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The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

The Snap

The bright warm light of the early Fall sun rose high into the beautiful gray dawn sky breaking through a cluster of pillow like fluffy white clouds. Far below the cloud line spreads a
spectacular landscape of a huge luscious ancient green forest ringed by towering foreboding mountains. The forest is full of great large oak, pine, willow, elm, palmetto, and poplar trees. On
the ground deep within the forest a small hunting party made up of three people stood under the shadow of a palmetto tree. The hunting party consists of two girls and one boy. The first girl is
about 13 with long wavey silky red hair pulled back in a braid, bright leafy green intelligent bird like eyes and smooth chocolate brown skin. She has a slender pretty figure and soft graceful
features. Her name is Sierra and she is wearing a deep black linen dress cut above the knee, dark navy blue leather pants and fur boots. The boy is about 14 with short spiky light platinum blond
hair, fierce sharp electric blue animal like eyes and pale skin. He has a lean athletic figure and hawk like features. His name is Jacob and he is wearing a long leather dark red tunic, dark olivegreen pants, and black fur boots. The other girl is about 15 with shoulder length curly brown hair pulled back in a tight bun, intense cloud like gray eyes and coppery skin. She has a tall lean
figure and wolf like features. Her name is Olivia and she is wearing a dark purple gossamer knee length dress, dark pink fur pants and leather boots. Bows, quivers, and packs lay slung across
their backs. Jacob knelt down and touched the ground looking for animal tracks.

Sierra stealthily walked over to him and asked in a quiet voice “Have you found anything?”

“Not yet give me a moment.” Jacob answered in a quiet but irritated voice.

Sierra nodded her agreement then relayed the message to Olivia who also nodded. They patiently waited as Jacob vigilantly scanned the forest floor. A few minutes later Jacob spotted something over to the left. Jacob silently crawled over to it and gasped in relief as he finally found tracks.

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“Come over here I found animal tracks!” He called in a low voice.

“What kind of animal tracks?” Sierra asked in a quiet amazed voice.

“I’m not exactly sure. Maybe deer tracks but you should come and see for yourselves.” Jacob said in a low excited voice.

Sierra and Olivia ran soundlessly over to where he was kneeling. Olivia knelt down next to her friend and started to examine the tracks her face darkening into a
concentrated frown.

Sierra bent down for a closer look then said in a shaky voice “So what type of animal is it?”

Olivia and Jacob shared a delighted look then both said in a quiet voice “It’s deer tracks.”

They got to their feet and Jacob motioned for Sierra to take the lead. Sierra nodded and walked past the others to the start of the trail. For the next half hour, they stayed close together as Sierra led the way down the trail of deer tracks through thick clusters of sharp brambles, over gnarled tree roots, under low hanging clumps of branches and across fallen logs until they suddenly reached an abrupt end to the trail.

Sierra quickly held up a hand to signal the others to stop and not a moment too soon as a huge river of fresh white frothy water rushed by. She tried to peer through the thick misty spray of the
river to the other side, but sadly it was no use. Sierra glumly hung her head and groaned before scanning the river for any way across.

Jacob put a warm hand on Sierra’s left shoulder and asked in a calm voice “Is something wrong?”

“Yes, I can’t see any way across the river!” Sierra answered in a quiet worried voice.

He removed his hand and scanned the river for a long moment before pointing off to the right to a bridge made up of swaying willow branches. Jacob was just about to start walking toward the
bridge when Olivia grabbed his arm and pointed a few feet to his left where a small set of mossy steppingstones led across to another trail of deer tracks. Sierra and he nodded their assent then started down to the steppingstones. A little while later they reached the riverbank and walked over to the mossy stones.

“Olivia you should go across first to make sure it’s safe then we will follow.” Sierra said in a low strategic voice.

Olivia nodded then knocked an arrow on her bow and without any question darted off. Olivia carefully hopped over the mossy stones and crossed the river within minutes. She followed the tracks deep through the trees until the forest opened up into a large clearing where a herd of fawns were grazing. She needed to get a signal to the others and quickly ran back to the river. Olivia gave her friends a simple two fingered salute that clearly meant its safe. Sierra noticed her friend first and waved over to her. The others nodded to show that they understood then they ran over the stones.

A minute later they were standing on the over bank next to Olivia who led them through the trees to the clearing. They hid behind three elms at the edge of the tree line. Sierra and Jacob knocked arrows in their bows then edged around the elms ready to fire. They stepped out into the open and fired just as the herd of deer bolted. Suddenly lightning struck the ground as a hot blaze of red fire flashed across their vision while knocking them off their feet. Five seconds later when the fire died away and they got to their feet three stones lay in its place. Jacob led the way over to
the stones the girls right behind him. The first stone was smooth and as white as snow. The second stone was smooth and as blue as a beautiful macaw. The last stone was as black as a huge
opal. Sierra replaced the bow on her back before she gently picked up the white stone and slid it into her pack. Jacob laid his bow on his back before he carefully picked up the black stone and
placed it into his pack. Olivia swung her bow over her shoulder before she cautiously picked up the blue stone and slipped it into her pack.

“Come on we should get back home before night fall.” Sierra said in a gloomy tone her face falling in failure.

The others nodded in agreement. Then Jacob said in a calm tone “Okay home is North from here.” They walked straight across the clearing and into the trees toward home.

On the way back Jacob suddenly heard a twig snap somewhere behind them and looked back to see if they were being followed. He turned back to the girls and lightly tapped Sierra’s left arm to get her attention.

She looked over at him and gently removed his hand before asking a single question in a quiet voice “What is it?

“I’m not sure but I think that we’re being followed.” Jacob said in a voice barely more audible
than a whisper.

“Followed by what?” Olivia asked in a quiet anxious voice.

“I don’t know maybe the owner of the stones. We should get home quickly.”

The girls nodded their agreement and then without a word moved aside so Jacob could walk ahead to find the path. He scanned the ground for three long moments before pointing out a few feet ahead of them the beginning of a leafy path. He motioned for the others to look where his finger was pointing. They looked at the path and a realization dawned on Sierra’s face. She recognized the path with the way it weaved through the trees like a coil of a snake.

“It’s the game path!” The others nodded their understanding and then Sierra motioned to Jacob to lead the way.

Jacob led the way down the game path the girls followed close behind him quietly ducking under over hanging branches and moving aside clumps of thinning brambles. They  walked for what seemed like forever until they reached the halfway point in the path marked by a large oak tree and stopped to catch their breath. Suddenly Sierra looked up at the sky to see that the sun had started to set. The white clouds had grown thicker heavier and before she could even blink the sky turned inky black and thunder boomed as a sticky gray ghostly fog slowly encircled them. Sierra looked around as a cold shiver of fear crawled down her back. She tried to peer through the eye watering fog, but it was no use. She couldn’t see anything and wanted to scream as her chest tightened. Jacob carefully felt his way through the fog hands outstretched. He walked like that until his hands lightly touched Sierra’s arm. His grip tightened in warmth and reassurance. Jacob felt the fear that coursed through Sierra’s body fade just a little bit as he gently guided her over to the oak. Underneath the tree Sierra crumpled against Jacob waiting for the fear to drain out of her body as they softly hugged. Just then two small lights burned and glowed silver slicing through the gray fog like a knife through thick ice. Olivia walked over to the others under the oak and pointed to the lights. The others nodded to show that they noticed the lights as well. Then together they walked around the oak to the left down the path and out of the forest.


Once out of the forest they walked down a small ridge to a grassy field and climb up a big hill. A few moments later they reached the crest of the hill and stopped to rest for the night. They all sat down pulled out their bedrolls from their packs and fell asleep to the quiet sounds of nature. The next morning as the warm sun rose into the sky, they woke up stuffed their things back into their packs and looked down at the ground from the crest. Far below them sprawled the beautiful Everland valley and right smack dab in the center the light of a small-town glowing orange in the sunlight. They looked at each other sharing a happy smile before Jacob ran down the other side of the hill the girls following right behind him into the valley.

At the bottom of the hill, they followed a curving path lined with small clumps of rose bushes into town. They walked down main street toward a boxy shaped building painted black and went inside through a heavy wood door as the mingled scent of meats hits their noses. Sierra looked over at the counter and noticed that the top of it is covered in several bundles of wrapped meat. She looked at the other two who nod to show that they see it too. They walked over to the counter just about to reach for the bundles of meat when a beefy man appeared out of the backroom making Sierra jump in surprise and nearly fall into Jacob’s arms as Olivia just shrugged her shoulders impassively. Sierra tried to regain her composure and plaster a friendly smile on her face. They all know this man his name is Collen the town butcher and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have any money and needed the food.

They expected Collen to walk over to the counter and tell them to leave, but instead he just waved his hand then said in a deep voice “Take whatever you want.” Then Collen disappeared into the backroom and they looked at each other completely stunned.

A moment later Sierra was the first to react grabbing three large bundles and furtively stuffing them into her pack. Jacob didn’t waste a second grabbing four bundles before carefully putting them away. Olivia looked around to make sure that they were absolutely alone before grabbing five bundles and gently shoving them in her pack. They walked back outside onto the
street the town is in full swing with people all going about their business. They walked up the street weaving through a sea of people until they reached the three farms on the outskirts of town and went their separate ways. Sierra walked toward the first farm going inside through an old wood door and into a small kitchen where her Aunt Ava sits at a table. She opened her pack pulled out the bundles of meat and set them on the table then gave her aunt a loving hug before walking off to her room. Her room was small with barely enough space for a cot, shelves and a window that looked out on the woods beyond the house. Sierra hung her bow and quiver on a hook by the bedroom door before walking across the room and sat down on her cot. She placed her pack on the floor and carefully pulled out the white stone. She stared at it for a long moment as a puzzled frown formed on her face as the stone seemed to warm in her hands. Sierra shook off the warmth and placed the stone on a nearby shelf then went back to the kitchen. Sierra walked back to the kitchen looking around her eyes darkening in sadness. She’d lived here in this farmhouse with her Aunt Ava and cousin Lucy since she was 4 years old when her parents died in a bandit attack. Sierra blinked away the tears that pooled in her eyes and moved to Ava’s side to help unwrap the bundles as Lucy came into the room.

Ava looked up at her niece and asked in a kind voice “How was the hunt?”

“Lousy, I didn’t catch anything.” Sierra said in a quiet voice as her eyes clouded over with

She thought about telling her aunt about the strange stone she’d found, but quickly dismissed the idea. Sierra knew how Ava felt about puzzlements and strange things they were not to be touched. Much worse if Ava ever found out about the stone, she would never let Sierra go hunting again.

“If you didn’t catch anything, where did you get all this food from?” Ava asked in the same kind voice but her eyes deepened in worry.

“I got it from the butcher shop in town.” Sierra said in a hollow voice staring at the hard floor.

Lucy ran over and gave her cousin a warm loving hug. A moment later they pulled apart then sat down and began to eat breakfast.

Jacob walked toward the second farmhouse and went inside through an old wood door painted cornflower blue. He walked into a tiny kitchen opened his pack and pulled out the bundles. He placed them on the surface of a table made from the broken branches of a cedar tree where his father Cole sat reading an almanac. Jacob hung his bow and quiver on a small nail on the wall. Then he walked around the table and tapped Cole on the right arm.

Cole looked up from his reading and smiled then said in a quiet gruff voice “Jacob your back good.”

“Dad is Kate up yet?” Jacob asked in a low voice.

“I don’t know but I think she’s still sleeping.” Dad said in a quiet voice.

Jacob nodded his thanks and walked up to his room. His bedroom was small with a cot, shelves and an open window that let in the cool Fall breeze. He crossed the room and sat down on the cot. Jacob slid the pack from his back to the floor and pulled out the black stone. He gently turned it in his fingers looking at the stone from all sides. Suddenly the stone grow warm in his hand and a buzz of heat rippled through his whole body. He shook off the odd sensation and put the stone on a nearby shelf before walking out of his room. He went a little way down the hall and knocked lightly on another door. A minute later when there was still no answer Jacob quietly pushed it open and walked into his little sister’s room. He tiptoed over to Kate’s cot and shook her awake. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at her brother. Jacob helped Kate out of bed and they went back down to the kitchen together. When they walked back into the kitchen Jacob stopped to looked around. He’d lived in this farmhouse with his family ever since his mother left them three years ago. He shook off the memory and led his sister over to the table. Jacob was glad to see that the bundles had been unwrapped stored away and that breakfast was ready. They sat together eating happily chatting about everything and nothing.

Olivia walked toward the last farmhouse and went inside through an old door that creaked as it opened. She walked into a tiny room opened her pack and dumped the bundles onto a small table where her cousin Tommy sat. She hung her things on a narrow hook on the wall. Olivia slowly slid the blue stone out of her pack and walked off to her room. Her bedroom was small with a narrow cot and a dull gray shelf unit. Olivia sat down on her cot and carefully examined the blue stone in her hands. Suddenly a hot shock of heat zapped her hand and tingled through her whole body. Olivia shook off the odd moment placed the stone on a wooden shelf and walked over to a small window. She opened the window breathed in the cool Fall breeze and tried to clear her mind. She was still standing there when her Uncle Steve knocked on her door. Steve walked into Olivia’s room and gathered his niece up in a long warm hug. They pulled apart and went back down to the other room. Once they were back in the other room Olivia took a moment to look around. She’d lived in this farmhouse with her uncle and cousin ever since Uncle Steve found her in the middle of the forest on a hunt abandoned as a baby. She pulled her hair out of its bun so that it fell down like a curtain covering her tearing face in a shadow. She walked over to the table to see that Tommy had put away the bundles and made breakfast. They sat down at the table and began to eat all the while talking about the hunt.


The rest of the day Sierra spent respectfully doing chores on her aunt’s farm. She completed each task without complaint and before she knew it the day was over. Sierra walked back into her room sat down on her cot and took off her boots. She snuggled underneath the blankets and fell into a long sleep. Suddenly in the middle of the night a loud squeaking sound startled Sierra awake. She looked across the room to see the stone rocking from side to side as tiny cracks appeared on it. Then just as suddenly as the squeaking sound started it stopped. Sierra tried to go back to sleep, but just as she was on the edge of its grasp the sound came again much louder this time. She awoke again and looked across the room to see the stone rock so forcefully that it toppled off the shelf onto the floor. Sierra got out of bed and slowly crawled over to the stone realizing that it was not a stone but an egg. She watched as the cracks became larger and larger until one piece peeled away like a sheet of paper. A second later the white egg was reduced to a pile of shards. Sierra leaned closer to see a baby dragon on the floor in the eggs place. The baby dragon had a tiny head crowned by a ring of spikes, big ruby red flapping wings, jade green scales, huge round amber eyes and a curly snake like tail. Sierra carefully moved her right hand toward the dragon and began stroking the green scales trying to calm it down. As she stroked the dragon’s scales a warm gray light seemed to encircle Sierra’s hand. She tried to pull her hand away, but couldn’t it was as if her right hand was stuck to the dragon. A moment later when the gray light faded and Sierra finally pulled her hand away. She turned her right hand over to see that it is now emblazoned with a silver crescent moon. She looked back at the dragon who had now calmed down flew to her pillow and curled up. Sierra thought to herself “I’ll figure this out tomorrow morning.” Then she moved back to the cot and fell asleep.

Jacob spent the rest of the day busily helping Kate to harvest the fields and repairing the barn roof. Before he knew it the day was over and he went back into the house. Inside Jacob walked up to his room and sat down on his cot. He took off his boots and nestled underneath the quilts before falling into a peaceful sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night a loud wailing sound broke through the silence shaking Jacob awake. He sat upright in his cot and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He stared across the room at the shelf where the black stone sat. Jacob gasped in shock when he realized that a web of cracks had begun to spread over the unblemished surface. Suddenly the wailing sound stopped and sweet silence fell like a quilt as he went back to sleep. A few minutes later the wailing sound returned in earsplitting force making Jacob wake again and fell out of bed onto the floor. He got to his hands and knees unsheathed a dagger before searching for the stone. Suddenly it wobbled off the shelf and plummeted to the floor with a soft thump. Jacob watched in shock as the web of cracks continued to widen until one huge piece tore clean off like a sheet of ice. Then a thought struck him as sharp as a lightning strike it’s an egg not a stone. He dropped the dagger stunned as the rest of the egg pieces cracked away and a small baby dragon took the egg’s place. Jacob quietly moved closer and looked at the baby dragon. The baby dragon has a tiny head ringed in spikes, huge orange flapping bat like wings, deep round intense olive-green eyes, small bright golden yellow diamond shaped scales and a curly lizard like tail. Jacob slowly reached out his left hand and touched the dragon’s wing trying to stop the wailing before anyone else could hear it. A second later the wailing stopped and a hot fiery red light engulfed his hand and danced up his arm. He tried to pull his hand away but it was no good. It was like his left hand was stuck to the wing like super glue. A moment later when the fiery red light faded and he gladly pulled his left hand away. Jacob rolled up the left sleeve of his tunic and stared in awe at a small silver leaf shaped mark on his forearm. A wave of unease washed over him as he climbed back into bed. He tried to relax as his dragon fluttered its wings and flew to settle next to him on his pillow before Jacob fell into a restless sleep.

Olivia spent the rest of the day helping her cousin Tommy to harvest the fields. She was so happy helping around the farm that the day passed quickly and now she was back inside the house. Inside Olivia walked up to her room and sat down on her cot. She removed her boots and lay down covering herself in the warm blankets. She fell asleep to the soft sound of the Fall breeze. Late that night a small loud moaning sound cut through the sweet silence making Olivia startle awake. She moved the hair out of her face and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Then she looked across the room at the blue stone. The blue stone teetered from side to side on the shelf as tiny cracks appeared on its clear surface. Suddenly the loud moaning stopped and peaceful silence was restored. Olivia lay back down on her cot closed her eyes and had just fallen into sleep’s warm embrace. Just then the moaning sound returned in full Earth rattling force shaking Olivia wake again. She got out of bed and stared at the blue stone as the tiny crack’s spider webbed their way across its surface. Suddenly the stone toppled off its shelf and onto the floor with a great thump. Olivia walked over to where the stone lay and knelt down in from of it. She gasped in shock as a huge piece began to fly off like leaves in a fierce wind. At that same moment a thought struck her and she slapped her forehead as she realized that it was not a stone but an egg. She stared in awe as a baby dragon wriggled out of the egg’s remains. The baby dragon has a tiny head crowned with sharp spikes, big deep black flapping wings, great round bright topaz blue pool like eyes, smooth deep purple diamond shaped scales and a coiled snake like tail. Olivia slowly reached out her right hand and gently rubbed the dragon’s wing trying to calm it down. Suddenly a warm orange light wrapped around her hand and slithered up her wrist. Olivia startled and tried to pull her right hand away, but it did no good. It was as if her hand was frozen solid to the dragon’s wing like a hard rock. When the orange light vanished and she was finally able to pull her hand away something had changed. Olivia turned her right wrist over and in the sparkling starlight stared at a small silver round flower shaped mark. She had no idea what the mark meant and was too tired to figure it all out tonight. Olivia got to her feet and climbed back into bed. She stared up at the ceiling as the dragon flew to her pillow and curled up beside her and fell into an unsettled sleep.

The next morning Sierra woke to a cold breeze blowing through her window. She sat up pulled on her boots and stared down at the mark wondering where she’d seen it before. For a second she thought that what happened last night could have been a dream then the dragon softly nuzzled its nose against her arm. Sierra’s chest tightened as it all came crashing down on her like a load of bricks. It wasn’t a dream she’d really slept with a dragon. Sierra walked across her room to the shelves and pulled down a thick book. She opened it flipped through the pages to a picture of the same mark. Suddenly Sierra dropped the book instantly knowing what the mark meant… that she is a dragon rider. A wave of dizziness washed through her as she thought to herself “No, no, no it’s not possible! How could I be a dragon rider.” Sierra pulled on leather gloves to hide the mark. The dragon sensing Sierra’s mood flew over to her arm and rubbed its nose against it. She smiled and stroked its scales. She looked out the window her face clouded over in puzzlement as her mind wondered if her friends had encountered something similar. A minute later Sierra stood she’d spent enough time lost in thought now it was time to find out. She was just about to creep downstairs and go to her friends when a loud knock sounded on the front door. She left the dragon on her cot and went downstairs to check it out.

Once downstairs Sierra walked across the wood floor to the front door and took a deep breath. She opened the door to find a man with long stringy red hair, deep murky brown eyes, and skin pale as milk. He was dressed all in midnight black.

“Hello, who are you?” Sierra asked in a quiet voice.

“My name is Malcom and you will join me on a hunt.” He said in a deep firm commanding voice.

Sierra felt a strange chill run down her back as his words sank in. She took a deep calm breath before saying in a quiet voice that she hoped hide the uncertainty in it

“I don’t hunt with strangers!” Before Malcom could say anything, else Sierra slammed the door in his face

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