"But are you willing to sacrifice your life for those of another race? For those who would not do the same for you?" Queen Ali'ikai asks, her yellow eyes penetrating my soul.
I weigh out the evens and odds as I stare at the stone table before me. I'll most likely die trying to save them. I look up into her eyes, trying to read her emotionless face. If I don't die trying I save a whole civilization.
"You've made up your mind?" She asks as though she knows my answer.
Chapter 1 - Queen Ali'ikai
I walked along the sandy beach, enjoying the sparkling shimmer of the ocean waves lapping onto the shore. Suddenly something glints beneath my feet and I trip over it, my arms outstretched so I don't end up eating a mouthful of sand. I turn around to look at the object. It's a sea green glass bottle marked with swirling symbols that surround a beautiful mermaid with crazy hair. I pick it up and look it over, something clanks around the inside as I turn it upside down.
"There you are!" A voice calls from behind me.
I turn around and place the bottle into my over sized yellow and blue bag. "Hey David!" I say excidedly and give him a hug.
"Listen, thanks for meeting me here, I have to hurry though, I'm only on lunch break. Did you bring it?" David asks backing away.
"Yeah, here you go." I pull a black iPhone out of my bag and hand it to him
"Thank you so much!" He exaggerates.
"What are girlfriends for." I shrug. "It died on the way though, I didn't have a charger for it."
"It's OK, I've got one. Thanks again!" He leans in and lightly kisses my check before running back to the Sea Spray Cafe where he works.
I turn around and start walking to back to my pink ford fiesta. Passing little kids throwing sand at each other, angry mom's yelling at their teenage daughters, and a big fat guy feeding ice cream to seagulls. Once inside I check the time, only two more hours before my Dad expects me home. Letting my curiosity get the best of me I drive to the nearest Library And Research Center. I park my car close to the building, grab my bag, and head to the tall wooden double doors.
"Excuse me miss!" A man calls from behind me.
"Yes?" I ask, turning around to the old man.
"Whip your shoes off first! No sand allowed," He points to sign nailed to a post, "And you've got sand caked to the underside of those sandals.
I take a step back and use the rough road to scrape the sand off my sandals. I walk back up to doors and look to the man to see if I'm clear. He nods. I walk inside and over to the front desk.
"Um, hello?" I try to get the attention of the silver haired lady typing away furiously on a keyboard. She straightens her black glasses before looking up.
"Welcome to the Southern Library And Research Center, home to the largest collection of our fine states history, genealogy, and ancient artifacts of every kind. How can I help you?" She recites from the card in her hand.
"I'm looking for... well, I need to translate this for school, think you have something that can help?" I pull the bottle out and show her the image.
"Right this way."
She directs me around a few corners, through a few passages and stops at a small shelf embedded inside a book shelf. Glued to the shelf is thick leather bond book. "This book is filled with many different kinds of languages, all you have to do is match your photo to one of these and the information underneath should direct you to the books you need." She turns to a page for demonstration and returns to her desk. I turn the pages to the beginning and begin flipping through them.
"No. No. No. No." I whisper to my self. "No. No. Wait." I cross my finger down to the information.
Language - Atlantean. For best information see - Discoveries Of Another World by James N. W. and A Crossing To The Ocean by Julia Boarder, located in section D, shelf 8, under Water Discoveries. See also - A Mysterious New World series by Carter J. Smith, located in section K, shelf 19, under Myths and Legends.
I follow it's advise and cross over to section D. I easily find shelf 8 and look for the two books among the hundreds that line the endless shelves. After half an hour of scanning book covers I find the books I was looking for and carry them to Myths and Legends, finding the next book more easier than the last. I sit down in a reading study and begin searching the books for a language translation page. In Julia's book I find what I'm looking for and hold the bottle next to the page in the book. After looking for the same sybol for over ten minutes I finally realize that they're not matches. I score through the other books but only one has a translation page, for Latin, and clearly not a match for the language on the bottle. With a frustrated huff I slam the book in my lap shut and carry the books to a return rack.
"Have a nice day." The old woman says as I walk out the doors.
"You too." I call back half hardheartedly as something begins to buzz in my front pocket. "Hello?" I answer my phone.
"Nikki you are in so much trouble! Where are? You where supposed to be home an fifteen ago!" My step Mom's voice yells so load I have to move the device a few inches away from my ear.
"I just had to run to the library for homework, I'm on my way home now." I say, pulling out a fluffy blue key chain and starting the engine of my car.
"Well that's all your going to do when you get home! Now hurry back."
"I'm on my way."
"Alright, I love you." She says more calmly.
"Bye." I say quickly and hang up.
I arrive home ten minuets later, even from outside I can here my crazy family. I grab the bag and sneak inside through the back door. I make it up to the stairs before I'm stopped by my Father.
"Nikki." I turn around, he doesn't look mad so I at least don't have to worry about getting grounded, "You missed dinner." He hands me a plate of peanut butter chicken. "Now hurry, tomorrow's Sunday, so whatever you need done needs to get done tonight so we can have a family day."
"I know. Thanks, Dad."
Taking the plate from him I rush to my room. Once the door is shut I take the bottle out of my bag and set it before me on my desk so I can stare at it until an idea comes to mind. After a minute or two I try to take the cork out, but it's stuck in pretty good. I pull out the corkscrew in my pocket knife and try to yank it off, but no luck. Finally, after six more minutes of random tools and pretending to be a wizard, I go into my bathroom and run warm water over the top, using the corkscrew again I try to yank it off one last time before I result to using a hammer.
With a pop I pull the cork out and carefully dump everything inside onto my bed. An oval shaped smooth silver rock with rings around the top side drops out first, tightly wound around it is a dark rope like chain that crosses over the stone like an X to keep it connected to the neckless. I have to get tweezers to pull out a damp piece of brownish paper tied in dry seaweed. I pull off the seaweed around the paper and carefully unfold it, but the words inside are written in the same language as the the words on the bottle. Setting the paper down, I pick the neckless back up and unwind the chain. For something so random it's strikingly beautiful. I slip it on and look at myself in the mirror. The only thing I can think of to ware with it would be a bathing suit. I turn back to my bed and pick up the paper. After two seconds it dawns on me that the words that where so previously unreadable, are now written in English. I blink in confusion and take the neckless off, the words immediately change back to their original form. I eye the stone suspiciously before putting it back on and begin reading the note.
I know you must have many questions but I do not have the time. My people are at war with the Divided Colonies and we are in dire need of your help. I have placed my locket inside this bottle along with this note, so that it may guide you to my Safeguard. Please hurry. -Queen Ali'ikai.
"The things people make up." I shake my head in denial and stare at the stone, something about it catches me.
The beautiful spirals and waves act like a calming but stormy sea. I check the time, it's only Nine Thirty but I shove everything on my bed onto the desk under my wide window, along with the neckless, and quickly get dressed in my PJs and try go to sleep.
Chapter 2 - Fish Out Of Water
"Nikki! Get out of the bathroom already! I got to pee!" My seven year old brother yells and continues banging on the door.
"James there's another bathroom downstairs just use that one!" I yell back, and finish brushing my teeth.
I open the door and ad soon as there's a space wide enough James rushes in and lifts up the toilet seat, I shut the door immediately to avoid any further distress from him.
I head down the stairs, trying not to step on the many toys scattered here and there, and walk into the kitchen where my Dad's busy making Saturday pancakes.
"Celeb still sleeping?" He asks upon seeing me enter.
"Yep." I sit down at the table.
"Catch!" He says unexpectedly and throws the stack of pancakes he had on his spatula toward me. Instinctively I hold up my plate and catch them all. "Nice! You're getting good at this." He returns to the stove to make more, "Mom and I where thinking about going out today, we'll take the two little guys of course but we where thinking you could take the other three to the beach?" James and Peter are the ones he means when he says, 'the little guys'. James, like I said, is three, so is Peter, they're twins and they both have black hair and blue eyes.
"I'm sure Celeb would much rather stay home." I say through a mouthful of pancake. Celeb is my older step-brother, he and his mom joined our family about three months ago.
"I've already talked to him about it, all you have to do is drive there and he'll help watch Sam and Tristan. That OK?"
"Yeah, it's fine." I reply, there's nothing better than wadding in the waves on a hot summer day like this. Sam and Tristan are twins and are younger than me by eight years.
"Thanks, ready?" He winks.
"Yep." I cover my ears.
Dad pulls out an air horn from inside a drawer that is usually locked, for obvious reasons, and pushes the button down for two short seconds.
"Boys! Pancakes!" He yells.
Everyone comes running in. It's hard not to ignore the neighbors' complaints after breakfast, they're right, we're like a pack of wild dogs after a week with no food, or so everyone in the two houses next to us put it. After breakfast we all get ready, I let my long light brown hair hang low and change into knee high shorts and a white sleeveless button up with a collar the folds below my collar bone. We pile up in our dad's little five seater and head to the nearest beach with public restrooms.
Celeb lays in the sand texting away while Sam and Tristan slowly bury him from the feet up. Since there distracted I leave to walk in the waves, fingering the locket and looking for anymore glass bottles as I go along. I get about a minute into my walk before the locket starts vibrating. I take it off, it stops, I put it back on, it starts again. I stop moving and study the locket around my neck closely. Something catches my right ankle, I look down and fall back on the sand surprised, a pale white hand clutches my ankle, a face then emerges from the ocean depths, a girl about my age, with silver cuffs around her wrist and a silver chest plate with white swirls covers her front and back.
"He...!" I begin to shout for help but she covers my mouth with my over hand. I try to get away from her but she holds firm, like a gorilla.
"I'll let go if you keep quiet." Her eyes are serious and her eyebrows lift. I nod my head and she lets go of my mouth, but not my ankle. I breath in, glad to finally get some air into my lungs. "Good. My name is Coral Re, I'm a guard in the Queen's pal... in the Queen's sanctuary." She corrects herself, "Are you the one whom the locket called?" I stare at her, unsure of what to think at this point. "What's your name, girl?"
"Amy Acres." I lie.
"No, your the Sanders girl." I look at her confused but she doesn't bother to explain how she came to know my last name. "Come with me." She grabs onto my wrist and lurches backwards.
"No!" I yell and yank back.
"You have to!" She says fiercely.
"My family." I say tugging back with all my strength. Coral Re's head pokes back up.
"Family!" She sounds surprised, "No, no family, this is more important."
"No! I can't just leave them!" I yank back. She lets out a frustrated breath.
"Can you meet me back here tonight at midnight?" I nod, "If you don't we'll know, and we'll come for you." She gives me the evil eyes and disappears into the water. The next second, a green tale, that of a mermaids, jumps out of the water and slams back into the deep. Frightened, I run back to where Celeb lay completely covered from shoulders to toes in sand, Sam dances happily on top of him while Tristan continues to pack him in.
That night I lay on my bed thinking over my day and texting David goodnight.
I should probably get going. I type.
Me too, see you tomorrow then. He replies.
See you tomorrow, night.
Love you, night.
Goodnight, my prince. I send back.
I click my phone off and set it on the ground. Closing my eyes, I wait for sleep to take over when something hard hits my window. I try to ignore it, but the clanging sound comes again. I get out of bed and walk over to moon lit window and open it. There's nothing. I start to close it when the wind picks up and I hear Coral Re's voice ring through the air. I slam the window shut as quietly and quickly as possible before jumping back into my bed.
"Kanaka." A harsh voice whispers as I lift my right foot up to jump.
I look up as my other foot leaves to soon and I fall on the ground. I quickly stand up, Coral Re stands on the other side of my bed, holding a spear. She wares the same armor as before, but instead of a shiny tail, she stands on two long legs covered by black leather pants and boots.
"How are you...?"
"Magic." She smirks.
"How did you get in here?" I ask.
"The window." She replies.
"Tell me the truth." I demand, she can't kidnap me with my parents already up from hearing me yell.
"You want the truth? or why I'm here?"
"Fine, I came in through your door while you where hanging out the window. The stone you have belongs to my Queen. She placed it in the bottle you so carefully took care of and sent it out to find the one that would end the war between the Divided Colonies an..."
"Yes, yes I know that. I've read the paper." I yell, trying to hurry her along. She looks a little annoyed that I interrupted her but she continues on.
"And the Atlanta Kingdom. When the bottle was found it could only be opened by the one the stone chose, after several attempts it found you. Now, you need to come with us." She takes a step forward but keeps her distance.
"I'm not going." I sit down on my desk chair, my Dad should be here in any minute.
She sighs and shakes her head. "You really don't have a choice. I personally took care of your family, you can either come with us the easy way or the hard way."
"No." I say more firmly and fold my arms. She's joking. There's no way there could be more of them already inside.
"Aven." She says over her shoulder.
A man in his twenties steps out of the shadows, he wares the same uniform as Coral, except for the staff, in which he replaced with a small glass bottle filled with black liquid. He steps closer and closer, the moon light shining on his polished armor. I scream for help but he forces the liquid down my throat, choking out my cries and leaving the most disgusting taste in my mouth. He eases my body down to the floor as it's mucsles tighten and make me shake. Suddenly everything turns dark, the only sound is that of the ocean.