Chapter 19 - Anything for a Crystal

Sarby learned to survive in the wilderness, though he still found no trace of Hyanga or Star. As he suspected, there weren’t many species who troubled him, and the ones that did, as soon as Sarby flared his body up, they dispersed. It wasn’t natural for species to glow, and most living in their own secluded villages displayed expressions of horror when they witnessed him.


He satisfied his appetite with fish from ponds, and no matter how desperate in his endeavors, he didn’t stoop down to the level of his previous companions in travel and even think about eating a Higher Being. Lower Beings only, as what was the moral thing to do. Things that couldn’t think for themselves had no pain when being devoured.


There was another aching feeling gnawing at him, though he couldn’t grasp what he felt was missing. Yes he missed his friends and family and didn’t go an hour without thinking about them, but this feeling was different from that. It was unlike any sensation he had ever felt before. And each day it grew worse, causing him to pause occasionally to catch his breath and hype himself up to continue onward. He attributed the feeling to never being able to sleep for much at a time.


Sarby walked through tall grass, spreading the walls of green apart with his arms. How many days had he walked in random directions? He had passed where the humans had rested before and found nothing but burnt fields and garbage. Would they come back again soon? Sarby didn’t have time to sit around and find out. He continued on his travels further out than any Elnoa he knew had.


Eventually, he came across a large swath of short grass. Small hills crested around the plains with dusty dirt patterns at the tops. As he came closer, large holes were visible in the base of the mounds. Eyes reflected his glowing horn from the inside staring out, giving a red scorch. He approached, and the eyes disappeared into the darkness. Sarby was curious, but would the species inside be friendly? And would they have food to offer? Finding fish every day by himself was proving time-consuming without Tynun and Cylor.


“Hello?” Sarby said. “I’m not here to hurt anyone. I’m sort of lost.”


Eyes appeared again. “What do you seek?” The voice quavered.


“I’m not sure, to be honest. I need a place to rest for a bit. Every time I try to sleep outside, I become riddled by anxiety, and I’ve been walking for days with no direction.”


A small figure crept out of the dark, revealing a brown and red body in somewhat similar height to himself with floppy ears and creepy, sharp fangs protruding from their mouth. “You aren’t with the Thornals?” The species walked closer to Sarby, appearing even more disturbing as their face grew near to his, inspecting every inch of him, making him feel uncomfortable. “You glow.”



“I have no idea who the Thornals are. I come from Jalla.”


“Jalla… I forgot that place even exists. What a pathetic civilization. I’m surprised to see a Jallan this far out, what a momentous thing. Here, follow me inside, but be warned, the others may not treat you so kind.” They turned and started walking away from Sarby.


“May I ask what your species is?” Sarby asked and hopped in line under their shadow. In case things went wrong and he had to run, it would be best to take precautions and learn all about the new world around him.


“We are Kalands.” They turned around and glared at Sarby. “I have figured out what you are already, Elnoa. Wasn’t too hard. Your glow gave it away at first sight.”


“Other Awakened Elnoas have come out here?” Sarby’s horn lit the way through the cave-like entrance into the hill.


“You could say that.”


“I thought there was only one Awakened Elnoa in the past? Did you know where they were headed? Or where they are now?”


“We’ve seen our fair share, but they’re dead. And rightfully so.”


Sarby felt a chill take hold of his body. Not only of the fact of dead Elnoas, but had his village lied to him this whole time? Were there many others who have experienced what Sarby had and were just covered up by the elders? As he followed the Kaland inside, the surrounding air grew warm and light flickered further down the passage. Inhaling the scent of mud mixed with smoke, he continued down the small path. His horn scraped against the ceiling, dropping dirt down his back.


“I’ll go ahead first, just wait here,” the Kaland said. “I need to discuss things with the others about you before allowing you to enter. You don’t want to be burned alive, do you?” The creature hobbled forward into the dimly lit room and Sarby looked back toward the darkness resting outside. He pondered abandoning the area and running out further into wilderness once more, but he knew he couldn’t make it on his own. If only he could find Hyanga and Star, at least he knew those two wouldn’t kill him, but no matter where he looked, there was no trace of them anywhere.


He sat himself down against the dirt wall, staring at his paws with the glowing red of his horn. Being a walking light had its purposes, even being looked at as a monstrosity with half his body glowing while traveling alone was a great benefit. Few would mess with him. That alone seemed better to him than having just a small glowing cluster, which without another Elnoa at his side creating the illusion of glowing eyes, made him a walking snack.


Chatter lingered down the halls in aggressive tones. The Kalands obviously didn’t take kindly to the Awakened Elnoa in their vicinity. Sarby sat for what felt like hours before the familiar face returned out into the musty hall.


“You can stay,” they said. “Not for long, however. There is an empty hill house on the northern part of the village. It has dirtied cloth covering the entrance. Do not make contact with any of the others here in the village. We will drop off food and water for the night, but we ask one favor of you.”


“What’s that?”


“We need you to take care of a problem. We’ve got a troublemaker of sorts, comes by while we all sleep and makes themselves a bed in the hut you will stay in. If you can capture them and bring them to us in the morning, we would be delighted, and perhaps we’d be able to help you out a bit more.”


Sarby wavered for a moment. If this troublemaker only slept, then it probably would not cause an issue for him in there. But if it only slept, why’d they have such an issue with it?


“This creature doesn’t cause any harm to anyone?” Sarby asked.


“This particular one hasn’t harmed any of us, and will definitely not harm you. But this thing damages our reputation every single night they decide to sleep here. We’ve set up a trap there as well. But they are wary of us, and always escape. They seem to sense whenever a Kaland is near. When you get in there, check all the walls and you’ll find the trap. It’ll be easy for you to activate.”


“All this for just a place to sleep? I’ll pass, I don’t want any part of this.” Sarby turned, disappointed and headed back for the wilderness.


“No! Wait! We have crystals.”


Sarby felt his body jolt and his mouth salivate. “From where?”


“We’ve a stash of some from the Elnoan Caves, protected by our strongest.”


The sensation that dully ached from within him burned. With just the mention of crystals, he knew that was what he would need to reduce this pain, this desire. He imagined shoving the crystals into his horn and just the thought caused a wave of pleasure and relief.


“I’ll do it.”


“Thought you would.” The Kaland smirked and turned back for their home.


Sarby journeyed out to the outskirts of the Kalands’ land. Wind pressed against his face and horn, and with his horns’ new flexibility, he moved it in patterns to keep himself afloat with the squalls that rushed him. Guile would never be able to push him over anymore.


And what happened to Guile? He seemed off in the final moments that Sarby saw him.


Dirtied cloth slapped in the air, dancing in and out of a hill’s cavern. It had to be the place. Sarby made his way inside, and found the entrance hall to be identical to the one he ventured through previously, save for the fact that he heard snoring coming from the other end of the tunnel.