The tables tragically turn!
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Some things in life are simply unavoidable, no matter how utterly frightening they may be. This, of course, includes a long list of nightmarish things that often loom over a child's mind like the storm clouds on a horizon, or a parent-teacher conference, or the haunting aroma of brussel sprouts near dinnertime. This day the storm that had come did so in quite the literal sense, unleashing it's full fury over the small, wind-swept island. As it happened, this was the very same storm that had come to Umbria the night Sarah ran away. Thus, in a sense, one could say that things were finally catching up with her.
The children took shelter within a secret grotto hidden behind a waterfall. It had once served as a hideout for pirates on the island as noted by the torch-lit walls etched with comical drawings of lost boys headed for doom, and also by the many golden coins littering the wet, rocky ground. As thunder rolled in the distance, the children sat quietly with all sorts of offspring that had been separated from their mothers during the commotion. Sarah had been the one to shepherd them all in after hearing their cries in the woods. The way she figured, they were all in it together, and indeed they did look like one family huddled on the floor.
Sarah tended to a black fox kit resting in her arms, Southpaw played with a bear cup, Thrice and Nimble both had baby rabbits to care for, Half-right cradled a small owlet with a broken wing, and Tidbit snuggled comfortably with a fawn. They were all quite frightened, but found it somewhat easier together. Also, Sarah sang for them, which helped too.
"I hate storms," said Half-right.
"They are not so bad," Sarah replied.
"They are!" he insisted. "They are the worst things imaginable."
As a rule, all Lost boys are taught to fear storms. They believe that one day the wild winds will whisk them off to a place far from the island where they could never return. How they got such a ridiculous belief into their minds we may never know; but we'd bet our last silver doubloon that Peter had something to do with it.
Lightning struck close outside and the children and animals all flinched in fear. Southpaw then balled up his hands in frustration and made a statement.
"I absolutely will not leave this cave until the storm has gone away!" he said. "Will you go Thrice?"
"I'll not take a single step out to greet it."
"Will you go, Nimble?"
"I think not."
"Will you go, Half-right?"
"Gales won't see my face tonight."
"Will you go, Tidbit?"
Tidbit was already asleep; he would not be going anywhere that night.
Sarah on the other hand, was well awake and knew she was next to be questioned. Something in her did not want to answer, and so, before Southpaw got to her, she countered with a question of her own.
"I wonder what Peter would say?" she smartly asked.
Sarah knew the boys held too much reverence for Peter to admit that he would ever cower from a storm. She hoped reminding them of it would serve to give them some of their courage back. It did not.
"That's different," said Half-right. "No storm can ever take Peter Pan! Peter flies faster than the wind!"
"Then what of Nowah?" Sarah said.
"What do you mean?" they asked.
"Nowah has spent most of his life alone in a nest exposed to the elements. And yet, he has not once been cast away by the wind."
"That's true!" they said. "We did not think of that."
"Mark my words, Lost boys." Sarah said confidently, "we've absolutely no reason to fear this storm, or any other for that matter." The children gave disquieted glances at each other as an ominous wave of thunder echoed through the grotto. "On that matter," she said. "has anyone seen Nowah?"
"Oh! Oh! I have!" said Tidbit, so eager to know something that he jumped out from his dreams and pointed in the direction he last saw Nowah trailing off to. Afterwards he fell quickly back to slumber and resumed chasing pigeons.
Nowah was sitting with his head buried in his knees on an old chair that appeared to have been made for royalty. A golden crown hung lazily on the boy's head as he pouted, staring off into the distance. Sarah went to join him. At first he didn't even notice her, but when she straightened his crown, Nowah caught a glimpse of her smiling face.
"Oh, hullo Sarah," he said, dispiritedly.
"Good evening, Nowah," Sarah replied. "Why are you sitting all alone? Are you frightened by the storm?"
"Oh," she said. "I didn't think so. I told the lost boys that you have dealt with far greater storms and that they should not fear it, but to be quite honest, it scares me a bit. I'm not sure why."
"Does it?" he asked.
"For some reason I can't help feeling like this is the end of things. And I don't even know what that means."
Nowah now had great concern written over his face and Sarah read it clearly. She had gotten fairly well at reading his face; at times it was her favorite thing to read. And so, when Nowah glanced away from her now, she knew immediately that there was something troubling him.
"Nowah," she said. "What's bothering you? You can tell me."
"Suppose there was another," he said. "dearer to you than I."
"Dearer than you, my sweet prince?" she said playfully, "who could possibly compete for your place in my heart?"
Sarah was thrown aback. What a silly thing to say, she thought. That was when Nowah buried his face into his knees and groaned like one being crushed with the weight of a heavy conscious. "Come now, Nowah. You're being ridiculous."
"No such thing as lost girls, Sarah," he sighed. Nowah smiled at her, but it was not his usual, cheeky one. It was a smile that deeply bothered Sarah, for it was the first time she could not read Nowah's face, and what's more, she was quite certain she had seen it somewhere else before. An old, chilling feeling came over her, and Sarah politely excused herself. Nowah did not even say a word to her as she walked away from him, he only whispered something under his breath.
Sarah walked passed the children seated with their animals, but only one noticed her. Half-right waved to her, sharing the same puzzling smile on his face as Nowah. Suddenly the storm became a bit less intense and all the children were thinking the worse was over. Unfortunately for them, the worst was yet to come.
This moment we mark as our favorite in Sarah's adventure, which also makes it all so tragic, for at this very moment events were in motion that would change things forever. In fact, if we were to make our way toward the mouth of the cave now, and pass through the descending waters, we would see just a ways ahead are the pirates!
"Hold fast, men!" shouted a dark figure. "Hold fast, I say! "
We know it is Thorn as her voice is well-pressed into our minds now. She and her men brave the ruthless storm with a surprising ease that let you know it was not their first. Far from it, they were all well seasoned sailors that had dealt with many a tempest on the sea. Thus they were now passing through the wild winds like a warm knife through butter, and just as easy, they were pulling something large and heavy on wheels that sloshed through the wet ground.
They came with the presence of an unstoppable force, each of them completely shrouded so that we would not know which was which if not for their size disparity. There in the front of the band we safely assume is the captain. Though always painted as the tallest in her crew, Thorn was actually of average height, though she did cast the largest shadow. Held in front of her face was a wet, leather map and a moral compass.
"At last," she said, shouting over the wind to her crew. "we have found them!"
It is very easy for pirates to find children in Neverland, which is why battles are so frequent between the two; if not for all their secret hideouts we imagine the pirates would always have the upper hand on the Lost Boys. Unlike children, all adults carry on them a strict moral compass in which the needle always point towards what they believe to be right and sensible. And if one were to travel in the opposite direction, very soon they will find an impish child standing before them. This is a strategy employed by disciplinarians to find naughty children, and it was also what lead Captain Thorn that evening straight to Sarah and the others.
"Time to kill the storm."
It had to be someone with a voice loud enough to carry through the wind, you see; someone as loud a cannon-fire. We only know of one with such credentials, for any other would merely have gone hoarse in the futile attempt. Therefore we see it was Long Tom that had stepped to the fore, and with one deep breath, he let out a mighty cry.
"O Great and Windy Spirit," he said. "We beseech thee! We ask for but a moment of peace amidst this fierce storm. Take this offering, that you might hold back your winds for a time and let us proceed with the play."
Suddenly the wild winds shifted, the rains stopped and things became oddly quiet. Thunder and lightning ceased their givings and the trickster in the wind suddenly appeared before them. The pirates were all astounded; none more so than Thorn. She thought Gales was just a fairytale she told her dogs so that they would always keep an eye out for a storm.
"Bite my ankles!" she said, aghast.
"See Capt'n," said Long Tom. "I told you he'd come."
"Well, go on you fool," she nervously whispered. "Hurry and give it to him!"
Long Tom gave an aye aye, and then, reaching into his bag, he pulled out a shiny, red balloon. Gales took notice of it immediately, like a cat to a string of yarn. There is nothing sneaky winds love more than stealing balloons into the air. Before they could say another word, Gales snatched it away and took to the skies laughing as he had also stolen something else from them.
"Arrg!" shouted Bill Angst. "He took me script!"
"Oh no! Who knows how the story will end now?" said Long Tom. "What do we do, Capt'n?"
Thorn growled. "We march on," she ordered. "Had I not been born for center stage, we might have had cause for panic. But I have already memorized my lines. The show must go on."
"That's our Capt'n!" they said.
"She's a natural!" said Long Tom.
Finally Thorn unveiled herself. As she removed her black cloak the pirates themselves went red in the face and remained speechless. That dastardly captain of theirs had actually gone and beautified herself! Thorn's hair was put in shiny curls, and the dress she wore was composed completely of flower petals. Tailor gnomes had grown her a perfect sizing of lady slipper orchids, and her perfume was golden love. We ourselves cannot believe it. Had we not known what a villainous wretch she was, we might have mistaken her for a lady.
"And?" Thorn said.
"Breathtaking," said Long Tom.
"Mind-boggling," said Angst.
"Sweet siren of the sea," said Jim Low.
Thorn gave a smirk. She then swallowed three teaspoons of honey to sweeten her sour voice, and added two drops of morning dew to both of her eyes, temporarily restoring the sparkle that had long gone from them.
"I'm ready, my hearties," she said in a voice so unlike her.
"Kill the lights!" Long Tom whispered. At that moment, every star in the sky, save the very young ones who don't take instructions well, blew themselves out. The others lifted a plank to split the waterfall in two so that Thorn could walk through untouched. "The stage is set and the curtains rise, Capt'n. Break a leg!"
Before Thorn walked into the cave, she glanced back to her crew. "Watch closely, men." she said. "Twill be wonderful thing to see. Tonight innocence perish before our very eyes!"
Thorn took careful steps into the cave found Sarah balled up at the very edge of it. She appeared to be sobbing.
"Girl," she whispered, courteously. "Why are you crying?"
"I don't know," Sarah answered.
"But you wish to know, don't you?"
"Then I shall assist you."
Sarah finally took a good look at the woman. "Who are you?" she asked.
"Your fairy godmother, of course."
When Thorn said it, she saw Sarah's eyes widened with joy, and it took all of her energy to keep from smiling and giving away her presence. For had she shown her sinister grin, Sarah would have immediately known she was nothing of the light, but instead a ruthless pirate. "If not for the storm, I'd have been here much sooner."
"Y-you are a fairy?
"That I am. So very nice to finally meet you."
"My fairy godmother?"
"Well, let me see here," Thorn said, pulling out an old, worn book. She thumbed through it stating that it was an ancient text from the library of Fata Morgana and as such she was prohibited by fairy law from letting anyone, but her and the queen lay eyes upon it. Really, it was her book of grievances, listing the names of all those she had marked for vengeance. Just beneath Peter, the Editor, and Nowah, was her name written down.
"You are Sarah Isabella Lovely, are you not?"
"I am!" Sarah said excitingly.
"The same Sarah Isabella Lovely from Umbria?"
"Yes, I believe so!"
"And your mother," she said. "What was her maiden name?"
"Yes of course. You do have a mother, don't you?"
"I am not sure," she said. "Perhaps once."
"Oh dear," Thorn said. "Things are worse than I feared. The air in here is thick with forgetfulness. You've been too long with the Lost Boys, Sarah Lovely. You must leave them now; you must flee out of this cave!"
"Flee?" she said. "From the Lost Boys? I could never do such a thing!"
"Dearest godchild, you have already done such a thing. All children who are on this dreadfu "" on this island have do so. But there is still time for you. You must return sooner than later lest you truly forget about all those you've left behind!"
"Left behind?" Sarah had indeed forgotten, but she could not deny the feeling that something deep in the back of her mind was poking at her. "Who did I leave behind?"
Suddenly the sound of thunder began to roll once more. Truthfully it was just the pirates waving large sheets of metal to create the sound.
"Oh dear," said Thorn, turning her back to her. "Our time has run out."
"Wait!" Sarah begged. "You can't leave just yet. Please tell me who I left behind."
"Is that your wish?"
Nay, lovely girl, we beg of you! Pray thee not answer in the affirmative, for only heartache lies behind that reply. We say this with a heavy heart, for no child ever listens "" we certainly did not. And so, with a hand half-shielding our eyes, we ready ourselves.
"It is my wish!" Sarah said.
At last vengeance is nigh, the captain thought to herself. She did well to hide her excitement. "I have a gift for you," Thorn said with an extended her hand. "It is in the woods. Come child." Sarah thought to return and tell the lost boys where she was going, but of course Thorn told her there was no time to do so, thus she made Sarah took her hand and made that decisive step out of the cave "" a step that that sealed her fate.
Sarah followed Thorn a little ways off into the woods. Finally she saw something oddly familiar hanging off a branch. It was the shawl. Mesmerized by it, Sarah cautiously approached it, at which point Thorn slipped away. The second Sarah touched it, she felt a presence, and when she wrapped it around her, she saw before her something like a ghost, hugging her.
It was Mrs. Lovely. Sarah fell to her knees and gave way to tears as she finally remembered everything about Eleanor.
"Mother!" Sarah cried. "It's you."
"My lovely girl," she whispered.
"Where are you?"
"Where I will always be. On our little hill, waiting for you."
"I'm coming home." she said. "Just please, wait for me. I'll be there soon."
All Sarah's memories returned to her like a cold splash of water, and she almost felt as if she would drown in them. Then, as the apparition disappeared, Sarah heard what at first she thought was thunder, but soon came to know from the ringing in her ears was actually cannon-fire! Rushing back, she found a grinning Captain Thorn and her pirates stationed at the front of the waterfall, firing their cannons with extreme prejudice. All she could do in that moment was but watch in horror as the cannons smashed into the crumbling walls, and witness the entrance cave in.