204 City of Kindle

    Chapter 204: City of Kindle

    One could travel through either land or water from Ulthar to the Bnazic Desert. If one decided to go with the former, the journey would take them through the small towns of Hatheg and Mir, an area called the Stony Desert, a city called Meroe before they would arrive at the northern part of the desert. If they hurry, the journey would take about a month, it was longer but relatively safer. If they decided to go by water, they would be heading westward of River Skai, a detour around Mt. Lerion and they would end up at the eastern part of the desert. The fastest this route would take was 10 days but the journey would be filled with unknown danger, especially since they would be passing through the steppes where they'd be exposed to ambushes by the Ossarians.

    Due to the time constraint, Gu Jun had decided to travel by water. When he left Ulthar, he still had many unanswered questions. He wished to climb to the summit of Hatheg-Kla to witness that carved seal for himself, he wanted to get to know more about the Dreamlands from Atal or the Elder Zoog, but returning to earth was his main priority. He'd been warned that increased knowledge about the Dreamlands would prevent him from leaving so he had held onto his ignorance.

    "When we were young, we considered burning down this whole plain so that the Ossarians would die and leave us alone." Peacock suddenly said, "The adults said that it won't work, the grass wouldn't burn but we did not believe them. Look at them, a little ember and the whole grass plains will light up."

    "Hmm." Gu Jun knew that was true. It was now autumn, the wild grass was turning dry and yellow, thus highly flammable. The plains appeared to not receive any rain during this season either.

    "So the few of us..." Peacock shook her head with some chuckles, "Myself, Malachite, Gold, Aquamarine and the rest sneaked out from the tribe and travelled for 3 days to reach the edge of the steppes. We dropped our torch and the fire was glorious... it was literally a sea of fire. When we returned, we were so overjoyed, we could barely sleep." Then she paused before she continued in a more depressed tone, "But that did not stop the Ossarrian invasion either." Gu Jun listened quietly. Over the few days of interaction, he could feel the sincerity from his companions...

    With regards to the land's travellers, Gu Jun did ask the Elder Zoog about them in the presence of Peacock and Malachite.

    With the setting sun shining, the desert stretching down the horizon, the camels stamping rhythmically on the ground, the carriage was moving forward.

    "Mr. Nightmare Man, look, there it is! Our pride, the City of Kindles." Peacock suddenly yelped out excitedly as something came into her sight, she shouted. "Sugar Gem!" She introduced with a smile, "That little thing over there is Sugar Gem, she's our tribe sister."

    Peacock leaped down the carriage agilely and ran forward. "Sugar Gem, go and inform the others, we have a valued guest with us! Yes, of course I didn't forget the present that I've promised you. Here, I got this at Dylath-Leen." She took out a ceramic puppy. "Of course, you can have it, it's for you."

    "Sugar Gem!" Malachite who was driving the carriage cried out with cheer. "That ceramic dog is worth more than a real one."

    They were so happy with the reunion but inside the carriage, Gu Jun's heart had sunken to the depth as he looked around...

    There was no child that they spoke of, and there was no settlement either. There was not even a ruin, there was only a lake that was close to being drained and a bunch of wild grass. Peacock left go and the little ceramic puppy dropped down noiselessly to the sand. She chuckled and continued, "Don't you listen to Malachite. The price doesn't matter as long as you love it."

    "I told you, they're a strange group of people." The Elder Zoog inside the carriage added, "We Zoogs can travel anywhere. We've been to this settlement of theirs before but we have never succeeded in finding their people."

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