Goom the Smuggler: Part XIX
Goom the Smuggler: Part XIX fantasy stories

brillericw Educator, Philosopher, and Humorist
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Fewla's journey was so swift and uneventful, that we can just skip over the whole thing and pick up with her later. Goom trudged along behind the five Ulimni. His body still ached from the spell cast upon him back at The Rift.

Goom the Smuggler: Part XIX

Fewla's journey was so swift and uneventful, that we can just skip over the whole thing and pick up with her later.

Goom trudged along behind the five Ulimni. His body still ached from the spell cast upon him back at The Rift.

Now, he was wound in a length of rope, and he was being dragged along at the hands of one of the Ulimni.

He'd yelled at them, first in anger then in desperation, but they never responded.

They just kept moving forward ever silent, and he followed like a wounded animal being led to the slaughterhouse.

For several hours, he expected the dragon to come flying overhead at any moment. He kept his eyes on the lute which was now slung across the back of the Ulimni at the head of the group.

The strings hadn't started glowing. By the time they made it to the great Meadows of Viaria, Goom realized that they were taking him to the Shrouded Mountains.

Near the Northeastern shores of Fairyland, the Shrouded Mountains loomed like an approaching torrent.

It was said that Ruut, the four-armed god of earth and fire, had carved the mountains as a gift for his bride, K'nir.

He labored over his craft for many moons, and when he finally finished, he called out to his bride.

She was impressed by his creation, but she told him that Yuk, the horse god of seduction, had built her a larger and more impressive range in the East, and that she'd taken Yuk as her lover.

Ruut exploded into a mighty rage that shook the earth and boiled the seas until there was enough cooked lobster for all the peoples of Fairyland.

Ruut took K'nir into his two right arms and cast her into the mountains.

With the steam from the boiling seas, he created a dense fog that eternally hung about the range so that K'nir would never escape her imprisonment.

It was said that during the mightiest storms of winter, if you were in the plains that separated the Shrouded Mountains from Yuk's Peak, you could hear the echoes of lusty whinnying in between the deafening, four-handed claps of thunder.

The elder dwarves told stories of great heroes who'd been lost in the mountains, and in present times, no one dared enter into the murky peaks that remained obscured by the fog.

No one except dragons. What was fog to a winged beast? All the great dragons of the North roosted in the Shrouded Mountains. There, they could avoid the pestilence of man.

A flock of birds flew up from the meadows to Goom's right, and they momentarily stole his attention away from the thoughts of his impending doom.

He slowed down and bent forward, exhausted from the long trek. One of the Ulimni turned and sent a shock of blue energy into his body.

He yelled out in pain, but he was growing more and more used to the mistreatment. He picked up the pace and turned his eyes to the intimidating crags once more.

For hours upon hours, they continued their progression toward the mountains.

The Ulimni continued steadily, never stopping for rest or nourishment, but Goom began to falter as the hunger, thirst, and exhaustion mounted.

The pain in his stomach now worked its way into his lower ribs until every breath felt like a gut punch. His beard was stiff with salt though he'd stopped sweating hours before.

The sun was low in the sky now. Goom's eyelids began to droop. The sun fell behind the Shrouded Mountains. Goom collapsed to the ground.

He fell into a feverish sleep, and while he slept, he dreamt. His dream was rife with symbolism, so pay attention:

In his dream, he was a boar. He walked through a thin forest, and he followed a second, larger boar who walked ahead of him.

The larger boar moved through the forest with his snout close to the ground. They were foraging for food. Even in his sleep, his stomach was tight with hunger, and he eagerly awaited his meal.

The boar led him into a clearing, and across the clearing were a collection of bushes sprinkled with red dots. The sun glowed down upon them, and juicy berries shined under its rays.

They walked closer. The nearer they got, the larger the berries became. They were so engorged with juice that they were nearly bursting. He drooled as the anticipation swelled inside of him.

But when he stood before the bush and examined it, he saw the fruit were yew berries, and he knew that they were poisonous.

A rustling of leaves came from within the bushes, and a sparrow flew out and over his head. He turned to watch its flight. The sparrow flew high up the side of a hill and landed in a tree with sprawling branches and green spheres the size of a child's fist.

It was a Black Walnut tree, and its nuts would make for a hearty meal. But the path to the tree was treacherous. Though he stood in rays of warm sun, the walnut tree was obscured by a sheet of rain. A reckless wind shook its branches.

Streams flowed through jagged rocks that pocked the hillside, and thick briars with sharpened thorns surrounded the tree's wide trunk.

The other boar grunted and encouraged Goom to eat the plump yew berries before him. Its mouth was already wet and red with their juice. It ate greedily and never got its fill.

Goom tried to make the other boar aware of the walnut tree, but it was too busy feasting. He took another look at the succulent red fruit, but he turned toward the tree.

He ran toward the hill and dug his hooves into the slick mud. He scrambled part way up the incline and found his footing on an exposed stone, but when he tried to continue, he fell back down and slid to the yew bush.

His snout was only inches from a branch full of plump berries. The other boar continued eating, but he'd grown weaker from the poison.

Goom's stomach ached terribly, and he felt too weak to attempt to climb the hillside a second time. Maybe a few berries would give him the strength to try again.

He sided up next to the large boar, and he filled his mouth with yew berries. He gorged himself as the sparrows called to him from the tree on the hill...

Goom was awakened by the sound of birds.

His eyes were still cloudy with sleep, and he squinted into the morning air.

The air was cold, his clothing was damp, he could see the faint outlines of dark, jagged peaks hanging in the thick fog. They'd made it into the Shrouded Mountains.

Even if he could escape, he'd never make his way out.

Although he was still lying down, Goom felt the sensation of movement. He was still tied up, but he was floating along just above the slick stone path beneath him.

Just then, he crashed to the ground as the sorcerers sensed his waking. They let go the enchantment and forced Goom back onto his feet. He no longer felt the pains of hunger and thirst.

He knew that the Ulimni needed to keep him alive until they reached the dragon's den high in the mountains.

They continued upward, and now Goom could see his breath in the cold air. He'd give anything for a stein full of mulled wine.

He'd even settle for the cheap stuff that came in sacks rather than bottles. Dennis always bought his wine in sacks. He was cheap like that.

A memory came to him of a drunken night with the boys. They were on their way home after selling a bushel of stolen toadstools to some toads with high shelves.

They'd found a tavern at the edge of the Southern Plains, and they indulged themselves in celebration. They played drinking games like "Goblet of the King" and "Unicorn Joust."

They sang songs by the famous lutist Elvish Presley, and they giggled like squires. It seemed that those days were forever behind him.

As they walked, the steep incline gave way to a flattened peak. Goom crested it, and for the first time, he had a full view of his entire surroundings. Fog everywhere.

Not much of a view really, but in the blurry space in front of him there was one crag that towered over the others. It was so tall, in fact, that its peak actually cut free from the fog.

This must be the great mountain of Skrye. Seldom, its peak could be seen above the clouds. It was thought to be the tallest mountain in Fairyland and home to antiquity's most famed dragons.

The word "skrye" was a dwarvish word, and an onomatopoeia for the sounds that emanated from the mighty peak and rattled about the range - the sounds of dragons' cries.

An Ulimni pushed Goom to the ground with a magical wind. Goom watched as the Ulimni gathered around in a small circle. One by one, they put their hands to the ground.

For the first time, he heard them speak, but not in words that he recognized.

Beneath their breaths, they mumbled mystic incantations, and the runes that marked their faces began to glow in a luminous red.

From the ground at their hands, jagged lines began to appear as if the mountain were shattering like glass. The thin cracks rushed outward, and they like the runes glowed red as well.

A low humming could be heard from within the mountain, and Goom could feel the rock against his face begin to warm.

The humming grew louder until it felt as though his ears would burst, and just as the pain became too much to bear, a tower of fire erupted from the center of the Ulimni's circle.

It burned through the fog and rose high into the frigid air. Goom rolled onto his back to watch it.

The prominent features of his face were awash in a red glow, and his eyes narrowed against the tremendous heat.

High above him, the tower of fire transformed into a blazing ring that hung over the mountain top on which he lay.

Goom looked back toward the Ulimni, but it was the glowing strings of the lute that captured and held his gaze.

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