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|The Great Divide (Is Kind of Annoying)|
October 24, 2015
Some things are nice to stand by and stare at and then promptly have nothing to do with. The giant canyon system known as the Great Divide is one of those things. It's passable, with a guide; but in the days prior to Avatar Roku's full realization, the concept was a bit of a foreign one. Its massive crevices range from hundreds of feet deep to a mere few dozen and the canyon crawlers can easily trap and eat any unsuspecting travelers. Their sense of smell is great, sure, but that isn't a factor if they actually see a traveler. Then they gang up on and eat the traveler. End of story. So, to conclude, suffice it to say that the Great Divide wasn't something a pair of teenagers really needed to cross - but of course, they did anyway.
Koan and Arnoq had been traveling for over a month now, their rations supplemented by what they could scrounge from various places they'd stopped at for a day or two. Their faster methods of travel, namely groundsurfing and gliding, could only be sustained for a few hours a day, so they moved from town to town. Arnoq, not one to feel embarrassment, would keep his head up and walk around the town, asking various shops if there was any way he might make some money for simple service. In the rare instance he wasn't immediately turned away, he'd work for a solid day, always leaving his temporary employers wishing he would stay longer. Brick, on the other hand, would roam the countryside (or rather, under the countryside), since his tendency to partially burrow into buildings could get tedious for potential employers.
Koan, meanwhile, sat out on the main street with his bowl, begging. He had, shortly after meeting Arnoq, fashioned a tiny piccolo from a stick and he would play it endlessly. He was a quick learner with his self-created instrument, and could play for several hours endlessly with his circular breathing. His razor had been neglected, used to create the flute, and Koan was now sporting a head of short, dark hair. While Arnoq wasn't one to comment on such things, he and any other bystander would say that the hair complimented Koan's angular skull much better than the bald pate.
They were nearing the Great Divide. They'd made it across the water already - spending most of their money for two ferry tickets. Now, they could see on Koan's map that they would either have to walk sixty to seventy miles around, or pass through the Great Divide. The choice was pretty obvious. They beelined for the Great Divide - passing through a couple towns on the way, they made a bit of money, but nothing major, bearing straight ahead.
A Small Problem
The Great Divide's devoted landscape stretched out before them on the second day of travel. Koan flashed a signature grin, the one that Arnoq had learned to look out for after a month of travel, and hefted his staff. The piccolo was tucked into the drab cloak he had started wearing over the monk robes, concealing the telltale orange.
"What the heck are you thinking this time?" Arnoq asked. He had lost close to ten pounds in just over a month, an act that made his broad shoulders a little more apparent. He was still the proud owner of a massive set of legs that rooted him into the earth as surely as any mountain, though, and they hadn't shrunk proportionally at all.
"Nothing in particular. This is just cool. Want to just cruise over?"
"Wait, can you do the wave over big holes in the earth like that?"
"I can try." Arnoq readied his 'surfboard', this time about ten feet long, and got Brick on board. "Oh, this is gonna hurt..."
He backed up and got his whole body into the wind-up. The surfboard shot forward, reached the first gap, and shot over it. He couldn't slow down now. The board ricocheted off of one, two, three... six, seven columns, and Koan had to take to the air just to keep Arnoq in sight.
The board kept moving until all of a sudden the momentum was gone and Arnoq felt himself flying through the air down, down, into a crevice deeper than most. He stuck a hand into the side of the rock and slowed his descent enough that when he slammed into the bedrock at the base he only felt like he had fallen one hundred feet instead of two.
"Arnoq! Dude! That was awesome!" Koan shouted as he flew down into the crevice. "Are you okay?"
"I... think so..." Arnoq groaned. "Gonna take some perfecting on that one."
Koan landed next to him. Brick had already waddled up to Arnoq and was licking his face, but the rough tongue wasn't exactly medicinal. "Good boy, good boy," Arnoq said as he sat up. His head, ribs but that was nothing he couldn't walk off. His knee was throbbing and almost didn't hold his weight, but he was more worried about what he could see in the dim light down in the depths of the Divide. The soft white glow couldn't be real, he thought. That was his imagination.
Of course he didn't write it off, standing slowly and pointing for Koan's benefit.
"Go and tell me what those white rocks are."
Koan glanced down the path and his excitement ended. "Wait..." He leaped the twenty yards to the white forms, confirming what he feared. He turned back to Arnoq and commanded the winds to levitate the skull. "Skeletons. Dozens of them..."
He glanced out over the graveyard, unable to make out its end in the near darkness. "Maybe hundreds."
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