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       Eldnium, p.38

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  “This is it,” Landon said, and he stopped at the edge of the lake, small waves nipping at the sandy beach. “This is where I swam up. The portal is out there somewhere.” He waved a finger toward the lake.

  “Okay, so what are we waiting for?” Jackson cracked his knuckles and stretched his arms, preparing for a swim.

  “Well…” Landon hesitated. “The thing is: I haven’t gone through from this side. On the other side of the portal, there’s a forcefield protecting the gate. I can pass through those without much issue, but I don’t know how I could possibly get you through. And I can’t use the eldnium to break it, because I’d never be able to get up enough momentum to crack it open.”

  “So what do we do?” Jackson asked. “If the Seeker is looking for us, we’re not in the best of hiding places.”

  “I know,” Landon said. He took a deep breath and let it out. “We’re gonna have to risk it. How long can you hold your breath?”

  “I’ve never timed myself,” Jackson answered. “But I’ll hold it as long as I need to. Or die trying.” He cracked a smile.

  “That’s only a little funny,” Landon answered. “Alright, let’s go.”

  The two of them stepped into the water, and Landon led the way. They swam out a bit and then dove under.

  The portal was easy enough to find. It was quite different on this side, however. It wasn’t a sphere. It was a whirling pool on the floor of the lake, pulsing light and blowing bubbles toward the surface in a rush.

  Landon signaled to Jackson that they needed to swim into the whirlpool, and Jackson returned a thumbs up that he understood. But as they neared the portal, they found that the current rushing out of it was impossible to swim through. They pushed forward anyway, but were simply swept up and forced back to the surface, where their heads broke the water and they both gasped for breath.

  “There’s no way I can swim fast enough to get through that thing,” Jackson said, panting.

  “Neither can I.” Ideas boiled through Landon’s head but none seemed feasible. He wiped the water from his eyes.

  Jackson added, “Maybe if we could hold on to a heavy rock or something and let it pull us through?”

  “Jackson!” Landon shouted, eyes bursting with a new light. “You’re a genius!”

  Landon pulled the eldnium stone from his pocket and said, “Hold on tight.”

  Jackson wrapped his arms around Landon’s neck as Landon rolled the little bit of metal between his fingers, and the two boys suddenly started sinking, faster and faster as the eldnium took over Landon’s body. They slowed a bit at the current of the portal, but Landon was too heavy, and they eventually fell through, the world they were leaving disappearing in a flash of light.

  Part Five


  Beneath the Mask

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