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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 7
Quote:Year 1

Chapter 7: Cheated?

Days have passed after the day we had arrived at Fort Markash. Every bridges Wulfgar had tested had turned out to be fake. Because he hit the cliffside pretty hard whenever he fell down, about half the time he fainted and Boli had to pull him up, and then he had to rest for some hours. At the other times, he climbed the cliffside with Boli pulling him, got exhausted from it, and had to rest for several hours. Seeing that made me understand why Wulfgar had ordered Boli to stay put and not testing bridges. Wulfgar needed Boli to pull him up whenever he fell down. Meanwhile, me and Huck had been doing nothing other than watching and helping to move the campsite every night to the next intact bridge. At this rate, I worried that Wulfgar would not consider us helpful at the end of this hunt and refuse to help me in my project. It was already dusk of this day and Wulfgar had just destroyed another bridge.

"You have been working hard, your majesty," Boli said to Wulfgar, who was sitting on the ground and panting.

"I be cursed. Today three wrong bridges again. All I got are bumps and bruises!" Wulfgar said.

"Hang in there, your majesty! Only four bridges left! Tomorrow we will find the correct one!" Boli said.

"I don't know anymore. Twenty tries out of twenty four bridges, and all were wrong. Either I'm unlucky..." Wulfgar said. "Or all of them are fake."

"How can that happen? If all of them are fake, then how could the ancestors get across?" I asked.

"Perhaps memorizing which tile the trap trigger is and walk without stepping on it is the actual safe way?" Wulfgar said. "Can't ignore the possibility."

"Oh man, I'm starting to worry that it might be true," Huck said.

"Anyway, it's getting dark. Let's call it a day and sleep," Boli said. We then heard a rumbling noise.

"What was that? Another bridge collapsed?" I asked.

"No..." Wulfgar said. "That was my stomach rumbling. We haven't eaten for five days straight."

"I feel kinda the same," Boli said. "What about you two, boys?"

"I still can handle it," Huck said.

"I somehow don't feel hungry at all," I said. Perhaps worrying that I would not get any help from the dwarves had been suppressing my hunger.

"You can go back to the village if you want," Wulfgar said as we all sat down on our bedrolls.

"What? And missing your birthday? No way!" Boli said.

"Me too!" Huck said.

"Yeah!" I said.

"Is that day tomorrow? Crazy... I'm so hungry I have no strength to be angry," Wulfgar said as he lied down on his bedroll. "I only can remember how good you are at cooking, and that shows how hungry I am."

"Want dirt yam?" Boli asked, grinning a bit.

"No! I still would rather eat mud!" Wulfgar shouted.

"I have no objections, your majesty," Boli said, and we all went to sleep. While sleeping, I kept thinking about the possibility of all bridges being fake. If that was really true, I had to think of a way.

At the following morning, we all woke up not feeling too well. Probably because all of us had been living with only water and no food. Wulfgar seemed quite worse than us because he had been doing all the physical works and taking injuries in the process.

"Err... your majesty?" I said timidly.

"I told you to call me by name at this time," Wulfgar said. "What is it?"

"I think... I got an idea," I said.

"Really? Let's hear it!" Wulfgar said.

"Since there's a chance that the all the bridges might be fake, I think we better make our own bridge," I said.

"Good point, but how?" Wulfgar asked.

"I'm thinking of tying the rope to make a lasso and then throw it to the bridge pole across," I said.

"Fine idea, but the ravine is wide. The distance across is too far to throw a lasso," Wulfgar said.

"That's what the remaining bridges are for," I said. "If you can run about half the bridge before it falls, it should be close enough."

"Hmm..." Wulfgar said, seeming to be thinking. "Worth a try. Let's do it!"

Wulfgar then as usual tied a rope to the bridge's left pole and his waist, but this time he brought another rope which had been made a lasso and tied up at the other pole of the bridge. He then took a deep breath and began to run through the bridge. Soon, I heard a click and the bridge collapsed. Wulfgar threw the lasso before he fell down, and fortunately the lasso fell right at the pole across. Wulfgar grabbed the rope and moved across as the rest three of us cheered at him. After that, both Boli and Wulfgar worked together from each side of the ravine to set up a rope bridge.

Crossing the bridge was really scary for me. The webbing of the rope bridge was not that tight, so there were holes on it. Seeing the deep dark fall below the bridge gave me shivers and my legs felt like jelly.

"C'mon boy!" Wulfgar said from the other side.

"Hang in there, buddy!" Huck said from behind me.

"I'm... trying..." I said. It took me a great amount of effort until I finally reached the other side.

"Hate to admit it, but crossing this felt pretty hard," Boli said.

"That's because we're too hungry," Wulfgar said. "We're getting weaker and weaker as we speak. Let's not waste any more time."

We all then walked around the wall until we arrived at the front entrance. Behind the gate we saw that between the gate and the stone building there was nothing but a field of square stone tiles.

"The treasure is just right there! Let's go!" Wulfgar said, seeming very excited. He then ran straight towards the staircase of the building. However, when he stepped on a tile, the tile shattered, revealing a deep hole below it. Wulfgar fell down but he managed to grab the ledge of the floor and dangle there.

"Pull me up! Quick!" he shouted. We rushed to him and pulled him up from the hole. After that, all of us retreated back to the front wall, leaning and panting.

"Now what?" Boli asked.

"I don't know. Nobody knows how many of those tiles are traps," Wulfgar said. As he said that, I suddenly realized something.

"Maybe we can know," I said.

"Really? How?" Huck asked.

"See the things growing on the tiles?" I said.

"Hmph! Dirt yam! So?" Wulfgar said. Indeed there were dirt yam plants growing on several parts of the tile field.

"Tiles next to the dirt yam plants should be safe. Plants cannot grow without soil, can they?" I said.

"Oh yeah! You're right! Good job again, boy!" Wulfgar said. We then went to the bottom of the staircase by stepping only on tiles next to the growing dirt yams.

"Alright, what next?" Boli said.

"There should be no more trap," Wulfgar said, starting to climb the stairs.

"How can you be so sure?" I asked, following him.

"The treasure will be gone if the building falls," Wulfgar said. I actually didn't get his logic, but I kept following him anyway. The climb was tiring even though the building was not that high. Probably because none of us had eaten anything for days. When we finally reached the peak, there was an open door, and behind it was a room filled with a pile of treasure. What I found strange was that the treasure pile was located on a thick stone platform with a stone pillar at each corner of the platform. Above the pillars, there was another thick stone platform very close to the ceiling of the room.

"No wonder they made those dangerous traps," Wulfgar said. "This amount of treasure is enough to establish a kingdom."

"But why all these are put here just like that?" I asked.

"I bet they were confident with the traps outside," Wulfgar said, taking one jeweled necklace from the pile. Suddenly we heard a clicking sound followed by a rumbling noise.

"Run away!" Boli shouted, pulling Wulfgar with him. We did as he had said immediately. The room collapsed with a loud rumbling noise, and all of us made it just in time to get out and take cover at the stairs. Thankfully, the rest of the building still stood firmly.

"No," Wulfgar said. "No! NO!"

"Are you two alright?" Boli asked.

"I'm fine," I said.

"Me too," Huck said.

"Come and help me!" Wulfgar said as he ran back to the remains of the room. "We must dig the treasures out!"

All of us then tried to lift one large piece of debris away, but failed.

"This is useless... we are too weak," Wulfgar said, panting like the rest of us. "Once again, I failed because of hunger! ...and pride."

"Why are you saying that?" Boli asked.

"I have to be honest..." Wulfgar said. "I didn't immediately went down the hill after reaching the ground back then. I was so hungry I started digging out one dirt yam. But then I remembered that the yam was toxic if uncooked. I then swore not to eat it ever again. But now, I'm willing to pay any price just to eat one!"

"Let me..." Boli said before interrupted.

"Never mind. We will go back to the village and beg for food," Wulfgar said. "But please leave me alone for now."

"Alright," Boli said. "Let's go, boys."

"Are you sure about this?" I asked as the three of us left Wulfgar.

"Don't worry about him," Boli said. "Now I only need you two to do something."

"Huh?" I and Huck said at the same time.

Later, Wulgar was lying down on the pile of debris. He was so tired he had fallen asleep there. He had wanted to be left alone, so he could sit there daydreaming about the treasure he had been wanting for many years, which was just right there next to him but also very far from his reach. Another reason was that he didn't want to be seen crying over the treasure he had just lost. He had no idea how long he had been asleep, but what woke him up was a poke at his shoulders.

"Huh?" Wulfgar said, still half asleep.

"Happy birthday, your majesty!" Boli said together with me and Huck. On his right hand was a plate of a whole dirt yam with vapor coming out from it. Wulfgar was surprised seeing that.

"What? Isn't that... dirt yam? How?" Wulfgar asked.

"When we were separated at the village, I traded some of my food supplies for the recipe," Boli said. "It turned out to be easy, just boil it in salt water for half an hour."

"So you already know the secret?! Why did you left me to eat air for a week!?" Wulfgar shouted, seeming very upset.

"You yourself refused to eat it, remember?" Boli said.

"Well, alright. My bad then. But what about the boys?!" Wulfgar asked, still pretty upset.

"I actually cooked one for them after you fell asleep on the second night after we lost our food," Boli said.

"Man, better not remember that again," Huck said. "The taste was terrible indeed!"

"I say beyond horrible," I said. "After that, every time I remember the taste, my hunger just disappeared."

"Heh, alright then," Wulfgar said, taking the dirt yam from the plate. "The taste sure will be disgusting, but I need strength to dig out that treasure."

Wulfgar then slowly, full of doubt and fear, bit the dirt yam. He then chewed it and was immediately surprised. He then ate the yam viciously as if it was very tasty.

"The taste is... great! How?" Wulfgar said, still eating the yam.

"The accessories in my waist bag are actually my seasoning set," Boli said. "Every night, after everyone fell asleep, I cooked a dirt yam trying different combinations with the recipe until I find one which gave a good taste. I found this combination last night."

"Good job! Have you all eaten this as well?" Wulfgar asked.

"Unfortunately, all those experimenting on the recipe depleted the seasoning set I have," Boli said. "The one your majesty is eating is the result of last night, just heated up."

Right after Boli said that, Wulfgar froze in place. His mouth stopped chewing, and his eyes then looked at the half-eaten dirt yam. The silence lasted for some more seconds.

"Why didn't you tell me earlier?!" Wulfgar shouted. "Who am I to eat in front of hungry people?! Go eat the rest!"

"Don't worry about us," Huck said.

"All three of us ate a regular dirt yam before going back here," I said. "Still tasted terrible, but hunger kinda helped."

"That, is the birthday present from us," Boli said. "Happy birthday once again, your majesty."

Wulfgar stood in silence after hearing that, and then he ate the rest of the yam in his hands.

"Alright, no more slacking! Get here and help me move all this debris!" Wulfgar shouted.

All of us then worked together to move the pile of debris little by little. It took several hours until we finally managed to move the last rock obstructing us from the treasure. It was quite a surprise seeing that the entire treasure pile was still intact, but I understood why.

"So that's why there was a second ceiling right above the treasure," Boli said.

"Indeed," I said. "It was built to protect the treasure in case someone triggered the trap."

It took us another several hours to move all the treasure across the ravine. By the time we finished transporting the last of the treasure, it was already dusk. We then set a camp right next to the treasure pile we had transported.

"I will stay here to watch over the treasure. You go back to the village and tell them that they can come to take their share of the treasure," Wulfgar said.

"Alright, I will be back by morning," Boli said. "What about you, boys?"

"I'm kinda too exhausted to walk down those stairs," I said.

"To be honest, me too," Huck said.

"Alright then," Boli said. "By the way, there's a dirt yam in the cooking pot if you get hungry. Made with the remaining broth of last night."

"Bleh!" Wulfgar said after he noticed the cooking pot near him. "I ate that because I was starving, not because I liked it! And the acual present I want is the treasure, not that yam! Remember?"

"I see. Then I'll take my leave," Boli said, and he left us. I and Huck went to sleep immediately because we were very exhausted. However, I was not fully asleep yet when I heard a few things.

"Of all vegetables I have eaten, dirt yam is the most disgusting of all," Wulfgar said to himself while shivering. "And now I'm hungry again..."

After Wulfgar said that, he stared at the cooking pot for a while. He then took the dirt yam from the pot and began eating it.

"Ah well, I'll just eat this. Pretty good actually," he said. "I must thank everyone for the best birthday present of my life."

I felt somewhat happy hearing that. Wulfgar was a good person at heart despite the few downsides I had seen or Boli had mentioned. I was still a bit worried on how he would decide on helping my project, though.

As Boli had said, he returned by morning bringing a number of young people from the village below. Everyone then brought the treasure to the village chief's house, and then they split the treasure as Wulfgar and the chief had agreed upon. Every people of the village looked very happy, knowing that their life of poverty was about to end thanks to the brave old treasure hunter.

One week later, we were already back at Dwarven Capital. King Wulfgar immediately put all the treasure he had obtained into his private stash in his castle. After that, he brought us, including Boli, to the conference room to talk about his decision on helping my project.

"So... you once said about needing a help from us for your project," King Wulfgar said once all of us were seated. "What kind of help?"

"For now, I think I need a power source. A generator," I said.

"Generator? What generator?" King Wulfgar asked.

"Uhh... electricity generator?" I said timidly.

"Electricity? What is that?" King Wulfgar asked.

"It's a type of power. It's like..." I said, having no idea how to explain.

"Maybe we can say that electricity is like small lightning?" Huck said.

"Oh, you mean shock power?" Boli said.

"Well... maybe?" I said, unsure of what Boli had said.

"If that's what you mean, I can have one ready for you within a week," Boli said.

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

"Do you approve this, your majesty?" Boli said.

"All the help repaid with one shock power generator. Why not?" King Wulfgar said. "Alright, dismissed. Talk to Boli if you need to discuss anything more. I'm taking my leave."

After saying that, King Wulfgar left the conference room without looking at any of us.

"What's up with him?" Huck asked.

"His majesty was trying hard not to scream out of happiness," Boli said.

"Huh? Why is that?" I asked.

"A shock power generator is actually quite cheap and easy to make. Your help back then can worth a thousand generators at least," Boli said. "You only asked for one, and his majesty is always happy to pay cheap for big gains."

"What?! Why didn't you tell us earlier?" Huck said.

"I'm really sorry, but if I would have done that if I could. Saying anything that ends up raising the king's expense without raising gain is a crime punishable by life sentence," Boli said.

"That's just... doesn't make sense," I said, feeling really upset.

"I already told you that he was quite greedy, didn't I?" Boli said.

"I had better thoughts of him, but not anymore after he cheated us like this!" Huck said, seeming very angry.

"No! He did NOT cheat you!" Boli said in loud, angry voice. "You helped him, he agreed to help you, you asked for one generator, and you get one generator! Which part of that is cheating!? ANSWER ME!"

"But I... we..." Huck said, seeming shocked by Boli's reaction.

"Oh... I'm sorry. I should have not said it like that. Please forgive me," Boli said.

"I... I need to go out for a while," Huck said, quickly leaving the conference room. I could guess that he went somewhere quiet, a place where nobody would see him crying.

"Please... try to control your temper for us..." I said, trying to hold my own tears. "We are... not... your fellow... dwarves who are used to such temper.... We are humans, and we're still kids..."

"Yeah... you're right... I'm sorry," Boli said. "It's just that despite being greedy, he gained all the wealth he has through legitimate means. He never, ever, resort to deceit and trickery. That was why I got upset when your friend said that his majesty cheated you. His majesty did not cheat you. The problem was that you did not know the value of what you have done for his majesty."

"I guess we just have to move on then," I said.

"Indeed," Boli said. "By the way, what will the generator be fueled by?"

"Gem berries," I said.

"Gem berries? Oh, that's a different case then," Boli said.

"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked.

"A generator powered by gem berries is very complicated to make and costs a massive amount of resources," Boli said. "The resources needed for making such generator can be used to make about three thousand steam powered generators."

"How come?" I asked, being surprised at what I had just heard.

"I better not explain that. Too complicated," Boli said. "Anyway, with just one gem berry the generator can run for about a whole week without stopping."

"That's incredible!" I said.

"Heh, so in the end you're the one who gets the better part of the deal," Boli said with a bit of a grin.

"Will the king be angry about this and stop us?" suddenly Huck asked. He had just returned from wherever he had just been.

"No. His majesty is a man of his word. The deal was 'you want a generator, you get one generator'. What kind of generator is never mentioned," Boli said, still grinning.

So, as Boli had told us, what was supposed to be a bad deal for us turned out to be a very good deal for us. Right after our conversation, Boli took us back to Emerald City with his car, saying that he would deliver the gem-berry-powered generator within a month. When we arrived, all our friends welcomed us, eagerly asking about how our adventure had been. I then told Henry about the new generator, and he seemed very happy with it. I really hoped the new generator would be a stepping stone to move another step forward, towards Strawberryland.

-End of Chapter 7-
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
I think I personally would have tried the remaining bridges before making my own, although I can't blame the crew for doing what they did instead. I think everything resolved nicely despite the failure, and I want to wish you good luck on getting back to Strawberryland like I'm actually writing to the people in the story. You've thought up details well and put effort into it all, and as always, I applaud you. I'm sorry for taking so long to comment!
Stella Grapes Wrote:I think I personally would have tried the remaining bridges before making my own, although I can't blame the crew for doing what they did instead.
An intact bridge is needed to run halfway across and throw the lasso right after the trap triggers. Otherwise the ravine is too wide to throw a lasso across, and they don't want to risk the chance of all bridges being rigged with traps.

Stella Grapes Wrote:I think everything resolved nicely despite the failure,
Eh? What failure? They got all the treasure. Could you explain?
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
I think I can't read anymore and need to retire my eyes. I literally missed that part. I'm so sorry.

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