"Amazing stuff," Hiret stated, while gazing at finely carved statue of a number of flowers.
"Another robust meal. Love this journey. At the moment anyway," said Emmer.
The crew sat around the fire pit singing and telling jokes with the locals.
"We just need to make it from here to those huts," Cree said in an obviously intoxicated voice.
"Yap. Not far," Emmer began laughing.
Soon they were all laughing, even the locals.
By the mornings light, the crew new the night before had been a big mistake.
"I'm going to die," said Cree.
"Beat ya there," said Hiret.
"Oh no. Here comes travel guide guy," said MB.
"First meal. Then we go," he said.
After a minimal meal, they were off and away. Although slowly.
"There seems to be a lot of critters somewhere in those trees," said Semma.
"Is this Upala thing making any of those noises?" Hiret asked the guide.
"No. Upalas only speak in soft low voices," the guide replied.
They walked for several hours before resting in a clearing where several creatures feeding on the abundant plant life.
"Is the climate always this nice?" Semma asked.
"Most time. First part rain all time," the guide answered.
They sat eating their lunch, swatting at an occasional insect, and gazing at a herd of brightly colored animals browsing on knee high grass.
"Something is coming down the hill," proclaimed Semma.
The guide glanced in the general direction.
"Upala," he said, adding, " Move little. He come and share food."
The crew sat starring into the jungle.
"Are you shore it won't hurt us?" MB asked.
"No." the guide replied.
"What!" Hiret said in a high-pitched voice.
"Not know." the guide side looking over his shoulder.
The crew stopped eating, and began looking around.
"There," said the guide pointing to large dark object standing a few yards away.
Slowly the Upala lumbered toward the group.
"Come," the guide said to the Upala. He motioned to that he would share his food.
The crew quickly added their remaining lunch to the pile.
"My! He is big," said Cree.
"He is very smelly as well," said Emmer.
The Upala stopped at the offering.
"Good," it said in a very low and forceful voice. It ate some of the food and then turned to the guide. You," the Upala said, motioning to the sky, and moving his finger across it indicating he remembered the guide from an earlier time.
"Yes," the guide replied.
The Upala motioned to the crew.
"They are going there," the guide said pointing to the mountains in the distance.
"Long," the Upala said. It stared at the mountain. Finally, it looked back to the crew.
MB slowly moved toward the Upala. The Upala stood up, and walked over to Semma and Emmer ignoring MB.
"No see," the Upala said indicating it had never seen a Rinthian.
Semma and Emerr sat very still while the Upala poked Emerr in the stomach with his finger.
"No talk?" the Upala asked.
"They talk. They afraid. They not see Upala," the guide slowly and softly.
The Upala laughed, and rubbed his hand over his face.
"My name is Cree. Do you have a name?" Cree asked.
"Mog," said Mog.
"Do you have a village?" asked MB.
Mog pointed to the forest, "My village," Although he had difficulty with village.
"By," said Mog as he waved and eased his way into the trees.
"My, my. That was stimulating," said Semma.
"Yes indeed. I will admit to being most impressed," said Trent.
The guide jumped up.
"Box talked," he said with surprise.
"Oh. It's connected to my brain. It's a communication device for when I can't speak," said Cree.
The guide cast a suspicious gaze at Cree, and started to walk up the path.
"Come. Go now," he said.
They walked away from the clearing gazing into the wall of greens hoping to catch another sight of the Upala.
That night they laid their sleeping mats on the bushes they trampled. Sleep was replaced with a semi consciousness do to the rather large of crawling things, and perhaps worse, scurrying around.
"Trent, someday I hope you appreciate this," said Cree as she plucked crawling things off her leg.
They eat a prepackaged meal, and wondered into the jungle once again.
By the end of the day, they could smell the strong metallic odor emanating from the red swamp of Saphray.
"Camp here. Closer smell bad. No sleep," said the guide.
With the remain light, the guide and Hiret clime a few trees and knocked down some fresh fruit.
"These are great little things," MB said as she stuffed small blueish berries in her mouth till her checks where bulging.
"They are willies berries," said the guide.
"What do you call these?" said Semma holding up a long cylindrical thing.
"Bukka," replied the guide.
"It doesn't look very tasty," said Semma as she went to take a bite.
"Stop!" shouted the guide, "That not food, it Bukka!" he added waving his arms like a bird.
"I think he is indicating it is a chrysalis," Hiret said with a grin.
"Umm. If you're not going to eat it, pass it over here," said Emmer.
"You're kidding?" quizzed Cree.
"Lots of nourishment in this type of food," said Emmer.
"Why do I think he's not kidding," said Trent.