Chapter 5: Pineapple
"HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"
I yelled as I ran for my life, chased down by a giant monster. I heard a loud roar coming from behind me and I knew I had to move fast. I was sure it was going to catch me any second now.
I felt the ground shake as it got closer. Suddenly, I saw a tree and I darted towards it, leaping up the trunk and into the safety of the branches. I felt a rush of relief as I heard the monster pass by below me.
The stone monster growled and punched the tree as hard as it could, but it surprised itself that it broke. As the tree fell, I spread my dragon wings and looped out before falling. I flew to safety as the tree crashed and the monster roared in anger.
Using my high hearing, I heard Odette's footsteps 3 miles away. I flew in Odette's direction as fast as I could and saw her running away. I quickly swooped in and carried her away from danger.
"OH MY GOD, WHY IS MR. INEZ ALLOWING THIS? WHY IS HE NOT SAVING US?" Odette cried and patting.
"HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW?" I yelled back. I had no idea what was happening. I was just as scared as Odette, but I tried to stay strong for her. We had to find a way to get out of this mess.
Using my hearing aid, I tracked down Mr. Inez 7 miles away. I can hear him...watering a plant? We're in danger from this stone monster chasing us and he's watering a plant?
"THAT ASSHOLE!" I was so angry I wanted to strangle him, but I didn't have time.
"Huh? What do you mean? What's wrong?" Odette asked, looking like I was getting mad.
I carefully placed Odette on a tree branch, and I whispered to her. "Listen, I'm planning to distract the monster statue. You're going to research Inez about seven miles from here. Follow straight north and you'll meet him there."
"But what about you? Are you going to be okay? Here alone with the monster?" Odette asked, holding my hand. "I'm coming with you! I'm not letting you die. I'll use my staff and grimoire to help you!"
I shook my head. "No, you idiot. There's no way you can help me, you haven't even cast a spell! I'm a were dragon, I can take care of myself. I'll be fine, just keep yourself safe. Now go."
Spreading my wings, I flew away, leaving the other mage alone and confused. I knew I could handle whatever danger I might face on my own. I only hoped she would be safe.
Once the monster spotted me, he growled loadily. I transformed my body into a dragon form. I flew towards the monster and had a brief but intense battle.
"Alright, you ugly basturd, I'm gonna take you down!" I yelled as I unleashed a powerful blast of fire.
But, no luck. Its skin is made of stone, so it didn't. Even so, I kept attacking. When I swung my tail towards him, it hit and flew across the forest. He quickly jumped up and lunged at me, but I dodged his attack. I then jumped on his back and unleashed a flurry of attacks, until he grabbed my back and threw me across the floor.
Despite coughing blood, I still managed to get up and fight. I charged at him and landed a powerful kick that sent him flying. He landed on the ground and I lay on top of him.
Before I finally blow him, he lets out a loud scream that causes my ears to ring painfully. I quickly covered my ears and rolled off him. A punch knocks me down as he scrambles to his feet.
I looked up to see him towering over me, his face twisted in rage. He grabs my arm and yanks me up, shoving me against the wall. He grabs my throat with one hand and slams me against the wall again, this time with more force.
I gasp for breath, my vision blurring. I can feel the pressure of his grip tightening around my throat, and my chest constricts in fear. I'm paralyzed with terror.
The monster threw me to the ground. I was too weak to get up. I lay there, trying to catch my breath, fear coursing through my veins. I knew I had to get away, so I scrambled to my feet and ran as fast as I could.
Slowly, my body turned back to my human form but I still heard the monster coming towards me. In anticipation of striking me, he raised his stone fist. I closed my eyes and braced for impact, sure this would be the end.
But at the last second, a beam of light shone down from the sky, and the monster stood still. I opened my eyes to find I was safe.
"What the hell just happened?" I muttered.
After turning to see where the light was coming from, I saw Inez walking with Odette holding her staff. The staff was engulfed in a bright light. I had never seen anything like it before. I was in awe and couldn't comprehend what I was witnessing. I was at a loss for words, my mouth agape as I stared.
Inez looked around the area and shook. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Look how you almost wiped out a forest. If the owner of this land sees this, he'll have our heads. We had better get out of here fast."
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?" I yelled. "YOU JACK ASS YOU NEARLY KILL ME WITH THAT MONSTER! YOU SHIT HEAD! YOU THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO LEAVE YOU'RE STUDENTS IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE FIGHTING THAT SHIT FACED?"
Inez didn't react at all. "ANSWER ME!" I screamed. He looked at me and said, "You wanted to learn how to fight, didn't you?"
He walked over to the monster and stared at it. "Ask yourself, how was the stone statue moving?"
I was apprehensive, not knowing what to answer. He looked at me for a moment before continuing. "It wasn't moving during daylight." He said slowly. "But he moved during the night. The answer is simple."
Inez showed me the brightly shining stone staff. "It's light."
I couldn't believe it. I had heard the rumors about the staff, but never expected them to be true. I looked at Inez in awe, realizing the power and mystery of the ancient artifact.
"The monster didn't attack you or Odette during the day because the light prevented them doing so. These types of monsters are only active at night, so we were safe as long as we stayed in the light. You could use your fire breath to illuminate the area and keep the monster at bay. We could then make our escape in the safety of the daylight."
He then turned to Odette. "And you, Odette, you could have used this wand to cast a spell of protection around us. We would have been able to get away safely."
"What? But how would I know how to read Arkenan? The spelling book is in another language. How I read it?" Odette complained.
Suddenly, Inez looked at her with frustration in his eyes. "Has the book already been translated? Don't tell me you are trying to read Arkenan. I put all my time and effort into making you understand, but it was for nothing. "
Odette didn't say a word but, she could feel the disappointment in his voice. She knew her failure had hurt him deeply. Odette wished she could make it better, but the words just wouldn't come.
"Why did she have to fight?" I mutter. "She doesn't need to fight with me. She could have been hurt or awry. Her only desire was to leave this country with her family and get back to her home. So, why? Why are you leaving her in danger?"
In anger, I stared him dead in the eye. "IT'S NOT LIKE SHE WAS CHOSEN TO KILL THE LORD AND SHOVE HIS STAFF UP HIS ASS! THAT STAFF BELONGED TO LORD NOIR AND WE'RE SCREWD IF ANYONE FOUND WALKING AROUND WITH IT!"
He just looks at me, emotionless. I'm not sure if he understands what I'm saying, or if he even cares. All I know is that I'm not going to let him hurt her, not this time.
"She's an outsider, Ax." Inez said. "What would you think if anyone found out?"
I didn't answer, he just stared at me. I could tell he was considering my words, but his expression didn't change. I held his gaze until he nodded, signaling his agreement.
"You know what would happen? She'll put herself in the "Time Out" district or force slavery never to seek rights again. But even so, she's traveling with a staff that only belongs to the Lord of the land, which sentences her to death."
"What?!" Odette asked. She could not believe what she was hearing. She had no idea what to do. "To...death?"
"Yes," Inez said gravely. "You must know that if you're willing to learn magic and use this staff, you'll have to hide it and keep your identity a secret. No one should know you're an outsider."
Inez continued, "If you choose to go down this path, I will be here to support you and teach you what I know. But you must promise me to never reveal your true identity."
Odette was shaken. She knew this path would be dangerous, but she also knew she was the only one who could do it. Taking a deep breath, Odette nodded in agreement. "I promise," she said. "And thank you for guiding me. I promise I'll understand magic and do better."
She hugged Inez and cried her feelings out. Inez held her tight. I stood there watching them, feeling a deep gratitude for the bond they shared. The two remained of me and Annalise. She and I were always together, never far apart.
I told her I'd always protect her from anyone who tries to hurt her. I remember Annalise nodding as tears streamed down her face. I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. I promised her that no matter what, I would always be there for her.
But she's gone.
I grazed the night sky, watching the stars. Still, it felt empty without her. I sighed, aching for her presence.
"Annalise, no matter where you are, I'll always look for you,"
"What...the hell...is that?" I asked, looking at an unusually large plant sitting on the kitchen table. It was almost as tall as a small tree, with large, green leaves. Its roots were tangled and growing out of a shallow bowl of water. I had no idea where it had come from.
Odette and I stare at it, then Inez giggles in the background.
"Odette, have you met a Dryad?" he asked smirkingly.
Odette nodded. "Yes, when I first came to Arkena, Dryad was the first person I met. Her name is Oka and she was really kind."
Inez smiled wide. "Well, do you know Drayad's seeds are very powerful? She heals people and animals with her seeds. There's a legend that says she can even revive the dead with them."
"Really? That sounds awesome!" Odette said. "But I promise, I have to plant it somewhere safe."
Inez nodded. "I agree it's rare to see a Dryad these days due to the demise of the species or its destruction by acid rain."
"Where did you find dryad seeds anyway?" I asked.
"It was there in one of the drawers. Odette must have put it there." Inez exclaims.
"How lucky," I said, sitting on the sofa. "Alright, enough with the chit-chat and start the RV."
Odette took the driver's seat. The engine started and Odette drove us out of the driveway. I leaned back on the sofa and looked out at the scenery as we drove away.
"Hey, vampire! Get me something to eat." I asked, lying on the sofa.
Inez shoved me off. "What? No, I'm not getting you anything.".
"Uh, may I remind you that you nearly killed me? And all my muscles are messed up?" I growled in astonishment.
"Please, Mr. Inez? Ax worked really hard today." Odette asked politely.
"Thank you, Odette. For asking nicely." Inez said before standing up from his seat and walking to the fridge. "So, exactly what do you want, Ax?"
Ax looked up at Inez, his eyes wide with excitement. "Can I have some ice cream? No, wait, a brownie? Or maybe chicken?"
Inez smiled and shook his head. "I think we can do something better than that. How about...what is this?"
Inez grabs something from the fridge and places it on the table. I looked in awe at the strange food. It was all yellow and had tough leathery skin and spikey leaves on top.
"What is that thing?" I asked.
"I don't know, of all the years I've lived, this is the first time I have seen anything like it." Inez said.
"Hey, Blondie! What is this and why are you keeping it in the fridge?" I called after her.
Odette looked at us, then at the strange thing. "That's a pineapple."
"Pineapple?" I asked, my eyes wide. We all stared in confusion. "What do you do with it?" I asked.
Odette smiled and said, "You eat it. It's delicious. You can slice it up and put it on a plate, or you can make a delicious fruit salad with it."
"How are we able to eat it when its skin is tough and leathery?" I asked.
Odette laughed and said, "You just need to peel it. It's not that difficult, you'll see."
She pulled over and grabbed a knife and proceeded to demonstrate how to remove the fruit. Inez and I watched in amazement as she expertly peeled the fruit in a matter of seconds.
Inside, it revealed a bright yellow flesh. She cut it in half and offered us each a piece. We ate it eagerly, the sweet juice dripping down our chins.
"OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THIS FLAVOR?" I asked while I was eating.
She smiled and said, "It's one of my favorite fruits, the pineapple. It's sweet and juicy, isn't it?" We nodded in agreement, unable to speak due to the pineapple's deliciousness.
She then handed Inez a pineapple. "Here you go Inez, for you."
"Thank you, but I can't eat anything that is not meaty. I'm a vampire, remember?"
"What's that stopping you from eating a pineapple?"
"I don't have any use for plant-based food," he replied. "It doesn't provide me with the nutrients I need to survive." He then smiled and said, "But you can have it if you want."
The car's crushing sound echoed in the room. He looked at her with a horrified expression, not knowing what to say. She stood there, motionless, as if she was frozen in place.
I stood up from my sofa and looked out the car window. The RV was not broken but there was something on the ground.
I saw a body lying there, motionless. The RV had hit a person.