Out of the Frypan

18 4 6

(prompt: 'fire' 8.6.2018)

"It's the Bullin! I heard him clearly." Craitbul's words were garbled, his voice still croaky from the night's disuse. But the fear was real. A living, writhing thing, twisting the name from his mouth as if it caused him great pain.

Timidly, her frightened face showing how hard she was hoping against hope it was not true, Lowanna said, "A dream, Craitbul? Maybe a bad, bad dream?"

Craitbul shook his head violently. "NO. No maybes about this one. I heard him shriek. And you know what THAT means."

"T-T-Tennateona!" Even at barely more than a whisper, Lowanna's increasing fear made her voice shake with terror. An evil spirit like Tennateona was not something Man or beast could confront and emerge unscathed. Even surviving an encounter would take some sort of miracle. "He's still on our trail. I knew it... knew it was the wrong thing to do to make another oven, even all these miles away." An uncontrollable shudder of her shoulders rippled through her neck and head as her eyes widened and teared up. Lowanna was a stoic woman usually, but when the bird spirit, Bullin cried in his bizarre, groaning voice, there was little time for hesitation. The loss of almost her whole family many moons ago had taught her well.

Craitbul echoed her shudder, but this one travelled the full height of him. "It was not just a groan this time, Lowanna. It was a shriek - the most dire warning I've heard." And he looked fearfully back over his shoulder. In his mind's eye, once again he heard the first ugly rumbling as they ran for their lives over ground that had begun shaking, and his nose was filled with the memory of those first sulphur vapours before ever the smoke began billowing from the mountain top. And then came the explosions, the fire with its flames licking high into the heavens. High enough to warm the toes of the greatest God, Altjira. Craitbul nodded to himself, perfectly confident that's how high those flames reached. He clung to that belief - the only one that made sense in this terrifying ordeal, now repeating itself... again!

"But this time, I saw water as well. We moved again and again, always digging new ovens, but each time the water rose and put out the fires." Caitbul was completely bewildered. Fire and Water? At the same time? This was so far beyond his comprehension.

Lowanna moaned and she cried out, "First fire and then water to destroy all we treasure? All that means the difference between life... and d-d-death? It can't be true?"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It would be many generations before another breed of people would walk this ancient land and wonder over the incredible blue of its most famous lake. Another generation again to coin the phrase -

Fire and Water... Man's Best Friend and his Worst Enemy

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