Part 9: The Reflection
I heard the waves crashing against the shore before I even opened my eyes, and I totally forgot where I was for the first few seconds after I woke up. I laid there staring up at the cloudy sky, turning my brain to try and figure out how I had gotten there. Then, I remembered the storm. I remembered that our boat hadn’t been so lucky getting out of it. Then we had to make a terrifying swim to get to shore. As the memories all came back to me, I sat up and took in my new surroundings. It was early in the morning, I guessed, since the sunlight was now barely seen in the sky. Either that, or we had slept all night and all day, which I highly doubted.
I stood and dusted the sand off of my robe, shivering from how cold it was. The waves were close enough to where the were getting my shoes wet again, and the water was even more cold than the air. I stepped back from the waves, grimacing.
Lex and Leon were gone, so I figured that they had already gotten up. I rubbed my arms to try and warm them as I turned to face the black cliffs that towered over me. At the foot of them, trees and shrubs grew up from the sand.
“Lex! Leon!” I called. Right away, Leon sprung out from the trees and ran at full speed down the slight hill towards me.
“Claudia!” He said. Despite our circumstances – and how upset he had been last night – he was all smiles now. He ran right past me and skidded to a stop right at the foot of the water.
“Where’s Lex?” I asked.
“She’s up there exploring!” He said, pointed towards the trees. “You have to come! We’re looking for a way to get up the cliffs!”
I grimaced again. “Is there no other way to go?”
“Nope!” Leon replied, still beaming. “Unless you want to swim back to Jadeshaven!”
“No thanks,” I said. “You walked the whole length of the island already?”
“It’s not that long of a walk, and I’ve been up for hours. If we want to find a way out, we’ll have to find a way up the cliffs,” he said, grabbing my arm. “Come on, let’s go!” I let him drag me up the hill and into the trees, where there was no shortage prickly leaves.
“If you’ve walked the length of the island and you didn’t find anything, then how do you expect ME to find a place?”
“You’re a witch, I’m sure you can see things that we can’t!” Said Leon. He let go of me and gestured to his left and right. “I walked this way and that way, allllll the way down and I didn’t find anything. But Lex is trying to climb up without us.”
“What?” I said. “Where?”
He pointed to the left. “Down there!”
I darted past the shrubs with pointy leaves, ignoring them when they scraped my legs.
“Lex!” I called. As Leon said, I found her attempting to climb up the side of the cliff, but she hadn’t gotten very far when I got there. In fact, she slipped and fell back down into the sand when I got to her.
“We won’t be able to do that,” I said, helping her up. “It’s hundreds upon hundreds of feet.”
Lex accepted my help and got to her feet. “Well, it was worth a try,” she said. Her hair was in a disarray, as were her clothes. I thought that I probably didn’t look much better. And with the dried salt water still on my skin, I didn’t feel all that great either.
“So, how are we getting off this island?” Leon asked.
“And how on Earth did Adrian get on? I mean…if this is the place he came to,” said Lex.
“I’m sure that he did,” I said. I had no idea where else he would have gone. “There’s definitely something going on here. Remember the way Zion acted last night? That just wasn’t him!”
“But how would he have gotten on and off?” Leon asked. “He’s a wizard, but I don’t think he’s THAT powerful.”
“No…,” I said, trying to think. The cold was making it hard to do pretty much anything, really. Exhaling, I brushed my hair out of my face. “There’s got to be a way somewhere on this island. I’m sure of it.”
Lex shrugged. “You take the lead, then.”
I nodded. “I’ll use magic to find if there’s something here that we can’t see with our eyes.”
“That would make things easier,” said Leon. “I wish I was a wizard!”
“Yeah, well, let’s hurry this up. The faster we find Adrian and see what’s going on, the faster we can go home.”
The two of them followed me as I traveled through the shrubs and trees. I kept my hands on the side of the rocks when I could, searching for any type of clue that might be a way out. When we reached the end of the left side of the island, the only thing to be found was more sand, more rocks and boulders, and more shrubs.
I started to get discouraged as we went back down to the right side of the island. The sun had risen, and it was warming the air, but I certainly didn’t want to be stuck on an island in ninety degree weather. Not to mention the humidity on the island was suffocating enough.
“How much farther? Leon complained.
“I don’t know,” I said, keeping my voice from shaking. I forced my nerves to stay calm. Panic was definitely not the way off of the island. But that got a little hard to do when we reached the other side of the island and still found nothing.
“Okay…,” said Lex. “Now what?”
I stared at the rocks, trying to figure something out. But there was nothing here that could help us. I took a couple deep breaths to stop myself from freaking out, then turned to Lex and Leon. “I haven’t felt anything with my magic.”
“Then that means there’s nothing,” said Lex. She wrapped her arms around herself. “We’re stuck here, with no way of getting anyone to know about it.”
“But-But!” Leon’s eyes went wide. “I don’t want to be stuck on an island with you two!”
I raised my hands. “Guys, guys, calm down. If we panic, we won’t be able to think straight.”
“But thinking straight hasn’t gotten us anywhere either!” Said Leon. I rubbed my forehead, telling myself to stay calm over and over again.
“There’s got to be a way,” I whispered. “Come on, Adrian, where did you go…”
I wandered back down the side of the cliff again, not paying attention to see if the others followed. I had used magic the whole time to see if there was any sort of way to get on the other side of the cliffs, but it wasn’t enough. I was wondering if stronger magic would work better when the cliff started to tremble. Little pebbles and loose gravel fell as it was shaken from the side of the cliff. I stood back and realized that a small section, the size of a poorly built door, of the rock was being pushed aside just a few feet to my left.
“What’s that?” Leon asked, wringing his hands. He had come up beside me, along with Lex. I pushed both of them back into the shrubs. Something didn’t seem right…
I watched as two people emerged from the doorway, one familiar and one not. My eyes widened when I realized one of them was Clark, the guy we had been selling the weird potions to. As for the woman, I had no idea who she was. I couldn’t tell much of how she looked from where I was, but I could see that she had Clark’s same brown hair, but obviously her’s was longer. I thought back to Adrian’s letter to Clark that I had read, and remembered him mentioning Clark’s sister. Maybe this was her?
They were discussing something, but I couldn’t hear any of the conversation. For a few seconds, I worried they would head towards us, but instead, they went straight down the the shore.
“Let’s go inside before the door shuts!” Leon whispered. I gazed after Clark and the woman, wanting to know what they were up to, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t help us off the island. Besides, I had no desire to speak to Clark again. And…my magic was picking up on something strange from within the cliffs…something dark.
I waved at Lex and Leon to follow me. Making sure to keep hidden from Clark and the woman, we crept towards the opening. When we got there, I saw the opening led into a cavern too dark to see down into.
“Come on,” I whispered. “And keep quiet.” Lex nodded, and Leon walked ahead of me. I grabbed his arm to keep him from going too far without us.
The deeper we went into the cavern, the darker it got. But I could feel the thick magic that came from it. Powerful magic at that. I could tell it was a spell to keep people out, but I only realized which one when Leon stumbled back and grabbed my hand.
“I want to leave,” he said, his voice trembling. “It’s too dark.”
“Just stay by me,” I said. “It’s a spell making you feel afraid. I’m immune to spells like that.”
“Well, good for you, but I’m not,” said Leon, grabbing my hand tighter. I couldn’t see him in the dark, but I could imagine the look on his face.
“Here,” I said. I called a ball of light to my hand, but it flickered out as soon as it came. “Hmph. Artificial darkness.”
“What’s that?” Lex whispered behind me.
“A spell,” I said. “It cancels out light spells. Whoever casted all this magic really didn’t want anyone in here.”
“Then let’s go home,” said Leon, pulling at my arm.
“The only way out might be through here,” I said. “It’ll be alright…just keep walking.”
Leon quieted down, but he was still terrified. I could hear Lex’s shaky breaths behind me. I couldn’t feel the fear spell, but I knew it was a strong one. I wondered if it would get stronger the farther down we went.
The cavern seemed to go on for miles, and I lost track of time. It could have been night for all I knew. Eventually, a dim purple light slowing got brighter at the end of the cavern, but I thought my eyes might have been playing tricks on me. But the closer we got, it was no trick.
“Wow…,” said Leon as we approached the light. Another opening led into what might have been the weirdest looking place I had ever seen in my life, and that was saying something. We all stared at the dimly lit room with wide eyes.
Hundreds of mirrors, each the same size, all reached up to the ceiling. The floor was a black tile that gave off the illusion that it wasn’t really there. The purple light reflected off of the mirrors, shooting it off into the artificial darkness of the cavern behind us.
“I definitely don’t want to go in there,” said Leon, shaking his head and backing away.
“Well, you don’t want to go back through the cavern either, do you?” I said.
“NO! I want to leave, please!” Leon said, tugging my arm.
“Calm down,” I said. I looked over my shoulder at Lex.
“I’m going through. Are you coming?”
Lex stared at the mirrors with her mouth hanging open.
“I…I’ve never seen anything like this…,” she mumbled. Now that got me a little afraid. She’d seen all kinds of stuff, being a Time Traveler and all. This was totally new to all of us. “I’ll go with you, yes…” She turned her eyes to me, then took Leon’s hand. “Come on, Leon, I’ll be with you.”
“Aw, come on, Lex, I don’t want to go in there, it’s creepy!”
“Perfect, you’ll fit right in,” said Lex.
“Hey!” Leon raised his voice a little too loudly.
“Shhh!” I said, putting my finger to my lips. “Who knows who’s here, so let’s try not to raise their attention!”
I swallowed hard, then ventured into the whimsical room of mirrors. Leon and Lex followed, albeit slowly.
Right away, I found out that the mirrors were placed like a maze, so that it was hard to get through them. What you thought might be a path out, it was actually just another mirror. And the more we walked, the harder it got to find our way.
“This is ridiculous,” I said. I kept my hands up so I didn’t face plant into one of the mirrors. “Leon, Lex, you still keeping up?” I looked over my shoulder, and my heart sunk. They were nowhere to be found. I turned in circles, and when I didn’t see them i tried to go back the way I had came, only to find that I was trapped within the mirrors.
“Lex! Leon!” I cried. “Are you there!”
No reply came. I put my hands on my head, taking shaky breaths and forcing myself not to panic. It was getting harder and harder to keep from losing it.
“Alright Claudia. You can do this. Just stay calm,” I told myself. I put my hands back out and started through the mirror maze again. My heart pounded in my chest. My whole body trembled. But I kept pushing myself forward.
Then, I saw Leon’s reflection behind me in one of the mirrors.
“Leon!” I said. But when I turned around, he wasn’t there. “O-okay…” More magic, I wondered?
In another mirror, I saw Lex’s reflection. In fact, in multiple mirrors I saw their reflections, but when I rushed to find them, they were never there.
Now I ran through the maze, pushing past mirrors and screaming my friends’ names. Every time the mirror showed me their reflections and I thought I heard their voices, they were never there. I pounded on the glass, fight or flight kicking in.
“Let me out of here!” I screamed to whoever owned this terrible room. “Where are my friends?!” I paused to collect myself. My hands shook so bad I could barely use them. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins, but it only made me more jittery. I closed me eyes and took a deep breath. There had to be a way out of here.
As calmly as possible, I made my way back through the maze. I didn’t see Lex or Leon’s reflections again. And when I saw mine, I’d look away, too terrified that I’d see something that wasn’t me. I glued my eyes to the floor and kept my arms out in front of me.
A thin veil of fog covered the strange floor, but I could see through it. It made the tiles seem to warp and move right out from under me, but I never lost my footing. I forced myself to believe the floor was still there even when it looked like it wasn’t.
And then, something caught my eye. Directly in front of me, a card was in the floor. I knelt down and picked it up. It was like any other car, though the design on the back was more intricate that any of the other cards I was used to playing with. When I looked up, more were spread across the floor. I dropped then one I was holding and watched it flutter to the floor, then followed the trail through the maze.
At the end of the trail the cards were in a pile, and beyond them the maze broke off into three different route. At least, it appeared that way. I picked up one of the cards on the top of the pile. An Ace of Spades. I stared down at it as I continued forward. When I thought I was taking one of the three routes before me, I quickly found that there was only one way forward, and it was a dead end. I yelped in surprise when I collided with the mirror. The card fell out of my hands. I raised my gaze to look directly into the mirror, and drew in a sharp breath of air when I did.
Directly behind me, according to the reflection in the mirror, the Card Dealer himself stood.
“It’s just a reflection,” I whispered to myself. But when I slowly turned around, the Card Dealer was indeed standing behind me. I looked up at him with wide eyes. My knees got weak. It was all I could do to keep standing.
The Card Dealer looked down at me, but I couldn’t see his eyes. His usual trilby hat was pulled low over his eyes. His frightening mask covered the rest of his face so that every feature was hidden from me. He had abandoned his cape, but still wore the same vest and trousers he was always seen with.
For a few seconds, both of us only stared at each other. My mind fogged with fear so much so that I couldn’t think properly. I fell back onto the mirror, and that was the only thing that kept me from falling entirely. I tried to speak, yet my voice had escaped me.
He raised his white gloved hand to the mirror on his right, and somehow – most likely through magic – fogged it up. Then, with his finger, he wrote words that sent shivers down my spine.
Having fun yet?
“S-stay b-back,” I stammered. He tilted his head as his arms dropped to his sides. For a moment, he didn’t move. In that time, I gathered up what courage I had. I had spoken with the Card Dealer before, and he didn’t seem to want to hurt me. But I could never be sure.
Suddenly, he shook his head and raised his finger to the mouth on his mask as if to tell me to stay quiet, then he pointed at the mirror behind me. I was almost too petrified to look.
I turned and saw that the reflection in the mirror did not match the Card Dealer’s current stance at all. The reflection was poised to grab me. I stumbled backwards thinking was I going to run into the Card Dealer, but I hit another mirror instead.
I screamed as the reflection darted out towards me.
~ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ~
Now this one was exciting to write! I have been planning this for a long time, and I’m so happy to finally be able to write it and share it with ya’ll! Next time you can expect a full blown magic battle between Claudia and the Card Dealer! Oh, it’s going to be good! Shout out to Spider-Man lover who gave me the sweet idea for this part! I’m actually terrified of mirror mazes because they remind me of fairs, and fairs remind me clowns, which I’m also terrified of. Somehow I just had to incorporate a mirror maze for the affect! As The Card Dealer comes to a close, a whole lot of stuff will be happening! I can’t wait to share it all with all of you guys! So let me know what you think about this part in the comments below! It’d make my day to hear from you! Now have a good weekend and God bless!