“This river smells like wet rats and molded bread. Like wet rats baked into molded bread,” Talon said. She held her noise and her face contorted into positions she did not think possible.
“There’s a textile factory up river. I think we’re smelling the run-off. Remind me to never buy one of their coats,” Griffin said. He was running his fingers through the murky river water that sourced the foul stench.
“I don’t see any sign of a guardian,” Talon said, “probably fled the odor.”
“Reports were pretty clear; tentacles, water spouts, teeth. I don’t think this ferry crossing would be shuttered for three days based on rumor alone,” Griffin said. He climbed off the river bank and into a soaked grassy area next to Talon.
“I don’t know what to do to summon a guardian that has already appeared,” Talon said, frustrated with the moment.
“Yeah, usually we arrive and they get right to the trying to eat us portion. Could the thing have been swept downstream?” Griffin pondered.
“This water is basically still,” Talon grunted, “and smelly.”
“We have to move beyond that,” Griffin sort-of asked. “Hey!” He said, clapping his hands together in excitement, “why don’t we try to drive the ferry over the river? Maybe a disturbance will wake the giant tentacled beast we’ve heard so much about?”
The two walked to the ferry station on their side of the river. It looked liked a rustic cabin complete with brick chimney on the roof and a fenced porch section out front. Pushing through the door removed any illusion of quaint. The building was one large room with rows after row of pew like seating. In the far corner was an office with wires and pipes running out of it above a chipped stained glass window. The floors were scuffed and scratched, the walls stained and the ceiling marked with water damage. Neither of the adventurers could tell if the damage to the building had come before or after the monster attack.
“I’ll grab the keys,” Griffin said. He went into the office, fetched the ferry keys and went to start up the waterborne vehicle.
Talon wandered the room trying to piece together what had happened. The floors were wet, but the smell of the river was not present in the room. The water predated the stench. Talon’s eyes grew wide and she ran to the ferry to stop Griffin.
“Griffin! It’s here! The stench is the guardian!” She shouted with all her might to be heard over the roar of the ferry’s engine as it whirred and popped, steam coursing through its metallic veins.
The river erupted as she screamed. A plume of water shot to the sky like a geyser. As the water fell back to earth, the guardian appeared.
“Oh how I miss giant lizard creatures,” Talon said. She saw the tentacles reported when it appeared, and, much to her dismay, the teeth. A large arrowhead shaped skull sat atop a plump orange body which took off in eight different directions ending in grand tentacles that were at once horrifying and appalling to look at. She wondered if Griffin could handle this one on his own, so she could go anywhere less visually displeasing and more pleasant on the nose.
The monster made it’s purpose known by slamming four tentacles through the wooden dock of the ferry landing. Talon ducked the splintered wood flying through the air and ran back into the station.
Griffin watched Talon take cover and tried to formulate a plan between waves of water splashing into the ferry.
“Okay, I can do this,” he tried to convince himself. “Guardian appeared when I turned on the ferry, so it is protecting the ferry. Talon showed up, fish monster with too many legs cut off her ability to get to the ferry.” Griffin groaned, “the relic is on the ferry. Fiasco hats!” He was always one to curse oddly. He hid under the ferry’s helm and looked over every inch of the ship’s deck for something relic like, anything with odd script or bizarre carvings.
Griffin peaked over the ship’s railing to see the beast had moved on to slapping its slimy little arms against the ferry station. He had no idea if they were arms, legs, tentacles, or really under control hair, but he needed to stop the monster from bringing the building down around Talon. He weighed his options. “I could drive the boat into the monster,” he said. “No, I have to stop just smacking things on the head to make them go away. Why is it such an effective solution? And we learn it works when we’re toddlers. I’m getting distracted now. Must help Talon; stop the monster, find the relic.”
Find the relic he repeated. “The ferry is protected by the monster, the ferry carries passengers, passengers carry things, a passenger brought the relic on board! I need to search the passenger section!” Griffin laughed as he put the puzzle together, he noted that he would have to thank Talon later for insisting on non-violent means to conflict resolution (even if she is generally the one coming up with the smash-them-on-the-head plans).
He scoured the passenger seating area of the ferry, crawling on his hands and knees through row after row of seating.
“Well, hello there,” he said finding an ornately carved staff strapped to the underside of a seat. He inspected the staff; familiar markings of a dead language and jewels throughout. This was certainly the relic. He looked to the ferry station and saw the monster’s enormous arms continue to pound at the building. He brought the staff down over his knee, snapping the ancient object in two.
In a whirl of smoke and mist the monster disappeared. Griffin ran to the side of the boat and called desperately to Talon.
“I’m here,” Talon shouted over to the boat. “I’m dusty and that stained glass window is beyond repair now, but I’m safe. What happened?”
“I found the relic,” Griffin said. He raised the two pieces of the staff to the air, “I, well I broke it.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t go with the ol’ hit it on the head plan. It’s treated us well so far,” Talon said. She was standing on what remained of the dock holding her hand above her head to block the sun.
“I thought I’d be more adventurous this time around. It’s fun to try new things,” Griffin said. “Talon,” his tone changed from chipper glee that the monster had been defeated to something quite different, “someone put the relic on the ferry. This was hidden in the passenger section and meant as a trap for us.”
Talon took in a deep breath, “we’ll find out who did this. We’ll put a stop to them. It’s what we do.”
Thanks for reading!
Here’s this installment’s optional soundtrack and for more of the Griffin and Talon tale, click right here: