I look back and forth between Celeste, Finn, Celeste, Finn.
I vaguely remember Finn talking about his pet dog who would do īanything for himī by the name of Jake, so all I can do for Finn at the moment is teleport the dog here.
All the boys are trying to tug him from the bog, but Finn, almost knocked out, is sinking slowly and strongly.
All the girls are trying to coax Celeste away from the beastīs field of vision, which wasnīt very vast- the bruteīs eyes were almost glued together from the slimy mucus that coats its body.
I decide that after I summon Jake, Iīd help slay the monster and, conclusively, help save both casualties.
īJAKE, DOG, SKOTHAMORīS SENIOR SCHOOL, CALIFORNIA,ī I punch quickly into the Pet Transporter. A picture of a plump, yellow, droopy-mouthed dog, a brown fluffy Pomeranian and a black, smooth-haired, squash-faced Pekingese flicker onto the screen.
3 MATCH(ES) FOUND.
"Dammit," I murmur, switching through all of the dogs.
"OI! FINN!" I shout at the sinking body.
Only his upper arms and head remain in the air now- he has been half engulfed.
"Which of these are Jake?" I yell at him, showing him the images.
His eyelids flicker open slightly.
"Jake..." he murmurs.
"What colour is he?" I shout hoarsely.
Finn furrows his eyebrows and slowly moves his head.
"Yellow..." he grumbles.
I quickly flip back to the droopy-mouthed dog and click īsummonī.
Again, nothing until I feel a wet muzzle on my ankle.
"Oh. Hey, Jake," I say, scooping him up. I dangle him over the edge of the mud flat so he can survey the scene. For a moment, my stomach drops to my feet as Jake gazes over the bog, no emotion.
Then he yelps, scrambles from my arms and dives towards the bog.
"No!" I shout, flailing my arms as he jumps.
But it was too late.
He smacks against the surface of the bog...but doesnīt sink.
I didnīt understand; Jake simply waddles over to Finn, his paws denting the soft bog, and allows Finn to wrap his arms around his neck.
Animals must be pretty lightweight compared to humans.
Kitty spots this and abandons her efforts to help Celeste away from the monster, which was now attempting to snatch Celeste as she darts back and forth, not giving the egg.
Kitty jumps hands-first towards the bog, and changes in mid-air to a cat. She hisses at Jake and then reluctantly helps to tug Finn to the surface, just as easily as the glassy-eyed dog.
I leave as soon as Finn begins to make progress, shifting slowly through the bog, his head remaining above the claggy mush.
I run over to the shrieking, slimy abomination. It had walled off Celeste from the right with itīs tail, and the other side was inaccessible because it was just bog.
Scarlett began to pump arrows at itīs face at full throttle, while Bea and Charmy slash at itīs defensive tail, beginning to open several gashes in the flimsy flesh.
The slime-worm screams, and pokes its dripping face towards the other girls, peering through mucus-y eyelids.
Charmy screams and clings to Bea as the monster shrieks right in their faces, where Scarlett continues to retrieve the arrows lodged in the beastīs face and shoot them in itīs cheek once more.
Finally, the brute moves itīs tail, but for a serious matter- it coils around Scarlett, almost choking her, and fills every opening in her head with horrible slimy mucus.
"Give it back the egg!" Bea cries, tears streaming down her face as she watches the life being squeezed out of Scarlett.
Celestia tries to drop the black egg to the floor, but it seemed to be grown onto her hands, her fingers now brittle and coal-coloured, the egg unbudging from her palms. She shakes her hands furiously.
I rush into action, lodging my sword deep into the thingīs tail.
It cries a scream of pure anguish and drops Scarlett from a thirty-meter height.
She falls slowly through the air, as if slower than everything else happening around her.
I drop my sword and run, jumping over the monsterīs writhing tail. Scarlett was fifteen meters from the ground. I clamber mudflat over mudflat. She was about to hit the ground and I was about to catch her.
But someone beats me to it.
Iīm knocked to the ground, centimeters from Scarlett, by a grey blur.
I open my eyes, winded, to see the hem of her tee in Wolfieīs canine mouth, carrying her safely.
Tears develop at the rims of my eyelids.
Iīd be lying if I say that Iīve moved on from Scarlett.
I turn away and run back to my sword, jumping the mudflats once more.
I pick it up and immediately thrust it into where I guess the beastīs heart might be.
I stab it again and again and again. Out pours all the emotion, all the drama, all the tears with every stab.
It shrieks hoarsely, as if begging me to stop. A tear rolls down itīs cheek, forming a path through the mucus.
"Here," I here Finn say. Heīs gripping the egg thatīs become part of Celeste.
The lower half of his torso and everything beneath is stained brown.
He kicks his knee up onto the egg, intentionally shattering it.
A solitary seed falls from the broken remains.
As soon as it hits the ground, it morphs into a tiny little worm, bright pink, wriggling happily.
The monster grunts happily, scoops it up in itīs mouth and disappears back under the bog.
Everyone is in a state of shock, still poised in their attack positions that were so vital only a few moments ago.
"...wh..." Bea says in small voice.
She drops down to her knees with an unappetizing īslopī from the sandy/muddy mudflat.
She covers her face in her hand and vibrates as she weeps silently.
We all stand together, looking at her, not a sign of emotion on our faces.
"This is too much," Bea whispers. "Too much."
The bath in the Crystal Springs was silent.
We were all in our wetsuits, beating our clothes against the rocks, sharing out flasks of deer stew, ripping off chunks of rabbit from the bone.
It was agreed that we would camp out by the Crystal Springs, so we can refill our bottles in the pure water if needed, and we can bathe and such.
The girls all rake through their hair in the gentle waterfall, teasing it, removing the grains of dirt and such that were worn into it.
I emerge from the crystalline water and hang my clothes on a branch of a nearby, almost bare tree. Dusk settles, a dark, grim sky, winking stars, a swollen moon.
Everyone hangs up their clothes on their own particular shrub.
There it was again- that chilled, brisk breeze, completely un-Californian, that only somewhere abroad could provide.
The flames flicker on the dry wood in the campfire. Everyoneīs tents were set up in a large circle, like last time.
Everyone sat on a log around the fire, each with a part of a wild turkey skewered through a twig, roasting it over the fire.
Bare, naked silence; nothing but the whistle of the birds and the crackling of the flames.
Scarlett was huddled up with Wolfie.
I do my best to ignore them, but Iīm sure everyone could see the mute malice in my eyes every time I happened to glance their way.
"Felix," Kitty says in a low register. "A word?" She leaves her skewer with Charmy as I leave mine with Asher.
She brings me over to some of the shrubs where no one would hear us speak.
"So. I know that you know about Wolfie." she looks at me knowingly.
"Yeah," I grumble. That he knows I like Scarlett and that heīs deliberately hugging her and stuff in front of me.
"And so you understand," she says slowly. "I knew youīre the only one clever enough to understand."
"Yes. He doesnīt do it to anyone else," I say.
"Youīd be surprised," she says. "There a lot of easily impressed girls out there."
"You mean heīs a player?" I say, my face burning up. Itīs hard enough that Scarlett had to go to Wolfie, but that heīs been with more girls as well? "Why didnīt you tell me?" I say, my volume increasing.
"What? No, thatīs not what I-" Kitty shakes her head, voice raising.
"You self-absorbed little kitty cat!" I shout. "You didnīt even give the time to warn anyone. Do you have any idea how much sheīll cry over him? How do you sleep at night? I love Scarlett, and Iīd give anything to make sure her heart remains unbroken!" I clench my fists, knowing that it shouldnīt be Kitty Iīm ranting at.
Her face tenses with anger.
"This isnīt about some petty love triangle!" she objects. "Wolfie is PHYSICALLY, UNSTABLE! His canine DNA cannot handle extreme romance!If Scarlett tries to kiss him, heīll turn feral again, and his brain will switch wolven for the remainder of his days! Then, heīll kill randomly and harshly, even the people he loves, till his hunger is subdued and everyone in sight is dead. I thought you were the only one smart enough to see this coming!"
I felt frozen on the inside, absorbing it all, fear rising in my throat, choking me.
"We have to stop them," I whisper, a cold tear running down my cheek. "Even if it tears Scarlettīs heart into a million pieces and stamps on them...we need to stop them."
I stand there, swaying in the wind, Kitty raking her hands through her auburn hair, her temples throbbing.
"Hey!" I hear Scarlett exclaim. My heart leaps to my throat and I run to the scene- a meter or two from the camp, everyone is crowded around something.