Tasmanian Wilderness S03E08
The Adventures of Millie and Sandra
The Eye of Carly’s Hope continued...
Hiking through the Tasmanian bush, Millie searched for the guardians of the Eye of Carly’s Hope. She had no idea what they would look like if they looked like anything at all. She pushed her way through a clump of pampas grass and fell into a small sediment pond at the base of a slow-running waterfall. The waterfall wasn’t very big, but the pond was deep enough for Millie to get wet from head to toe.
“Wow,” she said climbing out of the cool water.
Good time to stock up, she thought and put her waterproof backpack on the bank, and pulled out a water bottle.
“May I fill from your stream?” she asked the waterfall and the stream transformed into a gush of clear water.
Millie filled her bottle and thought about changing into her sports clothes, but it was turning out to be a hot day, so decided to wait. Once her bottle was full, Millie put her head under the water and washed the sediment from her hair and clothes.
“Thank you,” she said, and the gush returned to a clear sparkling spray.
Millie wanted to talk with the waterfall, but checked her watch.
Thank goodness you're waterproof.
“Oop. No time to dawdle,” she said, hooked her backpack onto her arms, and adjusted it to her back.
Millie took a step into the thick of the forest. She thought about making her search for the Eye as a dragonfly but wasn’t certain the guardians would know her when she found them. She was humming Tiësto & Ava Max’s, The Motto, and was bellowing out, “The Motto,” when something caught her eye, so stopped. The brush ahead of her was moving, crackling under the weight of some kind of animal.
Snake? She wondered, but the noise stopped.
Millie waited a few moments to make sure she gave whatever it was plenty of time to move along. While waiting she looked at her watch again and time was ticking over.
Must be gone by now, she thought, but for safety's sake, she picked up a long thin tree branch at her feet and used it to part the brush ahead of her.
When the brush parted she was surprised to see nothing was there.
“Gone? Into a den? Maybe a hole?”
She used the stick to check a few more bushes around her and when completely satisfied, Millie lifted her right boot up to take a step forward but stopped it mid-air. The lower brush began to crackle. The leaves on the bush right in front of her moved in such a way, Millie thought it might've been a wombat, Don't wanna get attacked by one of them.
She pulled her foot back and was standing perfectly still when two snakes, coiled around each other, suddenly flipped into the air. She screamed as they uncoiled, but when they hit the ground she knew she shouldn't move a muscle until they left the area. The snakes landed in different directions but both were quite near Millie's boots. She held her breath for what seemed like an eternity until they slithered away.
“Fizzles and flops,” she said after taking a deep breath that automatically shifted her into her dragonfly self.
She flew above the ground and made sure there was nothing else waiting to jump out at her. While in the air, she saw a clearing ahead. It looked like there might have been a cave entrance in a rock outcrop barely hidden by the bush. Floating back to the ground, millie shifted to her human form and put her clothes back on. She shook off the snake shake and pushed through thick scrub to the rock.
Stepping from the soft earth to the stone clearing, Millie was pleased to see there was a cave. She gathered her courage. Took a step towards the entrance but had forgotten about the guardians. Suddenly the entrance caved in on itself and Millie jumped back. She landed on the earthy ground again, and her first thought was to shift into a dragonfly, but it never happened.
What’s going on? She was thinking when all of a sudden the rock on either side of the entrance began to crumble and crack.
She took several more steps back and crouched down behind some thick brush. The crumbling rock transformed into two eight-foot-tall rock guardians. They stepped from the outcrop looking like Roman soldiers, and Millie crouched lower behind the brush.
“What beast attempts to defile our bounty?” One of them asked.
His voice was deep, and it echoed as though he was asking that question from inside the cave.
Millie took a moment to collect her thoughts before revealing herself. As one spoke, the other stood in an attack-ready position with a spear made of stone. She knew she couldn’t stay hidden for long, and recalled she was to meet the guardians, so stood up. Both guardians turned to look at her appearing to be sizing her up, and Millie felt uncomfortable the longer they stared.
“Speak!” one of them said, and she jumped from the bush, remembered why she was there and climbed back up onto the stone outcrop.
“I am the maiden seeking rites to enter the Eye of Carly’s Hope,” she said, with more bravado than she’d ever had.
The guardian holding with the spear shifted from his attack pose and stood it to his side.
“Who gave passage for the maiden to seek rites to enter the Eye?” the other asked.
Cripes. I made it.
“The bones of dead gods have been taken,” she said, and the guardians shuffled their feet when they heard that.
Are they worried? Millie wondered, then realised she needed to say something to hold their attention.
“I have been sent to gather the jewel at the centre of the Eye.”
After she said what she’d come to say, Millie’s bravery began to dissipate. She knew how it sounded, and hearing it out loud frightened her, but those words were uttered with a confidence she’d never experienced before.
“What makes the maiden worthy of the jewel?” they asked, and a flash of uncertainty shifted through her body.
“I… I don’t know?” Millie said. “Oh! Because the mother sent me.”
“What!” the guardian with the spear growled.
Don’t be afraid, Mill’s. You've got this.
Millie took a moment. They didn’t seem to know about the mother.
Okay. Okay. What would Aunty do?
“I am the maiden sent by the mother, Æther,” she said. “Together we seek the jewel. When our rite is complete shall I return it to your guardianship.”
“What of the bones?” the other asked.
“The bones were to contain a hobgoblin,” she said. “Though it has escaped its crystal binds and taken the bones. Those in the Ether say they might also be in the Eye.”
“Hobgoblin?” the one with the spear asked, and looked to the other, and then they both laughed.
Their laughter was so loud, previously unseen wildlife scattered to the winds.
“Please!” Millie said. “The hobgoblin has taken over my sister. I have to help her.”
The guardians stopped and looked down at her.
“It has a host?” the one without the spear asked.
“My twin sister.”
The guardians looked at each other as though they were talking telepathically, and for some reason, Millie couldn’t read them.
Might be all the rock?
“Please?” she begged.
“Remain calm, Maiden,” they said. “Tell us. How long has it been in your family?”
“My family… how do you know that?” Millie asked.
“Hobgoblins are the parasites,” the guardian with the spear said.
“Once they get a foothold, you cannot rid them from your lineage,” the other guardian said.
“It must’ve been in your family a long time,” the other said, “to take possession of a soul.”
“Yes. To possess your sister,” the one with the spear said, “it had to already have a foothold, and to gain a foothold it had to have been invited in.”
Millie thought about it all the way back to when her mum and aunt were teenagers.
“Three,” Millie said. “For three generations it has harmed my family. It was my grandmother who invited it in. She wanted power because she had none.”
“Hm,” the other guardian said to the one with the spear. “Generational.”
Millie looked at her watch, it was already 8 a.m. She was getting worried she’d run out of time and Sandra would be gone forever.
“I don’t mean to.. um,” she said and was about to continue when the one with the spear spoke.
“We will allow you to embark upon your quest and give you rites to enter.”
“Really?” she asked and took a more confident step towards them. “But how do I get in? You’ve closed the opening.”
“One thing,” the one with the spear said.
“Anything,” Millie said.
“See that stick? Over there?” he asked and pointed to a long thin stick laying across a rock pile.
“Get it for us.”
She ran to the stick believing it would be what was needed to clear the cave entrance. It was a normal-looking stick. It was grey with age and had a jagged point on one end. She picked it up, took it back to the guardians, and raised it to the one who’d asked for it.
“No,” he said.
“But…” Millie started to ask.
“I want you to scratch my back,” he said, and the other roared with laughter. “I’m always scratching his back, but does he scratch mine? No!”
“Oh. Um. Okay,” Millie said and walked behind him.
She raised the pointed end of the stick, leant it against his stony back, and gave it a good scratch.
“Oh. Yeah,” he moaned and pointed to the other guardian. “I’ve been scratching his back for centuries. No one's been here in a while. Open it, Francis. Open the entrance.”
“Francis?” Millie asked.
“Yeah,” Francis said and laughed. “Terry’s been quite the back scratcher.”
“Top left, young maiden,” Terry said, and Millie raised the stick a little higher and gave his back a good scratch.
The rubble magically moved as though it were a movie seen in reverse to once more formed an entrance.
“Thank you,” Millie said, putting the stick down. “Can I ask? I was told time would be different in the Eye. Is that true?”
“Oh. Yes,” Terry said.
“You must be careful,” Francis said. “If you panic because you’re running out of time, time will move faster, but if you can control your emotions, time will move slower. Though the deeper into the Eye you go, we cannot say for sure what will happen to time.”
“And there are no shortcuts, maiden,” Terry said. “Do not touch anything other than the jewel you seek.”
“Um. Okay,” Millie said.
“Also,” Francis said, “many voices are said to reside in the Eye.”
“Some will sing to you, maiden,” Terry said.
“Some will mislead you,” Francis said.
“Do not get sidetracked,” Terry said. “I’ll need another scratch when you come back.”
The guardians laughed again, and Millie was more than a little apprehensive about walking into the Eye.
“When you come back with the jewel,” Francis said. “We shall send you back to your coven.”
“Coven?” Millie asked. “How do you know about...?”
“You know you, so we know you too,” Terry said.
“We know all,” Francis said. “Enter young maiden. Find what you seek, but heed our warnings or your sister will be lost.”
Millie looked into the dark of the cave. Took one last look at the guardians, but they gave nothing away. She took a deep breath, and her first step into the unknown.
A new addition to the conclusion on The #AdventuresOfMillieAndSandra will be released each month, with the entire series converted, edited and cleaned up for an ebook once the story is complete.
Sorry, it has taken me so long to get it out to you.
About the Creator
In addition to my creative pursuits, I'm also a dedicated advocate for education and literacy. Through my writing, I seek to inspire others to follow their passions, to make a positive impact on their world.