[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 41 – Sunlight!
Thorgaut walked down the tunnels. He followed the maps in his head that Happy Feet had left him. He probed out mentally for Ariana. He didn’t sense her presence. Either she was too far away, or she was cloaking her mind.
He debated whether to head back to his friends or try to locate Halldora. In the end, he decided to find his friends first. It was important to reassure them that he was okay. That way they wouldn’t be searching for him. Also, he knew he might not even find Halldora’s meadow. It was well cloaked, and Thorgaut didn’t know if he could locate it even with his recent, mental powers.
His trip to the cave entrance was uneventful. He saw many new, fascinating species of animals. Strange and exotic creatures that he never knew existed.
He sensed the presence of a few giant spiders probing out at him. He didn’t want to end up as spider bait or have to fight them. So, he mentally slapped them and shredded at their minds painfully to scare them off. He projected an enormous, ferocious version of himself down the rest of the tunnel.
Not one of the spiders attempted to mess with him after that. They didn’t even expose themselves as he walked through their caverns. The spiders pressed back into their webs weaved in dark corners. Others pushed themselves farther down their crevices trying to avoid his mind probes. He chuckled as they strived to make themselves smaller and less detectable
Thorgaut also sensed the presence of weird creatures that he didn’t recognize. He couldn’t tell if they were human or animal. Some seemed to be a cross between the two. Others were wholly different and foreign to his senses.
The Viking didn’t stop to discover who or what they were. He was curious, and someday he knew it would be fun coming back to explore further. But for now, he was anxious to get home.
There was one interesting thing he came across. It was a plant species with a certain amount of intelligence. They actually seemed to be able to communicate with him at an elementary level. He approached them warily as he probed for danger.
The plants didn’t seem to be a threat nor think of him to be one. Thorgaut noticed that it seemed to exude an aura of healing intelligence. They actually seemed to be offering their services to him if needed.
Thorgaut knew his body had fully healed itself of everything he had been through and experienced. So, he politely declined and thanked them for their gracious offer. He quickened his pace after that. He knew he was arriving at the cave entrance.
As he exited the cave, he could see the river a short distance away. It was late afternoon, and the sun was low on the horizon behind him. It took his eyes a minute to adjust to the sunlight.
“Sunlight!” he thought. “It felt so good to be out in the open and breathe fresh air once again. He inhaled deeply, paying attention to each and every scent that assailed his senses.
An awareness of Ariana’s presence pressed into his mind. She greeted him excitedly as she popped out of the forest. She scampered over in his direction.
“Hey there,” he greeted her back. “I see you made it safely. How is Svart?”
“He’s doing well,” she replied. “He snapped out of Abyss Snarer’s control soon after we entered the tunnel. What happened after I left you?”
The spiderling probed his mind for a mental image. He played out a brief vision of the spider jumping at him. Then showed Ariana a scene of him stabbing Abyss Snarer in the forehead with the fang. And finally, a view of himself ripping off the giant spider’s head.
“Wow! Nice job,” she muttered admiringly. He could tell her level of respect increased immediately. He thought he even sensed a bit of fear tinge her emotions as she realized how fast and powerful he had become.
He held back the images of Abyss Snarer biting him and wrapping his body in her thread. He felt it was unnecessary. And frankly, the Viking warrior felt a bit miffed at having been caught off guard like that.
He also didn’t want to reveal the extent of his healing powers. The less Ariana knew about his healing capabilities, the better. She might share it in the collective mental web. They might use that kind of knowledge against him someday. Besides, keeping it a secret could come in quite handy at some point.
“How did my friends react when they saw you?” he asked.
He imagined the look of shock on their faces when they saw the spiderling and chuckled to himself. Even though Ariana was small for her kind, Ariana was still much significantly bigger than any spider the humans had ever seen.
“To say I surprised the girl would be an understatement,” she replied. “She screamed and climbed a tree as soon as she saw me.”
Ariana suppressed a giggle as she pushed a mental image into Thorgaut’s mind. He could see Katla hanging onto the branches and screaming hysterically. They both chuckled at the thought but stopped when they saw her coming through the trees. It was hard to keep a straight face as he reviewed the scene in his head.
“Thorgaut!” Katla screamed in delight. “You’re alive, and you’re back!”
The pretty girl raced in Thorgaut’s direction. Her wild, red hair streamed in the wind. Katla threw her arms around Thorgaut when she reached him. She squeezed him tightly for a long time. She finally let go and wiped a tear from her eye.
“It’s good to see you too, Katla,” he said brushing his hand against her cheek to wipe away another tear.
“We thought you were gone for good and that we never see you again,” she said swallowing a sob. She grabbed Thorgaut again and held on. He hugged her back now that she didn’t have his arms pinned to his sides.
“Where’s everyone else?” he asked.
“They’re out looking for you,” she replied. “Liut, Grimar, and Bior left a week ago to track you down. I haven’t seen them since.”
Thorgaut’s heart froze in his face paled.
“What is it?” Katla asked. “What happened to them? What happened you all this time?”
Thorgaut shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he replied. “There are a lot of dangerous things out here in these woods. Anything could have happened to them. We need to find them though.”
He mentally asked Ariana if she could still tap into the collective mind.
“Of course,” she replied. “You want me have the spider scan the caves.”
“Yes,” he answered. “Have they seen any humans wandering around in there.”
“No,” she said. “But I have asked a few to head back up to the entrance underneath Svart’s house. They were already heading in that direction anyway.”
The three of them walked back towards the camp where they met up with Svart. Thorgaut was happy to see the boy safe and sound. He gave the blond-haired lad a big hug. Svart seemed pleased to see him as well.
“What a crazy adventure. Huh?” Thorgaut said.
Svart laughed and rolled his eyes. “You can say that again!”
Ariana tapped into his awareness. She let him know that the spiders had arrived at the entrance to the boy’s house. They hadn’t seen or sensed the presence of any humans in the cave. The spiders had even entered and scanned the house. But Thorgaut could see that everything was in place just like he had left it.
Thorgaut mentally ran back over the path he had taken to arrive at Halldora’s meadow. He knew that he had circled around and come back in this direction. Knulkforrest couldn’t be that far away. If knew its exact location he could cut straight through the trees and get there quickly. But there was a good chance of him getting lost again. He assumed that was what had happened to his friends.
As he traced his route, there was an area of his memory that seemed to be blanked out. Thorgaut figured that was where Halldora was cloaking her home. He tried probing around that zone mentally, but was fuzzy and out of focus. He could almost sense Halldora’s presence. He quit examining and analyzing those thoughts after a few minutes though. He felt angry at himself for not being able to pin the location down.
He felt frustrated because his senses didn’t function at a great distance. If he could pick out Halldora’s presence, he knew she must be close. Even though it was barely perceptible, he could still sense her. He sat down on the log and considered his options.
Katla had busied herself over the fire. She had been stirring something in a pot, and it smelled terrific. Soon she was serving the humans large bowls of soup. She offered Ariana a bowl who declined with a funny look on her face. But she tried to be gracious and thanked her for the kind offer.
Thorgaut could see the questioning look in Katla’s eyes. He knew she was dying to ask him what had happened and how he had met the spider. But he wasn’t in the mood to tell her the whole story right now. So he smiled and kept shoveling the delicious warm food in his mouth.
He scraped the last of the stew from the bottom of his bowl and smacked his lips. His sensitive hearing detected footsteps coming through the woods. They were soft and barely perceptible. He couldn’t tell who it was, but there was a faint scent drifting in the breeze that seemed familiar.
The Viking put his bowl down. He turned in the direction the steps were coming from. He motioned for everyone to be silent and put out his hand to take Katla’s sword. Everyone froze and watched him in silence.
He gasped has dark figure stepped out of the woods and came into view.
“Going to kill an old friend who comes to visit you, Thorgaut?” a quiet voice said lilting softly over his name.