Chapter 5 - An Encounter

“They’re gone now,” a voice said. “You guys need to be more careful around these parts, I’ve been able to sense you for awhile now. Then again, I suppose my sense of smell is superior to those pesky humans.” The grass parted and a species Cylor had never seen walked through. They stood on two legs covered in light blue fur, with a similar build to the Elnoas. Though instead of a horn at the top of their head, they had a large and thick strand of grass that jutted upward.


None in the group said a single word, though Cylor finally got off of Sarby and Guile who were struggling underneath his body. Was this creature someone they could trust?



“Hmph, you guys sure are a secretive bunch. Though I’ll admit, it is strange to see such a diverse group of adolescent species sneaking out this far. Where are you guys headed?”


Tynun returned to form out of his rock-like slumber. “We are looking for the human’s camp.”


The blue one’s strand of grass struck stiff toward the sky. “No, no, that is an awful idea. What kind of business could have with them? Don’t tell me you expect to take them on?”


“We’d like to avoid conflict if possible,” Cylor said. “We only plan to sneak in and save the species captured.”


Guile approached the grass creature. “Just what are you? Never seen you around these parts. You must be able to blend in extremely well.”


“The plant on my head does help a bit, but being blue, not quite so much. My name is Chya and I am a Charthu. We live all over the empty plains, and I do happen to know many popular human camping sites.”


“Take us. Now.” Tynun turned his rigid body and stared at the Charthu. 


The plant on Chya’s head flung back and forth. “Yeah, sure, but I won’t be helping you once we get close. Not risking that again. They are monsters and will stop at nothing to get what they want. If you guys came from Jalla, which I’m assuming you have, you know not a thing of the real world. How lucky. And now you wish to toss that all away.”


“Lucky?” Tynun shook. “No. Now stop talking and guide us.”


Cylor looked at his friend who he no longer recognized. Guile and Sarby passed wavering glances onto Tynun, but said nothing.


“Yes. Yes. Okay. It’s not like I have much better to do anyway. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when we get there though. They’re monsters.” Chya strode ahead of them and motioned for them to follow.

Guile picked up his pace and walked beside Chya.


“For your name being Guile, you slightly live up to it I suppose. You are pretty cunning,” Chya whispered. “But why trick your friends…”


“It doesn’t concern you. But yeah, I know Tynun well. The more you tell him he can’t do something, the more he will stop at nothing to do it.”


The Chya shook his head. “You’re a strange one though. To be honest, I’m not even positive I can trust you. What kind of Zinnal wants to be captured by humans? You’re sick.”


Guile shrugged. “If they were so bad you wouldn’t be following their every order and seeming excited to accomplish their demands. Plus, you’ve already taken to the term Zinnal, interesting.”


“You don’t understand.” Chya looked behind. “We should stop talking about this in case they overhear.”


Guile looked behind at Tynun walking in silence while Cylor and Sarby were whispering.

Cylor was relieved they had Chya as a guide. They weren’t even close to the stone structures, yet human voices came in and out of range. Chya stopped many times at hidden ponds where the group would spend short breaks drinking water and conserving energy. The Charthu even plucked plants from the ground that Cylor didn’t recognize and passed them around, urging them to eat. Though the plants looked ordinary and savory, the taste was as sweet as a ripe fruit. Cylor started to feel uneasy as the sun drew near its end for the day. Why would Chya even help them for so long if they didn’t have something to gain from it? Though the creature had helped them escape humans on multiple occasions so far, so perhaps it was of no use to worry.


Bugs chirped at the sun on its way down and sang throughout the night. In the tall grass, the shine of the moon wavered in and out with gusts of wind, rustling the ceiling of green.


“We’re almost there now,” Chya said. “If you listen closely, you may even be able to hear the slight crackle of wood being burned. They usually sleep around this time, but be warned, some of these demons wake to the smallest of noises.”


They continued dozens of steps forward and then stopped, hearing the snores of something nearby and managing to only barely see the wisps of flames dance in the open field. In turn, Sarby’s own cluster matched the brightness. Cylor and Guile surrounded him, attempting to dull out the shine. If anything were to wake the humans, however, it likely would be noise more than anything.


Chya pointed out of the tall weeds, and stepped out. “Follow me,” they whispered. “Where they keep their captured prey is quite peculiar.”


Cylor and the others stepped out of the wilderness to find a large patch of short grass, where large homes were set up, seeming to be made of cloth. A temporary home? The merchants had sold similar material, saying they were left over by humans which made the prices soar. But seeing them standing high in all their glory was surreal. Cylor stood still while everyone else inched closer, caught in awe. Guile waved him forward, but he refused.


Cylor whispered, “I can’t move as stealthily as you… I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before.”


Guile shook his head and persisted, he motioned him to come over regardless. He then pointed to his own paws, though Cylor had no idea what that meant. Cylor gave in and trudged along, into the territory of humans.


Surrounding the fire, sticks stuck between large rocks, pointing away from the flames with residue of charred food. Bones lay below, mostly fish bones he was used to seeing, but also some unfamiliar ones. Large ones that made him quiver. And further back behind the fire, chairs made of both wood and cloth sat, menacingly towering over him. He breathed deep but continued following the group. Chya stood next to an imposing tent, its materials rattling lightly with the breeze.


And suddenly, everything flipped. A piercing scream struck out of the vocal chords of Chya, followed by, “I told you it was dangerous. I tried to warn you, I really did.”


From inside the tents, thuds of footsteps clamored, mixed with voices in tongues Cylor could not understand. Cylor and Sarby immediately took off back from where they came. “Come on, Tynun! Guile you too!” Cylor shouted, but they stood their ground.


“Perfect,” Guile said with a disturbing smile. “It’s finally time.”


Tynun dumped his baggage and stood, unmoving, but seeming to question Guile’s intonation. 


The humans tore out of the entrance of their home and held some kind of device in their hands, sinister grins creeping along their faces.