Disclaimer: If I owned this game, it would have had some decent cutscenes.

Important Note: Welcome to this story! You can read this regardless of whether you´ve played the game or not and you will be able to enjoy it. This is a Sonic and the Secret Rings adaption, meaning that it won´t follow the storyline exactly, although I can point out where I´m differing from the canon. It picks up slightly earlier than the game starts. The preface is a tidbit from later in the story to stir your appetite, Twilight series style. ;) Summary curtesy of Asher Tye, who also offers some excellent Sonic stories on this site - check them out!

Please read and have fun!:)


Burning Arrow, Wildfire Heart

by Taranea

Preface:

"I offer up your life, blue hedgehog!"

Sonic tensed. The blade was rushing to meet his unprotected skin. He knew he had to dodge, even if the cursed fire consuming his heart would kill him either way. But Sonic never had expected someone else to react faster. Never had expected someone else to protect him for a change. And he would never had expected his friend to die, even as she screamed when the sword cut into her back.

And the creature laughed. He laughed, as he transformed, laughed as the magic was changing him into an awful epitome of creation gone wrong and he was laughing still at the prostrate hedgehog before him, powerless.

There was nothing he could do. Sonic´s hands trembled, holding the lifeless body and he wished the Chaos Emeralds were there, so he could transform too, and fight, but they were away, as far away as the soul of this girl…

And even without looking at the now dying flame on his chest, Sonic knew he had failed.

Chapter 1: The Horrors of Presents

A bright and shining cruel sun crept over the horizon, taking great care to especially poke one very wasted and very tired blue hedgehog straight in the formerly sleeping eye.

At least, that was how it seeemed to Sonic. He yawned and stretched, taking in the mess he had been lying in, which happened to be his apartment in Station Square. He and his friends had celebrated his birthday here last night and gotten a little bit carried away, it seemed.
The blue hero groaned and massaged the temples of his aching head.

Mental memo: Never let that albino bat get close to the party punch again.

"Oh Soooonic! Time for breakfast!"

He winced as he recognized the voice of Amy Rose as it was coming way too cheerful for his taste from the kitchen. Still, the smell of coffee that came wafting with it made it suddenly a lot more agreeable and Sonic raised himself to trot over.

The only other person present beside the two seemed to be Tails who still lay snoring heavily upon the couch. The hedgehog smiled and let him sleep.

"Morning, Ames. Where´s Knux and the rest?"

Amy, still very beautiful and fresh-looking despite the long night, beamed at his appearance.

"Oh, he said he had to go get some things from the city and left early. I don´t know about Shadow. Rouge, I think she already went late last night. But of course, in your state you wouldn´t have noticed that, I guess?" she asked, casting him a mock reproving glance.

"…can I just get some coffee, please? My head hurts."

"Case in point."

Nevertheless, she smiled as she passed a mug towards him which Sonic accepted gratefully as he sat down. Amy, obviously happy to have at last some private time with him, settled herself closer, oblivious to his suppressed sigh at this.

"How are you today? I hope you enjoyed yourself on your birthday. I know I did." She laughed a little at this last statement and laid an arm around the blue hedgehog, simultaneously resting her head against his shoulders.

Sonic panicked a little – Just what on Mobius have I been saying/ doing to her last night?! – but was saved from further worried guesswork as the doorbell rang.

Amy, seemingly disgruntled at this disturbance of her private hedgehog heaven, sighed and went, leaving Sonic to fight back the still regrouping headache with his own private armada of caffeine.

Soon the pink hedgehog came bouncing back into the kitchen, carrying a small brown object in one hand. "Look, Sonic, a parcel for you! Just what could it be?!"

If -I- have had -one- mug of coffee, this girl obviously had the rest of the packet...

Still, feeling a little bit better after downing the rest of his cup, he smiled tentatively and took the rectangular parcel out of her hand.
Sonic shot a somewhat puzzled glance at her expectant expression as she sat down opposite of him, but then proceeded to open it, slightly curious himself.

His eye ridges went upwards as he saw what was inside it – the paper revealed an old, worn book beneath it, cased in brown leather which was slightly dulled but still in good shape and radiating an aged dignity. The edges were additionally embroidered with brass metal, protecting the thick book from dents; set in it were small colourful drops which could either be real jewels or just glass-stones – Sonic assumed the latter, but they were very nice to look at nonetheless.
He rubbed his thumb along the solid, broad back and let his gloved finger trail along the pages, gilded once but now only giving a faint shimmer of their former beauty. Finally, his hand came to rest upon the cover as he read the title:

Arabian Nights

"What…?"

"Oh Sonic, do you like it?! I picked it especially for you, it looked so pretty!"

The blue hedgehog winced again. The last time Amy had picked something as a present which 'looked SO pretty!' he had ended up with a gold ring around his neck – that he still wore actually, due to the fact that nobody knew how to get it off. The Egg Pawns who had put it on him sadly were not models equipped with a visual memory databank and Sonic had been sort of unconcious at that time. (1)

Sonic was just glad that Shadow, who was rather excitable on that point, had already taught everyone (in quite memorable lessons) that male hedgehogs wearing gold rings as jewelry were NOT to be made fun of.

"Uh…thanks, but why…?"

"It´s your birthday present, silly! Don´t you remember that I didn't give you anything yesterday?"

Oh, Sonic remembered. He had just chosen not to say anything since he had been fearing to end up with a ring in his ear this time.

"…now that you mention it, of course! Thanks a lot, Amy, it looks really interesting!" Relief flooded him as he realized that he was safe from any more jewelry-based attacks this year. He hugged the pink hedgehog with one arm who immediately turned a deeper shade of pink.

"I´m glad you like it. Sorry that it´s one day late, but I had to order it via the Internet and the mailman only brought it just now…"

"That´s okay. But, ah…" he gently disentangled himself from the girl that was once again threatening to suffocate him and tried his most engaging smile.

"Hey, how about we breakfast together later? It´s just, after that night I feel like I really need a morning run, then I´ll come back. I´m just going to race to the red mountains and maybe the coast, shouldn´t take longer than a heartbeat."

He saw her somewhat disappointed face at this, understood, and winked: "Don´t worry, I´m sure Tails will still be asleep when I get back. If you look at him now, he could be hibernating."

"Oh…okay. I´ll set the table, then. Hurry, right?" she was obviously pleased that he knew what she wanted but still sounded a little bit anxious, her lips turned up in a timid smile.

"Hey, you´re talking to the fastest thing alive!" A quick grin and he was gone, straight through the window and down the wall, relishing the feel of the fresh morning air on his face.

xxx

In fact, the 'heartbeat' Sonic had mentioned became more of a 'half-hour' as the miles stretched on, but the blue speedster was confident that he still had not broken his promise: Surely the small fox would still be dreaming soundly and it was only reasonable to assume that Amy would enjoy his company a lot more when he was actually well warmed up and relaxed – something he could only achieve by at least shattering the wall of sound a few times.

Filled with high spirits to the brim, Sonic dashed back to his apartment, ravenously hungry and looking forward to breakfast with his pink friend.

xxx

He was surprised, therefore, when he later entered his kitchen and found it empty.

Tails, as predicted, was sprawled on the couch and seemed to have not moved an inch, but of Amy there was no trace. He inspected the table and saw it was set for two, as she had promised to do. On her place, there lay the book as well – it appeared as if she had also read a little, since it was opened somewhere in the first chapter.

Frowning, Sonic called her name, but got no answer. Finally he shrugged; maybe she had gone to get some breadrolls, or (which was the worse alternative) she eventually got bored and/or mad because he took so long and left angrily.

The blue hedgehog sighed, hoping it was the first option. Getting his head smashed in with a hammer later would really put a damper on an otherwise really nice day.

Still, no reason to skip breakfast, possible future concussion or not.

"Hey, Tails. Wakey-wakey!" he grinned, bearing down on the amber fluffball on his couch and poking it for good measure. The fuzzthing twitched.

"…leamelone."

"Nothing doing, li´ll bro. You either get up peacefully or I´ll dump so much cold water on you that we´ll have to hang you up on your namesakes to get you dry."

Two small ears shot up, turning in all directions, alarmed. "…that´s blackmail!"

"You got that right."

Sonic´s cheerful mood was enough to lighten even the spirits of a grumpy kitsune with a bad fur day and soon the two found themselves talking and joking as always, reliving the most grotesque moments of last night in between orange juice and aspirin.

"…and I still think tipsy Shadow looked good with that turquoise lampshade on his head – although when he kept calling Knuckles 'Lego-shoes' I didn't think the whole thing would end without a bloodbath, but …hey, what´s that?"

Sonic paused in his hysterics and looked at the object Tails had indicated.

"Oh, that. Amy left it here as a present for me. It looks quite nice, I think. Title sounds familiar somehow."

"It´s the famous Arabian Nights, Sonic. A collection of foreign fairy-tales and adventures from the eastern countries, there are supposed to be over a thousand. The most well-known are the ones of Aladdin, Ali Baba or Sinbad the Sailor." The young fox was stroking the cover of the book admiringly.

"…if you say so. You interested in that kind of stuff?"

Tails´s cheeks reddened slightly. "Uh-huh, I, I actually happen to like fantasy a lot. Would you mind if I borrow the book?"

"Not at all. I wonder why Amy even gave it to me, I´m not the reading type anyway."

The two-tailed fox grinned cheekily. "Yeah, I know. You usually only read books with more pictures than text."

Sonic quirked an eyeridge in amusement and shot back instantly: "Hey! Aren´t you supposed to show respect to a hero? And besides, your books have pictures, too."

"Yes, Sonic, but these pictures are what we call 'blueprints'. Probably too complicated for you, I understand."

"…sayyy, I think you´re becoming too good at retorts for my taste." Sonic was leaning forward on his arms, a sinister grin on his face.

The kitsune laughed. "I´ve been learning from the master, big bro!"

Sonic meanwhile had stood up and rounded the table, his eyes twinkling mischieviously.

"Is that so, Tails? Well, I hope you´ve learned how to escape noogies too, then…"

Lots of squealing, hiding behind furniture, racing-around-the-table, (and a few threats to fly Sonic out of the window and drop him over the swimming pool) later, both friends found themselves lying on the carpet, panting heavily.

"Now will you let me have that book and leave peacefully?"

"…only if you write a summary for me so I can spare Amy´s feelings by pretending that I actually read the thing."

"Deal."

xxx

Tails left his friend´s apartment for the train station quite happily with the book under one arm and his mind in the clouds. Today would be wonderful: Finally no crazed scientists, equally whacko hedgehog robots or generic racist aliens...Just a day for relaxing, day-dreaming and probably also reading the newly acquired action-packed book.

At least, that was what Tails thought until he got the barrel of a gun shoved into his face.

"Sh-Shadow?!"


I´ve already killed Tails once in my fics, will I do it again?! (develops shifty eyes) ...or isn´t everything as it seems? Could Shadow be out for revenge for the lampshade incident?

(1) To get the full story behind that incident, please refer to my other two-shot, 'That Special Day'.

Please tell me what you thought of it, I´d really like to know whether you liked it and would continue to read! Thanks for coming with me until here:)