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       The Adventurous Creeper and the Lost Kingdom, Book 4: The Legend of Charlie the Creeper King, p.1

           Mark Mulle
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The Adventurous Creeper and the Lost Kingdom, Book 4: The Legend of Charlie the Creeper King

  The Adventurous Creeper and the Lost Kingdom, Book 4: The Legend of Charlie the Creeper King

  Copyright 2017 Mark Mulle

  Author’s Note

  This short story is for your reading pleasure. The characters in this "Minecraft Adventure Series" such as Steve, Endermen or Herobrine...etc are based on the Minecraft Game coming from Minecraft ®/TM & © 2009-2013 Mojang / Notch

  Table of Contents

  Day 1

  Day 8

  Day 9

  Day 10 – Very early in the morning

  Day 11

  Day 19

  Day 20

  Day 21

  About the Author

  Other books by this Author

  Day 1

  Today I start my journey in search of truth.

  Day 8

  I can see the village at the bottom of the hill. Finally, I am here! It feels as if I have been traveling forever. The hill is steep, though, and I want to rest a little. I have plenty of daylight and need to think about how I am going to handle going into the village.

  See, most people aren’t used to seeing a creeper walking around not exploding at the sight of someone. For every person along my travels that I have been able to convince that I am not the type of creeper that is just going to blow up upon seeing them, I have had to deal with ten others who ran away screaming in fear.

  Which I understand. But it still doesn’t make me feel that great.

  In any case, I have to think about how I am going to make sure I don’t send the entire village screaming in fear. I could just walk around it and head into the jungle. But, honestly, after walking for a week straight and sleeping on the ground or in trees, I really want at least one night in a bed.

  I spent time reviewing my notes. I keep going over them to make sure I haven’t made some sort of mistake but I know I haven’t.

  The jungle on the other side of the village is exactly where I need to go. After years of chasing down books and other places linked to the Creeper Temple, I am finally going to be entering the place where it is supposed to be located.

  When I first heard about the legend of Charlie the Creeper King, I had thought it sounded like a silly story. There was no way it could be real. It had been Rowley the Rabbit who had first brought it up a year ago in passing. He had told me not to get excited – it was just a story.

  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The legend stated that long ago – so long ago that there were no records of it even existing – creepers flourished. They lived all around the Over World and were ruled by a creeper named Charlie.

  Yet one day, they all disappeared. Just like that. No one had ever found them again. They were gone as if they didn’t ever exist at all.

  Ever since Rowley had told me that story, I had been looking into it. I know, I know. Sally the Slime told me it was a dead end. Everyone thought I was wasting my time.

  But the more I looked into it, the more details I found. After a year of research, I finally had located what was supposed to be the location of the main city of the creepers – the place where Charlie had ruled from.

  And now I was almost at the jungle. If I stuck to my notes, I should be able to discover the temple. Can you imagine a time where creepers once walked around the Over World? That must have been such a sight! Why had they vanished? What if…

  What if they were still around but moved underground? I know it sounds crazy but I can’t help but think about it. An entire civilization of creepers…that would be amazing.

  Well, no more time putting this off. I should head into the village and hope for the best.

  Day 9

  The village was like most places in the Over World. It had a small wall wrapped around it to keep out vicious hordes of creatures. The wall here had fallen into disrepair, meaning that they normally didn’t have to worry about attacks. I found that interesting since they were so close to a jungle. Usually, towns and villages close to woods or jungles had extra protection because of the creatures.

  There were no guards at the gates and I walked in slowly. A couple of people who were running food stalls looked over at me. I could see the panic.

  “Hey, hey, it’s okay!” I said quickly, waving my short arms, “I’m not going to blow up! I’m not a regular creeper!”

  A crowd was forming. This place was so remote and out of the way, there was no way they had heard everything that had happened with the Dragon Lord over two years ago. As far as they knew, I was just a creeper who had come to blow up their village.

  “Did he talk?” Someone mumbled.

  “I just am looking for your inn. I’m hungry and I need to rest.” I said to the crowd.

  I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to reply but finally a man pointed down the street, “The building on the left.”

  “Thanks.” I replied and moved through the crowd slowly so they didn’t think that I was going to suddenly blow up.

  Once I was away from the crowd and almost to the inn, I relaxed a little. That was something else that was good about the village being remote. They weren’t as afraid of me as if a place near the capital would be.

  I pushed open the door to the inn and looked around. It was practically empty. There was the owner behind the counter. A girl was in the corner, flipping through a book. Both looked up at me when I entered. The girl didn’t show any fear and instead closed her book to stare.

  I went over to the counter. The man was staring at me with his eyes wide.

  “I’d like a room, please.”

  “Wow, you can talk! Thought that was just a myth.” The man replied.

  After a short conversation, he gave me a room key. I decided I’d go to my room now and get some sleep. I didn’t want to walk around and get too much attention from the other villagers. It would be for the best.

  I was only asleep for a short time before someone was knocking on the door. I rubbed my eyes. Who could be coming to my door? I got up out of bed and opened the door.

  The girl from downstairs was standing in front of me. I blinked in surprise, wondering why she had knocked on my door.

  “Uh, can I help you?” I asked.

  “My name is Chloe. You’re a creeper, right?”

  I blinked, “Yes, the last time I checked.”

  “Mind if I come in?” She didn’t wait for me to answer and came into my room.

  I closed the door, unsure what she could want with me. All my friends had been fellow creatures. I didn’t have a lot of experience with humans. She sat down on the only chair in the room and smiled brightly.

  “I know this a long shot but I just had to come and ask.”

  “Ask what? If I’m a creeper?” I joked.

  “I’m not from this place. I’m just passing through.” She said to me.

  I frowned. Passing through? There was nowhere else to go. This place was the end of the line. It was already in the middle of nowhere, just remote at the end of the world. Where could she be going? Unless…

  Chloe seemed to sense my thoughts because she nodded, “I’m looking into the legend of Charlie the Creeper King. It can’t be a mere coincidence that you’re here too. And a creeper on top that.”

  What were the odds of finding someone else researching the legend? It seemed crazy that someone else was here trying to find out about Charlie.

  Surprised, I blurted out, “You’re trying to find the temple?”

  Chloe nodded, “That’s right. I’ve been researching the legend for ages but I
had a breakthrough a couple of weeks ago. I must be on the right track if you’re here too. I was going to head into the jungle tomorrow but if you’re going as well…maybe we should team up.”

  “You aren’t afraid of me?”

  “What?” Chloe laughed, “No! Listen, if you were a typical creeper, you would have come into the village and exploded on the spot. Instead, you rented a room and are sleeping just like everyone else should be at this time. No, I’m not afraid of you. In fact, I have my own theories about you.”

  “Well, I’m way too tired to hear them. I really need my sleep.” I opened the door.

  Chloe got up, “Fine. But think about it, okay? We’re going to the same spot. We might as well help one another.”

  She left and I closed the door. I went back to bed but found it hard to sleep. I couldn’t believe that I had found someone who also was searching for the secret of the Creeper kingdom.

  I woke up and ate lunch. There was no sign of Chloe. I wonder if she changed her mind? I’ve been here, writing after so many days in this journal to catch up. But I feel as if it is time to go now. I can’t waste anymore daylight. I want to head into the jungle now.

  Later in the afternoon

  I left the inn and hurried through town. People were still staring and I didn’t feel like hanging around. Will I ever get used to the feeling? I have friends now so it feels different…I am not as lonely. But I still don’t like being stared at as if I am some weird creature.

  I had just passed through the gates leading towards the jungle when I heard someone call out ‘Hey!’.

  I stopped and turned around. Chloe was running towards me. She stopped in front of me, out of breath.

  “Just going to take off without me?” She asked me.

  “You weren’t at the inn.”

  “Yeah, I was preparing. Apparently, something that you weren’t going to do. Were you just going to head into the jungle without preparing?”

  “I am prepared.” I replied.

  Chloe scoffed, “No, you’re not. Are you sure you have enough food? Do you have light? Any sort of back-up plan in case you get lost?”

  “I’m fine, thanks. I don’t think we should team up.”

  “Why is that?” She asked as I turned around and began walking towards the jungle.

  The sky was overcast and threatening rain. Great. The last thing I needed. The jungle with rain was the worst. Even worse? I wasn’t sure why I didn’t want to team up with Chloe. Maybe because this felt like a personal journey. Having someone tagging along felt weird.

  “Like I said in the inn, I’m going this way anyway. So, pretend we aren’t teaming up. We are just travelers on the same road.”

  She had a point there. Even if I didn’t want to team up with Chloe, she was still coming along this path too. I might as well get used to her.

  We entered the jungle. Chloe was flipping through her own notes. I was on the lookout for carvings in the tree branches. They would lead me to the correct path. I walked slowly, trying to ignore the sound of thunder.

  “Rain, great.” Chloe mumbled as she stopped in front of a tree, clearly looking for the same thing that I was.

  She had done her research. That much was obvious. But why was she so interested in finding the fabled Creeper Kingdom? That I wasn’t sure about yet.

  “Hey, look at this – what’s your name?” She asked me.

  “Carl. And what is it?” I crouched down next to her and saw what instantly the carving in the wood.

  “One of the symbols, Carl. We should go this way, come on.” She took off deeper into the jungle.

  That was when I had to accept the fact that I was truly teaming up with Chloe. No matter what her reasons were for searching for the kingdom, we might as well help one another. It would be easier all around. I took off after her.

  For a few hours, we searched the jungle for the markings. Our progress was slow. It was even slower when the rain finally started. It poured into the jungle, making each step muddy and wet. We had found three of the markings in six hours.

  “It’s getting dark,” I finally said, “We should take rest for the night.”

  Chloe wiped some of the rain from her face, “I thought for sure that we would have made better progress.”

  “Three markings are good progress! This entire area is unknown to us. Not to mention we are chasing a legend. It isn’t going to be a walk in the park.”

  Chloe shivered, “It’s getting cold. You’re right. Let’s make camp.”

  We circled back to where we had found a cave earlier. After making sure it was empty, we set up. Chloe started a fire and we curled up next to it, eating the food we had brought.

  Chloe fell asleep almost instantly after dinner. I’ve been catching up in here. I had felt hopeful this morning but it is clear that it isn’t going to be very easy to find the rest of the markers in this weather.

  Let’s hope it clears up –

  Day 10 – Very early in the morning

  A roar broke through the rainy silence of the jungle. I dropped my pen, startled by the noise. Chloe woke up instantly and sat up.

  “What was that?” She whispered at me as if I knew.

  All I did was shrug. Together, we peered out into the darkness of the jungle. The rain was still coming down. I had no idea what it could be. It happened again – a roar that made the cave ground rumble underneath us.

  Chloe was putting out the fire. The darkness surrounded us. I could hear something moving around the jungle, coming closer to us. It must have seen the fire. I grabbed our weapons and pulled Chloe out of the cave.

  Together, we slunk across the jungle ground as silently as possible. Okay, so we had run into a predator. That was okay. We would just move away from him and get to safety somewhere else.

  No need to panic.

  That was when Chloe stepped on a twig.

  It cracked in the silence of the jungle. I heard Chloe gasp. Lightning filled the air – it was only a few seconds of light but it was enough to see a giant scaled creature looking down at us.

  “Run!” I said, shoving Chloe out of the way as the creature lunged forward.

  It came in between us. She took off in one direction and I ran off in the other. Of course, with my luck, the creature decided to come after me.

  It was pitch dark in the jungle. On top of that, it was raining hard, making me trip often over branches and other things I couldn’t see. The creature was still coming after me. I could hear it crashing through trees and breaking branches to get to me. I had to lose it. Whatever it was, it was clearly not going to stop until it got me!

  Okay, I just had to think. I couldn’t keep panicking. There was another flash of lightning. That gave me enough to see by. I turned sharply to the right and took off across a small stream. Then I turned back around and tried to go back to the cave. I was hoping to have my scent lost in the water. The creature wouldn’t know where to go.

  As I hurried along the stream, trying not to fall, I realized that I no longer heard it coming after me. I felt relief at that. What was that thing, anyway? I had never seen anything like that before.

  I took a step forward –

  And then I was falling.

  I had clearly misjudged where I was walking! As I toppled down a hill, I closed my eyes. After a few seconds, I hit the ground face down in the stream. With a groan, I rolled onto my back. The water was freezing cold. The rain was just as cold.

  “Good job, Carl.” I mumbled to myself.

  I sat up. I didn’t hear the creature. At least it hadn’t heard me falling. That was one good thing.

  There were lots of bad things, however. For one, I had lost Chloe. Secondly, I had fallen and had no idea where I was. Third, that creature was still out there somewhere.

  “Just have to regroup.” I said to myself as I stood up.

  I felt sore all over. Fumbling through my backpack, I found a torch. At least I had some light. But it wouldn’t do me any good now with this rain
. I went over to the nearest tree and crawled underneath it.

  It blocked me from the rain and before long, I actually ended up falling back asleep. I was too tired to stay awake from everything that had happened today.

  When I woke up, the rain had stopped. It was still cloudy so I couldn’t see as much as I would have liked. I poked my head out from under the tree to see where I had fallen.

  Above me was the ledge that I had toppled down. In the darkness of the early morning, it had been impossible to see.

  “Chloe?” I called out but there was no answer.

  Maybe she had gone back to the cave. But how was I even going to get back there? I set off back towards the ledge, looking for a way back up.

  It was then that I noticed something.

  Curious, I leaned forward and brushed some dirt off the ledge. It was covered in dirt but there was actually stone underneath it. Surprised, I kept brushing the dirt off until I had uncovered one of the markings.

  The fact that this one had been carved in stone and not in trees…what did that mean? I flipped through my notes to see if I had made a note of any carving in stone. But I didn’t have anything. Was this a secret passage or something?

  I wanted to keep looking into it but I held off. I should find Chloe. I needed to make sure she wasn’t hurt, after all.

  I moved away from the stone and looked around for a way up. I managed to climb up the tree and hop back onto the stream. I could see instantly the marks from the creature. He had come through here at some point because the trees were knocked over in places and bent in others.

  What was that thing, anyway? I didn’t like to think about the fact it was still lurking in the jungle. I followed the trail until I managed to find the cave where we had been last night.

  To my relief, Chloe was in the cave, asleep. I woke her up.

  “Carl!” She exclaimed, sitting up, “I was going to go look for you.”

  “After a nap?” I joked.

  “I spent the day in a tree and came back here an hour ago. Sorry, I was just so tired.”

  “It’s okay. Listen, I found something interesting. Come on.”

  Chloe followed me and we both caught up on what happened after we got separated. I told her about the mark in the stone that I had found. We got back to where it was thirty minutes later.

  Chloe went over to it right away and ran her hands over it, “I thought the markings were only on trees?”

  “Me too. But this is definitely one of them. Do you think there is a door something we can find?”

  “Maybe. We should –”

  The creature came bursting through the trees out of nowhere. We had been so focused on the marking that we hadn’t heard it sneaking up on us. In the day light, I could see what it was for the first time.

  It was covered in scales, like a dragon, yet had a large head with multiple sets of eyes. It opened his mouth and I could see rows of razor sharp teeth. I pushed Chloe out of the way and ducked as it tried to clamp down on us. I rolled underneath it as it swung around. It had a large tail which almost struck me.

  I had never seen anything like it. It looked part dragon and part shark. How was such a thing even possible?

  Chloe had pulled out her bow and was letting an arrow fly. It struck the creature who let out a roaring noise. It spun on her and began to go after her.

  I grabbed my sword and took off after it. Chloe hadn’t moved. She was too determined to take the thing down. It was too dangerous!

  I brought my sword down and struck the creature from behind. The creature roared and its tail slammed into me. I went flying backwards and landed in the stream. As I was getting to my feet, Chloe rolled underneath the creature, scampering away from it.

  It turned to face us. I gulped. This thing was massive! How was it living in the jungle? It opened its mouth and barreled down towards us.

  Instead of running, however, I knew that I had to face this thing. It wasn’t going to go away until I took care of it. As it opened its mouth, as if it was going to swallow us up, I leapt forward and brought my sword down.

  This hit was enough. In front of our eyes, it began to turn to ash. I heard Chloe gasp in surprise as it turned into nothing but a wet ash pile. After a few seconds of silence, the jungle came back to life. I could hear birds and other animal noises.

  “Okay, what was that thing?” Chloe finally asked.

  “I have no idea. I have never seen something like that before.”

  “Maybe it was some sort of guardian.” She wondered aloud, turning back to the marking.

  “That would mean we are definitely on the right path.” I remarked.

  Chloe was pressing her hands against the marking as if it was going to open a door or secret chamber. But nothing happened.

  “All the markings are supposed to be on trees. That would mean that this has to be some sort of entrance or something.” Chloe mumbled mostly to herself.

  I went over to where she was standing and looked at the marking. On a whim, I moved her hands off the wall and pressed my own against it.

  Nothing happened.

  I had thought for sure something would have. Frowning, I took a step back.

  “Maybe we’re overthinking this. Our notes probably didn’t cover everything.”

  I could hear Chloe’s stomach grumble loudly behind me. That was when we decided to take a break. We had both gotten a bad night of sleep due to that monster running around the jungle. We set up camp near the marking.

  Chloe is napping right now. I am keeping guard in case there are more of those things. I keep looking at the marking. I know there must be a secret behind it! I just have to figure out what it is.

  I think I have an idea. I’m going to try it just to see what happens but I need to rest and sleep first.

  Day 11

  I got up and went over to the marking. We had tried pressing our hands against it. That hadn’t worked. I just had to think of it from another way.

  Chloe snored and rolled over. That girl could sleep through anything at this point. I hoped another creature didn’t come out and attack me. She’d probably nap through the entire thing.

  I stared at the marking, as if something was going to pop out and make sense. The marking itself was a half-moon with a line coming out of it. I bent over and picked up a twig.

  On a whim, I pressed the stick in the middle of the marking. Nothing happened. The drawing seemed incomplete to me. I couldn’t explain why. It just did.

  I bent the twig as much as I could without snapping it. Then I put it against the circle so that the circle was now complete.

  Still nothing.

  Okay, this wasn’t working. Dropping the twig, I pressed my hands against the marking.

  Out of desperation, I went, “Open.”

  Suddenly, the rock began to move. It shifted backwards, exposing stairs! I gasped in surprise. Was that really all it had taken? I couldn’t believe it. I hurried over to Chloe, waking her up, and then we gathered our things to head down the stairs.

  “It just opened when you told it to?” She asked me as she lit a torch to illuminate the staircase.

  “Yeah, that’s it. I didn’t think it would actually work though.”

  “Well, come on. Let’s see what is down here. It could take us to the kingdom!” Chloe exclaimed.

  We set off down the staircase. It smelt of mold and dry air. Who knew when was the last time anyone had come down here? I could feel moss growing on the walls as we followed the stairs.

  “How far do you think this goes?”

  “No idea. I thought we’d be finding a jungle temple. I didn’t think we’d be going into a place like this.” I replied.

  “Me either. Maybe this place is so old that that was the entrance to the temple,” Chloe said, “But it’s been so long that it’s underground now.”

  “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

  We came to the bottom of the stairs. Chloe held up the torch. We could see a doorway. Together, we
looked at the carvings that covered the door.

  “Look, that’s a creeper.” I said, pointing to one of the figures.

  “This has to be it, Carl. We have to be here.” Chloe said and before I could stop her, she pushed open the doors.

  What was I expecting to see? An entrance to the city? Maybe some sort of shrine to Charlie the Creeper King.

  What I wasn’t expecting was an empty room. There were torches in the room that were still glowing. Their fire was green. I had never seen that before. To be burning after all this time – that was crazy!

  There was nothing else. The stones were bare. There were no carvings on them that I could see. There was a stream of water running through the middle of the room. It led into a corner of the room and dropped off through a crack. That was it.

  “No doors. Nothing. Maybe this isn’t anything important.” Chloe said next to me, sounding disappointed.

  “Let’s look around.” I suggested.

  Chloe put her torch down and we set off across the room together. The green fires gave us plenty of light to see by. In silence, we both looked the room over. I could tell that Chloe had already written the room off. But I wasn’t ready to do that yet.

  Why mark this place if it meant nothing?

  “This was probably a storage room.” Chloe said as she crouched by the water.

  “Why have a storage room out here and protected? Doesn’t make sense.” I replied.

  She shrugged, “Nothing interesting here. Come on.”

  “I’m not leaving yet.” I said as I went to the front of the room.

  “Fine but you aren’t going to find anything in this bare room.” She argued.

  I didn’t reply because something had caught my eye. There was a vine creeping around the wall – but it was curling behind it. How could that be possible if the wall was flat?

  I went over to the vine and tugged on it. It moved a little – enough for me to see that the wall wasn’t flat or positioned correctly.

  “Come here.” I said over my shoulder.

  Chloe came over and I showed her the vine. Together, we gripped it and yanked. The wall began to crumble from the force of the vine being pulled free. We pulled it again and then the vine broke off, sending us flying backwards.

  “Ow.” I mumbled.

  “Carl, look.” Chloe tugged on my arm.

  The vine had snapped through the wall, knocking the stones to the ground. Behind it was the real wall and there were carvings all over it.

  “Good eye.” She said to me before scampering over to the wall to look at it.

  I followed her and looked at it. There were rubies stuck in the wall in the carvings. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was staring at…

  “It’s a map.” I exclaimed.

  “What? Where do you see that?” Chloe remarked, tilting her head to the side.

  “Stand back and look,” When she did, I began to point at different things, “It’s a map of the Over World. It’s different because the map is so old. For instance, this is an island now,” I pointed, “But here we are. And the rubies are locations of the Creeper’s ancient kingdom.”

  “So…what is this place then?”

  “Some sort of place where they probably stored knowledge or something. But this was hidden by a fake wall. Someone was trying to hide the locations of the kingdom. Why?” I wondered aloud.

  “So, what are we going to do? Head to these locations to find the real location? Because not all of these places can be where Charlie lived.”

  I kept staring at the map. There was something we were missing. Some key to the map. But I had no idea what it could be.

  “Why would Charlie have this map in the first place?” Chloe asked as she ran her fingers over the rubies, “They would need this place for a reason.”

  “All we can do is go to the one of the locations on the map and see what we find.” I finally said.

  She nodded in agreement, “Which one?”

  I pointed to the nearest ruby, “This one we could get to in a week or so.”

  “There isn’t any more land there, Carl. It’s just ocean.”

  “So, it’d be an underwater temple then.”

  “That’s right,” Chloe said, “As long as we are ready to go underwater, we can go there first.”

  “What’s that by your feet?” Carl saw it by her heels.

  Chloe moved to the side and picked it up. It was some sort key with empty spaces along the handle.

  “I bet the rubies fit in here.” She said to him and plucked one of them off the map.

  She placed it in the handle. She had been right – it fit perfectly.

  “I bet we need the rubies in the key to get into anywhere.”

  She agreed with me. As Chloe yanked the rubies out of the map, I began to sketch it in my journal. We might not be able to find this place again so we would need a copy of it.

  As I finished my sketch and Chloe placed the final ruby in the key, the ground began to shudder underneath our feet. Alarmed, we both looked at the map. It was cracking in half from the violent shaking. I stared, transfixed, as the cracks grew larger –

  Chloe shoved me out of the way as another one of those creatures crashed through the wall. The map was ruined as the monster roared at us. Okay, not good. This was really not good.

  “Run!” I shouted at Chloe as we got to our feet.

  The entire chamber was coming down around us! The monster swiped one of its claws at us. I ducked and fell to the ground with Chloe. The creature opened its mouth and tried to chomp us. We both managed to roll out of the way just in time. The monster hit the ground instead before turning to face Chloe.

  “It wants the key!” She shouted at me as I yanked out of my sword.

  “You have to get out of here with it!” I cried.

  “What about you?!”

  “Don’t worry about me!” I said even though I was definitely worried about me.

  Chloe took off at a run, heading towards the exit. The ceiling was starting to cave in. The monster roared. In the small space, it bounced off the walls and made my head spin.

  It slammed against the exit, narrowly missing Chloe. I hoped she made it up the stairs.

  Now I was alone with this creature as the entire chamber came down around us.

  The monster was still trying to escape. It was smashing against the exit as if the walls would form around it and let him leave. Holding my sword, I ran towards the creature. If I could get on its back –

  But the monster seemed to sense me. Its tail whipped out and hit me, sending me to the floor. I rolled over just in time to avoid its claws coming down. It seemed to sense it wasn’t going to get to Chloe so now it just wanted to get me.

  There was a large cracking noise as the roof around the map caved in. Rocks came down around me as I tried to dodge them. I slid in between the monster’s legs. The exit was still open. If I could just make it –

  I was sent flying again, landing against one of the rocks. Okay, that hurt. The creature was bearing down on me. It opened its mouth to eat me –

  I shoved my sword in its mouth sideways, propping its mouth open. Its eyes widened in surprise as it tried to close its mouth against the sword. Then I took off at full speed around the creature, eager to get away.

  The ground was shifting underneath my feet, warping and turning as I tried to run for the exit. I could hear the sword snap in half as the monster finally closed his mouth. But I was at the exit – almost home free.

  The stairs was crumbling underneath me as I ran as fast as I could. I was running so quickly that I thought I might faint. But I couldn’t afford to waste one second. I could see the exit now. The stream was glowing in the sunlight. I just had to keep going –

  I kicked off the ground and rolled forward just as the entire hallway collapsed. I landed face first on the ground and ended up with a mouthful of dirt. Behind me, the door was sealed shut by a ton of rocks.

  “Carl!” Chloe yelled, hurry
ing over to me.

  I rolled on my back, gasping for air, “Please tell me you have the key.” I managed to say.

  She grinned and held it up in front of my face, “Looks like we’re going underwater.”

  “Great.” I mumbled.

  Day 19

  It took us an entire week to get to the next spot on the map. I haven’t had any time to write. We’ve been busy as soon as we got out of the jungle. We went back to town and rested up that night in the inn. Chloe couldn’t believe I had escaped. Neither could I.

  “I hope we never see one of those things again.” I said as we stuffed our faces that night.

  I meant it too. I had barely escaped down there in the chamber. Between the creature and the entire thing collapsing, it had been one big close call.

  I was glad I had sketched the map or we would have been in serious trouble. We still weren’t sure why we needed the key. But we knew it was somehow all linked. As soon as Chloe had finished placing the rubies inside of it, we had been attacked. It was as if we had tripped some alarm.

  I have to admit that I had thought we were going to have found the entire kingdom in the jungle. Instead, we have this map and a key we have no idea what the use is for. I am disappointed. But eager to see what we will find at the next spot.

  The journey was slow going. We had found a trading caravan that could take us halfway there although we had to sleep in a wagon. I didn’t mind but I could tell that Chloe wasn’t used to it.

  Finally, we got to the end of the line. We are at a small village. ‘Village’ was being nice. The place had about four or five buildings. There was no wall around it to keep creatures out. It was cold here. The ocean was close by. I could smell salt in the air.

  “I should have brought a jacket.” Chloe remarked as we walked into the village.

  “Do you think they have an inn?” I wondered.

  “Maybe. I hope so. My back is aching from sleeping in that wagon.”

  A few people stopped to stare at us. At least no one ran away at the sight of us. As we realized there was no inn, not in a place this small, the doors to the largest house opened and a man hurried over to us.

  “Are you guests? I’m in charge here,” He held out his hand to Chloe, “My name is Bruce.”

  “Hi Bruce. I’m Chloe and this is Carl. We’re hoping there is a place we can sleep.”

  “You can come to my house. Come in, please. Wow, a creeper! I have heard rumors of someone like you before but I never thought to see one.”

  I was surprised someone this far out had heard about the Dragon Lord. But that worked better for me. I didn’t have to worry about scaring him. He led us into his house which had a fire roaring. We sat down close to it.

  “What brings you guys here?” Bruce asked us as he served us some tea.

  I glanced at Chloe before replying, “We heard there is a water temple near here and we just wanted to explore it.”

  “A water temple, really? In the ocean nearby? I don’t think you will be able to get to it.” Bruce said.

  “Why?” Chloe asked.

  “The ocean here has been frozen over for as long as I can remember. No matter what the weather is like, the ice doesn’t melt. It never goes away. It is thick ice too. We’ve tried getting through it before but it doesn’t seem to ever end. I think the entire ocean over here is…corrupted. Something is keeping it frozen. If there is really a water temple in the ocean, it could be the reason behind the frozen water.” Bruce explained.

  I thought this over. I had never heard of a water temple doing something like that. But this was all new to us. It could very well be sealed off with ice to keep people out.

  “So, no one has been able to get past the ice?” Chloe asked and Bruce nodded.

  She glanced at me. I knew why. She was thinking about how I had managed to open the area back in the jungle. She was thinking that I could do something similar. Could I?

  The rest of the day was spent eating dinner and then settling into our rooms for the night. I am looking forward to some sleep. Tomorrow, we can try to figure out the secret behind the ice.

  For now, I just want to sleep.

  Day 20

  I woke up a few hours later. There had been a noise that had woken me up. As I laid there, I wondered if I had imagined it.

  But then I heard it again. It sounded as if someone was trying to get into the house. I got out of bed and grabbed my new sword and peeked down the hallway. I didn’t see anything. I could hear Chloe snoring, of course, but after sleeping next to her in a wagon for a week, I had grown used to that.

  I hurried down the stairs when I heard the noise again. This time, I saw what it was: a skeleton. I rushed down the steps and swung my sword. I took the skeleton by surprise and it turned to ash in front of me.

  I didn’t get any chance to think about how a skeleton had gotten in here. Two more burst in through the front door, which had swung open, and ran towards me. Bruce came out of his bedroom, which was just off the living room, and saw what was going on.

  He ducked back into his room as I blocked a blow from one of the skeleton’s swords. He came back a second later with a bow, letting an arrow go. One of the skeletons turned to ash.

  But more were replacing them. It was as if there was an endless supply of skeletons. It forced me back and I ended up in Bruce’s room. He shut the door and locked it.

  “Where did they come from?” I asked.

  “We haven’t had a skeleton attack in over fifty years! They’re here because of you!” Bruce yelled at me.

  The skeletons were pounding against the door. I had no idea if they were here because of me or not – but either way, we had to get rid of them. Telling myself that I would fight with Bruce about who caused the attack later, I looked around.

  “We need to bar the door.” He said to me.

  “Chloe is still upstairs.”

  “She’ll hide!” Bruce exclaimed.

  He was about to start moving a bookshelf in front of the door when the skeletons went silent. A second later, someone was pounding on the door.

  “Carl, really? You can’t wake me up when we’re under attack?”

  Relieved, I opened the door to see Chloe standing there. She had taken care of the skeletons. With her arms crossed, she waited for me to explain. I told her what had happened. That was when Bruce pushed past me.

  “You both need to leave. If you’re bringing skeletons here, you can’t stay in town.”

  “What? We didn’t bring the skeletons here!” Chloe protested.

  “Well, we might have.” I said.

  She glared at me, “You’re not helping, Carl.”

  Bruce went on, “No skeletons here in over fifty years. Now, an attack! In my own house! You both need to leave!”

  “Right now?” Chloe protested, “There could be more of them!”

  “Better they go after you then! Out!”

  A few minutes later, we were both kicked out of Bruce’s house. Standing in the middle of town, with the moon shining down on us, I shivered. It was freakishly cold outside.

  Chloe threw her hands in the air, “Amazing. Now we are kicked out. I really enjoyed sleeping in that bed.”

  “He had a point though. Can you blame him? No skeleton attacks and then we get here and skeletons knock down his front door and come inside. Of course he is going to blame us. Come on, Chloe, it probably is because of us.”

  “Well, now what?” She asked me, rubbing her arms for warmth.

  I was going to reply when I heard it – skeletons. I could hear their bones clanking together as they came towards us. We both spun around to see three of them.

  “Why are they coming after us?” She asked me.

  I shook my head, “I have no idea. Maybe the key we brought with us is some sort of beacon for them to come attack us.”

  “Well, let’s get rid of them and then find a place to sleep.” She said.

  We took off, heading straight towards the skeletons. The f
irst skeleton raised its sword and swung. I managed to block it and kick its feet. It stumbled and Chloe finished it off. At the same time, the other two skeletons circled around us in an attempt to corner us.

  But we pressed our advantage and attacked. The skeletons turned to ash and the night went silent.

  “Do you think that’s the last of them?” Chloe asked.

  “No idea. Let’s hope so.”

  We trudged out of the village until we found a tree that offered a place to sleep. It was uncomfortable but we finally managed to drift off.

  In the morning, Chloe groaned, “Sleeping in trees suck. I want to go back to yell at Bruce.”

  “Better to just forget it. Come on, we should head down to the ocean.” I remarked.

  “Let’s at least go back and get food. They can’t kick us out for wanting to eat.”

  We went back to the village and ate breakfast. Chloe is taking forever to eat, ordering more food to cram into her mouth. She’s given me enough time to catch up in this journal. We are heading to the beach next. Let’s hope it goes smoothly.

  But it probably won’t, knowing our luck.
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