river book three

Book Three, Chapter 1

Scroll 5: This is . . .

The former squires and their companions have finally made it to the place indicated in the first riddle of the ancient prophecy. Unfortunately, the hunt to find the all-powerful Macht Crystals is proving tougher than they imagined.

“Are you up for this?” Gimelli asked Bellae in a whisper.

“You better not leave me big sister. I know I said I would go on without you, but I couldn’t bear it.” Bellae answered. “I am sick of everyone dying. Why does this keep happening?”

“I don’t know.” Gimelli answered. She looked to Kainen and Scelto for help.

“I know it seems unfair, Bellae. But, this is war,” Kainen said. “However much we hate it, however much it hurts, we need to keep going. If the prophecy is right, you can help end the fighting once and for all.”

Bellae nodded but was feeling nauseated. If one more person told her how important she was, she was going to scream.

After a cursory breakfast of desert fruit and water Gimelli, Bellae, Scelto, Lontas, and Kainen headed off while Sankari and Arend rested.

Once they were closer to the other outcropping of rocks, they noticed an overgrown path between the various desert trees that led up to the center boulder. It had a wreath of green vines with blue flowers ringing its top.

“Ok, now what?” Scelto asked.

“I don’t know.” Kainen confessed. “Let’s just look around. It mentions a mystery we must solve, so look for some sort of writing or symbol . . .”

“There! Up there.” Lontas pointing to a notched area near the top of the rock formation.

“We could sure use Arend to fly up there,” Scelto commented.

“He needs to rest. We can figure this out ourselves,” Kainen declared.

Eventually, they decided the best way to solve the problem was for Lontas to stand on Scelto’s shoulders.

“What do you see?” Gimelli asked.

“There’s a bowl carved into the rock. I don’t know how they carved it like this, but it is set back under an overhang so that it is covered on all sides but the front. It’s full of sand and junk. There is also some writing carved up above it.” Lontas reported.

“Well, what does it say?” Kainen asked.

“I can only read the top part. The bottom part is gibberish.”

“Hurry it up Lontas, my shoulders are killing me.” Scelto complained.

“Ok. There are only two paragraphs that I can read.

‘To unlock the door,

You need to read more.

Opening your eyes,

You may not see the surprise.

To crack the code

Fill the load.

 

It is large enough to hold all three suns and thirteen moons.

It weighs nothing, yet only a fool tries to lift it.

It can be as small as a drop or as large as the ocean.

Despite the difference in size, they hold exactly the same amount.

What’s right is left and what’s left is right.

But top is still above, and bottom is below.

To make sure you’re not confused, backwards will make it familiar.’”

“Is that it?” Gimelli questioned.

“Great, at least its nothing complicated,” Kainen groaned.

“Yeah, the rest of it is complete gibberish; just random letters scrambled about . . . no, wait. Not only is it a whole bunch of letters thrown around, some are actually backwards.”

“Backwards?” Kainen huffed with rising frustration.

Lontas reread the riddle to the League before getting down.

“Good job guys.” Kainen said. “It seems obvious that we need to figure out some sort of code to be able to read the rest of the gibberish, as Lontas called it.”

“What in the world is big enough to hold all three suns and thirteen moons?” Scelto asked.

“The sky would be the obvious answer. Maybe the code has something to do with the position of the stars or something,” Lontas guessed.

“But you also told us it said that it weighs nothing and you could never lift it,” Gimelli added.

“That’s true, but it doesn’t change anything. The sky is just black air that the celestial bodies move through. Air doesn’t weigh anything and you can’t really lift it,” Lontas answered.

The League argued for over an hour about how to use the stars or sky to help read the bottom portion. However, even after Lontas was hoisted up to look again, he could see no connection or guide.

book 3 excerpt

Book Three, Chapter Five

Scroll 6: Week Four-Drivel and Sea Legs

The long road to fulfill the prophecy has continued to be a difficult one. Bellae and two companions find themselves sailing the treacherous Dark Sea. With Piscium in the hands of the Dark Warriors they were forced to sail with a dubious Mariner, Mor-Leider.

“We’re getting within reach of land, parrots,” Mor-Leider said. “The trip there is dependent on the brisk trade winds. The return trip will be mostly powered by the currents that flow east to west. A much nicer trip it should be.”

As the light from his lantern moved closer, he could see they had more color. “Why, you parrots appear to be growing sea legs. That’s a hard fact to conceive, given how ailingly green your skin was shining during those first two weeks. Good thing you were down here and towards the back, otherwise you might have perished.”

Lontas and Bellae slowly crawled out of their crates as Sankari fluttered around. Even though they had been able to keep things down, they were still weak and dehydrated after the rough journey. Mor-Leider handed them some salted pork and they ate hungrily. They were also given a nasty drink that was a combination of grapes and limes.

“Make sure you gulp down all of your morsen,” Mor-Leider advised. That keeps you from turning yellow and having your teeth fall out.”

Grimacing, the three finished their portion of the sour beverage.

“We’re a day or so away from greeting the Redire Channel. You had expressed the opinion you needed to go to the South Isle. I believe you parrots had raised the point of some sort of riddle? This here would be the hour to show me your tale.” Mor-Leider contended.

Bellae carefully removed the prophecy scroll and map of Ifrean. She made sure to keep the crystals well hidden; he was a pirate after all.

“Where did you discover this? There are people close to the White Wizard himself who don’t possess such a complete map. Many are presented with just a sketchy map of their own area. This map be like gazing on the stars on a clear night, enough to take your breath away.”

“A friend gave it to us.” Bellae replied. She then read him the bottom portion of the riddle.

“Behind the Lion with no roar,

Find your next chore.

Don’t just stare at the Evil Eye.

Jump in the cenote, give it a try.

 

Dive down, just don’t drown.

Head north, through the stalagmite crown.

Rise up and breath, for your test.

Sacrifice, love, hate; choose the best.”

“Who composed this drivel?” Mor-Leider asked.

“So, we know that the ‘Lion with no roar’ is Lion’s Mane Rock,” Bellae said, ignoring his question. The answer would have taken too long. “It’s the rest of the riddle we need help with.”

“I grew taller from a baby in Genau, I did.” Mor-Leider said, with a softness born of painful memories. “Anyway, what you are trying to obtain, according to this here harebrained puzzle you brought, is a cenote; perhaps more easily recognized as a sinkhole. Your gaze should wander to the area labeled here as, ‘Oka Zla.’ As an inexperienced parrot, I used to play at that there sinkhole myself.” He paused, staring straight ahead at the flashing memories.

“Sir?” Bellae ventured carefully.

“It’s the evil eye. Oka Zla is the official designation for what we know as the evil eye,” he said in a distant voice. His soul was still swimming in remembrance. “It’s not actually an eye, but it looks like one. It is plainly just a sinkhole. When it says, ‘dive down’ it must mean you are supposed to dive into the water.”

“Of course.” Lontas said. “There must be an underwater cave if we swim north!”

“You would be well served to be watchful in there. There are plenty of sharp rocks and places to topple over,” Mor-Leider warned.

“I can arrange for us to visit Dunmharu.” Mor-Leider finally said. “I can then sneak you parrots off the boat and you can make your way to the eye. You’ll have two days to finish your business and get back to the harbor near Dunmharu. If you fail to make the boat before it departs you will have to wait months.”

Bellae, Lontas, and Sankari exchanged looks of horror. They silently agreed to hustle. Bellae shivered at the thought of being stuck with an island full of Dark Warriors.

“Can we expect to run into any Dark Warriors?” she asked.

“That’s your name for us? We call ourselves Ifreans or Ifreanians. I am a pirate second, an Ifreanian first. Our infantry divisions, what you call the Dark Warriors, are primarily Ifreanians. Dark Warriors fight because they have no choice. It is only secondary to the mandate of the White Wizard that they engage in warfare.” Mor-Leider warned ominously.

Bellae nodded apologetically and he continued, “Yes, you can expect a lot of activity around the cities. All movement is severely restricted by the White Wizard. Therefore, it is in your best heed that you move meticulous to avoid capture.”

“We don’t know much about the Dar . . . the Ifreans, other than what we saw on the battlefield outside the Forest of Creber.” Lontas commented. “What are they like?”

Mor-Leider studied them carefully. “The White Wizard sees all, hears all. If I were you, I wouldn’t be of the opinion that he doesn’t know about you children coming. In fact, he sought me out and persuaded me to do this.”

Bellae and Lontas exchanged a terrified glance.

“He knows about Bellae? And the crrrrystals?” Lontas asked. His voice squeaked on the last word.

Mor-Leider laughed. “You might have a mouse stuck in your throat, boy.” He laughed again. “To answer your previous inquiry, no. As far as I know, he doesn’t know the particulars of you, but he is acquainted with the notion someone is finally going after the power crystals.”

“Just as we feared. Soon, everyone is going to be after us.” Lontas sighed.

Bellae didn’t respond. Instead, she continued to pet Grym.

“What happens if the White Wizard shows up when we land?” Lontas asked.

“As a pirate, I like to gamble with everything but my own being.” Mor-Leider answered simply.

Bellae and Lontas exchanged a telling glance. They knew he would give them up in a heartbeat.