Carling felt her heart beat more rapidly. No matter how frequently in the last year and a half she had been in danger, she was still not accustomed to it. She always knew by the pounding of her heart and the shivering of her flesh the immense difference between a dream and reality. As odd as the Isle of Hy-Basilia was, it was no dream. And this painting was no ordinary painting.
She walked up to the painting, her hand outstretched. Her fingertips touched the rough texture the thick layers of paint created on the canvas. It felt just like any other painting. It didn’t seem like it would be possible to walk right through it. And if I can walk through it, what will I see on the other side? she asked herself.
She didn’t have much time to study the painting or wonder about the magic that it held, for Wigglesworth called for their attention. “It’s time to step through the painting,” he said. “And I must remind you, do not blink. If you blink, you will not be able to go through. Carling, you take the lead. I will take the rear. Now go! If we wait we will miss the zenith.”
Carling sucked in her breath and noticed that her eyes desperately needed to blink. She blinked several times, then clenched her teeth and concentrated on holding her eyelids open. She took one more deep breath and, with the Stone of Courage burning against her chest, stepped up to the painting.
No longer was the painting a hard, impenetrable object. To Carling, it felt more like stepping into a wall made of soft, supple water without getting wet. In one more step she was through the painting. It all happened so quickly, she’d hardly realized it happened at all. She was shocked to find herself standing on the very path depicted on the canvas surrounded by the very same mangrove trees.
Behind her, the rest jostled for position and their turn to step into the painting. Higson rushed up to follow Carling. As she disappeared, he readied himself by taking a deep breath and lifting his foot. Just as he was moving forward, his eyes held tightly open, he was pushed…hard…from behind. Losing his balance, he fell forward and…blinked.
With a chuckle, Kelfy stepped past him and through the painting.
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