“Enoch” a crooked voice broke out in a frail whisper. “Yes my leash.” “I …” he coughed repeatedly sweat trickling down his puffy brow. His bony and veiny arms rested on the linen sheets soiled with blood stains. “I need you to go on a quest to find water Enoch” the salt haired man said wheezing and veins tweaked on his papery neck. A blank expression struck his bloodshot eyes as he stared at the creaking chandelier. “For the sake of the Kingdom Enoch.” “Yes my leash as you wish.” A small flickering flame danced in protest against the oil laden room. A stale stench sifted over the parquetry teak floors and hung on the concrete walls like a curse.
The palace sat on a cliff its towers etching the sky with streaks of lightning stabbing the immense expanse of dense clouds dissipating a somber wind biting cheeks. The wells, rivers and ponds were only craters. Sweat and tears were a luxury that even gold couldn't afford. It was only mystery why people still breathed. Houses lined the village and they were as gloomy as their inhabitants.
The welfare of the kingdom was governed by the king. He was the heart of the kingdom threading the fabric of life and activity. His health was dictated by an enchanted purple rose that gave him power and wisdom. A serious drought hit the kingdom and things turned awry. Only Enoch had been put up to the quest to get water to nourish the plant. Once the plant was nourished the king would be better and he would solve the drought issue.
Enoch slipped out of the king’s room his face stiff with determination. He headed to the balcony front that faced the entire kingdom and he glanced over it a fire burning in his bosom. His long fingers curled the iron railings while his wispy beard danced in the wind. He was to deliver even at the cost of his own life. Without a moment’s hesitation he melted away from the castle and set course for the quest through the Never forest.
Enoch fished out his iron cladded legs with each stride investing great effort to free himself as the mushy sodden ground sank him. The trees were infinitely stretched with needle ramifications and cobwebs spilling all over from branch to branch. In the dead black there were callous booms, chirrups and creaks in a vile rhythm that bled ears. Eyes glistened and drifted around Enoch tracing his every move. He could only see a dim glint from almond shaped eyes lining the tree branches and the surroundings. He steadily trudged as we weaved his way.
The path narrowed and an embroidery of ramifications kept on knitting his route forcing him to squat and fold to pass through. A blizzard broke out and sent shivers to his bones. His caramel brown face was frosty and he clenched his teeth while his hands were a starfish. His beard was an intricate scotch of flakes. The dense black seemed to suck him in, and he could almost touch it. Gusts of wind howled insistently while the bustling of the forest grew grim and gory with branches crackling, frogs croaking and the earth thumped as dead wood fell over.
The Gargoyle territory was almost near where the aquifer was. The humid air was acrid and it wrenched Enoch’s throat. The ground beneath him crunched as he walked trampling on a carpet of fractured bones. Enoch now approached the predator zone. Blood raced with fiery sensation in his veins while his heart hammered his ribcage in a fighting prose. His steps were now cautious and guided in the nose-splitting rut of decaying carcasses. Flies were a beaded black blanket on these carcasses buzzing in glee as their proboscises munched down the soft, tender and slimy flesh.
An owl flapped its wing on Enoch’s back as it called gliding away in the whooshing winds. Enoch turned quickly and his right hand crossed to the left of his waist plowing into his silver sword. False alarm he thought as he watched the bird disappear in the thick darkness. Before he turned to face his original direction, a deep purr wailed in a subdued tone which caused hairs on his skin to tingle. For a moment he was numb. His hand was still rested on the sword handle. A streak of adrenaline ripped through his body in the following instant. His heart was thudding and his legs were twitching as blood engorged his veins. The booms, croaks, chirrups and squeaks went died down. The forest was a graveyard. Enoch’s pupil drifted to the corner of his eye socket to get a glimpse.
Thick bushy fur heaved while flittering eyes locked him in a hungry gaze. The beast rested on its haunch whiskers fluttering in the wind. Its ears stood erect as if paying attention to something. Razor sharp claws sunk into the sodden white ground while its tail rested with the tip curling up to face the sky. A steady ventilation sliced through the violent hiss of the wind and a rotten egg stink seeped into the air from its plaque plagued teeth. Enoch slowly turned. His hand firmly held the sword. The animal was snarling occasionally in one place on its haunch. Their eyes met and Enoch could only see hunger and death in the eyes of the beast. It was a standoff gaze.
He drew out his sword and the beast abruptly leapt into the air its front legs splaying while claws jutted out. It ripped through Enoch’s iron vest lightning fast before he had a chance to swing his blade. They both plunged onto the ground. Enoch's right shoulder oozed scarlet streaks while the beast pinned him down dagger like fangs tearing into his clawed shoulder. He groaned and grunted in sheer pain. Enoch’s sword was buried away in the snow. He wrestled and writhed in an effort to free himself from being eaten alive. It was now mind over matter. He was down and close to his end. "For the sake of the Kingdom Enoch" the words recited in his head.
He slung both of his legs in the crotchet of the beast and it bellowed a roar that shook leaves off trees. The beast fell off Enoch and he scrambled for his sword in the thick white blanket. It now roared incessantly brandishing its head fangs sticking out. The beast inched to where Enoch lay his stomach facing the ground in cloud of fury. As soon as it was under his breath, Enoch shoved his steel sword using his left hand and dipped it right into its chest. The beast growled a sound that cracked rocks. Warm blood trickled from the beast down to Enoch’s hand which grew goosebumps all over. The earth thudded as it fell down. Enoch’s feet were jelly and he had to use his sword to stand up while his silver armor was tainted with blood.
Finally, he could make out the iron enclosure in the distance. His throat was dry and his lips had cracks all over. Enoch dragged himself closer and closer to the Gargoyle territory. A crescendo hollo wailed from the territory and echoed into the distance. Enoch slid through the entrance two pairs of eyes arching on him from the top of pillars. Bizzare and humongous dwelings lined his path. Indistinct growls from dusty orange blazoned oval windows were drained by crude stone walls. Enoch trudged to the center of the territory on a ghost path where the aquifer was.
Just as he got to the center of the territory dust swept into the air as three pairs of wings fluttered circling around him. He was in the eye of a vortex of tumultuous dust ascending to the dark sullen sky as three gargoyles landed on the ground with a thud. Enoch was a mannequin. Paws the size of a cow huffed and spreaded on the ground. Thick long tails fanned volumes of wind in a soft wag. Enoch was an ant.
“Why is you here guy?” said one of the Gargoyles inching closer to Enoch. A croaky flat voice came from a huge face with sharp teeth skimming the upper lip. “Water sire. I need water.” A rapturous laughter exploded like a bomb. “Eyy fellas look at this grown ass dude. He came all this way for water.” The other gargoyles fell on the ground and cringed paws clutched onto their bellies. “This dude must’ve smoked his own shit or somethin” said the first gargoyle still booming with laughter. “Yeah man I’m sure he thinks he is a fish flying like a bird right now” the other gargoyles said rocking on the ground. Enoch’s head slumped and the scar on his right shoulder wrecked his nerves. “Ayt man, cool do whatchu gotta do and leave” said the first gargoyle close to him. “ ….. and hold it together for the night. No more gettin stoned my guy.”
Enoch burrowed underground to the aquifer. His entire right arm was no more than a facade now. He used his left hand to untie a steel flask from his overburdened waist which was a belt of metal equipment strewn all over. Enoch tapped the colorless gold into his flask and he choked his tight throat with incessant gulps.
“My sincere gratitude to you sires” Enoch said to the gargoyles in a courteous bow. “Man, this dude got stoned real hard actin all nice and shit.” “Yeah I’d love a drag at his bunch” said another gargoyle. “It must be heaven” the other gargoyle said. The gargoyles mocked and laughed. Enoch was already heading back.
He was now back in the Never forest again eating up the distance. Enoch winced and groaned with each step as he propelled forward. A stare hovered around him. There were many eyes on him in the Never forest but this time he had an unnerving feeling about this particular set of eyes.
Grass rattled and leaves crunched. Something was definitely after Enoch again. A wooden branch crackled and Ethan stopped completely. His eyes raced around.
A diamond headed shadow emerged from a gnarled tree and rose in front of him with sparkling silver eyes. A cherry red forked tongue darted out. Enoch drew back a few steps. The creature gave a hiss that bent metal. It slithered closer and closer eclipsing Enoch while hunching its hood and its mouth flung open revealing razor sharp fangs. Enoch wielded his sword in his left hand and lunged ready to pounce at the serpent.