Dreamland by Olivia B. Pritzker

Dreamland-75x99-2Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Celia meets a trader in the tavern who has been searching for her. Readers voted that his employer is a guiding spirit who helps lost children find their way.

Episode 19

Ondine watched as the ship sailed toward the clear horizon; the few thin clouds tinged a blood-red color. She had watched Celia board the ship still wearing the ill-fitting sailors clothes Ondine had lent her, her hair still a dark tangled mess against her pale petal-white skin. She had hugged Celia goodbye, wishing her all the best of luck, and watched somewhat enviously as the sails caught the wind and the ship departed.

Earlier, she had noticed the glint in the man’s eye as he paid Ondine the heavy gold coins she now clutched in her hand, the promised price for alerting him to Celia’s presence in the port. Back in her empty attic bedroom, Ondine looked at the drawings hanging on her walls.

******

Celia looked over the edge of the ship at the tumultuous, frothing water far below. The wind whipped her hair around her face and she could smell and taste the salt in the air. As far as she could see, the great expanse of ocean stretched on. It was exhilarating. She imagined mermaids cutting through the clear blue water with their mossy green fins, copper hair streaming behind them as they swam. Celia thought back to the night she’d met the trader, Declan.

“Fate has an interesting way of correcting itself,” he’d said, taking another swig from the unlabeled green glass bottle in his calloused hand. “I always knew I’d find you in the end. And I know you will come with me. You’ve gone practically without question wherever fate has led you up to this point, and now that direction is with me.”

And so Celia had finally agreed. She still didn’t know what she was searching for, only that something – possibly fate – was propelling her onwards. As she’d packed her few possessions (Felix’s compass among them), she’d wondered excitedly what lay in store for her next.

Celia awoke suddenly in the night. It was pitch-black but she could feel that everything was tilted sideways. Her breath caught in her throat as she felt the ship pitch this way and that, heard the roar of the wind and the storm outside. She rolled out of bed and, clutching the bedpost for support, lit an iron lamp bolted to the wall. She heard the crashing of the waves, a shout and a bang, and then a sopping wet Declan emerged from up above.

“Celia,” he shouted. “Come up here!” He looked wildly around the room for a moment, then seized something from a shelf and glanced back at Celia with impatience.

“Celia! I need you! Come on.”

Shivering from the cold, she came up on deck, and her breath caught in her throat. The roaring noise of the storm, the flashing light, the driving rain, the boom of the waves as they crashed over the deck – and the sheer size of them was unbelievable. Celia turned to Declan, already thoroughly soaked. He was holding out a small glass jar filled with a sparkling silver powder.

“Here,” he yelled over the storm. “Swallow this.”

“What?” Celia screamed back. She was sure she had misheard him, but he shook his head and gestured more urgently to the jar.

“Just do it!” he shouted. “It’s in case of emergencies, in case we didn’t reach my employer. This ship isn’t going to make it. You have to trust me, Celia! Take it!”

He was interrupted by a huge crash and the sound of wood splitting, as the mast cracked in half. Declan and Celia looked up as the huge structure swayed and fell, and the ship dipped and was covered by another huge sheet of water.

“What about you?” Celia shouted at Declan, and he avoided her eyes.

“Don’t worry about me,” he yelled. “This is my job, Celia. Please, take the powder!”

Celia reached out and grabbed the jar, and before the next sheet of water had crashed over the deck she had swallowed the sparkling powder in one gulp. Coughing, she stumbled backwards as the world went dark and she fell into nothingness.

******
Celia opened her eyes. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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