How many days had Tynun spent slaving away in Mount Dai? Day in and day out, every moment felt the same. Though, he started to recognize a few other Zinnals around him and their expressionless faces. Some would acknowledge him in passing, but rarely anyone spoke outside of their group of partners.


Besides spending what time he could with Neyr, the only thing Tynun looked forward to was when his shift was over and he could return to his Parti Tab. At least for those few hours of rest, he spent it in a cozier room than even his old room back in Jalla.


The sounds of chipping away at stone ruptured his ears so much, even the highest pitches of clinks against the rocks caused not even a mild disturbance anymore. Every day was the same.



Tynun, Neyr, Reok, and Shan walked through the entrance tunnels hearing a commotion uncommon to the usual cave sounds. Ahead of them, a large group of Bakkons and Frakkals gathered.


“What happened here?” one said.


“How could someone get away with this? No one saw who did this? Poor Gendal,” another voice echoed down the hall.


Tynun, wary of what may greet him within the crowd, continued forward. Their dig site today was further in than the days prior. They had extracted the majority of materials in their section of the cave and had been instructed to loot a new location “teeming with treasures to be sifted through,” according to the masked human.


“Tynun, why are you in such a rush?” Reok said.


Turning around, Tynun didn’t notice how much distance he had put between himself and the others. The shocked voices of the crowd pulled him forward as if the fish on Jalla’s shores were calling his name, hungry for a change of pace.


The surrounding group of strangers were packed so close together that there was no way of glimpsing even a single speck of what lay on the other side. Though now, based on inference from the comments made, Tynun knew what happened.


“Has anyone seen Gendal’s partner? Do you think he did this to him? I know they didn’t get along much, but damn. I can’t imagine how upset I would be if I died on Mount Dai.”


“You’d be dead. You wouldn’t care.”


“You know what I mean. We need to find his partner… He can’t be far. Do you suspect he is hiding? Or perhaps plotting another murder?”


Shouts of theories spread through the narrow halls. Tynun caught a glimpse of the Bakkon’s beaten and bloodied body as a few onlookers returned to their duties, and a few others ran deeper into the interior, screaming for vengeance.


Tynun had never thought that anyone would die here from another Zinnal. Stories had circulated many times while speaking with Reok and Shan of humans beating them and occasionally the extremely disobedient ones being put to death, but never did he think some of his own kind would kill each other while they were all stuck in this hell.


Neyr trembled next to Tynun. “Do you think that’s why we haven’t found Dad yet?”


Tynun paused as he had never once considered that to be a possibility. Their father was one of the strongest Bakkons in Jalla, there was no way he’d let himself end up like this, right? At the very least he would never let humans murder him. But, if he were to anger another Zinnal? He shook off his thoughts. His father was never the type to cause conflict with others. “Dad probably wasn’t brought to Mount Dai, Neyr. Don’t worry about it.”


Neyr’s eyes watered as the onlookers scattered and a more clear view of the scene opened up.


Tynun couldn’t grasp any sort of detail on Gendal that provided hints to what kind of Bakkon he was. Though, Tynun had become familiar with certain attributes that allowed him to ascertain what country a Bakkon may be from. To name a few differences, Jallan Bakkons walked close to the ground, making them slightly shorter than average. Nandarian Bakkons had tiny feelers that extended out from the edges of their backs that looked like worms. And Kanlonian Bakkons had glowing eyes, which when Tynun first encountered them in the depths of Mount Dai, he jumped in fear.


“What if the one who killed him comes back and tries to take out others?” Neyr said.


“I wouldn’t worry about it, it was most likely his partner having a problem with him,” Tynun said, though he didn’t know if that was exactly the case.


Neyr lowered himself all the way to the ground and panted.


“Hmm,” Reok sighed. “Yeah, Neyr, this doesn’t happen too often. This is the first time I have actually seen a deceased Zinnal in this cave. But I have heard of things like this happening. But it is very rare.”


Shan picked at the blue shell of rocks around his own body. “Yeah, they must have had a disagreement. I can’t seem to place exactly who this Bakkon’s partner was though.”


“That’s surprising, Shan, usually you remember most Zinnals we pass in here…” Neyr said with a weak voice, stifling back tears.


“I have an inkling of who it was, but it’s escaping me at the moment. Maybe I’ll remember more later.”


Reok slapped Shan on the back. “Yeah, I’m kind of jealous of how you are so good with faces. Sometimes I even think all of us Frakkals look pretty similar.”


“No, everyone looks so different.” Shan glanced between Tynun and Neyr. “Even you two, you don’t look similar at all.”


Reok scratched his head. “I think you’re just joking with me now, Shan. If it weren’t for Neyr being a bit smaller, there’d be no way I’d be able to tell.”


“No, I’m serious.” Shan pointed. “See, just look at all the distinct cracks and ridges along their bodies. Plus, their voices don’t sound similar at all.”


“Well, yeah, their voices give it away, but I was talking about their looks…” Reok shook his head.


Neyr laughed. “Shan, even other species of Zinnals in our village don’t notice these differences. I’m shocked at how much you pay attention.”


“No, no. I don’t need to pay attention, like I said it’s obvious!”


Tynun chuckled. “Okay, okay. Well, thanks Shan. You always know how to cheer us up. Anyway, we should probably head off to start our day, huh?” He flashed a fake smile.


The four looked at the carcass of the Bakkon once more, then set out deeper into the cave, spirits weak.