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The Star Stone
I wrote this book after a bedtime story I made up for my little sister. Enjoy!
Once upon a time, there lived in a quiet valley a youth named Mapleez. One day she went up into the mountains to pick some raspberries for her sick, elderly father. Mapleez was almost done when something glinted off in the bushes. Curious she leaned down and picked up the strange object. Mapleez gasped as the stone flashed and burned in her hand. The power sent a shock wave through her entire body as she crumpled to the ground. Sometime later a great troll happened to be lumbering by looking for some value-ables to claim. He was Scrumbald, a great treasure troll of the east. He took one look at the shiny stone in the poor girl's hand and figured he had found a two-for-one deal. Delicious human and pretty stone. Mapleez lay in the troll's dirty smelly bag not knowing she was a prisoner, and not knowing that she was slowly getting farther and farther from home.
Mapleez woke to find herself tied and gagged to a stump looking into an enormous bonfire . A great ugly troll grunted and hurumped as he threw more trees into the already towering bonfire. Mapleez tried to scream but choked on the dirty rag stuffed into her mouth as the world began to spin. She turned desperately trying to find anything to escape. She felt some sort of stick behind her. Mapleez quickly grabbed it but it felt strange. To strange. And as she peeked at the stick she screamed a muffled scream. It was a bone. Mapleez was surrounded by a pile of human bones!
Isabelleez pushed some brush aside. She slowly crept closer to the huge bonfire.”Must be Scrumbald.” The pretty teen whispered quietly to herself. She didn’t particularly like the smelly troll after the last time he tried to smash her head open saying, ”I’ll hang your head on my wall She-fairy!!!!”
Talk about rude! Isabelleez was a Parfairy, thank you very much. Half fairy, half-human. Isabelleez crept closer. Scrumbald was filling a troll-sized kettle with tea. Over to the right, a curly blond-haired girl, about her age sat bound and gagged, her startling bright blue eyes wide with fear. Isabelleez slowly aimed her finger at the troll. ”To stone!” She shouted. The troll froze as he slowly started turning to...dirt? Ow well. Feeling dazed after such a complicated spell, Isabelleez ran over to the girl. Pulling out a small knife, she cut the thick ropes that bound the mysterious girl. As Isabelleez helped her up,the girl wobbled and shook. Isabelleez slowly helped her along until the girls arrived at a clearing. A beautiful tower stood before them. The strange girl collapsed in a heap as Isabelleez called for help.
Mapleez blinked as things came into focus. She tried to sit up but wished she hadn’t. Pain pounded her head as she lay her head back down on a feathery pillow. She must have dozed off because she woke up sometime later, and slowly lifted her head. It hurt, but not too bad. She lay on a small, but comfortable bed in a neat little room. A timid looking girl with long black hair, her face looking to be around Mapleez’s own age, sat nearby dozing on a rocker. She gave a start and noticed Mapleez was awake. The girl smiled shyly, her huge brown eyes giving off a warm sort of glow. ”Are you feeling better?” ”Yes thank you.” Mapleez replied humbly. ”I’m Eveez.” The girl said softly. ”You have been very sick.” She got up and walked over, testing Mapleez’s forehead.” Looks like the fevers gone down.” Eveez said. ”Thank you.” Mapleez replied. Just then another girl walked in quietly. Seeing Mapleez awake she exclaimed happily, ”So you're awake! I thought you might have died!” The girl said with a laugh. ”I’m Isabelleez.” She smiled with such laughter and mischievous energy, that Mapleez had to smile back. Isabelleez was tall and graceful looking, with beautiful chocolate-colored skin and a mass of elegant black curls. But one look into her twinkling green eyes, and you could easily see she was not so proper and graceful as she seemed. Mapleez recognized her from somewhere….”You were the girl that rescued me from the troll!!!” Isabelleez blushed.” No big deal.” There was a moment's pause.” So what’s your name?” Eveez asked. Mapleez smiled. And told them all that had happened to her. Once she had finished, the other two girls were quiet. Isabelleez was looking at Mapleez closely as if she expected her to blow up. “This stone you picked up. Did you see what it looked like?” Mapleez thought for a moment. “Well, it was sort of jagged and clear as glass. I thought it was a diamond at first.” She laughed a little, feeling foolish. She had thought it was glowing. That was silly of course. It must have been the sun reflecting off the stone. Stone’s didn’t glow. Did they? Isabelleez’s eyes were wide with excitement. “I think that, well maybe you found...a star stone.” Eveez gasped with surprise, but Mapleez just frowned, not understanding. “You don’t know what a star stone is?!” Isabelleez asked, shocked. “Nope,” Mapleez replied good-naturedly. “Is it important?” She asked. Isabelleez cleared her throat “There’s an old legend that says that every star has a heart. This heart is known as a star stone. Once a star dies its star stone falls to earth. Star stones are said to be extremely powerful. They supposedly give a gift to the first one to find them. So… maybe you found a star stone.” Mapleez felt herself becoming both excited and a little scared. “What kind of gift?” Isabelleez shook her head slowly. “No one knows. It's just a legend.” Mapleez relaxed a little. If it was just a legend it couldn’t be true...right?
Far away in the land of Doomlow, the evil queen, Velveteez, sat on her throne. A pouty look was set on her face and she yelled at an orc, obviously in charge of the others, to come. She sighed as he shuffled forward a confused look on his face. He knelt in front of her and waited. ”I have a mission for you.” The queen said. ”I need you to take care of a certain threat of sorts for me.” The orc nodded and the queen smiled a spoiled, wicked smile. This was going to be fun.
Mapleez sat in the quaint little sitting room of the tower, sipping her cup of tea as she listened to Isabelleez going on about a perfectly ridiculous story about a cow and a stack of blue muffins. Thanks to Eveez's medicine and a touch of Isabelleez's magic, Mapleez felt better than she had in a long time. She only wished she could muster up enough courage to bring up the painful subject of her leaving. Of course, she wanted to stay forever with these two kindhearted girls in this beautiful tower in the forest, because they were both the best friends Mapleez had ever had. She just knew that she had to get home to her father, who was probably worried sick about her. She had been gone for almost two weeks, maybe more. Mapleez felt different, too. She didn’t know how to explain it. She just felt stronger, more alive somehow. It had something to do with the star stone she had found, Mapleez was sure of it. But she was scared to bring up the subject. Mapleez didn’t even know if she completely believed what Isabelleez had told her about the stone. It just sounded so impossible. Maybe she just felt the way she did because of Isabelleez’s magic healing. It was a good possibility. Isabelleez suddenly brought her back into reality with a clap of her hands. “And that's how it turned into a mushroom.” She said, finishing her story. Isabelleez squinted at Mapleez. “Are you ok? You kinda zoned out.” Mapleez took a deep breath, determined to bring up the subject of home when a huge explosion shook the tower throwing the friends of their seats. Before they could even get off the floor a giant greyish brown hand reached into the window and snatched Eveez, from the floor. Isabelleez quickly stood and extended her arm to cast a spell, but before she could work her magic, another huge explosion of noise hit the tower, throwing the girls to the floor once more. Mapleez looked up and let out a terrified scream. A huge, bloodshot eye was peering in the window.
Isabelleez shook her head as a strange buzzing sound filled her ears. Looking around at the broken furniture strewn around the room she spotted Mapleez on the other side of the floor her mouth open in a silent scream. Isabelleez shook her head again trying to get the loud ringing sound out of her ears. Her head ached, and she wondered if the tower was really leaning or if she was just dizzy from hitting her head. She crawled toward Mapleez avoiding furniture and glass that slid past her as the floor tilted steeply to a hard right. Her mind slowly began to come back into focus. Isabelleez reached Mapleez who had either passed out from shock or a knock on the head. She lay unmoving and pale looking. Isabelleez shook her limp shoulders and panic started to rise in her throat. If her friends died it would be all Isabelleez fault. She should have protected her friends. Isabelleez was a Parfairy. She was supposed to be strong. And where was Eveez? The walls of the tower began to crumble inward. Isabelleez knew what to do. She cast her hands upwards, creating a perfect sphere of glowing light around herself and Mapleez. The sphere of protection fell through the rubble as the two girls tumbled downwards crashing to the ground with the rest of the tower.
Mapleez hurt. A lot. She winced, slowly opening her eyes. She blinked a couple times, unsure if she had really opened her eyes. It was still so dark it took a while for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She could feel cuffs of cold iron cutting into her wrists, ankles, stomach, arms, knees, even her neck and forehead were trapped in the harsh metal. Mapleez tried to turn her head slightly and thought she must be chained right to the dirty stone floor of the surprisingly spacious looking cell. It was hard to tell what anything was in all the shadowy gloom. Her eyes were drawn to the only source of the light in the prison, which came from a huge wooden door with a small, barred over window. Suddenly Mapleez tingled with a cold feeling of dread and the heavy dungeon door slammed open. A thousand things occurred to Mapleez at that moment. With the extra light spilling into the room, she realized that she was not chained to the floor but to the ceiling. Directly beneath her a deep pit with spikes at the bottom lay covered with huge iron bars. Inside of the pit, chained in a manner similar to Mapleez hung Isabelleez, her eyes open and glazed over, mouth gagged. Over in the corner closest to the door lay Eveez. Mapleez's stomach plunged as she looked at her friend. Eveez's face looked badly bruised and one of her arms was bent at a horrible angle. She lay still as a stone, her limp hands chained to the wall. But that wasn’t even the worst part. A huge dog-like creature with shaggy, dirty fur stood over Eveez. Blood matting the fur around its mouth, the revolting creature lifted its head from the helpless girl's leg. Mapleez fought the urge to let out a scream. She forced herself to look away from the sickening sight of Evees torn, bleeding leg, and focus on the women swaying into the room. The stranger was tall and willowy with long black hair. The women looked no older than twenty and probably would have been considered beautiful, but her expression ruined that hope. Her eyes were colder than ice and unnaturally blue, her lips twisted in a permanent sneer. She stopped just inside the cell and surveyed the scene before her with a cruel air. She glanced at the huge animal crouched over Evees and gave a bored wave of her hand. “Go away.” The huge animal slowly slinked out of the room, flinching as the woman lowered her hand. Mapleez had a feeling she should fear this woman, but rebelled against the idea. Who did this lady think she was? The woman looked at Mapleez and her sneer turned even more ugly, which Mapleez hadn’t thought possible. “I can see the look of fear on your face. Your worst nightmares have, indeed, come true.” The woman spoke with mock pity. She spread her arms and narrowed her eyes. “I am Queen Velveteez. And I hate you.” The queen said it with such certainty it sent goosebumps down Mapleez arms. The feeling of dread intensified in Mapleez gut. She had only heard stories of the evil queen, told as scary stories around the campfire, and to scare little children into going to bed. Mapleez had always thought they were just legends. Unfortunately that didn’t seem to be the case. “But why? What have we ever done to you?” Mapleez was dismayed to find her voice sounded weak and rough. “We have done nothing, now please let me and my friends-” The queen's smooth voice interrupted, “And that my, darling, is the whole problem. Friends.” The queens said the word like it burned her tongue. “Friends and happiness and love. All the things I despise. Yes I have heard all about you and your friends. But don’t worry. I have very big plans for you and your little friends. Why I haven't had a truly enjoyable arena game in months. Yes darling, we are going to have so much fun.”
Eveez lay slung over the shoulder of a huge orc. The smell alone might kill her if her leg didn’t first. Not to mention her left arm. If she looked at it, Eveez might be sick. She took deep breaths through her nose. Trying to calm her panic. The ceiling of the tunnel she was being lugged through shuddered and dust rained down from the ceiling. A noise like thunder shook the sky somewhere above her. Eveez tried to stay positive. At least she had got to say goodbye to her friends, before being dragged off by a hideous orc. She thought back to the prison her and her friends had been kept in and almost wished she were back in it. Eveez had been able to talk if only in whispers to her friends. Even though it was hopeless they had talked of escape and home. Isabelleez had managed to loosen the gag around her mouth enough to talk, but still hadn’t had enough energy to help them escape. She had felt like a failure for not protecting them at the tower, but both Mapleez and Eveez had assured her that she had done all she could have. As it was, making that forcefield to save Mapleez had almost drained Isabelleez’s magic for good. Eveez was jolted back to reality by a stab of pain in her leg. Don’t think about that, Eveez scolded herself. Just survive. Her friends had been carried off in different directions so Eveez was all alone. She doubted she could take on a full grown orc by herself in her condition,so she lay still and let herself be lugged off to who knows where. The sound of thunder grew louder and a large door grated open somewhere up ahead. A tingling feeling raced through Eveez’s skin as she realized that the noise wasn’t thunder. It was cheering. The orc carrying her heaved Eveez off his shoulder and sent her flying through two huge open doors, which shut with a thump of finality behind Her. Sand and sunlight stung Eveez’s eyes as she gasped for breath. Getting tossed through the air probably wasn’t very good for her health. Her leg throbbed so painfully, Eveez had to force herself not to pass out. Luckily she had landed on her good arm, but her other still ached unbearably. Lifting her head, she surveyed the scene above and around her. It didn’t exactly help her with her commitment to stay positive. Huge bleachers surrounded her in a huge circle, giant metal bars covering the gigantic arena’s roof. The bleachers were full of hundreds upon hundreds of screaming orcs and giants, goblins, and other even more unpleasant monsters. On a spacious shaded balcony set in the middle of the arena laying on a comfortable couch sat Miss sour face herself, the queen of creepiness, Queen Velveteez. The queen munched on a perfect apple, her eyes still drooping boredly like she was unimpressed with these pathetic little friends about to die for entertainment. Surrounding Eveez, huge hedges of pricker bushes loomed, creating solid walls that split off to the left and right up ahead. Eveez tried to stand, gasping as pain shot all the way up her thigh. Eveez refused to give up. If she had to guess, that was exactly what Velveteez wanted. Eveez knew her friends were somewhere out there. She wouldn’t give this twisted queen the satisfaction of watching them die, alone in this horrible arena. Eveez struggled to her feet with difficulty, using her undamaged arm and leg . She limped forward and looked to the left and right. Both passages split off into all different directions. Suddenly a roar sounded, even louder than the cheer of the crowd. But this roar sounded closer. Like it was...inside the arena. Eveez shuddered. Her friends weren’t the only other thing in this maze of death. Something big was out there. It was moving through the maze. And it sounded hungry.
Mapleez ran into another dead end. Panting and sweating, legs shaking, she figured she must be somewhere in the middle of this terrible maze. No longer able to see the mob of monsters screaming for her blood over the huge walls of thorns, Mapleez wasn’t reassured. It was deadly quiet. Too quiet. Mapleez wondered if Velveteez could even see her anymore from her comfortable balcony. What was the fun in killing someone for entertainment if you couldn’t even see them when it happened? Were they all just eagerly waiting for the sound of her dying screams? Mapleez shivered and turned around from the dead end. She needed to focus. Eveez was in no condition to protect herself from whatever horrible surprises Velveteez had in store. Mapleez hoped that Isabelleez had found Eveez. Isabelleez was a strong fighter and a brave friend. Suddenly a loud roar shook the walls all around Mapleez. She froze and then took off in a run and took a right turn, hoping to lose whatever had made the bloodchilling sound. Sadly, her plan backfired. The path she had taken curved around to the left and Mapleez found herself face to face with a very angry dragon. It was beautiful and terrible to behold. Its elegant neck held up a proud head, maroon scales gleaming. The beastly terror’s eyes were a glazed, milky color. After some searching, the creature's bad eyes locked on the small figure in front of it. The dragon gave another earth shattering roar, displaying its rows of razor sharp teeth. Mapleez didn’t have time to see what it did next. She was too busy running for her life.
Isabelleez ran, the world passing in a blurr. She felt completely drained, like she had pulled two all nighters in a row. Her foot dragged, catching a crack in the stone, and she crashed to the ground, face first. Isabelleez fought the urge to simply lay and accept her fate. She knew it was hopeless. They were surrounded by a horde of blood-thirsty monsters, in a maze full of hungry beasts. She could feel the creatures around her. Hungry and abused, longing to take revenge on Isabelleez and her friends for their pain. But giving up was not an option. Her friends were out there somewhere. They needed her. Isabelleez slowly rose to her knees and looked down, a strange slimy feeling coating her bloody knees. A slick, light yellow trail of goo trailed in front of her. It had a familiar smell. Almost like...no. Isabelleez scrambled to her feet. She scanned the pathway in front of her, backing up slowly. The walls of thorny brush in front of her began to move towards her, transforming into scales the size of dinner plates. A loud hiss issued seemingly from thin air and the head of a giant snake appeared in the path. Its yellow eyes stared unblinkingly at Isabelleez, its tongue flicking in and out. The snake lashed out so quickly only a Parfairy could have been quick enough to dodge its deadly fangs. The snake reared back again, its neck extending into a terrifying crown of unavoidable death.
Eveez collapsed, her vision darkening. She had no strength left to go on. Staring numbly at the twisted walls of thorns and cold stone floor beneath her, Eveez wondered at the tragedy of it all. She was surrounded by certain death, her friends lost somewhere in this dreadful maze, no doubt trying to find her. But she could not go on, and only hoped that her loyal friends would have a quick, painless death. Eveez’s eyes filled with tears, pooling on the ground beside her head. Blood dripped from her bare feet and torn leg, creating a small puddle of red. Pretty soon the blood loss would be too much and Eveez would die. She took a shaky breath and fought her drooping eyes. Focusing on the beautiful spider webs spanning the wall in front of her, she thought of better times. Suddenly,a strange clicking noise echoed off the walls. Eveez watched as the web in front of her began to shiver slightly. A sinking feeling in her heart, Eveez took in her surroundings clearly for the first time. Elegant spider webs of death hung over the walls and across the tunnels up ahead, coating everything in ghostly white. The strange clicking sound continued and Eveez began shaking in terror. Emerging over the wall directly above her, was a horrendous spider the size of a small house. Fuzzy black fur covered its backside and legs, its huge pinchers clicking in delight at its unexpected meal. The nightmarish monster slowly began to scuttle down the wall, unaffected by the thorns. Quickly, the spider scuttled over to Eveez and sank its needle like pinchers into her shoulder and back, injecting its paralyzing poison. Numbing relief spreading through her body, her brain reeling in shock, Eveez last thought was that she hoped her friends would die before they found her body.
Mapleez held her breath, choking back a scream. Somehow she was still alive. But she wouldn’t be for long. She could hear the dragon's angry roar somewhere in the maze behind her. Mapleez stared at her raw, red arm, amazed at how quickly the skin was healing. The dragon’s flames should have killed her, yet she had seemed to almost absorb the dragon's flames, almost making her feel more alive and not more like a piece of toast. Mapleez couldn’t help remembering the legend of the star stone. Maybe that was her gift. She healed faster than humanly possible? Not that it mattered anymore. Mapleez was cornered. Her luck had finally run out, her eyes staring down a fatal thorn wall, nowhere to turn. The dragon trailing her was old and underfed, but that only made it more determined to have a nice, tasty human snack. Thank goodness its wings were too big for the mazes tunnels so it couldn’t fly. Unfortunately, it still had all of its deadly sharp teeth and fire breath. It easily blasted through the walls of thorns, burning its way towards Mapleez no matter where she turned. And now she was trapped. But Mapleez refused to give up. Not yet anyway. Grasping at the thorn-covered walls, she fought to pull herself up. It was no use. The wall was made of just small enough thorn plants that they wouldn’t support her weight, and clumped together just enough to make it impossible to push through. The thorns cut into her flesh, and blood trickled down Mapleez's arms. She tried again and again, the sound of her death getting closer and closer. About to turn and try her luck fighting a full grown dragon with nothing but the hope of a quick death, Mapleez noticed something. The parts of the wall where her hand had grasped were smoking and charred. Filled with confusion and maybe a little fear, an idea began forming in her head. Maybe she had somehow absorbed the dragon's fire. Maybe she could even use it. Not having time to worry about the how and when, Mapleez set to work, hoping for a miracle. She found that by setting her hands on the thorns, the plants would smoke for a few seconds before catching fire. The flames felt ticklish on her hands, like someone rubbing a soft feather slowly up and down her hands. Mapleez worked feverishly, working her way inch by inch into the burning wall. After she had made a smoking hole a couple of feet into the wall, she turned and began pulling the thorny vines over her small hole, moving her hands quickly as not to set the precious vines on fire. Mapleez could hear the dragon’s heavy feet somewhere close by, its long nose sniffing for her scent. Just in time, she pulled the last vine in place, just as the dragon’s head appeared around the corner. The hungry animal sniffed, searching the maze’s tunnel in vain with its bad eyes. Mapleez held completely still in her little camouflage hole, trying not to groan as the blood poured out of her badly cut hands. The dragon sniffed again, sounding a deep growl in its throat, and narrowed its milky eyes. Mapleez silently sat, her heart pounding, hoping the dragon would be fooled and move on. But the dragon's nose twitched and it moved forward, its eyes locking on her small hideout. A high pitched scream echoed off the walls somewhere close by and the dragon froze. Lifting its head uncertainty the beast sniffed the air yet again. This time he seemed to decide that a screaming human was better than a hidden human, and slowly turned away from Mapleez's hiding spot. Instead of feeling relieved, Mapleez felt even more panicked. Because she knew that scream.
Isabelleez tried to keep her voice from shaking. It was hard. Her throat felt raw and her tongue was dry. She had been singing for at least an hour and wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep the giant snake entranced. The reptile's head swayed back and forth as Isabelleez’s calming music washed over it. Whenever she tried to stop singing or move away, the snake would snap out of its dazed state and try to eat her. Trying to talk to the monster in snake tongue was no good. It was too hungry to listen to her. So Isabelleez kept singing. But her music was losing effect. With a last strain, Isabelleez's throat caught and she collapsed in a fit of coughing. Eyes unglazing, the snake hissed with rage, and sprang at Isabelleez’s cowering form. Wrapping its huge green coils around the unfortunate Parfairy, the snake began to squeeze. Isabelleez screamed with fear and pain. The snake's scales burned like acid and began to slowly eat away at her skin. Isabelleez’s vision began to blur from the awful pain and she knew this was it. She thought she saw a flash of orange light and someone shouting her name. Was that Mapleez’s voice? The world faded into black.
Following the dragon’s trail was easy. Mapleez just needed to look for the giant black holes burned through the walls and follow. It was a short trip. Before she knew it Mapleez found herself in a scene only found in nightmares. A large circle of burning destruction spread out in front of her. Her favorite new friend, the bloodthirsty dragon, was fighting with what looked to be a ginormous snake. They roared and hissed with a sound like thunder and rain, biting and lunging at each other, knocking down walls of thorns with the intensity of their fight. Mapleez spotted the cause of their battle and gave a small groan. Isabelleez lay still and pale on the stone floor, and for a few terrible moment's Mapleez thought she was already dead. Then Isabelleez’s hand fluttered weakly and Mapleez ran to her side. The two battling creatures were so close Mapleez feared she would be crushed. The giant snake head budded the dragon, knocking it off balance. Turning its head towards Mapleez, the snake hissed and prepared to strike. Mapleez extended her hand, and called upon the fiery power within her. A pillar of flames shot out of her hand, and splashed across the snake’s face. Hissing and recoiling in pain the snake retreated. Sensing an advantage, the dragon was back on its feet and charged towards the badly burned snake, roaring in challenge and shooting fire of its own. Dodging the dragon’s swishing tail, Mapleez dragged Isabelleez’s limp body out of the fierce battle. Isabellez groaned and Mapleez knew she would never be able to escape with her wounded friend. Eventually one of the monsters would win and then both girls would die. Mapleez felt drained to the point of passing out. Exhausted, Mapleez dropped down besides her friend. Isabelleez’s skin was smoking, the outline of scales burned into her once beautiful skin. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled weakly up at Mapleez. “You're here.” she said, her voice gravely and dry, but wonderful to Mapleez’s ears. “Yes, I’m here. And I’m never going to leave you again.” Mapleez said through tears. “But you could escape, just leave me, you can still…” Isabelleez’s voice broke and she began to cough again. Mapleez fought back a sob. “I can still what? Go die at the hands of some other terrible monster? I won't give Queen Velveteez the satisfaction. You're my friend. If we die we die together.” Isabelleez nodded at this brave speech, reassured that she was not going to die alone. Both girls looked towards the sound of the dragons mighty roar of victory, resounding throughout the entire arena. He stood over the body of the giant snake, which lay dead and badly burned. The triumphant dragon lowered its head and sniffed the snake’s underbelly before tearing into the softer belly skin with his strong teeth. It was disgusting to watch. Suddenly the dragon stopped. Shifting his wings nervously he rumbled with unease. Mapleez looked around but saw no other horrible monsters emerging from the maze. Then the ground underneath her began to shake. A violent tremor travelled through the maze’s floor and cracks appeared in the solid stone. The dragon spread his huge leathery wings, taking to the sky as the ground continued to shake. A huge crack burst open on the floor right where the dragon had been standing a moment before, and the ground tilted forward. Mapleez and Isabelleez stared in disbelief as the crack widened, and an army of heavily armored griffins shot out of the ground into the arena.
The griffins were beautiful. They soared into the air with grace and pride, their chocolate brown wings flapping powerfully. Golden armor glittered against the sun, as the royal creatures spread out into all different directions into the arena sky, at least a hundred or more, all carrying a rider. The riders were all dressed in matching gold armor and carried both a bow and a sword. Mapleez struggled to her feet and waved her arms, calling for help. Three griffins swooped down and landed in front of the girls. The amazing creatures were even more beautiful up close. The griffin in the middle was especially dazzling. It was pure white, its armor slightly more fancy than that of its friends. The rider of the white griffin hopped down and approached Mapleez. Taking off his helmet the man kneeled before the two friends. “Hello fair maidens. I am Prince Fairin of the elves. I can take you to safety if you wish to entrust yourselves to my care.” The ground jolted downwards a few inches, and the griffins pawed the ground restlessly. Prince Fairin stood up and Mapleez studied him. He was well built with pointy ears sticking out from his pure blond hair, his eyes light blue and kind looking. He held out his hand, concern written all over his handsome face. “The ground will not hold for long. We have been planning this rescue attack for years, digging under the surface of this arena. It will collapse into itself, hopefully killing Queen Velveteez and her entire army of monsters.” Mapleez’s head was spinning, and she barely understood what he was saying. “R-rescue attack?” The elvish prince’s face tightened. “Yes. Many of our men have been taken captive by Queen Velveteez over the years and we swore to rescue them. Now please. Let us help you too.” Mapleez felt so happy she could hardly breath. Hope rose in her chest. She nodded her head slowly. Prince Fairin signaled with his hand and one of the other elvin soldiers jumped down from his griffin and gently scooped up Isabelleez, carrying her to his griffin and gently laying her over its back. Mapleez was thrown forwards as the ground beneath her began to lurch forwards towards the crack in the ground. Prince Fairin caught her before she could fall and helped her to his griffin. Mapleez was glad for the support. She felt as if her legs had suddenly refused to hold her. The ground began folding just as Prince Fairin finished helping Mapleez onto his griffin. He scarcely had time to hop on behind her when the ground gave way beneath them, and the griffins launched into the air and through the iron bar roof of the arena.
Mapleez tried not to scream as she streaked into the air. Looking down behind her, she could just make out the small figure of Queen Velveteez on her balcony, screaming and waving her fists like a madman. “YOU CAN’T RUN!!! I WILL FIND YOU! I WILL KILL YOU ALL!!! DO YOU HEAR ME?! KILL YOU ALL! I AM…..!!!" Just exactly what Queen Velveteez said remains a mystery. Because at that moment a giant shape swooped down, and neatly took off the top half of her body. The maroon dragon swooped upwards again and flew off through the crumbling iron roof of the arena, still chewing on his delicious queen. Mapleez watched the dragon go, then looked back at the arena. As if in slow motion, the arena seemed to fall inwards, right into the earth, taking the maze, the monsters, and the bottom half of the Queen Velveteez with it. Mapleez sat. Stunned. She was safe. She almost laughed when a thought struck her so hard she almost threw up. Eveez. Where was Eveez? Mapleez felt a thousand emotions race through her body. How could she have just forgotten about Eveez? A sob escaped her before she could stop it and before she knew it Mapleez was sobbing, all the pain, fear, and sorrow washing over her, wave after wave. All she could think of was Eveez. She had left Eveez. She wished she would have died in that arena. She didn’t deserve to live. Not when she had abandoned Eveez. Forgotten her. A hand took hers and Mapleez remembered Prince Fairin. “What's wrong?” He asked, his hand warm and comforting. Mapleez could hardly choke out a reply. “My friend. I-I ha-had another f-friend in…in the....” She couldn’t go on. Prince Fairin suddenly gave a soft gasp. “I completely forgot! I sent someone to get your friend. Eveez was her name, correct?” He gave a piercing whistle, and a griffin slowly flew up beside them from behind. A man sat holding a pale, bloody figure in his arms. Eveez! Her face looked like death, but her chest rose and fell steadily. Prince Fairin spoke to the young man with curly black hair and grey eyes, holding Eveez. “Thanin, is the maiden going to be alright?” Thanin nodded respectfully and answered, “Yes, sir. I gave her a draught of crushed unicorn horn as soon as we found her.” He shivered despite himself. “She was covered in webs and we had to kill the giant Marpin spiders surrounding her. She was wrapped completely in their webs and paralyzed but that might have just saved her life. Without those tight webs, she would have bled out from the leg. But we got to her in time. She’s going to be fine.” He gazed at Eveez protectively. Mapleez realized that he didn’t have pointy ears. He was human. “How...what..?” Mapleez was so confused and relieved she didn’t know what to think. “As I said, we had been planning that attack for years. Humans and elves worked together to bring down Queen Velveteez. We had many spies within her palace and right before the attack, they reported that she had taken three captives and was planning on using them for her arena. Luckily we managed to rescue you as well as our own men. The rescue was a success. Queen Velveteez is dead, along with her monster army. It's all over. We won. You're safe.” Prince Fairin said it with so much confidence that Mapleez began to finally relax. She was safe. Her friends were going to be ok. She was alive. And she was going to live happily ever after.
Cary, North Carolina
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