The jungles of Zebrabwe- Thirteen years before the return of Nightmare Moon.
It was a typical night in the jungle, with countless insects and nocturnal creatures roamed while their diurnal counterparts made their best effort to ignore them and sleep.
Well, it was almost typical.
A small group of soldiers and scientists wealked through the dense foliage, aiming for a certain cave at the base of the small mountain in front of them. The soldiers carried weapons in case they came across something dangerous.
It sure was something new for the million or so pair of eyes watching them go through their home.
“You know, I feel bad doing this.” A brown haired scientist commented in neighponese (the japanese of this world, only with a pun in the name), the mother language of every member in the group.
“Why? Don’t you like the jungle?” His partner, an Earthbound scientist with a stocky build, asked.
“I sure don’t. Too many insects here for my taste.” A soldier chimed in, hitting the back of his neck to squish a mosquito. “I swear I’ve lost more blood to these little bastards than in any fight I’ve had before.”
“It’s not that… we are going to a tomb.” the first scientist replied.
“So? The bones won’t rise up and try to eat us, Sasuke.” His partner assured him.
“For the people here, this place is sacred, Taichi. The resting place of a great and kind creature that died saving them from a monster.”
“Do you honestlyy believe that? Those are just stories.”
“And yet, here we are.” Taichi had to recognize that Sasuke was right on that; their superiors wanted to find as much DNA of deceased, massive beings as possible, so they were checking every clue and lead they had. And this one seemed promising.
“Well, real or not, they sure didn’t like our request.” The tall soldier leading the group commented; the natives were downright furious when they asked them for permission to enter the tomb of this 'guardian' and take samples from his remains. He was sure some of them wanted to attack his expedition for that. Luckily, the leader calmed his soldiers, before denying them access to that sacred place. He sighed. “But we have orders. We enter, take what we need and get out as fast as possible; we don’t want to start a conflict.”
“Speak for yourself; I wouldn’t mind a bit of action.” A Valkyrie commented. The leader glared at her.
“There’s no reason to fight them; they just want to defend what’s important to them.”
“I don’t know why they would; it seems to me this was just a brawl between monsters that ended with both of them dead, and the people back them simply misinterpreted it.” The Valkyrie commented.
They arrived to the huge entrance of the cave, marked with two great torches at both sides. Every once on a while, a pair of warriors came and replaced them, to keep the fire burning as a show of respect for the deceased guardian. The occasional storm meddled with it, but these people never stopped doing it for countless millennia.
“Well, my father never believed in the Neighsian dragons; you know, those that fly without wings and with their breaths heal and bring forth the rain.” Sasuke commented as he reluctantly walked with the others to the inside; he, their leader and another soldier raised their hands as a glow of light emerged from them. One of the perks of being an Elf was that you could be a walking source of light for dark places, especially if you knew what it was commonly known as the 'flashlight spell'.
“Those aren’t real. People has looked for them for a long time and never found one. They are just a bunch of invented stories to entertain others, like all those myths about gods and kaiju.” The Valkyrie soldier responded, checking idly the walls around them while flying a couple of feet over the ground.
“I agree with her, Sasuke. The world is full of magic and great creatures… but Neighsian dragons aren’t one of them.” Taichi said.
“My father thought the same, until a Neighsian dragon saved his life on a forest fire. Actually, he saved the entire forest.” That comment picked the curiosity of the entire group.
“He?” Asked the leader.
“Yes; a kind dragon that helped because he could. That’s what my father said that the dragon answered when he asked him why he helped stop the fire. And he also said that his voice was so deep he sounded like a little girl in comparison.” A good part of the group chuckled at that.
“My father taught me that you must not believe everything you hear… but you must also not believe everything is false.” Sasuke finisheded, before they noticed an orange glow coming from further in the tunnel.
It turned out it was coming from a humongous cave, with many little bones that seemed to be from several kinds of animals, and even a couple that looked human.
But there were two particular thingss that left them awestruck.
The first were the two massive skeletons near the center of the cave; one was so charred it was completely black. The other had pieces of what looked like the shell of a turtle around its remains.
The second were the many balls of fire floating in the air, slowly moving through the open space over them, like a slow parade.
“Well, I’m not sure if I believe you about that dragon, but I think that there is something special about this place” the Valkyrie said to Sasuke, while the both of them were entranced by the lights.
“Let’s get to work.” The leader said, shaking his head to refocus on the mission.
There were four scientists and four soldiers; a small group for reconnaissance that had everything necessary to find samples and move quickly.
And the slight increase on luminosity and speed of the flames was making the leader feel a bit glad for that. His gut was telling him that was not a good sign.
The charred skeleton had no surviving piece of organic material that they could find; it seemed like it was burned to death and then some. The other one, though…
“Did you really have to break the tooth?” The leader questioned his Earthbound and Elf soldiers, which had broken one to see if there was surviving organic tissue there.
“They said that there could be samples in there, sir. And there were.” The Elf responded, pointing to the scientists. They were around the broken top half of the tooth, getting samples out.
The flames gave a sudden burst.
Everyone turned to look up, as the fires flew through the air furiously.
One of the flames came down and impacted near the group, startling them and sending a lot of small, hot rocks towards them.
“LET’S GO!” The leader screamed.
While they got everything secured as fast as they could, the flames combined in a single, great fire.
Then, it morphed.
They were all scared as it slowly became strange figures. No… it was a sentence in neighponese!
And the message couldn’t be clearer.
And they did, stumbling several times as they rushed to the exit.
Once they were back outside, they stopped a second to catch their breaths; especially the scientists.
The flames from the torches rocketed out to the sky; the humans looked out in fear, thinking for a second that they would target them.
But before they could run again, the flames hit the rock over the entrance. A loud boom passed over them, pushing them back. A great cloud of dust covered teh area them for a few seconds.
When it subsided, they saw that the entrance had collapsed; several rocks covered it completely.
The torches at both sides of it were, surprisingly, still in good shape.
… And new flames suddenly come to life on the previously extinguished torches.
The humans left as quickly as they could. Unbeknownst to them, what had scared them out was still there, glaring at their retreating forms.
The ancient spirit watched them go; his anger, while diminishing, was still present. Had they no respect for the resting place of a Guardian Beast?
‘Well, they probably have forgotten us. The pass of time has erased many things, after all.’ With a sigh, he turned towards the mountain. ‘Toto, my dear child, I must leave you in the care of these humans; I know they will protect this place.’ They sure would, after he told them of what the visitors from overseas did.
And he had to find out what they wanted with Toto’s remains; they did manage to take small parts of him.
‘From what I saw in their minds, he wasn’t the first either… and whatever they are doing, it seems to be a great secret.’
Genbu sighed, before starting what would be a long trek. ‘They must be the most troublesome race I’ve ever seen...’