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A Song of Somewhere by Grace P. (Year 8)

A Song of Somewhere by Grace P. (Year 8)

It was a blustery London morning in January. The air was like knives, cold and malicious, as it whipped past the houses. A girl walked along the pavement, shielding her face with her schoolbag. Her hazel-coloured hair tangled round her face as the air rubbed her cheeks raw. Turning right at a crossing, the girl let herself into a shabby, red-bricked block of flats. The roar of the wind and the stinging cold subsided as she climbed the stairs to her family’s apartment. She opened the door, its hinges creaking as the whole frame shuddered. While the world outside was dark and cold, beams of light seemed to radiate from this apartment. The walls were bare bricks, the floor worn boards that were mostly obscured by carpets. The girl pulled her frozen face into a smile. Her mother, a tall woman with long red curls, waved to her from the sofa, but there was a hint of sadness in the woman’s eyes. She knew there was a storm coming, and not just one from the weather outside.

“Hello Skylor sweetie.” smiled the woman. Skylor looked over to where her younger brother Will sat watching their outdated TV with wide eyes.
“Where’s Dad?” She asked, letting her schoolbag fall to the ground with a thud.
“In his office,” replied her mum. “Sky, don’t disturb-”

Skylor paced into her father’s office. He sat at the desk, which was weighed down with what seemed like endless piles of paper. Bills, Skylor knew. But then one caught her eye one caught her eye. “‘Last will and testament of Arthur Tulip’- Dad, that’s your dad!” Skylor didn’t use the word ‘grandad’. Arthur Tulip had never been anything close to a father for Skylor’s dad, or a grandfather to her. Reclusive Arthur lived in a barren, remote castle-like mansion, perched on the top of a great, dark cliff in which he hoarded, like a magpie greedily grasping its treasure, mountains of mysterious... stuff... from his travels. Skylor had seen him once, when she was 5 or 6, at her grandmother’s funeral. Even then, Arthur had been like a black hawk, silent and hollow. He had divorced his wife when Skylor’s father was born. Skylor had often wondered whether, under all that darkness and misery, Arthur had a heart, a bright side. From the look in her father’s eyes, she could see at once that she would never get the chance to know. Skylor hugged her father, holding on to him like a life ring.

It was at dinner that night, when it happened. The family was sitting round the table, steaming pasta heaped on plates. Will was busy stuffing his face. That's when her father spoke.

“Kids...” he began, “you know your grandfather, Arthur. You know he died a couple of days ago. Well, I have some news.”
Skylor froze, eyebrows narrowing. Her father continued,

“You know that we have never had it easy with money. And now we just can’t afford to stay in London. And my father... for some reason, my father left his house to us. We have just a few days before we have to leave this house.”

Skylor’s heart plummeted as her father’s words sunk in.

“No,” she breathed, “No, no, no. Our house, my friends, everything! We can’t just leave!”

Skylor ought about all the memories that she had made in this house, the house she had been born in. Taking her first steps, watching Will take his. Bringing her friends round, that night when her parents had thrown a party and she dance till gone midnight. The tiny London house was a treasure-trove of golden memories. Skylor wanted to hold on to them.

Her mother Heather reached out and took her hand “We have to, Sky. The landlord won’t let us live here any longer.”
When she had seen Arthur’s will, Skylor had felt like she was falling. Now, she had hit the ground. Hard. And she couldn’t get back up, no matter how hard she tried.

It was a Saturday, just four days after the night when Skylor’s world had come crashing down. In that time, with red-typed letters flooding through the door and tears falling freely, the entire family had erased any trace of themselves from their apartment. Skylor had bid her London friends a weeping farewell, silently fuming at... well. She wasn’t sure who she was angry at. Her parents, the landlord, Arthur, the world. They were driving up the cliff edge. In truth, Skylor had slept most of the way, curled under her duvet in the back of the car. Now she was wide awake, staring at the rolling, angry sea, and the whispering trees as they flashed past them. She could see the manor looming on the hill, black and uninviting. The wind screamed angrily. There was no-one else in sight. The car drove up the wet gravel driveway as rain pummelled the roof of the car. Skylor and Will sat in the car as their parents fumbled with the rusty key that a grey-faced attorney had given them a day before. The door finally gave in and groaned open, and the family dashed inside as the rain became a full-blown storm.
The next morning, after a night spent lying in the cold curled under her duvet, shivering with fear at the wraithlike shadows that seemed to haunt the manor, Skylor sat at a large wooden table, hardly able to believe her ears. “You mean,” she began “we have to sort all of Arthur’s stuff? Some of that rubbish hasn’t been touched in years.” she stared despairingly at her mother.

Heather nodded slowly “We can't get you or Will a place at the local school until March, and it’s the only school for maybe 200 miles.  You’re twelve now, you’re old enough to help us. We can’t live like this-” She gestured to the piles of boxes all around the kitchen. A tiny stove warmed a bowl of porridge, which was one of the only things her father had found in the cupboards that morning. The storm, which has escalated into a furious hurricane overnight, prevented them from leaving the barricaded doors of the house. Each box was full to the brim with... well. There didn’t seem to be any particular order to the contents. Skylor had found one that morning full of assorted earrings, and a bear skull with the word ‘Australia’ carved on the jawbone. She had been revolted. Heather poured milky porridge into an assortment of china bowls, found alongside some old letters in a kitchen drawer. That morning, Skylor was wearing brand-new, soft jeans and a grey hoodie, as well as a large, thick, woolly cardigan. Even with all the layers, she felt chilled, and it wasn’t just because the manor’s fossilised heating was broken.
“Maybe you can go and explore this place first?” Skylor’s father offered, when she had finished eating. Skylor reluctantly shuffled off. The manor had 4 floors and 48 rooms, as well as a dusty attic that held cold secrets and abandoned furniture, as well as mountains of boxes. She could easily get lost in its maze-like catacombs.

“Don’t go in the attic! The floorboards are rotten!” Heather warned, as Skylor left the room. Of course, that was exactly where she went.
Up there in the darkness, Skylor gave in to the oceans tears that had been threatening to spill out ever since she had arrived in the house. She sat on the floor, absent-mindedly sifting through a box. She pulled out a small, tear-shaped gemstone, that glittered green in the musty light. It was strangely beautiful. She held it tightly as more tears streamed down her face. Skylor stood up. It was just so unfair. She didn’t want to be here. She wanted to be back in London, the familiar smoke-filled air all around her as she walked to school with her friends, not in some creepy dead man’s attic, crying over a jewel. Just then, she noticed a tall, ornate mirror standing in the corner. Oddly, while everything else was covered in a layer of dust, the mirror was completely clean, and seemed to shine in an almost golden light. Still crying, Skylor walked over to it, jewel in hand. Something inside her yearned to touch it. She reached forward, heart beating, tears falling, almost in a trance. Her fingers brushed against the metal. It was as cold as ice. With a scream of anguish, the floorboards beneath Skylor gave way, and then she was falling, tumbling, tears mixing with blood, still falling, falling for far too long. Everything was black.

When she awoke, Skylor expected to be lying in the manor. She opened her eyes. Sunlight burned above her, and she sat up with a jolt. Her body felt stiff. And her hand- her right hand felt with like a wasp had stung it. She looked down to see that the point of the teardrop gem had cut viciously into her hand when she was falling. The green gem was now painted red. Falling... Skylor threw herself upwards in shock. She looked around, heart in her mouth. There was no way she was in the manor, or even in England. It was sunny, but still cold. The air was fresh and clean. She was outside. All around her, trees- beautiful, white trees, not at all like the grey gnarled shapes near the house- danced upwards to the sky. A little way away, a collection of wooden huts, simple but elegant, spread out. She could see the figures of people walking around.

“Hello?” came a voice from behind her. Skylor spun around, blood pounding in her ears. There stood a girl, about Skylor’s age, with dark skin and curly hair. She wore strange clothes: a red garment and a necklace made of pearls. Something about her face made Skylor sure that however she was, she wasn’t from the world she had left behind.

“Who are you?” Skylor asked, unable to hide the fear in her voice.“Who are you?” The girl replied.
“I’m Skylor. I fell through my house. What is this place?”
“This is Reach. Just west of the Southern border? You know? In the world- in Somewhere? Wait- what do you mean, you fell through your house?”

Skylor froze. She was in... Somewhere? A different... world? She recounted her story to the girl, showed her the bloodstained gem. The other girl’s eyes widened. Without a word, she grasped Skylor’s wrist and dragged her into the town. People stared as they ran by, Skylor half lying on the floor, still reeling from her fall. The pair reached a hut, only this one was decorated with swathes of bright cloth, rainbows of colour. An old woman sat on the step, her face brown with sun and age and wrinkled like a walnut. The other girl knelt before her.

“What brings you here, Aeki?” the old woman whispered, in a voice like rustling paper. She sounded fragile. Aeki stood up.
“Nai, this is Skylor, and she says she- she fell through her house!”

The elderly woman gaped, her toothless o-shaped mouth slowly crinkling into an overjoyed smile.
“At last,” Nai croaked, her face lighting up and shining like sunbeams “After all these years-”
“What? What do you mean?” Skylor cried, unable to contain her confusion and terror.
“Skylor, you are in a world called Somewhere, which is a bit like your own. We are one of the many travelling communities that live in the country of Reach. For a hundred years, diviners of our community have predicted the arrival of a chosen one, who would fall through from her world into ours, and free us.”
“Free you?” Skylor was beginning to understand.
“One hundred years ago, an artifact that bestowed magic upon our people- all people- was taken and hidden in a place only this saviour could find. Our stories say that the saviour would return home once she had restored the magic to our people.
“Wait.” Skylor’s heart pounded. “I can only go home once I’ve done this mad quest?”
“It’s not a quest!” Aeki put in. “The place where it is supposed to be hidden is only a few miles away from where we are now. All you have to do is touch the fountain-”
“-touch the fountain with your tear-shaped jewel and the clock will rise out of the water-”

Nai spoke once again. “We have no timepieces here in Somewhere. We use sundials and star maps. When our world was first born, though, a traveller came from your world and brough with him a clock. That's what gives the land magic.”
“Once you touch the gem to the fountain, the clock will rise out of the water and you will be sent home. But you will have to watch out for-”
“Aeki!” Nai groaned urgently.
“Watch out for what?” Skylor was terrified.
“Well.” Nai sighed “You might as well tell her, Aeki.”

Aeki took a deep breath “There’s a man named Icarus. He's the only one who has magic in this entire world. He can shapeshift. He wants to take the gem you brough and complete the ritual, only, he wants to take the clock and disappear into your world himself. No-one knows why, but Skylor, he’s very dangerous and will do anything to get what he wants. Skylor, if he takes the clock, you will have no way home."

Skylor sat inside a hut, heart pounding as she strapped on her borrowed armour. Icarus had been sighted moving towards Reach an hour ago. Every time Aeki said his name, Skylor could see the fear in her new friend’s eyes, and in the eyes of anyone else who said it. This man was clearly dangerous. Everyone in the village seemed to be on edge. She got up and followed Aeki as she walked outside. Aeki’s mother sat sharpening what looked like a long white knife. She handed it to Aeki and kissed her on the forehead. Aeki had chosen to accompany Skylor to the fountain. Nai’s prophecies had said that no adult could go with the saviour, but Aeki was twelve, just like Skylor. Skylor’s hand slipped down to the dagger Aeki had given her. It was long and silver, with a symbol carved on the handle. Skylor prayed she wouldn’t have to use it. Nai, hobbling with a long, feathered staff, led the girls to two chestnut brown horses, tethered to a fence. The horses were taller than Skylor, great steeds with shining muscles and thick manes. Their mouths were curled into scowls. Aeki climbed up with ease onto the larger horse, its bridle glowing gold in the setting sun. Skylor gritted her teeth. She had always been petrified of horses since a huge, grey, snorting mare had kicked her when she was seven. But while the fountain was only a few miles away, it was too far to walk and according to scouts, Icarus was getting closer. She didn’t know why he had chosen now to advance. Nai had suggested that he could sense her arrival. Skylor hauled herself, hands shaking, onto the horse. Aeki knew the way to the fountain, as it was a sacred sight for her people, and they visited it at festivals. Skylor gulped. She knew how much responsibility lay on her shoulders. These people were counting on her to return their magic. Her family was counting on her to get back home. She knew too much could go wrong.
They were riding across the sunlit plains of Reach. Skylor was clinging to her saddle, too scared to fall off. Suddenly, a figure rode out from behind a rock and stood in their path. Both horses reared on their hind legs, but Skylor and Aeki clung on until the horses finally calmed down.

“What was that for?!” Aeki yelled at the figure on the path. The figure pulled down its hood, and Skylor found her hand reaching for her knife. Suddenly, Skylor’s new friend gasped.
“Axis!” Aeki cried, sliding off her horse. The figure copied. It was a boy, about their age. To Skylor’s surprise, Aeki ran over and hugged the figure.
“Skylor, this is my cousin!”
Skylor let go of her knife. Aeki, meanwhile, was shaking Axis’s shoulders.
“We thought you were dead! We thought Icarus had killed you!” she reprimanded. “Why didn’t you come back?”
Axis looked a bit sheepish.

Aeki turned to Skylor “A few years ago, Icarus’s warriors attacked our village. They dragged off a few people and destroyed some houses. My renegade cousin was one of them.” she shot a friendly glare at Axis. His face fell.
“I was the only one to make it. Some people from another village helped me escape after I... I, well. Um, you see...” Axis began, looking at his feet.
Skylor was instantly alert. “What?”
“Um, well. It’s probably better if I just show you. You see, I can do- I've always been able to do, well, this.”
He held up his fingers and a bright blue flame sprang between them.
“I can do magic.” he said.

Both girls gasped
“How is that possible?” gaped Aeki, “Only Icarus can do magic without the clock!”
“That’s what he wants you to think.” said Axis, “Really. Some people can do it without any artefacts. They're called sorcerers. There was one in the village of the people who rescued me. She taught me. But I heard that a person from the Otherworld had arrived, and my cousin was going with her to the fountain.” He looked at them. “Can I come with you?”

Aeki nodded. Axis mounted his horse. Almost glowing with joy at finding her presumed-dead cousin, Aeki smiled and hopped onto her mare. Skylor’s smile was forced. They only had a few hours before Icarus would catch up with them. Time was running out.

They had been riding for an hour when they reached the fountain. The tear-jewel was digging into Skylor’s leg where it sat in her pocket, and her armour was heavy. She felt like giving up. And that’s when she saw it.

The fountain was a waterfall. It was built into a cliff, torrents of shining, golden water cascading down smooth silver rocks. The dimming sunlight sent rainbows shimmering across the glowing falls. The air smelt sweet. And in the centre of the fountain-the waterfall- hung the clock, suspended in a glowing ball of white light. Skylor no longer felt tired. She slid off her horse, almost hypnotised by the gushing water. Skylor followed Aeki as she walked slowly towards the glittering waterfall. The other girl led her to the base of the cliff, where a sloped stone made the perfect platform up to where the clock hung. Axis stayed where he was, staring onto the horizon. Skylor breathed deeply and reached into her pocket for the tear gem. Heart beating so loudly she thought people back in the village could hear, she glanced back at Aeki, as if seeking permission. Skylor wasn’t sure she could have done this on her own. Aeki nodded at her. Taking one last look at the beautiful waterfall, the sun-drenched plains of Reach, Skylor touched the jewel to the fountain.

Nothing happened.

Skylor’s heart seemed to stop. She sunk to her knees. She couldn’t hear. Aeki ran over. Skylor felt as if she had been wrenched in two. It hadn’t worked. She was never going home.
“Why?” she heard herself asking “Why didn’t it work? I had the gem when I came here- that's how I got here. I’m never going home.”
No-one could reply. Skylor sat beside her, shell-shocked. It seemed as if the world had imploded. Nothing mattered. Axis rode up the platform, eyes wide with shock.

A shout rang out from behind them. The three sprang up, Skylor too shocked to cry. Black-clad riders were circling the stone. A black horse, as big as a car, eyes wide with fury, reached the platform, flanked by two more riders. All of them were wearing dark clothes and masks hiding their faces. Between them rode a huge, mountainous black horse. It skidded to a holt and, with a burst of black lightning-like energy tearing round it, transformed into a man. Skylor knew at once that this was Icarus, the shapeshifter. He was tall and pale, and his eyes burned with fury. One of his warriors dismounted and ran over to Skylor. Prising her fingers apart, the warrior seized the tear shaped gem. Skylor stood, terrified, as more warriors surrounded them. The first warrior ran to Icarus and pressed the gem into his hands. Icarus smiled, a cruel, cold smile that made Skylor shudder. It filled her with ice. He strode over to the waterfall, black robes billowing as the wind, suddenly ferocious and freezing, bit at them. He touched the gem to the water as Skylor had done. Again, nothing happened. Icarus whipped round, eyes murderous, and snarled at Skylor, Axis and Aeki.

“What?!  What did you do to it?!” his voice sounded like darkened caverns and burning fires.
“We didn’t do anything!” cried Aeki suddenly, voice filled with anger and fear. Skylor was too scared to speak. “It didn’t work when we tried either!”
“You?!” mocked Icarus, taunting them, “One of you is the saviour? I shouldn’t have hurried here.” He laughed, like nails on a blackboard. It made Skylor wince, “There I was, thinking I'd be faced with some otherworldly fighter, and it was a silly child! Which one of you is it? No- don't tell me. It's you.”

He pointed a finger at Skylor, black energy crackling round his hand.
“You will tell me eventually. They always do. I will go to the Otherworld.”
“Why?” asked Skylor, suddenly finding her voice, “Why do you want to go to my world?”
“Good question.” grimaced Icarus, “You see, it’s partly because if I take the clock when it rises, instead of it returning to those weak tribes, I will continue to be the only soul in Somewhere that has the power to manipulate magic! But of course, that is not all. You see, there’s something quite important in your world. A book. It will allow me to unite our world- under my rule. My older brother, an angel named Artus, took it from our world and into yours. An angel, you see, is a protector of Somewhere. A daemon like myself, a shapeshifter- is the opposite. However, I got rid of Artus days ago. He foolishly came to this world to confront me about why I have been leaking magic into your world for decades. Of course, I did it to bait him. He wouldn’t tell me where the book was, but he did leak one piece of information. His beloved, estranged granddaughter was an angel.”

He smiled wickedly as Skylor suddenly realised. Artus- Arthur!
“My grandad was... Artus?”
“You’re not as incompetent as you look then.” snapped Icarus maliciously. Then, to his warriors “Take them with us. They will soon reveal how they corrupted the fountain.” and then he laughed again. Above their head, lightning screamed, and thunder battered the skyline.

Skylor was more scared than she had ever been in her entire life. Forced onto a black horse by a warrior wielding a wicked looking dagger, she, Axis and Aeki had been taken to a black fortress, surrounded by a dark, glittering lake. She stumbled along dimly lit corridors. Icarus had disappeared off to some secret tower when they had arrived. His warriors barely spoke, just pushed them forwards along endless winding corridors. It seemed as if they were going deeper. The silent party reached a metal door set into the wall. It was unlocked and they were thrown inside. Aeki whispered to Skylor once the door had been locked behind them,
“What now?”
“I just don’t know” Skylor replied.
Axis walked over to the door, squinting in the dark and began to pummel it with endless streams of red magic. The door didn’t budge.
“It’s enchanted.” Axis groaned.
“Maybe I can pick it?” Aeki asked, grabbing at straws. “My mother taught me how.”
“Icarus is too smart to let his locks be picked.” cautioned Skylor. Aeki ignored her and strode over to the door. She bent over her curly hair obscuring the jagged, black metal lock from sight. Nobody breathed. Suddenly, there was a faint glow, Aeki straightened up and the door swung open, spilling light into the shadowed, cobwebbed room.
Axis hurried over to the lock; face creased with worry.
“What?” Aeki’s eyes widened.
“This isn’t lock picking.” Axis murmured, “This is magic. I can sense it.”
“What?!” Aeki repeated, as the truth sunk in, “Like sorceress magic?”
“No. More refined. A kind of magic with metal.”
“Metal-magic.” Aeki breathed. Her eyes twinkled.

As happy as she was for her friend, Skylor felt a tiny tinge of jealousy. Both her new friends could weave magic now, and here she was, a supposed ‘angel’, able to do nothing. She tried to squash this down as they crept through the eerily silent hallways. Axis was using magic to locate Icarus and the gem, a long line of gold shimmers, casting strange patterns on the faded walls, twisting off down the corridor in front of them.
By the time they reached Icarus’s chamber, all of their hearts were pounding. They had gone over the plan in detail while they were walking, picking through it with a fine-toothed comb. Skylor was gritting her teeth to stop them chattering with fear. She didn’t want to be speared by Icarus’s dark lightning. Aeki looked back at them.

“3,2,1-” she mouthed. Skylor's heart missed a beat. Aeki forced the door open with her newly found magic and they ran inside. Aeki and Skylor headed straight for the tear-gem- it was lying on a black pedestal in the corner of the room. Icarus leaped up, dark lightning coursing round his hands, but before he could blast them or call to his warriors, Axis ‘froze’ him with a blast of white magic. Aeki and Skylor were almost out the door before Icarus power overcame Axis’s spell and leapt at the young sorcerer. Aeki overturned his metal table, but the shapeshifter simply changed into a huge, black eagle and flew over it. His shadow seemed to fill the room. Both girls fled out of the room.

“Axis!” yelled Aeki, but the door to the study was suddenly blocked by Icarus’s looming eagle form. Now would be a great time for some angel magic, Skylor reminded herself, but nothing came. She could see Aeki face, torn with the hardest decision a person could make- go back for Axis and risk being killed, or carry on with the gem and leave her cousin behind. Skylor just stood there. Finally, eyes streaming, Aeki stumbled down the corridor as what seemed like hundreds of Icarus’s masked warriors flooded the hallways, eyes glowing red behind their masks and hands clutching deadly, obsidian weapons. Icarus was still hovering in the doorway, massive eagle’s wings seeming to flood the corridors with shadows with every beat. Skylor followed Aeki, guilt choking her as she realised what they had done. Forcing open a metal side door, both girls fled into the night.

Darkness seemed to prowl all around Skylor, filling her with fear and regret. It was a painful walk to the fountain, her eyes straining in the blackness. The gem dug into her hand, a heavy weight to carry, seeing what it had cost them. Both girls were sure that Icarus would not have hesitated to kill Axis. A small mercy that Icarus’s fort wasn’t too far from the waterfall. Skylor could almost see it’s glow in the distance. Aeki seemed hollow, her head bent. There was nothing to say.
They reached the fountain as dawn broke. The majestic waterfall no longer seemed like a beacon of light, just a shallow reminder of all that Skylor’s quest had cost her friends. She was sure Aeki would never forgive her. After all, Skylor had dragged the girl into this, and Aeki’s cousin had died because of it. Aeki had only discovered Axis was alive a day ago, and now he was really dead. Skylor felt like she had been punched in the stomach. The two girls silently trudged up the slope to the waterfall. This was it. She opened up her fist to reveal the tear-jewel.
“Stop. Right. There.” came a high, cold, victorious voice. Icarus. Skylor and Aeki turned round, dreading what they would see. Icarus stood at the bottom of the slope, surrounded by statue-like warriors. His black armour glinted malevolently in the red sunrise. Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning, thought Skylor ominously.

“Give. Me. The. Jewel.” sneered Icarus.
“Or what?” cried Aeki, finding her voice, “We’ll never give you anything.”
“I think you will.” Icarus let a blast of magic crackle into the pale sky, staining it black. Aeki gasped. Standing behind Icarus was Axis. A dark warrior held a glinting blade to his throat. Axis’s eyes widened as he saw Aeki and Skylor. The warrior shifted the blade and Icarus’s black eyes glittered.
He threw his head back and laughed, a screaming laugh that sounded like death.
“Now I’ll ask you one more time. Give me the jewel, or else your friend dies.”
Skylor knew that they had no choice. She threw the gem down the slope. It landed at the shapeshifter’s feet.
“Now give us Axis.” growled Aeki. Icarus smirked.
One word, that brought all of Skylor and Aeki’s hopes crashing down, crushing them.
“You said-”
Icarus ignored them.
“Kill-” he began. He never finished his sentence. A white shape, glowing like the sun, came rocketing down from the sky. The shape unfurled glowing white wings grabbed Icarus round the neck. It flew into the sky, sunlight streaming past it, and held Icarus there.
Skylor didn’t breathe “Arthur? Grandfather?” she didn’t dare hope-
The figure turned in the air to face them. It was Arthur, or rather, Artus. The sunken, hollow face and sad eyes Skylor had seen all those years ago at the funeral were replaced by Artus’s golden eyes and determined smile, his grey hair blowing in the dawn breeze.
“Artus.” croaked Icarus “You’re dead. I killed you. You're... you can’t”
“It takes more than a daemon like you to kill an angel.” chuckled Artus. He caught sight of Skylor.
“What? Sky? No wait, Laura? You’re, what, six?!”
Skylor almost laughed “It’s Skylor, Arthur. And it’s been six years. I’m twelve now.”
Keeping a firm grip on Icarus, Artus swooped down to Skylor.
“I should have told you before, but Laura-”
“I know.” smiled Skylor, “I’m an angel. And it’s Skylor.”
“Can you use the magic, Laura? Can you use it?”
Skylor flushed, “No. Not yet.”

Artus placed his free hand on her forehead. All at once, Skylor felt a rush of magic flow from her grandfather into her. Something burned along her back, and when she looked, she saw, to her amazement, glowing gold wings. Her wings. Power rushed to her fingertips, flooding her with warmth, and she let a burst of white light shoot from one of her fingertips.

Aeki spoke, her voice slightly panicked, “Not wanting to split up the family reunion, but...”
Skylor and Artus looked around. Icarus had slipped from Artus’s grasp and was rapidly changing into his black eagle once again. His warriors were advancing. Axis had broken free of the blade-wielding warriors and was fleeing towards them. The four of them turned to face the mob. The rising sun sent spirals of light, reflecting off the waterfall. Each of their faces were lit up golden.

It was a quick battle. Two angels, a metal-witch and a sorcerer seemed easy prey for a hundred mindless warriors, but the team sliced through the fighters like a knife through water. Aeki crushed warriors within their metal armour, sending their iron weapons flying through the air. Axis let rip with searing blasts of multi-coloured magic, each one causing havoc. A blue blast sent a miniature tornado spinning through the warriors, toppling them, and an orange one found all the nearby warriors floating ten feet in the air, immobilised. Artus went straight for Icarus, who responded with a blast of black lightning and a swift transformation into a black leopard. Artus quickly transformed into a white lion and the two men fought like house cats.
“One of the only things I can turn into.” roared Artus as he clawed at Icarus and sent white light streaming from his paws.

Skylor, who was still getting to grips with her powers, careered about in the sky. Aeki had gotten the hangs of her powers much quicker, hadn’t she? Occasionally, she toppled Icarus’s warriors by bludgeoning them with a stray wing or blasting them with an accidental beam of burning white light. Finally, she was able to hang in the sky without plummeting to the ground. Together with her grandfather, she fired a constant stream of golden magic at the snarling Icarus. The black leopard snarled as the beams of light drained away his dark powers. Skylor struggled to keep her light going, she felt immensely weary, like her eyelids were coated with metal. Still, she held on, fighting against the exhaustion. She could do this.
Realising he’d been beaten, Icarus threw off Artus and began to flee. His warriors, no longer under his command, melted away, showing themselves for the apparitions they were. The shapeshifter gave Artus and Skylor one last, furious glance and slunk into the shadows.
“I have a feeling he’ll be off somewhere, sulking. We destroyed his dark magic and his shapeshifting abilities with the light. I don’t think we’ll see him again.” smiled Artus.

Skylor swopped about in the sky. They'd won. They'd actually won. Now she could put the gem in the waterfall, and restore magic to Somewhere, and go home.
She suddenly had a sinking feeling. Last time with the gem, the clock hadn’t risen. Why would it rise this time, even with the gem? It was the right gem, right? Tear-shaped... tear-shaped?

Skylor froze as twin tears began to slide down her face again, her fate hanging in the balance. She had been crying when she had stepped in front of the mirror. What if... what if Nai’s prophecy had been wrong. What if it wasn’t a tear-shaped gem but... tears?
“Arthur! Axis! Aeki!” she yelled, heart thumping, blood pounding in her ears. Everything seemed to slow down. Her friends turned to her. “It’s not a tear-shaped gem. It's my actual tears!”
She landed with only a light bump on the slope of the waterfall. Her new-found friends huddled close to her, and her grandfather held his breath. This was it.
“Look. This is probably goodbye, and I just want to say thank you.” Skylor began, looking at Aeki and Axis. “You have helped me so much, and thanks to you I can get home.”

Aeki almost flew over to hug her, and Axis reluctantly joined in.
“Thank you for helping my people.” Aeki smiled, though her eyes were growing wet.
“What am I doing?” laughed Aeki, “It's you that needs to cry, not me.”
Skylor found tears streaming down her own face. Taking one last look at the beautiful desert of Reach, and it’s stunning, gushing waterfall, for real this time, Skylor bent her head over the waterfall and let her tears drop into its sparkling depths. The world seemed to glow. Like in a dream, the clock rose out of the waterfall, coming to rest in Skylor’s outstretched hands. Her tears were flowing freely now. Taking one last look at her friends, Skylor passed Aeki the golden, shimmering clock.
“You know,” Aeki said, eyes glittering with happiness, “You don’t have to stay away.” Taking the back off of the clock, Aeki took out one of the batteries. “Nai told me that these batteries are like portals between this world and your Otherworld. You- you can travel freely between them by holding this.” she passed an astounded Skylor the battery “We still be friends.” Even Axis and Artus were crying now, but these were happy tears. This was not the end. Skylor held her grandfather’s hand tightly and she relaxed and let the light envelop her.
Skylor landed gently on the floor of the attic. At first, she kept her eyes shut, not daring to believe that she was home. Slowly, she cracked them open. She stood in the attic; her grandfather next to her. In her hand lay the battery of the magical clock. When she checked later that night, there were two tiny, white markings on each of her shoulder blades. They were in the shape of wings.

10 months later

It had been a shock to realise that no time had passed while she was in Somewhere. The family had been astounded to realise that Artur Tulip was alive, but Arthur and Skylor had invented a wild story about his disappearance. Skylor lay on the lawn of the manor, letting the warm sunlight shine over her. Grandpa Arthur and her parents watched fondly as her brother Will messed around in the garden, which had been beautifully restored to the glorious wildlife haven it had been before her grandad disappeared. The house had been cleared of its boxes, and Skylor, her parents, Will and Artus- her Grandpa Arthur- now lived together in its walls. Skylor couldn’t believe she had once hated the house. She missed the memories she had had in London, but she had better memories in this house. Better friends, too. Skylor often visited Aeki and Axis in the world she had discovered. Sometimes Arthur came too. She loved the fact that her powers still worked in Somewhere, even if they didn’t in the real world. She had shown Will the battery portal too, and she had promised to take him to Somewhere when he was older too. After all, they had only explored a tiny part of the magical world when she had been trapped there, and now she could come and go as she pleased. Aeki and her cousin had told her stories of forests filled with magical flowers, jungles rich with enchanting creatures, mountains that held amazing secrets and icebergs that reflected the blue and gold lights in the freezing sky above. The three of them had promised to explore it all, for even Aeki and Axis had never seen most of their home.

There was, Skylor realised, a massive world still to explore, and amazing people to explore it with...

Return to English in Senior School and Sixth Form - Magnolian 2021