Note: This excerpt appears here in the original, unedited form it took in the second draft of Aza (remember, I wrote this when I was twelve). The karkatoosh no longer appears in the final draft of the book, neither does the hole in the cavern floor. They were removed because the karkatoosh didn’t add to the overall plot, and the hole in the floor was quite literally a plot hole.
Aza turned and quickly walked to the hole. A sound behind her made her turn. Aza gasped.
A huge beast was shuffling towards her. Its body was covered with thick, brown hair, and on top of its head huge ears swiveled around and picked up sound from the cavern.
How had it suddenly appeared? Aza gulped as she saw its eyes. They were milky and blind, just like all the animals of the cave. It had whiskers that were so long they brushed the rock floor around it. A bushy tail, the envy of any fox, slid over the ground.
The beast’s mouth opened and a deep growl made the cavern throb with sound. It shuffled towards her and Aza watched frozen with fear as it gave the lake a wide birth.
A hissing sound came from the lake and Aza could see a line of the strange fish straining for the beast.
Aza didn’t know how she knew, but she could feel the beast’s unhappiness coursing through the air like a rich scent. It wanted her to stay.
Aza’s breath caught painfully in her throat. She felt backward for the hole, but she couldn’t find it. The beast advanced closer. Aza turned and dove into the hole. She landed hard on the ground. Aza gave one last glance at the dark cavern above before she picked up her pack and ran as fast as she could, wincing as he leg throbbed with pain.
Aza could care less, though. She just wanted to put as much space as she could between her and the cursed cavern.
When Aza had left the beast sadly sniffed the air. Aza was truly gone. It could hear the hissing sound coming from the fish. They were retences, it was a karkatoosh. The karkatoosh slowly walked over to the hole where Aza had escaped from. It started to re-pile the stones on it.
This karkatoosh was a Ray Karkatoosh. They were guardians of the retences’ lake. Guarding it from the Kran.
Its ancestors had also guarded the lake. It was an honor, but there were certain rules they had to follow. They were forbidden to catch the fish which they normally ate, they couldn’t be near any other karkatoosh, and they couldn’t leave the cavern.
The Ray Karkatooshes were blessed by only having to consume a little bit of food every few months. People normally fell into the cavern though. They eventually fished and got food for the karkatoosh.
There was only one catch to this brilliant plan. The people escaped, or they couldn’t stomach the fish. It eventually drove them crazy.
The karkatoosh sighed and having finished covering the hole it turned and walked back to its waiting spot. It carefully avoided the lake. The retences and the karkatoosh had a balance. The karkatoosh ate the retences and the retences ate the karkatoosh.
The fish whined and hissed for their favourite food, their tiny brains unable to grasp waiting. The karkatoosh could wait however. It had always waited. Now it would continue to wait, forever if it had to.