Lenmonoral Academy Part One

by Willa Maureen Coombs Gross, age 9
Lenmonoral Academy Part One Willa Maureen Coombs Gross is 9 years old. She enjoys naming herself things like "Ultra Zoop Face" and "The Big Bop" on Writopia Zoom meets. Lenmonoral Academy is her first book.

“Amber Flickspell wasn’t a normal girl. For one, she was twelve, and knew how to fly a helicopter, and at the moment, she was lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to freeze it. ‘Falendor,’ she muttered. ‘Falendor, Falendor!’ Frustrated, Amber turned over and punched her pillow.”

Chapter 1 

Magic

Amber Flickspell wasn’t a normal girl. For one, she was twelve, and knew how to fly a helicopter, and at the moment, she was lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to freeze it. “Falendor,” she muttered. “Falendor, Falendor!” Frustrated, Amber turned over and punched her pillow. 

“Amber, dinner is ready! Come set the table!” She heard her father’s voice downstairs, calling her.  

“Coming!” she said, walking out of her room. 

***************

“So, Amber, been practicing your magic lately?” Amber’s father asked her. His fire dragon, Flamelick, lay curled up in his corner, fast asleep. Amber took one longing look at him, then answered her father’s question.  “Yes.”

“And?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she sighed.

“Well, I’m sure it will come when it needs to, honey,” he said reassuringly.  

“But it also might never come — ”

“ — that’s enough, Sebastian,” he scolded. Sebastian, her younger brother, gave a mischievous grin and started eating his chicken.  But Amber didn’t feel magic churning inside her. What if — her stomach twisted even thinking it — what if she had no magic?

                                                                                *************

Amber weaved her way through the garden, brushing a fern off her leg, and stopped in a small clearing. A few trees dappled the sky, their leaves dancing in the wind. On the ground, there were many plants of a variety of colors. There was nightshade kennel, that was dark blue with a purple stem, burning flamcor, red, yellow, and orange, and countless others. But she walked up to the one in the middle, the most exquisite plant in the clearing. Each stem was either green, blue, purple, red, or black, and they all faded into a creamy, colorful white at the bottom. After that pair of colors, there was another, this time fading from white to a color. And it went on and on and on until it got to the middle, where a stem grew out, and at the top, a sparkling light came out of it. The light was made of tiny particles of —

Fairy dust, Amber thought. She moved her hand through it, remembering when it had finally grown to its fullest height, back when her mother was alive. She remembered it all. “Look, Mom, look!” she had said. Her mother had looked up from her book and smiled, then walked over. 

“Amber, that’s fairy dust. Even just a portion of it can make you do anything.” 

“Anything? Mom, that sounds like just a few things to me.” Her mother had turned her head towards the sky and laughed. When she laughed, everything felt better again. She could make Amber feel better, even in the darkest times.  Her mother had faced her and said, 

“Well, not everything, but it can make you fly, or shrink. That’s something, isn’t it?” Amber had turned wide-eyed and looked at the plant. 

“Are you sure that something as small as this could make you FLY?” 

“Yes, Amber, I’m positive. Do you know why fairy dust is so powerful?” she had asked. 

“No, why?” 

“Fairy dust is made with bravery and compassion. Those are the most powerful elements.” Amber’s eyes welled with tears. She searched her brain for her earliest memory of her mother, but all she could remember was cool blond hair resting on her face and arms embracing her. She sucked in breath, but it was no use. Drops of water slowly slid down her cheeks. She wiped them on her cloak, and trudged back up to the house, leaves crunching beneath her feet.

Chapter 2

What they wonder and what they know

“We have granted her the gift,” the first one said, “but she shines a little brighter than the rest. Why is that?” 

“She is the one. The weight of the world rests on her shoulders. She must save us all,” the second one murmured. The wise one looked up and said, 

“Yes, I agree, she is the one. She will not only have to save us all, she will have to defeat the one who has never been defeated. She has to find the thing that has never been found, and survive the place that has never been survived.” The first one looked questioningly at the wise one. 

“But one from her heritage has been stolen by the wicked-souled, the one that has never been defeated. Why take her into the battle, too?” The wise one looked on.

 “She will not be taken into the battle, she will be the one to end the battle.” The second one quietly said, 

“Yes… yes… I see it. She will be the one. She is the one. But she needs to know that she is the one. How do we tell her?” 

“We don’t,” the wise one said, 

“We have to watch. We do not help her. She will have help every step of the way, she just won’t know it.”     

Chapter 3

The seer tree’s advice

Amber shivered in the cold night air.  She was outside, wearing her blue-and-purple swirl cloak, standing in front of a towering oak tree. But this wasn’t any normal tree. This was the seer tree, the tree that could see the future. She took a deep breath, then knocked three times on the ancient oak. It grunted, then opened one eye. It looked down and saw Amber.

“I’m sorry to have woken — ” But she was cut short by the tree, its wide mouth split into a smile and it bellowed, 

“Amber!  How are you, and what brings you here?”

Amber opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. Instead, she thought it. She knew better than anyone that the seer tree could read minds.

“Ah,” it said wisely, “you are wondering whether you have powers or not.” She nodded. “Well… well. Let me see here. Yes, that one,” it muttered, scavenging through its leaves. “You are unaware of it, Amber? Of the sensation that the sun is cold, the moon warm?”

Amber thought. Now that the tree mentioned it, Amber had seemed cold on that sunny day they went to the park to exercise the dragons, and when they were catching fish from the pond. “I have,” she said with confidence in her voice.

“Well,” the seer tree said, “if you have magical powers, you will get them in the next three days.” Amber’s heart soared. She was very sure that the tree had seen her magic happen! In the future, of course. She turned and ran home, and the last words she heard the tree yell were, “And don’t try too hard! You’ll get an opportunity soon!”

*******

The next morning, Amber got up before the sun rose and went out. She felt hot, which she took as a good sign and took off her cloak. She had taken several deep breaths when she heard footsteps. She felt a little spooked as her father never got up this early, but nonetheless, she tiptoed curiously around the house into the backyard. She followed the sound of the footsteps into the garden where she stopped. She saw someone pulling plants out of the ground, one by one, stowing each one into their satchel. Amber stood, horrified for one second, then without thinking, lunged herself at the figure, knocking them to the ground. “Stop!” she cried, but no sound came out. She had lost her voice. The figure was sucking her in… grasping her soul, tugging it. Sweat trickled down her face. She was falling in… in… Amber bolted upright in her bed, looking around. “Just a dream,” she thought. “Just a dream.”

**************

But as much as Amber hated the dream, it followed her out of bed, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. She sat down at her chair, as usual, and heard Sebastion whine that it was his chair, as usual. Her father scolded him, as usual. But, it felt… unusual. When she told him this, he stole an excited glance at Flamelick, then asked her the thing she least expected.

“Amber, are you having… strange dreams?” 

She looked up, startled.

“Yes,” she said, pushing her long, raven-black hair out of her face. He gasped and asked, 

“When?” 

“Last night,” she explained, starting with her being outside at night. When she ended, Sebastian let out a squeak of terror and ran to his room. However, her father’s face split into a wide smile as he said, 

“Amber, those dreams are called terror dreams. They’re there to mark the start of your powers. They stay with you for four months at the most, and three weeks at the least. The normal time to lose them is around two months, but the earlier they leave you, the more powerful you will get.” He paused and went on, “I myself only had the dreams for about a month and a half, and your — your mother had them for about five weeks.” He pushed back tears.

“But are the dreams always the same?” Amber asked. 

“A little bit is added on each time,” he said. 

“Oh, no!” she groaned. “That dream alone is bad enough!” 

Her father smiled weakly at her as if to say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” 

“Well, Amber, this might actually be a good sign!” 

“How can a nightmare be a GOOD sign?!” she exclaimed.

“This is not a nightmare. This is a terror dream,” he said. “And with terror dreams come powers.” Amber gasped. “And with powers come this.” He used his finger to indicate his ear, which was pointed at the top. She gasped again. 

“I’m an elf?”

“That you are. And elves go to academies,” he said.

“I’m… I’m… going to… Lenmonoral Academy?” she breathed. 

“Yes, Amber you are going to Lenmonoral Academy!” 

****************

Amber heaved her trunk down the last step, collapsing the moment it hit the ground. Panting, she sat up and looked at her father.

  “Need a hand?” he asked. 

“No… I’m… perfectly fine…” she panted. “Fine… yes, I need help.” He grabbed the trunk and heaved, dragging it behind him. 

“What did you pack in here?” he said, exasperated. 

“Everything you told me to pack,” Amber said casually, her green eyes sparkling in the sunlight. 

“Well, either I told you to pack too much, or you packed a few extra things,” he said. “My guess is that you packed a few extra things.” 

“Well, if you think that, then you’re wrong, because the only extra things I packed are my flying boots, and an extra book,” she argued. 

“Fine, fine, let’s just make it out the door, and then we can talk about it.” Flamelick scampered over to her and nuzzled her cheek. 

“I’ll be all right, Flamelick, don’t worry.” She held out her hand. Flamelick nibbled her fingers. She giggled.

 “Okay, Flamelick, don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” She turned, and followed her father out the door.

***********

Amber clambered inside the Ottonoski (an Ottonoski is a flying otter/elephant), excitement coursing through her. She had only been in an Ottonoski once, when she was seven and had broken her arm, and they had needed quick transportation. But she wasn’t excited about riding an Ottonoski. She was excited about the reason she was riding it. An Eloker flight attendant, a man with light blond hair, brown eyes, and a mustache, stepped up to her and said, 

“Hello. My name is Charlie Egnol, and I will be your assistant for today’s trip. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I will be in sector A-56 if you need me.” 

“Wait,” Amber said curiously as Charlie started to board. “There are different sectors in an Ottonoski?” 

He climbed down the steps and said, 

“Well, this one here is a big one, so, yes, Eurora has different sectors.” 

“Eurora?” she asked. 

“That’s the name of this particular Ottonoski,” he answered casually. 

“Oh.” Amber climbed inside Eurora, and looked around. The room itself was giant, with squashy pillows circling around it, and in the middle, a chair that could turn itself into a bed and a tray with water, a sandwich, and some fruit. The air smelled moist, and the whole room had a pink tinge to it. It was then that she noticed the doors, camouflage into the wall, leading to what she guessed were different sectors. 

“Well, I’d best be off now!” Charlie said cheerfully. He walked toward a door labeled,  “Work sectors, A-11 through A-73.” But just as he reached the door, a sound mixed with a very loud snore and high-pitched music rang out, and then the ground felt as if it were lowering at high speed beneath her feet. When she looked down, she realized that that was exactly what was happening. Then — BOING! Amber was bounced up, as if she were on a trampoline. But, unlike being on a trampoline, she didn’t come down. She felt the floor lower — without her. She looked over at Charlie in horror, but he looked as if he got bounced up by an Ottonoski and didn’t come down every day. Casually, he patted the wall and said (or, rather, yelled),

 “Eurora! Drop!” 

Amber felt the ground bounce back up to the right height, and, heart pounding in her ears, turned to him. 

“What,” she said furiously, “just happened?”

 Charlie answered by saying simply, “She just breathed.” 

“Oh, that makes sense, now I understand,” she said hotly. He turned to face her. 

“Ottonoskis don’t need to breathe. Air gets attracted to the small holes in their tail, and that’s how they get it into their body. However, they can breathe, and Eurora just did. You just felt what happens inside their body when they do,” he said, opening the door and walking inside. 

****************

Many hours had passed. Amber had drunk many glasses of cold water (a water elf kept refilling it), and Eurora kept doing loop-the-loops in the air, making her feel sick. An earth elf had come by once asking her if she needed anything. 

“No,” she had said. “But I have a question: how do you get up to Eurora’s Olwanxes?” (An Olwanx is a little bump on an Ottonoski. There are usually about twenty-seven of them.) He had made a ladder made out of plants, and then left. Aside from the water, fire, and wind elves that came by, Amber was alone with her thoughts. She started doodling a picture of what she imagined Lenmonoral Academy would look like, when Eurora did another loop-the-loop, causing her to smash into the wall face-first. Sitting up and rubbing her bruised cheek, she started on another page. She drew a castle, with blue gates and many towers. There was a pathway made of cobblestone, and carriages were coming up that road. Halfway through drawing a third carriage, though, she fell asleep. When she woke up, she thought,  Maybe Charlie can do something about how hot it is. She went through the door labeled: work sectors A-11 through A-73, looked for sector A-56, and, once she found it, opened the door. It was a replica of the room she had just been in, but smaller, and it had a desk with a computer. But no Charlie. She looked around. “Charlie?” she said timidly. but there was no doubt about it; Charlie wasn’t in this room.

************

Amber had gone back to the main room, and opened Eurora’s Olwanxes. She popped her head out of one of them and gasped. Not only was the wind cool, but the sky didn’t have a single cloud in sight, and when she looked down, she realized that she was flying over a sea of green trees, colorful plants, and every type of bird she could imagine. But, at that moment, Eurora did a loop-the-loop and it was all Amber could do to hold herself in the hump. She was climbing down when she heard a voice behind her. The voice said,

 “I would stay in the hump if I were you. There are big winds in the Clonerlech lands.” Amber fell down the rest of the ladder, startled. A face appeared above her. It was a boy, and he didn’t look too much older than Amber. He looked about sixteen. 

“We’re in the Clonerlech lands?” she asked. 

“Yes,” he said, “we are currently flying over Berrinor forest. My name is Thomas. I’m helping Charlie around the place. I suspect you’ve already met him?” 

“Yeah,” she said, “but I don’t know where he is.” 

Thomas looked curiously at her. 

“What do you mean? He’s in sector A-56.”

 “No, he’s not. I checked. Anyway, when will we get there?” Amber asked. 

“Well, probably in an hour or so. But Eurora might need to stop and take a break.” 

“Only an hour left?!” she exclaimed. 

“No, not exactly,” he said. “We’ll stop in the Erierlon lands in about twenty minutes at an Ottonoski airport.” 

She gaped at him. He laughed.

 “Amber, I’m excited too. You know, I’m in my fourth year at the academy.” 

“Wait…” Amber said curiously. “I haven’t told you my name yet. How do you know it?” 

“Because,” Thomas said, “I know the name of every person who boards. I have to. There’s twenty-one-year-old Henry, nineteen-year-old Emily, twelve-year-old Nora — ” But he was cut short by Amber.

 “Wait,” she said, “there’s another twelve-year-old here?”

 “Yes,” he said. “I thought you already knew. C’mon, follow me.” 

She bobbed excitedly around him as they walked into a sector labeled, “Rooms for 12 to 17 year-olds.” They walked down the hall, passing rooms labeled, “Lost treasures, or eagle egg room, or plant room.” Finally, they stopped at a room called, “Replica room for young elves.”  Thomas opened the door. A girl sat there. She had dark red hair that stopped at her neck, dark brown eyes, and, when she stood up, Amber realized she was very much her height. 

“Hi,” the girl said shyly. “I’m Nora. I’m going to Lenmonoral Academy, also. What’s your name?” 

“I’m — I’m Amber,” Amber said. But she was looking at Nora’s ears. The tips had turned grayish purple, and they looked very swollen. Nora saw where she was looking, and said even more shyly,

 “That’s just my elf ears becoming elf ears. They look like that, don’t worry.”

 “Oh. that’s neat. When did it start?” 

“A few days ago,” she answered. “Sometimes it hurts, but most of the time it doesn’t.” 

“When d’you think I’ll get them?” Amber asked. 

“Right now,” Nora said, pointing to her ears. She looked in the mirror, and saw her ears had turned a glassy blue. She gasped. 

“I… I didn’t know… I mean, I hadn’t noticed it before.” 

“When I got mine, my powers came a few… oh, what was it? About half an hour later.” Thomas smiled. 

“Well, I’ll leave you two to it, then.” And with that, he closed the door behind him, leaving the girls in the room. Amber tried using magic while Nora watched for a few minutes, but flopped down next to her, exhausted.

 “I give up,” she said. 

“You can’t just give up!” Nora said. 

“I can barely make a snowflake, but as long as you have signs, that’s good enough! Watch.” Amber watched as she twirled her hand majestically in the air, and she could just make out a single snowflake float silently down and land on Nora’s tongue. 

“Fine. I admit, that is not a lot but it’s more than I can do!” she said hopelessly. 

“Try again.” 

“Oh, fine.” Amber did the same twirl in the air that Nora had done, but still, nothing happened. 

“Well,” she said, “maybe snow isn’t your strong suit. Try filling that cup of water over there.” They tried, and tried other things in its path. They tried making plants grow, making a light wind, making a fire in the hearth, making, making, making. Nothing worked. Finally, after hours of practicing in the flickering light of the candle, who else to walk in but… 

“Charlie!” Amber exclaimed. 

“Where were you when I went into sector A-56?” He looked at her questioningly.

 “What are you talking about?” 

“What are YOU talking about?”

 “Nothing. I came in here to tell you two to get some rest. We’ll be flying into the night.” Then he left without another word. 

“Well, that sure was weird,” Nora said, before cuddling up to the couch and falling asleep. 

****************

Amber, too, fell asleep, but she suddenly found herself in her cloak outside. She heard footsteps. She followed them. She saw a figure ripping out their magical plants and stuffing them in their satchel. She lunged at the figure, tried to scream, “No!” and lost her voice. The figure tried to suck in her soul, but it didn’t end there. Instead, Amber grabbed her soul, pulling it back inside of her. The figure then raised its hands, and… 

“Amber! Amber! Wake up!” Amber shifted uncomfortably on the ground. 

“What?” Nora was peering at her with wide, excited eyes. 

“We’re at the airport! We’re in the Erierleon lands!” 

She sat up instantly. 

“We’re almost at Lenmonoral Academy!” 

Chapter 4

Color

Nora stared, wild-eyed, out the window. 

“Can you see anything?” Amber asked her anxiously. 

“No… wait, yes!” She squinted her eyes, looking for whatever it was that she had seen. “What did it look like?”

 “Well… it looked sort of shiny, like a toy glimmering in the sun. but it’s hard to see because of all the fog. It should clear up in fifteen minutes or so, but — hey! There it is again!” 

Amber looked out the other window and peered out. But the most she saw was a swirling fog. “I don’t see anything, Nora. Maybe it was just… I don’t know, another Ottonoski?” But then she saw it. A faint, shiny glimmer. It looked very far away, but — suddenly, the ground gave a very large heave, and thumped down to solid earth. 

“We’re finally at the airport!” exclaimed Nora. But no sooner had the words left her mouth than the ground began to rumble, throwing the door open and throwing the girls into the hallway. Thomas was there, along with Charlie. They brought them out into the main room, where the door outside had opened. 

“Thanks for the ride, Eurora,” Thomas said, petting the Ottonoski’s trunk. The air was chilly, and they saw their breaths rise in the air as they stepped out. Amber shivered beneath her cloak. 

“Inside, inside, please!” A short man with a tangled beard and a very round nose stepped up to her. 

“In ‘ere, you! Too cold, too cold, yes. Follow me.” The man walked through a thick crowd of elves, Nora and Amber trailing behind. Finally, they reached a glass door. The little man stepped up and pulled something out of his shirt. He waved the thing in front of the door, and, to their astonishment, the door opened. They stepped inside and looked around. They were in a very orderly room. The ground was made of marble, and there were gray armchairs. In the front room, there was a lady at a desk, absentmindedly freezing things like glasses of water, or bracelets. There was also an unlit hearth in the room they were standing in. The man turned to Amber and said, 

“D’yeh mind lightin’ that hearth for me?”

 “I — I can’t,” she said, embarrassed. 

“Course yeh can! Yeh just wave yer hand and BLAMMO! A fire.” (At this, he waved his hand dramatically in the air, narrowly missing Nora’s face.) 

“No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have my powers yet,” she mumbled. 

“Just ‘cause yeh don’t have yer powers, doesn’t mean yeh can’t try!” he said, with another dramatic wave of his hand. So Amber looked hopelessly at the hearth and waved her hand in the air. Nothing happened. 

“Well, at least yeh tried,” the man said. “I’m Stiltskin, if yeh wanna know. Well, that’s my last name. My firs’ name’s Redtail. Everyone calls me Stiltskin, though. Now, you’d best pick yer carriage. Follow me.” 

Stiltskin led them up a winding staircase and stopped when they reached a door. The door looked like just a door from afar, but up close, she could see it had tiny engravings in it. There was a fairy, a hippogriff, and many other mythical creatures. Unfortunately, Stiltskin opened the door too quickly, and the girls couldn’t look at it for too long. But what was behind the door was even more stunning. At first, Amber couldn’t see a thing. But, as her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she gasped. They had stepped out onto a balcony, the biggest balcony she had ever seen. It was at least as big as five Ottonoskis. Five BIG Ottonoskis. And the things on the deck were… carriages! But they weren’t ordinary carriages. They were made of gold or silver, and they were all jewel-encrusted. Some had rubies, some had diamonds, some had opal, and one even had all of them! 

“Well? Choose quickly now!” Stiltskin looked out through the sea of jewels. Nora had started moving towards one with opal and rubies. But Amber looked out through the carriages and one of them caught her eye: it was one with sapphire, moonstone, emerald, and diamond. The curtains were red velvet, and the carriage itself was gold. Stiltskin saw her looking at it and said, 

“Ah! So you’ve found yer ride! Well, I’ll bring this one down, and you go ahead back to the main entrance.” She walked down the steps, pondering what Lenmonoral academy would look like for the twelfth time. But when she got down to the main floor, she stopped, looking wide-eyed at the hearth. There, where there had once been cold, lonely logs, was a blazing, crackling, unmistakable fire.

 **************** 

“Nora! Stiltskin! The fire!” Amber rushed up the stairs, not even stopping to say sorry when she knocked over a short man in a green hat. When she got to the top of the staircase, panting and exhausted, she flung open the engraved door and rushed over to where Stiltskin was examining a carriage with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. He looked up, and by what Amber could see, he looked slightly annoyed. 

“What’re you doin’ back up here?” he asked. 

“The… fire… it’s lit… ” she said, hands on her knees. At that moment, Nora walked over and said,

 “I thought you had already picked your carriage! What are you doing back up again?” Nora looked at Stiltskin to explain, but he was gone. They turned around just in time to see his little foot disappear behind the open door. They looked at each other, then followed, Amber much slower, as she had also run up the stairs. When they got to the bottom, Stiltskin was beaming at Amber. 

“I told yeh you could do it, didn’ I? Didn’ I?” Nora swiftly moved past him and gaped at the fire, watching as it turned to embers as it reached the top of the hearth. 

“How did you do that?” she asked in envy. 

“Honestly, I have no idea. It was just there when I came down,” Amber said. But Nora was no longer looking at the fire. She had turned to look at her and slowly said, 

“Amber… your eyes…” Nora faltered, still staring. Amber looked at Stiltskin, and saw that he, too, was staring. 

“What?” she finally said to him after a few moments. He looked around jerkily and whispered in her ear, 

“I’ll get a mirror. It’ll explain everythin’.” And with that, he bounded up the stairs, only to return a second later with a very fancy mirror. She looked in the mirror and gasped. Her eyes, usually a brilliant shade of green, were rapidly changing color. It went from blue to lavender to red to yellow… it was too confusing. Keeping count made her head spin. Nora stepped up and said, 

“This happened to me also. The color it lands on is your main power. My main power is water, and my eyes were blue for a couple of hours. But… it’s still neat to watch.”

 “Wouldn’t my main power be fire, because I lit one with magic?” Amber asked, curiously. 

“No, the first thing I did was grow a small beanstalk.” 

She kept looking in the mirror. Was it just her, or were the colors slowing down? It looked as though the glassy blue was coming around a lot. She looked excitedly at Nora, who grinned back. She looked back in the mirror. The colors really were slowing down! Slower… slower… slower… the colors completely stopped. Glassy blue eyes stared back at Amber from the mirror. Stiltskin lowered the mirror. 

“Ice! That’s yer power! A thumpin’ good power, ice is!” He started to talk about the ice powers that he’d heard of, when Nora checked her watch and said, 

“Amber! We’re going to be late!” And she hurtled up the stairs, Amber and Stiltskin following behind her. 

********** 

After five minutes of staring out the window at the beautiful sights, Amber started looking for Nora instead. She kept thinking that they were there, with all of the looming towers and carriages. But nothing exciting had happened yet, other than the fairies that kept flying in through the windows. Amber had never seen one before, so she whipped out her sketchbook and stared intently at one who had landed on the seat and was talking to her in fairy. She knew the difference between girls and boys, and this one, with its long, orange-and-purple-hair, bare feet, and patterned wings, was definitely a girl. She started scribbling a picture of the fairy, who seemed very annoyed that Amber was paying no attention whatsoever. It started talking in what seemed like its impression of English. 

“… you know, you sould wiwy pay attention to me. You hoowmins awe so stwange. I don’t undewstand why I had to come hewe. hmph!” And with that, the fairy dove off into another carriage. Amber tried to see inside the carriage, but she was nowhere to be seen. Instead, something else caught her eye: a blue ear. Amber leapt up in her seat, looking through the window once more, just to make sure it hadn’t been a trick of the light. There! She caught a glimpse of it again. 

“Nora!” she said loudly. A face appeared out the window, but it wasn’t Nora. It was a boy, and by the look of the carriage and his ears, he was headed for the academy, too. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes, and looked as though he had just come off of a roller coaster. 

“Boy, fairies can be annoying. That one was asking me if I had a horse at home, and if so, how tall was it!” he said, obviously glad that the fairy was gone. Amber giggled. The boy looked irritably at her. 

“If you think it’s funny, it’s not. That fairy, that fairy pinched me, and you don’t want to know what a fairy pinching you feels like.” He looked at her sharply. “I’m Oliver. Who’re you?” 

“Amber.”

 Oliver looked at her, then asked, 

“Well, AMBER, why’d you call me… what did you call me?” Amber looked around, suddenly remembering why she was talking to Oliver in the first place. 

“Oh… I was looking for my friend… have you seen her?”

He looked questioningly at her, then looked around too. 

“No, but I have seen a few carriages, I could tell you what they looked like. I have a good memo — ” But he was almost thrown out of the carriage by a bump in the road.

 “Um… Oliver?” Amber asked, because he had disappeared back into the carriage. She waited for a few moments before realizing that Oliver wasn’t coming back out. She slumped in her chair, waiting and waiting and waiting for another looming tower to appear, just to get her hopes up. And finally, another tower did.

Chapter 5

Lenmonoral Academy

It was like no other one she had seen before. It was gold, and had so many towers, she couldn’t have counted them if she went around the castle. There was one tower, leaning just above some of the biggest ones, as if holding its breath, or as if trying to touch the sky. At the top of it, there was a flag, and it showed the academy’s symbol: a blaze of fire, a splash of water, a breath of wind, and a twisting vine. She looked out the window again and saw a crowd, and the biggest crowd she had ever seen. Clumped together, spread out, parents, kids, she could even spot a purple dragon sitting next to a man. But no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t find Nora. Once, she thought she saw her, but it was only a girl who had red hair too. The front gates caught her eye, and she gasped. They were gold, and two guards in Paddingswood silver stood on either side of it, cautiously surveying the crowd. But that wasn’t what had made her gasp. A woman in an elegant purple cloak and two vines twisting up her legs, which were the same color as her cloak, was chatting with a guard, who looked very attentive. Her hair, streaked with white and quite obviously once a brilliant shade of raven-black, was tied back in a strict bun. Her sharp blue eyes focused only on the guard, boring into him. She looked… somewhat controlled. Leaderly. That was the only thing Amber needed to know before realizing who this was. 

This is the headmistress, she thought, feeling foolish for not realizing it before. The woman looked exactly like what a headmistress should look like. She watched the woman a second longer before walking back into the crowd, although she didn’t know where her legs were leading her. She looked over her shoulder, just in case she could steal another glance at the headmistress, when —

”Ow!” a girl with long blond hair and blue eyes looked angrily at her. “Watch where you’re going!” 

“Sorry,” Amber said, but the girl clearly had a temper. She brushed past her without another word. As the girl walked away, Amber could hear her mutter, 

“Sheesh.”

“Gather up! Gather up, all of the elves who are coming to the academy!” The headmistress was shouting instructions out into the crowd, but when only a small group, including Amber, came up, she raised one hand and lowered it to the crowd. Snake-like vines twisted out of her hand, and out into it, disappearing behind a thick wall of people. Amber didn’t realize what was happening until the outer part of the crowd parted, revealing a somewhat larger group of elves. The headmistress looked to one of the guards and said, 

“Gather up the rest and bring them into the main hall. I will bring this group.” And with another flick of her hand, they were headed inside the castle. They stepped into the gleaming gates to the entrance and found themselves in a sort of brightly lit tunnel, but it wasn’t ordinary firelight. Amber looked at the walls and realized that the light was coming from the wall itself. A blue tinge escaped it, but it seemed to fill up the entire tunnel, flooding it with bright blue light. She looked, amazed, as the walls seemed to shrink inward, and the group suddenly became cramped. But, no matter how cramped they were, the light seemed to entrance them, and they couldn’t look away. Finally, a light came from in front of them, and this light seemed unmagical. They emerged in a room with five long tables, three dazzlingly bright chandeliers swinging from the ceiling, and a stage with ten chairs, in which professors sat. It looked very elegant, and everyone, as far as Amber could see, was trying to eat up every detail. The headmistress turned on her heel to face them, and all eyes turned abruptly towards her. 

“I am professor Ophelia Moontwist. This is MY academy, and therefore, you will not disobey the rules. Now, before the next group comes, I want to know who has done magic. If you have, please step out of the group.” Amber and a few other girls stepped up, and when she realized one of the girls was the girl she had bumped into, she edged a little farther away from her. Professor Moontwist looked at them for a moment, then led them up the stairs to the stage. Once they were up, she asked, 

“Now that I know who has powers, I want to know what your main power is. You!” She pointed to a nervous-looking girl with brown hair that fell over her shoulders and brown eyes. “What is your main power?” 

The girl quivered before saying in a tiny squeak, “M-my main power is c-crystal, but I f-first m-made it rain… ”

 “Good, good, crystal… interesting… and what might your name be?”

 “Juniper Skymist.” 

“All right, Juniper Skymist, you may go back down.” Juniper, looking relieved, walked quickly down the stairs. This time, Professor Moontwist looked sharply at the girl Amber had bumped into. 

“What is YOUR main power?” 

The girl looked up and slowly said, “My main power is earth, but I first made a lightball.”

 “And what is your name?” 

“Cattie Woodland.” 

“Cattie Woodland, you may go back down.” And it went on like that for four other people, until there were only Amber and a girl with curly reddish hair and hazel eyes. Professor Moontwist looked at Amber, then asked, 

“What is your main power?” 

“Ice, but I lit a fire first.”

 “And what is your name?”

 “Amber Flickspell.” 

“Amber Flickspell, you may go.” Dazed, she walked down into the now crowded main hall. She watched the last girl carefully. She looked completely unafraid. In fact, she almost looked more leaderly than Professor Moontwist. She watched as the girl walked down glamorously, and headed towards two other girls, one with long, pale blond hair and green eyes, the other with short brown hair and bright blue eyes. Amber looked around and noticed a girl with short red hair and hazel eyes. Nora flashed her a grin and disappeared back into the crowd. Excitement coursing through her, she began walking around, not knowing what to do or where to go. But a second later, Professor Moontwist called out,

 “Everyone! If you are water, ice, or snow type, sit down at the table in the middle!”

Amber sat down, looking at the others. She noticed Nora once again, and sat down next to her. “What are we doing?” she asked in confusion. 

“I think we’re being seated into our powers. You know, fire, wind, water, earth, and storm. My brother told me all about it. So did my sister. They’re both in their fifth year here.” 

“You have a brother AND a sister?” Amber said in exasperation. 

“Yes, but they’re not here right now. Professor Moontwist is about to give us our dragons!” Nora looked up to the stage, and Amber followed her eyes to see five dragons, two red, one green, one purple, and one shadowy black. And they were all looking, either impatiently or curiously, out into the crowd. She felt a jolt of excitement as one dragon, the purple one, stared right at her as sparks flew from its nostrils. And she felt even more excited as Professor Moontwist started speaking once more. 

“… the next five elves I call are to put on the receiver’s necklace, and look for a path of light towards a dragon. That dragon is to be theirs. Now, these are the elves who are coming up: Raven Nightmoon, Clay Starflight, Destiny Wisterlull, Memory Wisterlull, and Juniper Skymist. Please come up.” Amber sunk back into her seat. So no dragons out of that group were hers. But no matter how much sadness covered her, she couldn’t help watching. She looked up at the stage just in time to see Professor Moontwist pull a stone dangling from a string off of her neck. The stone was five colors, and she wasn’t surprised to see that the colors were blue, black, green, purple, and red. One of the girls, she couldn’t tell who, took the stone and slipped it over her neck. The girl looked at all of the dragons slowly, her eyes landing on one of the red dragons. She walked towards it, arm outstretched. She gasped quietly as the dragon walked up and nuzzled her hand. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon and said, 

“Destiny Wisterlull, this dragon is now your responsibility. You care for it, and you name it. What is this dragon to be called?” Destiny looked at the dragon for a moment before saying, 

“Fireflick.” 

 “Fireflick, please follow my vine to your room. Destiny, please sit down at your table.” She raised her hand, for the second time that day, and dramatically brought it down with a swish of her hand. A vine crept out of it, twisting its snake-like body in the air, as if it were swimming. Amber watched Fireflick disappear behind the doors, and watched as the next elf was called forward.

And on and on it went, five elves, five dragons. She waited for her name to be called forward, but she waited all the way through the five main powers and she still didn’t have a dragon. The only fairly exciting thing happened during the weather types. They were halfway through, and once the five elves had gone, Professor Moontwist called out, “Cattie Woodland, Oliver Tistlemon, Petra Seashade, Azari Nightflame, and Nora Swirlcox.” Amber glanced at Nora, who looked as though her worst nightmare and best daydream had been squashed together in one moment. 

“Go on, Nora,” she whispered. 

“Oh… okay,” Nora said, sounding as though the air had been taken from her. Amber watched as she walked up the steps like a ghost. She saw the girl with curly reddish hair she had seen earlier, and she saw the girl push past Nora in line. Amber sat straight up, the excitement she had felt only moments earlier replaced by red-hot anger. But all she could do was watch as Nora looked at the other girl with pure hatred. Professor Moontwist looked at the girl and gave her the stone. The girl slipped it over her neck, smirked at Nora, and looked out at the dragons. Two of them were gray with purple claws and bright blue eyes, one was purple with a bright blue splotch on its paw, as if someone had spilled paint on it, one was a misty white, like a fog on a dreary day, and the last one was coal-black with forest green eyes and a purple hurricane-like shape on its tail, which was swerving this way and that, as though antsy to move about. The girl was walking towards the white one, looking it over carefully, but a moment later she swerved around and started walking towards the black one. It looked as though an invisible hand was pushing her towards it, and she stopped abruptly at its sleek, scaly head. Nonetheless, the girl still looked brave, and she tucked her curly hair behind her ear and held out her hand. The dragon looked doubtfully at her for a moment, but when the girl turned her head the other way, it nudged her hand happily. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon and said, 

“Azari Nightflame, this is a weather night fury. Type: uncommon, main powers: moon, weather, and wind. Now all that is left to do is for you to name him.” The girl, Azari, said almost immediately,

 “Falconshine.” And then professor Moontwist looked at her, said, 

“Tell Falconshine to follow my vine.” Then moved on to Nora as the dragon walked down the steps. Professor Moontwist slipped the necklace off of her neck, yet again — but Azari never took it off, Amber thought. how is that possible? She barely had time to think about it, though, for Nora was looking out at the dragons, looking somewhat dazed. She walked down the line, first to the gray ones, but when nothing happened, she moved on to the misty white one. But after only a few seconds, her head snapped to attention at the purple one. She looked at it, puzzled for a moment, but she slowly started towards it, hand outstretched. The dragon, to Amber’s surprise, bounded up to Nora’s hand like a playful dog. It sniffed her hand all over before pressing its nose on it so hard, she almost fell down! Nora looked at the dragon for a bit, smiled, then muttered something under her breath. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon, then said, 

“Nora Swirlcox, this is a wind-weather type, and her main powers are weather, wind, and earth. What would you like to name her?” She had barely finished her sentence, however, when Nora blurted out,

“Mistyshade.” 

“Nora, please tell Mistyshade to follow my vine.” And with that, Nora’s dragon had disappeared. It went on and on for what felt like ages until the weathers were over. But, once they were, Professor Moontwist looked out into the crowd and said, 

“Now, we’ll move onto the last section: the rares. These five dragons are almost extinct, but we need five rares every year. So, the next elves I call, come up. Audrey Finswick, Poppy Flowerdust, Luna SilverMoon, Sam Mistfawn, and Amber Flickspell.” 

Amber’s stomach lurched at the sound of her name, but she was slowly pushed to her feet and walked up the steps. The five dragons looked like tropical birds — but there weren’t five dragons. Four dragons stood dramatically, but where the fifth one should be, there was only a lone shadow. She barely had time to ponder, though, before she realized she was first in line. She looked up at the headmistress, trying to hide her terrified feelings. Professor Moontwist looked at her with a glint in her eye and handed Amber the stone. The stone itself felt smooth and cool to the touch, and when she slipped it over her neck, that feeling swept throughout her whole body. She slowly turned to face the dragons, and saw, out of the corner of her eye, something moving in the shadows. She quickly turned, but it was gone. Amber sighed. It was probably just her imagination, anyway. She walked over to examine one of the dragons, and yet again, her eyes snapped back to that same spot. But this time, there was something else there. A golden path that appeared to be made of light was leading towards the shadows, and a pair of blue eyes stared at her from their depths. Amber turned quickly, and saw something that surely hadn’t been there before. The dragon looked nothing like a tropical bird. In fact, it looked more like an ordinary rainbowspike than anything else. It was faded the colors of the rainbow with a silvery-white belly, and on its paw, she could see a gold sun with three stars around it in the same color. Its eyes were a dazzlingly bright blue, and she walked towards it, almost petrified by its stare. The dragon slowly lifted its wings just enough for her to see scattered star scales on the bright blue underside, making it look like the daytime sky, except with stars. Amber wanted to run away screaming, but she held her breath and edged closer, locking eyes with the creature. She held out her hand, and looked away, not wanting to see. She didn’t know what to think of it. Part of her was excited that her dragon was a rare, the other part was disappointed that the rare dragon that she had was plain. She was almost too lost in her thoughts, but she felt a warm, scaly muzzle press against her hand. She gasped quietly. Its scales felt like the cool night air, and she was reminded of home. Amber looked up at Professor Moontwist, who smiled, then said, 

“Amber Flickspell, this dragon is a rainlight fury. Her main powers are weather, ice, water, and light. What would you like to name her?” 

She stood, pondering, not knowing what to name her dragon. She was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to name her, but then Amber thought of the moment when she had touched the dragon, and it came to her. 

“Watertwist,” she said, looking at the sun on her paw.

 “Amber, please tell Watertwist to follow my vine.” Amber looked at her dragon, HER dragon, for a moment, then she stroked Watertwist’s scales and said in a low voice, 

“Watertwist, will you please follow that vine?” She pointed to the still vine, not moving an inch. Watertwist tilted her head, and she stifled a giggle. 

“Go on,” she said, looking into those great big eyes. Watertwist looked at the stairs, then bounded after the vine, which had started rounding the corner. And with that, Amber stepped down, knees shaking, and returned to her table. Nora was there, and she stared, open-mouthed, at her. 

“WHAT…WAS…THAT?!” she asked, looking as though Amber had just destroyed all evil. “Um… what was what?” she asked, looking curiously at her. 

“THAT! You just got a RAINLIGHT FURY! They’re almost extinct!” she said, excitement rising in every syllable. 

“Someone named Autumn Glory found a pack of only about thirty of them a few years ago! They were thought to be extinct, even then! But you got one!” 

She stared at Nora, not knowing what to say.

 “Well… she doesn’t look like a rare dragon, does she? She just looks like an ordinary rainbowspike. She can’t be THAT rare, can she?”

 “Yes, she can be that rare, Amber! I told you, THEY WERE THOUGHT TO BE EXTINCT! And, you got one. You got the type of dragon that was thought to be extinct! And all I got was a wind-weather dragon. At least she’s fully grown. Hey, we get to ride our dragons tomorrow!” Nora suddenly said, as if her jealousy was forgotten.

“I can’t wait. I wonder what it will feel like! Well, it will definitely feel like flying, but I don’t know what flying feels like, so I really hope it’s our first class!” Amber looked at her for a moment, but as she opened her mouth to speak, Professor Moontwist was starting to speak, and the whole room went silent.

“Everyone, before we start the feast, I would like to say a few words. Firstly, after the feast, you will be escorted to your room, and each room has three types of powers. For example, in one room, there is fire, weather, and ice, and in another, there is moon, earth, and crystal. Secondly, in your room, on your bed, you will find your flying outfit, including your flying boots, shirts that can help you turn invisible when your dragon does, and so on. And lastly, next to your flying outfit, you will find your course schedule, and the elves in your room will have the same one. Now, as I have spoken, we shall start the feast!” she waved her hand in the air, and silver goblets appeared. She waved her hand a second time, and silver plates and utensils appeared. And she twirled her hand in the air, and bowls of food appeared, along with food on Amber’s plate. Both she and Nora were utterly baffled. A boy to their right said, 

“First time seeing that? That’s exactly what I looked like when I saw it happen, too.” He nodded to Nora, then looked at Amber. Something about him looked familiar… 

“So, Amber, found out your main power yet?” Then it hit her. 

“THOMAS?” she said, looking at him in bewilderment. 

“Yeah,” Thomas said. “You’d better eat up. Tomorrow you start your lessons.” Nora looked at him the same way Amber had — as if she couldn’t quite place him. 

“Wait… weren’t you the person who dropped Amber off with me?” she asked, still looking curious. 

“Yep, and you’re Nora… Swirlcox? Is that right?” he asked her, a faint smile on his face.

“Yeah… that’s me,” she said quietly, grabbing a spoonful of potatoes. 

“So, as I was saying, Amber, HAVE you found out your power yet?”

“Um… yeah, it’s ice.”

“Oh. That’s what I thought. You have a blue tinge in your eyes.” He looked at her for a 

moment, then looked over his shoulder and said to a boy who looked about their age, 

“Hey, Raven! Come sit next to us!” 

A boy with unusual bright green eyes and very dark brown hair turned around, looked at Thomas, then said,

“You know you have snow power as your main and I have fire. I can’t.” 

“Oh, fine, as you’re the one who NEVER breaks rules, I guess you can stay there,” Thomas said sarcastically, looking hopefully at the boy who was supposedly named Raven. 

“NO, Thomas, I’m staying,” he said firmly, gripping the table. 

“Fine, fine,” Thomas said, and turned back to the girls.

“My little brother. He’s your age, but he’s all ‘never break the rules,’ so he’s no fun.” Nora laughed. 

“How many siblings do you have?” she asked him. 

“Well, we have a six-year-old brother. His name is Julian and then Raven, so that’s two, 

and then there’s Mabel, who already graduated. So, three.” He said all of this quickly, as if it were a speech he wanted to finish. And so it went on like that for a while, Amber and Nora asking him questions, him answering them, until before they knew it, Professor Moontwist was starting to talk again. 

“Everyone, everyone, now that the feast is over, please follow the escort at your table to 

your room. Once in your room, look at your course schedule, get used to being in there, and you should be in bed by 9:30.” Amber looked down the table to see a man in brilliant blue robes that matched his eyes. He was thin and had pale skin and brown hair. She sat up, not quite knowing what was happening, and lined up behind the man. He turned slowly around and started walking towards the exit, just as the other escorts did. With Nora behind her, she started following him down the blue-light path and into a door that blended into the wall. Once opened, Amber could see many other doors with pictures painted on them, like poison ivy or the night sky. They stopped at one showing an ice shard, a blazing fire, and a tornado. The man looked at them and said in a low, frosty voice, 

“Weather types, ice types, and fire types, enter this door.” 

Nora looked excitedly at 

Amber, and whispered, 

“We’re in the same room!” 

“We are?” she asked, puzzled.

“Well, I’m a weather type and you’re an ice type, so, yeah!” 

“Oh, now I get it! Good, at least I’ll know one person in my room.” They walked towards 

the opened door and stepped inside. It was a misty room with walls that were red, glassy blue, or lavender. The room had a hearth, which was flickering cheerfully, and six chairs piled around it — two lavender, two glassy blue, and two red. Over in the other corner was one medium-sized table with six chairs, and a purple carpet on the floor. Behind the table, there was a staircase, leading to what Amber guessed were their beds. She motioned to Nora that they should go check it out, and they hurried up the steps. As soon as they got to the top, they heard voices down below, which probably meant that the other elves had arrived. Amber looked around. It was, as she had suspected, the bedroom. There were twelve beds, four red, four glassy blue, and four lavender. At the side of each bed was a bedside table with a lamp. Nora looked at her and said, 

“I guess I’ll take one of the lavenders, and you take one of the blues.” 

“Yeah… I guess so,” Amber said, looking around. Another purple carpet was on the ground here, too. Nora started towards one of the lavenders, as she had said, and Amber took the bed next to it. She sat down in it and opened her mouth to talk to Nora, but a strange popping sound drowned her out. She looked down at her feet and realized that her suitcase was there, and on her bed lay a light purple, sky blue, turquoise, and pink swirl short-sleeved shirt with holes cut into the arms, blue jeans, and newly polished black flying boots with the Lenmonoral crest on the side. 

I guess I didn’t need to bring my flying boots with me, she thought. Amber looked at 

Nora, and realized that a popping noise had just echoed throughout the room once more. Lying on her friend’s side was a long-sleeved ocean-blue shirt and leggings that, on one leg, faded from neon green to purple, and on the other leg, faded from purple to neon green. And she could also see that Nora, too, had a pair of flying boots, but they were grey, not black. Aside from that, they were exactly the same as hers. The other thing the popping had brought was her suitcase, which, unlike Amber’s, was bulging. She stared at it and stared back at Nora. Nora laughed, and said,

“My parents made me pack a few extra things. They can be overprotective at times. 

Now, let’s go down and see who else is in our room!” And with that, she was off, racing down the stairs at top speed. 

“Wait for me!” Amber half-yelled, her black hair flying behind her like a shadow. When 

they got to the bottom, she counted ten elves, five were boys, and the rest girls. One of the girls she recognized as Destiny Wisterlull, the girl with the dragon named Fireflick. And she didn’t have to ponder if Destiny had a twin, for a girl walked up to Destiny, and she had the same bright, pool-blue eyes, but the other girl had red hair, while Destiny had brown. And she also placed one of the boys as Raven, Thomas’s brother. All of the other elves were complete strangers. Nora, however, seemed to know half the people in the room. She walked over to a blond-haired girl that had hazel eyes and said, 

“Hi, Eva! What’s your main power? Weather, fire, or ice?” 

Eva responded by saying, “My main power? Oh, just Ice.” 

Nora immediately looked at Amber and raised her eyebrows. 

“That’s Amber’s main power, too,” she said, motioning for her to come over. Eva looked 

curiously at her as she started through the small crowd to where they stood. When she got there, Eva said, 

“How old are you?” 

“Twelve,” Amber replied.

“Me too. Weren’t you the one to get the moonlight fury?”

“Yeah… ”

“They’re super rare.” 

“That’s what Nora said, too.” 

Nora looked at them and said, “You should really read an elf’s guide to dragons, Amber, that’s where I get all my facts from. You could get it at the library if you want to.” 

Amber listened intently and was surprised to hear how many things Nora knew.

“There’s a library here?” she asked. 

“Yeah, and greenhouses, and a garden, and obviously classrooms, and a lot of other things. I read about THAT in A History of Lenmonoral and Other Schools. It has a map of the place. It also has a map of Synteloc, that’s one of the other schools, Gistleno, and Echilora. Let’s get up to bed now. I know we only just got down, but I need to unpack all my stuff.” She smiled at Amber and motioned her to go back up. She climbed the stairs, and thought that she, too, should unpack. She unzipped her suitcase and started shaking everything out. She stuffed her patched, dirty flying boots under the bed, and heard a clink on the floor. She looked under and pulled her boots out. Out of the left one fell a small blue box with a note attached to it. It read: it will open when you need it. -Sychlora 

She turned the letter over, but nothing was on the backside. Who was Sychlora, and could Amber open the box? She picked it up and tried, but all that happened was her fingers became very sore. She gave up trying and stuffed both the note and the box under her bed, inside her boots. The next moment, Nora was bursting through the door, and she flopped down on her bed, looking at her suitcase. 

“Well, we’d better unpack.” And so they spent about half an hour putting everything 

away and organizing their bedside table, covering it with their belongings. Amber found many strange things in her suitcase, including dragon treats, which Sebastian had probably stuffed in. Luckily, Nora’s bulging suitcase wasn’t due to dragon treats. She unpacked four books, a writing notebook, and a few things Amber couldn’t figure out what were. One thing looked like a misty white ball with miniature trees, plants, leaves, streams, and a little door that she could just make out. 

“Um… Nora? What is that?” she asked, eying it with curiosity. 

“This? Oh, it’s my min-dwarf habitat. Min-dwarves are just very small animals that dwarves keep. So far I have two owls, a frog, three squirrels, and two woodpeckers. I really want a black cat, though. They’re really rare.”

 Suddenly, realizing what it was, Amber reached inside her own suitcase and pulled out an orb that looked almost identical, except that the fog was icy blue, and Nora’s looked like fall, while hers looked like winter, especially with the icicles hanging off of the trees. She slowly opened the small door, and held out her hand. A tiger no bigger than the palm of her hand stuttered out onto it, looking around. It growled and backed away when it saw Nora, but Amber simply picked it up and put it closer to her fingertips. 

“This is my second tiger, Esi, and my other is named Leku. I also have a fox, Nida, two squirrels, one is Silo and the other is Multo, a calico cat, Tilasa, two ravens, Iloe and Pilcel, a wolf, Xi, a raccoon, Azie, and a black panther, Tisk.”

 Nora stared at her, open-mouthed. 

“WHAT?! How do you have THAT MANY?? I only have eight, and you have eleven!” she said, exasperated.

 “I’ve been collecting for a long time; ever since I was five!” Amber said, laughing. “My dad gave me the ravens, though. We should head back downstairs now. We can finish unpacking later, and plus, I want to meet everyone.” Nora looked like she didn’t want to go back down, but she followed reluctantly as Amber started down the staircase. Amber counted ten elves, five boys and the rest girls. Nora’s reluctant expression changed, however, when she turned to look at a girl with silky blond hair and dark brown eyes. 

“Eva!” she exclaimed, rushing over. Amber looked curiously at the girl, and Nora whispered in her ear, 

“Friend from school. Well, not elf school, but, y’know, school.” She looked disgusted at even the word school, which made Amber stifle laughter. 

“And her name is Eva?” 

“Well, her name is Evida, but everyone calls her Eva or Eve.” Nora stopped behind Eva, and said, 

“Eva! Hi! How are you?”

Eva turned, and a smile appeared on her face. 

“Nora! I didn’t know you were at the academy, too!” 

“Yep, I am. And so is Amber!”

 “Who’s Amb — ” Eva started to say, but she was cut short as she finally noticed Amber standing there. 

“Hi!” she smiled at Eva, and Eva smiled back. 

“Hi… ” But at that point, Nora cut in and said, 

“This is Amber. I rode on the Ottonoski with her, and we went in to pick our carriages together. She got a RAINLIGHT FURY for her dragon, too!” By adding that last part, Amber suddenly felt like she wanted to disappear. Eva stared at her, open-mouthed, not saying anything until she coughed, 

“A RAINLIGHT FURY? Really?” Nora’s smile grew wider with every syllable Eva said. “Yeah, and hers has the mark, too. I saw it.” 

Now it was Amber’s turn to be surprised. 

“What’s the mark?” she asked in confusion. Eva spoke up, and it seemed she had finally regained her voice. 

The mark is a sun mark on the paw of a rainlight fury. Every ten times a rainlight fury is brought to Lenmonoral, the mark appears. It’s supposed to mark a lot of power, and a gigantic, unbreakable bondlight.” 

“And what is bondlight?” Amber asked. 

“It’s the bonding between you and your dragon. The longer you’re together, the harder it is to break. I’ve never actually seen bondlight before, though,” Nora said. 

“C’mon, Eve! You need to see the bedrooms and pick your bed. What is your main power, anyway?” 

She started bouncing excitedly up the stairs as Eva said, 

“Ice.” 

“Hey, that’s Amber’s, too! You can take the ice bed closest to us.” When they reached the top, Amber took her min-dwarf habitat and placed it on her bedside table. 

“I’m done unpacking!” she announced.

 “So am I!” Nora said. “We can help you, Eve!” 

Eva smiled and nudged open her suitcase, which teetered dangerously and then fell to the ground, spilling everything. There wasn’t as much as Nora’s, but it was still a lot, and Amber and Nora spent fifteen minutes unpacking. When they had finally finished, Nora flopped onto her bed, checked her watch, and said, 

“Uh… guys? It’s 9:15, we should get ready for bed.” 

And so they did, and once they were done, Eva started rummaging through her suitcase and pulled out a gold ball, which she placed in her hands and then placed back in the suitcase. She swirled her hand in the air, and a crystal shot out of it, landing next to Amber. 

“How did you do that?” she asked, picking up the crystal.

 “I’ve been practicing,” Eva replied, and they spent the rest of their fifteen minutes watching her performance, and waving to the people who crowded into the room. At 9:30, the man that had brought them to their room came in and told them to go to sleep. So Eva lay back down in her bed, and so did Amber. She didn’t even have time to see if Nora had gone to sleep, because she was in her backyard, in the middle of the night, with a figure raising its hands above her. She braced herself, but all the figure did was pull down its hood, and Amber realized who it was. It was her mother, and it wasn’t. Her eyes were clouded over in a dull, misty, cold grey fog. No pupils, irises, or white. Just grey fog. Amber reached up but drew her hand away quickly. The spot where she had touched had turned into fog and drifted away, only to recollect once her hand was drawn back. Her mother’s eyes narrowed, and she opened her mouth… Amber jumped up, fully awake. Except she wasn’t awake. She had jumped into another dream — and this dream was also a nightmare. 

To be continued…                                               

12 Comments

  • Bo says:

    Amazing story!

  • Jeanne Bernard says:

    My first fantasy read and I’m now a fan. The descriptions were great. I can picture everything so clearly. I decided my color would be green and I would grow a lot of plants so I could feed the world. I can’t wait for the next installment. I wonder what it would be like to fly on a dragon. 3 cheers for Willa. Hip hip horray!!

  • Christine Ragatz says:

    This is such a captivating and engaging story! It was a delight to read, well done!

  • Grandpa Earl says:

    In chapter 4, is Stiltskin related to Rumple Stiltskin of yore?

  • Grandpa Earl says:

    In chapter 5, when the headmistress was leading everyone to the main hall, Amber “was amazed as the walls seemed to shrink inward”. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel! When I was about 5 years old I can remember going thru the Sumner tunnel in Boston for the first time. I was riding up front on my Ma’s lap. I thought thought the tunnel got smaller and smaller at the end and we might not get out. Ma sensed my unease and gave me a hug and then lo and behold, the tunnel opened up and we were not crushed. Your wonderful description of the castle walls brought back this memory to me. Thanks a lot, Willa. Love,

  • Asia says:

    Willa, this is amazing! You did such a great job developing the characters. I could hear their voices as I read the dialogue. You’re so brave to put your work out there. Kudos to you.

  • Natalie Howard says:

    I like all the interesting places and names.
    -natalie

  • Jillian Howard says:

    Great story Willa. I am very impressed with your vocabulary choices. We only were able to finish the first four chapters tonight, but we are looking forward to finishing the first installment soon.

    Ps. If you turn this story into a movie do you think Neal could play the role of Charlie? Why or why not?

  • K Bos says:

    Wow what a great story! You are truly an amazing writer and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • Holly says:

    Oh my gosh, Willa, your book is AMAZING!!! I can really picture whats happening in my head. I can tell you picked your words very carefully. If I read this book not knowing who wrote it, then I would think, like, an adult wrote it!! Great job! I can’t wait for part 2 to come out!!!

  • Alex Tran says:

    Well done Willa! I really enjoyed all the detail. You were able to make me feel like I was right there at the academy with Amber. I’m so curious what your main power would be…..?

  • Arvin Nolkha says:

    I would love to read on….thanks for the cliffhanger

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