When I awoke the next day, I felt like the world was saying good morning to me. The sunrise painted the sky a beautiful orange, and I watched from my blanket as it slowly turned to a brilliant blue. If there had been birds, they surely would've been singing pleasant morning songs.
But when I thought about it, there really wasn't anything even there. The whole area was a desolate wasteland. I could almost see the tumbleweeds rolling past. I had heard that more things grew there, but I figured the influence from Below had killed the life or driven it away. But hey, at least there was one heck of a sunrise.
Jake woke up a while after I did. He started a campfire going and made breakfast. I watched him work. I wanted to help him, but I knew he was fine on his own. I had seen him cook fish before.
Grace arose when she smelled the fish. She also watched him work. None of us said anything. It's not that we were too tired; it's just that there was nothing to be said. We even ate in silence.
After we finished eating, Jake started to pack up. I offered him help, but there wasn't much to pack up anyway, so he said I didn't have to.
With our bags repacked, he turned to Grace and me. "So here's the plan. I should have enough strength to fly you guys down the canyon. After we land, we'll travel along the river until we get to the gate."
"Oh, Grace, we forgot to tell you about the gates."
Jake went into an elaborate explanation about everything, starting back from when we met in my mortal life. Well, I suppose he left out a couple more personal details, but it was still a pretty in-depth (and rehearsed for some reason) way of telling the story. I wondered how many times he had told the story before then.
"Ok, I think I've got it now," Grace said. "But how do we close the gates?"
"You can leave that to me," Jacob told her. "I read up on it before I came to you." He pulled an ancient-looking book from his pack. "I got this from the man who lived near Mount Skelecea, the same one who gave me the light arrows. Ironically, light arrows just so happen to be what we need to seal the gates. Well, we really just something completely pure, but light arrows are the most convenient."
We stood up and started to get ready for our descent. I peered over the edge and got a little vertigo, so I tried to focus on what Jake was telling me about "hanging on for dear life."
Jake took one of us in each of his arms. He spread his previously hidden wings and jumped over the edge. Grace closed her eyes in fear, but I kept mine wide open. It was so thrilling, and I had no intention of missing it. I felt the wind blow through my hair. The air was chilled, and I had goose bumps on my arms when we reached the bottom.
Grace's legs were like jelly when we landed. I held her up as best I could as we walked along the river. With my free hand, I held onto Jake, and he led the way. Surprisingly, Jake really didn't seem to have any idea where we were going, so we were just walking around for a while.
But then we found it.
A colossal, dark door stood before us, right in the canyon wall. The doorway had two slightly ajar doors on it, each with a giant handle that could've only been crafted for the Dark One himself. A star with a circle around it was carved in carved near the bottom of the right door. An unmistakable evil aura surrounded the whole area, and it was so strong that you could actually see its smoke like form. My angel mark burned painfully. The mark was glowing like embers but hurt like a full-fledged bonfire.
Jake summoned a light arrow and touched it to the star. The doors closed, and the dark aura faded.
"One down, four to go!" Jake exclaimed triumphantly.
We left Arizona as quickly as we could. On the plane ride to our next destination, Jake told us about the place we were flying to.
"Machu Picchu," he said, "in Peru. I've read more about this gate. It should be in the citadel. When we land, we can get a taxi or something drive there . . . "
"You mean we could've DRIVEN to the Grand Canyon?" Grace cut in. "Why didn't we just do that in the first place?"
"I suppose I hadn't thought of it then," Jake answered. "But it's better than having to walk to everything, don't you think?"
"I guess so," Grace sighed.
We stopped talking after that. It would've been kind of awkward to continue the conversation. But that was fine by me. That meant I got to sleep!
When I awoke, I looked out the window to see lush rainforests and green mountains. It was strange to go from having almost no life at all to a place full of it.
As planned, we landed and got a taxi.
It was a long drive to get to Machu Picchu. The roads were bumpy and rocky and tossed us around violently. We decided to walk the rest of the way there when we just couldn't take it anymore.
We trekked along the worn road. I noticed that as we neared our destination, the less life there was. By the time we got there, the grass was completely brown and I couldn't find a single bit of vegetation that was actually alive or healthy.
I hoped that we wouldn't run into anything that would be alive because I figured it'd just be something nasty.
And I knew I was right as soon as I saw it.