Jefferson Middle School newsletter
Chapter Twenty-Three: Out Of The Woods, Into The Water
On the path to the Coral Kingdom, there wasn’t very much talking, or in Rose’s case, thinking about talking. Rose kept on running through the forest without hesitation, and it seemed wrong to break that sort of concentration. Occasionally, to break the uncomfortable silence, Flake would try to strike up a conversation, but eventually it died off.
“Um, how is Alder like?” he asked once.
Rose shrugged, eyes not deviating from the path ahead of her. Okay, I guess. I haven’t really discovered a personality that describes him. Maybe it’s because I don’t know him very well. I joined the village rather late, so it isn’t as if I got to know him personally. At least he remembers my name, which is more than I can say for some other villagers.
“Oh.” He wasn’t really sure what else to say that wasn’t suspicious. Eventually they lapsed into silence.
Later on, thinking about the Oracle’s prophecy, he asked another question. “Are there any rituals you know of about renewal in any of the kingdoms? Like, old becoming new or something similar?”
No, she thought, not breaking in stride. I don’t know much about other kingdoms. Then she stopped, which caught Pebbles off guard for a bit, causing him a rear back and Flake to yelp. Wait. You haven’t exactly told me why you’re going to Coral Kingdom in the first place. Why do you think your sister will be there? She looked at me.
Flake opened his mouth to say something, then closed it realizing that he had nothing to say. Should I tell her about the prophecy? She doesn’t even know my real name! But I can’t think of a viable lie either.
“Sorry, but I can’t really tell you right now. It’s personal,” he said. It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t a hundred percent truthful either. She seemed to accept it, with a small nod, but she ran a bit slower and turned to look at Flake in random intervals.
It took longer to get to the Coral Kingdom than Flake thought it would. The Fearsome Forest was way bigger than he originally thought it was. Pebbles wasn’t very comfortable with the forest environment, so he went very slowly, and they took many detours to avoid villages that happened to be in their path, and there were quite a few. The sun was already setting by the time they reached the edge of the forest.
There. Rose pointed straight ahead of them. Go straight and then you will reach the Coral Lake. Flake couldn’t see anything in that direction but tiny trees in the distance, but he walked forward anyways.
Soon the lake became nearer. The water was perfectly still and blue, revealing nothing of the world underneath. It was much smaller than Flake expected, he could already see the shore on the other end. Maybe the kingdom expanded as you went deeper in the water.
Rose knelt by the shore and touched the water, creating small ripples in the water. I’ve never been this close to the shore before, she thought. And soon I’ll actually be going into the kingdom! I’ve actually never been in another kingdom before!
“Wait. I thought you said you were going to guide me here and then go back to your village,” Flake said accusingly.
Rose shrugged. Well, it’s too dark to go back now, unless you want me to get lost in the forest. She touched the water again. So do we just jump in?
Flake grabbed his old satchel and rummaged in it. Then he pulled out two gleaming pearls. “This is our ticket. Put it in the lake and then it will grow into a bubble that can take us to the main part of the kingdom. But the thing is, I only have two.” He looked at Rose. “You can’t come.”
Why not? Two pearls. One for me, one for you. Easy. She reached out to grab one, but Flake held them tight in his hand.
“Pebbles needs to have one pearl too! That’s why I got two: for me and the horse! I didn’t expect anyone else to come with me!” Flake said.
Well, you didn’t mention that before or else I wouldn’t have come with you! she said indignantly. By the way, I wasn’t kidding when I said I can travel the woods at night. Rose frowned, thinking. Is there a village nearby? Maybe we can buy another one there.
“No, that won’t work. The pearls are hard to get. It isn’t like any trader will have them,” Flake said.
Then how did you get those? Rose pointed to the pearls.
“I- I happened to stumble across someone who had some,” Flake lied. He actually had gotten them from a boxful at the palace. Chief Frost visited the Coral Kingdom a lot, so he always had a box of pearls ready, and Chief Ripple was always happy to replenish the stack. It was easy to take a few, with the box being in the storage room, but Flake couldn’t just tell Rose all that. And the pearls were hard to get, and no one could get in without one. It was the Coral Kingdom’s way to prevent unwanted trespassers.
Flake frowned trying to work it out. He wasn’t going to force Rose to go back, but there wasn’t a way for her to come with him. He could always leave Pebbles behind, but that would be really cruel. Or they could camp out until morning when Rose could return, but he didn’t have a tent and it would be very chilly in the night. Or maybe he could try to fit Rose and Pebbles in one bubble, but then the bubble might pop…
What’s this? Flake got pulled out of his thoughts. He looked around for Rose and saw her rummaging through his satchels.
“Wait! Stop!” he said frantically. If she saw his prophecy paper or his notes, she might ask questions-
You have another pearl. Flake looked in disbelief at the tiny silvery ball Rose was holding between her fingers. He opened his palm. Both pearls were still there. He looked from the pearl Rose was holding to the ones he was holding and back again.
It was in that old satchel. Rose pointed to the one Flake got from Alder. Flake stared at the bag. Last time he checked, it wasn’t there.
Rose threw the pearl into the water with a huge grin on her face. Now you can’t refuse me now! Coral Kingdom here we come! Flake was about to tell her to wait when the pearl expanded to a big bubble floating on the water. Rose ran straight into it. Flake thought it was going to pop, but it was still floating on the water, except Rose was in it. Suddenly the bubble was sinking.
“Wait! We need to go together! Can you make it stop?” Flake shouted, but he knew that Rose couldn’t hear him inside the bubble. He could hear her perfectly well.
This is exciting! Hurry up and go in the bubble already! Rose was sinking deeper. Flake hastily threw his pearls in the water and they expanded. He then attempted to push Pebbles in one of the bubbles, which was hard, but once he threw an apple in the bubble, Pebbles complied. Flake then took a deep breath, and ran straight into the third bubble. Immediately, it started sinking deeper into the lake.