“Oh boy! I’m so excited for my first day as Voriodikta’s town herald!” a young man gushed to the two scribes who escorted him through a bustling marketplace towards the town square. “I can’t believe the last guy just quit! Why would anyone want to leave such a fabulous position?”
“Uh… no reason…” one of the scribes lied.
The other scribe handed him a piece of parchment and a curved horn and informed him, “There you go! You’re all set! We’ll be hiding in these bushes if you need anything!”
As they dashed into the nearby shrubs, the herald questioned, “Why would you need to do that?”
“No reason!” the first scribe repeated himself.
“Okay then…” The herald grew suspicious but didn’t broach the subject any further. He stepped onto a small, stone dais, and he gaped when he beheld a group of villagers storming one of the forum buildings, using pitchforks and various other tools to smash everything in their sight! “Maybe I should wait ’til later…”
The second scribe urged him, “They’ll stop when you start. Go on!”
The young herald seemed skeptical, but despite his misgivings, he raised the horn to his lips and blew. The rioters did indeed stop, however, they now turned to the scribe with malice on their faces. One villager suddenly proclaimed, “Oh look, there’s another mouthpiece from the palace! I wonder what lies they’re peddling today!”
They all gathered before him, but they all bore expressions of pure venom, and the herald trembled slightly as he announced, “I’m pleased to report that the monster lurking in the Akadimaikos shore is no longer a threat to the public!”
“They killed it?” another villager probed.
“Well, no, they just tamed it,” the herald nervously let them. Know.
A surly villager jeered, “They said they killed it! See, the royal family lied again!”
The herald assured them, “No, no, no! They never claimed to have killed it! It’s just a lovable pet now!”
“They can’t even protect us from monsters anymore!” an irate villager complained.
“You know who would have killed the monster? Mercinon!” a woman chimed in, and the crowd wholeheartedly agreed with her.
The herald queried, “Mercinon? Isn’t he the one that sent the monsters here in the first place?”
A defensive villager shouted, “See! More lies! Get him!”
The mob advanced towards him, but before they reached him, Exelda challenged them, “If you want the hippocamp dead, feel free to slay it yourselves! But you’ll need several people to work a large spear, and you better get it on the first try or else it’ll easily crush you all in a single move!”
“More lies!” an obstinate villager shrieked. “They have royal horses, so they’re just pawns for the palace too! Let’s get them!”
“Please don’t!” Exelda sounded more annoyed than worried. When one of them neared her, she swatted him away as if he were a fly! As he forcibly flew back into the gaggle, everyone abandoned that idea.
Kefalia surveyed the damage they did and inquired, “Oh my gods! What happened to your tailor shop?”
A sullen villager replied, “He said he didn’t want a dead man running our polis!”
“Is that so unreasonable?” Narcius countered. “Plus, now you have no tailor shop to go to, so when you need a new toga…”
“We don’t need anymore togas right now! We’re fine with what we’ve got!” a righteous villager contended. As the other radicals cheered their support for that sentiment, the last thread holding that man’s clothing together gave way! Everyone around him grew quiet as he now stood there buck naked, and that man broke the silence by growling, “Oh, let’s just go back to our houses and wait for news from the only source we can trust, Konna!”
As the sulky villagers all dispersed, the herald attempted to continue his communique, “In other news, the farmers in Agrochorio have reported a surplus in olives, so prices for the crop have dropped…”
As they trotted away from the area, Akintos brought up, “Remember when we used to get praised for saving people?”
Mercinon marched around the cave in a very flamboyant way and held a stick up in the air as if he were holding a flag. Thanamenti came in from one of the cavern rooms, and she stared at Mercinon in shock. “Huh! I didn’t know you could still get drunk once you’ve died!” she remarked.
“You can? Ooh, who’s tanked right now? Is it that skeleton in the river Styx?” Mercinon continued his prance-like gait.
“He’s sober, he’s just practicing for the parade he wants to hold after he’s crowned king,” Marcin relayed to her as he munched on bird seeds. He glanced up at Dason’s birdcage and tried to coax him, “See, they’re not poisonous!”
Dason muttered, “Yeah, they won’t kill you, you’re already dead!”
Marcin differed, “Yes, but I would still get hurt, just like when I go to the pit of jackals! Remember, you saw me do that a couple of times now!”
Mercinon commented, “Wait, so you don’t like that walk? Should I do it more slow and graceful?” He slowed his pace but still propelled himself exuberantly.
A loud groan sounded from the cavern room, which prompted Marcin to ask, “Did Echinda have another baby, or is that just the sound she makes in the process of making them?”
“I got her newest creation contained in a cage, but it’s hungry, so one of you will have to feed it,” Thanamenti told them.
“Marcin will have to do it, I’m very busy!” Mercinon responded while he pretended to greet his adoring fans as he airily strolled around.
Rolling his eyes, Marcin forced himself to get up and take care of what he perceived as a mundane task. “Okay, what does he eat? Bird seeds by chance?”
Thanamenti notified him, “Actually, he feeds on people…”
“What? You want him to eat me?” Marcin reacted in aghast.
“Just tear off a limb, it’ll grow back just like your flesh does after you leave the pit of jackals!” Thanamenti saw his apparent reluctance, so she elaborated, “It’s just ’til those five meddling pinheads get close to the last feather.” She peered into her cauldron and seethed, “I have a hunch they’re about to come across one!”
Marcin protested, “A hunch? So, you don’t know how long I’ll have to feed him parts of my own body?” Thanamenti glared at him, so he sighed and tugged on his arm, trying to pull it off as he headed into the cavern room.
Mercinon posed to Thanamenti, “Should I add a twirl or something?”
Thanamenti let out an exasperated noise. “Mercinon, are you crazy? Obviously, the first one was better, just lower your knees a bit!” Mercinon took her suggestion and continued marching around the cave, totally oblivious to Marcin crying out in pain in the cavern room.
“There’s a feather!” Kefalia exclaimed as she pointed to some white plumage on the dark, rocky ground.
“Once again, we’re looking for a golden feather!” Exelda irritatedly reminded her. “Don’t even mention it if it’s not the right color! But keep your eyes open ’cause we’re on the volcano now! It’s gotta be around here somewhere since it’s the only thing around Chaos that represents fire!”
Stocastin differed, “I find the premise of that theses faulty! Fire is a chemical reaction of oxygen and a combustible material, and lava is simply molten rock! I highly doubt that the sympathies would place the feather somewhere without fire!”
Exelda debated him, “What would you have us do? Check every fireplace in our polis? Besides, it doesn’t have to be fire, it just has to represent it!”
“But they’re totally different substances! Trust me, I know everything about volcanoes!” Stocastin was so wrapped up in bickering that he didn’t notice a crack in the stony surface and tripped on it, tumbling straight onto the ground!
“Did you know that Gifloga had right there?” Exelda teased him.
The other three roared in laughter, and then Kefalia stiffened up and fell to the floor as well! As Narcius helped Stocastin get up and Exelda picked up Kefalia, Akintos voluntarily laid down. “What are you doing?” Exelda reproached him.
Akintos defended himself, “What? They get to lay down and I don’t?”
“No one else is down there anymore. I think you should get up before Exelda explodes!” Narcius suggested.
“But it’s so comfy here!” Akintos stretched and snuggled in more. “You should try it! The warmth of these rocks is so soothing!”
Exelda snarled in frustration, handed Kefalia to Narcius, and picked Akintos up. She used more force than she anticipated though, so not only did she lift him over head but she accidentally sent him flying up the volcano! Narcius handed Kefalia over to Stocastin and used his super speed to zip up and grab him before he fell in. Akintos landed on the edge, and Narcius reported to Exelda, “Don’t worry! There was plenty of space for him to land, you wouldn’t have killed him!”
Although Exelda felt relieved to hear that her mishap wasn’t as dire as she feared, she still appeared fairly worried. “I am so sorry, Akintos! I didn’t know I could do that! I thought with my pregnancy that I couldn’t lift as much, but having a baby seems to have made my powers stronger!”
“Um… little help!” Stocastin called himself to her attention. Exelda turned back to him and saw that Stocastin had buckled trying to prop Kefalia up, causing them both to have fallen down again! As Exelda stooped down to assist them, Stocastin expressed, “Wow, this is comfortable!”
“Told ya!” Akintos reluctantly began to stand up, but then something caught his eye. “Hey, there’s a feather!”
Dropping Kefalia, Exelda scolded him, “What did I tell you about that?”
Narcius confirmed Akintos’ assertion, “No, this one is golden! It’s on a rickety bridge going over the volcano! Why is that there? Who is that for?”
“What are you waiting for? Hurry and…” Exelda heard something moving behind her, and when she faced the perpetrator of the loud stomping, she gasped. She discovered a giant man made of a clay-like substance heading towards them! Exelda pulled out her sword and ran towards it. He tried to grab her, but she dodged him and took a swipe at him with her weapon. When it collided with his body, it got stuck! He used this momentary distraction to pick her up and lowered her towards his mouth!
“Oh my gods!” Narcius yelped before zipping over to them. He knocked her out of the monster man’s grip, but it continued to pursue them. “Shouldn’t it be easy to destroy clay?” Narcius pondered.
Stocastin, who had gotten pinned down again, corrected Narcius, “It’s not clay, it’s a lipid!”
From on top of the volcano, Akintos puzzled, “What in the name of Gaea is a lipid?”
“Get the feather!” Exelda ordered while she evaded the monster man.
“I… Okay!” Akintos gingerly put a foot onto the first rung of the wooden bridge, and while it did not break, it did make the structure sway. “Maybe my mom was right- I am getting fat!”
Stocastin tried to push Kefalia off of him while illuminated everyone, “That’s what a lipid is! It’s commonly known as fat! You can destroy it through a lipase enzyme!”
As Narcius avoided the monster man, he begrudgingly admitted, “I guess we should have let him bring his chemistry set after all!”
“Yes, you should have!” Stocastin approved of his statement. “But you don’t need purchased chemicals in this case, it’s naturally formed inside urine!”
“So, you’re saying we have to pee on it?” Exelda squealed. “Gross! I’m not doing that!”
Stocastin managed to push Kefalia of him just in time to impede the monster man’s footsteps, which caused him to lose his balance. Right after it landed face first onto the terrain, Narcius stood over him and exclaimed, “And you say I have too much pride!” He showered the monster man, but it didn’t last long. “Damn! I wish I didn’t go before we got here!”
Exelda could see what little he did get out did destroy a part of the monster man, so she quickly placed herself above him and let everything she had out. Stocastin joined her, and when Kefalia could move again, she joined them too. To their relief, their collective efforts worked! The monster man melted! The four of them celebrated, but when the mixture they created touched their sandals, they scurried away from that spot! Kefalia requested, “Um… If anyone asks, can we just say that we threw him into the volcano?”
“The volcano! Akintos!” Exelda gazed up the volcano, and it alleviated her to see Akintos rolling down towards them! When he finally stopped, Exelda asked him, “Is the feather okay?”
“Yes!” He held it up as he answered. “I’m fine too, by the way!” He surveyed the scene beneath him and inquired, “What happened here?”
Exelda replied, “Don’t even bother ’til after I bathe!” Narcius, Kefalia, and Stocastin concurred with her as they headed out. Akintos shrugged as he followed them away from the scene.