Charles & Sophie

Chapter One

It’s the morning of Sophies 21st birthday and she couldn’t be more excited! She lives in a village named Tresnia in the land of Barense and on a persons 21st birthday to be truly named an adult they must set out on a quest to obtain emralds from the dragons cave in the foggy mountains! She’s been longing for this day since she was 13 and couldn’t believe it was time. She must rush to town to get ready for the long journey ahead!

She almost forgot to say goodbye to her parents in her excitement but her mother was by the door. She knew how her daughter longed for this day and knew her too well not to be waiting there. She gave her daughter a tight hug and gentle kiss. She then looked at her lovingly and told her to be careful. Not everyone survives the journey to becoming an adult. Her father then came in and hugged her aswell then patted her on the shoulder. He then said, she’ll do fine dear! I have no worries she’ll be back in just a few months time!

Sophie took a quick glance back at her house and waved one last time to her parents who were smiling nervously through the window. She turned and headed toward the village fueled by her mind racing about the supplies and preparations needed and the excitement tingling in her abdomen.

Clutched tightly in her hand was a list her father had made. She looked over it nervously. Her parents had given her over half of their savings. The small sack was tied to her belt and jingled as she walked. Her eyes rested on the word sword, widening subtly at the idea that she might have to kill something. Would the dragon try to eat her? In all the excitement she had not thought of becoming something’s lunch.

thinking of that she began to question if she had picked the right thing. At the age of 13 you start your trainging. You get a choice to fight with a sword or use magic. She chose magic, it simply seemed more powerful and wouldn’t weigh her down on the journey like carrying a combersome sword. She shook her head and said to herself “this is no time to doubt if I can do this!”

Suddenly her best friend Charles hops down from a tree laughing. “Talking to ourself are we?” She was a bit embaressed and said “Shut up!” Charles was 22 and had already been on his journey. He then asked “Can I come with you?” Sophie said “Only if you don’t slow me down! You eat every 5 minuets and we have no time for that!” He laughed again “this journey isn’t a race you know”

“I know” said Sophie as she playfully shoved him and ran off in the direction of the dark woods. Charles ran up behind her and stopped her in her tracks. “You know soph, I have done this before. It’s not all fun and games. You have to take everything you do seriously once we enter the woods.”

She sighed and walked into the market that is right before the woods. They bought all the supplies they needed and Charles sharpened his sword. They were ready to head out when Charles tummy growled. “Already!” Sophie shook her head. He bought food for them both and they sat underneath a great¬†oak tree. Sophie practically inhaled her food then told Charles to hurry because she wanted to make some progress today. He smiled and said “You’re too cute Sophie. I’ll walk and eat so we can get going ok?”

They were soon at the entrance to the woods. Sophies mind was racing with all the possibilities.

Even at midday the woods were dark and ominous. She stepped inside, her finger gripping the strap of her bag so hard her knuckles turned white. The cool air enveloped her, sending a shiver up her spine. Moss covered tree trunks, a pale white from lack of sun. The ground was littered with debris, twigs snapped under their boots. It became harder to see, the light seeping in from the edge of the wood barely reaching them. She raised her free hand, snapping her fingers so a small apple sized orb of light appeared next to her. She directed it forward watching as it moved gracefully ahead of them to light the way.

Charles moved closer to her with one hand on his blade incase of any attacks. On his journey a silver pelt wolf had attacked him. There were more dangers in these woods than just wolves though. They picked up the pace a bit and were almost through when Sophie felt intense pain on her leg then was dragged away. Charles could barely see! There was so little light but he ran following only the sound of her screams.

Sophie had to think fast, she had no idea what was dragging her! She quickly used all the energy she had to summon thunder and electricuted the beast. It let out a loud growl and collapsed. Her leg was free! She quickly stood up and began running. It was painful to run but she had to find Charles. He was quick though so not far behind. She ran into his arms and he quickly picked her up and ran out of the forrest. They were soon on a beautiful path lined with cherry blossum trees.

Sophie thought to herself how could such a horrific place be followed be somwhere so beautiful. Her mother had told her this was her favorite part of her journey and she could see why. Charles was exhausted and collapsed under a tree. He asked if she could use a curing spell and she said “I used so much energy summoning the thunder I’m not sure. She tried but really couldn’t muster up anything so Charles opend up the bag and began to bandage her wound. “Lets rest here for the night ok?” she had to agree so they laid down and quickly fell asleep.

Sophie woke at sunrise and used her magic to heal her leg. She was ashamed of the events yesterday but was glad she got herself out of it instead of Charles saving her. She shook Charles lightly and said “get up sleepy head!” He smiled and said “glad you’re feeling better”

“Thanks to you.” His eyes lit up, the grey orbs turning a bright silver. She rolled her eyes, of course he would feel triumphant. “What was that thing anyway?”

“Vine reaper, nasty creatures. They blend in spectacularly to dark wooded areas. Their bite is venomous.” He replied as he stood, stretching cramped muscles.

They packed quickly and Charles gave her leg a good once over before applying a fresh bandage. He tossed her an apple and pulled one out for himself. She hated to admit it after being raised to be so independent, but she was glad he was here. She might be dead without him. A slight breeze danced around them, kicking up cherry blossom petals and filling the air with a sweet smell. It was like walking through a fairy tale.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” He asked and tossed his apple core.

“Gorgeous.” She smiled up at him.

“If you see any purple flowers don’t touch them. They belong to the pixies. Pick one and those little monsters will turn you into a toad.”

Chapter Two

Charles was thinking about yesterday and how much his heart raced. He had always loved Sophie. She was the one he talked about everything to and who he had the most fun with. He wanted to be more than her friend¬†but quickly banished the thought out of fear of making her uncomfortable. He’d rather have her in his life as a best friend than nothing atall.

He was glad to be in such a peaceful place for now. This part of the journey took him two days to get through but that was mainly because he had touched a purple flower last time. The fairies controlled an ice dragon but he didn’t want to alarm Sophie which is why he said they just turned people into toads. He had a scar on his back from the encounter. He had barely escaped with his life and would make sure he didn’t have to face it again. Especially not with Sophie.

It was past noon when the sound of water reached their ears. A river rushed past them, cutting them off from the path. Charles didn’t remember a river being here. It appeared the fairies had manipulated nature to keep people away.

“Is there anything you can do with your magic to get us across?” He asked.

“It’s moving to fast to turn it into ice and there is too much water to use fire to turn it into steam.” Sophie studied the river, racking her brain.

Charles walked along the bank, his eyes searching the water for any way across. The tip of a large boulder broke the surface. The water was moving too fast to jump across. They would be swept away and smashed against anything that was hidden in the cold depths. An idea came to him and he rushed back to Sophie.

“I need you to uproot a tree.” She stared up at him, confusion flitting through her eyes. “It’s for a bridge.”

They found a large tree with thick branches. She touched the old wood, apologizing for what she was about to do. She pushed energy in it, moving it down to the roots. She heard the tree groan in protest as the roots burst from the ground and the tree toppled over, falling across the raging river. Her knees shook and her head spun. She felt hands grip her shoulders, steadying her.

“Are you alright?” Charles asked, his voice so full of concern it warmed her heart.

“With you here, I will always be alright.” She placed a hand reassuringly over his.

They carefully walked across. Sophie was so afraid but felt comfort in knowing Charles was right there. She knew they could do this together. They made it across and both sighed with relief. She wrapped Charles in a tight hug and said “You are always so smart! What would I do without you! I’m glad you came. In fact i was kind of hoping you’d show up. My mom and dad went on this journey together. When they’d tell me about it I’d always think what fun it would be for us to go together” Charles couldn’t help but blush as much as he tried not to.

He hugged her back just enjoying the moment. She then let go and said “I still can’t see the end of all these trees! We need to get going!” The fairies were watching. They rememberd Charles and were not pleased to see him again.

As the sun began to fall and they trekked through what seemed like never ending wood, they stepped out into a clearing. The grass was a vibrant green, like strands of emeralds. The remaining light glinted off a crystal clear pool, causing it to shimmer brightly. Peeking over the trees they could see the dragon’s mountain. It was intimidating and at least half a day away. Sophie sighed, exhausting creeping up on her.

Charles could only imagine the toll it took on Sophie to generate the energy to use her magic. She looked heartbreakingly tired. She was always so vibrant and upbeat, but right now she looked like she’d ran an entire day without rest.

“We’ll make camp here, Sophie.” He said, taking her hand and leading her to the beautiful pool.

“We have to keep going.” Her voice was a weak whisper, so quiet he almost didn’t hear her.

“You are drained, we’ll stay here.”

His voice was so warm, so gentle yet she heard the command in it. She knew he was right, he was always right. He had done this before. She dropped her pack on the ground and flopped down on the blanket of cool grass. She scooped up some water in her hands and took a sip. The water felt amazing as it slid down her throat. She relaxed while Charles cleared away some grass and collected wood. She giggled as he struggled with making a fire.

“Brand.” She said as she pointed a finger at the pile of wood and it sprang to life with fire.

“Warm me next time, you nearly singed my eyebrows.” Charles smiled. He rummaged in the pack and pulled out two pieces of jerky. “Eat and sleep.”

The sound of singing woke her. Sophie’s eyes snapped open, her heart giving a leap of fear. She sat up and cocked her head, listening. Singing, high pitched and beautiful. Small lights caught her attention, enticing, lovely. She pushed herself to her feet, curiously following them into the woods.

She was so curious and so amazed she didn’t notice she was far from Charles and only going further away. It was just so beautiful, like nothing she had heard before.The fairies were leading her into harms way. They thought they’d pay back Charles for setting foot in their land again by hurting who they could tell he loved. Deeper and deeper they took her until they finally quit singing. Sophie was instantly out of the trance and noticed the pack of wolves around her.

Back where they laid asleep Charles woke up with this odd feeling when he noticed Sophie wasn’t there. “SOPHIE!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. The fairies that were still there giggled. He then yelled “where’s Sophie?!” they pointed into the deep dark woods that were at the side of the mountain. They said together “when you get there it will be too late” They all flew away giggling.

He started running as fast as he could. He was panicked and his heart was pounding. All he could think about was getting to her and hoping she was ok.

Sophie was tired from going so long without resting but she was casting as much as she could but there were so many wolves. One pounced on her back and she fell. Sharp pains ran down her back. She knew it would be dangerous to cast a spell at herself but she had to do somthing! With everything she had she cast a water spell. She ment it to be thunder but she couldn’t think straight. It still made the wolf jump off but it was angry as ever.

She ran for a tree and started trying to climb. It was her only hope of surviving. Her muscles didn’t want to cooperate but she forced them and soon she was far above them. They circled and waited. Growling and chomping their teeth. She was in so much pain but couldn’t cast a spell. Her blood trickling to the ground. She was frantic praying they would leave.

Charles raced through the dark wood, sword drawn, heard pounding. He could tast his fear and rage. He turned in circles, lost in the dark. He heard the fairies giggle, heard their wings buzzing as they flew circles around him in the dark. They were trying to distract him, hoping he’d follow them in a rage. He felt himself shaking with anger. He took a deep breath, centering himself. He heard growls, but in the dark they seemed to be coming from every direction.

“Sophie,” he screamed, “light now.”

Sophie heard Charles’ voice. It was muffled, as if the night had swallowed him, but it was there. He screamed again and she caught the word light. Blood ran down her back, soaking her clothes and draining her. Her vision began to blur, but she managed to lift her hand and snap her fingers before toppling out of the tree and landing in the midst of the pack.

Chapter Three

She was passed out, she had lost so much blood. The wolves started running at her when charles swooped in and cut down two at once. Soon all were defeated and he picked up Sophie, a few tears ran down his face. He felt like he failed her. He kept thinking maybe if he had let her go a bit further or he had been more aware of her as they rested. He was so worried but decided he needed to get her out of the woods before anything else attacked.

He ran until he saw where they had rested before. He then laid her down and began to bandage her. he pulled out some potions they had bought from the market and poured some in her mouth. The only thing he could do was wait and hope she woke up. He was so afraid of her dieing. He picked her up and just held her. He stayed awake all night holding her. Sunrise came and his eyes were heavy, almost too heavy to keep open. He couldn’t fall asleep though. He couldn’t risk anything else happening to her.

Then suddenly he felt her move and she said somthing he couldn’t understand. He wanted to cry but didn’t want to infront of her. He gave her another potion and some herbs to numb the pain. She looked dazed but in a few moments she leaped at him¬†and gave him the tightest hug her weak body could muster.” Oh thank you Charles. I was so scared” he hugged her, so grateful she was alive and he hadn’t lost her. She kissed him on the cheek and his face turned bright red. Then she just continued to hug him. He was so happy. This moment more than ever he was struggling wanting to tell her how much he loved her.

They ate a quick breakfast of bread and jerky. Charles helped clean the blood off the back of her neck and out of her hair. They continued on their journey at a somewhat slower pace. Sophie’s muscles felt stiff. She had regained her energy and was safe from infection. She walked hand in hand with Charles, unwilling to be separated from him again. The fairies followed silently, their devious minds working out a plan to rid themselves of these two humans.

Charles couldn’t help but wonder what those horrible winged creatures had in store for them next. He knew they commanded the dragon at the top of the mountain, but he was their last resort. It cost much to wake him. He had barely escaped the beast himself. The crystalline beast was a force to be reckoned with, so absolutely terrifying that the very earth had shook with his rage.

“Do you know what we’ll see next?” Sophie asked.

“A swampy area. It horse shoes three sides of the wood. The Hvid live there. Deceitful creatures, beautiful at first. They have very sharp teeth.” He frowned.

“Did you figure that out?”

He stopped and lifted up his shirt to chest level. A curved line of scars marred the skin over his heart. She inwardly winced and blushed at the same time. When she finally managed to look him in the face he was grinning. She smacked him in the abdomen and he feigned hurt.

“Oh how you’ve hurt me.” He said dramatically. “I don’t think I could go on.”

“You’re lucky I’m feeling generous or I’d set you aflame.” She said with false indignation.

He regained possession of her hand, placing a kiss on her knuckles before they moved on.

They walked on and on, Sophie was having a hard time due to her encounter with the wolves. “would you like me to carry you? you know from admiring my arms and chest how strong I am, he said teasingly. It’s really fine.” all the while him thinking how great it would be to hold her again. She responded with “Thank you”

He swiftly lifted her off her feet and held her close. She laid her head on his shoulder and smirked when she heard his heart start beating faster. ” I hear your heart race. Maybe It’s more of a strain to carry me then you say tough guy!” He felt a bit embarrassed since he obviously couldn’t say the real reason why his heart was beating so fast. He just enjoyed everything about her. Her smell, her smile, her beautiful eyes, and especially her laugh.

He could see the swamp in the distance and said “we should rest before we ge there. You’ll need your full strength. I’m sure if we just relax here by morning you’ll be able to heal yourself”. Sophie felt guilty he was still carrying her so just agreed. It was nearly sunset, she asked Charles to put her down so he did. She sat down in the midst of some flowers and then laid down. They smelled so nice and sweet. Much better than the sweat and blood she had been smelling.

He sat down next to her and said “going to sleep already?” she said “no just enjoying these flowers. They are like the ones your mother grows! She’ll have to teach me her secrets when we get back!” They talked and laughed until night fell when all the sudden a bunch of fireflies filled the sky. Sophie couldn’t belive her eyes. She said “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful Charles!”

“you” slipped out of his mouth but the he started coughing. Sophie didn’t hear it and just said “don’t choke on air over there!”

Choking? He thought to himself, no he was suffocating. She lay there, her eyes reflecting the starry sky. They were deep shimmering pools of joy and amazement. He wanted that look to stay forever. He could do that, he knew he could.

“You’ve been wanting to kiss me this whole time. So why don’t you do it, or are you chicken?” Her eyes turned to him, piercing to his very soul.

“Excuse me.” He swallowed nervously.

Sophie sat up, crossing her legs, a small smile playing across her face. She wasn’t a fool, she knew how he felt the moment he’s laid eyes on her. It had been love at first sight. He had fallen all over himself. She had to admit she loved him too. He had gone from closest friend and confidant to the one person she relied on the most. He had been her rock in this turbulent storm.

“You heard me you fool.” She said softly.

What he had wanted more than anything was right before him. He was so nervous and worried it was just a dream. He grabbed her face softly and kissed her passionately. Her kiss was greater than he had ever imagined. They kissed for about 20 minuets and then he laid down and she wrapped her arms around him and laid her head on his chest.

He was so happy he felt like he was going to burst! He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead. ” I love you so much Sophie. I always have. Does this mean you’re my girlfriend?” she smiled and said “of course it does silly. I love you too” They soon drifted off to sleep. They both had never slept so well. Sophie woke up and admired Charles for a bit. She then rubbed his face and slowly went down his neck to his chest. He woke up with a smile. “Thank god it wasn’t a dream” he wrapped her in a hug and added “good morning beautiful”

“You’re one to talk pretty boy.” She grinned.

“Pretty boy? You are so lucky you’re wounded or I’d have you over my knee in a second.” He smiled back.

Sophie laughed, the sound light and musical. He had never known suck joy. He stretched, inhaling the sweet scent of the flowers around him. A chill creeped up his spine and he suddenly felt very uncomfortable. They were being watched. He rolled to his feet in one graceful movement and pulled her up, placing himself between her and whatever lurked close by. His eyes scanned the swamp. There was something waiting.

“We need to get moving.” He lifted her pack and slung it over his shoulder.

“The fairies don’t like you for some reason. What did you do?” Sophie’s eyes darted around nervously.

“I killed one of their guardians, a wolf. They don’t tend to let those things go.”

“They’ve been holding a grudge for over a year?”

He nodded and she rolled her eyes. The fairy folk were constantly on winding road of emotion. Charles raked his fingers through his hair, tussling it. He hadn’t thought of what would happen once he chose to follow Sophie on her journey.

“Don’t you dare blame yourself for all this.” She said as if reading his mind. “If they want a fight they shall have it. I won’t turn back and neither will you.”

“You have no idea how truly brave and beautiful you are.” He grabbed her chin gently between his thumb and forefinger, tilting her head up to kiss her. His lips moved over hers reverently, loving the warmth of her skin. He pulled back, both of them breathless. “Now, lets get through this swamp and up that mountain.”

They took off to the swamp. It smelled horrible! Sophie could barely stand it. Even Charles was gagging a bit and he knew what to expect. “The fairies won’t come in here. The stentch is too much for them” Charles said. They were going through it fairly quickly when Sophie saw a¬†beautiful looking creature. She exclaimed “look Charles!” he yelled “That’s a¬†Hvid!”

Sophie backed up and pointed at the creature setting it a blaze. Charles then swung his blade and sliced it in two. “What a good team we are” she said in a flirty tone. He smiled so big it hurt. He really couldn’t belive Sophie cared about him too. He wished he had, had the courage to tell her sooner but then he thought of what his grandma used to always tell him. “timing is everything my boy. If you rush somthing that isn’t ready you could lose it” Her voice echoing in his head.

Maybe it was the best choice in his life to go with her on this journey. He wondered if they would have ever gotten together if he hadn’t wanted to come along to protect her. He had worried about Sophie since he went on his own journey. You hear stories but you don’t know how truly dangerous this is until you’re on it yourself.

Chapter Four

“The best team. Remember to keep them at sword length.” He added extra emphasis to sword length.

Sophie took a good look at the creature it was tall and gangly and had stood semi hunched over. For such a skinny creature it was incredibly muscular. Since Charles had been bit by one, she suspected it was also very strong. It had to be to over power someone his size. It’s skin was a horrible greenish grey and shiny. She reached down and ran a finger over the flesh. It was slimy. Large, black eyes stared lifelessly up at them, its mouth was full of razor sharp teeth. The swamp had to be crawling with these.

“Come on Sophie.” Charles grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the horrid creature.

The mud came up to their ankles and made a sickening sucking sound when they pulled their boots free. Charles had to help Sophie multiple times when she stood still for to long to catch her breath and she sank to her thighs. A loud screech broke the silence. His eyes widened when he saw a large group of Hvid crawl out of the mud. There had to be at least twenty of the beasts.

“We have to get out of here now.” He said.

“How, there are so many.” Sophie stared in horror, pointing her finger and setting one of the creatures on fire.

“The ground is grassier here, we can run on top of the mud.”

He pulled himself out of the grey brown goop then turned and lifted Sophie out of the muck. Long fingers wrapped around her ankle from the swamp. She kicked out, landing a hard blow on the monster’s wrist so it released her. They ran, Charles cutting down Hvid after Hvid and Sophie burning them. She snapped her fingers and sent a ball of light at one of the creatures. It as well as those closest to it became instantly distracted. They burst through the line of slime covered trees, unable to stop as they went over a small ledge and tumbled down. They were back on their feet in an instant, relieved when they didn’t see the foul creatures following them.

“Lets not do that again.” Sophie said with a smile.

“Agreed.” Charles smiled back and sheathed his sword.

They got through the rest of the swamp peacefully. Now here they were at the bottom of the mountain. The most dangerous part of the journey. Charles rememberd how may skeletons he saw here. It seems most people that don’t come back die on the mountain. Aside from being the hardest part of the journey it’s the longest. ¬†They had traveled without stop through the swamp because it smelled so bad and they didn’t want to see any more Hvids so both were worn out.

Charles said “There’s some fruit trees a little bit west of here Sophie. Lets go to them, eat and rest before we try to get up the mountain.” He didn’t want to admit the reason he knew is because a beast on the mountain had shoved him off on his journey and he slid all the way down to the bottom. He could barely move when he finally stopped sliding so he hobbled to any nice place he could find to rest before doing it again. Sophie thought it was a great idea and grabbed his hand. “Lead the way” she said smiling.

They walked about an hour more until she saw the fruit trees. She was amazed by all the different ones there seemed to be. She was starving so she let go of his hand and ran. For once in their life she was hungrier than him. When he caught up he teased her for it.

“Oh shush, I can’t help it. Where did these come from anyway?”

“The Fairy Queen grew them a long time ago. This is neutral ground because the fairies never dared to attack me here.” He reached up and plucked a large red apple off the closest tree and handed it to her.

Sophie took a very big, very unladylike bite out of the apple. It was so sweet and juicy. It warmed her. It was like white light surrounded her, invigorating her and bringing a smile to her face. “It’s love that make them taste this way.” She said, mouth full.

“Love?” He arched an eyebrow at her.

“My mom’s pie makes me feel the same way, happy, energized. Obviously the Fairy Queen was far kinder than whatever has driven the fairies to such anger.”

Charles mulled it over. There had been stories that the wood had not always been so inviting. The swamp had not always been full of slimy, bug eyed monsters. That was centuries ago when people said the mountain suddenly spewed fire and the earth shook with rage as a thunderous roar filled the skies.

“It’s the dragon. He did something that made the fairies malicious.” He quickly finished his apple. “We have to get climbing.”

He rummaged through Sophie’s pack, pulling out a long length of rope. He tied one end around his waist and the other tightly around hers. “So if one of us loses our footing.”

The began climbing upward. Sophie as curious as ever looking around at everything. she looked down and regretted it right away! “How are we so high already!!” Charles laughed. They soon were on flat mountain and undid the rope for this part. We can walk up this path over here. It takes a bit longer but is safer and you’re less likely to fall. I took this route on my third try up.

“Third try up?” she asked. “I wanted to keep scaling up to be faster but it’s easy for monsters to knock you down that way. This path goes a day before we need to climb up the side again.” she retorted “maybe it took YOU a day because you are so slow! I bet it will take no more than half the day with me guiding us!” She jogged ahead. Charles jogged a little faster and soon it became a competition. They were in full run! Laughing all the way up the path.

“Come on big boy, I thought you were a warrior.” She yelled.

Charles tried grabbing her, but she slipped away. A slight wind hit him in the face and it wasn’t long before he realized she was using it to her advantage. “You cheater. You can’t use the elements.” He swiped at her again, missing.

“You ran three miles a day and I learned to use magic.”

Sophie giggled at his failed attempts at catching her. She finally slowed down, allowing him to grab her and pull her back. “I knew I’d catch you and it’s about time. I’m out of breath.” He flopped to the ground and she sat next to him.

They caught their breath and took a sip of water. They were back on their feet, this time going at a slower pace. Sophie’s muscles ached and she was sure she was bruised from head to toe. “Can I have a piggy back ride?” She asked, her eyes pleading.

“As long as you promise to stop looking at me like that. You must have practiced that look for years, your poor parents.” He came to a halt and let her jump on his back.

“How much longer till we’re at the cave?” Her eyelids became heavy and she yawned.

“Not long, go ahead and sleep. When you wake we’ll be there.”

She pillowed her head on his back and it wasn’t long before she was sleeping, her warm breath tickling the back of his neck. He felt a knot forming in his throat. He had never felt so right, so complete in his life. He would never stop loving her, never give up no matter what obstacles were thrown in front of him. He would kill a thousand dragons before he let anything happen to his Sophie.

Charles was in bad shape himself. His arms were sore from fighting all the monsters on their way there and carrying Sophie so much. He kept on though, all the joy he felt gave him strength. Years of wanting to be with her and she was finally his.

Finally he made it to the cave right before they have to scale the mountain again. He said in a gentle voice “we’re here Sophie wake up.” She lifted her head and rubbed her eyes. “I didn’t expect to sleep all the way here! I’m so sorry!” he said “Don’t worry about it. I stopped for a lot of naps on my journey. I’m just tougher than I was then. I’ve gone on many hunting trips since which are very hard. Sophie hadn’t thought of all the work that faced her when she got home from all this. Once you’re considered an adult a lot of work is placed on you. Until now she had always been taken care of. She was excited though. This adventure had been fun and she looked forward to her life with Charles.

Charles stomach growled. He pulled some fruit they had stashed from the trees out and they ate and talked about good times at home. When they were both done sophie laid her head on Charles shoulder. “Thank you for coming” He chuckled and said “I would’ve came even if you said no” she said “oh please I could’ve just electrocuted you and you would’ve been going nowhere! Remember that time you snuck up on me while I was practicing?” he smiled and said “That’s impossible to forget! That hurt so much!” she smiled coyly¬†and said “well atleast now I’m able to make you feel better.”

She kissed his arms and all over his chest and then slowly moved in to kiss him.

“You can be bad when you want to, love.” He smiled, grabbing her face in his hands and kissing her deeply, his fingers sliding into her hair. She tasted like honey and sunshine.

The earth gave a lurch beneath them and for a moment he thought it was his imagination, that the world was shaking because of how excited and happy he was. It gave another shake, bouncing them of the ground so he landed on top of Sophie.

“Holy crap, what was that?” She said, pushing him back so she could get off the ground.

“He knows we’re here. He’s issued a challenge.” Charles pushed himself to his feet, his sword out if its sheath. If the dragon came out he was going to shove Sophie down the side of the mountain. She would slide safely down and he would give her time to escape.

The ground began to heat up and sweat beaded on their skin. They moved slowly toward the entrance, barely making a sound. The neat coming from the mouth of the cave was nearly overwhelming. She directed a cool breeze into the darkness, making it more comfortable and easy to breathe. She snapped her fingers, sending a bright orb ahead of them. It was safer that way. Torches would give away their exact position, where the orb would not. They stepped inside, their breathing ragged. Sophie had to force one foot in front of the other. It was like walking through quicksand. Her brain kept screaming at her to run, her body wanted desperately to obey, but she refused to give in to fear.

They looked out to see the dragon looking down. Angry and firece it gazed at them. A moment later it roared and flew into his home. The dragon may be gone but it awoke a bunch of giants who were not pleased to be awoken. Three huge ones started running at Charles and Sophie. She started collecting her power to unleash a huge wave of ice to freeze them in their tracks. They were almost right on them when she unleashed the ice. It covered two completely but one was barely touched. It shook the ice off and groaned angrily.

Charles ran at it with his blade. He wasn’t used to giants being fierce. Near where they hunted they were nice and sometimes even helpful. He swung and it cut off one of the giants legs. It fell in pain but then uprooted a tree and threw it at CHarles. He was pinned down and couldn’t get it off. he was so weak from carrying Sophie. She quickly summoned thunder with all of her power. She wouldn’t have energy after this but was terrified for Charles. The great giant collapsed dead. She ran to Charles and helped him get from under the tree.

After he was up without warning Sophie passed out. One of her wounds from the wolves opened again and she began pouring blood. Charles picked her up, his arms trembling in pain. He laid her down under a great oak and tended her wound. There was only one potion left. He opened it and poured it down her throat. She regained consciousness an hour later but was barely there. Suddenly a wise wizard who lived in the mountains came up to them.

He asked “what’s wrong with the girl?” an old wound opend up after our fight with the giants. She used too much energy. He touched her back and Sophie cringed with pain. All signs of the wound were suddenly gone. Charles was shocked and Sophie was relieved

“Thank you.” Sophie said, moving slowly into a sitting position.

“Who the hell are you?” Charles asked, his fingers sliding over the hilt of his sword.

“Come now boy this is my mountain, I believe I should be asking the questions here.” The old man’s eyes twinkled like stars.

Sophie rolled her eyes and punched Charles in the arm. “You’ll have to forgive him sir, he’s a man all bark and only bites when he’s backed into a corner.”

“You wound me.” Charles placed a hand over his heart, feigning hurt.

The old man let out a loud bear of a laugh. Tears shimmered in his eyes and he fought to catch his breath. “I have never heard a woman talk to anyone like that, least of all a big muscular sword wielding fellow like you.” He slapped Charles on the back, a gesture of friendship.

Charles couldn’t help but like this man. His smile was contagious, his sense of humor infectious. He helped Sophie to her feet, tucking her protectively under is arm. “I am Charles and this is Sophie. We are here because she has come of age.”

“You seek to steal an emerald from the fire breathing lizard. I see. One moment.” The old man dug around in his robe pocket and pulled out a shiny gold necklace. He helped it out to Sophie who took it, a bit confused. “Dragons love shiny things. When he tries to eat you toss this at him. He will have no choice but to catch it. Once he is distracted, you can defeat him.”

“Thank you, sir. Why are you helping us?” Sophie looped the necklace around her neck.

“Because that beast trapped the Fairy Queen in that cave. He loved her shiny, silver wings. Since then the land has become uneasy and I have been unable to travel down the mountain. He’s a greedy, selfish tyrant. Kill him, release the Queen, and take as many emeralds and gold coins as you wish.”

Charles and Sophie exchanged glances. Killing a dragon was serious business. Swords could not piece their armor. Their weak point was at the base of their skull and getting that close was suicide. They both knew they had no choice. If Sophie didn’t collect what she came for she would forever be a child in the eyes of the village. She would not gain their respect and Charles would be seen as a coward and a failure if he turned back. Sophie wouldn’t allow the bravest man she knew to be frowned upon.

“Yes,” she said with renewed vigor, “we will kill the dragon or will die trying.”

” Good to hear young ones. I have my faith in you. Please come rest at my home here in the mountains. You need to be at your best. You’ve almost reached the beasts lair. That’s why he sent those giants after you.” Charles needed a good rest, all this worry & stress had worn him down. It was a short trek to where the old man lived. Sophie put down the bag in the old mans home near the doorway but Charles still held his sword. He didn’t want to be unprepared if something happened.

“My dear boy you can relax. Fiends can not see my home. I have a magic spell around it. It will only fail to protect my house when I die. Feel free to lay it with the ladies bag.” He still wouldn’t and Sophie just laughed saying “you’ve already won my affections so there’s no need to be all macho” It embarrassed Charles a bit and he blushed. The old man laughed loudly. “That little girl sure has you wrapped around her finger! I can feel your love and I barely know the two of you. Go on now and rest you two.” He opened a creaky old door where there was a bed. Sophie exclaimed “A BED!!! Oh I haven’t seen one in so long!” she ran to the old man and hugged him “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!”

Charles followed still with his sword “I’ll just keep it by the bed” Charles set the sword down and then laid down. It was a small bed and made Sophie feel embarrassed. She had slept with Charles many times on this journey but never so close to him. She crawled on the bed basically having to lay on top of Charles. He wrapped his big arms around her and sighed with relief. Sophie felt so safe and relaxed. She fell asleep right away.

Not Charles though. HIs nerves were racked about tomorrow. It was still helping his muscles laying down. Especially feeling Sophies warm body against his. He’d have been happy to lay there forever. He kinda laughed to himself thinking how glad he was the bed was so small since it caused her to lay on him. He rubbed her head and back for awhile before kissing her forehead and allowing himself to drift to sleep.

Chapter Five

“Charles, wake up.” Sophie shook him, but he just groaned and turned onto his side facing the wall. “Oh really now.” She jabbed her finger into his back, sending a small shock of electricity through him. He very nearly jumped out of bed.

“What the hell. My heart is beating so fast.”

“Good, now you have to get up.”

She sent him her biggest smile, it was incredibly heartwarming. So much so that he wasn’t even angry about such a rude awakening. He stretched, feeling better than he had in days. “Where’s the old man?” He asked, hopping to his feet.

“He was gone when I got up, but he made us breakfast. Aple pie and fresh milk.” She grabbed his hand, tugging him out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.

Charles ate three pieces of pie and drank a big mug of milk. It was wonderful to have a full belly. Sophie was covering her mouth, trying very hard to suppress her laughter. He pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly to him. He kissed the top of her head, just savoring the moment.

“If we make it out alive, we’re getting married you understand.” Charles said softly.

“I agree. We’ve been through so much together. Spending the rest of my life with you would make me the happiest person in the world.” Sophie whispered, her fingers clutching his shirt.

He leaned back, kissing her softly and hoping with all his heart that this would not be their last day together. “We have to go. If we don’t do this now we never will.”

They left their nearly empty sack in the wizard’s house. They knew it would be there when they got back. The old man was still nowhere to be seen, but they knew he was close by. They could feel it as they stepped out into the early morning air. It was foggy and cold. The dragon’s lair was not far.

It was straight up to the dragon now. They tied rope to eachother again and climbed up and up. It was a long climb and Sophie started thinking about what happened this morning. It really sunk in now what he had said about getting married. She was so happy and honestly wondered why he was so afraid to say how much he loved her. He’s so handsome, strong and smart. She felt lucky he loved her. Before she knew it they were on flat land again.

A few miles down the road was the dragons home. She had every bit of confidence they could beat it together. She felt they could do anything together. She grabbed his hand and said cheerfully “let’s go my love!” Charles just smiled and they walked onward. About a mile down the road she looked up at Charles and said ” So we need a plan don’t we? We’re actually going to try and kill it. I think when we get in there I should run in. When he sees me I’ll throw the necklace and you can run up his back to his head and slay him” To Charles this seemed like a logical plan but it worried him.

In a second the beast could kill her with even just a swipe of it’s claws. He’d rather himself die than her. Now that he had her he couldn’t live without her. All he could think about this morning was their life together once he got her safely home. She was impatient for his reply “Stop worrying! I’m a grown women and I’ll be fine! You can’t fuss over me all the time! We need to work together to get this done!”

The mouth of the cave was intimidatingly large. The walls were covered in soot so thick it would take years to scrape it all away. Sophie could feel the heat rolling out and over her. The dragon liked his lair hot. She sent a ball of light into the darkness, gripping Charles’ hand as they moved inside. The darkness swallowed them up. It grew hotter by the moment, their sweat turning to steam. Orange light blossomed ahead of them, a deceivingly inviting. They slowed their pace as the tunnel opened up into a large cave. There lying in the middle, sound asleep was the dragon. His scales were a shiny crystal blue. Large black horns curved over his wedge shaped head then up into sharp points. She swallowed, her heart nearly leaping out of her chest.

Charles wouldn’t let her do this. He was unwilling to take that risk. She was ready, her muscles wound tight. He grabbed her his lips moving over hers. His fingers wrapped around the necklace, gripping it tightly. “Forgive me.” He whispered as he jerked the necklace from around her neck and rushed into the cave. He whistled sharply, the dragon’s eyes snapping open to reveal bright green orbs. “That’s right you hideous snake, I’m back.”

Sophie was unbelievably pissed. How could he do that? Didn’t he trust her? Now was not the time to be angry the dragon swung it’s large talons at Charles. He ducked then swung his blade up so fast she could barely see it. It dug into the dragons arm. It was about to grab him with the other when she summoned thunder and shocked it. The beast roared in pain as it flung Charles. He hit the wall then threw the necklace.

The dragon turned away to go after it. Charles jumped on it’s back and started running up it. The dragon was immensely huge so it took a bit to run up all the way to the neck. The dragon was almost to the necklace and Sophie knew he woudn’t reach the point he could kill it in that time. She used wind to bring it back to her. The dragon whipped it’s head and roared at her. Charles made it to the back of it’s head and drove his sword in.

The dragon hit the ground. No movement atall. Sophie was terrfied even though still angry he almost robbed her of helping. This was her quest to become an adult not his! She grabbed some emralds when the queen flew out. “Thank you kind dears. I’ve been trapped with that beast so long. What is your names and I’ll let all of nature know of what you’ve done for me.” They both told her and she smiled. “What town are you from?” “Tresnia!” Sophie exclaimed proud of her little town.

“I will bless your town with lots of food and instruct some creatures to give themselves willingly to feed the town. Thanks once again” She flew off and Charles ran over to Sophie scooping her up in his arms.To spite her anger the feeling of triumph made her actually hug him back. She was so proud they had beaten it. He carried her out of the cave and set her down because he could tell she was a bit upset. “I it because I tried to do it on my own Sophie?” “yes” she said sharply. “I’m sorry, I just really was afraid of losing you to the dragon” Sadness over whelming his face because she was angry.

She felt bad thinking “well he did only do it out of love” She said “It’s ok, but you need to let me be a grown women. You can’t protect me from everything” She hugged him tightly

The journey back home was uneventful. The swamp already began to look and smell better. A land bridge had been made across the sticky mud, allowing them to pass easily. No fairies followed them, nor hindered them. The Queen, upon her release had called them back. More than likely many would be executed for their transgressions against humanity and nature. They were met at the village with cheers and a banquet that was made all the more sweet when they announced their engagement. Sophie’s father actually cried. His little girl was now a woman.

“Are you happy?” Charles asked as they danced in the torch light to Sophie’s father’s violin.

“You have no idea how happy. My heart, my soul is complete.” Sophie smiled up at him, the stars in her eyes. He kissed her, pouring his love and joy into it. It was the beginning of their new life together.

~ The End ~

Note: Stacy Meyer also attributed to this one

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