Sequel: Return to Emanon
Status: Because of classes, updates may be a tad slow and infrequent, but I will try to be as constant as I can with new chapters!

Children of the Beacon

Chapter Four: The Tale of the Falling Bridge

Queen Edana’s heart dropped further and further as she read the letter over and over again. It could not be true, not yet at the very least. She knew that being discovered was a possibility, but she did not expect Aries to succeed to quickly. Yes, he had been training and searching for a way to track the children for years now, but it all still was happening so fast, too fast for Edana’s liking.

Zephyr then appeared in the stairwell and found his caretaker on the Beacon, holding the letter. He also saw a messenger dragon sitting beside her perched on the guard wall, a leather pouch tied to its back with blank paper and a golden quill sticking out of the opening. Immediately recognizing the Dragonlord as a companion, the tiny, emerald beast leapt over to Zephyr, letting out a squeal of excitement. The boy chuckled and cradled the dragon in his arms, but still kept a wary eye on Edana.

“How bad is it?” he asked after a few minutes of silence.

Edana looked up and swallowed. “We need to leave.”

She passed the sheet of parchment to Zephyr. Keeping one hand on the dragon, who was now nuzzling his cheek with its snout, Zephyr took it. The words were written in his father’s thin, neat print in dark brown ink. He read the note’s contents.

My Dear Queen,

It is with a heart heavy as stone that I must bear this news. The children have been discovered with the Ulverians’ magic. At the start of the Guild meeting, I had thought there was some hope. Aries seemed nervous, almost too nervous to perform the spell. However, he still did. Never have I seen the Guild members so happy. They made it quite clear that they will do everything in their power to get through the Spirits’ Veil. A few may even be willing to give their lives to the children. That also became very clear last night.

However, if there is one that you and the children should be wary of the most, it is Aries himself. My Queen, the power that he had radiated was immeasurable. I still am at a loss for words when I try to describe it. Not even Foalan was that strong, save the time she used the Final Spell. Not only is he strong though, but he also is just not quite right. Something about the boy is… off.

On one hand, he was too nervous to even speak at some points. The poor boy was a stuttering mess! Yet, that same night, he sacrificed a young Dreameater girl and gave the location of our children. That being said, he noticed that Asteria and I were distraught at the matter and tried to comfort us. His heart still has kind roots, but it is slowly being corrupted by his mother. As for his mind, well, I have no idea what is happening there.


Zephyr looked up at Edana. “He sacrificed someone?”

Edana nodded. “A child.”

Zephyr growled and looked back down at the paper in disgust. “Yet my father still claims that ‘his heart still has kind roots’?”

“It seems that he does. Knowing Estrella, though, I assume that she pressured Aries into performing the sacrifice, though we cannot be too sure of that.”

“Still, even if he does have a kind heart, the fact that he is capable of killing a child…,” Zephyr sighed before continuing to read the letter.

After the excitement at finding the children subsided, we had to devise a plan. The Mystics plan to attack at sundown in two days time. You must leave, my Queen. Come to Jalendu. I will protect you and the children there and then we can travel to Ejder. From there, we can discuss where we can find the Totems. As for now, talk to Zephyr and if you see Aries, just run away before he can do anything.

Asteria and I send our best wishes. We will both do what we can to protect you.


Zephyr sighed. “This is just fantastic.”

Edana nodded. “We should pack our belongings.”

“How do we tell the others?”

“I was hoping we would just tell them we have to leave. As for explaining all of this, I think it is best if we do that when we meet with your father. I think that if one of them got captured on the way, it would help if they did not know about the Totems.”

Zephyr nodded in agreement. “That’s a good point. When do we leave?”

“Tomorrow night. That will give us a full day head start. I will go to the market at noon tomorrow to buy anything we may need,” she said and grabbed Zephyr by the shoulders. “Zephyr, if I am not back at sundown, do not wait for me. Run. Grab a weapon or two from the arsenal and run. Can you do that for me?”

Zephyr knitted his brow upwards. He gave a slight frown.

“What if you get hurt, though?”

“No matter what they do to me, they cannot kill me for good, not if they are outside of the Tower,” she said. “You must promise me this. This is why you’re here!”

Zephyr took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Though he hated the thought of leaving behind Edana, she had a valid point. He opened his eyes and gave her a reassuring smirk.

“I promise I will,” he said.

“Thank you, my child,” she said, pulling him into a hug, causing the messenger dragon to go back to its perch. “You are so brave, Zephyr. Your father is going to be so proud when you meet again; I am sure of it.”

Zephyr hugged her back. “Don’t thank me, Edana. After all, this is why I’m here, right?”

Edana chuckled. She just held Zephyr even closer. They stayed like that for a moment.

“Zephyr?”

“Yeah?”

“I…,” she said, breath shaky. “I haven’t been this scared in quite a long time. You, the children— you are my whole world at this point. And if it goes wrong, then I would not only be failing you, but I would also be failing Foalan.”

Zephyr rubbed her back. “I know, Edana, but everything will go just fine.”

Edana then pulled out of the hug, giving a slight chuckle and wiping the tears that were threatening to fall from her iridescent eyes. “Look at me. I’m supposed to be taking care of you! I really am sorry you had to see that, my sprite.”

“Edana, please don’t apologize,” Zephyr assured as he reached over to pet the messenger dragon. “This is the day we have all been dreading for the past two rings. You have every right to be upset.”

“I suppose that’s true,” she sighed as she composed herself. “How about you get to bed now, dear? We have much ahead of us.”

Zephyr nodded. He then gave the messenger dragon a final pet. It purred and nuzzled his hand. The young dragonlord chuckled. He bid Edana goodnight as he descended to the interior of the Tower of Pyre.

“Goodnight, Zephyr,” Edana replied as she took the paper and quill from the dragon’s pouch. “If you need to talk some more, I’ll be up here.”

The second he was out of the Phoenix Queen’s line of vision, Zephyr finally let himself feel the pit of dread that had recently taken root in his gut. His heart rate quickened as he dropped his façade of bravery. He made his way to the observatory and sunk into one of the brown, leather chairs that were embroidered with celestial designs in colorful threads. The torches were not lit and everything was pitch-black. A million questions raced through his mind.

How likely was it that his caretaker would not make it back to the Tower by sundown? What if the other children did not obey him? They all were respectful, save Nerio and Itzel, but Merrick sometimes would butt heads with the dragonlord and could be a tad stubborn. She was also quite clever; Zephyr knew that she wanted to What if they cannot outrun Aries if they encountered the so-called savior? Why was all of this pressure placed on a boy of merely seventeen rings?

Zephyr was so lost in thought that he did not hear the quiet footsteps approaching him.

“Zephyr?” a voice asked.

The boy jumped and snapped out of his self-interrogation. Merrick stood a few feet in front of him, quirking a brow as a smirk appeared on her red lips.

“And what are you doing all alone in the dark?” she asked.

“Thinking,” he answered, once again putting on a mask of bravery and mystery.

Merrick rolled her eyes and sat in the chair next to his. “Is the Queen up there?”

Zephyr nodded. “It would be wise to not disturb her.”

Merrick chuckled dryly. “Please, Zephyr, you really needn’t tell me that. I know much better than to go to the Beacon when she’s there, especially at night.”

“Is that so?”

“Indeed it is,” she said. “A few times I had tried. I tried to comfort her, but she only seems to speak to you.”

Her words were laced with slight venom, but nothing too bitter to stir the pot. There was a pause. Merrick spoke again.

“She ought to come down soon, though. She needs to put the little ones to bed.”

Now that stirred something in Zephyr. Looking up at the stairwell, he knew that their caretaker would not be coming down anytime soon. Suddenly, the fear was back, but so was instinct. He looked back at Merrick.

“I can do it.”

Merrick quirked her brow and laughed. “You? Zephyr, I appreciate the offer, but you don’t strike me as the type to read silly stories and braid Ciel’s hair.”

“I said I can do it,” assured Zephyr, albeit with a pinch of attitude, getting up and going down to the bed chambers.

Merrick just smirked and followed, albeit she was the tiniest bit suspicious. After all, Zephyr had a good heart, yes, but he still had a bit of a cool, calloused exterior and quick temper. Still, he did seem to be the one who comforted Queen Edana during her times of need that were always so mysterious to the girl. Her smirk fell. Merrick just sighed and huffed away at a long, red lock of hair that obscured her pale face and lilypad-green eyes.

In the bedchamber, the other children were already waiting. They sprawled out on a mass of pillows in the center of the room. Rowan cradled an already-sleeping Ruby in his arms. Ciel struggled to braid her hair, her efforts futile. Amaya and Itzel were playing a game with a loop of thin, purple yarn. They made different patterns and shapes with each movement of their fingers. Nerio held a pillow close to him and rested his head atop it, eyes brightening when he saw Merrick enter the room, but pouting when he did not see Edana follow suit.

“Where’s the Queen?” he asked.

“She won’t be here tonight, so Zephyr’s going to put you lot to bed,” said Merrick.

“Zephyr?” asked Amaya, scrunching up her face and squinting her coal-black eyes.

“I am just as surprised as you are,” chuckled Merrick.

Zephyr glared at the redhead and sank onto the pile of pillows. He looked at a still-struggling Ciel, trying to suppress his amused grin. His eyes then met Merrick’s. She gave him a sly smirk. He narrowed his eyes again before looking back at Ciel.

“Do you want help?” he asked.

Ciel nodded. Zephyr patted the pillow in front of the one upon which he sat. Ciel stumbled over the cushions and plopped in front of the boy. She turned around. Zephyr took her hair into his hands and tossed it into a lazy-yet-viable braid. Merrick was a tad impressed, despite that there were many loose strands. Ciel gave Zephyr as slight frown, for his work was far messier than that of Queen Edana’s. Zephyr sighed, but brushed it off and stood up.

“How about I go to the library and get a book to read?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Can we read the one about the wolf cub?” asked Itzel, eyes shining.

“No, that one’s scary!” argued Ciel before turning to Zephyr. “She just wants to make me cry again.”

Zephyr froze for a moment, not entirely sure as to what he should do, before sitting back down. He pondered for a moment. Then, an idea came into his head.

“How about I tell you all a legend?”

Amaya cocked her head. “A legend? Queen Edana said we cannot read those stories; she locked the books in a chest!”

Zephyr nodded. “I know, but I have memorized this particular myth. This is one of the oldest stories in the entire world.”

Merrick rose an eyebrow. Rowan looked up from his baby sister. The other children looked at the boy with wide eyes full of wonder.

“What is it called?” asked Merrick in disbelief.

“Well, it has many names, but I know it as the Tale of the Falling Bridge.”

“Tell us!” said Nerio, earning a chorus of agreement from the other children.

“Well, if you insist,” said Zephyr. “A long time ago, there was this island, uh…, Emanon. It was a really nice place and there was a large bridge that connected the island to the rest of the world.”

“Like the bridge outside the Tower?” asked Rowan.

Zephyr nodded. “Now, Emanon was a special place. There, magic was real. So, many people from the other countries came to visit. One of the visitors made a really bad mistake, though. He tried to steal a dragon egg.”

“Dragons?” squealed Itzel.

“Dragons,” echoed Zephyr, getting more into the storytelling. “Now, the mother dragon was so upset that she burned him alive.”

Ciel yelped and clung to a pillow. Zephyr looked at the girl and froze. He certainly did not prepare for this. Merrick smirked in amusement. There was a short pause until the redhead spoke.

“So, what happened then?” she asked. “Did the dragon eat him?”

Ciel’s grip tightened. Zephyr placed a hand on Ciel’s shoulder and glared at Merrick.

“No, Merrick,” he sighed. “Humans are not a part of their diet.”

“And how would you know that?” asked Merrick.

Zephyr just let out a frustrated grunt. “Let me finish the story.”

Merrick just let out a short chuckle. Zephy let out a low growl. He thought of the next details in the story and decided it would be best if he did not share that tidbit with the other children, especially Ciel.

“Anyway, the rest of the world saw that Emanon was too dangerous and forbade people from visiting and leaving. Ever since, nobody has left the island, nor has anybody from the outside world been able to find it since.”

There was a silence that hung over the children as they looked at the Dragonlord.

“Is…, is that the entire story?” asked Rowan.

Zephyr nodded.

“It was boring,” scoffed Nerio, “and really short.”

“I liked it,” said a nonchalant Itzel.

“So, no happy ending?” Amaya asked with both curiosity and suspicion, crossing her arms. “Everyone on the island just became trapped? Also, there was no bridge.”

“W-well, they were happy on the island,” Zephyr explained, voice rising the slightest bit in pitch. “After all, the outside world was selfish…. A-and the bridge was figurative!”

“You seem nervous, Zephyr,” said Merrick.

Zephyr sent yet another glare the girl’s way. He opened his mouth to respond with some jab tossed in her direction. However, Rowan saw where this was going and immediately interjected.

“I should probably put Ruby down,” he said, standing up. “We should all get some sleep, too. It’s late.”

Zephyr silently thanked the brown-haired boy and also rose to his feet. Everyone else followed suit. They moved their pillows to their beds. Merrick helped Nerio as he struggled to toss his pillows on to his top bunk, ruffling his blond waves and flashing him a warm smirk. He huffed.

“Merrick, I had it!” he whined.

“I’m sure you did, kid,” she chuckled.

Amaya climbed into her bottom bunk. Like Zephyr, she had made a tent using blankets. However, instead of Rowan’s bed, which had myriads of pillows and blankets, her blankets hung from a bare mattress. Itzel scaled the ladder up to her bed. Ciel settled in below, looking out at Zephyr with big eyes. Zephyr walked over. He knelt beside her on one knee.

“What is it, Ciel?” he asked.

“Are those people still trapped?” she asked.

Zephyr hesitated for a moment. “I am afraid that they are.”

Ciel frowned. She then looked back up at Zephyr.

“Are we trapped?”

Zephyr froze. He then stood up.

“I would not worry about it too much. Go to sleep, Ciel; we have a long day ahead of us.”

Ciel watched as he entered his and Rowan’s area and shut the door behind him. She then curled up completely underneath her blankets. Zephyr sighed and sat on his bed with a soft plop. Rowan was settling his baby sister in the bassinet a few feet away from their bunk.

“And how likely is it that she is going to be up and wailing before dawn?” he jested, flashing Rowan a smirk.

“Come on, Zeph, even you know that she’s been getting better,” said Rowan, looking over his shoulder.

“I suppose,” Zephyr replied.

“Hey, uh, Zeph?”

“Hm?”

“Why exactly did you tell us that story?” asked the younger boy. “I usually take your side, but the others had a point. It was really short and there was no happy ending. Also, the Queen is going to kill you if she hears you told us a legend.”

“Well, sometimes there are no happy endings, Rowan,” sighed Zephyr. “Unfortunately, we are going to have to get used to that very soon.”

“Are you okay?” asked Rowan, sitting beside Zephyr. “You have been acting… off for the past few days.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you have been more quiet than usual,” said Rowan. “I cannot tell if the others have noticed. Merrick may have, but that’s also because she watches you like a hawk.”

Zephyr snickered and Rowan cracked a grin. However, the grin quickly faded.

“I’m serious, though,” he said. “Are you alright?”

Zephyr let out a sigh and lowered his voice, pausing for a moment to think. “Rowan, can I trust you?”

“Of course.”

Zephyr leaned in close to Rowan’s ear.

“We have to leave the Tower,” he whispered.

“What?” Rowan said, voice a few decibels higher than Zephyr had hoped it would be, causing the Dragonlord to back up from the sudden change in volume before pressing a finger to his lips.

“Shhh!”

“Sorry! Sorry…. Are you serious, though?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“When are we leaving?”

“Tomorrow night.”


Rowan nodded and leaned back. He looked at Ruby. His heart beat the tiniest bit faster.

“Is it safe?”

“Well, it’s safer than the Tower will be in two days, but still not an ideal situation.”

“...Why are we leaving?”


Zephyr ran his hands through his hair and took a deep breath. He opened his mouth to say something, but quickly shut it and shook his head.

“No…,” he muttered, slightly above a whisper. “I’m afraid I cannot tell you just yet.”

“Why not?” asked Rowan. “You can trust me.”

“I do, Rowan, but now I need you to trust me when I say that there’s a reason that I cannot tell you just yet.”

Rowan did not look very pleased with this response. Still, he nodded his head in agreement.

“Alright, I trust you…. Now, is this what you and the Queen would talk about whenever you were both on the Beacon?”

Zephyr nodded. “We have been wary of this day for quite a long time.”

Rowan felt unease settle in his gut. He tapped his fingers on the beige blanket.

“Rowan, you cannot tell the others,” said Zephyr. “They will find out soon, I know, but I do not want there to be much panic before tomorrow night.”

Rowan nodded. “I won’t. I promise.”

“Thank you.”

The two stayed quiet for a minute. Rowan looked out the window and for the first time, he really began to wonder what was out there. He saw the rickety, old bridge that connected the island upon which the Tower of Pyre sat to a much larger hunk of land. He had always noticed that. Still, never once had he questioned what was beyond the Tower walls. The sound of Queen Edana descending to her own bedchamber in the basement snapped him out of his trance of curiosity.

“Are you nervous?” he asked, facing Zephyr again.

Zephyr chuckled, though there was very little humor in his voice.

“I have wanted to get out of here for so long, Rowan, you have no idea,” he said, running his right hand through his hand, “but now, I really want to stay.”

“Do you know what’s out there?” asked Rowan.

“I do. You will learn soon, though,” he said. “You should get some sleep. We really do have much ahead of us tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Rowan said, standing up and climbing up to his bed.

The two laid down. The second the Spirits sensed that all the children were in bed, the torches immediately went out. Blackness filled the room. Rowan looked at the ceiling as his head his the pillow. He had so many questions, but his head felt so empty at the same time.

“Hey, Zeph?” he asked, tilting his head downwards.

“Hm?” Zephyr answered.

“Queen Edana will protect us, right?”

Zephyr tensed, thinking of what Edana had asked of him earlier.

“If she cannot, I will.”

Rowan did not answer. He looked back up at the ceiling. After a few minutes of trying to clear his head, he finally fell asleep. Zephyr grew the slightest bit envious when he heard his bunk mate’s soft snores. He knew that his own chances of getting even an hour of sleep were quite slim. He stared at the bottom of Rowan’s mattress as his mind started to race once again.

‘Why did I tell him that?’ he thought. ‘This is Rowan, one of the most nervous people I know.’

Zephyr then let out a groan as he tried to get some sleep, though he knew his efforts would be futile.
♠ ♠ ♠
The fifth chapter is almost done! Originally I had this and the next chapter as one long chapter, so I ultimately decided to divide it into two smaller ones. I really enjoyed writing this chapter because even though they are the two primary characters, this is the first time we really see Rowan and Zephyr's friendship up close. I hope you enjoy reading it!