The giant monster snarled once more, and then lunged down at Clyde. Clyde shrieked and ran out of the way as the beast’s jaws snapped shut on the spot where he was once standing. The creature snarled and whipped its head around at the rest of the group, and its eyes narrowed.
“Hey look, the red page is stuck between two of its incisors!” Madeline cried. “But how in the Spiral are we supposed to get it?”
The beast lunged again, causing everyone to scatter. “I think there’s something about this beast in Adrift,” Eliza said as she jumped out of the way to avoid the monster’s jaws. “Guys, distract that thing so I can read!”
“Can do, Eliza!” Andrew responded. He ran right up to the Loch Verde monster and kicked it. The beast looked him in the eye and snarled again, this time with absolute fury. Andrew stuck his tongue out at it and bolted before the creature could clamp its jaws down on him.
Eliza hurried through the book until she came across the section on the Soaan oasis. She flipped through the pages until she came across an ancient pictograph of a giant lake monster with a high-ridged back, cheek fins, needle-like spines, flippers, and a short yet spiky tail. The name above the pictograph read “Verdaness”.
“I found it guys!” Eliza exclaimed. “It says here that this creature is called Verdaness, and it’s the Loch Verde king. He’s 50 feet long, and has been known to eat people if they disrespect his lake home…do you think we bothered the lake somehow?”
“No, none of us even touched the lake!” Clyde complained as Verdaness slapped one of its giant flippers down on the surface of the lake, sending up a huge wave of water. The water rained down on everyone, leaving the surrounding buildings soaked and the group slightly disgusted.
“Is there anything about defeating this monster?” Travis asked impatiently. “That would be really helpful right now!”
“No, the people of Soaan never hurt Verdaness,” Eliza answered. “They respected him, and he respected them. However, there is a way to tame him…”
“WELL TELL US HOW TO, THEN!!!” Andrew screamed as Verdaness caught him by the back of his shirt and held him high in the air.
“Uh, well, try to remove the paper from between his teeth!” Eliza shouted. “That must be causing him pain!”
Andrew swung himself around until he was close enough to the beast’s jaws, where he snatched the red page with two of his fingers and pulled it out of Verdaness’s mouth. The giant monster roared in pain, but immediately calmed down, his angry yellow eyes growing soft with relief.
Verdaness lowered his neck and gently set Andrew down on the edge of the lake in the shallow water. He looked at Andrew as if to say thank you, and then turned around and swam out deep into the lake, possibly never to return.
“Wow, he just let you go…” Clyde said in amazement. “I guess removing that red page soothed his anger. At least we have the pages we need from this world-that makes five other worlds we need to go to.”
“Should we stop by Adrift and hand these two pages over to Lió?” Eliza asked. “Maybe so we don’t lose them while we travel?”
“I don’t know if she’d be ok with us coming back, but you do have a point…” Travis said. “Besides, who knows where we’d end up if we were to try and teleport from this world? We might end up back somewhere in Skull Island or some remote island in the Spiral. If we get abandoned, there’s no hope for Adrift then. Sirius would never return, and something bad might happen to Lió. We promised her we would help restore everything, and we’re keeping that promise.”
“So, does this mean we’re going back? I’ve completely zoned out after you started carrying on and on and on…” Andrew said.
“Ok, we get the point,” Madeline groaned. “Are we going or what?”
“Yes, we’re going back to Adrift,” Travis breathed. “Honestly, you guys don’t need to complain…so, Eliza, do the thing and take us all back, ok?”
“Whatever you say,” Eliza mumbled, flipping through the book and reaching the last page. She aligned her hand with the symbol, and in a flash they were gone.
The next thing they knew, they were all standing under the gazebo, with Lió looking at them in surprise.
“Ah, you’ve returned I see!” Lió said with a grin. “So, how many pages have you found so far?”
“One blue page and the second red one,” Clyde answered.
Lió grinned again, but much happier than before. “Oh, if Sirius were here he would be pleased without a doubt! Sure, it’s a slow start, but that’s one world down and only five to go. I might know what the next world is, if you’ll all excuse me for a moment…”
She left the gazebo and went inside Sirius’s home, and after 10 minutes she came back out with a worn-out book at least 500 pages thick.
“I knew it would be this world…” she said aloud. “The next place you’ll be going to is Heavenelms. This world once was a vast island floating in an even bigger sky, but mysterious tremors destroyed the land, leaving only the trees behind-the Chronosroot trees, possibly the tallest trees to ever exist in the Spiral. The trees grew so tall and so long that they reached up high in the skyway, and grew so close together that they ‘formed’ their own island.”
“Who lived in Heavenelms?” Andrew asked. “Did humans live there, or Nocmurs?”
“There were humans once, but they all had a hard time adapting when the island fell apart and left only the giant trees. The main inhabitants of this world were monkey-like beings known as Tree Dwellers. They are a lot taller than the Monquistadors and they have no hair on their faces, but they helped the humans by building a large tree house neighborhood in the trees, connecting each Chronosroot tree together.”
“We own a secret tree house back in Skull Island,” Travis said. “My brother and I are orphans, and so is Clyde and Madeline.”
“I’m the only person with a parent,” Eliza pointed out. “I have my father, but he probably doesn’t know where I am.”
“Well, I’ll take the pages for now,” Lió told her as she handed the pages to the Nocmur. “It’s best you get going to Heavenelms now-before something bad happens.”
Eliza assumed Lió was talking about her father, but she shrugged and flipped to the last page, aligned her hand with the symbol, and the group disappeared, leaving Lió behind.
“I feel bad for Eliza, being away from her father,” Lió whispered to herself. “I hope they find the pages soon-I have a feeling that something very bad is going to happen.”
Eliza stood next to Madeline-right on the edge of a thatched wood platform, overlooking miles and miles of giant trees, connecting bridges, and absolutely nothing beneath. Under the mighty branches and limbs and trunks of the great Chronosroots was nothing but fog and endless sky, which meant is you were to jump off or fall off the edge of the tree houses, you would continue falling possibly for weeks before you would even end up anywhere.
“Ok…let’s all stay as far away as we can from the edge, got it?” Travis proposed. “If one of us falls…well, Eliza would have to go after them and activate the book’s power, otherwise…well, we all know what would happen.”
“Yeah, I’m not any more thrilled than the rest of you when it comes to jumping off a giant tree,” Eliza muttered.
They all backed away from the edge and turned around. They faced an empty thatched hut, and behind it was a long, not-so-sturdy-looking rope bridge that led to a group of houses built on a large tree limb. Beyond that were more and more ropes, trees, and houses.
“Geez, Lió wasn’t kidding about the endless part of all of this,” Andrew exclaimed. “It could take hours before we find the second and third blue pages!”
“And don’t forget the third red page,” Madeline added. “We need to find that as well.”
Eliza flipped through Adrift. “I think we might have a bit of a problem,” she mumbled. “The humans all left when they could no longer live in the tree houses, so that left only the Tree Dwellers…it also says that the Dwellers became tribal after the humans left, and if unwanted visitors came to Heavenelms, they would react violently.”
“So what? Lió told us that every world has been abandoned,” Clyde pointed out. “The Tree Dwellers would be long-gone by now.”
“That’s my point, Clyde,” Eliza said angrily. “Some Tree Dwellers abandoned this place, but quite a few stayed behind…”
“So that means that…we aren’t alone?” Travis asked nervously.
Suddenly there came a rustling in the tree leaves, and nine 7-foot-tall monkeys with long tails, very short fur, and tribal war paint and clothes covering them all over dropped from higher branches and landed on the platform, completely surrounding the group. One of them said something in a foreign language, and the others raised long spears and pointed them at the kids’ necks.
“Yeah, we’re in a lot of trouble, aren’t we?” Eliza asked.
“Yep,” everyone answered except for Andrew, whose eyes rolled in the back of his head. He dropped to the ground, completely unconscious.
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