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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 6
Quote:Year 1

Chapter 6: Fort Markash

"Alright, listen up, boys!" King Wulfgar said while we were still on the way to Fort Markash with Boli's airship. "I need to do a briefing before we begin the hunt!"

"Yes... your majesty," I said, kinda timidly because I was not sure how I should address him.

"I'm not a king now," King WUlfgar said, getting off from his seat and walking towards the back of the airship. "I'm just an old treasure hunter trying to hunt a treasure I once couldn't get, so call me by name!"

"Uhh.. Yes Wul... no, this doesn't feel right," I said, following him with Huck to the space at the back of the ship. I saw four backpacks stored there, two were considerably larger than the other two.

"Heh, if you were older, I would have you drink together with me until you call me by name," Wulfgar said, taking a large scroll from one of the larger backpacks and spreading the scroll over the floor. "Anyway, here's the map of Oz."

After WUlfgar spread the scroll on the floor, I looked at the map which was almost entirely covered by a single continent. The continent bordered an ocean from South to East part, and there was a pretty large island, covering about one-tenth of the map at the southeast corner. There were writings on the map, probably the names of the places. However, the writings were not in alphabet, instead they were in characters I could not recognize.

"Is this the map of the whole world?" Huck asked.

"No, this is only a continent map," Wulfgar said.

"How many continents are there in the world?" I asked.

"Nobody knows for certain," Wulfgar said. "Hey! Are you trying to distract me?"

"Oh, sorry your maj... I mean... Wulf..gar," I said timidly.

"Heh, whatever. Anyway, this is Emerald City," Wulfgar said, putting his index finger at a black dot roughly at the center of the continent. "And this is Dwarven Capital."

The distance between Emerald City and Dwarven Capital shown on the map was surprisingly close, only about two centimeters, while the map was at least two meters wide and one meter tall. I was quite astonished to see that Oz was very large, and it was still not including other continents out there.

"Fort Markash is located in Granite region, which is right here," Wulfgar said, pointing at a region about 15 centimeters Northeast from Emerald City. "Walking there would normally take months, but thanks to this airship we will arrive there in about eight hours."

"That's good to hear," I said.

"Not so easy, boys!" Wulfgar said. "This airship does not have good resistance to harsh weather, and the winds in Granite are very unpredictable and unfriendly!"

"Oh man," Huck said. "So what should we do?"

"We will land just outside Granite, and from there we will switch to land route!" Wulfgar said, pointing at a place away from Granite.

"So we are going to walk all the way to Fort Markash from there?" I asked.

"Of course not!" Wulfgar said. "Why do you think this airship is this large?"

"Uhh, no idea," Huck said.

"Oh, to bring Boli's..." I said before interrupted.

"Exactly! The land vessel is in this ship as well!" Wulfgar said. "Though he told me the name is... what was it... kat, cah, cas?"

"Car," I said.

"Yes, that one," Wulfgar said. "Simple indeed, but I have no idea how he got that name. He usually just name his vehicles like how they are used. Like this 'airship', a ship but in the air."

"So, how long will it take to arrive at Fort Markash?" I asked.

"The distance from landing point to Fort Markash is about two thousand kilometers," Wulfgar said. "And before you comment on it, yes it's very far. Even with the car, it will take about a week to get there. Any questions?"

"Does the car have enough fuel for the trip back and forth?" I asked.

"I got it covered! No worries!" Wulfgar said.

"Enough food and water for all of us?" Huck asked.

"Check!" Wulfgar said.

"I guess no more questions then," I said.

"Cheers for a successful treasure hunt!" Wulfgar said.

"CHEERS!" All of us, including Boli, shouted.

Eight hours later, Boli landed the airship right in the middle of a grassland. Then he took his car from the storage space at the back of the airship. After checking that everything were ready and not forgotten, Boli took four cube things from one of the larger backpacks and put them a few meters away from the ship in rectangular formation. He then pressed a button on the last cube he had put, and all four cubes suddenly erected metal bars to other cubes. Everything happened very fast that within seconds what I saw was a large metal cage fixed to the ground, with the airship inside it.

"We will be leaving it for at least two weeks. Can't be too careful about it," Boli said.

"Are you going to drive in the dark?" Huck asked. Indeed it was already near midnight.

"Of course not!" Boli said while laughing. "We will set up camp here and depart tomorrow morning."

"Oh, I see," Huck said. "I must admit that I'm not to good at setting the tent."

"Me too," I said.

"Tent?" Boli said, and he laughed. "I have never said that we will use a tent!"

Boli then took another cube thing from the same backpack. This time the cube was a bit larger than the previous four cubes. He then walked to an open space, put the cube on the ground, and activated it. He then ran away from the cube, and then there was a small explosion which left a lot of smoke around where the cube had been placed. When the smoke cleared we saw a house, the shape of which was similar to an igloo but made from metal.

"Hmph! I've never had it this easy back then!" Wulfgar said. "I didn't even have a tent! I built my own shelter with anything I could find around!"

"But now we have this, so let's just live with it!" Boli said. All of us then entered the instant house to rest for the night.

The trip to Fort Markash went by without anything significant happened. We rode the car during the day, making a stop every lunch time and dinner time, and set up camp once night arrived, making the sky almost completely dark. During this trip I learned a few things about Oz, such as the wildlife which was not much different than our planet, and the seasons cycle which was also the same with our planet. After one week, we arrived at a village under a tall hill, which seemed to be the village shown in the projection before. It was already dusk when we arrived.

"Fort Markash is right at the top of that hill," Wulfgar said.

"And that is the village you told us about, right?" Boli said. "Let's go there."

"Why should we?" Wulfgar asked.

"To make sure your deal with the village still stands," Boli said.

"If you say so, alright," Wulfgar said, walking to the village.

"You two, accompany him," Boli said.

"Huh? What about you?" I asked.

"There's something I must do," Boli said. "I'll meet you again at the other side of the village."

"Alright then," Huck said.

The two of us then followed Wulfgar into the village. The village was a really poor village, looking at the dilapidated houses and the inhabitants who didn't seem to have any meaningful activities.

"This village is still as poor as the last time I was here," Wulfgar said. "That means the treasure is still not found yet."

"Hey, that dwarf looks familiar," Huck said, looking at an old dwarf who was sitting alone.

"Isn't that... the village chief?" Wulfgar said. "Wait here. I'll go talk to him."

"Alright," I said. Wulfgar then approached the old dwarf.

"Treasure hunter...?" the old dwarf said, seeming to recognize Wulfgar.

"Yes, it's me. You still remember our deal back then?" Wulfgar asked.

"Of course I still remember," the old dwarf said. "Pity you didn't make it back then."

"And now I'm here to try again," Wulfgar said. "This time I will come back with the treasure!"

"Best of luck, friend," the old dwarf said.

"Let's go," Wulfgar said to us. We then walked to the other side of the village. We then waited there for a few more minutes because Boli was not there yet.

"Sorry to keep you waiting!" Boli said as he arrived.

"Where have you been?!" Wulfgar said.

"Just a few small things," Boli said.

"Whatever. Let's just go now," Wulfgar said. "Despite the available path and stairs, climbing this hill will take a while. I want to arrive at the top before dark."

We then climbed the hill through the path and stairs. The climb was very tiring for me, to the point that I almost couldn't feel my legs. I really wondered why Huck seemed to have no problem climbing for what seemed like hours, and the two dwarves climbed carrying a very large bloated backpack each.

"I wonder why you bought so much food from the village we passed by yesterday," I said, trying to divert my attention from my exhaustion.

"I don't want to repeat the same mistake," Wulfgar said.

"Mistake? What mistake?" I asked.

"Less talking, more climbing," Wulfgar said. "If you're tired, have Boli to carry your backpack."

"No thanks. I'm good, I think..." I said, although it was very clear that I was almost at the limit of my strength.

"The peak is just around that corner," Wulfgar said, pointing at a corner of the path. "Hang in there, boy."

"I'm... just... fine..." I said, struggling to keep my pace.

"It's been so long that..." Wulfgar said as he turned around the corner. "...I forgot how it felt to be here."

When I finally made it to the peak, what I saw was the view of a stone wall with a very deep ravine in front of it. Behind the wall I could see a stone building, which seemed to have a shape of a pyramid with the center of one side having a long staircase to the box-shaped peak. With further observation, I noticed that every side of the building was surrounded by both the stone wall and the ravine. What I found a bit strange was the fact that there were many stone bridges around the building that could be used to cross the ravine. I also noticed that four of the bridges had collapsed, which gave me a bad feeling.

"We will set up camp near the first bridge that is still intact," Wulfgar said, and we walked to the nearest intact bridge and put down our luggage.

"Too bad this place is too uneven and rocky to place the instant house," Boli said. "Let's live with bedrolls and campfire then."

"This ravine sure gives me chills," Huck said, carefully looking down the ravine.

"There sure are a lot of bridges," Boli said while he lit a campfire. "Don't tell me that..."

"Yeah, only one bridge is correct. The others will collapse if you try to cross it," Wulfgar said. "That's what happened to the treasure hunter's team. I myself made three other bridges collapse."

"How come?" I asked. "I mean, how did you manage to stay alive?"

"I'll show you tomorrow," Wulfgar said. "It's getting dark. Let's have dinner and then get some sleep."

All of us then ate our dinner while sitting around the campfire. It was the very first time for me to camp without a tent. Fortunately the sky was clear so I didn't worry about rain.

"Let's sleep for tomorrow," Wulfgar said.

"By the way, have you seen the dirt yams growing around here?" Boli asked. Indeed there were some dirt yams around us.

"Yeah! And if you dare to pick one up I'll smack you!" Wulfgar shouted.

"Your voice is law," Boli said. All of us then went to sleep.

In the morning, after having breakfast, Wulfgar immediately prepared himself to cross the bridge near us. He tied a rope to the bridge's post near at the edge of the ravine, and then to his waist. He then started to tip toe through the bridge.

"Do you need help?" I asked.

"Stay back! Or you might fall!" Wulfgar said, slowly walking. "I'll let you know if it's safe!"

Despite what he had said, I couldn't help coming close to see what was going to happen. Suddenly, I heard a clicking sound. The bridge then vibrated hard and all of the stones making the bridge were thrown upwards like being launched by a catapult.

"Watch out!" Huck shouted at me. Quite an amount of stones launched from the bridge fell down towards me, and I could only stand stiff. Fortunately, I was saved by Boli at the critical moment.

"He told you to stay back, didn't he?" Boli said.

"Sorry..." I said, feeling really ashamed.

"Oh no!" Huck shouted.

"I don't like the sound of that," Wulfgar, who had been climbing the rope he had tied to the post, said as he reached the edge of the ravine.

"Don't worry, we're all fine," Boli said.

"Aaaargh!" Wulfgar screamed after he realized the bad thing Huck had seen. The stones from the bridge had fallen right on our backpacks. Mine and Huck's were fortunately safe, but the two large backpacks were crushed. "But our food are all crushed! Help me, maybe we can still save some!"

Wulfgar then rushed to move the stones away from the backpacks. The rest of us helped, but the stones were too big and heavy for me and Huck, who were just two little kids.

"No good! All the food is absorbing the water!" Wulfgar said. "What about the other backpacks? Do they have any food?"

Both me and Huck opened our backpacks, and found only water bottles inside.

"I filled their backpacks only with additional drinking water supplies," Boli said. "I thought that we brought more than enough food already."

"And your waist bag?" Wulfgar asked, looking at Boli's waist bag which he still wore.

"In here there are only... accessories," Boli said.

"No choice then! Eat all you can! They will be spoiled by this night!" Wulfgar said, rushing to eat all the crushed food.

"Hey, calm down, your majesty!" Boli said, stopping Wulfgar. "Don't panic just because of food problem."

"You don't understand!" Wulfgar said. "Hunger is the deadliest enemy! It was the cause of my failure back then!"

"Let's sit down and calm ourselves," Boli said, and all of us sat down around the pile of crushed food.

"Would you tell us your story about that?" I asked while picking some food that was still pretty much intact.

"It all started right after I spat out that dirt yam," Wulfgar said while also doing the same thing. "All my food supplies had been exhausted one day before. I had thought that I could resupply at that village, but that dirt yam... I'd rather not talk about it again."

"I see. But you continued anyway?" Huck asked.

"Yeah, I thought I still had enough strength, so I climbed here," Wulfgar said. "When I got here, I knew that something was suspicious with all the bridges, so I took some time to examine one of them, trying to find anything suspicious. However, it was in vain. I couldn't see the trap trigger. I then had no choice other than walking through it using rope as my lifeline like what you saw. You know what happened next."

"And that happened three times?" I asked.

"Yeah, but the third time I fell down, I realized my mistake," Wulfgar said. "I had become very weak because I had neither eaten nor drunk for nearly two days. I couldn't climb up and my head felt really dizzy."

"How did you get out of there?" Huck asked.

"I had no choice other than pulling myself up little by little, and that took hours," Wulfgar said. "I finally managed to reach the ground again, but I felt like I could faint anytime, so I went down the hill and really fainted when I reached the bottom. The village chief found me and took care of me, but as soon as I woke up I decided to leave the place immediately."

"Because he served you more dirt yam?" Boli asked.

"You guessed it," Wulfgar said. He kept eating everything he could eat from the pile until his stomach bloated, meaning he ate too much.

"I don't understand. Why don't you go back to buy food and try again?" I asked.

"I'm ashamed, afraid to become laughing stock of the village chief," Wulfgar said. "Alright, now I'm full and ready... Ugh, I ate too much."

Eating too much caused Wulfgar to have a bad stomachache. He had to rest for half a day until he could stand up again.

"If we conserve our water, we still can last six more days," Wulfgar said. "Boys, you better don't move around too much. Boli, you too."

"Why me too? I can understand for them, but I'm strong enough to test the bridges," Boli asked.

"I need you to conserve stamina for later," Wulfgar said.

"We can go back to the village down there for some food and water," Boli said.

"Heh! I don't want to go down there empty handed a second time!" Wulfgar said, tying a rope to his waist.

"The water we have is only enough for six more days, until your birthday," Boli said.

"Don't mention that word again!" Wulfgar said, seeming very upset. "The only present I want is the treasure!"

"Your desire is law," Boli said as Wulfgar tied the other end of his rope to an intact bridge's pole. "Be careful."

"Stop being fussy!" Wulfgar said, starting to walk through the bridge. "Taking risk is my way of life! And I always rise again whenever I fall!"

Right after Wulfgar said that, I heard a clicking sound, and then the bridge collapsed. Wulfgar fell down and the rope kept him from falling all the way down, but the swinging movement from the fall caused him to hit his head hard to the cliffside. We pulled him up and found him almost fainted.

"I feel really old. In the past, I hit the cliffside with my face..." he said before he fainted for real. He finally woke up a few hours later, and moved on to the next bridge. This time, he tried crawling while rubbing the stones on the bridge with his hands. However, that method didn't work. I heard another clicking sound and the same thing happened again. I really hoped he would find the real bridge soon before he hurt himself really badly.

-End of Chapter 6-
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
AAAAAHHH! Once again I've lost track of time and thought I'd replied already! I am so sorry! At least I have a good excuse this time. I was joining a religious faith and church.
  • I like that no one knows how many continents are in Oz. I would enjoy seeing this explored.
  • Wulfgar's personality seems real to me, like a person one would know.
  • I suppose I'm a little like Wulfgar, saying, "Things were never so easy back then!" And panicking for past mistakes.
  • You've got me worried that the poor king will die! Don't kill him!
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