The Secret of the Stone

In the sequel to "The Secret in the Woods", the four girls, Serena, Lily, Jay, and Amber, are back! But, will they have to courage to persevere when they're pushed to their limits physically, mentally, and emotionally? How will they get along when five mysterious boys arrive at the door of their safe haven? Traitors, heart break, deaths, and friendship.

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2. Training

          "Okay, Ready?" Jay's hushed voice floated through the early-morning air.

          "Shhh... you might wake them up too soon!" Amber hissed in return.

          The two girls stood in the kitchen, each of them with a sturdy metal pot and a wooden spoon in hand.

          "This is gonna be epic!" Jay said, bouncing from foot to foot. It always seemed as if she literally had electricity in her veins, since she never could stop moving.

         "One, two.... three!" Amber whispered.

          Clang, clang, clang, clang! The pair stampeded through the halls, banging on their pots as hard as they possibly could.

          "Rise and shine, sleepy heads!" Amber called.

          "It's a new day, get up and face it!" Jay shouted, quoting one of her favorite book series, Maximum Ride. Out of every door, a half-awake head appeared. Lily and Serena were the first to recover, as they were more used to this kind of thing than the boys.

          Fifteen minutes later, everyone was gathered around the table, munching on various things. Jay had a Redbull gripped tightly in her hand, probably not the best idea, and Lily was drinking a quadruple-shot espresso, also not a good idea.

          "So, what the heck was that for?" Ash asked.

          "Today is training day. On these days, two of us choose a way to wake up the group, then we all go to train together, using our powers. After lunch, we do the maze." Serena explained.

          "Okay, so what's the maze?" Matt asked.

          "There is a time for everything. Now is not the time for that. Besides, if I remember correctly, it should be Amber's turn." Jay said.

          Amber cast a nervous glance at Jay, then changed the subject. "Let's all go get our weapons and armor, then head out to the clearing." 

          Minutes later, after taking the trek to the clearing, the nine teenagers stood in a ragged circle, wearing their flashing armor, and gripping their various weapons.

          "Okay, so this is how it's gonna go down. An organic humanoid thingy will appear out of the ground, and it can only be defeated by two of us working together, using our powers." Jay informed.

           "Uh, what do you mean 'humanoid thingy'?" Max asked

          "Fake people are created using materials from the earth. We call them 'beasts'. They look very much human, but they cannot think or feel. They know only how to oppose our powers." Lily explained. 

          "We also make it a competition with a neutral humanoid, and we see who can best it first." Amber added.

          "Alright, we get it. Let's do this!" Luke said excitedly, tugging at the belt that held all of his knives.

         "Ha, you're going down, Max!" Matt shouted.

         "In your dreams, pebble!" Max retorted.

         "Well, we better get started then." Nick sighed.

         "Guys! To your starting positions!" Jay called, and everyone got in a line, facing that spot in the ground where the first beast would appear.

          The group waited in anticipation as the first beast clawed its way out of the ground. It had a body of tangled vines and stinging nettle, and a gruesome face made of rocks.

         "You and me, Matt!" Lily exclaimed. The two of them stepped forward, accepting the challenge. The beast surged forward, its body reaching and lashing out, attempting enslave one of its prey.  

   "Try to break its head," Lily encouraged as she made a rope out of the vines on the ground.  "I'll try to constrain it."

   Matt promptly began hurling rocks at its head, creating dents and craters in its deformed face.  But that didn't stop the form.  It pushed forward, swinging its branch like arms back and forth, threatening to give someone a sting they would remember. Lily tugged on her charm bracelet, watching as it transformed in her hand into a nasty knife.  She stepped closer, slicing off the beast's arms, effectively maiming it.   

   "Go Lily!" Amber called out.  

  Matt grew a boulder in his hand, and lobbed it at the enemy. It fell to the ground, slowly disintegrating.  

   Lily turned to Matt, "Great job!" she said while giving him a high-five.  

          Moments later, another one was on its way up. This time, it was made of shadows and noxious gas. Nick and Luke stepped forward. While Nick threw vials of steaming chemicals, Luke pelted the beast with knife after knife. This time, the beast brightened up, like someone turning on a lightbulb, making Luke gasp in shock. Grunting through clenched teeth, Luke stood up, and enveloped the beast in darkness. That was the last the group saw of it.

          The third beast was made of pale, sagging flesh, and flashing storm clouds. 

          "Oh, boy." Amber muttered under her breath.

          Jay stepped forward and tugged off her ear cuff, revealing her sword. Next, she opened her wings, so she would be more agile and have better balance. Ash approached, unsheathing his katana. The two exchanged a quick, determined glance.

          Ash distracted the beast, darting in and out, slashing various places and angering the creature, while Jay snuck around the back. That's when everything went wrong. Tired of being played with, the beast sprung, and tackled Ash. Bringing its disgusting hand back, it clawed Ash's cheek, leaving four bloody lines. Jay shouted in defiance, and shoved the beast off of Ash, pinning it to the ground. Punch after punch, her fists rained down on the expressionless face. 

          "Okay, Jay. I think its had enough." Ash said from her side.

          Jay grunted, and got off of the beast's chest. Two skeletal arms reached out of the moist earth, and dragged the limp body of the beast under. Ash then offered Jay a high-five, then smiled and went back to the group of boys.

          "Sorry about your cheek. I should've been quicker," Jay apologized, looking down at her worn combat boots.

          "Sorry? Well, it's okay, really, but I thought you hated me," Ash said in response.

          "Hate you? No no. It takes a lot more than losing a sword fight to get me to hate someone."

          "So, we're good?"

          "For now, but you're walking on thin ice, man," Jay answered.

          "Good Job!" Amber said to Jay as they walked up to the group. Jay smiled grimly.

          The next beast was made entirely of lava. Max stepped up, useless balls of lava molding into the beast and making it bigger. 

          "Let me help," Serena surrounded it with fountains of water, spraying the lava and turning the entire beast into stone. With a quick thrust of his hand, Matt disintegrated the monster.

          "Nice job, people!  Now, let's go home and make lunch!  I believe that Jay has kitchen duty for lunch, and Serena with dinner," Lily announced, then added as a joke, "Assuming all of us survive the maze!" The group of four girls walked away towards the house, cackling at the boys' fearful glances.

~

         "No!  Watch that pot, Jay!  Don't let it boil over!"

          The kitchen was a mess, Lily and Jay rushing about, trying to keep their meal from burning. If it weren't for Serena, who had saved the pot that contained the pasta from boiling over, and Amber, who kept the food from burning, the lunch would've been a goner.

          "You know what? I give up. Me and kitchens just don't mix, unless I'm the one eating." Jay said, exasperated.

          "Oh, come on! I know you are terr-" Lily was cut off by a glare from Jay, but continued, taking a safer route in the conversation. "Challenged. Challenged at cooking, but you don't need to give up!"

          At moment, whatever was in the frying pan popped, making the metal lid fly up and dent the ceiling.

          "On second though, Jay, why don't you take a break and set the table. I'll help you," Serena offered.

          "Why don't the guys help out with this kinda thing," Amber grumbled as she saved the grilling chicken once again.

          "Yeah, where are they, anyway?" Serena mused.

          "Probably bashing their heads together, breaking something of Lily's or almost destroying humanity." Jay sarcastically guessed.

          "Yeah, I'll bet," As Serena muttered those words, the five boys entered the dining room.

          "What happened in here? It looks like chemical warfare!" Nick exclaimed.

          "Jay tried to cook," Amber simply explained, sitting in a chair at the large table.

          "Is the food... edible?" Luke asked, slightly nervous, also sitting and motioning for the other boys to do the same.

          "It's fine, and you will all eat it and love it!" Jay snapped. The nine teens sat around the oval-shaped table, munching on a feast of spaghetti and meatballs. 

          "Hey, this isn't half as bad as I expected it to be," Max offered.

     ~

          Amber stood alone in a glass tube in the center of the maze. She wore her glowing golden armor, emblazoned with flame designs. Her nerves threatened to overwhelm her, as she had no idea what the maze would do to her. 

          "I have to be strong. Anyways, I'm sure they'll be here soon, and I'll be out and happy!" Amber mumbled to herself.

          On the outskirts of the maze that was composed of sharp thorn bushes and brambles, the three girls explained to the guys how this was going to go.

          "So, Amber is at the center of the maze. Our objective is to rescue her without making any mistakes, or else," Serena explained.

          "What happens if we make a mistake?" Luke asked, casting the water girl a sidelong glance.

          "She gets slowly tortured until we save her," Jay explained bluntly.

          "We have no idea what the maze will do to her, so we just need to be careful and move quickly," Lily warned.

          "Okay. Let's do this," Ash said, already starting to walk towards the entrance.

          "Wait!" Lily called after him, "We need a plan."

          "We should split up," Serena said. "That way we'll be less likely to mess up and hurt Amber."

          "Let's have Me, Ash, Jay, and Nick on one end, and Serena, Max, Matt, and Luke on the other," Lily suggested.  

          "Okay, sounds good," Jay said, only half aware of her words, as she was casting a second glance at Matt and Max who were getting into another fight over Serena.

          "Let's go!" Ash shouted, laughing as he did so. And with that, the two groups entered the maze.

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