The first door down the hallway opened to a large bedroom. One wall was painted a thick gloss black and caused the room, which was immense to shrink a bit. This was obviously their bedroom for the humidity was even greater. The enormous green bed seemed to have its four posts growing right out of the ground to reach up and hang over it.
“I figured this out some time ago and… well I didn’t have much use for it until recently.”
The ceiling was identical to the babies’ room with the sky and could very well have been the night sky itself, but in the air was an odd shape Khamet had never seen before.
The frog faced man moved to the wall and began too fiddle for a bit. Then he reached in and pulled out a large brass lever.
“I do hope this works. I built this when the beastie came in and smashed our mirrors. Honestly when the king makes a decree these days I tend to question it and do the exact opposite. Just in case.” He motioned Khamet to stand back and pulled the lever.
There was a sound like several things happening at once, wheels and wires were moving about and the lever itself folded back into the wall. Khamet looked around to see what… he stopped. The strange shape in the sky was moving. He watched as it was lowered by several wires. A piece of glass twice as large as the front window came down with wires and set against the wall. Khamet watched in astonishment as the wall suddenly became an enormous looking glass.
“Do you like it?” The frog faced man asked.
“Um, yes, but I have not seen myself in, well it hasn’t been that long but…” He stepped forward. How long had it been that he had been just able to look at himself in the mirror.
The reflection was not as clear as a regular mirror, but it was a lot better than the polished reflections of Pharaoh’s Palace. Khamet stepped up to the glass and turned his body, he certainly had gotten large. His stripes hardly looked like stripes any longer, but now resembled symbols. Khamet stretched out, raising his paw and turning to see his belly and side to stare at the symbols there as well, but he couldn’t quite make them out.
“Are you okay my boy?” The frog faced man asked.
Khamet recovered then noticed the old man standing beside him. “This might not be proper to ask, but may I be alone for a while?”
The man looked a bit fearful for a moment, but recovered quickly, nodded and left the room. He closed the door behind him and Khamet centered himself before the mirror and waited as he stared. Nothing happened. This wasn’t a real mirror and Khamet was not certain it would work. Then slowly the room began to fade. His image went with it and the beach came into view.
Khamet waited a moment, nervous. He tried to imagine what might happen now. This was a chance he was taking, but then again perhaps he wasn’t. If the land wanted him here then certainly he would find a way back. If he were to die again then the chance he was taking would not matter in the least… He would simply return just as he was now, but what he truly needed was a mirror so that he could come through completely.
Khamet took a breath, ran forward and leapt at the glass, half expecting to strike it. He didn’t.
Time froze. He was freezing again and he shifted in waking shock trying to breathe. He couldn’t. His insides convulsed and he expelled a great shot of sea water. Took in a great gulp of air and began to cough as his body continued to form. Again he was growing even larger than before. It hurt and he meowed in agony lying on the beach with the waves crashing over him. The water was freezing. He tried to stand and was unsure. He dropped back to the sand and just lay for a while breathing as his body continued to heal. This arrival was difficult.
All around him the beach was littered with bits and pieces of ship, planks and what not. Khamet breathed. His rear leg was still hurting and he looked to see that a portion had been chewed on. A large bit of flesh had been torn out of him. He laid back and waited for the pain to subside and he could fully stand. He closed his eyes and slept.
Khamet sprang awake in shock and was standing before he knew it. He was dreaming of something coming after him, something large, stalking, attacking, with long leathery knurled appendages, great yellow eyes and a massive set of teeth. It knew him and he knew it, but he was fearful. It wanted to hurt him, to consume him. He was in a forest and it was dark. He couldn’t see, but he could hear it, chittering. It was the sound of its teeth hungry and its mouth drooling.
Khamet tried to get the image out of his mind as he looked about the beach.
It was not very large or wide. There was a great deal of rock and some foliage, mostly rock. His body was stiff but it began to loosen as he walked. His leg was as if it had never been injured. Already a large cat, he was now enormous. He shook the sand out of his body and found a rock. He sat and proceeded to clean himself. He felt horrible and again was extremely hungry. This wasn’t alleviated by the salt taste of the ocean as he cleaned, but he was aware of the time and as soon as he finished he began moving along the beach searching for food and a looking glass.
The ship had not crashed here, though the wreckage stretched all along the rocks and the beach. There were two bodies that he could see and he wondered if the boy had made it. He moved through the wreckage and found nothing of use for either of his needs. Living on the ship Khamet had gotten used to the fish and really wanted one now.
The end of the beach was a large rock formation and Khamet climbed to the top and looked about. There was more stone and a mountain reaching behind the foliage, but there were no structures that he could see. He had the choice of going up the mountain or around it and choosing the later, began to make his way along the rock and sandy parts of the beach.
A small crab moved across the sand towards the water and Khamet shot for it, but missed. He checked the small water pools in the rock for anything and was able to nibble on some of the creatures swimming in them. Another high rock formation revealed more of the same, beach and mountain with no civilization.
It was getting dark, but he would continue around the mountain all night if need be. The moon light was bright and illuminated the beach and rocks enough for him to make his way. He was hungry, but he didn’t feel tired. The noises coming from the forest said that there was some life, mostly birds. In the darkness Khamet was able to stalk one and make a decent meal out of him, remembering Furryjen and Bertie and wondering what they might think about his actions.
It was almost daybreak when he made a discovery that caused every hope in him to sink. He climbed yet another large rock formation and leapt down onto another outcropping of beach looking for some sign of life. Several hours ago he had come across a large expanse of smooth black earth like stone that ran right up the side of the mountain and into the sea. The field was enormous with vegetation growing in some of the cracks. It was the most unique part of both the island and anything else he had ever seen. Still no civilization from what he could find. Perhaps they lived on the mountain he thought.
Khamet climbed down the large rock formation and began searching the beach. The large plank laying half in half out of the water was a part of more wreckage of something and he got excited and started looking for other signs. There was more of it and he moved along the beach excited until slowly the realization came upon him and as the day broke he found the two bodies.
Khamet sat on the large rock formation staring inland at the island. He thought about his options now. It was deserted. He lay down listening to the ocean and to think as he rested.
The sun was bright and a squeal woke him as a large orange beak snapped near his head. Khamet rolled as more beaks came at him. He dodged and swatted at them one by one.
The gulls were up for a fight and they continued flapping near and snapping with their long necks.
Khamet leapt down the rock face as fast as he could and felt something snap on his tail. It hurt and he hissed, swatting at the gull and striking its beak. The gull released with a squawk. Khamet dropped to the sand and the gulls descended on him.
He swatted back angrily using his claws now, but big as he was it didn’t seem to have any effect on the seagulls. They continued to snap. One lunged and Khamet went for its wing. The gull dropped to the sand squawking and snapping back at him as the others came in as well. One snapped on his back and Khamet felt it cut into his skin. He yowled and hissed. He turned on the gull as another snapped on his tail again. There were too many of them and Khamet realized he had to deal with them individually.
He looked for an opening in the beaks and snapping wings and slipped through, running away along the beach. All the gulls took flight. Khamet had seen them do this and they spread out. A moment later he turned and ran to the nearest gull. It tried to change direction, but the big cat was on it fast. He snatched it in his claws and took it down. It was injured and he didn’t wait for the others to attack. He ran again. They continued to pursue and once he took two more down in the same manner the others decided to let the cat be.
With the sun bright, Khamet returned to the area of black hard rock to look around. There was still no sign of anything and he worried about the Jack and the Princess of Hearts. If he couldn’t get back to them what would the end result be? Time could be moving forward quickly or be stopped over there and he had no way of finding out. The land listens to me he thought. What good did that do him over here?
He thought of the old man’s story of the Roadscholar and did a thorough search of the island for caves and burrows thinking that if the land wanted him back it would help him get back. He discovered little life, no civilization, and no burrows or caves whatsoever and returned to the beach again.
During the first few days Khamet explored the black earth and discovered that some parts were hotter than others, he burned his paws on one spot that was particularly hot and learned to avoid it. He made his way to the top of the mountain and looked all around. More and more ocean confronted him in every direction.
On the sixth day he discovered something unique. He was checking the small pools for any fish or other creatures brought by the waves and as he looked down into a small shallow pool he suddenly saw himself staring back at him.
The shock startled him and he jumped back. His brother? He wondered. He was exhausted and hungry. There was little fresh water and very little food. Luckily it had rained two days ago. It was a torrent of ferocious wind and water that had him scrambling into the forest for shelter. There were still some small pockets of water that had been sustaining him, but they wouldn’t last. The rains storm had left several fish, but the gulls had gotten too them.
Khamet cleared his head and raised it to the pool again. There he was, but it was not his brother. The tiny pool gave a clear reflection of him and Khamet watched himself. After a moment his reflection faded. He began to purr, but the pool was small and there was no way it could accommodate him.
Khamet looked around. The black earth was similar to the wall the old man had mad. That combined with the water made a reflection. He knew what he had to do.
He left the pool and ran across the shoreline where the waves broke on the black earth. He knew of one pool big enough to accommodate him. It was getting dark, but he was excited and hungry. If the sun went he would have to wait through another night. The Jack and Megette were trapped in the Saedi and he had to get back as soon as he was able.
The sunlight was fading fast and most of the tide pools were all too small. He had become an enormous cat. He came around a bend and he saw it. The gulls had commandeered one large pool and were lounging around it. He shot towards them. With the reputation he had gained they all scattered screeching in panic and splashing through the water as they took flight.
Khamet reached the pool and stared down into it. The splashing had broken the reflection. Khamet stared into the pool waiting as the sunlight continued to dim. He crouched. The water stilled and finally Khamet saw himself clearly. He didn’t have time to wonder, he had to hope. He took a step back as the sunlight dimmed. He leapt high into the air and dropped right into the center of the pool as the sun set and anticipated the watery splash when he struck the surface.