Amber was not happy. It had been two weeks and there was still no sign of Xeann, still no sign of Sheela waking from her coma and still no signs of the Queen! After she had fully recovered from the Zennalpha Plague, Amber often spent the day lying on top of the biggest scrap pile in the junkyard right next to Stiraia Village, staring up at the Nightmare Blanket, waiting for Xeann to come, waiting for Sheela to wake and waiting for the Queen to make an appearance. She basked in the sun, something she never liked doing but to be honest, it was a nice feeling to bathe in the sun. It wasn’t as hot as the sun back at her home. Plus exploring the junkyard was fun. There were all sorts of weaker monsters to pick and train on and she found quite some interesting gizmos to play around with. But Amber was still very unhappy. Why? Her skin was getting tanned. She had screamed and threw a tantrum when she took her top off one day and saw the difference between the skin that was exposed and the skin that was underneath the material. She hated tanning! She loved her pale skin, she didn’t want it to turn any more bronze than it was now! However, she hated staying inside Siegfried’s house, he was just too damn creepy for her to handle. There were no rafters in the huts where she could just lie and watch what was going on beneath her, it was too small and too noisy with Siegfried scaring Sarah all the time, Saphira arguing with Siegfried about scaring Sarah and Vienna whining about their arguing. Amber hated it all. It was nothing like what life was back at home.
Amber glared at the sky as she lay in the sun, on top of the biggest scrap pile in the junkyard right next to Stiraia Village. She hummed a little tune as she closed her eyes and remembered a typical day at home. Her mother’s cooking would catch her nose’s attention from her bedroom and she would get up, get dressed and go out of her bedroom window to climb down the wall and go through the kitchen window. Her father would already be downstairs, drinking some whiskey and Jasper would wander down the stairs, disorientated. She would eat her breakfast and follow her father outside to do some training until lunchtime. She would have lunch, her father might or might not get a client but either way she would spend the afternoon humouring Jasper by taking him out to relax by the oasis or take him to the market if it was up and running or, most of the time, relax in his bedroom and play games. Her mother would call them downstairs for dinner, their father may or may not be there, depending if he got a client or not, perhaps he went out for a drink down at the pub, who knew? It was rare that he would come to dinner but there was a more likely chance of him coming in, six out of ten times with a bottle of liquor in his hand, grab their mother and take her upstairs to their bedroom. Amber and Jasper would spend the rest of the evening together, ignoring their father’s antics, they would get ready to go to bed and perhaps, if it was a clear night, they would go star gazing. Amber often read Jasper to sleep, Jasper helping her out a lot because his level of reading was much better than hers and ask how his morning had been. Jasper was a very timid boy, Amber actually had to drag him out of the house each morning before she went to train with her father to a group of local children to get him to socialise at least an hour a day.
Amber smiled as she yawned and idly began falling asleep. Sarah had woke up screaming last night and a huge argument broke out, Amber hardly got enough sleep. The warmth of the sun encouraged her to fall into the world of slumber, even if she was on top of an uncomfortable scrap pile. Amber slept, she began to dream for the first time in six months. She dreamt that she was flying towards the Nightmare Blanket and going through it. She saw the real sky, the real sun and real clouds. It was beautiful, happy, just how the world should be. She was blown through the real currents of the real wind and saw lots of floating islands. Floating islands weren’t uncommon but the Nightmare Blanket had blocked them out of view. Seeing the floating islands made Amber smile, wishing that she could never wake up from this rare dream and that she could live here, away from any troubles and away from the Nightmare Blanket. She turned her head and saw a large tower resting on one of the floating islands. Her breath hitched when she flew towards it and through one of the windows. She saw the Queen in the middle of the room with a large crystal orb, staring deeply into it. She was dressed rather differently since the last time Amber saw her. She was clad in a white nightgown, the baby bump slightly bigger than last time, with her forest green hair out of its ponytail and falling down to the middle of her back. She was barefoot as opposed to wearing high heels. Her magenta eyes lifted and spotted her.
‘Welcome, Amber,’ she said and Amber landed on the floor, fists raised ‘I’m sorry but this is my realm now.’ Chains shot out from the ground and snatched Amber’s wrists and ankles. Amber struggled and the Queen tittered. Amber glared at her venomously.
‘This is enough, Florence,’ she snarled ‘Let me go and tell me where my father is!’
‘Oh, so we’re on informal terms now,’ Florence smiled widely and clasped her hands together happily ‘That’s good, I was so hoping we were that close.’ Amber scowled and Florence laughed, running a finger over the top of the crystal orb lazily. ‘I’ve brought you here to speak with you, Amber.’
‘About what?’ Amber narrowed her eyes warily.
‘Oh this and that,’ Florence shrugged as she circled her orb ‘We’re only teenagers, let’s talk about boys or fashion!’
‘No thanks…’ Amber raised an eyebrow and leaned away from Florence when she arrived next to her, swallowing when Florence laughed boisterously. Florence grinned widely, rubbing her baby bump softly.
‘I’m seven months into pregnancy now,’ she sighed ‘Nine months is too long, I want my baby now!’
‘Who’s the father?’ Amber asked warily and Florence shrugged.
‘Well, that’s for me to know and you to find out,’ Florence puffed her cheeks while leaning on the crystal orb.
‘…It’s not Cody is it?’
‘Hell no!’ Florence began laughing ‘No, Cody’s terrified of me! He’s absolutely afraid of girls, he wouldn’t even kiss one, let alone bed me!’ Amber raised an eyebrow.
‘What about that demon?’ Florence cocked her head to the side questioningly.
‘Sweetie, you have to be more specific than that, I’m afraid.’
‘The demon I saw with you by Magia Town.’ Florence opened her mouth and smirked.
‘For a girl who struggles with riddles, you’re smart,’ she commented and Amber jerked at her chains.
‘Excuse me, at least I’m not the teenager that’s pregnant!’ Amber snapped and Florence raised an eyebrow.
‘I’m pregnant because I want a child,’ she said sternly and continued circling her crystal orb ‘I believe your vampire friend had her first child when she was sixteen.’
‘Xeann was twenty when she had her first child,’ Amber sneered and Florence smirked.
‘That just shows how well you know her,’ she sighed and ran a hand over the top of the crystal ball. Amber snarled and glared at the ground.
‘Where’s my father, Florence?’ she finally asked ‘What have you done to him?’
‘Why would you care about your father?’ Florence snarled as she spun her hand quicker over the top of the crystal ball ‘He was a drunk, an assassin, untrustworthy…’
‘He was a good man!’ Amber protested ‘Don’t talk about him like you knew him!’
‘I did know him!’ Florence snapped ‘My father was a very regular client of his until I released the Nightmare Blanket!’ Amber froze as Florence pressed her hand on top of the crystal ball firmly. ‘Our fathers were a duo of assassins. Your father would kill them in cold blood, my father would provide causes of deaths for the bodies, alibies for your father and so on. Sometimes, your father wouldn’t even kill them properly. So when my father had some live bodies, he would keep them alive so he would dissect them painfully, make them suffer. They did it for fun mostly, even when they had enough money to spare a whole city, they would continue killing, murdering, torturing and massacring…’
‘I don’t believe you, my father killed for the good of society,’ Amber snarled. Florence lifted her hand and the mist within the crystal orb cleared. Amber watched as it revealed a cold dark room with lots of medical instruments and a cold looking slab of metal with cuffs attached to it. Two men, one with forest green hair and another with silver, dragged in a struggling woman, fastening her to the slab.
‘So, my dear,’ the one with green hair smirked as he pulled out a scalpel ‘Let’s see what’s in this delightful body of yours.’ The woman shrieked as he bent down, scalpel by her eye.
‘But, Ark,’ she whimpered ‘I trusted you…’
‘As your husband trusted you before you sent me to kill him,’ Amber’s father shrugged. Amber closed her eyes and turned away as the woman’s screams sounded through the room, both men laughing spitefully at her.
‘Stop it,’ she growled ‘Stop it, enough! That’s not my father!’
‘To think he might have put your mother through the very same thing,’ Florence murmured as she continued watching, the metal slab flowing plentifully with blood.
‘Stop it! Stop it!’ Amber cried as she shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes.
‘Stop it! Stop it, I beg of you!’ the woman pleaded.
‘STOP!’ Amber began shrieking.
‘Amber?’ Amber jolted awake, sweat trickling down her whole body. Sarah stood over her, head cocked to the side curiously. ‘Whatcha dreaming about?’ she asked with a goofy smile. Amber sat up slowly and looked around, breathing rather raggedly.
‘It was just…a nightmare,’ she breathed in relief, placing a hand over her heart which was beating rather unevenly.
‘Whatcha nightmaring about then?’ Sarah asked. Amber smiled softly and looked down.
‘The Queen was in it,’ she said ‘She showed me illusions of my father…and her father torturing this woman.’
‘Oh, that sounds gruesome,’ Sarah pulled a face ‘Don’t tell me anymore.’
‘But I think I know where the Queen may be,’ Amber continued talking anyway ‘How high can you fly?’
‘About the height of this mountain,’ Sarah nodded to the blue mountain that stood between them and the wasteland ‘Why?’ Amber grimaced when she saw that the Nightmare Blanket went over that mountain.
‘You can’t reach any floating islands?’ she frowned at Sarah.
‘Only the fully developed pegasi can,’ Sarah shrugged ‘Sheela and I are only growing up still. We can reach small mountain summits but that’s about it.’
‘Damn,’ Amber sighed ‘My nightmare revealed that there’s a tower on one of the floating islands above the Nightmare Blanket.’
‘Ah,’ Sarah clicked her tongue and looked up ‘Well that’s a problem.’ Amber nodded in agreement and they both stared at the Nightmare Blanket thoughtfully, watching it flash dark blue, red and purple when it dropped its illusion briefly. Amber didn’t notice Sarah teetering, neither did Sarah, and soon the poor girl was rolling down the scrap pile. Amber watched with wide eyes as she landed on a bouncy mattress and sprung over another scrap pile nearby, her landing making a lot of cluttering noises.
‘Ouch,’ she muttered.
‘I’m OK!’ Amber rolled her eyes as she slid down her scrap pile to look for her. She eventually found the clumsy teenager sitting in an old plane wreck, or rather dangling out of it with her foot trapped in the doorway.
‘For an unlucky soul, you have too much luck,’ Amber raised an eyebrow. Sarah just grinned and stared at the plane wreck thoughtfully.
‘Hey…I could fix this!’ she said, her eyes lighting up gleefully ‘Then we can see if there’s really a tower in the sky!’
‘How…?’ Amber tilted her head as she took a good look at the plane wreck.
‘Simple-woah!’ Amber yelped as Sarah accidentally unhinged her foot from the doorway and landed on top of her. Amber grumbled softly while Sarah sat on her, staring at the plane. ‘I’m sure a lot of junk in this yard can turn out to be useful,’ she smirked and rubbed her nose ‘I could just rummage around the scrap piles…’ She stood up and began rummaging through the scrap pile nearby, yelping as a dustbin fell and landed on her, making her fall over so that the dustbin was the right side up and her legs were kicking in the air in protest. Amber bit her lip to prevent herself from laughing.
‘How about, Vienna, Saphira and I find the junk that you need to do the fixing?’ Amber offered as she went over to pull Sarah out of the dustbin ‘It would be a lot quicker.’
‘Of course, that’s a great idea!’ Sarah’s muffled voice came through the dustbin. Amber pulled her out of the dustbin completely and Sarah went flying, landing on her rump.
‘We just need to find a way to bring it down from up there,’ Amber murmured as she stared up at the plane.
‘I can do it!’ Amber didn’t even bother trying to stop her as Sarah scrambled up to the plane wreck and tried to dislodge it from the scrap pile. She succeeded and went rolling down the scrap pile with it, out of the junkyard, crashing into one of the huts in Stiraia Village. ‘Sorry!’ Sarah grimaced sheepishly as a couple of residents came out to see what the commotion was about. Amber ran after her and began helping wheeling the plane out into the open.
‘Amber!’ Saphira called as she and Vienna came over after hearing the collision ‘What’s going on and what are you doing to that plane?’
‘Fixing it,’ Amber said with a shrug ‘Well, Sarah says she’s going to anyway…’
‘Fix it?’ Vienna began laughing loudly ‘Sarah? Being able to fix something?’
‘Hey, I can so fix this!’ Sarah smacked a hand onto the broken plane confidently and one of the wings fell off, nearly squashing the werewolves. Amber stepped away from the plane warily, hoping nothing would fall off and squash her.
‘She needs all the help she can get,’ she murmured to the werewolves.
‘Agreed, but why on Ethylias are we repairing this plane?’ Vienna asked.
‘Well, I have a theory which involves us flying,’ Amber shrugged ‘It might lead us to the Queen.’
‘What do you need help with, Sarah?’ Saphira suddenly asked and Vienna suddenly bounced on her feet, ready to be useful.
‘Just let me examine this, if you could find some tools that would be useful,’ Sarah said as she began examining the plane’s engine.
‘Got it!’ The werewolves ran off to the junkyard, Amber trailing behind. They all jumped when they heard a loud bang and turned around to see smoke rising from the wreck.
‘I’m OK!’ Sarah called and Amber grimaced.
‘I’m not sure if this is such a good idea after all,’ she muttered to herself.
When Sheela woke up, she had a massive headache. She couldn’t make out what was in front of her and it took her a while to realise that she was lying down. She looked around and realised that she was in Siegfried’s hut. She carefully sat up, memories blurring in her mind as she tried to remember what happened to her. She turned her head to the side and saw bright green snake-like eyes.
‘Good morning.’ Sheela gasped and edged away, her vision coming back to her as she saw Siegfried’s face just inches away from hers.
‘Don’t do that!’ she breathed, placing a hand on her heart and Siegfried chuckled.
‘You’re jusssssst like your sssssssssissssster only quieter,’ he hissed with a smirk and Sheela glared at him.
‘Speaking of which, where is Sarah?’ Sheela asked as she looked around to see that it was only them in the hut. A loud boom sounded outside, followed by the sound of several debris falling onto the village, making them both flinch.
‘I’m OK!’ Sheela stared at the door in horror.
‘What is she doing?’ she asked.
‘Fixing a plane with the othersssssss,’ Siegfried replied ‘I’m not entirely ssssssssure why. They’ve been at it for two weeksssss.’ Sheela sighed as she pulled the blanket off her.
‘I’ll go and see if I can help,’ she murmured and stared down at her body ‘Eep!’ She snatched the blanket back to cover herself up. ‘Why am I naked?!’ She gave Siegfried an accusing glare and Siegfried shrugged.
‘Clothesssssss tend to burn off when your whole body isssssss sssssssset alight,’ he said and Sheela then remembered about the Narwhine.
‘Did it work, did I kill it?’ she asked urgently.
‘Yesssssss but with itsssssssss price.’ Siegfried held up a broken mirror so Sheela could see the black burnt skin that started from the top of the left side of her forehead and stopped next to her left eye. ‘I ussssed the Narwhine blubber to heal your burnsssss but alassss, I ran out. By the time I left to go and get more blubber, the sssscavengerssss of the village had taken it all. I apologissssse.’ Sheela sighed as she gently touched her burn.
‘Don’t be, you can’t always save everything,’ she murmured ‘But what am I going to wear now? I can’t wander around naked.’
‘I wouldn’t mind.’ Sheela glared at Siegfried and Siegfried smirked. ‘Jusssst give me a moment.’ He stood up and went over to the wardrobe that was in disrepair. He searched through the tattered and torn clothes, pulling a dusty white gown, dragging it over to put it against Sheela. ‘It could fit,’ he shrugged.
‘A wedding dress?’ Sheela raised an eyebrow ‘You expect me to wear a wedding dress?’
‘It’ssssss the besssst I can do I’m afraid,’ Siegfried shrugged ‘I had to usssse the other clothesssssss for bandagesssss and I didn’t want to ruin my mother’sssssss preciousssssss wedding dressssss…’
‘It’s your mother’s?’ Sheela widened her eyes ‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly wear this.’
‘It’sssssss all I got, or would you like to walk around naked?’ Siegfried smirked as Sheela blushed and snatched the wedding gown out of his hands.
‘Fine, I’ll wear it!’ she snapped ‘But turn around, don’t be a pervert.’ Siegfried shrugged as he turned around while Sheela got up and began getting into the dress. She reluctantly asked Siegfried to help her with zipping the dress up. Siegfried pushed her in front of a dusty body mirror.
‘Why, don’t you look pretty?’ he hissed and Sheela huffed, folding her arms in a strop.
‘Flattery gets you nowhere, snake,’ she scowled and Siegfried chuckled as he took a good look at her.
‘It sssssseemsssss to fit,’ he nodded and stepped away ‘My mother would have been happy to sssssssee it on a younger woman.’
‘If she was getting married to you,’ Sheela raised an eyebrow ‘Which I’m not!’ She stormed out of the hut immediately before Siegfried could tease her any further.
‘Wait a moment!’ Sheela turned to Siegfried as he stopped by his door. ‘You forgot thisssssss.’ He held up a veil with a wide smirk and Sheela threw an ice spell at him irritably.
‘Jerk!’ she shouted before marching off to the plane wreck. She circled it curiously before finding Sarah’s legs sticking out of the engine. ‘Sarah?’ Sarah fell out when she heard Sheela, covered in oil, and gasped when she saw her.
‘Sheela, you’re alive!’ she cheered as she got up to her feet ‘But I can’t hug you right now…’ She chuckled, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly and Sheela sighed, smiling warmly.
‘Look at you, how are you going to get that smelly oil out of your hair?’ she asked, placing her hands on her hips. Sarah shrugged.
‘I don’t know, perhaps when we go back home, mum can help me,’ she said and looked Sheela up and down curiously ‘And what’s with the dress, are you getting married?’
‘It’s the only clothes that Siegfried had apparently,’ Sheela resisted the urge to use a thunder spell on her sister ‘Anyway, why are you fixing this plane? The Queen will only catch and arrest us.’
‘Well, that would be Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work,’ Sarah shrugged as she picked up her spanner and continued fixing the engine ‘Amber’s restless, ever since she had a nightmare with the Queen in it, she’s been pushing me to fixing this every day and eagerly bringing me the parts that I need from the junkyard.’
‘You want to reach the Queen?’ Sheela blinked ‘I see, but what’s Plan A?’
‘Oh, Amber has a hunch that the Queen has a tower on one of the floating islands and because we personally can’t reach the floating islands, we need to go by plane.’
‘Sarah, have you actually fixed a plane before?’
‘I’ve fixed a model plane before,’ Sarah looked up at her with a sheepish grin ‘But I’ve done some theory in engineering classes. Besides, how hard can it be?’ She tweaked something with the spanner and a plume of flames whooshed out of the engine, setting her hair alight. ‘EEP!!!’ Sarah cried as she dropped everything and began running around in circles in a panic, Sheela staring with wide eyes ‘I’m not OK! I’m so not OK! Help!’
‘Hold still!’ she said as she readied her hands. Water spurted out of her palms and soaked Sarah, dousing the small flames that were burning her light pink hair. The sisters breathed a sigh of relief as Sarah held a thumbs-up to her sister.
‘I’m OK,’ she breathed and sat down for a breather. Sheela breathed a sigh of relief, dusting her hands off.
‘How about I help?’ she offered ‘I could be able to use a few spells to speed up the fixing process.’
‘That would be such a great help!’ Sarah perked up ‘Thanks, sis!’
‘Sarah!’ Saphira shouted as she, Vienna and eventually Amber came over ‘We heard you shout help.’ Seeing Sarah steaming like a roast chicken and Sheela in a wedding dress, Saphira gasped. ‘Oh Sheela, you’re awake!’ she cried and hugged her tightly.
‘That dress is so pretty!’ Vienna cooed as she dumped the junk in her arms onto Amber’s pile of junk ‘Who are you getting married to?’
‘For my wedding dress, I would prefer a nice ice blue colour instead of the traditional white,’ Saphira hummed as she bent down to feel the material. Sheela growled in annoyance and a thunderbolt landed in the middle of the three girls, making all three yelp, Amber falling over and dropping the junk in her arms.
‘Anyone else who asks about the dress will get hurt!’ she snarled and folded her arms grumpily.
‘But I didn’t say anything!’ Amber whined.
‘Anyway, it’s all Siegfried had to offer because my clothes got burned away and he was using the other clothes for bandages,’ Sheela mumbled moodily ‘Now let’s get this plane fixed so we can find this Queen.’