"Martin!" Dennis yelled with his arms outstretched. The weasel knocked him to the ground with his nose and was sniffing him all over while Dennis giggled and fought him off.
"Okay, Martin," Murt said loudly to get the weasel to focus, "we have to get to the Northern end of Shrouded Mountains, and we need to get there fast."
The weasel stared at Murt with no indication that he'd understood a word, but Murt reacted as if he had.
Because of their scarcity, there wasn't a significant amount of information about dragon heartstrings in Murt's spell book.
He found a section on amplifier artifacts, and it appeared as though the heartstring could be used as a sort of accessory to increase a wielder's abilities.
A mage, for example, might wear the heartstring around his head to increase his intelligence...
A mage, for example, might wear the heartstring around his head to increase his intelligence... or an enchantress might wear it around her neck to intensify her allure.
This was all new news to Murt who'd only used them to increase his money.
Murt was tempted to try out the power of the heartstring on himself, but his spell book had a specific warning that they should only be wielded by a brown belt or greater.
He figured that a magical beast such as a giant weasel would do just fine.
"Do you know what this is?" Murt held the heartstring in front of the weasel's face and received another blank stare. "Good! We're going to need you to get us to Skrye as quick as possible."
Murt gave Dennis and Fewla a boost onto the weasel's back, knelt down, and tied the heart string around Martin's right forepaw. Dennis reached down to grab Murt's hand and hoisted him up.
"Grab on to a tuft of fur, and hold on tight," Murt told Fewla. She didn't need to be told twice. "Alright, Martin. Let's go!"
Instantly, they were flying across the soft earth beneath the weasel's paws with the swiftness of a hunting falcon. He cut through the cold night like an arrow.
Dennis, Murt, and Fewla had to hold their bodies close to the weasel's back, or else the force of the air threatened to throw them off. Leaves were ripped from the trees as they passed.
The scenery around them was a blur. The weasel's long body undulated rhythmically in time with the sound of his clawed paws tearing into the dirt.
They were lucky that Martin knew the forests because he was ducking and weaving in between trees as if he could do it with his eyes closed.
At one point they came to a river, but the giant weasel leapt its width without breaking stride.
They came to an open meadow, and great herds of elk barely made their way clear of the ballistic rodent that burned across the sea of grass.
Even at their tremendous speed, it was nearly morning when the Northern Shrouded Mountains came into view.
They came finally to the base of the mountains, and Dennis screamed into Martin's ear to stop. It took him a half mile to slow to a trot.
When they came to a rest, each of the three riders jumped down from the weasel's back.
Fewla had not enjoyed the ride, and she collapsed to her hands and knees and sobbed with happiness that it had ended.
Martin was panting rapidly, and his face was covered in every type of smushed bug Fairyland could throw at him and several unlucky pixies as well.
Dennis wiped Martin's face and gave him some two-handed scratches under his chin. Murt thanked the giant beast for his service, but he had one more favor to ask of the weasel.
After he finished talking with Martin, he joined Fewla and Dennis who were staring up at the mighty range in front of them. The ghostly mountains lurked in the ever-present fog.
"Well, I guess this is it," Dennis said. He turned to Fewla, "You know that no one has ever made it out alive right?"
"What?" she asked in fear.
"Yeah, all the old-timers in the Gellring Foothills tell stories about heroes lost to the mountains."
"They're just stories, Dennis," Murt interjected.
"Maybe, but I've never seen anyone come out alive," he replied.
"Have you seen anyone go in alive?" Murt asked.
"I guess not, but you know the stories same as me," said Dennis.
Fewla had a fearful look on her face, and Murt noticed. "Fewla, you don't have to go with us. We've pulled you into our adventure, and you've already been enough help."
"I'm nah gonna turn me back now, Murt," she said, but she was only putting on a strong face, and Murt knew that it wasn't her adventure to finish.
"Here," he held out the bull horn that he'd used to call Martin, "Dennis is right about the mountains, and if we're going to find our way out, we'll need a way to get our bearings.
If you want to help, you can wait here and blow the horn after we find Goom."
"How am I going to know when that is?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," he forced a smile. "We don't even know where he is."
As he finished speaking, a low hum began to echo and rumble through the mountains. A dull glow appeared in the shadowed mountains above them. In the glow, the face of Skrye became visible.
Suddenly, an orange beam below the towering crag burst into the sky and sharpened the peak's jagged details. It was the clearest view of the mountain that Murt had ever seen.
The orange beam broke free from the top of the range and became a glowing ring that hung like a beacon.
"That looks like a good startin' point," Fewla said. "I think I'll wait 'ere."