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.


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2. Lodello

 

If you have ever seen an armadillo (which Otto and Jay hadn’t), you would know that they are around a metre in length, including the tail. Their back, sides, head, tail, and outside surfaces of the legs are covered by overlapping armour, while their under parts are covered in soft skin and fur. They have small ears, small eyes and pointed snouts containing small, peg-like molars with which they crush the exoskeletons of insects. Their tails and legs are short and stout, with sharp claws on their toes for digging up food and making burrows.

However, average armadillos can’t speak, and Otto and Jay got the impression that it wasn’t just any armadillo. This feeling was increased by the fact that it was two metres long and had a large white circle on its forehead.

When they didn’t reply, the armadillo ambled closer. “My name is Lodello.” He sniffed the rock and sighed happily. “I was right on assuming that you were on an adventure, yes? It’s been a while since I’ve seen any people around here. And the magnet, was that you?” He let out a massive yawn and shivered as he stretched.

“Yeah, that was us,” said Otto, who had got over the fact that Lodello could speak a bit faster than Jay. “How do you even know about that? Are you magnetic?”

“Only vaguely,” Lodello explained, “but magnetic enough to feel that. Now, are you on an adventure?”

“Kind of,” Otto replied.

“Only kind of? Well, I’ve never met anyone who was only kind of on an adventure before.”

“Well, it’s not really a very good adventure. We’re just on our way home.”

“We were on our way home,” Jay interrupted. “Except our compass was magnetised too.”

“Why were you magnetising compasses?”

“Just a joke,” Jay said, cutting off Otto’s explanation before he could begin. He didn’t want the armadillo thinking that they were bad people. “And it seemed like a good way to start off out adventure.”

“Hmm,” Lodello hmmed. “Do you want a proper adventure?”

“Of course we do!” Otto said. “But there’s not really anywhere around here to have adventures. We’ve seen most of it and it’s quite boring, really.”

“I can take you somewhere, if you want.”

While Otto responded with nowt but excitement, Jay was a bit more cautious. “How do we know that we can trust you?”

“Well,” Lodello said. “I am just an armadillo.” He seemed to find this amusing and chuckled a little. “Have you ever met an armadillo with evil intentions before?”

“We’ve never met an armadillo before,” Jay clarified. “And that’s kind of the point. We don’t get armadillos in Yarrilb, we never have. And you speak. It is just slightly suspicious.”

“Well, you don’t have to come,” Lodello said. “But I have other things to do tonight, so if you do want to, just hop on my back and we’ll be off.”

Lodello did not allude to what his other plans consisted of and this just furthered Jay’s suspicion. How could an armadillo have things to do? All they did was…well, he wasn’t quite sure. Eat and sleep, he assumed.

Otto looked at Jay, and then stepped from the rock onto the giant armadillo’s back. “You can be cautious all you like, but I want an actual adventure. And I’m going whether you come or not.”

Jay knew that Otto was only saying it because he knew that Jay wouldn’t let him go off alone, but it still worked. “Fine,” he grumbled, but only half-heartedly. He did want an adventure as well, after all, and really, what could Lodello do? He doubted the armadillo could move very fast, anyway. He settled on Lodello’s back, behind Otto, and felt a surge of excitement that rose up in his chest and threatened to engulf him. He breathed deeply, trying to calm himself before Otto noticed. Otto. The thought of going on an adventure with Otto was almost enough to make him explode from happiness, but he knew that Otto would not appreciate being covered in blood and guts, so he decided to refrain from dying so messily.

Lodello began his ambling walk, and Jay settled himself comfortably. “So where exactly are we going, anyway?” he asked.

(A.N. I feel it is necessary to point out that contrary to Jay’s belief, armadillos can actually move quite fast. If one looks as if it will chase you, you should probably climb a tree and hope it goes away. If it doesn’t, you’re going to get very hungry.)

*

Lodello listened to the steady breaths of the two humans on his back as they slept peacefully, completely unaware of what was going to happen to them. He hadn’t told Jay where they were headed, of course; he had merely said that they would have to wait and see, and they had been content with that. After a bit more meaningless conversation, in which Lodello had managed to convince them that he was an armadillo of honourable intention, they had settled down and soon fallen asleep to the slight rocking motion as he walked. Of course, he had not given them any clue of who he really was.

Sometimes he tired of all the deviation that surrounded his identification, but their surprise when they found out would be worth the cloak and daggers. He always positioned himself so that he could see their faces - his near-perfect memory held a repertoire of faces that he reminisced on when he was bored or lonely, and they never failed to fill him with glee. He knew that most would consider him a bad armadillo, for doing what he was, but he was superior to them all anyway. And they would never contest him or his position. They held him in far too much respect for that.

He remembered what an old friend had told him once. “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.” He had been wise, old Monochrome, if not a bit stubborn; but there had been no place for him in this wonderful new country. He had been too old-fashioned, too set in his ways, and the old badger was gone now.

Monochrome had also had sayings about missing people, but Lodello did not want to linger on his former friend and gently placed them to one side.

He contemplated the humans on his back. He wasn’t entirely sure what to do with them. Sure, he had done this loads of times before, but that had been many years ago, when far more humans had travelled through the woods and there had been a larger general sense of adventure.

He decided to simply see where his legs took him.

On his back, Otto and Jay still slept, blissfully unaware of anything that was going through Lodello’s mind.

*

“I fear it is almost time,” said a tall, dark, mysterious figure. Their face was constantly cast into shadow because of the tall hat that they were wearing - although that was not the aim of the hat. The aim of the hat was to sit atop the head and make the wearer look distinguished and refined, but this person had pulled it down until it completely covered their ears and most of their features; a feat only achievable because of their particularly narrow face. Two holes had been cut into the hat at eye level and a pair of light brown eyes stared out sternly. A little slit, barely noticeable, had been cut for the nose so that the person could breathe. Aside from this, the only other thing visible of the person’s face was their incredibly thin moustache - so thin it would be classed as dangerously underweight if it were a person. Instead of falling into a socially acceptable moustache shape it fell straight down and therefore gave the appearance of lengthy nose hair. The mouth was covered up by a thick black scarf, which muffled any words that were spoken.

They were clothed entirely in black - a black t-shirt and black trousers and most likely black undergarments. To be fair, they were wearing bright green socks, but these were hidden under the black knee length boots, with black laces and a black logo that could not be seen because it was exactly the same colour as the rest of the shoe. However, these garments were not visible for the black scarves that the figure was wrapped in. Every part of their body was mummified in one, which was then held in place with a large black safety pin. The dress code was finished off with a long black trench coat that bulged in several places where there were too many layers of scarves. Because of this, their gender was completely unidentifiable. Even their voice was neutral.

Even their companion didn’t know their gender - a young boy, around ten, with a dopey face and hair that was a bit too long and mingled with his eyelashes. His nose was a little bit large, and his ears were a little bit too high up on his face, but these quirks were more endearing then unattractive.

“Really, Mary-Stu?”

“I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t sure, would I?” Mary-Stu snapped, and the boy jumped. He muttered under his breath for a bit and looked for a stone to kick, but there weren’t any. Mary-Stu placed a placatory hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “Sorry,” Mary-Stu said. “I haven’t had any coffee yet, and it’s almost midday.”

“Whatever.” Mary-Stu put a hand into his pocket and brought out a single match.

“I’m afraid that this is all I can give you,” he/she said. “I didn’t have enough money for anything better.”

“Just a match?” the boy complained. “I’ll never be able to defeat it with just a match!”

“There isn’t anything to strike it against, either,” Mary-Stu apologised.

The boy stared at him/her for a moment, disbelieving, and then snapped the match in half and dropped it on the floor.

“What are you doing?! That was your only hope.”

“Well, if my only hope was a match, I’m screwed…I won’t lose, anyway. If prophecy says that every little thing is gonna be alright, even if it does have to sing it, then there’s no way I’ll lose,” the boy pointed out.

At this Mary-Stu looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Well, prophecy did not quite say that you would win.”

A brief look of panic flashed across the boy’s face, but it was gone a second later. “Well, if it foretold that I was going to lose, then having a match won’t help me either.”

“Oh, well, it didn’t quite say that either.”

“What did it say? Did it even say anything? If this is all some stupid practical joke of yours then I’m resigning.” The boy turned away from him/her and looked across the street. His eyes rested on a girl throwing stones into a tin can. She saw him and stuck her tongue out petulantly, and he mimicked her.

Behave, Drachen,” Mary-Stu admonished. “Don’t worry; the prophecy didn’t say that you would lose. It wasn’t quite clear on the subject, actually.”

“Oh? What did it say?”

“It said: ‘Only prophecy can reveal whether the young hero will win or lose, and I like creating suspense and tension, so I’m not telling.’”

“And you call me childish. Sure, whatever. Assuming I survive, can I go home afterwards?”

“We’ll have to see if there are any other things that need your help first.”

“I’ve been away from home for seven years! I can’t even remember my family any more. Will I ever get to see them?”

“Drachen, there’s something I need to tell you.” When Drachen looked up at Mary-Stu, the light brown eyes were full of tears. “Your family…well, they’ve been dead for a while now.”

Drachen froze, and time seemed to stop with him. It didn’t take long for the initial shock to pass, though, and his expression changed from horror to fury. “What?!” the boy shrieked. “Dead?! Dead, and you didn’t tell me?” His eyes seemed to grow brighter green as he got angrier. “How long? How long have they been buried under the ground, rotting in their graves, infested by maggots and flies, being eaten from the inside by all kinds of crawling insects?” He paled and shuddered at the thought. “I hate you,” he said, his voice low and dangerous now. “I won’t forgive you for this, not ever.”

As the boy stormed off, Mary-Stu decided that Drachen needed to stop taking things so seriously. Mary-Stu pulled the hat down as far as it would go and wondered what exactly Drachen was supposed to be fighting, anyway. He decided to cross the road and ask the little girl. Maybe she would know something.

 

A/N: Apologies for the stupidly long time this took. I've been having a few issues lately which have gotten in the way of stuff :P Chapter 3 should be up soon, though.

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