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Authors: Lisa McMann

Island of Dragons (7 page)

BOOK: Island of Dragons
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Under the surface of the water, Pan went for the eel's head. The eel dodged and sent out an electric shock, but Pan narrowly avoided it. Then the dragon struck out, weaving and striking again, and finally grabbed the eel's face in her mighty jaws. The eel screamed. Pan clamped down hard, crushing its sparking head.

At the eel's other end, Spike flailed in the water, trying to escape from its grip. She saw Pan and Florence and spurred toward them, hoping to move closer so they could help her.

Florence leaned over Spike and hurriedly unwound the trapped eel from her tail. “Go!” she cried through the water when Spike was free. The whale shot to the surface as fast as she could.

Still gripping the eel's head between her teeth, Pan followed Spike to the surface so that Florence could help the boy, but the dragging tail of the eel thrashed and struck out. As Florence bent over Spike and saw that Henry wasn't moving, the eel slammed into her head with a mighty blow, knocking her off Pan's back. Florence yelled and made a desperate grab for Pan, trying not to sink all the way to the bottom of the sea. But Florence's slick hands against the dragon's slippery scales couldn't keep their grasp.

Pan's tail shot out like an arrow through the water. The dragon wrapped it around Florence's wrist as the eel writhed and churned nearby. It was hard to tell which was which in the dark water. Florence grabbed on to Pan's tail and pulled herself up hand over fist to the surface, desperate to see if Henry could be revived.

With a roar, Pan struck out with her claws and speared them through the eel's skin. She opened her jaws wide to get a better grip, exposing rows of sharp teeth, and with a sudden movement, she clamped down again and chomped off the eel's head, swallowing it whole. Its body dropped into the water, and with a few twists and splashes, it disappeared.

Florence made it to the surface and hoisted herself onto Pan's back once more. When she was safely steady, she leaned over and began wrestling with the cocoon to get Henry out. “Henry!” she shouted, afraid. Was it too late?

The boy didn't move.

A Close Call

F
lorence reached into the cocoon and pulled Henry out. His eyes were closed, and he flopped like a bundle of rags in her arms. She ripped off his component vest and threw it aside, then squeezed his abdomen and pressed on his chest and pounded his back, trying to get him to breathe. She had no breath of her own to lend him.

Pan worried over the scene as Florence tried everything she could think of to save Henry. But he didn't respond, and he didn't respond, and he didn't respond.

Finally the dragon spoke. “Let me try,” she said. “Put him on his back and open his mouth.”

Florence turned Henry over, supporting his head. His arms fell to his sides. She took his face in her hand and gently opened his mouth.

Pan turned her neck, bent down, and closed her eyes as if making a wish. She blew a slow breath into the boy's mouth.

Henry's chest rose. Pan kept blowing, and then she pulled away and opened her eyes, watching him carefully.

Without warning Henry reared up, coughing and choking, water spewing from his mouth. He twisted to one side, Florence supporting him, and gagged and gasped until he'd cleared most of the seawater from his lungs.

Florence looked like she could cry. She turned to Pan. “How did you do that?”

“I didn't know it would work,” the ruler of the sea said softly. “But dragons can do things one wouldn't expect them to do.”

Finally Henry stopped choking long enough to speak. “My vest!” he rasped. “Florence, where is it?” He coughed again.

Florence looked around. She'd flung it aside. Where was it? “It's gone now,” she told him. “But there are extra components in the crate in case we need them.”

Henry struggled mightily to sit up next to Florence on Pan's back. His eyes were bloodshot, and his hair stood on end. “No. You don't understand—I have to have it!” he cried. “The medicine for Karkinos is in there!”

“What?” cried Florence.

Alarmed, Spike wasted no time. She dove underwater in search of the vest, and Pan ducked her head below the surface to look around, letting her tremendously long tail slither through the water in search of it too.

“I didn't know that's where you kept the medicine,” Florence said, distraught. “I'm sorry. I thought it was packed with the other supplies.”

Henry stood on Pan's back, holding on to Florence's shoulder, peering anxiously at the water even though he could see very little in the darkness. “If we don't find it we'll have to go get more, but it comes from Ishibashi's island,” he said. “We don't have time to go all the way back there!”

Florence put a hand to her forehead as she realized the severity of the consequences. “I thought you were dead,” she said. “I wasn't thinking about the vest. I was thinking about you.”

“Oh, Florence,” Henry said, reaching out to her. “I'm not blaming you. Thank you—you saved my life. I just hope . . .” He stared at the water in the darkness, waiting.

Minute after agonizing minute went by. Henry coughed now and then, still recovering. He drew strength from his fear and focused only on the water. How could Spike or Pan possibly find the vest in the vast, churning waters of the sea?

After a time, Florence detected a ripple in the water's surface a short distance away. “I hope that's not another eel,” she muttered.

Henry looked up.

Pan lifted her head up out of the water as the ripple got closer, and soon the tip of Spike's spike was evident, coming toward them. When the whale reached Pan's side, she rose up, and there, hooked around the base of her spike, was the vest.

“Spike, you found it!” said Florence.

“Oh, thank goodness,” Henry breathed. “You have no idea what this means.”

Florence reached out to get the vest and handed it to Henry. Anxiously he checked the special pocket, and there he found the tin of seaweed, safe and sound. He slumped back in relief, then put the vest on and secured it.

“Well done, Spike,” said Pan, like a queen to her favored subject.

Spike bowed to her, then turned to Henry. “I am terribly sorry I hurt you,” she said.

Henry stroked the whale's forehead. “You couldn't help it,” he said. “And I'm all right now. I would have been fine if I'd just taken a breath before we went under. I was just surprised.”

“We all were,” Pan said. “We're lucky Spike detected the eel coming at us when she did or we'd be in much more dire circumstances now.”

Spike bowed her head humbly and sidled up to the dragon. “We must go,” she said. “We have lost too much time.”

“Are you fit to go again?” Florence asked Henry.

The boy nodded. His vest was in place and secured, with the container inside its pocket. That was all he needed.

Florence helped Henry climb from Pan's back onto Spike's. He slid into the cocoon, and when all was well again, the four continued their journey.

The Dragon's Triangle

A
s Kaylee gazed at the map on the table, Alex, Sky, and Lani looked curiously at her.

“The Dragon's Triangle?” Alex asked. “What's that?”

Kaylee gave him a grim smile. “It's a mythical place. Or at least that's what I used to think.”

Sky and Lani exchanged a questioning glance. “We're not mythical,” Lani said. “We're real.”

Kaylee continued to explain. “There are a few places in the world—the world I came from, I mean—where ships and airplanes have been lost and never found. The Bermuda Triangle is one. The Dragon's Triangle is another.” She pointed them out on the map. “In the old days sailors would avoid the mysterious waters in those places for fear of being lost for good.” She pulled a dining chair out from the table and sat down heavily. “I remember studying it before I set out on my journey, knowing I'd be passing nearby. A fleet of Japanese military ships disappeared there—here, I mean—in the 1950s.” She looked up. “When I saw the Quillitary vehicles on your island, I wondered if they'd come from those missing military ships.”

Alex's eyes widened. “There's a whole shipload of them sunk off Ishibashi's island.”

“I'm not surprised to hear that. Some scientists went in search of the missing fleet,” Kaylee said. “But they went missing too.”

“Ishibashi, Ito, and Sato?” guessed Lani.

“For sure,” said Kaylee, nodding. “I forget the name of their ship, but it was well documented.”

“Oh!” said Alex abruptly. “I saw the name. Some of the letters were missing. K-O something number five.”

Kaylee looked sharply at him. “That's it!
Kaiyo Maru Number Five
. You saw it? It was Ishibashi's ship?”

“That's what Ishibashi told me,” Alex said. “I transported it from under the water and put it on the shore so they could get their stuff if they wanted to.”

“And they did,” said Sky. “Remember the telescope Ishibashi showed us?”

Alex nodded.

Tears welled up in Kaylee's eyes for reasons she had trouble articulating. “No one has ever returned from a triangle,” she said. “I guess . . .” She trailed off, gazing across the dining room deep in thought. “I guess I always thought the people had died. And the ships and planes that disappeared were at the bottom of the Devil's Sea, so deep they were unable to be recovered. I never imagined there was an actual place where people could survive . . . and thrive, even.”

Sky frowned. “If the scientists are from your world, are you saying that it's possible we
all
came from there? That we were somehow swept into the Dragon's Triangle? Because I'm pretty sure I wasn't. I was born on Warbler. So was my mother.”

“Not you specifically,” Kaylee said. “But maybe your ancestors. Your grandparents or great-grandparents or who knows how many generations ago were lost at sea, succumbing to the grasp of the dreaded triangle. And instead of dying, they found themselves here.”

“Like the people in the vessel?” Sky asked. “Several months ago a . . . a thing fell from the sky and landed in the water.”

“An airplane,” said Lani.

“Right,” said Sky. “The people inside were dead, though.”

Kaylee nodded. “I suspect they came from my world,” she said. “If no one on all the seven islands you've visited manufactures or flies airplanes, they must come from somewhere else, right?”

“We have parts of airplanes upstairs in the Museum of Large,” Alex said. “Mr. Appleblossom and Mr. Today kept them from years ago.”

Kaylee looked at the others, puzzled. “But I don't understand something. Didn't anybody ever tell you stories about how they came to be here? Your grandparents or anyone?”

“Not in Quill,” Lani said. “No storytelling allowed. Or writing things down.”

Kaylee shook her head. “That's right,” she muttered. “What a strange place.” She looked at Sky. “How about you on your island?”

Sky pointed to the scars on her neck. “We didn't exactly have a chance to talk a lot, and we didn't have school like the children in Quill did—we just worked from the time we were able. But I know my mother and her parents were born on Warbler. You're the only one I know who just showed up here and survived.”

“Well,” Kaylee said, “there are the scientists, too.”

“Oh yes,” said Sky, “I forgot. They never told us, though—you did.”

“And Talon, maybe,” suggested Lani. “He said he didn't remember how he arrived on Karkinos, but he's been there for thousands of years.”

“Well . . . ,” Kaylee said, screwing up her face a little as she was about to object, but then didn't see the point in it.

“And Issie,” Alex said, sitting up. “She's been looking for her lost baby for seven hundred years, remember? I wonder if she was swept into our world while she was looking?”

BOOK: Island of Dragons
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