Cerena's Song 2: The Amulet's Curse - Part Seven
The water gradually gets colder and colder the further we go down the rocky slope. Even with the purple glow from my necklace and the bright light coming from the flask Cayn brought, we have trouble seeing too far into the darkness below us. The sun should be rising about now, but the sun’s rays won’t have any effect this deep down in the water. Everything is so quiet; I can hear Cayn breathing, his rough, warm hand holding onto mine, and it’s almost comforting having him here with me. Even though a short time ago I couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as him, I feel like he’s the only one I trust at the moment to assist me to Roseate. And maybe he isn’t as bad as I always thought he was.
I shake my head. Stop it, I think to myself, he’s not your friend. You just needed somebody strong enough to help you reach the bottom of this dismal trench.
“Are you doing alright?” he asks, tightening his grip on my hand a bit. “I’m not quite sure just how deep down the ruins are. I never made the trip myself.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I tell him, though there’s a feeling in my stomach that tells me I might lose that large breakfast I had. The thought of going back to my hometown, seeing all the destruction, is almost unbearable. And the pressure from being this deep in the ocean isn’t helping much, either. I can feel a headache coming on.
We walk for what seems an eternity. The glow from my necklace gradually fades, so we only have the Flask of Liquid Sunlight to rely on. Hopefully it doesn’t break or we will be in more danger than we already are putting ourselves into. The pathway is fairly straightforward the entire way down, but at parts it narrows out and we have to take turns scooting along the Cliffside. Not to mention all of the sea ferns littering the floor, I got my foot tangled up in a few and nearly fell face first onto the ground, or worse, off the side. It’s not so much that it’s deadly if I fall off, as I am perfectly capable of swimming, but we don’t know what lurks deep in the ocean and decide it’s best to just follow the Cliffside.
“Be more careful,” Cayn tells me, looking seriously at me after I trip over yet another sea fern on the path. “I think we are almost there. See there?” He points off into the dark, and I squint trying to make out what he is directing his finger at. “I think the rooftops of some of the buildings are just coming into view.” Sure enough, I can just barely make out the edges of the houses in the dark, and a feeling of relief washes over me knowing that we have finally made it. However, that sickness I felt when we first started descending comes back as I wonder whose house it is. Could it be mine? Perhaps it’s town hall? I start to question if I can really handle facing the ruins of this place I once loved dearly, but thinking about the reason I came back here snaps me back. I need to help Cerena. I need to find the spell.
The pathway comes to an end as we take a step onto level ground. I sigh contentedly and take a moment to rest my legs. Cayn does the same, putting the Flask of Liquid Sunlight down on the ground and stretching. I feel a bit dizzy and my headache has only worsened since we started our descent, but I forget about that for a moment as I glance around at my surroundings.
I can’t see much, as it is pitch black down here, but from where the light can reach, all I see are crumbled walls and a litter of sea ferns everywhere. A small spectral shrimp scurries past along the ground, looking up at me as though I am a foreign intruder. I pick up the flask and make my way to the center of town. Cayn tries to object at first, but realizes it’s best to let me go and follows at a short distance.
Everything is recognizable, even in its destroyed state, and as I pick out the homes of those I once loved, I have a hard time fighting back the tears that flood to my eyes. I pass Rikely’s home, the town messenger, the home of Mrs. Graves, the widowed Zafara who hardly ever left her home unless she was making a trip to the local grocery store, and eventually I come to Jewell’s house, my best friend. I think back to all those times we went out to the cliffs to scavenge for shells, the sleepovers where we stayed up all night talking about anything and everything, and I collapse to my knees on her doorstep, unable to continue.
I completely forget that Cayn is even here, until he rests his hand on my shoulder, scaring me half to death. “Are you alright, Jeanine? I know this is hard, I can’t even begin to understand, and I wish I could give you more time, but I am worried to stay down here for too long. Who knows what lurks deep in the water.”
I take a moment to process his words, and then nod my head, using his hand as support as I make my way back to my feet. I turn around and see my own home, completely in shambles. It takes all my strength not to keep my knees from giving in again, so I quickly turn my head away as to not cause myself any more pain. “Um,” I start, finding my voice, “Cerena’s house is just up here. Follow me.” I pick up the flask and lead the way, closing my eyes every so often so that I don’t have to look at the homes of my friends any longer.
We approach the Silva household, just as ruined as all the others, and step over the broken wooden door frame. The picture which I was told the spell was behind should be on the wall directly in front of me, but everything has been knocked to the ground and has shifted a bit as the years have passed.
Cayn and I rummage through the sand and rubble along the sea floor, finding several of the pictures that hung up along the wall, and finally I move a bit of coral aside to find the sinister smile of Fay Silva staring back at me. I cringe, almost covering it back up, but pull it out and quickly flip it over. Nothing is there, so I take out the back of the picture frame to reveal a small piece of paper concealed within. I unravel it to find the spell, and Cayn hurries over to read it over my shoulder.
“That’s it?” he asks.
I nod, putting the paper into my pocket, and feel a piece of paper already in there. Confused, I pull it out and find the note Amelia gave me before we parted ways. I never did read it, though I tell myself that I should respect her privacy and leave it alone. “I guess so,” I respond. “Let’s get out of here.”
Cayn grabs the Flask of Liquid Sunlight and we both step back out of Cerena’s house, making our way down the sandy street to get back to the pathway we came down on. When we get about halfway there, I hear a swift sound off to the side as though something just swam by. “Did you hear that?” I ask, turning to Cayn. He shakes his head. Then it comes again from the right side of us.
“Alright, I heard it that time,” he says, shifting the light in the direction it came. We stand still in the middle of the street for a while, straining our ears for any noises, but it seems to have stopped. Cayn shrugs. “Let’s just keep moving.”
We take a few more steps and suddenly a loud bang comes from just ahead of us, as though one of the already ruined buildings just exploded. I jump back in terror, and Cayn nearly drops the flask onto the ground. We both stare, wide-eyed into the darkness, and from out of the pitch black swims a titanic giant squid. The two of us stand stock still, horrified, unable to move our legs. It swims gently past us, the water rushing along side me, and I nearly get knocked off my feet.
“What do we do?” I whisper to Cayn, who still hasn’t even blinked an eye. I take a step closer to him and see him slowly move his eyes to meet mine.
“I’m not sure,” he replies, in an almost inaudible whisper, “I have never even seen one before. I hardly believed they existed.”
“Well, we can’t just stand here, Cayn. If that thing comes back we could become a meal for it, and the Flask of Liquid Sunlight is putting a giant target on us.”
“Well, what do you expect me to do? If I dispose of the flask, we won’t be able to see where we are going, and who knows if we would ever find our way back home.” He looks over his shoulder to check if the squid is on its way back. “And need I remind you? Nobody even knows we are down here. I think we should just slowly make our way back to the pathway.”
I nod, carefully moving my feet forward. We make it past a couple houses and feel we are almost in the clear when the squid comes out from nowhere, speeding at us full force; its visible eye squinting as though it is furious. We jump out of the way just in time and I tumble into the debris of a nearby home, and then cautiously make my way to my feet.
“Cayn, are you okay?” I shout, running toward the flask of light. He is brushing off some rocks that stuck in the fibers of his clothing, nodding.
“Alright, Jeanine, I think I have a better plan.” He picks up the flask, looking me straight in the eyes, and we hear the squid approaching again from the back. “Run for it!”
To be continued...