Chapter 52

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Hailie didn't go below deck at all since using the pearls. She'd taken a seat by the rail and she didn't move from that spot until the island was sighted. The ship felt suffocating. The day after Eli kissed her cheek Winston comes on board the ship and then Eli gets stung and is dying below deck. Maybe those people were right and she did bring death with her. Things like this happened too often to be coincidence. Maybe if he'd given her a proper kiss he would have been dead by now instead of dying. Her chin fell to her chest. She shouldn't have stayed. She should have left as soon as possible.

She'd smoked two packs in that one day, she hadn't done that in weeks or months, and had opened the third when Tom shouted that he saw the island. She closed it and slipped it into her bag. The moment she was both dreading and praying would come quickly. She didn't even bother to ask Celeste how he was doing. To be honest, she didn't want to know anything other than if he was still alive. As long as he was breathing and his heart was beating she would be able to save him.

Once Benji had sat next to her, a few feet away since she was still chain smoking. He didn't say anything, but he stayed there with her for what must have been hours. She'd been grateful for the company and the fact that he hadn't said a word. He'd only brought her another pack which she was grateful for, since she'd been running out, and a bottle of unsweetened tea. The Captain for once hadn't said anything about her smoking and pretty much left her alone. She didn't see Kendra at all until Tom made that shout.

Hailie slowly got to her feet and trained her eyes on the horizon. Minerva was probably going to kill her, metaphorically, and Keagan was definitely going to kill her, literally. His father was probably going to give her that look again that made her want to sink into the floor and possibly do more than just kill her. She would deal with them after she got the moss.

The island came into sight. Java. She hadn't been there in years.

Roberto lowered the anchor.

The Captain came on deck carrying a fully clothed Eli like a child. The pearls were darker than when she last saw him. There was more time between each of his breaths. Hailie turned her eyes back to the island.

"Hailie, this is your territory. What's the plan?" the Captain said. Shen was fastening the vest around her. He'd cleaned it and dried it and she felt better with it on. Like a knight putting on armor. She'd asked him to borrow a sword and he strapped it to her waist as well.

"You, me, Eli, Kendra, Zigzag and Celeste and Shen will go. You and I will take Eli through those trees while the rest waits on the beach. I need to see them first. They have their reputations for a reason," Hailie said. She let that sink in. Those people were known as bloodthirsty cannibals. They weren't cannibals but they would kill them if she didn't go in first.

"I want to come as well," Benji said.

"I do not think--"

"Hailie, I can't stay here when I know you're there. You've been chain smoking since Eli got stung. You haven't eaten or slept or even left this spot in more than a day. I'm worried about you."

"Stay on the ship."

"If you leave with the boat, I'll try to follow you."

"You cannot swim."

"I'll figure it out," Benji said. What was happening to him? He'd never been this stubborn before he came on the ship. He'd normally just do as she told him to. She wasn't in the mood to argue. She held his chin in her hand so he was forced to look her in the eye.

"Benji, you will stay on this ship. I will be fine. No one will die today. I will be back soon. I promise. You know I keep my promises," Hailie said. He stared at her for a few seconds before he nodded. "Captain are we ready to leave?"

"Yes. Get on the boat," he said to the rest of them.

Benji didn't say anything but the worry on his face was clear. She would ask someone to get him once everything was fine. He would want to see the place for himself... or not. She wanted to leave that place as soon as possible.

Zigzag said something softly to Lilly then grinned and walked towards the boat. She rolled her eyes but there was a smile on her face. He then said something to Indira and then had to duck a punch to his ear.

Between Shen and Zigzag they reached the shore within a few minutes. Kendra and Hailie jumped out and pulled the boat further up the beach. The Captain got out, still carrying Eli. He made Eli look as if he didn't weigh more the Faith. Kendra still had yet to say a word or even glance in his direction. Hailie could offer no words of comfort. They all knew what state he was in.

"The Captain and I will leave now. Wait here. I will send someone to get you," Hailie said.

Hailie and the Captain went into the trees.

"Cowal!" Hailie shouted. She coughed into her hand. She hadn't done that in so long it hurt her throat.

"What was that?" the Captain asked, taking a step away from her.

"I do not know who is on lookout duty right now but if I call out a few names then they would realize that I am not an enemy." She took another breath. "Cowal! Aram! Keva!" She had to stop to cough again.

"It's all that smoking you've been doing," the Captain said, looking a little concerned.

"I am fine. Cowal!"

A man in his mid thirties stepped out of the trees. A smile broke out on his face and he scooped her up into a hug.

"Hailie, you have no idea how worried we were. Especially Minerva. She cried when we couldn't find you. We thought you were dead," he said. Tears pricked at her eyes but she wouldn't let them fall. She had more important things to do. He let her go after a few more seconds. "Who are these men with you?"

"This is the Captain of the ship I was on. The man he is carrying is Eli. He is dying and we do not have the stuff we need to save him," Hailie said.

"Vir!" Cowal called. A man materialized in front of them. He looked guiltily at Hailie.

"It's been a long time, Hailie," he said.

"How sick is this man?" Cowal asked.

Vir went towards Eli and for a moment she thought the Captain would put up a fight but he let him feel Eli's skin, put his ear to his chest and open his shirt to see the welts.

"He will not survive 'til the night. You should say your goodbyes now," Vir said.

"No. The doctor on the ship said we still have a chance if she gets the things she needs." Hailie took out the bag with the moss Celeste had given her. "We need this, plenty of it."

Vir smelt it. "I don't know much about herbs. You'll have to come back and ask Geron if he has any though your time may be better spent--"

"Take me to him," Hailie said. She knew what he was going to say and she wouldn't listen to any of it.

"Come," Cowal said.

"We have some more people on the beach that came with us," Hailie said.

"I will send one of the men to meet them and bring them to the village." Cowal glanced at Eli. "If you want a chance to save that man we need to hurry. Follow me." He looked like he was going to say something to the Captain but then changed his mind a walked off giving instructions to men they couldn't see.

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