Beyond The Stars
Chapter 108: Swamp Entrance
Narrator: The heroes and Zaydra travel to the northwestern part of the country.
*They are now at a swamp*
Emily: This place gives me the creeps.
Zeth: It’s not that bad. It certainly beats the mansion.
Zaydra: We are almost at our destination.
*They keep walking. As they walk, they see human skeletons hanging out of the swamp water*
Joe: Those skeletons…
Zaydra: This swamp is unfit for humans to live in or even traverse on their own. They were foolish.
*They reach a swamp river and stop*
Sasha: Why are we stopping?
Zaydra: You can come out now.
*A foggy effect happens on the river and then a large canoe-type boat slowly appears into existence. On the canoe is a humanoid skeleton wearing a black cloak*
Skeleton: It’s been a while, Miss Zaydra.
Kurt: Whoa, who is… he? …it?
Zaydra: He is a grim reaper.
Zeth: A grim reaper? For real?
Grim Reaper: Yep, oh, and call me Mark. Grim Reaper sounds too… “Grim”. Har har.
Zaydra: …He tries to be a funny one.
Emily: So what is a grim reaper doing in this swamp?
Mark: It’s the perfect place for a grim reaper. Foolish humans come looking here to search for the abundant amount of dinosaur fossils that are here and then they die trying. Well, they are not really called dinosaurs but that’s what you humans call them.
Zaydra: Enough of that. We need you to take us to the Swamp Underworld safely.
Mark: The Swamp Underworld you say?
Mark: Why would you want to go there?
Zaydra: (Pointing at Zeth) My brother needs to drink the Kraysheen there or he will die.
*Mark looks at Zeth*
Mark: I see. So you are Prince Zeth. It’s nice to meet you.
Zeth: Same to you.
Mark: It’s a shame you are without your divine powers. I guess we better get going. All of you get on.
*They get on and then the canoe starts going down the swamp river*
Mark: Things going on in the Swamp Underworld have been… interesting, so to speak, these last 3 years.
Zaydra: What do you mean by that?
Mark: It has become somewhat of a hellhole to live in. There is a power struggle going on. If you think it will be easy to get the Kraysheen, you will have to think again.
Zaydra: Yeah, I figured.
*They start to go into a cave as the river goes into it. The cave is dark and as the canoe flows through the water, many monsters are roaring and trying to get on the boat but they can’t*
Kurt: I see what you mean by safely. These monsters would be big trouble.
Zaydra: Indeed. We could fight them off but they aren’t weak. We would certainly take damage amongst the group.
*They continue sitting in the canoe-like boat as it continues farther into the cave*
Joe: The atmosphere feels like it’s changed.
Mark: The Swamp Underworld is partially an underground part of Earth and partially a different dimension.
Zeth: That sounds confusing.
Mark: Don’t worry about it. Otherwise, your mind might blow and then you’d just have an empty skull just like mine. Har har!
*Eventually, they reach the end of the cave. The river comes to an end at the top of a hill. The sky above is a variety of shades of purple. A city is in the background below*
Mark: Welcome to the Swamp Underworld!
Zeth: This is incredible!
Joe: I want to see what kind of weather this underworld has!
*The heroes get off the boat*
Mark: You all better get going. I mean if you don’t, I might have to take Prince Zeth to Earth’s God of Death. Har har!
Zaydra: He’s a Divine Being though.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. Don’t sweat the details… or your skin might get dried out from losing all of those fluids and become just bones just like me! Har har!
*The heroes give him a squinty-eyed look*
Mark: Har har! Well, I’m sure you will do fine. I guess I will spend some time here as well.
*The heroes go off*
Zeth: Did he say “Earth’s” God of Death?
Zaydra: Yes, every planet with life has its own God of Death.
Zeth: You will have to tell me sometime about it but right now we have stuff to do.
*The heroes walk towards the city*
Narrator: The heroes have arrived at the Swamp Underworld. What will they need to do to get the Kraysheen?
Chapter 108 END
To be Continued in Chapter 109: Hirro City BarAuthor's Comment: Because I'm sure there will be some curiosity about the inspiration for Mark. No, he was not inspired by Brook from One Piece. I wrote this chapter in 2015. I did not start watching the One Piece anime or reading the One Piece manga until 2017 so it's just a coincidence.