THE PECULIARS’ TALE: CHAPTER 29

Original Creation of: AnakniRizal

Translated by: whosays25

Edited by: seiji96

/29/ Hello?

-Morris- 

None of us knew where the swimming pool is, so we just followed where he was running. The dimmed lights of the lamposts served as our guide while running the slope road downwards. Dried leaves and twigs were filling the ground. All of us were catching our breath when Tamaki stopped.

“A-are we there?” Cris asked breathing heavily. An arch welcomed us when we entered the swimming pool area. However, when we arrived there, we found no one from team one.

“They got here ahead of us.” Said by Tamaki. We simultaneously glanced at him. He fished out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it.

“Wow, thanks for the help huh, Tamaki. You can even smoke at this time, huh.” Mariah stated after regainining her breath.

“They are now at the second clue, it seems we’re hopeless.” Stephen was the one who spoke. Penelope reprimanded him.

“Don’t talk like that, Yue.”

Silence.


It seems it was just only now that everything started to sink in our minds. First: we have to rescue Jill, second: the nine of us are together in a team. I couldn’t explain why Tamaki, Lily, Sabina and Tadeo chooese her. Mariah and the rest explained that they are her friends so it’s a given. While I… I only have this thought that I have to save Jill, to save her from the nightmare of her past and heal her yesterday’s wounds.

“Now what? Are we going to stay ohere forever? Hey, we’re going losing!” Mariah broke the quietness between us.

“What if the clue is under the water?” Cris thought out aloud. The awkwardness was transparent from his movements since he was trying to act normal. While being deterred by Sabina’s presence.

“I think so too.” Lily, my supposed girlfriend, spoke up. I prayed that she joined us not only because of me, but also for Jill. Even though I knew they are not getting along. “..but it looks like they haven’t arrived here, the floor is not wet and there are no foot prints.”

They went silent again.

“Right. Maybe we actually got here ahead of them.” Said Roman who was supporting himself by holding his knees.

We searched some parts of the place for clues but was fruitless. Lily was right, there are no indication that they came here. But maybe, like us, they also didn’t found the clue here.

The pool was clear and it proves our assumptions.

“Aside from the swimming pool, are there no more areas here with water?” No one answered Sabina’s question. Even I am not sure, the villa is huge, the forest nearby also occupied a large area and there were no people. Especially the facilitators were now assisting Miss Karen.

“I think we should go back to the main house.” They were stunned to what I said.

“Are you stupid, Morris? What are we going to do there?” Mariah complained.

“We need to find a map first. We will face more difficulties if we don’t have any clue about this villa’s layout. Is this the only place with water? What if it’s not?”

They stopped speaking and just followed what I said. We went back to the main house. Dismay could be seen from their faces.

When we arrived, we diligently looked for where the map could be hidden, but again, nothing was found. All of us, except to Stephen, gathered at the lobby. No one spoke up since all were deep in thoughts.

“Let’s look again…” Sabina said, but Cris butted in.

“Why are you even here?” Finally, he asked what he really wanted to ask her from the beginning.

Sabina folded her arms as an answer, the rest of us were quietly listening to their conversation. “Does it have to be an issue, Baldo? Jill Morie was the reason why I joined you guys, not you. So please?”

Cris avoided meeting her eyes. “I-I know, I was just surprised because you chose Morie. Why?”

Sabina only replied after a long while. She inhaled first before she stared directly at Cris.

“Jill understood what I felt. I woke up because of what she said to me when she found me crying in the library. It hurts me, but I was actually only waiting for someone to tell me that.”

Cris was planning to reply but he was distracted when Stephen came, with a paper in tow.

“Where have you been?” Tadeo asked and went forward to snatch the paper. “Wow, men! This is the map, right? Where did you find it?”

“From the laptop in the common room. I thought there might be a file about our current location and thank goodness, I found one. I copied the trails.

“This is good, men!”

“Morris.” Stephen handed me the paper and inspected it. The others went behind and do the same. “It’s so surprising that this villa is soooo huge. Now it seems guessing Morie’s location is very difficult.”

“Wait! Wait! Trails?!” Mariah seized the map from me, “How could we find the waterfalls?!”

Tamaki grabbed it from her and started running.

“Hey, Tamaki!” They shouted.

“Tsk.” we couldn’t do anything but go after him. I don’t know what he’s been thinking. Maybe he wants the hunt to ease up. I know there’s a reason why he’s together with us.

My comrades stopped when they saw the forest ahead of them. However, Tamaki didn’t hesitate to run and traverse the tricky road.

“Don’t be anxious.” I said while panting, “Miss wouldn’t let us play this if she knows that we would be in danger.” She’ll be responsible for this anyway. “Just hold hands with each other so no one would be left behind.” They nodded. I even heard Penelope muttered her prayers.

Although the place was dark, muddy, and frightening, we ignored it. We could still see Tamaki ahead so there’s no problem and we’re not getting lost since he’s serving as our guide. I just hope he won’t lose a screws on his head because if ever, we would lose the chance to save Jill.

“Ahh!” We paused for a while due to Sabina’s screams. She tripped and hugged the ground. Penelope was trying to help her up but she found it difficult because of her wounded leg.

“Hop in.” Cris sat down to carry Sabina on his back.

“I’m fine.”

“My gosh, Sabina! Save your nit-pickiness for later!” Mariah pushed her on Cris’ back.

“You’re all so slow.” Tamaki was actually waiting.

“Sorry, huh.” – Mariah.

“Men, slow down, okay?” – Tadeo.

“Wait up!”  Tamaki signaled us to stop running, we glimpsed at the plants and trees but saw nothing. Then we resumed our run. The road was sloping upwards so we’re having a hard time. When we reached the top of the slope, the others stopped and gave up.

“Time first!” Tadeo shouted while lying on the ground.

“Tado, stand up! We have yet to arrive at the second clue but you’re already giving up.” Cris was also gasping for air since he’s giving Sabina a piggy back.

“Please, can’t we rest for a minute?”

“We can’t rest!” I shouted.

“Do you want us to die, huh?” Mariah shouted back at me.

“Sssshhh!” Everyone went silent.

“Why, Tamaki?” Penelope inquired.

“Since a while ago, someone was tailing us.” He said in a low voice.

“Huh?”

“I also feel the same, but I coudn’t say it, it began when we came out of the main house.” Stephen stated.

“They are twenty nine so it’s possible that they went separate ways to look for the clue. Six are tailing us.” – Tamaki.

“Oh? What now?”

“We’re going to jump.”

“We will jump?” Mariah repeated in a questioning way.

That was when we noticed that we are near a cliff which has a water underneath it, where the waterfall end up to. Tadeo tried to peek on the cliff but immediately went back when he saw how hign it was. I also lool, but thought it’s not that high.

“I-I don’t want to die yet!” He exclaimed.

“If we will not jump, they will be able to follow us and know where we are.” Tamaki said calmly.

“It seems to be safe if we’re going to jump at this spot.” – Penelope.

“Go, Penpen, be first!” Mariah faced Tamaki while feeling annoyed, “Are you sure the clue is down there?!”

“Why can’t you just try and jump, lady chicken!” Tadeo said while laughing.

“Ah, that’s what you want? Fine, go ahead by yourself Tadeo! Prove you’re a man!” Mariah assaulted his arms and hit it but he avoided and laughed.

“H-hey Aya!”

We were surprised. Because Tadeo kept on moving backwards, Mariah and he didn’t notice that they were approaching the cliff so when Tadeo went out of balance, Mariah was pulled altogether and they ended up falling. Now, the place were echoing their screams.

“Aya! Tadeo!”

All of us feel nervous about them so we peeked down.

“MEN! I’M STILL ALIVE! MEEEENNNN! IT’S SSOOOO COOOLLLDDD!” Tadeo got his head out of the water first, followed by Mariah who resumed berating and hitting Tadeo on his head.

“OH NOW! IT’S REALLY SAFE! WE’RE STILL ALIVE, YOU SEE! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR! JUMP!” Mariah also shouted.

“When I count to three, all of us will jump at the same time. One… Two…”

No one complained.

“Three!” We jumped simultaneously and crashed on the cold water simultaneously. Fortunately, no one got hurt. Mariah and Tadeo are still fighting. While Cris couldn’t stop his laughter.

“They won’t be able to follow us here, right?” Penelope asked in between her shivering breath.

I looked up and saw six people staring down, Tamaki was correct. I think they won’t risk jumping.

“They don’t know how to get down here, so nope.” Tamaki replied then went out of the water first.

Lily and I copied him.

“Are you okay?” I asked her.

“Yeah. Thanks.” I nodded at her.

“What? Where’s the clue here?! Really, Miss Karen was only toying at us” Tadeo complained when we got out of the water, behind him were Mariah, Stephen, Cris and Sabina.

“I found it!” I heard Penelope’s shout. We saw her at the rocky part of the water, holding a bottle. We immediately came towards her to see it. There’s a ‘Team Two’ label on the bottle, Penelope opened it and a folded paper inside was it.

I am weightless, but you can see me. Put me in a bucket, and I’ll make it lighter. What am I?”

We pondered for the possible answers. Five minutes passed by, but we couldn’t think of how to solve this riddle.

“Put me…in a bucket… and I’ll make it lighter…” Penelope whispered to herself.  Then she repeated, “Put me…in a bucket… and I’ll make it lighter…”

“Ilagay mo ako sa timba… Pagagaanin ko ito.”

“You only translated it to Filipino, eh! Tss.”

Penelope then repeated what Tadeo had said.

“Water?”

“Moron! Go ahead and see if it’ll make a bucket lighter!” – Mariah.

“I think I know now.”

“What?” asked by Sabina.

“Put me in a bucket and I’ll make it lighter. ‘Ilagay mo ako sa timba, pagagaanin ko ito’. Water… is not the answer. If a pail was containing water, what makes it lighter? The question, why does a pail lessened in weight?” Penelope asked.

“It will be lighter when the contents spill.” Lily concluded.

“Exactly. The answer is hole.”

“Hole? A hole, you said? Gimme the map.” Tamaki handed the wet map, Mariah carefully opened it, then she scanned the trails. “Guys, it’s almost okay but where’s the hole?”

“It doesn’t have to be a literal hole, right? Each clues given by Miss is actually connotative in pinpointing the places. What if that hole is also talking about a place somewhere here?” – Cris.

“The question is, where to find it?” – Sabina.

“It’s underneath the soil?” Tadeo tried to guess.

“Underground.” Lily answered.

“Is it possible for this villa to have an underground site? This forest is so huge. So how are we going to find that underground place?” Mariah continuously threw her questions.

“It’s possible.” I said. I pointed my finger to the place where they previously jailed me. “At the tunnel where you previously confined me.”

“Are you sure, Morris?”

“Yes.” Though I’m actually not. What I remember was the fact that I discovered a door on the ground but I didn’t pay any attention to it. ..What will be, will be. But I have this gut feeling that the third clue was there.

Using the map, we didn’t encounter any difficulty directionaly. We’re just following Tamaki since he was the one holding the trail map. We were enduring the chill because we’re all wet.

When we arrived there, I felt my confidence surging up when we saw two torches at the entrance of the tunnel. Tadeo and Cris grabbed those. We entered the old storehouse where I was locked. Since it really looked like a cave, it made my hunch appeared true, that there’s really a hidden underground in this place. I searched for the door that I saw on the ground and it was there.

“This is it, right?” They asked for confirmation.

I nodded but I am actually feeling nervous because what I’m not sure was if it’s a manhole leading towards the underground. Tadeo and the other boys helped me lift the door since it was quite heavy. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw a hole there.

“Actually, this is not an underground tunnel, it’s an adit.” – Penelope.

“What’s an adit?”

“A horizontal passage driven from the Earth’s surface into the side of a ridge or mountain. I think it’s not big enough so we will have to crawl.”

Tamaki was the one who led us again. The horizontal tunnel was circular in shape and it’s actually not that small. Tadeo and Cris left the torches even if it meant we wouldn’t have any source of light, but it’s fine since if we really brought those things, we’d just suffocate due to the smoke. We crawled inside that even if it was dark.

I don’t know how long we crawled the place. It’s already a good thing that an exit appeared. When we came out of the adit, we found the second bottle waiting to be unlocked. The third clue was waiting to be revealed.

“Yes! Whoaa! We’re so great!” Tadeo, the one who came out last, cheered. We saw that it wad similar to the first bottle, it has a ‘Team Two’ label on it.

“We still got ahead of them. This is awesome!” – Cris.

Lily opened it this time, and then she read it loudly.

“What has a ring but no finger?”

Before I started thinking about the answer, I noticed that the bottle for the first team was still left unopened. Was it really possible that we always got ahead of them? I don’t want to be pessimistic here but I couldn’t help but think that something is wrong.

“Morris, men. Hey!” I came to my senses when Tadeo tapped. “You seemed lost in thought. Have you thought of an answer?”

“Tadeo, translate it again to Filipino.” Penelope requested to him.

“Ano raw yung may singsing pero walang daliri?”

We couldn’t give an answer even after ten minutes passed.

“Wait, what if the ring being referred here is not ‘singsing’? What are the other meanings of ring?” Once again, Penelope asked.

“Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.” Tadeo kept on repeating. Mariah was startled when she thought of something.

“Ring! Ring! You actually have a brain, Tadeo!  Haha!” – Mariah.

“What? You’re being weird, huh.”

“TELEPHONE!”

“Where could we found a telephone?” – Stephen.

“My goodness, Yue! Of course at the main house! Now what, guys? Let’s run back!” We could no longer deny the tiredness, hunger and cold we’re experiencing. The question about the other team’s whereabouts remained in my head. I wonder what happened to them. What if…

“Morris! You’re so slow, men!”

“Morris! Are you okay?” Only Lily paused to wait for me. She asked me again.

“I’m fine.”

We reached the main house and looked for a telephone. On the second floor, near the old clock, we found one. Sabina held it and saw a paper on it. She dialed the numbers written on it.

“Sab, loudspeaker mode please.” – Penelope.

The other line started ringing and all of us went silent, waiting to who would answer that call. After a while, they heard someone’s voice.

“Hello?”

The nine of us exchanged glances.

It’s her voice.

It’s Jill Morie’s.

***

Singsing – ring, as in the ring in wedding ring.

***

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