I looked around dazedly at the hazy scenery. A tree? Odd…
"Nine centuries ago, the Mana Tree burned to ashes. The power of Mana lived on inside Mana stones, enchanted instruments, and artifacts. Sages fought with each other for control of these last remnants of Mana.
"Then, after hundreds of years of war, as the power of Mana began to wane, those who sought it grew scarce, and the world returned to peace.
"After that, mankind grew afraid to desire. Their hearts filled with empty emotions, and grew estranged from my hands. They turned their eyes away from my infinite power, and were troubled by their petty disputes.
I can provide you with everything!
I am love." The voice morphed from a powerful, commanding one to a softer one, and the image of a girl about his own age materialized in front of him. "Find me, and walk beside me." He tried to reach out to the girl, but she faded along with the tree first into a blinding white, then gradually into black.
Michael had been wandering around the barren landscape for as long as he could remember. He had met a total of eight people during his journey, and none of them even knew what an artifact was. There were two people that didn't even know what mana was. Nobody that could bring out the mana in the random assortment of objects he'd found- two gold coins, one silver coin, a mailbox, a child's building blocks, an eye, and a strange, cold object that vaguely resembled a heart. He could feel the mana in them, but there was nothing he could do with it. He looked up at the cloudless blue sky- without Undine, it couldn't rain, but without Salamander there was no heat, either. Strange combination. If it was raining, though, or it was as hot as it's supposed to be during summer, he'd be wishing it was average temperatures again. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, they say. Still looking at the sky, his foot caught and he fell flat on his face. Wincing, he sat up and glanced behind him- a young girl was laying, unmoving, on the ground. He rushed next to her.
"Hey- kid? You alright?" She was breathing. He sighed in relief. Glancing over her, he realized that his first assumption was wrong. She wasn't as young as he'd thought she was. Short, maybe, but she couldn't be much younger than sixteen or so. He lifted her into a sitting position and shook her slightly. She was out cold. Why did she look so familiar? He was sure that he'd remember her if he'd met her before. Though he was no doctor, he couldn't see any wounds. Why was she unconscious?
She had strange sticks in her hair- touching one, he realized they had mana in them. The girl's body was pulsing faintly with mana, and not the corrupted mana in the artifacts. It was pure. He wiped some of the dirt off her face. She couldn't be a fairy, she had no wings. And she was too tall to be an elf. Those sticks had some kind of spell on them that kept mana from dispersing from them. He pulled one out and stared at it. Or, he realized with a gasp, turning back to the girl- Or, they kept the mana in her. She was unconscious because there was no mana. She could have been there since the wars over mana ended, since time stopped. And those sticks would have kept the mana in her the entire time. She was a sprite. She was a living sprite. With shaking hands, he dug the three coins from his bag and pressed them into her hand. When she didn't move, he held her hand in both of his, closing her hand over the small coins. She stirred, and then sighed quietly. He murmured thanks to the elements and pulled a few fruits out of his bag. Coma or not, she hadn't eaten in possibly years.
He heard a soft gasp and sat up quickly, mumbling a groggy "I wasn't sleeping." Sharp, clear green eyes met his, and the short blonde girl moved into a defensive position. He held his hands up.
"I won't hurt you." Slowly, she relaxed. She looked pointedly away from him, and her face was carefully expressionless. He quickly explained, "When I found you, you were unconscious. I realized that you're a sprite and gave you those"- he pointed to the coins- "hoping that you'd wake up. You need mana to live, right? You can keep those so you won't pass out again." She hesitated, then nodded and picked up the small coins.
"Do you remember anything?" She shook her head.
"Can you talk?" She started to nod, and then shifted her gaze to the ground. "Y-yes." Suddenly, it hit him. Her voice, her appearance, and the way she looked at the ground with a diffident yet composed expression…
"Could you do me a favor?" She looked up at him, meeting his eyes for the second time. He was surprised by the difference in them from when she'd woken up. At first she had looked fierce, ready to fight if she needed to. She could take care of herself.
"Would you say, 'Find me, and walk beside me', please?" She gave him a 'You're insane' look, but obliged. Her voice was the same as the one he heard in his dream.
"Since you don't remember anything…" He cleared his throat, preparing to quote from his dream. "Nine centuries ago, the Mana Tree burned to ashes. The power of Mana lived on inside Mana stones, enchanted instruments, and artifacts. Sages fought with each other for control of these last remnants of Mana. Then, after hundreds of years of war, as the power of Mana began to wane, those who sought it grew scarce, and the world returned to peace. After that, mankind grew afraid to desire. Their hearts filled with empty emotions, and were troubled by their petty disputes. They forgot what love is. As Mana disappeared, so did places and the artifacts that created them. The people in those artifacts are suspended in time inside of the artifacts, and there are only a few artifacts in this world now- I've collected most of them here." He showed her the bag, then continued. "The rest of the artifacts are inside of the places in the artifacts. What I need is to find someone who can bring out the mana in those items, and I think that you're that someone." She looked surprised at first, and then looked away from him quickly. After a moment, she slowly looked back up at him and said, "I'll try."
"First things first," he said to the girl, who was already reaching for the closest artifact, "Do you have a name?"
"I… don't remember."
"Can you use a weapon?"
"I think so."
"What about magic?"
"I don't know."
"You must be hungry. Help yourself to fruit." He offered her a bag with his provisions. She pulled out a heart mint and bit into it, chewing slowly. She rummaged through the bag and came up with three more. She still needed a name, he mused. He couldn't say 'Hey, you!' all the time.
"What should I call you then, if you don't remember your name?"
"I… I don't know." He thought for a second. A name… for a girl… he had only met three girls in his lifetime, and that was including her. The other two were named Rose and Amy. So… something short. What names would a girl think are pretty? Maybe another flower? …Lily? Violet? Daisy? Amy, as far as he knew, didn't mean anything, it was just two syllables that sounded okay.
"I knew a woman named Amy." He voiced his thoughts, realizing that he'd been silent for at least a minute, creating an awkward silence.
"Amy… A…Mi…Mia? Ria? Rina?"
"…Rain…uh…" She glanced at the sky, which was clouding over. One of the coins was an Undine Gold, did that cause some Undine Mana to return? Michael, on the other hand, had another idea.
"Raina! That sounds great!" She smiled slightly and shook her head. "No. Rain- uh." She pointed to the sky. "Rain." He gaped at her. "Rain? But…but it hasn't rained in years. How…?" She held up the Undine Coin just as a raindrop fell on her nose.
"You're amazing…. Raina. That sounds good. Do you like that name, sprite?"
"More than I like being called 'Sprite'. So…yeah." He gave her a wide grin.
"Well then, Raina. How about we find a place to- Hey, go easy on those mints! There's only two left!"
He held out the mailbox to her. She looked somewhat offended.
"…Fine."" She looked up at the sky and closed her eyes, letting the rain hit her face for a few more seconds before finding a place to go inside. Shifting her gaze back to him, she took the mailbox from him.
"Have you ever seen an artifact before?" She merely raised her eyebrows at him. "Right. Sorry. You can feel the mana in this, right?" She nodded slowly, as if to say, 'Yes, we've been over this already.'
"Okay, try to amplify the Mana in it."
"Make it stronger." She rolled her eyes. "I'm not stupid… How?"
"Add your Mana to it. That should unlock the place inside." She glared at him and he shrugged. "It's not like I've done it before… I'm just going off of what I heard." She sighed and grabbed one of the coins in her free hand, then stayed perfectly still. A second later, her usually bright green eyes glazed and the small mailbox began to glow white, along with the ground in front of the two. Michael watched in awe as grass spiraled out from the center of the glowing area, as if the dull, lifeless sand that had been there only moments before had never existed. A tree grew from a tiny sprout to a huge oak in seconds, throwing shade across the land, shielding the teenagers from the heavy rain. A small house popped up- literally- in a large gap between two tree roots.
"…Wow." The mailbox in Raina's hand disappeared. She turned to Michael with a triumphant smile.
"Does this mean I get more heart mints?"
A/N: If anybody has any suggestions for a title or any tips on how to improve, please message me or write it in a review! This is my first story, so tell me what you think!