Chapter 7 - Well, she/it wasn't lying...

Quickening his pace, Ornrik caught up to Amella, Liamae, Malcolm, Kaskus, and Urol.

"So, how's this supposed to work again?" Malcolm was unclear of the magnitude of the situation.

Ornrik took control of the situation. "Amella will captain our ship and lead us to the destination on the map marked out for Adameus. Once there, we'll figure out how to free him from whatever machination has trapped him using this duplicate key and our magic."

"Sounds simple enough to me," Amella confidently understood her role. "Let's just hope that the other group will have as much success as we will have."

**

"The tide is rising, Viselys," Saris called out from the helm of the ship. "I've got us moving as fast as I can muster, but we'll be cutting it close."

"No matter, Saris, I believe in you!" Viselys clutched at the magic key in his possession. "We will NOT fail, and that," he shook his head in disgust, "harlot will not have gotten the best of us!"

As the seas heaved, the crew began to get nervous. "Look! I think I see something up ahead," Tolin was the first to notice some sort of shimmering in the distance.

"Alright! Stay focused!" Viselys' nerves showed through with vigilant determination. As the boat drew nearer, he could see, through the shimmering, a distorted vision of Diamondback. She seemed to be in some sort of manacles, chained to the stony outcropping, and behind some sort magical wall. When the tide rises, she would be unable to escape and drown. "Well…here goes," Viselys whispered to himself as he leaped from the side of the boat, clinging to the key and his hope.

As he swam up to the wall and presented the key, the shimmering wall dissipated.

"Viselys!" Diamondback's panicky voice called out with a new found hope.

"I'm coming for you, Tara!" Viselys strode through the rising water. Reaching out with the key to her manacles. The key fit the lock perfectly and the most wonderful sounding *CLICK* was heard.

Viselys felt something bump into his leg. He turned around to find a floating box. Inside was a crude depiction of a humanoid that roughly looked like Amadeus…drowning.

Diamondback clung to Viselys as they swam back to the boat that Saris had kept nearby. An abundance of hands stretched out from the side of the boat as they approached and they were quickly pulled on board.

"Ah, told you we'd be fine!" Saris was quick to boast about the success.

"Yes," Viselys countered, "but let's hope that the other group had as much success.

***

"I see something!" Somehow, Urol seemed to always be the first to notice things.

"Not a moment too soon," Ornrik looked nervously from the rising tide to the duplicate key in his hand. "I pray this works."

"It seems to be some sort of shimmering force effect," Malcolm apprehensively tried to be helpful. "I don't have the power to deal with that."

"Nor do I," added Liamae.

Amella led the boat forward, bumping against the force wall. Beyond the wall, one could see a distorted vision that appeared to be Adameus in manacles, and chained to a wall. The water level was rising to above his waist.

"I don't know what to do!" Ornrik studied the wall, not able to dispel the effect and coming to the realization that their fabricated key would be of no use with this wall. Leaping out of the boat and moving along the force wall, Ornrik came to where the wall of force butted up against the stone wall.

He began muttering to himself…

"Stone…STONE! I can alter the shape of the…" Closing his eyes in concentration and muttering an incantation, the stone at the force wall's edge began to grind and alter its shape. Soon after, Ornrik was able to squeeze his way between the edge of the force wall and the new opening in the stone. He began to swim frantically toward Adameus.

"Ornrik, Ornrik! Help!" Adameus's countenance had hope once again.

As he swam forward, the water level continuing to rise, Ornrik put the key into the manacles that held Adameus in place.

There was no effect.

"Ornrik, why isn't it working?" Adameus pleaded and began to panic.

"Let me try again," Ornrik tried to offer hope, but was beginning to realize that this forged key would not do the trick. He fiddled with it as best as he could, but soon they both realized that it would be to no avail.

"I'm sorry, Idae." Ornrik's eyes welled at this most recent realization.

The grim reality was setting in and, for a moment, there seemed to be complete silence. "Ornrik…there's something in my pocket. I want you to give it to my brother and tell him that I'm proud of him." Adameus's face had gone stoic.

Ornrik nodded and fished, what appeared to be, a note from Adameus's front pocket. "I will, lad. I will."

"Now go, Ornrik. No use in both of us dying here." Adameus struggled to get the words out above the rising water. He tried to say something more, but it was garbled by the tide.

Treading water, Ornrik swam back to the opening in the stone he had created. On the outside, the others were waiting to see him emerge. There faces turned sour as he emerged from the inside alone, looking defeated.

Climbing back on to the boat, nobody uttered a word, as the solemn realization that Adameus was no more set in on the crew.

Amella set the new course for back in Farshore and then tried to offer some comfort to Ornrik, not really knowing how. "You tried, Ornrik. You did what you could but the gods didn't see it fit to be enough."

"Yes," Ornrik retorted, "…the gods."

"Saris, we should head over to the other site to see if we can offer some assistance," Viselys's concern for the other party was growing.

"I'm way ahead of you, boss," Saris had already set that course. "Hey, I think I see another ship heading our way. It looks to be the other crew!"

Viselys paced to the front of the ship. He knew it really wouldn't get him there any faster, but somehow it made him feel like it might on the inside. As the ships drew closer, all could see that Adameus had not been saved.

Viselys insisted upon going back. "Amella, take the S.S. Fire Troll and lead everyone else back to Farshore. Saris, you'll take Ornrik and myself back to Adameus's site."

"Viselys, it's too late," Ornrik tried to persuade him. "You won't like what you find there. He did, however, give me this for you." Ornrik turned the note over to Viselys who promptly opened it.

Scrawled in, what could only be, dried blood were the words:

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Ornrik put his hand on Viselys's shoulder.

"Saris, let's go!" Viselys' voice was one that demanded obedience. Saris, Ornrik, and Viselys boarded the Hellfish and began sailing back to the site. Viselys didn't even look back as the S.S. Fire Troll sailed on to Farshore…Tara standing at the back of the boat watching the Hellfish sail into the distance.

"Tell me what happened," Viselys was becoming almost demanding of the information. Ornrik relayed the information as best as he could, telling him of all that he had done. Arriving at the scene, Viselys jumped out of the boat and swam to the opening in the stone created by Ornrik. He squeezed his way through and was shocked at what he found on the other side.

While he had prepared himself to find the bloated, drowned body of Adameus, he was stunned to find the manacles empty. No body was in sight. Filled with anger, he returned to the boat.

"He's not there," Viselys informed Saris and Ornrik.

"What do you mean?" Ornrik was puzzled.

"Just what I said," Viselys insisted. "There's nobody there. Just some dangling manacles. I didn't see Adameus's body anywhere."

"Well, that's weird," Saris chimed.

Ornrik and Viselys simply gave him a disgruntled look.

"Well…it IS!" Saris insisted. "I don't think there's any more we can do out here, though. We should head back and see to it that Tara is ok."

"Yeah, you're probably right." Ornrik was trying to reassure them all.

"Ok…but if we ever come across Rowyn again, she's mine. Got it?" Viselys was showing a seething anger never previously seen.

"You got it, boss," Saris began setting the course back to Farshore.

Continue to Chapter 8...

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