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by Margo Fallis
The Sea

          “If we keep going straight, we’ll come to the Maba Sea. We can rest there, find food and shelter, and then decide the where we’ll head. It’s just over the hill.” Corin pointed toward a mound.

     The sun disappeared below the horizon and one by one the stars twinkled in the sky. The moons shone on the Maba Sea, reflecting off its calm waters. They spread their blanket rolls on the soft sand and in comfort lay to sleep for the night.

     When the sun rose, Braden opened his eyes. The others still slept. He arose without disturbing anyone, stretched his arms and went for a walk down to the sea. He took off his shoes and stood at the edge of the water, letting the waves roll in over his legs, swishing around him as the tide receded. He loved the sea. He looked to his right. The sandy beach spread out for miles, dotted only with a few palm trees. Looking to the left he saw a pile of rocks covered with seaweed and crabs; past those, only more beach. Turning back to the others, he saw they were still sleeping. He stripped, tossed his clothes on the sand and dove into the breaking waves. He swam out to sea, enjoying the feeling of the salty water on his bare skin. Now and then he glanced back at the shore; still no movement. His mind wandered. They were a pretty good group, the five of them. He was glad he’d met them all, even Fingal. He thought of Bramber and realized how much he missed her. He wanted to get back home as much as the others did. He wondered what she was doing that very moment. Just as he was envisioning her, he heard a whistle from the beach.

There stood Cafania, holding his clothes. “Oh Braden. Are these yours?”

     Braden swam to the shore. Cafania didn’t budge. When he got to the point where he could touch bottom, he walked out of the water. His idea was to embarrass Cafania, but she stood fast watching him. He took the clothes from her hand and dressed himself.

Corin started laughing. “I didn’t think you’d have the nerve.”

Cafania turned, now embarrassed. She ran down the beach to the crab-covered rocks. She heard Corin’s laughter following her.

     Fingal and Gorbal woke up. Fingal saw Braden’s hair. “Did you go for a swim? I want to go for a swim too. Do you want to go, Corin? Do you want to swim with me? Huh? Do you?”

     Corin shrugged his shoulders. “Why not!” The dwarf and Corin undressed and dove into the waves.

     “Are you going to join them?” Braden asked Gorbal.

     “Maybe later. Right now I want to study the Book of Spells. I’ve had to use it three or four times now. It’s time for the book and I to become better acquainted.” He sat on the sand and turned his attention to reading book.

     Braden thought he should talk to Cafania. As he approached, he noticed her sitting on a rock on top of a hill that sloped down to the beach. He walked up to her. She turned and looked up at him. “Aren’t you coming back?” Braden’s voice soothed her.

     She looked at her feet. “I’ll be along in a while. It’s so beautiful here. If you stand and look out to sea, you can see dolphins leaping out of the water. Those birds there,” she said, pointing, “are so magnificent. Look at the colors. Red, green, purple, and the blue is like no blue I’ve ever seen before.”

Braden looked. He saw Fingal and Corin splashing and dunking each other. “What is that?” He pointed to a dark mass in the water.

Cafania stood. It’s a whale. It’s headed right for them.”

Braden waved his arms back and forth. Cafania screamed. Gorbal heard them and looked up. When he saw the huge whale, he stood waved his arms and shouted to his friends. “Watch out! Watch out! Come back to the beach!”

Corin and Fingal thought they were waving hello and waved back. Grabbing Cafania’s hand, Braden ran to the beach where Gorbal stood. “The whale’s going to eat them!” The three stood watching as a huge black whale rose out of the water behind Corin and Fingal and came down on top of them, mouth wide open. It swallowed them in one gulp. It dove under the water and came up about a hundred yards farther out in the sea. It blew mist and spray through its blow hole. “Oh no! What will we do?” Gorbal shouted with worry.

Braden grabbed the book. “Are there any spells for whales in here?”

Gorbal grabbed it right back. “I’ll look.” He turned to the ‘W’ page. “Nothing.”

The whale didn’t go out any further, nor did it dive underwater. Braden remembered hearing stories of people who’d been swallowed by whales and who had lived for days until the beast spit them out again. That gave Braden hope of a chance to save Corin and Fingal.

 “Poor Fingal. He was so upset about the snow monster and now this.” Cafania shook her head.

“This seems to be the whale’s territory. I don’t think he’ll go far away, at least not for a while. I think we can save them. It’ll take some planning on our part, but we’ll come up with something.” Braden put his arm around Cafania’s shoulder.

Unfortunately, Cafania and Gorbal didn’t share Braden’s positive enthusiasm. They believed they’d never see their friends again. Seeing Braden’s confident smile, they decided anything was better than nothing and sat to talk about their rescue plan.

              *  *  *

Gorbal spent the rest of the day going through his Book of Spells. None of them had come up with any solution. Cafania and Braden had finally dozed off. “Ah, there is a spell for the sea, but I don’t see how I can use it on a whale,” Gorbal mumbled out loud.

As the sun set, a fire blazed, warming Gorbal’s feet. He’d built one before going to sleep to protect them from wild animals. All he asked was that Gorbal keep putting on the gathered driftwood to keep it going all night. Gorbal read his book by the light of the flickering flames. His eyes were starting to get tired. He looked into the fire, rubbing them. Was he seeing things? Did the flames start to go blue? “What is going on?” The flames turned blue, and then green, yellow, red, and purple. Smoke began to swirl, spiraling upward like a funnel cloud. Gorbal jumped up.

The smoke dissipated and there stood the Lord of the Seas in his gray cloak, hovering above the flames. Gorbal recognized him from the castle at Zolfin. The frail looking man walked over to Gorbal. He looked at the others and whispered, “I’ve come to help you. You five have done so much to help others. The Lord of the Heavens sends his gratitude and wishes me to aid you at this time. We have seen the dilemma you are in. Your friend, Corin, and his dwarf, Fingal, have found themselves in quite a predicament. You’ve studied your Book of Spells, yet cannot come up with a solution to help your friends. Is this true?” Gorbal, unable to speak, simply nodded his head. “Stand back.” The morning sun lit the sky.

Gorbal stepped out of the way and watched as the Lord of the Seas raised his hands high above his head. Gorbal looked out to sea. He saw nothing different happening; the sea didn’t part. He was just about to speak when he saw the water moving in the distance. He noticed a huge black mound coming towards the beach. At first he thought it was a tidal wave, but then he saw that it was the whale that had swallowed his friends. The noise of it rushing in woke up Braden and Cafania. They saw the Lord of the Seas standing on the beach.

“What’s going on?” Braden jumped to his feet.

“Shhhh. Watch this.” Gorbal pointed to the sea.

Cafania joined them. They watched in awe as the whale swam in closer. They moved backward, fearing it was going to come onto the beach and swallow them too. It surged through the waves, forcing water out to the side; it broke onto the beach and the whale came right up onto the sand. The Lord of the Seas lowered his arms and the whale opened its mouth. A few moments later, Corin and Fingal came walking out. Both looked as though they’d been bleached. They were white because of the acid in the whale’s stomach, but otherwise all right. They staggered onto the sand. Fingal collapsed. Corin took some deep breaths of air. The whale then slid back into the sea and disappeared.

      *  *  *

The Lord of the Seas turned toward them. “Thank you all for what you’ve done. You saved Princess Jasmine and her village. You’ve done extra duty by helping their parents escape the trolls.”

Fingal rolled over. “We killed the wolf. We made sure it was dead. Have you seen the wolf? It’s got red eyes and they glow. It’s got sharp teeth, but now it’s dead.”

“Yes, thank you, Fingal, but the wolf isn’t dead. He was merely transformed into another wolf right now. We have seen it. Kolin still roams this planet, however, he is no concern of yours. The Lord of the Heavens has asked me to assist you all in returning to your homelands. Your job is done. You are no longer required to assist.”

“Remember at Zolfin, they explained that to us. The wolf was cursed. I don’t know about the rest of them, but I want to kill that wolf forever. Is there a way? If there is, we can do it.” Corin glanced at the others.

The Lord of the Seas thought for a moment. “Yes, there is a way, but it will not be easy. It will require much time and preparation. Gorbal and his Book of Spells will have to assist. You’ll have to travel to the Kingdom of Pinea where Kolin, his twin brother, Kile, and his mother, Princess Serba lived. Both Kile and his mother will have to be called back from the dead to aid you in your quest. All five of you will have to go, even the dwarf. It’s a two day journey from here and you’re all tired.”

Braden stepped up. “I’ll go with Corin.”

“Me too,” Gorbal said.

“I’ll go. I want to go wherever Corin goes. I’m not afraid of that wolf. I’ll stab it and then I’ll kill it.” Fingal stabbed the air with a pretend sword.

“I’ll go too,” Cafania said. “We stick together. We’re a team.”

“Well, there it is then. We’re all going. I do have one favor to ask in return for us doing this,” Corin said.

“Go on,” said the Lord of the Seas.

“When this is over, and if we’re all still alive, you’ll have to transport us back to our homelands. I’m afraid we’re all just a bit too tired for another long journey, and if we aren’t, we will be after this. Agreed?” Corin stared at the gray-cloaked man.

“That can be arranged. You will be transported back to your homelands as soon as the wolf is dead. Of that you can be sure.”

“All right then. Point us in the direction of  Pinea.” Corin looked to the east.

“Wait a minute. How can we call a Princess and her son back from the dead? We’re not wizards.” Cafania picked up her back and brushed the sand off.

“When you arrive in Pinea, go directly to the hut of Padd. Padd holds the power to bring them back. Tell him that I sent you. He isn’t human, nor dwarf, nor gnome. He’s an unusual creature, but well, I’ll let you find out for yourselves later. Walk over the hill,” The Lord of the Seas pointed, “and then turn south. Follow the path running along the bottom of the ridges of mountains until you come to Lake Pentip. Go around the lake shore until you come to another path. It leads east. Take that for a day’s journey and you’ll arrive in Pinea. It’s a small village.” He reached into his cloak and pulled out a large green emerald. Handing it to Cafania, he said, “You took great care of the Healing Stone, so I entrust this to you. I shall let Gorbal keep the Healing Stone, for now, but it must be returned before you return to your homes.”

“What’s this emerald for?” Cafania held it up and examined it. “It’s beautiful.”

“This is the Stone of Destiny. You will need to give it to Padd when you arrive in Pinea. He needs it to aid the returning of Kolin’s mother and brother. Be sure and give it to him. Do not lose it!”

Cafania opened her pack and dropped it in. “I’ll guard it with my life. It must be worth a fortune.”

“Good,” said the Lord of the Heavens. “It is worth a fortune, but that’s not why it is valued. Now, I must go. We are with you on this quest and appreciate you volunteering to go one. Gorbal, guard the Book of Spells. There are those who wish to take it from you. Beware and trust no one.” With these words he flung his gray cloak around in a circle and disappeared.

“That was interesting,” Gorbal said. “So, we’re off again, are we?”

The others sighed. Fingal looked at Corin. “I think you need a suntan. You’re skin is all white.” He looked at his own hands. “Yikes. I’m all white too. We both need a suntan.”

Cafania, Corin and Gorbal shook their heads and gathered their packs, slipping them over their shoulders. Braden looked at the dwarf, “Come on, Fingal. Gather your things. We’ve got a long journey ahead of us.”

The sun rose higher and by mid morning they stopped for a break. Fingal and Corin lay in the sun, trying to soak up its rays and get color back into their skin. After a lunch of berries and crabs and a few clams they’d dug up on the beach, they were back on the trail. Gorbal made sure the Book of Spells was safe, along with the healing stone. Cafania checked her backpack to make sure she’d not lost the emerald Stone of Destiny. Safe and secure, she relaxed. Corin gathered the weapons. “To Pinea!”

              *  *  *

Kolin grew stronger every day. Now larger and even more ferocious, he attacked a herd of deer and feasted on them for several days. He was more powerful, more cunning, and more evil than before. His anger raged, determined to find those who had slain him in the village of Damien. He’d hunt them down and tear them to pieces, limb by limb. He knew where they were. He’d smelled them the day before. They were at the Maba Sea, heading south. He knew where they were going to his home, Pinea. He ran through the trees, over rocks, and across rivers. If he could get there before them, he’d wait and surprise them. His eyes glowed red, as if to burn anything near him.

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