There's Magic in the Little Things

Submitted into Contest #175 in response to: Start your story with two people planting a tree together.... view prompt


Fantasy Science Fiction Black

As the orange blood Moon reaches its apex in the star- kissed sky, Zilina holds her palms to the Heavens. She kneels alone in a wide clearing nestled amongst the dense trees. The flattened land is littered with the splintered remains of the trees that once stood here. Zilina whispers prayers of gratitude, harnessing the Moon’s power.

I want to help.

Suddenly, Zilina’s process is interrupted by the soft sound of Dollie’s voice in her head. Zilina closes her eyes to block out the distractions.


Zilina’s eyes fly open. She replies through gritted teeth, “You are helping. What do you hear?”

From her hiding spot in the curtain of trees, Dollie can see the whole clearing. Even with Zilina’s back to her, Dollie can feel her frustration. She closes her eyes and listens. Silence. For miles, Zilina’s thoughts are the only ones she hears.

Nothing, Dollie answers without moving her lips. Dollie hears Zilina’s mind return to a place of peace and gratitude just before Zilina continues her prayers. In order to refrain from listening to Zilina’s thoughts, Dollie searches for a way to busy her own. Her focus lands on the bulldozer not even ten feet away. She closes her eyes and focuses her energy on throwing the thing. Dollie strains to use her power. It doesn’t budge. She’ll just try to knock it over. Again, Dollie strains to use her power. Still, the bulldozer doesn’t budge. Dollie raises her palms and prays to the Moon.

One inch.

If Dollie can get it to move just an inch, she’ll be satisfied. Once again, Dollie puts everything she has into moving the bulldozer. Nothing.

Zilina finishes her prayers, opens her eyes and plunges her long fingers deep into the Earth. Soon, streams of water flow throughout the clearing, turning the dry, brown dirt to a rich, dark soil. Within seconds, a sea of small green seedlings sprouts from the Earth. From the ashes of the old, grow tall, thick, healthy trees. Zilina stands to inspect her work, satisfied. Then she walks towards Dollie’s spot among the trees. “Do you hear him?” Dollie closes her eyes and listens for the flapping wings of the fiery beast. Dollie shakes her head. Zilina nods, “Good. We have some time. Let’s move.” Zilina passes a Smith & Co. Construction sign before disappearing into the dark forest with Dollie on her heels.

With the morning sun slowly emerging beyond the horizon, the pair continue their journey through the woods. Zilina marches confidently while Dollie staggers behind, dragging her aching feet.

“We can’t. We’re losing moonlight,” Zilina replies to Dollie’s unspoken question. The girls continue until they come across another construction site. Although the debris has already been removed, there’s no equipment. No company sign. Zilina starts for the center.

The sun.

Zilina looks back. Her younger sister’s eyes are muddled with worry, with fear.

“I’ll be quick,” she assures her. Then, Zilina marches towards the middle and falls to her knees. She raises her hands and begins her incantations. Dollie diverts her focus to the forest. She takes in the lush greenery and the smell of the crisp autumn air. Slender rays of sun peek through the red and orange leaves to make small rainbows in the morning dew. Dollie finds her mind in a place of peace and gratitude. She focuses on a boulder not even five feet away. She closes her eyes and focuses her energy on moving the boulder.

One inch.

But when Dollie focuses her mind, all she can hear is the sound of flapping wings.

The Beast.

Dollie turns to warn her sister. Before she can get the words out, she feels a fluid building on her chest. Her hands fly to her throat. Dollie gags and gasps for air as she drowns in her own lungs. She falls to the ground, coughing up water. Dollie struggles to catch her breath. When she looks to her sister for help, she sees Zilina’s palm facing Dollie.

What are you doing?

Stay down and stay quiet.

Zilina mentally responds. Once Dollie obeys, the water in her lungs is  replaced with much need air. Dollie stays low and watches from in the woods. Zilina’s breathing grows shallow and rapid. She falls over, writhing in pain. Her lips are turning the same black color that seems to be poisoning her veins. Dollie starts to run to her sister. But the moment she stands, she can fill the water again. Dollie returns to her hiding spot.

Moments later, a ball of fire and active gases emerges from over the treetops. The closer it gets, Dollie makes out the form of a dragon. The flapping wings of the Beast creates an unbearable wind as it prepares to land beside Zilina. Once the creature plants its claws in the ground, a smug man in a suave suit smoothly jumps off its back.

“Ebir…,” Zilina struggles to speak. “Mother…isn’t happy.” Ebir approaches her limp body. He hikes up his pants to squat beside her.

“Mother is unhappy with you as well,” Ebir reminds his younger sister. “Planting a few trees won’t erase the past.”

“Not…erase the past…Change the future,” Zilina reponds weakly.

SNAP! Ebir’s eyes follow the sound of a breaking twig somewhere in the wooded darkness.

“Of course,” he chides. “You don’t go anywhere without our little baby doll.”

“Leave her alone.” Zilina’s voice is barely a whisper as she fights to keep her eyes open. Ebir snorts, “We don’t want her. There’s no point in reading the thoughts of your enemy when you can drown them in their own lungs or set their organs on fire.”

“I…won’t…,” Zilina falls unconscious.

“I have something that’ll clear that right up,” Ebir’s smirk returns. He starts to pick up Zilina’s body.

Don’t touch her.

Ebir stops at the sound of his baby sister’s voice in his head. Then slowly he stands.

“Or what? Are you going to think me to death? You’re nothing. So just keep doing what you do best. Hiding.” Ebir picks up Zilina. Dollie steps into the clearing. When she sees Ebir holding Zilina’s unconscious body, Dollie’s heart starts racing. She can hear the blood rushing to her ears. Dollie clenches her jaw and squeezes her fists closed. She glares at her brother. Ebir returns her heated stare with a smile. They stay like that for a moment. Quiet, still, seething. Ebir’s boisterous laughter breaks the silence.

“Exactly.” Ebir turns away from Dollie. The fiery Beast bends its neck, allowing Ebir to step up with Zilina in his arms. The orange blood dragon flaps its wings before taking off and disappearing over the treetops.

Once they’re out of sight, Dollie releases a scream she didn’t realize she was holding in. In that moment, in that scream, Dollie let it all go. Her disappointment, her shame, her weakness, her fear, her anger. She unleashed everything she’d been holding back. Everything she’d been hiding from. And after what seemed like an eternity, she stopped.

Dollie collapses on the ground as a boulder flies just inches above her head. It shakes the Earth as it lands in the very spot Ebir stood moments ago. Dollie turns around, searching for the boulder she was using to practice earlier. But it’s gone. Dollie gapes at the boulder. Her surprise soon turns to excitement. Dollie springs from the ground, squealing. She jumps up and down then does a little dance then turns to tell-- Dollie surveys the quiet forest. For a second, Dollie considers returning to her cozy hiding spot among the trees. Then, Dollie raises her palms to the sky and whispers an incantation, “I can find my sister. I will find my sister.” Even with fear in her heart, Dollie has the space to believe. Believe in her power, her magic and the possibility that she’ll see Zilina again. Alive. Dollie closes her eyes and repeats her incantations, believing it more and more each time. Until, finally, somehow, Dollie takes the first step forward. Then another and another. Dollie crosses the clearing without even realizing it. Then she continues on to save her sister and, unbeknownst her, to save the world.

December 10, 2022 04:52

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00:51 Dec 15, 2022

Hi, Gabrielle, It's a very interesting story, with a lot of potential. It seems like a scene from some type of middle-Earth era with the dragons and wizardry. But, to be honest, I didn't really understand who these people are and what the backstory is. Who are they, where did they come from, what is their mission, what's really going on here? I think there are some fascinating things in the story and I felt the need for more information. But it's certainly very imaginative and exciting.


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Graham Kinross
00:19 Dec 15, 2022

Seems like this needs a sequel. You clearly have more of the story to tell and you've got the characters ready to go.


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E.L. Montague
21:23 Dec 13, 2022

It's a nice idea. I think I could like these characters with more time and more words. Good job and thank you for posting it.


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