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This story is for ages 10 and up.

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BlurbEdit

Joshua is tough...

Miranda is kind...

He is the average kid...

She has a secret...

They come from different worlds,but when danger strikes,only one thing can keep them alive.

Each other.

Chapter 1 ~ The LocketEdit

Miranda could feel her heart pounding.I tremor shook the ground,and her legs collapsed out from underneath her.Getting to her knees,she groaned,“Slitha!"

The ground next to her rifted and the dirt shifted,a long ridge forming.But no,it wasn't a ridge.Out of the soil burst a snake-like creature with the head of a horse,the tail of a tog,and the body of a lion.It's skinny,serpent-like body moved quickly on its short legs,and its eyes were warm.

The fearsome creature curled its long body around Miranda,and she grunted with the effort of pulling herself on its back.

“Slitha,Metakínisi,to spíti pros!"She groaned.She was speaking Laka,the language of the Lakens.It meant Slitha,move to home!

Miranda gasped in pain as sharp agony gripped her side.The arrow was still embedded where the archer had aimed it,causing her serious pain.The wound was bothering her,and the great beast knew it.Slowly,she raced forward in such a quick,smooth movement that it was hard to tell if it was using its legs or slithering like a snake.

“Grigorótera,parakaló pigaínete!"she urged Slitha.Faster,please hurry!

Slitha was panting,lather coating her majestic head and neck.By the time they reached home,Miranda was barely breathing.Slitha hissed to another creature,but Miranda couldn't see what.

“Slitha,rest.fine kánate tin ergasía ."A tall man said.Rest.You did good work.

He knelt by the fallen girl.“Miranda?"he whispered.Her face was beaded with sweat,her breathing quick and shallow.“Miranda?"he said again,“Are you all right?What happened?"

The girl looked up at him,pain clouding her beautiful face.“Father,"she moaned,anguish in her voice,“They got the locket."

Chapter 2 ~ The LockEdit

Joshua felt sweat beading on his forehead.Arrows swished forward,narrowly missing him.Running,he raised his voice.“Amanda!"

“Joshua!"a girl cried,shoving her way forward.Her gold hair was plastered to her neck with sweat,and blood soaked through her shirt.

He stopped,his blood running cold as he saw the dark red stain slowly soiling her shirt.“What happened?"he asked in horror,dragging her behind some rocks.“Are you alright?"

She nodded,but he could see her pain as she gasped for air.“Yeah I'm alright.Just give me a minute."

He shook his head and asked,“Where'd they hurt you?"

“Just a scrape,really.It looks worse than it is."

“Amanda,"he insisted firmly,“You're hurt.You need help.What happened?"

Her face was pale and she was breathing hard.“One of the arrows hit me pretty strong.But I'll be ok.I just need to rest."

“Where?"

Amanda clasped her hand over her side,her face twisting in pain.“There."

“Stay here,"he told her,“I'll get help."

Amanda nodded,leaning on the rocks.Joshua jumped up and raced across the field.He saw a large tent full of wounded,but he had no idea which side they were on.It didn't matter; a healer had to help someone in need.

“Help!"he yelled,getting the healer's attention.“My friend,she's injured!"

The battle raged on,but that didn't matter to Joshua,not when Amanda was hurt and in pain.

He and the healer ran back to the rocks,dodging arrows.Then he saw Amanda.

Her face was as pale as the clouds and sweat was pouring down her face.Blood covered her hands as she grabbed the wound in her side.

“Amanda."Joshua whispered.The healer was here,but he knew the wound was worse than she had let on.He knew she was trying to stay calm,but he had no idea how bad the injury was.

The healer gently moved her hands,feeling the wound.She winced in pain as his hands gently probed the injury.The healer grabbed a small jar and smearing its contents on his fingers.Then,quickly,he rubbed it directly on the wound.Amanda groaned and jerked as the ointment was applied.

The healer stood and brought Joshua aside.“She lost a lot of blood.It would take a lot of care for the wound to heal,and she can't get that care on a battleground."

Joshua went numb.“But she'll be okay,right?"

“Not if she can't get good care.Moving her might make it worse."The healer sighed.“She needs to get to safety,but..."

“And you can't do anything?"Joshua cried.“She could be...could..."he couldn't bring himself to say the word dying.“And you're just sitting here?"

“I will try,"the healer said,“but there isn't much to do."

The healer shook his head and knelt by Amanda to gently rinse the cut with water.She flinched,her face a picture of pure agony.

Joshua lost track of time.Dimly he heard the swords clashing,arrows flying,axes swishing,but he didn't care.

When the healer left,Joshua looked at Amanda.Her face was shining with beads of sweat,her hair damp.

He knelt by her,taking her hand.“Amanda,"he said,pain thick in his words,“Why didn't you tell me how badly you were hurt?"

“Because,"she smiled,“I knew you'd panic."

“Me?"he scoffed,“Panic?Naw."

“Good."Amanda smiled.She wriggled into a more comfortable position,and winced at the movement.She instinctively grasped her side with her hand,moaning in pain.

Joshua cod barely look at her like this.He hekd his sword in hand,ready to protect her.

“Joshua,"she moaned,“Tori and Fredrick..."He nodded.

“I know,Amanda.They're safe."he whispered.


Joshua paced outside the room,running his hand through his hair.The moment the healer walked out,Joshua had him swimming in questions.“Is she okay?"

It had been a few days since the battle and Amanda's health was getting worse.Finally they had moved her to a hospital.

The healer hesitated.“You'd better see."

Walking into the room,Joshua nearly choked.The girl on the bed couldn't be Amanda.Her face was pained and she was as thin as a stick.She blincked a few times and smiled at him.“Hey Joshua."

He sat by the bed,and she hugged him.But her strong embrace was gone,replaced by a frail squeeze.

“Hlw are you?"He asked.

She shrugged.“Alright."For a momemt she looked confused and blinked several times before see could see again.“My head's been hurting."she explained.“I'm fine though."

She gasped,a painfilled sound,then jerked and thrashed,collapsing in his arms.“Amanda?"

The healer waleed in.“She'll be fine.She is just recovering."he nodded,but he wasn't so sure.

He laid her on the bed,then went to the door.As he turned the knob,he realized the odd lock.It was a bulky padlock,made of silver and brass with a M carved into it.

Chapter 3 ~ The StruggleEdit

Miranda was leaning heavily on Slitha,her face twisted in agony.Slitha's side was smeared with blood.

The tall man looked at her gently.“Miranda,the locket isn't that important."

“Yes it is!"she exclaimed.She tried to struggle into a sitting position,groaning at the pain this caused her.“Father,we need that locket.We HAVE to get it back."

“It isn't worth it,"a young girl farther off said.“Sister,you must stay here."

“Eliza,no."Miranda said firmly.“I'm going to find it."

This would have been heroic if she wasn't as pale as Slitha's white stallion coat.(Slitha's head is a white stallion,but farther down the neck it fades into the gold of a lion.)

“Miranda,"her father whispered,“You can't go lookingfor the locket yet."

Miranda nodded sadly.But she HAD to get that locket!


Eliza threw wood on the fire,all the while glancing at the hut where her sister lay.She had been instructed to brew a tea,and she did as she was asked.But oh how she wanted to see Miranda!

Throwing small berries and bits of bark into the boiling water,the liquid turned a pretty shade of dark blue.She crushed the bark with a stone tool,watching the pieces float around the pot.

Finally her father walked out of Miranda's hut.“Father!"she called,still stirring the mixture.

He sank down on a log with a large sigh.“Is the medicine almost done?"Eliza nodded.

“Just a little longer."

Father nodded.“She needs it as soon as possible."

“Father,may I see her?"Eliza asked hopefully.

He thought for a moment.“You may when you finish making the tea."he decided finally.Eliza nodded,for this was the answer she expected.

Walking over to the pot,she sighed and stirred the boiling water,waiting for the bark to mix into the water.

It seemed like several long hours before the tea was ready,but really it was only a few minutes.Pouring the contents of the pot into a kettle,she grabbed a metal cup and put this on a tray.

Walking into that hut,Eliza nearly dropped the tray.

Miranda was tossing and turning under several layers of blankets,groaning and wincing whenever she moved.Her breathing was hard,and she cried out in pain once in a while.

Eliza's hand shook as she poured the tea into the cup.Her sister looked terrible,and Eliza didn't think anyone could recover from that.

Chapter 4 ~ BattlescarsEdit

Joshua felt the wind blowing.Sun shone brightly.Everything seemed so happy,but it wasn't.Blood stained the grass,the rocks.

The rocks.

Where he and Amanda took shelter.

Amanda was still doing poorly,and he worried if she really would be alright,as she insisted.

With a sigh,Joshua turned towards home.

Throwing open the door,he saw a normal sight.Mama cooking supper,Father whittling something or other for Missy,and Missy herself playing with the small figures Father had made her.

“Hi Joshua."Father said,not looking up from the carving he was doing.It was a small horse,rearing beautifully on its hind legs,the hair in its tail as real as could be.

“Where were you today?"Mother asked from the woodstove.Joshua could smell a thin stew cooking.

He shrugged.“Oh,just around.I got to see Amanda."

Missy looked up.“Is she okay?"

“I'm not sure."Joshua said,flopping onto a chair.

“Well,"Mother said,“Supper's on the table."


The next day Joshua and Missy ran through the streets towards the hospital to see Amanda.Missy was chattering about all the games she and Amanda would play with her small carved figures.

“Missy,"Joshua told her,“Don't bother Amanda."

“I won't!"Missy responded.Her figures were in a bag slung over her back.

They turned a corner and saw the hospital.It wasn't a big building,just two stories tall with a few small rooms.

As they walked inside,the halls were eerily quiet.He finally saw one of the healers as he neered Amanda's room.

“We want to see our friend."he said,gesturing towards the door.The healer nodded and let them inside.

Amanda smiled weakly at them,but she looked worse than the day before.

“Hi Amanda!"Missy squealed.“I brought my carvings!"

Amanda grinned.“Did your father make you any new ones?"Missy nodded.“I'd love to see them."

Missy opened her bag and pulled out minatures of every kind.Small puppies and cats in all different poses,a squirrel,a rabbit,and a bird came next.And a deer,a bear,a pig,a rooster and a fish completed her collection.

“These are so pretty,"Amanda told Missy as she looked over the figures.

“Father is making me a horse."Missy declared.“And for my birthday Father said I'll get a tree!"

“That's exciting,"Amanda agreed.

Missy moved her little figures in strange games she invented,and Amanda played along.

Joshua felt sick just seeing how even something small like moving the wood pieces hurt Amanda.After about an hour,he said,“Missy,I heard Mama say it's cookie bake day."

Missy gasped.“But it's only Thursday!Cookie bake day is Saturday!"

“She's doing it early this week,"he told her.It wasn't a lie.Mama WAS baking cookies that day.But she had never asked for Missy to help.Really she had wanted it to be a surprise.

“Amanda,"Missy said,“I'll come back tomorrow and bring you the horse Father is making!"

“Alright,Missy,"Amanda smiled.As soon as Missy left,Joshua sighed.

“Amanda,don't lie to me."he demanded,“How bad is it?"

“Pretty bad.But I'll be okay,Joshua,honest."

“Amanda..."

“Okay,"she admitted,“I don't know if I'll be alright or not.But I'm fine.I really am."

He made her promise that she wasn't lying,and she did.

Chapter 5 ~ QuestEdit

Miranda shakily pulled herself to her feet.Her eyes were swimming in and out of focus,her legs shaking.Slowly,she took a step forward.Placing her hands against the walls to support her,she caught her breath.

Despite the sweat pouring diwn her face,she shivered in cold.Grabbing her leather vest and the belt with her sheathed knife,Miranda slowly and quietly sneacked out of the hut.

Eliza was out with the other girls her age,collecting wood and plants for food and firewood.

Her father was with a hunting party.

Everyone else was in their huts.Miranda glanced around,then hissed a low,eerie sound.Calling out,“Slitha,veni huc!"Slitha,come here.The beast poked her head up,a low rumbling in her throat as she saw Miranda.

“Vos non bene arrrrrre."the beast purred,a silky tone,strange and eerie.It sent a shiver up Miranda's spine.She had never heard Slitha speak,except to ask for food,and she had never heard her use that voice before.

I know I am not well,Slitha.I have to find the locket."

The creature snarled,but obediently lay on the ground,and the injured girl climbed onto the creatures back as if she was meant to be there.

“Next stop,"she muttered to herself,“The Locket."

Chapter 6 ~ InvadersEdit

Joshua sighed.As he carried the firewood through the town from the forest,he stopped.He could hear the alarms going off from the watch towers.

He swallowed hard and dropped the wood,Then grabbed a light but long peice of wood he couuld use as a weapon.

People dashed through the streets.People tried to get home or get weapons.

Attack was upon them.

To be continued

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