The Octology of the Seven Hats
Part One: An Odd Beginning
Chapter Two: The Meeting
Vilhaun quickly found a road he recognized and lead Malbo down it. The trail lead through a patch of trees making the road very dark. Malbo followed Vilhaun very closely so that he wouldn’t lose sight of him. They walked through the trees for about an hour, when they came to a sign that read “Cole: 3 miles”. “Three miles!” Malbo exclaimed. “We’ll never get there by sunset! Where will we stop?” Indeed, the star was sinking below the horizon and the trees around them were casting long shadows.
“How do you know that our destination is in Cole itself?” asked Vilhaun. “In fact, I think this is our destination right here.” Vilhaun turned into a dilapidated old shack. Nothing was around it, except for the trees. Malbo noticed a massive oak that towered above the other trees and was twice as thick as the others. “That tree is nearly a thousand years old,” Vilhaun said, seeing Malbo’s interesting discovery.
“Wow,” Malbo thought. “What an enormous tree.”
“Indeed,” Vilhaun agreed. “It has a very fascinating story. I am sorry that I am not able to tell it to you right now. Now, we must get to our destination, and we must do that as promptly as possible.”
Malbo muttered, more to himself than Vilhaun, that it was alright to save the storytelling for later. He then followed Vilhaun into the old shack, which looked like it could fall down at any minute. Inside, the shack was cool, dark, and musty. There was nothing in the shack except for an ancient-looking rug. Vilhaun stepped on it, then bade Malbo to follow him. The rug had a wavy pattern on it that made it look like they were standing on water.
“Is this it?” Malbo asked impatiently. “Is this where we’re going to meet the others?”
“No, Malbo,” Vilhaun said. “Don’t you understand? There’s more to this place than meets the eye.”
“Oh,” Malbo said. “So what are we doing then?”
“You’ll see,” Vilhaun said mysteriously. He then grabbed a rope on the ceiling that Malbo had not noticed and pulled it sharply.
Suddenly, the floor opened under them and they plummeted down. Malbo began to scream, but Vilhaun was as calm as he could be. After falling for about a minute, they landed on a pile of straw at the bottom. “What an enjoyable ride,” Vilhaun said. “I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.” Malbo, pale-faced and slightly nauseated, did not answer.
Vilhaun then lead Malbo down a dark tunnel. The walls were lined with bright torches to keep them from tripping over each other and to illuminate their path. The tunnel sloped downwards, but not too steeply. Malbo thought he heard rats scampering under his feet, getting in the way of the soft, loosely packed earth. He was glad that he was wearing shoes contrary to going barefoot like he usually did.
“Ah, we’re here,” Vilhaun said. They had come to a large gate that blocked their way. A stoic man sat behind the gate.
“What’s the password?” the man asked in a monotone.
Vilhaun didn’t wait long to reply. “Grate’achairtigersand,¹” he said.
Immediately, the man swung the gate open for the two men to enter. The tunnel continued on until they came to a row of doors running perpendicular to the tunnel they were in. The doors had entrances on each side of the tunnel as far as they could see.
The doors were marked with numbers going in descending order to the left and ascending order to the right. There were doors on both sides of the tunnel and torches illuminated the path. The door in front of them was numbered 176.
“Come on,” Vilhaun said, turning left. “The room we need to go to is number 161. It’s quite a ways down. At least I didn’t get one too far away.” Malbo followed Vilhaun down the tunnel.
The tunnel sloped slightly upwards as they traveled up it. It wasn’t long before they came to door 161, sandwiched between door 163 on the left and 159 on the right. Vilhaun pulled a key from his pocket, inserted it into the keyhole, and opened the door.
They stepped into a dimly lit room that had about a dozen chairs, a couple tables, and several torches. Evidently, the room was meant as small meetingplace. In one of the chairs sat a short, plump man with a handlebar mustache and a considerably long goatee. He had bright blue eyes and long, unkempt yellow hair. He wore a dark blue shirt, denim trousers and tan sandals.
“I see you are still here, Dwiedle,” Vilhaun said to the man.
“I am,” said the man, who was obviously called Dwiedle. “Everyone else left about an hour ago, but I stayed here a while longer. I see my patience persevered.”
“Indeed, it did,” Vilhaun replied. Then, turning to Malbo, he introduced the man. “This is Dwiedle Tum Advarakenalaton. He is from Ba’Od. As you can tell, his last name is considerably long, so he prefers to go by Dwiedle. Dwiedle, this is Malbo Kanaty who will be leading our quest.”
Malbo shook Dwiedle’s hand. Then, turning to Vilhaun, he said, “I don’t want to lead this quest.”
“Well, you have to. I told you already that you are the Destined One,” Vilhaun said.
“How do you know?” Malbo asked.
“I will tell you tomorrow, when the others come. Now who wants something to eat?”
¹ ‘Password’ using just the names of the letters in the alphabet of Elogfluntifont.
The Octology of the Seven Hats copyright 2018 by Stewart Forthofer. All rights reserved. All likeness of any characters in this book to any person, past or present, is purely coincidental.