The magic warriors, p.1
The Magic Warriors, p.1Brenda Gartin
The Magic Warriors
By Brenda Gartin
Running at her usual pace, which was always entirely too fast, Sydney’s bare feet slid sideways in the mud sending the little girl crashing head-first through the tall ferns.
“Not again,” Austin groaned. “Sydney, get out of there.” Remembering to be polite, he smiled at Sydney’s little friend. He knew that her name was Alyssa because lately, Sydney had been spending her afternoons playing with her here in the forest and then chattering about their silly adventures.
Alyssa was frowning, which caused her bright blue eyes to darken to the color of a stormy ocean.
Wondering about that little frown, Austin squinted, trying to find his sister in the dense ferns. “Sydney?”
All was quiet.
Quiet and Sydney were two words that didn’t go together, except when his Mom was yelling, “Sydney, be quiet!” His smile faded and he cautiously moved to the edge of the forest where his little sister had disappeared.
Alyssa’s small hand reached up just in front of Austin’s face, signaling for him to stop. Clutching his shirt sleeve, she said in a tiny voice, “A slide-trap. I will try to retrieve her.”
Looking down, he noticed her small fingers gripping his sleeve. Pale. Not just pale, but almost glowing in the diffuse afternoon light under a high canopy of trees. Confused, Austin watched the little girl glide past him into the forest. He followed her, “She’s just hiding…” Suddenly the ground gave way beneath him and he began to slide into the ferns in the same manner that Sydney had. Scrambling for a foothold, he grabbed at the ferns which came loose and slipped behind him into the rapidly growing chasm in the ground. He tumbled through a long slide made of soft soil that ran deep into the earth until at last, he stopped with a jolt. When the dirt quit moving around him, he was sitting in moist soil unable to see anything at all. He groped around until his muddy fingers tangled into something hard and twisted. Tree roots. He wondered if he had fallen into a bear’s cave. “Alyssa,” he called softly.
“Alyssa.” The name echoed back to him.
He rubbed the mud from his hands onto his new jeans, brushed dirt from his face, and counted to five, hoping that his eyes would adjust to the darkness. “Sydney?”
“Sydney… Sydney…” Two echoes. How strange.
“Where are you?” He waited for the echo. There was none.
Clutching the tree roots for support, he stood. Bump! His head hit a rock ceiling. “Ouch.”
The sound echoed, “Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.” His echo changed each time he heard it, as though someone with a squeaky little voice was mocking him. “Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.”
“That’s not funny!” Austin’s voice vibrated through the dark space, overpowering all other sound.
Then it was quiet.
He counted to five again. “Alyssa, Sydney!” Again no echo, in fact, it was so quiet that the sound of his breathing seemed very loud. He held his breath, listening.
“Help me,” a small voice called. The voice was high-pitched like Sydney’s, but it was not her.
He drew a deep breath and ducked his head, inching toward the sound of that small voice with his hands out in front of him to avoid bumping into things hidden in the darkness. All at once, he heard scampering sounds like a rat stampede bustling through the cave. He felt a flurry of activity; brushing his fingertips, pattering over his feet, and bumping his ankles. Something wrenched his shirt sleeve, pulling fiercely. Reaching out, he found a small arm and clasped his fingers around a little wrist. “Alyssa.”
Losing her grip on his sleeve, she was being pulled away from him. He held on, playing tug-of-war with the things he could not see deep in the earth. “Don’t let them take me,” Alyssa pleaded.
Austin was surprised when he tugged and found his strength more than adequate to retrieve Alyssa from whatever was pulling her away. His courage soared and he reached around the strange little girl to finish freeing her from the…whatevers. He grasped one little whatever, then another; her would-be captors were about half her size, so he began to push them away. The first squealed like a baby pig when he gave it a firm shove, the next squealed in the same manner. He continued pushing them away until multiple squeals filled the tunnel and then gradually faded into the distance.
Alyssa held his arm with both hands, “I have never met anyone so strong,” her melodic voice filled the dark space.
That was the last thing Austin expected to hear. He was tough for such a little kid, but he was the smallest boy in sixth grade. No matter how tough he was, the big boys would always be stronger. But not today; today he was big and strong enough to assist Alyssa and get his sister out of this hole, or cave, or whatever. Today he was. Not. Afraid. Of. The. Dark. He sighed, blinking in the complete blackness. “Where’s Sydney?”
“The Xyloc have taken her.” Alyssa answered, holding his arm as though she never intended to let go.
“Is that what those little things are called?”
“No, those are Leals. Xyloc are huge, like you.”
“Like me?” No one had ever called him huge. “Why would Xyloc take my sister?”
“Because of her eyes. Sturdy brown-eyed fairies have such strong magic.”
“That’s silly. Fairies? She’s not a fairy.”
“Let us hope then, that they do not discover her secret.”
“Dark-eyed Sprites are rare indeed. She is quite large for a Sprite. Will the Sprite Queen barter for her?”
“What Sprite Queen? I don’t know what she has been telling you, but she’s not a Sprite.”
“Not a Sprite? What then?”
“Everyone is something,” Alyssa said softly.
“She’s a girl; an irritating, little, human girl.”
“Oh.” Alyssa released his arm and was silent for several long moments. “I was told that humans are giant, cruel, and smell bad. They eat their young and destroy the forest.”
“No way. We might be rough on the forest, but eat our young? That’s ridiculous.”
“Perhaps. You do not seem cruel.” Alyssa sniffed the air, “Have you ever eaten anyone?”
“Gross, no way. Have you?”
“Of course not. Everyone knows that fairies eat tender roots, mushrooms, and honeysuckle.”
Austin sniffed thoughtfully, “You smell like honeysuckle. Then, you’re a fairy?”
“Of course, I’m too big to possibly be a Sprite.” Alyssa made some fluttering sounds, “What kind of magic does Sydney have?”
“She doesn’t have any magic.”
“You are mistaken; everyone has some manner of magic. I heard her make sounds like thunder.”
“We had ice cream last night. She’s lactose intolerant.”
“You do not understand. She wrapped twine around her ears and a thunderous heartbeat filled the forest until she ordered it to stop.”
Austin was silent for a moment, “You mean her IPOD?” He paused and continued thoughtfully, “Yeah, I guess we do have magic.”
“You are a magical warrior.” Her words were a statement and he heard the awe in her voice. “What magic do you possess?”
“Well,” he thought a moment, “humans call it ‘technology’.”
“Is your magic powerful?”
“Yeah, I guess it is if you do it right.” He would have enjoyed allowing the little fairy to continue flattering him, but he was beginning to wonder how huge the Xyloc really were. “Let’s go get my sister.”
“The Xyloc will not give her back.”
“Why would they want to keep her?”
“They are lazy creatures; t
“You’re kidding, right? They think they’re going to make Sydney work? She won’t even clean her room.”
“She does not work? Of course, her magic must also be very powerful.”
“Yeah, I guess it is.”
“Then she will use her magic to free herself.” Alyssa’s voice was strong with confidence.
“Maybe. Maybe we should get her, just in case.”
“In case of what?”
“In case she’s too scared to use her magic. She’s only six.”
“Six? Six what?”
“Six years old.”
“Do you mean six summers?”
“Yes. Six summers.”
“Oh my, a youngling.” She paused thoughtfully, “She is quite clever for one so young. I have never encountered a babe of only six summers. Come, we must retrieve her immediately.”
Austin heard the light flutter of her footsteps retreating, “Wait, I can’t see.”
Her fluttering stopped, “You fought the Leals without seeing them?”
“Yeah, and I bumped my head,” Austin rubbed the sore place on his head. The fluttering sound resumed and he felt her fingers brush across his scalp.
“It is not a mortal wound,” she dismissed his injury. “Are you blind?”
“No.” Her question made
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