The Keys of Time

John and friends set out to save humanity from itself, with the help of some powerful 'friends' in high places. And how does one go about fixing all the death and destruction that is slowly tearing apart the planet? By turning back time, of course.

                                                  Part One

                                               January Ice

 

 

  It was cold and barren. We could hardly walk against the howling winds. I worried over walking through the storm. It was impossible to see the ice beneath our feet. It was too dangerous. At any moment one of us could be unfortunate enough to fall through thin ice. The sensible thing to do would have been to set up camp and wait out the storm. But Darren insisted we keep going. I don’t know why the others listened to him. Darren was extremely reckless. It wouldn’t be surprising if he got us killed out here. The others had been siding with me, but he lured them away with the promise of adventure. As annoying as it was, Darren was a natural leader. Even though I’m the sensible one.

  I stumbled along behind the others. I doubted they would notice if I stopped and set up camp. I wouldn’t do that though. The smart thing to do was to stick together. Not many worse things than being stuck alone in the arctic.

  I mentally pondered why I’d agreed to go on this trip in the first place. When Darren first suggested a hike across the arctic, it had sounded like a lot of fun. It was a big change from my normally dull life. Of course, there was also the legend of the Ice Queen.

  Ever since I could remember, Grandpa had been telling me stories about the Ice Queen. Centuries ago, a beautiful lady had set out on an exploration with her brother and cousin to the frigid north. They were trying to recover their father’s ship, which had been lost years before. The brother went to discover the strange land and learn its history. The cousin searched for the supposed treasure hidden in the haul of the ship. And the lady’s goal was to find her father, alive and well. They searched for a long time. Finally, they found the ship. It was laden in gold, but the lady’s father was a frozen statue, along with the rest of the crew. Depressed, she stole to the lower decks and cried her eyes out. In his haste to remove the gold, the cousin accidentally knocked over a barrel of gun powder. The ship exploded, with the lady and her cousin still inside. The brother, who had been studying a map outside, barely had time to think before a piece of wood shot out and left a large gash in his stomach. 

  For days the brother laid there, bleeding to death. He knew his family would have died instantly. Just as he was about to die, a figure appeared. It was his sister, but she was different. Her perfect golden locks had turned straight and silver. Her soft brown eyes were a silvery blue. Her skin was deathly pale, and her lips were the colour of a cloudless sky. She seemed frozen, but she was filled with life and light. His sister smiled at him. Then she reached down and touched his wound. It healed immediately. Her brother tried to thank her, but she disappeared into nothing. The brother never saw her again.

  But others had. Since then, many people have talked about the lady. They described how they had been on the brink of death when a beautiful silver lady appeared and saved their lives. Though no one has ever been able to prove her existence, the legend of the Ice Queen was born.

  Imagine getting to meet her. It was my biggest dream. You could call it a pretty lame dream, but it’s my dream all the same. Most people don’t believe in the Ice Queen. I’m not one of them.

  I was certain the figure in front of me was Alanna. No one else could be that tiny. But that was all I could see. She must have been only ten feet in front of me, but the snow made it impossible to determine anymore than her shape.

 I  focused on Alanna. She was the only thing holding me to reality. Without her, I might forget that a world outside this one existed. My eyes bored into her back, so intently I thought she could feel it. Then she vanished.

  I couldn’t believe it. I whipped my head around, frantically searching. How could she have disappeared so suddenly? I was alone now. I called out to her. She didn’t respond. I started to get worried. What could have happened to her? It didn’t make sense. People didn’t just mysteriously turn into air.

  Then I heard it. It was barely audible over the fierce wind. But it was there all the same. If I listened hard enough, I could hear the faint sound of crashing waves.

  I ran without thinking. I yelled out for her, knowing there was no way she could hear me. As I got closer, I saw it. A small hole in the ice, just big enough for a child or small adult to fit through.

  “Help! Help!” I desperately hoped the others were close enough to hear me. Darren was the one with the radio. If I couldn’t contact the nearest town to save Alanna, she was doomed.

  In the back of my mind, I knew no one would arrive in time to save her. I tried to push the thought away. It was no use. Visions of her bloated corpse sprang in front of my eyes. The horror of it had me shaking.

  I had a moments notice. Long enough to know what was happening, but not long enough to move away. There was a loud crack and a fissure grew beneath my feet. I took a deep breath and prepared for the inevitable.

  The fissure split open as the ice gave way. I plunged into the dark waters. The cold hit me like a million knife points piercing every inch of my body. I gasped in pain. Ice water surged in to my throat and filled my lungs. I couldn’t breathe. I was drowning. Oh God, I was drowning! I didn’t know which way was up. Everything was black. Clumsily, I paddled and kicked but found noting more than water. My eyes started to fade out. I felt very sleepy. I just wanted to take a nap. Why not take a nap in the peaceful ocean? It was so relaxing.

  Something silver sprang before me. The shape of it twisted and faded until I was able to focus enough to see a face. The most beautiful face I’d ever seen.

  She stared at me with silvery-blue eyes. Her glittering hair reached out and caressed my face. Her perfect features were young, but incredibly old at the same time. I knew there was something special about this girl. Something I was supposed to remember. Oh, well. If this is heaven, it’s a little cold for my taste, but at least the company’s nice.

  Sleep. Yes. Sleep. I didn’t want to close my eyes on the beautiful stranger, but I was too tired. I gave into sleep, knowing that the lady would still be there when I woke up.

  Then, the Arctic Ocean was replaced with an even darker black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Forever Frozen

 “Wake, young one.” I opened my eyes to a strange sight. I was standing in a world of blue. And only blue. Different shades of blue morphed and separated in an odd but fantastic way. The lady from the water stood in front of me. I could see her whole profile now

  Her hair was shorter than I originally thought, only going past her shoulders, and had a tint of light blue in the silver. She wore a flowing dress that was coloured the same way as her hair. Clear crystals hung from her ears and the chain around her neck.  If I had to guess, I would have said she was about twenty years old. She was smiling, but there was something sad about it.

  “Welcome to my realm, child.” Her voice was crystal, like her jewelry. It was also very mature, more mature than her appearance. She may have looked about twenty, but she was much, much older than that.

  “Where am I?” I asked.

  “You are in the realm of ice,” she replied, “the land of never changing. You are blessed. No mortal has ever before visited this place. You are the first, and only.”

   I peered at her. She didn’t seem dangerous. The again, looks can be deceiving. Although, I had a feeling I knew who she was.

  “You’re the Ice Queen, right?”

  She let out a tinkling laugh. “You may know me as that. But I assure you, it was mortals who created that name for me. My true name is January.”

  “You mean like the month?”

  Her smile touched her eyes. “Exactly.”

  I stood there in silence. I didn’t know what to say. There were too many questions. I’d finally met the Ice Queen, er, January. She truly was real, she really did exist. Or did she?

  “Is this a dream?” It was the most basic question. I should have asked it first, before getting my hopes up.

  Her expression grew sad and I regretted asking that question.

  “In many ways, this is. But in many ways, it is not. Are we only inside your mind right now? Yes. The gateway to my realm is through the mind. Am I just part of your dream? I would like to say yes. But that would be a lie. And the time for secrets and lies are over.”

  “Wh-What do you mean?’

  “It is time for you to learn the truth. I really would rather not do this, but I see no other way. It has to be done.”

  “So, you’ll tell me your secret?”

  “Yes, but not here. Back in the mortal realm.”

  “B-But how do I get back? I don’t know how.” The realization crashed down on me.

  “You know the way. This is your mind, remember? All you have to do is wake up.”

  She vanished, leaving me alone in the blue universe. I willed myself to wake, to open my eyes and be home again.

 

 

 

 

 

 Blue Summer

   The first thing I saw stole my breath away. It was Alanna, healthy and vibrant. She smiled, and my heart raced.

  She was clothed in a silver dress that went down to her knees. On her feet were glass slippers, identical to the ones in Disney’s Cinderella.  She was wearing a sapphire tiara on her dark head. Alanna was sitting on a slab of ice with white fur draped over it. She looked like a little girl at Disneyland, and not like she’d just drowned.

  “Dude, you’re awake! Scared the hell out of me, you idiot. You’re gonna pay for it.” Darren tackled me. I didn’t mind. I’d never been happier to see him. We wrestled for a few minutes until I had him pinned. Voices were laughing nearby. After making him admit defeat, I got off and helped him up. We were both laughing too.

  I looked around to see my friends staring at me with joy. Abby was jumping up and down. Her thick blonde hair was all over the place. She always reminded me of an overactive puppy. Beside her, Will smirked. He acted cool no matter what. The twins, Davie and Dani, were slightly more composed than Abby, but excitement was plain on their faces. For one crazy second, I thought the terrible arctic disaster had never happened. I thought we were all back home, laughing and hanging out at Darren’s house, like we do almost everyday. Then I noticed what they were wearing

  Everyone was dressed in silver. The girls wore the same thing as Alanna, although neither of them had a tiara. The boys were wearing silver pants and white t-shirts. I looked down and saw that I was wearing them as well.

  “What the-”

  “I don’t know if hell is the right word. It’s much too perfect,” Will interrupted. I stared at him in shock.

  “What do you mean this place is perfect? We look like a freakin’ cult!”

  “Take a look around John, and tell me this place isn’t out of a fairy tale.”

  Reluctantly, I did what he asked. And stopped breathing. I bet I looked like a total idiot, with my mouth hanging open and my eyes bulging out of my head. Darren laughed.

  “Yeah, we did that too. Kind of a lot to take in, isn’t it?”

  I wasn’t listening. I’d gone into shock.

  All could think was it’s so bright. Every surface was either sky blue, silver, white, or clear. Thousands of clear crystals dangled from the ceilings and walls. The walls, ceiling, and floor were all made of ice. It caught every possible angle of my reflection. There were ice beds, ice chairs, and an ice table, all with white fur draped over them.

  There were many stranger things though. There were no windows or doors to be seen, and there were no light bulbs, and yet, the room was lit up. Several crystals floated in midair, seemingly attached to nothing. Strangest of all, even though the floor was ice and I was bare foot, I wasn’t cold. In fact, I was very warm.

  “What-Where are we?”

  It was Darren who answered. “We don’t know. We just sleep here and have fun. You know what’s really cool? If you want something, all you have to do is think it and it will come! Watch!”

  Darren closed his eyes. Suddenly, a piece of triple chocolate cake appeared in his hands. He didn’t even bother conjuring a fork. He just dug right in.

  “Ugh, Pig.” Alanna muttered.

  “And can you ask it for the way out?’

  Darren was busy stuffing his face, so Will filled me in. “Funny, that’s the one thing it won’t give. Believe me, I’ve tried. Whoever brought us here didn’t want us getting out.”

  “And how did we get here anyway?”

  “I don’t know how you and Alanna got here. You were both unconscious when we arrived. All I remember is turning around to see if you guys were following, and poof, just like that! Here we are, dressed like this and trapped in some weird ice hall. I’ll admit there was a lot of screaming. That’s what woke Alanna up. But you, you were like the living dead. Nothing we tried would wake you up. We thought you might be asleep forever. Thank God you’re not. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell your mom.” He grinned.

  “How long was I asleep?”

  “I think it’s been about a week.”

  A week! I’d been unconscious for an entire week! Oh, this was bad. Very bad. Our parents were expecting us to radio them from a small town three days ago. They were probably calling the police and sending out a search party to look for seven teenagers lost in the far north. It would be all over the news. Not only would our parents never let us do anything by ourselves again, but we would be hounded by the media every second of the day. If we ever made it back home.

  “Look, I know this place may seem wonderful, but we have to get out of here. We don’t know what’s going on, and it’s most likely dangerous.”

  “Yeah,” Darren cut in, “We might be next on the dinner menu in some northern cannibal village.”

   “Hmm. You don’t have to worry about dinner. Cannibals disgust me. Although it would be wise to listen to your friend about the danger. I can guarantee that you are not safe. Well, outside these walls anyway. And even they won’t be safe for much longer.”

  I knew that voice. It didn’t help keeping me calm. My heart missed a beat.

  January was standing before us. I’d thought she’d just been a dream. I wondered if only I could see her. No, the others could see her too. None of them seemed able to move, let alone talk.

  “January?” I asked hesitantly. I still wasn’t sure I believed my eyes.

  She smiled that same sad smile she had in my dream. “Yes, young one. I’m glad you remember me. This will make things much easier.”

  The others’ heads whipped around to me. Obviously, I must have met her in order to remember her. I ignored them the best I could. There were more important things to deal with right now.

  “Um, yeah, you said you were going to tell me the truth. What truth?”

 She didn’t answer me. Instead, she turned around and walked through the wall. No wait, there was a tunnel. A tunnel that would not be seen if covered with a thin layer of ice.

 She hadn’t specifically told me what to do, but the intention was clear. What about my friends? I couldn’t leave them here. As far as I could tell, she hadn’t visited their dreams. Why me? What did she want?

  Bring your friends. There is only one way to find the answers you seek. It was disturbing that she could read my mind. I would have to be careful with my thoughts.

  As much as it pained me to admit, she was right. There was only one way to go. Even if it was leading us out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  “Come on guys, let’s go.”

  I started to walk towards the tunnel. I was stopped as something gripped my arm.

  “What are you doing?” Darren hissed, “This is exactly what she wants you to do!”

  “Do you know any other way out?” I asked. It infuriated him, but he couldn’t argue with logic. It wasn’t like Darren to be the sensible one. He must have been really scared.

  “Fine we’ll go, but we have to stick together no matter what that psycho’s got planned.”

  “Of course.”

  Darren sighed. I wanted to remind him that two minutes ago he’d thought this place was wonderful, but it didn’t feel like a good idea.

  “Alright. Another adventure around the corner. This ought to be interesting.” Alanna sounded braver than I felt. My friends nodded in sync, and as one, we left paradise behind and entered the unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Mirror

  The tunnel was barely a tunnel at all. From the outside it seemed to stretch on forever. On the inside, it was like walking through a doorway. What lay on the other side was even more shocking.

  The room looked a lot like a laboratory, except made of ice. A large table was cluttered with tiny vials and multicoloured chemicals. Around the outer walls were ten columns. Each one had something living inside it. Some things were recognizable, like the baby beluga whale. Some things were strange, such as birds with razors for wings and fish with feathers poking out the top of their heads. Others were more humanoid. One looked like a half-man, half-polar bear. Another was a woman with fish scales on her legs and hands. They were horrible to look at. I wanted to be sick.

  Weirdest of all, even though it’s not weird but finding it in this place is, was a computer. The behemoth stretched from floor to ceiling. There had to be at least a dozen screens and three keyboards. I couldn’t understand anything displayed on it. I doubt Einstein would be able to figure it out.

  January was hunched over, typing something too fast to see. When we walked in, she looked up at us. She was happy, but she didn’t seem surprised. I guess fortune telling comes with the mind reading.

  Her lip twitched at my little joke. She finished typing and the message on the center most screen disappeared. Then she turned to us.

  “Sorry about that. My sisters want to have a get together. April can really talk, that’s for sure.” The statement was too normal. It didn’t fit with how I saw her. She didn’t seem capable of normal.

  “It’s okay.” I mumbled.

  “How rude of me! Would you like to sit? How about some refreshments?”

  Darren wanted that very much. But this time, I was taking charge.

  “We didn’t follow you for a tea party. I want to know what’s going on. Now.”

  She sighed. “Very well. But before I explain I need you to do something. I need you to make a decision. All of you.”

  I was instantly wary. “And what decision is that?”

  January was very serious. “You can go home right now, live your lives and forget this ever happened. You won’t remember me, this place or anything since I brought you here.”

  My friends started whisperingly excitedly. However, I wanted to go home badly, but I needed to know the other choice.

  “Or?’ I prompted.

  “Or,” she said, “I can tell you everything you want to know. I can tell you the answers to some of life’s greatest mysteries. It is knowledge that the greatest of powers would die to get their hands on. But you must do something for me in exchange. It is dangerous, and it could possibly prove fatal. What is your choice? You must all decide before I go any further.”

  It was a hard decision. I could tell the others had set their minds on option one. They didn’t even care if they were given option two. But I did. I wanted to go home and forget this ever happened. I really did. But these last few weeks had changed me. Knowledge that no other human being has ever possessed was extremely tempting. And I wasn’t scared of the return favor. I got a thrill out of the thought of doing something dangerous. I vaguely remembered when I had been known as the teenager with his head screwed on straight. That guy was gone. Or at least, hidden away where no on can see him.

  “I’m staying.” I tried to make my voice as loud as possible. The room was silent. It seemed to be holding it’s breath. I said it again.

  “I’m staying.” My friends didn’t know what to make of that. January was expressionless. For the first time she was as cold as her kingdom. Not angry, but not that happy either. Maybe she’d been secretly hoping I wouldn’t accept.

  If she didn’t like the idea, she didn’t say anything. My friends were a bit more vocal. Alanna was the one to break the silence. The others followed after her.

   “Are you serious? You’re making the biggest mistake-”

   “What? Come on, you can’t. We need-”

  “Boys. Always trying to act so tough-”

  “Hey, if you don’t make it back alive can I have your car-”

  “Hell no. Sally would kill me-”

  “Well if you’re staying,” said Darren, “then so am I.”

  “No! Darren, you don’t have to do this for me!” I was horrified that he would even suggest such a thing. I would not put my best friend in the line of fire.

  “Uh, yeah, I do. You think I’m gonna let you go on an awesome adventure without me?  When pigs fly. Besides, someone’s gonna have to be there to save your sorry butt.”

  “But-”

  “Listen, we’re in this together. I don’t back out on a friend, no matter how much of an ass they’re being. I’m not gonna bail out on you. You can’t do it alone. I think this whole plan is insane, but if it’s what you want to do then I’ll go for it. I’ll stick with you to the end. Haven’t I always?”

  I wanted to cry. I never knew Darren could be so deep. It was a whole other side to him. I was touched.

  “We’re in too,” said Davie

  “Me too,” shouted Abby.

  “You know I’m game,” Alanna said.

  “Don’t forget about me,” Will added.

  All my friends stared at me with excitement on their faces. I’d only planned on staying by myself, but it would be nice to have them around.

  “Okay,” I said to them with a nod. Then I turned to January, “So, what can you tell us?”

  She grinned. “You might want to sit down. It’s a long story.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Solstice

   “Eons ago, two beings lived on this planet. Mother Nature and Father Time. They had twelve daughters. Myself, the oldest, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December. The Earth year was divided into twelve, and each daughter got rule over one of the pieces, or ‘months’ as they are now called. The months were named after the daughter that ruled them. As the eldest daughter, I received the first month. For one month every year, my element is the dominant element. Ice. It works the same with my sisters. Each of us gets a turn to change the world. To shape it and make it the perfect place to support life.”

  “Things were working well, until humans became too powerful. They started creating the seasons instead of us. I have been hit dreadfully by their destruction. My Kingdom in the coldest regions on Earth is rapidly evaporating. Soon I will have nothing left in this world. I will be forced to flee to the realm of ice and my powers will no longer be able to help. If something is not done soon, this world will destroy itself.”

  “This is where you come in. I am unable to leave my kingdom, now that I am needed to help it survive. Centuries ago, I could have, but not now. Most of my sisters can’t either. And those who can are the ones who don’t really care. But you can leave this land. And you do care. Which is why I need you to help save this beautiful planet.”

  “I know I’m asking for a lot, but you must. I fear we do not have much time left. I cannot afford to wait for another to get lost up here. But still I left you with a choice, because no one should be forced to do this against their will.”

  “Each sister has a special item. It is called a key. If all the keys are brought together, it can open the Gate of Time and return the world to its former glory. What you must do is find all of my sisters and get their key from them. The keys can only be collected in the birth order of their holder. When you have them, use the keys to open the Gate of Time. Do you think you can handle this?”

  We were speechless. What were we supposed to do? We came to the arctic expecting a fun adventure, and end up with a mission to save the world! What do we look like, superheroes? Well, we’re not. We’re seven irresponsible teenagers enjoying a last summer vacation before heading off to college. This is the kind of stuff you find in movies and comic books, not real life! Oh damn, what had we gotten ourselves into?

 “I know this is hard for you, but you must. We’re running out of options. We are at the point where we must turn to the destroyers to stop the destruction. I will help as much as I can. But I can’t do it without you.”

  Was there really any choice? It sounded like this was some T.V. show prank, but I knew it wasn’t. If your options were save the planet or sit back and wait to die, what would you do?

  “You said this mission could be fatal. We’re not gonna die or anything, are we?” Darren was thinking along the same lines as me. He knew what had to be done. Still, I was a little worried about the whole ‘fatal’ thing as well.

  I was surprised and annoyed to see January holding back laughter.  I didn’t find anything funny about the situation. “Don’t worry. I just meant that some of my sisters are a little, well, hard to get along with. They probably wouldn’t kill you. Just turn you into donkeys and make everything you touch turn to fesses and things like that. Otherwise, you’re fairly safe.”

  Safe! That wasn’t safe! I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life as a donkey! Was she insane?

  “Insanity is born from genius. Genius is born from experience. I have over a thousand millennia of experience. Do not assume that I don’t understand those risks. But if you have lived as long as I have, you see worse things than being transformed into a donkey.”

 She reminded me of my mom in that instant. It was eerie. Although, January had a few more years than Mom did on her side.

  “I have many more years than your mother.”

  Ugh. The mind-reading thing was getting really irritating. Why couldn’t she pick at somebody else’s thoughts?

  “I can’t”

  “What?”

  “I can’t see what you’re friends are thinking. Only you.”

  Oh. Why? I didn’t bother with forming my thoughts into words.

  “It is because I entered your mind in its weakest state. Because we were in my realm, while still in your mind, it created a connection to both of our minds.”

  Can I hear what you’re thinking?

  “You could, if you were immortal.” She tried to hide it, but I could hear the smugness in her voice.

  I really wanted to get off this topic. I tried to bring up an earlier thought.

  “Where are your sisters, anyway?” I asked.

  January shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I have already said too much. I can not tell you any more. For now, you must trust in the knowledge I have given you.” I tried to say something, but her looked silenced the words on my lips. Then, in a move so graceful it hurt to watch, she grabbed her right ear and pulled the crystal earring out. She gazed at it with a certain fondness before handing it to a very surprised teenager.

  “This is my key,” she explained, “She is called Sapientia. Or Wisdom. She will be useful to you on your journey.”

  “What does it do? Besides help open the Gate of Time?” I asked.

  “That is an excellent question. If she is the beginning, the first key, what do you think she does?”

  I had to think about it for a second. What would be useful at the beginning of a journey? Especially a journey that involves finding things.

  “Uh… She’s a tracker, right? She’ll help us find the other keys?”

  January just smiled. “I knew I could count on you to figure it out. And now, the next step will be discovering how to use her. But first, you must all leave. Your families must be awfully worried by now, and you have a mission to start. The dawning of tomorrow can only come after the nightfall of today. Good luck. I will be cheering for you.”

  Suddenly, the area around us glowed a bright silver. My friends and I gasped in startled amazement. January and the ice world started to fade from view. She wore an expression of a thousand emotions as she waved goodbye. She must be so lonely; being alone in her solitary ice kingdom. I wished I could have taken her with us. But I couldn’t. She had to stay in her domain. The ice was too weak for her to leave.

 Just as she was about to disappear completely (or maybe it was us disappearing) we were forcefully dragged back. Needless to say, the landing hurt my backside. I was going to feel that in the morning

  “Sorry. I almost forgot. There is one more thing I can help you with. My advice is that you make a quick stop before heading to February. My sister June would be more than happy to help with your adventure.”

  “How do you know that?” Abby asked.

   January grinned slyly. It was the only thing I’d seen to make her look her age. “Oh, trust me. I know June. She will not be able to say no.” January actually snickered. It was kind of scary.

  “And where will we find her?” Will asked, cool as ever.

  “Hm. June likes to dwell in areas where there is a lot of life. You’ll most likely find her kingdom in a big city.”

  “New York,” muttered Alanna under her breath. I had to agree with her. New York was probably our best bet. That or Tokyo, but I didn’t think we had enough money to go to Japan.

  “Well, I really must send you off this time. Once again, farewell, and good luck.”

  “Wait!” I shouted as the silver light began to envelope us again. “I just have to know. I was always told stories about a girl that had died in an explosion up here. She was supposed to be the Ice Queen, but obviously that’s not the case. I just want to know if it really happened.”

  “Ah, you mean Annie,” she said thoughtfully, “Such a sweet girl. Too bad about her rotten luck. Getting stuck up here with those two morons. I swear, those boys would have lost their feet if they weren’t attached to their ankles. Never seen a pair with such a bad sense of direction. And that idiot cousin of hers, almost getting her blown up! Honestly, people are so stupid sometimes.” She shook her head.

  “Hold on, you said she was almost blown up. Does that mean she survived?”

  “Oh yes, she survived, and lived a good long life too. I brought her here just like you kids. Only difference was, she didn’t want to leave. It was kind of nice having the company for a while. She died long before your time. Still, I miss her sometimes. Anyway, that’s ancient history. Over and done with. Now it’s you guys I’m counting on. So go out there and save the world, for crying out loud!”

  Before I could say anything else, the silver light engulfed us. January, the Ice Kingdom, the lab vanished. We were sent into a whirlwind of confusion. Where would we end up? How could January possibly know where we live?

  Our meeting seemed but a distant memory. The only proof I had of it ever happening was the small crystal earring wrapped tightly in my fist. Sapientia. One down, eleven to go.

The End

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