Chapter 20 - A Timeless Grudge

The infiltrating species was already inside the hut, sleeping. Sarby continued pushing forward, his horn lighting the way. If the Kalands were so eager about pushing their duties onto an outsider, either this species was strong, or Kalands were just too weak to do anything about it themselves. There was no doubt this was a Higher Being. But what kind of creature were they? The Kalands mentioned Thornals, so was the snoring coming from one? It seemed those were the Kalands’ enemies.


Sarby made his way through the dim hallway, his paws pressing against the dirt walls. A room opened up to a large enclosure with broken planks of wood and scraps of cloth scattered amidst the entrance area. He stepped carefully around the rubble, watching for signs of the trap that lay in wait for him to activate, but found none. Despite how silent his steps were, he felt anxiety flood him at the sound of snoring growing louder. Would the beast awaken soon? He reached the corner of the room and he saw the large species breathing. He needed to catch this beast if he wanted to feel normal again as the idea of crystals were driving his every move.


The Higher Being was quadrupedal, with large stump-like legs. Their body was covered in grass, and along every inch of their body, vines wrapped around, moving with each breath the creature took. Their face peeked out of their bush of a body, as if it was the head of a flower, bringing a differing color to the lump of green. Two pointed ears shot out of their red head.


The Kaland had said that there was a trap already in place around the edges of the room. Sarby retreated from the resting Higher Being and walked along the perimeter of the room and finally found a rope amongst other unfamiliar contraptions hanging across the wall. He grabbed hold of the rope that would activate the trap, but paused and looked back toward the Thornal. His light didn’t reach the creature, but he couldn’t help but imagine dropping all these utensils on top of them, causing them pain, pinning them in place.


Even if the thought of crystals brought immediate peace to his mind, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He brought his paw back to his side. If he caused this creature to be caught, what would the Kalands do to them? Sarby’s paw hovered over the rope once again as the idea of breaking crystals and placing them in his horn took over. No. He needed rest. He wasn’t thinking properly. He couldn’t hurt someone for such a selfish reason.


Sarby trudged over to the opposite side of the room of the Thornal and made himself comfortable under a torn cloth. He continued staring toward the large creature. What if the Thornal woke before him? Would they attack him? No. The Kaland said this one had done nothing to harm them, so why would they harm Sarby?


Sarby wrapped his horn around his head, creating a pillow. His body cried for rest. And before he knew it, he drifted off to sleep, his horn dimming.


He awoke to a rumbling. A face stared upon him.


“Who are you?” The Thornal asked in a deep rough voice.


Sarby’s eyes barely opened. “Sarby. I need to sleep more…”


The beast stomped his feet, and Sarby’s body bounced on the ground, causing his horn to shine bright. Sarby looked up, body trembling. It was too late to attempt the capture. What would the Thornal do to him?


“You glow.” The Thornal smirked. “I know your kind. I’m surprised the Kalands left you alive.”


Rolling up off the dirt, Sarby lifted himself and stood as firm as possible. “I don’t understand.” His body tensed. Would the beast pounce on him?


“What is to understand about those small creatures? I don’t understand them myself, really. But I’m trying to.” The beast stepped closer, bringing their face closer to Sarby’s.


“They asked me to capture you.” Sarby gulped. His horn flared and twirled through the air, giving a blade-like appearance as it pointed at the Thornal’s face. He regretted not pulling the trap when he arrived.


The Thornal laughed until his legs gave out and knelt down. “Funny Zinnals. I’ve tried explaining many times, I’m not here to hurt them. I come for the exact opposite reason, to tell them we are a Zinnal of peace and would like to work together with them and mend all past problems. But all I get is assaulted by the small creatures. It’s fine, I’ll do this as long as it takes. Their punches feel like soft tickles against my vines, anyway.”


“Zinnals?” Sarby’s horn deflated into its normal position.



The Thornal tilted his head. “Yes… Zinnals.”


Sarby scratched his face. “I feel like I’ve heard that word before.”


“What a ridiculous Zinnal you are too! I’ve never heard of a Zinnal not knowing they are a Zinnal.” A vine from their body caressed their laughing face, seeming to wipe their eyes. “How funny!”


“So I am a Zinnal?”


“Yes. You make me laugh too much. The type of Zinnal I am is called a Thornal.”


The connections finally made their way through Sarby’s brain. Did most of the world call Higher Beings Zinnals? Star and Hyanga also referred to them as Higher Beings, but then again they seemed to be from around Jalla. “Oh, I see! Around Jalla we call Zinnals Higher Beings. We also have things called Lower Beings. What do you call those?”


“Animals, of course! How interesting. I’ve heard of Jalla, never thought I’d ever meet someone from there.”


“So… I am curious, why do they attack you if all you do is sleep and try to make peace? They are that untrusting?”


“Well, I am a Thornal, after all. The Kalands hold a grudge against us. Once long ago, when at war with the Yhangos, we ran through this village and trampled some Kalands to death. It wasn’t on purpose though, and ever since then, all legends and folklore of the Kalands portray us as their enemy. They teach all of their kind to beware of any Thornal. That we come without warning to ruin their villages.”


“That is quite an intense story. I can see why they would be wary about that, but if it’s been so long, and you don’t fight back, why don’t they come together to form some kind of agreement with you?”


“We try constantly, but this is the treatment we receive every time. I’m the fourth Thornal given the task of making up for our past mistakes. All of us Thornals wish to be at peace with all other Zinnals in these plains. I’ve been in the Kalands’ village for almost a year now. Sometimes I take my leave for weeks at a time when things get to be too much for me to bear, or when one of the Kalands actually manages to hurt me. That’s what happened to the last Thornal, he made some mistakes and got hurt, but instead of heading out to heal up, he stayed and got himself killed by the Kalands. It’s not something I worry about though, he was just being foolish.”


“If you’ve been here so long, how haven’t they caught you?”


“I guess you’ll find out if you are still in this cave when they come for their daily attempt to capture me. Or are you still going to attempt that?” The Thornal laughed.