Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 182,656,530 Issue: 231 | 16th day of Running, Y8
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The Treasured Diary: Part Six


by twirlsncurls5

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The air was a rush around him and a thousand screams reverberated off the walls. Fenmere couldn't even tell if they were his or those of the others who were falling around him. There was only darkness above and below. He braced himself for eventual collision with the cold, hard ground.

      But then he stopped falling. Just like that he could feel himself rising up towards the light. A normal and simple person would've thought that death had swiftly and mercifully come upon him, ready to take him away to a sweeter place. But Prince Fenmere was neither normal nor simple. He'd read enough books to know that whenever a big circle of light was seen by the main character, it was never followed by death.

      He could hear the beating of wings above him. Had some air faerie mercifully saved the doubtful Prince in order to prove him wrong?

      As he was set down lightly on solid ground, he looked up, prepared to see Psellia's golden hair and timid smile. Instead he saw the bright eyes and cheeky grin of a red Draik.

      "Jase!" he cried, almost unable to recognize the shaky voice that came out as his own. "I don't…How did you…?" he murmured.

      The Draik gave a slight nod in response. "I heard screaming. I knew you guys were in trouble."

     Jase clutched a tear-streaked Sophia in one arm and Ramaya, who was gasping madly for air, in the other. On his back sat Lord Cyril looking paler than the white Zafara. Hayden stood next to him triumphantly, somehow looking completely unfazed by their near death experience.

     "Let's get moving," he said, "we've got a treasure to find."

     Part of Fenmere wanted to scream. He'd almost died and Hayden was completely prepared to continue on in this mad search!

     Fenmere took in his surroundings. They were at the bottom of what would have been the staircase, an area that expanded into a large round cavern.

     "This is the weirdest tomb I've ever seen," he mumbled.

     "I doubt Sir Gawain is even buried here," said Ramaya, who had seemed to regain her composure enough to lecture him. "My guess would be that Queen Arin approached him while he was still alive and asked for his help in hiding the treasure. Her love for him rather than her intended husband was one of the reasons she hid it in the first place."

      Fenmere nodded disinterestedly and sat next to Sophia.

     "You okay?"

     She nodded without meeting his eyes.

     "I'm sorry," he said, looking at the ground ashamedly, "for bringing you into this. I wish I'd never showed you that diary."

     She gently grasped the Gelert's chin and raised it so that his eyes met hers. "I wouldn't miss this for the world," she said with a teary smile.

     Fenmere stood up, smiling back, and offered his paw to help her up.

     She took it and held on for a moment before Fenmere pulled away, blushing fiercely.

      The others were gathered around the Treasure Diary and didn't seem to notice.

     "Well?" asked Fenmere. "What's the next clue?"

     "This can't be right," said Ramaya, flipping through the pages, "aside from the bit about the stairs, the last clue was 'The door only opens for a noble request, your answers rest beneath the surface so tread lightly at best'. The rest of the diary is completely empty."

     Fenmere grabbed it from her and began pacing the room. It was impossible, there had to be more clues. Had their incorrect guess trapped them in the cavern while the treasure awaited them in a completely separate chamber? He thumbed through the pages as if the answer would somehow appear before him.

      Suddenly, one of his feet began to sink. He looked down to see that his foot had impressed a one of the stones into the ground.

      He heard the oh-so-familiar sound of grinding stone and cringed.

      "What did you do?!" Ramaya shrieked.

      But then an arched doorway appeared in the cave wall. Fenmere lifted his foot from the stone he'd stepped on.

      It bore the image of a crown.

      "Looks like I found an exit," he responded to Ramaya smugly.

      She frowned. "Dumb luck."

      He walked through the doorway. "Lucks got nothing to do with-"

      Fenmere stopped dead in his tracks and stared in awe. Below him was a blue pool of water shimmering like melting glass.

      The others slowly came in behind him.

      "Great," grumbled Jase, "another dead end."

      "No it's not," Ramaya said pointing to another crown engraved stone at the other end of the cavern. "We just have to push that."

      Fenmere shook his head, a smile of complete understanding crossing his face.

      "The crown is just a trick," he said, remembering the poem. "Our answers 'rest beneath the surface'."

     He dove in.

     The water was warmer than he'd expected and for one brief shining moment he wasn't thinking about secret societies, hidden treasure, of the fact that his father was being held against his will as a result of the two. He just swam in what was possible the clearest water he'd ever seen.

     Soon the other six dove in around him, and it wasn't until their feet began to drift towards the bottom of the relatively shallow pool that Fenmere remembered the last part of the poem: Tread lightly at best.

     He opened his mouth to speak but it was too late, their feet simultaneously touched the bottom.

      A gurgling sound rumbled beneath them. They all shot up to the surface, wide eyed and fearful, gasping for air.

     "What was that?!" Sophia coughed.

     "The poem," Ramaya said, taking deep breaths, "Meant…to walk softly. We shouldn't…have touched…the bottom."

     The arched doorway suddenly slid shut.

     "That can't be good," murmured Jase.

     They waited anxiously, the water lapping around them, each expecting the worst. And what happened next was nothing short of the worst.

     Slowly the water began to rise.

     "Not good," Lord Cyril said, his voice high and panicky. "This is not good."

     Soon everyone was splashing about haphazardly. Falling had been one thing, but drowning? The thought of it was more than they could take and the once beautiful blue water now seemed dark and cold.

     But somehow Hayden stayed calm, and with a smooth and commanding voice that can only come from years of leading others, he started giving orders.

     "Now, it's only a matter of minutes before this water rises to the cavern ceiling," he said, "so we have work fast."

     He turned to Ramaya. "The treasure, how do we know where it is?"

     "I-I don't know," she said, "with shape of the chamber, the depth of the pool-"

      "Ramaya," he barked, "now!"

      "It-it's probably in some kind of box to preserve it underwater," she started, taken aback by the unfamiliar curtness of the Nimmo, "either it's along the walls or the bottom, I don't know which."

      "Then Jase, Cayleb, and Sophia take the walls," he ordered, "and Ramaya, Fenmere and I will take the bottom. Let's just hope that pulling the next clue loose will stop the water mechanism."

      They all took a deep breath and dove down.

      Fenmere kicked, frantically feeling along the algae covered rocks for something, anything. His lungs cried out for air and he pushed off towards the surface.

      He gasped for air, noticing with dread that the water was only five feet away from the ceiling now.

      He dove back down, found nothing, and shot back up for air. Four feet to go.

      Back up, three feet.

      Two feet.

      One.

      Fenmere was desperate now, swimming faster than he'd even swum before. He ignored his screaming lungs and pushed farther. He was approaching the far walls of the enormous cavern when he noticed a rocky ledge jutting out from it. He peeked underneath and saw a small opening.

      He head begun to spin and he knew he needed air. The surface seemed to be getting farther and farther away.

      Fenmere burst through, now only having enough air between the cavern and the water to stick his nose above the surface and take in small watery breaths.

      "Looks…like this…is it," he heard a familiar voice gurgle beside him.

      "No," he said firmly to Sophia, "we've still got one breath left."

      They took it and the water met the highest point on the cavern ceiling. There was no more air.

      He led her down to the ledge and reached under it, feeling around the rock. Suddenly, he felt it, smooth and cold. His fingertips grazed metal!

      Fenmere tried to pull it loose but it wouldn't budge. Sophia rushed to help him and they both pulled with some kind of strength that by all laws of health and medicine they shouldn't have had. They looked up at each other through the clear water and Fenmere could see it in her sad blue eyes that it was over. They were out of time.

      But then, as pets somehow find a way of doing in their darkest hour when all seems lost, he found the strength for one last pull.

      The box came loose.

      The gurgling sound soon followed, reminding Fenmere of a washtub drain as the water spun down, down, down. His tired body sank to the bottom of the pool.

      Save Sophia, a voice in his head cried out from far away. But the water was getting darker and drowning really wasn't so bad.

      Lilies, he thought, she smelled like pink lilies.

      And as everything faded Fenmere saw the stern face of his father, the wise brow furrowed in thought and those eyes, those distant gray eyes that were so sadly unreachable. Fenmere was a little child in the long, lonely dinner hall staring up at the Kougra. The King was right next to him, always, but somehow he was so far away…

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Treasured Diary: Part One
» The Treasured Diary: Part Two
» The Treasured Diary: Part Three
» The Treasured Diary: Part Four
» The Treasured Diary: Part Five
» The Treasured Diary: Part Seven
» The Treasured Diary: Part Eight
» The Treasured Diary: Part Nine
» The Treasured Diary: Part Ten



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