The next morning, Neytiri awoke to find Jay rummaging through his side table.
“What time is it?” she asked, rubbing her eyes.
“Dawn,” he said in a tight voice.
She sat up on her bed and looked at him. “What’s wrong? What are you trying so hard to find?” Jay sighed and sat back on his bed.
“I had this locket thatGriffingave me that used to belong to my mother. And now I…I can’t find it.” He looked so heartbroken Neytiri wanted to go over and hug him.
“Where was the last place you had it?” she asked instead, standing up and walking over to his drawer. She dumped out all of the contents and began going through them.
“I can’t even remember. I know I was wearing it when we got to the school. Past that, I have no idea where it went.” Jay sat down on the floor with her and began going through the contents of his drawer with her.
“Wowza, what’s going on here?”Griffinentered the tent holding some papers and nearly tripped over a quiver of arrows Neytiri had through by the entrance to the tent when she had gone to bed the night before.
“Sorry about that, Mother,” she muttered.
“That’s fine. Anyways, I’ve got the locations for the crests you have to find.”Griffinhanded the pages to Neytiri and she looked them over.
“Are you serious?” she exclaimed.
“What?” Jay asked, taking the pages from here. “Oh my Shadows!”
Neytiri looked at her mother. “We have to travel all over Kataka to get to those places!”
Griffin’s sharp blue eyes looked back calmly. “When did anyone say it was going to be easy?”
Neytiri sighed. “Still, you’d think if there was a prophecy the fates would make things easier to make sure the prophecy came true.”
Griffinsmiled. “If only.”
“Oh, Mother, you wouldn’t mind if we took Sarabi, Sarafina, and Mufasa with us, would you?”
“They are your creatures; I have no right to stop you from taking them. In fact, they’ll be good in defending you while you are out there.”Griffinsmiled and left the tent.
“So, lion and cheetahs, check, bows and arrows, check, tent, check,” Neytiri went through her mental list out loud.
“Locket, not check,” Jay muttered.
“Hey, you looking for this?” Taki was standing in the entrance of the tent holding a chain.
“That’s my locket!” Jay exclaimed, grabbing the chain from his apprentice.
“Sorry, I took it yesterday when you weren’t looking, but since you’re leaving I didn’t think it’d be nice to keep it.” Taki winked and dashed out of the tent before Jay could go after her.
“Smart move,” Neytiri muttered about her quick departure. “Well, check on that now. What else do we need?”
Jay strapped his twin dagger to his belt. He picked up the tantowood bow Zarina had given him. Though they had never gotten to go out to train together, Jay had been training on his own and could now easily hit a moving target from any distance. He strapped the quiver of arrows to his back and turned to Neytiri, who was strapping on her own quiver. She held her bow and tested the string. As she positioned herself with the bow, Jay couldn’t help comparing her to images of the Greek goddess, Artemis, he had seen in mortal books.
“Ready to go?” Neytiri asked, standing straight and strapping the bow to her quiver of arrows. Jay nodded and followed her out of the tent.
OutsideGriffinwas organizing Hunters into groups for training. Jay and Neytiri walked past them to the big cats and wolves at the back of the floor. Neytiri called Sarabi and Sarafina to her and Mufasa followed them. Stormbringer,Griffin’s pure white wolf, lifted her head and watched them. As they headed for the large purple door Jay caught sight of Drey standing beside it with his arms crossed. He smiled as they approached.
“Good luck, kiddos.” Neytiri scowled and Jay tried a faint smile. Drey frowned at them as they stepped through the doorway. Rhea was waiting on the other side.
“Ready to head out? Baramore says we should already have left…” Rhea led them to the front entrance.
The three of them stood in the doorway looking out at the snowy gardens. Jay stood between the two girls and he found his hands holding both of theirs.
“We can do this, together,” Neytiri assured them. “Come on, let’s get going.” Jay could already tell she would be leading this mission. “We have to head throughSekaiForestforLakanaLakefirst. From there we’ll head through theKatakanMountainsand then north to the Misai Glaciers. From there we can head straight south back to theSekaiForest. How does that sound?”
“Sounds like you really thought this through,” Rhea muttered.
“It sounds perfect,” Jay told her.
“Alright, let’s get going then, shall we?” She led the way out. Her twin cheetahs followed her. Jay followed closely with Rhea and Mufasa.
“Why are we taking the animals?” Rhea inquired, eyeing Mufasa.
Mufasa snarled. “Don’t call them animals,” Jay told her.
“Because we need them as protection,” Neytiri said from up ahead without turning around.
As they left the school grounds behind, Jay felt they were leaving behind civilization and protection. From now on the three of them, plus the three cats, were on their own. There would no longer beGriffinor Berret or any friends to look out for them. They were completely alone.