Springsoar was in many ways the average princess. She hated being one, and she had a mind for adventure that could not be satisfied by travels to other towns and royal appearances at jousting tournaments and so on. She longed for something none of the maids or servants could give her or either of her parents could buy. Her real name was not Springsoar, but Elizabeth, though she preferred any nickname she could get. To her, Elizabeth was too girly a name and made her sound like she enjoyed the laid-back life of a princess. This was definitely not the case.
Flame always wondered what it would he like to have a decent name. Sometimes she heard the conversations of various travelers that came to her woodland home. She heard about people with strange names, like Derrick and Roxanne. She began to figure thaI this was the way all people oldie city world were named. So after long thoughts she chose a name she could use if she was ever dragged away to live in a city. Flame would rename herself Anna. It didn't fit her at all, hut she ignored that fact. She lived in the woods by herself and barely knew the language the people of her kingdom spoke. She wandered daily and didn't have a permanent home unless there was a storm of some kind. She had no friends and didn't need them. Or so she thought.
Kellan and Jasmine were cousins and you could tell. Although Jasmine wore her hair shorter than Leine did, the two looked very much alike. Everyone in the family pointed it out and the two were quite sick of it. They were good friends but wished they looked more different. When Jasmine and Kellan played games with each other, they pretended they were travelers going to a different place every time. They also gave each other nicknames; Kellan was called Torrent and Jasmine was called Flit. Flit's real parents didn't always treat her nicely and she was dumped at one of the new-age orphanages that supposedly cared for their children well hut really didn't at all. Then Flit was adopted by people who weren't related to Torrent and her crowd, but since her parents had been, Flit and Torrent were cousins.
Springsoar rarely found time to escape from the castle, but today she had gotten away for at least a couple of hours until someone noticed she was gone. There was a royal feast and ball that night and everyone was too busy with preparations to remember the young princess. After Springsoar had finally burst into the clean, fresh air of the outdoors, she decided to take her chances with the nearby forest. There were many rumors about strange and terrible things living in that forest, but Springsoar wasn't inclined to believe them. As she walked quietly along the path she heard a very, very soft sound just above her. She looked up to find a girl about her age sitting on the tree branch that hung over the leaf-covered trail.
"Who are you?" was the first phrase that escaped Springsoar's lips. It wasn't all that polite, but she was rather shocked to find someone hanging off a branch right above her.
"I call myself Flame, but if anybody asks, my name is Anna," the girl replied through heavy pants.
"Were you running from someone Springsoar asked, reading the heavy breathing as a sign of former physical exertion.
"As a matter of fact, I was. There are too many hunters in this region for my liking, and they go sneaking around too much. They almost saw me this time." Flame didn't seem to see the confused expression on Springsoar's face. "And who, may I ask, are you?"
"I'm Springsoar. though my real name is Elizabeth. I'm a princess and I hate it."
l don't blame you. Come on up, unless you'd rather have me come down," Flame said with much meaning in her voice.
"Is it any good up there?" Springsoar asked politely. "Or would it he more comfortable down here?"
"You decide, Your Highness," Flame replied sarcastically. She shifted from her place on the branch until she could hop down easily.
"Actually, I don't think I am a 'Your Highness, but I can't he sure because I never pay attention in Courtesy Class." Springsoar settled down on a pile of leaves that didn't seem to have any hostile creatures hiding in it. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, it's a long story. It's actually probably too bug to remember the beginning of. All I know is that for as long as I can think back I've lived in this wood." Flame sat behind her.
"Isn't it dangerous living in the wild? I've heard rumors of dragons living in this forest and others near the kingdom."
"I've seen them" Flame said quietly, her eyes almost glazing over as she tried to remember exactly what it had been like. "They're really big, and they have wings and deadly horns and the sharpest teeth imaginable. Their scales are glittery, like the glitter in dirt except against green or gold or whatever color the dragon is."
"You've actually seen one? Aren't they really dangerous? How did you get close enough to see them?" Springsoar was excited and a little hit scared to hear about these myths in real life.
"Slow down! I can hardly remember." said Flame with agitation in her voice. "It was a really long time ago.
For a long time the two sat in silence. Suddenly, a noise of people walking down the path reached their trained ears. Flame pulled Springsoar into the shelter of a nearby bush.
"I know. Isn't it strange, though?" a voice said in a female tone of gossip.
"He said he saw unicorns and dragons and all kinds of magical creatures," another voice said loudly. "How is that even possible?"
"Don't ask me." The voices and footsteps stopped a few feet away from the bush. "Something's in there," someone whispered.
"Relax. It can't he anything big and scary if it can lit in that bush." One of the two girls could have been older than the other.
"Springsoar?" Flame whispered. "I think we had better come clean."
Springsoar and Flame stood stiffly and ignored all shocked looks.
"You're--the princess!" the taller one gasped. "And you were hiding in a bush."
"Yeah, yeah," Springsoar mumbled back. She was trying to remove some of the leaves from her hair, It wasn't working.
"In case you're wondering, I'm Flame. If anyone else asks, it's Anna." Flame didn't seem to enjoy the company at all.
"I am Torrent, and this is Flit. She's my cousin." Torrent was curt and intelligent-looking, but Flit had a permanent downcast look on her face and sometimes allowed a dreary smile to touch her otherwise frowning lips.
"What she said," the smaller girl said with a sigh.
"We were talking about this man who came into town a few days ago. He says he's seen dragons!" Syrene seemed to he very interested in the subject, but Flit didn't even look up.
"I 've seen them," Flame said under her breath.
"Wouldn't it be so neat to have magical powers?" Torrent burst out. I mean, you could turn into anything you wanted, and you could tight evil beings and, and..." She trailed oil as she realized no one was listening.
"Why don't we go, then?" Springsoar was finishing a sentence. She had started another conversation and left Torrent out by accident.
"Go where?" Torrent asked quietly.
"Oh! Down to that magic shop where the gypsy lives. We're going to get tested for magic." Flit acted like it was the best tiling in the world. Magic was the one thing that could cheer her up.
"Why are we getting tested for magic? We haven't done anything strange without meaning to, or anything."
"It's just for fun. We're all bored and that was the only thing I could think of to do," Springsoar said shyly.
So all four girls set off for town. Flame looked like she was going to be sick, but she kept quiet and followed willingly. When they reached the magic shop, she was ready to bolt, but planted her feet in the ground until she had herself under control.
As Springsoar, Torrent, Flame, and Flit entered the dark, dusty shop, a soft voice called them to a table near the back. The old gypsy woman knew Springsoar very well, and had been acquainted with Torrent and Flit, but gave Flame a slightly funny look.
"We would like to be tested for magic," said Torrent very loudly and clearly, so no one could he mistaken of what she had said.
"Ahh. Magic. Do you have reason to believe you have magic?" the gypsy said quietly.
"Well, no, but we might. You never know." Torrent always got jitters when the gypsy woman spoke to her.
"You never know until you are tested, and even then, a tester can he wrong." The gypsy spoke too softly for any of tile girls to hear without leaning in. "Your testing may begin soon. There are some other girls getting tested in the back, so you will have to wait. Go in one at a time as I call you.
"But you don't even know my na-" Flame began.
"A gypsy may find out whatever she needs to know just by looking into your mind, Flame."
Flame seated herself and sighed. The gypsy was giving her the creeps. She waited patiently as the other three girls went in and didn't come back, assuming that they went out a back way. Finally, her name was called and she walked into the back of the shop.
It took a few minutes for her eyes to adjust to the sudden deep darkness of the back room, but when she could see she sat down on a bench at one end of the room. The gypsy walked into view and sat down in a chair Flame swore hadn't been there before.
"So you call yourself Flame, do you?" the gypsy began carefully.
"Yes," Flame replied through a tightened throat.
"You want to see if you have magic or not?"
"Yes," Flame said again, beginning to wonder what was going on here.
"Well, have you ever done anything strange, like 'teleport' across a room, or turn invisible, or anything like that?"
"No... I don't think so..."
"Has anything happened to you that you can't explain?"
"Yes," Flame rasped. The dragons.
"And what might that have been?"
"I... I had a dream, and I was with dragons, lots of them... And then I woke up and... I was actually there... With the dragons, I mean," Flame said slowly and with great difficulty.
"That settles it then." The gypsy woman rose. "You, my friend, have magic. Please go out and join your friends. They're taking a training course in magic, and you will find it very useful."
Flame got up and walked out the door that hadn't been there before, mumbling to herself, "This can't be happening. This can't possibly he happening..." She was outside before she knew it, and the fresh air cleared her lungs but not her mind, her friends helped her to a bench outside. The instructor was another gypsy woman who didn't look much different from the one inside (which made Flame suspicious) and taught them that they had to swear to use magic for good, because that was what it was created for. Then they learned about controlling magic.
"To use a power you must reach deep inside yourself and draw out just a little hit of magic. If you draw out too much, it could overpower you and cause damage to anything in its path."
All of the girls there exercised drawing little bits of magic out to use for small spells and little tasks time instructor gave them. Flame came to know the two other girls a bit more. One was named Torrent amid the other Forcaster.
Now it was time to see if they had any changing powers. Changing powers change the caster's term to that of a different living being. Springsoar volunteered to be first.
She stood there, shivering even though she was sweating. Slowly, she reached deep inside of herself and drew out a small portion of her power. She commanded it to change her form to its will. She felt a tingling all over as she changed.
Soon, Springsoar looked nothing like an adventurous princess who had just found out she had magic. She looked more like a falcon. She swooped through the sky, wondering at the power in her tiny wings.
Torrent went next. She followed the same procedure as Springsoar had, but when she changed, she didn't feel nearly the same. She was on four long, powerful legs. and she could suddenly smell and hear much better. She had become a wolf
One of the new girls offered to go after Torrent. She changed into a deer. She quickly changed back, murmured to time gypsy that she had to go, and left quietly.
The other new girl took her turn graciously. When she changed she became a sleek cougar and left as well.
Flit was second-to-last. She felt such power about her that she didn't realize she had changed for a few seconds. Then she felt the difference. At first she felt like a horse, but then she saw her lion's tail and whinnied loudly. She had become a unicorn.
Flame was last, but she didn't care. She went about changing the same way as everyone else had, but then she began to feel very tall...
Flame was a dragon. One of the most powerful beings to ever walk the earth. Magical amid strong in mind amid body. A dragon. And at that, a golden dragon. with glimmering scales that shone like the sun.
Everyone stared, even Flame. Her name suited her well, she could feel heat surging amid bubbling deep inside her. Her claws were inches long, and the wings on her shoulders were large amid powerful. Her scales were a built-in suit of armor and no ridge disrupted the smooth pattern along her back.
"Whoa..." everyone said in unison.
", I guess we had all better change back now," the instructor said.
All the girls changed back reluctantly, hut were cheerful about the discovery of their powers.
That night there was a huge storm. Wind and rain lashed at everything, and some houses couldn't stand up to the gale. Lightning scarred the sky and thunder shook the walls of every house still standing. The storm had popped up out of nowhere, and many people were unprepared and forced into the castle for shelter.
One of the houses that had been knocked down was Flit's. Her family had to retreat to Torrent's house.
"Torrent, something isn't right about this storm. It doesn't seem natural to mc," Flit told Torrent the minute she walked in the door.
"I know. Maybe we should try to see if it's magical." Torrent wasn't too enthusiastic about it, but she helped Flit with it.
It's high in magical content. Who could be doing it Flit inquired anxiously. "Why don't you try a tracer spell?"
"Because you're better at it."
"Fine, I'll do it..." Torrent grumbled for a while but did the spell eventually. "Oh my." Torrent's eyes were big and round as she uttered the words. "It's Archie."
"What?" Flit cried in disbelief. "Archie?"
"Yup," Syrene rasped. "Most definitely Archie."
"But he seemed so nice before, and now he's ravaging the countryside with his magic. Setting a storm on us and everything... Why? Why would he do it?"
"You're asking me?"
"Yes, actually I was."
"Well I don't have an answer, so don't bother asking again," torrent replied grouchily.
"This is the same Archie we met and talked to. and he told us he'd seen magical creatures?"
"The one and only."
"We've got to stop him. Tomorrow we round up the gang and show him who's boss."
"How're we gonna do that?"
"We'll think of that when we come to it. Now where does everyone live?"
Somehow all four girls got together the next day. They met behind the magic shop and started planning. Torrent and Springsoar would change but Flit and Flame would attract too much attention. Then the changed girls would sneak into the house where Archie was staying. The other two would walk in and begin inquiring. If things got hairy, they could change and the other two girls would join in. None of them expected it to be all that hard. That was because there was a flaw in their plan. They didn't consider the fact that they would be fighting the most powerful wizard in the known universe.
The plan was followed and when Flit and Flame got to the door they knew exactly what they would be saying.
Flit silently opened the door. Inside Archie sat in a comfortable armchair reading an ancient book.
"Hello. Archie," Flit said jovially. "I've brought a friend to see you."
Archie almost fell out of his chair (which is difficult to do when you're in the position he was). "Can't you knock?" lie asked angrily.
"Sorry, but I didn't think you'd be doing anything important when I came to see you."
"Let's get down to the facts," Flame said sternly. "My friends and I all know why there was such an unexpected storm last night. You conjured it up. What's your real name, and why did you attempt to destroy the town?"
"What?" Archie said, looking at them like he hadn't understood a word they'd said.
"You know what we're talking about. Now answer the questions!" Flame was getting extremely irritable. She'd never liked liars. What's the point of lying when you'll get in even more trouble if anyone finds out?
"Have it your way, little brats. My name is Archimago, and I sent the storm last night because I heard about you. You are very powerful, and I definitely don't need opposition at any age. I'd like to keep my place as most powerful wizard in the known universe, thank you."
"So, in other words, you're afraid of us and want to destroy us.
"No, just you, Flame." He practically spat the words.
"If you want to take one of us, you'll have to take all of us!" Flit spoke up. She made the signal for the others to come out of hiding. Archimago bit his lip as the four girls faced him and glared.
"It's time we settled this," Springsoar muttered. "If you try to destroy my kingdom and my friends, you answer to me."
"Oh, I'm so scared of the little girlies!" Archimago cried in a high falsetto voice. He had regained his cool.
"You had better be," Flame said deep under her breath. She and the others changed.
When faced with a dragon, a unicorn, a wolf and a falcon, Archimago decided it was his turn. He changed into a huge black dragon three times as tall as Flame. They all automatically took it outside when he burst through the rooF
Flame made the first move. She slashed away near his throat, but missed. Springsoar distracted him, darting back and forth in front of his eyes. Flit took this opportunity to lunge at him with her horn. Torrent slashed and bit every exposed area. Flit took advantage of her sharp horn.
The fight raged on and on like this until finally the black dragon responded to the attacks. He opened his mouth and dragonsang, waves of shadow pouring from his lips. A dragon's song can hypnotize anyone and anything that hears it. Flame countered with her dragonsong of bright red and gold.
Flit used some of her animal magic to eat away at Archimago's very thoughts, silver flooding his mind and erasing all emotion. Unfortunately, she could not keep it up for long, and within minutes the black dragon was just as bad as before.
Springsoar and Torrent had no animal magic so they used their human magic and teleported out of range of attacks.
Flame blowtorched the wizard several times but it didn't seem to have any effect. Flit tried to help but was cast by the wayside as the fight became one-on-one. Flame circled Archimago. and Archimago followed her movements with a steady eye. The golden dragon (Flame) slashed and snapped, desperately trying to get in a hit or two. The black dragon dodged the attacks easily and countered with his own.
Suddenly Archimago sent a spiral of fire towards Flame, who had no time to dodge it. Flit sent a stream of water shooting at the flame until it was nothing but a few wisps of steam.
Archimago would sometimes try to charge, but Torrent rippled the ground beneath him and he could not keep his balance.
Whenever the great black dragon attempted taking the fight into the air, Springsoar called upon the wind to send him down again.
Flame countered dragonsongs and whenever she was hurt Flit would give her a healing, but the odds never changed. The two dragons circled each other endlessly. The fight went on for ages and neither dragon gained an advantage.
Suddenly, Archimago sprang into the air before Springsoar could react. Flame followed but couldn't even the odds. The wizard had the advantage. Flame soared higher and higher but couldn't get above the black dragon. Right when she thought she might make it, a shining white light engulfed Archimago.
"It's the Greatmage, thee head sorcerer, you know?" Springsoar whispered to Torrent. "He controls all magic in the universe."
"Thanks for holding down the fort, girls. I'll take over now." A huge white dragon appeared and grabbed Archimago in his silvery claws. "Don't worry. He'll get what's coming to him.'
"I can't believe the Greatmage actually talked to us," Flame muttered when they all reached the gypsy's shop and told her about what had happened. "Too bad the fight wasn't very interesting. I'd really like to talk about that someday."
"You'll get your chance. There are tons of evil beings that need taking care of, and we could all have a chance to do some real fighting " Springsoar told them all reassuringly.
"You are very brave girls to have faced the second strongest wizard in the universe. The strongest is the Greatmage," said the gypsy woman matter-of-factly. She had given up trying to creep them out with her mysterious voice.
"Well, my folks'll be getting real worried once they hear that I've been fighting evil sorcerers so I'd better get back to the castle before they go mad." Springsoar said sadly.
"Yeah. G'bye. And we hope to see you very soon," Torrent added.
"Don't hold your breath," Springsoar called as she walked out of the shop.
"I guess we all have to go our separate ways For a while, but we'll get together again real soon. I know it." Torrent and Flit left together.
"Bye," was the simple farewell Flame gave to the gypsy woman. All the girls grow up and live much more interesting lives than you or I ever will. The End
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