Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Long Night (continued)
Previously: Gina’s Questing Beast had somehow turned into her beloved dragon pup.
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Gina’s fingers ached to rub Puff’s little horn nubs, to wrap her arms around his graceful neck. “Come on, Puffy! Use your wings!” She held the sword in one hand, and waved her other arm like a lame albatross.
Puff backed up and flared out his delicate wings. Gina was amazed at how large they’d become. “Come on, Puffy-bear!” The little dragon began galloping toward the river’s edge on his adorably oversized feet, and as he did he started to flap his wings. Just as he reached the water, he became airborne. He actually gained altitude as he soared out over the moving current—he was going to make it!
Gina’s sword suddenly jerked itself up over her head and began stabbing at the air! Rhema had said the sword would lead her to her true enemy, but… “No, Rhema! No freaking way! You might as well try and make me kill myself! He isn’t your stupid Questing Beast! You gave me a defective sword!” She tried with all her might to pull the sword back to her side, but it had found its target, or rather it thought it had—in all its brainless, barbaric, steely stupidity—and it would not be dissuaded. “No! Puff isn’t my enemy!”
“Gina, it’s not him!” said a familiar voice.
“It’s not Puff!” her brother shouted.
“What? Don’t be ridic…” Yet even as she watched, Puff began to change. He was on the ground now, directly in front of her, only it was no longer him. His wings had disappeared. He—it—had turned back into the hideous Beast she’d seen on the other side of the river! Its purple platelets were throbbing like diseased organs, oozing blood-streaked pus; its odor was worse than a hundred maggot-invested cadavers. It was everything Gina could do to keep from vomiting. Zack was right: the creature had never been Puff to begin with!
She held her breath and lifted the sword over her head. Just as she was about to strike, she looked at the gleaming patch between the Beast’s eyes, and suddenly realized, It’s the amarrildin helmet (or at least a part of it), the Object that will save everyone! As if it were a magnet and her fingers metal, Gina found herself reaching toward the patch with her left hand while her right hand restrained the sword. As she stretched forward, she began to feel a stinging sensation in her torso and neck. She kept her focus on the object, but the stinging increased. It was beginning to hurt. A lot.
The glistening object began to change form. It is the golden helmet! The pain and suction were excruciating, but it would all be worth it if she could just extract it from the Beast!
“Gina! No! It’s not what you think it is. I saw this in my dream!”
She could hear violent kicking. What is that stupid Zack doing now? The further she strained to touch the thing, the further away the helmet seemed to be, and the more entangled she felt. The pain was almost unbearable, and the stench, the unyielding stench of death, was all around her, yet she could not stop reaching.
“Rhema,” she whispered, “help me!”
Thoughts: Desire is a flame that can light a lantern or burn down a house.
To read The Wishing Map 126 click here!