Yeti enjoys a meal of foliage. Pat Dahn, 2018.
In a narrow pass toward the southern foothills of the Himalayas is a little patch of green and white and magenta where the sun peeks through the cragged tectonic rock and drifting snow. It’s in this little patch where a wild garden of flowers brought a dash of color to the black and white landscape.
It had been a few hours of sliding and scampering away from the monastery when Tom and Phineas turned a corner in a shoulder width section of the pass to see the shockingly colorful patch of blossoms. They weren’t alone in their admiration of the foliage, as tiny as it was, as the Yeti was standing at the other end of the path, panting with its eyes glazed over. It stood with its shoulders slumped over, arms dangling to its knees, not noticing the two men just beyond the patch.
“Stop…” Tom said. In that moment, Phineas couldn’t move if he had wanted to as the shock of seeing the shaggy white beast hit him like a sledgehammer to the chest.
“Erp…” Phineas sputtered for his words.
“Get back,” Tom spoke in a hush as he pulled Phineas behind the corner of the pass, hiding behind the rocky walls just enough to peak an eye out at the Yeti.
“I… I still have flash bombs, we can scare it away and be on our way,” Phineas said.
“Just watch,” Tom said.
“I saw in the pamphlet that he’s afraid of fire--” Phineas said.
“Wait, just watch,” Tom said.
Their hearts raced as the Yeti lumbered in their direction slowly. Step by step of the beast, more perspiration beaded on their brows. Phineas reached in his coat to touch his flash bomb just to know it was there if the Yeti suddenly lurched toward them. Then, the towering white beast stopped, looking down near its feet and flopped down to its knees. As it picked the flowers the men stopped breathing. One by one the Yeti picked all of the flowers in the only patch of land for miles that wasn’t covered in snow. It bundled the flowers in a bouquet, tilted its head in admiration and gave the oddest noise. It was was bit of a low rumbling purr mixed with a high weaze and an unsettling slurping of saliva. With it held the stems of the bouquet with one hand, and gently tickled the magenta and white petals with the tips of the fingers on the other. Then, it stopped. Something clicked in its eyes as if it had woke up from a dream. Its pupils dialated to saucers and saliva foamed from the corners of its mouth. With a snarl it preceded to violently devour the flowers in a puff of fur and petals. When the flowers were gone, the Yeti turned and ran in the opposite direction of Tom and Phineas. That was the last either one of them ever saw of the beast.
“How is it you found yourself here?” A middle aged man with a salt and pepper beard and matted blonde hair sat himself next to Tom in the temple square of a small village in the foothills.
“You wouldn’t believe me,” Tom said.
“Try me,” the man said.
“What if I told you that two months ago my companion and I escaped a monastery in the mountains after a monster killed a team of explorers,” Tom said.
“You too?” the man smiled.
“You don’t believe me, I don’t blame you,” Tom chuckled.
“Huh, the prophecy was early. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” the man said.
“How do you know--”
“I escaped six years ago,” the man said.
“But no one escapes!” Tom said.
“You did. And I wasn’t the first. Or second. Or third. There are a lot of us here.” the man gave a welcoming smile.
“Us?” Tom said.
“Yes, ‘us.’ Escaped wizards from the monastery, magical people from here in Nepal, and even non-magical travelers who have come in search of something beyond the non-magical world, whether they knew they were looking for it or not,” the man said.
“Wait, this isn’t in another monastery, is it? I can’t go through living by the rules of another prophetic book with a shoddy record of accuracy,” Tom said.
“No, no, no, no, no… No kind of Book of Cards, no affiliation with the ministry, no hierarchy based on families or class or intimidation. The Zorlax Society abandoned all of those trappings over a hundred years ago to fulfill the dreams of a magical research utopia long forgotten by the Wizarding community,” the man said.
“Zorlax Society?” Tom said.
“Hmm,” the man was distracted.
“As in Miriam Zorlax?” Tom said.
“Yes, yes… Didn’t you say the Yeti killed the explorers? Has news spread to the non-magical world?” The man was worried.
“Never mind that,” Tom said. Phineas returned from the cafe from the other end of the square with two scalding hot cups of tea.
“Um, hello there, who--?” Phineas said.
“Ah yes, I never introduced myself. Bjorn Fangslaad, I too am a wizard,” Bjorn outstretched a hand to Phineas, “do you know how it is that the rescuers didn’t spread the news to the world of the Yeti massacre?” Turning his attention to Phineas.
“Oh my goodness! You wouldn’t believe it. We stumbled into the rescuers when we were just a day away from here and Tom--,” Phineas said.
“Ugh, that’s okay, you don’t have to,” Tom interrupted.
“It was incredible, I don’t think Tom knew he had it in him,” Phineas couldn’t be stopped, “I don’t think he knew what he was doing. He suddenly created an image for the rescuers, creating a new memory for them of the exploration team’s frozen bodies at the bottom of a cliff as though they had a terrible climbing accident. But somehow with that image he also created a feeling in the rescuers of fear for the mountain, making them terrified to ever come back for other explorations. He created a nightmare of the mountain that will keep them and their kind away from the mountain for quite some time.”
“Is this true?” Bjorn asked Tom.
“It is, and I regret it.” Tom said.
“But you have so much magic in you that you had no idea that you had possessed!” Phineas was excited.
“Yes, but I have contributed to the tyranny of the ministry by allowing it to stay secret. It has been successful because of me and the ministry will turn a blind eye as long as they keep the Yeti from the world.” Tom said.
At that moment, an owl hopped up to the three men with a tiny scroll in its mouth. Bjorn raised an eyebrow and looked at the seal on the scroll.
“It’s from the ministry,” he said. “It seems they’ve found us and they have something to say.”
“Is it about us?” Phineas worried.
“No, it is about another pair from the monastery,” Bjorn turned the unfurled scroll to Tom and Phineas to show the wanted posters for Slee and Chervil.