THE LAST COMPETITION … (18+) … Part 25



The horrible and clever journey to Mount Loom began by Ken holding Mercy’s hand as she requested immediately she became scared of the environment. Ikuku led the way, followed by Ken with Mercy by his side before Jade lastly followed from behind. Their movement was like that of fugitives, looking for where to reside. Of course one could see Jade carrying a bag behind her, containing their food and water because they never knew how many days the journey would take. They saw nothing on their way but rocks, resting in intervals. No trees nor grasses along the road which made Mercy to say, “The nature of this place seems like 75% of the world is made up of rocks instead of water”
Nobody tried to support her idea until Ikuku’s voice came loud and clear. “Most of Earth’s crust, 95 percent of it consists of igneous rock and metamorphic rock . Sedimentary rock, which forms a thin covering on Earth’s surface, makes up only 5 percent of the crust”
“Now, you sound like my Geography teacher”
Ikuku stopped and turned in a way he met the young girl’s eyes. “I’m not trying to sound like your teacher” he paused as all watched to know what he was trying to do or say. He stretched out his hand for Mercy and said, “Come..”
She glanced at Ken before walking to take Ikuku’s hand after which they began to move again. Jade took her place, walking side by side with Ken. Yet, listening to Ikuku as he substantiated obviously to Mercy how he never tried to sound like her Geography teacher.
“You believe that water is more important than rocks. We can’t survive without water but we can without rocks, right?” Ikuku glanced at Mercy.
“Of course, yes” she replied.
“But where do you basically get water from?”
“Tap, ocean, river, they are many”
“Naturally, where does water come from?”
Mercy thought for a while. “Earth crust” she replied.
Ikuku stopped, looking at the young girl. “Most of Earth’s crust, 95 percent of it consists of igneous rock and metamorphic rock . Sedimentary rock, which forms a thin covering on Earth’s surface, makes up only 5 percent of the crust” he paused then added. “Do I still sound like your Geography teacher?”
Mercy stared at him surprisingly likewise Jade and Ken. Their quietness reminded Ken of what Ikuku told him before they started the journey..
Inside Ikuku’s room at Ututu, Ken stood by the window when Ikuku entered through the door. The cracking sound of it made Ken to turn around in a way they looked at each other.
“Your will-be sister and girlfriend are waiting outside” Ikuku broke the silence then continued. “Are you ready for this journey?”
Ken remained quiet.
Ikuku walked closer to him. “I believe in you, lad. I believe in your boldness and cleverness. I won’t be able to help you with riddles at Mount Loom, but I want you to know that whatever thing I try to explain on our journey is to educate you more on how clever one has to be in defeating the god of cleverness..”
After the long tranquillity, Mercy said to Ikuku, “I don’t understand what you are trying to make me understand”
Jade interfered. “I think he’s trying to tell you that rocks are more important than water since you have to dig the ground through rocks to get water”
“No” Ken began, while they stared at him. “Ikuku is trying to tell me that..”
“Tell you?” Mercy interrupted him. “I thought I’m the one he had been talking to”
“Yes, but indirectly talking to me”
“So what’s he trying to tell you?”
Ken hesitated for a while with a look on Ikuku’s face then began again, “What you think is less valuable like the rocks could be the source of the most valuable resources like the water. Ikuku tried to tell me indirectly that, if liquid could come out from something as hard as the rock, I can defeat the god of cleverness”
Quietness stretched ones again. The two girls couldn’t believe Ken’s way of comprehending the little explanation. Surely, Jade said to them, “I hope over cleverness doesn’t kill both of you one day. Gush!” she first led the way, while Ikuku smiled at Ken and followed Jade thereby leaving Mercy and Ken behind.
“Ken, how come you understood the explanation so differently?” Mercy asked him.
He held her hand again and began to move again as he replied saying, “Mercy, you have to think abstract to be able to answer a riddle.”
“Wow” both kept quiet. Only their footsteps generated a sound on the rocky ground. Ken glanced at Mercy again.
“I’m sorry about your father. I told him he would be making a mistake but he wouldn’t listen”
Mercy glanced back at him without saying a word, rather tightened his hand with hers.
Back to the city inside the very residence of Mr Raymond, Mrs Ukachi laid her head on Mr Raymond’s thighs. Her eyes was as dull as the cloudy weather due to too much of tears she had shed out of them. Mr Raymond slid her hair and said, “How come you never noticed the magical eyeglasses in your late husband’s possession?”
“I knew there was something he was trying to hide from me, but when I asked, he would said nothing. That was when Ken was still in my womb” she replied.
“Can you tell me about him?”
Mrs Ukachi sat up from his thighs. “Uba was exact replica of Ken; very quiet and smart..” she continued.
The journey to Mount Loom grew weary and scary when the sun had set, giving room for darkness. All this while, they had been climbing rocks upon rocks like they were going up through a staircase until they arrived at triple entrances where Ikuku became confused without knowing the one to follow. Therefore, he stared at the three entrances likewise others. The place was a bit dark but white light from his staff only illuminated at a close range. He stretched it forward to have a clearer view of the three entrances. Though they were opened but dark to the extent nothing could be seen through it.
“Dead end?” Jade asked. Her voice echoed ones in the rocky cave.
“No, but.. we have three entrances and I don’t know..” Ikuku replied, looking around while silence creep in.
“Hello!” Mercy shouted. Her voice echoed three times. Ken gestured for her to be quiet. Suddenly, a man came out from one of the entrances. He wore no shirt except a bogus short. His chest was as stiff as a contracted muscles which brought out his six packs. He had a twisted long beards. On his head was no hair. Seeing him, Ikuku stepped backward, holding his staff well for visibility.
“I am Odili, the first messenger of god of cleverness” the strange man began. “You have one more messenger to meet on the way before getting to your destination. To know the path to the god of cleverness, the bearer of the magical eyeglasses must answer three riddles as we have three entrances. Failure to get anyone correctly, you’ll wait here for another twenty-four hours.”
Ken gradually let go of Mercy’s hand and stood before Odili. His heart pounded just as his legs grew cold, but he was happy for the condition given to them if he fails a riddle. To him, it was better than dying in ten seconds as a condition.
“Are you ready, young man?” Odili asked him.
Ken looked back at Ikuku, turned to Odili again and said, “I’m ready”
Odili cleared his throat. “It holds most knowledge that has ever been said. But is not the brain, is not the head. To feathers and their masters, it’s both bane and boon. One empty, and one full. What is it?”
Hearing the riddle, Mercy shook her head, wondering how Ken would get such a difficult riddle. One could see Jade wrecking her brain even though it wasn’t for her to answer. Ikuku, who knew the answer instantly, remained still, hoping Ken connect to his own brain.
“C’mon, lad” he said.
Ken bent his head. “…to bane and boon..” he began to murmure. “ feathers and their masters.. feathers…? Empty… and…” He looked up at Odili then said loudly. “The answer is paper. Early chinese masters documented knowledge on papers with feathers”
Ikuku smiled.
“Correct!” Odili said.
“Wow!” Mercy shouted once again with a broad smile on her face, while Jade showed no sign, not because she wasn’t happy but because she knew what laid ahead of them.
Odili asked the second riddle saying, “Almost everyone sees me without noticing me, for what is beyond is what he or she seeks. What am I?”
“You are a window” Ken answered sharply coz he found it simple, but was never simple to Mercy.
“Correct” Odili folded his arms. “Lastly, When liquid splashes me, none seeps through. When I am moved a lot, liquid I spew. When I am hit, color I change. And color, I come in quite a range. What I cover is very complex, And I am very easy to flex. What am I?”
Everybody’s brain went blank, even Ikuku found it a bit difficult to get the answer, so he bent his head down, likewise Ken. For over a minute, none of them said something. Odili chuckled. “I doubt if you’ll make it to the god of cleverness coz you’ll have to answer riddles in ten seconds after me otherwise lose your life and forever be attacked by the Graths” he said.
Ken looked up at him. “You’re skin. That’s the answer” he said reluctantly like one whose mind, body and soul had gone out of him.
“You’re correct, but your performance is poor regarding to what I told you” he shook his head. “Anyways, any entrance will lead you to god of cleverness. Good luck” he walked back into the darkness.
“Any entrance?” Jade provoked. “So what was the need of those riddles if any entrance will lead us to our destination?”
“You don’t know what you don’t know” Odili’s voice came from the darkness.
Jade looked at Mercy in confusion. “What does that mean?” she whispered.
Ikuku slowly met Ken, placed a hand on his shoulder, while Jade and Mercy watched them. Of course they knew Ken’s mood had become dull and sadden.
“You did great, lad” Ikuku broke the silence.
Ken met his eyes. “You heard what he said. My performance was poor. I’ll be answering riddles in ten seconds. Now I know why my father…”
“You are more clever, lad” Ikuku interrupted him. “I want you to understand that desperate situations requires desperate measures.” He left him and began to walk into one of the entrances, followed by Jade who taped Ken’s shoulder as a way of encouraging him. Mercy held his hand again and said, “Let’s go. I’ll have to die before you do” Ken glanced at her before they walked into the darkness too….


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