Soon the travelers stopped under the protection of a few scraggly trees. Alyssa went off by herself to unwrap the mystery surrounding her sister’s abduction. Understanding, Raynold and Diana made camp by themselves and left her to herself.
A puzzled frown rested on Alyssa’s brow as she flipped thoughtfully through the pages of their book. Something had gone wrong…her sister had NOT been kidnapped in their story after the fight with the glief. Of that she was certain. So what had happened?
Finally, she found the last page in their notebook that they had written. Chapter Thirteen was in bold letters at the top of the next page. Feverishly she reread through chapter twelve. At the end her heart nearly stopped and she gave a cry of dismay. Here’s what she read in her sister’s own handwriting:
“And so the glief flew away with the girl into a mountain, where she was left alone yet again…not knowing what fate held in store.”
“Oh man…” Alyssa moaned, “She really did it this time.”
“Who did it this time?” Diana asked, glancing over the beginnings of their camp fire.
“What did she do?”
Alyssa sighed and closed the notebook. “She wasn’t specific enough. The glief was supposed to capture you…but it got the wrong girl simply because Alice didn’t put in your name.”
Diana gasped. “I was going to be captured?” She squeaked. “And I thought you were my friends!”
“It had to be done!” Alyssa protested. “There’s a twist in our plot that needed you to be captured. Unfortunately, the glief took Alice instead of you. I’ll have to begin writing chapter thirteen and patch it up as best as I can.”
“Unfortunatly? I call it fortunate!” Diana replied. “What sort of plot twist needs a girl kidnapped, anyways?”
“I can’t really tell you…it’s kind of supposed to be a secret between us authors until it happens.”
“Humph,” was all the reply Diana offered.
“Well anyways, at least I know where to look…I had forgotten that we put that in,” Alyssa said, more to herself than to Diana and Raynold, who were now setting out dinner.
“Where are we to look?” Raynold asked suddenly.
“In the mountains,” Alyssa answered.
“Mountains!” Diana scoffed. “There are no mountains here! Just look around you!”
Raynold motioned to Diana to be quiet, and then gave a nod in the direction of Alyssa, who had a funny look on her face.
Presently she spoke again, slowly. “I think I may know where the mountains are…”
Excitedly, Raynold leaned forward, his eyes gleaming in the twilight. “You might?”
“Call it an author’s instinct,” Alyssa replied with her old smile returning, “But we shall find out if I really do tomorrow. Right now, we need to get some sleep so we can start our search for Alice early tomorrow morning.”
“Agreed!” Raynold said.
But first, Alyssa spent another hour scribbling furiously in their notebook to make sure they wouldn’t be disturbed during the night, and that eventually her sister would be found and returned to her arms safe and sound.
The cave was dark and cold. Alice shivered, hugging herself for warmth…not that it worked…she still felt cold. Prickles went down her spine, and Alice gave a worried glance around her. She knew that feeling: she was being watched.
“Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?” She demanded the inky blackness around her.
Alice frowned. “I won’t harm you as long as you promise not to harm me,” She tried again using different tactics.
A soft noise on her right made her spin in that direction. A silvery laugh sounded close by. Then a hand was laid gently on her arm, making her jump in surprise and jerk away.
“I’m not going to harm you,” a voice replied softly through the gloom. “I was afraid that you had been put in here to harm me!”
“You won’t harm me?” Alice asked guardedly. “Promise?”
Again whatever or whoever it was in the cave with her laughed. “I promise!”
Alice heard a match being struck and soon a small golden flame lit up the cave. Alice blinked in the sudden light and squinted her eyes until they were adjusted to the dim light of the candle. When they were, she peered beyond the flame to the silhouette of the person who owned the voice.
“Who are you?” She repeated the first question.
The figure came closer and held the flame to its face, realizing that Alice couldn’t see it still. “My name is Eliana and I am the guardian of the Fire Stone.”
“Oh!” Alice almost began crying in her relief. The flame lit up the figure and she could see now what had had her frightened.
A young lady stood in front of her, clothed in a flowing white dress. Her hair was rippling in light brown waves down her shoulders, and she was smiling a welcome to Alice.
“Why are you here?” Alice asked, knowing the answer, but asking it anyways.
A shadow passed over Eliana’s face. “I was captured, as you were, by the gliefs.”
“So now, no one is guarding the Fire Stone?”
“It’s safe, more or less, where it is. Those who know where it is don’t dare harm it.”
“Where is it?”
Eliana gestured towards the rock behind them. “Back there, deep inside the mountain.”
Alice groaned. “How can we possibly get it then?” She asked more to herself then Eliana.
“It’s not that difficult…” Eliana began.
“You mean I could get it easily? Why haven’t you escaped with it and taken it back to its rightful home?” Alice blurted.
“…it is not difficult to get to where it is being kept at the moment,” Eliana hurriedly continued, “The hard part is bringing it back out of the gliefs’ home. And besides, my duty is to stay near the stone and make sure the gliefs don’t destroy it. If staying here as a prisoner is how I do that, well,” she shrugged, “then that is what I should do.”
“But if we take the Fire Stone, and escape with it, the gliefs wouldn’t dare attack us because it’s the only thing that can kill them!”
Eliana looked shocked. “Who told you that?” She asked.
Alice frowned, puzzled. “Everybody knows that,” she answered.
“But it’s not true!” Eliana protested. “The Fire Stone does kill gliefs, but it’s certainly not the only way to kill them. In fact, gliefs are extremely gullible to almost every weapon invented!”
“Then how come everybody thinks that gliefs can’t be killed except by the Fire Stone? That’s really the only reason we’re out here trying to get it!”
Eliana tilted her head suddenly to one side. “Who’s ‘we’?”
Alice explained how the book had begun, and how the story had come alive, much to the surprise and chagrin of her and Alyssa. Also she expounded on the mission that brought her and her sister as well as Diana and Raynold into uncharted boundaries. She described to the Fire Stone’s guardian how they had gotten through the Swamp Queen’s land in relative safety, then told how they had been found and chased by the gliefs and finally how she had been captured by the gliefs and flown here where she was now a prisoner.
“And your friends and sister, will they come here to rescue you?” Eliana asked once Alice had finished her long story.
Alice nodded. “Alyssa knows the general direction, and being an author she’ll figure out how to get us back together again at some point. I’m just worried that the story might mix itself up more because it can’t read her handwriting or her spelling. It’s really atrocious.” Alice paused, a sad smile appearing on her face as she thought of her sister. “That’s why I was the one elected to actually write the story in our notebook, even though Alyssa really does all the brain work.”
Eliana gave Alice a sympathetic smile. “I trust your sister’s bravery to bring her this far. Can she find her way to these mountains?”
“Oh, I suppose she can.”
“How can we help lead her to the proper cave?”
Alice chewed on her lip thoughtfully, her eyes narrowing as her mind suddenly raced. “Well…I’m not sure how well this will help…but my sister and I do have a secret sign between us that we use sometimes.”
Eliana’s eyes lit up. “Could you mark the entrance to our cave with my candle? The smoke will leave a mark on the rock outside.”
“B-but won’t the gliefs notice us and think we’re trying to escape?”
Eliana laughed ruefully. “They don’t worry about us escaping that way,” She replied grimly. “Take a look down when you step outside the cave and you’ll see why.”
“Is it impossible to ascend?”
“Not impossible to ascend…but it is impossible to descend without breaking your neck on the rocks below unless you have wings like the gliefs.”
Alice let out a sigh, plopping herself onto the ground in frustration. “Then how can we escape when we have the stone?” She asked hopelessly.
A mysterious light came to Eliana’s eyes. “We’ll find a way,” she said softly.
Alice looked at her sharply. “You’re starting to sound like Raynold,” She grumbled.
Eliana laughed. “Is that a compliment?”
“I didn’t think so. When do you think they will try to rescue you?”
Alice glanced down at her wristwatch, thankful that she still had it with her and that it still was working. “After they sleep for the night they’ll start right away if I know my sister.”
“Then we have but thirteen hours or so to wait!” Eliana replied cheerfully.
“Does everybody look on the bright side?” Alice asked herself in a barely audible whisper. “Only thirteen hours indeed!”
Alyssa tossed and turned most of the night. Her mind was continually inventing horrible circumstances that she imagined her sister to be experiencing in the clutches of the gliefs. When the darkness of night faded slowly into the gray light of early morning, Alyssa watched the gorgeous sunrise with red-rimmed eyes that told of her sleepless night. She slipped out of her blankets and rolled them up.
Her movements woke Diana, and her friend rolled over and looked at her worriedly. “Did you sleep at all?” She asked with concern.
Alyssa gave her a ghostly smile and shook her head. “I couldn’t.”
Raynold also woke and stood up, stretching. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said after a loud yawn. “You were worried about your sister?”
Alyssa nodded dumbly, her eyes filling with tears again. “We’ve just got to find her,” She answered.
“And find her we will, never fear!” Raynold gave her an encouraging smile. “As soon as we’ve finished eating we’ll get started on our search to find her.”
And so they ate hurriedly before saddling their horses and with Alyssa in the lead, riding towards the distant mountains which lay just beyond the rolling hills of the meadow.Call for help from followers!I need a picture for Eliana. She is going to be a major minor character, and so I would love your help! The picture can be of just her face, or a bigger portrait. If you find some, post the link in a comment below. Thanks so much for any help! :)