The Story of URZENNA – part 6
Only one more obstacle stood between them and
the garden of Angels but what an obstacle it
was; the evil red desert of Dragoom; six hundred merciless miles of arid earth and scorching
“Travellers call it ‘The great grave’”, said Urzenna, spitting onto the cracked earth of the desert, “And I fear that we too may end up buried in it if we try to go onwards”.
But Kenrya had stronger faith, “God made me into a bird, remember? And God brought us this far. Surely it is our destiny to reach the other side of this barren place”.
Suddenly, though, they all saw a strange glimmer on the horizon that they took at first to be a mirage because it shimmered like water but then the mirage got closer and closer and then Urzenna saw, as he had before in the underwater temple, the spirit of his brother appear before him.
“Kalimed?”, asked Urzenna, overjoyed, “Is that you?”.
“You are wrong to surrender your hope so soon,Urzenna”, said his brother, his voice like the echo of a song inside a deep cave, “For nearby, to the west, there are two hills that rise up out of the sand upon which a strange grass grows. Go and stand between these hills, stamp the earth with your foot and shout the words, “Arise Kalem!”. Then you will see just how small this desert really is”.
Then his brother disappeared, as snow vanishes in warm water, becoming the air and sunlight and, following his instructions, they all walked west until they saw, just as he had told them, two large hills covered with a long, thick brown grass like no grass that Urzenna had ever seen before then, standing half way between the two hills, Urzenna stamped the earth with his foot and he and his companions called out “Arise Kalem! Arise Kalem!”
And, at first, nothing happened and Urzenna began to wonder if perhaps they had just imagined the apparition of his brother, “Perhaps this accursed desert is full of such tricks and illusions. Perhaps wicked desert demons dangle false hopes infront of desperate men only to lead them down false paths”, he said.
But then they heard a terrible rumbling like thunder under their feet and the earth beneath them began to shake and shake so much that Urzenna and his companions could not stand up and, instead, fell upon their backs and faces and then they all heard an ear bursting roar like the blast of twenty thousand cannons and, looking up to see if the sky was collapsing, instead they saw, towering like a mighty promontory of sand coloured stone, the neck and head of Kalem, a gigantic roaring camel and Urzenna realized that it was not two hills that they were standing between but two enormous camel humps.
“Buried for a thousand years, have I been”, boomed Kalem, “Waiting for a camel driver of god to summon me. Now Urzenna, I am at your command”.
“Then”, laughed Urzenna as the sight of this giant ship of the desert lifted the doldrums of his heart, “Take us to the gates of the Garden of Angels, great Kalem!”.
Hearing Urzenna’s command, Kalem gave out another mighty ear bursting roar like a volcano clearing its fiery throat, before moving its enormous feet forward and, with each step, taking Urzenna and his companions half a mile closer to the Angelic garden.
But, just as Urzenna and his companions had lain down carpets upon the giant camels back and were seated comfortably, all heard a terrible droning sound like a giant bow being drawn across the string of a giant fiddle and, looking up, they all saw three gigantic gnats with large vibrating wings hovering above them.
Immediately, Urzenna and his companions rose to their feet and drew their swords but it was hard to stand upon Kalems back while the beast was moving and Urzenna and his companions constantly found themselves falling over as they tried to fight.
“Kenrya”, said Urzenna, “Turn yourself once more into a bird and fly up to Kalems right ear. Tell him he must help us with his enormous whipping tail”.
And so, once more, Kenrya became a bird and flew over the camels giant left hump and along its hairy neck that was as vast as a stone bridge towards the creatures cavernous left ear and, flying into the ear she transformed back into her human shape and called out, “Kalem! Gnats are attacking Urzenna and my friends. Use your tail to help them”.
And Kenrya heard her cry echo within the darkness of the camels ear just as if she were in a real cave and, once the sound of her voice had reached the camels giant brain, Kalem replied, “As you wish, Kenrya”.
But then, suddenly, Kenrya screamed as she saw a giant earwig crawling out of the darkness of the creature’s ear towards her and, only just in time, managed to transform back into a bird and fly away, “This giant camel is certainly as much of a curse as it is a blessing”, thought Kenrya as she flapped back towards the valley between the camels two giant humps where the priests and Urzenna were still fending off the attack of the giant gnats but now had the help of Kalem’s giant swishing tail to beat the gnats out of the air.
Fortunately for Urzenna and his friends they were coming within sight of the garden of Angels.
Unfortunately for Kalem, in order to help his passengers fight of the giant gnats he had been forced to turn his head and look behind him and so he hadn’t been watching where he was putting those enormous camel feet of his and, accidentally, he got one of his forefeet stuck in a large pool of quicksand and it began to sink, making the giant camel lose balance.
Then, suddenly, it was as if the whole earth was turning upside down as Kalem fell upon his side
and then Urzenna, Kenrya and their companions were plunged into unconsciousness.
But, when they awoke, they realized that they were no longer on the back of a giant camel
but in the midst of a beautiful tropical garden with large palm trees and beautiful flowers of all shapes and colours, pretty singing birds and crystal fountains gushing tall white plumes of water.
“Am I dead?”, asked Urzenna, “Is this that golden garden of heaven that lies beyond the edge of man’s life?”.
“You are not dead, Prince Urzenna”, said an angel , a beautiful woman with hair of purest white light who seemed to float within the air like a person underwater and had a voice like distant music, “Long ago, fate informed us of your coming and we have long expected you. When we saw that Kalem had caught his foot in quicksand we flew out to rescue you and brought you here to our garden of joy”.
“Well, what has become of poor Kalem?”, asked the ever considerate Kenrya, “Is he alright?”.
“Kalem? Unfortunately, he has broken one of his front legs and it will take many months to heal but it shall heal in time as do all things, with our help”, replied the angel.
Then, Urzenna remembered the purpose of their quest, “I am supposed to ask you for the belt of greatness that, it is said, hangs upon a tree in your garden”, said Urzenna.
The Angel pointed a slender finger towards a large fruit tree in which a snake was hanging and, as sunlight hit the scales of the snake, Urzenna could see that the snake was made of gold with two heads; one at either end of its body and each head had eyes like rubies, a mouth that hissed and a forked tongue that flickered .
“Am I to wrestle that two headed monster snake?”, asked Urzenna, confused, “In order to win the magic belt?”.
“That is the magic belt”, said The Angel, “Atleast, it is a belt when one puts it on but putting it on, that is a test. Not just a test of courage mind you but a test of goodness. If any evil hand touches it, then the snake will bite and with a venom that will turn the body of the bitten into glass. However, for you, Urzenna, it should pose no problem for you are good and kind of heart and it will not harm a hand of goodness”.
And so, trusting the words of the angel, Urzenna clambered up into the tall fruit tree and, balancing himself upon a broad bough and summoning up all his courage, reached out and snatched hold of the hissing golden serpent then, returning to the ground with the serpent clutched tightly in one hand he wrapped the twin headed snake around his waist and pressed the two hissing heads of the serpent together and, to his astonishment, Urzenna saw one head swallow the other and then the snake suddenly became a golden, jewel encrusted belt with a buckle shaped just like a snakes head.
“I wear the belt of greatness”, Urzenna then told Kenrya and his other companions, “Now, atlast, we can all turn homeward”.