They practiced for hours, and with each dual Jack got better, until he was even better than Cal. They even forgot to go hunting, so all they could have for lunch was a little bit of jerky and celery from the garden. After he ate, Jack went back to his room, perfecting his bag. He had decided to leave at dawn the next morning. He was obviously ready in the defense department, and he realized that Calvin would never truly forgive him until his sister was safely back in the house. He had researched the Shadow World in history, but he had never learned much about the shadow shifters. He decided to ask Sarah. But he had more important matters; he was mapping his path to the doors of death.
The doors of death were the entrance to the underworld. They would only open for shadow-shifters or people who possessed some kind of magic. They were located in Death Valley, East California. The book Jack had found this in was old, leatherbound and gold lettering glittered on the cover: A Guide to all thing Dark and Dreary. The book also contained a riddle to finding the entrance:
Of the dawn’s last light, the door consist
On the day of death, it only exist
The entrance will yield to the shadow and burn,
But beware; those souls will never return.
He signed, burying his head in his hands. How was he going to get all the way to California by January 20th (the day of Death)? Deciding to resolve the issue later, he wandered downstairs for dinner.
Emily had made fresh venison from the deer that Jack had caught, and she was currently busy with the preservation of the squirrels from Cal’s snares. She looked up at his entry, concern in her eyes.
“You haven't been out of your room since hunting. Are you O.K?” When he didnt reply, she carried on. “Jack, if you think you can bring her back, youre wrong. Its not your fault that Cal didnt tell you necromaner would make that happen.” Again, he was silent.
“Jack!” She whimpered, her voice growing louder and mroe desperate. “Please! You cant bring her back! The only way to bring her bac in to beat the 13 rooms in hell’s core!” SHe coered her mouth, loking at Jack with shock, but Jack had already heard what he needed to hear. He ran back upstairs to his room, locked the door, throwing a sleeping bag and a camping hammock into his bag. He dug out his silver lunchbox from under his bed, throwing its contents (including a sack of apples, 5 bags of jerky, a pack of iodine tabloids for water and 3 loafs of bread) and a heavy hoodie. He jumped off his bed, grabbing an atlas from his desk. He leaped from his window sill, rolling down the roof and jumping. When he landed, Emily was at the door, yelling for him to stop, but Jack tuned her out, and he sprinted liek he had never sprinted before. And he could neer forget the sound that peirced his heart as he ran into the trees, the wail of dispair that escaped his sister, as he left her, left the deep dark woods, left the gurgling creek that trickled through the hunting grounds, and left the small piece of heaven were he had finnaly found home.
The days passed sluggishly, each night too cold, each day too long. At night he shivered in his sleeping bag a the wind bit his nose, and the dayś heat made his backpack heavier by the second. His lightweight shoes were lead on his feet, as he dragged, dragged, dragged himself towards California. As each day ticked by, he cut another notch into the stick in his pocket. Each night as he set up his hammock, he wondered if he would find food the next day. Would he find water? A safehouse? But his hopes were deminished as the days tickd by.
His journey had started January 5th. The day of Death was January 20th. He had 10 more days to reach Death Valley, but he was still in northern California. But Jack could think of nothing to help him get towards southeast California: nobody would pick him up hen he tried to hitch hike. He sighed, rolling over in his sleeping bag, trying to zip it up further but failing because of the socks on his hands.
That was when he saw the eyes. The glowing, red eyes that appeared in the treeś canopy overhead. The eyes that crept towards him from all sildes. Jack scrambled out of his sleeping bag, un-socking his hands and flipping his wolf. He held up a sword in his exghausted hands, and spun. The eyes had come close enough to Jack for him to see the creatures thy belonged to. They were cats, looking less like a house cat and more like a leapord, but they didnt have fur. They didnt have any skin either, in fact, because they consisted of only shadows and their glownig red rubies for eyes. Though they had no faces, Jack imaged the hatred radiating out of them, and they closed in around him, their eyes illuminating the forest around him.