They had trekked over the plains of the Beyond for the better part of the day; La was surprised when they ended up reaching the Hills of Cryisthe by noon, the hovering sun splaying radiant light around the gently slanting hills around her. From her father’s stories she knew that it was a place sacred to Cryisthe, goddess of the harvest. Her father had warned La mildly of Cryisthe’s anger towards her as one of his kin. Anger that had simmered over the years after Ert had sealed a Wrask, one of the most abominable creatures in the world, inside of her central hill out of haste. La never imagined she would step foot in the place.
“Stay back, guys, I’ve got this.” La adopted a resolute look and stepped forward, her eyes fixed on the huge hill sloping off into the horizon.
She cleared her throat, whispered something incomprehensible and whipped her gnarled wood staff with a ceremonial flourish, finally slamming it into the earth with an unnatural crack! that shook at the group’s feet.
“Oh, great Tchershich, I am La, the Daughter of Ert the Thunder-voiced, The Fifth Retainer of Your Will,” La’s voice, now dropped an octave, boomed across the hill, “Years ago my father wounded and sealed a Wrask within this hill. I now call upon your power to unseal this monster, to better align with your will.”
The sky above rumbled with compliance. She brought her staff down to the ground with another resounding crack and at once the ground before her split like a broken scab. Damp, metallic smelling steam poured from the opening.
“There is no way we’re going in there.” Raul stated, wrinkling his nose and peering into the gap. The tunnel dripped with sickly purple beads of unknown liquid that slowly dripped off the walls to form pools along the uneven dirt floor.
“Yeah we’re not going in, hey Wrask get out here right now or I swear to Tchershich I will reseal this opening!”
“Oh shit.” A panicked, hissing voice echoed from somewhere deep within.
“I’m coming, I’m coming, please don’t reseal the entrance, shitshitshshit.” A clattering and clanging issued from in the tunnel and more expletives were heard. A tall, gangly figure practically leaped out of the darkness, staggering out into the sunlight and taking off in a dead sprint down the hill. The Candy Knight practically threw himself down the hill after it.
“TCHERSHICH DAMN IT!” La cursed vehemently and stomped the ground. She swung her staff like a club and a thin, spidery line of electricity arced down the hill to connect with the fleeing Wrask. A bloodcurdling howl escaped the creature as it buckled and tumbled down the hill. The Candy Knight tackled the towering shape as it tried to pull itself up. Oocus, Raul, and La rushed down to help as the large pink knight grappled violently with the huge swath of black leathery monster.
Its claws pinged against his armored plates like a barrage of sword blows. The Candy Knight growled angrily and rolled away. La sent a flurry of sparks scattering across the Wrask’s hide and it howled aggressively, snapping its head towards La. Its big, circular eyes drew into blood-red slits and its needle-like teeth scraped together angrily, then painfully as the Candy Knight’s blunt weapon smashed him over the head.
“Aauuuuugh. Dammit. Owwwwww, shit.” The creature rolled along the ground clutching its head in anguish. “Damn that HURTS.”
The knight stood impassively over the thing. “Good. I didn’t kill it.”
“Alright well I guess we should tie the damn thing up,” La sighed, looking at Raul, “use one of your weird spells on it or something.”
Raul looked down at the frighteningly large creature writhing on the ground. “Someone needs to keep him still.”
Oocus and the knight struggled for several minutes with the monster until they finally had it pinned with Oocus holding back its unnaturally long arms.
“You guys could have just asked me to stay still,” the Wrask complained as Raul kneeled next to it, “I’m not an unreasonable- AHH FUCK WHAT WAS THAT?”
A sizzling red flash escaped from Raul’s hands and he stood. “I just melded the flesh of your hands together.” he explained.
“Oh gods Raul, I didn’t think you’d do that, that sounds painful.” La said sympathetically.
The Wrask screamed furiously in pain and watched helplessly as smoke coiled out from the useless hunk of flesh at the ends of its arms and into the cloudless sky.
“Ungggggggggh. You guys suck.”
Raul looked guilty. “Look, Wrask, I’m sorry but it was the only spell I knew that could bind your hands together.”
“What sort of magician are you? Have you ever heard of enchanted chains? I’ve been bound with those loads of times, it’s painless and effective.”
Raul frowned. “Well I would need an actual chain for that. And that’s more in the realm of enchantments, which I’m not very familiar with.”
“Enough idle chitchat!” La interjected. She nudged the groaning Wrask on its back and stood over him imperiously. The Wrask’s fiery eyes blinked distastefully up at her.
“So you’re the daughter of the great Ert, eh? I see the resemblance, though you seem a lot… less impressive, than I thought you’d be.”
La whacked the Wrask between the large red bulges it had for eyes. “You don’t strike me as very impressive either, Wrask.”
“If my hands weren’t seared together behind me I would claw your eyes out, thunder-brat.”
She jabbed him with her staff again and continued, “Anyways, we’re looking for the Wrask Castle. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”
“Can you take us there?”
“Mhmm. Though I don’t know what on earth could be worth getting eaten alive by Wrasks for.”
“The rescue of the reputable Princess of the minor Strawberry County of the Gumdrop Province of the Candyland Kingdom.” the Candy Knight suddenly interjected, hefting his weapon over the monster’s sprawled body. It cringed.
“Okay, okay, I’ll take you. I don’t have much of a choice, I suppose.”
The knight lowered his weapon, and the Wrask cautiously sat up in the dirt.
“Well, I’m not a damn compass, someone show me a map.”
Oocus sifted through his pack, pulled out the map, and spread it on the ground in front of the monster. The Wrask leaned down until his snout touched the parchment, the inflamed saucers of his eyes rolling back and forth as they scoured the map.
“Hmmm… a bit inaccurate, and it looks like it was drawn by club-hand, but it’ll do. We are right here, aren’t we?” He pressed his snout over several faint scribbles labeled The Seventeen Hills. Oocus nodded.
“Ahuh. I thought that’s where I was. That damned lightning-thrower chased me halfway across this map before he got me.”
“Well that’s what you get for… what was it you did again?”
A throaty laugh issued from the Wrask. “I ate his horse. That crazy bastard chased me on foot for miles and miles, then bound me in that hill for thirty years for eating his horse.”
“It does seem a little harsh.” La admitted.
“But still, you can’t just go around eating someone’s horses. It’s not right.” Raul iterated.
The Candy Knight stepped forward and lifted the Wrask to his feet. “We should get going now.”