The sun started to spread its rays across the land. Princess Petuna had slept soundly that night. It was the first time that she had paid close attention in her classes. She had enjoyed yesterday’s training and her face broke into a soft smile as she remembered. She also learnt much more than she had ever done before. Her mind wandered off to Storm Blazer and his many disguises. Hetty and Hetitia had taught her well and it was time to revise. She stretched her arms in the air and with a hearty yawn swept away any traces of sleep. The sun’s rays had started to make their way across the room and she could see their reflection from the lake outside up on her ceiling. They looked like stars or waves even making pictures floating in space.
In no time Petuna was up, dressed and revising the previous day’s training on her water tablet. The fairies had made it a habit to record all classes for her on the tablet and it proved most useful. She needed a change of scenery and Petuna found herself heading to the veranda. Tablet in hand, Petuna leaned against the veranda wall and took in a deep breath. A tiny bird stood on the edge chirping away then flew off to drink from the trickle of water decorating the castle walls. Petuna leaned over to watch the bird when it happened. Her water tablet fell out of her hands, over the veranda wall and deep into the lake.
Petuna let out a shriek of alarm as she reached out after it in an attempt to retrieve it. Very soon she found herself flying over the edge. The size of the lake was getting bigger with every second she was being hurled towards it. In reflex motion she pointed her fingers towards the ground until a strong column of water appeared and formed a water bubble that caught her in time, just as she was about to hit the ground. The water in the bubble slowly dispersed into the ground like a balloon that loosely lets out air.
Petuna found herself sitting on the grass and looked around her with surprise. She could not remember the last time that she was out of the castle. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping away. She could not help but smile at the situation. Petuna gathered herself up and made her way towards the lake to look for the spot where the water tablet had fallen. The fairies would soon realise that she was no longer in the castle and that would be enough to send Hetitia into another emotional fit. She had to find that tablet fast and head back, but there was no harm in looking over the garden, even if it was just for a little bit. It was too early for any evil water-wrestlers to be up and about, surely.
The flowers were in full bloom and the sound of the water trickling from various domesticated waterfalls scattered throughout the garden was enchanting. There was even a crystal water fountain nearby. She could see the bird that was on her veranda earlier feeding near the fountain with many others. They went about their breakfast without a concern in the world. The pear trees hung low over the lake and she could not resist plucking a fruit and sitting under one of the pear trees. The flesh was sweet and juicy. Petuna savoured its taste as she watched over the lake dreamily. She wondered how deep the lake was and how easy it would be to find her tablet.
Petuna had finished eating her pear and sat mesmerised by the slow current that had started lapping. It was peaceful but there was something about the way it came closer to her that made it seem ethereal. Alarm bells started ringing within her and she felt that something was very wrong. She kept watching the water until her eyes froze on a spot in the current as she remembered what the fairies had told her about making sure to notice the details, about any indication of inharmonious behaviour. In a split second she was up leaning against the tree, her eyes wide open, her fingers ready for any magic. But this was too dangerous, she thought to herself. She had to hide and stay away from the lake. The current was getting bigger and the lake was no longer as serene as she first saw it. Petuna made her way towards the other side of the tree and quickly created a waterfall with her magic that she hid inside. By then, the lake had turned into a raging whirlpool and water droplets were flying frantically in the air. It was Storm Blazer. She knew it and she had to do something fast.
The water tablet was the last thing on her mind now. Her breath was short and fast and her mind raced on how she could get out of her situation. Her magic was diminishing rapidly with the continuous stream of water that she was creating in the form of a waterfall. She peeked out and found that the lake had calmed down again. Could it be that he had gone, Petuna thought to herself. She decided to wait for a few more moments just to make sure then she would run back to the castle. Her magic was not mature enough to transport her back and Petuna had no way of calling out to her fairies. She was truly on her own.
“Be brave, Petuna, be brave,” she whispered to herself.
Petuna took another peek at the lake and its surroundings. Everything seemed peaceful once again. Perhaps she had just been day-dreaming. The class yesterday was quite intense and she had woken up thinking of water-wrestlers. It must have all been nothing but a figment of her imagination. She would head back to the castle and simply tell the fairies that she had lost her tablet. One does lose things every once in a while but she would not mention anything about her miniature escapade.
Petuna pushed the waterfall aside and emerged, brushing her clothes and loosening her hair. She closed her eyes momentarily trying to soak up the sunshine, gave out a quick sigh and took two steps away from the tree. Suddenly a huge figure stood before her. He was a dark and rumbling form of water droplets, a whirlpool that was trapped in the form of a person. She could see the water droplets running wild in his form and raging water coming out of his extremities. Petuna screamed and tried to run away.
“At last I will get the magic which I have been seeking, at long last!”
“Stay away, stay away from me,” cried Petuna as she tried to escape back into the castle. But try as she might, she could not find a clear path back. There was a blockage of water everywhere that she turned. It was as if the garden had been caught in a water storm.
“Who are you? What do you want?” cried Petuna again as she backed away from the figure. A nasty roaring laugh sent more running currents hurtling towards her and Petuna tried her best to avoid their impact.
“Ha! I’m awfully sorry, Your Highness. How rude of me not to have introduced myself before draining you of your powers. I am the mighty Storm Blazer and very soon I will be ruler of this land,” said Storm Blazer in a sarcastic tone that sent more water rapids rushing towards her. The image of the sculpture she had seen in class yesterday came flooding back to her. He looked exactly like the sculpture that had eerily stared back at her. Storm Blazer edged his way towards her and Petuna slowly found herself farther from the castle with each step she took.
Petuna kept thinking of a way to call her fairies but the farther she got, the hazier the castle seemed. The air was filled with frantic water droplets and it seemed like she was wading through misty dew that filled the air around her. She could not feel the sun’s rays anymore. It had gotten dark and cold and she could hardly see where she was heading. Storm Blazer edged closer and closer towards her and Petuna had no choice. She would have to run and fast. She turned around and bolted as fast as she could. The misty dew was getting heavier as she ran until she could hardly see the ground beneath her. All she cared for was to get away from this evil water-wrestler – the most evil of them all.
“Hahaha! You’ll never get far. You’re heading towards the Dark Forest.”
Petuna ran as fast as her legs could carry her, not turning back once. A significant amount of time had passed and soon she started to see foliage around her. She was surprised that she had not reached the castle walls by now. She suddenly stopped and allowed herself to take several breaths and looked around her. The air was clearer but it was dark and there were large trees that were closely huddled together. They trapped the sun’s rays except for a few gaps that made her see the crunchy leaves that were scattered on the ground. There was no sign of Storm Blazer and the castle seemed like a tiny dot in the distance. She was farther away from the castle than any time she had ever been and she was alone. A fear gripped her as she recalled Storm Blazer’s words. She was heading towards the Dark Forest, what had he meant by that, she wondered.
Petuna found an old tree stump and sat down to think about her next steps. She knew that it was too dangerous for her to be out in the open and she would have to keep in the shadows from now on.