"Kendra, Tess open the door; We need to get out of here now!"
Kendra woke with a start. Was this a dream? What was going on, wait she smelled smoke!
"What is going on?" Kendra yelled back to the muffled voice behind the door. Tess had awoken and was staring wide-eyed at the door.
"The treehouse is on fire. We need to get out now!" Kendra lept out of bed, grabbed Bracken's horn from her bedside table and unbolted the door Tess was already up beside her. Kendra flung open the door, Bracken was there with Mara both had rags tied around their mouths and both were covered in ash and stained with soot."We came to get you girls out; we are going to rendezvous with the others near the fairy queen's shrine."
"This way, try not to breathe the smoke in, We'll be quicker if I carry you, Tess." Mara scooped Tess up into her arms, "We have to get out quickly the fire will reach us in a few minutes There is a ladder to the forest floor not far from here well go that way since the elevators are out of commission." Mara muffled alto informed.
"Lead the way." Bracken invited, Mara took off at a quick pace with Tess in her arms. Kendra struggled to keep up with Mara so did Bracken even in her injured state Mara was fast, no wonder she had escaped the dragons at Jade Falls.
Mara stopped so suddenly Kendra almost bumped into her.
"Here is the ladder we need to be quick if the fire gets to close we jump. Understand?" Kendra nodded Mara passed a surely terrified Tess to Bracken and started down the ladder Bracken followed and Kendra brought up the rear. Mara descended the ladder with inhuman speed and agility but Kendra could still see the pain in Mara's eyes. Bracken followed quickly with Tess riding piggyback. Kendra was gratefull Bracken and Mara had carried Tess. Kendra doubted that she would have been able to keep up with the adults. Kendra was about ten feet from the bottom when she heard Bracken calling her.
"Jump Kendra. I'll catch you!" Kendra looked up she saw that the fire was creeping along the ladder not 15 feet away from her. Trusting Bracken with all she had she dropped
The island seemed huge when you were on it Seth thought. Was that was what life was like? You never see the full scale of the problem until you are in the thick of it? Seth's eyes strayed to a large electric blue dragonfly. Seth knew that this one was a dragonfly. He had found a sealed cube of butter in his bag. Calvin had told him that the butter allowed him to see magical creatures so when Calvin had appeared as a mouse that morning Seth and reluctantly tried a taste of the butter; after he had tasted it he saw that where his mouse was there stood Calvin.
A rustling in the bushes derailed his train of thought. A girl a little taller than him was walking towards him. She had long dark hair, fair skin, blue eyes, and wore a leafy slip that complemented her thin figure. "Wow, we haven't had visitors in forever! Where are you from? Why are you here? Is the leviathan yours?" The girl had a slight accent Seth couldn't quite place. Seth supposed he may as well answer questions from a pretty girl who was some of the rare company that he didn't think was trying to manipulate him. "Uh, my name is Seth I stopped for a break and the leviathan is mine," Seth said, what else could he say? He did not want to reveal too much to the strange girl. What was she doing deserted on a distant island? "Who are you?" Seth didn't realize he had said that until the words were out of his mouth.
"I am one of this island's many hamadryads. What brings you here shadow charmer?"
"I am just passing through," Seth said hoping he didn't give to much away he did not want to tell this girl everything.
" Hi Seth, I am Orchid. You said you where stopping buy, what is your final destination?"
Seth saw no harm in telling her."Titan Valley dragon sanctuary." Seth saw something in her eyes flash, fear? "Do you know anything about it?" He asked tentatively
"I will give no hints other than this. Beware the Scourge of the Titan Valley."
Kendra and Tess rode into camp astride Bracken, Mara walked beside them, sometimes she had ridden when she started to stumble or slow to frequently. There were about 10 little tents and 5 big ones Kendra assumed that the little tents were for the Menehune and the big ones were for the humans. Mara helped Tess off Bracken and gave Kendra a hand. Trask walked up to greet them.
"I almost thought you guys wouldn't make it. We are going to have to be vigilant. I have a hunch that the fire was to flush us out." Kendra knew that Trask was probably right. "Mara, you look pale I am taking you to Tanu," Trask said the concern in his voice was obvious, and he was right. Mara was so pale her normally copper skin was almost white! Mara walked off with Trask leaving Kendra alone with Bracken and Tess.
"So do you two want to share with Mara and Vannesa or do you want a tent to your self? Just a warning Vannesa is a night owl and Tanu will be checking Mara regularly throughout the night and administering pain killers." The end part made Kendra concerned.
"Tess and I will take a tent for our selves for the sake of our sleep. Will Mara be ok?"
"She should be better after some sleep and pain meds. Though I dought she will get much rest, I understand Tanu's concern with bringing her on the mission. I also secretly worry about Trask, a head injury should be taken seriously; but I dought he would listen he is stubborn. Your tent is this way." Bracken seemed to be changing the subject on purpose so Kendra went along. Bracken showed Kendra and Tess to their tent. It was a medium-sized tent not as big as the others but big enough to comfortably accommodate both Kendra and Tess. " Oh, you don't have to worry about watch duty Kendra, many of the Menehune have volunteered." and with that last note, Bracken left. Kendra felt alone, sure she had Tess but Tess did not have the same comforting presence of Bracken. Kendra snuggled into her sleeping bag and closed her eyes, sleep came quickly.
"Do you have any idea about what she was talking about?" Seth asked Calvin his meeting on the island had quite disturbed him. That girl was freaky, what was she talking about what scourge of the Titan Valley?
"I don't know, I have never heard about anything like this." Calvin's answer disappointed him but he doubted that many would know about a strange curse on a secret, deadly, dragon preserve. Seth's mind strayed, what was Kendra doing right now? Did she miss him? Was she looking for him? His brain hurt, had his life been like this all the time? So many questions and not enough answers? Would he ever get a real break? He wished he could answer that question.
When Kendra woke up Tess was missing. Kendra's first thought was that Tess had gone out for breakfast or to use the bathroom. The sun was rising so Kendra figured there was no use in going back to sleep. She crawled out of her sleeping bag, put on her shoes, and headed out. The sun was just piercing the horizon so it was still a bit chilly, Kendra was glad for the coat she had brought with her. A few small campfires were going, Kendra saw the satyrs roasting marshmallows, and decided to ask them if they had seen Tess. "Have you guys seen Tess?" Kendra asked as she walked up to the satyrs.
"No, we haven't seen the little lady. Is she missing?" Newel answered with concern.
"I can't find her, can you keep a lookout and tell me if you find her?" Kendra was really worried now.
"Sure, oh, and your marshmallow is on fire Newel," Doren chuckled, laughing as Newel tried to extinguish the flaming marshmallow that was now ablaze and melting off the stick it was being roasted on. Kendra left the satyrs to their shenanigans. Kendra checked some of the other tents. She then noticed Vannesa walking toward her.
"If you are looking for Tess I found her," Vannesa said when she reached Kendra. "It's pretty cute come see." Kendra followed Vannesa's curiosity as she strode towards the tent that she and Mara shared. As Kendra got close Vannesa put a finger to her lips, signaling Kendra to be quiet and gently lifted the flap. At first, what Kendra thought was just a ball of blankets next to the sleeping form of Mara. Kendra realized it was Tess snuggled into the sleeping woman's chest. Mara had her arm protectively around Tess in her sleep. Vannesa closed the flap and motioned Kendra to step away from the tent.
"How long has she been there?" Kendra asked when they were out of earshot of the tent.
"Tess came in, in the middle of the night. she probably did not want to wake you and figured that we would already be awake. Wich was correct, Tess came in claiming she was having trouble sleeping because of nightmares and asked if she could hang out for a bit. Mara was great with Tess, she invited her in, and started telling her about some of the fairies and creatures at Lost Mesa. That calmed Tess own and she fell asleep on Mara who didn't have the heart or the strength to move her at the moment. I fell asleep shortly after that." Vannesa confided, Kendra smiled.
"I had no idea that Mara was good with kids," Kendra admitted to Vannesa.
"She is not a very friendly type but once pics a friend they will have her forever. I think she will adopt Tess before long. I hear Bracken calling you, Go see what's up."
Kendra was super nervous, as she and Bracken approached the fairy queens shrine. They had received no word from Andromadus, so with no one to magic them out they were stuck. Bracken had proposed that he and Kendra ask the fairy queen to give them passage to the shrine at Fablehaven to drop Tess and the satyrs off and they also hoped to ditch Knox there too; Pick up supplies then go straight to the shrine at Titan Valley. Just one obstacle stood in their way. Would the fairy queen let them take almost a dozen mortals and 2 satyrs trough the fairy realm? As Kendra and Bracken passed through the small waterfall near the shrine Bracken spoke.
"I can hear you worrying Kendra. come on lighten up it will be fine. If she says no We will find another way." His words sparked Kendra's confidence. The tiny statue of a fairy came into view. They both kneeled down on the wet stone soaking their pants. No sooner had they keeled when Kendra smelled a flurry of smells that accompanied communication with the fairy queen. Kendra smelled Fresh pine, tulips, sweet honey, fresh baking. Then the fairy queen spoke.
"I sense you come with a purpose. I heard about the fire last night dreadfull, most definitely the work of the dragons." Bracken nodded and then spoke.
"Hello mother, the wizard Andromadus fled we have not been able to communicate with him. So we have no way out, we humbly ask that you would let us and our companions through our realm to Fablehaven then to the Titan Valley shrine." The fairy queen was silent for a moment.
" You ask a lot but I see the brilliance in your plan very well you can bring your companions. But go back to your camp with haste I sense that some of my subjects are distressed I fear attack from the dragons." And with that Kendra was alone with Bracken again.
"Let's get back to camp and her what she was talking about." With that Bracken trotted out back towards camp.
Kendra heard the screams before she saw the dragon. It was small for a dragon but still as big as a small elephant. The dragon had green camo scales. It was setting fire to everything. The smoke was so thick Kendra could barely see. "head to the shrine I will go find the others". Bracken stated,
"Wait please be careful." Kendra grabbed his hand as Bracken turned to go.
"I'll be careful." He planted a kiss and her cheek and ran towards the smoke. Kendra stood stunned fingering the cheek that bracken had kissed. Without looking back she turned and ran to the shrine.