Glowing Ember: Part 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This continuation of the Old Wood story (Moonlight Howls) carries on the story of Levina Cooper and Matthew Gold on another adventure providing some interesting twists and new characters, starting out wiht Levina's family and ending with an unlikely friendship.

Submitted: February 09, 2012

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Submitted: February 09, 2012

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The next morning I woke up at seven, smiled and went to get ready for the day. At eight o’clock exactly there was a knock on the front door. I heard distantly my mother answer it as I raced to the top of the stairs.

“Hello Mrs. Cooper. I was wondering if Levina was home.”

“Of course, Matthew.” I heard my mother reply. “LEVINA!”

I was down by my mother’s side before she finished my name. I smiled, “Hi Matt.”

“Hi, you ready to go?”

“Yeah, one moment. Mom,” I turned towards my mom. “When is Michael’s funeral?”

“Next Tuesday. Why?”

“Matt, wants to come, is that okay?” I asked.

“Yes, of course. I remember how close you two were,” my mother added to Matt, with a sad smile.

“All right, well bye mom.”

“Where are you two going?” my mother asked cautiously.

“Well, we were planning on spending the morning at the Old Wood Reserve, if that’s all right with you, Mrs. Cooper?” Matt said, playing up the good boy that always wins my mother over.

“Of course.”

Matt and I walked away down the sidewalk and headed towards the Old Wood. I decided to break the silence, “So…have you decided what we’re going to do today?”

“Well, I was thinking about it, and I remembered that one day I found this series of caves about two miles in. What do you say about visiting them?” Matt said casting a sidelong glance at me.

“That sounds great, where do we enter?”

“Right here,” Matt said grabbing my elbow and steering me onto a barely used trail.

“How did you find it?” I asked staring down at his hand.

“Boredom, so I started wandering around a bit, and then I found it,” Matt replied dropping my elbow. “The first mile or so is easy hiking, and then the trail turns a bit harder to navigate.”

“Sounds like fun,” I said overly optimistically, which made Matt just smile. After that we made small talk until we came to a rock cliff which made both of us speechless. “Wow, that’s a big cliff.”

“This way,” Matt smiled as he stepped off the trail and headed left along the cliff face. I followed him until he reached a thick matt of lichen, which he pushed aside to reveal a small stone doorway. “Through there,”

I stepped through and he came in behind me, pulling a flashlight out and turning it on in the process. He shined the light on the walls and my mouth dropped as the walls of the cave literally sparkled. I recovered, “This place is amazing.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought when I came in here the first time, then I moved into the other caves,” Matt said looking around.

“Can we?” I said, feeling, and probably looking, excited.

“Of course,” he said guiding me by the wrist towards a larger doorway. We passed through it and the sight stunned me. We had entered into a larger cave with a pond in the middle of it. The walls were still glittering but from sunlight slanting through a hole in the upper wall and hitting the pond. I looked around and noticed a flickering light from another doorway.

“Looks like we’re not the only ones here,” I commented drily, pointing it out to Matt.

“That’s firelight,” Matt said sounding extremely confused and protective. “There’s no fire on the reservation.”

“That’s strange,” I mentioned.

“I’m going to go and check it out,” Matt said starting around the pond towards the light and sounding a lot braver than what he looked.

“Not without me,” I said taking a couple steps after him.

He looked at me with a strange expression, “Fine we’ll both go.”

He went in first and I went in right after him, I heard him yell before WHAM.

I felt a strong, sharp pain on the left side of my face, and a second later I felt all of my blood rush to the surface. I turned back just in time to duck from a second punch. I rolled away, remembering what my father had taught me about self defense. Once I was a safe distance away, I looked at my adversary.

“Asha!!!”

“Weren’t expecting that were you?” she snarled at me.

At the same time, Matt called to me from above, “Are you okay, Levina?”

I felt a trickle on my cheek, when I reached up to touch it my hand came down stained with blood.

“Yeah I’m fine, minor cut,” I addressed Matt. “What about you?”

“Let’s just say, I’m in a hot situation.”

“What?” I caught a glimpse of a fiery scaled tail, the size of a culvert and I sighed. “Oh…let me guess, you were snatched by a ‘demon lizard’ or more commonly referred to as a dragon.”

“You got it right in the bull’s eye.”

“Wait, you two aren’t surprised?” Asha said cutting into our conversation and sounding a bit disappointed.

“No, we’ve already had a close encounter with a legendary creature,” Matt said, bringing Asha’s attention to him. I risked looking at him, since I hadn’t taken my eyes off Asha since our first encounter. What I saw almost made me faint. Matt was in the clasp of a magnificent dragon with blood red scales and silver talons that reflected the firelight. The golden eyes gleamed in the faint firelight, piercing me with a promise of what would happen if we touched Asha, and who was also fifty feet long and forty feet tall, at a crouch. I looked around and saw that we were in a sparkly cave, with a large fire in one corner.

“Really, what was it? A Vampire? A Grindylow?” Asha asked in disbelief.

“No… a werewolf,” Matt stated trying to shrug his shoulders, but failing.

Asha looked at me with disbelief, “Really?”

“Yeah, scary night about a week ago,” I replied, trying to keep my fright down. “So, umm, out of curiosity, where did you get the dragon?”

“Oh, I found him as an egg when I was three. He’s been my companion ever since,” she smiled at the dragon who in return sent several sparks into the air in an attempt at a smile.

“Okay, why did you hit me?”

“Because you two are so close,” she said. At our confused looks she explained, “I don’t know, you two seem to talk extremely easily with each other. And when I saw you two together at the restaurant I thought that you two were dating.”

“We’re not,” Matt breathed out, trying to escape the dragon’s increasingly tightening grip.

“Really? But everybody’s saying…” Asha said looking confused.

“What is everybody saying?” I asked, feeling concerned for Matt, as I risked a glance at Garnet again, who was looking intently at Asha.

“Nothing,” Asha said quickly, I gave her an extremely disbelieving stare. “Just that you two spend every possible moment together. Garnet, you can put him down now.”

“Well, we both have busy schedules so the only time we had to work on our English project was after practice and between work,” Matt said getting set down; the moment he was down he made his way towards me, quickly.

“So you two aren’t dating each other?” Asha said hopefully.

“No, but I’m not going to date you either,” Matt said, putting a damper on Asha’s hope.

“Why not?” Asha said getting increasingly angrier, which had an amazing effect on her dragon. Garnet seemed to sense her emotion, which triggered flames to dance at his mouth.

“Because you’re like obsessed with me. It’s getting annoying.”

“Garnet, help me out here,” Asha addressed her dragon, who reared up and went to grab us. But we dodged out of the way, into a small crevice in the wall that the dragon’s talons wouldn’t fit. “Garnet, fire.”

“Matt, we need to get out of here, before we’re toast,” I whispered to him.

“There’s a rock slide opposite us, leading to a large opening. I think that’s how the dragon got in,” he paused, giving us enough time to hear a very large intake of breath. “Let’s move.”

With that we rushed out and darted past the dragon and was scrambling up the very large rock fall before the dragon noticed. It roared, and we tried to go faster. We got to a place that we could hide while it blew fire at us. As soon as the heat disappeared we started to climb to another place to hide, until we heard it lift off the ground, a couple of seconds later we heard a thump above us. We looked up and saw the dragon blocking our path; I looked down and saw that Asha was climbing up after us.

“I think I would rather face Asha than the dragon,” I whispered to Matt.

He looked back, “Good Choice, let’s go.”

We turned and started to quickly move downward toward Asha. We were nearing her, at fifteen feet from the ground, when I saw that she was pulling back her arm in preparation for another attack on me. Apparently, Matt also noticed, “NO.”

He jumped down in front of me, and blocked Asha’s punch from reaching its target by taking the hit himself, in the lower chest area. I saw him collapse backward. I rushed forward, to take look at him, “Are you okay?”

“I’m not sure,” Matt replied, wincing.

I glared up at Asha, “What was that for?”

“It was meant for you,” Asha spat at me, preparing herself for a fight.

I turned away from her and helped Matt to his feet. He unsteadily got to his feet, and tried to walk, but when he put his left foot down I saw a wince of pain cross his face. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah, just a minor sprain,” Matt said taking a step down the rock slide and nearly falling. I headed to help him down, refusing to fight with Asha; she wasn’t worth the effort, besides I would probably win. That was my plan until she grabbed my right sleeve, so I broke my arm away and elbowed her in the nose. Not hard enough to break it, but enough to make sure that she bled for a while. She fell backward as blood gushed from her nose.

We got past her and was halfway to the opening to the pond cave, when she recovered, and stumbled after us, “Garnet, get them.”

With that the dragon raised its massive body and clumsily moved down to block us. I looked at Matt, “Can you run?”

“I think so,” he replied stepping up his pace until we were sprinting. We got to the opening only seconds before the talons got there.

“Garnet, you let them get away,” Asha sighed, “Fire at will.”

“What do you suggest we do?” I asked, hearing the intake of breath. “There’s no way we can make it around the pond to the other cave.”

“The pond,” Matt said thoughtfully. “We can jump into the pond.”

I looked down at the pond then looked back as I saw fire form in Garnet’s mouth. “Let’s Go.”

With that we both jumped into the icy water. I looked up and saw the entire cave above us light up with fire. I started swimming towards the far side of the pond, and Matt followed suit. As soon as I could touch the stone on the far side, I looked up again when I thought my lungs would burst from oxygen deprivation, but saw no fire. I poked my head up, and gasped for air as Matt surfaced as well. We listened quietly, but when we heard nothing we heaved ourselves up.

“Well, I’m glad that worked,” Matt breathed.

“Yeah, we should go before Asha comes looking for us,” I said, standing up. I guess I stood up too quickly because my eyes blurred and I felt like I might faint, which caused me to wobble on my feet.

“Are you all right?” Matt asked, sounding concerned and gripping my elbow to help steady me.

“I think so,” I replied, “Just got up too quickly.”

We heard Asha’s footsteps coming from the other cave, getting louder. Matt started to steer me towards the entrance cave, “Umm, let’s go before Asha finds us.”

Matt didn’t lose hold of my arm until we were out in the woods and were safely running away from the caves. We distantly heard Garnet’s roar. We kept running until we heard the steady wing beats of a large animal. We quickly ducked into a thicket and crouched low, barely breathing even though that we were both breathless.

“We can’t go back the way we came,” I said.

“Why not?” Matt asked keeping his eyes trained on the sky, as a red shadow passed over us.

“Because, first of all we’ve already strayed from the path, and secondly it passes right through the meadow, giving us no cover what so ever,” I replied.

“I guess so… what do you suggest?” Matt said leading me into a run again.

“Wait… a dragon it’s basically a flying lizard with cat-like properties, right?”

“Yes, what are you getting at?”

“Both reptiles and cats love heat and warmth; if we could distract it enough with that then we could get away.”

“Playing off the natural instinct again?”

“Well that’s my idea, unless you have anymore.”

“Nope don’t have any. Question though,” Matt said, I looked at him, “Wouldn’t it be better if we headed back and got on top of the cliff?”

“Why?”

“Because lizards love basking on rocks and that is one huge lizard so we need a big rock.”

“Good point lets go back to the caves.”

“Let’s.”

With that we both turned and ran back to the caves. We paused at the edge of the woods. There were fifty feet between us and the cave entrance and we heard wing beats again, so we decided to hide again. We were waiting for the dragon to pass over, when the wing beats suddenly stopped.

“What happened?” I asked, trying to keep my fear to a bare minimum.

“I think it landed,” Matt replied quietly.

Seconds later the Dragon lumbered into view, looking from side to side. When it was nearing the cave entrance Asha came out, wiping some blood from her nose, she mounted Garnet and they lumbered on again. We hid behind the tree’s trunks until they were gone. As soon as we heard Garnet take off, and his wingbeat’s getting fainter, we dashed to the cave entrance and entered the entrance cave. We immediately set off into the pond cave and around the pond, neither of us fancying another swim in the chilly water.

We got to the cave with the rock slide and I looked, realizing that the hole in the roof offered a lot of sunshine to the cave below. Matt walked over to the still smoldering fire and stamped it out. He turned back to me, “Ready?”

“Yeah,” I said as we both started up the huge rock slide. I noticed that every so often Matt would grimace, “Need any help?”

“No, I’m just having a small problem with my ankle.”

It took us at least fifteen minutes to scramble up and navigate the rest of the way up. We eventually made it to the top of the rockslide, but we were still about ten feet short of the top.

Matt turned to me, “I’ll lift you up, and then you can help pull me up.”

I looked up, “And how do you expect to get down again?”

“Umm… I’m making it up as we go.” Matt judged the distance again, “I think we can make it, the distance is only like ten feet at most.”

“Fine, give me a lift.” With that, Matt made a stirrup with his hands and I placed my foot in it. “One, two, three, lift.”

Using my momentum and Matt’s strength I easily reached the top, and then braced my arms on the stone and scrambled the rest of the way. I turned and saw that Asha and Garnet were in the distant east. I then returned my attention to Matt, and helped to heave him up. We both straightened up.

“Watch out,” Matt said ducking and grabbing my hand and bringing me down as well.

A moment later I figured out why, Garnet had swooped down and tried to knock us down. I looked up as Garnet landed and Asha dismounted. We both straightened up quickly as Asha started to move towards us.

“What do you want from us?” I called out, noticing that Matt still seemed unsteady on his feet.

“I want you two to experience as much pain as possible,” Asha spat out coming within ten feet.

“Why?” Matt asked, confusion plainly showing on his face.

“Because you practically broke my heart.”

“Okay… but I still won’t go out with you and,” Matt glanced at me, “why Levina?”

“Because she’s perfect, everyone loves her. She’s kind, caring, and generally treats everyone as a friend.”

“Except of course when I get really mad at someone or completely loathes someone,” I said putting in my thoughts, and secretly disbelieving what Asha was saying.

“Then you don’t take revenge in the traditional way, you… kill with kindness.”

“Okay, so you’re mad at us, for being who we are and our decisions,” Matt said, wincing as he put most of his weight on his bad ankle.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Isn’t that a bad idea?”

“I don’t know I’m really confused. I was extremely popular at my old school, now I’m an outsider and I hate it so much. So I guess that I figured if I could date the most popular guy here, I would become, popular.”

“You know, I don’t think that you have to try that hard. Attend social events; find a group of friends that you fit in with really well. But don’t take your dragon, something tells me that it would not go over too well,” I said looking at Garnet who was curled up asleep in the warmth of the sun.

Asha looked back as well and smiled. “He’s my best friend I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”

I looked down at my watch, “Crap, I have to go to work in two hours, and I want to shower beforehand.”

“Well before you go, can I ask a question?” Asha asked as Matt and I turned towards the opening. I nodded.  “Can we be friends?”

“Definitely,” I replied sensing the glowing embers of a new friendship heat up. “Come on, Matt, it’s going to take forever to get you down.”

“You know, it doesn’t have to take forever,” Asha said with a gleam in her eyes.

“No?” Matt said, skeptical.

“Come on, Garnet will take us.”

“What do you say?” Matt asked looking at me.

“Why not?” I said helping Matt limp over to Garnet.

“Garnet, wake up,” Asha said, gently shaking the dragon awake. When Garnet opened his eyes, he looked at us and growled. “No, Garnet they’re friends now. And we’re going to give them a ride out of the forest.”

Garnet looked at us with an unusual expression, then he gave a short nod and Asha walked up and clambered onto his back. Matt and I followed, I helped him get on first, and then I scrambled up behind him.

“Ready?” Asha asked. Once we both confirmed that we were, and then she told Garnet to fly.

The feeling was amazing as Garnet shot off into the air, and then dipped down to fly over the treetops. The wind rushed through our hair and awakened me like nothing else could.  But soon, too soon, the ride was over and Garnet had touched down in a clearing, just inside the woods.

I dismounted first, and then helped Matt come down gently. When we were both safely on the ground, I smiled at Asha and Garnet, “Thank you, that was an amazing ride.”

“You’re welcome,” Asha said, also smiling. I’ll see you two tomorrow at school.”

“Yeah, see you tomorrow,” Matt said, turning away as Garnet took to the sky in a dark red blur.

Within a few minutes Matt and I were walking along the sidewalks in our neighborhood, in silence. I looked up at him then glanced back down; as soon as I looked back down I felt the heat from his stare as he looked at me. Soon enough we were outside of his house. I finally turned to look him in the eye.

When I looked at him, he was speechless. He opened his mouth, and tried to speak, but failed.

“I guess, I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said, shyly. “Well, I had fun, until the…um…incident.”

“Yeah, me too. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Matt replied, still looking awkward.

“Bye.”

“Levina?”

“Yeah?”

“I…Ummm…do you…I…you...err…Thank you.”

“For what, exactly?”

“I guess, for never giving up and leaving me behind, when you could’ve easily done so. And for being with me for every step of the way.”

“Ummm, you’re welcome. That’s what friends are for anyways.”

“Yeah…,” Matt said, looking away.

“I had an interesting time. Thank you for making my life not boring.” With that I stood on my tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. After that I turned away and went down the street to my house. I looked back and saw that he was looking at me. I waved and turned inside with a smile that couldn’t be erased.


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