“We need money for supplies.” Viktor groaned, rubbing his forehead. “I have no clue how to do it.” A startled glance at me, his eyes watched Little Lottie bounce up with a poster of some sorts. Childish playfulness glinted in her eyes, a devilish grin dancing across her face.
“This person named Vinci is holding a talent show in the town square.” She chirped excitedly, the cobblestone crumbling beneath her feet. “Although the prize money should go to their streets.” Rolling my eyes, I smoothed out my silk purple dress. Sadness touched my soul lightly, fingers trying to play with the lack of length of my hair. Damn it, I forgot the jerk cut off all of my hair.
“This seems off.” Boran groaned, his kind eyes meeting mine. “Look at the town folk. Their eyes are all blank and lifeless. I almost wonder if there's a curse or something.” His hooves scraped against the crumbling brick buildings, a whole building nearly falling on us. Viktor crossed his arm across his new scarlet suit, his worn boots tapping incessantly. Boran was right though, people in torn Victorian clothes wandered about aimlessly. Dust covered the streets, a golden carriage shimmering in the bleak distance. What an odd beacon to see in such depravity?
The horse plodded to a stop, snorting hot air in my face. My eyebrow cocked, the horse eating my purple hat. The deadly quiet pale man driving the carriage hopped down to the ornate door, the hinges screaming as it opened rather roughly. A woman with porcelain skin and long dark hair stepped out, her red robes flowing vibrantly over the street. Golden thorns sat on her head like a sharp warning to everyone who met her. Her red eyes glittered excitedly at the sight of us, her black gloved hand reaching out towards me.
“Aw, it is the infamous android that I have been hearing about lately.” She mused, her finger playing with her hair. “Gizmo would be happy to see you.” A black gem glinted in the dying sun, clouds forming above us. Tense lips pressed together, cold sweat dripped down my forehead. There was something truly wrong here, an odd sensation coming over me.
“Shove it!” I growled, reaching for my sword. “Free the town from its darkness, or face the power of the Lady of Light.” Her head cocked to the right, a wry grin darkening her face. Her red boots clicked on the cobblestone, her sauntering ever closer to me. Black smoke curled out of her mouth, the leather feeling rough against my skin as she traced my cheek. Viktor shifted uncomfortably next to me, Oakley hovering over his shoulder.
“You would look better with longer hair.” She teased haughtily playing with my short wavy hair. “The curse on you is delicious, I love curses. They taste so, so wonderful. It is like a mix of chocolate and salt. If you win the talent show, I will let you lift the curse. However, if you lose, I will devour all of you. Ta, ta, my dears.” She licked her lips, my hand telling everyone to stay back. Snapping her fingers, a golden stage exploded from the center of the town square. Bricks flew in our direction, the red velvet curtains materializing from the golden stage. The cursed villagers gathered around, a glimmer of light in their eyes. Hope was stirring within their dark hearts, a butterfly fluttering about in their chests.
“I have no talent.” Viktor grumbled, shaking his head. “All I can do is invent things. How about you?” Everyone turned towards me, creepy smiles on their faces. My cheeks flushed scarlet, all eyes seeming to be on me. A lump formed in my throat, Vinci staring confidently in my direction.
“Fine.” I retorted, deeply in defeat. “Viktor, you gather up all of the villagers, and Boran becomes my assistant on stage. Oakley, help Viktor. Little Lottie, try not to get killed.” We all nodded, my boots clicking up to the stage. Worn wooden boards creaked, our faces inches from each other. A soft floral scent wafted gently up my nose, slightly intoxicating me. A cocky grin met another cocky grin, her carriage driver standing next to her with two lutes. Boran ran up and grabbed one, his quick fingers tuning the beat up instrument.
“How about two magic songs?” She offered coldly, watching me glower back at her. “These two lutes allow the singer to use their magic to make beautiful or dark images. What do you say?” My eyebrows furrowed, her cocky grin melting into a fear-inducing toothy grin. Her mouth reminded me of a dragon, the rows of sharp teeth glittering in the golden reflection of the lights on the stage. The leather of her creaked as she wrapped her fingers around her black immaculate instrument, thunder crashing in the distance. Viktor and Oakley worked together to protect everyone with a blue and golden force field. Her beautiful voice began, a black dragon flying from the lute.
“The black dragon took over the land, darkness snuffing out the light.” She sang darkly, her smirk growing stronger. “His wings covered the sun, red flames bursting from his lips. Flames destroyed the town, the walls forever crumbling down. Long live the dragon.” My ears perked up at her song, it was ‘The Black Dragon Darkness.” A lump formed in my throat, my fingers wrapping around the neck of my worn lute. Viktor glared at me, my trembling hands handing Boran my necklace. A surge of energy burned my body, instant fatigue wracking my body.
“The dragon burned the town, dragged down the souls of the poor villagers.” I sang, my nose bleeding. “The phoenix grew from the ashes, her red feathers shimmering in the ash and dust. Let the hope of the phoenix spread across the land, freeing all those trapped in darkness.” A beautiful phoenix fluttered out of my lute, hovering inches from her black dragon. Pain shot through my body, her fingers strumming rapidly.
“The dragon ate the hope of everyone, the light leaving their eyes.” She belted out, her eyes growing blacker. “The phoenix soon fell to the darkness of the dragon, forever snuffing out hope.” My lips parted, flames licking my lute. Yet the phoenix remained, her lute glowing with blue flames. Growling to herself, she pulled out a black scaly sword. Time, I didn’t have time. My body shook with weakness, my muscles aching. Blood dripped from the corner of my mouth, her sword sliding easily into my stomach. Shock gripped my eyes, my mouth falling open. The dragon rushed at me, the phoenix fighting above me. The villagers waking up from her curse, their dazed glances looking around. Horror gripped their eyes, blood dripping from my wound. Boran placed the necklace around my neck, the internal bleeding slowing to a manageable pace. Flames lit up the night sky, ash raining down around us.
“Strike the stone on her chest.” Boran ordered urgently, his warm eyes flashing with concern. Blood exploded everywhere, her sword sliding out of my stomach. Red stained the wood beneath my feet, fresh hot blood flooding onto the wood. Raising my sword, a single blue bullet shot her black stone. Viktor stood behind me, a dark snarl twisted on his face. The stone shattered, the dragon fading away into the night. Red feathers floated down to me, the phoenix hovering above my wound. A single tear fell from its beautiful black eyes, a warm golden glow covering my body. Large salty tears flooded from my companions eyes, my wound sealing shut. Relief washed over me, my body feeling better than ever. A deep male voice boomed in my mind.
“Would you like me to bathe the town in light and hope, master?” The bird asked, gazing into my red eyes. “I am ready to help the Priestess of Light fight the darkness.” Nodding my head, his wings spread over the town. Red and orange feathers snowed down, a warm light bathing the town. The rumble turned into buildings, the street firming up underneath our feet. Vinci stirred next to me, kind brown eyes looking into mine. Viktor wrapped his arms around my waist, a stern glare in his eyes. Little Lottie and Boran cried out in wonder, the villagers now wearing a colorful sea of silk and feathers.
“Don’t you ever do that again!” Viktor shouted, holding me tighter. “I thought I lost you.” Fresh tears flooded from his eyes, my hand gripping his shirt tightly. Hot salty tears flooded from my eyes, a strange fear crashing over me.
“Go away!” Vinci bellowed into the night sky, leathery black wings growing from her back. “You are no longer welcome here.” Gizmo hovered over the town, an attack of coughs wracking my body. Horror widened my eyes, blood sat on my palm. Viktor saw it before I could hide it. His eyes grew dark with anger, his gun aimed at Gizmo.
“That is a useless weapon against me.” He gloated, waving his arms around. “I see you are already spitting up blood again. One day you will be mine again daughter. Come with me now, and I will stop the spread of darkness.” Viktor’s finger trembled on the trigger of his gun, a growl rumbling from his lips.
“NEVER!” He shouted into the sky, more tears flowing from his eyes. “I will protect her forever. Hell, I will die to keep her away from your nasty claws.” His chest rose up and down angrily, my hand taking his gun down. Gizmo tried to fly down, Vinci hovering inches from him. A sick smile twisted his face, his lizard eyes glittering with excitement.
“What are you going to do, black dragon?” He taunted, raising his sword. “I can-” Her glove fell off, revealing a small black scaly hand. White claws grew from her fingernails, Gizmo disappearing in a puff of smoke. She drifted down to my side, the phoenix hovering over my shoulder.
“You will be fine for a while.” She promised, petting the phoenix. “You set me free, and my village as well. Your reward will be as such. We will restock your supplies, and provide you a place of rest for as long as you need. Won’t we, innkeeper?” A stocky bald man nodded in our direction, the crowd cheering.
“Let us prepare a feast for our heroes.” A random person in the crowd barked, the crowd mumbling in agreement. People shuffled away to prepare the feast leaving only my friends and Vinci. Her long hair hung like a curtain, her bowing to me.
“Thank you.” She said warmly, her red eyes glittering joyfully. “Gizmo infected me with his darkness. It felt so cold in there, all alone to my thoughts. I don’t know if my village will ever trust me again.” Tears welled up in her eyes, my fingers intertwining with hers. Viktor hung behind me, his arms crossed grumpily.
“Don’t worry, he is always grumpy. They still love and trust you.” I comforted her, a weak smile dawning on her porcelain skin. “Go help them and they will see. Lottie and Boran lend a helping hand to the nice people.” Vinci led the two little ones away, leaving me and Viktor. His face softened, his arms uncrossing.
“I am only grumpy because I love you.” He chided playfully, pulling me closer to him. “Please don-” My lips pressed against his passionately, his hands running through my hair. Pulling back, his crooked grin made my heart skip a beat.
“I don’t mean too.” I teased with a gentle smile. “I love you with all of my heart. However, I can’t promise that I won’t get myself in trouble again.” Chuckling to himself, he traced my cheek gently.
“I know, but remember you have friends.” He groaned, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. “Let us help from now on. Let’s go get some rest.” We walked over to the Lantern’s Inn, the phoenix following after.