Young Adult Fiction posted September 26, 2015 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 

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Every game has a twist

A chapter in the book A Copper Coin

Taking the plunge

by Silence_is_golden233

The stale tang of sea water in the air made Skye wrinkle her nose, the scent had always reminded her of dead sea creatures. The faint scrape of Noah's boots on stone made her sigh in relief, though his warning caught her attention and she tried to look down. The ladder it seemed, was taking her straight down an old blow hole. She could see a ring of black a little bit further down before the shaft of the blow hole widened out.

"Careful, the floor is slippery at first...but nature provides indeed." he called up softly, her eyes adjusting as she climbed down below the lip of the shaft. She breathed in sharply as the walls of the cavern glowed and pulsed with aquamarine light.

"Glow worms?" she whispered, touching down gingerly on the slimy underground tunnel floor. It was several feet wide with slime strings from the glow worms hanging from the ceiling like silvery crystals on chains, some had even joined and become miniature pillars of goo. The tunnel definitely sloped gradually, the water on the floor rising as it went down. They began walking, picking their way between the glow worms' artwork so as to not ruin it too much. The light from these little creatures bouncing off the walls and the water to give off enough light to even see where the tunnel took a right turn towards the ocean.

A creature that looked like a cross between a spider and a centipede galloped across the floor in pursuit of a large cockroach and Skye gave it a wide berth. She reached back and Noah gripped her hand in his, a faint smile coming to her lips as his warmth reassured her. It took them several minutes of concentrated silence to even move a few feet from their starting point. Their boots created soft splashing sounds as they continued, the silvery strands sticking to their clothing and hair upon occasion. The dark haired girl stared up at the glittering strings and wondered for a moment if anyone else would find these creatures as fascinating as she and Noah did. They could glow for goodness sake! Humans hadn't even changed to be able to do that, all they had going for them was their brain power. Though in some humans there was more air or sawdust between their ears than brain matter.

Her inner musings halted as she peeked around the corner and stopped short. Noah bumped into her and grumbled until he peeked around above her scruffy head. Now they knew what the narrowing was, the tunnel shrank into something that looked like only two men could wriggle into and pass through. It was low to the ground and almost entirely full of water.

"You can swim....right?" she asked, half-turning to make sure and all she got was a scoffing sound and an arched eyebrow in response.

"I work on merchant ships and you're asking me if I can swim," Noah faked a dramatic sigh and she frowned, causing him to take her query more seriously, "don't worry Skye...I can swim."

The young woman nodded curtly and continued to pull him towards the narrowing. She picked up a small stone and dropped it into the water, only for the water to glow brightly where she had dropped it in and again where it had landed. She'd heard Madam Ghut talk about this was another type of glowing creature but very very small. All you had to do was touch them and they would light up. It was a blessing really as they would have had to swim through the tunnel blind, which was dangerous considering that they didn't even know if it split off or not later on...or how long they needed to hold their breath.

"Which one of us is the stronger swimmer?" he asked after a moment and she looked at him for a moment.

"I won the Sea Race three years in a row...but you are more likely to be in better physical condition." Skye mused softly, her voice echoing in the cavern as Noah shook his head slightly.

"I might be in better physical condition but you are the faster swimmer, whomever is quicker should go first and then come back. It tells us how long to hold our breath for and what's on the other side." he responded, causing her to nod and let go of his hand. She embraced him tightly and rested her head against his chest, long enough to hear how fast his heartbeat was.

She disliked worrying him but she was as apprehensive as he....she couldn't imagine what would happen next if she didn't come back. No, she would come back, otherwise why would Madam Ghut send them down here if it was impossible? She crouched beside the water and he pulled her up, hugging her swiftly and lifting her off the ground in order to have her as close as could be.

"You must come must." he murmured into her hair before letting her go and standing beside the water nervously.

She took that as her cue to get into the water, sitting on the edge of the waterline. Skye braced her hands on the lip of the narrowing and lowered herself into the pool of water, gasping as the cold seeped through her clothes and nestled in her bones. She took in as deep of a breath as she could and submerged herself, grabbing the stone from the bottom and dragging it along, lighting up the floor of the waterway. She kicked strongly and reached forward, placing the rock in front of her as she moved through the water. It was painful despite the rock being smooth, the water was causing her fingers to move slower and slower.

Yet there seemed to be a very faint current pushing her forward, just enough to help give her renewed energy. In a way if the water had been warm she would have enjoyed the light green glow coming from where the rock touched the floor of the flooded tunnel. But she was running out of air and she didn't know how long it would take to get through. Finally she saw a silvery disc coming closer, indicating the end to her swimming. Her lungs were starting to scream and she couldn't grab onto the smooth walls of the narrowing. But she gave one last kick, reaching up to feel and make sure that the silvery reflective disc was indeed an exit.

Her heart jumped as half of her hand passed through the water and hit no obstacles. She realised the tunnel turned up at the end as she touched the rock to something in front of her. It lit up and she slid it both left and right, the light line making her smile triumphantly in the glow. This meant she could come up relatively quietly and not alert anything to her presence. She swam to the surface and broke through it, letting out her breath of air in a quiet rush. She panted softly and slicked her hair back from her face, this cavern was far from what she had expected.

The dark haired girl took in another deep breath and sank back down into the cold water, kicking off the side as hard as she could. She swam as efficiently as possible, knowing now that there was a small off shoot from the major tunnel but it was only wide enough for the skinniest of children to go through. Despite the slight current pushing against her, she was back on Noah's side of the narrowing within a minute or two. The moment her head broke the surface she heard him let out a soft cry of relief.

"What's it like?" he questioned and she clambered out of the water to tell him quickly.

"The flooded part is small, with one offshoot to the left when you're swimming from this side. Ignore the offshoot I don't think it goes anywhere very safe, you'll never guess where we are though but we need to get there and back before high tide." Skye blurted out before getting back into the water with a grin and submerging herself once more.

Noah hurriedly clambered in after her and as she kicked off the wall, he followed suit. Their swim was quite quick, they were shaving off time due to swimming with the current. They broke the surface together and Skye heaved herself out of the water, helping him out moments later. She shook her head like a wet dog as she stood up, the humid cave making her feel warm after their cold swim.

The glow worms were less plentiful here, but they lit up the cavern enough for the pair to see a roughly hewn set of steps hugging the wall all the way up to a rock shelf. It was what the rock shelf led to that caught their interest. On the far left side of the cavern there was a large storm pipe, tall enough for Skye to stand up in. It's grate was able to be removed to for cleaning...or rather it should have been. Someone had attempted to clamp it to the end of the pipe.

On the right, near where the steps ended and the shelf began; was an old wooden door. They climbed the stairs to inspect it closely and Skye swore softly, wiping the sea salt crust from the door. What she revealed made them both freeze, it was the Olin insignia. They had found a door that led to something within the Olin Manor. Only one area stood out in her memory, Lord Olin's private library and study. They had never been on the main plans for his home and the city had assumed he had a library elsewhere in the house after the plans had been well as a study at his office.

Skye then turned her attention to the storm drain, being careful not to stumble as she picked her way over the roughly hacked out walkway. She inspected the clamps without touching them, obviously just a temporary job until whomever it was came back and permanently attached it to the pipe. What puzzled the young messenger was that the door was physically quite far from Olin Manor, Olin Manor was in the city, not along the coastal fringe where the coves and caverns lay.

Speaking of coves, though it didn't look like it from where the narrowing was, the cavern actually had a tunnel leading off the main chamber. The faint sound of waves whispering over sand caused her to take the stairs two at a time and Noah followed her. They hadn't moved a moment too soon either, for as they got around the corner, which did a hairpin turn to the left...the door handle rattled. The rattles echoed in the cavern and they held hands, hoping that the door wouldn't open. A frustrated yell came from the other side of the door before the person gave up.

The pair breathed a sigh of relief before they looked at each other and smiled. They followed the tunnel around further, only to stop as the rock beneath their feet petered out and became cream coloured sand. They turned another corner and found themselves on a beach. However they weren't alone. A woman in a plum cloak was standing on steps carved into the sea wall of the cove, waves lapping at her skirts. She turned her head and adjusted the hood slightly, beckoning them closer.

"Madam Ghut sent a message....what have you found?" The voice was familiar, as was the mask the woman wore and Skye sighed in relief.

"Something very interesting indeed Butterfly...however I suspect you know what lies in the cavern as we do." Skye responded and the Butterfly smiled wryly.

"A storm drain and a locked door to which no one has the key." she nodded and moved closer to them, only for Skye to frown slightly.

"Butterfly...someone has clamped the grate to the end of the pipe....they likely intend to weld it shut using metal and fire mages, but why?" At Skye's words the Butterfly paused and then urged them to follow her back up the sea wall.

"Come, it isn't safe to discuss this here...especially not now." she murmured as the door handle rattled again, sending them bounding up the steps hidden along the sea wall.

Skye felt the faint probing of a mind reader and she blasted them with how tired she was after going spear fishing with Noah. She sent vivid images of catching nothing and being hungry. The probing stopped and they came back into the city via the merchants quarter. They went their separate ways and Skye ruffled Noah's hair with the remaining sea water on her hands as she went to the Inn for a bath, the extra coin in her pocket would come in handy for that at least.

What a end up with more questions than answers. She sank into the warm water and scrubbed herself clean, letting her freshly washed clothes dry by the fire in the servants' wash room. She sank under the surface of the water but jerked her head back up to the surface and scrambled out, draining the water moments later. A vision of a snake in her bath was never a good sign, especially not now that they were so close to properly figuring everything out.

Please note that all 2 280 words were written in one go between 2 am and 4 am. Advice, praise and criticism are all welcomed :) Enjoy!
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