If this idea didn’t work, I wasn’t quite sure what parts of us would be left when all was said and done.
The existing dock was obviously rotten and decaying, so we anchored as close as the boat could get, and then we took one of the small safety rafts to the shore.
My unease grew the closer we got to the mist.
“There hasn’t been any blood,” Caspian said quietly as he gripped my hand.
I gave him a sad look, because I just hadn’t told him about it. He’d already looked worried enough.
Caspian’s skin grayed. “Fuck,” he muttered under his breath, his hand squeezing harder on mine like I was his lifeline.
Hendrix hopped out of the raft first, followed by River, and then they helped me step out onto the powdery white sand. In front of us, the mist glimmered like diamonds.
It stretched as far as we could see, so it didn’t seem like we could find a way around it.
The only way was through.
Hendrix approached the mist tentatively, his hand outstretched as he reached a fingertip towards the fog.
A boom reverberated through the air as soon as his fingers grazed the haze, and Hendrix stumbled back when the mist began to shift and stretch…until a moment later a woman’s outline was standing in front of us, formed by glittering mist.
“You’ve returned,” an inhuman voice echoed around us. The voice didn’t seem to be coming from the form, it seemed to be coming from…everywhere.
We were all silent, staring at the woman in shock and awe. I certainly had no inclination to talk back to it.
You couldn’t make out any facial features, but I had the strange sensation that she was smiling at us.
“But are you still worthy of the gift you’ve been given?” the woman continued. “We shall see. If you can complete your three trials, you can reach your heart’s desire. Enter the lake one at a time and we shall see who you are.”
A breeze blew past, scattering the melody of the voice away, along with the strange being who’d just been visible in the mist.
And then we were all alone.