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  • Elizabeth James

The Creature Island (Part 2)

Chapter Five

Shadow twisted and turned in the air, trying to avoid being smacked into trees and tangled in vines. A few minutes earlier, it had been Sunburst dragging him along. Although she still had her claws clamped tightly around his wrist, he was now flying on his own.from the corner of his eye he saw a green dragon shoot past him. Venus was alive! Although, he wondered, why did Venus come from behind me? To be honest, it didn't matter right now. All that really mattered was getting away from the creature, the beast as he had come to call it. He could still feel the fear of hearing Sunburst shouting it's here, and it knows that we're here as well. Thinking about that made him fly faster, whizzing through the trees at almost Sunburst’s speed.

Around three hours later, they landed on the ground, gasping for air. Sunburst was the first to look up. “ I think we're far enough now,” she said slowly. Shadow agreed, and he thought Venus did too, but she was turned away from him and Sunburst. He noticed that they must have slept late, because night was already falling, but he was exhausted. He looked at his sister, since she had been the one to sense the creature earlier. “ Can we sleep?” he asked nervously. Sheclosed her eyes, then nodded hesitantly. “It is safe,” she said softly, hoping not to disturb the leafwing. He glanced around, looking for a pile of soft moss or leaves. Releasing what he was doing, Sunburst gestured to an area near to a large boulder, where there was a small dip in the rock. Shadow stepped over to it, finding it surprisingly comfortable for a rock. He gratefully lay down, and a few moments later, he was asleep.

Chapter six

The morning light shone over shadow and sunburst as they slowly got out from where they were sleeping. Well, two of them got up slowly, Shadow thought as he watched Venus leap out of a cave and fly around the clearing. I wonder why she's doing that… He stretched and climbed out of the dip in the rock, His limbs were still a bit stiff from his curled up position in the night. As soon as Sunburst had gotten up too, Venus zipped down towards them. “ Let's go find the creature's lair,” she said sharply.

Sunburst looked at her,” You don't need to be so bossy! Also, some of us would like to go find breakfast first, thank you very much!”. 

Venus growled. This was not how she had meant for today to start. Also, was breakfast really that important? She skipped breakfast most days.

“Venus?” Huh? She shook her head to see Shadow looking at her. She stared at him, confused. “ We wanted to know whether you wanted to look for fruit with us," he asked. This time, Venus shook her head to say no. “Ok,” Sunburst said, sounding cheerful, “let's go, Shadow!”.  

Venus watched them fly away, then looked around for some kind of long stick. She spotted one and picked it up, drawing in the dust at the edge of the clearing. By the time the others got back, there was a highly detailed plan on the floor, created from pictures. Sunburst stared at it. “ Did you draw this?”, she asked Venus. The green dragon ignored her, checking the pictures for mistakes. Sunburst sighed. Sometimes, she felt like Venus didn’t want to work with them, even though it had been her who had asked for their help. Shadow passed her one of the mangoes they had collected, simultaneously nudging one towards Venus. Venus silently pushed it back, even though Sunburst had noticed that Venus didn't have any of her own food. She was an odd dragon, Sunburst thought as she ate the mango. 

About half an hour later, when Shadow and Sunburst had finished their breakfast,Venus finally spoke again. “ Ok, so now can we go look for the lair?” Everyone nodded, although Shadow seemed slightly reluctant. Sunburst couldn't blame him. They were basically walking themselves to their deaths. Venus didn't seem to mind though, and she leaped off the ground, hovering to wait while the two silkwings did the same. Once they were all in the sky, they flew upward above the trees, scanning the first below for any sign of the creature.

A few hours later, Sunburst spotted what looked like an area with wooden planks poking out from the crowded trees. “Look over three! It looks like an abandoned village!” she exclaimed as the other two followed her gaze, “lets fly there and see if anything interesting is there!”. Venus nodded in agreement, and swerved downwards.  A few moments later, they landed, trying to be as quiet as they could. The platform that they touched down on was covered mostly with overgrown dark green moss. It seemed like it had been left there for a very long time. As Sunburst looked at Venus, she noticed how the sunlight shone through her green wings. It was really beautiful. Suddenly, she shook her head. We did not- I came to help not-. Her train of thought was broken by Shadow taking a quick step forward. The platform creaked. Venus hissed quietly, switching Sunburst’s thoughts completely. “Be careful” Sunburst snapped, then caught herself. “Sorry” she whispered apologetically. Shadow looked at her oddly. “ wha-” he began to ask. She glared at him, and he turned away looking upset and confused. Agh! Inside, she screamed at herself. What is wrong with you?!  She had always been protective of her little brother, and now it was her who was hurting him. They cautiously took a few steps forward and did little flight-jumps to other, lower platforms. This carried on for a few minutes, when they finally saw something other than wood platforms or trees. It was a house, the same shape as her and Shadow’s, but made of wood.  Sunburst got a creepy feeling. We shouldn't be here. It's wrong. This place should be left in peace. She saw that Venus had a similar troubled expression, but she couldn't be sure why. The same couldn't be said for Shadow though. He practically leaped forward, a curious expression on his face. Sunburst and Venus both reached out to stop him at the same time. Venus glared at him angrily. “Don't go inside any buildings unless it seems like there's a dragon still in there,” she growled. Sunburst agreed, but she didn't feel that Venus had to be that strict already. Shadow hadn't known! They carried on, but more slowly this time, quickly looking at each house to see if any of them looked well kept, or at least not like it had been left there for years. 

After a few hours, they had reached the ground, and were all feeling exhausted. Shadow groaned. “Please can we rest,”. Sunburst and Venus nodded at the same time, which was funny. They each brushed a few leaves into piles, then flattened the piles out a bit. Shadow lay on one of them sleepily. “Just like at home,” he smiled. Sunburst thought about it. She missed home but She could hardly believe that they had already been gone for days. She smiled at her little brother as she slipped into sleep. 

The next afternoon they woke up. As Sunburst saw where the sun was in the sky she gasped. How had they slept so long?!? She rushed over to wake Shadow and Venus, but Venus wasn't there. She'll be back later, She thought as Shadow finally opened his eyes. “What-why'd you wake me up?” he said, sounding slightly offended. Sunburst growled quietly and pointed at the sky. Shadow gasped. “We've got to go!” he cried. Sunburst looked around. “Do you see Venus?” she asked grumpily, “I don't, and we can't leave until she gets back”. Shadow swung his head around and sighed. Sunburst noticed that he looked scared, twitching and watching all around. She made her voice more gentle. “ we’ll be ok, this is a safe place”. Shadow calmed down, although he still looked around the clearing nervously. Sunburst tried to think of what to do. “Why don't we play a game?”.  Shadow nodded, and they sat down in the moss. 

Venus flew carefully through the trees. She had managed to find a few fruits for the silkwings, and she had caught a strange squirrel-like creature for herself, although she had already eaten it so that she didn't upset the silly dragons. She asked the trees she had grown around the area they were sleeping to move so she could get past. As she flew into the clearing she heard Shadow's voice. “So would you rather eat a bug or tree bark?”. Venus wondered what on earth they were talking about. “Hey guys,” she called, “ I brought food,” the two silkwings jumped. “Oh it's just you” Sunburst laughed as Venus landed in between them. The green dragon put down the fruit and stepped over to the edge of the clearing, listening to the plants to see if any of them had seen something worrying. After she had made sure that there wasn't anything suspicious going on outside the tree walls, she watched the silkwings, or, to be more accurate, she watched Sunburst. The golden dragon was so elegant, and she was kind too. Of course, she could also be fierce, and that was one of the things that Venus liked about her. 

About half an hour later they had finished eating and were ready to fly. Since there were a few fruits left, Venus quickly weaved a pouch from vines. Sunburst watched in awe, wanting to learn how to make one, but there was no time. She looked around at the other two, and together they rose into the air, flapping their wings as hard as they could so that they could fly faster than everyone else in the forest. Sunburst speedily checked every home for signs that there were still dragons living in the village, but it seemed hopeless.Suddenly a shout from in front of her caught her off guard. “Sunburst, come here!” Venus called out behind her. Sunburst sped over. “Look,” Venus whispered to her, pointing at one of the wooden houses. Sunburst turned her head and gasped. The house wasn't covered in moss like the others, but sort of shiny, and there were small flowers growing from weaved wooden flower baskets. It looked like they had finally found a living dragon in this place of emptiness. She checked on Shadow, and he looked as amazed as she felt. 

The trio carefully walked towards where it looked like the entrance was. Venus cautiously knocked on the wood by it, and an unfamiliar voice answered. “Who's there?,” it asked, “if you're a dragon, you can come in”. Sunburst thought the voice sounded hopeful, and slightly sad.they must have been here a long time. She thought as they carefully stepped inside. She looked for the voice, and a dragon with deep orange scales and brown splodges on his wings turned towards them. “Hello?.” he said, sounding as if he was asking a question. She stepped further inside. “Um..hi,” she spoke softly. “My name is Sunburst, and this is my brother and our friend”. The old dragon looked slightly less lost. “So you're real then?” he asked. “I've been imagining dragons coming here… I miss being around others''. Sunburst finally looked properly at the old dragon. He did look sad, or more specifically, lonely.  She smiled at him. “ maybe when we've finished what we need to do you can come back to the village with us”.  He nodded. “Perhaps… I’m so sorry I haven't told you my name” he said suddenly, as if thinking about the other villages had woken him up from some kind of dream. “I'm Arctia, and it's a pleasure to meet you”. Venus and Shadow said their names too, and the older dragon asked them why they were out there. “Well…” Venus said, seemingly unsure how to answer. Sunburst interrupted. “There's  some kind of evil blue creature!”. “And we're trying to stop it,” finished Shadow. When Sunburst looked up again, Arctia’s face was grave. “So it's happening again” he said, beginning to sound worried once more. 

“What's happening again?” Sunburst asked nervously. “The creature was here once before,” Arctia said in a low voice, “it killed many, and only after years did we find a way to stop it. Luckily, that means all the finding out has been done for us”. He smiled slightly. “I remember working on that problem, it was actually quite interesting”. Shadow looked confused “but you can’t have been alive back then”, he said, making it sound like it was a question. “I think I need to explain something,” Arctia spoke softly. “Long ago, in this here village, there were sorcerers. Dragons who looked just the same as you but who could do wondrous things. Some of these gifts could be earned by carefully learning, or being an apprentice to an older dragon, but others had to be born with magic. I learned potions. They are a skill that you may need a little magic for, but the knowledge is acquired mainly through learning.” Sunburst looked at him in amazement. “And you made a potion to be… immortal?”. Arctia nodded. “If you wanted the simple version, then yes, although I also created a counter-spell.” Shadow looked confused, and Venus could understand why. “Why would you want to live forever?” she asked. Arctia sighed. “The problem is, what we used to imprison the creature didn't seem very strong to me. In fact, I’m surprised it hadn't broken out long before this. I stayed so I could help if it ever escaped, and it seems that time has come.”. Shadow finally looked like he understood, and Venus thought that Sunburst had understood right from the start.

“How did you stop the creature then?” she asked, guessing that it would be important later on. Arctia looked straight at her. “Dreamweaver vines” he said solemnly. Venus immediately realised the problem. Dreamweaver vines had not been seen in  almost a hundred years, they were classified as extinct. Sunburst looked at them oddly. OShe doesn't know what they are! Venus h! thought as she looked at her. “Dreamweaver vines are an extremely beautiful type of plant that puts dragons into a deep sleep.” Sunbursts face lit up. “The problem is, they are presumed extinct and haven't been seen for years”. The two younger silkwings looked worried again. Arctia spoke once more. “Presumed extinct doesn't mean they surely are,” he said, staring at Venus. He knows. She looked straight back at him. “Well I guess it's worth a try then isn’t it. Where should we go?” “south of this village, there is a trail of broken trees. Follow it until you find the creature's nest. And if you come back, well,  please come visit me every once in a while.” Shadow nodded. Venus thought about it. “Maybe, but I can't make any promises. But we need to leave soon or the creature will be there waiting for us!”  Sunburst nodded, but Shadow shook his head. Sunburst looked at him. “Shadow, we need to do this,” she said softly, “I promise we can come back after” Shadow finally nodded. They said their goodbyes to Arctia, and finally left. 

Venus looked down as she flew, noticing the charred skeletons of what used to be trees. She nodded her head at the other two to start moving that way, and they followed her lead. They flew for what seemed like forever, keeping an eye on the burned trees to make sure they were still on the right path. They began to see the trees everywhere, huge clusters of them every few wingbeats. Even when they were sure that they were on the right path, Venus couldn't stop staring at them, wondering if it had been painful, and if they had even had time to cry out for help. She noticed the golden silkwing watching her with a curious expression. “It’s fine,” she said, “just… the trees,how could they be destroyed like this so completely?” Sunburst just shrugged, and they carried on flying. 

The sun was low in the sky when they finally saw something a bit different. There was a cluster of dead trees much larger than any of the others they had seen. Sunburst looked at the others, checking they had seen it too. After they had all signalled that they could see where they would land, Venus took the lead, swooping down into one of the few places with living trees near where they were heading. Shadow soon followed, the line being ended by Sunburst. In a moment, Venus had disappeared into the trees, then shadow fell below the canopy, and finally she was under the trees as well. The forest's light here was different to back home, and Sunburst could see why. A couple of wingbeats away, the trees began to thin out , leaving only the charred, leafless trees that they needed to explore. They cautiously stepped towards the dead forest, watching the bone-like trees for any signs of bright blue scales. Each one of them had their own ideas of what the creature actually looked like, but Venus was the only one who had seen its eyes. They looked at each other again, and walked into the bone forest.  

Night had fallen by the time the trio had found anything that looked even remotely like the description of the creature's lair. They were looking around a small cave, hoping for any sign that they had found the right place. Venus sighed. “This isn’t it” she said hopelessly, “onto the next cave”. They jumped off of the ground and glided until they found another cave.

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