Quater's Mysterious Ways
Story by Stripe, D28Mo2Y2o01
Thanks to Davvy, Doodles and others for your input.
The Great Wall of Records.
A gift from Quater, one each, to his seven sons.
No one has ever seen it write itself, yet the words *become* so that all may learn and gain knowledge about their world and the others of Quater's Universe.
There *are* a few happenings that Quater had forbid the Walls to write.
This is one of them.
Tho the Origin is recorded, the rest is known only to two beings,
Quater Himself, (of course)
and one other.......
This was the first observation of the newly forming mind.
Soon the blackness lessened, then there was a noticing of *substance and weight*.
The sensation of *stretching* a *lengthening of form*, that, and the feel of roughness beneath is what helped cause the awareness of *self* to sluggishly become. Pressures and caresses could be felt all over. Now here, now there, some with force, and some gentle as form was manipulated.
The darkness became more like a dim light as *form* developed.
Light, heavy, dark, warm, cool, above, beneath.... These observations had meanings now.
Disturbances were *noticed*. They were....uh,....not from Self. Hear.
Hear! Thetas what was happening! Self was *hearing* the..the..Outside of Self.
Sounds, that's what they were called. A soft sound,...uh...breezes, coolness. A quiet brushing sound....the tiny loose pieces of hardness that was felt underneath.....pebbles...they clicked together and rolled a little in the breeze.
*Shape* of form was established.
Darkness again,...no, this was different, this darkness moved! A....another *self* was felt, a....presence. It came between Self and the warm light....shadow.
Self felt the *other* come close, closer, and lean over and above, lessening the light. Self let awareness run down the extensions of Form and found these extensions could be made to move. (!)
Twitching, feeble yet capable flopping! Self can move! Other, Self can move!
Excitement, Happiness, Joy Of Discovery, Pride Of Accomplishment! Self can Move!
NOISE! Lots of noise! Loud, sad and fearful! Emotions, thetas what these sounds carried, emotions! .... Dismay! Fear! Shame! Disgust! Guilt! Pity! Embarrassment! Sorrow! Sadness! Revulsion! Anguish!
The presence quickly moved up and away from Self! It leaned over and above again, and again there was the sensation of pressure. Not like before, this was not a "making" pressure, this felt wrong. Something had wrapped around a part of Self. The roughness fell away ... lifting .... the Other was lifting Self! What is happening? Self could feel Other tensing up, what is wrong?
A noise of effort from Other, then suddenly,...Light and Lightness! The breeze was rushing by *much* faster now all around! Balance, there was none. Up and Down was gone too! Self felt things rush past. These sensations lasted for a small length of time. They were not unpleasant, just unusual.
Hard! Scratching, Tumbling, Scraping! Grinding!
Many bright tiny lights flashed inside! A great noise from Self as the air was knocked out!
The jangled thoughts collected as Self lay stunned.
Confusion, Uncertainty, Sadness, Rejection and .....Deep Loneliness.
The eyes finished forming. (you might not call them eyes, but that was their function)
Self opened his eyes.
Not knowing how or where the words and their meanings were coming from, "His and He" would do for describing Self.
He was on his....side. Carefully He moved a limb...MUCH more cautiously than the first time when he attempted movement, when the Other was with Him. (This was when the horrified sounds started) He felt the damages to the Outside of Self. Scratches, dirt ground in, cuts and bruises. Small areas felt like there was a moisture on the......surface, yes, that's the word.
Light, shade, shadow, ground, sky and COLORS! LOTS of Colors!!, and .... and ... (he sat up) Distance.
He raised himself up carefully on his.....legs and feet....standing. He straightened up and slowly turned, His eyes practically devouring the sights, feasting on all He could see, and the slow mind starving for knowledge, absorbing as much information as fast as possible!
Two skinny things rose up before his eyes and it took Him a moment to realize these were the extensions of his Form..... his...... hands and..... arms. Long, slim, bendable in the middle... arms. 3 thinner things.... fingers, ended the arms. These were flexible and of different lengths. Panic set in as vision dimmed......no, the light was fading.
It was night, or was it the lump on his head? He lay down and thought no more.
The now one-day-old awoke to a new morning.
He had been lying in a pile of shrubs. Quite comfortable really. He saw that most of his injuries had healed or was almost healed. The deeper cuts and larger bruises would take longer. He stood and stretched, feeling the potential of his limbs. A discomfort was felt in his midsection....hunger. Needs what? ....Food. What is Food? He picked a branch that had lots of leaves on it. Maybe this? The leaves were put into his mouth... was that the word? and he brought his jaws together. *Odd feeling, this.* he thought as he swallowed..... but he repeated the process till his hunger went away. Eating. He felt better now and was looking around again when he saw that a line of disturbed dirt and broken plant growth led right to him.
"Whatever happened, Self.......no, *I*, I was the reason for this path. So, I came from this direction, I wonder what sent me this way?" He decided to follow the line of damage, and began climbing the small hill.
He got to the edge of an open plain just in time to see a figure in the distance yell in fright and pick itself up off the ground. It stood shaken, glancing around, then into the sky. Soon He could see what it was looking at. Something was moving closer, it floated in the air. This thing carried a very BIG object, a smaller figure, and an object colored red on its top. He saw the figure on the ground remove something and gauge its length. It looped one end and sent it towards the floating thing....Not long enough. He gasped in shock to see the person gouge out a chunk of himself and form it into a long cord and add it to the strap. This was tossed at the land chunk again and this time it caught firm! The Big one soon set the small figure down on the ground near the one who held the cord. This one had called out to them, the sound carrying faintly on the wind. H..Ho...Borg, Hoborg. This word ment something to Him, deep down he knew it was important. The being himself looked important too! What he thought was part of Hoborg's head threw flashes of light, anything of flesh doesn't do that, so, it must be.....metal. The Tall One must be metal too then, for light glinted from it when it moved.
The object that Hoborg wore was tall and pointed, the little being didn't have such a thing, just part of his head that formed a round shape. He felt the top of *his* head, nothing.
Then, the metal thing must be a mark of some distinction since only one was wearing such an object.
So many words and knowledge trying to form all at once in his mind, it made him dizzy!
Shaking his head in hopes of some thought organization, he began to move towards the small group. They were so far away....
The small one was a bright color next to Hoborg...It was yellow. Hoborg had crumpled to the ground, a great wound could be seen on him even at this distance! He hurried, (well, shambled a little faster actually, but progress wasn't much different) not knowing if the yellow one meant to help or hurt the injured one. Inspite of the great injury, this Hoborg looked strong enough to fend off something as small as the yellow one if he had to. The huge metal one just stood, as if waiting. Did the little one with the ring on its head command it? Would he make *it* hurt Hoborg?
Too late!! He saw the yellow one get behind Hoborg and...and.... bind his wound closed.(!) Ahhhhh...it helps, what a relief! By the feelings He felt from seeing this...he knew this was a good thing. And if the giant object that moved and called out Meeeee Biillllll was with it, then it must be good too.
The floating land was pulled in closer and the red object removed. The cord was also removed and the land was allowed to continue on its way.
His progress was slow, and made slower by the need for food and sleep. So it was a day or two later, to His dismay, that he watched the yellow one and Hoborg enter the red topped box and be picked up by Me Bill. There was no way He could keep up with the strides of the giant!
"Wait!" He gargled at the giant's back, waving his arms and stumping forward only to slow and stop again knowing no one had heard him.
He looked down at himself. The legs were strong but didn't seem to work right.
There was no reason he could see why he couldn't move faster. But, this was His form. He had been given a chance at life and this was He, He existed and would be grateful.
He finally got to the site where everyone else had been. The stump of a vine stuck up from the ground, a cold fire pit, footprints, and the cord. He took up the cord and found that it was made from 2 different materials...one had a buckle, and the other was a wonderful feeling.... something. He sat down and looked at it closer. It was red, smooth, almost seeming alive! He looked at himself. *His* body was mostly dull brown, some parts dull red, and as he looked at his legs they were dull too, rough, alive yes, but not like *this* stuff! A word came to his mind.......Klay.
He ran a finger across what would be his knee.......Dirt.
That's what Self is, Dirt? This revelation hit him!
Sadness! Jealousy! Betrayal! Anger! Embarrassment!
Then calmer thoughts entered. Small, quiet whisperings.
"Self was created from Dirt. That fact cannot be changed.
If someone took the time to form Me, (Ahh Yes, more words! Me, I, Myself!,) from Dirt, Then this should not be a *bad* thing.
Plants grow from dirt and they are good, bugs live in holes in dirt and they are good. (tasty actually) But I am more than dirt, I move, I learn."
He coiled up the rope and belt wanting to keep them, but....where? He had no pockets and nothing to carry anything in. His hand automatically went to his chest area, he didn't even *think* about it. The fingers found a small shapeless lump. Looking down at it, he knew it had a function. Pushing up didn't do anything, or to the side or down, it wouldn't turn, he tried pulling on it, then he tried pressing it. That worked! There was a kind of "sloppy" sound, then he saw a part of his chest 'melt' open.(!) In shock he sat fearfully staring at the roundish lumpy hole, not daring to move!
After a while when nothing happened, he soon slowly ventured a hand inside. Soft, dry and warm. He was suprised to find he had *other* objects inside too!! Fearfully he touched them. One would think that one's innards would be, well,....squishy, but these were solid, some springy feeling, some sharp some rounded. Since they moved freely inside, they must not be part of him. He took out a few items and held them so he could see them, but what he pulled out was either shapeless, useless, or completely unknown to him. They had dull, muted colors of various browns, reds, greys, white and black. He put the stuff back anyway and put the rope in too. He touched the 'button' again (if one could call it that) and the 'melt' was reversed, closing up his front.
The "Meeeee Billlll" could no longer be seen.
The Giant, the little yellow figure and Hoborg... all gone. He saw the deep prints the giant left, thought of following, but knew he could never keep up.
"My Creator is gone too, I wonder why and where Creator went?" He gathered more leaves storing them in his chest and choosing a direction, headed off to whatever fate awaited.
He would do his best to make his Creator proud of Him, he may meet him someday!
Travel broadens the mind, and this one absorbed all sights, sounds and information! He went where he felt he should go.
And so went his days, learning what he could (being by himself) finding that his hands tho odd, were perfect for crafting things and building. He also kept watching incase He-Who-Made-Him returned.
His legs may be misshapen and slow, but they are strong, and he could walk for hours on end without tiring!
Heh! Once he found he had fallen asleep while walking and hadn't woken up till the following morning! (running into the tree had helped to wake him up)
At night he would make a fire. He had seen the *First Ones* (referring to Hoborg and the Yellow One) make fire to warm themselves. (Meee Billl didn't seem bothered by the cold)
He would sit, pull out a bit of the wonderful klay rope and hold it, marveling at its perfection.
"Is my Creator of Klay too, or of Dirt? Why have I not seen Him?"
He would study his reflection at water's edge. His form bore no resemblance of the clean proud lines of Hoborg, or the smoother line of form of the yellow one.
"Am I so much different from them? Do I resemble my Creator? Why do I look like this? Maybe I am of another type of "people" other than them? Are there more like me?"
He would ask himself, argue and reason the issue till he would fall asleep.
Quater looked down upon this forsaken soul. There was much hope in this one. With a strong will to live, there was so much it could do in spite of his limits.
Whatever His Sixth Son thought, Quater would test and bless this one. He stretched out his hand towards him.
He would give him a longer life than he would've had. He would let him meet his creator in the hopes to teach Hoborg a lesson.
And the wound his son had given himself? Quater would not let it heal, so that it would serve as a reminder.
The *Forgotten One* continued his travels, always searching for either others that looked like himself, or for his creator. But it seemed that other than the odd TickBerger or Victoid, he was the only one of his kind in this land.
When boredom or loneliness got to be too much, he would examine the strange and varied contents in his chest. One item he kept near the front. He had determined that it was an instrument of some kind, and would work at trying to coax out pleasant sounds from it.
His knowledge grew, his skills improved, and his body got stronger too.
He learned patience and endurance as well.
He had come across many interesting animals in his wanderings.
One day, a distressed *SKEERAWK!* led him off a trail and he found a Klaybird struggling with its head caught in the *Y* of a branch. Its tail lashed uselessly. The wings weren't built to pull it loose, and its claws couldn't reach the trunk to push itself up. Another strangled warble escaped its beak.
It was just a KlayBird, why should *he* worry about it? He has seen lots of them around, there were plenty.
He turned and continue on his way, it could get itself free. He headed back to the trail.
....The bird's struggles were getting weaker....
Or could it?
He stopped and looked back.
Something twisted inside him as he saw the wings flutter limply.
The tail and claws were now less of a threat, so, he went back and, gently lifting it down, he let the bird lay in his arms as it gasped for breath. Calmly he waited till it could breath better, carried it to a stream and set it by the water. The bird drank deeply as he quietly crept away.
Another day, a ferocious weasel crossed his path! He had confused it by standing his ground, (he was a terrible runner)and kept it at bay with a long branch that was being snipped shorter piece by piece! He saw the cliff behind himself in time and ducked just as the beast launched itself at him! The howls of dismay were cut short as the breath was knocked out of the crab. It had landed on a small ledge a short way down. He saw that it wasn't hurt, just stunned. There was little room for it on the ledge.
He looked down at the Weasel's situation.
"Serves you right!" He yelled at it. "Staying on that ledge will teach you a lesson!" He noticed the animal was being careful how it stood on the narrow ledge, the wall was too crumbly for it to get a claw hold so it couldn't climb up, and the ledge was starting to break away too.
"Hmmm all I'd have to do is drop a few stones and you're history!" Grinning, he grabbed a fist-sized rock and held it over the edge. The frightened crab began to whimper as more of the ledge fell away.
His grin slowly disappeared as he discovered that Weasels could feel fear too.
"No, this is wrong. How would *I* feel being left to a fate like that?"
He stepped back and dropped the rock. He couldn't *just* kill it, and he couldn't let it die like that either.
He began to call down to it, making quiet, calming noises so it would stop breaking pieces of ledge off. The Weasel stopped its nervous prancing and kept a little more still. Should have just enough time....
Looking around he noticed many many long thin vines. He began to weave. Braiding braided strands together, he soon had a rope he felt would hold lots of weight. Securing one end around a tree, he tossed the other end over the cliff. It was plenty long enough and he left when he saw the crab catch hold and begin to work its way up.
A cave he walked through later on, was home to hundreds of FrencheeBugs. Their goo crisscrossed throughout the cavern ensnaring other smaller bugs and animals. A squeaking mouse caught his attention as it struggled in the stickiness, a large FrencheeBug had arrived and was about to eat it!
There were plenty of rocks and dead roots around, He would get a root and save the mouse! He turned around and began to break the goo strands, then strangely, he hesitated. That moment's pause gave the bug the chance to reach the mouse....it was all over quickly.
He could still use the root as a club and destroy the FrencheeBug in revenge!........but he didn't.
"Creatures have to eat to live, and if this is the only way for them to eat, who am *I* to go against what was natural? There would always be bugs and mice, and one would always eat the other. It was the way of nature."
He left the cave and the creatures in it in peace.
After leaving the cave far behind, it soon grew dark, so he made a fire, ate and slept.
In his dream, A person of living light appeared!
Squinting against the dazzling brightness, he asked in wonder,
"Who are you?"
[I am Quater, Creator of all that you see and know.]
The Mighty One answered in a soft, gentle voice.
He abased himself before this Wonderfully Terrible Being!!
"What do you want of me Great Quater?!" He asked in fear.
He was ashamed! Everything about himself was course and poor before the purity of this Awesome Persona! He trembled in the belief that he was a *mistake* about to be gotten rid of!
But, to his suprise, he felt Quater *smile* at him. (!)
[You have nothing to fear from me my child, you should be proud of yourself that you have passed my tests.]
Fear gave way to shock and amazement! Here was HE HIMSELF speaking to *him*, not as a cruel, or demanding god, but like a Father would to a Son!
"Tests? I don't understand, what tests?" He slowly stood up.
[You showed Caring and Sympathy when you stopped to save the KlayBird. Compassion, Mercy and Bravery when you helped the Crab even tho it had attacked you. And you showed Understanding and Wisdom when you left the mouse to its fate and did nothing to the bug in revenge. I am proud of you, Your Creator would be proud too.]
"I don't know who my creator *is* Lord Quater, I don't know where to look, why did He leave?"
[I will let *Him* tell you himself. Continue your travels, I will be with you and guide you. Do not fear.]
The beautiful light faded as Quater took his leave.
"Great Quater, Please! I have so many questions........!"
The faintest of whispers floated back to him as his thoughts clouded into dreamless sleep.....
[.......Everything will happen at the right time my child.......]
What a dream!
But....if it *was* a dream, why was he laying face down a short distance from the firepit?
He spat out grit, then the full realization of what happened sank in!!!!
It took a little more than a week, but when he finally left, a huge, perfectly round boulder sat where he awoke from his vision days before.
It was so black it had rich, deep-blue highlights. The irridesence was incredible! And when very close to the surface, one could look into the crystalline depth where countless colors danced!
It had taken a day or two to find the right boulder. Thanks to his strong limbs and determination he was able to dig the rock free and roll it to its new location. Then came the several days of polishing the once drab stone. Among the articles in his chest compartment, he had found an odd cloth that was rough on one side and less rough on the other.
Some water, *plenty* of rubbing and polishing and his work was complete.
He stepped back to admire his handiwork. Then kneeling, he scratched into the surface with a "tool" of sorts. He had no idea what it was really for, but it had a strong sharp point and he was able to put it to good use as he carved:
Creator Of ALL.
May All Who See This Monument
Be Ever Mindful of Him.
When finished, he had sat back, given thanks and went on his way.
A great distance away, in another part of the universe floated a small chunk of land known as the NeverHood.
The king of this land stood on the highest balcony of his castle and looked out over his creations. Through Quater, he was able to find BestKlay and make this wonderful place and his sons who lived here.
He couldn't sleep.
He felt something important was about to happen soon, but not knowing *what*, there was no way he could prepare for whatever was going to occur.
Tho deep in thought, he happened to notice that someone had come up behind him.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
He asked without turning around. He was always there for his sons, no matter what time of day or night.
[Heh heh, It's more like *I* will be helping *you*]
said a familiar, not often heard voice.
Taken completely by suprise, Hoborg gasped, turned and briefly knelt!
"Quater! What brings *you* here?"
[My Son, I feel it is time you should see and learn something. I will be causing your world to once again cross near a familiar land. Only *you* will know this, and you will know what to do.]
"But, Lord Quater, Who will be here for my sons? What will happen to them if I am gone?"
[All will be well with your world, and when you return, your sons shall never know that you had left them.]
With that, Quater departed.
Hoborg stood for a while longer looking back out over his kingdom, thinking about what he had just been told.
Nothing he could do about anything now, so he finally went on to bed.
A being of Klay, (created by Quater) and those made from BestKlay live for untold thousands of years, with incredible self-healing abilities, knowledge and personal talents.
But what of the one created from soil?
Greatly shortened life span, with most knowledge and abilities having to be learned. Self healing being a bit slower too.
A few more weeks would pass before Quater's words would come to be.
Neither Hoborg, nor The Nameless One had forgotten.
Finally, deep in the night, Quater's words came to pass.
A very heavy metallic rattle was felt throughout the castle! Hoborg woke and went to a window overlooking the base of the Great Chain. It was too dark to see anything, but far, far below, he heard the huge links being dragged across ground. (!)
"So, the time has arrived. The Will of Quater be Done."
He got a backpack, put in some food and a few odds and ends he thought he might need and headed out.
No one saw him climb down the great chain.
It was morning as he set foot on this new land.
No, wait a second!......Memories began to stir....And once again, Hoborg found himself standing at the spot where he last saw the Tickberger! That rotten beast had drastically lessened his plans, but what with the BestKlay he had been left with, he felt he had done quite well indeed inspite of it! He looked around incase it or any others may still be here.
Oh, yes this path is familiar! He followed the spread out line of deep, rectangular holes....some partially filled with dust, others filled with water. No one could mistake them for anything else other than Big Robot Bill's footprints. Bill could really cover the distance when he wanted to!
It was quite some time before the King stopped. He had finally reached "The" spot.
A chill ran through his body as he watched in his mind's eye, the approach of the land that he caught using a chunk of his body to lengthen his belt. He ran a finger along the wound, touching the belt Willie had used to hold his chest and midsection together. Once again he was grateful to Willie and Big Robot Bil.
Back he went in his thoughts while looking around.
*Yes, that should be where the plant had grown, and the little house was set here....and..and*.......(he stood looking at the ground) much to his secret horror, he again saw the DirtClod being formed by his hands...and the awful *thing* coming to life! Then the last he saw of it....as he threw it bodily as far from himself as he could!
He raged at himself in his thoughts!
*How could he have been so vain?! How could he have been so irresponsible, why didn't he just keep heading towards the Mountain instead of feeling sorry for himself all that time?!?*
A Son of "Quater" bringing embarrassment upon himself as making such bad choices and listening to bad advice!
He yelled at the sky, not caring if anyone was around to hear.
"Quater, why did you bring me here?! You gave me the gift of creating, am I to be punished now for using that gift?!"
How could he have thought himself on a level of creating as Quater?! The memories were too painful, he had shamed himself and brought a life into existence and literally threw it away!
Hoborg didn't know whether to be mad or fearful as he shouted. He had not said anything to anyone in all this time about his unofficial first born............no, he couldn't possibly call that....that.....*creature* his son!
He had felt nothing like it since Klogg had taken his crown.....He ran.
It didn't matter where to, he didn't care....he ran.
Old. He was getting old. It showed in his face and on his hands. He was drying out. Fine particles fell in a faint, soft dust from his arms when he rubbed them. His movements were slower too. He didn't want to admit he was aging.
*If Quater is going to do something, I hope he does it soon*....
Hoborg wanted to go back to the castle and forget again, to not remember this part of his past anymore, but he had lost his way! His long legs carried him swiftly over the land.
"Why?", he asked himself, breathing heavy as he ran..."What more can I do here? It died and I regret it yes, but why have I been brought back? If I hadn't given up and wasted all that time!..., but, if I HADN'T wasted all that time....I would have missed catching that land chunk, and I wouldn't of had Willie and Big Robot Bill to help me get BestKlay and I wouldn't have been able to create my world.
So, it seems that Quater gave me a second chance after all! Now I have many sons and a Kingdom that needs me. Still, there is nothing for me here!"
He had been running for quite some time now. As he ran, he had been puzzeling over this situation, but, because he wasn't really paying attention to where he was going, the first NettleVine branch that nicked his shoulder had startled him, sending him headlong into a thicket! Thousands of tiny points raked around his arms and legs.
A few even managed to whip across the flat of his face causing his vision to blur.......(!)
Regaining his feet, Hoborg thrashed his way back out of the vinepatch, one hand keeping his crown in place. Vines snagging his backpack slowed his progress.
When he was free, he shrugged off the pack, rubbing his face to try and clear his sight. That only made things worse.
Once the sting of the scratches faded, a deep, flaming hurt began to build up where all the points had hit him!
"Mighty Quater it burns!!"
He stood still, almost unable to move.
*What was that?* he caught a noise over his groaning....*a STREAM!*
He stumbled towards possible relief and waded in waist deep, scooping up water and rubbing it on the affected areas.
He soon slogged out and shook himself. The numbing cold had helped, but he could feel the burning itch slowly beginning to flare up again with a vengeance. (!)
He stood and looked around, suprised that it was dark.
"Nighttime already? Not possible..is it?" he asked into the absolute blackness.
But..if it *was* night, why did he still feel the sun warming his back where the pack had been, and still hear the daytime animal and insect sounds?
If this was still *daytime* why was it so dark?
When the realization hit him, he almost screamed!
"I...I...I've been BLINDED!!"
"What'll I do?!"
"No! Not helpless, THINK! Can't stay, need help! Can't just wander around, unknown dangers! Yell for help, don't know what will arrive!
The pain helped him to decide.
In desperation he called out. No matter who showed up, he stood a better chance of surviving if he was found. Provided there *was* another person around TO find him. He had to risk it............
He was fine-tuning his instrument after having to re-establish a new home. There was a cave-in where he had been living. He had felt the deep rumblings, grabbed what few belongings there were and escaped to safety in time.
The breeze wafted in, carrying the sent of fruit and flowers, the sound of the stream and animals, someone's cry for help......!?!
"Eh, hearing things. There's noone else around here." He was about to strum the strings, when...."There it is again,....Yes, there IS someone else!"
Setting aside the mouthpiece he had just cleaned, he went out to the water's edge and listened again.
There! Up stream! In all this time his running (such as it was) *had* gotten a bit better, and he soon felt he was close enough to be heard over the other's shouts.
"Keep calling! Where are you?!"
With one hand out front as a guide, Hoborg carefully moved farther from the thorns, calling out. He stopped still when he finally heard a (somewhat garbled) reply to his shouts. He stood partially crouched, trying to be ready for anything.
"H-Here! Over here! Poison vines!"
Hoborg wailed in agony.
He found him.
The person was tall.(!) Even hunched over he was tall, the metal object he wore adding to his height.
*Naw, couldn't be*
"I'm here to help, you'll be alright soon."
The square head vaguely turned towards him as he got closer. Tho there were no features,(except for a small square hole that may be a mouth) it was obvious that he was suffering.
"How? I can't see." the tall one moaned.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't realize,....Here."
He approached, took hold of the outstretched hand and gently pulled on the powerful limb.
"A....A *Victoid* helps me?!" Hoborg asked in suprise as he felt the three strong, thin fingers take hold of his hand.
"Heh heh, no, I'm not a Victoid, or a Tickberger in case you were wondering."
(yes, he had one or two encounters with the nasty beasts, but because he was never carrying anything, -that they could see- they left him alone.)
Leading the newcomer, he caught up the pack in passing.
He let himself be lead away, and slowly they traveled, Hoborg suffering in a red haze of pain.
"Not much farther, just up this rise."
The ground inclined and a few moments later, the air felt cooler. Sounds from the wildlife were muffled and closer sounds were slightly echoy. he smell of a small fire, a very pleasant sound from overhead, tiny, soft, tinkling sounds....unknown.
He was guided and helped into a large, smooth, carved stone seat.
The coolness soothed some of the discomfort, but he still ached horribly!
His host, tho he slurred his speech, sounded friendly, and Hoborg felt no threat or danger from this one.
"I'm going to mash some leaves and tie them onto you. It will take a few days for you to heal by the looks of some of those cuts. You've washed off, good. That should have taken out a great deal of the tiny points that get in the skin." the stranger said as Hoborg heard him set the pack down.
The sounds of preparation followed.
He started with the feet and legs. The pain where the leaves were applied, dulled down before the cloth was tied in place. By the time he finished with the arms, his guest had stopped moaning, and sighed with relief.
He was about to undo the buckle on the belt around his guest's chest and mid-section so he could get at the scratches there. Hoborg stopped him by placing his hand on that of his host's.
"You can't unbuckle the belt,...it...holds me together. I injured myself badly a long time ago."
"I see." was all his host said as he worked around the belt, tying the moist cloths across his chest.
*An injury from a long time ago....(!)* he thought.
"I'm going to be more careful with your head, those scratches look harsh."
He got a soaked cloth in one hand and took off the metal thing from his guest.
Panicked, Hoborg instantly yelled "NO!" blindly grabbed for (and caught) the crown back and set it on again firm!
A light jingle was heard that faded into the sudden silence.
"I'm sorry," he quietly said in his deep gentle voice. "I didn't mean to frighten you, but, this is important, I,. It was a gift from Quater."
"Oh, I had no idea." his host stated with a hint of awe.
"From Quater".... the thoughts were turning...."Then that means"....
*Oh no!* Hoborg cringed inwardly.
"A gift from Quater Himself could only mean"....(!)
He stepped before his guest and bowed.
"Your Majesty! Son of Quater! Chosen One!"
There was noone who could say that Hoborg *wasn't* worthy of such titles, But personally, he found them rather embarrassing.
"Please,.." He reached and finding his host's shoulder placed his hand there, both to stop and to erasure him.
"Just, call me Hoborg if you would."
Before he took his hand away he felt 2 small "grooves" of some type in the odd feeling upper arm. The same place where he had 2 stripes himself.
*Hmmm...that's strange....* he briefly thought, letting go and sitting back again.
"As you wish..Sir," He said awkwardly.
He stepped close again and finished bandaging.
"I thank you for saving me...." he began once the full healing effect seeped in, but he was interrupted.
"Shhhh....... We can talk at length tomorrow. You need to eat and rest for now."
He set about getting food ready.
Hoborg was enjoying the relief. He'd be tender for a while, but he was now well on his way to healing.
The king sat with his thoughts.
*Poor person must have been here for quite some time, to be so alone for so long....is he a cast-out I wonder? No, would of seen others here long before now.
"Here you are, careful, its hot." he said, placing a deep stone bowl in the wrapped hands. The steam carried a delicious warming smell of grains and fruit. He hadn't realized just how long it had been since he last ate. He finished his bowl and his host refilled it. After a third helping and a warm, herbal drink, he was guided to a sleeping pile. What felt like large woven mats were stuffed with sweet dry grass or leaves. It was not like a pillowbed, but just as deep and comfortable. A soft blanket, and Hoborg knew no more.
The morning breeze caused the "whatever-it-was" above, to make the gentle tinkling sounds. He stretched then froze as he felt the restraining straps tighten. Someone had tied him down!
No,....he lifted an arm. He wasn't tied down,..then what....?
He sat up suddenly, trying to remember the night before! It was *still* night,....no,....he touched his arms, body and head.
Some parts still hurt, others itched but it was a healing itch.
*Oh,....that's right.* and he relaxed, chuckling at himself.
"Ahh, you're awake. I'll change your bandages and you can eat."
Freed from the bindings, Hoborg was given water to wash in and clean wraps were applied, At his present healing rate, by tomorrow there will be fewer cloths needed.
After breakfast, Hoborg was seated outside so he could enjoy the sun.
He heard his host sit down nearby.
"I'm sorry we had to meet under these conditions."
Now that things were calmer, the gargled speech of this other was *much* more noticeable. It was as if his mouth was deformed, maybe an injury? He spoke rather easily, but one still had to really listen through the slurring.
"What happened to me, what were those plants?"
"That was a nettlevine patch you fell into, one of the biggest around here. They're not fatal, but *can* do harm."
There was a moment where both just sat, soaking in the morning warmth and listening to the world in general.
The wrapped head turned towards him.
"I thank you for saving me, but, I feel silly not knowing your name, I am Hoborg."
"Ahhh, I thought so! Its great to see you again after all this time!" he gargled excitedly.
"Hu?!, How do you know me?, I'm sure we never met before."
"We didn't meet, I was too far away. By the time I got to where you three were, you had left."
"Yes, you, the little yellow one and the Me Bill."
*So long ago...that *was* the same time as when I joined up with Willie and Bill....(!) He thought.
"Oh, I'm sorry, *May* I know your name?"
"I....I have no name.
Haven't thought about it or really needed one."
"What do the others call you?" Hoborg asked the trick question.
"There aren't any others. I'm the only one, have been since the FirstDay, at least I haven't found any others like me."
A moment of quiet, then, "How did you get here?"
The king shifted a little.
"Well, My kingdom, The NeverHood, was caused by Quater to come here."
"Oh? HE must of had a *very* good reason for your being here then."
"Yes, tho I'm not really sure what the purpose *is*."
It was obvious he didn't want to talk about it, so his host changed the subject, quot;Would you tell me of this Kingdom of yours?" he asked eagerly.
Now Hoborg loved to tell (and listen to) stories as much as the next Klay, so he thought of where to begin.
He described the place, the land features, the beasts and birds, and finally told of his sons and some guests that have made their home in his world.
"Wow"....He said quietly.
It was hard to imagine so many people all together.
"When I'm healed, I ask that you will come with me, you never need to be alone again. There are places you can be by yourself for as long as you wish too, if that's what you want."
"Your world sounds wonderful, but all those others....Thank you for your offer. It *would* be nice to see such a place....but....I will have to think about it"......He trailed off.
After sitting quietly in thought, he got up and started lunch.
*What *is* it I'm to be learning here? Maybe I'm trying too hard to figure this out?*
The king sighed and leaned back.
It did no good trying to second guess Quater, all he could do is wait and see which way things went.
*The will of Quater be done.*
The next day it rained. Hoborg never saw such a thing, and his host tried to explain it as best he could, but soon he gave up and pulled out the instrument.
His guest was standing at the entrance with one arm held out, the covered upper arm safe and dry in under the doorway.
"So strange to have water falling from the sky." He listened and felt as the drops pattered in his hand.
"It happens now and then, one gets used to it after a while." He tuned the strings.
By now, Hoborg's feet, legs, hands and forearms were free of wrappings, Itchy now and then, but healed. Just his chest, upper arms and head needed tending yet.
Thunder grumbled in the distance.
He looked over at Hoborg, Deep in thought he was. *He must be sad, to have lost land, sons and sight all at once....*
But he asked the question regardless.
The king sighed and seemed to be preparing himself for a long hard task, he pulled his arm in and shook it dry.
"I will be well again soon, but....how will I get back? Not that I aven't enjoyed your company, its just that, if the Hood drifted far enough away, dragging the chain with it,..then there would be *no* way back for me!"
*But, Quater never *did* say anything about a time limit* he thought.
"When the weather clears, I will go and see if I can find this floating land mass of yours. Anything in particular I should look for?" Hoborg seemed to brighten a bit at the idea.
"You've done so much for me already, I couldn't possibly ask it of you ...."
"Its no problem, I'll scout around and by the time I find it, you'll be ready to go."
"There is a great chain that hangs down from it, The last few links were dragging the ground when I arrived."
"Then that is what I will look for." He said and seated the strange configuration in his lap.
His guest's problem addressed, he tapped on the bowl-like section of the thing, a hollow wooden-sounding *TOK TOK TOK*. With rhythm set, he strummed the strings and blew into the mouthpiece.
The sound was *felt* more than heard. It stirred emotions as well as the soul.
Haunting, ancient, celestial and happy all at once, the tune surrounded them in the cave with a hint of an echo.
When he stopped, the tinkling thing above faintly whispered the tune to itself, then all was quiet except for the forgotten rain.
It was a while before either spoke again.
And all during the rain, they talked, played music and shared stories.
His upper arms were now free of bandages, and the King was left to himself as the other went to search. It would be night before he would return.
As he stepped inside, he found his guest standing with arm raised, causing the chiming sounds he heard as he approached.
"I wondered what was going on." he garbled with humor as he got a drink and prepared supper.
"What *is* this? What is it made of?" Hoborg asked as he set the pieces bumping into each other once more before lowering his arm.
"That's a BreezeVoice. Well, that's what *I* call it. Bits of crystal and stones hung by strings. A small gust of wind comes in here once in a while and makes them sound off."
"So simple an object, making such incredible sounds"....
Hoborg quietly meditated on the new concept till the other cleared his throat.
"I tried the hills behind this cave but couldn't see anything, I'll try the hills out front and up stream tomorrow."
He caught the King scratching at the last wrappings and thought *It won't be long now, he'll be able to see me. How will he react?*
He shrugged mentally and decided to worry about it when the time came.
He was slowing down more so every day, and the trip to the hills downstream took longer than intended.
He reached the top of the first range and carefully scanned about. Nothing could be seen above the trees or lower hills, maybe it wasn't floating *that* high above the ground?
He sat beneath a tree and caught his breath.
"I'm too old for much more of this, I can't keep climbing hills like I could before."
He was breathing heavy now. It seemed that Quater had forgotten him, but he knew better than that. But what is this distraction with sending Hoborg to him? The ways of Quater are mysterious indeed.
He soon was napping in the pleasantly warm sun.
It had been 2 days since his host had left the second time to search. The wrappings around his head had come loose from him scratching.
Hoborg sat on the edge of the makeshift pillowbed and began to untie the knot on his bandages. Yes, he was taking a risk, but if the itching was any indication, he *should* be fully healed by now.
The cloth strips were beginning to hang and loop loosely about his shoulders, when at last, the end of the cloth finally fell from his head.
He covered his face with his hands, not wanting to suffer sudden direct light. He knew he should wait for the other, but he wanted to see again. And with the *two* of them out looking for his kingdom, the sooner it would be found.
The total blackness began to lessen.......
He spread his fingers letting more light through,....greyness.......
He removed his hands completely and,....TOTAL WHITENESS!
As dark as the total black of blindness was, so white was brightness of light!
He sat, not moving, waiting.... *something* had to of worked....
Then, mysteriously, out of the total whiteness, vague edges of shapes formed.
These darkened, breaking up the field of white, making it dim. There, a rough stone table, there, the stone seat....the smoldering fire and the doorway....
He rubbed his face and excitedly looked around as everything finally focused....
"I CAN SEE!!"
His voice echoed loudly in the semi-confined space.
Hoborg ran to the doorway and looked out at the world,...."Indescribable!"
Not knowing what to do with himself, he built up the fire, straightened things up as best he could in the cave, (it was the least he could do) and found enough stuff to simmer over the fire for supper.
He would finally be able to *see* his host soon, and get some questions answered that he had been wondering about. The fact that he was the only one, and that he had been here since Willie and Bill arrived, and the grooves on his arm......
Maybe......No, the idea was too bizarre! There was no chance that his original creation even *survived* let alone was able to create something! Once he speaks with his host, all will be made clear, he thought.
He happened to glance up at the BreezeVoice. It wasn't as colorful as he thought it would be.
Touching it he sent a green tinted slice of crystal bumping into a flat rock and a clear crystal slice. Soon the rest were all humming with the pleasant sounds.
It was now night, he had eaten supper and there was no sign of his host.
The next morning, after eating and adding some food to his pack, he left a note on the table, closed his pack and set it on his shoulders.
A morning never looked more beautiful! He almost forgot he was on a mission to find his friend and relocate his homeland.
As the King scouted around for some time, a glimmer caught his attention.
He followed the pinpoint of light expecting to see the Great Chain, but what he *did* see, made him stand in awe!
It was as tall as he was with the crown, the blueblack beauty dazzled him! Approaching, He lost himself in the myriad colors deep within. He slowly walked around the giant sphere with a hand touching the Glass-smooth surface. (more to confirm its existence,....as if the physical contact would prevent it from vanishing.)
He could see deep into the orb, the crystalline formations and a multitude of sharp pinpoints of colored lights. As he leaned even closer a tip of his crown softly *tinked* against the surface and faintly, the resonance could be heard to whisper within the inner reaches of the orb.
"Such a marvel, Such a wonder" he breathed.
The sudden roughness his hand brushed across took him by suprise!
He had lost himself, so intent was he in studying the crystal that the "blemish" on the surface shocked him!
He then discovered the roughness was carved letters, and he read and re-read the tribute.
"How can such a thing be? Who could've created this and how?" He asked aloud to no one.
The sound of movement drew him towards the "Valley of the Monument" as he liked to call it.
He had headed this way since this was a more direct path back to the cave. The one great hilltop (now behind him) had proven to be the one that would show him what he was looking for.
Dawn had found him waking up after a night of climbing. He had stood and carefully looked around, and the morning sun lanced silver off the Great Chain! There it was, just as Hoborg had described it! Even at this distance, the colors, the buildings, the chain,....everything!
He wasn't sure just how long he stood there admiring it, but he finally decided to go and give his guest the news.
And so it was, near the hill's base, that he had heard movement and peeked out from the bushes to find his guest studying the polished boulder. He also had arrived in time to hear Hoborg's questions.
"*I* happen to know Who and How". A familiar voice from behind answered with humor.
He startled at the unexpected voice, but, still studying the crystalrock Hoborg didn't look around. He had instantly recognized the slurred speech of his host.
"I am lost for words! You *made* this? Quater has truly blessed you."
"Thank you." he said modestly. "I'm suprised to see you out here, but I'm glad you're fully healed now. I've come to tell you, I have found your home."
"Hmmm? Oh! Wonderful!" He exclaimed as he began to (reluctantly) turn from the orb....
He had forgotten his fear of being seen, he was happy to have been able to help his friend, and it wasn't till these last few seconds that he realized what was about to happen....(!)
Hoborg turned. "I know you'll be..*!" He froze!
Quietly standing (?) not too far from him was his private shame! The twisted monstrosity he had made and rejected and left for dead! It had SURVIVED!!
Yet,.. this wasn't the dangerous, unthinking creature he had nightmares about so long ago. It didn't seek revenge, instead, it had *helped* him, saved him. (!)
The clash of thoughts raged, causing the king to waver on his feet slightly.
His host hesitantly stepped forward then stopped. The shock was obvious on the featureless face of his guest, yet Hoborg did not run from him or attack him as he feared would happen.
*This may be a good thing.* he thought.
Supporting himself with one hand on the orb, the other hand on his forehead trying to calm himself, things finally became clear to him.
"I....I now know why I am here," he said weakly. He gathered himself and stepped towards his host. The horrid construct, unsure of what to do, smiled, hoping he looked friendly to the other.
Squashing the urge to flinch, Hoborg gingerly approached him, and placed his hands on the skinny shoulders.
"I owe you many thanks for saving me, and I owe you many many apologies."
The face twisted even more in confusion and the king continued before it..No, *HE*, before *he* could ask anything.
"Quater has sent me here so that I may make amends for my negligence."
He held up a hand to stop any response, and continued as he stepped back and lowered his head.
"It was *I* who had created you, *I* who had denied you, and *I* who had thrown you from me..........My Son."
he asked in a small quiet voice.
(It was now *his* turn to stagger.)
"You....were the one who made me?" He looked at himself and back at Hoborg.
*Impossible! There's....there's no way this can be true! But,....*
"What happened? Where did you go? What...."
He held his hand up again, almost pleadingly.
Clearing his throat, he continued.
"In my arrogance, I formed you from dirt. When you showed signs of life, I was....afraid. Afraid of my success. You were not how I thought you'd be, and I....rejected you."
The king looked defeated.
"I thought if left alone you'd just....fade away."
He looked at his hands. "But I live,....Have I done something....?
"NO! It's *MY* fault!"
He croaked, pounding a fist to his chest in anger at himself!
I never went to see if you lived or not, that's why we left you here."
His voice quieted as he sniffed and dropped his hands at his sides.
"Can you forgive me?"
He stood in shock! All his questions were finally answered! Quater's predictions had come true! And here, now, befor him stood his Father, his creator.
He always wondered what he'd do or say when he would meet him.
Yell and scream WHY?!, Attack him and punish him?
Oddly enough, he felt none of these emotions.
Standing there looking long and hard at Hoborg, he felt no hatred, no anger. Instead, he felt a strange understanding, and a new kinship with him. It was *his* turn to step forward. He placed his hand on the wide shoulder.
"There is nothing to forgive. You didn't know. But I feel if you *had* known, you'd of done good on my behalf. As it is, and as you've said, Quater has blessed me. I became more than what I was, and I'm happy to finally meet you.... Father."
Hoborg looked into the yellow, oozing eyes and embraced his son, his true first born!
"I'm so sorry!" he wept!. "You didn't know, And I now have no regrets!" he gargled happily!
They hugged, then he held his dad at arms length, "Come on, let's get you home."
After a laborious climb back up the great hill, They stood together looking at the floating island.
"It *is* a wonderful place, just as you've described it." He commented wearily.
"Please come with me, they will welcome you I know! You....hu?"
Hoborg realized he had been talking to thin air. He turned and saw his son sitting beneath the tree. The eyes were closed.
"Whats wrong?" he asked in concern.
"I am too old, I can't come with you." he answered weakly. "I'm just happy to have met you and to see your land."
"What are you talking about?" Hoborg couldn't understand, he had never seen *age* before.
"Quater granted me a longer life so we could be here now. I am drying." "Here." He held out an arm and gently rubbed it. A tiny cloud of dust floated from his fingers, and the king understood. He knelt before him.
"It's not fair! We just found each other! It can't *be* like this!"
But even a Son of Quater knows that some things *just are*.
He sighed sadly.
"So be it. You will be remembered, as well as serve as a reminder to me of my responsibilities."
"I would like to give you a name."
"I have no need for one." He awkwardly grinned.
"Besides, Quater knows who I am." He smiled as he pressed his chest button.
Hoborg gasped at the sudden odd sound and the sight of a hole melting open in the other's chest. The slim fingers reached inside and pulled out 2 items. These were held out to his dad.
"Here, a small replica of the monument, and here, the instrument."
Hoborg took the offerings and vowed to keep them safe.
"Thank you, I...... wish things had been different." He started to weep again.
With his last breath he smiled and said....
"Everything happens at the right time........
See you later,....Fa..ther..........*"
The king turned his back and lowered his head, not wishing to see, as well as a gesture of final respect.
All that was his lost son, dried and crumbled.
There was now nothing left but a smooth pile of dust and ash, gently drifting in the breeze.
When Hoborg sadly looked up again, there was an overhanging branch heavy with fruit, above him. He *had* noticed it before, but now.... He picked the branch clean. He would save the seeds and start new trees on his world....in secret memory of his son.
Leaving the hilltop he made his way home.
He climbed the Great Chain and secured the items in a small hidden vault in his room and climbed back down.
The last few links were wedged among some boulders, and using a heavy branch as a lever, he moved one of the massive stones enough to permit the chain to slide past. He dropped the branch and running, he leapt and caught hold, pulling himself back up the length once more. Exhausted, he fell into bed and slept.
Three days passed befor Hoborg finally woke up in his room. He stretched and looked around.
"Had it *really* happened? Had it been just a dream?"
There was nothing out of place in his room, all was as it had always been.
There was only *one* way to find out for sure. With purpose, he went to the hidden vault and brought out the items. Yes, it *had* happened!! He held the instrument and quietly brushed the strings. He picked out the small sphere, and held it up near the window. The size of a KlayBird's egg, it was exact in every way as the original orb. And yes, even the fruit was there. All these were replaced and he soon cleaned himself and stepped out of the castle. How many days *had* he been gone? Nothing and no one seemed out of place. He was warmly greeted as always as if nothing was amiss.
*They will never know you've been gone* he reminded himself.
He then turned his attention to the duties of his kingdom. He would take more care after this!
No one seemed *too* suprised about there being a new type of fruit tree in the "Hood. It wasn't like a mulberry or apple tree, but quite good in its own right.
(Besides, with what all is floating out in the universe, why should the odd seed falling on your homeworld be strange?)
And above it all, FATHER and Quater welcomed a new soul into the *OtherSide*.