(A/N: I know that it seems really strained in places, and not everything makes sense, but that’s what happens when you try something new. And this is not my usual writing style at all. So, that means I want feedback. Judge away! Also, sorry about the scrolling. It’s a large chunk of story, but it didn’t seem right to split it up. Thanks.)
The first thing Rahna saw when she opened her eyes was mist. It stretched on forever and ever, and it showed no signs of clearing. She tried her best to spin it- it was air, after all- but nothing happened. She tried to conjure wind, but she didn’t feel the familiar warmth in her palms. Nothing. It seemed like she was in a place where her faery powers didn’t work, or, more likely, her powers had just decided to conk out. Hmph. It wasn’t like she had much to begin with… but now she had none. She found the idea oddly liberating.
She suddenly realized that she was suspended in midair. The mist still showed no signs of dissolving. Perhaps it was just a dream. Still, she knew that it wasn’t ordinary mist, and it definitely wasn’t good mist. It seemed to crawl across her flesh, searching for answers.
I need to get out of here. As soon as the thought appeared in her head, her ring began to glow a bright orange. It was soft at first, then turned into something harsher, brighter. The mist vanished, and she fell to the floor.
Aching, she pulled herself to her feet and looked around. She was in a circular room with walls made of heavy stone blocks carved with symbols. The ceiling was high and imposing, and there were tall iron doors that were barred heavily shut. A fire crackled merrily in the hearth. On the wall there was a rack full of weapons, but it was padlocked heavily.
She had never been in a place like it before, and it was beautiful. Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
How had she gotten here? She couldn’t remember anything, no… she knew her name. She knew she lived in Elyan. Faces came back to her. Her mother, her father, Maryth… She was a faery, well, a terrible excuse for one. Maryth always said that she was destined to be a hero, but she said that about everyone. And the ring…
Rahna examined her ring carefully. It looked the same- a tarnished silver dragon curled around an odd orange gemstone that glowed like molten lava. The dragon looked really scary for a tiny piece of jewelry, like it was prepared to bite someone’s finger off. Maryth, the Elder of Elyan, had given her the ring. Nobody knew where it came from, not even Maryth herself. But she knew that it was not something to be taken lightly. And she had given the ring to her, Rahna, the one with the withered wings. Never give this to anyone else, she had said.
Rahna couldn’t help but seriously question her judgement. She had never shown much promise as a faery, and then her wings had come in wrong. She could barely hover, let alone fly. That’s why she used the mythe petals so often. The petals were chalky and bitter tasting, but they hid a creature’s true nature. All she had to do was suck on one, and her wings would be hidden for a day. It was intensely painful for a few seconds, and then… voila! She smiled bitterly to herself, then remembered her problem.
How was she going to get out? She was sure that it wasn’t a dream- her shoulders still ached from the fall. She walked over to the doors and tried them. They wouldn’t budge, and neither would the weapons. If only she could find someone else…
A terrible grating sound reached her ears, and the doors began to open.
The first thing Rahna noticed about the stranger was that she was impossibly tall. The shadows fell on her face, making it look horribly menacing. Then the shadows were gone, and every bad feeling Rahna had immediately evaporated.
She had long curly blonde hair that fell to her waist, and was wearing a dark green gown with long trailing sleeves. Around it she wore a brown belt with many pouches, not unlike the belt that Maryth had at home. She had pale, pale skin and ice blue eyes that seemed cold and proud and piercing. In her hand she held a tall silver scepter, with three gemstones in the center and a single hole that looked like it was a placeholder for another one. Each stone glowed with a strange pulsating light. She was the most beautiful thing Rahna had ever seen.
“B-but… you’re a human,” Rahna choked out.
The stranger smiled. “Oh?” She seemed to find Rahna’s shock amusing. “But I am so much more than that,” she corrected. Her voice was impossibly sweet.
Rahna’s mind was racing. Not a human… too tall to be an elf… certainly not a faery… goblin? Of course not. Witch? Nah, she’s way too pretty. Suddenly, Rahna’s eyes widened, and she knew. Sorceress. All her fear came rushing back.
The sorceress smiled like she could read Rahna’s thoughts. Based on what Rahna knew about sorcery, she probably could. “You’re a quick one, aren’t you?” She threw her head back and laughed. She waved the scepter lazily, and bands of green, blue, and white light circled Rahna before snaking across her body. She struggled, but she couldn’t move. “Now. To business. I believe you have something of mine. I want it back. Now, give me the Tor Elaywn.”
Rahna stared blankly at her. “Tore what?”
The sorceress’s eyes flashed green for a second, and she looked for a second like she was going to slap her. Then she laughed once more. “Oh, you faeries. So ignorant, so simple… you’ve never heard of the Tor Elaywn?” She leaned closer to Rahna and spoke as if to a small child. “The ring, fae. I want the ring. Give it to me, or there will be trouble.”
It was hard to look defiant when the other person towered over you, but Rahna tried her best. “I can’t move,” she pointed out. “Besides, why can’t you just take it yourself?”
“As a matter of fact, I can.” She smiled again- it was quickly getting creepy- and tugged on Rahna’s right hand. She paused triumphantly for a second before laughing again. “Maryth thought she could keep it from me, hmm?” Her fingers touched the ring.
Then she screamed.
The sound was horribly shrill- it could easily have broken glass if there was any in the room- so it took a few moments before Rahna realized that the bands of light were gone.
Light her on fire. Rahna had no idea where the thought had come from, but no sooner had she thought it than flames appeared on her dress. She put them out instantly, but it took the sorceress a couple more seconds to regain her composure.
“And I have a little Keeper on my hands now, don’t I?” Her eyes practically blazed with hate, but her voice was still cold and soft.
“True holder of the ring, one who can harness the elemental power safely, blah, blah, blah...” she looked at Rahna’s blank look and tried again. “That ring contains the Elemental Stone of Fire. Unite the four stones and, if the legends are true, you can live forever,” A crazy light came to her eyes. “Anyway, you need to give me the ring out of your own free will,” she sighed.
“Well, it seems that we’re at a little standstill. You have one Tor, and I have the other three. But your faery magic doesn’t work here in the Hall of Ages. Wonderful room, isn’t it? Any power a creature has is nullified by the runes.” She tilted her head to the side like she was considering something. “Luckily for me, I don’t need magic to get what I need.”
Before Rahna could stop her, the sorceress had grabbed her arm. Fumbling with her belt pouches, she found a small silver dagger and plunged it into the faery’s flesh. The pain was there in an instant, but no blood flowed out. Her knees buckled, and she fell to the floor.
“Now,” the sorceress said, turning to the door, “you have about an hour to live. I can make it stop at any moment, you know.” She snapped her fingers and the pain was gone. She snapped them again and Rahna doubled over, clutching her arm. “Give the Tor to me when you are ready.” She turned and walked away, humming like she hadn’t just sentenced a poor faery to her death.
An hour, she repeated. I only have an hour to live. It was a scary thought, made scarier by the terrible pain.
Rahna reviewed her options. She could surrender the ring. As if in response, the ring seemed to tighten around her finger. Okay, okay. Not an option. She sighed. It hurt so much… she just wanted it to end.
What would happen if she died? Would the power die with her? Would the sorceress calmly slide the ring off her dead body?
She considered that for a moment. She didn’t want to die. She rather liked this body, with her long brown hair and clear blue eyes. The only thing she didn’t like was her wings. Stupid, useless things. Maybe if they hadn’t come in wrinkled, she wouldn’t be in this mess.
She allowed herself a couple seconds of self-pity before looking around the room once more. Her eyes landed on the fireplace. The flames are the answer. Where the thought came from, she didn’t know. Then, suddenly, an even better thought came to her.
I’m not going to go out scared or afraid, she promised herself. Striding purposefully, she plunged herself into the fire.
It was true, what they said. That your life truly did flash in front of your eyes before you die. She saw many pictures. Of her mother holding her small body to shelter it from the cold. Of her father teaching her how to climb a tree. Of the trail in the forest where the mythe flowers grew. Of her small, wispy, insignificant wings.
Each memory hit her painfully, threatening to make tears spill. Time slowed.
Rahna closed her eyes, but the pictures were still there, stronger and more vivid than before. They burned so bright that they hurt.
At first she fought it, with the desperation of a wild animal, clawing and shrieking. She was painfully aware of the flames consuming her skin. But there was no way to fight it, and she began to let go of her memories. It hurt still, but it hurt so much less.
She gathered her spirits until she could no longer ignore the flames around her. She was ready. Kill the sorceress, she pleaded, and then there was a terrible explosion of orange light and flames.
The creature opened her eyes to see the first rays of the sun coming from the open door. She was curled in the fetal position in the fireplace, and she could not remember her name.
The logical thing seemed to be to explore her surroundings. She was in a stone tower, and the door was open. A small silver ring glinted in the middle of the room. It seemed to trigger something in her memory, and she picked it up… examined it… placed it on her finger. It seemed like it was made for her. The gemstone in the center was a hot molten orange.
She walked through the halls, carefully, but nobody was there. At one corner, there were three more glowing gemstones. She tucked them into her pocket. Finally, she made her way out of the tower, finding a forest path that seemed vaguely familiar. She tried again to recall her name, her past. Nothing.
She felt a painful sensation near her shoulder blades. Confused, she looked at her reflection in a nearby creek. She had pale skin, and unruly red hair. Her eyes were an odd shade of brown, speckled with gold flecks. They seemed to catch the sunlight, turning yellow, then orange, then red. Like the flames. But it was what was behind her that shocked her most.
Behind her, her wings were unfurling. They were huge, and caught the sunlight like her eyes, changing colors in soft gentle currents, flaring, dying. Red changed to yellow, which in turn changed to hot molten orange.
She bit back a gasp. She looked like had wings of flame.
© Copyright 2016 Madeline Waters. All rights reserved.
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