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Mudsock Theater Of The Mind, Pt. 4

Updated on December 23, 2012

The Travellers, Episode 4

Note: This is, indeed, the fourth episode of "The Travels of Omar and Butch," which has been renamed "The Travellers." Never was crazy about the old title, but not sure about the new one either. Anyway, in this episode, we find our heroes reunited but things are very different now. And we see the return, kind of, of an old adversary. I hope you enjoy!

The Travellers

Episode 4: Water of Life

Omar: Hello, everybody. My name is Omar. I am a traveler, an adventurer if you will. I travel around, here and there, looking for people to help and adventures to join in. Sometimes I don’t have to look for adventure, sometimes it finds me.

Music Sting

Sound FX: (Waves crashing)

Omar: Hello, my name is Omar. It’s like I said just a minute ago. My friend Butch and I used to travel around looking for adventures and people to help. It had been a while since I’d last seen Butch. I’ll admit that I missed him. It was easier to help people with him along, and there were plenty of times that I wished I had the Examiner or the Jammer. I even missed his snarking. Barker sent me to many places and I sometimes wondered if I had helped the right person after the adventure was over. I’d left Butch back in Mercury Jump with his wife and child, trying to rebuild the little mining town after Shockley had almost destroyed it. I really hope that he’s happy, because if any bloke deserves it, it’s Butch.

Sound FX: (Water and waves)

Omar: The note in my pocket said that I needed to go to Aquae Vitae, the “Water of Life” as it were. It’s a popular spa in the northern regions. Some people say that if you spend a few days dipped in the mineral waters of the springs there, it will add ten years to your life. But Barker hadn’t sent me to the springs; instead he said that I needed to go to a more remote area, where there was a fishing village. It’s a tiny little place named “Mnoho Ryb.”

Sound FX: (Water)

Omar: I arrived there early in the morning, and everything I’d heard about it was right on the nob. It was so small that even walking through, if you blinked twice you’d miss the whole place. Small huts with mud walls and thatched roves sat close together. Since I had come around the lake that the village sat on, I had gotten a first-hand look at the men as they went out fishing for the day. In fact, although there were a few women preparing meals and cleaning houses and chopping wood, the village was really pretty empty. I found that a bit disturbing.

Sound FX: (Water and wind)

Omar: And it was a rather windy place, I had to admit. I imagined that my face was getting a little ruddy just walking around the village. I had been walking for a while and wondering where I would find a meal when I passed by a house with an old man just sitting in front of it. I asked him his name.

Nejstarsi: My name is Nejstarsi, my brother Obec and I are the village elders. And who might you be, Shibboleth?

Omar: My name is Omar, sir.

Nejstarsi: Well, you certainly have manners. That’s something. But what brings you to an out-of-the-way little place like this?

Omar: If you please, sir, I’ve come here to help.

Nejstarsi: Have you? Isn’t that remarkable! You know, another young man came here just the other day and said he was here to help as well.

Omar: Another man? Who is he? Where is he?

Nejstarsi: He’s out with the men, fishing. No sooner had we said a Vitej! To him than he practically jumped in old Ondrej’s boat and helped him row out for fish.

Omar: You don’t say?

Nejstarsi: He proved to be a pretty good fisherman, too. But I have to ask, how did the two of you know we needed help with the Velka Ryba?

Omar: Excuse me sir, the what?

Nejstarsi: Pardon, I forget that you’re not from around here. It’s a giant fish, it comes out of the water and grabs men and drags them down, down to their doom. Spatna smrt, truly it is spatna smrt.

Omar: I turned to look out at the water, at the boats floating out there. The boats seemed to be floating almost serenely out in the middle of the water. Then I turned around and looked past the houses, to something I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed before.

Sound FX: (Wind and waves, some gulls)

Omar: Excuse me, Mr. Nejstarsi, what is that place?

Nejstarsi: From the direction you point, I assume you mean the Velky Dum?

Omar: That large structure on the hill there?

Nejstarsi: Ja, that would be Velky Dum. Generations ago it was built by Frantisek’s family, but they have moved on. No one lives there now.

Omar: Really? No one lives in that large, nice house? Small castle, really.

Nejstarsi: Our people do not go live in someone else’s house. Besides, there is the Duch Hrozne.

Omar: A duke? I thought you said no one lives there.

Nejstarsi: No, young man, not a duke. The Duch Hrozne, the awful spirit that inhabits that building. For years we all thought it was just a story, but lately the only young woman left in the village was tending some goats up there and claimed she saw it in a window at Velky Dum!

Omar: I stood for a moment, thinking about all this while the wind tried to take flesh off my face, little by little. A giant fish that draugged men to the bottom of the water, a ghost or something that inhabited a generations old castle, and people leaving so fast that only one marriageable girl was still living in the village, which would be a catastrophe in a small, traditional village like this. This place needed a lot of help, all right. But who was this other man who had come to help? Could Barker himself be here?

Nejstari: Truly, young man, if you want to help us out, then go out with Zlatan and his son tomorrow to help them fish. Everybody’s catch is small, but his is especially small. His son is sickly and can’t help him well. We do not normally turn to outsiders for help, but we are desperate, please.

Omar: I cannot refuse you. But where can I stay?

Nejstarsi: Young man you stay with me tonight! Stesti, yes stesti that we have not one but two helpers in our terrible hour!

Omar: For the rest of the day I helped him chop and gather wood. It was very late by the time the fishermen returned, and I was dead tired, not to mention hungry. Ever the gentleman, Nejstarsi offered me some goat cheese and tea, which I accepted. After dinner he even offered me a little homemade beer. It was flat, but I didn’t complain. After that, I crawled off to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke to hear two men talking. I listened for a little bit.

Nejstarsi: I tell you Obec, he arrived this morning asking the same questions as the other man and offering to help, just like the other man! He even gathered and chopped wood for me!

Obec: Nejstarsi, you are strong enough to gather and chop your own wood!

Nejstarsi: I am when I have to, but don’t forget that I’m much older than you. It’s hard for my creaking old bones to move around! I was grateful for the help!

Obec: So what will this cizinec do, eh? How will he help us?

Nejstarsi: He will go with Zlatan and Tynek tomorrow morning! He will work hard!

Obec: Ah, if you say so! Dobry vecr my brother!

Nejstarsi: And you as well, younger brother! Good sleep, may your dreams be peaceful!

Sound FX: (Waves, wind, seabirds)

Omar: In the morning when I got up, Nejstarsi handed me a hunk of cheese and some clothing.

Nejstarsi: For you, young man, ano? Proseem?

Omar: I assume these are what the fishermen wear?

Nejstarsi: Ano! Ano! You seem so intelligent! And a hard worker, as well. Ano, this is good fortune for our poor, unfortunate little village. Monho Ryb will be made whole again, ne?

Omar: I certainly will do my best, sir. I wish I could meet the other gentleman you said came here to offer help.

Nejstarsi: All in good time, young man, all in good time!

Omar: And with that, Nejstarsi took me to meet Zlatan and Tynek. Zlatan looked like he might have been a hundred years old, but that was probably from a life of working hard. His son Tynek looked to be about fifty, but again the two had spent years out on the water, in the sun, trying to get fish to jump into their little net. Nejstarsi introduced us, and then I got in the boat with the two men and we rowed out. I couldn’t help noticing that we went farther than any of the other boats in the water.

Zlatan: I can see in your eyes, young man, outozka moudrost.

Omar: Pardon?

Zlatan: You question the wisdom, wonder why we row out so far?

Omar: I don’t want to be rude, sir.

Zlatan: It’s quite all right; I would do so as well. The catches have been getting smaller and smaller and you see there are only a few boats out to begin with. The ones closer to the shore, they catch a few fish on a regular basis. We don’t catch as often, but when we do it is a larger catch!

Omar: I thought about that. It didn’t make sense. No wonder the village was dying. It would have been bad enough that the fish catch was getting smaller and smaller, it couldn’t sustain enough people to keep the village going, but then there was the giant fish and the spirit of the mansion.

Sound FX: (Wind and birds)

Omar: We fished all day. We got nothing for most of it, but then just as the sun was setting and it was time to start rowing back, the nets filled up and we were fighting to bring them in.

Zlatan: You see young man! This is the way it is! Nejslipsi jmen, the best of fortune is smiling on us with you in our little boat!

Omar: Tynek, who had said little all day, simply nodded and smiled. I’ll admit it was quite a task to haul the catch into the boat. But I was more convinced than ever that the great fish was no jackanory, this was the help they needed.

Sound FX: (Waves and wind)

Omar: We rowed back to the shore, where all the other boats were already pulled in and prepared for the evening. It was a task to haul all the fish to the hut that was used for drying them out. They still needed to be cleaned and hung to be smoked. We got some help from other villagers, and by the time I dragged myself to Nejstarsi’s hut for some bread and tea, I was wiped cleaner than a blackboard. I don’t even remember if Nejstarsi’s brother came around that evening. The next morning, after some tea and a hunk of cheese, I put on the coveralls that the fishermen used, along with the heavy shirt and the hat, and we rowed out. Just as we were passing the other boats, heading for open water, I saw a familiar-looking head of blond hair, and the bloke had something in his hand. I was going to call out when he did first.

Butch: It’s coming up! Everybody get ready!

Omar: No sooner had he said it than a gigantic fish, it must have been twenty feet from tip to tail, jumped out of the water. As it came back down into the water, several of the men from different boats produced harpoons and hooks and tried to spear the great thing. The only man to succeed was Tynek. Unfortunately, I had made a landlubber’s mistake and not watched where my foot was. As the fish dove, the rope attached to the spear wrapped around my ankle and painfully dragged me into the water.

Zlatan: Young man!

Omar: Help me!

Butch: Hold on!

Omar: I would like to think it was fortunate that we were still relatively close to shore, and that the water wasn’t very deep so the fish couldn’t dive too far. The reality is that the water could be six inches or six miles, as long as the fish kept me under I wouldn’t be able to breath and I would die. I felt a pair of strong hands grab on to me and work their way down to the rope, but they couldn’t get it loose. Then the fish turned around and started back to the surface. As the other man worked the suddenly slack rope loose from around my leg, we both got a good look at the fish, which seemed to come up and study us for a moment. Then it turned and swam with lightning speed back out into the deeper water. I got myself to the surface of the water, where arms reached out to pull both me and the other man into one of the boats. I got a good look at the man who had saved me.

Butch: You!

Omar: Butch! What are you doing here?

Butch: I’ll answer that as soon as I catch my breath.

Omar: Fishing was pretty much done for that day. The boats rowed back to the shore, and we were taken to the hut where Butch had been staying, with a man named Ota and his sons Barnaba and Bobek. Ota’s wife Otillie got us some dry clothes. I learned that the girl who tended the goats was also Ota’s daughter, her name being Daruska.

Butch: I can’t believe it, Omar.

Omar: What is it, Butch? What are you doing here? Where are Cadha and Luke?

Butch: They’re gone, Omar.

Omar: I don’t understand.

Butch: It’s a long story, and I really don’t want to talk about it right now.

Omar: Nejstarsi and Boca Starsi came by to talk to us.

Nejstarsi: So young man, and Butch as well, I understand you got a good look at the rybu ktery je dabel, the fish who is a devil.

Omar: Yes, sir, we did. Did you see what I saw, Butch?

Butch: Yes, yes I did.

Nejstarsi: What, what did the two of you see?

Butch: Forgive me, Moudry, but I don’t know if you would believe us.

Omar: Moudry?

Butch: It means “wise one.” It’s a term of respect for the village elders.

Nejstarsi: I think you have both proven yourselves. Let me be the judge of whether I will believe what you tell me.

Butch: Well, all right…

Nejstarsi: Please, no nervozni vahani, no nervous hesitation. Please, come out with it.

Omar: Yes, Moudry. The eyes of the fish, well…

Nejstarsi: The eyes of the fish? What do you mean?

Butch: They weren’t a fish’s eyes, Moudry.

Omar: No, sir, they weren’t.

Butch: They were the eyes of a man.

Nejstarsi: The eyes of a man? Is such a thing even possible?

Butch: With all due respect, Moudry, that fish isn’t the kind that should grow to twenty feet long.

Nejstarsi: Okamzik prosim, one moment please. Are you saying this fish is like all the others in the waters we fish?

Butch: Yes, Moudry, except that it has grown thirty times as large.

Boca: Ty vole! How is that possible?

Butch: I don’t know, Moudry, I don’t know. But that fish is the one that has been dragging people into the water.

Omar: We talked for a little more, then Nejstarsi and Boca Starsi went back to their houses. Ota insisted I stay at his house that night, and although it would certainly be cramped, I couldn’t refuse. That evening we feasted on some of the local fish as well as bread, cheese, and some beer. All through the meal, Daruska always served Butch first, and always tried to look straight into his eyes. He avoided hers. I knew as well as Butch that we needed to talk about many things, but we didn’t want to do it in front of everybody else until we had gotten a few more facts. After dinner, the two of us went for a walk.

Butch: Omar, I’m not ready to talk about Cadha and Luke.

Omar: I respect that, Butch. Cor, it’s good to see you again, though!

Butch: Yes, I’ll admit that it’s good to see you again too. I just wish, I just wish…

Omar: It’s solid, Butch, don’t jigger about with it. Anyways, how did you know to come here? Has Barker been in touch with you?

Butch: No, I was just wandering about. I came to this place and I heard what was going on, and it just seemed like exactly the sort of place that Barker used to send us.

Omar: So what are your thoughts on everything?

Butch: Well, Daruska told me that the ghost she saw in Velky Dum was a woman’s.

Omar: Okay.

Butch: And this fish is certainly not natural.

Omar: Yeah, and the orbs in it’s bonce are even less natural.

Butch: Yeah…

Omar: Okay, Butchie, what are you thinking?

Butch: Boy, no one’s called me that for a long time. Anyway, I’m thinking that maybe the spirit is someone we’ve tangled with before.

Omar: What? Are you joshing me?

Butch: No, Omar. I’m not joshing. I think it’s Madame Rayne.

Omar: Come on, Butch. You’re pulling me leg!

Butch: No, I’m not.

Omar: Well, of course I know what that means…

Daruska: What does it mean?

Butch: Daruska! You startled me! How long have you been standing there?

Daruska: I haven’t left. Does it mean that we will be going into Velky Dum?

Omar: We?

Butch: Daruska, you can’t come with us.

Daruska: Ty vol! I’d like to see you try to stop me! Muži si vždy myslí, že vědí nejlépe!

Butch: That’s because we do!

Daruska: Oh ho! You have been learning!

Butch: Ah…

Omar: Yeah, he does that. (Aside) A bit too smart for your own good, Butchie. She’s trouble.

Butch: (Aside) What do you mean?

Omar: I mean she’s taken a shine to you, mate. Watch yourself.

Butch: Look, Daruska, it’s dangerous. We can’t take you with us.

Daruska: Ty vol, you think I never face danger!

Omar: Don’t you tend goats?

Daruska: And you think nothing ever comes after the goats?

Omar: Well, you’ve got a point…

Butch: We’ll have to think about it, Daruska. We’ll tell you in the morning.

Daruska: You just think about it, Mr. Butch!

Omar: And with that she picked up our empty plates and disappeared. She appeared a minute later with a couple of small, flat beers and then sashayed out the door. I turned to Butch and gave him a look.

Butch: Don’t look at me like that.

Omar: Look, mate, I don’t know you missed it.

Butch: Because I have other things I’ve been thinking about. Besides, she’s only seventeen!

Omar: Get off! You’re not that much older!

Butch: What did you say?

Omar: What? What did I say?

Butch: Do you really not know how long it’s been since the last time we saw each other?

Omar: Yeah, yeah I know! It’s been a few months…maybe a year.

Butch: Omar, it’s been seven years!

Omar: What? Get off! You’re not serious!

Butch: Yes I am! Haven’t you noticed the lines on my face? I know I’ve certainly wondered how you managed to not look a day older than the last time I saw you.

Omar: I just looked at him, and he looked at me. The conversation had come to a screeching halt, and if we hadn’t had the work to do, I don’t think we probably would have stayed together after that. I looked at him, how had I missed it? He did look older, and not just from working out in the sun like someone living in Mercury Jump would be. He had aged. How could that be? It hadn’t been that long since I’d seen him?

Sound FX: (Waves and birds)

Omar: The next day was interesting. It was no doddle to tell Ota and Zlatan that we wouldn’t be going out fishing with them. Zlatan especially seemed upset, even after we told them all that we were going to see if we could do something about that fish. We got our gear together and headed up for Velky Dum. Daruska was nowhere to be found.

Butch: It’s a bit of a climb to get there from here.

Omar: I’m worried that we haven’t seen Daruska.

Butch: Why? Doesn’t it just mean that she’s come to her senses?

Omar: Yeah, mate. You’re not fooling yourself at all on that one.

Sound FX: (Birds calling, leaves and grass)

Omar: At any rate, what do you reckon we should do?

Butch: What we always do.

Omar: Make it up as we go along?

Butch: Something like that. Here, let me get the Examiner out of the pack.

Omar: Brilliant! I was a little worried that it got wet yesterday.

Butch: No, it’s okay. Anyway, the path is clear from here to there.

Omar: Easy for you to say. We should have asked Daruska how the goats get up here.

Butch: Might not have been such a bad idea.

Omar: So we kept going up, and soon enough we were at the front door of Velky Dum. We tried to look in some of the windows, but didn’t see anybody. So we tried the door.

Butch: Well, it opens easily enough. Funny about that.

Omar: What’s funny about it?

Butch: That there is not great creaking sound. Quiet as a graveyard.

Omar: Not sure I like your choice of wording, mate.

Butch: The Examiner doesn’t pick up anybody in here, but with these thick stone walls we might need to go a distance before finding anybody.

Omar: Or anything, remember this might be Madame Rayne we’re dealing with.

Butch: Yeah, I remember.

Omar: So we slid along hallways for a while, Butch checking the Examiner and both of us a little scared that the distinctive hum of the thing would give us away. We got to a door, and Butch held his gadget up to it.

Butch: There’s sure something behind here.

Omar: You mean we need to get in there?

Butch: The readings are going haywire.

Omar: “Haywire?” I forgot how funny you speak.

Butch: Funny what we forget, or don’t notice. In any case, I think we need to go down.

Omar: Yeah, let’s hope it’s more literal than metaphorical.

Daruska: Did I miss anything?

Omar: Urgh! Don’t sneak up on us like that!

Daruska: Ty vol! You men! You wouldn’t notice a woman if she were standing right in front of you!

Omar: Butch and I looked at each other but didn’t say a word. Daruska snorted. Butch and I gently opened the door, but again it didn’t make a sound.

Butch: You know, it’s not like anyone lives here. Who is keeping it so well oiled?

Daruska: I’ve seen somebody here.

Omar: The spirit?

Daruska: Perhaps. Nedíval jsem se dobře.

Butch: Well, that would be understandable.

Omar: Are you two developing your own shorthand here?

Butch: (pause) Come on, let’s go down.

Omar: Butchie lead the way, then me then Daruska. It was a long staircase, kind of narrow-like, that hugged one wall. It went down to a sort of basement, very deep. The odd thing was that, even though we were up on a hill away from the water, there was a large pool in the middle of the room.

Daruska: Ty vol! None of knew of anything like this here!

Butch: Somebody had to, though.

Omar: Come again, mate?

Butch: Omar, Daruska, there’s no way that no one down in the village could know about this.

Omar: That was the last thing I remember, except that Butch and I both made grunting noises as we were knocked on the back of the head and hit he ground. When I woke up, we were both tied up to boards, Daruska to a chair, and Zlatan and his son Tynek were working on something over in the corner.

Zlatan: I see you are awake. She told me that you two would be trouble when Butch came. She was surprised that the two of you didn’t come together. I didn’t count on Ota’s daughter, though.

Omar: I took a moment to get my bearings. My head was ringing pretty good, I’d got done over pretty well. I checked the ropes, then looked over at Butch. He was looking a little dodgy himself, but he nodded to me.

Zlatan: You two are pretty clever, so don’t get ideas about working free of the ropes. If you do, I will be forced to hurt Ota’s daughter, which I don’t want to do.

Butch: That’s kind of cliché`, isn’t it?

Omar: It’s complete radgie, is what it is. What are you doing here, Zlatan?

Zlatan: You mean you haven’t figured out that part yet?

Omar: Just then something came up out of the water, the great fish that Butch and I had looked in the eye just the day before. Zlatan and Tynek walked over to it and actually stroked it on what I guess was the nose.

Zlatan: Ty vol! Tynek is not my only son.

Butch: I’m afraid to ask.

Zlatan: This is my son, Hanus! That kouzlo kolečko, that caster of spells, she did this to my son! And what she did to my poor Gabra, I don’t even want to think about it!

Omar: But Zlatan, sir, if she did this to your son, then why are you helping her?

Zlatan: Because she will make my son whole again!

Omar: Butch and I were both dumbfounded by that. I knew I couldn’t make any sense of it, and even Butch was having trouble getting his head wrapped around it all.

Butch: But Zlatan, sir, if that’s your son…

Zlatan: Ty vol! Ty vol! She has stolen my son! I saw what she did; she had me tied up just like you are. And she had those two horrible, great monstrosities with her…

Butch: I’m guessing that’s Behemoth and Leviathan.

Omar: Yeah, I know I wouldn’t want to tangle with those two again.

Zlatan: She was taking parts of men and parts of fish and parts of goats and doing the most věci, které by neměly být mluvený, and the things that should not be done or spoken of! And I was forced to watch it as she was doing these horrible things to my son! I would have given my life to save him, and I would rather my eyes have been taken out of my own head than what she did to him.

Omar: The fish bobbed up and down in the water. Occasionally it would dunk back under, I assume to breathe. The eyes had a very strange look about them, a quality that was neither human nor fish. It was thinking something, but there was not way to gauge exactly what. Poor Zlatan was almost in tears, and in his village men did not cry. Tynek was trying to comfort his father, Daruska was looking around. Then she opened her mouth.

Daruska: But old man, you betrayed the village!

Zlatan: You watch your mouth, daughter of Ota! I respect him but I will not put up with this from you! Besides, what do you know? The village, Monho Ryb is dying. The fish are going away. All the sons have gone away, except for a few faithful men like my Tynek. The fishing was getting worse every year even before this all started. But what do I know? Perhaps I should have sent him away as well, him and Hanus both! Maybe in another village they could have found wives and settled down. And they wouldn’t have had to see what that, that žena zatracení, that woman from the pit, what she did to my poor, poor Gabra!

Omar: I’ll admit that’s rough.

Butch: You have no idea.

Zlatan: Yes, the blond one, I can see he došlo k určitému zvířata, he has lost and knows my pain!

Daruska: Ty vol, old man! I loved Gabra too, I sat at her knee when I was a little girl, but that doesn’t give you the right to do this, this, ohavnost!

Zlatan: You shut your mouth! Even Ota’s daughter…

Daruska: My name is Daruska! None of the men in the village ever use my name!

Zlatan: That is because you have no respect!

Daruska: Respect? You demand from me respect but you won’t even use my name? And all the men my age leave…

Zlatan: You are just a little girl!

Daruska: I’m the only neprovdaná žena left in Monho Ryb! And I would have married some man old enough to be my father but I see what you do to your women! You work us like dogs, and you won’t even call me by my name!

Zlatan: It’s a sign of respect, not to use the name of another man’s wife or daughter!

Daruska: You mean another man’s property! Well, I don’t belong to you and I don’t belong to my father! And my name is Daruska!

Omar: During all this Tynek had kept inching over towards Daruska. The look on his face said that he was more interested in her than Zlatan was, he was just angry and outraged. But Daruska had not been oblivious to it, and just as Zlatan picked up a wicked looking knife, looking a little unhinged and ready to sever her Uncle Ned, she leaned forward and brought her chair up a couple of inches. It was enough, because she shifted and brought it down on Tynek’s foot. The poor guy yowled in pain, which distracted his father just long enough for me and Butchie to finish working our ropes off.

Butch: Grab Zlatan!

Omar: I’ve got him!

Zlatan: No! No! You don’t understand! It’s not just Hanus; it’s all the others as well!

Omar: Just then we heard a sound at the top of the stairs, and whirling around Butch yelled out…

Butch: Madame Rayne! After her!

Omar: Butchie had slowed a notch in seven years, and I beat him up the stairs and out the door. In hindsight that might not have been the wisest thing, because as I saw Madam Rayne’s form running down a hallway, the door slammed behind me and I was faced with two bone-ugly specters from the past.

Behemoth: Growls.

Omar: That was new; they’d never made noise before. I was between the two of them, with my back to the door. Fortunately, though they were as strong as the rocks they resembled, they were still as slow and stupid as ever. At least they seemed that way, if only luck would hold. I could hear something through the door, which I assumed to be Butch and Daruska pounding and yelling. The door wasn’t quite as thick as I thought it would be, but I still couldn’t make out what they were saying. Nevertheless, I yelled at them to get down, I had an idea.

Behemoth: Grunts hard, repeatedly.

Omar: It had been a while since the last time we’d tangled with Behemoth and Leviathan, and I was hoping they didn’t have good memories. As usual, they both pulled their massive right arms back to connect with my head. I had visions of fruit being juiced. When they let go, I ducked. Just like the other times, Leviathan was knocked over by Behemoth and didn’t move. Unfortunately, Behemoth seemed to remember the trick and actually backed away from the punch enough to not get knocked over. The great, plug-ugly thing took a moment to get it’s bearings, but then it drew back to have another go at me. I yelled again at the door for anyone on the other side to duck, and when the fist came at me I did the same. A great hole was opened in the door, and I could see Butch and Daruska gaping out of it.

Daruska: Ty vol! What are you doing?

Omar: If I was you I’d get out of the way!

Butch: Come on Daruska, let’s get downstairs!

Omar: As the two of them scampered down the stone stairs, Behemoth let fly another one. I ducked, and this time the blow carried the thing through the splintered door and down the stairs, where it almost collided with the near-hysterical Zlatan. Running downstairs after it, I saw that it had fallen.

Daruska: Jak to zastavíme? What do we do?

Butch: We wait just a minute.

Omar: Slowly, the thing got to its feet. It was wobbling, and it was on the edge of the pool. As it was trying to steady itself, Butch and I ran headlong at it, knocking it over into the water.

Sound FX: Big splash

Daruska: Do you think it can swim?

Butch: Not a chance.

Daruska: Ty vol!

Omar: And so that was that. But not quite. Zlatan had to go down to the village and explain to everybody about what had happened. Since the village was almost dead anyway, the few people still living there didn’t try to take revenge. But it took a toll on him anyway. He spent his few remaining days going to the water every day, looking for his son Hanus, but he never saw the great fish again. He died soon after, a broken old man. Tynek was accepted back into the village, and joined Ota and his sons in their boat.

Sound FX: Waves and wind.

Omar: Butch and I stayed to help the village for a while. We just didn’t really want to leave. And one day when we were out fishing, we saw it.

Butch: Look, down there!

Omar: Brilliant! What’s going on?

Butch: I don’t know, but he’s coming up fast!

Omar: Hanus, or whatever he had been turned into, came just below the surface and looked at us. The great fishy mouth opened and closed, but isn’t that what fish do? Then he turned and swam down and away, never to be seen again.

Butch: He was coming to say goodbye.

Omar: How do you know that?

Butch: I do, trust me.

Omar: So a few days later we left as well. But that still wasn’t the end of it. I found a note in my pocket, Barker was sending us on quite a journey to the next stop. We’d been walking for three days and had just made camp for the night when we heard something. Butch got the Examiner out but we were in the middle of the forest and it was hard to get a reading. Finally we just picked up a couple of big sticks and yelled out.

Butch: Whoever you are, show yourself!

Sound FX: Branches being cleared, leaves moving.

Daruska: Ty vol, you two move fast! I’ve been breaking my legs pronásledují tě dolů, to catch up with you!

Butch: Daruska? What are you doing here? Why did you follow us?

Daruska: If you think I’m going to stay in that village and marry one of those old men, you are pazzo mato, how you say? Crazy person! What is that thing you were using? And why are you holding those big sticks?

Butch: Aw, just brilliant!

Omar: Laughs.

Narrator: This has been The Travellers. Episode 4, Water of Life has been written by Chris Neal and performed by Mudsock Theater of the Mind. We hope you have enjoyed this production. Good evening.

copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved

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