kappa (part 2) 🏔️ oasis 🏔️
🌜 for other chapters, please see the end of this post 🌜
July 16, 1 p.m. — The gallery continues to climb, with no sign of exit from the mountain entrails. There are no more open areas, the whole path is now inside a tunnel buried deep in the heart of the mountains. I still can’t make up my mind whether this never-ending underground passage is natural or artificial. I think we have covered another fifteen kilometers this morning. Both of us are becoming tired and worried, longing for the blue color of the sky. The village of Eldor is now probably seventy to seventy-five kilometers behind us and the Oceans doesn’t seem to be anywhere near.
Of course, seventy-five kilometers through narrow valleys and zigzag paths can be the equivalent of about forty kilometers in straight line. I have no compass and can’t see the Sun, so I can’t even guess our moving direction since we entered this long gallery. It’s even possible that we’re going now away from the coast. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we have a choice in this matter. I exchange a long look with Nivit.
“Let’s continue until evening” I suggest. “Without the Sun or a compass, there is no way to tell for sure if our moving direction is still pointing towards the sea. If we don’t reach an exit, then we turn back and try another path, maybe climb the vertical walls in one of the open areas we passed yesterday. Perhaps, we can do it if no more rain is falling.”
Nivit agrees with a nod. Her gaze looks as worried as mine, but also determined to keep going until we reach our destination. We talk about other possible choices, but conclude there is nothing else we can do. The fatigue begins to take its toll and our speed slows down considerably. Taking longer breaks every hour, we continue to advance all the afternoon, for another fifteen kilometers or so.
8 p.m. — When everything seems almost without hope, we finally reach an exit at about 5 p.m. Our tunnel opens in front of a beautiful oasis with luxuriant vegetation, surrounded by tall, snowy peaks. It’s an amazing garden, full of fruit-bearing trees, with a lake in the center and a few streams from the nearby slopes flowing into it. The air feels warm and pleasant. Soon, we discover the source of this little heaven: hot springs are everywhere, keeping the micro climate of the garden at almost tropical levels. Even the water from the lake is warm.
The oasis is spread over an area of about one square kilometer, filling a vast plateau bordered by tall, vertical cliffs. We decide to spend the remaining of the day here, resting and refilling our food supplies. We take a swim inside the lake, wash our clothes, then prepare dinner. This time we have a rich meal from an unknown species of freshly caught fish, supplemented by fruits similar to pomegranates, picked from the trees.
As soon as we finish eating, Nivit falls asleep with her head leaning against my chest. I lay her down to rest on the soft grass, while I set up the tent on a patch of flat ground close to the lake. When our shelter is ready, I carry her slender body inside. Soon after that, I also fall in a deep slumber, next to my love.
July 17, 11 a.m. — I have searched the whole morning for a path to take us further while Nivit was replenishing our food supplies picking up fruits, catching and cooking fish from the warm lake. Massive vertical walls, over fifty meters high, surround the oasis, and there is no further underground passage to offer a way out of here. We have only two options: scale the rocks that are in our way (and with this occasion perhaps also see where the ocean is), or retrace our steps through the same tunnel we used to arrive at the oasis until we find a place where perhaps we could climb the vertical walls in an open area. Only the first option makes sense. We don’t have ropes, but I find long vines, similar to the ones I had used in the wilderness near Gold City, before coming to Eldor. With tight knots, I manage to extend them into a sturdy line over thirty meters long.
3 p.m. — At noon, immediately after a light lunch, we begin our ascension. I see a small platform about twenty meters above and manage to climb the rock leading to it with the heavy vine rope tied to my back. Then, one by one, I used this improvised cable to lift up our bags and help Nivit join me. We rest for about ten minutes, then I chose a rocky horn about ten meters higher and, after several tries, succeed in wrapping the line around it.
Fifteen minutes later we and our bags reach the new point. The last twenty meters seem a bit easier, with two accessible platforms where we can rest on the way up. Both of us are now on the ridge. Yet another ridge, much taller, seems to be blocking our path. Luckily, after a short investigation, we discover a narrow lane, dug in rock by rain, that seems to go around it. We can’t see the ocean, but the Sun above shows we’re going south, towards the coast. The vines are too heavy to carry, so we decide to leave them here. I just pray we don’t encounter farther ahead a similar obstacle that could force us to come back after them.
7 p.m. — The lane continues through a narrow canyon, higher and higher. We keep marching until nightfall. The air is thin, perhaps our current altitude is more than two kilometers above the valley of Eldor and certainly even higher above the sea level. The weather is becoming colder with every passing hour. A narrow cave on the side wall will serve as shelter for tonight. No need to install the tent. We probably went almost eighty kilometers through the mountains until now and the shore is nowhere near. The village of Eldor is probably at least ninety-five kilometers away.
Are we marching into the right direction? The Sun’s position in the sky suggests we are. What seemed a routine return journey to Excelsior is proving now to be a real challenge. Four days into our trek and we are still in the middle of the mountains. However, I believe we must be close to the sea. Maybe tomorrow evening we can finally reach the shore. There is no wood to make fire. We have to eat our food the way it is and use each other’s body heat to keep ourselves warm while we rest.
Excerpt from "Butterfly's Dream", a novel by Marian C. Ghilea;
Photo by Marian C. Ghilea: Spring rain;
(c) Marian C. Ghilea, all rights reserved
12 sample chapters (pre-final draft) are available here: http://nivitx.blogspot.com/2017/08/final-proof-reading-novel-almost-done.html
#scifi #literature #amwriting #romance #adventure #books #writing #fantasy #novel #comingsoon #ya #chapter #prose #history #photography #exploration #rain #trek #mountains #rocks #ridge #friendship #romance #oassis
@ellowrites @ellowriting @gardenlovepoet @ellophotography @ello
For the previous chapters, please check:
iota 1: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/heby1mtemuse3klk1txkmg
iota 2: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/rtj21h0fjkl5g0yesel18g
iota 3: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/_vuxsnauvafnvzrqrqcxow
kappa 1: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/fkgr84oysfsponsgdjyd2a