Fantasy Fiction

I am trapped here, alone, in this dark place. There are no windows, no entrance for light to shine through, no way to tell the passing of time. Every day has been the same, filled with long hours of nothing. Nothing to do. Nothing to see. Just darkness, and a cold stone floor.

Where am I? How long have I been here? How did I get here? Am I awake or asleep? Alive or dead?

I do not know. All I know is darkness, and nothing.

I cannot get out. I tried everything. No matter how hard I flapped my wings, I could not break free of the bonds clamped around each of my ankles, anchoring me to the floor. No matter how much I called for help until my throat became hoarse, no one heard me. No one cares. But it no longer matters. I gave up a long time ago.

There is a dull, hollow ache in my stomach that won’t go away. When was the last time I ate? I cannot remember.

But I do remember a time when I could go wherever I pleased. A time when I could soar high above the clouds, viewing the breathtaking scenery of the mountains below. A time when I could feel the warm sunlight on my fur and in my feathers. A time when I was free. That time feels like so long ago. Now, I can no longer do any of those things.

Now, as my strength fades with each passing minute, all I can do is lie on this cold floor and wait for the end that is sure to come.

* * * * *

I’ve been hoping for this day my entire life. Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted the chance to become a Legendary. It’s the most honorable position a fairy in Tyren can receive—next to the king and queen, of course. 

When humans think of fairies, they usually think of tiny, delicate, glittery-winged people with magic powers who wave wands and grant wishes. I have no idea where they get that from, because that’s just not us. Not in Tyren, at least. We’re not tiny, though we can shrink if we want to (not that we do very often). We do have wings, but they’re not that glittery, or even colorful. We are definitely not delicate, nor do we grant wishes. We wave swords instead of wands. As for powers, we don’t use them. At all. We’re even discouraged from discovering them—we don’t have a special Talent Testing Center where we can find out what our powers are, like in some countries (*cough cough* Valeron *cough cough*). In Tyren, powers are viewed as weaknesses. Instead, we value fighting skills. In school we are trained to be warriors. The better of a warrior someone is, the better chance they have of being chosen for a great honor.

Every year, the strongest young warrior in our land is chosen to battle a griffin during the annual Sun Festival, the biggest event of the year. If the warrior kills the griffin (which is very difficult to do because griffins are the most powerful creatures in the world) and gets one of its wing feathers, they become a Legendary. Griffins are extremely elusive creatures, so their feathers are super valuable since they’re so hard to get. Anybody who has one—which is not many people—is practically royalty. They get fame and fortune, riches and honor. And out of all of the young warriors in Tyren, the king has chosen me, Kora Joltaire, for the Griffin Battle in the Sun Festival!

I never really expected to be chosen. Sure, everyone I know has always told me that I’m such a skilled fighter, but I’m only twelve. All of the warriors chosen for the Sun Festival in the past were at least thirteen, though the average age was around sixteen or seventeen. And most (but not all) of them were definitely not girls. So I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but in the meantime I made sure that I did my very best during warrior training so that one day I’d get the chance to even be considered as a Sun Festival warrior. But things just started getting better and better from there. When my training instructor noticed how skilled I was getting, he suggested that I should compete in the Tournament of Young Warriors, which the king himself watches to determine who the strongest fighter is and choose that fairy for the Sun Festival Griffin Battle. Of course I entered the tournament. And somehow, I ended up winning, which is how I came to be chosen.

So now, here I am, standing in front of the massive iron doors to the arena where I’m about to face a powerful animal with a thirty-foot wingspan and sword-like claws, risking certain death just for the chance to get one of its feathers and win honor.

This is going to be fun.

Even from outside the arena, I can hear the excited murmur of the crowd. The Sun Festival is always the biggest event of the entire year (it’s a week-long celebration!), and the Griffin Battle is what kicks the whole thing off. Everyone is expecting it to be a great show. I can’t let them down. I won’t let them down.

I take several deep breaths to calm my nerves. “Okay, Kora. You can do this,” I tell myself. “You’ve trained your whole life for this. You’ve battled fairies and animals ten times stronger than you. You got this!”

I stare at the huge doors of the entrance to the arena. Any moment now, they’re going to open and the king is going to announce—

“Presenting Kora Joltaire, the youngest warrior to ever battle in the Sun Festival!”

My heart starts pounding and adrenaline rushes through my veins as the huge iron doors slowly swing open. This is actually happening!

The crowd roars as I enter the spacious arena. I barely have time to take it all in before the king calls out from his place on the balcony high above, “Let the battle begin! Release the griffin!”

* * * * *

Suddenly, there is a rumbling sound, like thunder, and a sliver of light pierces the darkness. I look up, and immediately blink in the brightness as a large stone trapdoor in the ceiling slowly opens, allowing even more light to spill into the room. The metal cuffs clamped around my ankles, which had kept me chained to the floor, loosen and fall off. I’m...free?

Gathering what little strength I have left, I push to my feet and unfurl my majestic wings. With a few flaps, I fly to the top and leap through the open space in the ceiling.

Sunlight at last! I close my eyes in delight as it bathes me in its warmth. My photosynthetic feathers absorb it, giving me a surge of renewed energy.

I hear people shouting and open my eyes, noticing for the first time where I am: standing in a huge, sandy, outdoor arena. All the way at the opposite end from where I am standing is a teenage girl fairy, dressed in warrior attire. Her green eyes focus on me intensely. As I hold her gaze, my heart swells, and for a moment everything in my surroundings seems to fade away as I realize who the girl really is.

It should not be possible. But it is. I know it is, because my senses never lie.

I remember everything now. This fairy girl is the reason I came here in the first place. I have been searching for her all this time. She is my…

I don’t like the way this griffin is staring at me. But I stare back to show it that I’m not afraid. Plus, some part of me doesn’t want to look away. Something stirs in the back of my mind, like I’m trying to recover a forgotten memory.

Do I...know this griffin?

Suddenly, the crowd starts chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and the moment vanishes. Of course I don’t know this griffin. I’ve never seen it before in my life. And if I have, so what? It’s just an animal.

I pull my sword from its sheath at my hip. This griffin is going down.

The girl charges toward me, wielding a sword.

My heart sinks. She wants to kill me.

I know it is not her fault. She doesn’t remember me. She thinks I am just a creature to be slayed in this awful battle. This is what she was taught to believe, having grown up as a Tyrenite.

That is why I came here, to tell her the truth. And to tell her something else as well, something that I should have told her a long time ago.

I spread my wings and launch myself into the air just as she gets close, soaring towards the sky, towards freedom. But an invisible shield of energy over the arena knocks me back. A force field?

Of course. How could I have been so foolish as to think I would have been able to escape that easily?

I fly towards the stunned griffin, taking advantage of the opportunity to attack. But the beast recovers quickly and spins around, whacking my sword out of my hand with its tail. The sword hurtles toward the sandy floor of the arena and lands with a soft clang. I dive to retrieve it, but the griffin beats me there, slamming a huge front paw down on the sword to prevent me from picking it up.

The crowd gasps.

I slowly circle the griffin as I contemplate my next move, which is what exactly? How am I supposed to get my sword back from a creature that could kill me with one swipe of its paw?

I have her right where I want her. I have taken her only weapon. Now is my chance.

The griffin is staring at me again. Its golden eyes seem to have a look of defiance in them, as if it’s saying, “Ha, I’ve got your sword, what are you gonna do about it?”

I glare back. I can’t wait to kill that thing. As soon as I figure out how to get my sword back.

I promise I will give you back your sword, and will offer no resistance when you try to kill me, if you first just listen to me.

Uh, did I just hear a voice in my head?

Yes, you did. But it is not your own voice you hear. It is mine.

My eyes widen at the griffin, who’s still staring at me with intensity. Is it—no, she; the voice is definitely female—reading my mind? And did she just talk to me in my mind?

Yes to both of your questions. Telepathy is the main way griffins communicate with each other. Now, will you listen to what I have to say?

I cross my arms. “Well, doesn’t look like I have a choice, seeing as how you have my sword!”

You always have a choice. And I told you, I will give the sword back to you. I promised—and a griffin never breaks their promise. Now please listen. What I am about to tell you is very important.

“Fine then, start talking. But in case this is just a trick to get out of your inevitable death, I want you to know that nothing you say is going to convince me not to kill you.”

That is not my concern. You are the reason I allowed myself to be brought to this battle in the first place. I am only here to tell you the truth about who you are.

“Like you know who I am.”

I know more about you than you think, Kora, because I am your mother.

I start to laugh, then stop when I notice the serious expression on the griffin’s face. “I’m sorry—what?”

I know it is hard to believe

“More like impossible!” I interrupt.

but it is true. Tell me, Kora, where are your parents?

“They died when I was young. I don’t remember them.”

So who has taken care of you all this time?

“No one, except myself. I’ve always been independent, even as a child.”

That is true. The griffin’s voice in my head sounds almost...wistful?

“Anyway, how do you expect me to believe you’re my mother? You’re a griffin. I’m a fairy.”

Yes, in your current form, you are. But you are also a griffin.

This conversation keeps getting weirder and weirder. As if the fact that I'm even having a conversation with a griffin wasn't weird enough!

Think about it. No fairy your age has strength like yours. Griffins are the strongest creatures in the world. Also, if you were not a griffin, you would not be able to communicate telepathically with me.

“I’m not. You’re the one speaking into my mind.”

And you are speaking into mine. You do not even realize it, but you have not spoken aloud the entire time.

I haven’t?

I’d forgotten the crowd was watching, but sure enough, I hear them whispering, “Why is she just staring at the griffin like that?”

Huh. I guess the griffin's right.

“Okay then, let’s say you are my mother. Where have you been all this time?! Why did you let me fend for myself?” I demand. “And if I am a griffin, how did I become a fairy?”

That is a long story that will take much time to tell, time that we do not have right now. The griffin points her beak toward the restless crowd. But there is one more thing I must tell you before we finish this battle. If you do not believe anything else I have told you, believe this. She steps closer to me and briefly rests her head on my shoulder. I love you.

Why do I feel so sad all of a sudden?

Now, I made a promise to you, and I am going to fulfill it. The griffin pushes the sword towards my feet with her beak and then lies down in front of me.

I pick up the sword. “But...what about my questions?” I ask.

When you get the chance, go to Valeron and find Zephyr, the king of the griffins. He can tell you everything. She lowers her head. Now, do what you must.

The crowd starts chanting, “Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!”

I stare at the sword in my hand. This is it. What I’ve been waiting for my whole life. What I’ve spent months training and preparing for. My future as a Legendary is right in front of me. And yet…

I glance at the griffin lying on the ground in front of me. She looks back at me, but I see no fear or anger in her golden eyes. Only a calm resolution...and love.

Even though I’m about to kill her, she loves me. But why? Could she really be my mother? And if she is, how can I do this to her?

I see the conflict in Kora’s eyes. I see it raging inside her mind. Everything in me wants to help her make a choice. But I know I must not. I have already told her the truth. Now she has to decide for herself what she will believe. The choice is hers, and hers alone. Whatever she chooses...so be it.

I glance up at the balcony where the king of Tyren sits. He has a deep frown on his face. If I don’t make a move soon, he’ll call the battle off, and I’ll forever lose my once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Legendary.

But if not, I may lose something else, something more.

I glance down at my sword again. My mind is made up. I know what I must do.

March 13, 2021 03:00

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TJ Squared
15:13 Apr 25, 2021

ooh, nice cliffhanger! Good thing you made a part 2 XD. The following lines stood out to me: "I am trapped here, alone, in this dark place. There are no windows, no entrance for light to shine through, no way to tell the passing of time. Every day has been the same, filled with long hours of nothing. Nothing to do. Nothing to see. Just darkness, and a cold stone floor. Where am I? How long have I been here? How did I get here? Am I awake or asleep? Alive or dead?" Great hook! Reminds me of loneliness and questioning things :) I also like ...


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12:29 Apr 25, 2021

This is fantastic! I love the ending! Great work, I hope there's a part 3 too, but I'm going to take a break now, so I'll read future parts tomorrow!


13:49 Apr 25, 2021

Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it! :D And yep, part 3 will be coming soon!


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Arwen Dove
03:51 Mar 30, 2021

Thus is such an inspiring story! I love it! Great job!


18:39 Mar 30, 2021

Thank you! :D


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