This word kept ringing in Crimson and Jake’s head, as they were teleported back up. They didn’t feel the piercing cold winds attacking then through their jackets, they just couldn’t believe that word.
After everything they had done together, forming such a strong bond, that was the end. After all that adventure trapped in a single day, it was the end. A sacrifice. One of them had to die, for the sake of everyone else in the universe’s.
But they weren’t ready to let go.
Crimson was consumed in her thoughts. She didn’t want Jake to die. Jake’s life was still too troubled for him to be happy to die. No, she would sacrifice herself. So he could live life again and have happy memories before he went. For the sake of him and everyone else, she would be the sacrifice.
“I’ll do it,” Crimson suddenly announced, her voice only slightly wavering. It was a great feat, as she still carried great guilt in her. She hadn’t even explained anything to her parents. And poor Otis, probably worrying about her as he wondered where his big sister went.
“No!” Jake responded sharply, eyes wide. “I’ll do it. You still need to meet your family. To tell them what’s going on.” Crimson’s eyes widened in surprise. How did he know what she was thinking? It was like he had read her mind.
Crimson felt her eyes go slightly wet as she the words tumbled out of her mouth. “No Jake!” she responded, almost wailing. “You still have so much to do. Go on a vacation at the beach, play with friends, eat IceShave, the best ice cream in the universe and more! You can’t die now. You still have so much to do.”
“You have a dream!” Jake responded sharply, his nose turning red at the thought of Crimson dying. “You want to be an aviatrix remember? You’ve waited all your life. That’s the reason you’re here, wasn’t it!? You wanted to fly…” His voice broke at the end.
Crimson paused, a tear rolling down her cheek before being blown in the wind. She didn’t want to die, but she didn’t want Jake to die. “No Jake….” she whispered, shaking her head as she looked down. “No. You matter more to me.”
The two stood there for a few more heartbeats, looking away from each other. Their hearts were broken from even the thought of a sacrifice. They couldn’t bear to watch the other die. “Let’s go and get the dagger,” Jake finally spoke, his voice a little bit stuffy. “We need it don’t we?” Crimson, relieved to find something else to focus on, nodded.
Jake shifted his hands, which he had turned back into human when they were walking down the staircase, back into claws. He leapt down and dug the claws into the side of the clock. Crimson could only clumsily climb off of the ledge, almost slipping because of that.
The two focused their minds in climbing down, trying not to think of anything else. Luckily, or unluckily really, the way down was harder. They had to use all of their brainpower not to slip and fall, tumbling down the high monument and ending up as paste.
Crimson suddenly stumbled, but managed to lodge her hand back into a different crack. Jake looked up, worried, but Crimson reassured him. The tension between the two was weird. They were uncomfortable around each other, their mind somehow not able to pry away from the action they had to do later on. But they were still friends, and cared deeply for each other.
“I can fly as down,” Jake offered, holding a clawed hand out. Crimson hesitated but ended up shaking her head. Sure, her hands felt like they were bleeding from gripping the stones for so long but she didn’t want Jake to exert himself by shifting into a dragon.
“I’m fine,” Crimson replied, her voice raspy. She was surprised herself when she heard her voice, the deep scraping sound piercing the silence.
Jake didn’t want Crimson to keep climbing down. He could sense that this was taxing on human body. However, he also didn’t want Crimson to worry anymore so he had to comply with her wishes.
Luckily for them, they were quickly suited near the clock’s face. Crimson jumped down to the ledge, teetering a bit as exhaustion overtook her body. Jake came down near her. “Let’s rest,” he commented and Crimson quickly agreed, her limbs feeling like jello.
They sat there for a few minutes, staring up at the sky. The force field was flashing green, rippling from a small little dot. Crimson wondered what was making such a havoc and wondering why the Equilibri weren’t afraid. Then she realized, maybe they were.
Below them was a whole group of Equilibri, staring at the sky. It wouldn’t be long until they noticed the two teenagers sitting atop the ledge on the clock tower. This thought made Crimson’s heartbeat sprint forward.
She clambered onto her legs, much to Jake’s surprise and tiptoed. Her hands reached towards the minute hand, seeing a small latch on it. Her hands barely grazed the ledge, so she raised her legs until she was standing on the slightest tips of her toes, craning her hand upwards.
The ledge crumbled beneath her.
She lost her footing and tumbled down, too surprised to try to find another footing. Her stomach lurched unto her throat, a scream caught between it. She was frozen in fear and panic, feeling the winds slipping past her clothes and hitting against her skin.
Her emerald green eyes shut tightly, not wanting to see the fall all the way down. ‘This is it,” Crimson thought as she stared at the darkness. “I’m going to die in such an embarrassing way.” Pictures flashed through her mind, a newspaper that said ‘Heroine died because she fell of a clock tower’. Her parents staring at the newspaper and mourning her death.
She lurched up, slamming into the air before somehow flying. Her eyes opened in disbelief and she saw something pink and soft wrapped around her waist. It quickly set her down next to Jake, and she watched it slithering back into his mouth. “A frogs tongue?” She asked, taking a step back.
“The first thing that came to mind. I’m not good at thinking quick,” he apologized, his tongue already back to human. “It’s disgusting but I couldn’t let you die. Because I care about you. So why not let me be the sacrifice. You can’t give up on your dream.”
“Jake, please don’t-” Crimson started, only to be cut off by Jake gripping her hand.
“My life has been so troublesome. Death might actually be receiving, you never know. I don’t have anything to go back to while you do. Go back to your family,” He reasoned, an unknown emotion shimmering in his eyes. “I brought you on this death trip. You could’ve left but I made you join me.”
“No!” Crimson rebuked. “I joined willingly. You know that. We had fun, Jake. You have the ideas of adventure to look up to now. I’ve lived a fulfilling life, I’ll be the sacrifice.”
“Crimson-” Jake started but Crimson shook her head.
“Stop. We agreed we wouldn’t argue. The time will come and we’ll decide then. Let’s be happy now,” Crimson pressed, staring hard at the male in front of her.
Jake frowned but ultimately nodded in understanding. “Let’s get the dagger. I’ll shift into a griffin, you cling on my back and I’ll drop you off at the clock face.” He didn’t let Crimson protest as he quickly jumped off the ledge before shifting.
Even though she didn’t like this idea, Crimson had to marvel at the griffin in front of her. Dark copper fur, snowwhite fur and a golden beak and talons. It’s size was pretty intimidating but Crimson knew it was still Jake so she doing her legs over the griffin’s back.
With a beat of its massive wings, it soar up, keeping a steady rhythm. They didn’t have to fly far, as the clock face was just above the ledge. The griffin parked as close as possible, but Crimson still had to jump. She crouched on top of her ride, feeling a bit sweaty.
Before she could over think things, she let herself jump. Her hands reached out at the minute hand, willingly letting herself smack into it. The glowing obsidian almost bounded her but she kept her gaze steady as she neared the minute hand.It left her a bit winded but she managed to keep her grip.
She slid down, her feet touching the rim of the clock. She took a deep breath to stop her hammering heart. She wiped the sweat off her hands quickly before reaching up. The minute hand was luckily still close to her so she reached it with ease. Then using her nimble fingers, she pried open the hatch.
A bright shimmer almost made her loose her footing and maybe her eyesight. When her eyes adjusted, she could finally see the dagger in all its glory. It was beautiful, it’s handle made of leather with golden clocks etched into it. The dagger part was gold, smooth and very sharp even by look.
Crimson fumbled in her bag, only one hand holding the dagger and the minute hand. She tried to live as quickly as possible, not wanting to slip off again. She grabbed a handkerchief and messily wrapped it around the dagger. She then stuffed it into her jacket pocket before jumping down to the waiting griffin.
As soon as she landed she was off again, this time not a destination in sight. Jake the griffin soared around the clock, trying to find a hole they could maybe go through. After a few minutes of searching and failing, they rested back into the judge, with Jake shifting back to his human form.
“Where is the entrance?” he exclaimed aloud, sliding into a sitting position. Crimson looked around, fingering the leather handle of the golden dagger. Suddenly, an absurd idea popped into her head.
“Imagined it’s the clock face and we need to open it or something,” she chuckled, staring at the clock face. Then she paused and Jake did too.
“It’s worth a shot,” he reasoned, staring at the clock face. Crimson was already moving, gripping the rim off the base. She almost pulled before realizing she might fall again. Knowing this, she backed off.
Jake then stepped up and sprouted some wings, though it took him a great deal of energy to. He held the rim and placed his foot against the wall if the clock tower. Then he pulled, the force flinging him backwards. He quickly flied back to the ledge and saw Crimson staring up.
The rim had opened! Crimson grinned, turning around to look at Jake. “It actually worked!” Crimson hollered, her grin growing bigger by the second. Jake alighted, the happiness infecting him.
“It did,” he chuckled, a pale hand placed upon his hip. Crimson gave him a thumbs up before leaping up. She managed to grip the rip and kicked her legs around until her upper body got through. An ‘oof’ escaped her mouth.
As Jake watched her climb through, he let out a soft sigh. He truly did love their adventure and he did have a lot of fun. Seeing Crimson beckoning him he leapt onto the ledge. Since he was too tired, he stayed in his human form. Ideally, he would’ve wanted to be in his natural form but human form was the second best.
He climbed through as the door magically shut behind them. Inside, it should’ve been dark, but the walls around them were glowing. He walked over to Crimson, feeling the heat swirling around him. His clothes and pants stuck uncomfortably on his skin.
Crimson already had her jacket off, the heat slowly growing the farther she walked. She looked back to see Jake and held out her hand. Jake grasped hers and the two walked through the maze of a clock.