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Old 06-06-2021, 01:44 PM   #40
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default Re: Into The Labyrinth - a work of fiction

Part 6

Brendun bent over and picked up the brand. The simple magical device would continue to shed a soft light for a good long time, now that it had been activated, and it was better than a torch in situations like this.

“Tabitha, stay sharp,” Brendun said over his shoulder, “I’m going to look around.” He kicked his pack so that it slid across the floor and ended up close to where Tabitha was kneeling next to Alo.

And then it occurred to him. It was a feeling he knew well, a feeling that something wasn’t adding up right. Something about Alo bothered him more than just a little bit. He turned back around and came close to them. Standing over them he said, “I think I need to ask a few questions first.”

“Ihh havehh questionsssss,” Alo said. “Isss thisah thhhe labyrinth?” She spoke in her hurried sloppy way until the last and slowed down to carefully pronounce the word labyrinth correctly.

“Okay,” Brendun said squatting down and holding the brand so that it illuminated all three of them at the same time. “That sounds fair. I’ll answer your questions and you can answer mine. No, this isn’t the labyrinth proper, I thought it might be, but it is not. I suspect where we are now will lead us to it, eventually. I think I stumbled…”

“You mean we stumbled,” Tabitha said glaring at him.

“Well, I Stumbled,” he said. “You could have let go. I didn’t drag you here against your will. You followed because you weren’t thinking ahead, like always.”

“I was trying to save your ass,” she said and turned toward him.

“My ass never needed to be saved by you, saved from you maybe.”

Tabitha’s mouth dropped open, and her thick brown hair fell to the side of her face as her head bobbed up and down as she seemed to grow angry with him again. “Oh, oh, really. That’s how you want to be,” she said.

Alo leaned close to both of them and whispered very slowly, “Maybe it would speed things up if the two of you just copulate now and get it out of the way.”

Brendun was stunned, and only managed to make peculiar noises, while Tabitha tuned to face Alo, her eyes growing large again, in that unique way of her kind.

“What?” Tabitha finally managed to say.

“You told me,” Alo said, again taking her time so the words came out clear, “that you knew him because the two of you used to have a physical relationship. You said you would fight all of the time, about all kinds of things, and then have intercourse afterwards to make up. You called it something, I remember.”

“You told her we had make-up sex? All of the time?” Brendun said with a long sigh.

“Well we did.” Tabitha leaned back, folded her arms and closed her eyes.

Brendun pinched the bridge of his nose, took a breath, and then said, “No, look, no we aren’t going to copulate. Let’s try to stay focused, for once, alright. Alo, I think this is an old smuggler’s lair. It probably was built in the time of the sugar embargo, twenty, maybe thirty years ago. It has good access to a long stretch of isolated beach. The sea here is deep enough for a large ship to move in close to shore, drop a few small boats and sail away without being noticed. I think the caves and tunnels here might lead to an entrance of the labyrinth. It wouldn’t surprise me. Now, here’s my question. What are you, exactly? Are you some woman under a curse, some transmogrification spell? You don’t behave the way I have learned your kind normally behaves. You said you were from Mauli, one of the islands in the Nua’lonalani archipelago. I’ve heard of the place. I know that octo…I’m sorry, octopus-folk come from some of the islands. Those islands that no one dares investigate, but you are different, why?”

She leaned away, turned her large head to the side, and then with two of her tentacles she drew her hood back and away. Her large head was bluish-green in the soft light of the brand, and on it Brendun could see a fine spiral tattoo.
“I am,” she said, “Mauli, Mauli A’Anawa. It means the ones who lived there first, on Mauli. I am,” she hesitated even longer than normal, “an octopus creature, as your kind is like to say. I am not like the ones you may have had the trouble of meeting in the past. I’ll tell you why, if you think we have the time.”

Brendun was curious. He rested on his backside and folded his legs in front of him.

Tabitha did the same, taking the brand from Brendun’s hand and holding it low, below Alo’s face.

next…Alo’s tale
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