Aiden watched Trystan as he stepped behind the waterfall. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Trystan.” However, Trystan either didn’t hear him or chose to ignore him. He ran as fast as he could toward him and was soon standing beside the rushing water. He shouted again, more loudly this time, “Trystan, don’t!” Realizing Trystan was not going to stop, he followed him inside, amazed to see water around him but not touching him. It was like he was walking through a tube or a glass-enclosed walkway, like the kind he saw at the aquarium.
When he exited the water enclosure, it was no longer night. The sun shone brightly, and he saw before him a meadow with lush, green grass and trees all around it. Bushes with the most brilliant colored flowers he’d ever seen: shockingly bright pinks, fluorescent greens and yellow—candy-apple red, and brilliant blues and purples sprouted everywhere. The petals on the flowers were bigger than his hand, their stalks growing so high a person could easily hide behind one.
Washington was what his grandmother would call a green state because it rained all the time and everything was green, but this green was nothing like he’d ever seen back home. This green was vibrant with a strange glow to it.
Aiden sniffed the air. He could faintly smell smoke but could not find the source of it.
Then he saw Trystan, and it looked like he was dancing. His legs were jumping, and his arms were waving around his head. He was a bit of distance ahead of him, so Aiden ran to him. He heard a slight buzzing in his ear and swatted at it. Then a small giggle that sounded like a little girl. Then he also was dancing as he dodged the sharp, pin-like feeling in his legs. He stopped and looked down and saw what looked like tiny fairies poking at his legs and giggling. “What in the world…” he said.
A fairy flew beside him and stopped inches from his face. No bigger than eight inches, the fairy, nonetheless spoke with a firm, confident voice. “Hello, Sir Aiden. Welcome to the Kingdom of Anka.” Then she bowed before him as if he were royalty.
“Anka?” Aiden said. “How did I get here? What or who are you?” Aiden asked. “And what is this place?”
Jayden straightened, adding another inch to her size. She wore a green dress, had light-brown hair and a round face with large eyes. “I am Jayden, mother of the fairies. You are in the land of Anka, and we brought you here because we need your help.”
“Help with what?” Aiden asked.
“Someone has stolen a dragon’s egg, and the mother dragon is quite angry. Unless someone returns it, she will destroy our kingdom.”
Aiden pointed to himself, poking his chest with his index finger. “What…who…me?” he stammered. “I’m just a little boy. What can I do?” He looked at Trystan, who was now walking toward him and carrying on a conversation with someone. He pointed at Trystan. “What can he do?”
“You and your brother have been chosen by Queen Aryana to defeat the dragon. None of our knights has been successful.”
“Hey, Aiden!” Trystan said, running the rest of the way to his brother’s side. Aiden had never seen his little brother look this happy before. “There are a bunch of fairies here, and they can talk!”
“Trystan, they want us to defeat a dragon.”
Trystan smiled big enough to show off several teeth. “I know!” he said. “Isn’t it cool?”
Suddenly there was a loud roar, followed by a shadow passing overhead. Everyone looked up. “Oh no,” Jayden said, “hide.”
Aiden shoved Trystan behind a large boulder and pulled him to the ground. Like it or not, and even though he was angry with him for wandering off in the middle of the night, Trystan was still his baby brother, and it was Aiden’s responsibility to look after him.
From their hiding place, they saw dozens of fairies flying into the trees—all except Jayden, who stayed close to Aiden’s ear, and a smaller fairy that seemed to have landed on Trystan’s shoulder and was staying there.
“This is Jacy,” Trystan said.
Jacy was smaller than Jayden, but that made sense since Jayden was the mother fairy. She wore her blonde hair cut in a bob that framed her face and a silver tiara on her head. She wore a pink dress with pink ballet slippers that sparkled. Her image was much like the fairies portrayed in cartoons in Aiden and Trystan’s world.
Aiden gave her a hesitant wave. He wasn’t sure he believed what he was seeing. “Nice to meet you,” Aiden said.
“Oh no,” Jayden whispered as she pointed toward the center of the meadow.
Aiden and Trystan both looked to where Jayden pointed—just in time to see a dragon fly into view, fire spitting from her mouth. She gave a loud roar and then a stream of fire streaked across the sky and caught a man in silver armor on fire.
Jacy began to cry, “Not another knight!”
Jayden sighed. “That’s the tenth knight we’ve lost. I’d better get you to Her Majesty, quickly. Follow me.”
Jayden began to fly across the sky. Aiden hesitated but not Trystan. Trystan ran behind her. Aiden had no choice but to follow along.
As they walked, Aiden asked, “How long has this been happening?”
“About a week now,” Jacy said.
“Do you know who stole the egg?” Trystan asked.
“Not a clue,” Jayden said.
“And how did you know about us?” Aiden asked.
“Queen Aryana had a vision of two boys from the other world who were brave as knights. She sent us to bring you here. She knew the exact time you’d be there,” Jayden said.
“How?” Trystan asked.
Jayden stopped and looked at Trystan, “You’ll have to ask the Queen,” she said and then continued flying.
In the distance, they saw a castle come into view. “We’re almost there,” Jacy said.
Aiden wanted to run. He wanted to get to Queen Aryana as fast as he could and tell her he couldn’t help her. He wasn’t equipped for this. He was just a little boy. And what was this nonsense of calling him Sir? Sir was what the woman at the Hamburger Palace called his dad when she tried to give him change and his attention had wandered off in another direction. Sir was what someone said to Dad when he was blocking his or her way. They’d say, ‘Excuse me, Sir; you’re blocking my way.’ Or they would say, ‘Would you please move, Sir?’ He wasn’t a sir, and neither was Trystan.
Trystan was getting tired and slowing down. Jacy flew to his side, hovering near his ear. “You need to keep up,” she said. “Time is short. If we don’t defeat the dragon quickly, our kingdom will disintegrate in a cloud of smoke.”
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