“Finding things,” repeats MeaZea, lips twisting up into a faint smile. “Like more people to bring to the sapphire stream?”
But the little dragon has already twisted about and flown off, headed straight towards the tree line.
Laughing, MeaZea waves at Antheum’s retreating form. “Alright, WooFZee! Let’s go!”
And then they’re off, racing across the crystalline shore. Sand flies through the air, churned up by WooFZee’s paws. Wind blows MeaZea’s hair back, but she’s smiling and laughing all the same.
There are few things better than a new adventure and that’s precisely what this is shaping up to be.
By the time that MeaZea and WooFZee make it to the start of the emerald forest, Antheum has already curled herself around a branch of smokey quartz. Jade and emerald leaves clank against her scales. She’s all sharp teeth and amusement, wings folded neatly against her back.
“It’s about time that you got here,” chides Antheum. “You aren’t going to be this slow the whole way, are you?”
“We don’t have wings,” retorts MeaZea, patting WooFZee on the shoulder. “So we have to take care where we step. Just try to go a little bit slower, alright?”
Antheum snorts out a cloud of green. “Slower, slower. You travelers always complain so much.”
WooFZee gives a low growl of warning. His ears flick backwards in annoyance. “Careful, little one, or we’ll find our own way to the stream. Then you won’t have anyone to use as credit for your own guide.”
Again, the dragon takes off without answer, deeper into the forest. The trees are made completely of gemstones, massive and ancient. Some grow so close together that the branches intertwine and others grow so far apart that Antheum has to fly to get from branch to branch.
There is no rhyme or reason in this forest. Flowers of brightly colored crystals burst from the ground. Emerald grass bends beneath WooFZee’s paws, soft as snow. Every tree looks exactly the same as the last.
“How far away is the sapphire stream?” asks MeaZea, head tilting back to look at Antheum.
The dragon’s tail swishes. “It’s not too far away. You’re going to be able to hear the bells chiming before we see the stream.”
“Why are there going to be bells?” questions WooFZee, as he weaves through a particularly close growing patch of trees.
“Because there are always bells,” responds Antheum, with a small laugh. “It’s so we can find the stream easier. This forest is easy to get lost in. So the guides ring off bells every twenty minutes, to let people know where they are. Just listen for them, okay? It won’t be too much longer.”
Not even three strides later, the chime of eight bells rips through the air. A pause. Then eight more.
“See? We’re almost there!” cries Antheum, speeding up.
WooFZee follows suit – and they are racing through the trees once more, towards the bells. He can hear the sound of a gentle stream and loud voices, beckoning them closer.
Katelynn E Koontz – Author