The Hidden Shadows Within the Clouds

The freshness of the air is pure like nothing I've ever smelled or tasted before; it's like inhaling lightness and freedom. For once, I was glad I could let go of my problems and have a little fun for once, if fun just happened to be alone.
Well, I mean, I thought I was alone, until I was tackled out of the air so suddenly I was paralyzed with surprise.

In this thrilling and intense story, a girl named Topaz had fallen out of the sky, been saved by an angelic stranger, and thought to be a spy. This story shows the struggles of being different and suspected as evil.
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7. Chapter 6

When we left the building, I felt my breath push out of my throat as if I had been holding it the whole time. Meeting a king, who didn’t state his title aloud, was strange; I would have thought that a king would be more...outgoing and proud, perhaps. This place was very strange and alien to me. Though...I didn’t even know who I was.

    Pyrros turned to me and said, “Alright, where haven’t you gone?”

    “How am I supposed to know? I didn’t know you were all formal and proper,” I replied with a smug smile as his fiery hair flared up.

    “We’re supposed to honor the king. I don’t think an outsider like you would understand.” He sniffed at me, and then walked away, probably expecting me to follow him. I looked towards Sky, but he shrugged and seemed to stifle a glare. I didn’t think Pyrros had much power over Sky, but I suppose I was wrong.

    “Pyrros is the king’s right-hand man, and is, unfortunately, powerful in rank.”

    “But...–” I thought for a second, “–but he doesn’t have wings.”

    “Not all people of Aryll have wings. We usually find them fighting for the Phthorians. Usually, they’re forced to fight, but some actually believe they’re meant to be Phthorian. I don’t understand that.” His eyes lingered on my wings for a second and then turned away, following Pyrros. I shook myself, feeling suddenly contaminated as if his look had infected me somehow. I followed, a bit reluctantly.

    We traveled for a bit on the wide roads, passing stores and people shopping. I still hated the way everyone looked at me, but I was becoming used to it rather quickly.

    Pyrros and Sky led me to a small but wide building. Before they opened the doors, I saw Pyrros smirk at me, and he said, “I want to see how much you fail.”

    He opened the double doors and gestured mockingly to let me go before him.

    “Ladies first,” he said. I rolled my eyes and walked into the room.

    It wasn’t quite a room, more like an inside field; it looked like it could fit (about three football fields), and it was filled with various equipment and obstacles, like hurdles and rings, scattered all throughout the room, even on the ceilings. There were people, more young than old, running and flying the obstacles with grace as if they didn’t need any of the practice. Though, some little ones stumbled through some of them, they were probably just learning. I’d probably be worse, considering I was bigger and heavier than they were, and still just learning.

    A lean man with large white wings with brown spots on the tips of his feathers approached us. He wore a thin shirt, and I could see the stretch of his muscles that were slightly bulging. He had a five o’clock shadow, but it was cut clean.

    “And who is this?” he asked with a deep voice, not trying very hard to hide the suspicious tone.

    “This is Topaz. She’s new here,” said Pyrros, giving the man an almost stern look, as if to tell him telepathically to extinguish his suspicions, “Topaz, this is the Flying Instructor, Steel.”

    I smiled at him instinctively and shook his sweaty outstretched hand, wanting to wipe my hand against the dress, but didn’t, being polite.

    “So, you’re new…? I would’ve thought you’d already had some training in flying…” He trailed off, the words he hadn’t spoken ringing in my ears.

    She’s a spy…

    I shivered, chills running down my spine. Steel seemed to take this as a shiver of anxiousness or excitement. He put his hand on my back, leading me over to another doorway. I looked back at Sky and Pyrros. Pyrros smirked at me while Sky smiled and waved at me. I waved back as Steel led me to another doorway. We walked through it as I realized it was another extension to the building, but this room was empty and smaller. There were various equipment and obstacles scattered around the room in a sort of obstacle course.

    “Okay, so you can’t fly?” he asks.

    “Barely,” I answered.

    “Alright, well–”

    There was a sound of pounding feet and flapping wings, becoming louder and louder, closer to the doorway. A short, elfish teen with white wings (with each feather tinted a sky blue) came blundering in the doorway, breathing heaving breaths and putting a hand to the doorway.

    “Steel! Steel come quickly! There’s been a carriage accident and they’ve been injured–”

    “Who’s been injured?” Steels friendly appearance had been replaced by a serious and almost frantic expression. I could tell he was somewhat panicked, but he controlled it.

    The elfish boy started babbling on about what happened. I never knew someone could talk this fast.

    “The Head Officer, sir! A broken wing I think it was–” But Steel was already bustling out of the door, and I was left alone. I wasn’t sure what to do. Seconds later, Sky came in and leaned against the doorway and gave me a smile. It was friendly, but also seductive. I knew that was his intention.

    “So, it seems I’ll have to teach you myself.” I shuddered inwardly from the fantasies floating through my head. I don’t know how this will turn out.  He walked over to me gracefully, and I thought to myself that he resembled a cat, with his graceful steps and positioning, as if he might take a step out of place. He was confident, but also slightly careful, as if making sure he did everything right. He was angelic, with his pure white wings brushing behind him. His stride was long, and it did not take him too much time for him to come over to me, although it felt to me as if the world were in slow motion.

    “Okay, so you can barely fly. I can help you with that, Little Bird.”

    “’Little Bird’? What’s with the nickname?”

    “I felt it was necessary.”   

    “Well, your definition of ‘necessary’ is quite different from mine.”

    At that, he snorts with amusement and started setting up what looked like an obstacle course. It didn’t take him too long. There were a few boxes varying in size, and at the end was a bar that was held higher than any of the boxes. It was less than intimidating, but that’s just the point. I’d rather not mess up on something this easy and make a complete fool of myself.

    Once he was finished setting it up, he walked over to me.

    “Okay, so what you want to do here is to flap up onto the boxes. They increase in height each time, so it’ll make you put more effort and power into each flap. That’s just to build up strength and power for the bar. I want you to then jump onto the bar, swing around, and flap your wings to go faster. In the end, I want your feet on the top of the bar. It won’t be easy, but you can do this however you can. I will guide you through it.”

    I nod.

    “That sound good?” he asks.

    “Yes, but, one last thing.”

    “Yeah?”

    “Hands off,” I say with a sly smile. I wanted to do this on my own.

    I walk to the beginning of the obstacle course. In front of me was a box that stood up to my midsection. I back away. I felt like I needed to get a running start on this. I back about eight feet away, then start running, flapping my wings to be ready. When I was about a foot away I jumped onto the box but didn’t stop there. I hopped onto the next box, which was twice the size of the other, flapping my wings all the way. I didn’t stop until I came across the bar, in which I leaped, grabbed hold of the bar, swung around a few times, beating my wings as Sky told me to, and catapulted into the air, above the bar, feet first. I then righted myself so my feet were almost touching the bar, but I was hovering, lowering myself slowly and gracefully. I hadn’t meant to make a show out of it; that’s just the way it turned out.

    Behind me, Sky clapped slowly. I turn around to look at him, and he wore an expression of impression.

    “Well done. Well done. If I didn’t like you so much I’d probably be jealous.”

    My mouth hung open in mock surprise.

    “You like me? I thought you just wanted to see me fail?”

    “Of course I like you; you’re adorable. And you didn’t fail unless you think you did.”

    “Adorable? I am not adorable!” I protested. I felt I was blushing slightly, but I wasn’t embarrassed. More so flattered.

    I sat on the bar, then gripped the bar with my thighs and shins, and hung upside down, like a bat. I felt my black hair hang down, like a darkly-dyed mess of Spanish moss on a tree in Florida. Seeing the world upside down was different, of course, strange; like in a beautiful way a drop of water is suspended in its place for a second, then drops down. Sky walks toward me with an amused grin, and I wave at him. He waves back. He comes closer and closer to my face until our noses are almost touching. He leans in close¬¬-

    “Sky, the Councilor wants you.” Pyrros opens the door suddenly and Sky looks away from me. There wasn’t much I could really do; I was hanging upside down for goodness sake.

    I flap myself back up onto the bar, and then drop down in a fluid, almost snake-like movement.

    Sky left in the direction of the Aryllian Palace, to do whatever the Councilor had asked of him. He flew so elegantly and softly, his muscles rippling under the shirt he wore.

    Pyrros had led me through the rest of the city, showing me the stables, where they kept the Pegasi and various shops. He said that, maybe if I were promoted to an Aryllian citizen, I may get my own Pegasus. I don’t know how well that would go, though, StormCloud has seemingly taking a liking to me. Or maybe she just pities me.

    I almost seemed to be taking a liking in Pyrros. He wasn’t that mean, just sarcastic and a bit strict. He was bossy, but in a funny way, like he means to be that way, but, then again, he really doesn’t. I might just be confusing myself over nothing.

   

 

    It had been about two hours or so when we finally met up with Sky. Pyrros had taken me to a restaurant which served amazing food there. For a meal, I had pasta sprinkled with melted cheese. The drink was a clear-reddish liquid that looked like a liquefied ruby. It tasted like lemonade that left with a warm feeling, only it gave off a different aroma; roses maybe? I was also a big fan of the Sky Fruit Pie, which tasted like apple pie, baked and warm and delicious.

    All the while Pyrros explained more about Aryllians. I had asked if there was a hierarchy of some sort, and he replied with, “It isn’t much of a hierarchy, more of a ranking. Lower ranked, like regular citizens or some with lowly jobs don’t get treated differently than higher ranking Aryllians. Of course, higher ranking Aryllians, like officers, or, me, get treated with more respect. The regular citizens get respect as well, just, we get more. You can get promoted by doing good things for anything. Like if an officer asks of you a favor, and you complete it, you may get promoted. Although, it’d have to be a pretty big favor to get promoted.

    “There are different jobs or, roles, if you will, to get promoted to. From a citizen, you can become an officer, shopkeeper’s assistant, or a Seer’s assistant. To become an officer, you would have to be tested, to see if you’ve got the guts to do what’s right, no matter what it is. You can easily become a shopkeeper’s assistant; sometimes you just have to ask one if they need any help. As for a Seer’s assistant, the only time you can get that rank is if a Seer sees something in you, something that would perhaps spark into becoming something of a Seer. The job of a Seer is very important; they have to See everyone in Aryll; that includes you. They can usually predict your future, or what you may become. For example, the current Seer saw that I would be in high ranking; I just gained my rank not too long ago. When the Seer sees a vision, it is unclear when it takes place, so that doesn’t help out too much.”

I had nodded, drinking in everything that he told me.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Still in progress)

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