A piece of paper rolled down into the houses of both Blizzard and Inferno's front mats.
You have hereby been handpicked by the Scaleswind Elder, Basil, to become one the chosen ones to later become an Elder. Please meet at Sir Basil's hut at midnight today."
Basil waited in the hut, his scarred face hidden. A dark figure appeared behind him, "Basil, it looks bad. The tension between our village and Falcan-Claw have been rising. The same thing is going on between us and Metelli." The shadowed canine darted off. Sir Basil sighed and nodded. "Good luck." he croaked, his voice cracking slightly. He tossed three honey tablets to soothe his throbbing throat and sat down in his nest. Lowering his head, he stared at his paws, the ivy covering his body shrivelling slightly.
Blizzard yawned loudly and stepped out of his den. He closed the door and realised that a small piece of parchment had flown into his letterbox. "Must be some useless junk mail..." he muttered to himself as he padded up to his letterbox. "Oh, I might as well look at i-"
The white tom suddenly stopped in his tracks. He realised that the piece of parchment was carefully wrapped in fine basil leaves neatly tied together with sturdy-looking vines. "Vines are really professional!" he exclaimed as he came closer to the parcel. "But sturdy vines? Wow!" Then, Blizzard examined the package closely and saw a greyish-black paw print on one of the basil leaves - it was Basil the village leader and elder's paw print!
Blizzard gasped, and then gradually steadied himself barely containing his excitement in his chest. His heart thumped at his belly, desperately trying to burst free out of his stomach. "Basil was the leader and he was very, very significant to the village of Scaleswind," he breathed out slowly. "So he must be calling me to do some important business!" he declared. " Then I must go and open this mail immediately!"
With shaking paws, Blizzard tore open the leaves and he found a scroll of dusty parchment. He read it aloud: "Dear receiver, you have hereby been handpicked by the Scaleswind Elder, Basil, to become one the chosen ones to later become an Elder. Please meet at Sir Basil's hut at midnight today."
At exactly midnight, Blizzard woke up from his comfortable moss bed, complaining about how dark it was - he had never liked the darkness much. But he knew he had to stop moaning because he just had to go to Basil's den. When he arrived, he waited patiently at the door. Inferno charged down the dirt path from the opposite side Blizzard was on. The ginger great dane screeched and crashed into him, sending both sailing through the air.
Inferno's nose twitched slightly as he got up slowly from the crash. His red paws stomped on the ground as he stared at Blizzard with blood-shot, hot eyes.
Blizzard's eyes pierced Inferno's blazing scarlet eyes. 'What is a mousebrain like you doing here?" he spat angrily at Inferno's feet. 'Well, I've been requested by our very important leader that I needed to come to his den at midnight - it said in a letter, squirrelbrain!" A triumphant smirk spread across the dane's face. "So I'm more significant than-"
"Hey!' Blizzard exclaimed in surprise. "I got a letter too! But how come you got one...you don't even deserve it..." he muttered to himself.
"What did you say?" Inferno growled menacingly at Blizzard's face. "You know, if I'm allowed to, I could just rip your disgustingly puny, white pelt off in one heartbeat!"
Suddenly, the pale tom yowled angrily and threw himself onto Inferno. The dane barked and then they started attacking each other. Claws were unsheathing as the two creatures escaped from their own tangled paws and they were just about to claw each other down with the immense power of their fury flaring inside them when unexpectedly, there was a harsh bark - a Collie bark.
Basil opened the birch door of his hut and bared his fangs, which glowed green on command. His dark green eyes narrowed slowly, forcing the scar across his right eye become painfully visible. "We do NOT need your unnecessary arguing, especially at this time and hour! Come in and shut your mouse-traps." He turned quickly on his heels and stalking into his home, expecting the two to come in, then sat down, calming himself easily and waiting.
The two abruptly stopped squabbling and untangled themselves. As they slowly padded in their leader's den, Inferno hissed like an adder, "I'll get you someday, badger-heart!"
"Right back at you, dung-brain!" Blizzard replied to Inferno icily, his cold stare piercing almost maliciously at the canine's pelt.
Once both Blizzard and Inferno had stopped their bickering, they noticed that Basil was patiently sharpening his curved, sharp-edged claws on a bit of smoky blue pebble on the table next to him. He was also sitting on a birch chair that was polished very finely.
Blizzard shivered as his eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness in the small hut. Inferno snickered slightly, unable to keep hushed but pretended to have done nothing when the white tom whipped around quickly to see who has made the snicker.
"That stupid dane," Blizzard spoke angrily in an undertone as he began to smooth out his matted, dirt-stricken fur with his wet tongue speedily. "Thinks he's the boss just because he's a tiny bit bigger than me!"
Suddenly, Blizzard a surprised gasp from beside him. He wheeled his head, preparing for a speedy claw attack from Inferno but instead, to his great surprise, the canine's jaw was wide open.
"What's wrong, little doggie woggie?" the pale cat sneered, unable to hold in the triumphant tone of having discovered his enemy's bizarre facial expression. Thinking this, he smirked even louder, forgetting that his leader and elder, Basil was watching him. "Have you finally realised how I'm more powerful and -"
Unexpectedly, Blizzard's jaw dropped open too as he followed Inferno's gaze. For once, he had seen what Inferno was marvelling at.
Basil raised his tail for their attention and looked at the two other birch chairs at the beautifully paw-carved tea table and gestured to them, as if telling the two to sit down. His ears twitched slightly and the Elder looked at them.
"You two have proven yourselves worthy of becoming the chosen ones. There shall be three, or more if you find more Elemental Magicks Users on your journey. You must have noticed that I added journey into my sentence. Yes, the Seven Great Orbs have been taken and we need to them back, unless Scaleswind and Bright Port are to be taken down by either Metelli or Falcon Claw. You must both go to Bright Port first to receive the blessing of their priest as we do not have one in Scaleswind. As we have received reports of Fire Magicks Users sensing an important presence in the Lush Grotto, we suspect that the Fire Orb is there. But because they are only Fire Magicks Users who have learned their skills, and do not naturally have a Flare Essence in their heart, they cannot prove that it is there. However, Inferno has the Flare Essence within him, so we need you two to retrieve it. Are you up to the task?"
Sir Basil flicked his tail and the vines wrapped around his paws untangled themselves before shooting through the air and grabbing a large, well-made clay pot with roses and lilacs painted onto it hanging above a fireplace. Another thread of ivy got two matching bowls with the flower patterns as the ones on the pot and Basil blinked. As if his eyes closing was a signal, the breathtakingly beautiful creations were placed on the polished birch table. They then retrieved two sets of utensils and filled both bowls with warm chicken soup with perfectly grown mint to add some mouth-watering flavour to it. Basil looked at them, waiting for them to eat.
"I'll be up to the task...after I eat this!" Blizzard wasted no time in drinking the delicious soup and eating the chicken noisily. Inferno wanted to eat like Blizzard too, but he thought that he must show manners to Sir Basil. The dane bowed slightly to the Collie and then was about to drink the soup when immediately, Inferno felt warm flecks of chicken soup flicking onto his scarlet-red pelt. He hissed, clearly annoyed that some soup had gotten onto his pelt and turned around to see that Blizzard had caused the soup flicking onto Inferno's pelt.
"Mousebrain," Inferno growled quietly as he paused to groom his fur to the right position and to also clean the soup off before it got sticky.
Meanwhile, while the canine was cleaning his pelt, Blizzard was slurping noisily at the savoury soup and chomping at the chicken irritatingly out of his bowl. He hadn't realised that flecks of soup had flown to Inferno and kept on eating, while Basil looked disapprovingly at him from his birch chair.
A few moments later, the dane had finished cleaning his pelt - it now looked sleek and well-groomed. As he slowly whipped around to finally drink the delicious-looking soup, he saw that Blizzard had already finished drinking his serve and was rubbing his stomach lightly. The tom had a mark around his mouth that almost looked like a fully round soup goatee. Inferno snickered at how that his enemy had yet to realise that he had that stupid-looking soup beard.
"Please drink the soup - it's getting cold, and I do not want you unprepared for your journey." a clear bark interrupted the canine's thoughts. He turned around and saw that Basil was looking at him, his ivy gesturing to his bowl of soup.
"Y-yes Sir Basil." Inferno stuttered and hastily began to drink the delicious chicken soup, embarrassed that his leader had almost criticised him. Fortunately for him, Blizzard was was distracted as he was still rubbing his stomach in a spiral direction so he has no reason to snicker at the dane.
Sir Basil shook his head and passed a tissue across the tea table to Blizzard. He got up while they were both distracted and got up silently, padding to a small birch door. He crouched, looking over his shoulder to make sure that they weren't looking, and opened it, quickly slipping through. At the other side of the door, he was met with thousands of gold bars pile on top of one another. He reached his vines to grab one and retrieved two sets of leather knuckles. Basil sneaked out of the room and handed one pair of knuckles to each chosen one. "Have these. They will be of good use when you learn your powers. Come, we shall train a little bit before we go."
"Yes, Blizzard! Uppercut, now. Do not just stand there and take the hit, Inferno, dodge! Great. I think we shall take a break before we start again in 15 minutes." Basil sat down and curled his tail neatly around his paws before pushing a glittering china plate to them with perfectly cut watermelon slices, fresh mangoes, blueberries and oranges on it. Lotus flowers were painted onto the plate and two silver forks with golden highlights waited for the trainees.
Basil sighed and looked up to the sun, "Serenity, help us..." He lowered his head and waited for them to finish.
"Mmmmmm!" Blizzard liked his lips hungrily and picked up his silver fork. He poked at a watermelon slice that was finely sliced and, with a glimmer of greediness in his icy-blue eyes, he gobbled it up in one bite.
Basil stood up and looked at them, determination slightly glimmering in his eyes. "Right. I shall be here and you must use the techniques I just taught you and fight independently without my commands." He grabbed a tan tissue from the brown bag tied around his hind leg and let his vines pass it to Blizzard and looked expectantly at Inferno and pointed his tail towards the plate.
Inferno nodded a little and scooped up his silver fork that was on the fruit plate with his crimson paw. He then pierced a mango with the points of his fork and then ate it quickly. He was just about to eat a blueberry and start fighting with the pale tom when suddenly, there was a screech from behind him and he realised he was getting flattened and kicked upon - but by who?
"Ha ha ha ha ha!" the lump of weight got off the orange canine and it was then that Inferno realised who had laid on him - Blizzard!
"HA!' the cat kept laughing in triumph. "You didn't stand a chance! I flattened you! I-" but nobody did hear what he was as Inferno barked loudly and leaped on him. Blizzard screeched and slapped the canine's pelt but still the dog held on. Finally, after a few seconds, Inferno stepped down off Blizzard looking very smug indeed. The white cat's eyes glittered with hatred at his most hated enemy, ignoring Basil's loud command for him to stop glaring maliciously at Inferno, who was now sinking his claws furiously into the ground.
Basil sat, graciously dipping his head to both of them and walking away. "Very well, then. May we see each other again." He didn't look back and instead shouted, "Dusk, start writing two invitations and tell Orachol to fly them to Ignie Blaze and Snowflake Winter!" the Elder continued to walk slowly away, his shape only a silhouette outlined with gold as the dawn sun rose in front of him.
Basil shook his head and sighed before turning around again, beckoning the both of them to follow him with the slightest twitch of his tail. Making their way to Basil's hut, Dusk, Basil's assistant, opened the door for them as it was early enough for them not to look suspicious and Orachol, the head messenger bluebird of Scaleswind, sat on Ungrth's back as he was a bear. The grizzly pulled the polished chairs from out underneath the tea table and walked off, certainly to fetch them breakfast, Basil beside him. The two whispered to each other while Orachol jumped off Dusk's back.
"You two have to learn to work off of each other. Unless you actually want us to get your sisters to do this job instead of you. They are just as capable. No, even more capable than you. The only reason why Master Basil chose you is because Snowflake works at the orchid and Ignie works at the bakery. They're able to earn their own living from these jobs. Unlike some useless brothers who totally don't need to borrow money from their retired parents." Orachol glared at them through a clenched beak.
Inferno opened his mouth angrily to argue with Orachol angrily but then thought better of it and closed his jaw, as Orachol was the most high-ranked messenger bird in all of Scaleswind and respected by many others. Blizzard then asked, "Isn't the Lush Grotto very dense and d-dark? And why send us? Why not Basil? Since he knows where they are, then he could save us the trouble and-"
"The reason why," Orachol explained now more gently and patiently. "is that he is very significant to our village and we can't afford to make our village panic even more about the stolen orbs and our leader. Another reason-" the bluebird paused,took a small breath and started chirping again.
"is that Basil is too old and tired to journey through those dangerous places, even through he is a very strong elemental." she added quickly as she saw the confusion spread on Inferno and Blizzard's faces. "So that's why."
Orachol sighed, "You two had better get some rest. Your parents know about this and they've put their goodbye letters in your bags that Ungrth'll give you when he gets back. Basil's resting in his bedroom - he's quite old and he doesn't have that much life in him." She lowered her head for a little bit, "But that's why you're here. You're the new generation. But for some reason, you simply seem like fools. Anyway, follow me, I'll show you to your rooms. And don't you dare treat me like a servant, or your eyes'll go 'pop'." She jumped off her perch and led them into a cute little bedroom with birch beds and antique oil lamps.
As Blizzard followed Inferno and Orachol, he muttered, "How dare she call us fools? And she wouldn't even try to touch one of my eyes. 'And don't you dare treat me like a servant, or your eyes'll go 'pop'? Ha! As if! I just-"Suddenly, Blizzard bumped into someone. "Oof!" he groaned and fell onto the floor. He stood up and hissed, 'Inferno, if that was you, I'm seriously going to kill you!""No, it wasn't Inferno." a voice rang out. Blizzard looked forward and saw Orachol's face. Behind her, Inferno stood, licking his fur and smirking slightly at Blizzard.
"Did you insult me?" she asked sternly to the feline. "Yes. I-I mean no! Absolutely not!" But it was too late. Orachol had already seen through his lie. "If you insult me again," she chirped angrily. "Then I will immediately tell Basil and he will almost probably replace you with Snowflake and you will have to her job until Inferno and Snowflake succeed in getting the orbs and the other Elemental Magicks Users. GOT IT?"
"Yes, Orachol." Blizzard mumbled softly. He heard the snicker of Inferno and realised that he had heard his muttering and told that to the bluebird, just to laugh at him and make him embarrassed. A bolt of pure white fury flashed through the the feline's head. He felt so enraged about Inferno but he had to obey Orachol, or else he would be replaced with his extremely irritating sister Flaky.
"But anyway," Orachol continued casually. as if nothing had happened in the last few seconds. "It's time for me to lead you into the guest bedroom."
Orachol flapped her wings and began to fly, and leading them into a cute little bedroom with birch beds and antique oil lamps. She pecked at the pillows, fluffing them up and ruffled her feathers. She smoothed out the covers and flew on a birch bed, easily closing the door behind her with the gust of her wings and leaving the two with their bags which hung off two clothes racks and some sweet-smelling lavender incense.
The white tom breathed deeply in the room, sucking a huge amount of the lavender incense into his nostrils while the orange canine marvelled at how adorable and organised the small bedroom looked.
Blizzard inhaled more now but then some bits of grey dust flew right into his nostril and rubbed on it. He felt a tickling sensation in his nose and then sneezed a huge "Achoo!", but quietly as he did definitely not want Inferno teasing him again.
"And you know what that means," he muttered to his brain. "I attack him, he attacks me, we fight, Orachol scolds us and little Flaky and Ignie takes me and Inferno's rightful spots as the Elemental Magicks Users that get the orbs." he finished with an unnoticeable sigh.
"So," Orachol chirped loudly, coming back into the room and bringing breakfast, snapping both Blizzard and Inferno to real life. "You have a very important task our village depends on. If you succeed in bringing all the elemental orbs that are scattered around the lands and the Elemental Magicks Users, together, you will be respected, have glory and most importantly," she took a deep breath and carried on. "our village will be saved and we shall be defended from Falcon Claw and Metelli. However, if you fail, then Scaleswind would then be doomed and it will be torn apart."
Blizzard gulped slowly and beside him, Inferno scraped his long claws into the floor nervously.
"But anyway, it is very clear that you will have to rest tonight in order to start your journey all freshened up and awake. To do so, for now you can sleep in these moss beds," she gestured to the two piles of soft-looking, green moss with her blue wings and went on. "This will be your last day in Scaleswind until you complete your task or decide to come back here in need for food and other essential supplies for your adventure. Got it?"
Both great dane and tom nodded, scared but extremely determined to go and find all the orbs and the Elemental Magicks Users. Then, they padded to their moss beds and laid upon them.
"Have a good sleep." Orachol whispered comfortingly and, with the sweep of her wings to turn off the lamps, shut the birch door.
"Well, I'm really tired," Blizzard yawned to Inferno. "Ima gonna go to sleep now..." A few seconds later there was a great snore, and it didn't take the village leader to guess who was snoring in the bedroom.
"Noisy furball." the canine muttered sleepily as he tossed and turned on his comfortable, almost silky moss bed. "Well, Orachol is right. I must get a good night's sleep before Blizzard and I go off on the journey. So I guess I just snooze for a bit..."
The canine's mutter trailed away as he yawned massively, his great big teeth showing, and then curled up into a ball trying to block out the echos of the pale cat's irritating snoring coming to his sensitive ears.
Finally, after a few minutes, the snoring stopped. "Aahh...just in time..." Inferno sighed, relieved that the annoying echos were over at last. He then rolled to a comfortable position and and gradually went to a wonderful, silent slumber.
"Wake up!" "Just do it!" "Your sister's dead!" All those words echoed in Blizzard's head. 'It's nothing - just a dream.' he thought drowsily and flattened his ears to block out the noise that was disturbing him from his sleep. Suddenly, a poking sensation occurred in his pelt. He opened one eye, and saw Inferno and Orachol's face.
"Aah!" Blizzard woke up immediately. "No offence, but you guy's need to learn about personal space!"
"We were that close to you," Orachol chirped, clearly enraged. "Because you were over-sleeping for twenty whole minutes! Yes, twenty!"
"What? Well that's a shame. I once overslept for one hour, did you know that?" Blizzard replied, disappointed at the lack of over-sleeping that he had done. "What an absolute shame - only twenty minutes?"
Orachol rolled her eyes and pecked him repeatedly, screeching to make sure he was wide awake before hopping arrogantly to the edge of the bed and gliding away, Inferno following her. She lead him to a small changing room where plates of armour hung from every inch of the walls. The bluebird twitched her head, looking around, and scooped up a talon-full of dog armour. Scanning the labels on each of the pieces of metal, she noticed a note in a glimmering set of platinum shoulder-plates. "For Ignie/Inferno Blaze." Orachol read aloud, picking it out of the pile easily with extraordinary strength and plopping it onto Inferno's shoulders. She smiled slightly and handed him a platinum dagger lined with silver. On the handle was a quote by his mother, 'The one thing stronger than hatred is love.' and a small fire sculpted with gold was engraved under the words.
Orachol then grabbed a leather bag labeled 'Armour for the Journey' and dumped a chest-plate made with an unknown material that seemed ice-like with some words engraved into the center. She also flew to the back of the room, opening a large pure oak chest with ease and grabbing a sword made with that same white material as the chest-plate. The handle was painted sky blue and a silver snowflake was engraved into the cerulean colour.
"Do you like 'em? We called the wandering Rogue Smith of Racosis to make them. For some reason, that smith is the only good one in miles. Well, better make your way to the back of the hut. We've prepared a secret escape door for you two and it's right at the back of the house. You can only open it with your paw print and Blizzard's claws. You can't open it with just one of the two, however, which is why we had to wake that sleepyhead up anyway." She flew to the guests' bedroom again, which was underground so that the hut could remain a hut and not a mansion and power-pecked at Blizzard's tail, making sure not to bite it off since she was so incredibly strong. "BLIZZARD IT'S MIDNIGHT. YOU'VE SNOOZED FOR THREE HOURS YOU NEED TO GET UP AND GO TO BRIGHT PORT. NOWWWWWW!!!" she hissed.
Blizzard, who was dreaming about a hundred thousand plump, slow mice, mumbled, "Stop disturbing me. I'm having a good dream about-"
But nobody actually got to hear what he was dreaming about as Inferno suddenly reached to Blizzard's right ear and yanked it real hard. The sleepy cat's blue eyes sprang wide open, and there was a deafening yowl from the white tom.
Outside the bedroom, the other animals who were close to the hut wondered what had made the sound. Inside the hut, Basil grumbled quietly, the tip of his tail twitching slightly with annoyance. Dusk noticed this small movement and rushed over to Basil's moss bed, silencing the rest of the yowl that was able to echo around the village and giving Basil another sleeping pill from a little birch bowl.
"That hurt SO much, Inferno!" Blizzard whined as he finally go up from the moss bed. "And did you say I slept for three hours overdue? That's got to be a whole new record for me!"
"Enough is enough! Orachol chirped angrily. "The main point is, YOU HAD BEEN SLEEPING TOO MUCH! Inferno has already packed for the journey but YOU HAVEN'T! Pack! And that's a order!"
After several minutes that seemed like a moon to Blizzard, the two were ready to start their quest for the orbs. "Oh, and before you go," Orachol added as they pushed the birch door open and started to leave. "You can visit your family members - but only if you want to!"
Inferno, after safely storing his bags in the bedroom that he slept in yesterday, immediately dashed to his den. He burst open the door and inside, he saw his sister, Ignie, scratching at the floor with her long claws and his mother humming an old lullaby while stirring some chicken soup in a steel pot. The chicken aroma and the sweet lullaby his mother was gently humming filled his head with loving memories about when he was young and he felt heart-broken that he would rarely see his mother again on the adventure with the tom. The great dane forced back a tear and padded over to his mother.
"Hello, mum." Inferno barked softly as he approached the canine stirring the soup. "Oh, hello, sweetie," Ember, Inferno's mother, whispered to him. "I heard that you and that cat Blizzard are going on the journey to retrieve the Seven Great Orbs?"
"Yes, mum." Inferno replied. "I just thought it would be nice to see you again."
"Inferno, Inferno," a sly sneer made his head turn. "Always the big soppy dog, aren't you? So soft-hearted and gentle and-"
"Ignore Ignie,"Ember muttered quietly to Inferno, who was now gritting his teeth in a threatening sort of way. "She was always like that." With this, she leaned close to Inferno's orange pelt. "Even if you fail the quest, you will always be my son forever. But I believe you will succeed in getting all the Elemental Magiks Users and the seven orbs together with Blizzard."
Back at Blizzard's hut, the white tom was helping himself to another bowl of chicken stew. "Always the eating one, aren't you, my dear?" Blizzard's mum, Icendra Winter mewed to Blizzard. "You should start a strict diet..." Snowflake suggested nicely at the end of the table, not taking her blue eyes off The Complete Encyclopedia of Herbs for Rashes, Aches and Other Types of Sicknesses. "Then you might get more healthier. I could help you if you want to. For starters, you can eat food like-"
"Oh, Snowflake, I said I don't need your nerdy skills. And besides, you're going to get more praised by all the townsfolk. Not that you're a perfectionist already and you get excellent grades..."
A sudden tap on the table made the pale feline jolt. "Less talking, more eating!" Icendra scolded Blizzard and pointed at the bowl of chicken soup to him. "And Snowflake, dear, please put that thick book down. Yes, yes, I know you like reading but the chicken soup in front of you is getting pretty cold there, just sitting on the table like that."
Sulfur Winter, Blizzard's father, dashed back from work, slamming the door behind him. He slapped a thousand Maples onto the table and sighed. "Blizzard!" He wrapped his tail around his son for a moment before handing him the Maples, "I thought you'd have gone already, but I'm glad I'm still back anyway. So, you probably need some money to buy anything you have your eyes on. Well, I love you two. Save some chicken soup for me. Now your daddy needs to get back to work!" he screeched and dashed out of the hut, lowering his head as his boss shouted angrily at him.
Khole Blaze sighed, padding down the stairs and dipping his head to his siblings. His purple eyes slipped back to his book and he sat down on the dinner table, still reading An Adventure Worth Going on: How I became the Healer of Bright Port, written by Healer Katelyn. He swept his hair away from his right eye, letting it cover his left eye again and sighed, waiting for the dark purple dye to finish sinking into his tips. His ear twitched and he wandered out of the room, "Oh, and also, Inferno, Lady Orachol is outside waiting for you. A hazel tabby with a white underbelly is also outside. I believe she is Dlore, you once mentioned her as your best friend, Ignie?" His eyes glowed violet as he viewed the outside with his Vision Magicks.
"Yes, Khole." Ignie replied as Ember placed four small, periwinkle-coloured bowls on the table made of cedar wood. "Dlore is my best friend."
As Ember started to scoop portions of warm chicken stew with added herbs into the bowls, Inferno barked to Ignie casually. "Hey, wasn't that 'Dlore' guy always tagging along you? Like you're her mother?"
"How could you offend my best friend?" Ignie seethed angrily. "How?"
"Uhh...very easily!" the great dane got up quickly, hastily avoiding his sister and started to hand the silver spoons out to everyone with a bowl. Ignie growled softly but almost simultaneously, Ember but an end to it. "Silence!" she barked, her shout echoing through the whole den. Everything was silent except the chicken soup still bubbling away in the pot.
"Children," she told he children. "Don't fight. And I expect that Khole would agree with me, right, Khole?"
But there was no response. The family members all turned round to face Khole and instead of seeing the great dane agreeing with his mother, they saw that he was still reading his book of An Adventure Worth Going on: How I became the Healer of Bright Port and flipping the thick, yellow pages with his right paw.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang on the door. The canned all jumped, and Inferno called out nervously, "Who is it at the door?"
The bluebird looked around and realised that Ignie and Ember were politely trying to ignore the fact that one of the the most high-ranked messenger bird in all of Scaleswind had unexpectedly burst into their den while they were drinking their soup.
"Oh, I really do apologise, Miss and Mrs Ember!" Orachol stuttered. "I thought that the other family members weren't here yet and that-"
"No worries, Orachol," Ember barked soothingly. "Feel free to take Inferno."
"Yes, thank you." the bluebird hopped over to Inferno and together, they disappeared outside. Ember quickly padded to the door and shut it gently, her nose quivering for a bit.
"Oh, for the hundredth time Inferno, it's alright!" Orachol sighed, clearly exhausted. She and the canine had been talking and Inferno kept on apologising repeatedly for spending too much time with his family.
At last, they arrived at the guest bedroom, after a few unfortunate mishaps that happened while they were walking, in Orachol's case, fluttering down the stairs.
Blizzard dashed forward to meet the duo when he first saw them. "That took a long time!" he groaned as the bluebird muttered to Inferno to get his bags that were lying on one of the moss beds. "You should've hurried!"
"Ahh, well." Orachol chirped to Blizzard as the dog finished hoisting the bags over his shoulder blades. "At least we're definitely starting now!"
"Good luck!" Orachol flew off, leaving them at the door of Bright Port's Elder, Lady Lucinda. The old collie limped to the door, opening it. She didn't step aside to let them in, and instead gave them each an necklace, one with a piece of never-melting ice as the charm and the other being some flames that would never be put out. "Keep them. You may think that they are girly, but, each of those amulets is connected to all other amulets made with the same core, in this case, some of Sir Basil's vines. Both Basil and I have these amulets and whenever you are in trouble, touch it with your paw and breath onto it. One of us will pick up immediately and send help." she croaked and walked off, lurching forward and causing the door to slam suddenly.
"A-are you alright, Lady Lucinda? I'll go get Healer Katelyn!" Inferno flattened his ears.
"Yes, my dear!" came the reply, "Do not fetch her. Firstly, she is gathering herbs, and also, there is no spell or remedy to lessen the pains of ageing! I doubt Basil would say otherwise." there was another crash, followed by a soothing mew from Pastel, her servant.
"Hey, who are you? Blizzard questioned Pastel. "My name is Pastel, servant of Lady Lucinda." the ginger cat replied, now helping Lady Lucinda up and giving her a small massage with her paws.
"Are you one of the Elemental Magick Users that we have to find on our journey?" Inferno asked politely. "If so, then what element?"
"I am sorry, but I am not one of the 'Elemental Magick Users'. However, I have the power to teleport, as shown." she closed her eyes, and then she was gone in an almost invisible blue mist. Then, at the corner of the room, Pastel appeared, huffing slightly. "Being able to teleport is great but the disadvantage of it is that it takes lots of my energy to use my powers. And no, teleportation is not an element." she added as she saw Blizzard's curious face.
"Anyway, are you going to leave? I'm not coming, you do realise? I'm Lady Lucinda's servant, which means I have to help her. But I will teleport you to the edges of the Lush Grotto." and with that, Blizzard and Inferno poofed, reappearing at an unknown grassland beside the Lush Grotto, trees and several hills lined the dense forest and Pastel shuddered. "OK, so maybe I am coming... just because I'm too weak to get back, though!" she declared, looking quite embarrassed that she had accidentally teleported herself with them.
As the three trudged through the grassland, they came across some lizards, sparrows and some unusual black-and-white animals, which were known to Pastel as 'zebras'. "Zebra - what a funny name!" Blizzard laughed as he, Inferno and Pastel hungrily devoured the sparrows that Pastel had caught in some dry willow trees. It wasn't much, as they were small and dirty but it was clearly better than nothing.
"Oh, yeah!" Pastel suddenly hit her paw on her head. "What did you do that for?" Inferno asked. "We don't need to eat this mangy, old sparrows - Lady Lucinda said there was food in the bags that you are holding!"
Within seconds, the three had put down their bags and pulled out a bunch of chocolate-chip cookies, which they had to ration as Pastel had said that they still had a long way to go.
Pastel sighed heavily after nibbling on her chocolate chip cookie and giving the rest to Blizzard. "Come! I see a cave on the horizon!" She dashed quickly, almost too quickly, to the cave and began to carve a boulder with her tail. "I made a table!" she set down the two sleeping bags and made her own nest with a few ferns that were conveniently beside her.
"Don't you have a sleeping bag too?" Blizzard asked Pastel as he flattened the wrinkles and flds on his sleeping bag. "Oh, no, it's because I didn't really intend to come here with you guys." the ginger cat replied as she sorted out the ferns.
A little bit later, the three had organised the sleeping bags and Pastel had helpfully sculpted three lumps, which were supposed to be chairs with some rocks that were lying near the sleeping bags.
Blizzard yawned loudly as the sky went from sunlit orange to dark mauve. "Beautiful, isn't it?" Inferno suddenly remarked making Blizzard 's fur curl due to the fact that Inferno had said something heart-warming.
"The constellations are pretty too." Blizzard lied. "But there aren't any constellations," Pastel mewed. "There's only the moon in the west and some random stars shining over there." and with that, she flicked her tail to show that her companions needed sleep for tomorrow and sat on her fern bed.
The great dane and the tom obediently padded to their sleeping bags and placed themselves inside it, Blizzard first making sure that his bag was comfortable by rolling in it. The rolls made some irritating cracking noises and he had to end it pretty quickly as Inferno was threatening him about suffocating him in the sleeping bag when the tom was sleeping.
"When do you think we'll arrive at the Lush Grotto?" Inferno asked when Blizzard was safely tucked in his sleeping bag, away from the 'supposed suffocating killer'. "Well, this is just a suggestion but if Pastel's well enough to teleport. tomorrow morning, she can teleport us to that grotto." Blizzard suggested.
"But we can't do that because I'll then get weak and there could be dangers in the Lush Grotto." Pastel reminded Blizzard from her fern bed."We'll just have to work it out tomorrow."
The next day, Pastel, Blizzard and Inferno woke up at dawn and quickly tucked their sleeping bags into their rucksacks, except for Pastel as she just had the fern bed. Then, they set out on their adventure again, this time, journeying more quickly than before. Some time later, they had arrived at the edge of the grasslands and the border of the Lush Grotto. "Well, we've arrived." Inferno declared to the other two.
The Lush Grotto was a part rainforest and part caves, as the animals saw, filled with vast, thriving types of trees such as fir, oak, birch and a rare kind of spruce which only grew in grottoes. It had huge, green bushes and every so often, they would see a possum or two.
Pastel sighed, lowering her head. She padded towards a large oak that towered above all of them. Grasping her charm in her paws, the ginger she-cat muttered a prayer before padding in, immediately spotting a cave. She waved her tail to the others.