Shadow Days Page 15

Bellum Omnia Contra Omnes.

The War of All Against All.

My friends in Portland already knew I was a philosophy geek. I read the classics almost as loyally as I did comics. I guess my online friends were about to get a big dose of Shay’s nerdy side too.

Sitting on my bed, I ran my fingers over the words of the title, noticing the way the letters were indented in the cover.

“Hey there, Mr. Hobbes,” I said. “Why didn’t this book of yours get published?”


I needed to brusH uP on my Latin if I was serious about reading the text. And I’d definitely need to unpack my Latin-English dictionary. This book was a beast. from the little I’d gleaned, it was history . . . or maybe philosophy. The book itself was broken up into three sections that I thought were related, but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. And it didn’t sound like Hobbes, which was disappointing. I worried that maybe the book was a Hobbes knockoff that one of my ancestors had found without bothering to investigate the book’s origins. Was I the heir of aspiring but failed philosophers? That wouldn’t be very encouraging.

Even if it wasn’t Hobbes, it was unusual enough to hold my interest. One of the first things that caught my attention, besides the title, was that the book didn’t start with text. The first pages were all maps.

There were four different maps, their sites and topography described in Latin. I’d searched the book for a publishing imprint or a publica-tion date but hadn’t been able to find one. from the style of the maps and the illuminations on the title pages I guessed it was from sometime in the Middle Ages. Not exactly precision dating.

I’d spent the most time gazing at the first map. Something about it bothered me, but I hadn’t quite figured out why that was. I needed to post another video and get some feedback, but first I thought I’d clear my head with a serious hike, the kind that would eat up most of my day and make my legs feel like they were about to fall off. If I was exhausted enough, maybe I’d sleep through the nightly crash.

I pulled out the map where I’d marked out the trails I wanted to hit. I stared.

“No way,” I said.

I stared some more.

finally I opened Hobbes’s book to the first map.

The terrain was identical. But that was impossible. The map in the book I’d found had to be at least five hundred years old. And it was European.

It had to be a coincidence. for the next hour I pored over the two maps, searching for some discrepancy. Another mountain here, a different river there. But there was nothing. It was unmistakably the same place. The only difference was that my current map was filled with towns, but of course those wouldn’t have been around when the medieval map was created. But who could have made it? And why?

I guessed I had another video to make.

My phone rang when I was right in the middle of setting up the shot. I grabbed it, having had enough of phantom calls.

“Leave me the hell alone!”

“Excuse me?” My uncle’s voice was more amused than shocked.

“Oh . . . Uncle Bosque,” I said. “Sorry. I’ve been getting prank calls.”

“Do you want me to have the phone company look into it?”

“No,” I said. “I’ll work it out. I should have checked the number before I answered the call. I would have known it was you.”

“No apologies needed, my boy,” Bosque said. “I haven’t been in touch as often I should have been. Is all well at Rowan Estate?”


He didn’t wait for me to answer. “Excellent. I’m sure you can guess why I’m calling.”


“The Mountain School is ready for you to join them,” he said.

“You’ll start classes on Monday. Everything has been arranged. I’m sure Logan can drive you to your first day of school if you’d prefer not to go alone.”

School? Now? What I’d been waiting for since I moved here was happening. I should have been happy—this meant things to do and people to see. But I needed more time.

All I said was, “Logan doesn’t need to drive me. I bought a truck.”

“A truck?” I heard him laugh. “Of course you did.”

How was I going to solve these puzzles when I was at school all day? I guessed if I still got woken at 5 a.m., I could work in the library then.

“And because I want to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Bosque continued, “I’ll be coming to stay with you for a bit.”

“You’re coming home?”

“I am,” he said. “I’ll be there Wednesday. You need only to weather the first two days on your own.”

Eight days. He’d be here in eight days. Once Bosque returned to Rowan Estate, it was the end of my trips to the library.

I had to find answers by the fastest means available.


Their Arguments mAde sense. I couldn’t find fault with them. Going into an uncharted cavern system was dan-gerous. And yeah, I saw The Descent. It was nice to have so many people worried about me, seriously—and I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with this stuff if it hadn’t been for everybody’s help online. But I wasn’t going to listen this time. I thought about post-ing my climbing resume on my facebook page to prove that I wasn’t a novice but figured that would most likely make me look like a self-centered ass.

But come on, I couldn’t ignore the caverns! After everything we’d been working through, I’d finally found something that might be real. This was different than confusing histories, family trees full of quasi-immortals, insane clues about witches and elemental forces, and gross things floating in jars. A map was concrete. A map offered a place I could go and things I could see.

I’d been itching to try out spelunking no matter what. This connection had simply presented the best opportunity: kill two birds with one stone.

I took all the precautions. I used the time I wasn’t sleeping to read up on the terrain. Some pretty serious storms had been moving through the valley, but they were supposed to clear out by Sunday.

That’s when I would go.

I convinced myself that Victoria would have my back, but I felt guilty, knowing that Liz, Melissa, and Stephanie would be worried.

Whether my online army of friends decided I was brave or a fool, I hoped that when I came back with answers, they’d forgive me.

Prev Next