Was I still asleep? I couldn't tell. A rainbow of images flew before my eyes, and I thought at one point that I heard Arrow's voice, but it blew away into a howl which faded into a horrible wind. I was dreaming about wind? Huh?
Colors flashed so sporadically that it was hard to see any image, any pattern in them. My head barely grasped the fact that me, or at least my dream self, was merely floating in all the mess. Nothing was under my feet. I felt like I was in a big bowl of sherbet ice cream, melting so all the cream drowned me with its sickly sweet vibrancy. Then it all went black. My dream self turned her (my?) head to look around. There was nothing, almost as if I had been looking at a giant cinema screen and it had simply shut off. Only blackness surrounded me. My dream self looked around again, turning left to right. A silvery glow appeared in front of me and I stepped forward. The glow came closer, getting bigger with each step until it looked like a person coming towards me. But then it stood a few feet from me and I saw it wasn't a human like I had been expecting.
Standing right before me was a woman dressed in a golden satin dress which just barely covered her thighs. But it wasn't a person lady. Standing there was a woman completely covered with silver fur. Claws were extending from each finger and looking down, her feet weren't feet at all, but paws. I looked up at her face. On her shoulders laid a wolf's head, though human characteristics were clear. Intelligent eyes, a long mane of hair that was braided between her two slender ears, and a smile no natural wolf could have produced. I had no idea what was happening when my knees buckled and I found myself bowing before the wolf woman. She tilted her head forward in a slight bow in return.
"Child, find me." Her voice had amazing power behind it which sent shivers down my spine. But the smile on her furry lips quickly faded. She looked at me with exhausted and melancholy eyes. I tried to speak, but as I opened my mouth, the entire image shook and quickly faded until everything was black. I couldn't even see my dream self. Then a different voice rang out.
"Raven? Raven, babe, dinner's ready." I liked this voice. All the shivers instantly went away and were replaced with feelings of contentment.
I opened my eyes to see Arrow leaning over me, his brown hair falling in his flawless face. He smiled and I couldn't help but smile back.
"I made your favorite, fish sticks," he whispered, climbing over the bed to lean over me. Once again, my mind was split. 'Whoa boy, personal space.' But then again, 'Oh, you're gonna kiss me. Okay, I'm good with that.' He straddled his arms on each side of me as I laid on my back, staring up into his emerald eyes, though now they appeared less striking, a more calm limeade color. It was a perfect moment, until...
"Arrow! Get your tail in here! The food's getting cold!" This voice I didn't recognize. It was female, high pitched and giggly. It must be Dawn. Arrow sighed, leaned down and kissed me once more on the forehead. It was warm and left my whole body tingling as if I had been shocked from scooting my socks across the carpet. He pulled away and I found myself wishing he hadn't.
"Come on, your sister will have our pelts if we don't hurry," he said, rolling across the sheets and pushing himself off the quicksand of the comforter. I sat up slowly, taking a closer look at the room I was lounging in.
Wall to wall was painted a soft blue, but everything else was purple. Purple lampshades, purple curtains, purple trash can even. The ceiling of the box-like room was black though, or I think actually a really dark navy blue. The ceiling of the room had a black line through the center. On one side, the ceiling was a light blue with white, puffy clouds randomly placed and a bright circular sun in one corner. The other side was a dark, navy blue with a golden circle of a moon painted next to the ceiling fan and those stick on, glow-in-the-dark stars had been plastered to the ceiling. It looked pretty when all the lights were off. I did notice that the room otherwise was empty. A desk sat in one corner with a laptop positioned on it. A dresser was against the far wall and a closet door with a body mirror was against the other. Then there was the bed. Nothing else.
I pushed myself out of the covers and laid my feet on the soft shag carpet. I still had my socks on. Oops. Arrow headed towards the door, but I walked towards the dresser. The entire top shelf was covered to the point where no wood was visible. Cluttered with knick knacks and various papers, I eyed the mess carefully. Maybe a clue to my memory loss was in here. What had I been doing before I woke up at the park?
"This is all your stuff," Arrow said, coming to stand behind me. I grunted in response, too interested in a framed painting I had found on the shelf. It was a portrait of a werewolf with coppery eyes peeking out from a white snout. There were small differences, but I knew this was the wolf lady in my dream.
"This here's your bag," Arrow said, pulling a small shoulder bag from an open drawer. "We found it three days ago. The day you disappeared." He unzipped it and handed it to me.
"All your things are still inside, iPod, hairbrush, cell phone, dagger. And here," he said, pulling out a black lanyard with a charm on the end, "is your Havenear emblem. All Havenears wear them so everyone knows they're around to help." The metal hanging from the black string was a little dragon, curling around in a figure eight. I felt my eyes grow wide. Arrow reached over and clipped it on my neck, letting the charm hang between my tank top straps.
"Always wear it if you can." I nodded. He looked like he was going to say something else, but I cut him off.
"Hey, who's this?" I asked, holding up the werewolf portrait. Arrow's eyebrows knitted for a moment before he answered.
"That is Luna, the queen of the Dark Creatures. She was the one who signed the treaty to stop the Great War. But she's been missing for hundreds of years. Now her daughters rule..." He faded off for a second. "I'd think you'd at least remember something as important as her," he replied, sad eyes locked on me. I shrugged. The voice from the hall cried out again.
"Come on you two or I'll come in there myself and kick your butts out here!"
"Let's go," Arrow spoke, grabbing my arm and nudging me towards the door. I reluctantly followed. Why couldn't it stay just me and him?
We walked into a round dining room where the food was already waiting for us on the oak table. The dragon twins were pigging out in their mash potatoes when we sat down. I scooped some fish onto my plate when footsteps echoed behind me. I turned, almost dropping the dish.
Standing before me was a super model, complete with skinny stork legs and wire hair almost dripping with hairspray. She wore a sparkling, sequin dress with tons of ruffles which rippled back and forth when she walked. I felt jealous for a moment. She was so pretty. Plump in the front and the back, she was what every teen boy dreams of. I had looked at myself in the mirror back in my room. A twig with no meat on me anywhere and black ramen noodles hanging from my head. How pretty, right? She shot past me by far. But the strangest part of the model was out of her shoulder blades grew two enormous, translucent wings, similar to an insect's, something in between a butterfly's and a dragonfly's. They sparkled as she lightly flapped them before sitting down.
"Dawn?" I asked.
"Hello little sis."
Dawn began talking to me, saying things I really had no clue about or cared about really. I assumed Arrow had told her about my spell, but she was talking like I should have remembered everything myself.
"Oh and of course you know we just barely moved into this house. That's why they walls are so bare," she said, gathering her peas with her spoon. "Though you wasted no time getting your room semi-set up right?" I nodded, but comprehended nothing. I was too busy staring at Arrow. Again.
"You should consider yourself lucky I found Sam when I did. He took care of everything, fixing the amusement park and wiping memories. You really owe him now..." She droned on before finally stopping. My ears said a silent thank you.
After that, we ate practically in silence. Well, almost. Wyck and Flint were stuffing their faces so loudly, hogs halfway across the state probably thought they heard their cousins. I hadn't realized how starving I was, but after a minute, eight of the dozen fish sticks given to me were gone before Arrow had even finished three. I was raising a spoonful of peas to my lips when a sound echoed through the house that made all of us freeze in our seats.
"Ahhhhhhhh!" A scream rang out, cutting the silent air like it was made of butter. Arrow sprang to his feet, along with Dawn who grabbed the fork lying next to her plate. She swung it around threateningly. The two dragons looked at each other earnestly before slowly standing as well. I didn't know what to do so I pushed out my chair and stood too.
"That doesn't sound good," Flint muttered, trying to keep in a mouthful of green beans.
"Come, let's check it out," Arrow said, ignoring Flint and walking to the front door.
"Ah..." My voice was a bit uneasy. Even I could hear it crackle.
"It's part of your job, Havenear," Arrow called to me, already out the door and halfway down the porch walk. I stumbled away from the table, heading towards the door too, only to stop and turn back into my room. I popped my head in and quickly grabbed my sword from the wall. My feet were moving fast to the void leading into the green lawn. So fast, I didn't have time to stop when Arrow came running back in. His head bashed into mine as we both tumbled to the floor.
"It's already getting dark out," he panted, breath coming in quick jets of air. He hadn't been running that hard. I could also see the red start to creep back into his eyes. "Tonight's not that bad since it's only a half moon, but I should still be inside. Raven, get Dawn to go with you to investigate. I'll wait for you here." His 'here' didn't end with a normal 'e' sound. It rumbled on into what sounded like a growl. Dawn rushed forward and pushed him deeper into the house.
"Go, we'll be right back. This shouldn't take long for an experienced Havenear like yourself, eh Raven?" she chuckled, a hint of bitterness in her tone.
"Exactly, let's go." Dawn grabbed my wrist and together we ran out of the house and down the pavement. Arrow was right. The sun was already beginning to disappear behind the mountain tops, turning the sky a vibrant wine purple, bubblegum pink, and blueberry color. They all mixed together as if a master artist had taken his brush and stroked it across the sky. A few stars were starting to illuminate while indeed a half moon grew brighter and brighter by the second.
I had my head up, so as I was dragged down the dusty road, many times I almost fell flat on my face by tripping over a rock. Finally we hit the main street where to our left was a street corner. Sitting on that corner was what looked like a gas station but without the gas pumps. Just the store itself. It actually looked pretty ordinary. Nothing magical was seen about it at all. Lame. As we hit the asphalt, another scream rang out.
"Ahhhhhhhh!" Yep, it came from that little store. Dawn began sprinting that way. I tried to follow, but the sword I was carrying was really heavy. It weighed almost half as me. My arm was asleep from holding it up and my legs weren't used to carrying this much weight. I don't know why it was happening just at this moment. It hadn't felt like this at the amusement park. I was a bit slower, but I did make it down the hill to the sliding glass door of the store. Inside shelves were strewn everywhere, food scattered, ripped from its wrappings, cartons of milk spilt, I think I even saw a line of Twinkies leading to the furthest back corner. The sound of mumbling voices echoed in the now silent building.
Dawn raised her fingers to her lips, then waved at me to follow. Together we snuck over to a newspaper stand where stacks upon stacks of magazines had been piled up. Right perfect height to keep us hidden. I held the sword out behind me, peeking around my stack like a trapped animal. My mouth swung open.
The wall we were facing was lined with those refrigerator rooms where soda cans, milk jugs and water bottles were stocked. These things were scattered across the tile floor, liquid running everywhere. I even think I was standing in a puddle of something sticky. Squatting in the mess were three creatures, standing about as high as a German Sheppard with two stumpy legs each and a pair of clawed arms. Their skin was puke green and chaffed, with horns goring out at irregular intervals along their backs. Their teeth stuck out of the upper lip, like a saber-toothed tiger, only they went up from the bottom jaw. Two of them were busy shoving any food or drink they could find in their mouths, but the third stood as tall as he could and flared his pig nostrils. He was sniffing.
'Goblins,' Dawn mouthed to me. I nodded. Somehow I had recognized them. Faces I didn't remember, but it seemed like identifying magical species came almost second nature. Weird. The goblin sniffed for another moment or so before his beady eyes went back to tearing apart a bag of Cheetos.
"Now, I'm going to wake you and we're going to try this again. Tell me what you know!" When this voice sounded over the goblin scurrying, both Dawn and I froze. It was male, sounded experienced and worn, with a British accent mixed in there, but it was faint. I looked around, finding the source fairly quickly. The man was dressed in a tux with dirty blonde hair cut uniformly on his head. He was talking to someone on my left. My feet shuffled over, my eyes peeking through a crack between two magazine piles.
Tied to a folding chair was a young woman, probably twenty something, slumped over on herself. Her baby blue uniform was ripped and splattered in a brown liquid. The dressy man lifted his hand and a turquoise glow burst up around it. When he snapped his fingers, the glow burst so bright, I had to turn away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dawn turn too. The room filled with a heat similar to when you stick your hand in a heated oven. I didn't turn around, though until, over the goblin snarls, a female shriek erupted. I quickly turned back around.
The girl was awake now, thrashing about in attempt to free herself. Her wrists were bound behind her as she struggled to reach forward and grab the man standing three feet in front of her. He merely stood there, unmoving. The goblins scurried across the sticky floor, every once in a while looking up at the man and snickering.
"Come on darling, don't make me hurt you. You're too pretty to suffer that." He leaned down, his nose an inch away from hers. She appeared exhausted and didn't fight back. "Those eyes of yours. They are so much like the queens', all three of them. Only theirs are slightly lighter. Still, beautiful," he mumbled, raising a hand and stroking the side of her head. From the angle I was situated, I could see the hate clearly on her face. As though the thing touching her was a rattlesnake. But she didn't move, not a muscle.
"Now, are you or are you not going to tell me where the Havenear is? And don't think you're going to be smart and say they're not here. We have sources that tell us for sure there is a Havenear in this town. And you know them, don't you?" The man stood straight again, turning to waltz around the girl's chair. He stopped behind her and rested his fat fingers on the back of the seat. Like a viper's voice, he whispered, "Where?".
Dawn shuffled closer to the action, positioning herself behind a display of baked goods. It was perfect, except her glittery wings stuck out above the top by half an inch. I watched as the sheen of the reflecting light caught the man's attention. His face immediately cringed and his lips rose in a snarl. The moment he started in Dawn's direction, I felt my legs jerk up and my body run his way.
The next moment happened fast. I mean like 'not natural' fast. I jumped out from hiding, running straight at the man. He wasn't even looking my direction and yet, when I was a foot away from him, he was facing me. I hadn't even seen his body move. Just one second he was facing Dawn. Now he stood facing me.
"What's this?" he cackled, a wicked grin spreading across his chin. You know that song, the one that goes 'If you're happy and you know it, you're face will show it'? Well, I could certainly see the look of triumph on this guy's face. He looked like he had just won the lottery or something. I raised my fist. Only then did I realize I had left my sword behind the magazines. Oh great. Honestly, if I can't even remember to bring it with me, how is it doing me any good?
I stood there, mouth agape, staring at my empty hands. The suited man stepped forward and my heart leapt to my throat. I tried taking a step back but the goblins were now prancing around my feet like Persian cats, looping around my legs in figure eights. The man reached out his hand to touch me. Since I was in no position to argue, I let him stroke my face.
"So you're the beautiful little Havenear I've been hearing so much about?" His teeth were an unnatural white. Yeah, great idea Arrow. Wear the necklace so everyone knows I'm a Havenear. Everyone.
"I've been ordered to bring you to Saralinka, little Havenear. Alive, of course. She always takes the fun out of everything." He sighed, shaking his head. I watched as he walked away and went back to the girl.
"Liar," he whispered in her ear before raising his wide hand and dragging it across her face. The force of the slap knocked her chair over and she toppled to the linoleum floor. I jerked forward to help, but the hem of my pant leg was in a goblin's mouth. They were strong for such small little boogers. I fell forward, reaching out my hands to break my fall. The man laughed.
I felt my cheeks turn red as I glared up at him from the floor, but that's when a glint of something shiny passed by behind a rack of Lays potato chips. The man didn't notice as he looked down at me. My body went rigid as I shifted myself, moving just so that my legs, if back up right, would direct me to the girl and right out through the door. But I didn't move. Now wasn't the time. I'd have to wait. The girl in the chair moaned, and I saw her move slightly too, but she was really weak, only managing to turn over.
"Now Havenear, no struggling or the young lady here will die. Come on, stand up," the man said, offering his hand to pull me up. My eyes quickly darted to the brown glint. The air around the girl was shimmering like a mirage or something, but there was nothing behind her. But upon looking closer, one could see the ropes around her wrists slowly untie themselves and ease away. Ok, so my only semi-logical guess is that Dawn can turn invisible now? Egh, alright. That's kinda cool.
The girl felt them loosen and began to wiggle. Cautiously, I reached up to grab the outstretched palm. He tugged me to my feet and I felt myself wobble as a goblin nipped at my heels, only to shy back three feet upon my 'Ouch!'. Once I steadied myself, my body tensed. I knew what I had to do, and I had to do it fast.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" I screamed at the top of my lungs while bolting forward. The man, caught unaware, turned to me shocked as I ran over him, thrusting him to the ground. The goblins jumped back, higher than kangaroos, when my voice rang out, skidding to a halt on the tile floor. I saw the girl wiggle free and force herself to stand, aided by the glitter brown dust cloud, which slowly shifted like a mirage into the solid form of Dawn. They booked it towards the door, me on their tails.
Shelf upon shelf of food packs rained to the floor. I would push a rack down every one I passed, causing a maze of wrappers and boxes to cover our retreat. I glanced behind me, I felt safe enough to do that.
Crud, was all I could think when I saw what followed us. The goblins were climbing up the walls, running sideways over them with ease while one was even defying gravity and running upside down across the ceiling. The man was floating, yes floating, behind us, his feet never touching the floor. He merely sped after us a foot off the tile, faster than I imagine he could run. I quickly turned my attention forward again. We were almost to the door, closer, closer. Dawn and the girl burst out. I was about to jump too when I hit something.
It was like I had jumped straight into a wall. My face collided with something hard, but there had been nothing there when I leapt. The man roared with laughter over me as I righted my crooked nose.
"Now where, Havenear?"
Goblins ran at me but before they got to my outstretched hands, a blaze of red and blue light burst into the air. Sirens wailed as, through the glass windows, crashed three men, suited in brown like forest rangers. Two had guns, the other was holding a stick, like a branch off an elm tree. The point of the stick glowed like a flash light. The suited man looked up at them in horror. Taking this moment of him not looking at me, another thought buzzed in my brain and I immediately yelled it out.
"Val-care!" Great, another word I just happened to know. And yet, my head told me it was the right thing to say.
All four of the men around glared down at me, only to duck when whistling through the air came my sword. It flew right through a stand of feminine products and whizzed through the air like a boomerang. I reached up and caught it, swaying it in my hand so that the tip was a few inches from the suited man's face. He grimaced.
"Soon, Havenear. So soon," he grumbled through gritted teeth before closing his eyes and sinking into a pile of yellow dust, which blew out the broken windows. The smell of the stuff was like kitty liter. I had to wrinkle my nose. The goblins looked around at each other then hastily scurried away.
"Yeah, what now punk?" I spoke to myself, weighing the sword in my hand. This thing is officially awesome. The police, at least that's what I think they were, turned away with shocked expressions. Dawn ran up behind me, only to grab the weapon from my grasp.
"Where did you get this?" she demanded, turning it over on its hilt.
"I have no idea." She reached out for my hand.
"Come, I was gonna do this in the morning, but this changes everything. Let's go!" Dawn ripped me out the door and down the road, the opposite direction from the house.
I guess I'm not getting any sleep tonight.