Wuzhi Mountain

 

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Excerpt from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra’

Elaina speaking: He says Tantalus was a real comfort when Mom disappeared.” She looks at her feet again, and her voice drops to a whisper. “I didn’t even know her. I was only four months old. All I have is a photograph.”

I don’t know what to say. “I’d love to see it.” I hope that was the right thing. Elaina’s eyes light up, and she smiles that million-watt smile I haven’t seen since before the dance. “Really? Let me get it.”

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“Here.” Elaina holds out a wooden-framed picture.

A woman with long auburn hair the same color as Elaina’s stands on a rock ledge, pointing toward five tall mountain peaks.Sophie at Wuzhi (1)

“Wow, you and your mom could be twins.” I pause and look closer at the picture. There’s something about the background . . . “Where was this taken?”

“Wuzhi Mountain. It was the last picture of my Mom before she disappeared. She and Dad and Mr. Tantalus were exploring the area searching for symbols.”

“Arch Tantalus was there when your mom disappeared?” Joost asks.

“Yeah. He used to go with Dad, but not anymore. He fell on one of the trips and hurt his leg or something. I only know bits and pieces. When I ask about the past, Dad says not to look back.” She drops her voice to a lower pitch and points her right index finger upwards like Harrison does. “Always look to the future, Elaina.” She clears her throat. “But really, it’s only by looking back that he found the ancient sym—“ Elaina’s eyebrows raise to her hair line.

My mind’s buzzing like an overloaded car stereo. I fall off balance and take a seat on her front steps.

“Daniel, are you okay?” Elaina rushes toward me.

Joost squats down beside me. “Dude, you don’t look so good.”

I lean my shoulder against the corner post while the root beer spawns a hurricane in my gut. “My dad also disappeared on Wuzhi Mountain.”

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