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Rukhsar Shafi

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Chapter 1:

Twenty Questions

Jenay Lambert popped her leg on the dashboard and perched her Gold Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses higher up the bridge of her nose. She glanced at the boy next to her. His messy black hair fell upon his Knockaround Fort Knocks glasses, covering his right eye. She wondered if he could even see the road. The shadows of his sunglasses fell upon the wide panes of his cheeks. She noticed a slight smile dancing upon his lips, which meant he knew she was staring. She quickly cleared her throat and looked ahead. “How long till we reach this amazing swamp that has got everyone derailed?” she asked as she opened a book. Ace Chevalier cocked his head slightly towards Jen while still keeping his eyes trained on the road. “It hasn’t even been an hour since we left. This amazing swamp is really hard to find. Even if we reached Tennessee in records time, finding her location in the swamp will take a while,” he said. “Also, get your feet off the dashboard.” He swatted away her legs. She reluctantly placed them back down and stared at the passing trees and houses as they headed towards the port. “Why exactly are we going there? What do they expect us to find?” He ran his fingers through his hair, which disappointed Jen a little. She was beginning to like the bed-hair look on him. It was sexy and… daunt-y. “We need to find out what the kelpies are up to. According to my dad and Peter, the kelpies have tried to do this ritual a couple of times before. But have always failed to complete it.” Jen frowned. “So, why go to her now? What changed this time?” Shoulders tensing, he answered, “Because this time we feel they might have succeeded.” “What? How?” Jen gaped, turning in her seat. The car slowed and stopped at the traffic light. Glancing at her, he continued, “Peter noticed that everyone that was a part of the Heptagram died that day in the grove. The kelpie that I shot, Mrs. Hagsbury was stabbed by Mara’s throwing knife, Noel and Shay were killed by Tristan, who, in fact, had turned into an evil, dead demon-sinner himself, and well the baby… was already dead.” Jen’s throat tightened at Shay’s name. Cold sweat formed at the back of her neck and her breath congested in her lungs. Shay’s happy face from Homecoming flashed in her mind and nausea stirred in the pit of her stomach. Clenching her fist before shaking her head to remove the biliousness of that night, she asked, “And this hadn’t happened in previous rituals?” Ace shook his head. “Other than the random deaths of people across the town, the ritual was never completed.” “Random deaths? You mean the ones that were killed by the serial killer?” Jen asked, remembering what Grace had told her. Shaking his head, he said. “They weren’t killed by a serial killer. Kelpies drown their victims and eat their flesh to gain strength to perform the ritual. I had heard about a prophecy in our Divination class. They were taught by Druids from Draíocht Hills. ‘When seven souls are sacrificed, the Drought King shall rise.’” Jen laughed. “That’s a bit much, don’t you think? Were they inspired by Harry Potter or maybe Hocus Pocus?” “Are you joking about the prophecy?” “No. It wouldn’t be a prophecy if it could be done multiple times. Talking about Druids, Noah said Freya was a bard druidess.” Jen raised an eyebrow. “What did he mean by that?” “They are like sorcerers. They perform magic and cast spells,” Ace explained. “Like witches and wizards?” Ace’s eyebrows bunched up in annoyance. “No, not like witches. Witches belong to the tribe of Fir Bolg.” Jen nodded as she remembered what she had read about Ireland’s early settlers. Fir Bolg were the previous settlers of Ireland, before the Tuatha De Danann. When the light turned green, Ace started the car. “Who is the Drought King? You mentioned that the seven souls are sacrificed for him.” “Balor. The last king of Fomorians. He was also known as the Drought King and the Demonic God of Death.” Ace explained. “The man with many names. ‘Balor, the Drought King of Formories, the Demonic God of Death and Destruction, father of Ethniu, grandfather of Lugh.’ Kind of reminds me of Khaleesi,” Jen joked. “Who’s Khaleesi?” Ace asked. Jen gasped. “Tell me you’re kidding? You’ve never watched Game of Thrones? Or even read the books?” Ace pursed his lips. “Would you kill me if I said no?” “I can’t believe you’ve never watched it!” she huffed. “Don’t worry. Once we return, I’m going to make you binge-watch the show. Leave it up to me.” Ace rolled his eyes before his gaze fell onto the red-brown leather cover of the book Jen was holding. “Didn’t peg you for someone who writes journals,” he stated. Jen looked down at the half-opened book. She smoothed her fingers against the rusty cover and the silver dragon crest embossed on it. “Oh, this? This doesn’t belong to me. It’s Adora Kingsley’s. Adora Julianna Kingsley. She was the daughter of Eugene Kingsley. One of the English merchants that came to this town.” “And why are you reading her diary?” he asked. “To find the truth,” she said cryptically. She pressed her back into the seat as her fingers ran across the pages. It had only been a couple of days since Grace had given her the diary. After unlocking it with Jen’s ancestral locket, the girls found a photograph that belonged to Adora in the book. And boy, were they surprised.