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Ancient Jamaa: A Nation United

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Chapter 3: The Woods of Ithral
   "This is where we part," Serundae said when the reached the low arched path. The two tigers looked reluctantly into the forest. 
   "Is there no other way?" Konna asked, "I don't want to go back in there." 
   "Yes," he replied, "Unless you want to travel through the jungles with monkey and gorillas around every turn. Or you could go through the marshes in the far south, but that would take months. The herbs I have given you will help, whether you are hungry, cold, tired, sick, or wounded. Now you must leave, you should arrive at  Serapae's realm on the third day. He will guide you from there"
   "Goodbye, and thank you." Kanna said. Then they turned and started down the trail.
   When they had gone a stone's throw into the forest, they heard him yell after them, "One more thing! Whatever you do, do not leave the path!"
   Then they turned a corner and the full darkness of the forest was upon them. The tree's branches seemed to make an arch over their heads and the floor was a soft bed of fallen leaves and needles. They walked for what seemed like hours, and they could see could see through the small openings of the trees stars. Everything else was so dark the couldn't see the ground in front of them.
   "We should stop now. I'm exhausted." Konna said wearily. 
   "I agree," Kanna replied, "We can't go any further tonight." With that they blindly searched for a good place to sleep, and finally curled up in a pile of leaves under a huge oak. They soon fell into a silent, dreamless sleep. 
   In the morning they woke up later than they wanted, since it was nearly as dark in daytime as it was in the night. They started along the clear path, after eating some of the herbs for hunger Serundae had given them. Though they were carnivores, the herbs didn't taste bad, and did help with some of there hunger. But by noon they were hungry again, and not for the herbs of the koalas. 
   They reached a part where more light entered through the trees, and they could see big bushes and other plants on both sides of the path. Then in one of the bushes something moved. Konna quickly jumped into the bushed and out the other side.
   "But Serundae said-" Kanna started to say, but Konna came back out with a small brown squirrel in his mouth.
   "See? Nothing to it." Konna said proudly. Just then a loud hissing sound came out of the bushes where Konna had been. Then it came from the other side, and then behind them. 
   "Wha-what's that?" Konna asked nervously. Just then a huge green head of a snake appeared with a bright red forked tongue. It struck it's head forward, but they jumped back just in time.
   "Run!" Kanna said, and the dashed forward along the path. Then, around a corner was a huge tan snake with its long tail that must have been ten feet long rattling in the air. It's jaws were wide open, ready to strike.
   Then they both jumped off the path to the left, hoping to somehow get back on the path on the other side of the snake, but they were soon caught in a thick plant of thorns. Then they heard the hissing again on all sides of them. They stood in fear, not knowing what do.
   Just when they gave up, a deep powerful roar came from somewhere in the woods, and the hissing and rattling stopped, and they could hear the snakes slithering away. They could hear loud sniffing and grunting, and then a deep voice that seemed close by. "Tigers, in the home of Forest Snakes?" It said. Then a huge black shape came into view, and they realized it was a large Black Bear.
   "We didn't mean to come here," Konna said, "I mean, we were scared off the path. Please don't hurt us... we'll leave now... okay?" His voice gave away his fear.
   "You need not fear me," he said laughing, "But who are you, and why are you here?"
   They paused, and then decided they had no reason not to tell him. "We are going to see Serapae." Konna said, still shaking.
   "Our colony has been kidnapped, and we are trying to save them." Kanna added.
   "Well then," he replied in friendly voice, "I am friends with any tiger who does not follow Kastar. Come to my home, it is not far from here. I will guide you to the path later on.
   They both followed him, feeling as though they didn't have a choice, and yet still suspicious. He plowed through the plants and thorns with ease at a surprisingly fast pace. Soon they arrived at a clearing with the sun shining through brightly. They blinked several times, and when their eyes had adjusted they could see big red mushrooms on the ground with jars of honey and berries. In the center was a large fire that was still burning.
   "Here," he said, handing them some of the food, "Eat it, and then tell me your full story. I do not often get visitors."
   To their own surprise, they gratefully ate the honey and berries. They were unusually sweet, and it quenched both their hunger and thirst. After eating, they told him their story down to the very last detail. He sat fascinated on one of the mushrooms by the fire.
   When they had finished, he stood up and yawned. "Now that was a good story." he said as if it was a fantasy. "But I think you are doing the right thing," he added, "Serapae is wise, and unlike the other koalas he doesn't spend his time fighting the Koalas. Us black bears never fight, we are happy to live simple lives in the southern forest. I am Ithral. Now, when you are ready I will guide you to the path. You are only two days from Serapae."
   After that he gave them some berries in a broad leaf tied with grass and a small jar of honey. He led them back to the trail further on from where the snakes were. 
   "Goodbye," he said at last, "Maybe I will see you again in better times."
   "Thank you for getting rid of those snakes for us," Konna replied, "We wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for you." 
   Then they left to continue their journey with renewed strength and determination. The next two days were relatively easy, and the path led straight in the right direction. The gifts from Ithral were more than enough, and they met no more danger. 
   Finally they arrived at the wooden gates of the koala village. They were immediately met by two suspicious looking koalas. "What do you want?" the asked.
   "Serundae sent us," Kanna replied, "We are here to see Serapae." Then she handed him the slab of wood that Serundae had written the note for them on.
   After reading it one of them said, "Follow me." and the gates were slowly opened by some koalas standing on the wall. The were led across a flat plain forest floor with large trees growing on it. There were no houses, but there were signs of homes in the trees and koalas staring down from them. They were curiously watched the whole way. After about half an hour the trees and floor became bright green. They started walking uphill through the soft grass. Then, standing at the to of the hill was a koala, taller than the rest. He was dressed in silver and brown and held a straight white staff. He looked much more like Serundae than the other koalas.
   "Welcome, Konna and Kanna." he said in a plain, clear voice.

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