Gravakhan & the Hole in the World

Gravakhan was walking through the sorghum fields when he came across a giant pond, deep and blue.  It seemed so deep that it appeared as though it were a hole in the world.  As he stood and pondered this giant pool, a large, whiskered catfish appears from the depths and swam to the edge where Gravakhan stood contemplating.

She said, “Would you like to swim to the other side of the world?  It lies at the bottom of this pool.”

Gravakhan pondered this for a minute, but before he could reach a decision on his own, the catfish jumped up and swallowed him.  The catfish then started to dive into the pool until the surface was just a speck.  Gravakhan found the catfish’s stomach a bit cramped, but he fit in there nonetheless.

In these times, it was not uncommon for talking catfish to transport people around in their bellies.  Such circumstances are rarely found today.

Gravakhan crossed his legs and began to hum, wondering what might be found at the other end of the Hole in the World.  Would it be animals with six legs and four eyes?  Would there be people who had faces in their torsos?  Would there be trees that grew jewels and rocks that produced juicy pink fruit?

 From the catfish’s translucent belly, he could observe luminescent creatures of the deep darting back and forth, avoiding bubbles from the catfish’s wake.  He pondered the life of creatures that existed in darkness and must expend so much energy to illuminate the world around them.  He felt a certain gratitude for his life on the surface, where the sun and moon brought light to his day and night without asking for anything in return.  He asked forgiveness from the Gods for the times he cursed the darkness.

 Gravakhan meditated on this for a while, when suddenly all the creatures around him disappeared with a gurgle and a flash.  The water was completely dark, and he noticed that the catfish had stopped swimming as well.  Gravakhan listened intently for a moment, and was about to open his mouth to ask the catfish what had happened when unexpectedly a bright white light shone in front of them, surrounded by what appeared to be glowing filaments.  Gravakhan squinted, and realized the shining object was a face, with rather smooth, yet distinct, features.  The glowing filaments were tentacles, each lined with wriggling suckers.  Gravakhan could not observe the catfish’s face from his vantage point, but since he now dwelled in its guts, he could sense a mixture of fascination and fear from his piscine host, such being an advantage of dwelling inside another living being.

The dark eyes on the shining face shrank to narrow slivers, and Gravakhan heard a low rumble followed by a basso-profundo voice that asked a single question:

Who passes here in my realm?

The deep voice was more felt than heard.  The catfish jerked backwards a bit, the fear and curiosity now mixed with surprise.  Her whiskers twitched a bit as it responded:

I am a catfish, bringing the Great Warrior Gravakhan through the Hole in the World so that he may command his army of chariots and paladins.

Gravakhan was a bit surprised to hear this, as he was not by any stretch of the imagination a warrior.