and started crying. Lodello, however, had shot over, and was now trying to get a grip on the fish with his teeth, not an easy feat with his tongue getting in the way. “Stay still,” he growled, and Otto stayed his hand. Lodello pulled the fish off his finger with considerable difficulty, and flung it back into the water. Jay, meanwhile, was still laughing uncontrollably.

“Are you okay?” he asked, through gasping breaths.

Otto showed him his finger, and he started crying with mirth again. “Don’t laugh!” he protested. “It really hurts!” The fish had nibbled a small round hole in his finger, and Otto suspected that if it had been there much longer it could have done a fair amount of damage.

“Sorry,” Jay managed. He breathed deeply, trying to stop laughing. He managed it for half a minute, and then he burst out laughing again. “Sorry!” he apologised. “But…your face…”

“That’s why you don’t go poking things when you don’t know what they are,” Lodello remarked. “That fish was a parabola. You’re lucky only one got you. Did you see how many there were? They can strip an animal to the bones in minutes.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Otto muttered, inspecting his finger closer. “You can kind of see little teeth marks.”

“Let me see!” Jay burst out. He peered at Otto’s hand. “That’s so cool.”

“It’s not so cool!” Otto complained. “I could have been eaten! Why didn’t you warn me?” he questioned Lodello, accusingly.

“I figured it would be faster if you learned by experience,” he commented. “I’m pretty sure you’ll be more careful now, won’t you?”

Otto looked away, humbled. Jay stretched. “So where’s the nearest town?” he queried. “I feel like having a drink without getting my face nibbled off.”

Lodello walked towards the fork in the rivers. “The paraboli never swim along the top fork of the river, so you’ll be fine to drink that.”

“Drink the river?!” Jay exclaimed. “Are you insane?! It’s…it’s river water.”

“Perfectly clean, though.”

“Sure. Clean for an armadillo, maybe.”

“Since when were humans better than armadillos?” Lodello queried, almost threateningly, staring intensely at Jay.

“I’m not saying humans are better,” he said. “But…well, we don’t drink from a river. Are you sure it’s clean?”

“Clean as a whistle.”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Jay mumbled, as he scooped some up in his palms. He was surprised at the taste of the water, though. It tasted like apples, but not the nasty apple-tinted water you could buy from shops. It tasted like literal apples. He looked inquisitively at Lodello, who just smiled.

“It tastes like strawberries!” Otto declared.

“Apples, actually,” Jay stated.

“No, definitely strawberries.”

“It tastes different for everyone,” Lodello explained. “I can taste pecans, myself.”

“Is it magical water?” Otto asked.

Lodello settled back, as if he were going to tell a story. Otto and Jay sat next to each other on the grass, Otto slouching onto Jay’s shoulder, yawning. “Lazy bones,” Jay jibed, but he was painfully aware of every spot where their bodies met. He felt Otto’s breath on his arm. He tried to concentrate on Lodello, who was washing his ears. He breathed deeply, willing himself to calm down.

“Many, many years ago, before this country was formed, it was nothing but a barren wasteland. No animals ran here, no birds sang overhead. There were no bushes, no trees; just dirt. Miles and miles of plain brown dirt, bordered by mountains. People had tried to farm here before, but the soil was unyielding and stubborn. Not even the tiniest shoot would push out of the hard, sun-baked ground.

“And then a woman called Ciled came - a woman clothed entirely in white. She was a bit of a shallow bitch, actually. White is obviously a stupid colour to wear if you’re exploring places, but she was persistent. She used her good reputation to get new clothes sewn for her everywhere she went. She had servants waiting to meet her in every town, ready to re-clothe her and brush her hair or whatever. But despite her personality shortcomings, she was a very gifted lady. She could coax even the most reluctant seed into bloom.

“And I’ll give her this, too - it was her, and no one else, that could see the true beauty of the arid dustbowl. She disappeared, and no one saw her for three years. She spent a lot of time in the mountains; predominantly the most north-eastern one. It’s called the Mountain of the Goddess now, but you were sleeping while we passed through it. No one knows how she did it, but she created the river that you’re standing next to right now - the River Ciled.

“She returned home after that. She wouldn’t tell anyone where she had been, but she did say that she had tried to do something but it hadn’t quite worked out. No one mentioned it again, and most held her in enough reverence to forget it eventually in lieu of her talent. She disappeared periodically then, at three year intervals - sometimes staying away for a month, sometimes two. She split the river into three and named the branches.”

He looked apologetically at them. “I can never remember the names, actually. I know that one of them is called Leom. But she gave three animals eternal life and appointed them to watch over the land, based on the phases of the moon. Leom; she was a mole, and she represented the new moon. There was a hare next, for the half moon; I can never remember her name. And then there was an - another animal. My memory is getting worse, I’m afraid.

“Anyway, she made visits back every so often. By her last reported visit, the country had flourished! Large area of forest had grown along the river, and then grew to encompass more than half of the land. The other half grew far more lush and green than ever before. It was a wonderful thing that she did, no matter how catty she could be.

“She had gained almost godlike powers by this point - no ordinary person can go around growing forests and immortalising little animals. I think she had more power than she could deal with in the end. No matter how selfish she was on the surface, her heart was with the land she had created. When she grew tired of living, she expended all of her energy into giving this country a more vibrant life, made it something special. On some days, this place practically glows with this energy. It’s in the leaves, the water, the air we’re breathing.

“Of course, it was discovered by man eventually. They were astounded when they found out what she had done. I’m quite impressed that they haven’t ruined it yet. They still have a great deal of respect for her, I suppose. They’ve done a good job of maintaining it, anyway.

“So, here we are. I assume you don’t want to go back home right now? If you follow this river, you’ll reach the Capital eventually. I’m sure you’ll find adventurous things to do there.”

Lodello got up and stretched. Otto and Jay felt almost as if they were floating from the story and the atmospheric way in which Lodello had told it. They stretched and stood up, feeling as if they were in a dream.

“Aren’t you coming with us?” Jay queried.

“Nope,” Lodello answered. “I have places to go, people to see. I have spent the last six months with you, you know.”

They didn’t really have an answer for that. “Will you be okay by yourselves from now on?” Lodello asked.

“Yeah,” Otto said, still feeling a bit floaty. Jay smiled a little at the way Otto was speaking a bit slower than usual, his actions more muted and his expression a bit more serious.

They said their farewells and Lodello walked towards the river. He looked back and smiled at them, suddenly gulped in a huge breath of air, and jumped into the river.

He floated.

If Otto and Jay hadn’t been confused before, they were now. They had never even thought for a second that armadillos could swim.

“Won’t the paraboli get him?” Otto asked. Jay hmmed.

“I don’t think he would have jumped in if he thought that was a risk,” he ventured.

“I guess.”

Their situation began to occur to Jay. He turned to Otto. “I’m just curious,” he said. “Have you got any idea where we’re going to find food? I mean, just since we don’t really know this place. If the minnows bite, then…”

In the distance, they could just about see Lodello. As they watched, he rounded a bend in the river and vanished from view.



A/N: Two chapters in two days? D: I appear to be on a roll, but that's probably because I'm currently careening down a steep hill in a barrel. Please please please leave feedback, even if you're just saying why it's terrible, because I want to improve and I can't do that if I don't know what's wrong with it. Keep the faith ;) 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...