‘Hurry up, Jasper! The coconuts are going to be gone by the time we get there!’
‘You’re running too fast, Amber!’ Amber blinked as she watched her younger self with Jasper run towards the oasis and chased them. She paused and watched herself climb the coconut tree like a monkey and grabbed the coconuts, throwing them down to the children that were playing in the oasis. Amber took her time to look around at the village, from the harpy children tussling around with the minotaur children to the sorcerers and merchants haggling over prices at market stalls. Amber felt herself smile a small smile, the feeling of nostalgia crawling over her.
‘Amber!’ her mother’s voice called from a distance ‘Remember to save some for me so I can bake that coconut cake you love so much!’
‘I know, I know!’ her younger self called back ‘Make sure you bake an extra big one this time, OK?’
‘Amber, you could easily kill someone with coconuts!’ her father’s voice called from another distance.
‘Yes, really, a lot of people die accidental deaths because a coconut has fallen and landed on their head.’ Amber giggled to herself and watched herself climb down with a basket of coconuts and run back home. Amber sighed as she looked at her surroundings more carefully. This was exactly the day before the Nightmare Blanket was released. Her fourteenth birthday. It seemed so long ago and Amber felt so different just looking at her fourteen year old self.
‘Sorry about that, little one,’ Amber blinked and turned around when she heard a distant yet familiar voice ‘At least you are unharmed. I suppose that is the main concern instead of your health after all. Here, let me just get that for you…’
‘Xeann?’ Amber whispered and looked around for the vampire. She gasped when she thought she saw Xeann’s cloak but then realised that it was just someone else passing through the village.
‘Saphira,’ Saphira’s voice echoed in her head next ‘Who are you?’ Amber looked around with a confused frown as she failed to spot Saphira within the crowds. She gasped when she saw blue hair then frown when she saw a boy instead of a girl.
‘Uh…hi,’ the next voice said ‘my name’s Sarah, what’s yours?’
‘Sarah? Where are you guys?’ Amber asked as she continued spinning around.
‘Sarah!’ Amber turned her head sharply when she heard Sheela.
‘How do you know that?’ Amber turned her head again when she heard Vienna’s voice. The voices began growing louder and echoing in Amber’s head that she tried to drown them out by covering her ears. Her head began ringing from all the voices speaking to her and she screwed her eyes tight.
‘Wake up.’ Amber opened her eyes when she heard a small whisper caress her ear.
‘Hey, Amber, please wake up.’ But wasn’t she already awake? Amber felt her surroundings melt away into darkness and felt herself being suspended in mid-air.
‘Come on, Amber. You’re going to have to wake up sooner or later.’
‘It’s cruel, we’re all worried for you!’
Amber slowly opened her eyes.
‘Ow…’ Amber whined as she opened one eye and pain blasted through her head so she closed it again.
‘Ah!’ she heard Saphira speak ‘She’s awake!’ Amber opened her other eye and placed a hand on her other eye to massage the pain out of it.
‘Amber, are you alright?’ Amber heard Sheela ask as her shadow covered her face.
‘My eye…’ Amber whispered and tried to sit up.
‘Hush, now,’ Xeann’s voice came up next and Amber felt hands pull her back into a lying position. Amber’s hand was taken away from her right eye. Sheela carefully pried it open and Amber groaned in pain and struggled against her. Sarah and Vienna held her down as Sheela’s hand glowed green over Amber’s eye. Finally, Sheela released Amber’s eye and Amber squeezed it shut, rolling onto her side and curling up into a tight protective ball.
‘Amber, I’m very sorry I missed it,’ Sheela sighed ‘Your right eye has lost its sight.’
‘It’s alright, Sheela,’ Xeann reassured her as Amber’s head echoed the last sentence ‘Final limits do have their price.’
‘I’m…blind…?’ Amber echoed.
‘No, sweetie, you’re half blind,’ Xeann comforted her and slowly pulled her up to a sitting position ‘We’ll just bandage it up and maybe we can get a bionic eye installed when we get you home…’
‘Here,’ Amber heard an unfamiliar voice. Amber stayed still and opened her left eye to watch Sheela and Lavender bandage the right side of her face. Memories slowly came back to Amber and she began looking around for Florence.
‘What happened to Florence?’ she asked softly and Lavender tensed, glaring into space.
‘Amber, you absolutely annihilated her!’ Vienna said and waved her arms to emphasise her point. Amber widened her eye in shock.
‘I killed her?’ she whispered and stared at Lavender ‘But how? I…I didn’t mean to…’
‘No-one means to do anything when they’re in their final limit,’ Lavender sighed ‘I forgive you. It was Florence’s fault that got her into this mess. I suppose she had it coming…’ She covered her face and began sobbing quietly. Cody whimpered and hugged her from behind. He tensed when Saphira growled at him.
‘Hey, I’ll hug you when your sister dies,’ he retorted and Saphira whined.
‘But I’m your cousin…’ she mumbled.
‘So is it over? Is the Nightmare Blanket’s gone?’ Amber’s questioning statement made the group fall silent.
‘Not exactly,’ Lavender wiped her tears away and leaned on Cody’s shoulder ‘Florence died so she couldn’t take it down. And the only other people who know how to take it down are Nightmare and Horror.’
‘And they did a runner as soon as Florence died,’ Xeann grumbled under her breath and Amber’s face fell.
‘So…we can’t get rid of it?’ she whispered and Lavender shook her head.
‘To…compensate for what our actions have done,’ she murmured whilst circling her finger around Cody’s hand ‘I’ll try and contact Florence’s Guardian Angel who tried to stop her from going down Nightmare’s path of darkness. Hopefully I’ll be able to work with him to make something that should balance out the Nightmare Blanket’s effects on the world. Though it might not be as powerful, it’s something.’
‘You watch how you’re touching Cody, you hussy,’ Saphira snarled as she glared at Lavender.
‘Saphira, chill,’ Cody sighed as Lavender glowered at Saphira.
‘I’m not a hussy,’ she said sternly and Saphira snarled louder.
‘Then get your filthy hands off my cousin,’ she growled.
‘Alright, alright, calm down,’ Xeann soothed and placed her hand on Saphira’s shoulder.
‘I propose we leave now,’ Cedric said quickly and stood up ‘We’re not going to get anything done just sitting around.’
‘I agree,’ Sheela said just as quickly and stood up, supporting Sarah.
‘But where do we go now?’ Vienna asked with a frown as Cedric helped Xeann up to her feet.
‘Well with Florence dead,’ Lavender squeezed Cody’s arm for comfort as Cody helped her up ‘Her curse would have gone away so all the people who have disappeared should have reappeared now.’
‘Wait, so people like my father are…I can find him now?’ Amber perked up hopefully. Lavender nodded and Vienna began running off.
‘Mom, Dad, here I come!’ she shouted at the top of her voice.
‘Hey, you don’t even know where you’re going!’ Cedric called after her as the others ran after her.
Amber was being helped along by Saphira as they were led through the caves by Cedric who was helping Xeann along. Despite her intake of blood and Golju Berry juice to speed up her recovery time, Xeann still had a small limp from the fight against Nightmare. Sarah was still a little shaken up from the attack Iris and Cecilia had launched upon her so needed Sheela’s help walking. Lavender, Cody, Cecilia and Iris were fine walking by themselves.
‘Ah, light!’ Saphira said as they reached the end of the cave.
‘Wait…’ Xeann perked up. Everyone shielded their eyes as they stepped out of the cave and heard lots of people muttering and speaking. Amber slowly opened her eye and gasped as she saw Relevein Town flooded with people looking up at the sky and pointing to it. Amber looked up and her eye winced when she felt…natural sunlight?
‘It’s gone?’ Lavender whispered as the group burst into mutters of confusion and awe. Amber perked up as she heard a loud roar and looked around, her eye glittering happily.
‘The dragons are back!’ she cried and everyone looked up to see a massive wave of dragons flying across the sky. Amber smiled warmly as she saw the different types of dragons fly by, roaring loudly to announce their return. Saphira smiled softly.
‘I’m so glad they’re back,’ she whispered ‘This better not be a dream.’
‘It’s not,’ Sheela sighed happily and smiled ‘It’s not a dream, it’s real.’
‘Lavender!’ Lavender turned her head and widened her eyes when she saw a woman with long blue hair, a man with long shaggy green hair, a young thirteen year old girl with curly silver hair and a little eleven year old boy with similar shaggy green hair to the man.
‘Mother!’ she cried and ran over to them, hugging the woman with blue hair whilst the younger girl hugged onto her leg.
‘Girls, over here!’ Sheela snapped her head to another direction and gasped.
‘Father!’ she cried and Sarah and Cecilia suddenly took off. They both tackled a man with shoulder length blue hair to the ground whilst Sheela discretely wondered how Sarah recovered so quickly. Iris looked over and saw who the man was with and grimaced softly. Sheela smirked and as she took off and hugged her mother tightly.
‘Sheela,’ a young man about her age with unruly black hair approached her and Sheela hugged him tightly.
‘Oh, Sebastian,’ she sighed tiredly and leaned her head on his shoulder ‘I’m so relieved that you’re all OK…’
‘I’m also glad to see you unharmed,’ Sebastian muttered back and leaned his head on hers ‘But I must ask, who are you getting married to?’ Sheela thumped him hard on the shoulder. Amber smiled softly and let Saphira go to support herself. As soon as she let the young werewolf go, Saphira and Cody shot off towards a group of people nearby.
Amber giggled as Cody embraced a taller woman with black hair and glasses whilst Saphira hugged two girls about her age that shared the same face as her. Cody was crying and whimpering as his mother soothed him, hugging him and kissing his head to comfort him, to tell him that everything was alright now.
‘Mom, Dad!’ Vienna howled as she ran to a couple who stood not far away. Xeann smiled and asked for Cedric to walk her over. Vienna tackled the man of the couple, whose lilac hair matched hers, while the woman of the couple hugged Xeann tightly, tears streaming out of her blood red eyes.
‘Jasper!’ Amber suddenly caught sight of her little brother and half ran half limped over to him. Jasper gasped as she hugged him tightly and hugged back.
‘Amber, what happened to you? Where’s the Nightmare Blanket? What’s going on?!’ he shouted over the crowd noise.
‘It’s gone, the Nightmare Blanket is gone,’ Amber smiled ‘I did it! I killed the Queen!’
‘You what?!’ Jasper yelped and Amber grimaced.
‘It was an accident,’ she said in a childish tone and Jasper’s eyes widened ‘No seriously, I didn’t mean to kill her.’
‘Who are all these people?’ Jasper clung onto her fearfully as he looked up at all the adults.
‘All my friends’ families,’ Amber grimaced ‘I don’t think Father’s here. Let’s go home.’ Jasper nodded and Amber took his hand, slowly limping out of the village to start the long journey back to the Nameless Village. Perhaps they could stop and rest with Siegfried. He wouldn’t have the materials to get a bionic eye installed in her though. That was going to be one expensive operation considering everyone’s going to try and pick themselves up from the calamities…
‘Wait, there he is!’ Jasper pointed behind them. Amber froze and looked down at Jasper.
‘Don’t play games with me…’
‘No, really! He’s there, he’s there! Look, Amber, look!’ Amber turned sharply on her heel and her breath caught in her throat as she saw a tall lanky man with snowy white hair. ‘Father! Father! Father, over here!’ Amber’s eye brimmed with tears as the man turned his head and turned around fully to face them. She would recognize those burning orange eyes anywhere.
‘Father!’ she called and began crying as she and Jasper took off and launched themselves in his arms. Abarine Caelum embraced his children tightly and hugged Amber closer to him.
‘I’m so proud of you,’ he whispered and Amber sobbed more, hugging him as tightly as she possibly could.
‘Mother!’ Jasper cried out suddenly and Amber looked up with a disbelieving look. Crystal Caelum smiled warmly as she approached them from her long journey across the rocky wasteland, dressed in one of Xeann’s borrowed blue cloaks and a tattered white dress with some patchwork decorating the middle of the skirt. She pulled her hood back and Amber cried out more as she saw her mother’s face.
‘Mother!’ she held her arms out for her and Abarine picked her up, carrying her over to her. Crystal took Amber off him and hugged her tightly with a sigh, tears brimming in her own jade green eyes.
‘Oh how I’ve missed you,’ she whispered as Amber buried her nose into her silver hair. Jasper hugged Crystal’s leg as Abarine embraced Crystal tightly, kissing her passionately. Amber sniffed and sighed. She looked up at her parents and smiled to herself as she saw them together.
‘I want to go home now,’ she whispered and closed her eye to drift off to a world of dreams.