The Flight of The Draykes
I was lost.
Lost in a dream from which I could not wake up from.
Externally, my body was being changed... But I did not know and I continued to slumber within the abyss.
Then, with a gasp, my eyes flickered open.
They shut again fast as the bright light pricked my eyes painfully.
But I didn’t care.
I was alive.
Tears streaming down, whether from happiness or because of the light, I raised a hand that felt weak beyond belief and shaded my face from the light.
Then I slowly opened one eye at first before the other followed after a while.
Looking up, I could see an endless sky and no sun. Yet sunlight streamed down and bathed me in its warm, comforting embrace.
Groaning, I moved my body into a sitting position and, cross-legged; I gazed at my surroundings.
To my right, there was an endless stretch of grass.
To my left, there was an endless stretch of grass there, too.
To my front, there was a vast water body.
I was about to check my rear when suddenly the sunlight dimmed, and I was thrown into shade.
Puzzled, I looked up only to see a massive head in my vision, complete with long curving horns... or rather tusks.
Scrambling forward, I looked behind me to see the massive body that belonged to the head of the pachyderm beast that I recognized as being an elephant.
Heart thumping, I was about to speak out diplomatically when unceremoniously, the trunk of the pachyderm wrapped around me and flung me high into the air from where I fell, arms akimbo, straight into the water source.
Now have I told you I can’t swim?
Well, I can’t. Swim. To. Save. My. Life.
Now you might ask - what about the stream of potion?
And that’s it. It was a stream of potion. A stream that was shallow enough that there was no danger to me apart from that minor incident of drowning that I nearly had when I couldn’t surface.
This, though, is a veritable lake, whose bottom I couldn’t see. Not that I could see much, given that I was right now busily free-falling toward the lake from a fair bit of height.
With an enormous impact, the lake waters rippled and if it was not water but land, then there would have been a deep indentation where I had landed and the deepest part of the indentation would have been my face, which had touched down first.
Clutching my face in agony, I tried desperately to kick myself back to the surface, and surprisingly, I found that despite my incredibly questionable swimming technique; I was swiftly at the surface of the lake.
Spitting out the water that had gotten into my mouth, I awkwardly dog paddled my way to the shore and, clambering out, looked up to see the looming shadow of the pachyderm above me.
Gulping, I spoke first hurriedly, “I come in peace!”
Kindly and with sorrow tainting its massive face, the elephant spoke, “I know, child. I threw you in because you were filthy and needed to be cleaned.”
Saying so, the pachyderm went to the lake and sucked in huge gouts of water before spraying it like a jet on me, almost knocking me back on my rump.
Shaking with the force of the water, I wanted to say something, but the feeling of the jets hitting me made me almost moan with pleasure.
And so the pachyderm kept spraying water jets at me and I began scrubbing myself with a sponge that I had summoned along with soap.
Soon, the blood and water had formed a soapy puddle at my feet thanks to the soap’s lather being mixed in and I felt refreshed.
In fact, I realized with a start that the entire time, apart from when I had doused myself with water in the start before meeting the spider - this was my first actual bath.
I must have been stinking really badly too, for it to throw me into the water first thing after I woke up.
Ashamed, I looked at the pachyderm, who looked back at me understandingly.
Then it ambled off to a tree that was behind the place where I had woken up and stood there, waiting expectantly for me.
Shrugging on some clothes, I followed, a little happy but still cautious.
Looking at the elephant, who looked back at me peacefully, I asked, “Why am I here?”
Looking away to the distance, the elephant asked in return, “Why are you here?”
Puzzled, I honestly said, “I don’t know.”
“What do you know?” The elephant asked, gently.
So I thought and thought, before speaking, “I know I am in this place and to move forward - I must clear a condition. However, I do not know what it is and why I have to fulfill these conditions and move forward.”
“Indeed. The condition for you to advance is a very easy and yet extremely painful condition. Will you be able to fulfill it, I wonder.”
Confidently, I puffed out my chest and exclaimed, “Pain! Bring it on! I can handle any amount of pain!”
With great sorrow, the elephant looked at me and said, “Perhaps you can. But this pain might destroy you. Will you still accept it?”
Frowning, I spoke, “I do not fear pain and I will accept it even if it means I have to hold up the world.”
“Holding up the world... perhaps you indeed might have to hold up the world, child.”
Saying so, the elephant turned away and its trunk reached into the hollow of the tree - that I hadn’t noticed before - and rummaged inside before carefully pulling out a glass and a waterskin.
Passing it to me, the elephant said, “Drink this and try to think of your most precious thing.”
Frowning even harder, I said while gnashing my teeth, “That monkey took my most precious things away!”
“He took away your memories, yes?”
Stunned, I stared at the elephant before asking, “How did you know?”
With a faraway look in its eyes, it said, “Because someone other than the monkey took away mine, too. But there’s a saying that holds true. ‘Elephants never forget’ and I have never forgotten them.’”
Saying so, the Elephant gestured toward the glass and the waterskin again.
Uncorking it, I poured a glass of... water. It was sparkling translucent water.
Sniffing it, I found the aroma was rich and heady, more like matured alcohol rather than water.
I could feel emotions roiling inside me after I smelt the aroma. Happiness, sadness, grief, panic, anger, hysteria, and determination filled me before it flashed away like a rainbow after the rain.
Feeling empty inside, I took another look at the glass before I drank it.
Pouring another glass after glancing at the elephant, I drank another glass.
Nothing happened still.
Narrowing my eyes, I grabbed the waterskin and putting it to my lips; I drank the whole contents in one go.
Now, something happened.
I felt an urgent need to... pee.
Holding up my finger in the Protosal gesture of “I have to go tend to nature’s business,” - I ran to the endless grass, and finding an appropriate patch that was out of view of the elephant, I let loose in happiness.
Grunting, I was about to turn around when a memory came unbidden, a memory of the tarantula crawling out from the chamberpot when I was a child.
Bemused, I shook my head as I wondered why it occurred before I froze.
Trembling, I examined my memories, and it was true. I had no recollection of the tarantula before I peed.
Rushing back to the elephant, I hurriedly asked, “That water! Do you have more?”
Silently, the elephant pointed toward the lake.
Turning, I too fell silent as I suddenly had a bad feeling.
Gulping, I asked, “I don’t have to drink the entire lake, do I?”
Shaking its head, the elephant looked at me with sad eyes and said, “The lake is but a catalyst. How much you need, I cannot say. It all depends on how precious your memories were to you.”
Hesitating, I asked anyway, “How much did you have to drink to regain your memories?”
The elephant smiled a sad smile and said, “There was an ocean here with only this tree and a single glass with that waterskin. I didn’t find it at the time and instead, I drank the ocean until it turned into that lake. Then I remembered far more than what I should have.”
Shocked, I gazed at the elephant and was about to ask before the elephant waved its trunk and cut me off. “I will not tell you about the past, child. You must discover it on your own. You might have the power to change it. I do not.”
Pausing, the elephant continued, “Your mind has the barrier to your past. To break it, you must destroy it with your will and for that, you need to drink the water.”
Falling silent, I gazed at the lake and walked toward it before I lay prone at the edge of the lake and began drinking from it greedily.
I drank until I was full and then I turned over and focussed my will on that wide expanse of blankness that lay in my mind.
I willed my thoughts into the form of a dagger... wait, why a dagger?... and I slashed at the blankness, only to feel a firm barrier.
Gritting my teeth, I kept slashing and stabbing at the barrier until a gap the size of a seed opened.
Then colorful streams of... something... flowed out from the tiny gap and it exploded within my mind like fireworks and my eyes blanked out as my sight went far, far away.