The Dark Detective:Part Five
Convincing Elena to help them find Soren’s long-lost Ghost friend was a lot easier than Dark had expected.
“Can you help us find Soren’s long-lost Ghost friend?”
“Sure, why not?”
“He thinks she’s lost on the island somewhere.”
“It might be dangerous.”
“She’s possibly down a hole.”
“You’re… you’re sure?”
“Dark, I want to get off this island. Like, now. If helping Soren find this ghost will get us into that boat and on the way back home – I am there. I’m your magician.”
Dark threw his arms around the Cybunny in a crushing hug.
“You’re the best, Elena!” He planted a loud smack on her furry cheek, and she screwed up her nose. “Also, we need the Sheet of Invisibility. We’re smuggling Belle into the boat.”
“Meet you outside the cave at midnight!” Dark called to her over his shoulder as he sprinted gaily away.
“TONIGHT?” Elena threw her paws up into the air in frustration. So much for a good night’s sleep. “Wait – Dark! What am I going to do with Sebastian? Dark!”
“Ew, Elena. Why on Neopia did you bring Sebastian?” Dark glared at the orange Meepit strapped to the pink Cybunny’s chest. The Meepit glared back at him.
“I couldn’t leave him there. He kept trying to bite Ash in her sleep, and I was worried he’d end up on the fire again.”
“What about the Krawk?”
“Oh, he’s snuggling with Jinny. I figured he’d be fine there for the night.” Elena adjusted Sebastian more comfortably in his restraints and glanced behind the Draik into the darkness. “So where’s Soren?”
“Here,” a voice whispered from behind them, and they both jumped. Soren’s head poked out of the mouth of the cave, illuminated by the burning torch he was holding. “Man, you two do not know how to talk quietly. We’re trying not to wake the others, remember?”
“Gosh, Elena. Don’t be so loud.” Dark inhaled sharply as the Cybunny kicked him neatly in the shin.
“Elena – Dark told you everything? We’re going to head to the last place we saw Belle, and go from there. Obviously we have searched that area a hundred times, but I’m hopeful with your magic we might be able to find some new clues.”
“Dark did tell you about my magic, right?” Elena sounded unsure.
“Clues?” Dark could barely contain his excitement. A real mystery to solve!
“C’mon, guys. We need to be back by dawn, before the others wake up.”
The walk itself wasn’t particularly unpleasant (despite the cold, damp, darkness and distinct lack of enthusiasm) and it only took the trio – not including Sebastian – forty minutes to reach the place that anyone had last seen Belle, the missing pirate.
It was a part of the island that seemed entirely alike the rest, with the exception of the large waterfall, cascading down into a deep pool of black water.
“A waterfall! How beautiful,” Elena breathed, peering over the edge of the cliff. Soren gripped the back of her neck roughly and yanked her back.
“Careful, Elena. That’s where Belle disappeared.”
“Down… there?” Dark looked slightly nauseous.
“We’ve searched the pool a bunch of times, but there was never any sign of her. She fell into the water and just… vanished.”
“Obviously we aren’t going in the water now – right? It’s the middle of the night!”
“There’s a way down the rock wall, if you’re careful. We’ll get down to the bottom and have a look around. Elena – that’s where you come in. We’re going to need a lot more light.”
Using her talent of lighting peculiar coloured fires, Elena lit their way down the wall. It was slow and tedious (and mildly terrifying if they made a misstep) but they eventually made their way to the pool of dark water. Overhead, the roar of the waterfall was deafening, and the cold spray of water started to soak through their clothing.
Elena’s colourful fires seemed unharmed by the dampness, though. They continued to burn merrily in the night, a rainbow of flames marking the path back up the rock wall.
“What are we supposed to do now, Soren?” Dark wiped a particularly frothy spray of water from his face and pulled his hood up over his head. “If Belle’s been living here ever since you were shipwrecked – hang on a minute. Just how long have you been on this island?”
“I told you that. Back at the camp.”
“No,” Dark went back to that conversation in his mind. “You said you’d been here a long time, and wouldn’t survive another winter. You never said how many winters, though.”
“Well, we’ve been here ever since – well.” In the coloured light of the fires, Soren’s eyes flickered uneasily. “Well, I can’t remember exactly.”
“Soren – how many winters?”
“There was the first one – it was winter when we landed, wasn’t it?”
“That isn’t shipwreck season,” Elena said, thinking back to what the waitress at the Golden Dubloon said. Something about calm seas. “You wouldn’t have headed out in winter.”
“It must have been summer, then. And then it became winter when we were already here.”
“What made you so sure it was winter? Was it snowing?”
“No, it doesn’t snow on Krawk Island.” Soren shook his head in frustration. “I can’t remember, okay! Maybe it was snowing – or maybe it was just really cold. I can’t remember!”
Dark was rubbing the arrow of his tail thoughtfully. It helped him think.
“So let me get this straight. You and the others were shipwrecked here. You lost your captain in the battle with the pirates that attacked you. You then lost Belle – into this pool, apparently. You don’t know how long you’ve been here, and you never saw Belle again. You think you’ve been here for a long time, but have no way of measuring it without the seasons. You said you have nearly stripped the island bare – but you haven’t. I told you – there’s plenty of fruit and berries on the side we landed. So logically, you landed on the other side. Which makes this –” Dark dropped his tail unceremoniously and glanced out at the pool. “ – the centre of the island.”
“Okay.” Soren and Elena didn’t seem particularly impressed by his deduction.
“Time zones.” Dark declared loudly, and the others stared at him. Sebastian opened his mouth and closed it again with a soft snap. “This island has two time zones. Where we landed – Elena and I – it was summer. Lots of fruit and sunshine. Where you landed – it was winter. This island is divided by two different time zones! And this middle bit must be… I don’t know, some kind of dead zone.”
“Dark, that’s impossible. An island can’t be in two times at once.”
“That’s why you think you’ve been here for years, Soren. Maybe years have passed on your side. But we’ve only been here for a couple of days – time must move more quickly on your side. You haven’t been here for several winters – you’ve only been here for a few days! It’s ship wreck season NOW.”
“That can’t be. We’ve gone through all the food and clean water, and we’ve stripped half the trees for our fires. There’s nothing left.”
“Because your half of the island is stuck in some kind of time distortion. On our side, time is passing normally. On yours – we’ve already been here for weeks!”
“No wonder I’m so tired,” Elena said with a wide yawn.
“Belle hasn’t been missing for years,” Dark realised with sudden clarity. “She’s been here for a couple of days – only she’s stuck in a different time to you. She’s stuck in the dead zone!”
“How on Neopia are we supposed to get her out? We don’t even know how to get to her.” Soren covered his eyes with his paws and groaned. “This is all so confusing.”
“There are weird islands in these oceans. Everyone knows that,” Elena added, thinking of the famous Fungus Cave. “Maybe we just got really unlucky with the one we landed on.”
“So we need to find Belle and get back to the others. You said you searched the pool, Soren?”
“Yeah, several times. We never found anything.”
“That only leaves one place, really.”
“The waterfall. When Belle fell into the water, she must have climbed the wall of the waterfall to get back out. By the time you all made your way down to the pool – she was already out of the water. If she didn’t climb back up to the top, and it’s at the bottom, she must be halfway. There must be some kind of cove behind the waterfall.”
“Why didn’t she answer us when we called out to her? We came back every day for weeks!”
“I doubt she could hear through a waterfall. To her, she’s only been here a day or two. She think you’re still looking for her.” Elena glanced over at the sheet of water pouring into the pool. It was indeed a deafening roar.
“Then we don’t have a minute to lose! Poor Belle. She must be so scared – cold and alone. Come on. We need to find a path to the waterfall.”
The three of them began feeling their way over the rocky wall, until Dark stopped so suddenly Elena nearly slipped and had to grab onto Soren for balance.
“What do you mean, “uh oh”? Dark!”
“We’ve been in this dead zone for a little while. Who knows how much time has passed back at the camp. We might have been missing for weeks.” Dark chewed on his bottom lip anxiously. “And… well.”
“Well, what?” Elena’s voice rose to a painful pitch. “What, Dark?!”
“They might have already left without us.”
To be continued…