A long voyage includes days without wind or waves. The boat sits still on deep water, waiting for a push. The morning sun shines through the surface of the Lonely Sea into unknown depths of blue water, and I often leaned over the side of the Warwick Beacon in search of the murky outline of a fish. A shadow the size and shape of my forearm would drift past my line of sight and disappear under the boat. Then I would race to the other side and look down, waiting until the shadow reemerged and slowly disappeared out into the sea. On a calm day, it was not uncommon for me to spend an hour or more at this entirely useless undertaking.
But this morning, as I leaned out over the edge of the rail, my heart caught in my throat at the thought of what I might see.
To begin with, we’d found the Five Stone Pillars, a mysterious place hidden far away from The Land of Elyon. We could see the pillars clearly, less than a nautical mile away, rising out of the sea. From all I’d been told, I knew this was an especially secret place, where Sir Alistair Wakefield hid the lost children so that no danger could find them.
But danger had found the lost children. And what’s worse, we were the ones who’d brought the danger to them. Something had been following our ship since the very beginning of our long journey away from The Land of Elyon. It was something unseen and sinister, watching our everyo move from the depths of the sea.
I’d been standing at the rail for a while, looking into the calmest water I’d never seen, wishing that the wind would kick up and send us on our way. There was a terrible chill in the air as I scanned the glassy surface, hoping not to spot anything larger than my own boot.
“Captain?” asked Yipes, my tiny, ever-present companion. “Why is everything so still?” I chanced a fleeting look away from the smooth surface of the water and saw that he was standing very near our captain, Roland Warvold, questioning him.
Yipes tapped Roland in the leg with his finger. “Pardon me, sir.”
The captain didn’t respond. We had come within sight of our long-awaited destination, but it felt as if we were anchored in place, and Roland was busy reviewing his charts and maps at the wheel of the boat. Yipes is the sort of person who has a hard time being ignored, so he kept at it, tap tap tapping at the knee in front of his face until finally Roland could stand it no more.
“Can’t you find something useful to do?” Roland replied. He knelt down so that he was at eye level with Yipes, and the two began to talk as I returned to watching the Lonely Sea.
The water was so smooth and still I couldn’t stand looking at it any longer without dropping something in and breaking the glass surface. I swung around, searching the deck for something to throw, and my eyes lit on the remains of a breakfast that had yet to be cleaned up. It was only a few steps away, and when I arrived there I found several things to choose from that would suit my purpose. I picked up a string of fish bones by its crispy tail and walked back toward the rail of the boat.