Quest for the Treasure, Chapter 4

Fiction By Jackie West // 6/8/2010

   "I'm providing a lot of the food and some dishes," Nadezda said. "I have two blankets, a pillow, a pair of pajamas, and an extra set of clothes. I'll be carrying Dad's bow and arrows."

   "Your traveling companions are downstairs in the living room," Norla said, hugging her daughter tightly." I'll miss you."

  "Me too," Nadezda said, heading downstairs to the living room." Hi, guys," she greeted everyone.

  "Hi," they returned.

  "Sanole and Zanorm are outside in the yard," Farren said." They have the tent supplies with them."

  "OK. Let's go!"

 Everyone went out. Using a compass he had brought along, Zanorm found the north, and the group set out.

  

 

   The sun beat down relentlessly.

   "Phew, I'm hot!" Zaleigh said.

   "Who isn't?" Nadezda said, wiping sweat off her face.

   "At least we're on the brown path, traveling north from Gaelan," Valora commented.

 

    It took two hours to leave Gaelan.

    "Valora, Farren, why don't you tell us how you got hold of the riddle?" Nadezda said.

    The pair happily obliged.

     “Well, all the people that know where the treasure is hidden are dead," Valora began.

    "They left a series of riddles behind so that maybe someone could someday find it," Farren added.

    "Then, a well-known evil man-people only mostly heard about him- set off to find this treasure, aided by only one riddle," Valora said.

   "And he died on the way," Farren finished." From what, no one knows. He never did find that treasure."

  "It's about lunchtime," Nadezda said, seeing that the sun was high in the sky.

  "That sounds like a good idea," Sanole said. He pointed to a grove of trees ahead." That looks shady. Let's stop there.

  The grove gave the travelers welcome relief from the heat. They prepared a simple meal of cheese on bread with apples, ate it quickly, and set off again.

  They were determined to travel a good distance before nightfall. As the afternoon passed, the weather grew cooler and gray clouds gathered overhead.

   Zanorm glanced up with a worried look." Let's set up the tent before it stars to rain," he proposed.

   Jaremiah found a flat clear spot. Everyone shed their packs and helped set up the roomy tent.

   Inside, everyone set up their packs and beds.

   "I'll take Dacinia and Zaleigh with me the quickly gather some wood," Jaremiah said. "Nadezda, Farren, Valora, why don't you get some dinner ready?"

  It did not take long to roast 16 potatoes, cut bread, and spread it with butter, once there was a fire going. Jaremiah prayed for all of them, and they hungrily ate the tasty meal. Sanole extinguished the fire and shut the smoke flap. The rain started pouring down.

  "Well, that was a good meal," Jaremiah said, lying back and patting his stomach contentedly.

  Dacinia started to stack up all the dirty dishes. "We'll wash the dishes when the rain lets up," she said.

 

 

   Everyone settled back contentedly in their makeshift beds. Valora passed out some chocolate.

   "Tell us that story about you and your cousin," Farren said.

   "Well, my cousin Xanjeri liked to tease people," Nadezda began. "So one day, he snuck up on my and dropped a snowball down my back. Like most seven year olds would, I wanted revenge. So one night, when Xanjeri's family was visiting and asleep, I went outside and collected a pailful of snow Xanjeri was sleeping in the living room, so I waited for him to come in there because he was gone. When he didn't come, I filled his pillow with the snow, sprayed the snow with water, and crept back to bed."

   "Where was he?" Valora asked.

   "I don't really know. Grabbing a midnight snack, or taking a long bathroom trip, I guess," Nadezda answered. "I slept in the room above him, so I put my ear to the floor and waited. When he came back, he lay down and jumped right back. He said,' Nadezda Deirdre Andriette Galrock, you are so in trouble!' He went upstairs, but by the time he got to my room, I was 'asleep'. So the next morning, he made me salty scrambled eggs. The lesson I learned was to never take revenge on someone else, or they'll repay you."

     Jaremiah said, "You didn’t really ‘love your enemy.' "

   "No, I wasn't," Nadezda admitted.

   Zaleigh yawned." Well, good night," he said. "I'll hit the sack now."

   Everyone else turned in for the night.

   Nadezda settled down. She drew her blanket covering up to her chin.

   Soon, all of her traveling companions were asleep. It was dark.

   Suddenly, her keen ears caught a sound. Quietly, she threw off her blanket and crept to the door. She slipped to the door.

   Someone was prowling around the tent. Nadezda saw the culprit look up. She saw his face and gasped.

   It was Walter!

   She tried to get back into the tent, but Walter was faster. He threw his knife at her skillfully and ran off into the night.

   Nadezda crashed to the ground and tugged at the knife in her leg, in the meantime crying out for help.

   Everyone immediately awoke and ran outside to see what the matter was. Jaremiah quickly drew the knife out of her leg.

   "Dacinia, get my first aid kit. It's right next to my pillow." Jaremiah remained calm throughout the time he cleaned and bandaged the wound. "We'll make a crutch tomorrow. Right now, we'd better get inside in case the intruder returns. I'll stand guard."

   Everyone settled down again.

 

   The night passed uneventfully. In the morning, they ate some bread and fruit, and Jaremiah made a crutch for Nadezda. They broke camp and set out again.

 

 

   It was mid-afternoon when Jaremiah stopped the group.

   "Quiet," he whispered. "I heard something."

   Everyone stood stock-still and listened closely.

   Something glided smoothly out of the bushes.

   "What is it?" Dacinia asked.

   "You should know," Zanorm said." It's the dreaded Xolo snake!"

 

 

    Emily woke, ate breakfast, and tied an apron around her waist.

    "Your Mom's fried potatoes were delicious," she told Chandra.

    "Yes, everyone likes them," Chandra answered. "She uses secret herbs to make them good."

    "How often do you have them?" Emily asked.

    "Oh, I would say two or three times a week," Chandra replied. She swept up a pile of dirt and threw it into a nearby garbage can. "It's clean in here. Let's go do our room next."

    Emily swept and scrubbed the floor, while Chandra dusted the dresser and lamp stand tops, organized the bookshelves, and folded all of the clean clothes neatly.

   "Phew," Emily said." I'm hot and I'm dirty."

   "Let's have a snack," Chandra suggested.

   They went to the kitchen, where Chandra poured two cups of juice. They sipped the cool drinks.

   "Aah, that's better." Emily sighed happily.

   "We'll bathe soon too," Chandra added. "Mama wouldn't be happy to see us dirty, now would she?"

  "No," Emily agreed.

   They finished the juice and went to the linen closet, where they grabbed towels and washcloths. They found clean clothes and took baths.

  

 

   Now, our story finds them walking outside, enjoying the beautiful sunny morning.

   "It rained last night," Chandra said. "The air always smells fresher after rain."

   Emily sniffed deeply. “It is fresh. By the way, do you have any pets?"

    "Yes, I have several," Chandra said. "We'll be coming to Zaniah's cage soon."

   In a few minutes, they came to a cage in which several snakes rested.

   "These are Galandrian bush snakes," Chandra said." They bite if they are annoyed, except for Zaniah, but their venom is not bad. Only two people have died from bush snake venom in Galandria's recorded history." She pointed to the smaller snakes. "These are Zaniah's babies. Brendan is the one nosing around the fence with Saria; they are so mischievous! The one that just snuggled up to Zaniah is Rose; she is a real sweetie. The pair under the awning is Brent and Brianna; they like to play together. The lazy one is Zillah; she likes the shade. Brendan and Saria are always escaping under the fence! I've seen them when I've been allowed to camp outside."Chandra led her to another cage. "This is Qamar." She pointed to a snake.

"He is a Galandrian python, an albino. We once had a foreign visitor who discovered this snake-I mean, Qamar- and he gave it to me." Then she pointed to a normal Galandrian python." That is Tanala, his mate. Their kids are sleeping in the little cellar that is under this cage."

   "Chandra! Emily! Lunchtime!"

   They heard Xenia's voice and hurried inside, washed up, and sat down to a meal of drail, biscuits, and ham. Aside from the inn family, the warriors, Emily, and Hannah, there was Chandra's aunt, Drenia, who had come while Chandra and Emily were out.

   "So, Drenia how was your journey?" Mablevi asked as he cut his ham.

   "Fine," Drenia sniffed." Next time, Mablevi, give me good traveling companions, not God-fearing ministers. They are dreadful bores."

   Emily gave Chandra, who was sitting across from her, a questioning look. Chandra mouthed some words. Emily understood: Wait until the meal's over.

   "Drenia," Xenia began," min-"

   "Not another word, little sister," Drenia rudely interrupted, chewing on a huge mouthful of biscuit.

   Emily's eyebrow went up, and she looked at Chandra, who pursed her lips as she chewed on a slice of drail.

   "Ms. Drenia," Conrad began," God says-"

   "I don't care what he says," Drenia said, interrupting again as she stuffed ham into her mouth and chewed noisily. "I have no care for spiritual things."

   The meal was finished in silence. Chandra helped Emily clear the table. Conrad and Caelan went off to talk, and Mablevi and Manchu washed the dishes. Xenia went to pick fruit from the orchard, and Drenia flounced up to the room she had rented for whenever she came to visit.

   "Why is she like that?" Emily asked.

   "When she married, she was a Christian," Chandra began. "But when her husband died of a deadly sickness, she abandoned God and went back to worldly things."

   "That's sad," Emily said.

   "Yes," Chandra agreed." Her husband died when she was 26. Someone deceived her into thinking that her husband would come back to life if she sacrificed her daughter to some foreign god."

   "That's horrible!" Emily gasped.

   "She gave in," said Chandra sadly." She sacrificed Lily after her husband had been dead for a single week."

   Emily shuddered." Imagine sacrificing your only child to some… some god!"

   "Mm-hm," Chandra agreed. "The table's cleared. Let's help Mama pick fruit."

   They hurried outside. Xenia was picking drail. Her basket was almost full, and a stack of empty ones stood nearby.

   "Hello, girls." Her cheerfulness sounded forced." Would you like to help me pick fruit?"

   "Sure," the girls said in unison. They grinned at each other and each grabbed two baskets.

   "Let's pick berries," Chandra said.

   The girls laughed and talked as they picked berries. The afternoon passed quickly, and soon it was time to make dinner.

   "Come, girls," Xenia called. "Let's make dinner."

  

 

  Emily tied on an apron in the kitchen.

  "Chandra, why don't you pour out milk into a pitcher and put sugar in a bowl? Emily, you can use this big glass bowl to mix up berries."

   Emily mixed berries in the big glass bowl that Xenia gave her. Xenia made a thick vegetable stew and set out rolls. 

  Chandra set the table and called everyone to dinner.

  Drenia came down when she knew they were done praying and sat down.

  Emily sat next to Chandra. She did her best not to stare at Drenia, whose manners were dreadful.

  “How was your afternoon?” Mablevi asked Drenia.

  “Fine,” Drenia said, around a huge mouthful of milk and sugar with berries.” I started a new novel. It’s good.”

  Mablevi glanced at Xenia. Then he took a bite of stew and chewed it thoughtfully. “Drenia, he said,” such novels are not good for the soul.”

  “I don’t like this spiritual talk,” Drenia huffed. “The novels I read are perfectly fine.” She stuffed half a roll into her mouth.

  Caelan was lost in his thoughts. When he finished, he politely excused himself and went to his room.

  Drenia finished eating and went off.

 Mablevi excused the children. Emily and Chandra cleared the table.

 “I wonder what Caelan was thinking about,” Emily said.

  “He probably has to move on soon,” Chandra said. “He’s almost always on the move.” She stacked up the dirty plates.”

  Emily cleared away cups and silverware. 

 

  When the table was cleared, they went to their room. They dressed and brushed their teeth and hair. Then they took turns washing their faces.

  “I wish I had a little sister,” Chandra said. “Ever since Mom had Manchu, she’s had six miscarriages. She’s pregnant again, but she’ll probably have another miscarriage.”

  “She’s pregnant? I didn’t know,” Emily said.

  “Drenia was not happy when she found out that Mom was expecting,” Chandra said.

“She said,’ Kill it while you can. Since you’ve had six miscarriages, and if you have a baby, it will bring bad luck on you.”

   “There is no such thing as bad luck,” Emily declared.

   “No,” Chandra agreed.  She glanced at the clock. “Well, we’d better get to bed.”

   Emily sighed and leaned back, thinking. Later that night, Emily lay in bed. Chandra was already asleep, but Emily could not stop thinking about what Manchu had said. She prayed that she would not be lonely and that she would soon return home

 

 

 

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