Tales of the Monoceraptor
The rock was harsh and unforgiving against her lower spine, but Ugga-Lulu sat still regardless, mesmerized by the grunting figure of their village's great elder leader. He was a mighty and aged Ixi who stood tall and proud behind the little fire, letting the blaze flare up around him for dramatic effect as he spun tales of darkness and adventure - of times long ago and half forgotten. The almost cliche scar that ran across his face only fueled her intrigue as he spiraled into a series of wild hand gestures. Picking up a pinch of sacred dust, he blew it into the flames where shadows seemed to grow into a picture book.
Two figures climbed over mountains wide and tall - the leader stamped his feet, wiping his brow with the back of his hand in weariness. This was where the magnificence of the story lay, in the teller knowing its every fiber, communicating the feelings that were foreign to them in such a way, that it was made recognizable. It had been a long and arduous journey for the two tribesmen of a long ago time. It took many moons in which they crossed the great hunchbacks of the mountains and the long sheets of prairie fields. A few of the listeners began a quiet hushed chant, a low deep groan which added to the mystery of the tale.
Finally the two travelers came to a very long and wide stream that they could not cross, the water came too high and the river ran too fast in its hastened strides. They were forced to walk alongside of it, looking for a place where perhaps it would narrow. This supposition lead them for many more days in which they trailed the ebbing currents hopelessly, until finally, half starved and exhausted, the two tribesmen arrived at was the last of the great mountain passes. As they ascended the mountains a great and chilling breeze howled through the rocky corridors, whispering of an old and terrible magic asleep in their peaks. It took all the courage the travelers had to go on, but they had come such a long and troublesome way it was all they could do now but continue.
Those listening to the story began to whisper amongst themselves as if to mimic the horrible voice of the mountains. Ugga-Lulu shrank down, resting her face against her hooves, trying not to look a scared herself. Tyrannian Ixis, after all, were supposed to be rather fierce. Despite this, and the fact that Ugga-Lulu had heard this story nearly a thousand times, it still sent chills down her spine, trying to imagine what the adventurers went through, what they must have felt in those terrifying moments.
The two vagabonds continued, and the whispers went unheeded. Further and further they went into the darkness of the cliffs, and the land became more and more arid with every faltering step. The stream was so far below them, that there was no water, and without the stream there was no food or vegetation as well. It seems like the pair of them were doomed until finally the path dumped them out at what appeared to be a monumental cave entrance. The outside of it was jagged and toothy, giving the appearance of an Hissi's snarling grin. It was almost enough to stop them right them and there, out of fear of what lay onwards, but just before they could turn around and flee from the wretched place, a rush, of what sounded - to the dehydrated and desperate ear that is - to be rushing flowing water.
With a new hope in hand they nearly raced into the dreaded passageways, trying to follow the strange rasping of the creek. Louder and louder it got as they set inwards, though as they progressed the light faded more and more. Before long one of the travelers was forced to light a match, for they could neither see before or behind them. They set a bit of extra clothing on fire to form a torch, and proceeded even deeper into the blackness.
Just then, the sound of the rushing water stopped...
At this point the leader threw a whole fistful of dust into the fire and it exploded, shooting flames nearly twenty feet in the air as if by some strange and wild magic. Ugga-Lulu threw herself back to avoid the sparks, almost letting out a scream but managing to recover on the down low instead. This was the part that always gave her bad dreams, and boy oh boy did she hate having bad dreams!
The first traveler turned to the second in dismay - "The spring can't have dried up that quickly, could it have?"
"That wasn't a spring, I don't think," the second traveler said most wisely. For at that precise second a blood-curling screech sounded from deep within that chamber. Before either of the two could turn and flee from the corridor, it was upon them with its horrible shrieking face. The Monoceraptor - it had come to devour them just as it had other Tyrannians for longer than any of the tribe could remember.
But the Monoceraptor was tired from sleeping, and its hunger hadn't set in yet. Out of boredom it decided to wager a bet against the foreigners. Crouching on its hideously fat backside, it lowered a horrid yellow eye to be level with the now pale faces of the noble journeymen.
"So you've come to steal my treasure, have you?" it hissed, breath smelling of stinky meat. "Well, there's none to be had here. Only misery and torment. But I am merciful." Here it paused to gurgle a bit disgustingly, sitting plump and happy in front of a towering mountain of sparkling gold. "If you can beat me at a game of Tyranu Evavu, I will let you both go past me into the valley where you will find food and comfort, but should you loose, I will eat you both for breakfast."
Seeing no other way to escape the travelers hastily agreed, hoping for the best.
"I still have the cards owned by the last person who chose to wager me." This drained the color from their faces; perhaps the chance was a long shot. "Very well, your pick."
But the one traveler was well experienced with the frustration of the game, and told the other to keep quiet while he tried out his abilities.
"Well?" the beast trilled. "Which is it?"
"Tyranu," the traveler answered defiantly. He was correct, and the Monoceraptor discarded it to the side testily.
"Lucky guess, what is the next one?"
"Why, it's Tyranu again!" It was a three too. The Monoceraptor looked absolutely put out now. The traveler could tell it didn't often play with its food and was now regretting the possibility of bargaining away its latest meal which stumbled so carelessly to its front stoop.
"And the next?"
"Evavu!" This continued on for some time, all the while the beast growing more and more agitated until the last card was thrown onto the floor in a fury.
"Get out!" it wailed, throwing its weight into the side of the cavern - it shook the whole opening with horrible tremors. "And take your scoundrel with you. Lies and cheat, I know it!"
"We are neither, so you must uphold the end of your bargain!" the traveler called, "We seek entrance to the valley, we are hungry and tired."
The Monoceraptor glowered at them before turning away in a huff of despair. "Very well, why don't you - oh wait a minute..." The witty traveler immediately grabbed the arm of his friend and they spiraled across the path, making a dash for the other side of the Monoceraptor. They just made it out of view before his wails escalated to screams. He knew he had been tricked! Behind him the whole time the gold had been reflecting what the number of the next card was. The travelers hadn't been lucky at all - only foolish - foolish for thinking they could get away deceiving the great Monoceraptor!
Ugga-Lulu always liked the next part - the storyteller took a drink from his magic bottle before spitting what appeared to be jets of molten fire out into the blazes of the campfire. The smoke thickened, giving the impression of a dark and brooding lair like that of the beast. She yawned a little, leaning further back to snuggle into the side of her seat where she was comfortably perched.
The beast howled, running full speed down the hall toward where it knew the nasty little tricksters was attempting to free themselves. The pounding of its gigantic feet underneath all that terrible weight shook everything, making the wanderers feel as though the cavern would collapse at any moment. Just then, a tiny light came into view, though it was very far away. As they sped up getting closer, and closer - bam! The Monoceraptor was upon them at sudden with outstretched jaws. But it leaped just a little too high and ended up crashing right into the side of the wall. The cave gave one last terrible heaving shake and finally caved in on itself until all was buried in ruin and mystery.
The two travelers looked to each other in success... what they said, though, Ugga-Lulu did not hear, because already her dreams were stealing her away into other elsewheres where she might have adventures of her very own, trapped between moments, glad and cozy around the little campfire. Already she could see the storyteller breathing fire for her own tales - the little Ixi that braved the mountain paths. Where another Tyrannian just like her, might sit quietly and patiently, waiting to hear the old stories - to laugh and scream, and chant like the others had so many times before - a perfect stone-age tradition for all the ages of time.