Book 8 - Conquest for the Truth - Chapter 7 - Average Day

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httyyd
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Ready to read another typical chapter from Jarl and the Crew?  I hope this chapter lives up to the rest of the chapters.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the chapter!

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The Wedding

New - Part 4

 

Book 8 Coming Soon!!

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

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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

 

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!

 

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    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

 

The Wedding

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3 

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httyyd
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Conquest for the Truth

 

Chapter 7

Average Day

 

         The next day comes early, breakfast is hurriedly fixed and eaten, then we met with Garth and he leads us to our first stop:  Mjolnir.  Knowing today will be a lot of working, Annabeth and I take our wedding rings off and attach them to a Gronckle Iron small chain we have made to wear the rings around our necks, out of sight and out of harm’s way.

         On our way to Mjolnir, Dawn is anxiously ready for the events of the day, “So, what dangerous puzzle are we going to meet today?”

         Explod jumps in, “Or what sinister chasm of mystery will stare us in the face?”

         “I don’t know about all that,” Garth says.  “But what I finally figured out is there are two undisclosed locations on both Mjolnir and Iyer.  These areas are barely mentioned in the Izarian records I found on the two islands.  Though, there has to be more, but that is all I could find in all the disorganized destruction at Iskyn.”

         Valkarik quips, “Are you telling me there is organized destruction?  What is the point in that?”

         Ali adds, “Well, you want to make sure if someone is looking on and wants to be thoroughly in aw of the destruction, having multiple individual areas of destruction could be seen as more destruction than having one large area of destruction, thus it is organized destruction.”

         Garth mentions, “That is actually what Einar thought too.”

         “Oh,” Ali verbally steps back.  “I didn’t-.”

         Garth interrupts, “I know you didn’t and you make a good point.  Maybe we can use some Einar’s tactics against him this time.  And show him an organized punch to the gut.”

         Garth chuckles, but is noticeably not fully focusing on what he is doing as Riptide had to maneuver out of the way of a sea stack.  Garth is trying to make the most of the situation by keeping it light, but I cannot imagine how many memories are flooding his mind these last few days.

         To change the subject, Ali asks, “How long did it take you to find where we are supposed to go?”

         “All night,” Garth simply states.

         “All night?” Ali echoes.  “When are you going to get sleep?  You need to get sleep, Garth.  One would think that being blind, why would I need to close my eyes to get sleep.  Why can’t I just keep them open?  Even I have to close my eyes.”

         Garth shrugs it off, “I’m fine.”

         He gets back on track by leading us through and opening near the northwest side of the island.  The opening looked to be at one point a grand entrance because on entering the opening, we are greeted with a massive cavern for Mjolnir is still an active volcano.  The brightness of the orangish red lava greets us from below.  There are streams of lava flowing from one place to another.  By the looks of things, no one has been using this place in a long time, so the lava streams are no longer contained.  They have not taken over the cavern, just in the immediate area surrounding the main lava stream through the central part of the cavern.  Otherwise, the empty stations of a giant factory of a forge are still there, but in disrepair.

         I tell the group, “To see this place in its heyday.”

         “This place could be going round the clock sometimes,” Garth informs.  “Constantly creating items, wares, and weapons of all different kinds.  The biggest difference you may have seen in a lot of the metal around the islands so far is the Gronckle Iron.  We had discovered this lightweight but durably strong metal a long, long time ago.  I never really paid attention to the make up of it until I needed to remember how to make it.  Then I got… Side tracked with some things, before coming to Berk.  I had not written down formula for Gronckle Iron, so I could not remember how to make it until Fishlegs and Meatlug figured it out.  Then with Gobber’s help in the refinement process, Berkian Gronckle Iron is slightly better than Izarian, but only in purity.  Each version is just as strong as the other.”

         The cavern has to be nearly a hundred yards long, the same distance high, and nearly the same wide.  Even with this large cavern size, we are still not to the center part of the island.

         “Through the original construction of the forge,” Garth enlightens.  “They saw this large cavern as an excellent place to put a forge, but the whole of the cavern floor was covered in a pool of lava.  Therefore, they dug into the island from the other side, redirecting the lava stream to the other side.  They did this all without upsetting the volcano itself and it has not erupted in ages, yet is still an active volcano.”

         Cazi announces, “Amazing that they would think to do that, even without doing something to cause an eruption.”

         Garth concludes, “The vikings of Mjolnir worked wonders with molten lava and anything metal.”

         In Garth’s voice is a hint of sorrow for this whole island stands idle.

         Coming to the other side of the cavern, Garth leads us into a smaller opening.  Relative term “smaller” is compared to the size of this cavern.  This “hallway” is thirty yards wide and this much high.  Flying for another few minutes, we arrive at what Garth calls the “center” of the island.

         “Now,” Garth clarifies.  “The center of the island would be down there in the belly of the mountain, but we are in the central part of the island.”

         In the middle of this hallway tunnel, there seems to have been cut out of the main chasm for the mouth of the volcano a lookout station, probably to monitor the volcano at all times.  This central hub has the remnants of a main testing facility for any of the things created by this forge.  Basically, it looks like a battle arena without the chains and deadly theme.

         Explod laughs, “There’s my chasm, but it’s not a mystery… Or is it?  Okay, now where is the puzzle?”

         Dismounting our dragons, Garth remarks, “This is close to where the area that could be what we are looking for, but I am not sure.”

         “Well,” I say digging into my saddlebag and taking out several thin, cylindrical sticks, tossing them each to a friend.  “Let’s start searching for clues.”

         Valkarik asks, “What are those?” as she catches the stick.

         Having one for myself, I then shake it and a blueish orange glow starts emitting from the object, “Glowsticks.  Vials of hollow Deathsong amber filled with Flightmare saliva and algae as well as other particles which react with the saliva and algae to keep them from creating the glow until you shake the vial.  If set still for an extended period of time, the sticks will dim to the point of barely giving off light.  So, we don’t have to keep carrying around torches to light.  Plus, if I am alone with my dragon, I can still see in the dark because Fredrick obviously cannot light torches.  I can just use these.”

         “Brilliant,” Garth studies the stick.  “Don’t know why I didn’t think of this.”

         I reply, “I can already see the gears turning in your brain what you can do to improve the design.”

         Annabeth nudges me in the left side as she walks past, “I knew I married you for something other than your looks.”

         I roll my eyes as I follow where she is going.  The rest of the group splits up to investigate the surrounding area.  Over the next twenty minutes, we scour the entirety of this hub, yet find nothing out of the ordinary.

         Annabeth sits down on a chair, “What are we missing?”

         Looking around again, I notice Ali doing something strange.  She is standing in front of a round Gronckle Iron shield, straightening her hair and tidying up herself.

         Dawn walks past Ali, but then stops in her tracks.  As if she found the first thing she could not understand, she backtracks to look at Ali.

         “Um,” Dawn slowly begins.  “What are you doing?”

         “This searching for clues can be tiring, I mean, Annabeth did sit down in a chair and you all are breathing a little hard,” Ali informs.  “Granted, even though we are several hundred feet above the lava in this volcano, it is still noticeably warmer in here with hardly any ventilation.  Searching for clues can be time consuming, yet I want to look good for any action that might come our way.”

         “But… you are…,” Dawn stutters.

         Ali finishes freshening up by turning to Dawn, winking, “I’m blind?  You’re just finding that out?  Man, maybe you need your eyes checked.”  Ali taps Dawn on the back as Dawn is just left dumbfounded for a moment.

         I have revelation, “Wait, Ali!”

         “What?” Ali stops.  “I know there isn’t a cliff right in front of me, so did is there something in my hair I missed?”

         “No,” I chuckle.  “Why did you choose that particular shield?”

         Now Ali is dumbfounded by my question, wondering why I asked such a thing, she slowly answers, “Because… it… is Gronckle Iron.  And… Gronckle Iron is… Shiny?”

         “Exactly,” I walk over to the shield and then look around.

         Annabeth then retorts, “Okay, maybe I married the wrong guy.  I think Jarl’s lost it.  Dawn, distract him and Cazi and I will jump on him before he starts talking about the rocks.”

         “I’m getting to that,” I smile.

         “Okay,” Annabeth stands up.  “Dawn…” Annabeth motions to her half-sister adopted sister.

         Dawn folds her arms, “As Valkarik says, maybe what he has is contagious.  I ain’t going near him.”

         “Would you listen for a second before sending me off to find the edge of the world?” I ask my friends.  “What do you all see in this room… Besides the crazed Berkian looking at a shield?”

         Aiyana responds first, “More shields.”

         I further question, “Anything strange about them?”

         Aiyana replies, “They are scattered through out this place, on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling, and standing up on some of the booths or weapon racks.”

         Going further, I ask, “Can you pick up these swords?”

         Samantha starts to try it out on a shield near her, “No, it seems as if these shields are wielded to the thing, they are attached to.  What good is a shield if you cannot use it?”

         “My point exactly,” I tell her.

         Annabeth then exclaims, “I get it.  These shields are part of a puzzle.  While someone working here or passing by may see these shields as decorations or just part of the testing or experimenting, these shields line up with each other.”

         Garth finishes, “And if we line these shields up with a light source, then maybe it points us in the right direction?”

         “I think we got it,” I announce.  “But this Light Puzzle will no doubt require some type of focused light to bounce off these shields to point us in the direction of our next objective.”

         Ali suggests, “But do we even need to do that?”

         “I don’t follow,” Valkarik wonders out loud.

         “Then stay there,” Ali says.  “Just tell me how close I am coming to the far wall.”

         Valkarik calls out distance measurements while the rest of us, including Valkarik, follows Ali.   Already ahead of her thinking, I then trace the path of what I believe the light path would have taken.

         Between call outs, Valkarik comments, “You’re awful quipy lately.”

         “I told you it is catchy,” Ali replies.

         Ali is easing her way across to the other wall.

         Once there, she then asks, “Where is the shield that points this direction?”

         “I just figured that out, Ali,” I say as I reach the opposite wall too.  “Follow the sound of my voice.  Turn right, walk twenty paces.”

         Regrouping around me, my friends and I see before us…

         “Well,” Ali asks.  “What is it?”

         Valkarik describes, “Looks like a wall to me.  Wait, now that I am up close, it is a more detailed and dirtier wall.”

         The wall is jagged with ripples, seams, and layers overlapping each other.

         Annabeth sticks her hand out in front of the wall, saying, “Feel that?”

         Testing the air, I respond, “Classic cold air draft.  There’s a secret door here.”

         But as I stick my hand out further to touch the wall my hand keeps going when I think it should touch the wall, thus I stumble forward a bit.  Annabeth reaches out and grabs my left arm, catching me.

         Everyone else cannot believe it, but, “I believe this is some kind of optical illusion.”  I say as I regain my balance and then about two feet forward, I touch the wall.

         My glowstick is in my left hand, so raising it up, I see an opening between the rock and the wall, only big enough for a viking to fit.  Our dragons will have to stay behind.

         Asvord suggests, “Should we try and figure out how to light up the puzzle just in case it is needed?”

         “Good idea,” I agree. “Thank you for volunteering.  You, Ali, Valkarik, Aiyana, Samantha, and Explod, go figure out the puzzle and light it up.”

         “Should I not be with them?” asks Garth.

         “There will probably be another puzzle,” I tell him.  “If it is one, I can figure out, then you can help them finish up if they are not done.”

         Annabeth, Cazi, Dawn, Garth, and myself continue on.  I take point to test and see what is ahead of us.  Using the glowstick to light our way, the passage from the wall goes to the left or the right.  Taking the left, we then after a few steps, turn right and see we would meet up with the other path from the wall.  We also see a few large rings of what looks like quartz glass.

         Garth remarks, “It looks like we do need the light from the other room.”

         “Let’s see what this puzzle is first,” I declare.

         Cazi challenges, “What makes you think there is a puzzle?”

         I halt the group from going any further because I feel cooler air in front of me.  Pointing to the others to lower their glowsticks to the floor, I am right.  There is no floor in front of us, though we are standing on a platform extending into the chamber.

         “Another thing the glows are good for,” I say tossing the mine in front of me.  “Seeing how far…”

         Clink… Clink…  Clink, clickety clack.

         Annabeth slaps me on the back, “Brilliant observation.  You just found out the floor in front of us has stairs.”

         Even Annabeth crouches down with me to make sure they are in fact stairs, and they are.  So, we proceed down the steps into a chamber fifty feet in diameter.  Going around the chamber, we set glowsticks down to light the room up, Cazi went back for more to be sure of what we are seeing.  What we are greeted by, once we have enough light, is a twenty-foot disk maze with a spherical Gronckle Iron ball on the side next to the stairs.  In the center of the disk there is a pillar reaching up seven feet into the air with another lens on top.  Looks like we are to solve the maze, fit the ball inside the pillar, lowering it into place so that the lens lines up with the rest.

         The only other thing in the chamber is a moat around the outside of the chamber, about three yards across.  What might fill that up starts to go through my mind.  For right now, I put it directly out of my mind the moment I think of it.

         “Can we pick up the ball?” Dawn asks as she tries to.  No success as the ball is lodged in between the two walls in the disk.  “Guess not then.”  Dawn then observes as she steps onto the disk, “Looks like we have to stand on here in the direction we want the ball to roll.”

         Dawn starts moving the ball a foot until the next row in the maze, but in doing so, a very muffled but grumbling noise comes from the bottom of the disk.  She instantly jumps off.  All of our looks are similar to hers.  We all freeze and stare at each other.

         What just happened?

         Before anything else starts, I tell Garth, “I know how to figure this out.  Go out and get the light beam working as fast as you can.  Something tells me there is something underneath this chamber and I don’t want to find out what it is the hard way.”

         Garth runs back through the tunnel as I motion to the girls to stand on one of the sides of the disk, splitting it into fourths.  Annabeth and myself on the side opposite the stairs, Cazi and down across from us.

         The ball had gone forward from Dawn’s step.

         “Alright,” I put my hands up to have them stay where they are; I calmly talk to the girls, though I am anything but right now.  “This puzzle is simple.  The ball needs to go into a spiral towards the center.  All the way to our side, the top, then towards the center a bit, and then all the way back the other to the top on the other side.  Then back again.  Repeat until the ball reaches the center and we will go from there.”

         With no instruction of who to go first, we all zone in on the ball and work as a unit maneuvering the ball around the maze.

         The ball hardly stops in one place for more than a moment before continuing on.

         But after the third row of rotations, we all feel the disk going lower into the ground.  The center pillar is rising into the air.

         I have a bad feeling about this.

         We continue working and within a few minutes, the ball is in place and the lens ready… But no light yet.

         Cazi wipes her forehead, “Who knew stepping onto a disk and off was so tiring.  I’m sweating.”

         Dawn remarks, “I don’t think you are sweating because of that.”

         Dawn points to the outside moat and…

         Lava is seeping up, encroaching into the room.

         Dawn yells, “We need to get out of here.”

         Annabeth stands her ground, “No, we need to stay.”

         Dawn contests, “Do you want to be roasted alive?”

         “No,” Annabeth replies as the four of us go back to back as the lava continues coming in on us.  “But there is no going back, look.”

         The lava has over taken the stairs, making it impossible to go back.

         I tell the girls as I reach my left arm into the air, “Make a line back to the stairs and jump up as high as you can and fire your grappling hooks.”

         We all do so just in the nick of the time as the lava takes over the rest of the floor.  Retracting the grappling line to be shorter, we make some room between us and the lava, but it is now rising.  Slowly, but rising all the same.  Lining up as we did, we are about ten feet apart; it is Annabeth, me, Cazi, and then Dawn who is closest to the stairs.

         As I am about to yell for assistance, a bright white light beam is shown through the lens.  The lenses focus the light into a very then laser which then starts melting the wall opposite the lenses.  We look on as the laser opens up a small hidden spot in the wall, striking something creating a bright glare.  Shielding our eyes, I know that is the thing we need.  Annabeth is already swinging over to try and grab what is in the crevice.

         I in turn swing over to the pillar, grabbing it with my legs.  I pull myself up to the top of the pillar.  Knowing I need to stop the laser, I retract my line a bit more so I can swing and knock the lens off with my feet.

         The lava is now nearly two feet from where the floor used to be.  The girls have had to raise themselves up to stay ahead of the lava.

         By the way, it is now profusely warm in here.  I am sweating like crazy right now.

         I have swung three times and it takes three more times before I am able to bend the lens.  Doing this disrupts the lens enough so as to scatter the like into multiple directions as I have even cracked the lens from the stress, I put on it.  Annabeth had swung over to the wall and had wall climbed over to the opening.  She had just been waiting on me.  Reaching into the opening, she grabs for the contents…

         But she yelps in pain!

         “Annabeth!” I scream as I see her stuff something into a pocket.

         “I’m fine,” she answers as she starts her swing back to me.

         The lava is now halfway up the pillar and only a few feet from the opening in the chamber.  Cazi and Dawn have already swung to safety and are standing by with the rest of the group.

         Since our grappling chains are now shorter because of the lava pressing up on us, the radius from us to the ceiling is shorter as well.  This is important as we need to swing more to gain more speed to reach a longer distance.

         “Annabeth,” I state as I start to swing to her.  “You are going to have to swing and jump to me.  Once I have you, let your line go and in the same motion swing under me and shoot your grapple to the ceiling, then I will do what you just did, and we’ll both swing to safety.”

         Annabeth nods as she completes her fifth swing.

         “I need to do one more,” Annabeth says as she swings forward.

         I hear something above and look to see the ceiling cracking under pressure from something…

         The crack is right next to Annabeth’s grappling hook!

         I instead, swiftly yell, “No, jump now!”

         She cuts her line to jump over to me just before the rock her hook is lodged into gives way!

         I reach down to grab her right arm with my right hand.  She latches on to my arm as I continue her momentum going to the chamber opening.

         “You’ll have to throw me so I can reload my hook,” Annabeth declares.

         Going on reaction, I toss her up with my one hand, grimacing under the strain.  As I do so, she expertly in a split second, loads another hook onto the launcher, shooting another hook to the ceiling.

         Our swings are still opposite of each other, so as she swings away, she comes back, ready to catch my arm as I did her.  Her momentum she still has, caries us forward.  As she cuts her line at the longest part of the swing, we jump down, crashing onto the platform, but we do our best to roll to recover.

         I now notice much more cracking noise from behind us and the walls are starting to split.

         Slipping out the exit, Annabeth and I are nearly caught up into a cave in.  Running forward still a few strides, she and I sprawl onto the ground out of exhaustion from heat.  Our friends immediately check on us.  Asvord brings both of us flasks of water.  Garth brings Riptide over, helping Annabeth up by grabbing her right hand; Garth also has his dragon spray the Tide Glider healing saliva on Annabeth’s hand.

         Before even taking a drink for myself, I go straight to Annabeth, “Are you alright?”

         Her hand slightly shaking from probably both the heated object and the applied treatment, she answers, “I think so.”

         Garth assures, “Putting the saliva on immediately will help tremendously to keep the burn from getting worse.”

         Seeing her safe, I take a drink.  Actually, I finish off the flask.  Annabeth does the same with hers.

         As Riptide keeps gently spraying her saliva on Annabeth’s hand, Annabeth quips, “Normally, I would probably say this is a bit gross, but right now, I totally do not mind.”

         “Do you mind if I take a look at what you found?” Garth asks.

         With her other hand, she unveils what she found…

         A large, four-inch diamond.

         Aiyana and Samantha look on in admiration, Samantha declares, “This thing is huge.  It is bigger than my fist.”

         “Not only is this a flawless diamond, but it is a complete and perfect cut.” Garth informs.  “I see no imperfections in the gem.  What I do see is some type of black dust on the gem.  If I had to guess, this black dust is what caused Annabeth’s burn.  A diamond put to a normal fire or focused light would not cause alarm to picking it up barehanded.  A diamond would need to be heated way higher than this to be very hot to the touch.  Even then, to truly burn a diamond, pure oxygen would be needed to rapidly heat up and start melting the diamond.”

         Dawn shakes her head, “What muttonhead would want to burn a diamond?  Do you know how much these things are worth, both in gold and to a girl’s heart?”

         Annabeth winks at me, “My heart is red.”

         Dawn rolls her eyes, “Yes, we know you like rubies better, but diamonds are up there too.”

         “Wait a second,” Annabeth says while looking at her hand which is burned.

         Dawn asks, “Second thoughts about rubies?”

         “Never, but that’s not what I am referring to,” Annabeth replies.  “While looking at my burn marks on my hand… I do believe there is writing on the diamond.”

         With newfound insight, Garth thoroughly looks over the diamond again.  Garth also mentions she can take her hand and wrap it up now.  Asvord comes over with a clean cloth to wrap Annabeth’s hand.  Annabeth shows me her hand before getting it covered.  There is indeed writing on her hand and thus the diamond also.

         But spotting a word I recognize, I stop Asvord for a moment before then letting her wrap Annabeth’s hand.

         Annabeth notices and questions, “What does it read?”

         “Not knowing the full extent of the Izarian dialect of rune, I can only get a few words,” I answer.  “The two words I caught are Gale and Storm.”

         Everyone is shocked, Samantha’s mouth drops and exclaims, “Are you kidding me?”

         Garth had gone to his dragon and returned with a paper.  Garth thinks of everything.  He had brought with him a field kit for experiments and in it is some red dye.  Painting it onto the diamond, he then transposed the writing on the diamond onto a sheet of paper.

         “That’s not all, get a load of this.  What is on the diamond reads as follows,” Garth reads off the page.

         “The Heart of a Gale Storm.”

         Dawn throws her arms up into the air, “Oh great.  Just another day in the life of being around Jarl.  To now add to the ever-growing things to deal with, add Gale Heart dragon.  I think we can fit that in between… A pending war with the all-powerful Einar Verodfellar and this stupid mystery’s habit of always having clues referencing itself in the form riddles.”

         I counter, “But to further play to the trends of the mystery, taking this clue literally, does the riddle mean the diamond is the actual heart of the ‘Gale Storm’?”

         Annabeth jumps in, “And is this further telling us where this diamond is supposed to go, acting as if this gem is a key?”

         Samantha starts to get excited, “I think we are on to something.”

         Valkarik thinks out loud, “Will we have to use this ‘key’ for Iyer to unlock something or will Iyer lead to somewhere else?  Remember the thing about a storm being here somewhere.”

         “Thinking about the next island’s role,” I submit my idea to the group.  “Does it sound too much of a coincident if this diamond is the so-called heart and key of a Gale Storm, whatever that is, on Iyer which is home to the Tidal Class dragon?”

         Garth’s expression and body language perks up as he says, “And Tidal Class dragons are often compared to elements of a storm.  Thunderdrum blasts sound like thunder and a Scauldron sprays water, boiling water, but water nonetheless.”

         I jump back in, “Tidal Class dragons are also notorious for stirring up literal storms in the oceans do to their swimming abilities when they encroach on each other’s territories or even just being irritated in general?  Remember Hiccup’s run ins with the Shellfire and the Submaripper.”

         Valkarik throws her arms around Annabeth and myself, “Look at us finishing each other’s thoughts.  But now,” Valkarik stands to attention with her right fist in the air.  “But now, we must press on valiantly to our next objective.”  Valkarik then points to Explod, “Cue epic climax ending song.”

         Explod proceeds to sound off a random song he no doubt just thought of and interludes for us as we mount our dragons.

         “Next stop Iyer,” I declare.  “We’ve already figured out two puzzles simultaneously, got the next clue with a massive connection to our previous mystery, and nearly died trying to get said clue… And it isn’t even midday yet?  Pretty average day, don’t ya think?”