The time had eventually reached 7:30, and the group raced up the docks and dashed as quickly as they could towards the gazebo around the right side of the main building. The gazebo was made of oak wood and a large part of it had been destroyed, from the ceiling to an entire part of the wall, and was decorated with a string of electric lights hanging on the inside.
“Are those some sort of holiday lights?” Andrew asked.
“They certainly are, my boy,” Lió answered happily. “Sirius would sometimes take his wife Catherine out here to dance with him at night.”
“Aww, that sounds so romantic!” Madeline swooned. “I wish someone could take me dancing in the night.”
Clyde rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Really though, at night? That seems a little dangerous, I mean, if there are any wild animals here…”
“Not to worry Clyde, none of the wild animals roam here,” Lió assured the nervous cat. “They roam another one of Sirius’s worlds…someplace you may learn of later on whenever you wish to visit the library. As for dinner, I’ve prepared some fruit and baked a loaf of cinnamon bread, and I’ve roasted some fish. I actually left you five alone here and secretly travelled to Skull Island for the fish, so I apologize for leaving you all by yourselves.”
“Heck, we didn’t even realize,” Travis admitted. “There was this rumbling underground, and a secret forechamber opened up under the docks. We saw some sort of hologram-thing, and Eliza found a red page…”
“Wait, did you say a…red page?” Lió asked, looking very shocked.
“Yeah, I’ve got it in my pocket,” Eliza said, removing the paper from within her waistcoat pocket. “What’s so special about it?”
Lió took the paper from her hand, her face still frozen with surprise. “We…we can talk to Sirius…we can talk to Sirius!” she exclaimed.
“Hold on, what did she say?” Andrew asked, becoming even more confused.
Lió tucked the paper into her vest pocket. “Come sit at the table in the gazebo with me; I have an important last message from Sirius that I must inform you about.”
Everyone sat down at the small bench table that Lió set up in the gazebo. Everyone ate, and when they finished, Lió removed the table and cast the leftovers over the side of the island.
She set the table against the side of the building and then walked back over to the group. “This red page you found was an emergency ‘beacon’ that Sirius created. The red and blue pages work with the red and blue books of Adrift, and like I said, they are-or were-created at a time of great peril. Sirius instructed me that when the heroes would eventually find these pages, they should bring them back to me, and I would then immediately insert them one by one into the special glass visors. The books’ pages are actually pages, mind you, but are instead a cover on a machine that Sirius can communicate through to me. Maybe then he and his family will return…”
“Whoa, so we could meet him?” Clyde asked, mesmerized. “That would be so cool!”
“The problem is that whoever was trying to ruin Adrift and its worlds scattered the pages throughout the other worlds,” Lió said. “ You’ve managed to find one red page, but there are five others that are missing and six blue pages missing as well. Your only option is to go to these other worlds, and I shouldn’t be the one to stop you.”
“I’d love to go page-hunting,” Madeline agreed. “But how are we to find the pages and keep them safe while we travel?”
“I can provide you with a small camera, sketchbook, bag, six maps, and a magnifying glass,” Lió answered. “Sirius was well prepared for this kind of situation, so he left me with these things before he left.”
Lió went inside the building and came back outside with the supplies. She also brought with her a grappling hook and handed it to Travis. “I suppose you might need this when you head to the first world. Speaking of which, the first place you’ll be travelling to is the desert oasis of Soaan. The place never had many inhabitants, so it won’t seem very different there if it was completely deserted.”
Eliza wore the bag over her shoulder and the camera around her neck, Madeline put the sketchbook and maps in the bag, and Travis slung the grappling hook diagonally across his back. “I think we’re ready,” he said to Lió.
“One last thing, however,” Lió announced. “I wish good luck on your journey. Simply use the Adrift book to travel between worlds, and you’ll find the pages you need.”
She waved as they walked over to the field in a group. Eliza took out the book and opened it to the Soaan Age, and then said aloud “Omniz Veron!”, and in an instant they all disappeared in a flash of light.
Eliza opened her eyes to see a tall sand dune falling apart slowly in the breeze. There appeared to be a sandstorm, but it was slowly dying down. Lone palm trees sprouted from a sparse patch of grass, and the sky was black and filled with stars. A quarter of a mile away stood a tall dried clay building, and behind it were other buildings made of stone and clay, the largest building appearing to be a castle of some sort. Next to the buildings was a huge oasis with all sorts of plants and a monster-sized lake.
“Hey, we made it to Soaan!” Clyde exclaimed. “Somehow this reminds me of Zafaria.”
Eliza stood up and looked up at the night sky. “Yeah, we are definitely not in Adrift anymore. I guess we need to head into town and search for the red and blue pages, huh?”
“Hey, has anyone seen Madeline?” Andrew asked as he and Travis walked over. “We can’t find her anywhere.”
“I’m over here, no need to worry!” Madeline called as she pulled herself free from a sand dune. “You guys were lucky to land on semi-solid ground, while I end up in a pile of sand!”
“I think there’s a path in the sand,” Eliza pointed out. “It leads into town-we should follow it.”
They set foot on the path and walked for a quarter of a mile until they reached the edge of Soaan. The streets were desolate and slightly sandy, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. Streetlamps hung their heads sadly, barely lighting up the roads. The place was completely abandoned, but surprisingly not damaged whatsoever.
“I suppose we ought to investigate the area for any signs of the pages,” Travis proposed.
The group walked deeper into the town, looking at the buildings. Some appeared broken into, as if someone was trying to find something. One clay house was missing an entire chunk of wall, massive destruction caused by some unknown force.
“It’s really quiet here, and super creepy,” Andrew whispered. “It feels as if talking aloud is banned here, so I’m going to just whisper.”
“He’s got a point,” Clyde agreed. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this place; it’s just so unnatural here.”
“We should split up and search the houses, in case one of the pages is there,” Travis suggested. “I’m going to the castle-the rest of you should investigate the town.”
He ran up the hill towards the castle and vanished inside, leaving the others to search the town. Madeline went to search the houses at the foot of town again, while Andrew and Clyde teamed up to search the middle of town, and finally Eliza decided to search the buildings near the lake.
The houses near the lake were made of stone strong enough to withstand any flooding caused by the lake, but it seemed there hadn’t been any rain in ages. The lake was smaller than its drawing in the Adrift book, and a few sand dunes even poked out of areas that were once underwater. Most people lived farther in the oasis rather than on the lake side, so there were only about five rather small homes that Eliza could investigate.
The first few houses were completely destroyed, with nothing left behind, but when Eliza climbed over the rubble and searched the fifth house, she saw something unusual sticking out of a stone slab. It looked like an ancient piece of paper, worn with rain and dirt.
“I wonder what this is all about…” Eliza said to herself. She wiped off the dirt and then gasped. It was the first blue page!
“Guys, I found the first blue page!!!” Eliza yelled as the rest of the group came over to see.
“Wow, that’s one down, five to go,” Madeline commented. She took the sketchbook out of Eliza’s bag and wrote down how many other pages were needed for each color.
“That’s great and all, but where’s the other red page?” Travis asked. “I couldn’t find anything in the castle.”
“Nothing was in any of the border houses,” Madeline answered.
“And we couldn’t find anything in any of the townhouses,” Andrew said. “Not that I was looking anyway…”
“So, where is the red page then?” Clyde asked impatiently. “Let me guess…it’s in the mouth of some giant lake monster, probably like the queen or king Loch Verde monster that Lió told us about…isn’t it?”
Suddenly, there came a rumbling noise from the lake. The surface broke as a long neck stretched high in the air, and a serpentine face with long teeth, cheek fins, glowing yellow eyes, and spines running down the back of its head reared up and snarled angrily, and then let out a fearsome roar.
Clyde’s face turned very pale, and he gulped loudly.
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