“Well, I’ve never been there, I’ve only read about it in old books, but it’s supposed to be very beautiful,” said Egroj. “Why?”
“I’d like to show you something,” stated Leafar.
Leafar the Smart stood up and motioned to Egroj to follow. Leafar stepped out of Egroj’s way and nodded, extending his hand toward the door. Egroj walked past him and they walked toward the Denetyrf Forest.
On the way, Leafar pointed out many things that were true about the trees, bushes, rocks and wind that passed them.
“Egroj, a Tephorp has told me that something is going to happen to our town,” said Leafar. “But he didn’t say what it was…if it was good or bad.
Egroj was listening.
“I need you to find out for me,” said Leafar.
“How can I do that?” asked Egroj.
Before Leafar could answer, if he was planning to answer at all, the forest cleared and they reached the shore of the hidden and mysterious, legendary Gniklat Sea.
“This really is beautiful,” gasped Egroj, forgetting what Leafar had just said.
Leafar let him enjoy the view.
Egroj started to take off his clothes. This was normally not something to be alarmed about, Egroj was known to take off his clothes…usually for some complicated and purposeful reason, but Leafar knew Egroj’s intentions.
“Egroj,” said Leafar calmly. “Do you see the signs?”
Egroj had just untied his Jolly Sack when he turned his head and noticed a sign that he didn’t think was there when he arrived. Egroj read the sign.
“PLEASE DO NOT SWIM.”
Suddenly it seemed there were many of these signs all along the shore. In fact, Egroj realized that the whole shore was packed with the signs. Somehow he had missed them as he walked up to the shore. He figured that he had been so focused on swimming that he hadn’t even see them.
“If it is such a big deal to not swim, then why is there no fence?” asked Egroj. “Or why is this place not better hidden?”
“Egroj, a fence would take away the beauty of this place,” said Leafar.
“And the signs don’t?” demanded Egroj.
“You will not see the signs when you can see past what they are declaring,” said Leafar. “You are angry and frustrated right now, and so the signs are obvious.”
Egroj started to count the signs.
“There is no need for the signs,” said Leafar. “They merely point out the fact that you want to do the opposite. They will disappear in time.”
Leafar looked at the sun.
“I must leave you.” He said, and he left.
Egroj didn’t question Leafar’s need to leave, of his haste in leaving.
Egroj quickly turned back to the beautiful Gniklat Sea. It was a fantastic view. The Eguh Trees surrounding it so tall and majestic. The Deppac Wons Mountains on the horizon framing the breathtaking scene. The water so calm and inviting.
The signs weren’t very pretty though. And there seemed to be more and more of them at every moment. Egroj was strategising on how he could get past them
Egroj finished taking off the rest of his hot, sticky and sweaty clothes, and ran toward the sea. His plan was to dive in, but signs kept popping up and getting in his way. They seemed to be slapping at him and trying to trip him, but he prevailed…barely.
His toe made it into the water. For a moment, it was nice…just as he had expected, but then immediately, it felt like he had just eaten an Oñepalaj fruit. He was burning up inside.
As he backed away from the shore fanning himself, he noticed something happening to the sea.
The water had turned orange, and was bubbling and rolling like an overflowing pot of Klim.
Churning, waving, spewing.
Then something even more strange happened. Animals from the Gniklat Sea began popping out of the unconcealably orange water.
They were piling up on the shore. Hundreds of them.
Egroj recognized some of them from his schooling. No one had ever actually seen them before. Mostly it was just a theory that the animals existed. But apparently someone had either seen them or dreamed about them or something, because here they were.
He began to hear what sounded like voices. Yes, angry voices…coming from all around the seashore.
One of the sea animals, which had landed uncomfortable close to Egroj’s foot, began to speak directly to Egroj.
“We put those signs up on purpose,” it shouted. “You are a Tlusni!” it yelled.
“He’s over here,” it yelled to the other animals on the shore.
“You are a Tramston!” Yelled another.
“And a Nam Yllis,” yelled another.
Many other angry animals flopped over to where Egroj was standing. They were all yelling angry things at Egroj. Some he had heard before, but most had never been directed to him.
He began feeling very bad.
So bad, in fact, that he ran away. Away from he shore and all those yelling animals, and into the Denetyrf Forest. He ran straight through Leafar’s town, which seemed to be abandoned, and into the Desert of Noisser Ped. He found an Evac deep in the dessert and hid himself.
The thing about the Dessert of Noisser Ped is that Regna ruled there, and once he knew you were in his dessert, he would fill your mind with his thoughts. This was a place where true feelings were silenced by Regna. This was also a place where Emit visited often.
Emit would fool the observer into thinking that he had just arrived, while Ragna would occupy his mind with pointless ideas that were not true at all, or so twisted and complicated, that they did not resemble the truth anymore.
Egroj was stuck there. He was stuck there for a long time. Long enough for the Sreitp Menwot to come and force the good people of Leafar’s town to leave. Long enough for the remains of the town to become hills and fields and shrubbery.
Egroj became distracted by a white Kud. This Kud had been trying to convince him that he was carrying a plate of Azzip, and Azzip was Egroj’s favorite food. Egroj was not convinced. In fact, he was arguing with the Kud that he in fact was not carrying a plate of Azzip. Kuds don’t have arms, so Egroj thought his argument was better than the Kud’s.
Suddenly, a thought of Princess Eel came into Egroj’s mind. Last time this happened, Emit and Regna took it right out, but Egroj figured out a way to hide it from them this time.
Egroj pretended to be watching the Kud, and stood up and began walking.
Emit and Regna must have been sleeping, and Egroj had gotten really good at not waking them with Snoitome. So the Kud followed Egroj, and Egroj kept walking.
The thought of Princess Eel led Egroj to the edge of the dessert. As he stepped out of the dessert, he could hear the sea animals again, and that frightened him. He could feel his mind clearing up a bit.
The Kud had stepped out of the dessert as well.
Egroj’s mind was still spinning. He needed to travel to the town of Retfal. That would fix everything. But he couldn’t remember how to get there.
“Egroj,” Said a sweet smelling voice.
Egroj looked up to find that the Kud had turned itself into a wrinkled, slouched and wobbly old woman.
“Are you the Kud?” asked Egroj, looking around for the Kud.
“Not exactly,” she said. “I am Eel. Appearing to you as a Kud was so you would be distracted.”
Egroj was confused. He squinted his eyes at her, then looked around her.
“So where’s the plate of Azzip?” asked Egroj, still foggy.
The Princess didn’t acknowledge his silly question.
“When I heard that you had run into the Dessert of Noisser Ped, I went in after you,” she said.
“I battled Emit for a long time,” she said as she looked to her wrinkled hands. “But I was able to bind him momentarily so you could hear me calling you.”
“It’s really you?” asked Egroj, and he hugged her hard. He was so happy to see her.
“I’m so happy to see you,” he said.
“I know,” she said with a little smirk. “You always are.”
Eel flicked the long white hair out of her face.
“Egroj,” she asked. “Do you have the Vial of Revasyad?”
“Yes,” said Egroj. “It’s in my…” Then he realized that he had left his jolly sac on the shore of the Gniklat. In fact, he was in such a hurry he had run off without putting his clothes back on.
“You have to go back,” said Eel. “Not just for the vial.”
“I know,” said Egroj. “I know.”
Egroj stood motionless for a moment.
“Can you get it for me?” asked Egroj trying to look as pathetic as possible.
“You know I can’t,” said Eel. “Plus, I need a nap.”
Eel collapsed next to a Retropsnart tree and was asleep before she hit the ground.
So Egroj left her, walked through the empty landscape that used to be Leafar’s town, and ducked into the Denetyrf Forest, the whole time trying to block out the angry yelling of the Gniklat sea animals.
He reached the edge of the forest and had to shield his eyes from the bright orange that was the Gniklat Sea. The animals were all there. The Eguh trees were all wilting…things were not happy here. They smelled him right away and began hurling their words at him again.
He tried to hide behind a Gnidih tree, but the angry words went around it, and right into Egroj’s ears, giving his ears quite a Knaps.
He could see his Jolly Sack, and his clothes, but he couldn’t reach them without going out into the open, and those angry words hurt when they hit him.
He could hear some of the mother animals crying for their babies. He could hear baby animals crying for their mothers. He could hear father animals trying to comfort their families.
Egroj began to cry. He had done this. All because he wanted to swim.
Egroj looked up at the piles and piles of angry and helpless Gniklat sea animals and whispered, barely audibly: “I’m sorry.”
The yelling suddenly stopped. The orange sea turned clear again. The trees perked up and the signs started disappearing.
The closest sea animal, which was also the loudest, said to Egroj, “Oh, no worries, have a great day.” And he hopped back into the pool, as did the piles and piles of animals that had gathered on the shores.
The sea was calm again. It was quiet. Everything was back to normal. Oh, except Egroj needed to get dressed.
He got dressed, strapped on his Jolly Sack, and ducked back into the Denetyrf Forest, but only after taking one last look at the beauty of the Gniklat Sea. It was so beautiful with all signs gone.
As he stepped out of the forest, Leafar’s town appeared. Egroj was confused.
“Egroj,” called Leafar.
“Leafar?” said Egroj. “Why is your town here? It was gone.”
“What do you mean,” asked Leafar. “Did you go swimming?”
“How did you know,” asked Egroj.
“Swimming the the Gniklat Sea is a mysterious adventure. The sea is the Noitacav home of Emit, so the swimmer is plunged into Emit’s world for a moment, and as you know, a moment for Emit could be whatever he wants.”
Egroj was processing.
“So, you passed through our town during your adventure with Emit?” asked Leafar.
“Yes, I did,” remembered Egroj, a bit embarrassed.
“Did you see anything you can tell me?” asked Leafar.
Egroj thought about having run though the town without clothes on. Then he thought about how it appeared abandoned, then he thought about the Sreitp Menwot.
“Oh, yes,” said Egroj. “The Sreitp Menwot are coming.”
“Thank you for the warning Egroj,” said Leafar. “I must warn my people.”
Egroj said goodbye, and then immediately wondered if Eel would be waiting at the edge of the dessert where he had last seen her.
He could see a figure leaning onto the tree. It was Eel. She had picked a fruit from the Retropsnart tree and was taking a bite.
“Don’t eat that,” yelled Egroj as he accelerated his step.
But it was too late. The beautiful, flowing, sweet smelling Princess Eel had disappeared into nothingness. Well, she wasn’t gone, she was just somewhere else. That’s the effect of eating the fruit from the Retropsnart tree.
They would find each other again, they always did.
So, now Egroj had to figure out what to do next. He adjusted his Jolly Sack and wandered toward the next town.