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Blackberry's Second Journal: Chapter 3
Quote:Chapter 3: Entering Porcupine Peak

The sun had risen, and everyone inside the cabin in Licorice Lagoon were awake. Some who had to sleep on the floor complained about backache, but everything went normal. Not long after, we all gathered to have breakfast. From the sunglasses she was still wearing I could recognize that Cinnamon Muffin was still blind because there was no moon yet, but she amazed us with her ability to prepare breakfast for us without anyone's help.

"Here you go!" she said, putting a tray full with brown muffins on a table.

"What are these?" Angel asked.

"My namesake. Try it!" Cinnamon replied.

"These are cinnamon muffins?" Apple asked. "Apple Dumplin' has never seen these."

"But they sure smell berry nice," Strawberry said, taking one muffin and eating it. "Berry delicious!"

It didn't take long for everyone else to grab one muffin and eat it. I also ate one and I had to admit that Cinnamon was a very good cook. Everyone including me complimented on how delicious the muffins were, and she seemed very pleased.

"So, we will go right after this, won't we?" Huck said.

"Yeah, the sooner the better," Orange said. "We have to save the mermaids."

"But there is one problem," I said.

"Not another bad news," Peppermint said. "What is it anyway?"

"I don't know where Porcupine Peak is located," I said.

"Eh, doesn't your ship have a map?" Peppermint asked.

"Albatross doesn't have a map. It's Blackbird which has one," I said.

"Er, sorry to interrupt, but..." Cinnamon said. "It's not that easy to find Porcupine Peak."

"Why?" Strawberry asked.

"Porcupine Peak is located on an island. The island is far in the middle of the ocean, and it is not on the map," Cinnamon said.

"Not on the map?" Angel said.

"Yes, and to make it even harder to find, the island does not stay in one place," Cinnamon said. "It floats on the ocean like a huge boat, so waves and winds can carry it around."

"Really? Then how can your father find it?" I asked.

"My father has a special compass. Its needle always points towards the island, so he only needs to sail towards where the needle points to," Cinnamon said.

"Does that mean... There is no hope for us to save them?" Coco asked, looking very worried.

"Unless there's a duplicate of that compass, I'm afraid so..." Cinnamon said, bowing her head. "I'm sorry. I should have told you earlier."

"Wait!" I said, realizing something. "You said 'duplicate'?"

"Uh, yes..." Cinnamon said.

"I think I have a way," I said, walking towards the front door.

"Where are you going?" Seaberry asked.

"Wait here. I'll be back soon. Oh, and don't give up hope," I replied.

Everyone waited inside the cabin anxiously, having no clue on what I was going to do. Nobody spoke anything, so everything inside the cabin fell into deep silence. The silence was broken when twenty minutes later the front door opened and I came in. In the grip of my right hand I was holding a thing which looked like a compass. It had dark purple color and on its surface there was one needle under glass cover which kept pointing to a direction, which was not North.

"Cinnamon, is this the compass?" I asked, giving the thing I was holding in my right hand to Cinnamon. She then held the thing and examined it with her hands.

"Yes, this is it!" Cinnamon said. "But how?"

"Yeah, how did you get that compass?" Angel asked.

"Well, it's hard to explain. But I must say that it's not the one your father has. It's a duplicate," I said.

"Duplicate? But the scratch I accidentally made last month is here!" Cinnamon said, rubbing the bottom part of the compass.

"Perfect duplicate," I added, taking the compass back. "In any case, we should go right away."

"Wait! Let me go with you," Cinnamon said. "My father has done something horribly wrong, and I must make him realize it."

"We'd like to, but there are only nine passenger seats in Blackberry's ship, am I right? And there are ten of us besides Blackberry himself, am I right again?" Ginger said.

"No worries. I have thought of that while I was away," I said.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Angel asked as I walked outside. Everybody soon followed me towards where I had parked Albatross. I then opened the hatch and sat on the pilot seat. Everybody else looked at the space where the passenger seats were located. They were surprised that there were no seats at all there.

"Is this what you meant? No seats?" Peppermint said

"Without the seats, there's enough room for all of you to sit on the floor. Don't worry, it's still comfortable enough," I said.

"I see what you mean, but how can we buckle up if there's no seatbelt?" Peppermint asked.

"You don't need to. The gravity field will take care of everything," I said.

"If you say so, alright," Peppermint said, and everyone else entered the passenger space. I then closed the hatch and soon the ship's engine roared to life. Within the next minute the ship flew towards the direction pointed by the compass I held.

"Are we going yet?" Cinnamon asked.

"We're already flying, Cinnamon," Apple said.

"What? I don't feel anything," Cinnamon said.

"That's because of the gravity field," I said. "It makes you feel like this ship is not flying even though it is. Kinda complicated I know."

"Rather than that, I'm wondering what you actually did to get the compass," Huck said.

"Yeah, Blackberry. How did you get that?" Orange asked.

"Well, I went home to remove all the seats. Then..." I said.

"Then what? What did you do?" Coco asked.

"To put it simply, I travelled back through time and used Replicator on the compass," I said.

"Travelled back through time? You mean, you went to the time when Licorice was still at the lagoon and copied the compass using your copy gun? Is that what you mean, huh Blackberry?" Ginger asked, and I nodded.

"That's clever. But why didn't you instead bring us all back to before he kidnapped Coco and stop him from kidnapping her?" Huck asked. I sighed.

"This is why I didn't really want to tell how I got the compass," I said. "It's too complicated to explain and gives me headaches."

"Well," Strawberry said. "If we did that, then we would never meet Cinnamon, right? I think it's better this way."

"Yeah, I sorta agree with you," Peppermint said. "Anyway, how far are we from the island?"

"I have no idea. The compass only shows direction, not distance," I replied. "I just fly to wherever this compass points its needle."

The flight lasted for the next ten minutes until I saw something on a distance. It looked like a mountain surrounded by storm clouds.

"Cinnamon," I said.

"Yes?" she replied.

"I see an island with storm clouds above it. Do you think it's Porcupine Peak?" I asked.

"That's right," Cinnamon said. "Storm clouds always cover the island, but rain happens very rarely. Because of this, nothing can grow there."

"So that's our destination," I said, then suddenly Albatross crashed onto something unseen. The crash was so hard that everybody inside could feel the impact, even with the gravity field still activated. The ship then fell to the water below and ended up floating on the surface.

"Everybody okay?" Strawberry asked around.

"Yeah," Huck said.

"Pretty much," Angel said.

"Not really, and I will get worse if this kid doesn't get off me right now," Peppermint said, lying on the floor with Ginger lying on her body.

"Oh, sorry!" Ginger said, getting up.

"What just happened?" Cinnamon asked.

"I have no idea?" Orange said. "Blackberry?"

"I have no idea either," I said, opening the hatch and jumped to the ship's nose, which was badly damaged. I then tried reaching my right hand to the far front, and it touched something invisible. It felt like a hard wall. "Invisible barrier?"

"Invisible barrier? But this ship should be able to go through such thing, right? Like the one in the sky?" Peppermint asked.

"This is not the case," I said, getting back inside. "Limit in The Sky is just a pushing force, but this one is a hard wall," I continued, turning on the monitor at the cockpit. A figure of the island appeared, and it was shown that the whole island up to one mile away was covered with a dome-shaped barrier. "Cinnamon, do you know about this?"

"Well, I'm not sure, but my father once told me that the island doesn't want 'good' to come if not accompanied by 'evil'," Cinnamon replied.

"Well, in other words, we can only get through the barrier if someone evil is near us, right?" I said.

"Then, how we're gonna go to the island?" Angel asked.

"I think the question is, 'How can we go anywhere?'," Huck said. "The crash damaged this ship badly. How's the ship, Blackberry?"

"Hmm..." I said, checking the ship's condition. "Many parts are damaged, but the ship can still fly."

"That's good to hear, but now we are back to the first question," Seaberry said.

"Well, the barrier covers the island like a dome, and it reaches underwater," I said, looking at the monitor again. "But not all the way to the bottom of the sea. There's a gap right at the bottom, wide enough for Albatross to go through."

"Then let's go through the gap!" Coco said.

"The problem is, this is Albatross, not Falcon. It can float like a boat but it cannot dive," I said.

"Not another problem..." Angel said.

"Um, Blackberry. Could you explain why this ship cannot dive?" Seaberry asked.

"Two causes," I replied. "First, the engine is not waterproof. Getting wet is still fine, but if submerged I can't promise anything. Second, our room here is not waterproof either. If the ship is submerged, we all will drown."

"That means, if we can keep the ship dry it will be fine, right?" she asked.

"That's right," I said. "Why asking that?"

"Seaberry, don't say that you're going to do that!" Coco said.

"What is 'that'?" Apple asked.

"Could you explain to us?" Strawberry asked.

"You all know that I can breathe underwater thanks to the magic stone in my hair ornament, right?" Seaberry said.

"No, we don't. You only told us about being able to breathe underwater yesterday," Peppermint said. "Continue anyway."

"Two years ago, I learned that the magic stone was not the only source of my ability. There is magic inside myself as well. Both the magic stone and my own magic helped each other to give me the ability," Seaberry said.

"You have magic in yourself? Whoa, I've never heard of that!" Ginger said.

"After learning that, I thought of training the magic within me. I hoped that maybe I would be able to share my ability with my friends, so they could visit my house," Seaberry said.

"Did you succeed?" Orange asked.

"Yes, she did," Coco said. "She now can envelop my head in a large bubble so I can breathe while swimming underwater."

"So, maybe if I can envelop this ship it will be able to dive," Seaberry said.

"No! You can't do that!" Coco said.

"Why?" Seaberry asked.

"You know the reason yourself, Seaberry!" Coco replied. "You get tired everytime you use that on me, just so I can swim to your house! If you use that on this whole ship, I can't imagine what will happen to you!"

"Remember that we have to save the mermaids," Seaberry said.

"But..." Coco said.

"Don't worry about me, Coco," Seaberry said. "I will be fine."

"Please promise me that you'll be fine," Coco said.

"I promise," Seaberry said, then she looked at me. "Ready, Blackberry?"

"Let's see..." I said, checking the monitor. "It will take around one minute to dive into the bottom of the sea and go back up again at the other side of the barrier. Can you last for that long?"

"We won't know until we try," Seaberry said.

"Okay, let's do this," I said, turning the engine back on, and it roared to life. Seaberry then stood in the middle of the passenger space, clasped her hands, and closed her eyes. Immediately, she let out blue glow from her body, and Albatross was enveloped in a large bubble.

"Go now! We don't have much time!" Coco said.

"I'm on it!" I replied, and then I controlled Albatross to dive towards the bottom of the sea. As planned, within half a minute it reached the bottom of the sea and went through the invisible gap below the barrier. But then things went bad. Seaberry kept concentrating like before, but she started to sweat and the glow around her body started to dim. I controlled Albatross to get to the surface quickly, but suddenly the glow around Seaberry's body disappeared completely and she fell down fainted. Everyone else panicked as water started to invade the ship, shutting down the engine and filling both the passenger space and the cockpit with sea water. Looking at the desperate situation, I pressed a button which had the same function as the one which brought us out from Black Hole four years before.

Right after pressing the overcharge button, the engine roared to life again and spit out bubbles. The ship then accelerated towards the surface with increasing speed. Soon, it reached the surface and emerged with a jump. It then landed back on the water surface and continued to run towards the island with high speed. I was barely able to control the movement.

"Everybody brace yourselves!" I shouted, and soon Albatross crash landed at an empty beach. I was glad that the gravity field still worked well that nobody got hurt. After it came into a complete stop, I opened the hatch and shouted, "Get away from this ship now!"

Immediately, everyone except Coco and I ran for their lives. Seaberry was still fainted so I carried her on my back with Coco's help, and both of us ran away with all our strength. Right after we were far enough, Albatross exploded violently. All of us then looked at the remains of my ship without anyone saying anything.

"Bye, Albatross," I said quietly. I then laid Seaberry down on the ground. A few minutes later, she regained her consciousness.

"Ah, you're awake!" Strawberry said.

"Huh? Where am I? What happened?" Seaberry asked.

"You fainted while using your magic," I said.

"What? Then what happened? Did we all make it?" Seaberry asked, looking surprised and worried.

"Don't worry about us. We all made it," I said. "Although my ship was not so lucky."

"What happened to your ship?" she asked, and I looked towards the remains of Albatross, which was then a pile of toasted metal falling into pieces. She then looked at the remains as well, and she got surprised.

"Oh, I'm really sorry. I was not strong enough," she said.

"What's done is done," I said. "Let's now go and save your friends."

"Wait a second! How can we get out from this island after we save them? Without Blackberry's ship we can't go anywhere, am I right?" Ginger said.

"We will figure it out later," I said, starting to walk away from the beach. Everybody followed without saying anything, possibly because they thought I was still shocked from the loss of my ship. Indeed it made sense for them to think like that. Albatross had been made with immeasurable effort, sweat, and tears. It had taken numerous tiresome trips to many places just to get the materials, and more tiresome works to process the materials. Four years had been spent making it, and I only got to use it for two days until it had blown up to pieces.

"Hey, Blackberry," Peppermint said right behind me as we all started to climb up a small hill. I was in front of everybody else.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"For someone who has just lost his ship, you look calm. Sorta too calm actually," she said.

"Peppermint!" Strawberry shouted, obviously not allowing her to ask about that.

"Sorry, Strawberry. I just can't help it!" Peppermint said. "I mean, if I were him I would have been shocked and cried like... like I've lost something very important."

"So..." I said, stopping my climb and sat down on the slope facing everyone else. "Do you expect me to do that right now?"

"What?" she asked.

"Do you want me now to burst into tears, cry hysterically, and then muse into blank space like I'm in shock for losing Albatross?" I asked again.

"Uh... No, but..." she said, losing her words.

"Will we gain anything if I do that right now?" I asked again. There was a brief silence. "I'd rather focus on the matter at hand."

"Sorry..." Peppermint said, bowing her head. "You're right."

Immediately, we all resumed climbing the slope of the small hill. Further behind, some of them whispered things I didn't hear.

"That was not like him to say that," Angel whispered.

"Yeah..." Orange whispered. "I mean, he has a point. But the way he said it to Peppermint..."

"Yeah, it made her feel bad..." Angel whispered.

"I'm just fine. Don't worry about me," Peppermint whispered. "He's the one you all should worry about."

"Huh?" Angel asked.

"You realized it too, Peppermint?" Strawberry whispered.

"Yeah. He's in shock," Peppermint whispered. "But he's trying hard to hide it. He doesn't want us to pity him."

"Ah, I see," Angel whispered.

"That's the Blackberry I know," Orange whispered.

"But that still leaves the question," Angel whispered. "How we're gonna make him feel better?"

"I have no idea," Peppermint whispered. "Let's just act normal for now, I think."

"I hope we will figure something out soon," Strawberry whispered, and soon we all reached the top of the small hill.

From the top of the hill, we could see an overview of Porcupine Peak. It was a nearly lifeless plain without many trees. Most of the land were occupied by weed. Lightnings roar regularly from the storm clouds above, which made sunlight dim, but there was no rain at all. Like Cinnamon had said, it seemed that rains happen very rarely there, because many of the plants were dying from drought. Some houses stand on the plain quite distant from each other, and all of them are in poor condition they were better said as shacks. All of my friends looked at the view, stunned because of the extreme difference from Strawberryland.

At the horizon I noticed moon rising and I looked at Cinnamon, who took off her sunglasses. She had just gained sight, thus she could see the scenery of her birthplace she had not seen for years. No words came out from her mouth, and her face expressed a bit of sadness. There was a deep silence for the next few seconds.

"I have never thought of coming back here again," Cinnamon said.

"Cinnamon, I can't believe that you were born at this horrible place," Angel said.

"It must have been hard for you," Apple said.

"How does it feel to be back here again?" I asked.

"I... I don't know," Cinnamon replied. "This place holds the memories of my horrible past, but it still feels like home to me. I don't know how I should feel."

"Oh..." Strawberry said.

"Now comes the hard part of our rescue mission," I said. "Everyone ready?"

I could hear everyone agreeing, and then we all started walking down the hill to Porcupine Peak.

--End of Chapter 3--
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
The majority of what I said in response to this chapter was in the form of observational questions that have been answered.

Quote:"I... I don't know," Cinnamon replied. "This place holds the memories of my horrible past, but it still feels like home to me. I don't know how I should feel."

This I will always sympathize with.

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