So here it is, the eagerly anticipated second part of the Return of the Magmatron. It was inspired by Suki K’s three words (freedom, trust, faith). So thank you, Suki, for contributing to my writing challenge.
The story has turned into a bit of an epic, which really means it’ll take a bit longer than five minutes to chew through it. I hope you enjoy it, if you can manage to read to the end! In case you missed it, you can read part one here.
Return of the Magmatron – Part Two
A stone, thrown by an arrogant teenager, was all it took for hell to break loose. It pinged off a Rockman, although it barely registered in its calcite mind, it took umbrage at the flagrant disregard for the safety of the little rock; which could, one day, become a Rockman. The Rockman bounded over the last ten meters to the castle wall. Before he even got halfway, in a domino effect, the other Rockmen followed him. Together they began pounding the walls with bouldering great fists.
The soldiers above started pouring tar on them. Sticky, hot tar splashed over rocky appendages, slowing them as it cooled but not stopping them. The castle walls shook. The men on the top struggled to maintain their balance. Archers fired flaming arrows at the mud-men, they didn’t move, they just stood there, burning. They were waiting for the wall to be breached.
‘We need more tar!’ shouted Florrie’s dad.
‘Al, ‘ow thick do ya reckon the wall is?’ asked his mate as he looked over the edge. ‘They’re makin’ a good dent!’
‘I dunno, Merv, I ‘erd it were thicker than the length of a donkey’s tail though.’ said Florrie’s dad.
‘Ow long’s that?’
‘Depends on the donkey I guess.’
‘Tar’s ‘ere, look lively.’ The pair took aim above a particularly rugged looking Rockman and tipped the boiling tar over it. It only served to make it a bit more angry and stickier, so instead of pounding the wall, the Rockman started pummelling it instead. Rockmen weren’t known for their inventiveness but the idea of pummelling seemed to take off and soon they were all at it and making much faster progress.
Down in the dungeons there was a lot huddling going on. Anxious glances passed around like a packet of stale biscuits and mothers uttering words of comfort to scared little ones. Florrie and her family were no different. The noise echoed throughout the dungeons, there was no doubting they were under attack. Everyone knew it but no one wanted to believe it. Florrie offered to fetch some water but what she really wanted to do was find that old man, as scary as he was.
She scrambled back the way she came in, back to where she thought the old man had grabbed her leg. She couldn’t see him anywhere, there were too many dark corners and hooded folk. When she reached the main corridor she decided to turn back. There was no water this end anyway, not without going back up the steps and she didn’t fancy that. She passed someone muttering about the queue for the well and headed toward the back of the chamber.
The queue was quite long and she imagined that pretty soon the queue for the privy would be too. She was waiting for the next thought to fill her head when she heard it. At first she couldn’t work out what ‘it’ was but she closed her eyes to cut out any distractions and ‘it’ was becoming some kind of music. Had she known the word melancholy she would have used it, as it happened she didn’t so she described it as ‘waily’ music. A poke in the ribs jolted her eyes open and the music was gone.
‘You’re up, lass.’
Florrie didn’t bother to turn and look at the woman behind her, she stepped up to the well and lowered the bucket.
‘You just heard it, didn’t you?’ whispered a voice in the darkness behind the well.
Florrie looked up startled. The voice didn’t seem to have an echo, like the others, so she could barely work out where it was coming from. Hauling her bucket up, she made her way into the darkness behind the well.
‘Oi! Don’t go down there, Lovey. That’s Ravenblat territory that is,’ said the rib-poking woman.
‘I’m just lookin’.’ replied Florrie, rubbing her rib where the woman had poked it and ignoring whatever else was said. ‘Where are you? Who are you?’ Florrie asked the darkness.
‘I’m over here, Dear. I’m just a man whose seen too many yesterdays and doesn’t have many more tomorrows.’
‘I don’t think there’s many tomorrow’s left for a lot of people!’ She was sharp for her age.
‘Quite.’ The man shuffled and appeared by Florrie’s ear. ‘It’s in the walls…’
‘Well, if you let me finish. It is written…’
‘Is it in the walls or is it written?’
‘Err, well, it’s both, look, there isn’t time for this…’
‘You’re telling me! My Da’s up there fightin’ an’ all we’re doin’ is sittin’ round like flies in a cobweb.’
‘Right, shut up a minute will you, this is important!’
‘Ok.’ Florrie rubbed her ears, ‘I’ve got my listenin’ ears on now, go on…’
‘Your what?’ The man shook his head. ‘Oh, never-mind. Look, this day has been coming for centuries. It was written that a girl, born of the 13th day, of the 13th month, in her 13th yea..’
‘But there ain’t a 13th month?’
‘There was back then.’
‘Back when it was written.’
‘When what was written?’
‘This is what I’m trying to tell you!’
‘Well, get on with it then!’ Florrie was losing the plot with this man, it was worse than trying to talk to her deaf grandma.
‘…a girl, in her 13th year, would rise up, above all others and defeat the Magmatron.’ The man paused.
‘Is that it?’
‘Well, no, but it is all I can remember.’
‘Oh, well some use that is! “Just pop along and save the world will you and be back for tea time”.’
‘Have faith in your destiny child.’
‘Have faith? Have faith? That’s one of them things wot people can’t afford, a err lookstory or somethin’. Have faith. It ain’t your life on the line is it?’
‘A luxury. You mean it’s a luxury people can’t afford. And, yes, my life is on the line. Just as much as yours, just as much as your family, just as much as your friends and their families.’
‘All right, all right. I get your point. I don’t like it but I get it.’
‘You heard the song of the Ravenblat. Over by the well, I saw you.’
‘I heard somethin’.’
‘It was the Ravenblat. You are special. No one else in my life time has heard the Ravenblat’s song.’
‘Oh Gods alive. I’ve got to get chatty with the Ravenblat, haven’ I?’
‘I dunno, I can’t remember the rest of the legend. Do it, if it feels right.’
Florrie took a candle and headed deeper down the dank cavern. She wasn’t sure about a lot of things but this was right at the top of the list. The old man faded into the darkness behind her.
A section of the castle wall collapsed. Men scrambled to avoid the breach.
‘Set fire to the tar!’ a soldier shouted. A slick of tar spread across the breach and was followed by flaming arrows. The heat from it sent the men further back. The Rockmen hardly noticed. The Mud-men waited. The Magmatron just laughed.
Into the darkness Florrie wondered. The cave floor was slippery, little tinks of noise came from water droplets hitting puddles. Florrie held the candle in one hand while the other glided across the rough surface of the cave. She felt the vibrations of the attack, even down here. She thought she would be afraid but the truth was she’d never felt more alive, more purposeful, more assured. Every cell tingling, inner peace growing with every step. She wondered if that’s what it felt like to be thirty years old.
She wasn’t sure how far she’d gone but she stopped when the candle light no longer bounced off the walls. The candle seemed to keep its light to itself instead of spreading outwards. Florrie had to lower the candle to even see the floor. One hand was still gripping the rocky wall when a flick of air caused the candle to protest against the harsh working conditions so it went out. Darkness surrounded her.
The Ravenblat’s song, mournfully echoed through the chamber. Florrie gulped. It was probably the only thing she could do given circumstances. She froze as the song got louder, no longer the cocky thirty year old, she wished her dad was there.
‘Mud-men, advance!’ the Magmatron ordered, as more of the castle wall fell. Florrie’s dad clung on by his finger tips as the rest of him dangled over the edge of a breach.
‘Merv, ‘elp! Merv!’ His grip was slipping, his feet scraped at the wall looking for purchase. A Rockman saw the predicament and lunged forward. It slammed a fist into the wall just below his feet.
‘I’m ‘ere mate! Com’n, grab hold.’ Merv leant down and grabbed Florrie’s dad by the wrist. ’Nev! Give us a hand will ya?’ Another man appeared, Merv’s brother, the two men grabbed and hauled Florrie’s dad back onto the ramparts.
‘Com’n, run before we get cut off!’ yelled Nev, who was first to his feet. Florrie’s dad was gathering himself up when the wall began to sway.
‘Al, Al! Get a move on!’ shouted Merv back at Florrie’s dad.
Al ran, he stumbled against the wall as though they were on a boat in rough seas. He glanced behind him to see the wall crumbling away. He was almost at the turret when the floor vanished. He leapt.
‘AALLLL!’ Merv shouted, his outstretched hand grasping thin air as he missed his mates wrist. ’NO!’ Merv couldn’t look.
Nev gripped his brother’s arm, partly in a moment of shared grief but also to keep his brother from falling too.
The brothers were too stunned to move. They’d lost one of their own.
‘Oi, down ‘ere!’ came a voice from below.
Nev was the first to look. ‘Haha, Al!’
‘Look at me!’ Yeehaw!’ Al had landed directly on the shoulders of a Rockman. ‘Whoa!’ Al nearly fell off the Rockmans shoulders.
Merv and Nev cheered. A few others near them looked to see what the noise was about and quickly joined in.
‘Whooaa!’ Al held on as the Rockman thrashed its arms around trying to dislodge him. It couldn’t get near, him partly due to the girth of its arms and partly because their shoulder joints weren’t your classic ball and socket type; they were more like hinges flapping up and down. Al grabbed what could only be described as the Rockman’s ears. Suddenly, the Rockman stood up straight, like a solider standing to attention. Al looked up at Merv, who was looking down at Al.
‘Pull its ear again?’ shouted Merv.
Al did so, the Rockman bent down on one knee almost sending Al tumbling over its head. It was, until now, a little known fact that you could control a Rockman by sticking your fingers in its ears and wiggling them around a bit. Being slightly sharper than your average Rockman, it wasn’t long before other men were leaping off the wall and on to rocky shoulders. Al was still working out the controls when Merv appeared next to him, he appeared to have caught on quickly, turned his rocky stead towards the army, and grinned.
‘Let’s go have some fun!’ said Merv, looking to his left at Al, and to his right at Nev.
With fewer options better than standing still, Florrie allowed the song of the Ravenblat to fill her up. She felt it through her toes, up her legs then let it pool in her stomach, swirling around and mixing with her own emotions. It rose up further, her lungs filling with the sound as though she was the one singing. When it reached her mind she felt something else, it was like the Ravenblat was talking to her but not speaking, not using words, but feelings. Florrie concentrated, what was her’s, what was the Ravenblat’s. Fear, mixed with loneliness, mixed with sadness, mixed with anger, mixed with worry. It was too confusing, Florrie shook her head to shake the sound out of it, to break the connection.
The Ravenblat seemed to understand, the song became quieter, Florrie felt like she could breath again and once more she listened. She allowed the connection, she sensed the Ravenblat’s hefty form, its slug-like musculature, its weight against the rocks, its hunger, its power. In the stillness of her mind Florrie found it, the message the Ravenblat wanted to give her.
‘You want your freedom?’ she asked and knew the answer in an instant when the song of the Ravenblat turned to happier tones.
‘How?’ Her brain had thought of the question before her mind had caught up, then she was filled with an overwhelming urge to ride on the slimy back of the Ravenblat. ‘But I can’t even see yo…’ Florrie stuck her hand out right in front her, ‘Oh, there you are.’ Her fingers met with the slimy flank, well what she presumed was its flank, of the Ravenblat.
Fortunately, having livestock meant that she was used to sticking her hand in slimy orifices so this did not totally freak her out. Inevitably climbing on board a great slimy lummox of a creature was a bit of a messy and undignified affair. Luckily it was dark, unluckily for the Ravenblat, Florrie found it’s breathing hole and shoved her foot right in it to help her clamber on. She felt the Ravenblat heave when she removed her foot, both parties felt relief but for different reasons. She leant down, her chest became wet with slim, she clutched on to what she thought was the neck of the Ravenblat.
It took off much more quickly than Florrie had expected, and in the opposite direction to which she was facing. The power of the beast was immense, she almost slipped of a few times but the Ravenblat curled its tail upwards to prevent her from falling. It made short work of getting to the massive iron gate that blocked its exit. They could hear the fighting outside echoing into the cavern following the light.
Florrie slid off the beast and crawled through the bars. She was a little surprised that no one was guarding it. She pulled with everything she had on the locking mechanism but it wouldn’t budge. She heaved again urged on by the Ravenblat’s song. Nothing. It had been so long since the Ravenblat had been entombed below the castle that the mechanism had united with the rock. Panicked, Florrie looked around for something, anything that would help to lever the gate open. The Ravenblat was getting agitated.
‘Over there!’ Merv pointed by pressing part of the Rockman’s ear and using its arm to point the to the direction of the mud-men heading further into the castle grounds. His Rockman took off, Al and Nev following closely behind on theirs.
‘Bend and sweep, bend and sweep.’ Al was reciting to himself as he manoeuvred the Rockman as though it were doing some sort of interpretive dance, one that sent Mud-men flying like skittles. ‘And bend and sweep, and FLORRIE!’ Al shouted in surprise, almost losing control of the granite form below him.
‘Dad!’ She ran over. ‘Dad, there’s no time to explain, I need your help, err, well, its help.’ She pointed to the Rockman.
‘Florrie! You should be in the…,’ bend, sweep, crash, ‘…dungeon with your mother.’
‘Dad, trust me, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be but right now, I need you and that thing to help me free the Ravenblat.’
‘Free the what?’
‘The Ravenblat. Dad. Come on!’
’You must be mad!’
‘Dad, trust me. I know what I’m doin’, besides, have you got any better ideas?’
Al shrugged, he knew his daughter too well and he knew women enough not to argue, ’Nev, Merv, this way!’
Florrie lead the way, three Rockmen should do it.
‘Are you sure this is a good idea, Florrie?’ asked Merv.
‘Yeah, positive. You’ll have to get out of the way as soon as the gate starts to go. He moves really fast an’ he’s keen to get out!’
‘Right, you ‘eard ‘er,’ said Al, manoevouring his Rockman into position at the gate.
The other two followed, in unison the Rockmen bent forward, grabbed the bars of the gate and heaved. For a moment nothing happened but a silent conversation between forces. The gate shifted, squealing in protest as it rose. Nev and Merv were like puppet masters, their Rockmen jumped aside. The Ravenblat was fast off the mark, Al, in the middle, stood no chance. He and the Rockman were bowled over, smothered by the slimy mass.
Florrie screamed. She couldn’t look. The Rockman stood up first, without its rider. Merv saw his mate on the ground, he swung the fist of his stead into the riderless Rockman who went flying, stones chips bursting into the air like a firework. Florrie ducked from the debris and ran to her father. She cleared the slime from his mouth and face like he was a new born lamb.
Al inhaled suddenly and deeply, like he’d just remembered he’d not put the bins out.
‘Oh, Dad, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Dad? Can you walk, we need to get out of here.’ She turned aside to see Nev and Merv battering the Rockman.
‘I need to get back on,’ Al managed, clutching his ribcage and trying to stand. ‘Go back to your mother young lady.’
‘Yes, Dad.’ She lied. Florrie needed to get up, above all the noise, she needed to hear the Ravenblat’s song. She watched as Nev’s latest blow sent the Rockman to it’s knees and her dad took the opportunity to scramble back onto it shoulders.
The Ravenblat’s slimy, pale skin reflected the sunlight. It’s massive slug of a body rode over mud-men trapping them in its slime. They were the lucky ones, it ate some of them, slurped up into it jaws and mushed into a muddy milkshake.
The glimmer of the Ravenblat caught the Magmatron’s eye and he gave out a fiery bellow. He lurched forward, knocking his own army out of the way. The Ravenblat his sole target.
Florrie scooted around the corner in the direction of the dungeons, when she was certain her father had his mind on other things she ducked through a doorway and up some steps. They led up to a turret, since the men had worked out how to control the Rockmen there was hardly anyone else up this high. When she reached the top she could see the Ravenblat cutting a swathe of destruction through the mud-men. It was heading directly for the Magmatron.
She closed her eyes, steadied her breath and tried to hear it’s song. It was joyous, it was free. She let the sound fill her up until she cried happy tears. It was a moment that would last a lifetime, well that was until the Magmatron punched the Ravenblat and it soon changed the tune.
Florine opened her eyes and jumped back a little as though it was she who’d been hit. The Ravenblat’s song was menacing, she watched as it circled the Magmatron. They seemed to be making eye contact. The Magmatron following the head of the slug, both sizing each other up.
Circling twice and making its mind up, the Ravenblat fled.
’Nooo!’ Florrie shouted.
The Magmatron laughed, raised his arms in the air and brought them down hard against the earth. The ground split open around his feet, cracks snaking outward towards the castle. He roared some instructions and the Mud-men reformed in front of him.
‘Retreat! Men, retreat to the Keep! Rock-riders form a line,’ came the order from General Somebody-or-Other. The men obeyed, for saying most of them were villagers and farm boys, they fought well. Florrie was relieved to see that her father, Merv and Nev were still riding high and were lining up where the castle wall once stood. Other men, stood on their own two feet behind them. Swords at the ready to stab and slash at any of the Mud-men that made it through.
Florrie scanned the horizon and just caught sight of the Ravenblat heading toward the lake. She could no longer hear its song, she no longer wanted to for that matter. It had betrayed her. That lead to one question. Now what? Now what should she do, if it was her destiny to stop the Magmatron, what was she supposed to do. Maybe she could reason with it, maybe offer it a cup of tea and a biscuit, maybe she could…
Her gaze fell to the ground where the Ravenblat had left it’s watery, slimy trail. She watched as the Mud-men disintegrated into a silty nothingness.
‘WATER!’ she shouted and pointed to the ground. ‘WATER! GET WATER! LOOK!’
A few men turned to see who was shouting, they could just see a little head jumping up and down but when the penny dropped, it dropped quickly.
‘Fetch buckets, get water.’ The rumour spread and soon men were forming a line at the well, passing buckets up and down the line.
They’ll need more than that Florrie thought. She ran back down the steps, down into the dungeon.
‘EVERYONE! HELP! LISTEN! Please, Listen,’ she paused a moment while the hush spread. ‘The men need water, lots of water. We can help! If we form line from the well to men outside we can help with the fight! Hurry, please hurry!’
‘Florrie, is that you? Where’ve you been?’
‘Mum, help, please. Just trust me. We can win this thing!’
Her mum gazed at her daughter’s pleading eyes and gave in. ‘All right you lot! You ‘eard wot our Florrie said! Our men need our ‘elp! Let’s do wot we do best! Form a queue!’
It was a magic word, queue, you only needed a couple of people before others got curious about it and joined in.
Florrie dashed to the top of the steps and shouted at a passing solider, ‘Hey, hey, get some men over ‘ere, we have more water comin’!’ By the time the first bucket arrived from the dungeons there was a line of men waiting to receive it.
Standing between the legs of the Rockmen stood mortal men, with buckets, waiting.
‘CHARGE!’ the low rumble of the Magmatron’s order felt like distant thunder rolling over the hillside. The lines of Mud-men moved forward. A nervous lad threw his watery load a bit too early, embarrassed he turned and was given another bucket. The water seeped into the ground before him. A Mud-man reached the wet ground and its feet started to crumble as the water soaked into it.
’THROW!’ came the order and a gallons of water sloshed into the Mud-men. Nothing happen for a second. Men up and down the frontline only just held their nerve. As they received fresh buckets of water the Mud-men began losing arms and legs and faces, and bellies. Muddy body parts slipping off like mini landslides. More water, more muddy mess. The ground in front of the castle was becoming boggy, the lines of Mud-men stumbling over their soggy dead counterparts. The Rock-riders were left with little to do to knock over the remaining attackers.
The Magmatron grew angry. His dream slipping away. He knelt down silently, clenched his fist and thumped it into the ground. A distant rumble grew louder, birds squawked out of the trees in the forest. CRACK! The earth gave way forming a new line that ran parallel to the old castle wall. There was no escape. The crack grew wider, the castle was in danger of becoming an island.
The smell of rotten eggs came first, then roaring heat. Men gagged and coughed. Unease spread yet again through the ranks of man. No body moved. The orange glow came brighter until it glowed so brightly that you had to squint to look at it. Lava flowed and bubbled along the crack. The Magmatron looked up, his grin a crevasse.
Florrie’s mind raced, they had come so far. Some villagers were dead but many were still alive. She scrambled to the castle wall and climbed up some rubble to get a better view. Someone threw some water at the lava flow but it just evaporated. Men shifted uneasily. Florrie gripped the wall, she felt it’s grittiness against her fingertips, the jagged edges pressed into her palm. It was as if the castle itself was angry and she could feel it bubbling up inside her.
When the kettle of anger had reached it’s boiling point, Florrie jumped down from the wall and into the boggy front line. A mud-hand tried to grab at her feet but she kicked it aside. She walked forward, towards the Magmatron, in her best stroppy teenager walk.
‘Oi! Magmatron, wot do ya want?’ she demanded.
A ripple of gasps went down the line of men, Sergeants looked at Captains who looked at Generals. This was not in the regulations. Section 72 – Military tactics – defensive protocols do not have a subsection for weaponising teenagers.
‘FFLLLOOORRRRIIEEEEEE!’ her dad shouted, ‘Oh ye Gods, she’s goin’ to get herself killed.’
Florrie didn’t even turn around, she just flung her hand back to silence him.
‘Well, wot do you want?’ she demanded again of the Magmatron. The stench was getting to her, the rotten eggy, stale beer stench. Then as she got closer it was the heat that hit her but she stropped onwards.
‘HAHAHA!’ the Magmatron laughed. ‘A child! A mere child, is this the best you have? Where are your brave warriors? Not one among you?’ the Magmatron addressed the crowd and ignored Florrie as though she were a mere fly.
‘My name is Floretta Banks, Florrie to thems wot know me. You can call me Miss Banks.’
The Magmatron laughed again but like a curious child he indulged her. ‘Well, Miss Banks, do you think you can defeat me, the Mighty Magmatron?’
‘Oh, it’s Mighty now is it? I’m sorry, I didn’t realise your status had changed. Last time I checked you were a bit of land short of a kingdom.’
‘I’m about to get it back!’
‘Hmm, now you come down ‘ere with your army – which we have defeated, in case you hadn’t noticed – and you make all these nasty threats. Rippin’ up all the soil and flattening our houses. Wot’s that about eh?’
‘I like to make an entrance!’
‘Well, listen ‘ere! We wont stand for this nonsense. This is…’
‘Shut up child…’
‘…No! I was talking. Mother always sez it’s rude to interrupt someone wot’s talkin’ on account of the fact that they might forget what they were saying and it could be somethin’ important.’ She stopped for breath and took the opportunity to put her hands on her hips and stamp her foot. ‘Now, as I was sayin’, this is totally unacceptable behaviour, comin’ up ‘ere destroyin’ things. Din’t your mother teach you how to ask for things nicely? Wot is it that you want?’
‘My mother solidified a thousand years ago. I want my Kingdom back and I am going to take it!’
‘I’m sorry about your mum.’
‘I said, I’m sorry about your mum. You know, that she wasn’t there for you growin’ up like.’
‘Oh, err, well. Yes, it was pretty tough. Err…’ The Magmatron shook his head, only this time a little bit of his rocky armour crumbled off. His inner core was cooling.
Florrie saw it too but didn’t understand what it meant. She was too hot, sweat dripped from her face like ice-cream on hot day.
‘…Get out of my way child!’ The Magmatron stepped forward, finding his anger once more. Stubborn Florrie stood her ground, that was until the Magmatron got closer. The heat intensified. Florrie’s vision blurred, the heat was too much and she fainted.
Florrie’s dad came running, well the Rockman he was riding did the running, he just tweaked it’s ears and tried to stay on. Nev and Merv followed behind pulled along by an invisible string of loyalty. They were twenty metres or so from the advancing Magmatron, they too started to feel the heat. They too stopped dead.
The beast rose up high, its shadow grew over the Magmatron, blocking the sun like an eclipse. It wailed an unearthly screeching sound that had the potential to burst eardrums. Every man woman and child covered their ears. The Magmatron turned as the beast towered above him.
The Ravenblat had returned. It was three times the size and it was mad. It loomed over the Magmatron. Everyone held their breath. It was lucky they did because the Ravenblat opened it’s jaws wide. Then, before anyone could wonder what would happen next, a torrent of water exploded from its mouth.
It must have swallowed half the lake. Merv was sure he saw a fish leaping. The steam hissed and the air cracked as the Magmatron’s form was supercooled. The water cooled the lava flow creating a wall of steam. Gushing onward to the castle, the Rock-riders braced them selves against the tsunami. People in the castle scrambled for higher ground.
‘Florrieee,’ cried her father, who risked a peek over the head of the Rockman but saw nothing through the steam.
When the rush of water had passed and the hiss of the steam had died, people started to look around. They saw the Magmatron, it’s once fiery eyes now dark pits, ideal for a pigeon to roost. His arms were outstretched, as though trying to shield himself from the tide, now frozen solid.
Beyond him, they saw the Ravenblat, shrivelled and breathing heavily. One end was curled up, presumably its tail. When its mouth wasn’t open it was hard to tell.
‘Florrie!’ Her dad forced the Rockman forward, he scanned the ground, ‘She could be anywhere!’ Panic set in, he couldn’t see her, he turned to see if she had been washed up near the castle wall. Nothing.
‘Florrie?’ he shouted again.
Merv and Nev started looking too, then others joined in. Shouts for Florrie spread through the crowd.
’Shush, shush!’ demanded Nev. ’Shush!’ He made the international gesture for silence by putting one finger across his lips and waving his other hand up and down. ‘I thought I heard something.’
A small cough, a groan.
’There!’ Nev pointed to a small arm that had appeared over the Ravenblat’s tail. Florrie’s dad rode the Rockman closer because despite what it had done, he still didn’t quite trust the Ravenblat. He saw his daughter heave herself to sitting. She wiped some slim from her face and looked around.
A massive cheer rang out through the crowd. Florrie’s dad got down from the Rockman and went to his daughter’s side. Florrie’s legs were trapped under the Ravenblat’s tail. Al was surprised at how cold its tail was.
‘He used it to protect me,’ she said as her father grabbed her under her armpits and pulled her out from under it.
‘Will it be ok do you think?’ he said, nodding towards the exhausted beast.
Florrie went over to what you might consider its face, she leant against it, arms out stretched she stroked it. The Ravenblat replied with a slow meandering song and Florrie replied by filling her mind with gratitude.
‘Ere, you can’t leave it there!’ said the General, ‘there’s regulations.’
‘IT? IT? It has just saved your life. It has just saved our village and actually, probably, when you come to think of it, all of mankind! It can rest where it wants!’ Florrie’s dad wasn’t really one for speaking up against authority and so instantly regretted it.
‘It’s all right, Dad. Being as though it is technically the property of the Crown, they can move him.’
‘Ah, er, well, hrumpf, suppose it’ll be all right there for a bit. Err, err, other priorities and such. Men! To me!’ The General marched off.
Florrie and her dad giggled.
‘I’ll come back in a little bit. You rest now,’ she said as she patted what she hoped was the Ravenblat’s lips.