A Sudden Return
Chapter 12 Part 1
Happy Friday, fantasy readers! Here’s Chapter 12 Part 1 of Saving ForeverLand.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the previous chapters, remember to check those out in the archive. I’ve included the links to the last three issues below:
This week is the first paywalled post, meaning that free subscribers can read the first section of this chapter, but the end of the chapter requires a paid subscription.
I really hope that you all continue following the story, but if not, we’ll still have free posts every week with new content!
Next week’s post is going to be a free standalone short story/flash fiction.
They exited the portal right outside Cave #1, where Elozar was waiting for them. The Centaur galloped swiftly to the entrance of the cave to meet them, but he didn’t appear worried. On the contrary, his eyes were calm, his mouth turned up into a slight smile. “I see you succeeded,” he said to Josh as if he knew that Sarah would come back. Still a bit angry at him, Sarah didn’t make eye contact with Elozar. Instead, she looked at the back of Josh’s head, trying to make him sense her concern for their lost companion, urging him to speak up sooner rather than later. She wasn’t sure if it was just a coincidence, but as soon as her gaze was completely focused, Josh turned his head back to her and nodded, as if to say, It’s under control.
“Elozar,” Josh began. “Did Omor return as well?” It was clear from the deep frown that formed on Elozar’s face that Omor was not here.
“I’m afraid not,” the Centaur responded sullenly. Though his disappointment was apparent, Elozar didn’t say anything else. It was like he and Josh had an unspoken agreement - if something like this happened, they had to go on. But Josh looked like he was fighting the urge to argue.
“Please,” Josh begged, “let me go back for him.” His eyes were glassy with a buildup of tears. Sarah felt her heart wrench as she saw the desperation overcome her trainer. Elozar simply shook his head, then turned around and walked away from both Sarah and Josh. Placing her hand on his left shoulder, Sarah tried to silently comfort the boy she had grown to trust.
Then he wiped his eyes with both hands, straightened up, and cleared his throat. Sarah removed her hand from his shoulder, but Josh looked down, held her hand in his own, and gently kissed it. The tingling sensation started at her fingertips and extended to her entire body. She couldn’t help it - she smiled, a young lovestruck teen struggling to reconcile the hurricane of emotions inside her. I have to focus. She told herself, hoping she could temporarily set aside her lustful desires.
“So what do we do now?” She asked devoid of emotion as if the previous moment hadn’t occurred. Josh seemed to take the hint.
“We have some more to discuss,” he replied, all business. Sarah raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to continue. “The goal,” he said as if this explained everything. Sarah continued to wait for more clarity. He sighed. “The goal of the mission - I didn’t get to explain earlier, but Hadoo broke through the barriers to the Edge of ForeverLand.”
“I know,” Sarah replied. “I saw it.” Now it was Josh’s turn to wait for her to explain, so she told him about the window portal by the cottage, how she saw him and the other benders trapped. Josh looked surprised at first, but he quickly returned to his poised nature.
“Well, then you must know that this changes things,” he said matter-of-factly. “We’re running out of time. We need to move fast if we want to get rid of Hadoo”-
“Get rid of him?” Sarah interrupted. “Surely you don’t mean we have to kill him?” but as she watched the wild look return to Josh’s eyes, she began to understand his earlier statement that they had more to discuss.
“We can’t kill him,” Josh said, and Sarah let herself relax for a moment. “But if you can master the power of black holes quickly…” he trailed off, leaving the rest unsaid.
“No,” Sarah said firmly. “I’m not doing that. There has to be another way to stop him.” Josh looked at Sarah like she just slapped him in the face. He opened his mouth, then closed it, speechless for a minute. Then when it seemed that he had gathered his thoughts, he replied.
“But that’s the plan,” he asserted. “That’s the end goal. I thought you’d understand after everything I told you, everything I showed you.”
Sarah bit her bottom lip, considering how best to respond. She didn’t want to make Josh angry, but she wouldn’t go along with this plan. How can I explain how wrong this is? She wondered, and then it hit her. Shoulders straight, chin up, the epitome of confidence, Sarah spoke. “As you said before, two wrongs don’t make a right. We’re not sinking to his level - that just proves we are the monsters he believes us to be.” When she finished, she looked at Josh and focused on conveying the seriousness of her message. Suddenly, that wild look disappeared from his eyes, and his ordinary, bright gaze replaced it. Sarah didn’t know what just happened, but Josh’s expression was like that of a wise philosopher, weighing the costs and benefits of changing his opinion…
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