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Seven Sleepers the Lost Chronicles 5 The Temptations of Pleasure Island
By Gilbert Morris
Moody PressCopyright © 2000 Gilbert Morris
All rights reserved.
It is time for your departure," Goél said in a quiet voice that was mild and yet at the same time strong. He looked around the small dining room, and a warm light filled his eyes. He put his gaze upon each of the five young men present and then looked directly across the table to where two girls completed the company of the Seven Sleepers.
Their leader did not make a kingly figure. He was dressed merely in a simple light gray robe. The hood was pushed back from his face, and his auburn hair caught the light from the lamp that illuminated the room. He seemed as much a simple workman as anything else, yet every member of the Seven Sleepers knew that this man had powers that could not be explained in natural ways.
Josh Adams, the leader of the Sleepers, sat studying Goél's face. At the age of fourteen, Josh was tall and awkward. He was still shy, but his entire loyalty went to this one who had saved him and the others from death many times.
"Will you be going with us on our new mission, sire?"
"No, my Joshua. I have another mission, but you will find this task mostly to your liking, I'm sure. At least at the beginning."
Bob Lee Jackson, always called Reb by his friends, was finishing a drink of refreshing tea from a large mug. He was the tallest of the boys. He was fifteen and had light-blue eyes that appeared able to bore right through an object. He had removed the tall cowboy hat that he wore everywhere except when sleeping or at the table—and sometimes even then. Reb chuckled and said, "If I didn't know you better, Goél, I'd think you were joking us. We've never had an assignment yet that was just fun."
Josh knew that was true. The Seven Sleepers had come to Nuworld from the distant past. They had been placed in sleeping capsules by their parents just before Oldworld was destroyed by nuclear war. When they awoke many, many years later, they discovered that most of what they had known was gone. Life was completely different in Nuworld. But they soon gave their allegiance to Goél, who was fighting against the Dark Lord, an evil being who wanted to enslave everyone.
Goél perhaps was remembering this as he nodded. "Indeed, you have been hard pressed many times. You have not had an easy life in Nuworld. But—" he smiled quickly "—as you well know, it is the hard times that make men and women strong. Not the easy times."
"Well, then, sire," Jake Garfield put in, "we ought to be strong, because we've sure had some hard times." Jake was a short boy of fourteen. He was of Jewish ancestry, he had red hair, and he had a quick, sharp wit. He was also great at inventing practically anything that he had the materials for. Jake grinned crookedly. "I agree with Reb here. You must be teasing us."
Abigail Roberts, also fourteen, was the smallest of the Sleepers as well as the best looking. She had fair hair and eyes, blue as the sky. Unfortunately, she was somewhat proud of her good looks. Abbey said, "Is it really true, Goél? You're going to give us a vacation?"
Before Goél could answer, Wash Jones—the youngest Sleeper, a black boy of thirteen—grinned broadly. "A vacation! That's what I need. I'd sure like to go somewhere where all I had to do was lie on my back and catch fish and then have somebody clean 'em and cook 'em for me."
Goél laughed aloud. Josh had always suspected that their leader had a special fondness for Wash Jones. "That may be somewhere in your future, Wash. But I can understand why Jake and Josh are a little skeptical."
Dave Cooper, a tall fifteen-year-old, was handsome enough to be a movie star, if there had been any movies in Nuworld. He had light brown hair and wide-spaced gray eyes. "Lead us to it, sire," he said. "I'm ready."
Goél then looked toward Josh's close friend Sarah Collingwood.
Sarah was small and graceful. She had large brown eyes, very black hair, and was completely devoted to Goél.
"And what about you, daughter?" Goél asked. "Are you tired of fighting saber-toothed tigers and dragons?"
She managed a smile. "I think we all would welcome a vacation, sire, if you're serious."
Goél nodded and looked around at his young friends. "I am serious. I am sending you to Pleasure Island."
"Pleasure Island!" Jake cried. "Is it anything like Coney Island? I mean are there carnival rides and stuff like that?"
The Sleepers began to fire questions at Goél, and Josh noticed that he managed to avoid most of them. He finally held up his hand, saying, "You have been in hard, dangerous places, but Pleasure Island has not yet been infected by the Dark Lord." A cloud seemed to go across his features. "I do not know how he has missed it, but no doubt he will find it someday. In any case, you will like the royal family. The king and queen are friends of mine. I should tell you that the king has had some difficulty, and I am hoping that you will be able to be of help to him as well as enjoy a vacation. That is my wish."
"Is there a princess?" Dave wanted to know.
"Indeed there is. A very attractive one. Princess Cosima."
"What is she like?" Abigail asked eagerly.
"I think she's very much like ... like Abigail. She loves to brush her hair and wear beautiful clothes."
Everyone giggled at this, and Abbey herself blushed. "We'll be good friends, sire." She nodded vigorously. "I just know we will."
"I trust that you will, indeed. Now—" Goél removed an envelope from a pocket. "Give this letter to the king. He will give you a good reception, I am sure."
Josh, being the leader, was always trying to think ahead. "You mentioned a problem with the king that maybe we can help with. What is the problem? Is he sick?"
"No," Goél said slowly. "He is healthy enough. Very strong and athletic in fact."
"What is it, then?" Josh asked.
"He is subject to fits of discouragement, I'm sorry to say," Goél told them sadly. Then he straightened his shoulders and added, "But he is a good man. He belongs to the House of Goél, and you will find him kind, I'm sure. Now—" he got to his feet "—come. The ship awaits."
In a short time the Sleepers were standing on the shore beside a beautiful ship with the name Eagle on the side. The sails were furled, but the sailors stood ready to set them as soon as the passengers were on board.
"You will have a safe voyage, my young friends." Smiling, Goél went around and shook hands with each of them. He also looked deeply into the eyes of each one.
His gaze somehow made Josh feel that he was being searched. He supposed they all felt that way.
It's always like that, he thought after their leader had shaken his hand and looked into his eyes. I feel as if he looks right down to the inside of me and knows what's going on. Makes a fellow uncomfortable sometimes. But, knowing Goél, you know he means only good.
The Sleepers boarded, and the captain—Captain Leland, they learned—said, "Your baggage is all aboard. Are you ready?"
"Let's go, Captain. Take us to Pleasure Island!" Jake cried.
The captain shouted, "Weigh anchor! Hoist sails!"
Very quickly the Eagle caught the breeze and sailed out of the harbor. The Sleepers all gathered in the stern of the ship and watched Goél as they swiftly moved toward the sea. He grew smaller and smaller, and Josh said with a sigh, "I wish he were going with us, Sarah."
"So do I." Then she reached over and poked Josh's arm. "But we're going to have a great vacation. Our first vacation in Nuworld."
The voyage on the Eagle was pleasant. There were no storms, and day followed day, filled with bright sunshine and a brisk warm breeze. The Sleepers enjoyed their sea voyage thoroughly.
Jake even rigged a line and managed to hook a shark, which nearly pulled him overboard.
"Let go of that line!" Josh screeched and made a grab for Jake as the shark was tugging him over the rail.
"That's my shark!" Jake yelled back.
Josh pulled his friend's hands loose from the line just in time and watched it disappear in the sea.
"That thing would have you for lunch. Let's bait up again. Maybe we can catch something that's both good to eat and safe to catch."
Later they did indeed catch a fine marlin, which proved to be good eating.
The ship was comfortable, but it was small. By the time Captain Leland alerted them with, "Land just off the port bow!" Josh—and everyone else—was eager to set foot on land again.
The Eagle drifted into a beautiful harbor.
"Look at that beach!" Josh breathed. "Nothing but white sand as far as you can see."
"It was like this on the beaches in Florida back in Oldworld," Abbey said. "My family and I used to vacation there every summer. And see, there are lots of people out on the beach getting tans. I can't wait! I want to get the best tan I've ever had!"
But Josh turned to Sarah. "You'll have to be careful, Sarah, and so will I. You remember how badly we sunburned when we were in Trabango? And you don't even burn easily."
"Yes, I sure do remember," she said. "We don't want any more of that."
The crew made the ship fast to a dock, and the Sleepers soon stood wishing farewell to their captain.
Captain Leland looked around with envy. "Wish I could stay with you. Pleasure Island. Sounds like a good place to be these days."
"Why don't you stay, Captain?"
"Under orders from Goél. Got to do my duty. But you youngsters have a great time. From what I hear, you deserve it."
After the farewells, Josh looked around him and said, "I guess we'd better find our way to the palace. Let's shoulder this gear."
"Can't we hire someone to carry all this?" Abbey said. "We're on a vacation!"
"You're right. We'll do that," Josh said.
Soon he had hired a man with a large cart pulled by a sturdy horse to haul their equipment. "We need to get to the palace. Do you know the way there?"
"Indeed I do. This way, sir."
They started inland and soon were all exclaiming over the beauty of Pleasure Island.
"This is a beautiful place!" Dave marveled. "Beautiful trees, beautiful sky, the homes are nice, the people are so attractive."
"A little different from what we usually find," Reb said. He suddenly said, "And look at these horses coming!"
Two riders swept by, sitting on the backs of unusually beautiful horses.
"I bet they'll win a race or two in their time," Reb said with admiration. "I'd sure like to straddle a horse again."
"Well, maybe you can play cowboy here," Jake said. "I'd like to see what kind of science they've got going on Pleasure Island."
"And I'd like to know if they have parties and things like that," Abbey said.
They made their way steadily onward, led by the helpful man with the horse and wagon.
Josh was walking with Sarah. "Have you noticed all the posters that we've been passing, Sarah?" he asked after a while.
"I have. They seem to have a lot of sports events on Pleasure Island, don't they?"
Indeed the walls of most buildings they passed were covered with announcements of all sorts of athletic contests. There were horse races, ball games, and even some sporting events that Josh had never heard of.
"They certainly do believe in games in this place," he said.
"And parties and musical events too. I've seen half a dozen notices for balls and concerts and plays and things like that."
Dave came up to walk with them just then. He was grinning. "So this is Pleasure Island. It beats having to fight a T-rex before breakfast."
Josh remembered. The Sleepers had been in lands where they had to battle dinosaurs and, even worse, sorcerers and magicians skilled in the dark arts. Pleasure Island was definitely better.
Then they arrived at the palace. They stood before a magnificent building that rose at least five stories toward the sky. It was spread out over large grounds and was surrounded by a low alabaster wall. Inside the wall were gardens and fountains, and young people everywhere were engaged in various games. Some were playing tennis. Others were hitting a golf ball around. Play, Josh decided, was the order of the day on Pleasure Island.
When they reached the front gates, Josh went up to a guard, who was dressed in white and scarlet. "I have a letter for His Majesty King Leo."
"If you will come into the reception hall, I will see if the king is available."
The Sleepers followed the attendant and soon were wandering about an elegant room. It was filled with beautifully constructed furniture, colorful pictures hung on the walls, and lights gleamed everywhere. They were served refreshments without being asked if they wanted any. The snacks consisted of a delicious cool drink that no one could identify and small cakes that melted in the mouth.
"I could get used to this in a hurry," Reb said. He took another swallow of the drink and said, "This is even better than Pepsi!"
The attendant came back, smiling. "The royal family will receive you. If you will come this way, please."
The Sleepers left the large reception room and followed the man down a wide hallway. It made several turns before they came to a door attended by two more guards, also in red and white. They swung open the doors, and the Seven Sleepers marched in.
They all gasped. This room made the other seem small by contrast. It stretched out in every direction. And there before them, seated across the room, were four people.
"I have your letter from Goél." The speaker was obviously the ruler. "I am King Leo," he identified himself. "And this is my queen, Tamsin." He gestured then to a beautiful young girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. "This is my daughter, Princess Cosima. And my son, Prince Derek."
Cosima looked about fourteen and Prince Derek possibly twenty. All of the family was attractive.
As leader, Josh spoke first, saying awkwardly, "You'll have to forgive us, Your Majesty. We don't know how to behave in the presence of royalty. Do we just bow or do you wish us to kneel?"
"Neither is at all necessary. You come as friends of Goél. That is sufficient. For state occasions we might show a little more formality. But come, sit, and we will have refreshments. We appreciate your visit, and we want to hear about your adventures."
Soon the Sleepers were all seated, and indeed the royal family did seem interested in hearing everything about them.
Prince Derek seemed to study them thoughtfully, but he said little for a time. When he did speak up, he said with a smile, "We've heard much about the Seven Sleepers, and I must admit I expected someone older."
Josh grinned. "People always say that. Well, we will be older someday."
The prince grinned. "I hope you will have a long stay with us. By the way, I'm entered in a race today. I would like it if you would be my guest in the royal box."
"A horse race or a footrace?" Reb asked quickly.
"A horse race, as a matter of fact. Are you interested in horses?"
"He's the best horseman you've ever seen, Prince Derek," Sarah said.
"Indeed! Well, that touches my pride! We shall have to look into that. Perhaps he and I could have a private race."
"We'd be glad to join you in your box, Prince Derek," Josh said quickly.
"And tonight there is a ball." Princess Cosima was beaming. "You all must come. It is going to be absolutely fabulous. There will be many young people and music and entertainment."
"Oh, but we can't come!" Abbey said with disappointment written all over her face.
"Why is that?" the princess asked, surprised. "Have you other plans?"
"We didn't bring any party clothes! I don't have a single long dress—nor does Sarah."
"Oh, is that all? That is easily taken care of!" Princess Cosima looked relieved. "We can have the royal tailors fit them, can't we, Mother?"
"Certainly! It will be no trouble at all. And they are swift workers."
"Then it is all arranged," the princess said. "Now, girls, come with me. We shall talk about what kind of dresses the tailors can make up for you in a hurry."
An attendant showed the boys to their quarters, and each of them was given a private room. As usual, however, they managed to get together in the sitting area to talk about their situation.
"This is about the best thing I've run into since I won the bronc-riding contest in Texas," Reb said. He looked around at the luxurious room and sighed. "What a relief! No problems. No dangers. Just have fun."
Josh found himself tremendously relieved. He was tired of responsibility and tired of tension. He expelled a breath and flopped into an overstuffed chair. "You're right about that, Reb. Looks to me like we're going to have a great time here on Pleasure Island. No dragons, no dangers, nothing but fun and games!"
Excerpted from Seven Sleepers the Lost Chronicles 5 The Temptations of Pleasure Island by Gilbert Morris. Copyright © 2000 Gilbert Morris. Excerpted by permission of Moody Press.
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