Eldnium, p.39
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       Eldnium, p.39

           Enoch Pyle, Jr

  Landon and Jackson woke face-down in a puddle of water on the stones of The Fountains, unaware of how they managed to get from the gate at the bottom of the well all the way to the surface.

  Landon rolled to his back. “Are you okay?” he asked Jackson.

  “Yeah,” Jackson rolled over, too. “Did it work?”

  “Yeah,” Landon confirmed, “It worked.”

  “So…we’re on another planet?”


  “So weird.”


  “What now?” Jackson asked, still panting with exhaustion.

  Landon looked out at the trees and grass, only to see that there was still no movement, meaning everything must have still been frozen in time. “You should speak to the Oracle,” he decided. “Knowing why I needed to save you if your powers can’t unfreeze time will help us more than anything else, I think.”

  “The Oracle?” Jackson repeated, staring toward the well. “How does that work?”

  The two boys pushed themselves up from the ground and to their feet.

  “Just drink from one of these channels. And then listen well. You’re the only person who will be able to hear her. So remember what she tells you.”

  “Okay,” Jackson said after a brief pause.

  Landon walked to the edge of the circumplex and waited as Jackson kneeled next to one of the channels, cupped his hands, and took a drink of the crystal-clear water. The wind picked up, and a vortex formed around the well, trapping Jackson inside and winding its way into the sky like a massive tornado. Landon waited for it to clear, the wind whipping at his hair and clothes, shielding his eyes from the dust and debris soaring around him.

  When the vortex finally settled, Landon watched as Jackson met him on the edge of the circumplex.

  “What did she say?” Landon asked.

  “Um…” Jackson hesitated, not making eye contact with Landon, and Landon thought Jackson must still be trying to make sense of the riddle-like prophecies handed out by the Oracle.

  “Did she at least tell you how to save Li’an?”

  Jackson lifted his eyes and met Landon’s. “I…I guess.”

  “Good,” Landon answered, relief sweeping over his face. “What else did she say?”

  Jackson hesitated again. “She said…”

  “LANDON!” A voice cried out from the top of the hill. Landon turned and saw Tommy flapping his arms about. “LANDON! HURRY!” Tommy called, screaming down into the valley, his voice booming with authority.

  Landon started running toward the top of the hill, and Jackson followed. As they came closer, they could see Tommy had torn his shirt and wrapped part of it around his hand like a bandage. It was bloody, and Landon started to feel a little anxious wondering what could possibly pierce Tommy’s hardened exoskeleton.

  “What happened?” Landon asked, staring at Tommy’s hand as he and Jackson finally reached the top of the hill.

  “You’ve been gone so long. The bullet. It was getting closer. I wrapped my fist around it…to try and keep it in place, but it bore a hole right through my hand.” Tommy gently touched the bandages. “It was an agonizing seven hours.”

  “I can’t believe it,” Landon said, staring at the bloody rag. “Where’s the bullet now?”

  “That’s why you have to hurry,” Tommy said. “It’s pressed against her forehead. It will crack her skull any second now. I’d almost lost hope, but when I saw the vortex, I knew you’d made it back.”

  “Well, let’s go!” Landon commanded, and the three of them ran along the path to the village as quickly as they could.

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