Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 31 – This Is Your Only Chance[2465 words]
Schrodinger was lying in the hay. It couldn’t be more real! Stepping closer, Amon could even hear the cat’s breath, rhythmic, like a faint purring. It seemed to be asleep, but Amon wasn’t so sure.
He had been well aware that the cat was not ordinary and might have some secrets. But telling himself that there was many things he couldn’t understand in a magic world, he had never been that surprised by it. But what about the bone? It was just a bone picked up by Schrodinger from the king Ironback’s cave. And he couldn’t sense it with the Detection Eyes!
The cat must have known something, so it brought it back with it. It was a pity that the cat couldn’t speak. Even if it could, it wouldn’t bother to tell Amon what he wanted to know.
Amon took the bone out from beneath the cat’s paws. He closed his eyes and performed the Detection Eyes again. It was amazing. He was holding it in his hand, he could feel it with palm and fingers, but in the sense from Detection Eyes, he was holding nothing!
Suddenly, Amon opened his eyes, and waved the bone. A flame appeared in front of him, rising in the air and turned to bright yellow, lighting the room. Amon sent more magic power into it, and the flame turned pale then light blue, looking cold but radiating intense heat.
Amon gently turned the bone. The flame rippled out, encircling his body by three feet. As soon as he flicked it up and then down, the circle of flame extended vertically, forming a pillar around him. Amon had been cautious. keeping it from touching anything in the room, but it still touched a corner of a table. He immediately waved the bone and retracted the first [Fire Wall] he had ever created in his life. However, within an instant, the corner was burned into ashes. The heat of the fire was beyond his imagination.
Amon drew a cold breath. This bone could be used as a staff, and it was even better than his own staff! Amon reckoned that only if he had put the Pyrosprite and three standard parangons into his staff, it could barely have the same effect. However, this bone was not only extremely efficient for fire magic. Amon tried it with some other types of advanced magic that he could theoretically perform, and succeeded in a short time.
The parangons could be used as a medium for magic, in a staff or alone. But inlaid in a particular way in a staff would enhance its effect. Besides, they had other usages like as a medium for power awakening and fuel for magical artifacts.
This bone didn’t have any attribute like the special parangons did. It was like a standard parangon that had the effect of the special parangons. It could be regarded as a “universal special parangon” and it could directly serve as a staff.
Amon suddenly reminded that Crazy’Ole had once mentioned that the parangons should be called “Gods’ Bone”. So would this bone be a real god’s bone? Amon had an theory, but he wasn’t sure.
The dawn was coming. Amon had been holding the bone wondering for a long time. Suddenly, something occurred in his mind. He took up his staff with the other hand. A mage hardly use two staffs at the same time. Amon wanted to do an experiment to see if the bone could be used as a magical artifact. He was going to activate it with his staff.
He heard a meow when he grasped his staff. Turning round, he saw Schrodinger sit up on the hay and shake its head. That was a “no” sign. Then it put up a paw and pointed outside the house, telling him to go out. As Amon had been doubting, this cat wasn’t sleeping at all. It must know the secret about the bone, so it warned him when it had to.
So, was it indicating that Amon should go outside to do his experiment? The bone in one hand, the staff in another, Amon just walked out his house when he heard noises from afar. There seemed to be lots of animals running in the woods. The village was in chaos too. Group of men ran in lines outside the village with weapons.
Amon was wondering what had happened when Lynk came by with two men. Amon asked him, “What happened? Why are you in hurry?”
“My dear god!” Lynk panted, “The flood must have broken a breach of a high lake, or have caused a landslide that blocked a branch of the big river, the water stayed in the mountains and went up high. ”
The west and the north had been raining for days. The storm clouds suffused the middle of the mountain. Maybe a landslide had cause a slurry flow blocking a narrow valley mouth, forming a dammed lake. The water went up high and inundated to the middle of the mountain, including the region Amon went through to reach Lynk’s tribe.
Amon looked around and asked, “Even if the landslide had blocked the way to the valleys, the water will never be here. Why are you people panic?”
“We are not panicking!” explained Lynk, “The animals were running up to the mountains to escape the water. We are going to hunt those that go by. This time we can get a lot of prey…Thanks to the jerky making skill you’ve taught us, we can preserve them for a long time!…..I’m even planning to raise some cubs in the village, so that we can have meat more often in the future.”
“Oh” Amon waved his hands, “Then I shouldn’t have stopped you for so long. It’s important for your tribe.” But he still asked when Lynk turned around, “The flood has surpassed the valleys, is there still a way out?”
“The path you came along is not available for sure. But there’s still a path which goes southeast to the lower reaches of the big river. You just need to turn around the ridge there. It’s the path that Metatro uses…So you are leaving now?”
Amon shook his head, “No, I’m not leaving now. I just want to know. Go ahead with your hunting. I’m fine here.”
Lynk left hurriedly with his men. Amon decided to walk to the caves, and halfway, he found Schrodinger passing him deftly. When he reached the open land in front of the big cave, he saw from afar that Schrodinger was scratching on the ground at the cave. Amon was shocked when he approached the cave and threw a glance at the ground — the cat was writing!
Schrodinger was writing, not in the common script, but in hieroglyph. Both the wedge writing and the pen writing had two forms. One had to know the common script to know the hieroglyph, but one who knew the former didn’t automatically know the latter. This cat apparently knew the writing for both, but somehow chose to write in the hieroglyphs that Amon was not that familiar with, as if it disdained writing with the common script.
Schrodinger scratched several simple characters, then turned around and walked away, ignoring Amon who obviously wanted to ask something. The hieroglyphs were not totally enigma for Amon. The characters were similar, but combined in a specific way. He barely depicted the line left on the ground. It should be, “Follow me. This is your only chance.”
Above the character indicating “me” was a symbol that looked like an arched door.
Amon didn’t have time to express his surprise, because he could just catch Schrodinger’s last figure disappearing in the horizon. He had to run out of the village and down the mountain following the cat. Crossing the woods, Schrodinger went round to the other side of the highland. Wild animals were scampering to the high places from the water, sounds of branches and shrubs breaking off were everywhere. Schrodinger went right in the opposite direction, towards the lower flooded land.
Amon didn’t know where Schrodinger was leading him to. He was even worrying that the cat be trampled by some running beasts. He tried to catch up with it, but it was proven impossible for him to outrun a swift cat in the woods. Schrodinger ran fast enough for Amon to catch up, and slow enough to remain vaguely in his sight. On the contrary, there were several times that Amon was almost hit by beasts that rushed out from nowhere.
The run and chase lasted a long time, the village was far away. They went through the clouds and across the muddy jungle. Dirt path became a slurry, then gave way to marsh. Finally there was no road in front of them any more, only endless surging water.
Schrodinger sat on a small hill on the bank of the torrents, like a solemn lion. It was watching the flood silently, ignoring Amon who was running towards it.
Seeing that Schrodinger stopped running, Amon breathed a sigh of relief When he reached its side, he found the cat scratched a few more lines of characters on the ground. They were still the hieroglyphs that Amon didn’t recognized well. Amon could vaguely guess the overall meaning from some characters that he could understand, “The bone…is your fate…key…activate it in the water…boat…to the other side.”
He asked curiously, “If you want to tell me something, why don’t you just write the characters that I can understand? You are writing key and boat. Are you referring to this bone? It’s the key to some gate or some boat?”
Schrodinger didn’t seem to be willing to answer these questions. It gravely raised a paw, pointing to distance. Amon watched through the direction, and saw a familiar mountain. It was the other high mountain he saw the other day when he first arrived here. Amon couldn’t choose which mountain to climb. It was Schrodinger that had led him to the one they were now in, meeting Lynk’s tribe.
Now watching that mountain from height, Amon realized that he was not able to climb it. The cliffs were as smooth as mirrors. There were no footings for climbers. Even from afar, he could see the torrents slapping the cliffs. The breakers washed against the rocks, sending up fountains of white spray. The sea of mist and clouds were torn by wild winds near the cliffs that could even kill the birds.
Schrodinger sat still and quiet, raising its paw at the peak of the mountain at the other side of the flood. The water was at the highest place, torrents were slowing down by the relief, huge whirlpools were appearing everywhere. The raindrops was still falling. Gales were blowing in every direction, creating cyclones and waves on the water.
Amon thought he grasped the meaning of Schrodinger’s words. It told him to activate the bone in the water. Crazy’Ole’s words flashed in his mind again. Schrodinger was his only chance to find Bair. Was the cat really guiding him now, finally? Bair was on that mountain?
Amon had to take the risk, however high it might be. He threw the bone into the water. Since he had no idea how to activate it, he used the only way he knew how. Waving the staff, he tried to focus on the bone through the staff, like communicating with the magic force via the Aquaticore.
Then he felt the bone. It floated on the water like a plume. As long as he felt it, it spinned and expanded soundlessly into a long and narrow crescent boat. It was invisible. Only by sensing with magic power could Amon noticed a separated boat-like space was opened over the water.
When Amon was still stupefied, Schrodinger had gracefully jumped on the boat. As if sitting above the surging torrents, the cat raised its paw again at somewhere in distance. It was after a good while that Amon recovered from the shock and embarked with the staff in hand.
This invisible boat didn’t have any rudder, paddle or sail. Schrodinger just showed him a direction that he had to drive the boat to follow.
Amon spent a long time to get familiar with controlling this boat with his staff. Crazy’Ole had already told him the key — to control it as if it were a drop of water in a surging river. His staff was socketed with the Aquaticore and the Ventussalte. It was the perfect staff to perform air and water magic, giving Amon great help in navigating between the storm and the flood.
However, Amon was still struggling hard to operate this boat. Even with the help of the staff, he still had to use limit power to hold it steady among the vortices and the waves. He was ashamed of his inferior power and poor skill. What he didn’t know was that it was a miracle that he could operate this boat.
Golier used to drive the Navisapphire, the precious artifact given by Crazy’Ole, through the flood. Only a supreme mage could activate and fully operate it. But the this bone-developed boat could even be operated by a third-level sorcerer! Generally speaking, the more powerful and sophisticated a magical artifact was, the more it demanded of its user. But for items that have similar power and effect, the less one item demanded on its user, the more precious and superb it would be.
Amon didn’t have any concept about the quality of artifacts. Hardly any third-level mage would have the right to even touch items as precious as his staff or the bone.
The invisible boat staggered forward in the rain. Suddenly, Schrodinger turned its head to one side. Amon then heard some lamenting in the water. He followed Schrodinger’s sight and found several beasts struggling in the water. To his surprise, Amon knew them. They were the king Ironback and the big ones that he used to fight with.
The Ironback were good at swimming, but they were not fish. When the pool and the cave where they used to live were engulfed by the flood, their lives were in danger. Exhausted after a long fight with the flood, the earth magic they knew being nearly useless in the endless water, they were quite desperate now.
The king seemed to notice that there was a big boat that they couldn’t see passing by. It roared loudly, sweeping its long tail with full strength, trying to seek help.
“Can I save them?” Amon asked Schrodinger, who was standing in the front of the boat.
To his surprise, the cat, who used to ignore him constantly, nodded its head.