This is a story beginning written by my sister and I the other night. In explanation, we had both had soda for supper, and were a bit hyper. Plus, we’re both big fans of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and North! Or Be Eaten). Oh, and the words in italics are mine, while the plain type is Kay’s. Enjoy! LoriAnn: Do you want to pass notes? Kay: Sure. LoriAnn: Mwa-ha-ha-ha. Let’s write a story… Once upon a time… There was a boy named Ray. Ray liked to swim. He especially loved swimming with his best friend Teia. Teia was a girl, in case you were wondering. And she hated tapioca. But that was natural for a naiad. On the other hand, she was friends with Ray, which wasn’t very normal for a naiad. Ray and Teia usually met in the forest, where neither could be seen by family or friends and therefore be teased. Ray got teased a lot by his family anyway, even though they didn’t know he was friends with a tapioca-hating naiad. See, Ray wasn’t exactly the biggest of twelve-year-old boys. In fact…he was pretty small. Like, dinky. In comparison, Teia was tall—very tall. Which made Ray look even smaller. Often, Teia was the one protecting Ray from the occasional blaggat or toogler that happened on their woodland haunt. (Again, in case you were wondering, a blaggat is a creature very similar to a toynosis, except without the beak. And a toogler is a species of ronjer that is larger than a Greater Fog, and toothier than the Fanged Biggzor.) However, Ray was the only one of the two that could read (most naiads can’t read – water and books don’t go well together), which meant that he had to read the traditional naiad book “How to Kill a Plook, Blaggat or Zenny; 101” to Teia whenever they met. Naiads were very big on tradition; and dispatching, maiming, or killing an enemy had to be done the correct way. (Naiads were also very big on the tradition of having scribes write books that no one else could read—in case you were wondering.) The one area in which Teia was not like a traditional naiad was her visiting with Ray. But the other naiads didn’t really care, so she did it anyway. One afternoon, after Ray had distracted his six older brothers (by cooking up a batch of gooble candy and telling the greedy boys that they couldn’t have any), he slipped out of the house to visit Teia. He walked to the family’s barn and saddled his cramwalker, which is a type of riding animal typical to the area. The cramwalker waddled its way out of the barn and made a curious “croople?” noise, smelling the sweet smell of the gooble. Ray smiled, and pulled a still-warm piece from his pocket. While the cramwalker mumbled the treat past its leathery lips, Ray swung aboard and tugged the creature’s ears, signaling it to start walking. It obeyed, and for such a lumbering creature, it quickly sped across a field and into the nearby woods. Ray preferred cramwalkers to horses, because they were stronger, smarter, smelled better, and weren’t as unusual. The woods were cool and dim after the hot summer sun in the field. Ray tilted his head back and looked up at the tree branches, thick and green over his head. “Ray?” Teia’s sweet voice, like water over grey stones, rang out through the peaceful woods. Ray jumped. He always did, no matter how many times he heard her voice, no matter if he was prepared or not, or even if he was actually startled. “Hello, Teia,” he said, looking around for the rather elusive girl. She rose gracefully from where she was sitting in the long grass, and smiled a clear, sweet smile at him. Her blue eyes were tinted with a bright green around the edges, and she wore a long dress of flowing, violet fabric. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.” To be continued…possibly.