By: Belle the Shadow-CatChapter 1: New Beginnings
"There ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them then to travel with them."
A lone Griffin was soaring above the pearly white clouds of the land Farinia, seemingly oblivious to everything about him. The jet-black Griffin's name was Ender: a Griffin of a sorrowful past and an unknown future. He had been alone for about two years now, exiled from his flock for his actions. Ender snorted as he thought of this. He had never really liked his flock much anyway. And he knew, ever since he was young, that he was different. He had always felt like he was destined for some other, more important purpose, something higher then being just an ordinary Griffin. Though he still had yet to find out what.
Ender dove down below the clouds, like an arrow, with ease. His body was smaller then most Griffins, lacking robust build and strength, he had always lost in battles of all out strength, but his speed was unsurpassed by any Griffin he knew. Perhaps that was because he had spent most of his life flying in the air, dodging whatever was thrown at him with ease. He had always felt at home among the crisp air, it was like he understood the air's every word and the air understood him.
Ender suddenly felt the air began to start up and begin to blow strongly southward. Ender felt himself being pushed slowly backwards, but he didn't intend to go south, but north. With a strong flap of his massive wings, which were the same jet-black color as his body save for a few streaks of scarlet along his feathers, he began to push his body northward against the now raging wind. The wind seeming to know Ender's intentions began blowing even more fiercely sending long, strong gusts toward Ender, bowling him over backwards into the south. Ender quickly regained his composure and began once again to head toward the south, only to be blown backwards again by the persistent wind.
"FINE!" Ender shouted angrily, shaking a talon at the unseen force. "I'll go south! Happy?" The air seemed to grow still and quiet. "Don't know why the heck you'd pick that way though. All that's over there is a swamp!"
In a town called Uyla, a figure of a man dressed in black and grey was walking down a cobblestone road with some kind of bird perched on his shoulder. The man's name was Smoke, standing at almost six feet, he could see over almost all the heads in the busy street. His white skin was slightly tan and he was walking in a swaggery, wavy manner. Many of the people in the crowd looked at him, suspecting he was drunk.
"Make way for the great Smoke and Releshenada the twenty-fourth!" called a noble sounding voice.
"SHUT UP!" shouted Smoke, a man in his early twenties, glaring with his grey eyes at the phoenix that was perched on his shoulder.
The Bald Eagle sized Phoenix shrugged, giving his friend a withering look. "You need to look like the Noble Lord you are. I was just announcing you – and your noble Phoenix as well."
"I'm not in any way noble, you know that! You remember my parents, don't you? Dad's a blacksmith, Mom's a cook," Smoke said, as he pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke.
"Of course I do. Now, stop that!" shouted the Phoenix, ruffling his beautiful feathers of red, yellow, and orange. A small gust of wind blew by snuffling the cigarette out.
Smoke aimed the now useless cigarette toward a trashcan several feet away and threw it a second later. A strong gust of wind seemed to come out of nowhere guiding the cigarette over the crowds' heads and into the trashcan. Smoke looked half amused and half angry. "What was that for? You just wasted a perfectly good cigarette."
"You look absolutely unlordly, doing that."
"So, you will ruin your – our – reputation."
"Its not like I have too much of a reputation anyways."
"Well, if you have not noticed, I do. I don't want other people and Guardians to see you and think you are a crazy, psychotic, drunk."
"People already think I am, you know. But I'm not crazy, psychotic, or drunk. I just smoke."
"And yet you always act like you are," Releshenada said as his partner ran into the silver trashcan that he had thrown the cigarette into only moments before. A man near the trashcan looked at Smoke strangely. Smoke, thinking this was a 'are you all right?' look, mouthed an "I'm okay" before swaggering off once again. The man just shook his head.
"So why stop me then?" replied Smoke a second later, pulling out another cigarette from his black jeans and lighting it.
Releshenada sighed. "A Phoenix Spirit Guardian, like myself, deserves the highest honor, therefore a noble. I, being a noble Phoenix, was supposed to be paired with a noble. So you must be noble . . . somehow."
"You should've done some researching then, and went to someone truly noble. It wasn't me who chose you as my Spirit Guardian. You came to me when I was five remember? You chose me."
"And goodness knows what sin I committed when I chose you!"
Smoke only laughed.
Vill cursed his luck. Nothing seemed to be going right for the mercenary today. He had taken what was supposed to be a 'simple' job; not knowing it would involve running for his life afterward. He had gotten the money, yes, but that had been lost. The money was now residing in the deep, dark abyss of a quagmire. That was another thing that had gone wrong: he was now stuck in a swamp the villagers had chased him into, and Vill was hating every bit of it.
"I'm never doing anything like that EVER again!" Vill shouted, though he knew he was contradicting himself. He would do anything for money. He grumbled to himself as he tried to pull his the bottom of his hooded cloak off the soft, muddy ground. Everything was useless, heck even his double broadswords were useless that were under his cloak and strapped on his jerkin were no use. He kicked a mud covered log out of the way, glaring at it with the utmost hate, as he strode forward, not caring where he was going. Suddenly he felt his feet plummet into a sandy, sticky substance, sucking him slowly downwards in a sand like vortex of air. Bubbles of air were popping over the surface of the quicksand.
"DANG IT!" Vill shouted, as he tried to get out of the swamp's quicksand like substance. But he found that the more he moved, the more he sunk. "Great, that's just great!"
A figure darted across the blue sky, regardless of anything and anyone with the exception of his trainer. Blacksun was a Unicorn Spirit Guardian; his coat was a dark black, easily noticed against the clear sky above them if anyone bothered to look up. Blacksun was rather unusual looking for a unicorn; his yellow lighting bolt-shaped horn was one peculiarity, as were his huge black wings, and long black horse-like tail. Riding on his back was his Trainer, Ari. Her strait golden blonde hair was blowing in the breeze.
"Can we land on the ground now?"
"I'm sick of flying."
"We'll get to that town you wanted faster if we fly. I'm faster in the air you know."
Ari still wouldn't be swayed. "Down! Now!
The Unicorn seemed disappointed. "All right, Ari, all right." He gently flew downward nearer to the hard brown earth.
"There we go," she said happily. "Back on the ground again."
"What's the town's name?"
"That's right," answered Blacksun trotting along the well-beaten path.
"I heard the town's very beautiful."
"I suspect it is. Sarla is a pink flower with a yellow center . . . " his voice seemed to go a bit lower and trail off.
"It's just that . . . Sarla was one of my mother's favorite flowers. She would've enjoyed this place if she was here." Blacksun remembered his mother, the dark blue unicorn, Wavedancer, very well.
"Blacksun . . ." Ari replied, her usual cheery face falling. "I'm sorry. If I had know I wouldn't of said–"
"It's all right," Blacksun said softly. "I know you didn't."
Ender soared over the swamp, wrinkling his nose at the smell. He didn't like this place at all. He growled a very lion-like growl as he felt an almost magical force tugging him downward. Deciding it was best not to fight it, he soared down and scoured the swamp with his eyes. Within seconds, he spotted what seemed to be a human stuck in the swamp quicksand. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself. Humans could be so dense sometimes. He was beginning to fly over him pondering whether he should help the unfortunate human out. He had no reason or motive to help the human – unless it was out of pity. But for some other reason he didn't understand he felt that he should help the human.
Ender sighed and soared downwards toward the human. The human looked up toward the approaching Griffin, making his hood over his face fall down revealing his black hair. "What do you want?"
"Just trying to get you out of this . . . situation."
"I'm a mercenary, I don't need help. I can get out of this situation just fine!"
Ender looked skeptical. "I think had that been the case you would already be out."
" . . ."
"If you really want me to leave . . ."
"Fine," shouted the man. "Just get me out of here!"
Ender stretched out his hand like talon, feeling the human grasp it at once. Suddenly a strange warm feeling enveloped both Ender and the human, neither knew what it was. A jolt of electricity seemed to surge between hand and talon, creating a small jolt making both companions let go. Vill sank deeper into the quicksand, now up to his shoulders, his hands now below the quicksand.
"What was that for, Griffin?" snarled the human. "Are you trying to kill me?"
"I have no idea what that was," defended Ender angrily. The nerve of some humans surprised him sometimes.
"How are you going to get me out now, huh, Griffin?"
Truthfully, Ender didn't know, he didn't want to accidentally kill the human by pulling him by the head. He closed his eyes, hoping some idea to come to him. For some reason he felt odd, like some power was begging to be released. He opened his sapphire eyes to an almost new world, it was like he could see the air – twisting and turning in its ghostly form. He was now aware to the airs every move, every flap of his wings he saw the air go downward, just before surging upward once again.
The air swirled around him seeming to say: You have the power now, use it!
Ender concentrated on the quicksand below, he could feel that there was air in the sand; he could especially fill the air vortex that was slowly pulling the human in. He suddenly knew what to do. Ender began to glow a faint blue color as he concentrated on the vortex, commanding it silently to slow to a standstill and part. The air, hearing Ender's command, did exactly so. The human felt the pull on his body being loosened, and to his amazement the sand began to part to the side and become solid, allowing the human to climb upwards with no problems what so ever.
The human moved onto firm some firm ground and looked at the Griffin that was flying above him with his dark brown eyes. "Thanks," he muttered. "How the heck did you do that? I didn't think Griffins were able to do those things. "
The human's last sentence hit Ender like a bolt of lightning. "We can't," said Ender grimly. "The only Griffins that are able to do things with the elements are Spirit Guardians."
"Oh," said the human, he had heard of and seen Spirit Guardians before, just never a Griffin one. "So where's your trainer?"
"Right before me," said Ender calmly, despite the fact he had finally unlocked his destiny.
"Where?" The human spun around, but finding no one.
Ender landed beside the human. "Maybe I should speak plainer: You are my Spirit Trainer now."
"I'm just as surprised as you are, believe me. "
"I can't believe it! How do you know that?"
"Don't you feel different?" said the Griffin, sounding slightly annoyed. "And what about the spark?"
Now that the Griffin mentioned it, he did feel different. It was like he was part of something else. "Yes . . ." the human said. "I believe I understand now. But what must we do?"
Ender shrugged. "I don't know, I have only heard of the Spirit Guardians. I don't know that much about them. But we could always start out by telling each other's names. Unless," he added, "you'd prefer being called 'human'."
The human removed his black clock, shaking the most of the quicksand off before answering. "It's Vill."
"Well . . . Ender . . . what next?"
"You expect me to know?"
"Fine. How about you show me out of this swamp."
"As you wish," said Ender and began leading his new Spirit Trainer, Vill, out of the swamp.
"Get off of my head!" a girl exclaimed. "NOW!
"Why, Kit?" said the small cat creature that was perched (quite happily) on her spirit trainer's head.
"Because its absolutely ANNOYING!"
"So . . ." chirruped the white cat that had purple stripes all along its body.
"Cu! That's it! Get off!" hissed Kit shaking her head back and forth, sending her waist long brown, nearly black hair that was in a ponytail, flying, successfully dislodging the Guardian cat off her head and onto the ground.
Cu's real name was Cukeisansraf, but everyone always called her Cu. Cu was shaking her head back and forth dizzily before standing up, her always puffy tail held high. Cu's purple eyes narrowed as she saw that her trainer had not stopped for her, but kept going. She began running towards her trainer, unfurling her wings that had lain at her side. With a bound, she leapt up and began flying quickly over to Kit, readying to land on her target: Kit's head.
She dived, narrowly missing Kit's head, instead landing on her shoulder. "Can't get rid of me that easily." Cu stated, digging her claws into Kit's bright orange shirt playfully before clambering back onto Kit's head.
Kit didn't flinch as Cu's claws dug into her. Kit's peach skin had grown tough over the countless years spent with her Guardian, and if one looked closely, they could see a bunch of tiny cat scratches all over her arms and legs. It was one of the many things Kit had to deal with over the years being a cat Spirit Guardian trainer.
Kit sighed, deciding to let Cu stay on her head, which was what usually happened. "All right, you can stay up there, Cu. Hopefully the Spirit Guardian Battle Preliminaries will get you out of my hair for awhile." Kit reached put her hand above Cu's forehead where a strange purple mark resided, gently scratching it, causing Cu to begin purring.
Cu's ears perked up at the mention of the Preliminaries. "Maybe we'll win this year."
"We'll see, Cu. We'll see."
Releshenada was staring disdainfully at the cigarette that was in Smoke's mouth. He wanted so much to just summon a bit of wind and blow it out again. But Releshenada knew from experience that if one blew out another was lit. There seemed to be no limit to the cigarettes hidden in the man's pockets. It had taken Releshenada years to get used to his companions constant smoking, but he still blew one out now and again out of spite. The Phoenix looked around the now smaller crowd with only mild curiosity, hoping perhaps to catch another Trainer and Guardian about. Suddenly he spotted a man in a hooded cloak with what seemed to be a Griffin walking slowly behind him.
"Look!" the phoenix said. "A Spirit Guardian and its trainer."
"I know," said Smoke. "That Trainer doesn't look too friendly, but maybe he'd be up to a battle. What do you think, Releshenada?" he looked over into the Phoenix's sapphire blue eyes. "You up to it?" Smoke managed to evade a lamppost by a mere margin.
"I suppose so. I could use the time to stretch my wings a bit, and prepare for the Preliminaries that are only a few days away."
"All right then." Smoke headed through the crowd and toward the Trainer.
Releshenada was quickly preening his feathers; he then looked sharply to his trainer. "Could you please try to look halfway presentable by spitting that vile thing out before we arrive?"
The phoenix sighed.
The crowd seemed to be giving the Griffin and its trainer a wide berth, which both looked glad for. Smoke quickly swaggered up to the trainer. "Excuse me, but would you like to battle with my Guardian."
"What?" came the hooded man's answer. The Griffin stayed silent.
"Oh, sorry. I'm Smoke and this is my Spirit Guardian Releshenada – "
Smoke coughed loudly. "Ah, yes, Releshenada the twenty-fourth. We were wondering if you'd like to battle."
The man pulled his hood down revealing a pale white face with a scar. "You're a . . . Trainer?"
"That's what I said."
"What are trainers supposed to do anyways, then?"
Both Trainer and Guardian were taken aback by the man's sentence. "Aren't you a Spirit Trainer yourself?" said Releshenada. "And isn't the Griffin your Guardian?"
"I guess so."
"You guess so!" exclaimed the Phoenix. "You either are or aren't."
"Fine I am. But I've only been its "trainer" for a day now."
Releshenada turned to the Griffin. "Are you his Spirit Guardian?"
The Griffin turned. "Yes. Why do you think I'm following the human around? I only found him this afternoon. I was searching around the swamp when I felt this instinct to go toward him, then I found him. Simple as that."
"I see . . ."
"Well I believe him," said Smoke, seeming to stumble left a little.
The phoenix, quickly seeing the look on the man's face said, "He's not drunk, I swear."
"All right, but your companion hasn't answered my question. What are we supposed to do?"
"Let's take a walk out of town, and I'll explain the best I can, then we'll have a battle."
"I'll explain on the way. But I would like to know your names."
"I see," said Smoke. "Now follow me." He began leading Vill and Ender out of the crowded city. "A Spirit Guardian is a companion that comes to a select few chosen humans, like us. Usually a Spirit Guardian comes to a child a few days after he or she is born, but it is not totally uncommon for a Guardian to arrive when the child is a bit older, between one and ten years of age. But cases like yours are very rare. How old are you anyway?"
" . . ."
"Okay, Well you look like you're around thirty. So you getting your Spirit Guardian at that age is very rare. You and I are what's called a Spirit Trainer. It's more of a title that the other non-Guardian humans made up for us really. Not all of us really train our Spirit Guardians. Some just live the quiet life with them, but some of us enter them in tournaments, to test out our Guardians in the manner of physical strength, speed, endurance, their special abilities, and our Guardians strength to handle their magical ability, and their Elements."
"Magical ability? Elements?" They were now out of the small city and in an open field of grass and flowers.
"Gettin' to it," Smoke said, blowing out a small puff of grey smoke. "Each Guardian is endowed with the ability to control or manipulate – and in most cases, both – an element or elements. The elements are Fire, Water, Thunder, Earth, Air, Gravity, Time, Mirror, Wind, Ice, Dark, and Light. Each Guardian has the power over one or two of these elements. For example Releshenada is a hybrid in control of the Wind and Light elements." Smoke turned to the Griffin. "It's Ender isn't it? Do you have idea what element you control?"
"I really don't have any idea," said Ender truthfully.
"We will find out that soon enough," said Releshenada, "with a battle."
"Like a contest of strength?" asked Ender. "We had a lot of that in my flock."
"A little like that," said Releshenada. "But it's more of a anything goes battle – with a few exceptions, no killing, and stuff like that. The first one that can't battle anymore loses. Hopefully this will determine what element you are, just allow your new instinct to guide your movements."
"Is that all?"
"Practically," said the phoenix.
"Do I fight with him?" asked Vill.
"Most of the time the Guardian usually makes the decisions of what to do, but the Trainer can order decisions to be made when he or she thinks that its for the best. It just depends on the Trainer and Guardian really."
"Oh, where do we battle then?"
"Right here," said Smoke, pointing to the grassy plain. "Releshenada."
"Right." Releshenada leapt gracefully off his Trainers shoulder, opened his wings, and began to fly.
"Well . . ." said Vill. "I guess its time for you to join in."
The griffin shrugged. "Very well." Ender opened his wings and was up in the air in a manner of seconds.
"I shall let you have the first move, Ender."
Without even bothering to reply, Ender darted towards the phoenix with amazing speed. Releshenada dodged out of the way quickly, but gracefully. He had only missed Ender's attack by a mere margin.
"You're a fast one, no doubt about that," said Releshenada, beginning to glow a violet/white color.
Ender did a quick turn and flew again towards Releshenada, his talons outstretched. Just as he was about to make contact, there was a cry from Releshenada.
"Blinding Light!" There was a large and brilliant flash of light that filled the air around the battlefield. Ender suddenly couldn't see anything. He shook his head trying to get rid of his sudden blindness. Releshenada suddenly hit Ender in the side, and the griffin fell toward the earth.
"Ender! Did he just . . . lose?"
"Not yet, Ender's still going, see?"
Vill looked to see his Guardian picking himself off the ground, looking very perplexed. Ender blinked a few times as his vision came back clearer and clearer. "What was that?"
"That," said Releshenada still flying in the air, "was an attack of mine, a small magic attack, that is. I called upon my elemental power of Light to create it."
"Did I just lose?"
"Didn't you listen to what Smoke said? You are not out until you can't battle anymore, unless you would like to surrender, which I doubt. So get up here! This time try tapping in to your own elemental power."
Ender rose into the air until he was facing Releshenada again. He tried to find the power that Releshenada was talking about, but he could not seem to find it.
"Concentrate, you need to concentrate. Focus on calling your elemental power. It will come to you, don't worry."
Ender became silent as he tried to find the power that he could supposedly call, but all he could see was the air going back and forth. Suddenly Ender knew what he was supposed to do. He concentrated with all his might on the air commanding it to do his bidding. It began to move faster and faster, swirling into an extremely small tornado. It then shot forward toward Releshenada.
"That's it," the phoenix cried. "You're doing it." And within a split-second another tornado – this one much bigger shot towards the smaller with a flap of Releshenada's wings. The collided with each other and the smaller one seemed to stop moving altogether, and the bigger one slowly began to fade.
"Very good, Ender. You must be an Air or Wind element if you were able to do that small tornado attack. But I didn't see any Aura from you, so I couldn't tell which you were."
"Sometimes when a Spirit Guardian does an attack his or her Aura starts to glow. Each Aura is unique; the color is depending on what Element or elements you are. For instance, I am a Light/Wind, so I'd glow a purple white color. Simple enough. Now try to do that again, this time try to do it faster and bigger."
Ender concentrated on the swirling air, commanding it to form a tornado again. The air began to swirl and Ender willed it to go bigger and faster with all his might. A light blue aura seemed to be about him as he concentrated.
"An Air! You're an Air Guardian!" cried Releshenada happily. "That's it, come on!" the phoenix encouraged as he saw the slightly bigger tornado began to form. Releshenada too began to summon a whiling vortex.
A strange white tornado and a plain grey one shot towards each other with amazing speed, colliding together, but this time the white tornado shot by Releshenada seemed to go bigger as it took on the volume of the smaller tornado, still moving toward Ender. The griffin tried to move away from the tornado, but he was not fast enough to escape the swirling vortex of light. He was pulled into the eye of the tornado, he began to spin faster and faster, and he was suddenly thrown out of the tornado onto the ground with amazing force. A blinding flash finished Releshenada's move as the white tornado vanished.
Ender tried to get up but he fell back onto the ground. "I lost," he said. "I can't battle anymore."
"It's perfectly all right," said Releshenada landing on Smoke's shoulder. "You did quite well considering that was your first time calling upon an element in battle. Don't worry, you'll get better at it as time goes on. In fact, why don't you come with us to the Preliminary tournament in Uyla? If your trainer agrees, that is. You'll be able to get more of a handle on your new power there.
Ender stood up, slightly wobbling. "Well . . ."
Vill sighed, pulling his hood over his face. "Fine with me."
A young boy was looking up into the clear blue sky, shielding his eyes from the blazing sun. The boy was dressed in a red t-shirt and jeans and he seemed to be looking for something.
"Ayden!" the boy called. There was a screech and a single black shape came hurtling out of the sky. At first glance, the bird looked like any other young Peregrine falcon, but at the second glance, one would notice the silver fire that looked remarkably like feathers streaming under his wings. He was of a special unique species of Falcon: the Silver Falcons. Ayden was also half Phoenix, which his Trainer was quite proud of.
"How did the training go?" asked Ayden's trainer as the bird landing on a strip of leather patched onto the boy's shirt at the shoulder.
"It was fine, Justin," the Silver Falcon/Phoenix remarked.
Justin looked across the grass plain. "How far away are we from Sarla anyway, Ayden? I'm getting tired of walking around.
"We should be there tomorrow morning, since we're resting here for the day. It's not too far," assured Ayden, knowing his trainer wasn't that athletic.
"Good," Justin said, sitting down on the grass, talking a drink from his water bottle. "I'm sick of this place."
"I know, just – " Ayden stopped looking across the plain with his keen brownish black eyes.
"What do you see, Ayden?"
"It's some weird horse, a very strange one at that . . ." said Ayden, then he added darkly. "And a girl. They're moving quite fast."
Justin laughed. "Maybe we'll finally meet a girl that won't like you."
Ayden glared fiercely at his trainer. "I hope that they don't come this way. But it looks like they are. I bet that strange horse is that girl's Spirit Guardian."
"We'll see, Ayden. We might as well wait, I'm not runnin' just because you don't like girls."
Ayden snorted but stayed silent.
The sound of hoof-beats was soon heard as the horse galloped up the hill near Ayden and Justin. One look at the horse and Justin agreed mentally that it couldn't be any ordinary horse, in fact, it looked like a Unicorn with a lightning shaped horn, but with wings, a long tail horse-like tail, and yellow lightning bolts under the horse's eyes. The horse almost galloped into boy and bird before quickly swerving to the left. There was a quick 'Stop, Blacksun,' before the strange horse stopped. The girl with blonde hair and blue eyes jumped down. "I'm so sorry," the girl amended. "We didn't mean to almost run into you, it's just that my Unicorn didn't see you."
Ayden spoke up. "That thing is a Unicorn?"
"Yep, and he's my Spirit Guardian. Oh, you must be the boy's Guardian too. My names Ari, and my Unicorn's name is Blacksun. How about you?"
Justin stood up, smirking at the bird at his shoulder. "Name's Justin, and this is Ayden."
"Nice to meet you. What a beautiful bird you have, Justin. His silver feathers are so beautiful. They look like fire!" Ari reached out a hand to pet Ayden's Silver Feathers.
Justin eyes were wide. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said quietly.
Ari shrugged. "I'm not going to hurt him, I promise," she said still reaching out towards the bird's wing.
Ayden gave the girl a venomous look and snapped at Ari's hand, missing it by one fourth of an inch. "Don't even think about it," Ayden screeched. "I won't miss next time. Stupid girl."
Blacksun stepped forward his emerald eyes gleaming in anger. "If you ever snap at her again with that beak of yours I'll – "
"Calm down, Blacksun." Ari's surprised glance then turned into a look of pity. "Ahh, if you didn't like your wings touched, you should have told me. Did something happen to your wings when you were young or something?"
Ayden's feathers ruffled. "I am perfectly fine. Unlike your horsy over there."
Ari's face remained neutral, unbothered by Ayden's remark, but Blacksun's face was totally opposite.
"Take that back!" the Unicorn yelled.
Ayden glared back. "No, Blackeye, or whatever your name was. You can't possibly be a Unicorn. Unicorn's are supposed to be white."
"Not always," said Ari. "That's just a stereotype. Not all Unicorns have to be white, you know. I've seen greens, purples, blues . . . all different kinds. You just haven't seen a Unicorn herd before, that's all."
Ayden looked taken aback. "Well . . . Unicorn's don't have wings, or a lightning shaped horn like yours does."
Blacksun's emerald eyes were glimmering dangerously. "Haven't you ever heard of a Death Shadow Unicorn before? Obviously not. That's what I am."
"Oh are you?" said Ayden, unimpressed. "I don't believe it, Blackeye."
"Ayden . . ." said Justin quietly. "I don't think you'd want to get that Unicorn any more angry then he already is."
"I don't care," yelled Ayden. "He is not a Unicorn, and the stupid girl's wrong."
That was the last straw for Blacksun; he leapt forward now face-to-face with the startled Justin and the Silver Falcon/Phoenix. "I am a Unicorn. I'll prove it to you. I'll battle you, here and now."
"I'd be glad to, Blackeye. But I won't lose."
"You call that a bargain?" yelled a woman in her early twenties.
"Of course it is, Ma'am," said the startled fruit stand owner, looking at the young woman. The angry woman was standing two feet away from the owner, looking very angry. She looked very out of place in the open flea market. She was fairly tall, wiry, and lean, with her auburn hair in a careless ponytail. Her attire consisted of a forest green tunic, tan pants, and a pair of sturdy normal looking boots. However what the market keeper didn't know was that inside each boot was a small throwing knife. The other thing that was peculiar was the Griffin that was sitting beside her.
The Griffin was a dusty reddish brown color, nearly the same color as his trainer's hair. He had a pair of cat like ears and two bone white horns atop his head. The Griffin looked almost bored watching his trainer haggle with the market keeper. The Griffin knew that the shopkeeper was selling the fruit at a reasonable price, but he had learned long ago it was not wise to point such a thing out to his trainer.
"I said it was thirty farins!"
"You're nuts, Lady, if you think I'd sell it at that price. If I sold my fruit at that price I'd be out of business."
"So! Isn't it the shop owners job to please your customers?" said the woman, letting her eyes wander over to where a small leather moneybag was laying feet away.
"Not at that price."
"Then I'll take my business somewhere else," she said, pretending to walk away.
The man looked like he was fighting a small, internal battle. "Fine! fifteen farins, and that's my final offer."
"That's fine," she said, pulling out fifteen farins out of her moneybag. She walked around to the side where the shopkeeper's moneybag was located, taking a few apples and putting them into a sack. She threw the farins over to the man who tried to catch them, managing to catch a few while the other farins fell to the ground.
"Thank you for your business," the man grumbled, trying to fetch the rest of his money that lay on the ground.
"You're welcome," the woman said happily, moving closer to the stand, quickly snatching the leather money pouch easily. The man would not notice it was gone until it was too late.
"Vanda!" said the Griffin sternly as they began to walk away, looking quite unhappy with his charge. "You know I don't like it when – "
"Oh, be quiet, Sandu," she said, throwing her Griffin an apple. "If that guy didn't want that moneybag to be stolen then he should have put it somewhere else." Vanda flipped the moneybag into the air, catching it easily. Her mercury blue eyes were glinting happily. "Besides as I always say . . ."
"If they can't keep it, they shouldn't have it," intoned Sandu. "I know that, Vanda, but it's just wrong to steal from others."
"I don't care."
"Of course you don't," sighed Sandu.
Vanda smiled and was about to speak again, when she heard an angry shriek echo through the crowd.
"Let me go, Skanandre. Right now!" yelled a red haired woman angrily.
"I do not think that would be best, Loren," answered the pure white Griffin.
"But that guy insulted me!" Loren pointed out.
"I don't care if he insulted you, Loren. He was drunk, anyone could tell that. He probably didn't mean what he said."
"Ohh, I bet he did."
The older looking Griffin sighed, clicking he silver beak. "Of course, you don't think punching him, was the wrong thing to do either, eh?" he said setting her on the ground, keeping a keen eye on her lest she decided to run.
"Of course I don't. The drunk deserved it. Besides he insulted me."
"He may have deserved it, but it was still no reason to punch him. Now calm down. You acted like a child in there, not like the twenty-three year old woman you are. You should be ashamed."
" . . ."
Vanda couldn't helpbut smirk at the picture of a twenty-three year old woman in a tight fitting blue t-shirt with a black Griffin tattoo on her shoulder punching a guy.
"Come on," Vanda whispered to Sandu. "Let's go and meet them."
Sandu's eyes were narrow. "I don't trust that Griffin over there."
"You haven't even met him, come on."
Sandu growled and followed his amiable trainer.
Vanda walked up to Loren, quickly scanning the woman for any possible money that could be on her. "You must be a Spirit Trainer? I'm Vanda and this is my Griffin, Sandu."
The woman's face brightened somewhat. "Oh, another Spirit Trainer! I haven't met one for the longest time. I'm Loren Taylor and this is Skanandre, or Skan."
The Griffin did a slight bow to Vanda. "Pleased to meet you and your Guardian. It's Sandu isn't it?"
Sandu growled unhappily and placed himself in front of Vanda. He didn't trust the Griffin one bit. "Let's go," he muttered to Vanda.
Skanandre smiled. "Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of hurting your Trainer, if that's what you're afraid of."
"I'm not afraid!" yelled Sandu his orange eyes glittering angrily.
"I did not mean it to be taken that way, Sandu. If I've upset you in any way forgive me."
Loren then spoke up. "Are you going to the Preliminaries in Nyre?"
"What?" came the answer of both woman and griffin.
"You don't know?" said Loren. "It's a place where you battle your Spirit Guardian against other Spirit Guardians. I heard there was a big money reward if you win."
"Really," said Vanda, intrigued. "Nyre, eh? Where is Nyre anyway?"
"Just west," answered Skanandre. "If you want, we could show you the way."
"That would be great," answered Vanda.
"It's this way," said Loren, heading west down the busy street with her Guardian behind her.
"I don't trust them, especially that Griffin."
"It'll be all right, San. That Griffin reminded me of my Grandfather. What harm could he do?"
"Haven't I told you how harmful they can be when you least expect it?"
"You have. Besides, I'm a grown woman now. I can take care of myself, you know. I'm twenty-one . . ."
Sandu glared at her.
"IN A HALF!" came the finished sentence.
Out of a patch of thick mist a large white fox appeared. About the size of a big wolf, the fox had an almost ghostly appearance. It was thin, muscular, and lean, obviously a fast animal.
The fox stepped into the water gracefully; its flat paws easily skimming the water. Once it got into the middle of the small pool, the fox jumped up and dived into the water serenely. Within a minute, the fox came up to the opposite shore with two large fish in its mouth. Seemingly pleased it stalked up into the forest, its fur unwet and fully dry.
The large fox entered a clearing surrounded by forest, setting down its fish. "Calantha?" the fox barked.
A girl with coal black hair in a sea green dress who was sitting by a fire seemed to snap out of a trance like state. "Eldon?" she called. "Is that you?"
"Who else would it be?" said Eldon with a soft smile on his muzzle. "I brought something to eat."
"Fish?" she said.
The fox grabbed the two fish and brought them closer to the fire before dropping them. The fox quickly tore the skin off one of the fish and plucked out the bones with ease, making sure that Calantha could not see much. However, when she had seen him do it, it didn't seem to bother her over much, since she thought of it as her meal and not a once living creature. She had always reasoned that even she needed to eat. And you had to eat to survive.
Eldon tossed the meat over to Calantha who grabbed it with her fingers and pushed the meat onto a stick like she had been taught and put the meat stick over the flames. Eldon seemed satisfied with Calantha's work and began tearing at his raw fish, preferring it uncooked.
"We're leaving tomorrow. We're going to Uyla. You remember that place, Calantha?"
"I remember. We went there a few times to get food. I had a few friends there, but they left."
"That's right," said Eldon to the sixteen-year-old girl. "This year we're going to enter in the Spirit Guardian preliminaries. I heard from some of the animals in this forest that it was going to start soon."
"What are the Spirit Guardian Preliminaries?"
"It's where you enter you and I into a contest. There I battle other Guardian's like me."
"You're going to play with them. Like a contest?"
"Yes . . . " said Eldon. "We're going to play a little rough, just to determine who's stronger, that's all. And if we win you'll get some money. Then we can go and buy you a new dress. Just you and I."
"That sounds fun. Do you think that I'll make some friends."
"Of course, Calantha, of course," said Eldon, looking into Calantha's eyes that were a mix of green, blue, and grey.
A sixteen-year-old girl was sitting on a large rock over looking a busy city. Her long silvery blonde hair with purple streaks that flowed down her waste like a silver stream of water. She was wearing a very futuristic, tight purple shirt with a pair of baggy cargo pants, and hoop earrings in her ears. She moved and looked over to a small tree.
"We're finally here, Sacionez. It's Uyla."
"So it is, Fidelle," said the eagle that was perched on the tree, glaring at the city with his deep purple eyes. The eagle had a ghostly appearance, its white head looked normal enough, but if one glanced farther down one would see Sacionez's feathers were purple and the farther downward one looked, the darker it went. "So we're entering then?"
"Of course. Why else would we be here?"
"Well, your parents were born here for one thing."
"Yeah, they were," said Fidelle, looking at an amethyst ring her parents had given her before they died. "It's been awhile since I've been here."
"I know, Fidelle. Too long. But maybe this trip will be full of good memories, and not bad ones," said Sacionez, looking at the small scar above Fidelle's eye.
"I hope so, Nez. I hope so."
Bronze hoofs pounded along the dusty brown surface of a road, and a black animal some would mistake for a large horse rushed passed with a single rider on its back. The horse-like creature had a majestic appearance with a fine boned head and deep girth. Its leonine tail and silver horn was a dead giveaway that this creature was indeed a Unicorn. Its mane and tuft of fur on its tail was like a flaming fire, waving this way and that in the wind, adding to the majesty and beauty of the Unicorn.
The twenty-year-old rider had her green eyes deep set on the road before her. She was heading to Nyre, a place where one of the many Preliminary Spirit Guardian Tournaments were taking place. A single butterfly tattoo was printed on her right temple and on each of her fingers she wore a single, silver ring. Her bright yellow shirt was a testament to her usual cheery personality.
"How much further, Lothurin?" said the woman, her long red hair flying.
"Not far, Nadine," responded the Unicorn. "We'll get there tomorrow if we keep up this pace, at the slowest the day after tomorrow.
Nadine nodded, her small diamond necklace sparkling as if in anticipation. "We'll win that Tournament, I can feel it."
Lothurin tossed his head. "I bet we will, Nadine. You haven't been wrong yet."
"We'll show them all," said Nadine energetically.
Lothurin snorted, and jumped into the forest where a small trail was hidden by trees and brush. The trail had not been tread upon in a long time, long forgotten by many. The trial in truth was a short cut to Nyre. Lothurin had found it long ago, when he and Nadine were young and adventurous. Lothurin had discovered he had a knack for finding things unseen to most eyes, and this was one of his and Nadine's many secrets that they shared.
"Belle! Belle!" yowled a strong voice over the din of the crowd. "Where is that girl?"
Some of the human crowd turned and quickly rushed away at the sight of the large cat. Though some turned and stared in amazement and wonder.
The feline was larger then any Siberian Tiger, with a pair of orangey red wings, and the cat had much more majestic appearance. Its silky fur was pure white like new fallen snow, save for a black crescent moon mark on the cat's forehead and black tipped paws, and its fierce sapphire blue eyes wandered around the crowd searching for its Trainer. However, that was not what stunned the crowd. What the crowd was looking at rather was the now pink flames that started at the paw and went half way up each leg; the black on each paw was barely visible through the flames. The large cat walked forward a few paces, flames flickering, looking intently at every person that passed. A flash of blonde hair was seen a few feet away and the cat's long flame tipped ears pricked up and it ran toward the girl in a burst of speed.
"There you are, Belle," the cat cried happily.
The dark blonde haired girl turned toward the cat, looking totally unafraid. "Belle? Who's Belle?"
The cat got a good look at the girl, realizing that this was not Belle, but a totally different person, though she looked a lot like her Trainer. The girl was wearing a black tank top with green cargo pants. Around her pants was a black studded belt and a dragon necklace was hanging around her neck.
"Sorry," said the cat. "I was looking for my Trainer."
"Oh, you're a Guardian, huh? I have one too. He should be around here somewhere. Adorell!"
Within a matter of seconds, a large humanoid, bipedal rabbit could be seen jumping toward them. He had to be at least nine feet high towering over the crowd easily. He wore a pair of green cargo pants, almost identical to his trainer, with tattoos imprinted all over his body and a brown fox-like tail. He finally reached to where he trainer and the cat were standing.
Adorell gave his trainer a questioning glance. The girl seemed to know exactly what he meant. "Don't worry, Adorell, I'm fine."
Adorell turned to the cat, bringing his long human arms with long claws in front of him in a defensive position.
"She's fine, Adorell, she's just looking for her trainer." The rabbit backed away and stood by the side of his trainer. The cat was giving Adorell a curious glance.
"Don't worry about him," the girl said. "I'm Nicki, Adorell's Trainer. Who are you anyway?"
"Serena. My trainer's Belle. You look almost exactly like her."
Serena nodded. Suddenly another voice was heard.
The fire cat gave a happy cry and bounded towards her trainer. Out of curiosity, Nicki and Adorell followed.
Serena bounded up and nuzzled her trainer. "Yeah, I missed you too, Serena." Nicki and Adorell then came into view. Both trainers looked at each other in amazement. Had anyone seen them they would have said the looked like twins. Belle was wearing a dark red shirt and a pair of dark blue jeans with a gold necklace hanging around her neck, and across her shoulder was a black bag.
Belle was looking at Nicki with a mixture of amazement and shock, Nicki had the same expression imprinted on her face.
"You look exactly like me!" "I look exactly like you!" said both Trainers at the same time.
Nicki was the first to speak. "Serena told me I looked like you, but not that close."
"Really? Wait! You know Serena?"
"Yeah, she ran into me thinking I was you."
"Well I couldn't blame her. Anyways I'm Belle Starlia and you already know Serena, my Guardian."
"Nice to meet you," Nicki said, shaking hands with Belle. "I'm Nicki and this is Adorell."
"Oh, this is your Spirit Guardian. He's really cool looking." Belle turned to Adorell. "Hey, nice to meet you, Adorell."
" . . . "
"Hey!" Belle yelled indignantly. "Is your rabbit mute or something?"
Nicki shook her head. "Nope, just for some reason he doesn't like to talk."
"Doesn't like to talk, eh," said Serena moving over to where the large rabbit was standing. She began prodding Adorell with her yellow flamed paw. "I always wondered why he didn't talk. Hey, Adorell, say something won't you. Huh? Come on."
Adorell's long ears twitched and he gave Serena a withering glance but said nothing.
"He won't talk even if you prod him," said Nicki, chuckling at the Serena's attempt to make her Guardian talk. "He only talks when he wants to, and that's to say something important. Doesn't happen very often though." Nicki looked at Adorell fondly and Adorell shot Nicki a glance Belle and Serena couldn't interpret.
"He wants you to stop prodding him, he finds it annoying."
Serena withdrew her paw, her flames now orange, annoyed. "Well if he didn't like it, he should have said so himself. How could you tell he meant that anyway? Are you telepathic or something?"
"No, its just he and I understand each other. We don't need to necessarily talk to communicate. I remember when he came to me for the first time, clear as day. I was four years old at the time. He said to me 'I'm Adorell,' and that was it. But in my heart I knew he was my Guardian and we've been together ever since."
Belle nodded. "I've been with Serena ever since I can remember. Anyways are you going to the Spirit Guardian tournament in the next town? What's it called again?"
"Yeah, that's where me and Adorell were going. He's been training even before he met me, so he's really strong. I think he'll enjoy it. It'll be our first time there."
"Really! Serena and I want to enter too. It'll be our first time. Hey! I know! Why don't you come with us? It'll be really fun traveling with somebody new, besides Serena."
"Hey!" Serena yowled, her flames turning dark red.
"I don't know," said Nicki hesitantly. She didn't know whether she could trust her look alike or not. She shot a questioning glance toward Adorell. The large rabbit nodded his approval.
"Well, all right," said Nicki finally.
"Okay, come on then," yelled the fifteen year old, climbing on the Serena's back. The large cat began striding toward the north. "You want to ride on Serena, or walk? We might get to Corbie faster if we run."
"All right," Nicki said, walking towards Belle and Serena with Adorell behind her. "Think you can keep up, Adorell?"
Adorell gave his Trainer an indignant glance.
"All right, all right, I know you can," Nicki said, quickly snatching a passing man's wallet without anyone but Adorell seeing. She started running up to Serena and jumped onto her back.
With a yowl the cat sprang forward down the street, flames a bright red pink, matching the sunset. Adorell's ears twitched before he too sprang off keeping pace with the large fire cat.
"Here we are, Faranda! Corbie city," yelled an eighteen year old with spiky red-yellow hair and tan brown skin. He was dressed in an orange shirt and green cotton pants, ironically the same color as his dinosaur Spirit Guardian.
"It's about time," said Faranda, a large green raptor with orange stripes across her back. On each foot, a large opposable claw was stretched out menacingly.
"What do you mean 'about time' the hike cross country was great."
"Easy for you to say, Ligue," said Faranda. "You weren't getting strange looks from everyone we met."
"Well . . . you don't always see dinosaurs very often, especially a Spirit Guardian one," said Ligue.
"That's true," agreed Faranda, reaching a long forearm to her neck, scratching an itch with her claws. "But maybe we'll see others like me in the Preliminaries."
"Maybe," said Ligue. "And maybe I'll run in to some girls that would be willing to date me."
Faranda rolled her eyes, he had dated more girls then she cared to remember. "Maybe you should give up dating altogether," said Faranda hopefully.
Ligue sat down, not hearing what Faranda said, and started going through a medium sized knapsack, going through his remaining supplies. "Healing powder, some crackers, antiseptic, antibiotic . . ."
"Didn't you hear what I just said?" said Faranda angrily.
"Oh, sorry, did I miss something?"
Faranda sighed. "Must you check through your stuff now, so close to a city?"
"Well, I might as well see what I have and what I need more of, so I'll know what to buy when we get to the city. Besides, you can never be too prepared for anything. What did you say before anyways?"
Faranda rolled her eyes as he repeated his motto, which she had heard many times over. "I said, 'maybe you should give up dating altogether.'"
"Oh, well maybe I should. But if I don't date, I might not find that one special person."
Faranda gave a sad sigh. "What if the person you're looking for is right in front of you?"
"What? Are you saying you thought one of the girls I dated was 'the one?' If you thought one of them was how come you didn't you mention it?"
Faranda growled a sad and angry growl before pouncing on her trainer, knocking him on his back. "You are so dense sometimes. Let's go." Faranda began walking towards the city.
"Hey! Wait up. Let me get my stuff back in! Faranda!" he quickly stuffed his belongings into his knapsack running after his Guardian. He knew she was upset, but what it was about he did not know. "Faranda! Whatever I did I'm sorry. Wait."
The raptor halted, looking up into the now rising moon. She couldn't stay mad at her Trainer for long. "Come on, I want to get to a hotel or something before night is fully upon us."
"All right, Faranda," said Ligue, rubbing his Guardians muzzle. "Let's go."
The full moon was fully risen over a dark forest on the continent of Farinia. In the depths of the forest, a single cry rang out, breaking the silence.
"Specialty attack: Dark Poison Fang!"
"Serla, NO!" cried a boy of eighteen, rushing over to his fallen Spirit Guardian. "Serla, Serla, are you all right? Serla?"
The mouse Guardian quivered but didn't speak.
A dark figure approached the fallen mouse Guardian. The figure was of a large snake, dressed in a pirate like attire complete with a sword in a sheath wrapped around its long body. "All right? Ssss . . . I think not. Not with my poison running through her veins she's not. But don't worry, ssss . . . she will be!" A snake reared over the two figures and with a lightning fast strike, the snake had the mouse in its jaws.
"Sagacious! Behave yourself!" called a blonde haired girl from behind her Guardian. Even though her voice was strict, she seemed to be quite pleased with her snake.
Sagacious turned to his trainer and hissed, gulping down the small mouse. "I was hungry."
The girl smiled an evil smile. "Well, I suppose you do have to eat. How long has it been? Three weeks?"
The brown haired boy called Tim stood there in shock for a moment, then stood up, seeming to be in pain. "You . . . how dare you!" he cried. "Your Guardian just killed my Serla."
"Just a consequence of battle," said the girl.
"That's not how a Spirit Guardian battle is supposed to go . . . I wasn't supposed to lose her. Guardian's aren't supposed to die in battles."
"Tough luck, boy. But why the fuss? She was just a tiny mouse."
"I loved her!" Tim yelled. "And you killed her! And she wasn't just a field mouse: she was my Spirit Guardian, my friend. You'll pay. I swear on Serla you'll pay!"
"Ssss, don't over react, boy. If it really pains you that she's dead, I could make you join her, painlessly. Well almost painlessly." Sagacious rose up, waiting for the command to strike.
The boy's courage seemed to fail him and he ran. "You'll pay! One day you'll see!"
"Coward!" shouted the girl back. "I never did like you or your mouse anyway! Come, Saga!" the snake slithered obediently forward.
After a few minutes, Sagacious spoke again.
"We are close," said Sagacious still slithering along the ground, his blue forked tongue going in and out of its mouth.
"Close to where?" said another voice, this one feminine, looking down at the black, python-sized snake that was her Spirit Guardian.
"A human city."
"And how would you know, Sagacious?" said the girl, in a hard tone, her blue eyes piercing into the snake.
The snake gave her a look with its brown – almost black eyes that seemed to say 'you should already know why'. "I can smell them, Elizabeth," answered the snake in the same way, shaking his head sending his black braided hair flying this way and that.
"Mistress! Mistress!" shouted Elizabeth in an angry tone. "You must always call me that! How many times do I have to tell you? After all," she added in a sinister tone. "I'll be the ruler of all Farina someday, so you might as show some respect, Saga."
Saga sighed. "Yes, mistre—."
The girl of sixteen cut off Sagacious. "Wait!" she said jubilantly. "I got it! Queen! You must call me queen now." The snake was about to reply when Elizabeth spoke up again.
"No! Supreme Ruler of Farinia!
Saga rolled his eyes. "Not this again, Elizabeth, sss."
His partner began walked down the road. "I'll be the ruler of Farinia one day, Saga. You'll see. Everyone will see!"