Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries – Chapter 8
A New Heading
Terra reached for the first skull, lifting it from the table and turning the base so it was facing her. There, carved in a foreign language, was half of the incantation, just as her father had claimed.
Just great, Terra thought. I risk my life for a skull with writing I can’t read. Terra turned when she heard a loud knock on her cabin door.
“Vixen, the Mont Delia is below the sea, and it looks like the storm has passed. Do we have a heading yet or should we head to Tortuga again?”
It was Coven. Maybe he knew what the writings said. He was, after all, fluent in several languages. He had been to every port she had heard of and a few she had not. As a pirate he had been just about everywhere and seen just about everything. After all, he had been her father’s sailing master ever since he was Terra’s age. Her father had always said, “I trust few in this world, and that’s why I have stayed alive so long. But if there is one person I trust with my life, it’s Coven.”
“Come in,” she replied.
Coven entered, displaying his typical swagger and boyish grin, then stopped, looking at the skulls and then Terra.
“Well, from the look on your face I can see you haven’t made much progress. Although you are sitting in front of them now so I guess that’s a start.”
Terra rolled her eyes and turned back around. “Yeah, I’m having a bit of a problem.”
She knew Coven was smiling at his own humor, but she was not about to give any indication she thought it was funny. Even though it was probably something she would have said to him.
There was a brief moment of silence as she waited for Coven to give in to curiosity. Finally he cleared his throat and asked, “Okay, I give. What sort of problem?”
Terra began to grin but quickly composed herself as Coven moved to her side.
“I can’t read the stupid thing. The incantation is split between the two skulls, and according to my father I need to recite the entire thing in order to get the map.”
“Hmmm, well, John was seldom wrong, especially when it came to treasure. But it does sound like a bit of a problem for you there, Vixen.”
Terra turned and looked at Coven. “I don’t suppose you know what it says.”
Coven pulled out a pair of thin bifocals from his vest pocket and placed them on the bridge of his nose.
“Let me see.”
Coven took the skull in his hand and brought the base of the skull close to his face, almost touching his nose.
Terra couldn’t help but grin. “Are you sure those things work? Because I have some Night Hag Elixir on the shelf over there that might do the trick!”
Coven’s eyes shifted from the skull to Terra. “I can see just fine, Vixen, but thank you for your concern.” Then he placed the skull back on the table, removed his glasses, and placed them neatly in his pocket.
“Well?” she said. You could hear the excitement in her voice now.
“Well what?” he replied.
Terra’s head tilted slightly to one side. “Can you read it or not?”
“Yes, I can read it,” he said with a smirk then turned and walked away.
“Coven!” she proclaimed.
Coven stopped, turned, and faced Terra.
“Take it back?” he said.
Terra looked puzzled. “Take what back?”
“The eye thing. Take it back or I will not read your silly little skull!” he replied with one eyebrow raised.
Coven was more than a little sensitive about his eyesight. He was only twenty-three and hated the fact he needed bifocals to read. The two revolvers strapped to his chest lost a lot of their intimidation factor when he was wearing bifocals. Besides, who wanted to be known as the four-eyed pirate? Terra understood this, and she almost laughed out loud just thinking about it.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry about the eye joke, but I hear the elixir does wonders for the old. Why do you think I got it?”
Coven didn’t say a thing. He just turned again and headed for the door.
“Coven, stop. I’m sorry. I won’t say another word. I’ll be nice.” Coven sighed, and turned again to face her. This time Terra stuck out her bottom lip and batted her eyelashes.
Coven rolled his eyes. “Please stop. You look pathetic!”
Coven walked back to the skull, putting on his bifocals. He picked it up once more, holding it to the tip of his nose.
“It’s written in Vendelli,” he said.
Terra sighed. “That much I know.”
Coven peered down at her through his glasses again and signed.
“Sorry,” she said, looking like a scolded child.
Coven cleared his throat and continued. “Blocked is the way unless you posses my mate. She is my soul and she is my fate.”
Terra reached for the other skull and handed it to Coven. He took the skull and read on. “Separate we are nothing and hold no answers. But together we are one and shall show you the gate.”
They stared at each other for a moment, waiting for something to happen.
“Now what?” Coven asked.
Terra shot him a frustrated look.
“You’re asking me?” she replied.
Coven stared into the emerald green eyes. “Hmmm, maybe we should put them down next to one another and say it.”
Terra nodded her head. “Why not!”
Coven placed the two Skulls of Aries back on the table facing one another. Then he grabbed a piece of parchment and a pen from the table and lifted each skull, writing down its portion of the incantation. Once he was done he turned to look over at Terra one last time.
“Ready?” he asked.
Terra stood up slowly and grabbed the Diablo from the table and strapped it on. Next she took the Vanquisher and unsheathed it. The light blue flame ignited, and Terra took one step back.
“I am now.”
Coven took a deep breath and began to recite the incantation.
“Blocked is the way unless you posses my mate. She is my soul and she is my fate. Separate we are nothing and hold no answers. But together we are one and shall show you the gate.”
Terra and Coven held their breath, their eyes fixated on the silver skulls. A soft hum began to resonate from each skull, and the emerald eyes began to glow.
Terra slowly pulled the Diablo from its holster and targeted the closest skull just to be on the safe side.
With each passing moment the glow became brighter. Coven took one step back and placed his hand on Terra’s shoulder.
Terra was about to join him when two streams of green light burst from each of the skulls, connecting in the space between them. There was a quick flash, and Terra and Coven shielded their eyes.
The humming grew louder. They could feel the vibration in the floor beneath their feet. It was as if they were in an earthquake in the middle of the ocean. Terra heard the mug of tea fall from the table, followed by the sounds of other objects crashing all around them. She felt Coven’s hand grip her shoulder, then just as quickly as it had started the sound suddenly stopped.
Terra’s body felt numb. She could still hear the humming sound coming from somewhere in front of her.
Slowly she opened one eye and then the other.
“Will you look at that!” she said in astonishment.
Still standing next to Terra, Coven dropped his arm from his face and opened his eyes.
There floating in mid air a few feet away was a map made of emerald light.
“And I thought I had seen everything,” he whispered and pulled off his bifocals.
Terra lowered the Diablo and Vanquisher at the same time and took one step forward. Coven followed.
“I know this place,” Coven said, his eyes moving rapidly over the map now. “It’s beyond Dead Man’s Lair. It’s uncharted. No one has ever been out that far.”
Terra took another step forward, running her hand underneath the map as if expecting to find something.
“Well, apparently the Vendelli have,” she said, looking over at Coven.
“Yeah, looks that way,” he replied, still staring at the floating image.
Terra holstered the Diablo and sheathed the Vanquisher.
“It looks like we have our heading now,” she said.
Coven looked down at his glasses, folded them neatly together, and placed them back in his vest pocket. Then he turned to Terra and with his boyish grin replied, “Yes, I think we do.”
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