The Card Dealer: Part 8

Part 8: The Forbidden Islands 

 

Lex and I wasted no time in going to Adrian’s room.  We got in easily, which I figured we would since he probably hadn’t had time to find something stronger than the lock spell I had managed to break.

The room was just like the last time I had seen it, which was mildly frustrating though I didn’t know what else I expected.

“What are we looking for?”  Lex asked.  “Please tell me you don’t think Adrian might be responsible for all the stuff that’s been happening recently…”

“I didn’t say that,” I said, going to his desk and opening the top drawer.  “I just want to see if there’s any clues as to where he went that one day.”

“Oh…,” said Lex.  “This reminds me of the time we came in here to see if we could find proof that Adrian was cheating on me…”

“Well, I’m sure this is nothing like that,” I said.  I dug through his drawer, but just like everything else in his room, there wasn’t much in it.  The same went for the rest of his drawers.  The two of us searched through his things, only feeling slight pangs of guilt for doing so, but I knew it was for the best.  After the thorough search was over, I sat on his bed, defeated.

“Well, we got nothing,” I said, huffing a sigh.

“No sign of anything,” said Lex.  “Maybe he isn’t involved in this at all?”

“Well, I still want to know where he went.  Zion followed him, so I want to look there.”   I shook my head.  “He’ll know we were here, too.  He has a spell that…can…”  I trailed off, an idea popping into my head.  A spell that could let him see fingerprints.

“What?”  Lex said, looking at me.  “What’s wrong?”

I snapped my fingers.  “Adrian has a spell that allows him to see fingerprints and recognize who they belong to.  It’s in my spell book!”

“How will that help us?”  Lex asked.

“There’s something we’re missing here, I can feel it!”  I ran out of the room and came back lugging my giant spell book with me.  I set it on the bed and started flipping through the pages.

“I thought it takes a long time to learn spells?”  Lex said.

“It does, but I’ve been practicing this one for a few weeks now,” I said.  However, I wasn’t sure I could do it now…I hadn’t practiced THAT much on it.  Still, it wasn’t that hard of a spell to improvise.  All spells were in old Latin, and some of them were pretty hard to say correctly.  Usually I’d mess up and mispronounce things, or get tongue-tied and have to start over.  This time, I said it slowly, taking care to pronounce every syllable as it was written.  I held my hands up and kept my eyes glued to the spell.  The scene changed.

I stood in Adrian’s room, but the walls, floor, ceiling, and everything turned a strange clear color, yet I could not see through them.  I could feel the powerful spell draining my magic, so I had to work fast.  I rattled off the rest of the spell, then took a look around.  I knew there had to be something here.  Adrian’s fingerprints were everywhere, but to my left, right over Adrian’s bed, I spotted what I was looking for.  Adrian’s fingerprints covered the side of a picture frame over his bed.

My magic faded, and the spell abruptly ended.  I hunched over and put my arms out on the bed to keep myself from falling completely.

“Claudia?”  Lex asked.  She put her hand on my shoulder.  “Are you alright?”

“The spell is too strong for my magic,” I said, huffing and puffing.

“I take it that it didn’t work, then?”  She asked, sounding disappointed.

“It did, for awhile.”  I climbed up on the bed and forced myself up to observe the picture frame.  “There’s either something behind here, or Adrian was just moving this.”  I pushed the frame to the side, but was met with only a blank, untouched wall.  “Nothing…”

I let the frame go back into place, then plopped down on the bed.  Lex moved my spell book and sat down as well.

“Dead end,” she said.  ‘Where could we look next?”

“I don’t have the faintest clue,” I admitted.  I looked back up at the swaying frame above me.  Something…still wasn’t right about it.

“It’s a nice map,” Lex said, following my gaze to the frame.

“Adrian drew it all out himself,” I said.  I stood and pointed to Jadeshaven.  “There’s Jadeshaven, and there’s-”

“Wait, what?”  Lex said, standing as well.  “That’s…not Jadeshaven.”

“What do you mean?”  I looked at it again.  Now that I was giving it a closer look, something did seem off.  Jadeshaven was written next to the island, but I realized that the island was far too small and even a different shape.  “What in the world…”

“I don’t recognize any of these places,” said Lex.  She tilted her head.  “Wait…take down the frame…”

I hefted the frame off of the wall and the two of us got it across his bed.

“Look at it from over here,” said Lex.  “From over here, it’s upside down.”

I hurried over to her side and stared at the map again.

“This should be Jadeshaven,” I said, pointing out the correctly shaped island.  “How could he make a mistake like that?”

Lex’s face was emotionless as she studied the drawing.

“Adrian didn’t make a mistake,” she said, her voice just as barren.  “He did that on purpose.”

“Why would he do that?”  I looked at the edge of the drawing, and it all hit me.  He knew exactly what he was doing.

“We wrote all of the places like Jadeshaven and Port’s Town so that whoever saw it didn’t get suspicious, but look here,” said Lex.  She point to the edge of the drawing.

“It’s…I don’t know that place,” I said.  “But on the wall, it looks like Corrin’s Bay.”

“Right side up, it’s the Forbidden Cliffs,” said Lex.  We exchanged a glance.  We knew that had to have been where Adrian was going.  The Forbidden Cliffs, uncharted regions, since no one had ever gone there, were South from Port’s Town, exactly where Zion was heading the last time I had talked to him.

“That’s where we need to go,” I said.  “And we need to be quick about it.”  With Lex’s help, I got the frame back on the wall, the hopped down from the bed.

“Go get Leon.  I’m sure he’d kill us if we went without him.  Besides, we’ll probably need his help.”  Lex nodded but still looked unsure.

“It’s dangerous,” she said.

“If Adrian can do it, so can we,” I said.  I closed my spell book and brought it will me out of Adrian’s room.  “We’re going to need to rent a boat.  I don’t want anyone else coming with us.”

“Do you know how to sail?”  Lex asked as she followed me to my room so that I could put my book back.  I chuckled.

“Lex, I’m the daughter of a fisherman, of course I know how to sail.  I know how to sail a small one, at least,” I said.  “Come on, I’ll go get us one.”

~~~

The clouds were gray down at the docks.  The wind was picking up.  I was starting to get scared I’d have to sail through a storm.

I got us a boat pretty easily.  It was a little white one with a patched up sail and an anchor attached to it that looked like it wouldn’t do much good.  As we boarded, Leon complained and cussed the whole time, but I knew he was happy to tag along.  He just wasn’t fully happy unless he had something to complain about.

“Leon, shut up!”  Lex called as I started letting the sail out and steering us towards the south.  The waves were starting to get choppy, and I was getting more nervous.

“But my tummy hurts!”  Leon wailed.

“We’ve barely left the docks!”  Lex cried.  I looked behind me to see where Lex was sitting.   Leon was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest next to her.  I couldn’t tell if he looked any paler than he usually did.  I didn’t know that he got seasick.

I blocked out their arguing so that I could focus on not tipping over.  That would really make the poor kid sick.

Hours passed by.  We sailed past Port’s Town as the the sky got darker, and more hours went by.  The farther South we went, the crazier the waves got.  Rain started drizzling on us, making me wish I had brought something warmer than my witch robe.  I kept the boat steady, but I was starting to get exhausted.  Leon had already started heaving over the side of the boat.  He looked worse than he usually did.

“Almost there!”  I said, even though we weren’t.  I could see the cliffs in the distance, but it would take us forever to get there in this weather.  The boat was constantly being thrown off course.  Lex was doing everything she could to keep water out of the boat.

The minutes seemed like hours, and the cliffs always seemed to be miles away no matter how long we went on.  The rain came down hard, and the sea sprayed salty water at my face.

“Claudia!  We can’t keep going like this!”  Lex called.  I looked over my shoulder to see that water was starting to collect at the bottom of the boat quicker than Lex could get it out.  She was right, but there was nowhere else to stop.  We were too far in to turn back.

Thunder rolled above us, and every time lightning cracked across the sky I got terrified that it would strike our sail.  But we kept going.  My arms felt like they were on fire, my eyes were burning from the sea water, and my heart felt like it would pound right out of my chest.

“Can’t you make this stop!”  Leon screamed at me.

“No, of course not!”  I screamed back.  “Now hush!”

The cliffs were just up ahead.  I could see the shoreline.  But that was when what I feared happened.  The boat lurched to the right and my hand slipped when I tried to set it back on course.  I stumbled backwards and nearly fell overboard.

“Claudia!”  Lex cried.  I thought she was just yelling at me because I almost fell, but I regained my balance and saw that wasn’t the case.  Th boat was already tilting at an unsettling degree, and a sizable wave was heading for us.  Before I could even try to reset the course, the boat was picked up by the monstrous wave and tossed back.  We all held on, but it didn’t matter.

The boat smashed into hundreds of pieces and we were forced underwater.  All around me, the water was too dark to see anything.  I immediately got a since of fight-or-flight.  This was the Forbidden Cliffs, after all, so who knew what was in the water.  I swam up to the surface and coughed up a bunch of water.  If my eyes weren’t burning before, they really were now.  I grabbed onto a piece of wood that had been a part of our boat, and realized that I couldn’t see the others.

“Lex!”  I screamed.  “Leon!”

At first, nothing answered but the roar of thunder.  Then I caught sight of them.  Lex was hanging on for dear life to a piece of the boat, and Leon was holding onto her in a death grip.

“Now what?!”  Lex called to me.  Even though she really wasn’t that far away, I could barely hear her.

“There’s nothing else we can do but swim to shore!”  I replied.  It made me exhausted just thinking about it.  Still, we started toward the shore.  We held onto our driftwood so we could rest on it if we needed to.  Lex was barely keeping up with Leon firmly attached to his back.  It dawned on me then that the kid couldn’t swim, so Lex would be forced to carry him the whole way.  She stopped to rest far more often than I did, but I didn’t complain.

Just like when we were in the boat, no matter how close we got to the shore, it always looked so far away.  The occasional over-sized wave would push us backwards and underwater.  My whole body was screaming at me to stop and rest, but I had to keep going.  To much resting and I knew we’d end up dead.

And that’s when I heard it.

Over the rain and thunder and waves, I heard the most beautiful, otherworldly singing I’ve ever heard.  It was unmistakably Zion’s voice.

“Zion!”  I cried.  “Where are you?!”  My heart sunk as I realized something.  I looked over my shoulder, and sure enough, Lex and Leon’s eyes had lost their life.  A strange light was in them.  They still followed me, but they were going faster now, and not exactly towards the shore, but to the voice.  “Zion!”  I screamed again.  “You have to stop!”

I could see nothing, but he had to be nearby.  The Merfolk’s voices couldn’t travel far.  I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, reaching out with my other senses.  I felt as though I was being watched, and his voice was close.  I opened my eyes and held my hand out.  With what energy I had, I called an orb of light to my hand and plunged it underwater.  With the light, the dark water seemed even more terrifying.  The light caught on something that sparkled, but it quickly disappeared.  He had just swam under me.

I extinguished the light and faced forward again, and yelped when I saw Zion right on the other side of my thin piece of driftwood.  I almost called to him again, but I felt that something was wrong.  He had stopped singing.  His eyes, hollow and lifeless, stared right at me, or rather, right through me.

“Zion!”  I said.  “You have to help us.”

He said nothing.  Instead, he grabbed the driftwood and ripped it out of my hands.

“Hey!”  I cried, flailing and trying to keep my head above the water.  We swam to Lex and Leon, who both had the most confused expression on their faces, and did the same to them.

“No, wait!”  Lex yelled.  Her cries stopped when she quickly disappeared below the surface.  She could barely hold herself up, let alone Leon!  I dove down after them.  With my light gone, it was hard to see.  I felt my way around the water until I came to them, then used all the strength I had left to pull them up.

We all sputtered and coughed.  Leon had long since started bawling his eyes out.

“I don’t wanna die!”  He cried.

“Calm down!”  I ordered.  “We can’t panic now!”

“What was that?!”  Said Lex.

“That was Zion, but I don’t know what his problem was…that wasn’t like him at all!”  I said.  “Look, let’s just get to the shore!”

“It’s so far away!” Said Lex.

“Just come on!”  We all held onto each other and started back towards the shore.  I kept my eyes, and ears, open for Zion, but I didn’t see him again.  We were even closer to the shore now, but my arms gave out and I couldn’t swim anymore.  I was just too plain exhausted.

“Keep going,” I told Lex, trying to make my voice loud enough to be heard.  “You can’t carry both of us.”

“This is all your fault, Claudia Philips!”  She cried.  “You got us into this, so get us out!”

I gritted my teeth and forced myself to keep swimming with them.  It hurt to move now.

“I’m scared!”  Said Leon.  “We’re not gonna make it!”

“We will!”  Lex said.  We all mostly let the waves push us towards the shore and focused on not going underwater.  We were so close.  I could feel the water getting more shallow, but I could barely manage to stand on the sandy sea floor.  It was too hard to keep from falling over, and I feared that if I did I wouldn’t be able to get back up.

As soon as Leon could touch the ground, he got off of Lex’s back and starting walking.  We still held onto him, just in case a wave knocked him down.  We went from swimming, to walking, and finally to crawling.  Leon ran on ahead of us and fell down into the sand on the shore.  Then Lex made it, and I was soon after.  I collapsed in the sand on my back, letting the rain fall on me.  I was too tired to do anything but breathe.

“We can’t sleep here,” said Leon.  He had stopped crying, but was laying there almost as tired as I was.  “What if there’s monsters.”

“There’s probably no monsters,” said Lex, panting.  “Just try to rest.”

She didn’t have to tell me twice.  I closed my eyes and was asleep pretty much immediately.

~ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ~

 

It’s good to be writing these again!  The next few parts will be getting down to business and we are getting really close to the end of this short story!  That means that we’ll be needing a new one!  Here soon, there’ll be a lot of posts coming out, like my Star Wars reviews and stuff like that, and there will also be one coming out about what kind of short stories I could write next.  Spider-Man lover, who’s in charge of the art, will be creating the main images of the stories I have in mind, so I will be showing those in that post along with the plots and characters from each story.  From there, ya’ll can decide what you’d like to see.  Anyway, let me know what you think about part 8 in the comments!  It was really fun to write, and I hope you enjoyed it!  Got any theories on what’s about to happen?  Let me know about that too!  Now, have a good Saturday, and God bless!

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