Seekers of the Spiral (Part 9) by Witty Nathan Brown
Part 9: Behold, Avernus!
Logan woke up to cannons blasting. That wasn’t unusual, though. Ever since they’d come to Monquista, Logan and his friends had been fired on constantly. After throwing on some clothes, he went above deck to see what it was this time.
His eyes fell upon Ian, darting across the ship, loading and firing cannons like clockwork. Logan disliked Ian, but he couldn’t help admiring his skills. Ian was strong, clever, and could hit any target with his sparkshooter. Logan hadn’t seen Ian miss a shot yet.
“Hey tiny, get over here and help me!” Ian yelled.
A sigh fell out of Logan’s mouth as he jogged over to the cannons. Suddenly, a shout came from the foredeck.
“Hold it you guys,” Drew shouted. “We’re supposed to meet Queen Eleanor at the Opposition Stronghold. Just lift the anchor, and we’ll leave that bundle of wood in the dust.”
“Whatever you say, captain,” Ian said, stretching out the last syllable.
Logan let out another sigh.
Four hours later, atop the fort, Drew, Madi, Ian, and Logan continued their discussion with Queen Eleanor.
“We have to go to Valencia! That’s where the Armada’s from! We’ll get caught as soon as we arrive! They’ll skin us alive!” Drew cried.
“Not if you go this way, “said the queen, as she pointed to the sky chart. “Avernus Skyway, perhaps the most dangerous in the entire Spiral, is a shortcut. The Clockworks will never see you coming, because nobody travels through Avernus.”
“If it’s so dangerous, how will we survive it?” Madi pointed out.
“I’ve hired a guide for you. Someone who’s excellent with maps, but she’s also a good sailor and fighter. I’m sure you’ll like her,” Eleanor said as she gestured toward the door. A figure stepped out.
Ian’s jaw dropped.
She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Her hair looked like gold turned to silk, and her skin was a brilliant bronze. The blue of her eyes would make the ocean jealous. But best of all was her smile. It seemed to make her face glow with radiance. Hot was too low a word for her. She was perfect, simply perfect.
“Hi!” said the wonder girl. “My name’s Tess!”
As the group approached the stormgate, Tess’s smile never faltered
“Okay, as soon we enter Avernus, make a turn to starboard,” she told Drew. “Madi and I will get our tools ready, and Ian and Logan should man the cannons.”
“Why do we need the cannons?” Ian questioned.
The ship plunged into the stormgate. Everyone was surprised by what they saw. Green fog hung in the air like a mobile, while an ocean blue sky reflected their movement. Madi was stunned. This stormgate was nothing like the one to Monquista. It had a more…ominous feeling to it. Madi barely had time to suppress a shudder before they entered Avernus.
A giant rock pelted the side of the ship, while more moved even closer. Drew cranked the wheel to the right (later he complained about dislocating his shoulder because he turned it so fast). Madi looked up to see three mysterious shapes flying against the blood red sky. Suddenly, one of them landed on the deck of the ship. Madi shrieked as a skeletal dragon bared its teeth.
“This is why we needed the cannons,” Tess said, but this time, she wasn’t smiling.
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