Island of the Kahts~Part Eight

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 2/6/2013

(My apologies for not having posted in, well...absolute ages. I have not been living up to my Monthly duties at all of late, but hopefully I will be able to get back on track and sharing more on here in the near future. So here's the latest chapter of Island of the Kahts...should be about eight more coming.)

Part Eight

We reached Daarimere at nightfall and sent out two landing boats from each ship after anchoring the Waveblade and Sea Gate safe in a small harbor.

No one felt especially eager to explore the island in the dark, or to camp there at once, so the landing boats returned quickly and the scouts reported nothing of any interest as they had left their boats only moments before getting back in them again.

It was decided that early the next morning that all but a dozen crew-members from each ship would disembark, go inland, set up camp, and then set out on the mission at hand. For the night, however, we would stay aboard and sleep in safe hulls where no monsters could catch us.

When morning broke we were roused by Craigin and his first-mate and hustled ashore along with all our gear and a hefty portion of supplies.

Daarimere was beautiful, with trees of emerald green and beaches of white sand, and the blue and black mountains rising above the trees hovered over the island like a concerned guardian. Birds of many varieties—most of which I couldn’t have recognized had I a field guide and stood within inches of them—flew about the treetops, singing exotic songs and screeching at us for intruding upon their privacy.

Bart met us as we stepped from the shore to the jungle. He smiled. “Not so very frightening, is it?”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t look much like the home of vicious monsters, at least.”

Craigin frowned at this comment but said nothing. After his dire words the evening before, he had not spoken much at all—to me or to anyone else. However, I did notice he had brought a small leather-bound book which read Dragons of the Sea and Creatures of the Isle on the spine, written by an explorer named Carter Loss.

“Shall we go further on?” Bart asked, waving gallantly ahead in the manner of a tour guide in a stiff museum hall reeking of dust and ages, while this island smelled green and alive.

“By all means, my good man.” I replied, giving him a mock bow.

He threw his head back and laughed and the gesture was so warm and light that I was laughing as well before I quite realized it. Craigin, for his part, offered a smile to replace his dour expression.

Entering the jungle of the island felt similar to entering any other jungle in the world, and I should know, as I have gone in and come out of many jungles before. All of us were armed to the teeth, having little idea of what exactly lay in wait for us. Thinking on this, I decided to bring the matter up again when we halted by a stream for a break.

The weather on the island, though pleasant, was humid to the extreme and all of us were mopping our brows as we went. The only relief came in the body of fresh breezes swirling about the land continuously, cooling our wet, red faces.

“Does anyone know what these monsters really are like?” I asked.

“Kahts.” said Bart from my side. I glanced at him. His eyes were straying to every leaf in the foliage around us. “We call them Kahts.”

“Cats?”

“Yes, although not in the traditional sense. We spell the word differently to mark which we mean—‘Kaht’ being K-A-H-T.” explained Bart.

“Ah.” I said.

Fern and Savadra returned from refreshing themselves by the stream and seated themselves in the little glade surrounding the running water. “What do they look like?” Savadra questioned.

“Like any house pet in the world.”

“Then how are they dangerous?” Gern wanted to know, hanging more-or-less upside-down from a tree limb overhead. “Is it poison? Or do they lure you in with their sweet purring and mews until they have ensnared your mind and they ambush you from all sides?”

This time it was Craigin who answered with a shake of his head. “They only look like housecats, lad. They are not the same creature and are a lot larger.”

“Gern was correct the first time, on the other hand.” Bart mused.

“Truly?” Craigin asked, turning to face the other captain.

“Yes, their claws are full of it. It’s not deadly, by any means, but for certain it is powerful enough to knock a man down for an hour or so, and that’s plenty of time for their teeth to make and end of him.”

I shuddered and half-wished I’d kept my mouth shut.

Savadra, unlike me, seemed fascinated and prompted the two men. “How do you know this, Craigin?”

Craigin held up the book he’d been carting along. “Mr. Loss here told me. Apparently he came across some on a different island. They didn’t bother him or his companions much, but they did make a lot of noise at night. He didn’t mention the poison; I suspect he could not tell such a thing from distant observations.”

“The Kahts are about the size of lioness.” Bart said.

“But not so lithe.” added Craigin.

“They are agile and powerful.”

“Fast, as well.”

“They don’t like water, as far as I’ve been able to tell.”

“Hate it, as a matter of fact.”

“They love to climb trees.”

“So don’t try hiding in one if you need to escape them.”

“Hmm, that would be unadvisable, wouldn’t it?”

“Oh, and don’t forget the noise.”

“Screams. How could anyone forget that?”

“Indeed.”

“They have very good hearing, so there’s no sneaking up on them.”

“Eyesight is better. Like cats they are primarily nocturnal and can see as well or better during the night as the day.”

I held up a hand and waved it in the air to stop them. “Wait. How can we beat them, then?”

Bart leaned back against the base of a tree and shrugged. “Distance shooting will be needed, I suppose. It’s worked in the past, even if we’ve never met the beasts head on.”

Our party sat in silence for some time, the soldiers of Montall talking quietly among themselves as the sun above inched across its ancient path. I watched it out of the corner of my eye and noted how much time passed.

The soldiers who had come with us were some of the strongest King Greythan had to offer, and every single one of them operated under the authority of Captain Bartholomew. I watched as they watched him. Respect lingered on most of their faces and at the same time they seemed at ease with him. When Cain had chosen me as an adventurer, and before I had ever left my home, he had taught me what it meant to work as a team, and what leadership is born of. For years what he said has echoed in my mind. 'You may always judge the character of the leader by the attitude of the follower' This was one of the crusty old adventurer's favorite sayings. I had always understood what he meant, but it became ever clearer as I watched Bartholomew's unit at work.

Late afternoon arrived sooner than I would have preferred and our break ended.

Standing, Bart addressed us all. “The air will be cooling down in the next few hours, thanks to the system of winds which channel through the island every day. As night falls, cool will become cold. We will walk until we mount that ridge--” Raising an arm, Bart pointed to a distant outcropping beneath the shadow of the mountains where the land ran up to meet the rocky fortress and peered over the jungle all around. “In the morning it will be a short walk to the old orchards where there will be plenty of fruit to eat and several buildings to camp in. The area is as defensible as we could hope for. Now, we should make it to the ridge before dark. Be warned, the darkness is what brings the danger here.

“Everyone keep on his guard, keep in your ranks, and should anything happen before we make camp, show this wild land what you're made of and what blood runs through your veins.” Bartholomew paused to let his words sink in, his arms crossed over his chest, one boot planted on a rock in the earth. He stared his men down and then smiled. “And don't do anything stupid.”

A few of the men chuckled as they hoisted all their gear.

One day, I swore to myself, I would be able to give an awesome speech like that for as seemingly mundane a task as marching.

Comments

Kahts? Cats? Kahts? !!

Nice chapter!! Looking forward to when you get the time to posting more....

I like the 'You may always judge the character of the leader by the attitude of the follower' bit, that was cool.

Love the description of Daarimere....be nice to take a holiday there. Only if, though, there wasn't any 'Kahts'.

Yes, anyway, I'm high on sugar, so I better go. Cheerio. !!!

Maddi | Wed, 02/06/2013

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

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