A Cryptid Adventure: Chapter 1— Lake Melancholy
The First Chapter of A Cryptid Adventure: The Summoning in Shangri-La
I hear the words shouted out loud coming from the unknown dungeon beneath me. The clock reads 10:10 am, and I have this nagging feeling that I’m late for something. I get out of bed, and a full body mirror stands in front of me — better get out of these pajamas.
Dressed in my short sleeved purple shirt and a pair of light jeans to match, I throw my one armed backpack over my shoulder. A poster on the wall of an egg-white horse with a giant spiraled horn stands confidently, exuding a majestic aura. I take a deep breath, and walk down the stairs connecting my comfortable bedroom to the family room.
My mother is in the kitchen, washing dishes. If I can make it to the door without her noticing me, maybe I can avoid her ‘just making sure’ questions.
“Oh, Ashe! You’re late. Greyson came over looking for you, but he said he’d meet you at Melancholic Lake. “ She said, reaching for a pair of running shoes. She hands them to me, “You remember how to get to Melancholic Lake, right?”
“Yes.” I reply with little enthusiasm.
“Just making sure.” I roll my eyes as I leave.
The lake is right outside of Kiblet Town, I could run and make it there in ten minutes if I wanted to. There’s not much here besides the lake. One of the smallest towns in the entire Costa Region.
I come to the signpost, left is Melancholic Lake, right is Santaluma City, but we have to go through a dark cave to get there, so we rarely see the city despite the closeness in vicinity. Greyson hates coming to the lake, I wonder why he was in such a rush to get there he couldn’t wait for me.
The lake comes into view, and it’s not as special as you would hope for. The water is mostly still, and there’s a few dry spots. We’ve been in a drought for a few years, and the lake’s been one of the biggest casualties. Mud starts to stick to the soles of my running shoes.
In a spot where the willow trees meet the shoreline, I see Greyson. What a rowdy teen. I run up, excited to see my friend.
“Hey, why didn’t you wait for me?” I ask. Greyson stays still. He is knee deep in the muddy water. I catch a glimpse of his face, and it seems as if he’s been crying. I can’t quite make out what he’s holding underneath the water.
“It’s him. He said he heard about some creature by the lake a few hours ago. He hadn’t come back, I thought something might have happened.”
Greyson has trouble getting out the words, but that’s when I notice — He’s holding his older brother.
I can’t tell from looking at the body in Greyson’s hand, but the size of it, and the legs, those long, skinny legs. That’s him for sure. That’s Leon. The older brother of the kid I grew up with, dead in his arms. This can’t be real. Am I dreaming?
After failing to awake myself after pinching, a large flock of crows fly out from the dark tree forest ahead of us. The ground starts to rumble — a booming roar echoes, and I lose my sense of hearing. I see Greyson yelling something, but I can’t quite make out what he said. He pulls out a dagger from his scabbard, and runs into the forest.
Frightened, I am frozen.
I am hoping I wake up, and end up back in my bed. This is all a dream. It can’t be real. I’m dreaming. I have to be dreaming. My hearing vaguely starts to return as Greyson screams a battle cry, fueled with the emotion from discovering Leon’s body before a loud cry. It sounds like the time Greyson stepped on the nail on the staircase up to my room, but a thousand times louder. The cry deafened almost as quickly as it shouted, and footsteps crunch the branches, leaves floating in the water.
“Greyson?” I manage to squeak out.
I start to slowly walk backwards, and out of the trees of darkness, a behemoth steps out. The beast has blue-green smooth skin, with a thin layer of fur, and it walks on all four of its legs. Twice the size of a full grown tiger, the webbed feet slop closer towards me, and the hindleg muscles are bigger than my head. There are three rigid gill like features on both sides of the burly beast. The beast raises its head, and lets out a giant roar. A swampy fish smell mixed with a warm salty one smothers my nose as the moisture from the breath of the roar covers my face — I’m going to die.
I turn around and begin to run, but the mud makes it hard to go fast. I want to cry, but I’m too afraid to even contemplate what is happening. I give up. This is too much for me.
In the sky, something begins to fly towards me from high up. It’s fast. It’s real fast. Giant black wings that look like they belong to a bat, sit on the back of a black horse. On the forehead of the horse is a lengthy black horn, smooth. The horn is longer than my leg, and a man sits upon the horse.
“Duck!” He yells. I duck.
I hear the sound of the beast chasing after me cry out, and I realize I closed my eyes. I turn to see the Horned Black Winged Horse with its horn completely impaling through the side of the beast’s neck. The man jumps off the horse, and walks over to me. He offers his purple gloved hand, as his black cape scratches the surface of the knee high water. I am muddy and wet. I am alive.
“That was a close one.” He says, like the water of Melancholic Lake. “There aren’t many people in this world who have seen a Bunyip and lived to tell the tale. I’m Lancelot.”
“Wha — wh…I — “ I struggle to speak.
“Shadow and I heard the roar, and flew over immediately. Shame we had to kill a Bunyip. Not many of them left. Was that your friend?” Lancleot asks, way too calm for the situation.
“There’s one in the…” I point towards the trees. Lancelot trots into the trees. I stand alone, knee deep in water, mud all over my back. I’m dripping, I’m cold, and I’m in disbelief that any of this has happened. Bunyip? A horned horse? Is this a unicorn? Greyson…is he alive? The horned horse walks backwards to pull its horn out of the body of the Bunyip, and the Bunyip crashes to the ground heavily. The horse was able to hold that beast up with just its horn?
Lancelot comes out holding a creature, similar to the Bunyip beast that fell, but much smaller. Much smaller. It’s small enough to fit in his hand, and its back legs are attached to its tail in a transparent casing. It wiggles a bit, trying to get out of his arms.
“It’s a cryptid, a type of creature that can harness a special energy. Like Shadow here, my Dark Pegasus. Can you do something for me?” Says Lancelot, I nod, “A Bunyip is an incredibly rare mythical cryptid, known to guard the fortress of the Water Sanctuary in ancient times. The mermaids hid their precious treasures they stole there, well defended by the Bunyip. There’s only a handful left in the world. Without its mother, it won’t survive, and I can’t handle something this attentive long term. It would be a tragedy to lose such a majestic beast; I need you to link with this Bunyip.”
“I don’t know…” Still in shock, I’m barely able to comprehend anything this strange man is saying to me. This man, Lancelot, I’ve heard of him before. He’s a Cryptid Skirmisher.
His purple hair waves in the wind, as he pulls out a necklace with a green crystal on it. The green crystal is encased by a copper triangle contraption.
“A Cryptid Crystal, you can harness the energy around cryptids, and create a soul bond; you should be able to mentally link with them thereafter. Here, this is for you to keep.”
He puts the crystal around my neck. The cold metal touches my bare neck, and a chill runs down my spine. The crystal begins to emit a green glow, and Lancelot holds the baby Bunyip up in front of it. A strange feeling takes over my body, and I feel as if I am on the precipice of a sneeze that won’t come out.
The baby Bunyip stares into my eyes. It’s afraid. She’s afraid. They squirm for a second before accepting the green glow into them. It encapsulates the entirety of the Bunyip before the Bunyip disappears. The green crystal in the copper contraption begins to flash and vibrate, then unflash.
“One.” Lance announces, before another green flash of the crystal. “Two.” The light dims out, and then flashes again before once again, dimming.
“Three.” I said, understanding the Bunyip’s fear, but accepting me as its caretaker.
“Do you feel their presence?” He asks. I nod. It’s like the Bunyip is sitting in the back of my head. It feels cramped. “You can let her out now.”
I’m unsure what this means, but I try to take it at face value. I calm my mind, and the Bunyip appears in front of me. Both of us, terrorized from this unfortunate moment here at Melancholic Lake.
“I need to take you with me, for the Bunyip. Do you have anyone you need to say goodbye to?” Lancelot says.
I’m going on a journey. How do I tell my mother? The wistful nature of the situation that happened here at Melancholic Lake.
How do I tell her?
Lake Melancholy is an excerpt from the unreleased novel, A Cryptid Adventure: The Summoning in Shangri-La.