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Chapter 25 – The Riverside Mountains
Lava. The word sent a chill through me despite the heat. It was close to the surface as well. The vent must have opened during the calamity and been building up ever since. The heat wasn’t only formed by the lava itself, the pressure in the enclosed space caused both the temperature and liquid fire volume to rise. As more lava pushed its way up the vent, filling the magma chamber, it continuously built up the pressure. It wasn’t ready to blow just yet, but it would be soon. I had to prepare.
I wouldn’t let such a calamity occur again.
As some lava surged upward from the pressure, I escaped with it through another vent in the ceiling of the pool. The lava didn’t make it all the way out; despite its best efforts; the way was blocked by solid rock, but I could go through it. As I passed through the rock, I could feel the mountain around me. There were two additional blocked vents the hot magma was trying to break through. All were too close to the surface for comfort.
I broke free of the rock to feel my surroundings. It was the first time I had been able to freely view the world away from my lizards. At some point I had stopped trying to see the world on my own, convinced I’d never be able to break away from my lizards; partially from not wanting to. But if I could explore more freely now…
No, this wasn’t the time for such thoughts. I took in everything. My vision extended in all directions from high atop the mountain, not limited by physical eyes like in my visual memories. My heart sank. I could see the mountainside where my winged lizards currently resided. There was only a fraction of relief to see that it was in the distance. The mountain I stood atop was not theirs. But it was still too close. Not only that, with the massive amount of magma I had been in… I took in the view of the mountain I was over. The caldera of a volcano long since erupted was huge. This was not some minor volcano. This was the center of the old fault line. It dwarfed my lizards’ mountain by a large degree. I could not tell just how large the eruption would be, but if they were caught by it, they would be decimated.
I was looking at my lizards’ mountain across the vast forest that separated me from them. With horror, I realized I was not as separated as I thought. This forest…I knew this forest. This was the forest that lay between the shore and the mountains. This was the forest where my lizards lived.
My heart had sunk before…now it was utterly devastated. Even if they all evacuated…where would they go? If the eruption was large enough, it could wipe out the entire forest, and that’s where a majority of my lizards lived.
I felt myself panicking. Would it end like the last calamity? The shore colonies would be able to swim away, but would they be the only ones left? I didn’t want to lose any more colonies. I took in the surrounding view again, looking for any place that might serve as a refuge.
There were a few mountains in this range, but none so tall as the one I floated above. They would quickly meet with disaster as well. My lizards’ mountain was a bit separated from the range. The forest surrounded that mountain on three sides. Behind the mountain was a river that nearly cut through land mass, threatening to break off the tip into its own island. The lizards didn’t go there because the river was wide and hard to cross, and the mountains that cropped up immediately on the other side were difficult to pass.
…Difficult to pass. Could it be… Thoughts formed too quickly for me to actually process. But maybe, just maybe, between the mountainside mountains and river mountains, they would be enough to keep the worst of the disaster away. There was a small forest on the other side of the river mountains that could serve as a second home for an evacuation. Colonies would be forced close together, but hopefully they could manage there until it was safe to return to their previous homes.
Yes. This could work. Just like the shore cliffs saved some parts of the forest from the tsunami, these mountains could help prevent some of the effects of an eruption. Hope had been rekindled inside me. It would be a difficult journey to evacuate the forest and mountainside colonies, and the trek to the forest beyond the river would be long, but from the pressure I had felt inside the magma chamber, I believed we would have just enough time. I had to act now. Wings, complete or not, could wait. What influence I had needed to convince the lizards to leave their homes, which I was certain would be a trial all on its own.
I was even a bit excited, for all my fears and worries. Excited because this time I could save them. I wouldn’t have to just watch from the sidelines as the angry world took its toll on my family. No longer relegated to a bystander who could only warn them minutes from impending disaster. The excitement turned into a fervor to protect them.
While in that fervor, I suddenly felt a tingling sensation. It wasn’t quite unlike the feeling I got when I had my warning sense triggered about my limited ability to continue influencing the bodies of my lizards. But it felt different…foreign.
I had been so intent on looking towards the land where my lizards lived, I did not pay much attention to the other side of the volcanic mountain. But the sensation made me look. Something was there. Something strange, something…familiar. It was an impossible feeling to describe. I felt myself reaching out to touch the invisible thing that caught my attention, but as I did, something happened. It was like when I had looked into the rift inside my heart and felt it looking back, such feelings resurfaced now. It was as if the hills I viewed had eyes, and all at once they stared at me, looked at me, saw me.
I shrank back. Cringed. Something was out there, and now it knew I was here.