Chapter 22: Dark Waters
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“For the first time this entire trip, you’re quiet and calm. I’m concerned,” Akyro explained as he sat down on the sand with me. We both looked out to the ocean as it lapped at our feet.
“I don’t like water,” I growled as I brought my feet away from the water.
“No. Me thing.”
“Where’s the line?”
“Not sure. Maybe it is a fire thing. Just go have fun. I’ll be here, pouting,” I waved Akyro away.
“You sure? I should be right by your side, making sure you don’t burn someone.”
“Who would I burn? This is a private beach. There’s no one here except us.”
“How about your clothes? It would be a shame to burn the clothes that Sorak just gave you.”
“What are these clothes anyway?” I asked. I looked at my clothing, and it was a top that covered my chest and stopped right above my bellybutton. Then I had a flowing skirt with a smaller skirt attached to it with shorts underneath.
“It’s for swimming. There were tailors here that found out how to create it, and used it for almost all Lord of Water outfits. Like your outfits are fireproof, these are practically waterproof. That’s less expensive material for the common people who just want to swim in something else in their clothing,” Sorak explained. “I had that especially tailored to your body since they don’t make red unless out of special orders.”
“Why does ours look like clothes and Bragor has. . . whatever that is?” I pointed to Bragor who was making his way to us on the shore.
“I had this made years ago, so the it may be a little old fashioned,” Bragor explained.
“’A little?’” Akyro repeated.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It is of my own design. Like it?” Bragor asked.
“I’m. . . . not sure,” I said.
“So are you going to attempt to go in the water at all or. . .?” Akyro asked.
“I’m just going to stay here,” I said.
Good plan. Fire and water do not mix.
“Hey, you’re back, and I have a different reason for not going in,” I said.
Yes, I am. Cahin ignored the latter part of my statement. But there is preventing me from talking to you easily. This is Syriene’s domain. I can barely talk.
“You’re talking just fine.”
I’m taking a lot of energy just to talk to you. Just remember, don’t go into— Cahin was cut off by something.
“What?! Cahin?! CAHIN!” I punched my head.
“Everything all right?” Sorak asked me.
“I-I don’t know,” I said.
“Come on, you need time away from Cahin and everyone else,” Akyro said.
“Nah, you guys have fun,” I said. The three guys went into the water, leaving me all alone. I watched them as they submerged underwater, and they didn’t come back up for a few minutes. When they did, they were all gasping for air, except for Sorak.
They did this over and over. It was certainly entertaining for them, but really boring for me. For the first time in a while, I truly felt left out.
I sighed and stood up. I looked around the beach and saw that there were cliffs encompassing the whole entire beach. I understood why Sorak wanted us blindfolded to come here. It was quite the spot.
I started to walk along the shoreline, and felt the warm sand between my toes. I looked at the cliffs, marveling at their height. It was absolutely enormous. No one would probably even think to come this close to a cliff’s edge unless they were either too cocky or just plain stupid.
I continued to walk down the pathway while shaking my finger, and some huge hole caught my eye. “Whoa. A cave,” I said. “Hello!” I called into the cave, and it echoed. I shouted again, and it echoed even more. “Perfect. It’s way too dark to see,” I chuckled. I rushed into the cave and looked around as the light soon diminished.
I tried to spark a flame in my palm, but all that came out was smoke. I tried over and over, but nothing but smoke came out. Even after I tired several times, only smoke came out.
“Dammit. Cahin, where are you?” I hissed.
“Kaira?” I heard Akyro’s voice.
“Yeah, what?” I called back.
“What are you doing?” Akyro’s voice was coming closer.
“Why are you exploring in the dark? It’s pitch black in here,” Akyro asked.
“I can’t use my fire. I’m too close to the Spirit of Water’s domain. The Spirit of Water is overpowering my Spirit,” I explained.
“Then coming in here was definitely not a good idea. Come on, get out of there. You have no idea what could be in there,” Akyro said.
“Aw, you’re worried about me?” I chuckled.
“Of course. I’m your Manny,” Akyro chuckled with me. “Would you please stop walking away from me?”
“Come on. I can barely see. It’s okay,” I said.
“You do know that makes no sense, right?”
“Sure, whatever. Looks like there’s something down there.”
“How? You can’t see.”
“I know. But just let me see,” I tried to light my palm again; not even smoke came out.
“What?” Akyro asked.
“Nothing, go splash or something.”
“I’m not going to ‘go splash or something’ when you’re still in here, possibly going to get yourself killed.”
“Yeah, sure. Go away if you’re not going to help explore.”
“Come on. Why are you still going further into the cave?”
“Because it’s interesting to me.”
“Stop! We have no idea what’s in here!”
“Well, I’m about to find out.”
“Let’s. Come on. We’ll make a famous discovery together!”
“You don’t need more recognition. People are probably targeting you already.”
“Why would people target me? I didn’t do something really super bad, did I?”
“Forget it, just come back here.”
“There are discoveries to be made, my dear Manny.”
“Come on! This’ll be really quick. In and out!”
“I could make a joke there, however, I’m above that.”
“Nevermind. Kaira, get out of there. A stalactite could fall on your head or you could slip and hit your head on a stalagmite. Without Cahin here, you could get really hurt or die.”
“How could I get killed? I mean, I can survive a spear to the side, and a burning building. This is a piece of cake to me.”
“I highly doubt you can withstand a cave collapsing on top of you.”
“Well, let’s find out!”
“Kaira. Please, just come back. You don’t know what’s in there. Bragor can’t even use his Spirit right now. Only Sorak can,” Akyro pleaded.
“Fine! Jeez!” I turned on my heel sharply, and we both heard a resounding crack throughout the cave. It even scared me stiff.
“What was that?” Akyro said slowly.
“I don’t know,” I said, standing still.
“Slowly go to the sound of my voice,” Akyro said.
“Okay,” I slid my foot forward slowly.
Another crack resounded throughout the cave, and I felt things fall onto my shoulder. I took in a deep breath, and tried to calm down. I tried not to think about how I had no way of protecting myself if the cave just suddenly decided to crash down on me.
“Slowly come towards me Kaira,” Akyro said again.
“Last time you said that, things fell from the ceiling. I’ll take my chances here,” I said.
“It’s going to be okay. This cave has held up for decades.”
“You said that someone died here,” I countered.
“I don’t remember saying that.”
“Really? I was sure you did. Okay. Little bit. Only a little bit,” I breathed in and out, and no cracks were heard. I felt better and better as I slowly inched my way toward Akyro.
“Okay. You coming closer to me?” Akyro asked.
“I really hope so,” I said.
“Your voice is sounding louder to me. That’s really good.”
“Same to you.”
There was a very high-pitched ringing in my head which made me feel like Dowel Lady was back and hitting my head over and over. Except it was a lot harder and even more painful than that, if that was possible. I couldn’t even hear Akyro’s words. I fell to my knees as I clutched my head. There was rumbling all throughout the cave, and I was pretty sure that Akyro was screaming at me for something, but I wasn’t sure what.
Then something caved underneath my feet after the rumbling increased. I felt the air slide past me while I fell. Something stopped my fall and pain was sent throughout my body, but it paled in comparison to the pain I felt in my head. It soon faded as I lay there, not moving at all. For a second, I thought I had died and my spirit lingered in the world.
“KAIRA! KAIRA! ARE YOU OKAY?!” Akyro screamed. At least I could hear again.
“I-I don’t know,” I said. At least I wasn’t dead.
“Hold on, I’m going to get Lord Sorak. He’ll get you out,” Akyro said.
“Okay,” I whispered. I heard footsteps leading out of the cave. I sat up, I looked around, and only saw darkness. I tried to get the pain to calm down, but it wasn’t working at all. There was even more rumbling around me.
“Sorak? Bragor? Akyro?” I called out hopefully. No one responded. “Guys? Anyone?!” I shouted. I felt my body shake as the silence deafened me. I heard another loud crack followed by rumbling. I was then swallowed by something.
I flailed my arms around, hoping that would do something. I managed to get to the surface of the water, but that didn’t help me for long. I kept sinking right back down, and I would claw my way to the top once again. I felt myself be pushed towards the top. I held my arm out, hoping to feel something, like a hole or something. Instead all I got were sharp rocks that scratched open my palms. I finally got a hold of a large spike from the ceiling. I held onto the spike to keep my head above the water for a while. But that didn’t help because the damn water kept rising up to my neck and I couldn’t stop it. It kept finding its way into my mouth. I kept sputtering it out. It kept rising, it wouldn’t stop. I took one last inhale before I was completely covered in water.
Everything kept getting colder and colder. It felt as if my body was becoming stiff. I clung onto that spike, not wanting to drift in the water. That became more and more difficult as the seconds ticked by. My lungs were screaming in pain as I stayed underwater. My head started to ache as if three dowel ladies smacked it all at once for an entire minute. I felt everything start to numb away into nothingness.
Soon, I felt absolute nothingness except absolute terror. I couldn’t hold onto the spike and everything left my body: all control, all thoughts, all feeling, everything. Nothing was there.
Then everything came back. I felt something surge inside me and my eyes slowly opened after I coughed violently. I opened my eyes to see a swirl of colors right in front of me.
“Kaira?! Kaira!” I heard Akyro’s voice clearest out of all of them but it was still all wobbly or something. I could barely make it out. It was too much work to hear from all the water that still clogged my head.
“Akyro! Lady Kaira!” Sorak’s voice came out of nowhere.
“Sorak!” Akyro called back to him.
“Is Lady Kaira all right?” Sorak asked.
“I. . . I don’t know. Kaira?” Akyro shook me again.
“I hear you,” I grumbled. I coughed out more water all over Akyro’s face. “Serves you right.”
“I don’t understand. I’ve been through that cave dozens of times before, and not once has it ever done that,” Sorak said.
“My curiosity is why Kaira didn’t just swim toward the hole that was made. The whole cave was filled with water,” Bragor said.
“Can’t swim,” I said simply.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Akyro asked.
“When would I have learned to swim? I figured you knew.” I raised an eyebrow. My entire body shuddered suddenly. It felt weird.
Bragor reached down and felt my cheek. “We need to leave for the palace immediately. Her temperature is too low.”
“Sorak. Where’s the carriage that brought us here?” Akyro asked.
“It’s over here,” Sorak said.
“Do you wish that I carry her?” Bragor offered.
“No, I’ve got her,” Akyro said.
“As you wish,” Bragor said.
“The carriage is ready to go!” Sorak called over.
“Got it,” Akyro picked me up and he started to run in the direction. For the first time, I felt how cold I really was. I leaned against Akyro and almost fell asleep. “Kaira? Kaira! Stay with me! You’re going to be okay!”
“Hurry! Get in!” I heard Sorak yell. Akyro got on higher ground and I heard a door slam shut.
“She’s getting even colder. We need to warm her up, and fast,” Bragor said.
“Kaira, come on. Stay with me! Come on!” Akyro pleaded. He tried to force my eyes open, but they kept drooping no matter what I did.
“She’s turning blue,” Sorak said.
“Kaira! ” I felt teardrops on my face.
“I hate caves,” I said before blacking out.
End of Book 1
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