Saturday, 17 November 2007

The Arrival

Gremal Quest begins with the arrival of a strange creature. Who is he? What has brought him here?

Skrubb sniffed loudly, sampling the air. Little variations in scent, a noticeable drop in temperature, a creeping chill. Night was falling up above. Vibrations had ceased: nobody was about. Time to go.

He shifted his weight and stretched up, clawing at the soft soil. Clods of dark earth and small stones rained down on his head and shoulders, catching in his curly hair, rattling as they fell away into the narrow shaft below. He was careful to keep his bare feet wedged into the toe holds he had cut, for the tunnel behind him was steeply inclined and very deep. His fingers brushed at hanging roots, which clustered together, forming a closely knit ceiling above him.

Breathing deeply, he tore and ripped at the shaggy lattice, tugging the roots aside. A shower of fine earth and leaf mould poured down, clogging his eyes and nose. His feet lost their grip and he slipped, sliding down several feet before his claws dug into the soft earth and slowed his fall. fresh air flooded into the burrow carrying a confusion of woodland scents in its wake. all at once he could smell vegetation, animals, burning, water. His nostrils flared and he shook his head, struggling to overcome the alien barrage. Above he saw a ragged circle of pale light. Panting, he pulled himself toward it.

Skrubb's head popped out of the ground in the shadow of a huge oak. He turned slowly through a complete circle, his large eyes counting the trees that loomed around him. The wood was like a great hall with the trunks as pillars and a vaulted roof of branches. Accustomed to the long dark, he could see easily in this moonlit gloom. At irregular intervals pale beams shone down through gaps in the branches, silvering the carpet of fallen leaves. He resolved to avoid these illuminated spots. Don't let them see you! Don't let them catch you!

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