They dismounted the Dodo and thanked him for the ride. They also decided to call him “Toc-toc” and that he was a he.
“Toc-toc!” he said in a happy mood.
“Wow, I think he said you’re welcome!” said Tenzin
“Toc-toc” repeated the Dodo and nuzzled Tenzin on her chest.
“I think Toc-toc likes you after all,” said Ilan
Tenzin sighed and then the Dodo pushed Ilan in the direction of the cave to let them know they had to go that way now.
“Thanks for everything,” said Ilan a last time before Toc-Toc disappeared into the forest.
“Cool dude that bird…” said Tenzin
Ilan shook her head indulgently.
The entry of the cave was carved as an arched door and when they stepped inside, all went pitch black.
“I hear water, Tenzin, do you?”
“Yep, it sounds like a waterfall,” said Tenzin
“Here, let’s hold hands together so we don’t get lost, I can’t see anything!” said Ilan now nervously.
They held hands and walked slowly, and with their hands that were left free they were touching the walls on both sides. The walls were cold and wet and the floor was slippery. After a few metres they saw a light at the end of the tunnel and they could see much better in the dark. Then Ilan thought that it was kind of strange that she was feeling nervous, but not scared.
“It’s funny,” said Tenzin out loud “I’m nervous but I’m not scared at all.”
“My thoughts exactly,” replied Ilan.
Now they stood in front of a big arched door, twice the size of the entrance of the cave, and on the inside the view was spectacular. A big hole pierced the roof of the cave letting the daylight come through. The light came down in several rays of sun and illuminated a small pool filled with underground water. They entered the chamber and stood before the pool.
“And now what?” said Ilan whilst staring at the pool.
“Drink?” Ilan frowned.
“Why not?” said Tenzin
Ilan thought it wasn’t such a bad idea, so while they kneeled they bent over the pool and collected in their palms some water, and drank.
Then in the pool appeared an image. It was a person; A woman. And she said “Friends, oh friends, you’ve come to the end of the journey, of this journey. “
“Who are you?” asked Ilan “What is your name?”
“My name, is Mika, and I’m your inner guide. In other words, it’s me who’s been guiding you all the way,” said the mysterious woman’s reflection in the pool.
“What do I do now, is that really the end of everything, of my journey?”
“It is the end of this journey, there will be more, but now you must say good-bye to Tenzin and jump in the pool to rejoin the Guild Halls.”
“Will I see Tenzin again?” asked Ilan.
“You will find all your answers at home, and at the Guild Halls, now you must leave the island…”
“I don’t like to say good bye, Tenzin,” said Ilan whilst she held Tenzin against her chest, hugging each other.
“Then say see you later, for I am sure that we will see each other soon again.”
“Then see you later, Tenzin” said Ilan trusting Tenzin’s words. And she jumped into the pool.
Tenzin stood there a moment, staring into the pool and said her last words to Ilan.
“See you later, indeed”
And she disappeared as if by magic.
The Dodo carried them a long way through the forest, through palm tree groves and big fields of green grass. Ilan and the otter remained silent all the way because it looked like the bird did know where it was going. Never before, neither of them had ridden a Dodo before, not even a bird, so they fully gave themselves to the experience. Ilan thought of the whole adventure she’d been through with Tenzin, and a smile appeared on her face whilst she bounced on the Dodo’s back. Tenzin herself was grateful that the journey had given her a voice to talk with Ilan, her dearest of dearest humans. Then their thoughts became synchronistic, but this, only I know. A deep secret remained between them, and a sacred but invisible circle was drawn around their friendship. They thought in that moment, although they didn’t share that thought, that the essence of their friendship was indestructible and would never be broken till the end of time.
Then the bird stopped, and in front of them, a cave. A dark cave.
“Hey…” said Ilan “Hello? Can you talk?”
The bird jumped, froze and opened its eyes like two big plates. It stood there for at least 30 seconds, doing nothing, just staring at them.
“I think we froze him…her…it,” whispered Tenzin
“I think it’s a dodo… you know, they declared them extinct,” Ilan whispered back.
Ilan didn’t know what to do, so she touched the bird’s head, softly. Always softly she thought.
The dodo jumped and looked at them in a more normal way, if that bird could look like normal at all… and it said “Toc toc!!!”
“See? It was the door…I mean, the bird that did that,” said Tenzin
“Toc-Toc-Toc” said the dodo with a really cute voice
“You can only say that?” asked Ilan with a desperate look on her eyes
“I bet the bird can say more tocs…” answered Tenzin and burst out laughing.
The Dodo looked at Tenzin and this time it was bright, “Toooooooc-Toc-Toc-Toooooooc-Toc-Tooooc-Toc-Toooooooc!!!”
“BLIMEY!!!! Now that is so elaborated!!!” said the otter
“Aw, Tenzin, you’re offending it!”
“Ok, look Ilan, we’re in middle of a desert, paradoxically, in an island that floats and moves around like a rocking boat, and now we’ve just found a strange bird that speaks erm… door language… can you think of a stranger situation?
“Actually….” answered Ilan
But Tenzin interrupted her “I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to ask him to carry us around!” said Tenzin whilst joking.
“Actually…” said Ilan whilst looking at the otter letting her know she was being unpolite again, “Yes, yes… that’s what I was going to ask the bird.”
“See? I knew it!” said Tenzin “What?! You mean it?!”
Ilan approached the creature and asked nicely “Dear creature, whoever you are, would it be possible for you to carry us around? We would like to visit the….”
Sooner said than done, the dodo slipped himself under Ilan and Tenzin and before they could realize they were riding it; the dodo disappeared into the forest.
When they reached the shore they noticed that the island was indeed, moving, floating with the current.
“Let’s walk along the shore,” said Ilan trying to recover the balance at each second that passed. “Whoa, this thing is rocking like a boat.”
They walked and while they walked they heard some really strange noise, like a knock on the door, but it sounded somewhat far from where they were. “Did you hear that, Tenzin?”
“You mean the toc-toc thingie? Ow, I thought it was my brain playing funny tricks…”
“Hahaha! Well, either it’s something out there, or we both have gone nuts…!”
But the “knock on the door” became clearer as they walked along the shore. Now they could see some rocks and a silhouette appeared on the horizon. It was walking towards them, and it sounded like the mysterious knock on the door became even clearer to them. “It must be it, the toc-toc thingie… but how strange!” said Tenzin.
A few metres later they met with a dodo, a noble creature, although to them, then, it looked like completely ridiculous.
Ilan held her breath whilst she embraced Tenzin by the neck with her arms. At that point the otter took the plunge and dived as fast as Ilan’s weight allowed it, which was quite fast. That’s what Ilan thought anyway. She wanted to shout and express how happy she was feeling at that moment to Tenzin, but she couldn’t say anything under the water, so she just trusted her dear friend and went with the flow. She discovered that she was good at holding her breath so she closed her eyes and felt the water on her face. Hot, cold, lukewarm, and cold again. Ilan started feeling a bit dizzy for the lack of air and so she tapped Tenzin softly on her side, and the otter immediately surfaced.
“Wow, that was…that was… I have no words!”
“Why, thank you,” said Tenzin shyly, and added “I knew you’d like it.”
“Are you kidding? I LOVED it! I think I haven’t felt so good for such a long time, except for when I ride Shobogenzo.”
Whilst she pronounced her horse’s name, her face darkened and Tenzin felt sorry for her.
“Hey, don’t worry now, I’m sure it won’t be long till you see him again.”
“You’re so good to me, Tenzin. I can’t imagine myself alone in this adventure, without you.”
While they were talking they felt something moving in the bottom, a sort of whirlpool was forming under their feet and all of a sudden a whole island appeared popping up out of the water like a safety boat and floated with the current, away from them.
“Quick, Ilan! We must reach the shore of this island!” said Tenzin
“May I?” asked Ilan pointing at her furry back.
“Just my thought…” said Tenzin with a cheeky grin on her face
And that’s how they reached the strange island just on time before it slipped away from them forever.