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Glitter: Part 4 of The Journey

All that is Gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost...

By Natasja RosePublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
Glitter: Part 4 of The Journey
Photo by Manu Choudhary on Unsplash

Read Part One: The Safehouse

Read Part Two: Temptation

Read Part Three: Suspicion

By Wes Hicks on Unsplash

For one who went to such lengths to leave a clue behind, our mysterious benefactor also seemed to be going out of their way to talk in riddles.

Seriously. Actual riddles. I'd thought that the old woman at the Safehouse had been vague and cryptic, but she was practically a DIY written guide compared to the contents of the box.

At least everyone had stopped the intra-group bickering to bitch about the person who had us stuck in the cave for a third day running while attempting to decipher the clues.

Adrien's... mother? Aunt? Older sister? Female relation of some description had her face buried in her hands. "Gods of our ancestors, I hope we have some heavy readers around."

I looked at her in confusion. "What do you mean?"

She pointed at a few of the riddles. "That riddle there? It's from Tolkien, and the answer is a mountain. That one, the Redwall series, a word puzzle. This is Shakespeare; it's not an actual riddle, just relies on context of both the time and the play to understand. I'm willing to bet that the other riddles are from books, too."

Another man pinched the bridge of his nose. "And I can't even gloat at all the people who called me a useless nerd in high school. Vindication has lousy timing."

Adrien's relative patted him on the shoulder. "I feel you, dude. Right, everyone who spent more time with books than people, get over here and lets see which ones we recognise."

By Samantha Fortney on Unsplash

The only books around by the time I was born had been soft fabric ones that babies teethed on, or 'learn to read' and educational workbooks. Almost everything else was electronic or online at that point, and once the infrastructure failed... well. I was limited to notebooks filled with old fanfiction, and while that could get weird, it wasn't what you'd call riddle-heavy.

With one or two exceptions, the other children were in the same boat, and drifted away to sit together. A short girl toyed with the amulet the Old Woman had made her. "Does any of this feel weird to you?"

Everything about The Wastes was weird to me. Also terrifying, uncanny, and exhausting. Of course, I'd been feeling like that ever since we left home. I understood what she meant. "Like there's something bigger that we're not seeing. I don't suppose you have any ideas."

She glanced around, and we all huddled in closer as she beckoned. "There's something strange. About the cave, about all of this. Ever since we entered The Wastes, it's been things that shouldn't be able to exist."

A med-pack could be rigged to explode on contact, but a chocolate cake that turned into a pillar of flame hot enough to reduce a person to ash? I loved science, but even I didn't know where to begin with that. I hummed in agreement, and she continued. "Another thing, too. Have you noticed that there are no family groups without children?"

I had noticed, but I hadn't realised why I had noticed, if that made any sense. Another child, too young to have any distinguishing characteristics, shook their head. "Why is that strange. Adults are supposed to produce children."

I made a noise somewhere between a groan and a sigh. "OK, leaving the talk about the Rainbow Spectrum, Infertility and Personal Life Choices for another time... even if that was the case, statistically there should have been at least one family group who lost a child or children, or singles who banded together - platonic households were huge right before the end of the Before Times."

An older youth, not quite old enough to be included with the adults, scoffed. "Only way anyone could afford it, according to my parents."

Something sparked in my mind. "The Old Woman at the Safehouse... she said there were hidden dangers and people who wanted what they didn't have. Do you think... do you think that-"

I was cut off by a voice calling from the cave entrance, and we all scrambled to see what new danger or discovery awaited.

By Faith McDonald on Unsplash

Outside the cave, an old woman was waiting.

Her clothes were old and dust-stained, but otherwise in good condition. That was a rarity in itself. In her hands, she held a woven basket, with a few golden flowers at the bottom. "My... associate at the Safehouse sent word. I'm here to guide you."

My father folded his arms. "How?"

The old woman leaned down to pick a marigold that had sprung up from nowhere. As she put it into her basket, another flash of green and orange-yellow caught my eye in the distance. Another marigold, sprung to full growth in seconds.

Adrien's relative groaned and covered her eyes. "The first riddle. 'All that is gold does not glitter/ Not all who wander are lost.' Is it all going to be like this?"

The old woman patted her gently on the arm. "No, dearie, just follow the marigolds until the next stage of the journey. That will be far more straightforward."

Her words were reassuring, and I didn't want to think badly of someone who was being so kind, or who was connected to the Old Woman at the barn.

Even so, I couldn't help the shiver that ran down my spine.

By Christian Allard on Unsplash

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a heart or a tip, and the next installment, Running Bulls, will be out next week...


About the Creator

Natasja Rose

I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).

I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.

I live in Sydney, Australia

Follow me on Facebook or Medium if you like my work!

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