Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Two: Everything (Continued)
Previously: Gina and Zack arrived at the western coast of Frenga in search of the Questing Beast.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Thanks to the pearls Maerith and Shelcor had left them, Zack and Gina ate a lavish breakfast, served by the suddenly slavish innkeeper. He’d decided that they were the children of rich nobles, and repeatedly asked to meet “the father and mother of such delightful little pooties!” Pooties, according to popular Frengan sentiment, are pink-cheeked cloud shepherd babies. Zack resented the inaccuracy. Gina resented being called a baby.
They’d learned of a coach bound for Holos, the kingdom east of Frenga and the direction the sword wanted to go. Three hours would pass before the horses were changed and the coachman sobered up, so sister and brother sat opposite one another on a window seat overlooking the billowing green Kellish Way. They spoke of all that had happened, filling in details they hadn’t shared before.
“I’m scared out of my gourd, spoo,” Gina confessed. “I don’t want to die.”
“But Rhema said—”
“Rhema! Why should we trust her?”
“Because she forgave—”
“Well, she didn’t forgive me!”
“Maybe she did. Maybe you have to forgive—”
“If I just could get this stupid harness off!” Gina said, changing the subject. She tugged at the leather suspenders.
“You’ve already tried like a million times.”
“Well, what if I just refuse?” Tears of desperation welled up in her eyes. It was the first time she’d let Zack see her cry in years. “I mean, what if—”
“The sword’ll just drag you there anyway, and besides, Rhema said we’d find the Revealer when we kill the Questing Beast.”
“When I kill the Questing Beast! Which I won’t because it’ll kill me first!”
“It won’t!” Zack vowed. “I’ll die before I let that happen—I swear!”
Gina snuffled up a stray tear, then patted her brother’s knee. “Stop being all noble and mature or I’ll think someone stole my real brother!” She was only beginning to realize how profoundly Naimian had affected him.
Before they left, Gina asked if she could buy a large volume of Frengan history she’d spotted in a cob-webbed corner. The innkeeper insisted on making a gift of it. He also haberdashed her and her brother into costly louppweave traveling cloaks to replace their tattered hoodies. It was clear by now that the huge pearl they’d paid with—which the innkeeper kept fondling lustfully—was worth way more than they’d realized. They offered the coachman one of the smaller pearls, and asked him to take them “as far east as you go.”
“For this I’ll take you to all the way to Ongoltan,” he replied, “and dance the Dance of the Swirling Seers with a Shenzuni saber between my teeth!”
It would take eight days to reach the Holosian border, assuming the sword didn’t change its mind in the meantime. How long would they travel before they found the Beast? Fifteen minutes? Fifteen weeks?
Would they ever see home again?
Thoughts: The unexpected has a nasty habit of arriving unexpectedly.
To read The Wishing Map 110, click here!