Story Telling - Unexpectedly Talking Animals
Debate Rounds (5)
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1) I will begin the story with a very brief introductory sentence (or maybe a few).
2) For each round following my opening, each of us is expected to pick up right where the opponent left off.
3) You are not allowed to change something that the opponent establishes. Ie. If I say that the main character has blue eyes, you cannot change that character's eyes to green.
4) The only exception to rule 3 is if you explain the change in the story. Ie. If you say the character encountered a powerful wizard that cast a spell, changing the character's eyes to green.
5) There are no restrictions on subject matter, so long as the story teller works in the necessary elements (in this case, unexpected talking animals) and carries on the story from where the opponent left off.
I made this debate impossible to accept because I am looking for an opponent who is willing to put in some time and effort to make this a fun experience. Message me or leave a comment if you are interested.
Voting is simply on a win/lose basis. Vote for the story teller who, in your opinion, did a better job. Forfeits will result in an automatic loss for either side. Breaking the rules will also result in an automatic loss (at the discretion of the judges).
Beginning of the story:
The wind was blowing through the trees, providing a simple background melody for the travellers. They had been walking for days and were thankful for the shelter that the forest offered them from the bitterly cold wind. A group of five travellers on these roads is not normally that strange a sight, however...
Samuel is the youngest. Spunky and well, they always say he is, and without him the clan of travelers wouldn't get very far. He is the best at doing math and an expert at mapping, along with Madi: the second eldest. Through the woods, however, Sam is the worst of them all in terms of decelerating and slackening. The leader, Devon, gets especially annoyed with him because he lags along.
Buster Bagshot, though he is an exceptionally good looking yet short fellow, is known to be a dunce. Before the trip Samuel opened his wide pie-hole and some rather insulting words came out: that Devon would not have brought Buster along if the little guy had not been commanded to come. But such was quite frankly, true, despite the fact that it made the first part of the journey difficult to avoid arguments.
Madi and Veronica are twins. They are the second oldest and the most athletic while being witty, if it is possible to put it that way. Both are natural caretakers and Veronica is genuinely coordinated.
The oldest of the travelers, Devon, is extremely tough. Mentally and physically, and you can tell immediately by the look on his face and the way his muscles bulge, even under his thick suit and coat. He is the only one that has opened his mouth to talk in the past hour of the trek, but only simple remarks or questions. Only twice did anyone reply with mumbles or "amen's." Devon has remarked with "Is Samuel the only one who's a tad bit exhausted?" or, "I'm about to dump this bag of yours, Buster Bagshot, if it doesn't get any warmer out soon," or, "all I'm focused on is getting warm and getting to Newmeadow as quickly as possible. Efficiency. You get what I mean?" Of course, this was their initial goal, to get to Newmeadow (because it was there that an important meeting of their required to be at would take place), but as they knew, it would be an extremely dangerous expedition and many roadblocks, hindrance, and mishaps that could happen along the way. Already they have come across a shortage of food upon which they had to almost all of their affluence, and an injury--Buster broke his arm after falling out of a tree while attempting to gather fruit to eat due to the deficit. But the most unexpected and odd experience was yet to happen.
"We all are," groaned Devon, in a rather disgusted tone. "The last time we made an effort to get food, Buster broke an arm. Now Veronica is having to waste extra time, energy and supplies taking care of him. I"ve never been much for climbing trees, personally, but if any of you think you can get some fruit from up there, go right ahead. Just don"t hurt yourself" We still have several days of travelling left ahead of us and we have limited medical supplies as it is." Madi nodded and started up a tree. "While you"re up there, maybe take a look around and see if you can figure where exactly we are on this trail. I know we"re going the right way, but with it being so cloudy, I can"t gauge our position properly," shouted Devon.
Madi was surprisingly quick to get up the tree. Once at the top, she started to grab some fruit, but then hollered down, "It looks like the frost from the past few nights has really destroyed the fruit up here. I can throw some down, but I don"t know how edible it will be!"
She tossed some down and Samuel quickly took a bite. He grimaced and began to shout, "Don"t bother grabbing anymore from""
"Quiet!" whispered Madi, in the loudest, most commanding whisper that she could muster. "I see smoke about three kilometers to the west. It looks like there is a village there."
"Get down here now!" ordered Devon, in a commanding whisper of his own. Once Madi was down from the tree, the group stepped off of the main trail to get out of sight and huddled around Devon for a plan. "Madi, were you able to determine anything specific about our location?" questioned Devon.
"Well, we have definitely crossed into Darkpass," stated Madi. "I don"t know this area well, but I have heard stories and seen sketches of Mount Echo and I saw it in the distance, about ten kilometers to the west."
"M-m-mount Echo?" stuttered Buster. He didn"t stutter all the time, only when he was really cold or really afraid" At this moment, he could very well be either or both. "I remember hearing stories about th-that mountain when I was a little kid. Every s-s-story I heard ended with the lesson, "Never go to Mount Echo" so I think we should just keep on moving."
"I"ve heard the stories," countered Devon. "I have heard about the native tribes in the region, stuck in an ongoing battle for control of the main water sources. Not all tribes are bad though; some strive for peace and are well known to be kind to travellers. Madi, how far do you think until we reach Newmeadow?"
"About four more days, if we continue on at our current pace. But I expect that we will begin to slow down if we must continue to ration our food and combat this bitterly cold weather. Maybe five days would be more realistic," responded Madi.
Devon turned to Veronica, "And how are our supplies?"
Veronica looked up to sky, as if counting numbers floating above her head. She said, "Enough food to last us three more days, so long as we are conservative with our portions. We should have enough medical supplies to last the rest of the trip, unless someone goes and does something really stupid." They all turned to look at Buster, and he diverted his gaze to the ground. Veronica smiled and said "that was only a joke Buster. You were only trying to help."
Buster blushed slightly and managed a little smile, but Devon didn"t allow for the moment to last. "All joking aside, we need to be careful here; and we have some serious decisions to make. First of all, we don"t have enough food to make it to Newmeadow. We could severely cut our rations, travel on the bear minimum and hope we can make the journey, however if the cold temperatures persist, we might not survive. Instead, we could head to the village and hope that they are a friendly group. It could delay our travels by a half day or so, but if they are willing to help us, we could get food, supplies and some warmer clothes."
The group discussed their options for a short while and finally decided that their best chance of survival was to check out the village. As they made their way through the Darkpass Forest, towards the village near the base of Mount Echo, the group began to talk for the first time since the journey began. Maybe it was the fear of dying that sparked a need to converse and hear each other"s stories. They always knew the possibility existed when they started the journey, but this was the first time that it really felt real.
Samuel sparked the quiet conversation by asking, "Devon, why did they give us so few supplies?"
Devon stated, "The weather has been very unpredictable lately. Crops have produced the lowest yields we have seen in decades and the animals have been acting strange. Migration patterns are different than usual and some of the usual creatures around our town have not been seen for weeks. The town council did not want to worry everyone by creating a panic, so they sent word to Newmeadow to ask for aid. Word came back from Newmeadow that not only could they not provide aid, but that they were experiencing similar issues."
"I had no idea," replied Samuel, looking rather shocked. "I mean, I knew the weather has been odd and supplies haven't been as abundant, but I didn't know it had gotten so bad.
"Very few know the extent," said Devon. "We agreed that it should be on a need to know basis."
"So why were they so secretive with us?" questioned Madi, sounding rather irritated. "Sending us on a 'Diplomatic Mission' to Newmeadow is all we were told. They said we would be debriefed when we arrived in Newmeadow. Why would we be going to Newmeadow if they are no better off than us anyway?"
"It's not just them," said Devon in a disheartened tone. "All of the nearby areas are experiencing the same problems. Because Newmeadow is rather central, and acts as the capitol, of sorts, they called for a gathering of leaders from each town."
Veronica chimed in, "Well then we know why you are going. What about the rest of us?"
Devon replied, "When travelling these dangerous roads, it is important to have capable navigators; and I used the plural because if something happens to your navigator, you always want a backup. So Madi and Samuel, we need you both. It is also important to have medics on hand, so Madi again, and Veronica are both important to have along. You also never know what sort of vermin, human or other, you might come across, so we require physically fit, skilled fighters. All three of you are more than capable of handling yourselves if the need arises."
"Ok, so that covers myself and the two lovely ladies,' said Samuel, genuflecting slightly towards the twins, "but what about the dimwit. He's short, awkward and more than a little slow."
"Please show him a little respect," replied Veronica. "but seriously, why is he here?"
Devon shrugged, "I honestly don't know. They told me that he could prove to be useful at some time, but were extremely vague about what role he might play. Buster, what skills do you have that could make you useful to us here?"
"I don't know," responded Buster, raising his good hand above his shoulder, palm up, in the universal I-don't-know gesture. "I like to play puppets."
"Great," said Samuel with about as much sarcasm as he could muster, "If the natives turn out to be hostile, maybe you can charm them with a puppet show."
"May-be," said Buster, in an overly positive tone. The others all rolled their eyes then turned their attentions ahead, as they were approaching the village and could hear noises up ahead. Buster stopped and looked at a rabbit hopping by, about three meters away and began to wave at it. The rabbit stopped, turned to Buster and began to wave back with the exact same motions as Buster. "May-be," said Buster and the rabbit, completely in sync.
"What is this? Some sort of bond between animal and human?" said Madi with a surprised look on her visage. Veronica interrupted her twin sister right away.
"Madi, what are you talking about: this is so cute!" Veronica started walking slowly towards the rabbit-like creature in order to better examine this phenomenon. Devin and Samuel just stood there, looking dumbfounded, and they were a strange sight to see. Usually Buster Bagshot was the one to look that way, but now it was him who was surprising the older ones and giving them a startle. Somehow, he had a way of getting animals' attention and, almost like telepathy, communicating with the creature. Perhaps this was what the Elders of their home town had in mind when sending him off on the journey with the others to the meeting in Newmeadow.
"Well, this is just a bit odd...out of the ordinary...and strange..." said Madi, in response to Veronica. Veronica rolled her eyes and remembered a quote she once read that said, "most people do not listen to others words with the intent to understand, instead most people listen with the intent to reply." Stephen R. Covey was one of Madi's favorite authors and she memorized quite a few of his truly effective quotes. She was about to tell it to everybody when, suddenly, the rabbit spoke again.
"Iz extraordinarily cowld out now, not I'm right?" the rabbit said with an accent unrecognizable to any of the travelers. The odd grammar threw everybody off, of course with the exception of Buster, who knew exactly what the creature said.
"Yah, you are a right little guy," said Buster, also in an unusual tone of voice. Then he turned to the rest of his clan, looking amazed at not only the rabbit but also about himself being able to answer the creature. He asked what he should inquire the rabbit first.
Devon commanded him in a whisper to ask the creature how to get to the nearest village. But Buster was already on it.
"Heya, what do you manj' to be called?" he said. The animal replied right away, using hand--or paw--gestures and all.
"Me Prudish. Sleelo bepyar?" The rabbit spoke in a new, foreign language, and all eyes turned to Bagshot in an attentive way to see if he could respond. Veronica asked Buster what it meant.
He filled them in: "Prudish asked what my name was. I will ask him how we can get to the nearest village." He turned to the strangely animatronic-like creature who was now waddling back and forth, as if pacing. "Me Buster. Wer iz closest man-place? Nearby?"
"Oh, oh. Not good though. Wer Buster going toward?" For the first time, the journeyers noticed the rabbit's features: one eye dark green, the other brown; one ear crooked, the other ear straight up; and his voice is rough yet in a medium-high pitch.
"Us going towards Newmeadow," said Buster. Devon leaned over to Bagshot's face again and whispered a warning not to tell the rabbit too much. He didn't want to take the chance of assuming the rabbit wasn't a spy for a rival town, or a product of some evil sorcery that they shouldn't mess around with.
Prudish beckoned for the travelers to follow him, and they did. Even through all those whiskers on the rabbit's face the group could tell he was a bit annoyed. After walking for about a minute, the creature appeared to start sniffing around. He did not bother to explain what was going on. And after another minute he began to dig. Samuel was shivering because the morning sun was covered by a cloud, so Madi went over, sat on a thick, dry log, and had him sit on her lap for warmth. The winery breeze was shrill against the young teenagers' unaccustomed skin, and Madi had guessed this encounter with the strange rabbit would slow down the trip so, though she knew they needed to restock supplies desperately, she secretly didn't believe a tiny and unintelligent rabbit would do any good for their cause. Because of these thoughts she had decided to stay out of the conversations she knew were bound to occur.
"Need any help there?" asked Sam, cautiously, trying to talk to Prudish. Buster translated the words so that the rabbit would understand.
"No...mmm...almost der...nnn..." mumbled Prudish. Then he stood up. It looked like he had his hands on his hips, an uncharacterized thing a rabbit would do! Buster started vehemently laughing right when he noticed Prudish was copying the way Devon was standing.
Suddenly, Veronica gasped and rushed towards the place Prudish had been digging. She immediately began tearing away at the late-summer moss below where the talking creature had been excavating. When she had tore away a fair amount of the dewy grass mixed with dirt and bog, all the other journeyers stooped over to see what Veronica had found. It was, indeed, a rustic and seemingly ancient, railroad track. Prudish intervened right as everyone started getting excited.
"Aha. Dees iz exahactly what I was gonna look you," he said. "Old train would drive all day every day in the past. When you mans stopped use, you try not tear the tracks down. See, these wood planks lead straight right to a man town. Errzulee."
"He means to say that the village is three fourths a mile away if we follow the tracks," explained Bagshot to his group. Veronica sighed, probably with a mixture of relief and joy.
"Good. Buster, stop staring into nowhere dammit! Act at least a little more professional than the rabbit," said Devon toughly, although you could tell he was pleased that Prudish could do something for his sake. Prudish scowled at him.
"Go. You have a full day now," said the rabbit, and he hopped away into the thickets of Darkpass.
Finally, Samuel broke the silence by saying, "Dude, what the heck was that all about back there? I have been going over it in my head, over and over, but I can't seem to make any sense of it. You talked to a rabbit! Did you know you could do that? Do you speak that language often? What the heck, man?"
Everyone seemed started by the sudden outburst from Samuel, but they also seemed a little relieved that someone had finally broken the awkward silence and asked the questions that they were all thinking. Buster looked up at Samuel, then around to the rest of the group, then said, "I never knew I could do that. I don't know what language I was speaking. That was all new to me. Ever since I was a small child, I would spend hours, full days even, in my backyard playing puppets. I had some stuffed animals and I would have conversations between the puppets in a made up language. Sometimes animals from the forest would come around and seem interested in my plays. They would sit and watch, like they were interested in what I was doing. Sometimes it almost seemed as if they understood the little shows, but that has been happening my entire life, so I just assumed that it was a normal thing."
"Well that's not normal," said Madi. "How do you know that we can trust the rabbit?"
"I've never spoken to an animal directly before," noted Buster, "but somehow I know that they aren't capable of deceit. It is almost like they aren't really speaking from a voice box so much as I can hear what their heart is telling me. I mean you can all hear him speak, but I think you get what I mean."
Madi nodded, but still looked very uncertain. She walked fast to catch up to Devon and then whispered, "I don't trust that creature, and I'm wondering if I should be trusting Buster either. You are telling me you didn't know about this power of his?"
Devon looked at her intently and quietly said, "I told you what the council told me and I do not lie to my team. I understand that this is an unexpected scenario, but we need to make of it what we can. Here is what I know for certain. Buster has grown up in our town and his family has always been a very important part of our community. I have no reason to suspect that he is against us in any way. I saw the rabbit speak as well and I trust Buster when he says we can trust the rabbit."
This seemed to calm Madi enough that Devon was not worried about her speaking out or causing any problems. The rest of the walk the group started engaging in small talk about the mysterious happenings with the weather and the animals, strange things they had seen in the past few months and what they thought might be causing it. None of them really had any idea, of course, but it seems to be human nature to provide opinions on things that we really know very little about.
All of a sudden Devon signalled for the group to stop. No one saw or heard anything different, but they all understood why he stopped. In the last 15 feet they had walked, the temperature increased by about 20 degrees. They looked up and saw the trees looking healthier than they had previously. Madi climbed up one of the taller trees, found some fruit that was perfectly ripe and tossed them down to the rest. Then she said half-excited and half-uncertain, "Guys... I see the town."
"Well..." started Devon, "what can you tell us? Are there villagers there? Do they look friendly?"
"I don't see any people," she called down, "but the place doesn't look abandoned. And there is an odd building in the middle of the town that looks rather... umm... out of place."
What Madi saw was a building - or more of a tower - covered with vines in the middle of the town. There was a pulsating light eminating from the building and it seemed to cast a glow over the town, extending to a point about 15 feet behind where the group was standing.
Madi climbed down and walked over to the edge of the glow, which was barely visible unless you were really looking for it, and stepped across. "Amazing," she said. "The temperature changes immensely when you cross this line. It is freezing on this side." She told the group more about the town and the tower.
"Well so much for meeting at Newmeadow," noted Devon, "because it looks like we just stumbled across the cause of whatever is happening."
"If not the cause," chimed in Veronica, staring at the faint glow marking the edge of the boundary, "then at least something linked to what is going on." She turned back to the group. "Well Devon, what is our plan of action now?"
Devon looked at the group, looked at the faintly glowing boundary, took a bite of his fruit and then turned to Buster. "It wasn't by accident that Prudish led us here. Any chance you could call on him, or some other forest creature, for some insight?"
Buster's mouth curved into a smile.
"When I used to play puppets in my back yard, I gave the creatures of the woods names and the different species had names too. I soon acknowledged that those creatures had learned their names, because whenever I called them I would get a certain response of what sounded like gibberish, yet I could understand them," explained Buster.
"Just get on with calling the animals, because we could use all the guidance available," said Sam. But Devon shushed him.
"Let the boy speak," he said quietly yet sternly enough that Sam obeyed willingly.
After a second of seemingly consideration, Buster yelled out, in an awkward tone that only sounded good after a few echoes coming out from the woods back at him. At first, silence. But after about four more tries, there was a faint sound of rustling that surrounded the clan, and many unique kinds of native animals slowly made their way into the clear sight of BB. Some of the creatures appeared to be whispering amongst themselves, others just stared eerily yet innocently at the boy who somehow knew their names.
"Hey, that was quick," said Veronica. "You're alright, Buster." The young man acknowledged the compliment but went right back to business.
"Thank you all and one. Me Bagshot," he began. "It's sure you don't stand what I need you to, but me not good with thought so I will let this man talk." He pointed at Devon, and Devon stared wide eyed for a second but then whispered, 'you will translate?' Bagshot nodded as the creatures made a buzzing noise because of their chatter.
"Ahem. We need your help, so please endure our inquisitiveness as we do not completely fathom our determined purpose for being present at the moment," started Devon, and because the animals were shaking their heads and questioning, Buster immediately followed with a simple translation. Devon continued. "We need to know where we are. And if you have the means, it would be very helpful to have a stock of provisions that will keep us alive during this journey. So could a few of you go gather some foods for the five of us? And could some of the more brainy ones step up so we can discuss where we are and how long it will take us to get to Newmeadow?" After the translating was over, the group had to wait a minute for the talk of this confusing matter to die down.
Then Prudish, with a grandfather-looking beaver at his side, stepped out of the crowd of animals. Buster walked toward them and they talked privately in a way the others could not hear. It was not long until some creatures had rounded up three full bags of supplies and food and Sam and Veronica handled them. Devon, Madi, and Buster were conversing with Prudish and some other furry friends about the route to the nearest town and to Newmeadow--the dangers and the easy ways to get there--but also about what had been happening outside the lives of the five travelers, with all the crops dying oddly and animals going crazy in farms. It was classified information that was important for them to know about. The problem was, Prudish was a bit too secretive than Buster would've liked, and he was obviously trying to conceal it by faking a cough and runny nose!
Most of the other animals that had been called and had nothing to do were dispersing back to their homes, thinking nothing more of the travelers. Soon there were only about nine creatures left: two porcupines, one bear and its cub, and the rest were beavers and rabbits. Samuel, Madi and Veronica sat down and ate a hearty noon-meal. Devon let Buster talk and waited for him to tell the information they would tell.
The beaver, Prudish's accompaniment with a pathetic look in his eyes, a gruff voice and slow way of speaking, was the one to talk. He told The most shocking information was this: the youth citizens of Darkpass were spreading an epidemic to all the animals in towns nearby, and this was suppressing farmers and their families from getting a good enough profit, which led to deprivation among many humans around the area surrounding the young animals heritage.
Buster took it all in calmly and reported the news to Devon, who figured things out quickly. The animals were out of sight now, Prudish didn't even say goodbye. With provisions and directions to get to the safest AND closest town, the group was back on their journey. They all knew the assumed premise of what was going on, but Buster had been explaining his suspicion of Prudish and fear that the Beaver was lying about something.
Mt. Echo was closer than ever. Thirty minutes ago it had seemed so unreal, but now that they were amidst the smoke and rainforest-like mist that radiated the giant mountain, it was the most spectacular and nerve-racking experience. The perimeter of the summit was bigger than the entire town all of the travelers had lived and grown up in. Luckily, as Veronica reassured everyone quickly, the prominence was not a volcanic one, and there were nearly twenty different civilizations which sat under or near it with the mountain being a part of those people's every day.
After another half an hour of a chilly trek with Samuel trudging slowly five meters behind Buster (who was second to last) and Veronica leading, they had to take a rest. They could sense the nearness of the town, partly due to common sense, and partly due to the smoke that was rising from what was supposedly it. The Beaver had told them that generations earlier of his kind had made all the farm and working animals sick, but he did not say anything else, and Buster had the feeling he had kept some key information from them.
Madi decided to run up ahead and scout while the others rested.
She quickly came back with some devastating news. "That smoke isn't coming from Echo M-m-mountain," she tried to say while catching her breath. "The smoke is coming from buildings in the town. The place we're going to is on fire."
"No, just the tower that was covered in vines," exclaimed Madi, still catching her breath. "But it wasn't a normal fire... more of a white, glowing fire. It didn't look natural. What should we do, Devon?"
"We have to get closer," he responded, "and figure out what is happening in this town. Buster, was anything else said from the animals that would help make sense about any of this?"
Buster thought for a minute and then said, "Remember what I said about the way Prudish spoke to me before, like it was coming straight from the heart? I said that I believed Prudish could not be deceitful at all. Well, speaking to those animals here, including Prudish, was different. It left me feeling uneasy. My interactions with animals has never been like this before. They didn't tell me anything about the tower, despite speaking for a lot of time about the rest of the town and Darkpass in general."
"Maybe," voiced Veronica, "being inside the forcefield is causing them to act differently?"
"Whatever it is," said Devon, "the tower is clearly playing a part in all of this and we need to get closer to see what we can find out. We have to be cautious about the animals now, since something is clearly manipulating them in some way. I imagine we will need their help before we are done, but we need to have a plan in place before giving them any further information regarding what we plan to do."
The group trudged on, getting closer to the town, and the source of the fire. Finally they got to the edge of the trees and were able to see the town. Not only did the tower look out of place because of the style of architecture, or because it was aglow with a bright white flame, but also because it was sitting in the middle of the street, as if it had been built or dropped there long after the town was constructed.
Devon signalled the group to follow him into the town, getting closer to the burning tower. It was definitely not a natural flame, as it didn't grow in size nor in intensity... it just remained as it was. Even the slight breeze in the air seemed to have no effect on the fire and the vines running up the side of the building were not actually burning to a crisp. The group started out sneaking through the town, afraid that someone might notice them and they may not be friendly, but after several blocks, it was very apparent that no people were active in this town. Stores had open signs in the windows, but no people working behind the counters. Markets had "fresh fruit" laid out on tables, but the fruit looked to be long passed the expiration dates. The group felt less afraid, in a way, because their were no people who could attack them or give away their position, but in another much more powerful way, they felt incredible uneasy. This town looked like it had stopped in an instant and all the people were gone.
As they got closer to the tower, they realized that the fire was no warmer than anything else, and it was more of a shimmering light than a fire, though it did emit some sort of smoke/mist that seemed to cover the entire region.
Devon walked closer to the tower and even waved a hand through the flame. He looked at his hand, then shrugged as he felt and saw nothing different. He started to walk around the tower, to get a view of the other side when he stopped and held up a hand to the group.
"Stop and stay quiet!" he whispered, barely audible. "I hear some people talking... the voices sound quite young, but they are speaking perfect English."
"What are they saying?" asked Samuel, in an equally soft whisper.
Devon just gestured for the group to come stand next to them, so they could all hear the conversation.
A voice of a young male was talking in an upset tone. "You are sure it was a Whisperer!? I thought the last of the Whisperers had been eliminated! This plan only works if the animals do what we say. If there is a Whisperer nearby, how are we supposed to maintain our control and spread our power? Marcus, you said you eliminated all of the Whisperers nearly two decades ago! How is this possible?!?"
Another young voice spoke up with an apologetic tone. "I am sorry sir. I thought I had eliminated them all. This young man didn't seem to be much older than a teenager. At best, he was a tiny baby when we did our last rounds. Someone must have sent him away before we... fixed the problem."
The leader responded, extremely upset, "We have been planning this for several decades now... you had one job to do! You had better get out there and eliminate this boy and the rest of the group he is with, before they figure out everything and blow the lid on this whole operation... NOW!!!"
By this point, the group had leaned far enough around that they could see the faces of the two young men, just in time to see Marcus turn on heel and head for the door. He had a large sword sheathe hanging from his belt. The group quickly, but quietly hurried to get away from that tower, to a place where they could hide out and make sense of what they had just heard.
Once they found a small cave that appeared to have been untouched for years, just outside the town, they huddled up and began to talk.
"They said they've been at this for decades..." said Madi, rather confused, "why did they look like they were only about 18?"
"What is a Whisperer?" asked Samuel.
They all turned to Buster. "Buster," said Devon, in a very serious tone, "how much do you remember from your childhood?"
Buster looked shocked and confused by everything he had heard through the window and at the looks he was getting now from the group. "I don't remember much before I was about two years old, and at that point all I remember is growing up in the same house that my parents live in now... But I have been having this nightmare since I was a child, that I was just a tiny baby, laying in a basket on the back of a horse. I was facing towards the back of the horse and I could see a large fire burning behind us and I could hear screams. It never made any sense to me before, but... do you think I could be the child of the Whisperers?"
"That's about the only thing that makes sense right now," said Devon. "If that's the case, you are the key to us figuring all of this out."
"But what about the meeting?" shuddered Veronica in a shy voice. "That's the whole entire reason we're even out here."
"We'll have to dismiss that as cancelled. I mean, the assembly was called up due to the mysterious happenings all around us. We are the chosen ones to figure out what is going on and report it to the elders of our home town, but don't you think we could find out just as much information--or more--if we stay here and search for the source of these strange events?" said Buster.
"And we have you, Bagshot, to help us out," added Samuel, in a rather buff voice.
"We need to stay together...and work together...so we can research this mess to our best abilities," said Devon.
So the group was restored in confidence that they would be able to get information without getting to the conference in Newmeadow. However, Madi wasn't so sure they would end up doing it all themselves. The rather young girl had been intrigued by the talk of 'Whisperer' that they had eavesdropped, yet knew it was a dangerous job for a group of such inexperienced teenagers.
"We need a plan, and a good one, if we want to stay alive," she announced gloomily. Devon agreed and, silently, took out a bag. He placed a blank piece of paper in the middle of the circle formed by the group in the abandoned cave. He gave a few writing utensils of different colors to Veronica, and said to her: "You will be our scribe. Or...at least...just draw a map of this village according to your knowledge." Veronica nodded her head and began drawing the tower.
"Alright. Once we have a valid map we'll be able to navigate this town easy, and maybe that will allow us to track those men down and spy on them," suggested Buster, looking intelligent for once.
"Let's set up camp here," Madi thought aloud. "It would be better than in the village."
"Yes, but let's do it in the back of the cave so if anybody else stumbles upon it they won't immediately see our stuff," added Devon. The unpacking took no more than five minutes. In that time, Veronica had finished over half the map work.
But they were interrupted abruptly when they all heard horses' footsteps running above them. Voices of careless men yelling and a few clashes of swords. Devon was thrust into action when Madi screamed, "Devon and Samuel! Go out and follow those men! See what's happening." She handed them both a few sharp stones that could serve as daggers. "I found them while setting up. Go!!"
Devon hesitated, staring thoughtfully at Samuel for about four seconds, until he burst out grabbing Sam's hand. The rest of the group watched them leave and, after a few minutes, suddenly wondered what to do! They were now lacking two members of their group and the leader. To Buster's embarrassment, they all turned to him for guidance.
"Um...well...I think..." started BB. And this time, nobody interrupted. "Alright. I think we should figure out how to get into the tower, because my conscience tells me that it's there where some important information lies." Some of the others gasped in a bit of nervous excitement and despair. "It will also be difficult to find a time when the tower is empty."
Madi agreed, this time without very much skepticism. Veronica said: "Madi and I can sneak around town later today and try to find out the tower information you just talked about."
"Yeah that might work, but I think I have a better solution," commented Buster. He hesitated, and then said, "I'll round up some of the Darkpass rodents on the good side to do the job."
"Awesome! While you're doing that I'll cook some food over a nice fire," said Veronica.
"Sounds good. Madi, can you come with me to consult Prudish?" asked BB. Madi nodded and hugged her sister before heading out of the cave with Mr. Bagshot.
Outside, the sun was setting and it was unpleasantly bright in the two pairs of eyes. Buster immediately led Madi over the cave and into a woody area where he was sure there was no intruders, and he did some sort of wacky animal yell in order to invite Prudish or any other creatures. The cool air felt good against Bagshot's sweaty skin, for he had been under pressure for the past two days and it had made him anxious and overworked. None of the others knew how he really felt because BB was good at concealing his emotions. When he was a small child, all his older siblings would taunt him for looking and acting dumb, so in order to try to please them, he would hide any sadness or confusion by looking nonchalant. He was an expert at hiding any depression or extreme anger, now, but what Buster didn't realize was that it made him looked even dumber than before.
Some animals showed up quickly, the most useful one being an older looking porcupine who had interesting expressions. It didn't take long for Buster--and even Madi--to explain who they were and why they were here. The answer they got was rather mysterious.
This is what the creature said: "Altogether this corrupt place does good no. Love no. Peace no. Sorcery every w-er and magic is used greatly and badly to anyone. If you want to find real answers, west Mt. Echo will traverse. It is there a Magician dwells."
Buster didn't have to translate much to Madi. They both inquired, but Buster could tell the porcupine was telling the truth.
The porcupine asked what BB's last name is. Bagshot answered. The porcupine thought for a minute, then said, "That is code. Real name is Copperton. Sorcerer in Mt. Echo is your ancestor...?"
Buster didn't know how to respond. Mt. Echo? He has a relative who is powerful and has answers who lives in Mt Echo? Why wasn't he told any of that?
Saska forfeited this round.
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