Beryl had a hard time convincing Arnold the cat-head of anything. Arnold doubted Beryl’s claim that they had once been the same, but after talking about their parents the head was willing to ‘play along with this game.’
“So if you were me, how exactly did we each get here and why?”
“I don’t know.” Beryl admitted. “Zaros gave you to me. I was hoping you would know more about it than myself.”
“A hermit who has spent the last six years eating his own toenails knows more about what is going on than I do right now.”
Beryl had been afraid of that, but nodded in acceptance. “What do you know then? The last thing you remember?”
Arnold paused for a minute considering the question. He looked deep in thought in his coffin that rested on the rounded roof. Beryl steadied it as the ship swayed as they slightly changed direction.
“I remember living in Babbage…things start to get vague after the first few months…I remember hating pie.” Beryl purred, fondly remembering the night he had begun that insane vendetta on a foodstuff. He barely heard a distant rumble growing louder.
“The very last thing before screaming at the darkness, smashing about in a coffin that was tossed around like a burning-hot potato, and challenging the universe to do its absolute worst; I think I was standing in front of a madman daring him to just get it over with.”
Beryl nodded in understanding. That meant Arnold didn’t know anything about this dream-like place or how dangerous it could be. For now that was probably for the best.
The churning noise that carried through the water was getting louder, and Beryl thought it best to look out the front window to make sure they were not destined to be ground into atoms by the Piermonts deadly gears. There was nothing he could see through the water, not even marine life which was fortunate as the Wiggyfish here walked the Earth like Deep Ones.
Beryl looked up at Tepics instruments and tried to remember what caused the ship to steer up and down. He pulled on it and felt the ship tilt downward.
Arnold’s coffin slipped backwards, and there was a dull ‘ow’.
“I might be mistaken,” Arnold said from his position as Beryl changed the direction, “It seems that since we’re upside down then all the controls are reversed now, aren’t they?”
Beryl put a foot down as Arnold slid towards the entrance while the submarine rose towards the surface. Already Beryl could see the light on the surface getting closer.
The submarine surfaced, but the glass was still under the water which limited Beryl’s vision. He would have to get out, or flip the vessel.
“Hang on, Arnold,” Beryl said, ignoring the cat-head’s protests as Beryl tried to unsuccessfully flip the vessel from within.
The churning sound was getting louder and Beryl thought it best to abandon the interior. He took Arnold’s still protesting head and jumped into the cold water, pausing only to say “Hold your breath.”
Beryl clung to the side of the ship and crawled out on top of it carefully with his claws. He pulled the wet feline head of Arnold out as it spluttered indignantly.
Beryl shook himself and then finally saw what was making that churning noise in the water. They were in the hills just before the Fells, heading for the mill.
The structure was much larger here, spanning seven stories tall and composed of sharp edges that looked dangerous despite being wooden. The water turned white as it was funneled by two wooden walls, lined with teeth like protrusions, towards a spinning screw-blade.
Arnold let out a dismayed shriek that paled to the sound of the screw and the rapids, but Beryl relaxed somewhat. He noticed an easy way to avoid getting caught in the mills trap. Though the river was much wider than the one in Babbage, the mill was still on land. If he jumped towards the wooden sides he could latch on and escape easily onto the wood.
He couldn’t make the jump with Arnold though. There was only one way to get him across safely as well.
“Good luck, Arnold!” Beryl shouted as he tried to stand on the unsteady vessel which rocked savagely as the river turned to rapids.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING! WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘GOOD’ LUCK!? I’M THE UNLUCKIEST-” Arnold finished in a scream as Beryl threw his head past the mills walls and towards the safety of the ground.
Beryl threw with all his strength and weight behind it, falling to his feet afterwards. He didn’t see where Arnold landed, but he heard reassuring shouts of complaint resounding from the other side.
He was well into the mills teeth lined jaw now, but he soon leaped towards the walls lined with the sharp wooden teeth.
It wasn’t until he jumped that he finally understood how weak his captivity had made him. He had hoped to leap on top of the wall and make a neat drop to the ground below. Beryl barely caught the edge of the side. He clung to the sharp edge, digging in his claws and thanking luck that he hadn’t fallen onto one of the teeth.
Beryl turned and witnessed the Swimming Vole as it sped towards its final destruction. It was broken into splinters that he couldn’t recognize in a matter of seconds.
Beryl took a few deep breaths and slowly pulled himself up, and dropped down to the ground below.
There was no sign of winter any longer, beyond a cool breeze that made the wet feline shiver. He wondered how long he had been a prisoner if the thaw had come while he was gone. He tried not to consider it too seriously as he stretched and looked for Arnold’s head.