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Week 278
You are on Week 279
Week 280

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Two Hundred Seventy Nine Ends June 23

Johannes tried to slow the thumping of his heart as he adjusted the straps on his backpack. "There's nothing to be nervous about," he said, scolding himself. Still, he couldn't help but feel the fluttering in his stomach, as if a hundred Fleafs were flying around in there.

It had been several years since he'd set out from his quiet little town at the edge of Brightvale, a young, restless Kyrii eager to see the world. Of course, his friends and family had tried in vain to stop him. He didn’t care that none of the villagers had ventured outside Meridell or Brightvale's boundaries for many years. It didn’t matter how much they pleaded and threatened. Johannes was headstrong and determined, so he stubbornly packed his things and left without a backward glance.

That had been years ago. The Kyrii was now a little older, vastly more experienced, and - though he would never admit it - a little homesick. Johannes thought fondly of his stern father, his laughing best friend, and his cheerful little sister. After years of weary travelling, he decided, it would do him good to see their faces again.

Despite his eagerness, though, Johannes couldn't help but feel a certain amount of trepidation. Would they be angry with him for leaving? Would they even remember him? He sighed to himself while trudging down the path along Brightvale's border that led to his little hometown.

The Kyrii could see the familiar small thatched roofs, peeking over the grassy knoll. He smiled to himself. Home sweet home, Johannes thought as he turned the corner... then gasped.

"Oh no," he breathed in horror, "the village..."

Author: Home Sweet Home
Date: Jun 16th
"...Where is it?"

Where the village had been - where it had been all his life - there was now only an empty field. A few old, mildewed haystacks were what Johannes had mistaken for the thatched roofs of his village.

Stunned by the shock, Johannes stopped dead in the middle of the path. He could do nothing but stare for several minutes. Then, with a sick feeling of disorientation, he stepped slowly forward into the field.

After a few glances, it was clear to Johannes that this was where his village should have been. Here was the giant tree he had climbed when he was younger; there was the bend in the stream where he and his friends had gone swimming every year during the hot Brightvale summer. Every tree, every stone, every rotting old stump in the woods was exactly where it should have been.

But the village was gone.

His head swirling with confusion, Johannes turned to the field. The greenish haystacks steamed innocently in the sun. They had obviously been sitting there, growing moldy, for several years.

Could the village have been wiped out by a fire? The thought was so awful, Johannes could barely stand to think it - but it was the only explanation that made sense. What else could erase an entire village so completely?

As he looked through the grass and wildflowers of the field, though, it was clear to the Kyrii that a fire couldn't be the answer. His village had been built of wood, with straw-thatched roofs, but the foundations of the houses had been made of stone. Even if every house had burned to the ground, the foundations should still be there - or piles of stones from them, at the very least. There should be depressions in the ground where wells and root cellars had been dug.

There was nothing. The grass waved gently in the breeze, flat and smooth and free of so much as a pebble. There was no sign that houses had ever been built here.

And that, Johannes realized, was what he had been trying not to admit to himself the whole time.

His village was not just gone. It was as if it had never existed...

Author: moosuem
Date: Jun 19th
...For a long, seemingly endless moment he stood in paralyzed shock, struggling against the tears that welled up in his eyes, which suddenly began to ache fiercely. A few shining droplets escaped, tracing dark lines through his yellow fur as they wandered down his cheeks. All around him was a dead and empty silence, broken only by the wind rustling mournfully through the forest.

Suddenly a chatter of voices reached his ears, and turning to the right Johannes saw a young green Lutari come flying out of the forest. Recognition dawned instantly, and in a voice choked with emotion he called, "Teldrin!"

Strangely enough, the Lutari paid him no heed. A frown furrowed Johannes' forehead. "Teldrin!" he called again, but this time his voice rang out in tandem with another voice shouting the same thing.

"Teldrin!" the high-pitched, strangely familiar voice yelled, "wait for me!"

Teldrin turned his head and laughed. "Yeah, right!" he shouted back. "Last one to the stream is a rotten egg! A SMASHED rotten egg!"

"Yeah, well, the first one has to clean it up!"

Johannes' breath caught. Those were the same words he had uttered years ago, back when he still lived in this forsaken wilderness he had once called home.

But his shock at the words themselves was nothing compared to what he felt when he laid eyes on their source. A small yellow Kyrii, scampering vainly to catch up with his agile Lutari friend. "Teldrin," Johannes' younger self yelled a final time, "WAIT FOR ME!"

And with that last shout he was gone, leaving Johannes to stare numbly at the haystacks that were scattered across the field. Teldrin, too, had vanished; and now that he was gone, Johannes realized that the Lutari had looked and sounded far too young to be his friend. Or at least, his friend as he would appear now.

Johannes began to wander around aimlessly, struggling to make sense of the vision. He was not certain whether to hope for a second sighting, or to silently beg that it never come. It had hardly been enlightening, and had only served to fill him with a sense of growing dread.

Something far worse than a simple fire had happened to his village.

Suddenly the Kyrii stiffened, his nape hairs standing up. What could happen to one village could happen to another. Had the whole of Brightvale been destroyed?

His heart thudding sickeningly in his chest, Johannes began sprinting toward the nearest village. It wasn't very far away -- at least, assuming that it was still there. The ground sped by beneath his feet, and he half imagined that as he ran a ghostly flicker of green teased the edge of his vision, like a half-seen Lutari running alongside him...

Author: sarahleeadvent
Date: Jun 19th
...Johannes stopped running when he saw the smoke from the nearest town. It was indeed very much alive. Should he ask around? No. Something told him they would know nothing.

"You too?" said a voice. Johannes spun.

There, in a hole in the ground, was a living, breathing green Lutari... the spitting image of a memory...

"Teldrin!" Johannes cried, throwing his arms around the creature in relief. The thing shoved him off, laughing with a sort of sarcastic cruelty... but the laugh could not mask the sadness.

"Teldrin? No, I'm not Teldrin."

"Wh-wh-what?" Jo stuttered. He stared at the Lutari. Same green fur, same snowy highlights, same whiskers, tail, nose, eyebrows...

But not the same eyes.

"It- Itterik?" Johannes said incredulously. But he couldn't have mistaken it... one sparkling emerald green eye, that of ol' Itterik. But there was also one shimmering aqua blue eye, strangely out of place... one very familiar eye... Still, if it wasn't Teldrin, it could be none other than his twin.

"Ding ding ding," Itterik said, only without the boisterous joy of a... well, a ding. More like a resigned, sorrowful funeral bell. "So... you see the village?"

Jo stared at him. "WHAT village?"

"Exactly. Come on, Jo, you got some things to learn. Follow me." Itterik jumped out of his hole, as if happy to be rid of the thing. After all, Lutaris were made for the water, not the dirt. He began heading for the forest in the distance, through which Johannes had seen the young Teldrin and the young HIMSELF run into the woods for the stream.

"What happened? Why are you here?"

"Because I'm a twin. Only one was taken when there were twins. Otherwise they get confused."

"Who's they?" Johannes stuttered.

"The ones who take..." Itterik said no more as a shadow crossed his face. Losing a twin? Johannes thought about it. No doubt Tel and Ter had never really gotten along, but to lose a TWIN? Teldrin always described it as having a second half to your soul. How destroyed was Itterik's soul now?

It took a silent hour, but they walked back to the woods and reached the stream without a hitch. Itterik jumped in, refreshed but saddened. Johannes had the eerie feeling that the river was made not of water, but of tears.

"I used to sit here for hours after the village finally disappeared completely. I was the only one left. I used to listen to the wind and search for Teldrin's voice. Then one day... one day he came here. Like a ghost. And we talked again."

Johannes nearly died right there on the spot for the insanity of it all. Villages disappeared, whole families "taken," ghostly images of the past coming back to haunt one -- no, two lone survivors...

Itterik seemed to sense his confusion. "Teldrin and me, we have a connection that cannot be broken by the boundaries between us now. They underestimated us. They left me behind because they feared having two Teldrins. He was stronger, so they took him. But now I can hear him. Every second he talks to me. And I search here for the answers, while he searches there." Itterik looked up. "He often asks of you, you know. It was only a week after you left that this all started."

"You mean... he's alive? They're all alive?"

Itterik fixed both eyes on Johannes. But that blue eye... that glistening pool of water that belonged only in the head of Johannes' best friend... that eye penetrated the most.

"Teldrin is very much alive... and very much in danger..."

Author: mangohomer
Date: Jun 20th
..."Where is he?" Johannes cried. "We have to help him!"

Itterik almost managed a ghost of a smile. "Not now," he answered. "You have no idea what you’re up against. Besides, only Teldrin can cross over the border now and only for short periods of time. He told me he thought you were coming and he thinks that you might be able to save him."

"Then tell me," said the Kyrii, "What is this thing that I have to fight? How can I save Teldrin?"

The light that shimmered in Itterik’s mismatched eyes intensified as he nodded his head slightly. "I think Tel was right to trust you," he said. "I don’t know much, but I’ll tell you everything that I know about the Taker and what he did to our village.

"Like I said before, it all began about a week after you left. One day, a strange Nimmo wandered into town. Travelers were common, but there was something so odd about him. He looked old, but his voice and his movements seemed much younger. Even Tel said that it was as if he was ancient and ageless at the same time. Tel always was the smart one. Anyway, this Nimmo didn’t give anyone his name; he just looked around the town and said that it was nice. He said that it was different from where he was from and he wished he could have a town like this one. Everyone thought that was real strange, you know, but no one could have known what it meant.

"That night, I was asleep in bed when I heard a horrible, high-pitched noise. I jumped up, only to find that everything was surrounded by a black emptiness that seemed to stretch forever. It was like cold, hungry hands that were reaching out for me and I screamed. Tel was there. He was being sucked in as well, but he still tried to comfort me. Of course, we weren’t the only ones. The entire village was sliding into that emptiness. It shouldn’t have been empty anymore since we were all there, but it still was empty somehow.

"You could hear that Nimmo’s voice, but you couldn’t see him. It was as if his voice was coming from everyone as he bragged about his new village. Then, he saw us. I couldn’t see him but I could actually feel his eyes on Tel and me. 'Two of the same,' he said. 'We can’t have that. The weak one shall go back while the stronger shall stay.' I screamed and screamed, but it didn’t do any good. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in an empty field where my Neohome had been and I was all alone. I remained alone until Tel found that he could cross the boundary, even though he can for only short periods of time."

"But how could anyone do that? How can someone steal an entire village?" Johannes demanded. It was the first time he had spoken for awhile. During Itterik’s story he had just been sitting there with his mouth open, unsure of anything to say.

"I don’t know," Itterik answered, "but I do know this. The town returns for only a few moments every night at midnight. The Taker still lives in the village he stole from us. I can feel it, but I can’t go in the town. I think it’s because of my connection with Tel, but he can feel if I even get near the town. That’s why you have to do that. You belong to the village, but you were not taken. You’re the only chance we have of saving Tel and our village."

Johannes tried to steel his nerves as he looked up at the sky. The sun was sinking below the distant mountains and night was just beginning to cast her starry veil over them. The Kyrii knew that there were only a few hours until midnight. It wasn’t much time to formulate a plan, but that was what he had to do.

"There’s one more thing," Itterik said, interrupting Johannes thoughts.

"What’s that?" Johannes asked.

The Lutari took a long slow breath before answering...

Author: tj_wagner
Date: Jun 20th
..."It's about the village itself. As you know, the only reason Tel can escape for those short periods is because of our connection. Everyone else is trapped -- with no way of getting out. If you were to go into that village, and were unsucessful to stop the Taker-"

"I would be destroyed or trapped within the village as well. I realize that," Johannes growled. Why was Itterick stating the obvious? He didn't need to be reminded this task was dangerous; what he needed a flawless plan, to be made in very little time.

"But that's not the whole of it!" Itterik paused, thinking of the best way to explain. "Ok, condider this: why hasn't anyone else tried to escape? You'd think a bunch of people held against their will would try to overtake the Taker, right? Why would you be the ONLY ONE that could save them?"

Johannes didn't like where this was going to, and Itterick could see it in his face.

"Exactly. Everyone in the village has been brainwashed, to an extent where they follow the Taker's every whim. Anyone who steps out of line is immediately reprehended. Tel is the only one in his right mind -- our connection somehow blocked out the magic. He puts on a good show, pretending to blend in."

"And no one suspects him?"

"Eh, not that I know of. You know Tel, he was always an excellent actor- always got him out of daily chores, playing 'tummy ache.' But that's why he is in so much danger -- though he's been lucky, that dosen't mean he won't get caught eventually, and if he does... well, I don't want to think about it."

"But he's proof that there's a way around the Taker. All I'd have to do is do as Tel does -- act out. I'll find Tel within the village, and we'll both work together to stop the Taker... somehow." Though the details were a little vague, Johannes felt hope: with Tel by his side, he was sure to find a way to stop the Taker.

But Itterick still looked uneasy compared to Johannes, who had managed to gain some confidance.

"Jo, keep in mind what you're up against here: you will only have ONE CHANCE. Once you and Tel expose yourselves, there will be no going back. All hope for the village would then be lost..."

Author: anana2442
Date: Jun 21st
...Johannes frowned, folding his arms across his chest and fixing the Lutari with a reproachful look. “Are you trying to make me even more nervous about all this than I already am, Itterik? Because you’re doing a very good job of it. I’m not sure what I’ll have to do once I make it into the village, but being negative isn’t going to get me anywhere, and you’re not being very helpful at the moment.”

Itterik appeared taken aback by the Kyrii’s bluntness, but shook his head after a moment, smiling bitterly. “Of course; I’m sorry I can’t be upbeat and optimistic about everything like my brother was.” He turned, shaking the last drop of water left from the stream out of his tail with one curt flick, and flopped down in the lee of a lichen-encrusted boulder, obviously preparing to wait for midnight on the outskirts of where the town had been. Sheltered from the liquid-orange light of the setting sun, the Lutari seemed almost wraithlike, his features shrouded in darkness. “He was always better in these situations, wasn’t he? I’d offer you some encouragement from him, but he hasn’t spoken to me at all today,” he added, his voice sour and despondent. “It wouldn’t be the same coming from me, anyway -- second-hand, I mean.”

Johannes was suddenly struck full-force by the sense of the twin’s sadness, and he felt almost sick with regret for his words. He had been gone for several years... and for an almost equal amount of time, Itterik had been utterly alone, haunting the site of his lost town like a ghost, with only the voice of his brother to keep him company. How many times had he been troubled by dreams of his old home, his friends and family, only to awake and find them just as far gone as they had been the day before? The Kyrii realized, then, that the homesickness which had begun to plague him so recently, that awful feeling of isolation, had been with Itterik every day.

“... I’m still going,” he said finally, settling himself down in the overgrown grass facing his companion. “Even though I’m confused by all of this, and nervous, I’m going to try -- for everyone. For our families, and for Teldrin, and for the both of us.”

A strange expression passed over Itterik’s face, his mismatched eyes luminous even in the swiftly increasing darkness, and he smiled, faintly but sincerely. “Thank you.”

Far off in the woods, an Albat’s cry reverberated through the trees, and the two displaced pets waited for midnight.

* * * * *

Johannes shivered, though the night air was quite balmy. The moon had risen high in the sky, providing enough light for him to see by, but it seemed to have turned everything around him, even Itterik, who could be seen peering at him over the edge of the boulder from several metres away, into spun silver.

The village stood, silent and eerie, like a vision from a dream.

As the Kyrii approached the wooden gate that marked the entrance, which had always stood open but was now ominously shut, doubt began to cloud his mind. He had made it this far, but now what? Would he be able to find Teldrin, and would his friend have any idea of what they could do to reclaim their village? What if the Lutari had succumbed to the Taker’s influence?

Shaking his head, Johannes took a deep breath and shut his eyes momentarily to find his bearings. No matter what, he couldn’t afford to falter; everything depended on him now. With some relief, he found that the gate was still unlocked, and, pushing it open, he ventured into the sleeping village...

Author: _vespa
Date: Jun 21st
...The utter silence of the village was the worst of it. Even from the days of his earliest memories, Johannes had always remembered his village as a place of laughter and warmth. During the day it would be alive with activity, but at night each cottage would light candles in its windows like tiny beacons of peace.

This silence was not of the familiar warm comfort. It was a dark silence, dead, consuming the village as if the click of the gate behind him was the last key in an elaborate ritual of doom. The windows were lightless, the doors closed, and even the moon that had shown brightly above before he'd entered was now obscured behind a group of clouds.

The Kyrii shivered despite himself, and tiptoed through the unstirring grasses where once he might have run. Even though every house was in the same place as he remembered, every well, every shed, the atmosphere of his village was so markedly changed that he scarcely recognized it.

His silent paws brought him before the door he'd once known so well. How many times in his childhood had he hurried here almost before the sun, to call his friend to play? How many times had its wood swung open to reveal the dancing eyes of Tel?

There was no knocking this time. Rather than risking the door, Johannes stepped around the side of the house, avoiding the brush of a patch of overgrown weeds, until he reached the window.

Only a curtain hung over the window-hole; the village had been a modest one, and most of its people did not have the extravagance of glass. After the sights he'd seen on his travels, filled with astonishing castles of many kingdoms, the town seemed enormously quaint, but while he lived here it had been a part of life.

He was glad of it now, though. The Kyrii brushed aside the draping curtain, peering through the musty darkness, trying to become accustomed to the poor, pale light that was the only illumination the village seemed to have.

When his pupils widened and adjusted, Johannes almost dropped the curtain in surprise.

Tel was there, all right. But it was not the laughing, confident Lutari that Johannes had always known. The creature laying in the bed was sickly pale, his once-gleaming coat a dull mass of tangles, and each breath that rose and fell in the sunken ribcage seemed an effort.

Johannes leapt through the window, all thoughts of caution forgotten, and knelt at the side of his friend. "Tel," he said quietly, desperately. "Tel, I'm here, it's me. You were right; I've come. Let's get you home -- your brother is waiting."

"Johannes?" The Lutari fixed him with glazed eyes, but behind them the Kyrii thought he saw a spark, a flicker of something more...

"It's me," he repeated eagerly. "Yes, Johannes. Come on, we need to go home--"

Tel's face spasmed, as in pain. When it cleared, his eyes seemed glossed over again. "This is my home," he said in a flat voice.

Johannes stared in astonishment. For three years his friend had been fighting, acting the part of the villagers... they'd all been... the thought snapped in his mind with a surge of dread. Brainwashed. But Tel? After all this time, after all this fighting?

"Tel, can you hear me?" the Kyrii whispered, gently shaking his friend. "Come back, Tel... Your brother..."

"Oh, it's far too late for that," said a sudden voice behind him. "He really should have given up all the way by now, it would be easier for him, but this Lutari is a fighter..."

Author: laurelinden
Date: Jun 22nd
...Johannes whirled, his eyes whipping from side to side in search of his best friend's tormentors. And...

And there was no one there. "Who are you?" he demanded, paw drifting to the obsidian dagger tugged inside his belt sash ("In case of emergencies," Itterik had told him as he was presented with the weapon by the woe-begone Lutari. Its blade had gleamed with moonshine, and as he'd gazed down at its glow, he'd almost been overcome with a vile sense of wickedness. To use such a tool for your own dastardly means... it would be the birth of something he could never forgive within himself. There is no evil within a blade that does not flow from the paw that wields it.)

Only the shadows and the silence seemed to look back at Johannes with any understanding.

A hoarse ghost of a whisper drifted from behind the Kyrii, wavering his grip on the ebony weapon. "You can't see them." Startled, Johannes risked a glance over his shoulder to see Teldrin propped on fragile elbows. The Lutari's eyes were unfocused and clouded over, and his whole body shuttered with such exhaustion at this tiny movement that Johannes almost whimpered in a useless sort of sympathy. His friend coughed once, twice, then forced an explanation from his throat. "Only... only those who have learned to live as they do can. Only those who have learned to live without hope." As though these few sentences had sapped the weatherworn Lutari of all strength, Teldrin sagged back down onto the bed.

Gradually, Johannes took this in. And the more he mulled the idea over, the less it made any sense.

"No, Telly, no," the Kyrii murmured, eyes focused on the mud-stained floor between his feet. After a moment of repose, he lifted his gaze and glared not at Tel, but into the nothingness that gazed back at them with a horrid curiosity. "That's only what they've told you so they can break you down. They need to have lies, and secrets, and illusions," Deftly, the Kyrii hooked his dagger back into his belt, and prayed to dear Fyora that he was right and would not be needing it. "Because they have no real power."

The silence seemed to take offense at such rebellion. The silence was accustomed to getting its way. "He is mine," a dozen voices hissed, lashing out of the shadows like a barrage of silver arrows falling. Though they must have been numerous in quantity, they spoke as one. "He is mine and they are mine, and they will not shared. They will not be given back because I want them." Johannes wondered if there was only one mind between them. The voices warped over and over on the same track, emphasizing a single thought until it no longer held any meaning. "They are all mine."

"You hold no more power over me than you held over the rest of the village. But unlike Tel and unlike my family, I was not here to be enthralled by your hypnosis, so I can see it." said Johannes as he glowered into the shifting shadows, more bravely than he felt. As the Kyrii peered at them, the shadows seemed to solidify and take on forms. Forms could be dealt with. Forms were not ghosts; forms could be defeated.

His confidence heightened. He prayed it was not the fool's confidence of the Chia stepping from a burrow with a drooling Lupe looming behind.

In the eye of the moon that peaked at them from behind the rotting wood of the window frames, the dagger flashed. And before the invisible fiends that held his friend captive, Johannes took a deep breath that was almost a sob. "I will see you."

With that, the Kyrii opened his eyes. And opened them again...

Author: missjessiegirl
Date: Jun 22nd
...And saw the Taker.

The forms of his body were pale gray, gray as a wet stone, and were wrinkled and stained with streaks of something that looked like blood. The tall Nimmo wore a black, shadowed cloak that rippled and flapped like a Crokabek's wings, casting his shadowed face into darkness. But as Johannes' eyes widened and the shroud lifted, the Taker was bathed in brilliance that banished every shadow from his angular face, a light that gleamed away from his half-rotted, crooked teeth and from his narrowed eyes.

But Johannes' gaze then slipped around the room, and he saw more in that room than he had thought he would see. He took a disbelieving step back, and his thoughts sank into despair.

There was not one Taker.

There were hundreds.

Floating a foot off the ground with their cloaks dangling down, they hung there like eerie spirits, strangely golden eyes glistening with a hungry light. Though they were all different, they were all the same; they looked the same, spoke the same.

"The dagger," Tel croaked hoarsely, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. "Use the dagger... Johannes... use it..."

Johannes felt a hysterical urge to laugh. The dagger? The dagger was a joke! Even if there was only one Taker, he couldn't fight spirits; he wasn't invincible, for Fyora's sake! He waved the dagger helplessly, hoping that he looked more intimidating than he figured he did; but his despair must have shown on his face, because the Taker laughed.

"Who are you, little creature?" he shrieked horribly, dozens of voices whipping at Johannes from the dark. "Who are you? Run and we will spare you; stay, and you will end as this young fighter here."

Their golden gazes angled as one towards Teldrin.

Johannes felt an insane anger rise up in him, an unquenchable rage that sparked a fire in his eyes and made his throat burn. "You can't have him," he shouted at the leering faces. "You can't have him, Taker!"

And Johannes struck.

The dagger spun furiously as Johannes attacked. His eyes zeroed in on the parts of the beings that he knew were vulnerable: the nape of the neck, the stomach, between the shoulderblades, the eyes, the mouth. But none of it worked, for they were all false; his blade sliced through them as if they had never been, and they hadn't. The phantoms swirled around the room, screeching terribly, rippling like waves. Johannes spotted one within his range, lunged...

And his dagger tip nicked skin.

He had found the real Taker.

Instantly, Johannes shut out all the other ghosts around him and focused on the genuine Taker. Teeth bared, the Nimmo placed his feet on the ground and bared his teeth as the others vanished into smoke.

"You won't give up," he seethed. "You won't give up, will you? You will fight and fight all you want, but you will never kill me." His voice softened. "Foolish child. You can't survive. Wouldn't it be easier to turn your life over to me? Just look into my eyes. It's that easy. Let me in. Let me in."

His voice was strangely compelling, and Johannes found himself beginning to lift his head. The dagger slipped from his sweaty fingers and clattered to the floor, but the Kyrii paid no attention.

Their eyes locked. Johannes fell to the ground, eyes barely open, lying on all fours but unable to remove his sight from the Taker. The Nimmo murmured something and leaned in closely.

Johannes felt himself begin to slip away...

And then the Taker jerked back.

Johannes scrambled back and watched with horror as the monster froze, and then fell to the ground.

And he vanished into the wind.

Behind where the Taker had been just moments ago, there was the thin form of a green Lutari. Breathing hard, the creature stared at Johannes with mismatched eyes as the sharp stick that he held in his hands fell to the floor and he slumped down.

Johannes was on Itterick in an instant, on his knees beside him. But Itterick didn't care a strand of hay for that. His mind was on other things.

"Teldrin," Itterick sighed. "Go check on Teldrin."

Johannes spun around and leaped to his best friend, but he didn't need to. Teldrin was sitting up, his fur full and bright green, his ribs no longer showing, breathing easily. His bright eyes sparkled joyously, and he leaped up, seized Johannes, pulled the Kyrii down to Itterick, and embraced both of them in a hug of happiness.

"We're home now, Itterick," Teldrin gasped, sobbing with rejoicement. "We're home."

Astonished, Johannes peeked through Teldrin's arms and glanced around.

They were back in the village.

Light was shining through the windows, bright real sunlight, welcoming the three and encircling them in an embrace of her own. They were all crying now, joyful, leaping up and racing outside, welcoming everyone back to the village that they had finally found.

A rainbow arched gracefully over the sky, horizon to liquid horizon.

The nightmare was over.

The dreams had begun.

The End

Author: angelwater630
Date: Jun 23rd



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