Book 6 - Mystery of Shadow Mountain - Chapter 43: No Laughing Matter

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httyyd
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This chapter went by fast for me to write, but it is a 5,000+ word chapter!  I didn't think I wrote that much, but okay.

 

As a birthday present from me to you (Yes, I know that's not how these things work. :P) here is a bonus chapter for this week, though it is a day late, but only by an hour.

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the chapter as you feel the tension rising in my story!

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Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

New - Chapter 23, Parts 2 and 3

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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httyyd
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Drums R Round. Pi R Squared.

         Thinking back to last night, it is the most miserable I have felt in a long time.  While we travel to the location of the second puzzle, I recall what had transpired to get us to this point.

 

         After leading our dragons into their stables and being extra sure they would not cause any problems, we were led, by Vixxen, into the headquarters which turns out to be just an entrance to below ground.  In the three months my friends and I could not figure out the next step in the mystery, Vixxen had already known where Shadow Mountain is.  So, she arrived and started building and searching for The Legend.  Somehow, Vixxen knows a lot more about the history from supposedly her own people than I ever thought there could have been.  Vixxen enlightened us the further we went into the caves and caverns, a labyrinth of honeycombed wooden structures to support what looks like Vixxen and her vikings have dug out.

         The Legend -As the legend goes, Vixxen says- will bring immense power to the one who finds it.  Vixxen also said she did not want to spoil all The Legend because we will find out in due time.  She just wants me to figure out and in other words, not know why she wants the power for herself.

         Vixxen led us to a cave to the left which has cells, it is the brig.  Vixxen said the sockets or chains were not necessary and said we would not try to escape, at least not yet.  She added that we had just got here and there is still much work to be done.  As Vixxen talked, she had me be the last one go in after all my friends had.  Then Fira had also been led to the brig to stay with us.  Vixxen bid us goodnight and wished us a good night’s rest.  Fira explained how she was captured.

         Vixxen had come to Fira’s shack.  Unbeknownst to Fira, Vixxen acted as a lost traveler and sought supplies for her to continue on her way.  Vixxen had interrupted Fira from writing in her journal.  Fira thought it was strange because Shadow Mountain is a very well-hidden island, even for its size.  Because of all the storms that happen around here, it makes any would be sailor either stupid or seeking refuge for being caught in the storm.  This island is off of any major sailing routes and seeing how the island is to the far northwest and getting very close to the outlying areas of the archipelago, to stumble onto this is very unlikely.  The only reason for coming is if you knew what you were looking for, or the storm guided you in.  Fira commented that the storms seem to always bring anything caught in the storms to the island, like something is attracted to it.  Fira said it was because of the trouble spirits seeking help yet once they are here the spirits will not let you go unless you have the means to escape, but I am not entirely sure it is because of that.  Fira believes that the spirits know what is in our hearts in minds and can tell who a friend or foe is.  If you are friend and respect the island, the island will return what you lost and give you more than what you had.  If you are a foe, then it will try and keep you here through any means necessary.

         Fira got back on subject and finished saying that Vixxen was intrigued by what she thought of the island.  Fira is always vague to any and all travelers but was especially suspicious of how Vixxen was acting.  Based on Vixxen’s garb she wears, Fira thought it was quite unlikely she is a trader or an average sailor.  How Vixxen talked and did not look worn out in put through any ordeal to get here, Fira became increasing suspicious.  Vixxen continued to ask about the island but Fira guided the conversation back to getting Vixxen set on her way.  That is when Vixxen asked about the herbs.  While Fira went over to put away some of the herbs Vixxen had gotten out, Fira also was going to reach for a sword from behind some of the plants.  This, however, preoccupied Fira from keeping an eye on Vixxen.  She worked her way over to Fira’s desk and started reading Fira’s journal.  When Vixxen asked about The Legend of Shadow Mountain, Fira knew what she was here for.  Fira drew her sword told Vixxen that she thought she was too well dressed for a trader and looked more like a pirate, mercenary, or Dragon Hunter.  Fira asked her to leave and leave this island, Vixxen asked her what gave herself away beyond what Fira stated.  Fira answered and said that the sand on Vixxen’s boots can only be found on the western shores.  Vixxen did not even notice the sand, but complemented Fira on pointing it out for she did not know the sand was only on that side of the island.  Vixxen then requested all Fira’s knowledge on the island.  Fira refused and Vixxen started after Fira.  Though Fira had a sword, Vixxen is too well skilled at close combat fighting that Vixxen took the sword away from Fira in her first attack against the villainess.  Fira was surprised and shocked.  Fira swung her sword down from left to right, but Vixxen knelt down, reached up to grab Fira’s hands on the sword, and proceeded to fling the girl over her shoulders.  Fira said while she was still in the air, Vixxen took the sword and pointed it at her when she hit the floor.  Fira said she had never seen anyone that good at disarming a foe since her childhood days when she was still on her home island.

         That was the first time Fira mentioned anything about her backstory, but it was not the time to question further.  We were all exhausted from the trip and staying up late to fight.  Reluctantly we all found a place on the ground to get some sleep; “some sleep” being the two key words.

 

         Now the next morning, Vixxen let me bring with me only three of my friends, while the rest had to stay behind and help with the activities there.  The friends I picked to go with me are the following:  Annabeth, Asvord, and Elsa.  I half expect Cazi to make some kind of quip that she had to do the same job she had to do at Aberdeen Island, but she included is in no mood for anything funny because this is not a laughing matter.  And Vixxen reminded me that if I did not help her to the fullest extent of solving this mystery, she would do something I may regret.  At this point, Vixxen is deadly serious.  Being this serious, there has to be some personal connection to this mystery and the contents of what The Legend holds in the center of this island.  I note that Vixxen has around her left shoulder draped to her right side the bag that I had put the first Dragon Eye lens in.

         Vixxen has found all four puzzles, some she had to dig to get to.  But there is a massive cavern down deep in the center of the mountain, but there is no way of digging through the solid rock and who knows how deep it really is.  She did not have the dragon power to attempt at going that route.  Even if she did have the dragons capable of either blasting or burrowing through, there is a fault line going through the mountain at the location of the door that if it is disturbed, the place around the door could cave in and quite possibly be lost forever.

         There is only the one door with the combination of symbols that she does not know the meaning or in what order they go in.  But on studying the door, something from each of these puzzles is needed to unlock the symbol to move it into place to solve the door to open it.  That is where my friends and I come in.  While we do not know the extent of The Legend itself, my friends and I know more about the mystery itself than Vixxen has ever.  With her status as a Dragon Hunter, she could not travel the ocean and lands in seek of the clues because of who she is.  Though for me that is a strange reason for her to not do it anyway.  But Vixxen is unlike any person I have ever met.  She is as cunning as she ruthless but shows mercy yet if something is important to her, she will do everything in her power to get it and does not care who or what gets in her way.

         Speaking of which, we arrive at the site of the second puzzle… A hole in the ground.  A giant hole to be specific.  We have walked to the southeast part of the island for this one, going the long way around by going north, then east, and then south.  As we went, I saw some of Vixxen’s Vikings heading to the northwest side of the island.  While there is still tree cover, the hole in the ground must have been a clearing itself to begin with, because it looks like no trees have been uprooted.  The cave looks to be about another thirty yards deep.  From the edge of the center platform, it is ten yards to the bottom.

         Annabeth then quips, “Well, this takes the fun out of it.  What you lack in finesse, you sure make up for in getting straight to it.”

         Annabeth’s tone is that of been wanting to say something back to Vixxen for a while now, even before we got here.

         Standing at the edge of the crater, I look down and see a mess of platforms, dirt, and rock scattered throughout a smaller cave about thirty yards across, maybe less, with a similar fireplace in the middle like I saw at the first site of the first puzzle.  There is a make shift bridge leading down into the middle of the circle cave to the center platform.  Vixxen starts walking there.  We hesitate for a moment, but three Hunters take a step forward at us with spears ready and so we go.

         When the four of us step foot on the platform, which is about twenty feet in diameter, Vixxen remarks, “Saying you could only bring three of your friends with you, the ones you brought with you there is truly only one friend while the other two are your sisters.  If you wanted to, you could have brought two more of your friends to meet the quota as I didn’t say anything about your family coming.”

         With no expression I just look at Vixxen, waiting to be told what to do.

         Vixxen attempted to lighten the mood, but we are passed that right now.  Once we get our dragons back and this mystery solved, that will lighten my mood for sure.

         “Well,” Vixxen said more seriously.  “Down to business then.  My men and I found the location of this second puzzle, obviously, but we could never find the entrance to the cave below.  So, we extracted as much dirt and rock as we could, carefully, but as you can see it did not take much for some to fall into the cave here.”

         I comment, “Next time don’t do that.  For as much as you wanted to wait for me, you could have damaged part of the puzzle mechanics to find the next Dragon Eye lens.”

         “Dragon Eye lens?” Vixxen echoed, trying to sound surprised.  “Oh, you mean the thing that is in here?”  Vixen said pointing to the shoulder bag I used to put the first one in as well as the metal puzzle pieces.

         “You know what I am talking about,” I said, but Vixxen played innocent.  Instead, I just went on, “When I was working through the first puzzle, four fireplaces were lit spotlighting the four symbols that are connected to the mystery.  They were only for show in the first puzzle, but who’s to say there isn’t more to them.  Now that I see this puzzle has its own fireplace, I bet the other two have one as well.  Hopefully, this fireplace was only to indicate what number this puzzle was.”

         I turn to look around and spot the entrance to this cave.

         When I start to go there, Vixxen asks, “Why are you going over there?”

         “I’m not going to escape… And like you said, not yet at least,” I retort.  “These puzzles are not meant to be solved from the back end.  I just want to be sure we don’t miss anything.”

         I start cautiously walking and hopping onto each wooden platform until I reach the other side.  As I go, along with Annabeth and my sisters, I almost rethink going across these.  These platforms are who knows how old compounded with being not as structurally sound with the whole “back door” way of doing things, I can feel a lot of give under these platforms and hear creaks with every step.  But we all make across the fifteen-yard gap safely.

         Once over there, Annabeth whisper to me very adamantly, “Are you going to take this from her?”

         I kneel down studying the ground but answer Annabeth at the same time to make it look like I am just discussing the ground, “We are not in a place to make demands.  We have to wait for an opportunity to present itself.  As much as I want punch her too, we have to have some restraint and self-control not to play into Vixxen’s game.  We know she’s cunning and she knows what most of our strengths and weaknesses are.  We must be the better person no matter what she does.”

         Asvord then asks, “Do you know how to solve this puzzle?”

         Looking around now and seeing the walls in conjunction with the back of the cave and the cavern itself, with the light from outside I am able to see a lot more details than had this been still underground.  The back of the cave is just that, the back of a cave with a rock wall.  I quickly go back the seven feet, into the shadow of the wall from the light, to view the wall.  It is solid rock.

         “Vixxen was actually right,” I state.  “Though she did it to the extreme.  There is no way to reach this puzzle but through the ground above.  There must have been some type of additional puzzle to open a door or something to enter this cavern.”

         I jump back into the light.  Vixxen saw that we had gone out of view for a few moments, but then waves when we enter the light again.  I wave back but, in a way, as if I did not care what she thought, only to see that we are still here and were just looking not escaping… Yet.

         Vixxen is now on the other side of the fireplace talking up to some of her men; I then say to the girls, “Alright.  I have been thinking about it and we can only try to escape when we are all together and or with our dragons.”

         Annabeth then suggests, “Or we capture Vixxen herself and force her men to let us and our dragons go.”

         I sigh, but in agreement, “That would be the best way we could insure our escape… Because I frankly don’t know how we are going to get out of this.”

         “Jarl,” Elsa says.  “I’m scared.  Are we going to be okay?”
         I smile in sympathy and spread my arms out for a hug; as my little sister hugs me, I reply, “We are going to be okay.  I will not let anything happen to you or any of you for that matter.  Now, we may have to endure some discomfort or pain along the way, but this is the world that we always knew existed but our parents protected us from.  Now it is a reality for us.  We all wanted to set out on our own and solve the mysteries of the archipelago.  Well, there are bad, terrible, and dangerous things too.  We have to be brave and stand up to these vikings and foes we meet or they may do this to others less capable.  You’re fifteen, almost sixteen.  I know you have not really been involved much, but each one of you I
know I can count on because you will do your best when the moment is right.”

         Elsa has always been ever so slightly insecure, but if you test her when push comes to shove, she instinctively does the right thing every time.

         I stood up and addressed Annabeth and Asvord too, “We friends and family here.  We will do anything for each other and be at each other’s side in the worst and the best.  But if we are to make this work, we have to do this together.  What others will make you try to believe, as long as you believe in yourself and do your best, good things will come.  With all of us our doing our best, we are not in this alone.  We are stronger together.”

         “Alright.  I’m ready,” asserted Elsa.  Feeling more confident Elsa asks, “Is there anything of importance over here?”

         “No,” I simply say.

         A bit surprised, Asvord repeats, “No?  Then why’d we come over here?”

         Now, I smile, “I just wanted to get away from Vixxen.  I already saw what I needed to see when we first walked down but didn’t think or say anything about it when I saw it.”

         The four of us make our way over and meet a Vixxen still anxiously waiting for results.

         “Alright,” I declare my findings.  “I don’t know if you spotted this or not Vixxen, but the symbols or actually basic representations of four different dragon species:  Speed Stinger, Triple Stryke, the two-horned dragon, and the Eruptodon.”

         “Two-horned dragon?” Vixxen questioned.

         Continuing, “The one at Berserker Island.  We never actually found the clue from that island, but found other leads that led us to… Another island…”

         Vixxen interrupts and says the correct island, “Defenders of the Wing?”
         I opened my mouth to continue speaking, but when she said that I stopped.  At this point, I am not surprised she knew that.

         “Yes, I know that island,” Vixxen assured.  “Let’s say… Mala and I are old acquaintances?”

         Elsa boldly quips, “How old are we talking?”
         Now I am a bit surprised by Elsa remark, but turn to her and offer a high-five with my right hand, “Nice one.  Now I’m not the one getting in trouble for asking a girl, let alone an older woman, how old she is?”

         Vixxen only fluttered her eyelids and rolled her eyes, then sighed, “You were saying something about the symbols.”

         “Oh, beg your pardon,” I most not-graciously apologize.  “Long story short.  Four symbols, four different dragons, four puzzles.  Each dragon is important to each puzzle and to the mystery in general.  What we found at the Defenders’ island led us to Shadow Mountain.  There is nothing written down that says we must follow clues one through four.  Sometimes there are shortcuts, but if you do them correctly, you won’t hurt the mystery and actually speed things up.”

         Vixxen catching on, inquires, “So, what is the symbol for this puzzle?”

         I respond, “The one with the three tails.”

         Vixxen answers, “The Triple Stryke.”

         “Taking the name literally,” I add.  “We will find the next Dragon Eye lens.”

         Vixxen concludes, “Strike something three times.”

         “Exactly,” I said.  “Underneath the fireplace here were literal puzzle pieces that I had to put together to use to find the first Dragon Eye lens.  Now we need to take the name of the dragon literal to get the next lens.  There are three circles carved into the pedestal the fireplace sits on.  I believe we need to strike these three, probably at the same time.”

         Asvord asks, “Strike with what and with how much strength?”

         Elsa speaks up and suggests, “With these?”

         Elsa holds up three hammers.

         Annabeth questions, “Where’d you get those?”

         “From the ground on this central platform,” Elsa remarked.  “When the mention of striking something three times came up, I looked around for something to strike it with.  I first thought, ‘If only we had a hammer.’  And as if someone answered that, I look down and see the outline of a hammer in the floor, three of them.”

         “Nice going,” I take one of the hammers; Annabeth and Asvord take the other two.

         Annabeth then tells Vixxen, who is in her way to strike one of the circles, “You might want to step back.  Oh, I would say about seven feet.”

         Vixxen gives her a look, “I’m not an idiot.  I step back that far that would be off the side of the platform.”

         “Ah,” Annabeth sarcastically adds.  “She’s smarter than she looks too.”

         The three with the hammers, we line up our hammers and I say we will go on three.

         “One… Two… Three!”

         We all strike the pedestal at the same time… And a loud bang of a cymbal or bell sounds out!

         The girls and I hardly flinch, but Vixxen instantly grabs for her ears.  I guess we all half expected that to happen, guess Vixxen is not as good anticipating puzzles like this.

         Irritated at the sound, Vixxen then says, “Now what?  Nothing is happening.”

         Right after she said that, something did happen… The ground starts vibrating, the platforms start rotating, and water starts rushing in from the bottom of the cavern!  The ground proceeds to violently shake and we all try to keep our footing and balance.  But with Annabeth right next to Vixxen, Annabeth intentionally flails her arms towards Vixxen, pushing her off the edge and down below onto the cavern floor below!  Even though that was intentional, the central platform we are on right now starts splitting apart itself and we fall to the floor below, which is now filling up with water.

         The four of us jump off the platform before it crumbles up all the way.  When we near the bottom, we break our fall by rolling into a somersault.  Vixxen scrambles to her feet while the rest of us are already searching for a way to reach the bridge, which by the way is still attached somehow.  Looking at it only the floor beneath the pedestal broke loose, releasing more water into the cavern.  The water shooting up is causing the platform arms the platforms are attached to move in circular motions.

         We still do not have the next Dragon Eye lens, but as I think that, I spot something.  There is a little cubby hole underneath the central platform that is more of a pillar extending the length of the ten yards.  Looking at the lens, I see it is next to what looks like a hole with a thin width encircling the place where the lens is at.  The water is rushing by it and draining down the hole.

         I thought, “If any more water comes in, the Dragon Lens might…”

         Without waiting to finish that thought, I run forward, reach into cubby hole that is only about eight inches high.  I have to lay on my left side to even reach my arm in there.  I am able to reach three feet in, but the lens is a couple of inches out of my grasp.

         “Jarl, we got to go,” Annabeth pleads.

         Vixxen counters and orders, “No, leave him be.”

         “But-,” Annabeth starts but Vixxen yells at her.  “You are not in charge, I am!  Now just get the lens!!”

         Water is now rushing around my head into the cubby hole.  I am afraid of what might happen if I cannot reach the lens.  I throw the thoughts out of my mind and then take a breath to calm down.  I wait.  Why?  Because the lens being out of my reach is the point.  I have to patiently wait for the water to do what I am fearful of:  Wash the lens down the drain and our hopes of escape.  But the only thing that can pick up the lens is the water itself.  Yes, there is a drain, but it is small and the amount of water rushing into the cavern and at us is great.

         “Hurry up!” demands Vixxen

         As much as I want to snap back at her, I keep calm and wait in ready.  The water is starting to fill in faster than the drain can keep up.  The moment the water lifts up the lens, the lens is heavy enough it wants to go with the water.  Water will always seek the quickest way down anything due to gravity and the water will take anything it can with it as it goes.  The lens budges slightly and then jerk towards the drain.  Before it could turn down with the water, I grab it, and jump back.  With my back alone, I was holding back a large amount of water so that it just did not all rush in.

         I run past Vixxen, giving her the lens, and then jump onto the pillar and climb up.  All that has transpired with the pillar to get the lens was meant to happen.  Because I had thought how we are going to get back up, but that is already solved because there are hand grabs and foot holds to use to climb back up.  However, water gushing out above us and spraying down on us, it is causing a slippery surface to try and climb on.  But we continue on with no problems until we reach the top.  We have to time it right as there are the arms of the platforms rotating.

         There are eight arms and enough space in between each arm for one person to go through.  I only hesitate for one pass of an arm before quickly grab hold of what is left of the platform we had been standing on and pull myself up.  Everyone else followed suit.  As we clambered onto the bridge to reach the surface, everything below us finally all broke loose.  The center platform, the other platforms, the arms, everything just collapsed and crashed into the water.  That being said… The bridge we are on had nothing to stabilize it and so swung straight down!

         “Grab onto the bridge like a ladder!” I yell to everyone.

         Although, we are almost to the top when it did swing, the bridge slammed against the depth of the top soil and rock levels.  Everyone survived the bounce and continued up the bridge, using the slats in the wood planks as foot placements like ladder.

         I am the first one to reach ground level followed by Asvord, Elsa, and Annabeth.  Obviously, Vixxen is the last to come up.

         Right after I am able to catch my breath, nearby Hunters seize me.  When Asvord and Elsa came up, they too are seized.  Vixxen is right behind Annabeth as she comes up, but before Annabeth could be grabbed as well and even catch a breath… Using her right hand, Vixxen seized Annabeth… By the neck!

         “Annabeth!” I shout.  “Vixxen, stop it!!”

         Vixxen does not listen… Vixxen lifts Annabeth off the ground!

         I plead with Vixxen shouting, “Please stop!  Let her go…!!”  Asvord and Elsa yell similar exclamations at the same time with me.  All three of us are struggling to get out of the grasp of the Dragon Hunters holding us, but nothing is working.

         I continue to repeat as I see Annabeth choking, trying to use her hands to pull Vixxen’s hand off her neck, and Annabeth trying to kick with her legs.

         A moment later, Vixxen tosses Annabeth to the ground.  I have enough of the guy holding me, drive my right elbow into his stomach, he grabs for it in pain, and I rush to my girl’s aid.

         “Annabeth… Annabeth!  Speak to me!” I cry out.

         Annabeth coughs and gasps for air, holding her throat with her right hand.  Giving Annabeth as long as she needs, I wait the couple moments it takes for Annabeth to start breathing normally.

         I then ask, “Are you alright?”

         Annabeth responds in with a nod.  Vixxen had her suspended for mere seconds, no more than ten seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

         I hold under Annabeth’s left arm, near her shoulder, to help her to her feet and help her stand.  Giving her a few moments more to take some deep breaths in, Annabeth stands up straight and then starts to go after Vixxen.  I stop her.

         “Let me at her, Jarl!” demands Annabeth.  “Just let me go.  I’ll teach her a lesson or two…”
         “Annabeth don’t, you’re better than 
this” I say, keeping her at bay from Vixxen.  Annabeth continues, “I’ll teach her-,” But interrupt, “Annabeth, stop!”

         The look of angry and revenge in Annabeth’s face subsides as she looks at me, but I feel as if the angry Annabeth has is my own as if I was the one choked; even my neck starts to throb, “Annabeth, stop,” I repeat, calming her down.

         “Better listen to him,” Vixxen inputs trying to incite a reaction.

         “Oh, shut up,” I snap at Vixxen as Annabeth does react and I hold Annabeth back.  But then as best as I can, I coolly reply, “You are better than this, Annabeth.  We’re better than this.  We live by doing what is right, doing better… Being better than those who do wrong.  We should never stoop to their level.  If we do, we’re no better than they are.  We are different.  We are vikings.  A true viking does not go for revenge purely out of an emotional reaction.  A true viking only goes for revenge to bring those doing wrong to justice, by doing things the right way.”

         Annabeth looks at me, knowing I am right, and loosens up from her tense state.  I let her go, though she still looks weak.

         Looking straight into Annabeth’s eyes, I ask to Vixxen, “We going to the third puzzle?”
         “Yes,” Vixxen answers.

         I then inquire, “Northwest corner, I presume?”

         “Correct,” Vixxen says and then orders the Dragon Hunter I elbowed, “Klarp, take them away.  I’ll meet you there.”

         Klarp comes up to me and reaches for my left arm while I reach for Annabeth’s left arm; I pull my arm back and tell him, “Do you mind?”

         “This way,” he points north.  “We’ll go back the way we came.”

         I continue to support Annabeth as we walk.

         Ten minutes later, Annabeth whispers to me, “I’m sorry.”

         I answer her back, just as quietly, “We’ll talk about this later.”