"Saoni!" My sleep was interrupted by someone calling my name. Bracing myself for a wander around Drakaupi with whoever woke me, I shook my mane and got my legs ready to move again after sleeping with them so rigid. I had slept in one of Drakaupi's only stables for when Cantaurs and Pegasi came to visit. In the stable next to me, Lolinami remained sleeping, her silvery mane fluttering in the light wind.
Junke was missing from his stable though, and for a moment I panicked. I looked up, and to my great relief, saw that he was the one who woke me. "Saoni, come on. We're going back to Stronghold. We've got to collect the keys, because they will be the new mark of the Representatives."
"Sounds good," I said. "Will everyone be coming?"
"Yes, all the Representatives apart from Miriap. The usual."
We then trotted out into the courtyard where an outdoor breakfast was being held. I rushed immediately over to the cake and buried my muzzle into the soft crumbs. The Gang along with Klyo were already there, and I noticed Miriap swimming to the surface of the river nearby. As I looked up from my delicious dessert of a breakfast, I made eye contact with Arvid. He cracked up laughing when he saw my face covered in crumbs. Chuckling a bit myself, I licked my lips to get the rest of the cake off and walked over to him.
"Hi! So will we be going when Ponte and Mary wake up?"
"Yes," he responded. "Oh and it looks like we won't have to wait long!"
With this, Mary soared into the courtyard, followed by a light footed Ponte. I felt like taking off right there. When we had found the key at Stronghold, it had cracked the head of the Pegasus statue. I loved that statue, and it had been repaired. I recalled flying to the head of my stone companion when I thought all hope was lost, all that time ago.
When we got there it was eerie. Very eerie. I mean, there was a time when it was very eerie, but it was even more eerie now, for some unexplained reason. Arvid squealed as a rat scampered between his legs. Goizu hopped on Junke's back again, seeking shelter from anything dangerous. Glycon and I exchanged nervous glances. We all felt it.
I decided to have some fun with it, get some laughs in a scary time, so I tickled the back of Arvid's neck with my mane. He peeped like a baby chick, and yelled, "GUYS, SOMETHING TOUCHED ME!" Glycon and I burst out laughing, the only people in the group who saw the elaborate prank. "Oh geez," I laughed, tears forming in my eyes.
"That was too far!" Arvid yelled. We righted ourselves and continued, Arvid's ears twitching the entire time. His ear twitched once, and then swivelled. "G-guys..." he started, "I hear something BIG. Not a rat. Nor anything I know of..."
We all moved in closer to each other, Arvid's comforting feathers on one side of me, and Glycon's familiar scaliness on the other. We continued up the hill, Klyo in the lead. His shining blue-grey coat blended in quite well with the stone.
As we neared the small thicket of trees on the path, Arvid's ears swivelled madly. "It's here, guys. In this thicket! Prepare yourselves! Something bright orange flashed before my eyes, surprising me. A dart hit Klyo on the leg before he fell unconscious. This happened to everyone in the group, until it was my turn. I reared in my hind legs, my amethyst eyes catching the sun and blinding me. I heard a gasp from the trees.
The creatures dropped down.
The creatures were strange. Have you heard of People? They are from the continent beside Fantasia. Well, I've met one before, and these creatures looked a lot like them. They were very tall and lean, with pointed ears, perfect figures and webbed feet. They were absolutely beautiful, actually. They held their blowdart pipes in one hand and knives in the other. For the moment, I completely dismissed them. I moved over to Glycon.
"Glycon, buddy? Can you hear me?" I used my teeth to pull out the dart, putting them on the feather part for fear of there being some sort of poison. He snapped to life.
Growling, he said, "Saoni, stay out of this. They want a fight? It's a fight they'll get!" I responded by stepping in between the two races. "Glycon, I don't think they want to fight. Maybe they were just alarmed."
A creature spoke, surprisingly in our language. "Yes, Dragon. Remain calm. And Pegasus, you are clever. Who might these creatures be?"
I smiled, glad that they were friendly. "I'm Saoni, and this is Glycon, my best friend. Now, if you'd just let us wake the others up?" The creature nodded, moving to help. One by one, the others got up. I gestured to them all, saying their names in turn. "So that's Klyo, Goizu, Arvid, Mary, Junke, and Ponte. The other Representative is a mermaid, Miriap, but the Startrail River doesn't lead here." I paused, unsure of what to do. Junke spoke up. "Who are you?"
They smiled, revealing perfect rows of white teeth. "We are the Elves. I am Nanoria, and these are my Warriors. I suppose you could call me the Queen, but I don't know who I should appoint as... what did you call it... Representative?
We are from the eye of the tornado. It was our prison, for a long time, too. But when the Keys stopped it, we were finally freed. Do you know who that was? Who inserted the key?"
We all looked around at each other. Arvid gulped and responded to her question. "That would be us. Um, I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I nearly died for that. Like no joke, the Pegasus statue nearly crushed me."
"It's true," I said, almost laughing. "It was like he couldn't choose between living and dead." Then I felt the pain. Lately, Arvid's pain from the incident had been visiting me regularly, hitting me like a stab to the gut. My knees shook a little; the pain was nearly overwhelming. Arvid glanced at me empathetically.
"Saoni and friends, we have something to teach you. Follow us to the castle."