From Chapter 7: Savenridge
At first, Elijah found it easy to keep up. The snow was not hard to travel through even though it soaked his shoes. He missed the fire from the cave, though. It was cold outside, and little gusts of frigid wind pierced his body like needles penetrating his skin.
Eventually, however, the trip became much more difficult. They quickly crossed frozen streams and traveled through forests thick with trees. On more than one occasion, Elijah ran into a branch or tripped on a stump trying to keep up.
The sky began to slowly turn from a dark blue and gray to a brilliant orange. Half the sky was painted by the sun’s touch as though it was carefully smearing itself onto the night’s dark blue canvas. The sun inched its way closer to the horizon, and the clouds also absorbed the color. The light bled through the edges at first, and then soaked each cloud with color. It was a magnificent view, and Elijah found it hard to resist looking at it for long periods of time.
After traveling for hours, Master Roddick, Elijah, and Samuel reached a range of snow-covered hills that had no trees and very few hiding places. There were some rocks and ledges that could be used for partial cover, but nothing big enough to hide behind for any length of time. When they reached the base of the range, Roddick bent down, pulled out his pack and retrieved two pairs of thick-looking boots.
“Now I didn’t know we’d have a third along with us,” Roddick said, “so I only have boots for two. These are made in Savenridge. They’re warm, but they’re especially made for climbing. See the bottoms?”
Elijah picked up a boot and looked at the bottom. The tread was thick and had some kind of material that didn’t feel like anything Elijah had worn. It looked like thick rubber, but felt like steel. On the heel of the boot were many V shapes that pointed to the back of the foot. On the ball of the boot, those same V shapes pointed to the front of the foot. The sides of the boot funneled out like small slides.
“Now look here,” Master Roddick said, pointing to the bottoms.
“These V shapes will grab on to anything you walk on. That’s why we haven’t worn them until now. They’re made for mountain traveling. It’s too hard to walk with them on flat ground. It’ll feel weird as you walk—like you’re going to fall, but you need to trust them. The heel will grip on the way up, the top half will grip on the way down, and the sides will push aside any snow or water that you track. As long as you trust it, you won’t fall. If you don’t—” He didn’t finish his sentence, but Elijah understood. Roddick looked at Samuel. “Seeing as you’re the smallest, you’ll be the easiest for me to carry if you need it, so you’ll have to go on without the boots. Keep ahead of me. I’ll help you where you need help.” Samuel looked as though he was just sentenced to death. Elijah was tempted to ask if he could be the one without the boots, but before he could protest, Roddick was up and leading Samuel out in front of him.
A great sea of white snow covered all that was living in front of them. Elijah looked at the destination hundreds of feet above them and prepared himself for the climb. The instant Elijah took his first step onto the mountainside, he knew what Roddick meant by trusting the boots. They gripped the side of the mountain firmly, but the incline was so steep that Elijah thought he was going to fall backwards. He was sure he was going to slip and fall off during the climb, but he forced himself to trust the boots with each terrifying step, even though his body was telling him not to.
Samuel, on the other hand, was having a rough time without the boots. He slipped over and over, and if it hadn’t been for Master Roddick’s quick reflexes, he would have slid off the side a number of times.
After an hour of climbing, the ground leveled off slightly. Elijah’s legs burned with every step as his muscles quivered. The trio had been on the move without rest since the early morning, stopping only to drink from a water pouch Roddick carried. Elijah struggled to catch his breath the higher they went. He found the view exhilarating and terrifying altogether. For miles, he could see nothing but snow with a few green treetops peaking out of the whitened world.
As the hike gradually became routine, Elijah began thinking of the place they were traveling to. He tried to connect his past with this new world. The first place he encountered the term Magi was in a tattered book that belonged to his parents. Did that mean they knew of the Magi too? If they did, why did they keep it a secret? Elijah then thought of the last entry of Kyria’s diary that talked about a secret she knew. It was something she couldn’t tell him. Was that last entry about the Magi? Did Uncle Stan know too?
Upon reaching the summit, Master Roddick paused and gathered Elijah and Samuel to him. “This is the most challenging part of the journey,” he said slowly and seriously. “We call it Air Walker’s Pass. Many people have died on this ridge because of carelessness. Pay attention where you step. Samuel, you will be between me and Elijah on the way down. Stay as close to the mountain as you can.”
It was easy to see why this was called Air Walker’s Pass. The path was so narrow hugging the mountainside that Elijah couldn’t see anything in front of him. It gave him the illusion that he was actually walking on air, which he did not like because the bottom was hundreds of feet below. He could only see the switchbacks and the world under him. His heart stopped a couple of times as he felt himself become unsteady on the skinny path, but his boots held.
Samuel, however, was far from slightly nervous. He was beginning to seriously panic. After walking for just a few minutes on the narrow pass, he hugged the mountainside to his right and refused to move. He closed his eyes and stiffened up.
“I CAN’T DO THIS!” Master Roddick turned around.
“It’s okay, lad. I’ve got you. You just have to go slow and be careful!”
“NO! YOU’LL SLIP TOO! THIS ISN’T SAFE!” As Samuel shouted, he began to backpedal up the mountain path toward Elijah, not looking where his feet were going as they inched closer and closer to the edge of the ridge. His eyes were crazed and wild. His breathing was short and quick.
“Lad, stop and look at me!” Master Roddick warned, his tone taking on a hint of fear as Samuel was obviously not thinking clearly.
Elijah flattened his back against the mountain and started to take off his boots. “Samuel, here! You can have these!” Elijah had gotten both boots off and he raised them up to show Samuel he was serious. Standing precariously between Roddick and Elijah, Samuel stared at the boots for a long time, still a little out of sorts. His panicked state began to slow as he eyed the boot Elijah held out in front of him. How Samuel had not fallen off the edge, Elijah didn’t know. His back was facing the sudden drop off, and it looked as though half of his foot was hanging over the edge. A half a step back and he would tumble off the side.
No words were spoken as Samuel stared blankly at the boot dangling from Elijah’s hand. All three were afraid to say or do anything. Samuel’s expression slackened, and his eyes came into focus again as he reached out for the boot. When he finally grabbed the boot from Elijah’s hand, his face was relieved. He held the boot in his left hand, and the instant he moved to put it on, his foot slipped, and Samuel plummeted down over the edge of the pass, out of sight. Elijah and Master Roddick were left alone watching in horror.