Welcome to Emberly

What do you do when you find out that you can do things other people can't do? Simple- you wait. Eventually, someone will show up on your doorstep, tell you that you're the Chosen One, and send you off on some mildly perilous quest to save the world.
At least, that's what the plot of every fantasy novel ever written tells you will happen. Sometimes, though, real life isn't as neat and tidy as the books you read, and when you've been waiting full years for your destiny to come knocking, the idea of being patient for a moment longer can make you mad. The question, then, is this: when fate leaves you on your own with the power to change the world, what do you do? Believe it or not, the answer to that one is just as simple.
You take matters into your own hands.

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1. Dreams Come True

 

She was flying.

Finally, after all those years of dreaming and pretending, she was doing something that should have been impossible. She was flying. Her parents had told her long ago that magic wasn’t real, and that superheroes weren’t real, and that in real life, nobody could fly. Well, they had been wrong, and she had been right. She was flying, and this time, she was almost positive that it wasn’t a dream.

Almost.

She was hovering a few dozen feet above the clouds with her arms outstretched and her head tilted back to look at the stars. Although she couldn’t see anything beyond the thick clouds, she was aware that she was hundreds- no, thousands- of feet above the ground, and that there was nothing beneath her feet but eons and eons of empty air. The clouds looked almost solid in the darkness, their edges picked out in silver by the light of the moon. She was fairly sure that it had been raining when she had headed out, but up here, everything was silent and still.

If she had been a practical person, she might have questioned what was happening to her. Maybe, just maybe, she would have been afraid. But she wasn’t practical, and so she wasn’t afraid. She preferred it up here; up here in the sky, where she was allowed to have her head in the clouds, where she was allowed to be free, where she was allowed to be fearless. She wasn’t afraid of heights, and she wasn’t afraid of the unknown, and she wasn’t afraid of the impossible. She was flying, and she didn’t bother to question it. All she knew was that it was happening, and that she might as well enjoy it while it lasted.

Smiling, she closed her eyes and let herself float in that spot for a few more blissful seconds. She could have stayed there, drifting aimlessly through the night, forever. Sure, she had had a life down there, but it was irrelevant. The clouds separated her from everything she had ever known. Soon, she had forgotten all about what she had left behind, her friends, her family. What was her name again? She couldn’t remember, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore.

Everything was perfect.

Too perfect.

She opened her eyes and looked around, marveling at the beauty of the world her mind had created for her. The moon was a little too big, and the stars were a little too bright. The sky was inky black. She knew that the night sky above her city was always stained a dirty orange, and she couldn’t remember ever being able to see the stars this clearly.

Yes- this was definitely a dream. Just another damn dream. She wasn’t surprised; after all, this realisation had marked the end of every dream she had had for as long as she could remember. But she was still bitterly, painfully disappointed.

She blinked, and suddenly, she was falling back to the ground.

She had the same dream almost every night. She was probably lucky that her recurring dream was a nice one, and not some horrible nightmare about being chased by a monster or falling into a bottomless pit- but then again, nightmares did have their merits. For instance, when she woke up after having a bad dream, she knew that her day could only get better. She would wake up in a cold sweat, sure, but then she would open her eyes, look around her bedroom, and realise that the danger had all been in her head. She would get up and go about her daily business, and if she forgot to hand in her homework or tripped in the corridor and got laughed at, she would think to herself, Hey- at least I’m not being chased by a monster or falling into a bottomless pit. Dreams like hers were, in the long term, a far bigger curse to live with. Because when she woke up after spending the night becoming a superhero, or saving the world, or flying above the clouds, she would realise that all of the amazing things she had done were completely meaningless, and she would be forced to accept that she was nobody special. She was just an unpopular thirteen-year-old whose only claim to fame was that everybody thought she was a bit weird. Other than this, there was nothing extraordinary about her whatsoever.

As if the situation wasn’t depressing enough, she was a serial sleepwalker. This, she knew, was the closest her messed-up mind would ever come to bringing her dreams into the real world. Sometimes, she would wake up lying on her bedroom floor, or curled up in the kitchen, or- on one memorable occasion- face-down on the pavement outside her front door. She still had a scar from the time she had hurled herself from her bedroom window trying to fly and had instead broken her shin in two places. That had happened when she was seven, and luckily for her, her bedroom in her old house had been on the ground floor. Since that incident, she had done her best to suppress her more dangerous dreams, because if she tried that stunt again now, she would probably end up dead.

Tonight’s dream would have definitely been in the “potentially deadly” category, but she was awake now, and she seemed to be in one piece. But she was acutely aware that something felt a bit...off. With her eyes still stuck shut, she rooted around for her duvet and couldn’t find it. Okay- so you've obviously just launched yourself out of bed onto the floor. No- that wasn’t right. Her bedroom was carpeted, and she was lying on something hard. Kitchen floor? No. Her home was draughty, but she didn’t remember it ever being this... cold. She clutched at her bare arms and shivered. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

She opened her eyes and had to clap her hand over her mouth to keep herself from shrieking.

The biting cold of her surroundings had told her that she was outside; she had assumed that she had just stumbled outside and done a face plant onto the pavement. But looking up, she could see that she wasn’t at ground level. There were no buildings rising up above her- in fact, there didn’t seem to be anything above her at all. She rolled to the left and became immediately aware of a dull clanging sound as her shoulder hit something hard. Her eyes grew wide as she began to realise where she was. She was surrounded by air vents, satellite dishes, and a jumble of spidery things that she quickly identified as aerials. She was on someone’s roof.

Beginning to drag herself up off the ground, she yelped in shock as a burning sensation raced across her skin. The pain was worse than anything she had ever felt in her life, and it was everywhere- it burrowed into her neck, her eyes, her legs, forcing her to her knees, making her shake. She gasped, feeling hot tears running down her cold face, and, raising a hand to wipe them away, she noticed that her left hand was red with blood. She was panicking now. Still trembling, she examined herself for injuries. She found that the entire left side of her body was dark with bruises and her left arm was numb and unresponsive from the elbow down. Probably broken. There was blood everywhere. Little bits of her hair were coated in the stuff, and her pyjamas were bloodstained, as was the patch of ground where she had been lying. The place looked like a murder scene. Overwhelmed, she collapsed onto the ground, shivering uncontrollably from the cold and the pain. What the hell was she supposed to do now?

The sky was still dark, and the city was cold and dead around her. Morning was still a long way away. She  guessed that she would have about three hours to figure out how she had ended up here. That way, when the police showed up to drag her away for trespassing, she would at least be able to explain herself.

Wincing from the pain, she pulled herself up off the ground. At least she wasn’t still bleeding. In fact, apart from her probably broken arm, she didn’t seem to be badly hurt. Everything was fine. She used her right hand to rub the sleep from her eyes and blinked, getting a better look at her surroundings. She was high up- that much was certain. In fact, she couldn’t see anything taller for miles around; it seemed that she had managed to sleepwalk her way onto the roof of the tallest building in the city. She couldn’t see much over the edge of the roof, because there was a five-foot concrete wall surrounding the rooftop. She walked all around the roof, keeping her eyes peeled for any stairways or ladders- anything that could have provided her with a point of entry. Nothing. She spotted a battered old door that seemed to lead into some sort of stairway and dragged herself over to it, but when she twisted the handle, she realised that the door had been locked from the inside. There was no way she could have gotten onto the roof through there.

As the pale light of the morning sun began to bleed into the sky, she wondered how long she would have to wait before somebody found her there. They would probably be just as confused as she was. She was a thirteen-year-old girl, covered in bruises and wearing bloodstained pyjamas, standing on a locked private roof two hundred feet above street level. To them, it would be as if she had appeared from nowhere.

As if she had fallen from the sky.

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