Welcome to the 8th and final part of my series The Secrets of Saltlake. I have absolutely loved writing this series and I really hope you have enjoyed reading it. Right now I am trying to develop this story into a full book and truly bring Ariel and Jonny to life. It will be a long journey but I need to do this. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I just left them here like this. They have a story to tell and I really want to find out what it is. I’m thinking a trilogy to fully tell both of their stories. Because as you know, Ariel wasn’t the only one with a secret. You can catch up with the rest of the series in these instalments, The Secrets of Saltlake, After the Beach, Ariel, Ariel tells Jonny, Jonny, Breaking News, Let the Battle Commence, and finally this part to round it all off. There is also the Secret Post you can catch up on too. I started this series off on the 28th April and I’m finishing it now on the 14th July, 11 weeks later. Once again thank you for all your lovely comments and words of encouragement and I really hope this final part does the story justice.
The Secrets of Saltlake: After the Battle.
The sparks were flying off the overhead artificial lighting the school had installed in the basement. A yellow glow still flickering, illuminating the way every couple of seconds. Jonny looked up at the now shattered plastic casing hanging from its screws exposing what it once was protecting. Irrevocably damaged, unlike Ariel, he hoped. Was he too late? He could feel the panic rising inside him as he bit the inside of his cheek.
The dank and now semi-dark corridor was a far cry from what he remembered. Having only been down there last week to pull out the good chairs for the parent-teacher committee, it was hard not to notice the sight of the once vivid homecoming pictures announcing the date of the annual dance. Stripes of pinks and purples, Ariel’s handiwork he knew, now charred and ripped. Jonny traced his fingers over the burnt edges, black paper disintegrating in his trembling fingers and he prayed to whomever it was he should be praying to these days that his date to the homecoming hadn’t met the same fate.
Jonny inhaled the now pungent air and wrinkled his nose, gagging as he did so. Where was that smell coming from? A mix of salty ocean tinged the air with the stale aroma of something nasty that had been left to stagnate for a long time. As he took another breath, a smell he had never smelt before burnt his nostrils and almost sent him reeling back to where had come from. Back to safety. But without Ariel, would anything be truly safe anymore?
Again, another rumble shook him back to the here and now. Holding his breath so as not to scare whatever it was away, he spun round on his heels trying to pinpoint where it had come from. There it was again. A low rumbling sound. It sounded like the subway only louder and felt like the earth was going to explode under his feet. As he turned around he saw it.
Like a slow motion film, the floor was slowly disappearing. Tile by tile, one by one, they fell away as if being sucked away into a bottomless chasm deep inside the Earth’s core. He had no desire to find out what was going on as he closed his eyes and ran for the door ahead. Sheer terror keeping the adrenaline pumping through his body as he almost flew through the air towards the heavy metal fire escape that came between him and God only knows where.
Crashing through the red door with the power of a whole football team, Jonny hit the floor face first. It was then he became aware he didn’t open the door, but who did? As his eyes adjusted to the brilliant white light around him, he shouted for Ariel. Inside his mind was an explosion of sound as made as much noise as he could. Hoping she could hear him, find him, or at least tell him she was OK. Ever since he found out who she really was he was torn between wanting to protect her from something he literally couldn’t even comprehend and letting her fight her own battles. After all, she was the more powerful race out of the two of them.
Finding out his girlfriend was actually born a Princess and heir to the throne of a Galaxy called Auragon took a lot of getting used to. As did the revelation that her mother wasn’t actually dead but merely in hiding and had now returned. Jonny had taken in a lot of information lately and had his brain still been working on information he knew only a matter of days ago before all the recent revelations he wasn’t sure he would have been able to follow Ariel into the now decimated high school. But, here he was. At this moment, right now. And he was completely terrified.
But one thing he was 100% certain of was that he would go to the ends of the earth, this one and whatever other ones existed, to save her. Jonny refocused on the task at hand and scanned this new and white and quite frankly hostile looking place for any sign of Ariel. Is she here? Was she here? “Ariel” he continued to scream inside his head. “Where are you?”
At the back of her mind, she could hear Jonny fighting, searching, calling for her. But the fight wasn’t over. It was close but it still wasn’t finished. Looking up and glancing at her parents, she knew. The end was nigh, but neither side had the upper hand.
Energies were depleted and it was only a matter of time before Ariel succumbed to the magic she was fighting so hard to destroy. Her mother fought the battle well alongside her too and for that she was thankful. She was a ferocious fighter and fearless leader but Ariel could see the strain etched across her porcelain features. The Corleaux hadn’t been expecting her to show up but Dannielle would never leave her family to fight without her.
Ariel could feel Jonny getting ever closer, help she asked her parents, we need to save him. Visualising the room in their mind’s eye, together they led him to the white room. A place to keep him safe and close by but not too close, for his own protection. “I warned him not to come,” Jamieson told Ariel. But Ariel knew Jonny would never obey and she could feel him every step of his journey as he traced her battle through the school grounds.
The electricity of him so near buzzed through Ariel’s body. Igniting something inside her she thought was lost. Hope. He was hoping she was still alive. She hoped she would be for him too and that’s when she felt it. Like flames licking his soul, wrapping around him. It couldn’t be, could it? But of this Ariel was sure. His power. Jonny’s power, from his line of descendants, he still had it only it was buried deep inside him. It just needed unlocking. It wasn’t gone like the council thought. Just hidden and Ariel needed to unlock it. Now.
He could feel her. Ariel? Where are you? Tell me, show me. Ariel, please? He begged.
Almost instantly he could feel her inside him. Be still and quiet she asked him. “I need your help. We are so close to winning the battle but I, we, can’t do it alone we need your help”. Jonny was elated and confused all at the same time. What? How? “Just let me in”, Ariel asked. “I can feel your power but we don’t have much time. I need you to trust me can you do that?” Yes, Jonny replied, still perplexed at what was actually happening.
Just believe. Ariel told him. Close your eyes and believe, in me, in you, in us and I can draw on your power.
Jonny sat there in the white room and felt her in every part of his soul. His heart beat stronger, louder and he could feel the rush of blood as she unlocked something inside of him which he never knew existed and all of at once it filled him right from the core and he drank it in. The feeling of power surged through his body. It felt, natural, right, complete. It was his birthright and he was reclaiming it all right now.
He stood up and opened his eyes. He could see her, finally, in front of his eyes close enough to touch. Black hair billowing behind her like an Amazonian goddess before him, fingers locked with her parents, shoulder slumped as if carrying the weight of the world.
“Is it over?” He asked her? “Did you win?”
No Jonny, Ariel replied as she spun round to face him. Her eyes heavy and bloodshot, her once innocent 16-year-old fresh face looked like she had aged 10 years since he last saw her. Worry, pain, fear, all blended into her pale skin and soft features. She looked the same but so completely different. He ran to her and scooped her in his arms smothering her face with kisses so soft it was like a butterfly tickling her face with its wings. “It’s OK” he soothed, “we will fix this together”
Ariel lowered herself from his embrace and looked him square in the eye. Despite her 5ft 5″ statue she suddenly seemed taller against him. “Jonny, we didn’t win” “It was you. Your power merged with mine.” Without waiting for a reaction she continued “The Corleaux had no idea you existed. You weren’t supposed to have this power”
Confusion flashed across Jonny’s brown eyes as he furrowed his brow. “You won the battle” she repeated. “Your power was too strong for them” He sunk to the floor, as her words snatched away the last bit of adrenaline running through his veins. His arms still held Ariel still in their embrace. “But there’s one small problem……” she hesitated as Jonny’s eye finally locked onto the sight before them “Jonny,” she said quietly “Welcome to Auragon”