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Chapter 9: Images

The woman flicked her wand and silvery sparkles shot out circling around Rivola. She felt herself rising into the air and the surroundings swirling.

Images. She saw the image of her father in his black suit smiling down at her like he used to. The image swirled and changed to Uncle Laywin. He was smiling at her with sadness in his eyes…

Suddenly she felt he body go weightless. Her eyes fluttered open and she gasped as her back hit the ground.

‘Ouch!’ Shahir said beside her. He stood up and said, ’It was some fall.’

Rivola took a deep breath and stood up. Trees were growing all around her. Some tall and straight. Some short and crooked. The sky was clear and birds were chirping nearby.

‘Is everyone all right?’ Kareya asked dusting her jeans. Kareya had transformed overnight. Her simple chiton was replaced with a funky top, pants and boots. Her small diamond tiara was replaced by her visor.

‘I’m good.’ Shahir said helping Rivola stand up.

‘I’m fine.’ Their fourth companion said dusting his clothes. He tugged his backpack and pulled out some chewing gum, ‘Thanks for accommodating me.’ He said chewing gum. He turned around and started to walk away when Rivola asked,

‘Aren’t you going to accompany us?’

‘No.’ he said. ‘I’m finding my own way.’

‘At least tell us your name.’ Rivola said. He turned towards her. His face had no smile but his black eyes flashed in amusement as he said,

‘Jayce Charade.’

He turned away and walked on disappearing into the forest.

Siva was chilled to the bone. Frost was gathering at his fingers each second he stood still. He hugged his black coat and walked carefully trying not to let his legs sink into the snow.

The coat provided very little warmth and the wind kept forcing his eyes shut. Suddenly, he felt his foot hit something. He opened his eyes to see a really large, beautifully built building covered with frost. The doors were shut but there were a few words engraved in gold, in the Ancient Tongue,

‘Gemina Grecianos. The Giver of Wealth. The Protector of Gulshirenis. The goddess of Jewels and Protection. The Queen of the Underworld.’ Siva read it aloud. He wondered why gods had such long titles.

His hands touched the door. It instantly flung open and a queenly, icy, strict voice said,

‘The doors open to the touch of Death.’

Siva brandished his sword and aimed it at the halls. The temple was huge with well-lit chandeliers. There was a thirty feet tall statue of the goddess. It was made of marble and golden robes hung about her. Her painted eyes were black and she was strict and austere.

‘Who spoke?’ Siva asked stepping in. Small pathways started off at the halls leading into darkness. His voice echoed and he heard a polite laugh.

‘You have walked into my temple, Son of Death.’ The voice hissed and a woman appeared from the darkness. She looked like the replica of the statue. Same face, same golden robes and same strictness except she wasn’t thirty feet tall.

‘Who are you?’ Siva asked quite dumbly. The woman’s lips curled.

‘I am Gemina. The Giver of Wealth. The Protector of Gulshirenis. The goddess of Jewels and Protection. The Queen of the Underworld.’ She smiled.

Roy looked about him. ‘Hey.’ He said, ‘didn’t we rest here about four hours ago?’ Kai looked about and said,

‘Oh gods! We have been walking in circles!’

‘I told you not to let Roy lead you. See what happened!’ Aila said.

‘Hey!’ Roy protested, ’Didn’t you ask me to lead you?’

Aila opened her mouth to retort when he heard somebody’s giggle. Aila seemed to have heard it too. She turned and looked around pulling out her sword [Did I mention that Aila had a one meter length long straight sword with a golden hilt?]. Kai said, ‘Who is it?’

The giggle grew louder and there was a rustle. Roy moved and suddenly stood face-to-face with a girl. She giggled again and cartwheeled towards the trees. She stood up and smiled,

‘Good luck!’

Before he could ask what she meant, she snapped her fingers. Long ropes of thick green vines shot out of the ground. Roy brandished his dagger at the vine. It simply caught his arm and squeezed forcing him to drop the dagger.

‘Ouch!’ he said and the vine twirled and his waist and lifted him off the ground. No amount of kicking or screaming let him go. The girl introduced herself,

‘Hello.’ She curtsied. ‘I am Grecia, a wood nymph. My job is to kill you.’

Aila kicked and screamed and hit and the vines but nothing happened. It simply got tighter until she gave up as she got ready to get sick. Rika had fainted. She was dangling from the vine. Kai was hanging upside down. He was smacking the vine with his sword but it had no effect. Grecia merely chuckled and said,

‘You’ve been wondering why you’ve been walking in circles haven’t you? I was the one causing those illusions.’ She gave mean little laugh. Aila was tempted to smack the girl in the face and chuck the vines down her throat. Roy swore and said,

‘Why do you want to kill us?’

Grecia smiled and the vines dropped them. Aila fell quite unflatteringly on her back. She stood up but why was the world swirling like that? She clutched her head blinked. Grecia was talking again,

‘Right question asked. I am here to kill you. I am challenging you. Reject it, I’ll let you live but you won’t find it. Accept it and you’ll move one step closer to the Platinum Trophy.’

Kai had woken up Rika. He said,

‘We don’t need the—’

‘I accept the challenge.’ Roy said. He looked at them as his blue eyes sparkled and said, ‘I didn’t tell you before. But I want the Platinum Trophy.’

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