Chapter 41 - Drops of Lava

Light faded as Tynun and Reok traipsed into darkness. An acrid scent swelled around them. Tynun’s nostrils flared with each step deeper. Not only did their sense of smell cause discomfort, now they also heard an unfamiliar sound. A low rumbling, lulling up and down in pitch, quite different from the beckoning hymns of the usual Zinnals practicing their religion, pleading for release from Mount Dai.


No, this song couldn’t be deciphered, but surely it came from the mouths of living things. But what sort of language was this? This couldn’t be the inner workings of the volcano that constantly came up in rumors. It sounded too real, too alive. Tynun and Reok looked at one another, faces half cast in shadows.


“What do you think that is?” Reok whispered, placing his hand on his pickaxe.


“No idea, but we’re pretty close already, should we take a look?”


Reok didn’t answer but continued forward. Their faces and bodies faded into darkness as they turned a corner, and all that was to see ahead of them was nothing. Only the groaning and piercing smells remained. Even so, they continued forward for minutes until they reached an impasse. Tynun’s nose grew accustomed to the smell as he focused only on the haunting bellows coming from the other side of the rock wall.


“There has to be some way to get to the other side.” Reok picked around the rocks aimlessly with his pickaxe. “Tynun, you check the floor.”


Tynun tapped his front legs across the edges of the wall, but felt nothing out of the norm. While doing that, the sound of Reok’s investigation picking along the walls grew further away from him. And just as Tynun was about to head toward Reok, the surrounding rocks moved, and from the cracks on the ground, a deep red light shined through. The deep echoing voices gained clarity as the light grew brighter.


Tynun scrambled toward Reok, his small legs frantically dancing all over. The wall had completely disappeared and in its place was a large room where many Zinnals could be seen, heads held toward the ground as if in prayer. Though, these weren’t Zinnals that Tynun had ever seen before. The deep glow emanating from within came not only from liquid that danced around the rocks that clung to the room’s interior, but also from small drips of lava that rolled over parts of the Zinnals’ bodies.


Further in there appeared to be tables, chairs, and beds made of stone placed about. It reminded Tynun of Sarby’s home, minus the lava and heat pulsating through, though it did somewhat resemble the shining crystals from the Crystal Cavern, especially with the deep reds eerily similar to Sarby’s own cluster.


“You think we should let them be and get back to our work?” Reok said with a tremble in his voice.


“Yeah… That’s probably for the best.” Tynun glanced at the wall. “You should press whatever you hit before to make the wall come back into place.”


Reok struck at the wall in precise motions as quietly as he could. With his eyes growing larger, Tynun looked deep within the room and then back to Reok.


“Shhh! Ah,hurry!” The Bakkon rushed over to his partner’s side and climbed partway up the wall as best he could as he tapped at the rock wall. “I think they noticed us!”


The singing stopped, and both Tynun and Reok froze, too afraid to glance into the room. Frantically slapping their limbs all over the wall, they found no way to reverse the actions of making them visible. A new sound replaced the old haunting melodies. Footsteps.


“Let’s just get out of here,” Tynun whispered.


Without another word, the two twisted their bodies and darted back into darkness. But, a voice called out before they could turn the corner.


“Oi! What’re you lot doing down here?” a voice as sharp as glass called out.


Reok stopped. “Oh, you can speak the same language as us?”


“Come on, let’s get out of here while we can!” Tynun pleaded.


“I think we’re fine.” Reok stepped toward the other Zinnals. “What is this place?”



“This is our home.” Molten lava dropped from one of the Zinnals horns and dripped down onto their skin. “Seems we didn’t hide ourselves away good enough. Now if you’d be so kind to never come this way again. We don’t want the humans around here finding out about us. We quite enjoy our freedom.”


The wall started to move back into place.


“Wait!” Reok shouted.


The wall stopped halfway.


“Hmm,” the Zinnal grumbled.


“Would you allow us to visit your home? Err, there has to be a way out of Mount Dai from your side too, right?”


“Forget it. We know all about your Parti Tabs. You are tracked no matter where you go. Last time one of you miners got too friendly with my kind, the humans almost wiped us all out. Caught over half our population and shipped them out somewhere. Never again.”


The wall met with the ground, and Tynun and Reok were left stranded in darkness.


“This is a good sign, Tynun.”


“How do you think that?”


“They were willing to listen to us instead of just shutting their doors outright. I think we can get to them, eventually. I already feel new plans forming in my head.”


Tynun grunted, “I didn’t get that vibe at all from them. Either way, if we spend too long here the humans really will come by and check what we were doing over here all day, and then that little hope you have of being friendly with them really won’t come true. Plus, Neyr and Shan are probably worried we’re the next victims of that murderer at this rate.”


Reok laughed. “Fair enough, but just you wait, we’ll gather a formidable army against these humans some day, and those lava Zinnals would fit proper into enacting that. One touch of their bodies to a human and they’d drop dead.”