Oct 10

Element World | Chapters 22-27

PART 2

Everleigh




Chapter 25

    Don’t ask me how I got here, or why I’m here. I couldn’t give you an answer. Sometimes, I think I’m dreaming, but I think if I asked George, or Anabelle, they’d call me crazy. I wonder if they have my doubts. Doubts about this place even being real. I wonder if they worry. About death. Am I the only one who came here with these doubts? I don’t know. But right now, I’m the queen of earth, and riding a dragon, and I doubt I can turn around now. But even if I could, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t leave my friends to die at the hands of an evil shadow queen. It would be stupid to leave them- as I found out recently I am quite good with a bow and arrow. Leaving them unprotected would be selfish and horrible. 

But I miss my parents. I miss my pets. The neigh of the horses, and the wind through my hair as they galloped through fields. But I guess riding Sequoia, my earth dragon isn’t much different. No, she doesn’t neigh, but the wind is right here- flowing through my hair. I’m just...Flying, not running. You dummy, Everleigh. That’s nothing the same. But still- I miss home. That’s my point. I don’t want to die. Ha, as if your friends would let you, a voice inside my head growls. And I don’t try to block it out, because I know it's right. They wouldn’t let my throat be slashed open by the blade of a silver dagger. Who knows, maybe they’d even take the slash for me. But I don’t want them to die either. I don’t want anyone to die, except Queen Raven. The queen of shadows. The one who’s fault it is that we're here. If she’d just not been born, or decided not to be evil, we wouldn’t be here. 

I don’t know what I’d do if you told me we were going home. I...I like this place. Sequoia. El. And I really want to see my palace. But I don’t want to die, I don’t want my friends to die. But this place is so awesome- it is like a break from everything in the real world. This world is as real as your own. El’s words ring in my ears. But is it? Is this just a dream? One of those frightening, vivid dreams that you can’t wake from? I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I remember waking up the morning Harley gave us the tickets. 

    “Everleigh! You okay?” I whip around to see Emma, right to my left. Ha. That’s funny- right to your left. 

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” I murmur. A twinge of guilt makes its way to me. Lying to Emma. Should I tell her? Or would she think I was weak? No. No, friends don’t call you weak. 

    “Are you sure? You look very focused,” she says, her eyebrows forming the expression of doubt. I glance around. Dove and Aqua are up ahead, and Ash is behind us. It's just us. Us and the dragons, and I know that I have nothing to fear about them. 

    “I miss home,” I gasp out. I bite my lip to keep from crying. Emma’s gaze turns soft. Like snow. A fresh fallen snowbank. 

    “Me too. But we are going to beat Queen Raven, then we can all go home,” she says. I notice that she doesn’t say kill

But I don’t want to go home either. The words are right there on my tongue, but I can’t force them out. A warm taste fills my mouth. Blood. I remove my teeth from my lip, as the warm liquid fills my mouth. I spit down into the lava, and Emma must have seen the color. Her gaze fills with worry.

    “Everleigh, are you sure you're okay?” she asks. 

    “Fine,” I reply briskly. “Just, ah, bit my lip. An old habit,” I mutter. 

    “Well, try not to, okay?” Emma says softly.

    “Okay.” Frustration gnaws at me. I’m tired, and homesick, and it’s all I can do not to explode at Emma. I keep my gaze calm. “Can...Can I just have some space?” I mutter, looking down. 

    “Of course.” Emma’s voice is gentle. With all the maturity of an 80 year old- and that’s a lot. Emma is the mother of the group. If I was to assign ranks, Emma would be the mother- always making sure we don’t run off and get ourselves killed. A thought sparks inside. But, isn’t that what we’re doing now? Running off and getting ourselves killed? No. Definitely not why we’re here. We are saving people. Saving lives. 

Anabelle would be the leader. It’s a natural skill she’s had forever. Making sure everyone follows Emma’s rules (someeeeetimes), and protecting us. 

Harley would be the fighter, the protector. Putting us before her, like the night she let Raven take on her, and rescuing George. The fighter. 

George, I would say, is the funny one. Keeping us all laughing, even in the darkest times. Silly and fun. 

But I’m not sure about me. Perhaps the deputy? The second in command? I don’t know. I sigh, and lean back on Sequoia. 
The sun is setting in the sky, and I’m hungry. I’ve been thinking for a while. Well, no. That doesn’t make sense. Even though I could think for hours, I must have dozed off. It is about dinner time. George must be thinking the same exact thing.

    “Can we hunt? I’m so hungry!” she yells. 

    “Okay!” I hear Anabelle yell back. “Let’s land here.” I gaze down, and a clearing is right in the middle of a bunch of trees. I hadn’t even realized we got into the forest. Sequoia lands gently on the earth, and I step off her, arching my back in a stretch. 

    “Okay, we are all going to eat healthy for dinner!” Anabelle yells. “Now, Emma, George, hunt for plants. Edible plants. Everleigh, I would assign you to them, except I know you love to hunt. And are good with a bow and arrow!” Anabelle says. I smile. I do like hunting. “So, Everleigh, Harley, and myself will hunt. Meet back here once you have some food!” Anabelle orders. “Ash, can you make a fire, and the rest of your dragons build a shelter?” Anabelle asks.

    “Yeah, no problem,” Sequoia says. “We’ll have to sleep in the woods for a few nights, the palace is quite far away.” I walk over to stand beside Anabelle and Harley. Harley pulls a knife out, and Anabelle transforms into a tiger, and I transform into a wolf. 

    “Okay, let’s go. Split up!” Anabelle says, and bounds off into the forest. Harley darts silently another way, and I go straight. My paws find the places in the ground where I can step without making a sound. I catch a glimpse of a squirrel. Plump. I stalk closer, my tail swishing just above the ground. I keep moving forward, then pounce. I sink my teeth deep into its neck, and then carry it in my jaws. I feel a twinge of guilt for killing it, but I know it will have a better life in Heaven. I then decide to test my aim. I drop the squirrel on the ground, then transform into a human, and load my bow. I catch sight of some sort of bird that is pretty fat. I pull the arrow back, and then let go. The arrow soars through the air, and goes straight through the bird's neck. The bird falls from the branch, and I quickly transform into a wolf, and catch the bird in my jaws. I pick up the squirrel, and make my way back to the clearing. Then I catch a glimpse of spotted fur. Bobcat! I know I shouldn’t kill it, for Anabelle’s sake. So I leave it alone. I easily take down another bird, then decide that I have enough. Carrying all three pieces of meat in my wolf jaws, I make my way back to the clearing. I drop the meat, and transform into a human. Aqua, Dove, Snowflake, and Sequoia are building a pretty nice shelter, and Ash is tending to the fire. Ash looks up. 

    “I can clean them out, if you don’t want to,” she offers. 

    “Yes please!” I say. I push the meat towards Ash, and I look away as she works. I gather a few twigs for the dragons working on the shelter. It is a perfect, impressively large shelter. Big enough for five dragons and five girls, or animals, or whatever. Anyways, huge sticks and logs make up the sides, and big branches with leaves make up the top. A large, leafy branch blocks the entrance. 

A tiger, and Harley dart into the clearing. The tiger drops three squirrels, and one rabbit, and pushes them towards Ash. Harley holds one sparrow, and five large fish. 

    “Look!” she says, holding up the fish. “I found a stream!” The tiger transforms into Anabelle.

    “Awesome! Even the fire queen needs to drink!” she says. We all laugh. Harley pushes her catches towards Ash. Then George and Emma dart into the clearing, holding a bunch of leaves. Emma holds nine carrot looking things, and George holds mint, a bunch of red clovers, and some berries. The plants are all shiny, and I think for a moment. They must have found the stream that Harley found, and washed them in there, I think. I look closer, and George is also holding a large maple leaf. George and Emma set the plants there.

Chapter 26

    “WE HAVE SUCCESS!” George booms. We all jump, and then laugh. 

    “Holy cow! George!” Anabelle says. 

George scoops up the berries, and brings them over to Sequoia. “Are these edible?” she asks. 

Sequoia examines them, and takes the red berries, and squishes them in her talons. “The rest are. But these aren’t,” she says, wiping her claws on the grass. 

    “Harley! Everleigh! Come here!” Emma shouts to us. We do, and she pushes the clovers in front of us. “The white part is edible. Cut off the stems, and the pink part, but leave the white,” she orders. I already know this, of course.

    “Got it!” I say, and salute. Emma laughs. I take out an arrow, and begin cutting. Harley does the same with her knife. As we cut, a conversation starts.

    “So how do you like it here?” Harley asks. 

    “It's okay,” I say. “I miss home, though.” 

    “Me too,” Harley whispers. 

We cut in silence, until Ash calls, “Meat is done!” Perfect timing. We just finished cutting the clovers, and brush off the stems and pink parts. Sequoia looks up, spreads her wings, and flies off into the forest, and comes back, carrying a bunch of sticks, logs, and a deer. The deer must be for the dragons, I think. Ash picks some leaves, and plops meat onto them. Sequoia quickly carves the sticks into silverware. And the leaves must be plates. We all choose meat. We all take one, so we can save some food. Except for Harley and Emma, who each take two fish, because one wouldn’t be enough. I take a medium sized piece of meat, and push it in front of me. I take two white carrots, a pinch of clover, and one mint leaf. 

    “What are these things?” I ask, holding the carrot up. Even I don’t know this one. 

    “The roots of Queen Anne’s Lace,” Emma says. 

    “Really?” Anabelle says, pushing the meat to one side of her mouth so she can talk. 

Emma nods. “They're edible!” she says, and takes a bite. I take a bite of mine. It is quite tasteless. I eat all the plants first, and then eat the meat. It’s good. When we all finish, George moans. 

    “I want a cupcake!” We laugh.

    “Me too!” Harley says. 

    “Wait wait! Avara made us some cookies, remember?” Anabelle says. She pulls out a bag full of cookies from on the ground, opens it, and hands us each one. I got a molasses cookie. I bite into it, and it is almost as good as my mother’s. Suddenly, Anabelle yawns. Which makes the rest of us yawn. I gaze up at the sky, and the moon is high in it, and it is pitch black. 

    “I think the dragons are done the shelter,” I say. There is no sign of them, so I guess they are inside. We all walk into the shelter. Sure enough, the dragons are there. Snowflake looks up as we walk in. 

    “It is going to be chilly tonight,” she says. “I suggest you turn into an animal that will keep you warm.” I turn into a wolf, Anabelle turns into a tiger, Emma turns into an arctic fox, George turns into a white tiger, and Harley turns into an otter. I lay down on some moss, wrap my tail around me, and close my eyes. 

Chapter 27

    I wake to find myself and Anabelle in the shelter. Everyone else is gone. The tiger is softly snoring, and I stand up, shaking out my pelt. This is weird, I think, my blue gaze searching the shelter. I pad out from the shelter, out into the open. Nobody. I walk nervously back into the shelter, and shake the tiger awake. Her amber eyes fly open, and she leaps to her paws. “What is it?” Anabelle gazes around. “Where is everyone?” She asks, her tail swishing low over the ground.

    “I don’t know,” I say. “Guys! Emma? George? Harley?” I yell.

    “Shh!” Anabelle hisses, slapping her tail over my mouth.

    “What?” I ask. 

“If there’s someone, you’ll lead them right to us!” she growls. I prick my ears.

    “Listen,” I say. I can hear something. A cry. A shout.

    “Everleigh! Anabelle! Help!” Emma. Anabelle hears it too. 

    “Come on!” Anabelle roars, and we dash into the forest. 

    “HELP!” A scream erupts from Harley. “Quick! You need to come quick!” I leap over twigs, and fallen branches, and Anabelle is hard on my tail. We dash into a clearing, with a cave on one side. 

    “Guys! Help us! She’s already...Just come on!” George screeches. A roar of fury booms in the cave. Anabelle dashes into the cave. I linger hesitantly at the entrance. 

    “Come on!” she snarls. She whips around into the cave, and I follow. Inside, Raven is moving her hand across Emma’s head, and silky threads flow out. George and Harley take a step back.

    “When you have come to my side, I’ll make you kill your friends!” Raven snarls at Emma. 

    “NEVER!” I screech, and I launch myself at Raven. She transforms into a panther, and rakes my muzzle with her claws. I snarl, and lash out, catching just above her eye. A deep satisfaction burns in me, as deep red blood flows out. Raven heaves me off, and sends me flying into the cave wall. I see a panther leap towards me, and her vicious claws sink into my throat. A desperate scream escapes me, and I see an orange figure slam into the body of the black cat. I see George run over to me, and press her fur against my throat, trying to stop the blood. 

    “Cobwebs,” I splutter, choking on my own blood. “Get cobwebs.” I let out a moan, exhausted from speaking. A horse runs out, and what feels like hours later, returns in a human form, and pushes the cobwebs against the wound. I can see the panther stalking towards us. But, wait, why is her fur white? No, it is an arctic fox, stalking towards us, teeth bared, and ears flat. 

    “Stay back!” George snarls, suddenly a tiger. The arctic fox yips, and slices George’s ear. Harley runs over, and puts pressure on the cobwebs. I stare over her head to watch the fight. 

    “Emma! It’s us!” Anabelle shrieks, as Emma slashes her neck. It doesn’t go deep enough for blood. It just rips her fur. 

    “Yes, I know who you are!” the fox snarls. “And it's my job to kill you!” And then I can feel the pressure on my neck. Extra pressure. I gasp for breath, as Harley pushes my throat against the wall. 

    “How dare-” I break off, with ghastly coughing. Raven laughs. 

    “I’ll do it to all of them. And then you’ll have to let your own friends kill you!” she cackles. 

    “Never!” Harley snarls, and knocks into Raven. Confusion sparks in me. Wasn’t Harley under Raven’s control? The two most likely explanations are: She was faking, or she broke free. An otter slides like a snake around Raven’s body, unexpectedly raking her with claws. Raven shrieks. And then her scream grows louder. I look down, and I see a snake. Her fangs locked in Raven’s leg. Raven pulls Anabelle off her, and throws her. As a panther runs out of the cave, I slash clumsily at her tail. All my friends run over to me- except Emma. She bares her teeth, and sinks her teeth into Anabelle. She thrashes wildly, and then turns into a tiger and shakes the fox off. She leaps onto her, and puts her claws to her throat. They don’t go in, but they are there.

    “Emma. It is me, Anabelle, the Queen Of Fire. You are Emma. The Queen Of Ice. You are kind, and smart, and you don’t kill,” Anabelle says, and I can tell she is struggling to keep her voice calm. 

    “A- Anabe-” Emma starts. “No. Why should I believe you?” she snarls.

    “Let her see me,” I say calmly. Anabelle grasps the smaller animal by the scuff, and drags her over to me. 

    “Emma. It is Everleigh.” I say. Emma’s eyes soften.

    “Everleigh,” she whispers. She blinks. Then looks at all of us. “Wha- what happened?”

 

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