The Diary of Wartha Gormley - Days and Days

Diary. I’m still in the abandoned Updweller cave. This one is made mostly of little red rectangular stones stuck together somehow. It’s pretty old, and doesn’t look like it’s been inhabited in a long time. I reckon it ain’t a dwelling, though. It looks like some sort of old meeting place. The hue-men like to build lots of caves to live in near one another and sometimes they make ones like this that ain’t for living in. I think it might have been a school or something like that. The inside was mostly bare, but most of the rooms contained a black wall with faint writing on it just like the slates goblins use in school to take notes and do sums.
The rest of the settlement must have been taken into the forest a long time ago because I couldn’t find any other Updweller caves about. I guess they made this one of red stones to make it last longer than the others. As it is the stones are dry and crumbling. The cave has holes in it that the hue-men tried to cover up with big pieces of that clear stone Red wore on her face. Most of the clear stone is broken though. It’s a might chilly in here, but Dru and I can keep one another warm.
I wonder how old this place is even.
Anyway. Like I said before. I’m lost. It’s been days and days since I met those girl hue-men. After I said my goodbyes to Red and Miri I scuttled on down to a river on Dru’s back. We trekked along it until morning time and found a nice shady spot to hide out until it got dark again. We did this every day for a dang long time (sorry for cussing if you ever read this, Ma). One night we came to a great wide path. It was smooth and black with lines the color of the Sun painted right down the middle of it. The lines and the path looked like they went on forever. It crossed right over the river on a massive bridge made of stone and metal.

Off a ways to my left I saw a glowing light sort of like a pair of those “flashlights” the girls had except bigger and brighter. They sped toward Dru and me like a nightraptor chasing a korbi. We ducked behind the brush so as not to be seen. Those lights were attached to something big, bigger than a pregnant mondohusk. It zoomed at us and passed by along the black path with a rush of wind. The sound of it made Drucilla act skittish and I had to drag her down into the trees with me so she’d calm down a bit.

We waited there a long time before venturing out again. Dru acted a might fretful but she’s a loyal girl and skittered out at my command. We were only halfway across when I saw a pair of lights again. Coming from the other direction. I urged Dru to get to the other side before it reached us and she sped up, but dang (sorry) if the thing was faster than I could imagine. It nearly knocked flat into us as we dashed to the side of the path and ducked under some trees.

I rode ol’ Dru along the river a ways before I noticed something was up.

She walked a smidgen uneasy. It’s hard to notice with arachnids on account of all the legs they got to spare, but she was limping a tad. I dismounted and took a gander at her. Sure enough the left rear tarsus had been hit. I had trouble telling through all the bristles but it looked like she got nailed pretty bad by that fast moving wahtcha-whosit.

I patched her up as best I could with the remainder of my bandages and decided to rest for a night and a day. Game had grown scarcer, but I managed to catch enough long-ears  to get us through it. Occasionally those lights would come by again and I got a better look at them. They were some sort of contraption, not a beastie. They looked like carts but instead of pushing or pulling the things the Updwellers sit on the inside and pick their noses. Maybe nose picking is what makes them go.

The next evening I checked Dru’s wound. It wasn’t infected at least. The carapace was cracked but not broken. Dru’s a tough girl.

We travelled along for a couple of hours along that river. After a ways we came along another path running alongside it. It looked exactly like the one we’d crossed. A patch of trees stood between the path and the water which made for the perfect place to stay hidden from those hue-men carts. I started to feel like we’d be getting close soon. We’d been journeying toward the Sun for so long. I lost track of time a while back. I figured we must be close to the edge of the world.

I thought about Ma back home and Pa and Gurk too. I hoped they weren’t too worried for me. Ma taught me well, though. She should know how good I am at staying alive out in the world. Of course she never trained me for this world. I wondered what she’d say when I came home with the Sun trussed up like a cavern boar.

I was so caught up in my thoughts I didn’t even notice Dru’s labored walking until it was too late.

She stumbled and next thing I knew we were falling over into the river.

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