Click here to read Part One and here to read Part Two.
Matt stepped off the Bella Fawn onto the Isle of Dread, followed by the young Mr. Franklin, Mr. Smith, Mr. Tickleten, and four other strong sailors. After a brief meeting, it had been decided that only the eight would go: Matt to make the map, the sailers to protect them, Mr. Franklin and Mr. Smith because they were too curious for their own good, and Mr. Tickleten to be an unofficial referee between the company owners. Matt shouldered the pack of mapping equipment from the company, most of which he had no idea how to use, and they set off.
It was a beautiful morning for walking. Birds sung in trees nearby, the occasional rabbit would skip across the path, and deer grazed off in the distance. Before long, the group forgot that they were on an island no one had ever returned from and began to talk and joke. Indeed, it seemed ridiculous to believe that this was the feared Isle of Dread.
“That’s where we’re heading, men,” said Mr. Franklin around noon, pointing up at the single mountain on the reasonably small island. “From there, we will be able to get a view of the entire island.”
“I disagree!” said Mr. Smith emphatically. “We should circle around it. We don’t know what could live up there! Caution should be our first priority.”
“No!” cried Mr. Franklin. “If we are going to make any progress, we must know what we are up against! We must attack this head on!”
Mr. Smith almost replied, but before he could, he saw Mr. Tickleten’s pleading glance from nearby. “Very well,” he said. “Have it your way.”
The whole company relaxed, glad to be rid of the argument. As they walked, Matt made his way over to Mr. Tickleten. “Has Mr. Franklin always been so snobby and stubborn?” asked Matt in a low voice.
“Well, that seems a rather harsh judgement, considering you haven’t known him very long.”
“I don’t have to. It’s kind of obvious.”
“I suppose you have a point,” replayed Mr. Tickleten, chuckling. “To answer you question, no he has not. He used to be a very kind man, always generous and loving. But after his wife died, something in him just sort of snapped. For weeks afterward, he wouldn’t talk to me or anyone else. He just sat in his house with locked doors and closed windows. Then, he threw himself headfirst into his work, striving for success and fortune. I don’t know what happened to him during that time, but he has never been the same man since.” Mr. Tickleten sighed sadly. “I’ve tried to get him to open up and tell me what happened to him, but he wouldn’t have it. Now I’m afraid it’s too late.”
Matt looked over at Mr. Franklin, walking with head held high. “What about his father, the other Mr. Franklin?”
Mr. Tickleten grinned, “No need to worry about him, lad, he’s always been a big curmudgeon.”
That night, the party set up camp in a little grove of trees not far from the beach. They put down their packs and started a campfire. The full moon cast shadows of the trees dancing around them, and soon, theories of why it was called the Isle of Dread began to surface.
“I think it’s because a wielder of dark magic cursed this place,” said one of the sailors.
“I think that it’s because cannibals are hiding here, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.”
“You can guess all you like,” Mr. Tickleten said with a twinkle in his eye. “But I say it’s a dragon.” All grew quiet as they waited for an explanation. “Drakes may be kind and gentle ever since they submitted themselves to the authority of humans, but dragons are another story all together. The true sons of Bethoch! They speak straight into the minds of humans and are made of death itself—” A crash filled the air from somewhere on the island, causing everyone to jump.
Slowly, as night wore on, all finally fell asleep, all except for Matt. After the others were down, he pulled out the mapping equipment and stared at it. He took the two things he knew how to use, a pencil and a piece of paper, and tried his best to draw where they had gone. To his frustration, art was a lot harder than he had anticipated. By the time he put everything he had into it, it was little more than the scribblings of a young child.
“Can’t sleep either?” asked Mr. Franklin, propping himself on and elbow.
“No,” said Matt, hurriedly stuffing the “map” in his bag. “Just getting some late night work done on the map. What about you?”
“I just can’t believe that after all these years I’m finally here, at the Isle of Emily.”
“Who is Emily?”
Mr. Franklin got a far away look in his eyes, “My wife, such a dear little thing. As frail and beautiful as a rose without thorns.”
“What happened to her?”
“It took her,” he said shakily. “The plague. She was so delicate, and it came so fast. I knew I had to get the doctor, but I didn’t want to leave her side, so I made a terrible mistake. I paid a boy off the street to run and fetch a doctor. He returned with a man in a white coat and a doctor’s bag who said he required payment in advance. I gave the money to him, and he asked me to leave the room while he examined her. A few minutes later, I came back to find the man gone and the window open. And Emily was… was dead.” A cold chill ran down Matt’s spine. “It was that day I realized that the world is a terrible place. People will do anything in their quest for power. There is no way to change it, only to join it.”
Matt stared into the fire. “Not everyone is terrible, you know. Not everyone is a cheater, or a con, or a fake. Some people just....”
“Just what?” snapped Mr. Franklin.
“Some people, Mr. Franklin, just want to help.”
After a long time, Mr. Franklin spoke again. “Call me John.”
Matt looked over as John Franklin laid down with his back to him. Matt smiled, knowing he’d made a friend, and leaned against a tree to sleep. As his eyelids drooped, he looked up at the mountain. Dragons indeed, he thought, amused. As he drifted to sleep, another thought crept into his mind: Imagine, a human scoffing at dragons; then again, people can be stupid.
Matt blinked. Where had that last thought come from?
As If in answer, a deep booming voice rang out in his head. Pathetic creatures. You dare assume that the Creator gave you all of the land and sky and sea to chart and rule. You foolishly believe that humans can stand in sacred places and command all living creatures as if they were slaves, and you imagine that the world would tip out of its orbit if you were not there to watch over it. Mankind stands on but a hanging thread as the world takes its course beneath you. You have carelessly leaned out to take control of power that is not yours to harness, and this time, it will cost you.
Written and Illustrated by Sabina B.
Edited by The Flabbits
Copyright © 2018 by The Flabbit Room
Welcome to The Flabbit Blog! Here you will find writings by the many members of The Flabbit Room, most of which will be set in the world of Ildathore.