Book 6 - Mystery of Shadow Mountain - Chapter 44: New Light

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httyyd
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There's not much in this chapter.  But at the same time, there is a gold mine in this chapter.  Though not much action, I hope you still enjoy!

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Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

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Links to my latest chapters below.

Links to my six other Fan-Fics and one Fiction stories down further.

I currently have eight stories altogether, two of which are currently being written.

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapter 17 - Everything Comes Full Circle

The Crimson Storm, my seventh fan-fic in four years!  Updates every Monday Night!

 

Destiny in the Dark

My book for National Novel Writing Month.

Chapter 2 - Arcadia Station

Updates whenever I get a chapter done!

 

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Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.

The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

Here are links to my sequel fan-fic:

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Here are links to my Tri-quel fan-fic:

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17

 

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My book for National Novel Writing Month.

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 1    Chapter 2

 

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httyyd's picture
httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013
A lot of thought went into this chapter - Hope you enjoy!

         There is silence and then there is silence.  After something bad has happened that could have been worse, the silence afterwards is almost deafening.  If it was not for the birds, sound of the wind, and our footsteps on the ground, the silence would not be bearable.

         Annabeth is just looking at the ground as we go, though I still have a hold of her left arm while she kind of has her arms crossed, but she is holding her elbows with the opposite hand.  I think Annabeth is quiet half because of what we barely escaped, but the other half of her barely escaping Vixxen’s Wrath.  To be picked off the ground and not expecting it -though when is one ever expecting to get grabbed by the neck- is quite an ordeal to go through.  It will take a little bit of time to recover from that, also mentally too maybe more so.

         I think to myself, “That being said, maybe I should try to keep things light?  I mean, this situation me and my friends are in is no laughing by any means but we need to stay positive.  I am at my best when I do try to keep it light.  That might lift the others up to believe we can get out of this.”

         With that in mind, I address Klarp and tell him, “You know what, Klarp, you’re my favorite bad guy.  Some of the others get so serious, but you are Klarp no matter what.”

         He responds well, “Why thank you.  Not too many vikings say that to me.  Vixxen says it to me every once in a while, but hasn’t, well, for a while.”

         Klarp goes on, “She is a ruthless and cunning huntress of the Dragon Hunters.  It is said she was in love with a man, but business got in the way of pleasure.  Before the relationship could even get started, it ended.  Now they are brutal rivals vying for the best -or baddest- Dragon Hunter the clan has ever seen.  They have not spoken since the day the split, but I wouldn’t want to be in the same room let alone the same island when they do meet again.  They both have taken prize catches from each other.  They have stolen catches from each other and sold them as if they caught them.  If someone found out that they didn’t actually catch the all of dragons, no one would dare even confront the two of them on the notion of them being a dragon thief.  On the other hand, depending on their mood, they would take it as a complement.”

         “This woman is mean, gets what she wants, takes what’s not hers, perfect hit record and does anything to keep it, and if you get on her bad side or get in her way, I would fear for your life because she will kill just to get her way.  Although, no one has ever seen her kill anybody, the stories that some tell are proof enough to do whatever she says,” the second viking finished.  “All in all, this woman is just plain evil… sounds like a woman I’d like to marry.”

         “Are you kidding?” Annabeth laughed and gasped at the same time.  “If she’d ever hear you say any of that… especially the last part… say, ‘Hi,’ to your relatives in the Slain of Valhalla.”

         Changing subject, I comment, “Vixxen dos not seem herself.  From what I am observing, does Vixxen have a very personal stake in this mystery?”

         “You are good,” Klarp commended.  “Vixxen probably won’t mind if I tell you.  If something is common knowledge, even Vixxen herself will tell those she does business with things most Hunters would never share.  When all the parties involved all understand each other, additional opportunities for profits or information come forward; relationships for business grow from that.  This trust has gotten Vixxen most of her power and influence in the Hunting Business.  Still, Viggo and his connections are a huge rival to us, for Vixxen it is a bitter rivalry, as you well know.

         Irritated, Annabeth remarks but in a more statement of fact tone than reacting to, “You still hunt dragons all the same.”

         “True,” responds Klarp.  “As Vixxen has said before, we are the true and real Dragon Hunters.  Viggo is just in it for the money and glory.”

         Now Annabeth more reactive this time, adds, “I don’t see the difference.”

         I get ready to tell Annabeth to calm down; Klarp, however, jumps in even as Annabeth just finished and before I could utter a sound, “Most vikings say that, but very few understand us.  The Dragon Hunters started out as protectors, driving hostile dragons away from our homelands.  We would ‘hunt’ dragons but not how you view us as Hunters.  We were like that for generations, but something changed very recently.  That part of our history very few know as most of the Dragon Hunters in both Vixxen’s and Viggo’s ranks came in after the change, myself included.  The few who know make those who join and want to know take an oath never to tell anyone what happened. Me, I frankly don’t know and I don’t want to know.  If they have to make you take an oath not to tell, it is better off not knowing so you are not a liability if someone asks you about it.”

         “Anyway, there came basically a civil war between us.  Although it stopped the same day as it started, though for me that is difficult to believe.  The timing of the civil war and how long it lasted is probably part of the thing they don’t want to tell,” Klarp continues.  “But the Dragon ‘Protectors’ and Hunters, to make the distinction, broke apart and have been rivals ever since.  Neither side goes out of its way to stop the other, but if the opportunity falls our way we will take advantage to disrupt Viggo.  The thinking is mutual from Viggo’s perspective.  Otherwise we leave each other alone.”

         “How we differ from Viggo and his men is we do not kill any dragons unless absolutely necessary.  Vikings going against us is another story but the same ending.  We don’t mind making a point sometimes but only to the point of, well, making a point,” Klarp went on.  “We knew where your outpost was for quite some time, but only tried to invade when we knew your island’s involvement in the mystery.  Vixeen really didn’t want to invade, so decided at the last minute -before we got there- to test your defenses and tactics.  By the way, she only fired at Fredrick to injure him.  She held Ragnarok back to have a low powered shot.  Vixxen later talked with me that she hoped that the Thunderdrum was alright.  Vixxen decided to let you do the mystery work while we set up shop on Shadow Mountain.”

         I ask in surprise but not truly surprised, “You guys knew where Shadow Mountain was all this time?”

         “Yes and no,” Klarp answered.  “No one but Vixxen knew, or as far as I know she is the only one.  The Mystery, or Legend depending on who you ask, of Shadow Mountain has and is a sort of ‘pet project’ Vixxen has worked on most of her life.  It is something she has worked on as much as she could when she had the time, but the clues were so scarce that it took time away from her duties.  Then you come along and are on the brink of solving this mystery in a fraction of the time it took Vixxen just to get to this point.”

         Annabeth a bit calmer, but still irritated, “If Vixxen is so ‘nice’,” Annabeth emphasizes sarcastically.  “To dragons, why do you say she has a perfect kill record.”

         Klarp respectfully answered, “The number of dragons and vikings for that matter are so very few, to say she has a perfect hit record is an easy thing to say when the total is so few.  But no one knows that and so we use it as an intimidator of any viking or group we face.”
         “But another thing about how
wedifference from Viggo,” Klarp adds.  “Once we hunt and capture the dragons and sell them to our customers, our special operatives will then go in a cause trouble for our customers by getting the dragons to escape.  Then we eventually capture most of the dragons, bring them back, and sell them again.  So, while we are hunting dragons, most of the time it is the same ones.  But to keep honest with our buyers, we must hunt new dragons too.  With all of this said about Dragon Hunters, Vixxen and her vikings strive to go after to treasures, legends, mysteries, and unique items to sell or keep.  This is really what Vixxen is interested.  Vixxen uses the Dragon Hunting as a means to be able to solve mysteries.  That is the reason why we met you and your friends in the first place.”

         “Ah,” Annabeth said.  “Lovely.”

         “Hey Klarp,” I address.  “You still haven’t answered my original question.”

         “I haven’t?” he replied but as if he heard that before.  “I’m sorry.  On the subjects I know a lot about, if I get started I get side tracked easily.  Only if the other viking reminds me, I’ll never answer the question until later.  Sometimes it does matter then… What was the question again?”

         Patiently I repeat, “Does Vixxen have a personal stake in this mystery?  I guess you have indirectly answered the question, but I would like some more details.”

         “Why she’s on edge, a tad irritable, and… and…,” Klarp hesitates and glances at Annabeth; I nod, he continues.  “While she has worked on The Mystery of Shadow Mountain for most of her life, what happened during the civil war -not the war itself- caused a lot of pain for Vixxen.  She was apart of an elite small group of Dragon Hunter ‘Protectors.’  She and the group specialized in defending against any attacks by vikings brave, or stupid, enough to come against and or attempt to invade our home.  And when I talk like I was there or sounds like it, I wasn’t.  Vixxen has been so good to me and many others under her leadership that I take pride in being a Dragon Hunt- Protector and our history.  Vixxen has been a great friend and has treated us as if we were born a Dragon Protector, treating us like family.”

         I look at Klarp, he gets back on track, “Sorry.  Anyway, when the civil war started, the Wing Protectors, as they were called, had a rift develop among its members.  The Wing Protectors were considered a sacred group by my homeland, or Vixxen’s for that matter.  One could not just join, one had to be selected.  You had to prove you were skilled enough to even be a thought to be selected.  There was no formal training or rite of passage to go through.  You had to train on your own, or with others that was fine too, but this was probably the only initial test:  Were you going to train to join?  Training on your own showed your dedication.  One could always get training for anything, but to train on your own in your own free time to become skilled enough to have the Protectors take notice, you would be the exact viking the Wing Protectors were looking for.”

         Klarp took a breath and went on with a hint of disappointment the further he spoke, “Vixxen was a prodigy.  She was born to be in the Wing Protectors, everyone knew it.  That would put a lot of pressure on most kids growing up when people think you’re a prodigy, but Vixxen embraced it, used it to fuel herself and her training.  As you have seen firsthand, Vixxen is highly skilled in many areas of combat close, medium, and long range.  She also knows a plethora of strategies on the sea commanding any number and types of ships and in any weather conditions, rides a Snow Wraith that she has trained herself since Ragnarok hatched, she is skilled as a rider but would prefer to fight either on the ground or at sea, and has impeccable leadership skills and can make you believe in something when you think it is impossible to accomplish.  Vixxen picked up a war hammer -proportioned to her size- at the age of four, an ax at five, and a sword at six.  By the age of ten she was more skilled than practically all the vikings twice her age or more.  Vixxen could hold her own as well as beat her opponents in bouts and competitions.”

         “With all this hype and her continuous actions living up to it and impressing the whole land of the Dragon Hunters, it was only a matter of time before she would be a Protector.  When Vixxen turned sixteen, she was selected to join the Wing Protectors.  The youngest viking ever in the long and storied history of the Wing Protectors to be selected,” Klarp said proudly, but the hint of disappointment is still there.  “Thorgunna served her people and the Protectors with great wisdom, might, and power for several years.  But then the civil war came.  The Wing Protectors were supposed to protect the Dragon Hunters from any attacks or invaders from the outside.  But how do you protect your people when they are the ones that are attacking you?”

         “The Wing Protectors were split down the middle,” Klarp sighed.  “Some thought they had a duty to their people to keep the peace and return to what they had always done, the other side thought that the Dragon Hunters had become diluted and stuck in the old ways and needed to become something different.  Thorgunna was stuck in the middle, seeing both sides, understanding both sides, believing in both sides.  Her whole life she had been training to be apart of the Protectors, but once she was in, she saw the corruption in the Dragon Hunters political realm.  The politicians never respected the Protectors.  For many years, we had no one opposing us so we kept to our own lands and waters.  The Protectors did not have really anything to do, which is why Thorgunna started seeking after and solving mysteries.  The civil war hit and turned the world she knew and loved upside down and ripped it all to shreds.”

         “Turns out the mystery she had been working on, the mystery you and Thorgunna are now trying to solve, had a direct connection to what the Dragon Hunters believe.  Throgunna thought she could find this power and use it to stem the tide in the civil war.  Because of the quickness of the civil war, the Dragon Hunters decided to split into two clans.  The one that Vixxen heads and the one that Viggo is apart of now.  We could no longer live on the same lands.  Since we had already been seafaring for quite some time, it was decided that we find a new home and bring the Dragon Hunting to the rest of the archipelago.  But once we found new island, we just stayed in the north with one clan on the west and the other on the east.”

         Annabeth asks, “What happened to the Wing Protectors?”

         Klarp sighs again, “When the talk of civil war kept getting closer to an actual war, Thorgunna more and more was out searching for The Legend of Shadow Mountain and the power that could restore a land to its former glory.  Thorgunna was gone for over a week.  Upon her return, only the Wing Protectors could be found on her homeland.  The Wing Protectors had a sacred honor and duty to protect their land from all invaders.  With no one to protect, the Wing Protectors disbanded and went their separate ways.  Thorgunna was too late.  The world she grew up training for, the world everyone was looking up to her to protect… Was no more.  That nearly broke Thorgunna.  She tried for several weeks to convince both sides about the potential of Shadow Mountain and what it could mean.  No one would listen to her.  So, Thorgunna went with her heart stayed with the Dragon Hunters that wanted to keep their way of living alive.  This choice of Thorgunna’s was highly respected and earned her the chieftess of the Dragon Hunters.  She reined as the chieftess of the true Dragon Hunters only for a short few years until the people thought they could no longer live up to what it was to be a Dragon Hunter because they were no longer living on their island.  One by one the left Thorgunna’s ranks, not because of her, but because of not believing they could be a Dragon Hunter because of what it grew into:  A business, not a way of life.  Only a few of the original Dragon Hunters remain.  Thorgunna had a brief partnership with Viggo to see about bringing the two clans back together, but that ended quickly with Viggo only in it for the money and profits.  With all of her life progressing towards one moment in her life and then all of that being ripped from her, she has grown away from being thought of a Wing Protector.  So, she too started a business but said she would do it the right way.  This drove more Dragon Hunters away and that is why most of the Dragon Hunters now are not born Dragon Hunters, but outsiders welcomed in,” finished Klarp.

         I remark, “And with the final string attaching to her past being The Mystery of Shadow Mountain, she wants to solve it either to bury the past or to somehow make up for something that wasn’t her fault.”
         “Like I said, you are good,” Klarp commended again.  “Living so long with thinking that the world she once loved could never be again, this mystery has kept that thought alive ever since the civil war.  By now, it seems like a nagging wound or injury that just won’t heal correctly.  Thorgunna has gotten used to living like this and but in her heart, she wants things to go back to what they used to be.  Now, she is having her own civil war with her thoughts and beliefs.  She
is
torn again which is causing her more pain.  For all that she is skilled at, she would give it all up if things could just go back to what they were.  But this is the world we live in today.  She knows Viggo and will continue to terrorize the archipelago, but she wants to help her people, and now she has her outsiders to think of.  Everything seems to be repeating again how it once was.  For the first time, I think Thorgunna is frightened and afraid of what might come to be.  She has never been frightened or afraid in all her life, or at least from what I know.  Feeling this, I am sure this is just piling on top of what she has to deal with because she could rely on her instincts, knowledge, and skills to fix things.  All those did not help her save her people, now she is trying to figure out what she wants.  This is her personal stake in all this.”

         I shake my head and could only say, “Wow.”

         Annabeth, fully calmed down and now able to walk on her own, points out, “Towards the end, you started referring to Vixxen as Thorgunna… By her first name.  Do you love Vixxen?”

         Klarp stops, puts his hands on his hips, and looks down.  That is enough of an answer without even saying a word to know what Klarp thinks.

         Klarp takes a deep breath, “Vix… Thorgunna told me that whenever I am dealing with you, to not tell you the whole truth but to give you most of it so you would understand.  I am not an outsider, well, I guess technically I am in a weird way.  Thorgunna and I disagreed on what the Wing Protectors should do; we were on opposite sides of the civil war.  I was young and a fool.  I left with the other clan, but soon after regretted that decision.  Spent a lot of years drifting around until I met Thorgunna again and she welcome me back.  She had changed, but I can still see the same girl I fell in love with.  Some of the details I have gone over are entirely true, but that doesn’t really matter now.  You get the gist of things as eight percent of what I have told you is the truth.  I know you have no reason to believe over what I just said, but I tell you, it is.  Remember saying to you I could never have someone like you have in Annabeth?”

         “Yeah?” I answer and look at Annabeth.

         Klarp was going to say something, but Annabeth spoke up, “If you love her, Klarp, you need to tell her.  Regardless of what was whatever, who did what, who said this, if you care for her, you will do what it takes to be there for her.  Even if she is acting out of character,” Annabeth finishes, looks at me, and smiles.  “If you still care for her and her for you, you can help her through this difficult time.”

         Klarp chuckles and shakes his head, “Don’t take this the wrong way, Annabeth, but you remind me an awful lot about Thorgunna when she… when we were your age.”

         I then request, “I know we may believe in different things and I am beginning to learn how to deal with people who do, but maybe we can work together to help Vixxen.  Now, I still believe that Vixxen should stop what she is doing and pay for what she has done to me and my friends and many others and you would no doubt protect her against that, but maybe we can help each other better understand the other.  Maybe in all this mess of who thinks this way and what is what, there is something that we can all benefit from.  I know you know I may be saying this just to gain your trust and you may be saying all of this just to get me into a fake sense of comfort with you and this could all be a trap set by Vixxen, but have decided for a long time and needed reminding today that I need to think positive, stay positive, keep things light, to help my friends believe in what we must do.”
         Taking a deep breath in, Klarp answers.  “I’ll think about it and see what I can do.”

         As much as we are enemies right now, I fully believe what Klarp is expressing is genuine, even if he truthfully did not tell me every thing correct; the majority of it sounded true.

         Nearly the entirety of our conversation lasted the time it took to travel to the northwest part of the island to the location of the third puzzle.  We are at the shoreline on this part of the island, about a mile or so from Vixxen’s compound.  When we got here, Klarp started looking around for something or someone.

         “Where are those idiots at?” Klarp said under his breath, but Annabeth and I could still hear him.

         “Who?” I ask.

         “Oh,” Klarp responds.  “The guards that were supposed to be watching of the puzzle site here.”  Klarp searches for a couple of minutes.  Dissatisfied, her returns and makes a request of his own, “Now, I need to go find out where they went to but Vixxen wants these puzzles finished by tonight so she can open the cavern door and finish this thing.  Can I trust that if I leave you two here that you will not try to escape -because without your friends or your dragons, I don’t think you will try- or once my back is turned that you’ll over take me and use me to get at your friends?”

         I take a thoughtful minute and reply, “Yes.  Annabeth and I will stay right here.  We can go ahead and get started.”

         Almost surprised that I agreed.  He nods his heads and starts walking away.  As soon as he turned his back, he turned back around to see what we were doing.  Annabeth and I are just standing.  Klarp turns again to walk away but turns his head again to check.  Then Klarp shakes his heads in disbelief and continues on his way.

         Once out of ear shot, Annabeth in a completely calm and understanding way but confused too, “Why would you agree to that kind of a deal?  We could have easily jumped him, two on one, overpower him, and save our friends and dragons.”

         “Yes, we could have,” I replied.  “But when you get to talk to your enemy and be the example to them how to be the better person and keep your word, that impact could lead to further things down the road.  Kind of like what Klarp said about telling those doing business with you, things that you wouldn’t normally say to others, when everyone is on the same page, more opportunities could come to be the example again.”
         “You know how I always have a plan and I have a plan for my plans and backup plans for my backup plans and variations of all those,” I say and she nods her head up and down.  “If one of the choices led to us escaping here and being safe, solving the mystery, and Vixxen turning good along with anyone else that would want to join, I would pick this path over any other every time.  I am running the risk of Klarp being truthful, but we aren’t in a good position to be picky at the opportunities in front of us.  But showing him that we will stay here and wait for him to come back could further strengthen that he will keep his end of my request.  We never shook on anything, so he could just say that I’m all wet and get lost, but based on his sincerity, I believe him.”

         Annabeth just smiles and looks at me, I kiss her.

         Annabeth replies looking into my eyes, “This is why I love you, my dear.”
         I start smiling but then try to keep from laughing.

         Annabeth, afraid to ask, “What is it?”

         “But,” as soon as I start, she facepalms.  “Where’s the -deer-?  I thought you loved me.”

         I start laughing and giving a fake pouting face.  Annabeth arches back a right cross, but never lets it fly.  She just shakes her head, sighs loudly, and rolls her eyes.

         “That is also why I love you,” Annabeth said.

         I look up to the sky, “I can just see Cazi or either my sisters saying, ‘If you can put up with his jokes like that, you two deserve each other… You idiots.’”

         Annabeth laughed, “Yeah, I could see any of those saying that, even Dawn would probably say.  Although, she would be blunter even walk away through up her hands.”

         I sit down, cross legged, on the sand and invite Annabeth to sit at my right side.  She sits down as I grab some sand and start fiddling with it in my fingers.

         Now serious, Annabeth questions, “Do you want to talk about it now?”

         I respond, “If you are up to it.”

         Annabeth sighs, “I’m sorry for reacting like that.  Guess I showed my Berserker colors there, for sure.  I over reacted and let my emotions take over.”

         “Emotions can be good, be being self-controlled and patient and help use your emotions in a more directed manner to benefit all involved,” I state.

         Annabeth agrees.  “I know, was just fed up to her,” Annabeth flattens her right hand puts it beneath her chin.  “With all that she has done, capturing us and… and…”

         Annabeth did not want to say, so I said it for her, “Forcing me to my knees and putting her sword near my head.”

         I look at Annabeth at her face, she nods her head, “Yes,” but she has her eyes closed.  Also, I see spot a quick tear racing down her left check from her left eye.

         Annabeth then opens her eyes, breathes in and out, and did very well only letting it go that far, she sounds fine and does not sound like she is crying; she held it in except one tear, “Just the thought of losing you, I lost my mind.  I didn’t get any sleep last night as I just kept stirring in my own emotions all night and it finally boiled over.  I left it the stove too long.”

         I quip, “Maybe I should be the one that cooks in this relationship.”

         She laughs and facepalms with both hands.  Some of her hair falls down in front of her face, so she smoothly runs her hands from her facepalm into her hair to push some back behind her ears and some behind her shoulders.

         “Did I see a facepalm,” I tease.  “Or am I just seeing things?”

         “Yes,” she quickly retorts.  “You are seeing things.  Did you know you have been seeing things since you were born?”

         Now I facepalmed, “I walked into that one.  High-five.”

         Using my right hand, I high-five her left hand.  Standing up and offering my right hand for her, I help her stand.  Annabeth grabs my right with her left and stands.

         “Now, back to business,” I start looking around me.  “If we are to get these puzzles done by tonight, we best get started.”