Beings of the Lovely Hills 2

I don’t usually rerun an adventure for at least six months after the initial post. However, I had a wonderful request from some of my readers to see this particular adventure again, which is awesome!

So this one goes out to the Rohman Kids.

Thanks for stopping by=) Read on and vote at the end for how you’d like the adventure to continue but choose wisely, for the world isn’t always as it seems.

Beings of the Lovely Hills

After almost falling asleep behind the wheel on your way home from visiting family, you decide to stop at the next place to rent a room for the night. Miles of road and trees go by before you see a sign advertising the Lovely Hills Resort. Great, a resort. The price will probably be exuberant but it’s better than getting into an accident, so you pull onto the road for the resort and park in front of the lobby, which happens to be a large log cabin with gigantic flower beds lining the front. Sunflowers taller than you grace those beds.

Slinging your pack over your shoulder, you enter the lobby and approach the counter.

“Is there a room available for the night?” you ask.

“Welcome to the Lovely Hills Resort.” The lady behind the counter gives you an empty smile. You wait but she just continues to give you that vapid grin.

“May I have a room?” you ask again.

“Of course,” she grins and hands you a key. No payment, no ‘please sign these papers,’ just a brass key.

“How much do I owe for the night?” you ask.

“Owe? What do you mean?”  Vapid grin.

You let it go. The key’s engraved with a number three. You decide to go look for room three without directions.

Stepping out the back door of the lobby, you find yourself surrounded by tall trees that smell sharply of pine. Three trails covered in wood chips fan out from your feet. There aren’t any signs telling you which way to go, so you simply head down the right hand path.

The day’s ending, so you hope to find room three before the sun sets and leaves you in darkness.

A building appears up ahead to the right of the path. As you draw closer, you see it’s a log cabin with large picture windows, a peaked roof, and a chimney. On the door is a number ten.

Turning around, you head back, realizing the numbering system probably runs left to right from the lobby. Reaching the lobby again, you head off down the left hand path and breathe a sigh of relief when the first cabin you come to displays a brass number one.

Continuing on, you pass number two and finally reach number three. You’re eyes droop with exhaustion. Shoving the door open, you drop your pack onto the floor, close the door and lean against it with a sigh.

The cabin’s furnished with heavy, dark wood furniture with leather cushions and boasts hard wood floors and lush ornate rugs. At this point, you wouldn’t care if it just had a bed and a bathroom.

You trudge to the four poster bed and fall onto it, groaning in pleasure.

You’re just this side of sleep when something brushes your cheek. You brush it away but it returns. Blinking, you find the cabin dark. You must have fallen asleep for a little while. Rolling onto your back, you wait for your eyes to adjust and when they do, you make out a small shape sitting on the bed beside you. Two shiny eyes blink as they watch you.

“Welcome to the resort,” purrs the shape.

“I’m dreaming,” you rub your eyes and look again but the cat’s still there.

“No dream. Just the start to a fabulous journey. Answer me this, human, what’s small at first, winged at birth but feared by all when the end of its life falls?”

“What?” You’re still groggy from lack of sleep. Rubbing your eyes, you protest, “I just stopped in for some sleep. I’m not here to play games.”

The cat chuckles. “You’ll have plenty of time to sleep but you’ve yet to pay for the room. Payment around here takes a different form than money. So answer the riddle.”

Those shiny eyes stare at you unblinkingly. You remind yourself never to have a staring contest with a cat.

“Small at first, winged at birth, feared when it dies?” you mutter, thinking over the riddle. Nothing comes to mind but, as you stare at the talking cat, you realize the answer might not be part of your normal world. You could make up something mythical or just admit you don’t know.

So do you…

A. Make up something?

or

B. Admit you don’t know?

Beings of the Lovely Hills Option B: Admit You Don’t Know

The cat purrs as it waits for you to answer. The soft rumbling carries to your ears as you consider a response to the riddle.

“Honestly,” you say, “I’ve no idea.”

The purring stops. “You’re no fun. No fun at all. Surely you’ve got a guess.”

“Nope,” you shrug.

The cat harrumphs. It’s an odd sort of half-hair-ball sort of ‘ga-rumph’ that has you standing up off the bed just in case he hocks a hair ball on you.

“Sure you don’t have a guess?”

“Stop tormenting the human, Norman,” says a new voice.

You swivel your head around just as a new cat jumps up on the bed. This one’s got white splotches but that’s all you can tell in the dark cabin.

“We need a hand moving something. Once that’s done, we’ll gladly call it your payment and you can get some rest. Deal?” the new cat says.

“Sure,” you agree, enticed by the prospect of getting some sleep and glad payment sounds easy. The two cats hop off the bed and head toward the door. You shove to your feet with a sigh, opening the door for them, you follow the two felines through.

“Rather nice human this time. Good job picking, Norman,” the white spotted one says. In the light from the moon, you can now see this cat’s smaller than Norman, who has a decided pouch to his stomach.

Norman just purrs louder.

There’s  rustling in the trees ahead and the two cats freeze mid-step. You pause behind them.

“Hide!” Norman hisses and ducks behind the nearest cabin. Ducking around the side too, you turn to look back at the trail you were just on in time to see something very large ambling down the path. Its whole body sways and the moonlight glints off of scales.

The answer to the riddle hits you. “Dragon!” you whisper.

Norman shushes you.

The dragon continues down the path and disappears without looking your way.

“Lily, how’d he find us so fast?” Norman asks the white splotched cat.

Lily glares at him. “You, dumby. I went back to the nest and found where you’d rubbed against the entrance. You may as well have shouted to him who took the eggs. That’s why I came to help you tonight.”

Norman’s ears go back and he sinks his belly to the ground. “Oops” is all he says.

“What have you gotten me into?” you ask.

Lily sits on her haunches. “We made a promise to take care of Lady Silverscale’s eggs while she’s building a new nest. She’s had some trouble with Master Nightwalk eating her hatchlings.”

“So why do you need me?”

“We can’t move the eggs and obviously, Master Nightwalk’s onto where we hid them.”

Norman sidles up to your leg and leans in. “Please, help move them.” He gives you that unblinking stare. At least it’s not vapid like the lady in the lobby.

“Why didn’t you just ask the lady in the lobby to help you?”

Both cats hiss. “She’s not all there, if you hadn’t noticed.”

“Right. All right,” you agree.

Both cats give a rumble of delight at your response. You follow them down the path to past the last cabin and then head into the trees behind the resort. They take you down into a valley with a small creek running through the bottom. At a spot where the creek pools, they stop and scratch at the leaves covering the ground.

Underneath are three eggs. Two are white with green spots and one’s solid gray. They’re all the size of a basketball.

“You’re riddle said they were small at birth. That’s not really small.”

Norman gives the equivalent of a shrug. You crouch down to lift one and groan. It’s got to be close to fifty pounds.

“I can’t move them all at once,” you say.

The cats glance at each other. “We can’t leave them here. Nightwalk’ll be here soon. He’s a good tracker.”

Do you…

Bb. Construct something to transport all the eggs at once?

or

Bc. Find a hiding place for the eggs while you move one at a time?

Beings of the Lovely Hills Option Bb: Construct Something

You don’t have a lot of time, so you opt for trying to move all the eggs at once. If you’d remembered to grab your bag, you would have been able to use your sleeping bag, but alas, the backpack’s still sitting in the cabin that the dragon’s probably going through right now.

“Between the two of you, can you move one egg?” you ask.

“Maybe,” Lily says, “depends on what you’re thinking. We can’t exactly pick it up.” She holds her legs out to show they’re too short to grasp an egg.

Picking up three dead branches, you set them beside an egg. Then you search around for an aspen tree. Finding one, you peel at the bark with your nails until you finally get a section pulled off the trunk. Carefully you peel off long strips of bark.

Returning to the egg, you cross the branches to create a triangle frame that’ll lift the egg off the ground once the egg is set on it. Using the long strips of green bark, you lash the frame together at the corners of the triangle.

Setting the egg onto the frame, you unbuckle your belt and attach it to one corner in a large loop.

“Use the belt as a harness,” you instruct the two cats, “and pull the egg.”

“Won’t that leave a trail?” Lily asks.

“At first, yes,” you say, “but I’ll follow behind and cover the trail.”

“He’ll sniff us out,” Norman says. “Even if you cover the trail, he’ll be able to smell us.”

You look around, trying to come up with something else that’ll cover the trail. “What if we used the stream?”

“That might work,” Lily agrees. She and Norman fit themselves into the belt and pull, hard. The egg moves about an inch.

“Keep at it,” you encourage and start pulling your shoe laces. Using the laces, you tie them around the last two eggs and then tie a thick stick onto the end of each lace. Then you turn and, using the sticks as handles, pull the eggs forward.

When you look back, there’s an obvious trail cut into the forest floor. You don’t bother trying to cover that trail. It’d take too long. Instead, you and the cats pull the eggs until you reach the creek. Entering the creek, you go one way for a while, get out and lay a false trail, and then head back into the creek and head up stream until you reach an area where it forks.

By this time, you’re yawning constantly and your shoulders ache from hauling the eggs around all night. Heading up the far fork, you make sure you’re far enough away that you’re out of sight of the fork and then you pull the eggs up onto the muddy bank of the creek.

You all slouch in exhaustion and before long, the cats fall asleep curled around the egg.

You’re about to follow their example when you hear something in the willows to your right. Tilting your head to look, you see furry legs and a long snout.

“They’re at it again,” says the wolf.

“What?” you say, glancing at the cats. They’re still sleeping.

“They attempt to steal the dragon’s eggs every time she lays a new hatch. It’s a sort of game for them.”

You’re so tired, you have the urge to close your eyes and ignore the wolf but your sane mind kicks in and you keep your eyes on him.

“What about Nightwalk?” you ask.

The wolf chuckles. “Gonna eat them? that’s their usual story.” The gray beast eyes the two sleeping felines. “The dragons, if they think you stole the eggs, might eat you. But, if you slip away now and tell them where to find their young, they might let you see the hatching. I can sit here and watch the cats for you.”

You frown. Sounds like the wolf just wants to eat the cats. But if he’s telling the truth, you just helped steal the dragon’s eggs instead of saving them for their mother.

Do you…

Bb1: Stay put?

or

Bb2: Go find the dragons?

Beings of the Lovely Hills Option Bb1: Stay Put

“Sound like you just want to eat the cats,” you say. “Why should I trust you?”

The wolf snorts. “Trust a wolf? You’d be stupid to trust me.” His lips pull up in a toothy grin. “Of course I’d like to eat the cats but they’d give me indigestion. Their kind always do. Beside, if I’m going to put such an effort into it, I’d rather have a rabbit. Rabbits are far tastier than those two rascals.”

“Then go hunt rabbits.”

“All right. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

And the beast disappears into the willows. You stay awake for a while, listening for movement but the wolf doesn’t return and you eventually drift to sleep. The sun’s beating down on you when you wake. Stretching, you look around.

The cats are still curled around their egg, content in their slumber. They’ve stretched out but that’s about all. Your stomach rumbles but you quickly forget about your hunger when you hear the heavy whoosh of large wings.

In the sky two beasts appear winging in circles. One has the dark black scales you figure Nightwalk must have and the other glints silver. They’re obviously flying together, searching. You start to second guess your decision to help the cats.

Then the dragons dive, having spotted you.

“Run!” you shout, pushing to your feet and taking off through the willows. The cats screech behind you but you don’t look back.

The wolf must have been telling the truth, for the two dragons were definitely working together. Nightwalk’s not the enemy the cats told you he was.

But it’s too late now. You hear the whoosh of great wings and feel the push of air from them. You dodge to the side but the dragon’s tail lashes out, tripping you. You roll and come to your feet again to keep running but again that giant tail smacks into your legs. Rolling over, you put your hands up in surrender but the dragon doesn’t give you time to explain.

I’m sorry to say your story from here is rather sad.

Once the story comes out, the dragons realize you were an innocent pulled into the cat’s schemes but by then, of course, it’s too late. However, they do sneak out of the Lovely Hills to leave your family a basket of fruit. The dragons heard somewhere that’s what you do for humans who loose a family member.

The End

Blessings,

Jennifer