Chapter One

New Warrior

Dead...slaughtered....particles blown away by the wind....and a 16 year old girl stands as she looks upon the mess she made. Then she ran toward the castle...

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

"Oh mother it is a beautiful dress," I said. "But I do wish to be a warrior, and you know that." I was standing in front of a mirror. My long brown hair reached all the way down to my shoulders and then parted across them.

The blue dress perfectly matched my hazel eyes.

"Yes dear I know, it's just," said my mom but was cut off by a 16 year old boy. He appeared in the doorway. His short brown hair was combed to the right side and his hazel eyes were big and round. I never noticed it yet but we looked like twins. The only problem is that he's the prince.

"Athena I've got a surprise for you," he said. "Come on."

"Be there in a minute, Zack," I said. "Bye Mom."

"Be back by 6:00, okay?" she said.

"Yeah, OK" I replied.

Zack led me to a small ally way. It was a comfort zone. Not a comfortable as our hide out. But it had provided some protection when we had done some things in the past, like breaking a window. It was long and the part that connected our two sides.

The north, where we live, is a light and happy place. One of the few towns that had not yet been taken over by Zarnax.

The south was another story. I hadn't seen it myself, for I wasn't allowed. But I had heard stories. It is said to be dark and gloomy. The people were so pale that they resembled ghosts. The buildings were old and many were unstable. How anyone could live there I did not know. And I hoped to NEVER find out.

"So what is it, Zack?" I asked.

"Just look under the sheet," he said.

I slowly walked to the sheet and held my breath as I lifted it off.

"Happy birthday!" he said.

" You did NOT get me IN as an apprentice warrior?! I'm sorry all I got you was a, Wait! You know I can't be a warrior, I'm a girl. And who the heck is Max?" I exclaimed as I read the certificate.

It was a light paper and smelled of the leader in the army himself.

He was a tall, broad man. Black hair and green eyes. His skin was dark as the night sky itself. He was a man to fear. Every time I looked at him, I saw death. I saw many deaths. Not only my on. I saw all victims of him, and felt the fear of his spear before he thrusts it through their heart. I could feel the blood racing down my stomach, as if I were the victim themselves.

"Well it's your warrior name. You see, I told them you were my cousin Max and since they made me a warrior I get to be your master. HA HA HA," he mimicked.

"Yeah well I'll be a pain in the neck. I won't listen to you or any of that stuff so HA HA HA right back," I mimicked his voice and we both started laughing as he began to explain the swords and what different types of stuff they do. I did my part and paid no attention.

Then we heard something from the shadows. A type of movement. One that made me shiver, I knew who it was.

"I'm telling mom!" yelled a voice from within the shadows.

"No," I said with a worried voice.

"Don't worry," said Zack as he put a comforting arm on my shoulder. "He'll never be able to beat you if you take the shortcut through the hide out."

Before I could reply my legs instantly started running in the direction of our hide out.

Out of the shadowy darkness of the alleyway, into the light of the docks I stumbled. I ran avoiding as many obstacles as I could. I jumped, I ducked, and I zigged left and zagged right. I passed the merchant Roy.

"Hey, Athena, where's the fire?" He joked. Roy was the only one who knew about our secret hide out. Although we didn't know much about him we still felt closest to him then anyone we knew.

We were about 5 when our fort was built. It was made out of boxes. It's hard to explain, but they kinda stayed up on their own. We had no idea what kept it up. It was like magic.

It was like a second home. A place to escape and just have fun! Then Roy found out. I had forgotten how he found it, but he never told. We had those special bonds. The ones you read about between friends. We would never betray each other. We stuck it out till the end.

I saw the wall of boxes where our hide out was behind and I could not stop so I jumped, totally forgetting about the roof of boxes. They came crashing down as I fell down in an awkward position. The crew men around me all stopped what they were doing to look at me.

"I'm okay," I yelled back as I ran on. Zack and I could re-build it later when I'm finished saving my butt.

I turned the corner and saw my house in view. Right as I got there I saw Arow with his short blond hair and his dark green eyes by the door.

Arow, my brother, was mean. He wasn't just mean, he was MEAN! He picked on me, played jokes; pretty much made my life a living hell! I hated him, he hated me.

I pushed my legs faster but Arow was better than me as always.

He saw me coming and walked in the door.

Ha. I thought. He forgot the spare key.

I made it to the house and was about to take the spare key when a hand reached out and grabbed it.

"Oops, I forgot this," said Arow and he left me sitting on the floor in front of the plant.

I went to the side window thinking I could sneak in. The window was opened and mom was knitting in the chair.

Arow walked in the room and Mom looked up.

"Hey Mom, guess what," He said.

I tried to stop him but before I could he walked over and shut the window. Boy was I in for a rough night.

Mom had a fit.

The next day I went with my mom and Arow to the elders who ruled the land.

The room was large and round. At the top of the room was a long table. Many old people sat there. In the middle was the 102 year-old man by the name of Counsel. Many other people were at the table, of various ages and genders. None of them spoke, they were simply there to make decisions.

I told them that I forced Zack to make the certificate, so he was off the hook.

"Athena, you have been accused of getting a certificate under a faulty name," said Counsel. "Is this true?"

"Yes," was simply my response. I had my head down as I stood in front of the elders. I knew it was disrespectful to look at them without being told, and I could not afford to make another mistake.

The floor was marble and shiny. It was a beautiful site. I liked, but I didn't say anything.

"And is it true that you wish to be a warrior even though girls are not as strong or well trained?" He continued.

"Well if you just gave us a chance," I said looking up with disrespect. "Sorry," I said looking down as quickly as I could.

The elders turned to each other and talked in hushed voices. It was the most uncomfortable time of my life, so far.

It took many minutes. The sweet was cold and it fell down my back and neck, it was also on my face. My hands were clammy. I could feel my throat becoming raw and I longed for a drink.

"Athena," announced one of the elders. I quickly looked up. "We have decided that as long as you promise to study, listen, and serve as an apprentice to the best of your abilities, you can be a warrior under CAREFULL watch of Zack."

I was about to scream and go crazy but, remembering where I was, I just ran outside to where Zack was waiting listening to the whole thing.

I can't believe it!" said Zack when I ran out.

"Me either. Hey lets go fix the hide out," I replied.

We ran toward the docks with smiles on our faces.

"Hey look, there's Roy, let's go tell him what happened," I said turning toward Zack.

We both started screaming his name at the top of our lungs so it could be heard over the swiftly moving current of the river.

He turned toward us when we reached him at the docks.

We quickly told him the story in between breaths.

"Oh, I know," he commented after we finished.

"If……you……knew why'd……you make us………say it?" Zack asked.

"Because I love to see you in confusion," he chuckled.

We both looked at him and smiled. We were both thinking the same thing. If the water was slower I'd push him in. We both slowly started counting down and when we reached zero we pretended to push our friend in.


Chapter Two

Four New Friends

We were fixing up the hideout. We were bigger now so we could easily reach the top. The same magic was still there. It was holding up the boxes we had filled with stories. The memories both sad and happy, could never prepare me for what happened next.

Suddenly everyone stopped working. Then we heard Counsel calling my name. When he reached us he said, "Athena, it is my sad duty to report that your mom and brother have died in an accident."

For a moment I thought he was making a joke. Then I remembered he didn't joke. I began to feel a lump in my throat. I could hear Zack talking, but I couldn't make out what it was The whole word melted away. Tears flew from my eyes. How? Why? What did I do wrong? Why me?

I started running to my house with Zack closely on my heels. My thoughts raced on what I was to see when I suddenly turned the corner and felt my life shatter.

When I got there, instead of a standing house, there was nothing but ruble. Ruble, black and hot to the touch. Ashes filled the air and made me cough. The smoke made my eyes water, no wait a minute. Now I remember. It was my tears. There was no smoke.

Walls full of memories were no more then tiny black pebbles. Windows of glass were now just particles floating around in the air. Nothing else was there. It was so much of a mess; I could not make out where my family was. I couldn't even say good bye! I would never see them again! I couldn't hug my mom and tell her I loved her. I couldn't tell my brother that I really did like him. I could never take back what I said that morning. The last thing I told my brother was I hated him! Now that's how he will remember me. As a hater.

I dropped to my knees, tears blurring the images before me. I picked up some of the dust. It blew out of my hand and drifted into the sky, like tiny birds flying away, carrying my love and bits of my soul with it.

"Why my family?" I asked looking around the crowd of people for answers.

"Uh... Athena... they're not really your family. You're my sister. The princess." said Zack as he knelt down beside me. "You see there's a guy named Zarnax who wants to turn you evil so he can rule the land. Mom and Dad sent you to these people so you could be protected."

"So you guys lied to me to protect me?" I asked feeling the anger build up inside me. Now I wished I had not covered up for him. I wished he had gotten in so much trouble that my "parents" disowned him. I wished I had never met him. I wish he was born a goblin, so I could kill him. Okay, maybe that's a little to much. But he was horrible.

"It was for your own safety, you have to trust me," said Zack getting up.

"I don't," I said and without thinking I got up and started running towards the dock.

It was like I was watching my self. I couldn't stop. It was like I was watching someone else make a mistake. STOP! I told myself. STOP!

I did not stop when I jumped over the piled up boxes or when I saw the edge of land and the start of the water, or when I jumped into the cold and swiftly moving water.

I reached up trying to get hold of something. My fingers touched something and I held on to a rock. Zack was calling out my name but at that moment I would rather die then have him save me. Literally.

Then as I thought my life was over, I felt dragon talons dig into my back. I was lifted out of the water and below me blood from my back dripped into the river.

I scrunched up my face and bit my lip from the pain that stung me. Having giant claws dig so far into your back they scratch against your spine.

"Athena!" was a voice so familiar calling out. Of coarse it was that backstabbing 'brother' of mine.

When the giant claws released me, and I had fallen face down on the ground, Zack came running up to me.

I looked at him then turned to the death river. I saw, to my amazement, a figure floating on the water. But as it got closer to shore it turned out to be two figures riding on the back of a giant turtle. And this time I'm not kidding.

The two figures stepped of and the turtle and climbed ashore.

The turtle was weird and it had over a million spots and a beard!

"Well who do we have the pleasure of meeting today?" said the taller one as he helped me to my feet. He had dark brown hair that was long and put in a pony tail. With dark green eyes that looked oddly familiar

The other one was like a miniature version of him except with shorter hair.

I said, "This is Zack and I'm Athena."

"I'm Dylan and this is Shawn, my brother, and Chaco our turtle," said the tallest one.

The dragon cleared its throat.

"And this is Babby" said Shawn in an enthusiastic 7 year old kid voice. He jump out from behind Dylan and ran to the dragon who had saved me. The dragon with the gold scales.

"Hey, I'm not a baby anymore," he replied.

"Would you rather we call you big mean scary thing?" asked Chaco in a sarcastic tone.

"Watch your mouth turtle or else you'll be living your life in it" said Babby getting closer and growling that evil growl.

"HEY! If you don't both shut up we'll have roasted dragon and turtle soup for dinner," shouted Dylan.

At this Shawn laughed and both went quiet giving Zack time to talk.

"Well thanks for saving my sis and if you don't mind..."

But I quickly beat him in words and said, "Will you help us defeat Zarnax?" I paused. What had I said? It just blurted out of me. Like vomit or something. I tried to remember what it was that made me think that when I got cut off.

"Why of course, after all we could use some help saving our parents" said Dylan looking at Shawn, who was nodding his head fast.

"Uh Athena I don't think we should" said Zack a little unsure.

He pulled me to the side and said, "I have a bad feeling about him. I mean something just doesn't feel right."

"Then you can stay here," I said feeling no symphony for I was still angry. I went to join the others.

"Hey! Wait for me," said Zack as he ran up to join us.

"First we have to take care of that cut," said Dylan and he took out an odd herb. He put it on the scar and within a few seconds the wound was gone.

I felt reenergized.

"Okay all aboard!" said Shawn atop the dragon.

"Hold on tight cause to get to where we are going, it's going to be a bumpy ride," said Dylan as he gave Babby the directions.

"And where exactly are we going?" asked Zack. But alas, it was too late, the dragon had gone up in the air and the journey had begun.


Chapter Three


The feeling of riding a dragon was not new to me. In fact everyone in Bellin had been on a dragon.

"FOR THE LAST TIME WHERE ARE WE GOING!!!!!!!!!!!!!" screamed Zack over the rushing air.

"ILLOGON!" Dylan screamed back.




We all got off of Babby and stretched as Dylan told him to go hide in the forest next to the town.

"Okay, so remember Illogon is a mean and painful place, so stick together and" he turned to Zack "don't agitate any one."

Zack went after him but Dylan just simply walked away and Chaco stood in his way.

"Yeah, you walk away" said Zack as he slowly started to follow the rest of us in to town.

When we passed the gate and into town I was prepared for loud noise, bad smell and people fighting. Instead I saw what looked like a peaceful village; in fact it looked like the town had been abandon. The only thing wrong with that theory was the buildings were shiny and through the windows the furniture had absolutely not one speck of dust. Why? I don't know.

"Oh yeah, I can really get on someone's nerves when there's no one here," said Zack rolling his eyes.

"This is not what it's like in the books. Hey what's that up there?" I asked. I pointed to where one lonely person stood. Then it doubled. Then again it kept doubling until there were at least a hundred of them.

"Run!" was the simple, yet persuasive command Dylan made. We followed his advice.

"Maybe we can make it to the hiding place before they catch up," said Shawn, but it was too late.

Right before we turned to leave the people made a huge circle around us.

And they chanted "those without parents must die."

"Of course! Only people with their parents can see, let alone live in Illogon" Said Dylan as he slapped his forehead.

"Perfect time to remember," said Zack "Now we're all going to die here because of you."

"Oh yeah? Well maybe if someone was not a sissy we would not be here in the first place." He replied.

"Oh so now it's my fault?"

"Guys stop bickering and help us think of an escape plan okay?" I said breaking their quarrel.

"Children what did I say about wondering into here ahead of me," said a voice from within the crowd.

"I know that voice, it's," started Zack.

"Roy!" I finished.

I was correct. Roy came out of the shadows.

He walked over and put an arm around Zack "Kids" he said to the advancing crowd.

Then as if it was a dream the surroundings melted out and were replaced by the scene I expected before.

"Now then, are we going to stand here and get eaten, or are we going to get out of here?" asked Roy.

"Sure, but first we have to stock up on supplies," replied Shawn.

Before we left I asked Roy what he was doing here, but he wouldn't tell me. It seemed odd. He always told me stuff. So why not now?

I went off to find some food. I had to duck and dodged my way around the fighting idiots.

I finally came up to the market. Deserted. No customers. No store keepers. "Oh well," I said and simply picked up a bag and started to get the essential food items.

"You know you should not steal," said a dark voice just as I was about to leave.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I said and turned around to find myself face to face with a hornen.


Chapter Four

The Nest

I stood there in shock. I had once read about hornens. They are humongous birds. They eat people and other hornens babies.

"Athena, stand back," said Dylan as he ran up behind me and chopped off the giant birds head.

"Thanks!" I told him.

He simply nodded his head.

"HEY GUYS!" shouted a voice from above. It was Shawn and the others.

Babby landed and Shawn said "We have to go. Quick."

"Why?" I asked.

He pointed to the sky and dangling from his feet was Roy in the claws of another hornen.

Without a word we got on and the dragon started chasing the beast.

We followed it through trees which cut my face and above the lake of Ralmin. And after passing the Plateau of Traug we saw the Twin Mountains of Plegad.

The bird flew up to the left mountain where a humongous nest rested on the edge.

It flew up and dropped Roy.

The dragon started up but poisonous arrows were shot and Babby went down.

We landed on a different ledge while Babby went tumbling to the ground far below us.

My heart was beating so fast it was like a roller coaster.

"I guess we better start climbing." Dylan looked up and whistled.

The climb was hard. My hands bled. I could feel the cold sweat running down my neck and dripping off my eyebrows.

I stooped after hearing a dark mysterious voice. But I should not have, for my hands started to slip.

I became panic stricken. I yelled out and Dylan started to climb back down. My left hand slipped and the right was close to coming off. Dylan reached out but it was too late. My hand slipped and I was tumbling to the ground.

I knew my time was over or not. On the ledge below I was caught by the teeth to shirt method, to my surprise, the turtle, which went down with Babby!

"W...what," I managed to stutter.

"You look like you saw a ghost. Are you okay?" he asked like he had been there the whole time.

"" I tried to make out the rest by pointing and stammering. I must have looked like an idiot who was trying to explain a monster that never existed before.

Out of nowhere a hornen came and picked me off the ledge and dropped me in a nest on the opposite mountain.

Right before my eyes the two Hornens had begun picking off one by one my allies and separating them between the two nests.

I was with Chaco and Shawn while Dylan and Zack were with Roy.

"What's going on?" I asked Shawn.

"I don't know," he replied, his eyes wide with excitement waiting for something amazing to happen.

The bigger hornen, with the bigger feathers and brighter horns on its head, swooped down and tried to grab me. I swiftly moved over to my left but it was too late the claw cut my right arm and flew back to its territory.

The cut was not an ordinary cut. Instantly my arm was shocked with pain so intense that I screamed. Then the pain left my right arm and started in my chest. The problem was I couldn't move my arm.

"It's poisoned," said Shawn inspecting my arm.

"What do you," but I couldn't finish. The pain had left and started in the chest. My lungs soon wouldn't work.

I sat helplessly as my lungs started to give. My breaths got short and less often. Then it happened. I stopped breathing as the pain went to my head. My eyes went down and started flickering. I needed air.

The rest was a blur. The last thing I remembered was Dylan leaning over me and saying my name.

I wanted to open my eyes and hold on to this moment but my lungs were shriveling up and I could not say what I wanted.

With sweat pouring down my face I managed to say the simple sentence that meant everything to me, "Kill him for me." I said that because I thought they would be my last words and I wanted Zarnax dead no matter what.

Then everything went black.


Chapter Five

Town of Gold

I awoke to a sharp pain in my left leg. I was lying down in an old bed made out of leaves and twigs. I looked around me. The room was covered in dirt; no it was made out of dirt. There was a bed in the other corner and a figure in it. Nothing else, except for a book shelf with dusty books and an opening next to it.

I tried to get up but nothing could move. Then a figure appeared in the doorway. It moved closer and I still could not make out the face, because my eyes were blurry, but I could tell it was a boy about my age.

Was I dreaming or possibly dead?

"Good you're up," he said and sat down on the bed.

"Where am I?" I asked the boy.

"You're in the Town of Gold," He replied.

"Where?" I asked again.

"You're in the underground city called the Town of Gold," He repeated.

I was still a little slow so I didn't question it any farther. Instead I asked, "What happened?"

"I'll tell you later."

At that that time a little girl, about eleven or twelve in age came in and said, "It's time for breakfast!"

"Be right there," said the boy. "Can you get up?"

"I think." I answered.

I tried to get up and with a lot of effort. I managed to stand up.

Meanwhile the little girl walked to the other bed and shook the figure saying, "Wake up you lazy pants."

The figure moved and got out of bed. My eyes were getting clearer. The two were dressed the same. With old ratty cloths that were torn. They looked liked identical twins except one had a slash across her forehead like the slash across my arm.

The boy turned toward my wobbly figure. My eyes still getting clearer I saw he had big, bright, beautiful eyes and a smile so soft and caring. His hair was a magnificent gold. Almost as gold as a pure gold bar.

"So, you ready to walk to breakfast?" He asked turning his head away.

"Um, yeah," I answered.

"Cool," and with that, and the help of the boy, all four of us walked down hallways that looked like the room I was once in and more people were walking by us.

All seamed normal except for the fact that no one else seemed to notice me, even though all of them should be staring at me, since I looked so different.

Then we took a right into a room filled with tables. There were four tables long in a row in width and at the top was a long table the other way facing them.

We sat down in the chairs at the table on the far side. The four entrances started becoming filled with people. There were men and women and children all dressed as the three I met earlier.

They started filling in the spots and sitting with either family or friends, but mostly family.

"Hey, where are your parents?" I asked realizing we were the only ones without parents.

"The other part about this town is that they take care of orphans," said the two girls in almost perfect union.

"And for people with nowhere else to go," said the boy, looking down with his voice low.

"It's okay" I sympathized. I had just met him, yet it felt like he was a long, lost friend.

Suddenly his head jerked up and said, "Did you know an average person eats an average of eight spiders in their life?"

This was so sudden I jumped a little.

"He's an optimist," said the two girls in perfect unison, like they had been practicing it all their life.

I looked at the three and realized something. My friends weren't here. I asked them, "Where are my friends?"

"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" said the boy, "I remember!"

"Where!" I exclaimed.

"We found you alone!"

My mouth dropped open. I could not believe it! Either they found me while they were fighting or my 'friends' left me alone.

"Oh yeah! I didn't catch your name." I said trying to keep my mind from them.

"Well duh I didn't give it to you! Anywho, I'm Jhon!" Said the boy.

"And I'm Malisa and this tiny person is Cassey." Said the girl without the scar.

"Hey! I'm the same age as you." Cassey retorted.

"Nu hu I'm older by 5 miniutes!" Malisa shot back!

"HI I'm BRANDON!" A hand was shoved in my face.

"Brandon sit down," A girl with black hair and eyes sat across from me. A boy sat next to her. He had brown puppy dog eyes and blond hair.

"These are our overly excited friend Brandon and our goth pal Katie," Explained Cassey.

"Athena," I introduced.

"Ahem," said a voice from the top table.

Everyone quieted and turned to face the speaker.

He was an old man. His long white beard went all them way down to his waist. His hair was long and grey. His skin was wrinkled. He was tall and slim with a hoarse voice that crackled. Next to him, sitting down, were other people like him. Some were men, others were woman. One thing they had in common was that they were all old.

"I would like to mention, before breakfast starts, that one of our own is going to rid the world of hornens by striking it at the source," and at what the man said, a young boy appeared and the room burst in to applause.

"Who is that guy?" I questioned.

"Just about the most showoffy jerk you'll ever meet," Replied Katie.

"I agree on the showoffy part, but I know an even more jerk," Cassey nodded her head in the direction of a boy on the opposite side. On his left was a chubby boy. He had brown hair and green eyes. In the boys right was a girl. She was tall and slim. She had blue eyes and blond hair.

The boy himself looked evil. He had long jet-black hair. It covered his right side of his face. The left side reveled a black eye in a slit looking at the boy on stage. He was slumped on the table.

"You must be new here," I turned to meet the boy that was on the stage.

He had short red hair and light green eyes.

"Yeah, so?"

"Nothing," He walked away slowly.

"Good luck wimps," The boy and his friends passed us, hitting Katie as he walked.

"Who are those people?" I asked her.

"Well the showoff is Kyle and the jerk is Blake," Answered Malisa.

"What did he mean by, good luck?"

"We've got mine duty."

Chapter 6

Lost friend.

We walked through a lot of tunnels. I tried to keep track but lost where I was after the fifth fork.

"Where are we going?" I asked them.

"To the tunnel ofcorce," Answered Cassey.

"Where are we going," she mocked

"Don't mind the insolent little person over here," said Malisa.

" not...repeat not," started Cassey

"Not," repeated Malisa.

Brandon and Jhon broke out laughing hysterically.

Their faces started to take a deep shade of red as they laughed between big gasps of air.

As they walked on we all tried to warn them but they did not here us because they ran into along tube jetting out of the roof and fell down.

On the floor they did not stop laughing but laughed even more.

"Guys, guys, GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" yelled Katie

They stopped and looked at her as if they were in trouble. They started snickering and tried but failed to retain the laughter.

Katie sighed and rolled her eyes. She walked over to them and grabbed them by the ear.

They repeatedly said ow, ow, ow but Katie kept holding them.

"Okay okay you win. Just let us go!" pleaded Brandon.

Katie let go and both boys grabbed their ear.

Sniff sniff, "You're not nice," wined Jhon

"I know," replied Katie nonchalantly.

The boys stared at her as she walked underneath the tube.

She waved and a powerful suction pulled her up through the roof.

I stared dumbfounded at the place were my friend had recently stood.

"Okay Athena you next," instructed Malisa.

"Uh uh," I mumbled as I slowly walked away from the person eating demon.

"Don't worry. You'll be fine," said Cassey from behind me.

She shoved me under the tube. I felt a rush of air and a surge of energy as I looked down and saw my feat disappearing from the ground.

I held in a scream as the tube took two sharp turns. The tube's suction stopped and the world seamed to hold it's breath as I levitated. Then I was spit up and into the black sky of the night.

I had totally been covered in a whit gooey substance. "Eww," was all could manage to say.

I felt like I was gona throw up when I heard laughter coming from inside the tube.

Brandon and Jhon came shooting up like bats, the white goo fowling them.

"That was so much fun!" They both exclaimed.

"It's like it always was," said Malisa as she calmly floated out of the tube.

"Nuuh. Each time is different," argued Brandon.

A scream pierced my ears as Cassey came shooting up and out.

I gasped through my teeth as she landed face first in a pile of mud.

"Oh. Well, at least it was not cow poo," said Jhon helping her to her feat.

"I....HATE that thing," said Cassey spiting mud out of her mouth.

"No you don't," said Jhon.

"Believe me I do," argued Cassey.

He made a weird face and walked away.

"You guys are so slow," complained Katie.

"Hey there are girls over here," said Brandon.

Katie appeared and walked over to Brandon. She got right in his face and yelled, "THATS NOT WHAT I MEANT WHEN I SAID GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUYSSSSS!"

"Wo someone's been to coco town," said Brandon.

"Come on lets go," Said Malisa before Katie could get to Brandon.

We walked through a long field. At one point I felt as if someone was following me. I heard a rustling behind me and turned around. I saw a shadow but realized it was mine from the moonlight. I searched with my eyes but could see nothing but the grass.

We made it to a line of trees. They were pine trees but smelled of charcoal. We stepped in to the forest and walk forward into a clearing.

A lot of people were facing the trees with pix axes and chopping away. They did it in perfect rhythm all hitting and pulling away from the tree at the same time. As shavings came of others collected them and put them in a wheel barrel. They then ran to the middle of the clearing where a large hole was in the ground similar to the one we had just come through.

"Okay I guess we should start you off with the wheel barrel," Said Brandon turning towards me.

"Sure," I said.

"So Jhon and Athena will work on one me and Malisa will work together and so will Katie and Brandon," said Cassey.

Katie and Brandon let out a grown as Jhon led me to an unoccupied tree in the back.

I picked up the barrel next to it as Jhon picked up the ax and started getting in rhythm. I put the barrel under the tree like the others had done. When the wheel was full I pulled it out and forced it to the center.

Either the wheels where rusty or I lust was not strong enough. When I finally reached the pit, my skin began to burn from the heat of the fire below.

I dumped the shavings in to the fire and wheeled back to the tree. I was now covered in soot.

"You okay?" Jhon asked me.

"Uh huh," I responded.

We worked like that for awhile at least 2 hours, and then my arms got too tired and refused to work.

"Athena you sure you okay?" Jhon asked worried.

"Yeah I just need a break," I lied

Then I realized that I had been working way more then 2 hours cause a bell rang and Jhon said, "lunch!"

We joined up with our friends and I could easily tell witch ones had been working the wheel barrel.

I could not help but laugh as I saw that Cassey had totally been covered in blackness.

We started walking amidst the other people. Then all the motion stopped and the crowed looked towards the sky where the high pitched scream had been heard.

Then after a split seconded of silence, every one formed a tight circle around me, Cassey and a young boy who looked a little to much like Shawn.

Out of the dark clouds a Hornen appeared! It then swooped down trying to catch one of us in its claws. Then a circle of fire separated us from the rest. It spread out so there was a fair amount of space between us and them.

The giant beast landed in front of us. Cassey put up her fist ready to fight our nightmare.

The young boy began to walk backwards, then he turned around and ran straight for the fire. The hornen chased after and un-hocked his claws.

The kid screamed as Cassey sprang in to action. She jumped and fell on top of the hornens' head. She toppled around as the hornen shock violently.

She fell off and screeched in pain as she tripped over backwards.

I ran over to her. She was sitting on the ground clutching her ankle. Her face seemed calm even though it looked as if her ankle was broken.

"Are you okay?" I asked her.

"I'm fine just save Mitch," she ordered me nodding over to the boy and the hornen.

"Okay," I responded and ran over to the beast.

"Hey you big...stupid...uh...thing!" I yelled trying to distract it. And, suddenly, I wished I hadn't.

The hornen turned and screech at me with big sharp teeth. I stared at it in fear and slowly walked backwards.

With every step I took it moved closer to me. Soon it was right in front of my face. Its breath was moist and cold. It sent shivers up my spine. It made a high pitched noise as if it was trying to say some thing.

I quickly went for my sword, and found that it was missing. My hands went over the empty sheath as my mind was going crazy. I looked over at it to see if what I felt was real, and I was sent flying through the air as the Hornen Had screeched in victory.

I was lying on the opposite side of the circle unable to move as Cassey Stumbled on to her feet. She limped over to the beast And Pulled out a dagger.

She stabbed through his feathers but bounced off. I moved my head just enough to see the part she had stabbed at. Under the feathers was skin like covering. It was ruff and dubeled over itself.

Cassey looked spazed out and I could just see the gears of her mind steaming. Then the Hornen raised a claw and slashed her right where her other scar had been. Leaving only a gapping hole with blood pouring out of it. She at first was screaming. But then she fell sighlent. She had a blank look on her face as she fell to the ground.

"NO!" I screamed as I ran over to my fallen friend.

The Hornen was about to slice me when out of no where a red hot blazing sword came and pierced through the rough skin. Then a low buzzing sound could be heard, and then, it exploded with a brilliant light of blue. I shielded my eyes.

When I was sure the light was gone I un-shielded my eyes. I looked around and it looked like a war had just happened. The ground was burnt and the fire had disappeared. I still clutched my fallen friend in my shaking arms. The small boy was sitting a bout 10 feet away trying to catch his breath. Everyone instantly ran. Half went to the kid and half went to us including my friends, pushing their way to the front. Jhon bent down and looked at her silent face. All of us would have cried had it not been for MY near death experience.

The boy looked at us with a blank look on his face. It was obvious to me that he did not understand what was going on. I looked to Malisa and found that she was out of the circle and on her knees with her head in her hands.

I Put Cassey in the hands of Jhon and walked over to her. I stood away to see if she would reject and after a while of her only crying I walked next to her. I sat down and put my arm around her and soon the others had joined us and we sat there, crying until the sun began to rise.

Chapter 7


I lied still as the room grew silent. I pulled the straw blanket closer to my chin as if the absence of Cassey seemed to chill the room.

I got up and walked to the book shelf. The books were dusty and most looked as if they were invented over millions of years ago. I picked one I was particularly interested in, "How to catch the un-catch able" maybe it would help us to get to Zarnax faster. I skimmed the chapters and found one that said "The betrayal". I began reading it. It was a short story on a girl named Mari who fell in love with a guy named Jaren. In the end it turned out that Jaren was really working for the bad guy. I sat on my bed as a thought itched its way around my brain. I pushed it aside and read on until sundown.

Jhon came in to my room. "Umm Athena?" He said.

"Yeah," I replied.

"Someone's looking for you," HE told me.

I got excited as we walked to the tube again. We both went back to the battle field. I looked around but no one was there. I looked at Jhon.

"No one's here," I said.

"I know," He said as a smile appeared on his face.

I stepped back and tripped. I sat there as he advanced towards me, his smile growing bigger. He lifted me up by my neck and I gasped for air, struggling to escape his grasp. Suddenly a big black cloak wrapped around him. He looked like the grim reaper without his weapon.

"Now I can kill you easily," He said with a deep voice that crackled. He laughed.

"Athen..." A voiced yelled from my left.

I looked over. The real Jhon was struggling to get out of the grasp of another cloaked figure that had his one hand covering his mouth.

"Shut that brat up!" The main figure hissed. He turned his attention back to me.

Then fire shot out of the sky right on the figure. He retreated and the two of them disappeared right into the ground.

I ran over to Jhon sitting on the ground.

"Are you okay?" I asked Him.

"I'm fine. Are you okay?" He replied.

"Yeah. What was that?"

"I'm not sure..."

I had forgotten about the book I had dropped on the floor. After helping him to his feet we walked over and picked it up.

A surge of pain ran through my bones and I dropped the book. It covered itself in ice and broke into millions of pieces. I covered my face and my arm was hit by these pieces.

After I was positive it was clear I put my guard down. The ice was gone leaving only an imprint of the book. Jhon bent down and rubbed his hand through the grass. I looked as if he was trying to find a small object.

I bent next to him and tried to figure out what exactly he was looking for. He picked a little bit of dirt off the ground and put it in his pocket. He stood up and smiled at me. I tried to smile back put instead gave some sort of weak frown. The one where you're not totally frowning but not really smiling either.

He gave a worried look and I heard a roar coming from the clouds in the orange sky above. I jerked my head up and found that a gigantic dragon was circling above us.

Babby! I thought. I was right. Soon Babby had landed on the ground before us. I ran up to him and gave him a big hug around the neck.

"Where were you?" I asked in a relived yet angered voice.

"After the fight we all got scrambled. I only found you cause you had the strongest sent," He replied in somewhat of an offended voice.

"Well do you know where the others are?"

"Well, we are here," I heard Dylan's voice coming up. And sure enough Dylan and Shawn emerged from the forest.

"Dylan! Shawn!" I ran up to them and gave them big hugs as well. "Wait. Where's Zack?"

Dylan hesitated. "We're not so sure."

I stepped back. My face became blank as my tear ducks began to work over time.

"Don't cry Athena. We'll find him," Shawn tried to reassure me as I dropped to the ground.

"Athena?" Jhon said.

Jhon! I totally forgot about him.

I looked at him. He sorta stood the way I did when walking toward Malisa.

"I'm sure whoever he is, he's okay. He's probably alive, just somewhere else." He said in a comforting voice.

"Yeah, maybe he's with Chaco," Said Babby.

I didn't believe them.

"We'll go look for them right now," Dylan said, trying to calm me down.

I calmed my sobs to a minimum as I walked over to Babby. Dylan helped me onto him and I hugged the dragon tightly.

We lifted off the ground and soon were flying over and away from the place. I suddenly realized I hadn't said goodbye, I hope they will forgive me. The wind was cold and my tears seemed to freeze.

Soon a scream came throughout the air. Down below I saw Zack running. Chasing after him was a whole crowd of oddly looking people.

"Zack!" I called out. Dylan maneuvered Babby towards the ground. I reached out my hand and Zack grabbed it.

With Zack dangling under us, we flew away. Shouts of protest came from the group of people. But by then, we were already far ahead.

We landed in a small field, close to a river.

"What were you doing!" I yelled at him.

"Well, I kinda angered them…" He told me.

"ANGERED! You didn't anger them! You turned them into a mob!" Anger was rising in me. I didn't know why.

"Way ta go," Dylan said as he passed us.

"Oh shut up!" Zack yelled after him.

"How did you anger them?" But I did not pay attention to his answer. I could hear Dylan and Shawn talking close behind.

"What are we gonna do?" Shawn asked.

"I don't know." Answered Dylan

"That stupid Zack ruined it all!"

"Athena?" My attention was back on Zack now.


"What were you doing?"

"I guess I just kinda spaced out."

"We should go find Chaco," Shawn suggested.

"No need to look any farther," Chaco emerged from the water. His beard was wet and his shell had some green moss on it.

"Well look who finally arrived," Babby whispered.

"Be quiet you over grown lizard." Chaco replied to his remark.

"Make me!"

"I will!"

"Hey! Hey! HEY! If you guys could be quiet for one minute!" Shawn yelled

There was silence, "Thank you!"

After we set up camp, I decided to have a little chat with Zack.

"What is your deal?" I asked him

"What do you mean?" He asked confused

"I mean you've been more jerkish since we started this trip."

"Well, I don't like them," He pointed at Dylan and Shawn.

"Why not?"

"He just doesn't seem right."

"Since when did you care?"

"You're my sister, I want to protect you," He put an arm on my shoulder. I shrugged it off.

"I don't need your protection," I started to walk away, "and until a few days ago, you were just my friend. Now you're a backstabbing idiot! So don't ever call me your sister again. 'Cause I am nothing like you."

I walked toward camp with tears stinging my eyes. "Harsh," Dylan said to me as I crossed to my tent.

I cried myself to sleep that night.

Chapter 8

A secret kiss

We road dragon back for what seemed like forever, when we finally reached a town. It was the middle of the night. It looked quite big, and the people seemed to be having a party. There were many lights on, well candles really, and we could see them dancing.

They were beautiful dancers, swinging around ever so gracefully. I envied them. We landed only a few feet from the town.

"Why'd we stop?" Zack asked rolling on to the floor. He had fallen asleep.

"I thought we could use some real rest," Dylan smiled at me, I smiled back.

"Plus I think Babby is tired," added Shawn. Babby's eyes were drooping.

Zack yawned. I stifled one that threatened to escape.

We walked the short distance to the town. The gate was made of long wooden stakes. They formed 4 walls that made a cube like shape. At the four corners were little wooden boxes, each contained one person.

The people themselves were odd. They had piercing in odd places. There clothes were multi colored. The men wore lose fitting shirts and pants. The women wore long dresses that reached well passed the floor.

When we approached the gate, the man in to corner to the left of us spoke.

"Xip cf zpv?" He asked us. Well at least it sounded like a question.

"J zn tpo pg Absoby, xf xjti up tubz gps uif ojhiu," Dylan spoke fluently.

"Mbuf bsou xf?" He asked.

"Njoe zpvs pxo!" Dylan shot back at him.

I stared at him as the gates opened and we passed through. Shawn was really jumpy, I mean more than usual. Dylan nodded at him. He ran off into the crowd.

"What was that about?" I asked.

"I have no idea," Said Dylan.

I heard Zack whisper yeah right and I slapped him in the back of the head.

We advanced on to the crowd that was dancing.

The town itself was an amazement. The houses, made of oak, were high on top of stilts made of some type of metal. The crowd was dancing where all the houses circled around. It was meant to be a town square, but resembled a shoe shape.

A nearby group of girls laughed as they passed us to the tip of the shoe. I thought I saw Shawn dancing, but it was probably just my imagination.

"Where are we going?" I asked as Dylan led me and Zack to the back end of the shoe.

"You'll see," He replied over his shoulder.

We soon rounder off of the shoe and were now going through a maze of houses. We reached one that seemed relatively bigger than all the others. We walked up a flight of steps and knocked on the door.

"Xip jt ju?" a scratchy voice called from inside. It sounded like a man's.

"Dylan," Dylan said back. I heard the sound of a door closing, then the one in front of us opened.

"Dylan! Welcome my boy!" A man about 60 was standing in front of us. He had a short brown beard, but no other hair. His eyes were crisscross and one was blue the other was purple. In a word, he looked insane.

He ushered us in. The room was large. It held a desk on the far side. A large chair sat behind it. Instead he sat us on a few comfy chairs sitting around in a large circle around a mahogany table. There was a pink carpet decorated with red flowers. "My niece's favorite," He said noting my lookings. The walls were nothing more than bookshelves covered with books aged by dust. A door was shut tight next to the desk, on the other side of that was a small stair case leading to another shut door. As the door behind me closed, I had an odd feeling I wouldn't come back out of this room.

"Tif uif pof?" He asked Dylan. He nodded his head once.

"Well well, welcome!" The man exclaimed. "I am Forceen."

"How ironic," Dylan commented. The Forceen continued with out even noticing.

" I understand you are looking for Zarnax?" He had directed the question at me, yet Zack answered any way.

"Yeah? What's it to you?" Zack questioned him.

"Why I could tell you where he is," Forceen smiled at me.

"Can you really?" I asked him.

"Of course."

Something deep inside me wanted to leave. It screamed for me to just run out of there and not to stop until I had reached home. But I had no home I reminded it. It urged me to leave, but my curiosity was bigger. After all, what could go wrong?

"Show me," I said.

Forceen diapered behind the door in the back.

"Crazy old bat!" Zack said.

"Respect 'im! He could save your life!" exclaimed Shawn, who just walked through the door.

"Or end it," Zack whispered as Forceen came back out.

Forceen looked at him with disapproving eyes, and then turned towered me.

"It is not my place to explain, but a prophet lives among this world who may help." He told me.

"Where can I find him?"

"He lives in the town of Escridge, not far from here actually."

"How long will it take?"

"Only a three day journey on dragon back. But for tonight, you should rest hear."

He shoed me Zack and Shawn out and talked to Dylan.

"Was it just me or was that guy insane?" Zack asked.

"Shut up," I thwaped Zack on the back of the head.

He rubbed his head as we walked to the dancing crowed.

I Sat back and watched as Shawn was dancing with other kids his age. Zack had run off, hopefully he wouldn't get us in trouble.

"You okay?" Dylan asked me.

"Yeah," I lied. I wanted to tell him. To tell him that something felt wrong. Something about being here. But something deep down inside me was pulling me away from that choice. It was saying to keep this. To not tell anyone. Especially him. But why?

"You sure?"

"Yep. Just tired."

"Too tired to dance?"

I looked at him. "I think I could stay awake."

So we danced. Nothing felt better. I wasn't in this town. I was in heaven. It's hard to explain but I was dancing with someone else. I didn't know who. But it didn't feel like Dylan. His comforting charm was gone and his soft aurora was disappearing. It was horrible. I wanted to stop. I felt sick. Every thing was getting so fast. All was becoming blurred and muffled. I couldn't stand it. It was getting hot. And then I fainted.

"Is she alright?" I heard Zack answer in a strong and firm voice.

"I don't know!" Dylan shouted. I could tell they were fighting again.

"I swear, if you hurt her, I'll, I'll…"

"What? Attempt to hurt me?"

I wanted to yell at Zack and tell them to stop fighting, but my mouth wasn't working. It felt like it was glued shut. So did my eyes. I couldn't move, talk see, all I could do was lie there and wait. Eventually I could feel my eyelids begin to get moist. I was crying. Why was I crying? But the tears were good. They seemed to loosen up my eyelids, and eventually I could open them and look around.

It was sort of like the room I had been in that underground city. Except instead of a dirt floor, a lovely carpet with Celtic design covered it. A matching blank kept me warm. I must have dosed off again for Zack and Dylan were no longer in the room. I still couldn't talk or move, but eventually my saliva had loosened up my mouth and I managed to get that open too.

So I laid there for a while tied up when finally Dylan entered the room.

"You okay?" He asked me sitting on the edge of the bed.

"I can't move," I told him struggling to break free.

"Hold still," I did as I was told and he passed his hand over my body and I could move again.

"How do you do that?" I asked sitting up.

"Want to go for a walk?" He inquired, ignoring my question.

I was a little hesitant at first, after what had happened, but his warmth had returned, and made it hard for me to turn him down.

We left the house we were in and walked to the edge of town.