The Dark Detective:Part Six
Dark had been right about everything.
Well, almost everything.
They did indeed find Belle – a pretty pirate Xweetok – in a small cove hidden behind the waterfall, and she was indeed very cold and alone. She had twisted her ankle on the way up the wall, and had been unable to continue the climb upwards. She confirmed Dark’s theory that she had only been there for a couple of days, and she also confirmed that she had assumed the crew were still looking for her.
The one part that Dark had gotten wrong in his was how she had fallen into the water in the first place.
“I was pushed!” She exclaimed, after exchanging several warm hugs with Soren and handshakes with the others. “I swear, Soren. We were all at the top of the cliff, and I felt someone shove me and I went over the edge. It all happened so fast.”
“But who would do that?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure it out. I was standing next to Ash and Mustafa. I thought Jinny was behind me – but she’d never push anyone, not in a million years.”
“Sit still,” Elena scolded as she held her wand over Belle’s injured ankle. The Xweetok sighed and sat back against the wall. In the blue glow of the campfire, she looked extremely tired.
“Been a rough couple of days, huh?” Dark gave her paw a sympathetic squeeze.
“Days? Try a rough week! From getting attacked by those pirates and ending up here, and getting stuck down a watering hole – yeah, it’s been rough.”
“Someone really needs to do something about those pirates,” Dark mused, as Elena mumbled something under her breath as she waved her wand. Soren raised an eyebrow at him.
“One problem at a time, buddy. We’ve got to get off this island.”
“They’ve already left, haven’t they?” Belle asked, her eyes downcast. Dark had explained his time distortion theory, and the possibility that the others had presumed them missing (or dead) after a few weeks and had gone on without them.
“They probably waited for a storm – their best opportunity to get past the sea monster. Where they’ll end up – we may never know.”
“And what about us? We have no boat, no way of navigating the seas and no way of getting off this island. And unless Elena can work a miracle – I can’t see myself climbing to the top of this wall any time soon.”
“Hmph.” Elena wiped away a small bead of sweat that had broken out on her forehead and sat back. “Healing spells are complex, okay? It’ll take a few go’s.” She heaved an exhausted sigh and Dark gave her a consoling pat on the shoulder.
“It feels a lot better already,” Belle replied gratefully, although Dark detected a slight hint of a lie in her eyes. He appreciated it all the same.
“It’s nearly dawn,” Soren held his paw up to his mouth to stifle a yawn. “Let’s catch a couple of hours kip and regroup later. We have a lot to do today.”
The others mumbled their agreement, and Dark’s eyes were closed before he hit the floor.
Some time later, Dark awoke to the uncomfortable heaviness of Sebastian sitting on his chest. The Meepit was staring at him with his eerie wide eyes, and Dark wondered just how long he’d been there. He picked him up and placed him gently on the floor beside him, where the Meepit promptly leapt back up onto him. They had an odd sort of wrestle for a minute or two, before Dark gave up and let Sebastian sit on him as the others started to wake up.
After an imaginary breakfast (Dark had pancakes, fruit and ice cream, with a strong black coffee on the side) and a quick outline of the plan for the day, the group were ready to go.
“Sebastian what are you DOING?” The Meepit was running headfirst into the rocky wall of the cave, tumbling backwards – and doing it all over again. It was about the fourth collision that Elena noticed, and rushed over to stop him. She picked him up and tried to examine his head, but the petpet was not having a bar of it. He thrashed and writhed in her arms, throwing himself back at the wall. It took all of the Cybunny’s strength to hold onto him, and Dark rushed forward to help.
“Sebastian!” He managed to fling himself out of Elena’s arms and into the wall again. This time, a small chip of rock broke off and fell to the floor with a soft clatter. Looking pleased with himself, Sebastian picked up the rock and tossed it into his mouth, crunching down happily.
“Your Meepit is really weird,” Belle said, as Sebastian started at the wall again. Dark scooped him up just in time and wrapped his arms around him in a tight vice.
“You’re telling us. You should have seen what he did with the –”
“Dark,” Elena breathed, pushing him out of her way as she peered at the cave wall more closely. She waved her wand once and a small pink flame illuminated the end, like a small torch. She held it up to the rock and leaned closer still.
“What is it, Elena?” Soren and Belle stepped closer, and Sebastian stopped squirming in the Draik’s grip.
“There’s writing on here. It’s a bit caked by dirt and rock – but Sebastian knocked some off, see? Help me clear it.”
The five of them (including Sebastian) set to work of clearing the hard sediment that covered the wall and revealing the words and symbols underneath. They glowed a faint blue, and the entire wall was warm to the touch.
Elena ran her paws over the writing and closed her eyes. She could feel a gentle thrumming running through the rock.
“Is it magic?” Dark whispered, and she smiled at him without opening her eyes.
“Old magic, Dark. Really old. This whole place – it’s alive with it.”
Dark reached out a hand to touch the wall. It was warm, and vibrated slightly, but he couldn’t feel the energy that Elena could. He wished – and not for the first time – that he had magic.
“The symbols are runes – I can’t read all of them, but some are easy. This one here –” The pink Cybunny pointed at one of the glowing blue rune that was shaped like a rising sun. “This is the symbol for time. Not like midday or morning or whatever – time itself.”
“Cool.” Dark was scraping off a layer of dirt on one of the runes with his sharp fingernail. Underneath was a glowing blue snake, coiled in a circle with its head chasing its tail. “What’s this one?”
“Eternal life, I think. Not that there is such a thing, but there’s been plenty of villains trying to give it a go.” Nobody felt the need to mention one F. Sloth aloud, but it was there in their minds. That pesky Darigan Eyrie, too.
“How on Neopia did Sebastian know they were here? He’s useless.” Dark glanced over into the corner where the Meepit was happily crunching on the sediment they had chipped off the wall. “And what do they mean, Elena?”
“I don’t know. But I can feel my magic charging up just by being in here. Let me try something.” Placing one pink paw on the wall, Elena pointed her wand at Belle’s maimed ankle and closed her eyes.
Nothing happened for a good few minutes, until the pirate Xweetok gasped aloud and set her foot down, one paw grasping Soren’s shoulder. She carefully tested the ankle before jumping up and down excitedly, feeling no pain.
“Elena – you did it!”
Dark reached out to engulf his friend in a hug as Soren wrapped his arms around Belle, pulling her in close.
“Using this magic, do you think you’ll be able to get us out of here? Off the island I mean. I can definitely climb this cliff now.”
“Once we make it to the shore, I’ll see what I can do. We need to make it to our side of the island – that is, the side me and Dark landed on. That way we’ll still be in our correct time zone, and won’t have been missing for a couple years. Can you imagine Lis without Sebastian? She’d kill me.”
“That Sebastian? Really?” Belle looked at the orange Meepit in the corner eating dirt and made a face.
“He used to be a lot better,” Elena replied, remembering fondly of the days when Sebastian had been a Krawk and had been well behaved. “Wait a minute – the Krawk! It must have gone with the rest of the pirates. Oh no!”
Soren had been quiet for a minute, deep in thought. When he spoke, his voice was low.
“Our plan is good – make it out of this cavern, head back to your side of the island where time is running correctly. Then get your boat, Elena can make a storm and we’ll sail past the sea monster. Anybody else see the problem with this plan?”
Dark buried his face in his hands with a groan.
“We don’t have a boat.”
“Oh, for the love of Fyora…”