Here, for your enjoyment... the beginning of our story. Bodhi writes first and is in italics, every paragraph alternates between the two of us.
Elena walked outside, hoping to get away from all of the nonsense going on in the cave behind her.
She sighed as she sat down at the edge of the creek, her breath blowing out in a frosty cloud. Elena glanced over her shoulder and then down at her hands, still wrapped in bandages. She could hear the intermittent shouts of laughter and careless singing drifting through the chilled air towards her. She glanced down again, and with a shiver of anticipation, she began to unwrap the bandages.
There it was. The scar was larger than she remembered. She breathed in slowly, before trailing the damaged hand in the silvery water. They instantly felt better. Then something knocked her on the head and she fell into the creek.
She was back at her mother’s house, before the uprising. She was sitting in a beautiful overstuffed yellow wingback, cuddled up with a book and a cup of tea, which she definitely was not supposed to have in her lap while sitting in this chair. Her mother was clinking in the kitchen, the sound of the rain was soothing. And then it grew louder, an incessant dripping. A droplet fell onto the pages of her book, smearing the ink. Elena looked up, was it raining in the house? Slowly, she blinked, and a cold fear gripped her heart as her dream began to fade. She was not in her mother’s house after all.
The world seemed cold around her. It was as if the black hand of death itself was ripping her soul from her body. All she could see was black. A coldness was pressing around her, and she screamed. Then she woke. Everything was blurry, and she was tired. Then she woke again, but everything was still blurry. She squinted, but she could see nothing. Was she blind?
“Ahhhh, Cherub, there you are!” a musical voice lilted at her. Suddenly, light flooded the bedroom as the heavy velvet drapes were yanked open, exposing floor to ceiling windows. Elena could see the fuzzy outline and the piercing white of the winter’s light. “We thought you were NEVER going to wake up!” prattled on the effeminate voice. Elena could see a reed-thin shape scurrying around the room. “And when they first brought you in, my GOODNESS the mess you made, covered in river moss, dripping all over the place…”
And then the voice was gone, replaced by an unearthly growl. Elena jumped at the sudden change in tone. Nothing was blurry anymore. She could see where the once beautiful woman used to stand was now a monstrous black cat, with white rubies studded through it’s fur. The luscious room was now a shallow cave hidden by a curtain of vines that hung in a pattern that showed people in torture, little flowers as eyes and cobwebs substituting ghostly flames. The cat snarled, then lunged at he face. Elena’s eyes were shut tight, and she heard the singsong voice again, talking nonstop. She opened her eyes again and saw that the evil cave she was in had returned to it’s beautiful form again. “Are you alright honey? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.” Elena was silent, then, in a voice so thin that hardly anyone could have heard, she whispered. “Maybe I have.” Elena glanced fearfully up at the other girl.
She swung her legs carefully out of the bed, her head swimming. “Lissa.” Said the girl, as she sat down carefully nest to Elena, and put her hand gently on her knee, sticky sweet in her feigned affection. “You can call me Lissa.”
Elena was shaken to the bone. She wanted to go home, to go back to the house she saw in the dream. Her mother would know what to do. She always had. The dream. Her mother. Elena looked again at Lissa. “The pond that you found me in, Is it close?” Lissa chuckled, shaking her head slowly at Elena’s apparent idiocy. “Of course silly.” She said in that singsong voice of hers. “It’s right outside the cave.” Elena stared, as she had done in the past, at Lissa. “You mean THE cave? the one I live in?” Lissa nodded. Elena shook her head, trying to clear out all the questioning thoughts. “There is no such thing as this-“ she waved her hand around the room at all of the lush things in it. “In a smelly old cave such that I live in. Does it have to do with the party hast night?”
Elena saw Lissa furrow her brow and slowed her thinking. She mustn’t let Lissa know how she felt. She had to find out where, exactly, she was, and who had taken her. She looked down at her hands, the tattoo was beginning to show, peeking out from the cuffs of the nightgown someone had put her in. She turned and smiled at Lissa. “I’m sorry.” she laughed, a little uncertainly. “I’m still a little foggy. How long have I been here?” Lissa stood and carefully pressed the creases from her beautiful skirt. “Well, let’s see…” she said, “about three weeks, I think, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that.” Elena saw Lissa’s hungry gaze move to her wrists. She tucked her hands behind her back, clasping them together. “Well,” Elena said, with false brightness, “I suppose there are worse places to recover from a blow to the head and a near drowning than this magnificent bedroom! I don’t know how to thank you!” Lissa cocked her head and smiled, cold and calculating. “Well, we’ll find a way, I’m sure.” she said, and tucked her arm into the crook of Elena’s, steering her towards the door. “Now, let’s go see what cook has rummaged up for you!”
Apparently ‘cook’ was no where to be found. But there was some bread, and a note that Lissa took before Elena could read it. Lissa went off in one direction, but Elena had no desire to follow, so she picked a random hallway and started walking, chewing on the bread as she went. And then she was outside, at the banks of the creek that she had fallen into before. Elena shook her head, confused, and turned around to go back inside. She gasped. The cave was nothing like she remembered it to be. Something had changed her home. Maybe Lissa had answers.
As she stepped toward her home, something caught her eye in the water of the creek. She turned and saw something like quicksilver rippling on the water. Her wrist began to throb, and she cried out as she fell to her knees, clutching her hand. Slowly, she calmed her breath, and looked down at her hand, pushing up the sleeve to reveal the tortured flesh underneath. An intricate white-pattern tattoo was growing ever more prominent on her skin, the scar where the ritual blade had opened her from thumb to elbow was burning white as well. She had known it would leave a mark. She had laid her arms down on that stone altar herself, the day before the revelries, the day before she’d been hit in the head. It was a choice she had made after the uprising. If she could somehow become strong enough, she could ride out and perhaps be useful, perhaps, somehow, see her home again. She looked again at her arm, and then at the reflective surface of the water below. Staring back at her was her own reflection, but something was very, very different. Like the lords of the old myths, her skin was dark blue, and her tattoo, growing and shining, was gold. The face in the reflection smiled at her, and slowly dissolved as Elena sank into the grassy bank, her conciseness leaving her. If Lissa was to be trusted, she had been bed ridden for three weeks only steps from the site of her abduction. She had been a fool to try to walk in her weakened state… and an even larger fool not to run when she had the chance. Her eyes fluttered shut.
She awoke to a horrible sound, like a thousand knifes running across stone. She didn’t want to wake up. Maybe it would all go away. The knifes fell into her, suddenly real and not noise. She wanted to scream. She had felt this before, at the altar, but nothing else in the world could compare to her pain. Then, just as she had wished, it was all over. She opened her eyes, expecting to see the horrible cave again, but it was just grass. Lissa hadn’t noticed her gone, maybe looked around for her? Her scar was showing. Curse it, how could she be so mental? Elena rolled up her sleeve and realized that the last time she woke up, in a bed, she had wanted to come here to the river to see her mother again, maybe that strange face she saw in her reflection. Elena took a deep breath in, and plunged her face into the water.
Suddenly, she was moving, flowing, she was the water! Her fatigue dissolved, her weakness disappeared. Elena put her hands up to her face and giggled to see small gossamer webbings appearing between the fingers. The tattoos on her arms opened and closed like gills. She glanced back, her hair was streaming out in a silver gold cloud, and her feet had gotten longer, also webbed. Her entire body was indigo blue, pulsing gold. With a laugh, she slipped the bonds of the cave, of her capture, of her life before and swam in the cool water as one of it’s own. Lissa couldn’t have known it, but capturing her and nursing her to health, probably to use her for her own nefarious purposes, had been the kindest thing she could have done. The transformation was complete. The power had seated well in her body. She had a job to do.
Jason was fighting a lava giant when he saw a blue girl swimming down the stream near him. She looked strange, like a normal person, before the uprising happened and everyone turned weird. He stabbed the giant one last time, sent a fireball exploding in it’s face, and spread his wings to fly off. Unfortunately, It grabbed him by the tail and pulled him back in. Jason yelped and turned quickly into a human to squirm out of the giant’s grasp. Mid-fall Jason turned back into a dragon and flew over to the strange blue girl.
Elena rolled onto her back, happy and at home in the cool rushing water. She felt free, healthy, alive. She almost forgot the urgency of her duty, she was so enthralled with the gift of her new body. Suddenly, a shadow blocked the sunlight as it streamed through the water. She looked through the rippling surface to see a flickering form just finishing it’s transformation. Human into dragon. Powerful magic. She wondered if he had seen her, and for a moment, her heart froze in her chest. She waited a beat while the scales on the magnificent beast took form. Gold and blue. She had found an ally.
Jason alighted on a rock near the strange girl and spread out his wings to catch the wind. He changed back, letting the ancestral magic running through his veins chill his skin, and his body suddenly heated up as he shifted from cold-blooded reptile to warm and cozy human. Jason’s clothes and pack materialized as he finished the transformation; a trick he had learned a while back, before he had let anyone see him change. Jason only had one question. “How did you survive the uprising?”
Elena floated, still, under the water. She looked intently at the shape shifter. No scars on him, his power was passed to him directly. She wondered what he would think of her butchery, her clumsy scars betraying the fact that she was never meant to cary the power that surged in her veins. Slowly, she came up, never breaking gaze with him. “I survived through sacrifice, like most of us,” she said. Jason jumped. He had heard her voice clearly, but she had never moved her mouth. He smiled. “But unlike ‘most of us’”, he paused, gazing critically over her beautiful form, “you have altered yourself to cary the lineage.” She blushed a deeper blue. As her skin dried, it began to fade to the color of the sky, but never again would it appear totally human. “Yes.” she said, lifting her chin proudly. “The cause needs soldiers. I won’t lay down for Aptar’s evil plan.” Jason smiled. She was just the girl he had been searching for.
Jason wanted a friend. He wanted an ally. He wanted Onix to be with him again, prowling along through the darkness, biting and clawing with his sharp rock teeth. He wanted the stone cat laying beside him, purring like he always used to. He was lonely, and he knew exactly who had taken Onix from him. Aptar’s giants had come down on him, and he was forced to watch his precious friend be smashed underfoot. Jason still had the pieces of rubble that used to be his companion in his pack slung over his shoulder. Aptar had sent enemies his way, Jason would retaliate. And here she was, the friend he had so dearly sought out, all those years alone. He would never admit it, but any time he flew down and ask someone the questions, he was really hoping, deep down inside, that someone would be his friend. “Evil plan?” he asked.