“Ember, Ember! Where are you? I’m coming!” I called out to Ember, racing towards the direction she was coming from. As I ran through the trees, my dragon, Talutah perched on my shoulder, her tail wrapped around my neck, a sort of purring sound emanating from her throat. The trees seemed to close in on me, keeping me from reaching Ember, I pushed through them, eventually coming to a stop when the trees became too thick to push through. “Ember, where are you? Ember!”
“I’m behind you Drake.” I turned around slowly, the voice sounded like Ember, but it lacked emotion, the voice sounded mechanical and monotone, completely unlike Ember’s usual enthusiastic jumble. What was standing behind me definitely not Ember, her hair floated around her face, attached to her head but wafting around her head, ignoring gravities pull. Her eyes were ringed by dark shadows, with a bruised, tired appearance, lifeless and wild, her pupils the only colour, a small black dot amidst an ocean of white, contrasting deeply with her sooty black hair. Ghostly outlines of wings, hung from her shoulder blades, tissue paper thin, the light showing the other side of the forest, as if I was looking through a tinted window. The thin black skin that stretched across the border of the wings looked dead and forgotten, the faery itself looked as if she was no longer remembered, no longer needed in society. Lost on her path, treading in uncharted lands, forgotten to the world.
“Where’s Ember, what have you done to her?” The faery took a step towards me but I refused to back down.
“Ember is fine I expect, Emeteria reported back saying that she had completed her quest. You, however, have been very hard to track down, gallivanting all over the forest, at one point you disappeared off my radar” She shook her head at me.
“Who is Emeteria? And what quest, Ash and Carmen didn’t mention anything about a quest” The faery smiled at me slowly, her playful smile sending chills down my spine, she reminded me of a lion stalking her prey.
“This quest was supposed to test you. To see if you are worthy of being in Wolke von Englen, and to see how trained up you are.” She continued to step towards me, Talutah began to growl, low in her throat, as the faery moved closer Talutah’s growl grew louder and more menacing, but the faery ignored her, even when smoke began curling out of her nose. She only stopped when flame started streaming out at her, singeing the hair on her outstretched hand.
“I suggest you back up faery”
“Please, call me Donella.” The faery, Donella, held out her hand, I shook her hand, not in control of my own body. “There you go, not that hard was it.” I yanked my hand from hers, flinching away when she tried to put her hand on my arm. “Ember is okay, she has completed her quest and is now safe with her familiar, you, however, must complete your quest or training as you call it.” She sat down on a log, her wings fluttering and her hair bouncing, still unaffected by gravity. She tapped the space beside her with her hand, expecting me to take a seat.
“I prefer to stand.” Talutah was still growling at her, her wings pinned to her sides and her ears flat on her head, smoke curling out of her nostrils.
“Bad….faery…no…trust.” she stuttered out the words. Donella shook her finger at Talutah.
“Uh-uh-uuh, you know the rules, you must not interfere.” Talutah clamped her mouth shut, jumped out of my arms and stalked over to the edge of the clearing. Her backside was pointed towards Donella as she plopped on the ground and curled into a tight scaly ball, smoke still curling from her nostrils as she fell asleep. “Now we can get to business.” She clapped her hands together excitedly, her enthusiasm didn’t match her appearance which looked dead and lost, as if someone had neglected her for a while and she was beginning to fade. “Wait, first, sit down beside me.” I shook my head, leaning back against a tree.
“I think I’ll stay I here” She wagged her finger at me, beckoning me closer. Once again, I lost control of my body, walking toward her and sitting on the log. She clapped her hands.
“Okay, now we can begin. Your first test is a riddle, now think carefully of the riddle, because if you get it wrong, you will be trapped in this forest forever, unable to escape, roaming between the trees, forever alone.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it, just give me the riddle.” Donella nodded her head slowly.
“I am what most people fear, I can strike without warning for I cannot be stopped. Every day I do things to people that rip apart the hearts of their loved ones, what am I?” She looked at me expectantly. I rolled it over in my head, repeating the riddle and analysing every part.
I am what most people fear…Poverty? Strike without warning, cannot be stopped…well poverty can be stopped…and so can war…but Death…I think that may be the answer, death…Death makes the ones you love hurt the most…Death…
“The obvious is not always the answer. Beware what you say.” Talutah lifted her head, looking up at me with wide eyes, their deep red depths promising only the truth…Wait.. Most people fear the truth, not death…The truth strikes without warning, lies are usually expected, not the truth…it can’t be stopped, if it was people want to say or hear, it will be told. And truth does rip apart and hurt the hearts of the ones you love.
Are you sure?” She questioned me.
“Yes” I stated standing proud, “The answer is truth.” Donella smiled at me, her face glowing with happiness.
“At last the curse is lifted, it shall never fall on anyone ever again.” She raised her arms above her head, standing tall and proud on the log. Her wings spread behind her, no longer see through and imperceptible, they extended about a metre from her body, proud and black, the thin web of skin extending between the borders of the wings. She looked magnificent, like a true faery that has found her place, no longer lost and forgotten, fading from our vision.
“What curse?” I asked her, she looked down upon me, a light in her eyes that looked like it had not been there in centuries, an unfamiliar emotion of happiness seemed to have made its home in her features.
“The curse is laid upon those who cannot answer the riddle and upon those who answer incorrectly.” A look of sadness flashed over her face, brief but obvious to those paying attention, “I was one of those unfortunate enough to get it wrong, the last faery who was burdened by the curse died and I replaced her, bearing the curse for centuries, roaming, searching for the next creature to come and attempt to complete the quest.”
“What do you mean, creature, I thought it was only angels that roamed Wolke von Englen?” She pointed to herself.
“Do I look like an angel to you?” It was a rhetorical question but I shook my head anyway. “Many creatures inhabit Wolke von Englen, this just happens to be the part inhabited by angels” The information ran through my head, it made sense, to keep the world alive, each creature would have its own role, for angels it was to maintain the elements and emotions on Earth and each creature would have its own influence on them and Everything else as well.
“Well Drake, Talutah,” she nodded to us both, “I shall be off now, I…Am…Freeeee!!!”
With a shout of triumph, she flew up into the air, away from the forest, higher and higher into the sky.
“Drake?” Ember’s voice rang out through the clearing again, calling me, this time I knew it was her. I ran towards her voice, Talutah following closely behind me, her small wings fluttering.
“Ember…must find Ember and Luna..” I turned to look at her, still running towards Ember.
“Who is Luna?”
“Luna…Familiar…Dragon and cat…Ember’s friend.”
“So is she okay?” Talutah nodded, flying sideways to avoid a tree.
“Will find her soon.” I laughed.
“Yes Talutah, I agree, we will fi…” My sentence was cut off as a small, dark shape crashed into me, knocking the wind out of me, causing Talutah to jump up and down excitedly.