The familiar rush of body slapping against water hit Johnson’s consciousness like a wall slamming him through with spikes. His limbs shook violently as he was pulled deeper in the waves. Ears popping, he clutched tightly to the dark token in his grasp. Thank you, Neo! He bent his head toward his hands in gratitude. Please work.
Already, his lungs were howling from the lack of oxygen. His skin was shredding against the cold.
Was his time up? Had the opportunity closed? Was this the right spot? Just as he was about to lose hope, the Haire enshrouded his body.
“You again,” a voice hissed from all around him.
Yes! The relief was almost nauseating to his gut. Johnson clamped his mouth shut and thrust his arm forward to reveal the dark token to the sentinel creature.
The being let out a screech that made him double over in agony. Splintering pain invaded his head. His lips pulled back over his teeth, allowing the frigid water to leak inside his mouth. His body shivered more violently than before. What’s wrong?
“Incorrect!” the voice bellowed in anger, and Johnson shook his head wildly in protest, shoving the item toward the creature in desperation. Shrills and moans came from every direction in the black liquid. Like a cacophony of birds and howling felines, it denounced him once more, “But it is not a magical item.”
“Not right, not right!” voices cackled around him in complaint.
“This is simply a piece of a magical being.”
“Just a piece…”
“Not a dark relic itself.”
The Haire constricted his body, squeezing a whimper from his throat. “Without the owner of this darkness, we cannot let you pass! Foolish boy!”
“You have come.”
“To your death.”
Johnson made a decision. Using the last of his air to explain, he begged the creatures with cries distorted by his salty prison.
“You must let me cross!” Bubbles escaped his mouth, further impeding his vision. He didn’t know where to look. The seawater burned his eyes. He hoped the creature would understand and show mercy. “The one I love is in danger; I must go to him! Please!”
But before any answer came, his lungs gave out; darkness overcame him. The feather in his hand slipped permanently from his grasp, and his body and limbs rose lifeless in the water.