Right! The third chapter, and finally something about actual mythical companions! Hope you enjoy it! And if there is anything in this story that doesn't make sense, please tell us because we originally wrote this without meaning to upload it, and included stuff about our school and lives that we've had to change! And, as always, please point out any spelling/grammar mistakes too! All reviews, good or bad, are very much appreciated! :)
"Alex!" a voice whispers loudly from outside our pod door. I pretend I didn't hear.
"I think I'll do wood work!" I decide, and walk over to the woodwork class that Miss Gold is taking. I lean on the railings of the boulevard, and gaze out across the dark, choppy sea. Miss Gold tips out a bag of nuts and bolts. Izzy picks out a load of stuff that she needs to build her robot.
"Haven't you brought any metal?" She asks me.
"No, were we meant to?"
"Yes! You'd better join the art class!" So I do, leaving Izzy to assemble her robot.
Nobody notices when I slip into the art class late. It is being held in a café on the boulevard. Miss Jennings gives me paper and a pencil like the rest, then she goes to stand outside to keep watch. We take it in turns to watch with her. Tia goes first. They stand around not talking much, and I try to remember what they're watching for. That's it! A hurricane! I look out of the window too, the sky is dark and cloudy, but I can't see and hurricanes. I get on with my drawing, until Tia comes back in. Then I go out.
"Alex!" Miss Jennings says.
"Yes, um, Miss Jennings?" I reply. I'm scared, I nearly called her Amanda then!
"Alex! For the third time! TRAINING!" Amanda hisses from just behind my head.
I groan, "Why so early, Amanda?"
"It's a lovely morning!"
"That didn't answer my question! Fine I'm coming!" I squeeze out of my sleeping bag as quietly as possible, and rummage around for my training suit. I pull the dry one out of my bag, and change swiftly into it. Deciding it will be cold outside, I pull my tracksuits on over it. Not an attractive look, but so be it! I wriggle out of our pod, undoing as little zip as possible so as to not wake the others. It is cold out here, so I grab my coat to wear on top.
I join Amanda at the breakfast table. She was right about it being a lovely morning. It's cold but bright, and the sun sparkles off all the dew on the leaves and the spiders' webs.
"What time is it, Amanda?" I ask sleepily as I help myself to chocolate Weetabix.
"About six thirty. Why?" She replies, grinning.
"You're evil!" I decide, and carry on eating. When we're done, she gets up to make toast. I put my head on my arms and pretend to go back to sleep. I consider the dream I was having, random! I smile, trying to imagine Faye teaching woodwork, though I didn't actually see any wood! It's too early for giggling though. I sigh sleepily, breathing in the scent of burning toast. Then someone pokes me in the back.
"Go away, Amanda!" I grumble. "I don't want any charcolified toast if that's what you're gonna offer me!"
"Oh!" exclaims the person behind me.
I spin round. "You're not Amanda!" I accuse Jemma.
"You're not Lisa!" she sounds equally shocked to find me sitting there, not her friend. I look at her more closely, "You're already dressed, Jemma! What time did you get up?"
She looks at her watch, "about quarter to six!"
"Too early!" I declare. She's even washed her hair!
At that moment, Amanda comes back. "You don't want any toast, do you Alex?" She enquires cautiously
"Not if you've turned it into toast-oxide!"
"If you mean have I burnt it . . ." she holds out two thoroughly black bits of toast.
"I'll give it a miss I think!" I grin, and she throws them away for the birds to eat.
"Lets go!" she announces. "Coming Jemma?"
"Sure!" My old geography teacher replies, and mounts Skye, her unicorn companion, who I had previously missed standing nearby. "I'll see you there!" Then she clicks her tongue, and Skye bounds off into the woods.
Amanda conjures fire, calls Firewater and Sunset, then we're off too.
"Ok, Alex! We're gonna be doing diving today!" Amanda informs me as we land.
"Cool!" I bounce about with excitement. "Epic!"
"You won't think so when you've fallen off a few times!" She warns me. Then she continues, "You've done 45 degree dives, now we're going to do 70 degrees! That is much steeper."
"I figured!" I add statistically, but quite nervously too.
"Yes. Now, technique. There are two methods to use, each is equally effective. We'll try both, and you can decide for yourself which you find easier. For your grade three, you only need one, but for grade four, you need to know, and be able to perform, both." She pauses for breath. "The first method involves leaning forward and flattening yourself against Firewater's back. Keep as close to him as possible, and for now, it may help to link your arms round his neck. Make sure you knees are well behind his wing joints, that will help keep you on. Lets try! I'll demonstrate first."
She mounts Sunset, and they take off high into the air. Then sunset dives, and my mentor flattens herself against her companion. I can see why it works, Amanda is so flat, that the wind rushes over her and Sunset at the same time. She won't slip off forward because her knees are firmly wedged behind Sunset's wing joints. She lands neatly beside us again.
"Your turn!" She announces cheerfully, then seeing I'm scared says, "It'll be fine, Alex! Good luck! And you know how to fall into water even if the worst does happen!" Huge comfort!
I mount Firewater nervously, and we take off. This isn't quite as fun as I thought, is it Flame? I comment to him as we fly higher and higher.
No, he replies, on three? I nod. Three, two, one, DIVE! I flatten myself as close as I can to his back, but my arms aren't long enough to reach round his neck. I close my eyes, and cling on for all I'm worth, the wind rushing over us. He seems to be diving for ages before he calls land through our encounter. I struggle to remember the landing position, but I think I left it up in the sky, along with my insides. I cling on hopefully, but of course it doesn't work. I slither down his back, and end up in his long tail, my eyes still shut.
"Well done, Alex!" Amanda cries delightedly. I finally open my eyes. Jemma is standing above me, and she extends her hands to help me up. I take them, and manage to stand upright, if a little wobbly.
"That was superb, Alex!" I grin broadly, partly because Jemma is the only person I've ever heard say 'superb', but mainly because I did it!
Amanda hi-fives me with both hands –does that make it a hi-ten? "Well done!" She says again. "I really didn't think you'd stay on the first time!"
"I didn't!" I point out.
"Well, you did during the dive! That's the bit that counts for now! And I've changed my mind. We're not going to do the other method today."
"Yay!" I cheer.
She smiles at me in that slightly evil way of hers. "We're going to do coming up out of a dive!"
"Aawwww!" I groan in a sort of pantomime-style.
"Thought you'd like it!" She comments. "So, we've done rising before," I nod, "but we haven't really done it out of a dive. So you need to change position in that second Firewater is neither diving or rising." I nod again. "So to do that you need to let go the diving position, and let yourself slide forward so your knees are in front of his wing joints." This sounds scary, but I nod. "Then from there, just adopt the rising position. Ok?"
"Right . . ." I nod unsurely.
"Ok, I'll demonstrate." She proceeds to take off high into the air, and dive down. About a metre before Sunsets begins to rise again, she lets go all her grip and slides smoothly forward into rise position. She did it so smoothly that I'm not even sure what she did.
"Ok to go, Alex?" She asks when they land perfectly back beside us. I nod, though it's not the answer I would like to give.
"Good luck!" Jemma says fervently.
"Thanks, I'll need it!"
Firewater and I take off. I can feel feel Firewater is nervous too, even though he has nothing to worry about. When we reach the top of the dive, he shoots downwards at the 70 degrees Amanda wants. I fold into position, shutting my eyes again. Not a good idea! Firewater warns me as we hurtle through the air. I realise he's right, and snap them open again. At what I judge to be the right moment, I let go. I slip forward and attempt to jam my knees where I think Firewater's wings are but in the whirl of red feather, and blue and black training suit, I miss. I shut my eyes again, and what ever I do, they won't open. A second later I hit the freezing water in a tight ball. I could have sworn I was lying flat a moment ago! There's no time to think about that though, because I need air. I come to the surface coughing and cold, but safe. I grin, falling off is actually quite fun! I swim back to shore and heave myself out. Amanda and Jemma greet me enthusiastically.
"Nice!" Amanda looks very pleased, even though I fell off. "Most people don't let go! You did that, and that's the main battle overcome! Just need to work on controlling where you slide to now!"
"You don't say?" I laugh.
Jemma looks worried. "Are you ok? That was some fall!"
"Of course I am! It was great fun!"
She shakes her head disbelievingly. "You high-flyers, so strange!"
"Just cause two-fours are too scared to leave the ground!" Amanda teases her unicorn companion friend.
"Pegasi can fly!" Jemma argues, laughing.
At that moment a shout from by the jetty gets our attention. "Hey!" yells Bethany.
"Ahoy!" I call back, and begin running over to them. As I run, Firewater joins me by my shoulder. We chat quickly through our encounter about the dives and how we want to try again later.
When I arrive, panting slightly, I hear Claire say. "Right Izzy, mount up, you're going flying on Stormswept!" Wow! That'll be the first time! I think excitedly to myself, and hurry over to watch.
"Ok," I say "Let's do this, Stormswept!"
Yes, let's! says Stormswept, excitedly. I suddenly become aware that everyone is starring at us. "Go away! It's not that exciting!"
"Yes it is!" says Alex "It is your first time flying Stormswept!"
"And I obviously need to be here!" insists Claire "I am your mentor!"
"Me too!" adds Bethany. I glare around at the others, my evil gaze lingering on some people longer than others. But oh well.
I stick my hand out and put it on her neck, then swing my right leg over her back as I have often practised with Bethany's companion, Thunderbolt. I lean forwards, lying between Stormswept's wings. Suddenly, before I can really get my balance, we're off.
Stormswept soars off across the lake, with me clinging on madly. I can feel her wing-joints moving under me with every flap of her forest green wings. We swoop, loop, and dive into the ice-cold, grimy water. I come up coughing and soaking wet. Stormswept, wait! I yell this through our magical bond because my mouth's still full of lake. I spit it out, spluttering.
Stormswept stops in mid-air, guilty. Sorry, she says apologetically Can we go? I love flying…
I laugh; it's hard to stay annoyed at my dragon companion for long. Ok, let's go!
We're off again, shooting the length of the lake, before flipping over backwards and gliding back, slowing as we approach the centre of the lake. She flips up again, and I tumble from her back. SPLOSH! I let myself sink down into the muddy water, enjoying the feeling of icy water around me. There's a lot of weed down here, and everything is silent. But then I feel scales beneath me and I emerge from the water, somehow back on my companion's back.
I hang on desperately as we roll sideways through the air. How does Stormswept even do it? Eventually we're the right way up again and flying sensibly towards the bank. Unfortunately, Stormswept isn't one for careful landings, so the next thing I know I'm lying on the ground staring up at everyone.
"Are you ok, Izzy?" says Alex, trying not to giggle.
"Fine" I sit up "Did you see all those loops we did, Claire? Skill, right?"
Claire laughs and Bethany high-fives me. "At least three, Izzy! But… I dunno… you might need to work on landings a bit!"
"You think?" I joke. I make my way back to the tent to change into dry clothes.
"Ahhhhh," Amber croons, "Stormswept is soooooooo cute!"
"Don't let Stormswept hear you say that!" Bethany replies, "She likes to think of herself as big and fierce. But, yeah, she is quite sweet!"
Firewater makes himself parrot sized and flies to my shoulder. He tilts his head, and gazes at Amber with his big brown eyes.
"Sorry, Firewater. You're cute too!" Amber says, smiling at him. I laugh, just like Firewater, he can't stand to be outdone.
Show off! I scold him through our private encounter. He opens his beak cheekily, laughing.
Then I have an idea. "Ruby?" I say, "shall we show our trick?"
Ruby is a great eagle companion, and Richard is her mentor. She's quite small, with short brown hair, and sometimes, a short temper too! She always has to be doing something, and loves taking risks.
"Yeah!" she replies, eager to show off. Amanda and Richard cheer, they've seen it before, but what they don't know is that we've got in synchronised! I grin at Ruby as we mount our companions. Then we're off.
We do one lap around the lake, then turn straight down the centre line. The two birds swoop together towards the murky water. When they're about two metres from the surface, Ruby and I glance up, nod, then dive, inwards, off our companions. We hit the water at roughly the same moment, and about a foot apart. I surface about a second later than Ruby, which always happens, and we grab hands. When our companions hit the water, we put our hands in the air, and wave to the audience with our free ones. Then we turn and lie flat on the water, letting go our hands. Firewater and Gwihir, Ruby's companion, lift out of the water with us on their backs. Only, I'm on Gwihir! I glance at Ruby who looks just as shocked as I do to find herself on Firewater.
"Carry on as though we planned this!" I yell to Ruby. She nods, and we turn to fly our lap of honour around the lake. I have ridden Gwihir before a couple of times, though no one except me, Ruby, and our companions know this. From the silence on the shore, I can tell they're impressed, people don't normally ride each other's companions.
When we land, we're met with a huge round of applause. We place a hand on our companions' beaks, then grab hands in the air, as people on stage might do after a show, and bow. Everyone cheers again. I turn to Gwihir, still smiling, and pat him on the beak. Next to me, Ruby is scratching Firewater's head, which he is clearly loving. Gwihir nudges my hand with his beak. Even though I can't actually talk to him, I know what he wants, so I continue to pet him.
"That was brilliant, guys!" It's Izzy, now in her dry training suit.
"Thanks! That was quick!" I reply.
"Oh, Stormy fetched it for me, it was only slightly singed when she got back!" She pats her dragon companion, and Stormswept nods proudly.
"See, very cute!" I hear Amber whisper to Bethany.