- Chiara Shih
The Legends of Erebus Part 2: Adventures
What has happened so far:
Emalia has escaped from the clutches of the Graves family for now, and is with her friends. They had stolen a ship in the shipyard, and put it together to form the Argos II. They agreed to go on a quest to find the twin daggers of night and day. The daggers are rumored to be hidden in the Aether Mountains, but it won’t be a smooth journey. They will have to travel far across the lands, searching for help, and evading the dark forces that have been pursuing them since they were born.
Jacen Nixon: Shapeshifter, Funny, Logical
Emalia Wolffe: Conjuror, Curious, Street-Smart
Nathaniel Albans: Telekinetic, Smart-and-boy-does-he-know-it, Sarcastic, Dry
Sander Ember: Weather Monger, Temperamental, Hot-headed
Lydia Kirk: Clairvoyant, Far off, The Reasoner
Chapter 1: Sail
Jacen sat on the deck of the ship, watching Erebus slowly drift away from the horizon. Open water lay ahead of them, and it would be a few days before they reached the first island.
He spotted Emalia reading the maps with Sander. He walked over, and sat on the deck. Emalia looked up. “Well Jace, in a few days, we will reach Nereus, and then Hypnos; and followed by some open sea for a while, with the Nesoi archipelago, with Silvanus as a pitstop, with it’s twin island Aeolus, before reaching the isle of Epiales, where the Aether mountains are. There are two mining islands along the way, named Pluton, and Plutos.” Emalia looked at him, and Jacen nodded. He had always had an affinity with the sea.
“We don’t know much about them, so we will have to wait till we arrive there to check it out.” finished Sander.
“How do we know which islands are not followers of the Graves?” asked Nathaniel, who had just sat down beside Sander.
“We will just have to wait till we see for ourselves,” sighed Jacen. He looked towards the horizon once more. The sun nearly disappeared over the sea. The soft peachy pink mingled with the glow of orange. He yawned. “I’m going to bed,” he announced. The four of them nodded, and told Jacen he could go, and they would follow.
He sat on his hammock, and Jacen pulled out a small mechanical cube on a chain. He fiddled with it, until a pleasing click rang out. He held it tight in his hands. It always gave him comfort whenever he needed it, and he knew how to make all the pieces click. His parents had made it for him as a toddler. Today it had caused him pain. It reminded him of the parents that he had lost to the Graves. That evil family. They had ruined so many Talents, for not siding with them. Jacen found it hard to believe they were distantly related. Jacen closed his eyes. The pain he felt was unbearable. Like icy daggers stabbing his heart. Tearing it to bits. Jacen rolled over, and tried to fall asleep.
Chapter 2: Dreams
Jacen tossed and turned in his bed. It was a fitful sleep. His dream at first was a vivid image that felt so real. It was of his first time shapeshifting; his parents excited voices, his happiness, and his fun amusement. The downside was that he had turned into a donkey. But then it moved on. Important moments of his life filled his dream, until eventually he imagined a building, with a great glass dome filled with flames. His parents’ screaming voices rang through his head like a bell, and then suddenly he felt like yowling.
He jerked upwards. His eyes opened, and his mind was racing. Jacen breathed a sigh of relief, but also a flash of fear. What if the Graves could send images in minds? He had heard of those people, it was in his mothers tales. Jacen checked his watch his parents gave to him. 1:00 a.m.
He walked outside onto the deck, carefully trying not to awake the others. It wasn’t a big ship, just a sailboat. Jacen sat on the deck, and watched the moon, the waves lapping gently against the white wood. It was a calm sea, and Jacen felt at home. He looked up towards the stars as they glittered across the open expanse of sea. Suddenly, he felt somebody tapping his shoulder.
Chapter 3: Conversation
“Hey!” A familiar voice popped up behind him. It was only Nathaniel.
“You scared me,” Jacen replied, truthfully.
“I saw you leaving the cabin room. You jerked upwards, and then quickly left the room,” said Nathaniel.
“Anything you want to talk about?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing,” Jacen said hurriedly. He didn’t want to get Nathaniel involved.
“Ah! Why did the fish blush?”
“I dunno,” Nathaniel responded, waiting for the joke.
“Because he saw the ocean's bottom!” Jacen laughed. Nathaniel rolled his eyes.
“No, I’m serious. Is there anything you want to talk about?” Nathaniel pressed on, Jacen sighed.
“Well, there is this dream that I’m having. It’s a replay of my life, and some important parts of it so far, but it always ends badly, with the death of my parents.” Jacen closed his eyes.
“Well, don’t let it get to you. It’s just a dream, don’t let it affect who you are.” Nathaniel tried to give Jacen some advice. Jacen smiled, and they lied on their backs, watching the stars, the waves lapping against the boat softly.
Chapter 4: Ocean
The next day, when dawn broke, Jacen jumped up. He had fallen asleep on the deck. Nathaniel was already on the other side of the boat, and strangely, the boat was moving.
Nathaniel must have seen the shock on Jacen’s face, as he hollered, “Telekinesis, nothing much!” Jacen grinned, as Sander’s tiny head poked out of the cabin door.
Sander waved, as a gust of wind dejectedly breezed about, stirring the boat. “Sorry, just early morning tiredness,” he yawned.
Emalia and Lydia exited the cabin soon after, and were reading minds, and conjuring birds, that disappeared when Emalia playfully snapped her hands. They looked at Jacen, because he hadn’t done anything yet.
Jacen knew how to make a really good display. He quickly plotted the idea in his head. All of a sudden, Jacen turned into an osprey, and burst into the sky, twirling around, before diving into the ocean. Under the water, he became a barracuda, dashing around. He had never transformed underwater, and this new feeling was amazing. All he had to do was take in water, and he would be going. Down there it wasn’t as deep as he thought it was. Green kelp spurred everywhere, with little orange fish. He burst out of the water into the air again, and landed on the deck of the boat. Everybody applauded, and Jacen mimed bowing. This caused a ripple of laughter.
“Wait, what’s that over there?” Lydia spotted a turquoise splodge in the distance. Jacen turned into a falcon, and darted sleekly towards the speck. Jacen had always enjoyed the feeling of flight, it made him feel free, and he often wished that he could stay a bird forever. He could be a bird for hours on end, but never for longer than six hours, because he knew it was dangerous and could be stuck as the thing or animal forever. He wanted to learn how to increase his time limit and morph his features, but for now, this was fine.
Jacen got closer and closer. The turquoise splodge, becoming bigger and bigger. It turned out to be an island with great white cliffs and sprawling beaches. The waters were blue-green. There was a small town with brown roofs, and the grass on the cliffs were turquoise. Jacen dipped down, and with his enhanced vision, spotted a fish down below. Jacen dived, and caught it in his talons. “Hunting, now off my bucket list,” thought Jacen triumphantly. He swooped back and told the others about the fair sight.
“Guys! Look! That splodge we saw, is an island. I reckon it’s Nereus, but we need the book to confirm,” Jacen excitedly-halfpanted. Sander handed the hefty book to him, and the five of them dropped onto the deck. Jacen leaned against the steering wheel, and opened onto the maps. He traced their journey so far, and traced it to an island, not unlike the one he saw. “It’s Nereus!” Emalia exclaimed.
“Yes, but it’s a one and a half day journey to the small island on a boat like this,” sighed Lydia.
“Remind me, why are we sailing on a boat like this anyways?” asked Sander.
“We weren't thinking, we just needed to get away,” sighed Jacen. Lydia looked as if she suddenly remembered something.
“However, if we have good wind, we can reach it within a day.” Their heads turned towards Sander.
“Wha-- Why me?!” Sander exclaimed in an exasperated moan.
Chapter 5: Journey to Nereus
Nathaniel and Emalia pushed the small freckled boy towards the mast. They nodded, as Jacen and Lydia pulled the rope. Jacen thought it was tiring work, even for such a smallish boat.
When at last the sails were up, they left Sander to make his magic. Jacen, with some experience of sailing, held his thumbs up, as Sander wafted a large gust of wind towards the sails. Jacen suddenly remembered him and Mum, and Dad, sitting on a small boat, raising the sails, rowing. His heart ached with pain. “I will avenge your death,” he said in a small voice. Then, his voice grew steady and stronger. “I will.”
The boat was travelling at a steady pace. Not nearly as fast as a normal boat, but still better than before. They all began wondering where they could get food. “We could try the Supermarket!” joked Jacen. They rolled their eyes.
“Fishing?” suggested Nathaniel. This time all eyes went on Emalia.
“Hey, I can’t conjure food you know, it’s a rule.” They sighed, and thought for a while. “Hey, Jacen, what about you hunting?” Emalia at last said.
Jacen took this with careful consideration. Well, it wasn’t too careful. It only took the thought of that splash into the sea last time to say yes.
Jacen jetted into the air, climbing into the sky higher and higher. He launched himself into an osprey, again, knowing that he could hunt better, and dove down into the ocean.
Under the water, was green kelp shimmering. He could see a shoal of fish up ahead. Jacen knew he probably couldn't make it, if he was an air breather. He changed roughly, and not smoothly. It wasn’t like changing on land. He continued his way towards the fish, a darting barracuda. Jacen felt streamline. When he saw a largish fish, he decided that was the one. He kept his eyes on it, and dove towards it. Before he knew it, his jaws were clamped, and he was rising up, up, up. He turned again, into an osprey, with the fish in his feet. Jacen went back to the boat, and dropped it onto the deck. Very pleased with himself, he turned into a dog as a celebratory result.
Chapter 6: Nereus
It was late afternoon when they pulled up onto the beaches of Nereus. The first thing they noticed was the water. It was crystalline and as blue as a sapphire. There were fish swimming around, and rocks towards the end of the beaches.
Now he was closer, Jacen could see a town, gently tucked on the other side of the island. The boat drew nearer. They had entered the bay when Lydia and Nathaniel threw the anchor into the water.
Sander sank onto the deck. Jacen noticed his face had gone all red, and the feisty boy looked huffed up. Jacen hitched up his jeans, and jumped into the water. He didn’t bother to shape-shift, he was too tired. Jacen slowly swam up to the beach. The water was surprisingly shallow. The water was warm, and the sand soft.
Emalia and Lydia pulled up onto the beach laughing. They stood up on the sand and made their way across the beach. It stretched across one side of the beach. Nereus is beautiful! Thought Jacen inside his head.
When they arrived at the town, they saw the houses were on stilts, and were connected by wooden bridges. Lanterns hung from the roofs, giving off light like a cat’s eyes.
A few people sat on the side of the houses, one playing a soft tune on the pan pipes. They continued to walk. Jacen saw a few people, who felt distinctly similar to him. They seemed to have noticed them too. Jacen pulled out of the group, and walked towards a boy, not older than 15. A pulling question loomed in Jacens mind: Is he talented? “Umm, sir, I was wondering, would you be a descendant of Erebus, by any chance?” The boy laughed.
“In a way, I'm a descendant of Pontus. Erebus’s brother.”
Jacen felt his face go red. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Jacen stammered. Nathaniel, Sander, Emalia, and Lydia walked on over.
“Jace, anything wrong?” Lydia asked quizzically.
The youth laughed again. “I’m going to bet that these are other sons and daughters of Erebus?”
Sander’s eyes widened. “How do you know?”
“We Talented can see each other. That’s how your friend saw me.”
“What’s your name?” asked Sander, being his drilling self once more.
“Achilles,'' the youth answered. He seemed to find them interesting. People were curious now, and poked their head round their doors, and out the window.
“Talent?” demanded Sander.
“Shape-Shifting. A speciality of Nereus, Pontus’s son. Jacen choked.
“What? No Way. I can shapeshift.”
“Inter-breeding, something the gods did often. That’s why we’re mortals, not gods. Of course, we can live about 40 years above the average man, unless we’re murdered.” Emalia looked distinctly offended. “Come over to mine, we’ve got dinner,” Achilles said, joyfully.
Not wanting to disobey this boy, they followed Achilles to his house.
Chapter 7: Dinner
It was a small hut, but it was round, unlike the others. The six children stepped into the house, and looked around. There was a fire flickering gently in the corner, and a rug next to it. A bunk lay on the other side, and hams and onions hung from the ceiling.
“Mum! I’m back!” Achilles called. A woman sat in the corner, on a wooden stool, peeling potatoes.
“Hello, dear. Oh! You’ve brought guests!” She had hair, which was lightly blue and strong features. The woman had blue, blue eyes, the colour of the sea.
“Jacen has blue eyes like this,” Sander said sharply. Jacen sighed had no doubt that she was a child of Nereus, but she looked a tad bit like his mother.
“Did you fetch us a fish, Achilles?”
“Oh. Sorry Mum!”
The woman sighed. It felt a little clear that this happened a lot. Emalia spoke up.
“We have a fish on our boat!” Jacen elbowed her.
“Why did you say that?”
“Because we have a fish.”
“I’ll go fetch it,” Jacen sighed.
“Oooh, are you a Shape-Shifter?” the woman asked him.
She smiled, and Jacen turned into a seagull. He hopped onto the window, and flew off.
The journey was quick, and easy, and it was the last fading drops of sunset. It felt good to be out in the open air again. Jacen saw the fish lying on the deck. He zeroed in, and picked it up in his beak. He felt that the hosts wouldn’t want a fish in his toes. He flew back, and saw the house. Jacen remembered that it was a circular one, next to the sea.
He dropped the fish onto the floor, and turned back into a human. “Yuck, fishy mouth,” he murmured to Nathaniel while smacking his lips. Nathaniel stifled a laugh. Jacen found it weird that Nathaniel, who almost never laughed, was hiding this one. “Thank you,” the woman smiled at him. It reminded him of his mother. “You look a lot like her...” murmured the woman, but nobody heard. “Boys, can you roast the fish?” she asked Nathaniel, Jacen, Achilles and Sander. They obeyed, and put it into the fire on a pan. Emalia and Lydia helped to boil the potatoes and make a jam casserole.
After the fish was browning, Sander and Achilles pulled the fish out of the oven. “Looks nice!” Achilles said cheerfully. The seven people squished around a small table. Jacen realized he had been starving. He took a large hunk of the fish, and gobbled it down.
The woman began speaking. “I know why you are here, in fact, I know all of you. I have a talent for anything related to water. A bit like a weather monger. I can manipulate it, like my ancestors. I was named after one of Nereus’s 50 children, Amsthia. I was very good friends with your mother, Jacen. She was born here, yet unlike the rest of us, she was a child of Erebus and Nyx, though we were cousins, she was half us through her mother. She decided when she would grow older, she would trace her lineage, and go back to Erebus. The day came, and she sailed off. She met your father, and had you. I knew the day would come when you would follow in her footsteps, and continue the pursuit against evil. Your father was the same. They had wild ideas about finding the twin daggers.” Amsthia finished her story. “Do you have any idea how we can find it?” asked Lydia. “Yes, on the Aether mountains.” It’s a three month-long journey on a boat like yours.”
“Do you have any supplies?” asked Nathaniel.
“I’ll see what the town has for you,” Amsthia sighed. “If you’re looking for lodgings, try the town inn. It’s the one closest to the harbour.
“There’s a Harbour?” Jacen asked in disbelief.
“Of course,” said the astounded Amsthia. “It's just well hidden.”
“Thanks!” they bade good night to their hosts, and set off down the moat.
Chapter 8: Nereus’s Morning
The next morning, Jacen woke up in a yawn. It was the best sleep since the boat. The inn’s room was sparsely furnished, and if the windows were circular, it would have given you the impression that you were on a boat. The bed was as white as a polar bear.
Jacen slid into his shoes, and shook Sander and Nathaniel up. There was a small digital clock in the corner, which he checked. “6:03 AM.” Sander jerked up, his messy blonde hair poking everywhere. They were still wearing the clothes that they had worn yesterday, which were slightly soggy. Jacen wasn’t that hungry, after last night's meal.
Jacen looked out of the window. Down on the harbour (which was actually very small.), he could see Emalia and Lydia leaning on the side of the inn wall outside.
The three boys ran down the stairs, and jumped onto the wooden planked floor. The five of them walked over Achilles house, and found that the fire was already burning. Amsthia opened the door.
“Hello, dears. I was pondering your question, and we do have a small store which sells things to sailors. Not many people know about it. It’s on the other side of town, which is only a five minute walk from here if you were walking, and maybe three if you’re running.”
“Thanks!” they called. They ran across the planks. They discovered that as they went further into the town, the houses got sparser and sparser.
They eventually found a small, hidden beach, with a small shack. The beach was quiet, and the water lapped slowly against the sand. They peered into the shack. It was definitely a lot bigger than it looked from the outside. There was a cooker, a washing machine, a sink, a toilet, a sofa, and many other wonders that you would probably find in a house. Sander found a tray on the table that was labeled: Please pay onto the tray! Everything is one dollar, don’t ask us why it’s so expensive. Lydia spoke up.
“Do we have money?”
“I’ll check!” Jacen slid his hands into his pockets. He pulled out five 10 dollar bills, slightly soggy, and they grinned in relief. They decided Jacen, Nathaniel, and Sander would check for kitchen necessities. Lydia and Emalia would look for anything else they would need.
They scanned the shelves for bits and pieces, until they found a small amount of things that would keep them alive. Three small pots, one camping cooker, two lanterns, and an assortment of four jars. Towards the back, Emalia, Nathaniel, and Jacen spotted a piece of extremely yellowed parchment. They picked it up. Their eyes widened with shock. “LYDI! SANDER! CHECK THIS OUT!” screamed an excited Emalia.
“What?” They rushed over. Nathaniel read the parchment out loud.
Where covering all is night,
Darkness all about,
The ocean in view,
Earth, a rising mount
Sky, close you can touch,
Light, the child rises to the spot.
They all looked confused, and bewildered. “What does this mean?” Shrugs, and sighs. They all moved out of the store, and Jacen plopped a bill onto the tray.
They sat on the sand outside the shack, looking out towards the sun. Emalia conjured up a map, and pointed to where they were. “We are currently right… Here.” She pointed to a beach, facing the Aether mountains. “The mountains are forward, over there.” They nodded.
The five children sat on the soft sand, for a while, watching the waves lap against their feet. It was cooling, and relaxing. They hummed old tunes, and when the sun began to rise at midday, they held their things in their hands, and made their way back to Achilles, and Amsthia’s house. She smiled at them, her sea blue eyes echoing.
Suddenly, dark thoughts spurred into their minds, as they came back to the reason why they went off to Nereus. They sucked in their breath, Emalia wincing and Jacen spoke. “Has anybody arrived here recently?”
“Yes, a large boat that crossed here a week ago. Personally, I didn’t see it, but the gossip went round for a while. Speed boat. Looked like it belonged to some mining company. Why?” Achilles spoke.
“What did it look like?” Sander said.
“I told you. We didn’t see it,” Achilles said, tightly. “Mum felt like there was some evil in it.”
Amsthia nodded, and suddenly looked weary. “You must continue with your journey, though I can see some troubles ahead. Don’t let my words stop you. I may be wrong. Find the daggers. Hurry up.”
“Mum, what’s the meaning of this?” said a shocked and bewildered Achilles.
“Achilles, it means that they have to go to the isle of Epiales. Nightmares.They are in search of the twin daggers of night, and day that have the power when combined to wake Erebus, and Nyx who will destroy all their evil children who reside in the city of Erebus.” She turned to the five children. “Go soon, or the dark forces will soon get to you. I am as well gifted with truth, meaning I cannot lie to you, and neither can Achilles. I have gifted him.”
They nodded. The happy mood seemed to be draining away faster, and faster.
Jacen’s head was filled with dark thoughts. Did the Graves know they were there? If they did, they would destroy the island of Nereus, and all that would come. He thought of Achilles, and his mother. Asthia turned away, her eyes filled with sorrow. She whispered. “Achilles' father. His father. The blood, the shock,” she shook her head. “Leave Tonight...”
Jacen looked grim. Achilles had lost a father. Jacen felt the pain of his parents again. He could sense that Emalia was too.
Chapter 9: Preparation to Leave
Nathaniel tried his best to hold everything in the air as they swam back to the boat. Jacen tried as an elephant, and Lydia got ghosts to hold the pots.
When they pulled onto the boat, Nathaniel's face was all red, and he tried to catch his breath. Their clothes were all wet, but they didn’t bother to dry them. They slumped into the deck and sighed. Nobody was talking for a while. Silently thinking, laying out plans, drawing maps, calculating. Jacen opened into his mind, and went over maps, and plans. Notes, schoolwork, memories.
Jacen’s mind racked itself. He needed to know what the message said. They needed to know what the message meant. What if the message was just some old piece. Jacen sighed, and opened his eyes. The others looked on in frustration. “What does the paper mean?” Sander let out with an exasperated sigh. Sitting still and thinking was not his comfort zone.
They sat in silence for a good 45 minutes, and when Sander decided that he could no longer sit still, he hopped up, and soon the rest followed.
“We better sort out the stuff on the boat,” said Emalia, in a matter of fact voice.
They agreed, and Jacen lifted the cooker down into the lower corner. They settled the kitchen materials into a snug corner, if you could call it that, near the door, next to the window. Since Emalia was a conjuror, she decided that they needed a few chairs.
“How come you didn’t conjure up the cooker, and pots and pans?!” groaned Sander.
“It’s too complex!” Emalia rolled her eyes. “I’m not powerful enough. Small bits of furniture, animals, and anything smaller are easier.”
She snapped her fingers, as three wooden chairs, and a carpet appeared. Jacen shook his head. He still couldn't get over the fact that his best friend could make things appear out of nowhere, just by thinking. Emalia smiled, as they settled down. The boat looked a little more homely.
Chapter 10: Leaving Nereus
As they got the mast ready, hoisted up the anchor, and cleaned the boat, making sure the Argos II was ready for it’s next journey. The sun dropped down lower, and the night started flooding in, they could see the figures of Achilles and Amsthia on the beach.
As quick as a flash, a giant albatross came flying down towards them, carrying a box. It dropped the box right down to the deck, and Achilles flapped his wings, and his beak was curved as if a grin. They waved, and Achilles did five circles around the boat, and winked. Jacen saluted, as the boat started up.
The boat pulled away from the island of Nereus, the star’s softly falling. They made a circle around to the beach that they had seen that day, and headed towards it. Jacen walked to the front of the boat, with a grinning Lydia at the wheel.
Somehow, the happy mood had spread, and they fell into the sky, the stars, blazing brighter and brighter. Nathaniel pulled up a map, and brought up a lantern. They could see an island, many, many miles ahead. A small label read on top.
“Hypnos.” Nathaniel read out loud.
Emalia, Sander, and Jacen surrounded him, with Lydia peering down. Nathaniel thrust his hand, and the book came zooming towards them. Sander caught it, and flipped to a page labeled Hypnos. They scanned the page.
Hypnos is an island, thirty miles off the nearest island, Nereus. It marks a boundary between the larger islands, and emptier ocean. It’s landscape is quite rocky, with the beaches being that of pebbles, instead of sand. It is located further northwards, and has evergreen forests. Not many are to live there, and It is significantly larger than Nereus, featuring a few timber villages. It has a strange shape, having one major island, and something that resembles a stone arm wrapped around its harbour. It is quite rich in iron, and dreamstone, which mixed together forms the “BlackWork” weapons, used by the primordial gods.
“This doesn't look too good…” murmured Lydia.
They all laughed.
“Of course it’s not! It’s pretty shady, but it has a bunch of wood,” Nathaniel said with a grin.
“Why would we need wood?” Jacen asked, worried.
“Patchups. The water is said to be rough,” Sander said, his blond hair beginning to look a little electrifying.
“Save us Nyx! Save us Erebus!” Moaned Emalia, grinning a cheshire cat grin at the same time.
Secretly, Jacen was groaning. Rocks, rough water. Just what they needed. Their stomachs all grumbled in unison. It sounded like many deflated balloons, at the Royal Albert Hall.
“Do we have food?” Nathaniel asked, being the rational one.
“What’s in the box first, I think we should ask,” Emalia said eagerly.
“You just want to see what’s inside,” Lydia sighed, and looked at the box hard. Suddenly, her voice became excited. “Open it! Open it!”
“Fine, Fine.” Nathaniel grabbed the box. Jacen, Emalia, and Sander followed him, as Nathaniel carried it into the cabin. As Nathaniel slowly opened the box, they could see a shimmer inside.
It was two large raw mackerel, a loaf of bread, a small set of fruits, and vegetables, followed by a puff pastry ham and onion, and a small box of finger bananas. “Wow!” Their eyes bulged in unison. “Thanks! We’d be left starving!” Sander said excitedly, as they pulled out a fish.
The mackerel was beautiful. It had glistening silvery blue scales, the colour of Nereus’s Sea, but most importantly, it was an excellent size. Emalia grabbed her BlackWork sword, and cut a steak.
“What does it look like?” Yelled Lydia, from the other side of the boat.
“Shiny! Em’s just cut a steak for us!” Jacen yelled back.
“Great! Be with you guys in a minute,” she yelled.
Jacen heard the loud splashing noise of the anchor, as Lydia jumped into the room.
“So?” she asked.
“Whaddya mean?” Emalia asked.
“Aren't you going to cook it?” Lydia said, cocking her head sideways, like a bird.
“Ohhhhh,” Jacen said, laughing loudly. He grabbed a pot, and stuck it on the cooker. They waited, and talked. Emalia jumped onto a chair, immediately. Emalia had a talent for being extremely nosy, and very curious, to Jacen’s eyes at least. Jacen and Emalia were the best of friends, and stuck together like “Grass to a cow!” as Jacen put it, and they cracked off laughing.
Jacen wondered out loud, “What do you think the coming islands will be like?” Everybody shrugged.
“Who knows. We see it when we come,” Emalia said, airily. They began cutting up the steak into five pieces. Jacen hungrily snatched his piece, and it went down his throat. He breathed in, and smiled. It tasted like what any good fish would taste like if it was caught on the day. A spurr of sleepiness covered his head. He yawned loudly, and trod off to bed.
Chapter 11: Mariner
The next week, Jacen found himself extremely busy, stuck between hauling up the anchor, and scouting around. They all developed a sort-of-routine, in which one of them would sail the night, and the rest would sleep. Jacen enjoyed pulling up the mast, and passing other boats, but he especially liked sailing. He had a natural talent, and enjoyed rushing over waves.
The water was mainly calm, and the wind was strong. They would often miss a meal. Jacen knew that every moment counted, if they were to beat the Graves to Epiales. Nathaniel would often read maps, and hold a compass. Sander became their power source, if anything went wrong, and the wind went dry, they would rely on Sander, who would tug the boat along, as if it was on a string. Emalia was in charge of navigation, and Lydia was pilot.
They enjoyed sailing, and plowing through the crisp blue sea, under a dreamy blue sky. They sailed onward bound, heading straight for Hypnos. They had read the chapter about Hypnos thoroughly, memorizing every little detail, chewing through the maps, but they still had a very unsettling feeling about Hypnos. Emalia and Sander distinctly didn’t want to go.
“Please! No! What’s the point? If we must brave treacherous waves, when we can avoid them, why should we?!” Emalia stated.
Jacen thought it was rather logical, but kept these thoughts in his mind.
“There’s supplies, and wood. I’m sure we’ll be there and gone,” Nathaniel said, exasperated. “Besides, the adventure!” He threw his arms into the air.
“Yeah, but…” Jacen cut his sentence off. He knew there was no point arguing with Nathaniel once his mind was made up.
Chapter 12: Approaching Hypnos
As the days flew by, one after the other, the landscape changed. The weather became cloudier, and colder. The mornings were chilly, and foggy as they sailed upwards.
“Do something about it, won’t you?” asked Jacen, his hands in his pocket’s shivering like a madman, as he asked Sander.
“Trying!” He yelled back. Jacen noted that Sander’s hair looked like a cumulonimbus cloud in the middle of a storm, being zapped. His hair stuck out in odd angles.
A giant gust of wind flew by. Jacen ducked, and shivered. He had never been anywhere so windy. As they continued through the water, out of the fog, an island appeared. It was large, with giant ominous mountains.
“We’ve reached Hypnos!” Sander and Jacen cheered together happily. Emalia, and Nathaniel came rushing up, shivering.
“It’s freezing!” Emalia moaned.
“You bet! For a snowman, this is summer!” Jacen laughed loudly. Everybody else, didn’t.
“Let’s go see what’s down in the cabin,” Nathaniel said, hurriedly.
They ran down, desperate for something warm. “Nothing here!” They checked cupboards, and could only find dust, and air. “Nope…” they muttered. Emalia sat on a chair, and closed her eyes.
“Help us will you?” Sander huffed.
“I am,” Emalia murmured back. Emalia’s eyes tightened. Suddenly, five fur coats appeared on the table. “There!” Emalia said, triumphant. They put the coats on. Jacen was glad that the coats were there. They walked back to Lydia, and handed her a coat.
“Hypnos is in sight!” they cheered.
The water was rough, and swirled around. Churning like
your mind through a nightmare. Or at least that was what
Jacen thought. “Hypnos is the god of sleep!” he pointed out.
“I hope I won’t be asleep by the end of this!” screamed Sander, as a wave pushed the Argos II up, and over. They clung on for dear life to the floor, as Lydia struggled to control the boat. It swayed left, and right, before making a crazy spin. The island seemed to be as angry as a nightmare in a cage. “AAAARGH!” They all shrieked, as they tumbled into the icy water.
Chapter 13: Entrance to Hypnos
Jacen opened his eyes. Hard gravel lay on his cheek.
He felt water lap at his feet, icy like a blade. He got up, and his shoes crunched against the gravel. Jacen couldn’t see any of his companions, and friends. “Am I the only to make it out?” Jacen asked softly to himself. After his parents, he couldn't lose anybody else close to him. Jacen sat down on the gravel.
Suddenly, cries of joy yipped like puppies across the rocky beach.
“JACEN!” He turned his back. Emalia, Sander, Lydia and Nathaniel were jumping up and down. Jacen felt relief rush over him, and maybe, just maybe a touch of embarrassment. Jacen ran towards them. Never in his life did he ever feel such reassurance. The water was unlike the calm, beautiful, clear, and warm water in Nereus. He felt such dislike for this water, and Jacen would never usually hate water. It was icy, and stung his legs. There was an eerie feeling of quiet around him, besides the loud sound of the ocean against the rocks like a lion's roar. The island had a scary air to it.
As he made his way towards them, he saw a boat lying on the beach.
“That’s the Argos II!” he yelled.
They turned around, There was a giant hole in the front, and the sail was ripped. They hopped on. Jacen headed straight for the kitchen. When he stepped into the cabin, he felt relieved that nothing was damaged, just shaken about. The lamp’s flame had gone out, and he hoped that he would find some wax.
“The sail is done for, by far,” Nathaniel said, shaking his head.
“There must be a harbour…” Emalia sighed.
They walked up, and down the pebbly beach. Jacen felt as if the wind was mocking him, blasting his face. As they paced, Jacen noticed a split in the trees. A gravel path cut between the trees, and they drew closer, and closer towards the path. They cautiously stepped through the thicket, and walked down the gravel path. Jacen’s jacket was soggy, but he knew that if he took it off, he would remain frigid. “How long were we out cold on the gravel?” he wondered out loud.
“I think maybe two hours? We were drifting for a while,” said Lydia.
They continued, walking down the gravel path. The wind howled into their face, during the afternoon. The sky was grey, the water was grey, and everything was such a muted colour. It was drab, and made you want to fall asleep.
“What will the people be like?” Emalia asked.
“Let’s hope they're not as grey as the island,” sighed Nathaniel sourly.
The gravel continued to crunch under their feet, as giant evergreens towered over them. It almost bleached out the light. As they drew out of the forest, they could see two tall towering, imposing mountains, rising high above the clouds. It reminded Jacen of two sleeping men. Jacen felt a cold feeling crawling across his body. His body shook, and he didn’t know whether it was fear, or the chill, when he saw something that looked like skulls littered across the rocks. He blinked. He definitely was reminded of a graveyard. Jacen absent-mindedly touched his puzzle cube. “Wish me luck, Dad,” He whispered under his breath.
They continued walking, and walking. Night was drawing in fast, even though (according to Jacen’s now slightly battered watch) it was only 17: 30. They made a turn around the foot of the mountain, and saw flickering lights in the distance.
“A village!” They cried, and ran towards the orange dots, and smoke billowing from the chimneys. They were panting, and panting, and ran for a while. They had to frequently stop, because they had to catch their breath. Once they felt better, they started again, and continued running before taking a few pants of breath. The village was farther away than anybody expected, and according to Nathaniel's estimates, it took them a grand total of forty minutes to get there.
Chapter 14: Welcome to Vlaskikost
The village was large, and they decided it was a town. A sign read:
“Welcome to Vlaskikost,” Nathaniel read, as they entered the town. There was a cobblestone square, with a tall bell tower. Grumpy people marched around the town. They didn’t seem very happy, least of all welcoming.
“I think we need to find some wood,” whispered Sander.
“Of course we do! The boat is completely battered!” Emalia whispered back.
‘Ummmm, hello? Do you know where we can find anywhere to sleep?” Lydia asked, in her politest tone, as she went up to a man. The man looked up, and pointed to a tall wooden building, on the far side of the cobblestone square.
“At least he pointed! But they didn’t look too chatty did they,” Jacen murmured to the group. They nodded their heads in agreement. When they arrived at the door of the building the man pointed to, Emalia hit the doorbell, which was a small bell attached to the door.
Another man opened the door. He didn’t look welcoming either. “What do you need? Welcome to the island of sleep,” the man asked in a slavic accent. He had a muscular build, and was rather tall, but had an extremely red face. He’s been drinking… Jacen thought in his head. He certainly didn’t want to try any of the liquor here. “We need a place to stay for the night,” Jacen spoke up boldly, when nobody else said anything. “Hmmm… Travellers…” The man said, and tutted. “Just this way.” He flashed a fake smile, and led them into the inn. There were tall men, probably lumberjacks, drinking cups, while a woman repeatedly poured a light yellow drink into their mugs.
When they stepped into the inn, everything stopped, and everybody looked at them. Jacen could feel the distaste in everybody’s eyes, searing into his body. They beadily stared at them, as the man led them up some stairs, and into a long corridor of doors. The man swung a door at the very end, and signalled for them to get in. When everybody stepped in, the door slammed behind them. Dust was littered everywhere, and a small lantern hung on the ceiling, and shone a dim glow over their heads. Five benches lay towards the wall to their right.
“How could we sleep like this?! This guy obviously doesn't like us! This is preferreral treatment!” said Sander indignantly.
“People here are definitely not very nice, and welcoming, and happy, and sunshined,” Jacen nodded in agreement. “Do you think we’ll even get anything to eat?” Lydia asked. Everybody nodded. Dark thoughts were leaping in Jacen’s head. Would they get any food at all? Would they be left to starve? As Jacen thought that, the door swung open, and the man placed a tray of food onto the floor. “Food for our dear travellers,” The man said mockingly. “Ummm… Thanks,” They murmured to him, as the door slammed once again. Jacen checked his watch. 18: 30
“Just in time!” Emalia sighed, in relief. The tray had what looked like burnt lamb, bread rolls, and five mugs of blackish brown liquid. Jacen cringed, and picked up a bread roll. He took a nibble. He immediately spat it out. It was dry, crumbly, and had a weirdly acidic taste.
“This stuff is absolutely horrific,” Jacen said, giving a choking effect for extra relief.
“We’re starving, though…” Emalia murmured, and took a sip from the black mug. Jacen could see her eyes pop out, as she forced herself to down the drink. When she finished, Jacen noted that she went all pale. Nathaniel snatched the mug from her hand, and they all peered into it. There were black dregs at the bottom, like coffee.
“It’s not coffee. It’s way stronger,” Emalia panted. She snatched a bread roll. “Here goes nothing!” She bit a giant lump, and forced it down her throat like before. Everybody began picking the food, and stuffing it down. The lamb was just as bad, being burnt and tasteless. They eventually gave up, but their stomachs felt empty.
Jacen felt overcome with sleepiness, and lay down onto the bench. As soon as he closed his eyes, he fell asleep. The sleep was one that Jacen slept the whole way through, in such deep sleep. It was not blissful oblivion, however. Jacen felt as if his mind was going mad. Like a crazy beast in a cave sleeping forever was in his mind.
Chapter 15: Into the Woods
When dawn broke, Jacen’s eyes snapped open. How?! He thought in his head. The sunrise in Hypnos wasn’t particularly nice either. Just drab grey colours as they rose into the air. Jacen shook Nathaniel awake. “Get up!” He cried with laughter, as Nathaniel's eyes opened. Nathaniel shot him daggers. Jacen shrugged. He continued yelling into Lydia, Emalia, and Sander’s ears, for them to get up and get a move on. “We need to find the wood, remember,” Jacen said casually. “For the boat, whose front is completely torn.”
Jacen opened the door of the room, and they stepped out. They crept down the hall, and down the stairs, like spiders hoping the man wouldn't find them. As they crept along the hall, they could hear loud snoring noises of the people they saw last night in the bar. The man who owned the inn’s head was slumped on the counter, snoring away.
“Should we pay him?” Emalia asked.
“I guess out of courtesy,” Lydia said, and shrugged.
Jacen pulled out a ten dollar bill, quite soggy, and wrinkled and put it next to his head. They slipped out of the front door, and walked away from the town, and into the forest surrounding the woods.
There was a path that led into the woods. Jacen kept on turning into forest animals for fun. A wolf one second, and then a bear the next.
“Will you stop it?” groaned Nathaniel.
“Okay, okay,” Jacen rolled his owl eyes.
The air once again smelt of evergreen, and once they reached the center, they saw an empty wheelbarrow, with three axes.
“Does anybody know how to chop down a tree?” Nathaniel asked dryly.
“Give me an axe,” Lydia said firmly. Nathaniel handed Lydia an axe, and she walked up to the tree, and began climbing it, effortlessly, like a spider. She climbed to a large branch, and started hacking to it, while holding onto another branch. Ckock Ckock, Ckock, went the axe as it repeatedly hit the branch. Then suddenly, the branch landed with a dull, but loud thunk! onto the ground. Emalia, and Sander heaved it high, and then carried it to the wheelbarrow, and Emalia chopped it into smaller pieces with a hatchet so it could fit into the large wheelbarrow.
“Where’d you get that?” Sander asked surprised.
Emalia looked at him as if he was daft. She held the hatchet, and then made it disappear and then made it turn back.
“Ohhhhh. OKAY,” Sander said, sheepishly.
Jacen held an axe in his mouth, and then turned into a cougar. He climbed up the tree with ease. He loved the feeling of being a wild cat. So strong, so agile. He found a nice branch, and turned back into a human. His human teeth hurt like crazy, as they clamped the rubbery bar of the axe. He tried his best to hold onto a branch that was slightly above his head, and sawed. And sawed. And sawed.
“How come I can’t cut down the branch?” he moaned. Lydia laughed, much to the displeasure of Jacen.
“You’re supposed to be hacking at the tree. Not sawing!” she roared with laughter. Jacen shook his head merrily, and began hacking at the tree. They each continued cutting, hacking, and loading it onto the wheelbarrow. When at last it was filled to the brim, and a bit more they pushed the wheelbarrow along, until they reached the beach where the boat was.
Chapter 16: The Argos II Repaired
Emalia wafted her hands, and a set of tools appeared. She handed them a box of nails, and a hammer. They walked to the very front of the Argos II, and viewed it. The front looked even more wrecked, as a hole was crunched right where the helm was supposed to be. They cut the wood into planks, and Nathaniel (being the “smart” one), drew a plan on the sand.
Emalia and Jacen cut some planks into a sturdy shell, and they hammered it down where it was broken. It looked even sturdier than before. Nathaniel was able to cut multiple pieces at once, holding and shifting multiple saws and hammers at a time, in the air with his mind. Lydia crawled across the planks of wood, like a spider and hammered the planks down onto the shell. They worked and worked during the day, until the Argos II stood back looking even more majestic, and stood in the sand in all its glory, glistening in the gently fading sunlight. They even added another shelf, in case they needed to hold things.
A rush of sleepiness washed over Jacen’s head. He couldn't understand it. Just then, he had been awake, and as lively as the sun itself. Without warning, he slumped onto the gravel beach. He could hear more dropping noises, crush onto the gravel, but he strained himself to stay awake a bit more, when he heard a voice.
“We have them slowed down, they are asleep. I can guarantee that they will be slowed down by hours. Yes? I’ll plant the curse. In the form of a coin. They won’t notice, and will never find it. That’ll slow them down by another three days. Thank you, William. Pleasure doing business with you again. What? Oh! The daggers! We are doing the best we can do to excavate them. Yes? Oh! We haven’t found it yet, but I assure you we are doing well. Hmm? Oh, umm… you are actually visiting us? To check? But sir I assure you! We are doing great! Great progress and everything! Sir, on one condition. When we find the daggers, you will give me a portion of the city to rule. Yes, mmmm… ”
Jacen’s head spun dizzily, and his brain slowed down to a halt.
Chapter 17: Leaving Hypnos
Jacen’s eyes slowly opened groggily. Who was that man? He felt certain he heard him before. Definitely. He felt certain. He could see Sander still slumped on the gravel next to him. He shook Sander hard.
“WAKE UP! QUICK! WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE ISLAND!” he yelled into his ear. Emalia slowly staggered to her feet.
“What time is it?” she mumbled.
“I don’t know, It looks like midnight to me. Alert the others! We must leave the island!” he yelled, anxiously. He didn’t want any other strange sleep.
“Especially not on the island of sleep,” he murmured, in a slavic accent. He snapped his fingers. Island of Sleep. Who had said that? Suddenly, it clicked. He remembered the innkeeper saying “Island of Sleep”, in that same exact drawl he heard the man before he got knocked out. And who was he contacting?
He saw Nathaniel, and Lydia get up, holding a swaying Sander.
“Guys! Listen!” Jacen yelled. “I know who sent us to the fitful sleep!” They leaned in. “The innkeeper! I heard him before I fell asleep! He was contacting somebody called… Oh. I forgot, but it’ll come back to me, and he said he planted something on our boat!”
“Well let’s find it before we go!” Emalia cried out. They walked to the deck. He swore he heard the name before.
He thought for a while, and as they searched the Argos II, they looked on the shelves, and inside all the infinite boxes and crates. Jacen still had a nagging feeling he’d heard of a “William” somewhere. Wait. William! The name was William! Was it Erebus? He shuddered. He didn’t like to think of his parents. Those monstrous Graves. Braxton, William, and the old man. Wait. That was it!
“GUYS!” he cried out.
“Have you found the coin?” Sander asked, as they hurried over.
“No,” Their shoulders sagged. “That guy, the innkeeper was talking to. His name was William! We only know one person who would want to leave us stranded! William Graves.”
Jacen let this sink in. They didn’t say anything, but he could tell that they were thinking. This was a key part of the mystery! He thought inside his head.
They continued to search. Jacen and Sander looked everywhere for coins. Lydia tried to trace it with her mind. Jacen could feel her thinking hard. They all could.
“Where does the most money get stored?” She asked, frantically.
“A bank!” cried out Nathaniel
“A wallet!” cried out Jacen
“An ATM!” cried out Sander
“Your sock!” cried out Jacen
“Your piggy bank!” cried out Sander
“A river bank!” cried out Emalia, laughing at her joke
“Your mouth!” cried out Nathaniel sarcastically
“Wait, what did you say Em?” Lydia asked.
“A river bank!” She asked, confused.
“That’s it!” Lydia cried out. Jacen felt quite confused. “Wait, what? A river bank? That is the lamest joke I’ve ever heard! And I do lame ones…”
Lydia didn’t answer. Jacen saw her dash off to a stream all the way to the end of the beach.
“Wait up!” Emalia called out, and they all rushed quickly towards the stream.
When they reached the stream, Jacen saw something glistening on a rock towards the end. He reached over, and picked up the silver piece. It was a coin that looked (and said) that it had been minted during the age of the Ancient Greeks. A picture of a boat. The boat of Oddyseus during the Trojan war. He held it in his hands.
“HEY! LOOOOOOK! THE COIN! I THINK I FOUND IT!” he yelled at the top of his voice.
“What?” Nathaniel snatched it from his hands, and stared at it. This had to be it! Jacen ran to the boat, searching for something that was sharp enough to cut metal. He looked over at his hammock. A glisten of black-blue. Perfect! Jacen raced towards it.
He lifted his blackwork trident. He had forgotten all about it! He ran back towards the stream. Nathaniel plopped the coin onto the grave. They began a short countdown.
“3… 2… 1… HIT,” Jacen yanked the trident backwards. He felt energy run up and down his arms. He struck it down with a seemingly heavy blow, but all Jacen could feel was lightness. The blackwork trident seemed to have an entire mind of its own. The coin fizzed with energy, as weird blue webs covered it, and smothered it. The trident had blasted a hole through the curse. It fell apart. A small black webby creature crawled out of the coin, which was broken in two. Jacen hit it again with his sword, lightly. It stopped moving, and they felt sure that the curse was gone. Jacen picked up the two pieces of the coin, and slid it into his pants pocket. Just for safekeeping.
Chapter 18: Calm Waters
As dawn broke, the Argos II was cruising quietly down the calm waters of the open ocean. It felt like a knife in butter, cutting through. Lydia happily swung the wheel of the ship. The wind was breezing about, in a gentle calming way and the air smelled oh so fragrant, and salty. The calm feeling felt unbroken. It was a bit misty, and the water was so clear, you could see the bottom even if it was 50 meters below, Jacen reckoned. They didn’t feel like doing anything, and the wind slowly and lazily pushed the little boat across the water. It felt like nothing needed to be said.
The lazy mood continued for a few days, as they dreamily pushed against the turquoise water, causing ripples to be everywhere. Jacen took a peek at the map. It seemed as if they were drawing closer to the Nesoi islands.
“We’re just another three days to reach the Nesoi archipelago,” Jacen hollard, twisting his body into a bear, so his growl could be heard. A wave of adventure swept over his body. He suddenly wanted to see what was over, and under the boat. He spread his arms, and turned into a tern.
He soared higher, and higher into the air. The water was even clearer from here. The wind rustled into his glistening, glossy white and black feathers. His brown-black hair had become the black head of the tern. He found it amazing how his transformations sometimes looked like himself. The afternoon sun looked quiet and peaceful. He didn’t have a watch as a bird, but it looked like somewhere around 16:30.
He took a deep breath, and plummeted almost vertically down to the water. It felt warm. He felt his feathers soak up, and he snapped into Jacen (the human) again. He lifted his head out of the water.
“Come! Guys! The water is as cool as a river that you want to swim in on a nice day!” Emalia shrugged, and jumped in. Normally Jacen would not randomly jump into the water, but he felt that here was a saf(er) place. Nathaniel, and Lydia dived in without a second thought.
Sander eyed the water suspiciously, and did a swan dive into the clear blue water. Jacen felt the water spray into his face like little daggers. Jacen swam a quick few laps around the boat. The water felt refreshing, and clean.
“How deep d’ya reckon the water is?” Nathaniel asked.
“Only one way to find out,” Jacen cawed. He took a deep breath, and pushed his way down to the bottom. His arms pushed, and pushed. Water bubbles streamed from his nose. The water grew darker, it grew colder, and more icy. His breath could no longer hold itself.
“Stupid! Stupid!” he screamed at himself. He needed to be able to breathe. Now, he was far too deep. He would die alone in the middle of the ocean.
Suddenly, it occurred to him. Of course! He was an idiot to think otherwise! He thought of a seadragon, then decided it was too surprising and would massively scare the others. He was down to seconds. His air was running away. Then, he turned into a white tip reef shark. He was desperate, and didn’t think of their reactions, or what he was turning into. He boosted himself downwards. He took a breath of water. Oh, fresh, precious air at last! He didn’t know how deep he was down there. Maths wasn’t his exact sweetspot, but it was starting to dim.
Jacen shook his (sharklike) head. Wasn’t worth going down all the way, was it? He pushed all the way back up to the top. He could see the feet of Nathaniel, Emalia, Lydia, and Sander. Their feet suddenly kicked, and he could hear faint shrieking from above the surface. What is up with them?! Jacen thought bewildered, as he neared the surface. He heard a cry. “THE SHARK HAS EATEN JACE!” From the voice, he thought it was probably Sander. His hearing felt sharper. Wait. Did Sander just say shark? He thought in his mind. Ohhhh. He was the shark they were talking about.
He snapped back quickly enough, once his snout was bobbing just above water. Before he could clearly become a human again, though, he felt a sharp “bonk!” on his nose. “Owwwwwww!” He howled, and touched his nose with his (human) hand. He looked around. Emalia seemed to have done it, with the flat side of her sword.
She stared into the distance. Jacen laughed, and held his nose at the same time. Jacen crawled onto the Argos II. They all jumped back on, their clothes sopping wet.
“Sorry,” Emalia grinned.
“No problem, now I know who to call if I need a nosebleed,” Jacen joked, sarcastically with a large grin. They laughed. “Now! I think that detour was a short one, we must get back to the hunt,” Nathaniel bellowed, as he stood behind the wheel. Jacen and Sander pulled the anchor up.
“He thinks he’s the boss, he does,” Jacen murmured into Sander’s ear. They cackled together. Once the anchor was up, Jacen sighed.
The afternoon light gave into early evening. Jacen saw the bow, which had a piece of wood extending outward. There was a little spot for him to comfortably sit, and stare for a while. He ran into the cabin, still slightly wet and grabbed the thick book he had received when he hit eleven. He stretched, and climbed onto the bow, and opened the pages. He flipped to an area about the Nesoi. The font looked different, and scratchier. A little more modern, perhaps.
The Nesoi archipelago is a place situated in the open ocean. It has 58 islands, and it has been known for its beauty, and is untouched. The water has been described as clearer than new glass, or a diamond. There is a spectacular flora and fauna biodiversity, but everything hangs in balance. The Nesoi goddesses were supposed to reside there. The land has been known as insula deorum, latin for Island of the Gods. Everything is untouched, and unlived in by human hands, except for a small lighthouse on a small island, but it is uninhabited, and a home for creatures and vines now. However there has been known to be an island that is said to be filled with doom, and bad spirits.
Jacen nodded, and reread the page. He scanned for any extra information. He looked at the maps, and topographical charts. It seemed to have a few small mountains. Jacen felt tired, and leaned on the wooden bar behind him.
Chapter 19: Insula Deorum
The next few days were a blur between checkups, maps, and navigation.
One dawn about three days later, when Jacen, holding onto the bar on the bow, saw multiple blobs in the distance, he shouted with joy. They all rushed over, and Sander held a telescope they had found in a crate they had recently unearthed.
“Hand it over,” Emalia yipped excitedly. She didn’t wait for Sander to give it, and yanked it from his hands. She squinted.
“It really is!” she cried out again.
“Give us a turn, Em,” Jacen said, and patted her back. Jacen grabbed the telescope. He put it to his eye. Jacen squinted, and adjusted the gear. One of the splots in the distance had a lighthouse. The water looked even better than here. He could imagine pulling up on one of the white sandy beaches, on one of the 58 islands.
Jacen stuck his hand up into the air. A strong breeze hit it like a punch. He shifted his head, and saw Sander grinning mischievously. Jacen rolled his eyes, but guffawed at the same time. He grinned mischievously too.
Five minutes later, Jacen and Nathaniel were dragging a screaming Sander towards the sails.
“WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN! WHY! IT DRAINS ME OF ENERGY!”
They left him on the platform above the cabin room.
“Blow some air for us!” Nathaniel called out. Jacen could see Sander roll his eyes, and quietly comply. A giant lump popped up into the sails, like a fist, and they were pushed along nicely. Sander lay down on the cabin top, and sighed loudly. A large whoosh blew across, and again, they sped up. Sander kept on making the wind stronger, and levelled it nicely. Jacen jumped up and down. He could almost feel the Nesoi.
Towards the noon, as the sun rose high, and beat down all its heat on the tiny rickety boat, the Nesoi islands welcomed them to it’s isles. Jacen’s heart was pumping. These islands would surely contain fresh water. He hadn’t had a drink for three days, and mostly ate the fruits in the box that were slowly deteriorating. He continued jumping up and down, as Lydia stood behind the wheel. Soon, the greenery of the islands surrounded him, as they entered the archipelago.
Lydia expertly steered the ship, left and right, dodging rocks that popped out of the water. The water positively glowed with clearness, and was a deep blue in some areas, but turquoise to the islands. Jacen and Emalia scanned the islands, and they pointed to a island, not so far away from them. Lydia shrugged, and steered the boat towards the island. The boat shuddered to a stop, and Lydia handed them a thumbs up.
Nathaniel turned his head towards Sander, and yelled “YOU CAN GET DOWN NOW!”
He was suddenly lifted high high high, and placed back on the ground. He stared accusingly at the grinning Nathaniel. Nathaniel snapped his fingers, and Jacen’s book that was lying on the deck sparkily went rising up, and flew three circles around the boat.
“To prove a point,” he said, mischievously.
Jacen shook his head, and laughed. He grabbed his slender, but dangerous trident and his camelbak bottle. Emalia grabbed her sword. Jacen had always wanted to see the weapons of his friends, and now they were taking them out. He could see Nathaniel drawing a spear, that seemed to echo. Lydia held a bow, that felt so perfect, so streamlined, that nothing could ever come to it’s level. Her set of arrows were wood, but the tips were blue-black, like an evening. Sander drew double blades, but were not the golden and white one’s they were looking for.
Jacen did a running jump, and positively flew off the boat, and into the ocean.
“WOOOOOHOOOOOO!” were the yells that you could hear when one would be standing inside the Nesoi archipelago at the moment. Jacen’s trident was strapped to his back, but wasn’t weighing him down. He swam, and swam towards the island. He breathed in and out. In and out. As he saw the sandy beach in front of him, he stepped out onto the soft sand.
He looked around. The island's vegetation looked like a shimmering emerald, and the soft sand felt and looked like melted gold (it was hot as well, but he didn’t mind it). The water was sapphire blue, and there was not a cloud in the sky. Everything was beautiful, and quaint. The islands surrounding that island were different. Some were granite, some were sandy. Some had different colours, like one had beautiful pink blossoms on a granite rock. Jacen’s eyes soaked in the sight, remembering every detail, remembering every fold, and cranny. He took off his trident, and threw it to the ocean, when he saw a silver blue fish streak by. His trident was sharp, and sleek as it flew though the air, as if through time. It stabbed the fish perfectly. Jacen smiled with delight.
“This thing is built for battle!” He yapped happily.
Chapter 20: Exploration!
Jacen felt a tap on his shoulder. He flipped around. Sander pointed to a small, sunny opening in the vegetation. He eagerly began following Emalia, and the others as they trekked the path. Jacen remembered the scene from “My Neighbour Totoro” by Studio Ghibli when there was a path in the willows. Willows hung above them, and it looked like a tunnel. The sun shone in like a pestering fly. Luckily, the willows were covering them like a blanket.
As they continued further onwards, they felt like the dirt track they were walking on drew up, and up. The wind whistled through their hair, as they climbed up, and up.
When they reached the top, they could see all the archipelago, and all the islands laid out for them like a map, with them dead center of all those 58 islands. Jacen peered down the island, and saw the beautiful glistening thing he had been looking for. With the noon sun beating down on them, Jacen felt like he desperately needed a sip of fresh water. A lake lay just out of reach, all the way down at the center of the island. He happily yelled,
“WATER!” and took off flying as a falcon down down down towards the lake. The water glistened and glimmered below him, as he touched down on the pebbles next the water. He kneeled down (as Jacen) and gulped the freshest water one could ever drink. Jacen lapped up the water, in gallons. He felt good, as he lapped up water until his stomach ached. Jacen opened his camelback, and scooped the water until it overflowed.
He heard the crunch crunch crunch of their feet stomping down towards him.
“Oh I am thirsty!” he heard Sander sigh. They drank water, and Nathaniel filled up a bottle of water Emalia handed to him that suddenly appeared in her hands.
Chapter 21: A Dark Secret
When they finished with the water, Emalia noticed something on the other side of the grove, with the water hole. There was a largeish hole attached to the wall. Emalia turned around, and pointed to it. Jacen turned around, and saw it.
“Let’s explore it! These detours might lead us somewhere,” Jacen murmured, and they waded across the lake’s edge. It was shallow, and the rocks at the bottom were not sharp.
When they reached the other side, the hole seemed a bit bigger. Light seemed to half spill in.
“Do we need a source of light?” Nathaniel asked, being the “practical” one again.
“It looks pretty bright to me,” Sander observed, peering into the cavern.
“We should, just in case,” Jacen said, showing at least a bit of common sense as he agreed with Nathaniel. Emalia patted her pants pocket happily, and drew a set of matches. She flicked a match, which glowed blue, drew her sword and they slowly walked in. The cave was much larger than Jacen had ever expected. It had a large, winding stone path that led to the cave floor at the very bottom. They gripped their weapons, and carefully walked down the bottom.
The sunlight was not even touching, and they were plunged into except for the eerie blue glow of Emalia’s matches. There was a silvery white river, winding across them. Jacen stared at it uncomfortably. There was something in it that river that didn’t feel right to him, or anybody else. A gust of wind blew into the cavern, but from the back of the cavern and hurled itself across the river.
Lydia paused, and closed her eyes. Jacen wondered what she was doing at all. She took a deep breath, and stepped closer. Emalia was mouthing, no almost screaming to her to “get away from the river” a pulling force yanked Jacen, when he took two tiny steps. Jacen suddenly realized what was happening.
“LYD! STAY AWAY FROM THE RIVER! IT’S STYX! GO NEAR TO IT, AND YOU’RE GUARANTEED THE LIVING DEAD WITH NO WAY OUT!”
She turned her head around, but that broke the movement. She started being sucked, and sucked towards the river.
“GUYS! GUYS! ANYBODY!” she yelled, to them. Jacen without a doubt turned into a blackbrown bear, and bit her shirt back. He gripped, and pulled, while the others quickly pulled what they had as talents out. Nathaniel shook his head in frustration, and focused hard.
Wispy white beings started to emerge from the shadows, and onto a long canoe boat. Sander whipped his hands high into the air, and brought it crashing down towards the boat. Lightning crackled down, and the wispy figures melted away into nothingness. Lydia screamed even louder. Her eyes seemed to do anything but scream, as a pulling force tried to yank her across the river.
Emalia conjured rope. The strongest rope, and threw it across to Lydia’s body. It formed a loop, as Nathaniel made it bend, and it formed a tight knot around Lydia’s waist.
“JACEN! OVER HERE!” Jacen pounded his feet, and grabbed the rope with his teeth. Sander ran over, and pulled. Out of nowhere, shadow warriors from the Greek stomped over. Jacen had no idea where they came from. Lydia seemed to be trying to conduct them with her hands. They were the ghosts Lydia always seemed to be talking too. There were about 20, and they marched towards the rope. Some of them held flames on a torch. Lydia yelled out in a strange distorted language. The ghosts nodded, and started to pull the ropes.
Jacen had never done anything that hard in his life. He just pulled, and pulled, and pulled with his teeth. Even as a bear, it was tough. His teeth ached with every pull, but he didn’t give up. Emalia’s hands were red, and she was sweating. Nathaniel’s head was tomato red from the force, and power it was taking on his brain. Lydia seemed to be slipping through back to them.
“ONE MORE PULL!” Nathaniel yelled out. Jacen heaved at the rope, and all the ghosts, and humans yanked as hard as they could. One final time. Lydia shot through the air, and landed face down to the floor.
They shook her as hard as they could. Her eyes were shut. Nathaniel felt her pulse.
“It’s still beating!” he yelled in joy.
“I’m awake,” Lydia said, confused. The ghost warriors melted into the air. So that was what Lydia meant by clairvoyancy.
“Let’s get out of here,” Sander said. Beads of sweat rolled down their faces. They all nodded in agreement.
Chapter 22: Brick Fish
“The wind rolling down the cave said something,” Lydia murmured to them, as they walked out of the cave. “It said that the Graves were excavating the islands. For the Daggers. They said we couldn't have any distractions. We had to focus on the daggers. It also said that there was a riddle involved with finding it.” Jacen nodded his head slowly.
Sun hit his head like a welcoming friend. His shaggy fur did no good, and he turned back into Jacen the human again.
“Didn’t we find a riddle on Nereus?” Jacen asked, already knowing the answer.
“I think we did at least,” Nathaniel said slowly. Jacen didn’t wait for anybody else to respond, and took off with excitement. He turned into an eagle, and swiftly flew to the beach. He turned into a human, and raced to the water.
Jacen swam as fast as he could, and scrambled back up. He set down his bottle of water in his hammock, as he ran into the cabin, all the way to the back. He had put the piece of parchment somewhere back there.
“Where are you, where are you, where are you, where are you,” he murmured. He picked up his book, which was on the floor and flipped to the end. The piece of paper was right there. He gently removed it.
Just as he removed it, they all came streaming in. Jacen waved his hand in the air.
“I found the paper,” he shouted out, and then slid it safely back into his book.
Jacen walked out of the cabin. Everybody was rushing about, so they could get out of the Nesoi Archipelago lickity split. Sander rushed in to make a fire in the cooker. Jacen scrambled to the sails, and pulled them up as quickly as quickly can be. Emalia helped pull the sail up as well, and Lydia got the boat going. A gust of wind pulled them forward, as Sander emerged from the bottom.
“We need to go as fast as you can take us,” Nathaniel said, and they took off faster than the wind. The islands of the Nesoi whirled around Jacen’s head like a tornado. The Argos II cutting through the ocean waves reminded him of butter being split by a knife. Just smoothly and quickly shaving through. He grimaced, as he read through the chapter on the book laying on his lap. The page felt dry, and the page smelt musty. It’s fonting was dirty, and ancient. The page itself had a blackish aura surrounding it.
The Isle of Epiales is known for its dark aura surrounding it. Its dark mornings, and it’s beasts called the nightmares. It’s main source of income is made on mining, digging up precious metals such as black diamonds, and Onyx, both related to death and bad luck. The primordial god Epiales was the embodiment of nightmares. The isle is long, and is skinny. It is mostly cliff-like, with gargantuan black mountains rising up top, which turn white when it reaches a tall height. The mountains are called the aether mountains. Legend has it that the legendary twin daggers of night and day are buried on the foot of the aether mountains. Death awaits all who arrive. Time sometimes warps from four in the afternoon all the way to four in the morning
Jacen shivered with fear. The isle of Epiales did not sound very nice. He took out the slip of parchment, and read it out loud to himself.
Where covering all is night,
Darkness all about,
The ocean in view,
Earth, a rising mount
Sky, close you can touch,
Light, the child rises to the spot.
“Do you think the riddle means anything?” Nathaniel asked, pondering as he plopped down next to Jacen.
“I think it’ll help us,” Jacen said, and he handed Nathaniel his open chapter on Epiales. They scanned through the photos of Mount Aether. It seemed terrifyingly tall. He had been hiking tall mountains with his parents before. It ached to think about them, with their smiling beaming faces, and their energy. He sighed, and stared up ahead towards the unknown horizon. The moon was beginning to dip down towards them, larger than life. It was a crescent moon, a sickle’s blade. A boat perhaps, a canoe.
The stars were also just beginning to come out, shining like diamonds on the necklace of the sky. Jacen’s belly grumbled louder than usual. He walked into the cabin area, and sank onto his hammock. Sander was crouching (not that it would have made much difference otherwise), and opened up the crate, and brought up the remaining fish. It was a small chunk, and it didn’t look like they were going to have much any more.
They grimaced, and Sander slowly cut it into the thinnest slices, and dished it out to them. Jacen held it in his hand, and took a bite. He scowled.
“It doesn't taste good any more,” Jacen mumbled. “It’s all stale, and chunky.” The others seemed to agree. He was starving, and it would have to do. The day had been weary, and the sun had seemed to have struck him. He didn’t feel jokish anymore. He felt hardened.
He took another bite of the brick. Jacen made a face, and chewed it up again. Jacen reached his hand, and grabbed the fish again. Nothing. He sighed. Going to bed with an empty stomach. Something Emalia was used to, he thought. He crawled onto his hammock, and sighed. He closed his eyes. Sleep came like a welcome friend.
Chapter 23: Epiales Awaits
A dark loom came across Jacens face the afternoon they arrived at Epiales. It had been two days since they had left the Nesoi archipelago. The sky was greying, and they had left the Nesoi islands far far away. The water was greying blue, with white caps. He shivered. Not out of cold. Out of fear. He was afraid of what would happen at Epiales. Nightmares. It was windy, and the Argos II was recklessly swaying side by side.
“We can’t turn back. We’re too far,” Jacen said to Nathaniel. Nathaniel nodded, and gave something that sounded like a prayer to Nyx, though why to Nyx, Jacen was mystified. He was a practical boy, and had never had a belief in anything. Everything always had a scientific reason to it, he would say. But now, he was so afraid he was praying to Nyx. Maybe he should be scared too. Actually scratch that out. I’m very scared. Emalia was bravely behind the wheel, singing at the top of her lungs. Jacen leaned in. No, that didn’t sound like a scream. More like a scream!
“ARGHHHHHHHHH!” Emalia, and Jacens head flicked to the front. The sky was darkening rapidly, and up ahead was a giant wave. It was tossed, and had foamy white caps. Jacen screamed even more. He kneeled down, and braced himself. He heard everybody scream, and quite possibly heard a few bad words from the older ones. Jacen felt water spray from his face. A whole bucket load of water. It hit him like ice. Jacen sucked in his lip, and crawled towards a post.
Jacen backed against the wooden post. The Argos II went straight up. He grabbed the post with his dear life. Even more bad words escaped from the lips of the older ones. Jacen gripped the post, and shut his eyes. The waters were tumultuous and cold.
“I’ve never been on a rollercoaster this hectic before!” shrieked Jacen, with fear. The Argos II lurched forward, and Jacen was hurled away from the post.
“AHHHHHHHHHHH!” he wailed, and flew across the air. Emalia was struggling to control the Argos, and water was starting to fly everywhere.
Jacen hit the deck with a heavy thud, and closed his eyes. He shook his body. Nothing broken. Jacen opened his eyes, and looked forward. He nearly fainted when he saw what was in front. The seas had become mountains to the heavens, and the Argos II felt like a Roller Coaster without seat belts and proper holdings. Jacen ducked down, and rolled himself past Nathaniel who was waving his arms about, Lydia who was staring at the sky and pleading something, and Sander who was probably saying bad words, and ducking.
Jacen rolled back to his post, and stared on ahead. He felt his lucky puzzle charm, and gripped it tight.
“I'M TOO YOUNG TO DIE!” wailed Emalia, who rolled past Jacens post. Like a blackhaired-greeneyed-crazyconjuror bowling ball. Jacen shut his eyes again, and agreed with Emalia. Was this because we’re on the Isle of Nightmares? Jacen asked himself. He opened his eyes.
Sweet sweet salvation laid out in front of him. Beautiful, beautiful calm(er) water. But wait. Nobody’s at the wheel! He thought, and rashly ran towards the wheel. Nothing mattered now. Just the wheel, and the daggers. Jacen reached out, and gripped the wheel with fear. Jacen spun the wheel in the direction of the water.
Suddenly, everything stopped. The water was flat, the waves were not as bouncy, and the sea seemed slightly calmer. Jacen looked up ahead in fear.
There up ahead was the Isle of Epiales with tall rising mountains, capped with white, and a mining town.
The sky was now almost black, and starless with the only lights they had in the ship guiding them. Everything about Epiales gave off the word fear. Everything was silent. Everything was strangely still.
Jacen gulped, and continued shifting the wheel. Jacens eyes flicked to the very right. The island was bigger than anything Jacen had ever seen besides the mainland. Everything was grim. Graveyards dotted one of the smaller mountains.
Jacen slowly pulled up to the harbour. Every instinct in his body was telling him not to do it. Jacen closed his eyes, and gritted his teeth. He opened them, and pulled the boat into a harbour dock. He hurried inside the cabin to join them, and threw on one of the less hot giant fur jackets. He turned the hood almost over his eyes, and lit a gas lamp. Jacen saw Lydia take the piece of riddle parchment, and they all jumped onto the pier. There was a green glow that seemed to loom over the pier. The houses were ramshackle, and almost destroyed. They walked across a lane, all the way to the outside of the mining town.
Chapter 24: Decoding the Riddle
They looked at a sign. Sander whispered it almost as if it was a conspiracy theory, “Aether Mountains.”
They trekked up a dirt path that winded slowly and gently up. Jacen’s feet were growing tired, and he yawned. He kept on trudging, all the way up to the foot of the mountains.
“It’s got to be here somewhere” muttered Nathaniel, as he absent mindedly scratched the dirt with his foot. Jacen nodded. He was worried about losing the Daggers to the Graves. What if they had already found it? Jacen shook his head. That could not happen. Whatever the cost, it could not happen.
Lydia took out the parchment from her pocket.
Where covering all is night,
Darkness all about,
The ocean in view,
Earth, a rising mount
Sky, close you can touch,
Light, the child rises to the spot.
“This will lead us to it!” Emalia said, happily jumping up and down.
“Where covering all is night,” Lydia read again,
“That must mean the shadow covering the mountain!” Nathaniel concluded. That narrowed it down.
“Darkness is all about” Lydia continued reading
“Reffering to the night engulfing us!” Sander piped up. That narrowed it down to time. Why would time be of need here?
“The Ocean in view” Lydia read out,
“So it’s either the beach covered by the mountains shadow, a cliff covered by the mountains, or a mountain itself!” Jacen said, remembering the page of geological information from his book. That narrowed it down even more.
“Earth a rising mount,” Lydia said, tracing the words,
“That narrows it down to either the mountains, or the cliff. With the mountain being more likely.” Sander said, factually.
“Sky, close you can touch,” Lydia read,
“Must be high, so the beach can be ruled out!” Emalia chirped.
“Light the child rises to the spot,” Lydia finished.
“It’s the Aether mountains! Aether means light, and was the child of Nyx!” Jacen said, cautiously not making too loud of a noise. It made sense, and it was the obvious answer.
“But wait. There’s this special event that happens on Epiales ones every five years. Today is the day it’s happening. When the sun slowly rises, the light refracts off the Aether mountain and hits the cliff at a certain point. Light, the child rises to the spot. Don’t you see? Light is the child and is being born! Sunrise! It will hit the spot, and I am certain that’s where the daggers are. I read all this when I checked your book in the middle of the night. You missed a page,” Nathaniel said, jumping in.