Alythia's Tale

By
The mushrooms towered above me as I lied on my back, gazing at their once glittering gills. Before Kraven and his dragon’s rule of the Little Folk, when everything was healthy and flourishing, the gills would glow in an array of colors and brightened the forest floor. Now however, the gills were a dull brown and the world below was cast into a dismal twilight.
I barely remembered when the mushrooms were vitalized and there wasn’t a tyrant ruling the land. The result was constantly lashed upon us, though. The collectors came and emptied our pockets of all the gold pieces we came to own. Our lips were still sealed against opposition and there was no point in publishing a composition if you weren’t a Kraven worshiper, for he had spies everywhere.
On top of this, there were the ever threatening giants. They are always stalking the meadow outside the mushroom forest. We are never safe, but stuck between a rock, the giants, and a hard spot, Kraven.
I wanted to do something about Kraven, but I had no allies in the matter. Everyone that I knew was too scared out of their wits to pledge to my cause. I was hopeful though, that I would find just what I need. Someday, I would find my partner, and we would overthrow Kraven and his malicious dragon and replace the age old courts.
As for the giants, they have always been our enemies, even though they weren’t aware of it. They were part of our world, perhaps a thorny part, but still one that isn’t supposed to be removed.
For now, we must suffer. Until my ally comes along, I am powerless. We are all powerless.
I got up and began the short jaunt home. The forest was growing darker as the sun descended behind unseen mountains. Occasionally one of the mushroom stalk’s dark holes light up and shine. No one else was walking about at this hour, not with all the horrid spies lurking in the shadows. I didn’t fear them though; the clanging and clinking of my rapier on my leg comforted me.
The lights were already ablaze in my home. The grey brown stalk had a tiny door cut from its flesh and one round window on each side of it. I was greeted by the magical warmth of the purple, smokeless flames that danced on the far side of the little room. On the left was the kitchen and on the right was a table, a couple of couches, and a staircase that led beyond the ceiling and all the way to the umbrella. My mother was cooking soup at the flames and my sister was washing the shells that served as dishes. My father was away working at a gold mine near the castle, trying to earn a couple extra guineas.
“Alythia! You really shouldn’t stay out so late! These are dangerous times and you act like they aren’t,” scolded my mother viciously. She was tall, and slender in the extreme, like all of us. Her large eyes were a crystalline blue that was like staring into sapphires with black onyxes set in the very center. Her lips looked like pink rose petals pressed together in a beautiful scowl. Her silvery hair was rolled up, up and into a neat pile upon her delicate head and was complimented by the sheer blue dress that hung on her dainty frame. She was of gentle character and appeared fragile, but was strengthened greatly by the bejeweled dagger strapped tightly to her side.
I tapped my sword as I sat at the table and said softly, “I’m more aware of them than you think, but I’m not scared.”
“Because you’re a fool,” my sister added frostily. She was a mirror image of our mother, except for the amethyst eyes, compliments of our father, and the slender pink scar that extended from the corner of her left eye to curve around the lips untouched, and slide off at the middle of her sharp chin. It glistened slightly in the fire glow, and made my heart harden at who had marred my gorgeous sister.
“Maybe I am,” I responded in a velvety tone that irks her every time.
“You sure are. Mom has been a nervous wreck this entire time,” retorted Olympia, handing our mother a few deep bowled clam shell. She poured the lumpy green soup into the bowls and handed one to each of us. We all sat at our table and began eating our dinner.
“Did you hear about Ollillia moving?” I asked conversationally.
“No!” my mom exclaimed. “What happened to convince her of that?”
“Well, she has to move in with her great aunt because she can’t pay for the property taxes.”
“Don’t start you rebellion rant again,” whispered Olypmia warningly.
I rolled my eyes at her. “Just because you beetle butts are too chicken to oppose him, doesn’t mean I can’t,” I sneered. I rinsed my bowl and skipped up the stairs before I could be skinned for that bit.
My room was domed of course, being at the top of the mushroom. The few goose feathers that were neatly piled on one another served as my bed and the leaf-built dresser was all that adorned it. I pushed the trapdoor on the roof open and looked outside. The grey tops stretched as far as I could see, and were interrupted only by a few gigantic trees that were several steps around. Wherever the sun was, it had set and cast even the giant’s world in darkness.
I sent the lamp afire with my fingertips. Plopping on my bed, I began to polish the thin shiny blade of my rapier. The blade was pure titaniam, as was the hilt. Ideally, iron would work best for weapons if it didn’t kill the maker and owner and anyone else that touched it. There were no jewels set on my sword, for that was a luxury only expended by the extremely wealthy. Soon, I lied upon my cushion and closed my eyes.
Looking out my opening in the roof the next morning, I sensed a change. Something was awry in the Little Folk’s world. There was an odd whiff in the breeze; a peculiar sparkle in the green filtered sunlight. It wasn’t smoke or mortal fire, but something much worse. Climbing onto the silky roof, I heard a distant sound. I cocked my head and listened to the distinct clank of chain mail and armor. I hopped instantly into the hole and locked the door. I dashed downstairs where Olympia and my mother were breakfasting.
“They’re coming! Kraven’s men are on their way!” I shouted, my eyes wide in horror at my own words.
My mother rose, trembling. “It was the spies! They are after you, Alythia! We have to hide you,”
“No, I must leave. Someone is sure to give me up,” I calmly replied, releasing my tension as she expressed it for me. I was already making a mental list of supplies.
“I’ll come with you,” Olympia volunteered, jumping off her stool. I was surprised at her willingness to go, and wondered if she was truly a rebel like me.
“Yes, Alythia, take your sister and never part,” our mother ordered in a shuddering voice as she rushed to throw food in a satchel. She draped the strap over Olympia’s shoulder and attached the dagger’s belt to her hips. She wiped away a diamond tear from Olympia’s cheek and kissed her forehead. As she turned to me, her face hardened, as did her voice, “Take care of your sister, Alythia. Don’t do anything stupid that will get her hurt and don’t return until they’ve gone.”
I fastened my own bag, grabbed my sister’s hand, and sprinted out the door. There was no use in saying goodbye to my mother when she blamed me so much. My chest tightened and ached as I thought of how she was so angry at me.
Olympia and I ran hand-in-hand through the mushroom forest. We zoomed past, undisturbed by a single fey. We raced in the opposite direction of the warriors; we were aiming for the Great Meadow. Our only chance of waiting them out was to retreat into the dangerous grass where giants stomped about. No fey went there unless they were a fugitive, for no law and order ruled the plains. We would have to look out for criminals as well as giants.
We ran and ran, like silent ghosts chasing darkness. Our breathing was labored as the time drug on. My legs burned as though acid was searing them from the inside. The sheathed blade beating against my thigh was irritating and the satchel strap was weighing heavily on my shoulder. My bare feet blistered in their bareness. Olympia was lagging behind on my hand and was far worse off than me.
The green wall of grass was just ahead, so I pressed us on. We collapsed a ways in the sharp blades, our chests heaving in an effort to collect enough oxygen. When I calmed sufficiently, I leapt upon my feet actively and examined the damage done to my frail sister. Her face was beyond the custom paleness and seemingly bloodless, emphasizing the contrast of her scar. Her breathing was still in huffs and her eyes were wide and unseeing.
I withdrew the bottle of faery wine. It was a glimmering green color that shimmered on its own. I took a drink and felt the cool elixir reenergize my worn body. Olympia took a longer swig and took more time recovering. She glared at me broodingly as she handed the bottle back.
“It’s all your fault that we are in this predicament. If you would have kept your trap shut, we would be home eating dinner with mom,” she accused with a baleful twinkle in her violet eyes.
“And if I ever succeed in what my trap says, Dad can come home and the forest will come to life. We can marry some century and not worry about our children coming home safely,” I countered with a mockingly kind smile. I turned from her and continued walking through the meadow grass. My tiny hands balled into fists as I thought of how they all shunned me.
Olympia was soon at my side, reluctant to be left behind. We traveled through the lofty blades, forever pushing them aside and ears keen for stomping. Above, there was no sun, just a stormy grey color. I could tell that night would be within the next couple of hours and that the giants weren’t usually seen in the dark, except occasionally in the summer and autumn. When the dusk descended, we made our supper and floated into sleep.
We were quickly awakened by what felt like an earthquake. The ground vibrated and the noise was BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Olympia’s scream was cut off as I threw my hand over her mouth. The thundering didn’t stop until the source came into sight. We huddled into a grass thicket as best as we could as the giant gazed at something. The rounded features twisted in confusion, then disgust. Whatever was in its enormous hand, it threw it into our little camp. The giant looked up at some bugle that shattered the morning air, and ran towards the caller, feet thumping the ground noisily.
When the danger had passed, I disentangled myself from my sister’s quivering limbs and walked into our camp to see the missile. In the center, where our fire had been, was a shiny pink rock. I picked it up with two hands to find it rather light for its size. I descried a web of fine black lines weaving around the pearly hot pink. Touching the surface brought warmth to my fingers, as though the stone was cooling from a volcano.
“What is it?” called Olympia from her hiding place behind me. I looked back to see her still crouched on the ground and peeking through the thick green blades.
“It’s a giant’s pebble, but it’s really light weight and beautiful,” I explained as I walked over to her. “You can come out of hiding now. They’re gone and I’m sure we’ll hear them before we see them.”
“Okay,” she said as she got up and sheathed the dagger. ”What is it though? Just a pebble?”
“Mayb—,” I choked on my word as the rock in my hands began to crack. My hands flailed as I tried to not drop the pieces as the stone crumbled. When it was through and in smithereens, my arms cradled a baby dragon.
“Whoa!” Olympia snickered at my face as the dragon singed my hair with its breath. “Good luck taking care of that!”
I stared down at the great little lizard as it squirmed closer to me. Its scales were like pink gems glittering in the sunlight. The two horns that curved backward were jet black, as were the nails and spikes that ran incessantly from its crest to its long powerful tail. The wings were tightly folded and clenched to its body, with veins bulging in the paper thin skin. The triangular head burrowed in the crook of my arm, with one pink tourmaline eye drooping with lethargy.
“We can’t just leave her,” I whispered mellifluously. I was drawn to the little dragon and refused to abandon it to the ruthless meadow and the ruffians that lurked within its grasses.
“Alythia, are you insane! We can’t keep a dragon with us. It has to be fed, and we have to look after it and…” she drifted off, her face coloring with her ire.
“I know,” I responded, cool as ever. “That is why you can ignore it, and I’ll take care of it.”
Her cheeks burned a tomato red with rage as she screeched,” You are unbelievable!” and stormed away.
The dragon and I both jumped with a start as a little ‘tink’ was heard. Olympia didn’t appear to have heard it as she violently rolled up her bedroll. Another click sounded and my blood cooled as it drained from my face. I dashed to my own bedroll and stuffed it into my bag with the dragon tense at my side, all stupor gone.
“Olympia, they are coming into the meadow!” I whispered in my haste.
“They’ve never done that, Alythia. Why would they risk it now, for you?” she asked in a skeptical hush.
“I don’t know,” I growled, gathering the dragon and slinging my bag over my head. “But they are, and we have to move it.”
We joined sides and began to once again run away from the noise of armor. The dragon twisted and climbed up to be perched on my shoulder. The sharp blades of grass lashed at our arms and our forearms bled single drops from the numerous shallow cuts.
After a half hour of running hell-for-leather, I slowed our brake-neck pace to a walk and brought out the wine. We each drank deeply, and then Olympia said, “If they pursue us any further into the meadow, we have no chance.”
“Bite your tongue,” I snapped. “This chance you’re talking about is our lives. We have no choice but to out run them. Maybe the giants will help us out.”
“Or crush us,” she mumbled in reply. I jabbed her in the ribs as hard as I could and she yelped.
“Stop fighting you two,” ordered a noble voice in my ear.
Olympia gasped, “It talks.”
“I talk, thanking you very much. I am not an it,” corrected the dragon from atop my shoulder. She turned from my sister and glided into my arms silently.
“What is your name?” I asked in reverence.
Her neck didn’t relax, but kept like a statue. She didn’t turn to me as she spoke, “I have many names, but only one true name. You may call me Ignia.”
I was about to ask her another question, when the wind wisped through the grass. It smelled of fey, many fey. The music of chain mail became apparent at the stillness. On either side of us was suddenly the sound of heavy breathing.
Olympia clasped my arm so firmly with both hands that my hand numbed. Ignia jumped to the ground as Olympia shrieked. I wheeled my sword, but a sharp nosed faery already had a knife to Olympia’s throat and three faeries were shackling a struggling Ignia.
“Drop the sword,” commanded the sharp nosed faery. The grey dragon insignia on their black armor told me that they were Kraven’s men. I sheathed the rapier and unbelted it, giving the weapon to the nearest faery, for they had come from seclusion and surrounded us. They cuffed me, and shoved us towards the forest again, and probably to the castle.
After two days of silent trudging, the blackened metal gates were opening before us. The castle’s black spires were all that rose above the mushroom caps. As we approached however, the onyx castle was glorified by stone statues of Kraven’s dragon. Ignia looked so tiny compared to the effigy, even though she had grown explosively in the two days and her back was up to my shoulder. The men continually were putting more chains on her and threatening my and Olympia’s life when she acted up.
We were instantly thrown into separate dingy jail cells. When I asked why we were being incarcerated, the only response was that I had offended the king and Olympia and Ignia were imprisoned for association.
The cell was small and had water leaking from in between the cracks of the bricks. Big black ants scurried along the dirt floor and it was very dark. The meals that came were of a funky smelling water and stale muffins. There wasn’t a sound other than the constant drip, drip of the water and the occasional moan of a prisoner. The worst part however, was the lack of air. The one tiny slit near the ceiling was open to the street and didn’t provide much draft, but plenty of coldness during the night.
I occupied my time with plans of escape. The iron bars that enclosed the cell weakened the little magic I had, so that couldn‘t be used. I was coming up with nothing, but was gladdened be the fact that Ignia was beside my cell. She never said a word, but was undoubtedly still growing and biding her time.
On the fifth morning, before the weary grave guard switched with the fresh day guard, I heard a deafening blast. The little grave guard ran to the cell beside me, whimpered, and was silent. Then there was a big splash and Ignia came into view as a glowing orange liquid flowed beneath her feet. She was absolutely enormous now, with her shoulder being higher than mine. Her long neck had to lean forward, but still scraped the ceiling.
“Hello Alythia. I was getting cramped in that tiny pit,” she joked, coughing a laugh and pulling her lips and revealing many teeth, which I took as a grin. She casually swiped the iron bars and they ripped from the stone and out of the way. “We are going to go to the store room first, to retrieve your rapier. Until then however, you’re vulnerable, so get on my back.”
I scrambled up her massive leg and smoothed the spikes down so I wouldn’t be injured. She went up the stairs, her wings upheld like a butterfly so they wouldn’t scratch the walls. I was lying on her back so I wouldn’t hit the ceiling.
“That is the room, I believe. I will go in first, with you in tow,” explained Ignia.
“Okay,” I whispered, crawling down her spine, gaining a couple wounds from the black spikes. When I hopped off her tail, I observed that the abrasions were already healed. She looked back at me and winked.
The wood door slammed open as the day guard came out, expecting to replace the grave guard. Ignia promptly slashed his chest. His face contorted in agony, but he didn’t make a sound. His wounds did not bleed red, but oozed a black poison that tinged his skin grey. Within a few seconds, he toppled over, his complexion being of ashes and his eyes devitalized.
The room was otherwise clear as I rushed in. My rapier and belt were on the table in pristine condition. I quickly belted it on and grabbed the satchel. Going back to Ignia, I asked, “Where is my sister?”
“My hearing is more acute than yours. Last night in this very room, the soldiers were discussing how Olympia is being kept under Kraven’s eye. Why, I have no clue, but it is going to be a tough fight to get her back.”
I groaned loudly as I swung an army quiver over my shoulder and tested the string of the recurve bow. All was in working order, so I returned to my seat.
On out way through the castle, we were somehow met by no one. I was also amazed at how Ignia knew exactly where she was going. She seemed to have no trouble in the monotonous tunnels, hallways, and doors. I wanted to ask, but was too tense as every corner made me giddy to sling my nocked arrow.
We arrived at two huge wooden doors. Ignia nudged them with her snout and they swung easily on greased hinges. The high domed ceiling within, highlighted the grandness of the room. On a high ebony chair was Kraven, an ancient, but still youthful looking faery. The grey eyes were dull and the cruel lips curled in a wicked sneer. Beside the dais was a proud cinereous dragon, lounging as if our arrival was expected. On both side of the wide berth in the middle of the room was the castle’s population of guards, servants, and courtiers. They all looked as if they were anticipating a show. My breath caught in my throat as I espied Olympia. She was kneeling next to the king’s chair, shackles connecting her wrists and ankles. She looked unhurt, except for the drops of jewels that stained her dirty face. Her magnificent amethyst eyes were wide in horror and her entire body quivered.
Kraven rose, smirk in place, and walked down the steps slowly, saying in a pleasant voice, “It’s about time you got here. We have been waiting for you ever since my guard was cremated.”
“Why are you doing this? I’m just a girl,” I gasped, squeezing the bow as I saw my sister cry harder, the tears polishing her scar.
“For my own amusement, of course,” answered Kraven while the ashen dragon lumbered down the steps as well. “You are the only rebel I have had in several years. You could say I have been in a drought. But don’t worry, it will be fair, and your sister will be released to tell everyone how foolhardy you truly are.”
I drew the bow back as fast as I could and loosed the arrow. It burst into purple flames before it came close to the target. The dragon at his side roared deafeningly and the crowd laughed till their eyes watered.
“You have to do better than that, otherwise it is no fun,” boasted Kraven.
Ignia twisted her neck to put us face to face and whispered, “You’re going to have to fight Kraven.”
“How,” I whimpered, my eyes still dry from the fire of my arrow.
“You’re more powerful than you know. You always believed in yourself when no one else did. That is true power, to resist their criticism unfalteringly. Now, I believe in you, for you can defeat him.”
“Thanks, Ignia,” I whispered back as I kissed her snout. I slid down to the ground and tossed the bow and quiver on the marble floor. Our foot steps resonated as we approached our enemies. Drawing my sword, I took my stance as the dragons circled one another and Kraven similarly prepared.
A spark ignited as his broadsword hit the thin blade of my rapier. His sword clashed with mine over and over, wearing my skinny arms with every blow. The dragons rumbled and growled and snarled as their dagger claws ripped at each others flesh, staining the white marble with their black poison and ruby blood.
Kraven’s smile continued to grow as he sensed me weakening. I knew the end was soon coming, but I persevered in fighting with everything I had, for that was all I could do now. The sand ran out when I failed to parry his charge and the cold metal sliced my skin and raked the ribs on my right side, from my shoulder to the tip of my hip. I screamed as the blinding pain paralyzed my body as the hot blood poured from the wound. Dropping to my knees, I heard Ignia roar as the other dragon thumped on its side, mortally wounded and life running dry. Olympia’s cries pierced my ears over the bugle.
“NO!” Kraven bellowed. He raised the broadsword and was about to bring it down upon my neck. I gathered all the strength I had left, and thrust the thin blades through his ribs and as far as it would go. I fell on my back and Ignia’s nail pricked my wound, seeping the elixir into my bloodstream.
“Sleep Alythia. You did it,” Ignia gently said as my eyelids dropped. I smiled at her, feeling the pain fade as the magic healed my broken side.

The mushrooms shined in purple, blue, green, orange, and pink, showering the Little Folk in their glory once more. The forest floor was alive with light and the beetles and caterpillars roamed free. In the towns, faeries were out and about, trading, selling, buying, and telling stories about how Alythia and Ignia had destroyed the terrible tyrant and his savage companion.
The celebrations had lasted for weeks as the fey came to honor the heroes, till the modest little faery and her dragon said it was enough for them.
Now the two were laughing together, the elegant faery telling about her younger days and the dragon describing the many scandals she had heard from in her egg while it was secure in the castle. The pink dragon belched a blast of fire as the faery giggled so hard that she almost fell off the toadstool she was sitting on. The entire forest echoed with their laughter.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

kimmy said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 2:55 am
Haley girl you are awesome! Do you illustrate your stories also?
 
kimmie said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 7:51 pm
awesome work!!
 
Taryn said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm
I liked it! It was long, but very very good!
 
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