The Sugar Quill
Author: Sada (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Sugar Quill  Chapter: Chapter Three
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Chapter Three

Hermione waited for him on the bottom of the entry ramp.

“Are we the only one’s here?” she asked Ron as he approached. “I see sea animals, but no people or crew or anything.”

“That’s one of the adjustments,” answered Ron. “When they magicked this place up, they included a charm to make it seem like each group of visitors is the only group of visitors.”

“Fascinating,” said Hermione. “So there could be others walking around then? How does it work? I’ve never heard of anything like it. Hmmm. Maybe an inverse duality charm? Combined with a…”

Ron’s laughter cut off her musings.

“All I know is that the ‘Sugar Quill’ is an enchanted boat. It doesn’t need a crew.”

“Enchanted?” asked Hermione. “By who?”

“Some ancient queen, I think,” said Ron, wrinkling his forehead in concentration. “She used to fight in naval battles. She was really brave and didn’t mind ramming friends or enemies to protect her ship. She lived near Greece, I think.”

“Queen Artemisia I!” yelled Hermione triumphantly, happy that her vast pool of knowledge wasn’t completely failing her.

Upon hearing the name the boated bobbed and rippled its waterfalls. Hermione took this as an affirmation. “Ha!” she said. “I’m right.”

Ron smiled at her.

“How did you know about this place anyway?” she asked him.

He nervously looked at his shoes.

“My dad took my mom here once,” he said, and then paused to consider if he wanted to go further. “For their honeymoon.”

Hermione smiled and reached out to him. “Well, we have a special occasion of our own to celebrate.” She offered her hand. “Shall we?”

He grinned. “Let’s go!”

They walked up the ramp onto the boat. They quickly saw that instead of a steering wheel, there was a large, round pad. A pile of quills lay in a container next to it.

Hermione took one and touched it to the pad. Since it really was a sugar quill no ink came out. Instead, the pad leapt to life and a message started to scroll across it.

Greetings Ron and Hermione.

Welcome to my special ship!

I hope you have a joyous trip.

I assure you that these waters will,

splendidly carry the sugar quills.

To take the tour, just sit back,

Enjoy the view, you will not lack.

Or choose yourself! It’s in the law.

All you have to do is draw.

Artemisia I: Queen of Halicarnassus, Winner of Salamis, Lover of Sugar Quills (not necessarily in that order)

Hermione and Ron smiled at each other.

“Let’s draw!” they chorused.

The words on the pad shimmered and were replaced by a map of the region. They could see the island they arrived on, with the ‘Sugar Quill’ sitting nearby. The other markings showed various islands with names like ‘Clymene’s Beach’ and ‘Fire-Giver’s Volcano.” The waterways were labeled too, and included places like ‘Nessie’s Gate’ and the ‘Straight Strait.” The map also showed the sea creatures swimming around, along with an entire mercity under the water.

Ron whistled. “Where to?” he queried.

Hermione pointed to an unnamed island. “What is this one,” she asked.

“Let’s find out,” he answered, "tracing" the boat’s outline next to it.

 The ‘Sugar Quill’ instantly responded. The waterfalls increased their pressure and began to propel the boat towards their chosen destination.

Ron and Hermione ran out to the boat’s tip, leaning over the edge to gape at the strange islands and sea creatures as they passed. They sailed past ‘Meno’s Hand’ and through ‘Epimetheus Way.’ After a while, the ‘Sugar Quill’ was accompanied by a school of tiny sea dragons that swam besides the boat shooting fireballs out of the water.

Hermione had never seen anything like them. Some were red, some were green, and one was even yellow. She leaned to get a closer look. Just then the boat took a sharp right, spraying water up into her face. She just stood there and began to laugh. Ron laughed with her and gently wiped her face with his robe.

Suddenly the boat lurched, taking an even sharper right. They were now turned completely around, heading back towards where they came from.

A frown flitted across Ron’s face. “What the heck?”

Hermione looked around. She didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Why was the boat turning around? Their destination was close, but still a few hundred feet away. “Maybe we should check the map,” she suggested.

Ron nodded and they went back to the steering pad.

According to the map, the “Sugar Quill’ had just finished clearing the edge of the mercity. There were no sea creatures around except for the tiny sea dragons. In fact, there was nothing unusual on the map, except that the boat’s new destination was the island they had started on.

Ron frowned, picked up a sugar quill and “redrew” their boat next to the unnamed island.

The boat turned back around, much more gently than the last time, and headed back towards the island.

“A fluke?” asked Hermione after a few moments.

“I don’t think so,” said Ron, as the boat lurched again, turning them around.

Hermione was watching the map and noticed a pair of red dots appear on the island. They blinked twice, and then disappeared.

“Stop the boat,” she ordered.

Ron dutifully “drew’ an anchor on the map. The ‘Sugar Quill’ came to a quick, gentle stop.

“Did you see that?” she asked. “There is something on that island. Do we have any binoculars?”

“Binoculars?” asked Ron, confused.

“Omnioculars,” she corrected.

“Sure,” he said, tossing her a pair from his bag.

Hermione went to the back of the boat and looked towards the island. She paled and called, “Ron, You’d better come look at this.”

“I’m way ahead of you,” he answered from right behind her, his face turning a sickly gray colour as he looked through his own set of omnioculars.

Two robed figured were standing on the shore. Green hoods were pulled up over their heads and long sleeves concealed their arms. But Ron and Hermione could still tell that their arms were pointed at the ‘Sugar Quill,’ waving around in a strange pattern.

“I..I think they are cursing the boat,” said Hermione.

“Do you hear that?” asked Ron.

“Hear what?” said Hermione. “Can you hear what they are saying?”

“No,” said Ron. “Listen, it’s a rumbling sound. It sounds like it’s getting closer.”

They stood frozen, their eyes trained on the island figures and their ears straining to make out the strange rumbles. Suddenly, the water began to ripple heavily.

“Ron,” said Hermione, alarmed, “I think we should get out of here.”

Ron grabbed her hand and they ran towards the steering pad. But before they could reach out and grab a sugar quill, everything exploded. They screamed and hung on to each other as huge streams of water shot up between the boat planks, splitting it into thousands of pieces.

Hermione sputtered and tried to gasp for breath as they were thrown high into the air. Ron was desperately trying to keep track of Hermione and the rumbling sound. He could still hear it, as loud as ever, interspersed with the roars of gushing water.

The wave that brought them so high in the air was now hurling them towards a rocky beach. Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and hoped for the best. They clung to each other as the land came closer and closer.

CRASH

Everything went blank.

//
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