The Journey of Three Island Princesses
By Sheilane Marsh
This book is for anyone who loves a fun, adventure fairytale, with princesses and all; from young kids to adults who are kids at heart. Do Enjoy!
A hurricane of this great magnitude had never struck Artinia before. The sea waves rose as tall as ever and quickly flooded the tiny island. The powerful winds uprooted countless trees and destroyed almost all of the beautiful tree houses. But most devastating of all, many persons were killed; including most of the army men that guarded the island’s borders and even the King’s only son, Prince Idris.
At that time, Artinia was ruled by the brave and honorable King Iba and his lovely wife, Queen Inga. They had four small children: Prince Idris, who was 10, and Princesses: Isla, 8, Iah, 5, and Issy, who was just a baby. They were a very close-knit family that loved each other dearly.
On the day of the hurricane, the prince and the two older princesses were enjoying a normal day of swimming, at the beach just outside the royal tree house. Then suddenly, the wind began to pick up and the water became a little rough. The kids were not frightened by this at first, and were even enjoying the waves. But then the water became rougher and rougher, and the waves started to crash hard against the shore.
“Quickly! Get out of the water!” Prince Idris commanded his sisters; and he tried to push them forward.
With their brother’s help, Princess Isla and Princess Iah got to shore safely; but poor Prince Idris never made it. A large wave swiftly overtook him just as he was about to climb onto the sand. It carried him too far out into the sea, and he drowned.
The once majestic island of Artinia now lay in ruins, and the survivors were left in great fear and sadness. They mourned the loss of their loved ones and homes. And they also worried about attacks from the other islands; for the hurricane greatly diminished the army, leaving only a few men to defend them.
“As soon as the waters have calmed, they will try to raid us!” the Artinians cried.
Artinia was the envy of a small circle of islands, located far out into the sea; of which it was the most beautiful and most blessed in natural resources, such as: spices, cotton (for making clothes), crops, diamond and gold. Therefore, the other islands often sent warriors to try and steal Artinia’s wealth.
The Artinians looked to King Iba for guidance and comfort at this time. And although King Iba was extremely sad about losing his son, Prince Idris, he was still able to lead the people wisely, with the help of his trusted advisor and best friend, Sir Evans. Together, they helped the people to build temporary huts and tents for shelter, and to gather a large amount of food and water, so that they would not starve or thirst.
The King also worked very hard to ensure that the remaining army men were well prepared, just in case there were any outsider attacks. He reminded them that, although they were small in number, they were still very skilled and very powerful.
Eventually, the Artinians were not so sad anymore; for they had hope. They believed in their hearts that, with hard work and patience, their beloved island will once again be as rich and beautiful as it was before.
On the contrary, things in the royal household were getting worse. In fact, the family seemed to be falling apart. King Iba and Queen Inga had been arguing a lot, and blaming each other for Prince Idris’s death.
“You should have been watching them!” the King would say to the Queen.
“And you should have come home to your family immediately!” the Queen would reply.
Then one night, after an exceptionally big argument, the King stormed out of their tent angrily; and little princess Isla watched him sadly from the tent next door.
One week passed and no one had seen nor heard from King Iba; and everyone was in great distress because of this – especially the Queen and Princesses.
“What will we do without King Iba’s wisdom and strength?” The people wondered.
“We need a new King!” some said.
“Let Sir Evans rule in his place!” said others.
Still others said “We already have a Queen. Let her rule!”
Artinia had never had a Queen ruler before. Therefore, many people did not believe that Queen Inga should rule.
The councilmen asked “How can she lead us? Women don’t know anything about war! They are not even allowed to join the army!”
At that, Queen Inga went before the people. She said:
“People of Artinia, I stand before you a woman in great anguish. I have lost two very important people to me; but I still have hope that one may return. And when he does, I do not want his throne to be occupied by another.
I also stand before you as your Queen. That means that I have ruled this island beside my husband for many years. So I am not ignorant to your wants and needs.
I may only be a woman, but I am a woman who is determined to make things right again… determined to make Artinia safe again… determined not to lose anyone else that I love. All I ask is that you give me a chance.”
Then Army General Atticus – who was a big and fierce looking man – went and stood beside Queen Inga. He said to the people “I believe in my Queen. I want to give her a chance”.
The people were won over by Queen Inga’s touching speech, and General Atticus’s strong persuasion.
“Let’s give her a chance!” they agreed.
And so, Queen Inga was crowned ‘Ruler of Artinia’ that very day; while Sir Evans was to remain ‘Adviser to the Throne’.
“Mommy, are you sure that you can rule Artinia all by yourself?” Princess Isla asked when they had returned to their tent.
Queen Inga smiled at her daughter. “My dear little Princess,” she said gently. “I won’t be doing it on my own. I’ll have you and your sisters to help me.”
Eleven years passed and, under Queen Inga’s rule, Artinia returned to being the most magnificent of all the islands. The fabulous wooden tree houses had been rebuilt; the crops and flowers regrown; and the beaches and waterfalls were as clear and sparkling as ever.
The Artinians had also returned to their peaceful and happy lives. They often spent their days on the beaches, swimming and having picnics; and the children could always be found climbing and swinging from the island’s many coconut trees. This of course was when they were not in school.
School in Artinia was an amazing experience. It was held only twice per week, in round little huts, on a small hilltop. There, children from ages four to twelve were taught to read and write, sing and dance, and even to fish. Fishing lessons were the best days. The children would run down the hill of their school to the river below where they spent hours in little canoes baiting their rods and waiting for the fishes to bite; chatting and laughing all the while.
The Artinian Army, however, had not gone back to how it was before the Hurricane. It was now much larger and stronger! This was because of an important strategy that Queen Inga put in place. In her first month as ruler, Queen Inga made it legal for girls to join the army, and many volunteered right away. Now, almost half of the army were made up of girls.
One such girl was Princess Isla. She had joined the army as soon as she turned twelve and now, at age nineteen, she was one of the army’s best slingers (user of the sling shot). Isla had taken her mother’s words very seriously eleven years ago, about helping to rule Artinia; and she saw her military duties as doing just that. She spent many days in the woods practicing the sling shots with her best friend Yanu- a young boy of the same age, whom she had grown up with. Yanu was also a skilled slinger in the army and very handsome. Many of the girls on the island loved him, but Yanu only had eyes for Isla.
“Soo” said Yanu after practice one afternoon, “your sister’s kumya is in two weeks”.
“Yeah, I know” replied Isla, stuffing her sling shot into her pants pocket. “Everyone knows that”.
“But I was wondering if you would- I mean -If you don’t mind - It’s totally up to you-”.
“Spit it out Yanu” Isla said. She was puzzled as to why Yanu was acting so shy and nervous- which was very unlike his normal confident and outspoken personality.
Yanu took a deep breath. “Would you be my date?”
Isla was even more puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“I mean for us to go together” said Yanu timidly, looking down at his feet.
Isla chuckled. “But you didn’t have to ask. We go everywhere together.”
Yanu looked up and shook his head. “No Isla. I mean for us to go as more than friends.”
Isla was so surprised that she did not know what to say.
Yanu then reach out and held one of Isla’s hands. “I think that you’re an amazing girl Isla. And I really like you.”
Isla could not believe her ears.
“Ahh, I have to go do something for my mom,” she lied, pulling away her hand quickly. Then Isla ran through the bushes, without another word.
A kumya was what the Artinians called a party, held for a girl’s sixteenth birthday. This party symbolized that she was officially becoming a woman. It was also meant to reveal her to potential suitors, for marriage.
Princess Iah was about to turn sixteen and have her Kumya in two weeks. Since she was a Princess, it was bound to be a grand affair. Everyone on the island was invited. Even the army men would be off-duty that night.
This would also be the first royal kumya held in Artinia, in a very long time. To everyone’s great disappointment, Princess Isla had refused to have a kumya when she turned 16. She thought it was too trivial an event to take away from her military duties.
“Please don’t make me mom” she had pleaded. “I just don’t see the point, and I really haven’t got the time to spare with all of my training”.
Many of the young men on the island were looking forward to Princess Iah’s kumya; for she was considered to be the fairest girl on the island by far, and they all wished to marry her. Princess Iah had only to walk by and flip her long dark hair or flash her bright hazel eyes and the boys would swoon. Some even followed her around begging to do favors. But Iah paid no mind to the boys of Artinia. She had her heart set on one day meeting and marrying a handsome Prince from another land. Iah ignored what everyone said, about this being impossible, since Artinia was at war with all of the islands around them. She believed that, by some miracle, her Prince would find her.
At the moment, Iah was at the beach, with a group of fellow dancers, preparing a special performance for her party. She was the best dancer in her dance group (the island had several groups of entertainers: musicians, dancers, singers, jokers, and sports players); and she often helped to organize shows to entertain the people.
Iah had been working very hard on this birthday dan ce for the past month. She was also helping to prepare the menu and the decorations. In fact, Iah was doing so much that she had barely slept during the past two weeks, and was beginning to act a little crazy.
“The entire island will be there!” she would constantly remind everyone. “This party needs to be perfect!” She would then put her hands over her face and scream loudly. This made everyone laugh; but only when Iah was not looking of course.
Iah stopped dancing when she saw her sister running in the sand towards them.
“What is it Isla?”
“I need to sp- speak to you” Isla said breathlessly.
Then, before Iah could respond, Isla grabbed her hand and pulled her away from everyone.
“Gosh Isla, this had better be important. I still have a lot of work to do on the dance.”
“Oh Iah! The worst thing imaginable just happened” Isla groaned.
Iah started to feel concerned. “Wow sis. I’ve never seen you this upset before.”
“It’s because of Yanu” said Isla. “He… He likes me. Can you believe it?”
Iah stared at Isla for a while, and then burst out laughing.
“This is serious Iah” said Isla angrily. “I really need your advice. You’re so good with this kinda stuff”.
But Iah continued to laugh.
“Fine!” Said Isla. “I’ll just ask someone else then.” Then she turned to walk away.
“Wait! Wait!” said Iah, in between chuckles. “I’ll help you. It’s just that, it’s no big surprise.”
“What do you mean?” demanded Isla, still upset.
Iah finally managed to stop laughing. “Anyone could tell that Yanu loves you, ever since you were kids.”
“No he hasn’t!” said Isla, shaking her head from side to side. “We’ve always just been friends”.
“Think about it” said Iah. “He’s never had a girlfriend, even though all of the girls on the island are crazy about him; he spends most of his free time with you; when you’re upset or in trouble he’s the first one on there; and” Iah paused and playfully ruffled Isla’s short hair, “he’s the only one that likes your new haircut.”
Isla pushed away Iah’s away. “But those are things that best friends do, aren’t they?
“Maybe.” Said Iah grinning. “But people also do those things when they’re in love.”
Isla stood in silence for a short while, trying to make sense of everything that Iah had just said. Then her face became suddenly serious. “Yanu doesn’t love me.” She finally said. “He only thinks he does”.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Iah, confused.
“Love isn’t real Iah!” Isla snapped. “Look at what Dad did to mom, and to us”. Then she turned and stormed away.
Up at the royal tree house, Issy was staring through her bedroom window, eagerly awaiting Isla; so that she could ask her for a very important favour. But Issy’s pet pig, Lucy, kept disturbing her.
“Stop nibbling on my clothes Lucy!” said Issy, pulling her skirt out of the Pig’s mouth. “You’ve gotten me into enough trouble.”
But actually, it was Issy’s own fault that she was grounded and not able to enjoy the beautiful sunny day outside with her best friend Yosh. She should have never taken Lucy to school (without Queen inga’s permission), and hid her in one of the class closets. Everyone knows that pigs have very large appetites. Therefore, Lucy burst out of the closet during class and ate all of the children’s work, knocking down the desks and chairs as she went. Issy’s excuse was that she wanted Lucy to learn how to read and write too.
But even though Issy gave a lot of trouble, everyone loved her; for she was very energetic and playful. Her plump cheeks, pretty dimples and short, curly dark hair made her even more adorable; not to mention the fact that she was very small for an eleven year old.
Issy finally gave in to Lucy’s nibbles and the two of them began to tumble around on the ground playfully.
“Stop Lucy! That tickles!”Issy screamed.
After a while, Issy heard footsteps coming up the walkway. She quickly ran back to the window. It was Isla. Issy dashed out of the room (closing the door behind her, to keep Lucy in), and down the stairs. She met Isla at the front door.
“Isla! Isla! I’m so glad you’re home.”
“Not now Issy. I’m not in the mood to play” said Isla grimly.
“I don’t want to play!” said Issy, folding her arms and stomping her little feet. “I want to ask you a favour.”
Isla sighed “Ok. What is it?”
“Could you make two sling shots for Yosh and me, so that we can put on a show for Iah’s kumya? Please.”
“I’ve told you Issy, sling shots are not toys. They’re dangerous.”
“But the performance will be my birthday present to Iah” said Issy. “I can’t think of anything else to give her, and I know she’ll like it.”
Isla sighed again. She knew that Issy would not stop begging until she got what she wanted. “Alright Issy, I’ll think about it”.
“Oh thank you, thank you! Issy exclaimed excitedly, hugging Isla tightly around the waist. “You’re the best sister ever!”
“I didn’t say yes Issy… I said I’ll think about it” said Isla, struggling to loosen Issy’s grip.
But Issy continued anyway. “I can’t wait to tell Yosh! We’ve got to start practicing.”
Isla couldn’t help but smile at Issy’s excitement before walking off towards the stairs. “Bye Issy”.
“Oh! One more thing” Issy shouted. “Are you and Yanu boyfriend and girlfriend now?”
Isla stopped walking and turned back around quickly. “How did you- Where did you hear that?” she demanded.
“Ahhh…” said Issy, looking down at her feet.
“Tell me Now Issy!” said Isla.
“Well, Yosh and I may have been playing in the bushes where you guys were training today.”
“You mean spying more like it” Isla said angrily.
“I didn’t mean to” said issy.
“And aren’t you supposed to be grounded?” Isla continued.
“Please don’t tell mom” Issy begged. “I won’t sneak out again, I promise. I was just so bored.”
“Look Issy” said Isla. “I don’t know what you overheard, but Yanu and I are just friends. And I don’t like you spying on me like that.”
“I’m sorry Isla” said Issy sadly. “I didn’t mean to make you mad. It’s just that, I really like Yanu. He’s like a big brother to me.”
“You already have a big brother “Isla said softly, and then turned and walked up the stairs.
In her room, Isla buried her head in her pillow and began to sob. All of this talk about love had brought up a lot of emotions. She still really missed her brother Idris. She also missed her dad, but she was angry with him for leaving them. Isla worried about him all the time because she had no idea where he could be. Iah and Issy are just too young to understand she thought.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Then came Queen Inga’s gentle voice. “Can I come in?”
“Sure mom” said Isla, quickly drying her eyes in the pillow case.
Queen Inga entered the room and sat next to Isla on the bed.
“You miss them don’t you?” she said.
“How do you know?” Isla asked, looking up at her mom in surprise.
Queen Inga smiled sadly at her daughter. “Because I miss them too” she answered.
Isla looked down at her lap, feeling a little guilty. Here she was, feeling sorry for herself, when her mom must be hurting even more than she was. They were her son and husband after all.
“I’m sorry mom” said Isla. “It’s just that, he was the only brother I had”. Isla then turned her head away to hide the tears that were now filling her eyes again.
“I know sweetie.” Queen Inga placed her arms around Isla and held her close. Both of them stayed like that for a long while, sharing each other’s’ pain.
Then Isla asked softly “mom, is dad ever coming back?”
“I wish I knew” said Queen Inga. “But what I do know is that you must find a way to live through the pain; for we mustn’t dwell on things that we cannot change. And you must never let your hurt keep you from loving others.”
Isla thought on this for a moment, and then asked “will it ever not hurt so much?”
“I hope so” Queen Inga replied.
The big day had finally arrived and there was great hustle and bustle in and around the royal tree house, as people hurried to make the preparations.
Inside, the seamstresses were fitting persons for extravagant outfits and the hairstylists were creating elegant hairstyles; while errand boys went all about delivering: messages, birthday gifts and party supplies.
In the cook-patch located at the back of the house, the royal cooks were sweating over large coal pots (pots made of clay and fired by coal) preparing many Artinian delicacies, such as: Curried Iguana, stewed grasshopper, earthworm casserole and pepper pot (a savory soup of many different plants and herbs).
In the large royal garden, the decorators were busy setting up countless tables and chairs, and making beautiful flower bouquets. They had also set up a large stage in the centre of the garden, on which the entertainers were to perform.
Iah stood at her bedroom window looking down at the decorators in the garden. She wanted so badly to go down and help. But Queen Inga had banned her from participating in any more party preparations; for the people had been complaining about her crazy and bossy behaviour.
Isla was sitting on Iah’s pink frilly bed trying not to laugh; but she couldn’t help it. She let out a chuckle, and Iah turned around quickly.
“When did you get in here?” Iah said.
“I’ve been in here for about ten minutes, but you were too busy dreaming outside to notice.”
“Well, it’s my party” said Iah. “I should be down there making sure that they do everything the way I want it.”
“Calm down Iah. I’m sure everything is under control”.
“That’s easy for you to say” replied Iah. “You don’t care what people think of you”.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Isla.
“I mean just look at the way you dress” said Iah. “You always look so…untidy”.
“No I don’t” said Isla.
“When last have you taken a good look in the mirror Isla?” Iah then grabbed her sister’s hand and pulled her over to the full length mirror on the wall.
Isla looked at herself in the mirror and had to agree with Iah. Her brown, neck-length hair was tangled and very unevenly cut (Isla had cut it herself so that she could move more quickly in battle); her eyebrows were thick and bushy; and her army clothes (a shirt and pants) were extremely baggy, so that it drowned her tiny figure. She even had a bit of mud on her face from practicing with the sling shot in the yard earlier. In all, Isla looked like… a boy!
“You know what I was thinking?” said Iah excitedly. “How about I give you a makeover for the party?”
“Absolutely not!” said Isla “You know I’m not into makeup and that sort of stuff”.
“Oh come on Isla, please” said Iah. “You really do need it”.
“I said no, Iah. All I have to do is take a bath and comb my hair. Then I’ll look alright.”
“But it’ll help to keep my mind off of the party preparations” continued Iah.
“I don’t care” said Isla, walking towards the bedroom door.
Iah followed behind of her. “It’ll be your birthday gift to me.”
“I already have your gift.”
Iah thought for a while. “I’m sure Yanu will like it.” She said.
Isla paused. She had avoided Yanu since the day he told her that he liked her, because she had no idea what to say to him. But Isla knew that she could not avoid seeing Yanu tonight at the party; and, for some reason, she liked the idea of him seeing her all dressed up and pretty.
“Let’s do it.” Isla said to Iah.
Isla took a deep breath before walking up to the garden entrance. Almost the entire island had already gathered in the garden for the party, and Isla was worried about what they would think of her new look. Iah and the few others that had seen her up at the house had all exclaimed how beautiful she looked, but Isla was not fully convinced.
Isla made a curtsey to the guard at the entrance, and noticed that he had a puzzled look on his face, as if trying to figure out who she was; although he had known Isla since birth.
“Trent it’s me- Isla.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Princess” Trent said quickly, bowing a second time. “You look so… so different” he added, turning his head sideways to look at her better.
“That’s alright Trent, I know” said Isla, feeling even more nervous.
She had barely recognized herself when she looked in the mirror before leaving the house. Iah had cut Isla’s hair even shorter, in what she described as a more ‘girly’ style, and had also done her make-up (which now made Isla’s face a little itchy). The seamstresses had made some changes to the simple, long, blue dress that Isla had set aside to wear. They added a lot more puffiness to the bottom, and a lot of sparkle to the top half of it. Iah had even put some of her shiny foot jewellery on Isla’s feet (people in Artinia did not wear shoes).
Isla walked past Trent, onto the long strip of pink carpet leading through the centre of the party. There were suddenly many sounds of “ooohs” and “aaahs”. Many of the guests had stopped what they were doing to admire Isla. Isla also heard comments such as: “Who is that?”, “She’s soo beautiful” and “Who knew Isla could be so pretty”.
Isla blushed deeply as she passed them. She was not at all accustomed to such compliments, and it made her feel a bit uncomfortable; but also very special. She thought to herself, maybe I do look beautiful after all.
The party was in full swing, and everyone seemed to be having a blast. Iah was back to being her carefree self and was the life of the party. At the moment, she was in the middle of the dance floor with her friends, screaming loudly, with both hands waving high in the air.
Iah had not paid any attention to a single admirer for the entire night. Every time one asked her to dance, Iah would simply say “No thank you. I’m waiting on my foreign Prince.” She would then quickly walk away before they could say anything else, with her huge dress swinging all around her.
Iah’s birthday dress was one of the most beautiful dresses that many on the island had ever seen. The seamstresses had worked hard on it for months. It was white, with long sleeves that dropped off the shoulders, and had a big pink bow around the waist. But the bottom of it was the best part. It was light and airy, almost like a cloud, and it spread out extremely wide. Iah did not see the dress until the day of the party, and she had cried when she put it on.
“Mommy I feel like a princess” she exclaimed.
“You are a Princess sweetie” Queen Inga had replied, with tears in her eyes; “A very beautiful princess”.
Iah’s performance at the part, had been amazing. She and her dancers dressed up in colorful feather costumes and did many tricks that made the audience gasp- like hula hooping with rings of fire and all sorts of splits and flips.
Even Issy’s and Yosh’s performance had abeen good, while it lasted. Isla made them the sling shots that they had begged for (but miniature ones that could only use very small stones, so that they could not damage to themselves nor others), and they had used them to knock apples from off of poles. But before they could finish, Lucy- the pig- came onstage and knocked down the poles, and ate the apples. Everyone found it so funny that they fell to the ground laughing.
Isla was on the dance floor as well, having a good time; but began to feel thirsty. She decided to go over to the drinks table, at the edge of the garden, for some passion fruit juice. This area of the garden was very quiet, for most people were back on the dance floor.
As Isla poured the juice from the jug, she felt someone tap her on the shoulder from behind. Isla jumped in fright and spun around, spilling her drink on the person.
“Yanu! I’m so sorry.” Isla said, her heart now beating faster. She had not seen Yanu for the entire night, and had begun worry that he had not come.
“Don’t worry about it Lah” he said; and reached for a napkin from off of the table. Lah was the nickname he had given Isla ever since they were kids.
Isla watched Yanu wiping his sleeve with the napkin and, as if for the first time, she noticed how very handsome he was. Yanu was wearing a very nice brown suit, and his jet black hair was pulled back into a smooth pony tail.
Isla also noticed that Yanu was taking his time to wipe his sleeve, and that his hand was shaking a little. Was he as nervous? Isla wondered.
Yanu finally stopped and looked up at Isla.
“I’ve really missed you.” he said. “Why have you stopped talking to me?”
“I-I’ve just been busy these past two weeks” Isla lied.
Yanu did not seem to believe her. “Look Isla, I know I made things awkward between us when I told you that I liked you. But, if you want, we can go back to being friends and pretend like it never happened.”
Isla felt disappointed. “Is that what you want?” she asked.
“No.” said Yanu quickly. “But it’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Isla thought for a while. “I don’t know.” She said finally.
Yanu looked surprised. “So does that mean you kinda like me too?”
“I’m not sure” said Isla. “Maybe I need some more time to think about all of this.”
“Lah, take all of the time you need” said Yanu. “And if ever you’re ready to be more than just friends, just say the word.”
“But what if I take too long?” asked Isla.
“I’ll still wait” said Yanu. I’ll always wait for you Isla.”
“Now, let’s dance” said Yanu, grinning; and he playfully offered Isla his arm.
Isla laughed. “My pleasure” she replied.
On the dance floor, Isla and Yanu danced happily. All of the awkwardness had gone and Isla felt as if everything was back to normal between them. She had her best friend back.
But then the music became slower and they began to dance closer together. Isla’s heart began to beat quickly again; and she hoped that Yanu could not tell how nervous she felt.
Then Yanu whispered in Isla’s ear. “You look very beautiful tonight.”
Isla look up at Yanu. She wanted to say thank you, but the words wouldn’t come out. Instead, she leaned in closer to him, and then he leaned in as well. Their lips almost touched when –there came a loud and terrified scream from the edge of the garden.
The next thing anyone knew, large groups of strange men were jumping over the garden hedges and running towards the crowd, firing arrows and stones as they came.
Isla and Yanu immediately pulled out their sling shots, which were hidden in the pockets of their clothing. Many of the other army people also found weapons (slings, bows and arrows, sticks), and they all began to fight back against the intruders.
It was a long and gruesome fight. Many persons, on both sides, were killed or injured. But in the end, the Artinians came out victorious. They were currently chasing the remaining enemy men, who were running towards the sea, trying to get away on their canoes.
“We cannot let them get away!” General Atticus shouted. “We must make an example out of them so that they do not return.”
The Artinians who were not able to fight were hiding in bushes and nearby tree houses. Queen Inga had led Iah and Issy to one of the underground storerooms in the back yard of the royal tree house. It was just big enough for the three of them to fit, squeezed together. Queen Inga had not taken them inside of the royal tree house, for she knew that it would be one of the first places that the men would try to capture. They could hear loud yells and bangs coming from above them, in the direction of the house.
“Wait here” the Queen said to Iah and Issy. “I’m going to go check on Isla.”
Then she quickly raised the wooden overhead door and disappeared outside. Iah and Issy remained crouched in the dark. Iah was scared, but Issy took her tiny sling shot from out of her pocket and said “I want to go and help Isla fight too”.
“Issy don’t be silly! You’re way too young!” said Iah.
“No I’m not! Didn’t you see my performance tonight? I knocked down most of those apples!”
“Issy, shooting apples is a lot different than fighting in a battle, and a lot less dangerous. I know that you think you can do everything, but there are just some things only grownups can take care of. Ok?”
But Issy was not listening to Iah. In the blink of an eye, she was climbing through the small overhead door. Iah grabbed her legs and pulled as hard as she could. But Issy managed to wiggle herself free, and then sped across the yard. Iah climbed through the door and chased after Issy; but her huge dress held her back. Then Issy ran into the woods at the edge of the yard, and Iah could no longer see her.
Issy was now deep in the woods and far away from Iah. So she stopped running and leaned against a nearby tree to catch her breath.
Issy felt a bad that she had run away from Iah, but she just had to try and help Isla. What if she was hurt?
Just as Issy was about to continue running, she heard voices coming towards her. Issy quickly ducked behind the tree. Then, soon after, she saw the outlines of two men; but she could not make out who they were. They stopped close to Issy’s hiding place, and one of the men grabbed the other by the throat.
“You can’t call your men to retreat yet!” said the man angrily. “You have not killed the Queen and Princesses like I asked you to.”
Issy was surprised at what she heard. She wondered who the man was. His voice sounded like someone she knew.
The other man pulled the first man’s hand away from his neck and said, just as angrily, “You led my men into a trap! You said that the Artinian army men would be unarmed because of the party, and that it would be easy to fight them. Now nearly all of my men are dead!”
“It’s not my fault that your men can’t fight well!” said the first man. “Now I need you to find the queen and her daughters and kill them!”
“Do it yourself!” shouted the other man.
“I can’t” said the first man. “I don’t want anybody suspecting me.”
“Well, that’s too bad. Because I’m not keeping my men here any longer” said the second man. “I should have known better than to trust the royal advisor”.
Issy now knew who the first man was. She gasped loudly, and then quickly covered her mouth. But it was too late; the men had already heard her. In an instant, they both dash behind the tree and Sir Evans grabbed Issy firmly by the arm. He looked surprised when he saw her, and then angry.
“Well, well, well.” He said. “Here’s one of the royal brats now.”
“How could you Uncle Evans?” Issy cried, “I thought you loved us.”
“I’m not your Uncle,” said Sir Evans; and he spat on the ground. “And the only thing that I love is the throne. I thought that it would finally be mine after I killed your father, but your mother snatched it away from me.”
Issy could not believe her ears. “W-What? M-My father’s dead?”
Sir Evans gave an evil chuckle. “Of course he is. Did you think he just disappeared?
Issy was too shocked to say anything.
Sir Evans smiled and continued. “I saw king Iba storm out of his tent that night, eleven years ago, and I followed him all the way into the woods. He stayed there, trying to clear his mind, and even rehearsed an apology to Queen Inga, because of the argument they had. And then the idea came to me. It was my perfect opportunity to kill King Iba without anyone suspecting me. They would simply think that he had run away from his family. So, as he was making his way back to the camp, in the dark, I snuck up behind him and- ”.
Sir Evans suddenly stopped talking and looked around. They could hear men’s voices coming towards them. Artinian men.
“Quickly! Take her! ” Sir Evans said, pushing Issy towards the other man. “She knows too much”.
Before Issy could do or say anything, the man grabbed her up with one hand, and placed the other hand over her mouth. He then sped away further into the woods.
Issy tried hard to wiggle free, but the man’s grip was too tight; and her screams were muffled by his hand over her mouth. After a while, Issy was able to bite down hard on one of the man’s fingers.
The man yelped loudly and let her go; and Issy dashed through the woods quickly. It was very dark, and Issy could hardly see where she was going; but she kept on running, for she was afraid that the man might catch her. Issy could hear him behind her.
“Get back here!” he shouted.
Soon, Issy could see come torch lights ahead. I hope those are Artinian men, she thought; for the man was now very close behind her. Then just as Issy was about to scream out to them, she felt the man grab her once more, and place a plant over her nose. Then everything went black.
Isla and Queen Inga returned to the store room at the break of dawn. Both of them were unharmed, except for a few minor cuts and bruises. They found Iah sitting on the grass beside the entrance, sobbing.
“What is it?” They asked worriedly “Where’s Issy?”
“I-I don’t know.” Iah said in between sobs. “Sh-She’s gone!”
[*Chapter 10 *]
“This was not a random attack!” declared Army General, Atticus. “Those men knew somehow that the kumya was to be held last night and that the Artinian army men would be off-duty.”
It was the night after the attack and Iah was peeping through a gap in the door of the royal meeting room. There, an emergency council meeting was being held, and Iah was listening to find out if they were any closer to finding Issy.
“We are always being attacked by the other islands, Atticus” said Sir Evans. “So this could just have been a coincidence”.
The seven other council men, who were also in the room, agreed with Sir Evans.
“Don’t be so suspicious General.” They said. “It was probably just a coincidence indeed.”
They were all standing in a circle, facing each other. Normally, the council would sit around a long wooden table, with Queen Inga at the head. However, the raiders had destroyed most of the furniture in the royal tree house, and left it in ruins.
“But we haven’t been attacked in five years!” said General Atticus. “Then it just happens, out of the blue? On the night of the island’s biggest event? That seems to me like it was planned.”
Sir Evans gave General Atticus a long look; then said “So what are you saying, General?”
“That we may have traitors amongst us” General Atticus answered. “And they brought those men here.”
Many of the council men gasped in surprise.
“Don’t be silly Atticus!” said Sir Evans angrily. “The people of Artinia are very loyal and trust-worthy. They would never betray us like that.”
Then a council man said to General Atticus “If there are traitors amongst us, how would we find out who they are?”
“We can ask around” said General Atticus. “Someone is bound to have noticed something suspicious”.
“No! No!” said another council man. “There is no need to make the people more upset than they already are. Like Sir Evans said, no one in Artinia would do such a horrible thing.”
Then yet another council man turned to Queen Inga. “What do you think, Your Highness?”
Queen Inga jumped a little at the mention of her name. She had a confused expression on her face, as if she had not been paying attention to the conversation. Iah immediately felt sorry for her mother. Queen Inga normally looked very beautiful and elegant, but now she looked very dishevelled, in the same dress she had worn to the party- which was now dirty and torn; and her long hair was loose and wild. She also looked extremely sad, with her eyes red and puffy from crying.
“Pardon me?” Queen Inga said.
“I asked you what you thought” said the council man.
“About what?” asked Queen Inga.
“About there being traitors amongst us, who brought the intruders to the party” the council man explained, looking annoyed.
“Well,” said Queen Inga, “if there are traitors amongst us, they will be found eventually. Artinia is a very small island. But what I am concerned about right now is finding my daughter. Do you have news about the search Atticus?”
“As you know your highness,” said General Atticus, “the entire island has been looking for Issy far and wide. But we have seen no sign of her”.
Sir Evans then walked up to Queen Inga and bowed. “My Queen”, he said. “This is so sad to say; but perhaps Issy is… dead.”
“How dare you!” screamed Queen Inga.
“My Queen” said Sir Evans, bowing again quickly. “I must be honest. Artinia is just too small for someone to be missing this long, if they were alive. A wild animal of some sort may have gotten to her.”
Queen Inga was now so furious that her face turned bright red. “I will not lose another child!” she said, pointing her finger in Sir Evans’ face.
General Atticus quickly stepped in between Sir Evans and Queen Inga. “Don’t worry Your Highness” he said. “My men and I will search for Issy for as long as you want.”
Iah could not stand to listen to the council meeting anymore. She let go of the door and ran back to her room. Issy can’t be dead! The thought alone was too painful. Iah sat on her broken down bed and began to cry. She had been crying all day. Iah thought that it was all her fault that Issy was missing; because she was the one in charge of watching her.
Iah suddenly heard a noise outside. She quickly ran to the window and saw that it was Isla speeding towards the royal tree house. Did she find Issy? Iah dashed to her bedroom door. She wanted to hear Isla’s footsteps when she came into the house so that she could know where she was going.
Isla burst open the door of the council room. “I found Issy’s sling shot!” she said, breathing heavily. “It was behind some rocks on the beach, where the raiders’ canoes were. So they must have taken her”.
“What!” said Queen Inga. “They’ve captured Issy?”
“That’s absurd!” said Sir Evans. “What would these men want with a little girl?”
“Well how do you explain her sling shot being there?” asked Isla.
“Are you sure that’s even Issy’s sling shot?” said Sir Evans.
“Of course I am!” said Isla. “I made it for her myself”. Isla then turned to General Atticus. “General, you agree with me don’t you?”
“What you say is possible” said General Atticus.
“Good.” said Isla. “So let’s send some men in canoes after them.”
Atticus thought for a while, and then said “I’m sorry Isla. I can’t. There is not enough army men to spare.”
“What?” said Isla, in surprise.
“I’m sorry Isla.” Said General Atticus. “But we can’t be certain that the raiders indeed took Issy, and my men have been through a lot already. Many of them were killed.”
“But that’s my sister!” Isla shouted. She then turned to Queen Inga. “Mom, you’re the Queen! Make him send his men after Issy!”
Queen Inga’s face was now wet with tears. “No one wants to find Issy more than I do Isla.” She said sadly to Isla. “I’m her mother. But I’m also the Queen, with a responsibility to protect the people of Artinia. And I cannot put their lives at risk for something that we are not sure about.
“But mom!” said Isla.
“We need the entire army here Isla. Too many of them have died already, and if they go into enemy territory, they might not make it out.”
Isla could not believe what she was hearing from her mother. “Mom, this is Issy we’re talking about!” she said. “And I thought that we Artinians didn’t leave anyone behind. We go all out to save them.”
“Please understand Isla” said Queen Inga.
“Send me on my own then” said Isla. “I can find Issy myself.”
The council men gasped in surprise.
“No!” said Queen Inga quickly. “I will not risk your life either”.
“Let me do this mom!”
“I said NO Isla!”
“But-“ Isla began.
“Not another word Isla!” said Queen Inga angrily. “You may leave the meeting room now.”
Isla stared angrily at her mother for a few seconds longer, before storming out of the room. She pushed open the door so hard that it made Iah topple over. But Isla did not even seem to notice. She continued to stomp down the long passageway.
Isla stormed all the way to the nearby beach and sat on the sand. She was angry at them all: her mother, Atticus, Sir Evans, and even the elderly council men for remaining silent. They are the traitors! She thought. They are the ones that want to leave a fellow man behind! They want to leave…Issy.
Isla had been searching high and low in the woods, with the other army men, all day long. When night fell, and they had not found Issy, she began to panic. But then Isla spotted Issy’s sling shot on top of some rocks by the sea; and she was filled with hope again. Isla just knew in her heart that Issy had left it there on purpose, so that she could be rescued. And rescuing Issy was exactly what Isla planned to do. She just needed to come up with a plan.
Just then, Isla heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw Yanu walking quickly towards her.
“I knew I’d find you here” he said, taking a seat next to Isla in the sand.
Here, between two big palm trees, was where Isla always came when she needed to think, or to cool off from the hot sun, or just to stare at the stars at night.
“I just came from the house looking for you” continued Yanu.
“What do you want?”
Isla did not mean to snap at Yanu, but he had interrupted her thoughts and she just did not feel like talking to anyone at the moment.
“I wanted to see how the council meeting went” Yanu said. “But Iah already told me that it didn’t go very well, so I wanted to make sure that you were alright.”
“How is she?” asked Isla. With all the confusion going on, Isla had not really thought about Iah. “She must feel awful about losing Issy.”
“She does.” Yanu said. “But I told her that it wasn’t her fault. Issy was just being Issy.”
Isla felt sorry for Iah. She didn’t want her to blame herself for anything.
“Anyway,” said Yanu, standing up. “I’ll just leave you to your thoughts Lah.”
“Yanu wait” said Isla suddenly. “I need your help with something”.
“Let me guess” said Yanu, sitting back down. “You want me to help you come up with a way to defy the General and your mom, and row out to look for Issy”.
Isla managed a little smile. “Correct” she said.
“I thought you’d never ask. When do we leave?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean for you to come with me Yanu” Isla explained; “only to help me with ideas”.
“But I have to come” said Yanu quickly. “It’s too dangerous for one person”.
“But what about your family?”
Yanu was sort of the man of his house. His father had died in battle some years ago, leaving him and Yosh alone with their mother.
“They’ll be alright” he said. “I don’t think there’ll be an attack again really soon. Besides, we’ll be back in no time, right?’
Isla smiled again. She always loved Yanu’s positive way of thinking, and she really like the company.
They spent a long while, sitting on the sand, trying to come up with different ideas; but none seemed very doable. Yanu even suggested that they try to attract a great big whale to shore and then ride away on its back. Since whales moved quickly, the army guards would not be able to catch up with them.
In the end, they decided that the only thing that they could do was to try to distract the guards and sneak away on one of the army canoes. The only problem was that they had no idea how they were going to distract the guards.
“We’ll figure something out when we get there” said Isla, ready to start.
Yanu held her back by the arm. “We can’t go now” he said. “We have to wait until later, when most people are asleep and there are fewer guards on duty.”
“OK” said Isla, disappointed. She wanted to get to Issy as soon as possible. “We’ll meet back here in two hours?”
“Yes. That sounds good” Yanu replied.
Then they both rushed off to their own homes to get ready.
Isla lay on the floor in her bedroom, staring at the hour glass beside her. Two hours had almost passed; just a few more minutes to go. Isla felt that she was ready for the journey. She was fully clothed in her army gear, with two sling shots in her pockets (In case one got broken or lost); and a large sack lay next to her with the necessary supplies: cassava bread, a few fishes, water, a wooden compass for direction and a large blanket so that they wouldn’t freeze in the canoe.
As the last bits of sand flowed to the bottom of the hour glass, Isla picked up her sack and crossed the room to the door. She then began to tip toe down the hall, as noiselessly as possible. Isla’s heart was beating very quickly; for if her mother only woke up, the whole plan would be off and she would never get to Issy.
Isla reached the front door and sighed with relief. She was just about to open it, when someone behind her said “I knew you would try to do something like this”.
Isla jumped high with fright and spun around. From the moonlight shining into the room, she saw Iah standing at the bottom of the stairs.
“You scared me half to death Iah!”
“You’re going to row out to look for Issy aren’t you?” said Iah, walking towards her.
“It’s none of your concern Iah” Isla replied. “Go back to bed”.
“It is my concern!” said Iah angrily. “She’s my sister too!”
“Shhh” said Isla. “Keep it down, will you?”
“I want to come” said Iah more softly.
“No” said Isla. Then she turned and opened the front door. “I’ve got to go”.
Isla did not want to keep Yanu waiting for too long, or he might think that she had changed her mind, and leave.
“Isla wait” said Iah, grabbing the door as well. “I’ve got to make things right”.
Isla stopped and turned to face her sister once more. “It’s not your fault Iah. Bad things just happen sometimes.”
“Still, I want to help.” said Iah.
“Iah, do you even know what you’re asking for?” said Isla. “You’re going to have to go out into the rough sea, in a dirty canoe, face unknown creatures, and fight dangerous enemies”.
“Well, I- I never really thought about it like that” said Iah nervously. Then she added quickly “But I’m willing to do it for Issy”.
“This is coming from a girl who spends half a day combing her hair, and is terrified of mosquitoes,” said Isla disbelievingly.
“Haven’t you ever heard of people who miraculously change when their loved ones are in danger? Huh?”
Isla raised an eyebrow.
“Come on Isla, please.” said Iah, clasping her hands together.
“Oh alright” said Isla finally. “But if you slow us down, we’re leaving you on an island somewhere, by yourself.”
“Deal!” said Iah excitedly. Then she ran back to the stairs and picked up a large, pink sack.
“What’s that?” Isla asked.
“Oh just some supplies I packed beforehand. I knew you’d say yes eventually”.
Isla rolled her eyes. “Come on, we’ve got to go meet Yanu right now”.
“What took you so long?” asked Yanu, when Isla and Iah finally arrived at the beach.
“We have an addition to our crew” said Isla, pointing to Iah. “She found out about our plan”.
Yanu looked at Iah in surprise. “Ahh… Are you sure you can handle this?
“Why does everyone think that I’m some softy?” said Iah, folding her arms.
“I just meant that you don’t seem much like the outdoors type” said Yanu.
“Well I can be.” said Iah.
“Ok” said Isla quickly, before Yanu could respond. “What’s our plan to distract the guards?”
“Oh I can help with that” said Iah excitedly. “Most of them have crushes on me”.
“How is that supposed to help us?” said Isla.
“Because I can just walk over and strike up conversation with them, while you two get the canoe”
“No, that won’t do” said Isla “We need something bigger”.
“Hmph” said Iah, offended.
“Well I guess Iah could pretend to be hurt or something” suggested Yanu.
“Yes! Good Idea!” exclaimed Iah “I can scream really loud in the bushes nearby, and the guards will come running, because they love me and all. That should give you enough time to row out without anyone noticing you.”
“But how will you get into the canoe with us?” asked Isla.
“Well, something you don’t know about me is that I’m a really good swimmer”.
“Since when?” asked Isla disbelievingly. “You hate getting your hair wet”.
“If you must know, Issy has been teaching me for a while now.” Iah said sadly.
Isla too felt suddenly emotional at the mention of Issy. “Alright.” she said. “We’ll row out of sight and you can swim to meet us”.
“OK.” said Iah.
“And you’ve got to remain unseen” said Isla.
“Got it” said Iah, already running towards the bushes.
“And be careful!” Isla shouted after her.
“I said I’ve got it Isla!” Iah shouted back.
Isla and Yanu then waited for the distraction to begin.
The plan worked! As soon as Iah let out a loud scream, all of the guards nearby rushed into the bushes. They probably thought that it was another surprise attack. Isla and Yanu were then able to get into one of the canoes on the shores and row out a good distance, without being seen. Now, they were waiting on Iah to meet them.
It had taken about ten minutes to get to that spot, and they had been waiting for about another ten minutes, with no sign of Iah. Just when Isla was about to jump overboard and swim back to shore in search of her, Iah’s head popped out from under the water, beside the canoe. Isla and Yanu quickly pulled her in.
“I guess I don’t spend all day just combing my hair after all.” said Iah, grinning broadly.
“I have to admit, I’m impressed” said Yanu. “That was a far distance to swim”.
“And we didn’t even see you coming” said Isla in surprise.
“That’s because I mostly swam under water and only came up for short breaths” Iah said proudly. “I would have gotten here sooner but I had to wait until the coast was clear; because some of the men stayed back on the beach to keep watch. I had to scream again for them to move.
“You did good sis” said Isla.
Iah grinned again. Then Yanu, Isla and Iah high-fived each other on their successful escape plan; and Yanu asked the big question. “So where do we go from here?”
Isla opened her eyes wide in shock. She had not thought about that. None of them had ever been to another island, and they had no idea which island the men were from.
“I don’t know” Isla finally said.
Issy sat on the floor of a long, dark cave. She was using her fingers to mix around some brown mock in a clay bowl that someone had placed on the ground next to her while she was asleep. Issy had no idea what it was. All she knew was that it looked like mud and she was definitely not going to eat it; no matter how loudly her tummy was growling.
Issy was not sure how long she had been on this new island, because the cave was always so dark. From the little that she had seen, before she was thrown into the cave, Issy thought that the island looked very scary. There was not much greenery and flowers, like in Artinia. It was very rocky and bare. The people looked scary as well, with paint all over their faces and bodies, and animal bones around their necks. Or maybe they were human bones. Issy was not sure; and it made her even more frightened.
Issy had been crying ever since she arrived. She no longer felt very brave. All she wanted was to go home. But she could not see any way to escape; for a guard was always at the cave entrance. Issy hoped that someone form home would realize that she had been kidnapped and come and rescue her soon.
Just then, Issy heard voices just outside the cave. Soon after, she saw someone crawling inside, through the small opening. Her heart began to pound. Issy quickly picked up a small rock and threw it just as the person had gotten to their feet.
“Ouch” a male voice said.
“Don’t come any closer” said Issy, trying to sound brave. “My sister is a top slinger in the army and she taught me everything she knows”.
“I’m not here to hurt you” said the voice. “I just brought you some food”.
Issy heard her tummy growl again. “W- what kind of food?” she asked; for she was very hungry.
“Some fruits and nuts”. The voice answered.
Issy could not resist. Those were her favourites. “Well, alright” she said nervously.
The person walked slowly out of the shadows and, to Issy’s surprise, he was just a boy- maybe around Iah’s age. His face was painted like the others and he wore something that looked like a long skirt made of potato sacks, as well as a large hat made of colorful feathers. But even with his painted face and funny-looking clothes, Issy thought that he was very handsome.
The boy smiled kindly at Issy, and then placed two small clay bowls on the ground in front of her- one filled with grapes, mangoes and oranges, and the other with different kinds of nuts- along with a small clay jug of water.
Issy knelt down and began to wolf down the food. “Who are you?” she asked, with her mouth full.
“I am Prince Aguamir” the boy answered; and reached out to shake Issy’s hand.
Issy was shocked. She spat out the water that was in her mouth, and did not shake the Prince’s hand. “P-prince?” she said.
“Yes” said Prince Aguamir.
“So you’ve come to t-take me to the k-king?” Issy stuttered. She began to wonder if he had only brought the food to fatten her up before they cooked her. She had heard many stories about cannibals living on the other islands.
“Oh no” said Prince Aguamir quickly.
“But why would a Prince bring food for a captive?” Issy asked. “Don’t you have servants for that?”
“Yes, we do. But when I heard that the men had captured a small child, I wanted to come and see you for myself, and help in any way that I can.”
Normally, Issy would not allow anyone to call her a child. But after the mistake she made in getting herself kidnapped, she felt like a helpless child indeed.
“Well, if you want to help, you can ask your father to let me go home” said Issy.
Prince Aguamir shook his head sadly. “I wish I could” he said. “But my father is a stubborn man. I keep trying to stop him from raiding other islands, but he will not listen.”
“But why does he do it?” Issy asked angrily.
“He says that we need to raid other islands so that we can have food to eat. You see, here in Grem, we don’t have as much crops as in Artinia, for our soil is very dry and barren. Just last year, we suffered a terrible drought, and many of our people died of hunger.”
“But people are killed when they attack other islands” Said Issy.
“I know. That’s why I don’t like it” Prince Aguamir said.
“Why can’t they just ask for the food that they need?”
“I don’t think it’s that easy” said Prince Aguamir. “People are not always so giving.”
“So there’s no way at all that you can help me to get home?” asked Issy.
Prince Aguamir shook his head sadly. “No. I’m just a kid myself. No one would listen to me.”
“But you can try.” Said Issy; and her eyes began to fill with tears.
“Don’t worry little one” said Prince Aguamir. “When I am King, I’ll make everything better. I promise.”
“I can’t wait that long” said Issy. “I want to go home, now”.
“Oh, right. Well, we have to come up with a plan then”.
“Duh” said Issy, rolling her eyes.
Isla, Iah and Yanu had no choice but to simply go wherever the canoe led them. Their plan was to hop from island to island until they found the one that Issy was on. Finally, after almost two days out on the sea, they were now approaching their first island.
“There must be guards everywhere!” Iah whined.
Until now, Iah had been surprisingly tough throughout the journey. She had not complained once; not even when it had gotten freezing cold in the night and they all had to share one blanket; nor when fishes and bugs had jumped on board. But right now, that it was soon time for action, Iah was terrified.
“Calm down Iah” said Isla. “You said you could handle this right?”
“OK. So I need you to be strong right now.” said Isla.
Isla then turned to Yanu. “Any ideas about how we can get to the island unseen?”
Yanu thought for a moment, and then said “I think we have to leave the canoe behind”.
“What?” asked Isla, puzzled.
“If we go too close with this Artinian canoe, the guards are going to notice us and shoot us down with arrows before we reach shore.” Yanu explained.
“Ohhh, I get it.” said Isla. “But they won’t really see us if we swim.”
“Precisely” said Yanu.
Iah was looking at the two of them as if they were crazy. “I’m not sure if you two noticed, but the canoe is our only means of transportation.” She said. “And all of our stuff is in it.”
“We have no other choice” said Isla.
“And we can always try to get another canoe from the island” Yanu added.
“But what about our stuff?” Iah whined again; “our food, and clothes and hair brushes, ribbons, and my tiara?”
“Brushes and ribbons?” asked Isla. “Who brings that stuff on a trip like this?”
“It’s no reason we can’t still look pretty” answered Iah.
Isla rolled her eyes. “We’ll just have to do without them,” she said “and maybe find some replacements on the island.”
Iah moaned and pouted.
“Let’s get ready to jump” said Isla, ignoring her sister.
Yanu and Isla got up immediately and made their way to the side of the canoe. Iah followed behind them, still pouting; then took off her tiara and placed it on the floor.
“After two…One…two” said Yanu.
All three of them jumped overboard. The sea was cold and a little rough. They battled against the waves and tried to keep under water as much as possible. After a couple of minutes, they reached the shore and were panting very heavily.
“I am never doing that again!” said Iah. “I’m so tired; I thought I was going to drown”.
“Shh. I think I hear something” Isla whispered.
They all turned and saw a group of men walking across the sand. They were armed with bows and arrows and looked very fierce.
“Let’s not cause attention to ourselves” Isla said.
The three of them ducked low in the water, and waited for the men to pass by. They only raised themselves back up when the men reached the other end of the beach. There was no one else around.
“Phew! That was close” said Yanu.
Iah, however, looked concerned. “Did you guys see what they were wearing?”
“Ahh…no” said Yanu, confused.
“They were wearing grass skirts” said Iah
“Now is not the time to think about fashion Iah” said Isla.
“It’s not about fashion Isla” said Iah. “We’re definitely going to stand out in these outfits.”
Isla looked down on the pants and shirts that the three of them were wearing. “You’re right Iah” she said. “What do we do?”
“Not to worry!” said Iah, cheering up. “I just need a bunch of tall grass, some turtle berries and two large coconuts”.
Iah applied the turtle berry juice to the grass, and stuck them together to make three skirts that looked exactly like the ones the men were wearing. She then used the coconut shells to make tops for herself and for Isla, and used the strings from their pants to hold them together. The three of them were in the bushes, dressed in their new clothes. They looked as if they would fit in nicely with the other islanders; except for the fact that Yanu refused to take off his pants from under the skirt; even though Iah kept telling him to.
“Absolutely not!” He said. “I don’t do skirts”.
“Well at least roll your pants up so that it doesn’t show” said Iah angrily.
Isla then came out from behind a tree, dressed in her new outfit; and Yanu could not stop staring at her. He put his hand over his heart and tripped over a rock. Isla’s cheeks became so red from blushing, that Iah thought that she was having an allergic reaction to the turtle berries.
Isla, Iah and Yanu then decided that they would go around and ask questions to find out if these were the people that had raided Artinia. If they were, then Issy had to be around here somewhere. The trio picked up their clothes and began to make their way into the island. That was a rather difficult task, because of the extremely thick bushes. In fact, the entire island appeared to be one great big forest. They had to carry huge sticks to clear a path before them. After walking for a very long time, they seemed to be getting nowhere, and there were scratches all over their bodies from the twigs and tree branches.
“What kind of Island is this?” Iah complained. “And where is everybody?”
Just then, they heard a loud noise like a trumpet coming from somewhere in the bushes close by.
“Wa- what was that?” said Iah, with her eyes open wide in fright.
“I don’t know” said Isla, frightened as well.
Then they heard some more loud noises, as if something really big was smashing through the bushes towards them. The three of them stood where they were, looking all around. There was nowhere to go. They could not run through these thick bushes.
Then suddenly, they saw a great big, terrifying creature push through the bushes in front of them. It was very tall and grey all over, with four big chunky legs. Its ears were huge and flappy, and it had two long, white teeth sticking out at either side of its mouth. It stood up in front of them, swinging around its extremely long nose and making the trumpet sound that they had heard earlier.
“WE’RE GOING TO DIE!” Iah screamed.
Isla just stood there with her mouth opened wide.
“Quick! Duck down!” Yanu shouted.
Iah and Isla dashed to the ground and Yanu tried to cover them with his body. They were all expecting the grey monster to trample over them or eat them; but nothing happened. All went quiet. Isla nervously opened her eyes and peeked over Yanu’s shoulder.
“Look!” she said in surprise.
Yanu and Iah turned around slowly. The creature was now standing calmly before them and someone was on its back.
“Hello up there!” Isla called.
The person jumped down beside them. It was just a little boy, of about ten years old. He was very scrawny, with long braided hair and very dark skin, like the men they had seen earlier.
“But you’re just a child!” said Iah. “How did you ride this big beast?”
“Huh?” the boy said puzzled. “Everyone in Bane rides elephants. It’s the only way to get through these bushes. But you should already know that. You’re from here, aren’t you?”
Iah had completely forgotten that they were supposed to be trying to fit in with the islanders.
“Ohh.. Ahh… Of course we’re from here” she lied.
The boy scrunched as if he did not believe them.
“Are you sure?” he asked. “You don’t look like the other people in Bane.”
“Oh… that’s just because we have a skin disease”. Isla lied again.
The boy suddenly looked very interested. “What kind of skin disease?” He asked. “Is it gruesome?”
“Sure” said Isla. “Our skin swells up sometimes and releases icky puss and everything.”
“Cooooool” said the boy, smiling broadly and stepping closer towards them to get a better look at their skin. “I should take you to my mom then. She’s a healer”.
“Yeah, that’ll be great” said Isla. “Just let me talk to my friends first, ok?”
Isla huddled Iah and Yanu together. “Issy’s not here” Isla whispered.
“How do you know?” asked Iah.
“Because these people look nothing like the ones that raided the Kumya” she explained. “Their skin is a lot darker.”
“She’s right” said Yanu.
“Aww man” Iah moaned. “We lost our canoe and nearly drowned, and got scratched by bushes and almost trampled by a beast for nothing!”
“We have to get off of the island before anyone else sees us” Isla continued, ignoring Iah. “They’ll take one look at us and know that we aren’t from here. Then who knows what they might do to us.”
“But what do we do about the kid?” asked Yanu.
“Follow my lead” said Isla. She had no idea what she was going to do yet, but she hoped that she would think of something soon.
“Ahh… whats your name? Isla asked, turning back to the boy again.
“Quami” the boy answered.
“Ok Quami. Take us to your mother” said Isla.
“Alright. Jump aboard Tumba.” Quami said, climbing back unto the elephant.
“Oh no” Iah whispered to Isla. “I’m not getting on that monster”.
“We have to” Isla whispered back to her.
Quami threw down a rope ladder from the side of the elephant so that the three of them could climb up. Yanu, who no longer seemed afraid of the elephant, stepped forward first. He helped up Isla and Iah ( it took three tries for Iah to climb the rope, because she kept screaming and running back every time the elephant made a slight move); and then climbed up himself.
It turned out to be a very enjoyable ride. The four of them sat comfortably on Tumba’s large, soft back, laughing and chatting merrily. Quami was also very funny and lively. He kept doing all sorts of stunts on the elephant’s back, like standing on one leg and doing handstands. Isla loved being so high up from the ground; and even Iah found it cute the way the elephant would throw around its long trunk- as Quami told them it was called. Yanu kept slapping the elephant’s backside to make it go faster; but Tumba ignored him and walked through the bushes at a slow pace.
In all the fun that they were having, Isla forgot that she was supposed to be trying to come up with an escape plan. Now, the bushes were becoming thinner and she suddenly realized that they were nearing the village.
“Stop!” she shouted suddenly.
In fright, Quami pulled the reins hard and made Tumba stop abruptly. Iah screamed as they slid forward on the elephant’s back and almost fell over.
“Wh-what is it?” Quami asked.
“Ahh…I think Tumba’s hurt” Isla lied. “I see a lot of blood on his right foot.”
“Huh?” said Iah. “You can’t see Tumba’s feet from-”.
Isla quickly gave Iah a warning look, and Iah stopped talking. She realized that this was a part of Isla’s get-away plan; and Quami seemed to believe.
“Oh no” he said, looking worried “I’ll be right back.”
“Yes, you do that” said Isla.
The three of them watched Quami hurry down the rope ladder. Isla then slid forward sneakily and took hold of the reins. Just when Quami reached the elephant’s right foot, Isla pulled the reins really hard and Tumba shot off, leaving Quami yelling behind.
“Wait! Come back! Tumba nooo…”
The three of them could barely stay put on Tumba’s back. They were dashing through the trees and bushes really fast, and had to duck low so that the tree branches did not hit them.
“We’re going to fall!” screamed Iah.
But they didn’t fall. They held on with all their might and Tumba took them to the edge of the bushes, onto another beach. Luckily, there was no one around, and they saw a line of canoes on the shore.
“Great!” said Yanu happily.
The trio climbed off of Tumba’s back and ran straight to the canoes. They hopped into one of them and rowed away as quickly as they could.
[+The Island of Ratam +]
Isla, Iah and Yanu were lying on the sands of the second island, panting heavily. They had left the canoe and swam to shore, like last time; and were now extremely tired.
Isla finally sat up and turned to look at her surroundings. She was shocked to see black sand beneath them- and not white like they were accustomed to back in Artinia. Also, the large rocks surrounding the beach looked as if they had been melted and then left tor dry and harden; for they were flat and sunken in certain parts.
“This place is creepy” said Iah, finally catching her breath. She was dusting the black sand off of her herself with a disgusted look on her face.
“What do you think happened here?” asked Yanu, holding a handful of the sand up to his face.
“No idea” said Iah, still looking around. Then she pointed “Look! There are some people over there in the water”.
“Good. Let’s go ask them some questions” said Yanu, standing to his feet.
“No we can’t!” said Iah quickly. “We may be dressed differently, remember? That will give us away.”
They had taken off the grass outfits from Bane, and were now dressed in their old clothes.
“Oh, right. I forgot” said Yanu, sitting back down.
Isla suddenly had an idea. “Since those people are in the water” she said “their clothes might be up on the sand, don’t you think?”
“I guess” said Iah.
“Well, maybe we can dash over there and grab their clothes without being seen” said Isla. “Then we’ll be able to fit in with the other islanders.”
“Well, it’s worth a try” said Yanu.
The three of them made their way to where the small group of people were swimming, making sure to hide behind the trees as they went.
The swimmers’ clothes were on the sand, where Isla guessed they would be.
“Yes!” said Isla. ““Now all we have to do is run over and grab them. Those people are too busy playing in the water to notice.”
“I’ll go” said Yanu to Isla and Iah. “You two wait here.”
Yanu dashed out from behind the tree and crossed the short distance to where the pile of clothes was. But as soon as he picked them up, an angry voice shouted from the water.
“Hey! What are you doing with our clothes?!”
Yanu gave a startled jump before dashing back towards the tree. “Run!” he shouted to Isla and Iah.
Yanu, Isla and Iah darted through the bushes as fast as they could, while the swimmers chased them. Yanu was in the lead and Isla was right behind him; but Iah had trouble keeping up.
The swimmers were quickly catching up to them; because they knew the area better.
“You’ve got to run faster!” Isla shouted to Iah.
“I can’t!” Iah cried.
The swimmers were now just behind of Iah, and they looked furious. Isla turned back to try to pull Iah forward, but one of the swimmers grabbed Iah before Isla could get to her.
Iah screamed loudly.
“Stop now, or I’ll hurt her!” said the large, teenaged boy who was holding Iah tightly around her neck.
“No, let her go now or you and your friends will get hurt!” said Isla angrily, aiming her slingshot at the large boy.
“You think I’m scared of a little girl with her toy?” the large boy laughed.
His friend laughed as well. There were two other large boys with him; along with three girls.
Iah started to cry.
Yanu finally reached back to where they were all standing and aimed his slingshot at the gang as well. “I’m warning you guys” he said.
The boy holding Iah growled angrily at Yanu. “I should punch you in the face for stealing my clothes” he said.
“Hold on Remus” said one of the other boys to the boy holding Iah. “These three look like foreigners”.
Remus- the boy holding Iah- looked surprised. “Foreigners?” he said.
Then he squinted his eyes to look at Yanu and Isla more closely. “You’re right Pug. They’re dressed weird”.
Pug turned to Isla and Yanu. “Where are you from?” he said angrily. “And what are you doing invading our island?”
“You invaded our island first!” said Isla.
“What!?” asked Pug in surprise.
“Yes! A few days ago, your men invaded Artinia and took my sister”.
The gang began to laugh again.
“The poor baby lost her sister” said one of the girls mockingly. And there was more laughter.
“So you’re from Artinia, huh?” said Pug finally; after the laughter had died down. “I hate Artinians! You feel you’re so much better than the rest of us islanders.”
“That’s because the rest of you islanders are greedy crooks! You are always trying to take our stuff.” said Yanu, pointing his sling shot closer to them.
“Look who’s talking!” said Remus. “You just took our clothes.” Then he turned to Pug and said. “I think we need to teach these foreigners a lesson!”
“I agree” said Pug.
Pug then dashed suddenly at Yanu; but in the blink of an eye, Isla launched a smooth rock at his chest from her sling shot, and he fell to the ground instantly at Yanu’s feet. Yanu did the same to Remus and he let go of Iah at once before falling to the ground with a loud thud.
“Run!” Yanu shouted to Iah, and she dashed into the bushes screaming.
The other members of the gang came forward to attack, but Isla and Yanu were too quick for them; and in no time, they all lay in heaps on the ground. All except for one of the girls, who Isla could see hiding behind a large palm tree.
“I’ll take care of her” Isla said.
Isla walked behind the tree, and just as she aimed her sling, the girl shouted:
“No! Wait! Please!”
Isla lowered her aim and looked at the girl. She was crouched on the ground with her hands out in front of her and trembling violently. Isla felt sorry for the girl and put her sling shot away. The girl, realizing that she was not being attacked, raised her head slowly. Her wild, curly, brown hair covered much of her small face; but Isla could see enough to notice that she was very pretty.
“Are my friends dead?” the girl asked timidly.
“No. they’re just knocked out for a while” said Isla.
Isla and Yanu had been trained to know exactly where to hit a person; so that they only become unconscious or a while. The girl breathed a sigh of relief and stood up slowly. Isla turned to leave; for she and Yanu needed to catch up with Iah as soon as possible.
“Wait” said the girl quickly.
Isla stopped and turned back around. “What?” she said.
“Our people didn’t raid your island a few days ago” the girls said. “We haven’t raided Artinia for years. Your army is too strong. We wouldn’t risk it”.
“Why should I believe you?” Isla asked.
“I wouldn’t lie to you” said the girl. “I have a sister too; so I can imagine how horrible it must feel to have your sister taken away.”
Isla could tell that the girl was telling the truth; and she felt disappointed, because it meant that Issy was not on this island either. Isla also worried that they might be too late to rescue Issy. Every wrong island that they came too held them back.
“Where can we find a canoe?” Yanu asked the girl. “We need to get off of this island as soon as possible to continue our search.”
“I’ll show you” said the girl.
Isla and Yanu hurried off with the girl to look for Iah. They found her a short distance away, hiding behind a large tree trunk.
“Oh I’m so glad you guys are alright” Iah cried, rushing from behind the tree and hugging Isla tightly. “Who is this?” she asked, when she noticed the girl with them.
“Sandy” said the girl.
“She’s gonna help us get off the island” said Isla.
“But we haven’t looked for Issy yet” said Iah, looking confused.
“She’s not here” Isla said sadly.
“How do you know?” Iah demanded. “We’re running out of time. She’s got to be here!”
“Just trust me Iah” said Isla. “The sooner we get off of this island, the sooner we’ll find Issy”.
Meanwhile, Issy was still in the dark cave. Two days had passed and no one had come to see her, except for Prince Aguamir. He came often to bring food or to just keep Issy’s company, so that she would not get too lonely.
Prince Aguamir was there with Issy now, and they were both lying out on the floor, looking up at the roof of the cave.
“What are your people going to do to me?” Issy asked
“I don’t know” said Prince Aguamir. “My father would not tell me.”
“Well what do they normally do to their captives?”
“I – I’d rather not say.”
“It’s that bad huh?” said Issy, feeling scared.
“Don’t worry little Issy” said Prince Aguamir quickly. “If they were going to do to you what they normally do to other captives they would have done it already. They never keep the captives lying around this long”.
That did not make Issy feel any better.
“Well maybe they’re keeping me so that they can demand gold from Artinia” She said. “Because they know I’m a Princess”.
“Don’t lose hope Issy” said Prince Aguamir. “Like you said, your people are going to come and rescue you soon.”
“I don’t believe that anymore” said Issy sadly. “They would have come already. They probably don’t know where I am.”
“Well then we’ll just keep thinking of ideas to escape” said Prince Aguamir. “And we won’t sleep until we come up with something”.
When Prince Aguamir said ‘sleep’, Issy suddenly had an idea.
“Prince Aguamir, do you think you can find a plant that makes people really sleepy?” she asked. “Because one of your men put a plant on my nose that made me fall asleep just before they brought me here.”
Prince Aguamir thought for a while, and then said “Hmm. That must be a plant called hop cones. Our men normally use it in battle to sleep out their enemies.”
“Can you get some for me please?” said Issy. “I have an idea”.
Issy stood close to the entrance of the cave, waiting to hear when the guard fell asleep. Prince Aguamir was supposed to have snuck into the kitchen and sprinkled the hop cones into the guard’s lunch.
The guard was finished eating, and Issy had been waiting patiently for what seemed like a very long time. Just then, loud snoring sounds came from the cave’s entrance, and Issy’s heart began to beat very quickly. The guard must have finally fallen asleep; so It was time to sneak out.
She poked her head through the small entrance to make sure that the guard was indeed asleep. He was. Issy carefully climbed through the hole, and crept past him as softly as she could. When she had gone far enough, Issy set off at a run to the bottom of the hill, where Prince Aguamir said he would be waiting for her. But he was nowhere to be seen; so Issy crept behind a large coconut tree and looked around. The village was a short distance away. It was cluttered with small straw huts, and filled with people scurrying about; but the area where Issy stood was quite deserted.
After waiting for a few minutes, Issy began to feel worried. She wondered whether Prince Aguamir was still coming to meet her. Maybe he had gotten caught putting the hop cones in the food; or maybe he was never on her side after all, and had told the king that she planned to escape. All of these thoughts ran through Issy’s mind.
Issy decided to go back up to the cave before anyone caught her trying to sneak away. She thought that the guard was probably still asleep, so she could just sneak right back in without being seen. But just as she crept from behind the tree, Prince Aguamir suddenly appeared from the side of the hill. Issy jumped I fright.
“I’m sorry I took so long” Prince Aguamir said, breathing heavily.
Prince Aguamir was also very wet with sweat. He explained that he had taken the long route, all along the edge of the village, so that people would not see him coming to meet Issy.
“I’m just glad you’re here” Issy said. “Do you have the sack?”
Prince Aguamir raised his hand to show her a large, brown cloth sack.
“Good” said Issy.
Issy quickly climbed into the sack. Then Prince Aguamir threw it over his shoulder and began to walk towards to village. Issy felt very uncomfortable in the sack. Although there were many small breathing holes punched into it, Issy felt very stuffy. It also hurt a little being crouched in such a small space and bouncing off of Prince Aguamir’s back with every step that he took.
“Stop squirming so much or I might drop you” Prince Aguamir whispered to Issy.
Before Issy could answer, a woman’s voice said “Hello Prince Aguamir, how are you today?”
“Oh I’m just great” Prince Aguamir replied, sounding nervous. “Ahh… I’ve just been hunting, that’s all”.
“And I see you’ve got a nice big catch too” the woman said.
“Oh yes” said Prince Aguamir. “Well, see you around then. I’ve got to get going.”
Prince Aguamir hustled away quickly. Issy was very relieved that the woman was gone. She had been holding her breath and trying her best not to move throughout the entire conversation.
As they walked further through the village, Issy could hear many more people stop to say hello to Prince Aguamir; but he hustled away from all of them. Just when Issy felt that things were going smoothly, one little boy shouted:
“Prince Aguamir, can I see what you caught in the bag?”
The next thing Issy knew, a pair of small hands grabbed onto her legs and pulled sharply, sending her crashing to the ground. Issy let out a loud yelp of pain, and then covered her mouth quickly. Her eyes were watering because her backside was hurting badly. Luckily, the bag was still fully covering her. Prince Aguamir quickly picked back up the bag and laughed nervously:
“I guess the catch is not quite dead yet” he said. “Animals sound just like humans sometimes, don’t they?”
He then began to walk again at a much quicker pace, and Issy bounced even more on his back. Soon, Issy could no longer hear the sounds of people walking about and talking; only Prince Aguamir’s footsteps and his heavy breathing.
Finally, Prince Aguamir placed Issy gently on the ground. It felt soft and she could hear the rushing of the water beating against the shore. They must be at a beach she thought. Issy then heard Prince Aguamir speak to someone.
“I need you to bring me my canoe Grum. I’m going fishing” he said.
“Right away Your Highness”. The man called Grum replied.
“You know better than to go out on the sea alone” said another man’s voice. This man frightened Issy, for he sounded very stern. And she tried with all her might to be very still in the sack.
“Maybe it’s about time that I went out on my own Uncle” said Prince Aguamir. His voice was shaking.
Issy was having trouble staying still, for something in the bag itched her nose.
“Hmm” said the uncle. “What’s in the bag?”
“Just some fishing supplies” said Prince Aguamir, still sounding scared.
Issy was now holding her nose tightly shut so that she would not sneeze.
“Let me have a look in the bag” said the Uncle.
“No!” said Prince Aguamir quickly. Then he grabbed the sack quickly.
“What’s the matter with you Aguamir?” said the Uncle. “Why are you acting so strange?”
Just then, Grum returned and said loudly, “Here’s your canoe Your Highness”.
“Grum,” the Uncle said, “please accompany the Prince on his fishing trip and make sure that he is safe.”
“I said that I can go alone” said Prince Aguamir more bravely this time.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” said the Uncle angrily. “You can’t go alone!”
“You and father are always trying to control me!” said Prince Aguamir angrily. “I’m grown now, and you need to start taking me seriously!”
Issy was surprised at Prince Aguamir’s anger. He always seemed so timid.
“Fine!” said the Uncle. “Have it your way.”
“Thank you” said Prince Aguamir.
He sounded very surprised that his uncle was letting him go. Prince Aguamir quickly picked back up the sack off of the ground and ran to the canoe. When they had rowed out a far distance, Issy finally peeked out of the sack.
“I’m sorry Issy” Prince Aguamir said. “I didn’t expect my Uncle to be there. And I hope you weren’t hurt by the fall from that little boy.”
“I’m perfectly fine” said Issy smiling broadly.
Issy was too happy to be bothered by anything at the moment. Her plan had actually worked! And she was on her way home.
Isla, Iah and Yanu were still in Rattan, bathing in a large pool of clear, bubbling water that Sandy said was called a ‘Hot Spring’. Sandy decided to bring them to this spot, close to the edge of the island, so that they could clean up and rest before moving on to another island.
“Oh wow!” exclaimed Iah, as she floated backwards in the water. “I could just lie here forever”.
“Me too” said Yanu, who was also floating backwards and popping a guinep into his mouth. Sandy had gathered a variety of fruits for them to eat- some of which they had never seen in Artinia. The guinep was their favourite. It was small and round, and in a green case- it looked almost like a tiny green ball. The fruit inside was soft, and peach-coloured, and very sweet to the taste.
“There are lots of these hot springs scattered around the island” Sandra said. “They’re great for soaking sore muscles and other aches and pains”.
“But what makes the water so hot?” asked Isla, who was sitting on the edge of the pool next to Sandra, with her feet in the warm water.
“The volcano” said Sandra.
“The what?” asked Yanu, puzzled.
“You’ve never heard of a volcano?” exclaimed Sandra in shock. “I thought all of the islands had them. They’re these dreadful mountains that spit out red hot liquid and melt everything”.
Iah gasped. “That sounds horrible!”
“It is” said Sandra. “Our volcano erupts every few years or so. That’s why the sand is so black.”
“Ohhh” said Yanu. “We were wondering about that.”
“It also makes it hard for us to grow crops” Sandra continued, “because the soil gets really burnt. Sometimes there’s hardly anything at all to eat on the island.”
Isla felt very sorry for Sandy and the people of Rattan. She could not imagine having to live in constant fear of being burnt by lava, and facing starvation. She remembered how hard it was to recover from the hurricane that had hit Artinia eleven years ago.
“Is that why your people raid other islands?” she asked. “For food?”
“Yes” said Sandy sadly.
“But why don’t they just ask for the food?” said Iah; “Instead of fighting and killing?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s not that simple” said Sandy.
Isla beat her feet angrily in the water. “Gosh! “she said. “If only the islands could just learn to communicate with one another, then none of this would have happened.”
“Yeah, but what can we do?” said Sandy. “We’re just a bunch of kids”.
They spent the rest of the morning splashing around playfully in the water. After their bath, Isla, Iah and Yanu put on the clothes that they had taken (just in case anyone happened to see them); and Sandy took them to a cave, where they hid until nightfall. Sandy, however, had gone home so that no one would come looking for her.
The trio was now standing on the sand of a deserted, moonlit beach, waiting for Sandy to meet them with her canoe. They had been waiting for a long time.
“What if she doesn’t come?” said Iah worriedly. “I knew we shouldn’t have trusted her!”
Just then, they saw Sandy rowing around a large rock, in the sea, towards them.
“I knew she would come.” said Iah happily.
The three of them ran quickly across the sand and climbed into Sandy’s canoe.
“I’m sorry I’m so late guys” said Sandy. “I had to wait until my family fell asleep.”
“That’s ok” said Isla. “Only Iah was worried.”
“Only a little” said Iah, feeling embarrased.
“I still can’t believe you have your own canoe” said Yanu in amazement. “I wish I could afford one”.
“It was my grandfather’s” said Sandy. “He gave it to me before he died, because he knew how much I love the sea.”
“Oh Sandy, we didn’t know that this canoe was so special to you” said Iah. “We can’t possibly take it”.
“Don’t worry about it” said Sandy, smiling. “It’s going to be used for a good cause. Grandpa always said that family is everything. So go and find your sister.”
“You don’t know how much this means to us Sandy” said Iah, with tears in her eyes. She gave Sandy a tight hug, and then Yanu and Isla joined in also. Afterwards, Sandy jumped out of the canoe with a splash, while the trio rowed away.
Isla looked up at the stars as she rowed and smiled to herself. She thought about Quami and Sandy, and it made her feel more confident about finding Issy. If there were good people in Bane and Rattan, then there must be some good people on the island that Issy was on too, who would help them get back their sister.
“What’s that?” Isla asked Yanu, pointing at an approaching light far behind them. They had been rowing for only a few hours and all was pitch black, except for that light.
Yanu turned and looked behind of him. He squinted is eyes to see more clearly, and then said urgently “We’ve got to get out of here”.
“Why?” asked Isla feeling scared now.
“It looks like raiders” answered Yanu.
Isla’s heart began to beat quickly. “Oh no” she gasped.
“We can’t let them catch up with us” said Yanu. Then he turned around and began to row at a faster pace.
Isla turned quickly and nudged Iah, who was lying next to her in deep sleep. “Wake up!”
Iah raised her head slowly. “Wh-What?” She said sleepily.
Isla dipped her hand into the sea and splashed the cold water on Iah’s face.
“Hey! What did you do that for?” Iah said angrily.
“Start rowing Iah, raiders are behind us!”
Iah gasped in fright, then grabbed her rows quickly began rowing.
The three of them rowed as fast as their arms could go. The only sounds were their heavy, tired breathing. After about ten minutes, Isla looked back and noticed that the light behind them had not only gotten closer, but had separated in two.
“There are two canoes!” she said. “And they’re gaining on us!”
What are we gonna do?” said Iah. She was so frightened that she almost dropped her rows.
“Just keep rowing” Yanu said.
But the longer they rowed, the closer the canoes got to them. Soon the two canoes were so close that they could see them very clearly, and could even hear the voices of the persons in them.
“We’ve got to jump overboard before they get to us!” said Isla.
Just as they were about to jump, someone on one of the canoes shouted out: “Stop! Isla, Iah, Yanu”.
“Huh? H-how do they know our name?” asked Iah, feeling terrified.
“Because they’re Artinian men!” said Yanu, smiling broadly. “I recognize that voice. It’s Boon!” Boon was one of Yanu’s good friends. He was also an archer in the army- an archer is someone who uses the bow and arrow.
“This is not good.” said Isla. “My mom probably sent them to take us back home”.
Within a few minutes, the two canoes had caught up with them, and Isla could see the familiar faces of her fellow army men. There were three men and in one canoe, and Boon and his mean-looking girlfriend in the other.
“What’s up guys?” said Boon, smiling broadly. His white teeth were even more dazzling in the dark. Isla used to have a big crush on Boon a few years back because of his outstanding handsomeness, but his rude behaviour had soon turned her off; and she had disliked him ever since. “We’ve been searching for you for days.”
“Why?” said Isla, crossly.
“Your mother’s worried sick about you, that’s why” said Boon, still smiling. “And your mother too Yanu”.
Isla did not like hurting her mother. But she just could not give up on Issy.
“Tell them we’re fine.” She said to Boon.
“No. Our orders were to bring you back home” Boon replied.
“I’d like to see you try” said Isla angrily, reaching into her pocket for her sling shot.
“Hold up” said Yanu, quickly grabbing Isla’s hand before she could take out her sling shot. Thenhe turned to Boon. “Boon, buddy, maybe you guys can help us find Issy first. I mean, you’re already here, and we’ve come so far”.
“No” said Isla immediately, looking up at Yanu. “We’re fine on our own”.
“Come on Isla” Iah pleaded. “We could use all the help we can get. And that way, we could get to Issy faster”.
Meanwhile, Boon seemed to be thinking hard. Then he finally said “Alright. There’s an island just north of here called Grem. They are a wild people. I’ll bet they are the ones that attacked us and took Issy. I’ll take you to it.
Isla thought for a while. “Alright, alright.” She said. “But if you guys only try to take us back home before we’ve found Issy, I’ll sling you so hard that you’ll sleep for days.”
By about mid-afternoon the following day, the three canoes rowed onto the shores of the island of Gwan. Boon told them that this area of the island did not normally have guards on watch, so they did not have to leave their canoes and swim to shore.
As soon as they jumped out of the canoe, Boon and his men grabbed a hold of Issy, Iah and Yanu.
“Get off me!” Isla shouted.
Isla tried to fight Boon off, but could not. He was too strong for her.
Isla looked to the side of her and saw that one of the men that had come with them was holding Iah with her hands behind her back, while two were holding Yanu- who was struggling violently. Boon’s girlfriend was standing in front of them laughing loudly.
Then Isla heard Boon’s cold voice in her ears. “Sorry Isla, but my orders were actually to make sure that you never return home”.
Whose order[_?_] Isla asked.
“You should find your sister here” said Boon, ignoring Isla’s question. “That is, if they haven’t already killed her.”
The next thing Isla knew, a group of men with painted faces came running out of the bushes, with their bows and arrows aimed at them.
“Lower you weapons men!” said Boon. “I come bearing gifts, courtesy of Sir Evans. Do with them as you please. ”
“Sir Evans is no friend of ours!” spat one of the men. “He’s a liar and a cheat!”
“I’m sure there has been some sort of misunderstanding here” said Boon, sounding scared.
Isla would have laughed at him if she was not in danger also.
“None of you Artinians can be trusted!” continued the man. Then he turned to the other men, “take them all!”
“Now Now…I’m sure we can work something out.” said Boon nervously, his grip on Isla loosening.
But the men ignored him and grabbed them all in a flash.
“I can see the island clearly now!” said Issy excitedly.
“I see it too Princess Issy” said Prince Aguamir, smiling also.
“I can’t believe I’m finally home. I’ve missed my mom and sisters and Yosh and everyone”. Issy was hopping up and down so much that the canoe almost toppled over.
Just then, an arrow flew past them, nearly striking Prince Aguamir in the head. Then more arrows followed.
“Duck!” shouted Prince Aguamir, puling Issy down beside him. “They’re shooting at us”.
“They probably think we’re raiders.” said Issy. “Can you swim Prince?”
“Of course” said Prince Aguamir.
“Good. We’ve got to jump overboard and swim to shore. That way they can’t really see us.”
Issy and Prince Aguamir soon reached the shore, where General Atticus and his men stood waiting for them, with their weapons raised.
Then as Issy came out of the water, General Atticus recognized her. “Issy?” he said, in his husky voice. “Is that really you?”
“Yes General Atticus” said Issy, breathing heavily because she was so tired from swimming.
“I can’t believe it!” said General Atticus.
He then ran over to Issy, lifted her up and hugged her tightly. “How did you get here? Your mother will be so happy to see you.”
“Where is she?” asked Issy excitedly.
General Atticus suddenly looked sad. “Issy, she hasn’t been doing too well.”
“Is she sick?” said Issy, immediately starting to feel worried.
“I’ll take you to her.” said General Atticus.
General Atticus led Issy and Prince Aguamir up to the royal tree house; and stopped when they got into the living room.
“She’s in her bedroom” he said to Issy. “I’ll wait here with your friend.”
Issy ran to her mother’s room, but was too nervous to open the door; for she was not sure what she would see inside. What was wrong with her mother?
Issy finally took a deep breath and pushed open the door. The queen was lying in bed, looking very weak and pale- almost like a ghost.
“Mommy!” screamed Issy, running over to the bed.
Queen Inga turned around slowly and stared at Issy in shock.
“I-Issy?” she said softly. “Is that really you?”
“Yes mommy” said Issy, beginning to cry.
Queen Inga lifted a trembling hand and touched Issy’s face, as if to check that she was real and not a dream.
“Oh Issy” she said, tears beginning to flow from her eyes. “I thought I’d lost you forever”.
“I came back mommy” said Issy, falling into her mother’s arms.
They hugged each other for a long time, and Issy did not want to let go.
“Mom, what happened to you?” Issy finally said.
“I’ve been sick worrying about you and your sisters. Where are they?”
“Who?” asked Issy, confused.
“Your sisters. They brought you back, didn’t they?”
“No” said Issy, still confused. “I came back on my own”.
“Queen Inga leaned back onto her pillow, looking scared. “Oh no” she moaned.
“Mom, have they gone looking for me?” Issy asked, finally understanding.
“Yes. The day after you left” cried Queen Inga. “And they haven’t returned since.”
“Oh no!” said Issy, beginning to panic.
Then Queen Inga said “Sir Evans sent some men out after them, but we haven’t heard from them either”.
“Sir Evans?” said Issy.
Issy remembered that Sir Evans was behind her kidnapping and the raiding of Iah’s party; so she did not want him anywhere near her family.
“Mom, where is Sir Evans?” she asked.
“He should be about somewhere. He’s been such a help since I’ve been sick. He’s practically been ruling the island.”
“Mom, there’s something I need to tell you” said Issy urgently.
But before she could say anything else, there was a loud knock at the bedroom door.
“Come in” said Queen Inga weakly.
The door then flew open and who should storm into the room but Sir Evans.
“Oh hello Sir Evans” said Queen Inga. “Issy was just asking about you.”
Issy sat frozen on the bed, in a mixture of fear and anger.
“Oh, so it is true” said Sir Evans, smiling broadly at Issy. “You are back. How wonderful! We’ve all been so worried.”
Issy glared at Sir Evans angrily, feeling torn; because she wanted to warn her mother about him, but she was afraid of what he might do to them if she did. If only General Atticus was in the room with them.
“Isla and Iah are still out there Evans” cried Queen Inga. “What if they’re in trouble?”
“Don’t worry Your Highness” said Sir Evans calmly and sweetly. “My men will not stop looking until they find them, and I’ll send more if I have to
Then Sir Evans looked back over at Issy. “In the meantime, may I have a word with little Issy in the hallway?” he said.
“What for?” asked Queen Inga, squeezing Issy’s hand tightly. “I don’t want her out of my sight right now”.
“Your Highness it’s important that I find out as much as possible about what happened to her, so that I can better track down the others. I promise it will only take a short while”.
“You can speak in front of me” said Queen Inga firmly.
But Issy did not want her mother to get too upset, in case she got sicker.
“Please, mom” she said. “I don’t think you’re strong enough to hear everything just yet. I’ll just be right outside”.
Queen Inga looked at Issy worriedly for a moment before letting go of her hand. “Just for a minute” she said.
“I’ll be right back mom, I promise.”
Issy then followed Sir Evans into the hallway. As soon as the door was closed behind them, he grabbed her tightly by the collar of her shirt.
“Listen here you little brat!” he said softly, so that no one would hear. “If you speak a word about anything to your mother, or anyone else, I’ll have her and your sisters killed. And your precious General Atticus won’t be able to save you”.
“I’m not afraid of you!” said Issy, trying to appear calm; although on the inside, she was extremely scared and thought that she might faint.
Sir Evans gave Issy an evil look, and she could no longer hide her fear. She began to tremble beneath him.
“Don’t play with me little girl” Sir Evans said coldly. “I’ll get rid of anyone who gets in my way of being King.”
He then released Issy’s shirt and stormed off down the hallway.
Later that night, Issy snuck out of her mother’s bed and into the guest room where Prince Aguamir was fast asleep.
“Wake up” she said, shaking him.
Prince Agamir jumped up. “Wh-What’s going on?” he said, rubbing his eyes with his hands.
“My sisters are in trouble” said Issy.
Prince Aguamir looked at Issy sadly. “Yes, General Atticus told me that they’re out looking for you.”
“That’s not all, Prince” said Issy. The Royal advisor, Sir Evans, is the one who brought your people here to kill my family so that he could be king. Now he’s sent men after my sisters, and I’m afraid that they’re going to hurt them”.
“Oh wow” said Price Agamir. “We’ve got to do something.”
“That’s why I woke you” said Issy. “I need you to take me back to Grem to look for my sisters.”-
“Sure thing” said Prince Aguamir, hopping out of bed.
Issy and Prince Aguamir snuck out of the house and were now making their way along the pathway that lead from the royal tree house to the beach. Their plan was to sneak a canoe and row out to Grem. But before they made it to the end of the walkway, a deep voce said:
“Where do you guys think you are going?”
Issy and Prince Aguamir jumped with fright and turned to see General Atticus coming from behind some bushes. Issy was relieved that it was not one of Sir Evan’s men, but she was still disappointed; because she knew that General Atticus would not let them go back to Grem.
Issy was afraid to tell General Atticus the truth, because she remembered what Sir Evans said about killing her family if she said anything.
“Ahh… we were just going for a swim” she lied.
Issy expected General Atticus to shout at her and tell her that she was being very silly to go swimming this late at night. But instead, he leaned in closer to Issy and whispered “Issy, I know about Sir Evans”.
“You do?” said Issy, in surprise. “How?”
“I found out soon after you were gone. I had suspected that there was a traitor on the island that brought those men here. So I went around asking questions. Then I simply put together all that people told me they had seen over the past couple of months.”
“Things like what?” asked Issy. She was very curious to know how General Atticus could have figured all of this out, when it has taken her completely by surprise. Sir Evans was the last person anyone on the island would have ever suspected of being bad.
“Some persons said that they had noticed Sir Evans sending out army men once in a while” said General Atticus. “This was without me knowing, and I believe that they were sent to Grem to make his deals.”
That’s not all, General” said Issy sadly. “He killed my father.”
General Atticus looked stunned. “I’m so sorry Issy” he said, kneeling down in front of her.
“I’m sorry too” said Issy, tears in her eyes. “I always hoped that my father would come home one day.”
“I know you did” said General Atticus. Then he suddenly looked angry and said “I never trusted that Sir Evans. He always seemed to me like a man that loved power and would do anything to get it. But don’t worry Issy. I won’t let him hurt anyone else in your family.”
“So you’ll help us get to Isla and Iah?” asked Issy hopefully.
“I’ve already sent men out to look for them” said General Atticus. “So all we can do is stay here and wait”.
“But why can’t you just gather all of your army men and get rid of this Sir Evans?” asked Prince Aguamir.
“Because Prince, I’m not sure who are my men anymore” said General Atticus. “Some of the army men have secretly joined with Sir Evans; so I don’t know who I can trust”.
“Oh no!” said Issy. “What if Sir Evans took over the entire island!”
“That will never happen under my watch” said General Atticus. “But there is nothing you two can do right now. Go back to your mother Issy.”
“I’m not a baby!” said Issy angrily.
“I meant to go and take care of her” said Sir Evans. “She needs you right now. A few trusted men and I are guarding the royal tree house. We won’t let Sir Evans hurt you.”
“But Mr.General, maybe I should leave Artinia tonight, alone” said Prince Aguamir. “Then I could try to talk to my father and beg for mercy for Issy’s sisters and friend”.
“That’s a good idea” said Issy. “Your father won’t hurt you, right?”
“No, he won’t” said Prince Aguamir. “He’s tough, but he loves me. And it’s about time that I stood up to him”.
“You know, you two are right,” said General Atticus.
“We are?” asked Issy. She was surprised that General Atticus actually agreed with them.
“The sooner the Prince leaves Artinia, the better” said General Atticus. “I didn’t like the way that Sir Evans looked at him this afternoon when he came up to the royal tree house. He might try to keep the Prince here so that he can have control over his father.”
“So you’ll help him escape?” asked Issy.
“Yes” said General Atticus. “Follow me quickly”.
General Atticus then called to some army men that were hidden behind bushes. They all followed him all the way down to the rocky section of the beach, where many of the army canoes were kept.
“Go to all of the guard points and ward them off” General Atticus instructed the men.
Then he led Issy and Prince Aguamir to the bottom of one of the rocks.
“Wait here” General Atticus whispered to them.
He then climbed the rocks silently and quickly. The next thing Issy knew, there were loud shouts and sounds of struggle above them. She and Prince Aguamir moved a little away from the rocks so that they could have a better view of the top. They saw General Atticu fighting three army men with his bare hands. Soon, the men lay at his feet, knocked out cold.
General Atticus climbed back down the rocks, took one of the canoes, and ran towards the shore. Issy and Prince Aguamir ran behind of him. General Atticus placed the canoe in the water and Prince Aguamir hurried in.
“Bye Issy” Prince Aguamir said sadly. “It was very nice knowing you. You’ve taught me how to be brave.”
“You had it in you all along” said Issy. “Thank you for rescuing me.”
Suddenly, there were loud shouts behind them. A group of army men were running across the sand towards them, with their weapons raised. Others were running along beside them, trying to fight them off.
“Row Prince Aguamir! Get out of here!” shouted General Atticus. He then turned to Issy “run home, now!”
Prince Aguamir rowed away quickly, while General Atticus ran to join the fight. Issy dashed behind the rocks to hide.
Back in Grem, the men took Yanu, Isla and Iah, along with Boon and his crew, to the King- a very large and fierce-looking man, with an incredibly deep voice. He ordered that Isla, Iah and Yanu be thrown into the dark cave that Issy had been in, until he decided what to do with them.
As for Boon and his gang, Isla, Iah and Yanu had no idea where they were taken, but Iah hoped that they were being fed to some wild animals. She had never felt so betrayed in all her life; especially by her own people, and a man that she called Uncle.
Iah was also very worried about Issy. If she was not here in Grem, then where was she? Iah still could not help but feel guilty about losing her little sister. But now, mixed with the guilt, was great fear. Was the king of Grem going to kill them?
“Are you alright Iah?” Isla asked.
“They’re going to kill us aren’t they?” said Iah.
“Of course not. We’ll find some way out of this, like we always do”.
But Iah did not really believe Isla; because how could they possibly get out of this cave, with all of those large, scary-looking guards around? And the King seemed very angry with them.
“Now I’ll never marry a handsome Prince from a foreign land.” Iah said sadly.
“That’s what you’re thinking about at a time like this?” said Isla.
“So what?” said Iah. “There’s nothing else to do but think. And everyone has their own hopes and dreams. And that’s always been one of mines. It’s just sad to know that it may never happen, that’s all.”
Isla reached over and held Iah’s hand. “I’m so sorry Iah. Ever since Dad left, all I’ve ever wanted to do was protect you and Issy and mom. Now, I feel like I’ve failed you guys”.
“No Isla” said Iah quickly. “You’ve been the best big sister anyone could ask for. It’s not your job to save us. You’re only one person.”
The two sisters leaned over and hugged each other lovingly.
After a while, Yanu said “Do you know what my dream is?”
“What?” asked Isla.
“To marry you” he said; and he reached over and held Isla’s hand.
“Aww” said Iah. “That’s so sweet.”
“Oh Yanu.” said Isla in surprise. “I never knew”.
“Well now you do” said Yanu. “Oh, and I want to be Army General one day too” he added.
Isla and Iah giggled.
“Those things can still come true for us” continued Yanu. “Don’t give up just yet”.
The next day, no one came to see them at all, except to bring food and water. Isla, iah and Yanu passed the time in silence, just thinking. Yanu sometimes tried to make a joke to lift their moods, but it did not work so well, for Isla and Iah were too sad to laugh.
Then at nightfall, the four entrance guards suddenly entered the cave, picked up the three of them and carried them out.
Isla’s heart was beating very fast as they drew nearer to the king’s hut, and saw him standing outside the entrance with a large spare in his hand. She braced herself- ready to put up a fight before she let him hurt either Iah or Yanu.
The guards put them to stand right in front of the King; and he stared angrily at the three of them, until Iah began to cry.
Finally he said “I’ve decided what to do with you”.
Isla gulped. Was he going to cook and eat them? She had heard all about cannibals on the other islands.
The king continued speaking. “My son is in your country. That little girl that was here tricked him into taking her home.”
“That little girl is my sister!” shouted Isla. She was no longer afraid, but angry. “And you kidnapped her, you monster!”
Yanu quickly stepped in front of Isla, afraid that the King might hurt her for speaking to him like that.
The king leaned in closer to the two of them, baring his sharp teeth and looking even fiercer than before.
“That little girl lured my son away!” he growled. “And I want him back.”
The king then ran his hand slowly along the sharp blade of the spare. Isla held her breath.
Then the king said “I’ll chop off the head of one of you and send it back to Artinia as a warning. And if they still do not release my son, I’ll keep chopping off heads.”
Iah wailed loudly. “Nooo…Please.”
Isla and Yanu remained silent. Isla was trying to think of a way out of this, but her head seemed blank.
“I think I’ll begin with you” said the King, pointing at Yanu. “You’re not as important. These two are Princesses.”
Prince Aguamir’s Bravery
Isla stepped in front of Yanu. “No. Don’t chop off his head! Take me instead” she said. Isla could not let Yanu die. This journey was her idea after all. Plus, she realized that she loved him too much.
“I’ve made my choice.” said the King firmly. “My word I final.”
Some of the guards came forward and grabbed the three of them before Isla could do anything else.
“No! Don’t hurt him” Isla continued to scream, as she struggled wildly against the guards.
The guards dragged Yanu over to a large rock beside the hut. There, they laid him down on his back, and placed is head over the rock. All the while, Yanu remained silent and calm. It was as if he was willing to give up his life to save Isla and Iah.
Isla felt as if her heart was breaking. She closed her eyes as the king raised the spare above Yanu’s head. She did not want to see what she knew would happen next. Iah, on other hand, was still screaming and crying.
Then suddenly, there came loud shouts from the distance. A boy’s voice.
“Dad! Stop! No!” he said.
Isla opened her eyes and saw that a boy was indeed running quickly towards them.
“Dad, Stop!” the boy shouted again.
The king stood frozen with his spear still above Yanu’s head. “Aguamir?” he said in shock.
The boy was now close enough for Isla to see him clearly. The king dropped his spear and ran to him.
“My son” said the King, hugging him tightly.
“Dad, don’t hurt them” the Prince pleaded.
The King released his son. “Son, that wretched little girl deceived you”.
“No she didn’t!” said the Prince angrily. “She’s my friend.”
“Do not raise your voice at me Aguamir!” said the King sternly.
Prince Aguamir now started to tremble. “S-sorry Dad.” He said. All I’m saying is that little Issy is a good person and I just wanted to help her.”
“Son, you’re young and naïve” said the king. “You can’t tell the difference between your friend and your enemy.”
“Yes I can Dad. And she is my friend.” said Prince Aguamir. “She taught me very valuable lessons, like how to be brave, and to stand up for myself and others.. And that is what I’m doing right now.”
“That’s enough!” said the King. “I do what I think is right. I’m the king! And I have to show Sir Evans and the other Artinians that we are not to be played with. You’ll understand one day when you are King”.
The king then began to make his way back over to Yanu; and Isla began to fight against the guards again- but they were too strong for her, and she could not get loose.
The king raised his spear again. Then, in the blink of an eye, Prince Aguamir dashed on top of Yanu. The King froze with his hands in mid-air.
“What do you think you’re doing Aguamir?” the king said furiously.
“You’re not going to take any more lives Dad” said Prince Aguamir. “I understand more than you think, even though I’m not king yet. And this has got to stop!”
One of the guards tried to pull him up, but Prince Aguamir held on tightly to Yanu”.
“Son, I’m only going to say this once” said the King, through gritted teeth. “GET UP NOW!”
“Please, just hear me out Dad.” Prince Aguamir pleaded.
“No!” said the king.
“I’m going to be King one day Dad. You need to start taking me more seriously!”
The king looked surprised by this outburst, and Prince Aguamir took the opportunity to continue speaking.
“Hurting these kids will not force Sir Evans to pay you what he owes you. You’ll just anger the Artinians and cause them to come after you. And you know from experience that our army cannot win against them.”
The King lowered his hands and seemed to think about what Prince Aguamir had just said. Then to Isla’s great surprise, he asked: “So what do you suggest Son?”
Prince Aguamir also seemed surprised by his father’s reaction. He stood up timidly. “If we return them to Artinia in one piece and tell of Sir Evan’s treachery, we’ll find favour with the Queen” he said. “Then she will willingly give us good gifts, and give Sir Evans the punishment he deserves.”
“It’s true Your Highness” Isla interrupted. “My mother is a very reasonable woman. She would be very grateful to you and repay you richly.”
The King looked from Isla, back to Prince Aguamir; then back to Isla, then to Prince Aguamir again.
“I’m proud of you son” he finally said, smiling broadly. “You’ve spoken like a wise leader”.
Iah sat opposite Prince Aguamir in the canoe blushing deeply, after she caught him sneaking peeks at her. Iah thought that the Prince was very handsome and sweet, but she refused to look back at him. She did not want him to know that she liked him just yet.
Isla sat next to Iah, feeling very worried. They were soon approaching Artinia and she did not know what to expect when she got there. The night that Prince Aguamir came back, he pulled Isla aside and told her about the great battle that had taken place just before he left Artinia. Now Isla was not sure if her mother was still the Queen, or if she was even still alive; neither did she know if Issy or Yanu’s family were safe.
Isla had kept this secret to herself; for she did not want to upset Yanu and Iah. Neither did she want the King to change his mind about sending them back to Artinia in one piece.
Yanu sat opposite Isla, silently rowing the canoe. He was not normally quiet, but he had not spoken much since last night. Isla believed that he was still very shaken up about nearly getting his head chopped off by the king. She wished that she could cheer him up in some way.
“Hey, Yanu” Isla said.
Yanu looked up at her. Isla stuck her tongue out and made a funny face at him.
Yanu laughed loudly- he always found it funny when she did things like that; and Isla was glad that she could make him laugh.
They rowed all the way to the shore this time; for since they were in an Artinian canoe- the one that Prince Aguamir had rowed to Grem in- they did not believe that the guards would try to shoot them down.
They looked around the beach in horror. It was completely deserted with weapons and blood stains all around.
“This is not good.” Isla said worriedly.
“What happened here?” said Yanu, with his eyes wide open in shock. “It looks like some sort of war site.”
The King and his guard- who had also come along in the canoe- immediately pulled out their swords.
“Don’t tell me you led us into another battle!” said the king angrily, looking at Isla and Yanu.
“No, your Highness” said Yanu quickly. “We have no idea what is going on.”
But Isla and Prince Aguamir knew.
“Father’ said Prince Aguamir timidly. “ I have something to tell you.”
Prince Aguamir then explained to everyone what had happened just before he left Artinia to return to Grem. How Sir Evan’s men had turned against General Atticus’s men.
Iah gasped in horror. “Oh no! I hope mom and Issy are okay.”
“Oh Aguamir” said the King. “You should have told us all this before. It’s never a good idea to visit another island while its people are at war with one another. We’ve got to turn back now, before anyone sees us and tries to make us captives.”
“I’m no leaving Dad!” said Prince Aguamir. I need to find out if Issy is safe.”
“Please King.” added Isla desperately. “We could use your help, just in case Sir Evans’ men try to attack us.”
The king thought for a while. “I will stay” he said finally. “But only because I’m glad to see you standing up for something worthy son. That is the mark of a true man.”
Prince Aguamir smiled proudly. “Thanks Dad.”
“Yes. Thank you King” said Isla. “Now, I think that we should try to get to the Royal tree house. We can find out what is going on from there.”
“I know a path that we can take so no one will see us” said Yanu. “Follow me.”
Yanu led them to the far end of the beach, then up a long, narrow dirt path through the woods. Like Yanu said, it was completely deserted. They walked along in silence, clutching their weapons; all except for Iah, who did not know how to use weapons, and who kept complaining.
“Why did we have to take this route?” she whined. “It’s so dark I can’t see a thing. And there are all of these bugs around.”
“Be quiet Iah, before someone hears us” said Isla. “We’re soon there.”
“I can’t be quiet” said Iah. “I’m scared. And I really don’t think that my heart can take any more surprises.”
Isla rolled her eyes and ignored her sister.
They were now halfway along the path, and could hear people taking in the far distance. The voices seemed to be coming from the royal tree house. Yanu and Isla looked over at each other nervously; and Isla knew that they were both wondering the exact same thing: Whose voices were they? Who had won the battle: General Atticus’ men or Sir Evan’s men?
If General Atticus’ men were the victors, then they were safe; but if it were Sir Evans’ men, then they were in great danger, and would have to fight for their lives.
Isla turned to Iah. “Stay behind this tree, and don’t come out until I come to get you.”
“Why?” asked Iah, looking terrified. “I want to see mom too. And I don’t want to stay here by myself”.
“Iah it may not be safe up there. Just trust me”.
Before Iah could reply, Price Aguamir said “Don’t worry Princess Iah. I’ll stay with you”.
“That’s a good idea Prince” said Isla. “Keep her safe and listen for my signal. If there is danger, I’ll shoot a stone into the bushes. Then I want the both of you to run as fast as you can to the beach and try to get away in one of the canoes.
“Sure thing Princess Isla” said Prince Aguamir.
“Be safe sis” said Iah, feeling worried.
“I will” said Isla.
They both looked at each other for a while, hoping that everything will be alright, and that they will see each other again.
Then Isla ran off behind Yanu, the King and the guard.
Iah and Prince Aguamir were crouching behind the tree, waiting. They were waiting for either a signal (the stone), or for Isla to return and get them.
“It seems like we’ve been waiting for a long while now” said Iah. “Do you think they’re alright?”
“I’m sure of it” said Prince Aguamir. “They’re great fighters.”
Iah was not convinced. “I want to go and help”.
“But your sister thinks its best you stay here” said Prince Aguamir.
Iah stood up. “I’m tired of being a coward!” she said. “I want to be brave and fight for once.”
“Princess Iah, I think that you are already brave” said Prince Aguamir. “I mean, you went out on a journey across the sea, to unknown and dangerous islands, just to look for your little sister.”
“But I was scared the entire time” said Iah, sitting back down. “And I didn’t even fight anyone.”
“It doesn’t matter” said Prince Aguamir. “What matters is that you went in spite of your fears; and that makes you brave.”
Iah blushed. She had never thought of it that way. “I think you’re brave too Prince Aguamir” she said; “the way to stood up to your father, and saved us- a couple of strangers.”
“I was scared the entire time too” said Prince Aguamir, blushing also.
They sat there on the ground, gazing into each other’s eyes; and Iah thought to herself I finally found my foreign Prince.
Just then, they heard footsteps coming towards them through the bushes. Prince Aguamir stood up quickly and pulled out his sword. Iah stood behind of him, trembling. The footsteps were drawing nearer. Who was it?
The next moment, Isla burst through the bushes in front of them. She was smiling broadly.
“Everything’s ok!” She exclaimed. “General Atticus defeated Sir Evans and his men! Come on!”
She ran back up the pathway, and Iah and Prince Aguamir ran excitedly after her.
Up at the Royal tree house, they found a large crowd gathered outside, who were happy to see them.
But Isla and Iah quickly made their way to the crowd to find the two people that they wanted to see more than anyone else in the world. They found Queen Inga and Issy perfectly safe, in Queen Inga’s room.
The three sisters and their mother hugged each other tightly, crying tears of joy.
“Oh my babies” said Queen Inga. “My brave and wonderful babies. Your father would have been so proud, if he were alive.”
Iah and Isla looked up at their mother in shock. ‘What do you mean?” they said.
Queen Inga sadly explained about what Sir Evans had done to King Iba eleven years ago- for Issy had told her. She told of how he had wickedly attacked king Iba in the woods, on the night of their big argument; just so that he could be king himself.
“I always hoped that I might see Dad again one day’ said Iah tearfully.
“What are you going to do to that traitor and murderer, Sir Evans!?” Isla wanted to know.
“I have banished him and his men to the deserted and rocky island of Redonda.” said Queen Inga. They will spend the rest of their lives there. That way, they can never hurt anyone else, and they will have enough time to think about all of the bad that they have done.”
Isla, Iah and Issy were glad that Sir Evans was getting what he deserved for his crimes, but they were still very heartbroken about losing their father.
Isla was walking slowly down an isle of beautiful flower petals in the sand, to sweet drum music. As she walked, she looked around at all of the many smiling faces on either side of her, and she smiled too. She was so happy that her mother was getting married today, to a very kind and brave man- General Atticus. Isla could see General Atticus standing at the front, waiting patiently. She had never seen him look more handsome and clean. He was wearing an all- white men’s suit, and he had cut and combed his hair.
Isla finally reached the front row. She and sat down next to Iah, who was sitting next to Prince Aguamir. Prince Aguamir visited Artinia quite frequently these days to see Iah, and Iah was always very excited to see him.
Prince Aguamir leaned in close to Iah and said. “I wish we were getting married”.
Iah stopped admiring the outfits of some of the people in the opposite row, and whipped her head around to look at him. Prince Aguamir was all that she had always dreamed of and more. He was not only a handsome foreign Prince, but he was also kind, and smart and brave. Still, Iah did not want to rush things.
“Maybe we should get to know each other a bit more first” she said. “We’re still just a bunch of kids after all.”
“That’s ok with me Princess Iah” said Prince Aguamir, smiling. “I’ll wait for as long as you want.”
Iah smiled back, and they held hands.
Prince Aguamir was not the only person from Grem that visited Artinia often. In the months since Isla, Iah and Yanu’s return, Artinia and Grem had gained peace and formed a profitable trading relationship; where Grem traded their beautiful clay pottery – like the bowls that Issy used to eat out of in the cave- for Artinian goods, such as: food and clothes.
Also, after hearing of all of the unique features of the islands that Isla, Iah and Yanu had travelled, Queen Inga had begun the process of creating peace with them as well. She had already sent some Artinian men on journeys to these islands to discuss trade and other corporative ideas. Isla had gone on some of these peace trips, and was able to see Quami and Sandra again. The both of them were here in Artinia now for the royal wedding.
Just then, the music changed and everyone stood up. Issy and Yosh came walking down the aisle together, in imitation of the bride and groom. Issy was wearing a pretty floral dress, with flowers in her hair; and Yosh was dressed handsomely in an all-white suit.
Just behind them was Queen Inga. There were loud gasps and ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the guests. Queen Inga was wearing a lovely, strapless, floral dress that flowed gracefully on the ground behind her. Her long dark hair was styled in an elegant up-do, with small white flowers stuck all around it. Isla, Iah and Issy all thought that their mom looked extremely beautiful, and happy.
Iah wiped tears from her eyes. “aww… I’m so happy for her” she said.
“Me too” said Isla.
“Me three” said Issy, who was now standing next to Iah and Isla.
There was a huge feast after the wedding, with lots of: food, drink and entertainment. And of course Iah put on a spectacular performance with her dance group, while the crowd cheered wildly- but none more loudly than Prince Aguamir.
Close to the end of the celebration, when the music had begun to slow down, Yanu approached Isla on the dance floor. Since their return from the journey, they had both been extremely busy, spending time with their family and repairing the army. This meant that they had hardly spent any time alone together.
Yanu held out his hand for Isla to dance with him. Isla’s heart began to beat quickly. There was something that she had wanted to tell Yanu for a while now, and she figured that now was as good a time as any.
She took Yanu’s hand and they began to dance slowly.
Then Isla blurted out: “I’m ready.”
Yanu looked a little confused. “Ready for what?”
Isla took a deep breath, and then explained. “At Iah’s party, you told me to tell you when I was ready to be your girlfriend… well, I am.”
Yanu stopped dancing, and looked at her in surprise. “Are you sure Isla?”
“Yes” said Isla. “During our journey to Issy, you risked your life, and you proved just how much you really love me. And I realized that I love you too Yanu, as more than just a friend.”
Yanu smiled and exhaled, as if a weight had finally been lifted off of his shoulders. He leaned in closer and Isla leaned in too. They finally had their first kiss; and it was even better than Isla had ever imagined it to be.
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Two teen Princesses must leave the majestic island of Artinia for the first time and embark upon an island hopping adventure (via canoe) to find their little sister, who may or may not have been kidnapped by enemy warriors. Throughout the journey, the sisters become fascinated with and humbled by the uniqueness of each island; and thus try to create peace among the islanders- something that have never before existed. However, their main motive is always to find their sister before it is too late. Will they be able to? Young girls will learn a lot from the powerful issues of: love, loss and betrayal, portrayed in the story. They will also fall in love with its fun and whimsical nature; as well as the unique island setting.