Elaine's Expedition:Part Six
Elaine and Jaycin raced through the sprawling passageways, afraid the monster was just on their heels. The cut on Elaine's leg burned, but she didn't care; a small scratch could wait when there was a hungry Hissi chasing them.
When Elaine began to think that she could run no longer, it was as if the Tomb took sympathy on the pair. Elaine and Jaycin found themselves right in front of the ancient runed doorway from which they had entered. Jaycin threw open the doorway, allowed Elaine to run through, hurried through afterward, and slammed it shut. Cool air and a nighttime sky greeted them.
Placing the dim torch back on a sconce outside the entrance, Jaycin exhaled.
"So," Elaine said, "why did you think that was a good idea, exactly?"
"I'm…not sure," Jaycin admitted. "Maybe I was just trying to impress you."
"I'm not sure it worked," Elaine laughed. She was surprised she could still laugh after that horrific experience.
The two trailed off, eventually stumbling onto a small, sandy shore. It was high tide; the waves were noticeably larger than the daytime. Jaycin flopped into the sand onto his back; Elaine followed suit.
From her back, Elaine stared up into the sky. It was inky black, speckled with bright and twinkling lights. The sky, day or night, never ceased to amaze her.
Jaycin rolled over onto his side to face her. "So?" he said simply.
Elaine copied him, rolling on her side. Looking at his face, she noticed how brightly the stars reflected in his jet black eyes.
She realized she was staring.
"So…" he said again. "This has been pretty fun."
"'Fun,'" Elaine smirked. "That's one word for it."
"I find that anything I do with you is fun," Jaycin replied. "I feel fortunate to have met you."
Elaine smiled, then was struck with a sudden sense of realization. Fortunate. The fortunes. "Jaycin," she gasped. "Our fortunes came true."
"What?" he asked, clearly confused.
"Our fortunes, from the Island Mystic," clarified Elaine. "Yours was 'you will discover a valuable artifact in a strange way.' It was the gem, Jaycin!"
Jaycin's eyes widened at the epiphany. "I forgot about that," he exclaimed, suddenly searching his pocket. Hastily, he procured the red-orange gem.
"You actually took it?" Elaine gasped.
"Of course," he laughed.
Elaine rolled her eyes and continued. "And as for mine…'You will defend yourself against demonic fortune repeatedly.' Not sure how well I 'defended' myself, but if that Hissi wasn't 'demonic fortune,' then I don't know what is."
"Well, you are right about that," he chuckled, grinning slightly. "But I would face it again if I were with you."
Elaine rolled her eyes again. But she was sad by what she had to admit next. "I have to go home tomorrow."
"I knew that was coming," he smiled sadly, meeting her eyes. "You should get some sleep, then; you have a big journey tomorrow."
The pair fell into silence after that, each enjoying the soft sand and the moon and the stars and the quiet rock of the waves.
Before Elaine realized, the waves had lulled her into a deep and restful sleep.
It was time to depart.
After a night spent on a stretch of sand, slumbering under a full moon, Elaine and Jaycin had awoken to find a beach that was much larger than it had been the night before, since the tide had receded; the sun had beaten down, warming them after a cool night. They had brushed off the sand and continued together in silence. No talking was not necessary; they both knew what today was.
She and Jaycin made their way back to the port where she had docked her boat. She was grateful that Jaycin had offered to help her get home; she didn't know if she had the energy to get there on her own right now.
Elaine started towards the dock holding her sailboat, but Jaycin went walking in another direction. "Umm..." she started.
"This way, trust me," Jaycin said. "Have I ever steered you wrong?"
"Well…" Elaine started.
"Never mind," Jaycin laughed. "Don't answer that. But you gotta trust me."
Jaycin walked the two of them over to a dock a little further down the beach. As they made their way, they glimpsed Klark, who waved to them from a distance. Finally, they reached a boat, a vessel noticeably larger than the one she had used to get to Mystery Island.
"Here we are," Jaycin announced, jumping up the steps of the boat.
Awed, Elaine followed him up the stairs, and went to stand next to him at the front of it. "Do you know how to sail this thing?"
"Elaine, please…like I said, you need to trust me!" he said again. Jaycin wrapped the tight knot of rope holding the boat to the dock, and pushed off it. Then he quickly went to the center of the boat and raised a sail. Wind immediately enlarged the sail and the boat was propelled forward.
The wind whipped into her face, and it felt like a wash of relief. But her relief turned quickly into panic. "Jaycin! We can't leave my boat behind! It's my Father's; I need to bring it back to him!"
"Don't worry, already thought of that," Jaycin replied as he steered the sailboat left and down the row of docks. Sooner than Elaine realized, they had pulled up right beside her own boat. It looked miniscule compared to Jaycin's vessel.
Swiftly, Jaycin grabbed a rope and jumped into Elaine's boat. He tied the rope through a metal loop on the back of it that she had not noticed before. Then he scrambled back into his own boat, tying the other end of the rope to a metal bar on the back. "There," he concluded. "It will be pulled right behind us."
"That was quick thinking," Elaine noticed.
Jaycin steered the boat towards the open sea.
The sail enlarged, grabbing the wind whooshing around it. The boat was propelled forward at a speed Elaine could not believe.
The pair spent most of the journey in silence. Having been through so much in such a short time, the quietness was a welcome thing. Elaine took the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of the journey: the sunshine on her face; the smooth chop of the glossy water; the salt in the air.
They arrived in front of Krawk Island right as the sun was dipping below the horizon. The sky was a fiery orange, with yellow striking through it. Elaine directed Jaycin towards her family dock, and he smoothly and confidently navigated the vessel, deftly tying it again to the dock post. Next, he untied Elaine's father's sailboat and tied that to the dock, too.
Elaine and Jaycin hopped down the stairs of the boat onto the dock. Elaine felt immediate comfort from the familiarity of the wooden planks. Stretching out her limbs after the long journey, she was about to touch her toes when all of a sudden –
"Elaine!" cried a familiar voice.
Elaine looked up to see a green figure running from her own house. A Krawk. Her Mother.
"Mother!" Elaine yelled back, rushing towards her. They immediately embraced.
"Elaine, I was so worried. I tried to keep faith, you said you'd be fine in your note, and you're a smart girl, I knew you would be, but – "
"Mother, it's okay, I am fine, I promise," Elaine reassured her.
"I trusted you," another familiar voice said.
Elaine looked up to see her father.
She ran to hug him. They embraced.
"Father, it's so early! How…why…how are you not at work?"
"He was promoted," her mother said immediately.
Elaine gaped. "Father?"
"It's true," he confirmed. "I'm a port supervisor now. I dictate when I stay and go to work." He hugged Elaine again.
"Father, that's wonderful, I'm so happy for you," Elaine said.
"And I'm happy for you. You finally pursued your dream," her father remarked.
Elaine looked up at him. "How did you know that was my dream?"
"Elaine, you've watched the sunset on that dock every day for as long as I can remember. If you hadn't been curious about Mystery Island, I would've been concerned," he joked.
Elaine smiled. "I guess you're right."
She turned to look at the sunset, the water, Mystery Island; and when she looked over her shoulder, she saw Jaycin, dawdling by the dock. He likely hadn't wanted to intrude on her family moment.
Feeling slightly rude for forgetting about him for a moment, Elaine ran over to him, grabbed his hand, and dragged him in front of her parents. "Mother, Father, this is Jaycin."
"Nice to meet you," Jaycin said, reaching out a hand to shake with each of them, surprisingly cordial.
"He was my personal tour guide," Elaine joked. She turned to face him. "And a great friend."
"Well, thank you for keeping Elaine out of too much trouble," Elaine's father said.
"I'm not quite sure I succeeded at that," Jaycin smiled.
"Won't you stay for dinner, Jaycin?" asked Elaine's mother.
Elaine gave him a subtle nod; Jaycin picked up on it out of the corner of his eye. "It would be my pleasure," he agreed.
"Great, it's almost ready, come along inside," her mother motioned to them.
Her parents began to walk inside; Jaycin started to follow, but Elaine grabbed his arm. "Come over here," Elaine said.
Elaine led him to the edge of the dock. Dusk had arrived, the stars beginning to peek out on the night sky. "Such courtesy to my parents, wow…I didn't know you could be that formal," Elaine laughed.
"Yeah, well, I was just trying to make a good impression," Jaycin said, pushing a hand through his hair.
"I think you did," Elaine assured him.
The two stood in silence for a moment.
Then, Elaine broke it.
"I…I just wanted to thank you for helping me. Showing me around. You know…" she ended awkwardly.
"The pleasure was all mine," Jaycin said.
"I really hope…after tonight…this won't be a goodbye…" she trailed off.
"It most certainly won't be, I won't allow that," he half-grinned.
She would miss that sly grin.
"And to make sure you don't forget me…" he began, hastily searching his pocket. "Please take this."
Jaycin handed over the red-orange gem from the Tomb.
"Jaycin, I can't take this! It was your fortune to have this treasure."
"Fortunes, bah, they're phooey anyway. And I'll treasure our friendship much more than some gem."
Elaine's eyes threatened to fill with tears a bit as she took the gem from him.
And then Jaycin hugged her.
Taken aback at first, Elaine recovered quickly and returned the hug. After a few seconds, they released, and began walking up to her home. Subtly, she took one last look over her shoulder, back at Mystery Island – the island that was no longer so much of a mystery anymore.