“I am hungry...” it whispered to the little creature, who was still bowing. The large creature's voice sounded as if a numerous amount of creatures speaking, yet it was also as soft as the wind in the trees. The small creature trembled. “Y-yes, Master Chelastis!The package will be sent and will arrive before the next m-moonrise!”
“Before the next moonrise...” Chelastis whispered again. “Excellent!” The creature's grin was hidden by the moving shadows, and his laugh was concealed by the whispering wind.
“Yuck,” muttered Shannon as she trudged through the mud. “I hate it when it rains.” Nearby, Christine was making her way along the road by splashing in every puddle she encountered.
“Yeah, but sadly, we're soaked,” Shannon complained.
Moments later, the two of them were plodding their ways through the mud and into the rain-splattered prairie grass that had sprouted on both the hills and the path. Christine and Shannon had only taken the shortcut once before, but they had turned back before they had reached half of it, not wanting to go near the old war ruins along the way. Right now, however, they were nowhere near the ruins.
“Let's go a bit farther. There might be a tree or something along the road.” said Shannon. On they went. Soon, they spotted the crumbled remains of the first ruin in the far distance.
“Have you ever heard of the tale of Chelastis?” Christine whispered to Shannon.
“Kind of, I guess. Well, it's not exactly a story, just a rumor going around that there is a beautiful place called Chelastis, and it is so enchanting that once you go there, you never want to leave. And the rumor says that the way to get into Chelastis is right here, in these war ruins. They say that once a group of people went in to colonize Chelastis, and they were never seen again.”
“Yeah, assuming that they can't get stuck in there.” replied Christine. They walked in thoughtful silence for a while, still looking around for a place to hide from the rain. They had been so caught up by the story of Chelastis that they had almost forgotten that the rain was falling even harder.
“Finally, no more rain, no more mud!” She waited for Shannon to answer, but nothing happened. Christine peered inside the hut. No one was in sight.
“Are you okay, Christine?”
“It's okay. I felt really bad at first, too.” What?! She looked around. Her mouth dropped open. They weren't in the war ruin. Instead, they were on the bank of a winding, rushing river. Bordering the river were huge fronds of fern, the greenest plants Christine had ever seen. Behind the fern, she could see a huge jungle of exotic plants and animals, painted with all the shades of green possible, but only green. At some places, where the jungle thinned out, you could see the broken parts of big white rocks with golden flecks on them. In the distance, towards where the river was flowing, a huge range of utterly black mountains towered above them. The sky above was the clearest blue and without a cloud. It was amazing.
They spent a few hours thinking about how this could have happened and exploring, never straying too far from the river or each other. After a while, they worked out that the war ruin that they had gone in had somehow been an entrance to Chelastis. They didn't know how they could get out of Chelastis, already checking the place on the beach they had landed. They were talking about this when Shannon looked up at the jungle behind Christine.
“I don't know. Nothing's there.” Suddenly, a strange looking animal jumped out from behind a tree and started singing.
The little animal stopped hopping around and bowed. Now the girls could get a better look at him. He had a bright red trickster hat with bells on the top, which was the red that Shannon had seen in the bushes. The rest of him was white, and he had two beady black eyes and rosy red cheeks. His shirt was yellow with colorful dots.
“Yes, yes of course! I'll guide you around and show you all you can see!” he sang.
Soon after, they were following Jinx, the guide, through the jungle.
“We should probably find somewhere to stay for the night, since it's so dark already!” Jinx harmonized. “Here, I know a cave where we can stay! Stay out here, and I'll go check if there's anything unusual!” He disappeared into the trees.
“I really, really hope not.” Christine whispered back. Suddenly, they heard a rustle in the bushes behind them.
“This will be a good meal. A full meal. Almost as good as the group that foolishly wandered here before.” the voice chuckled. Slowly, Christine and Shannon turned around to face whatever had been talking to them. The last thing they saw was a yellow eye, a lolling tongue, and a flash of sharp, white teeth.