Pete and J-Boy pulled the boat further onto the island.
Once they had tied the boat safely to the tree, the boys walked around the island to get a bearing on where exactly they had landed.
It was an island, much the same as any of the other islands, with the express difference of being the only one they were currently standing on.
Measuring roughly thirty meters across in one direction and fifty in the other, it seemed to be on the smaller side. At least insofar as the boys could tell, not having much experience with these floating islands.
The island itself had a small hill spotted with boulders and short grassy plant life on one side, and on the opposite stood the tree the boat was now tied to.
The nearest island was about two hundred feet away: near enough to attempt something a bit stupid, perhaps.
The boys decided to try fly the boat over to the next island.
Pete filled the balloons with oxede and the boat lifted off the island.
As J-Boy untied the rope from the tree and climbed up into the boat the wind picked up, blowing the boys's somewhat precarious vehicle in the direction of the next island over.
Pete soon discovered that sailing the boat was fundamentally not too different from sailboarding, if a bit slower and less vertical.
He didn't have very long to grasp the finer details though, for they were rapidly approaching, and then passing their intended landfall.
He backed off the oxede in the balloons, and pushed the boom of the sail first to one side, then the other, trying to figure out how to turn around. Finding their boat simply sinking lower in the sky, however, he refilled the balloons and resigned himself to their new direction.
Which happened to be a rather large cluster of shadow-cast and foreboding islands.
J-Boy grabbed the rope tied to the bench in the bottom of the boat and leapt over the side, yelling, "land it!"
Filled with a sense of serious deja vu coated in sticky dread, and a bit of motion sickness, Pete filled the balloons and waited until the boat was above the edge of the leading island.
As soon as Pete saw J-Boy hit the dirt below, he drained the balloons.
J-boy dug in his heels and was dragged across the island's surface, the shadow of the boat covering him and growing larger. Through squinted eyes, he saw a wooden structure approaching and aimed for it as much as could while being propelled by what may as well have been a the worlds worst kite.
Pete felt a sickening crunch as the boat touched down on the surface of the flying island, and as the boat slid drunkenly along, Pete caught a glimpse of the wooden ruin J-Boy was trying to tie the boat to: an ancient-looking bridge.
Pete and J-Boy stood looking at the rickety wooden bridge that spanned the fog-filled gap between the two islands.
Neither boy could see through the fog to the other side of the bridge, if there even was another side.
Pete looked around, fully expecting the bridge to dissolve and fall, or an island to come crashing into the bridge, or a dinosaur to sprint out of the fog toward them, or...
"It's fine, Pete. It's just a bridge.”
J-Boy walked toward the crazily swaying wood-and-rope confabulation and inspected the posts that held the bridge aloft.
“Don't- don't touch anything,” Pete cautioned.
J-Boy shrugged. “I'm not. I just want to see if there's any reason we shouldn't try to cross.”
Pete folded his arms and frowned, casting his eyes to the dark ripples on the water below. “I could think of a dozen,” he muttered.
The bridge creaked unnervingly as a gust of wind shifted the island ever so slightly.
Pete mumbled something under his breath as J-Boy stepped lightly onto the swinging death-trap that might have formerly been called a bridge.
Pete quickly scanned what he could see of the bridge for any holes or frayed ropes or obvious signs of danger.
Unable to reasonably justify any, he told J-Boy to cross slowly, and to try not to bounce around so much.
Johnaten H. Boyd wasn't an idiot: he knew perfectly well that the bridge was likely to snap underneath him and send both himself and Pete plummeting to their likely highly painful doom should he jostle it too much.
He was, however, a highly fearless individual, and nothing would deter him.
Pete watched with an odd mixture of horror and fascination as J-Boy bolted for the other side of the old wooden bridge.
The ancient ropes creaked as the weight of a one hundred eighteen pound boy strained them in a way they had been unused to for decades.
Pete was in the middle of considering whether or not to part ways with his breakfast when the voice of a jubilant J-Boy floated through the fog.
“Hey! I made it! You coming?”
Pete rolled his eyes and crept hesitantly onto the bridge.
When Pete stepped off the other side, he flopped down on the ground, closed his eyes and sighed.
J-Boy poked him none too lightly in the shoulder. “Wuss.”
Pete swatted his best friend's hand away. “Go away you frightful moron. I'm trying to make nice with solid ground, and my equilibrium isn't being a good wingman.”
J-Boy grinned and ran a few yards away, where he too flung himself to the ground.
“Hey, Pete! See that cloud over there? The one with the island coming through it.”
Pete opened one eye, “Yeah, why?”
J-Boy rolled over and jumped to his feet, “Something's coming down.”
Pete stood up as fast as he could, making himself light-headed, and immediately regretting it.
Once the bright dots cleared from his vision, Pete stared up at the island looking for any hint of movement.
Sure enough, there was a small black silhouette floating down from the island.
“It's coming here,” J-Boy said.
Pete glanced at his friend. “You think? Maybe they're just jumping for fun.”
J-Boy snickered. “And maybe they just fell off.”
The boys stood staring up into the sky as the black dot grew and formed the shape of a man; a man with a large sail attached to his belt.
The man landed opposite the boys and pulled out a large, sinister-looking sword.
“Who are you? How came ye here?”
Pete and J-Boy looked at each other with surprise.
The man pointed the sword at Pete. “You. What is your name?”
Pete's mind raced. He decided to act important on the off-chance the sword-wielding man could be fooled into not murdering both of them.
“My name is Peter Liam Williamson, Rinsenar of Northhall City (which was true). Who are you?” Pete gave the soldier the look he'd learned from watching his father in the debates at the Northhall summit.
The guard tightened his grip on the sword. “I am Nemon Sinereth. Soldier to his majesty, Prince Drake; Lord of Latheron. May I ask how came you here? You're quite obviously not from Latheron.”
Pete smiled inwardly at the thought. “No, we definitely are not. We... have traveled from a world very different from this one. I think we came here by portal.”
The guard looked confused. “By which? Is that a ship?
J-Boy smirked. “Nah, it's a small purple sheep you hold onto, and a wizard shoots lightning at you. ”
Both the guard and Pete turned to give J-Boy a bewildered look.
Pete shifted his balance, and broke the confused silence. "Right, so, uh. No, hold on. Wizards, J-Boy? Really?"
"What's wrong with wizards?"
"I mean, you could just say you don't know how we got here."
Nemon looked from one boy to the other, "were you not cast here by a wizard, then?"
"Of course not. Was that what made most sense to you?" Pete turned back to face the knight. "Not a door or a ship?"
"I'd readily believe that a wizard was capable of bringing you from a world beyond this one. Magic is a powerful and dangerous thing," replied the man, his face cast with a new, angry expression.
"Sounds like you have some experience with wizards then?" Pete asked, intrigued by the knight's response.
Nemon scowled, then relaxed his hold on the sword. “Not the wizard so much as the witch. 'Tis she that cast this land to the sky. Look about you; all this land you see is cursed by her. Pinned in the firmament by some wind that springs forth from the ground, and only chaotically aloft even then. We are alone above a hungry sea and with no sight of a mainland. We have but little control of whither we roam, and no chance of rediscovering land that rests normally upon the earth."
Pete thought a while, then asked, "where is she?"
"Whom? The witch?" the knight seemed to see Pete in a new light.
"Yeah, I want to see if I can get her to put things back," Pete said.
Nemon glanced up toward the island he had come from. "I couldnt say, for I have no idea. Mayhap the General would tell you more."
J-Boy looked up to the island above. "Can we go up?"
"I will take you, but you will have to wait until the advisory settles the details of your coming to speak with the General. A small matter, but it will take some time."
Nemon unhooked two lines from his belt and handed the ends to the boys. "Fasten these to yourselves, please."
Pete, J-Boy and Nemon rose under the power of great wooden cranks, turned by some beasts of labour on the island above.
When they arrived at the top, Nemon walked over to his captain. “These are Peter, son of Liam-William, and... I'm sorry, I hadn't caught your name."
J-Boy smirked excitedly. "I am Johnaten Harland Boyd, first and only son of Theodor Maxilos Gregor Fitz-Herbert Matthew Edgerow Harland Boyd III. Don't wear it out."