Now that I was certain Jeramiah was back on the island, the first thing I needed to do was return to the fields and check that my parents were okay. Yes, I had managed to warn them to be on their guard, but Jeramiah and the witch still had the advantage of being invisible. I could see through their invisibility, and I had not noticed them near the Great Dome while the meeting was taking place, so I couldn’t be sure if Jeramiah had been aware of their location or knew that they were now headed to the farmhouse… And where was my grandfather?
I hurried to the shore and headed as fast as I could back toward the vegetable fields. On approaching the courtyard outside the Sanctuary, as much as I was in a desperate hurry, something caught my eye and I stopped still. Lying on the ground near a barrowful of wilted flowers were two of our witches.
For a fearful moment I thought that they might have even been dead, but on nearing, I could see that they were breathing. They were sound asleep.
From the way they both lay strewn near the barrow, it looked like they might have been in the midst of tidying up after the funeral.
Tearing my eyes away from the witches’ sleeping forms, I continued hurtling forward. A hundred alarm bells rang out in every corner of my mind, and as I stumbled across a group of human children—perhaps six or seven years of age—lying asleep in the undergrowth beside wooden swords and hand catapults, my alarm only grew louder.
As I made it out of the woods and approached the fields, I beheld a scene I’d feared I might find.
Scattered about the field surrounding the farmhouse were dozens of sleeping forms—The Shade’s council members.
The only signs of life, in this field, ironically, came from the ghosts who still hovered by the old building.
I scanned the ground desperately for my parents, but I couldn’t see them. I approached the farmhouse, ignoring Lucinda as she called to me. I swept through the house in a panic.
It was empty. The memorial stone was missing, and so were my parents.
I stormed out of the house and back into the field. I raced up to Lucinda and tried to grab her, forgetting for the hundredth damn time in my urgency that my hands were made of nothing.
“What happened here?” I demanded.
“The crowd of people came,” she murmured, raising her eyebrows as she gazed around at the sleeping bodies surrounding us. “Rather strange people if you ask me… They were looking around the area, and they seemed particularly interested in the farmhouse. Then it was like they all had a heart attack at once. They fell to the ground and now are apparently sleeping. Then I spotted the man with the pipe. He came here with his lady friend. They picked up two people, and then they both just… vanished.” She looked utterly confused even as she said the words. Although she was a ghost, I guessed that she had not had many encounters with other types of supernaturals.
I didn’t bother asking which two people Jeramiah had swooped down on.
And where is my grandfather? Have they caught him already?
Amaya must have cast a sleeping spell over the island to wipe out any obstacles our witches might pose. Being able to affect the whole island like this meant that she was more skilled a witch than I had expected.
Although I was raring to go racing after Jeramiah and Amaya to the cluster of rocks, to see what state my parents and grandfather were in, what use would it do? I had to get help. I had to wake someone!
I scanned the ground, and my eyes fell on River and Rose, who’d fallen and lay sleeping next to each other on the soil. There were others that I could’ve approached, but I instinctively moved closer to River. She had already helped me the first time, it should be both easier and faster to get through to her a second time… I just had to hope that the slumber Amaya had cast upon everyone did not preclude dreams.
I knelt on the soil next to her and closed my eyes, squeezing them tightly shut and trying to clear my mind.
The minutes that followed were agonizing, just sitting there in the quiet field, shrouded in darkness with my eyes closed.
Then, as I was beginning to give up hope that even a single person in the field was dreaming, I caught a glimpse of stars twinkling behind my eyelids. A vision emerged, a vision of a night sky. The moon was nowhere to be seen, but the brightness of the stars almost made up for its absence. Calm waves rolled beneath the star-strewn canvas, and floating in the midst of them was River.
She was lying on her back, sleeping, with an expression of profound peace on her face.
“River,” I called. “River, wake up.”
I descended on her in the dream, reaching out to grip her shoulders. I squeezed and shook her, just as hard as I’d done in her previous dream, but this time, she wasn’t budging.
Wake up, River. Wake up!
Chapter 22: Derek
Consciousness trickled slowly through my brain. My head ached dully. My limbs felt stiff and rigid. An odd warmth touched my skin. My heavy eyelids parted and I found myself assaulted by a blinding light. I was forced to clamp them shut and reopen them more slowly. I squinted, allowing my pupils to adjust to the change in brightness. I found myself staring up at a sun-streaked sky.
I tried to sit up, but my limbs would not obey my brain. I could only move my neck and the muscles in my face. I turned my head to my left to see Sofia lying next to me. On her other side lay Aiden. Both appeared to be in deep slumber. Sea spray wet my face and I realized that we were lying on a cluster of craggy rocks, surrounding by rolling waves. I recognized these rocks—they served as a landmark for our island’s boundary.
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