Chapter 8: Mirrors
Dani felt more curious than she felt threatened, because the reflections did not seem sinister in anyway, more as if they were quietly observing them both. They were not humans, Dani could see that. They seemed animal in form, but not just one animal. But as if a multi hybrid creature.
The one that was standing next to Caden seemed to be quite a powerful beast. Of course.
It had the head of what Dani recognised as a lion, and had ears of flame. It was encased in a sort of armour over different parts of its body, some on its legs, mid - section and its forearms as well.
It possessed wings like Caden’s, only slightly smaller and white in colour. It stood quietly next to Caden and it looked Dani in the eye at that moment. She saw that his eyes were the same as Caden’s.
She then noticed her own creature. Dani stared at it then realised it was a leopard, only white in colour, with graceful horns coming directly out of the top of its head. It had wings also, more so that of eagles wings than of angel wings. They were different to Caden’s in the fact that they had emeralds encrusted in its wings that refracted the light off them.
She still stared in the mirror at the creatures looking silently back at them, she tugged on Caden’s arm, as Caden was looking up at the ceiling, looking at the paintings on there.
“Caden, look in the mirror.” She breathed, still shocked at what she was seeing.
Caden drew his gaze into the mirror and he too drew in sharply, and simply stared at the creatures in awe. In that instant, the creatures next to them changed.
Dani’s creature changed into something that she vaguely recognised from stories back on earth, one of the legends that were still well know back there. A unicorn, but slightly different than to what she had seen in fairy tale books. They had reindeer horns and yet again, her creature possessed wings like eagles, but light now glimmered out from underneath them.
Caden’s changed now too, from the majestic lion with wings to a large fox like creature, with hair curving out from the sides of its face, gently floating next to its body; like a serpents tail.
They gasped in awe yet again and then heard gentle footstep behind them.
The Queen was walking towards them, arrayed in a stunning dress made of dark blue silk, dotted with what Dani could only assume were glass crystals. It trailed behind her and her hair was piled up in curls on her head. She looked ethereal, a work of an angel.
The King noticed this as he was next to her and advanced with his Queen, his arm draped around her waist.
“So, you have seen the Mirror Daemons then? They are indeed beautiful, but only as beautiful as your own mind.” The Cloud Queen said, moving to stand in front of the mirror, next to Dani and Caden.
Dani could see the Cloud Queen in the mirror and saw that there was a creature of her own standing next to her. The King also stood with the Queen and a creature stared back at him solemnly.
The Queens creature looked gentle but also powerful, a large white swan; with wings like a butterfly; black and gold in colour and they waved gently back and forth like Caden’s own phoenix wings.
The King’s creature reminded Dani of something that would fight in battle, but could also be a companion to any human being. A beautiful reindeer like being, horns intricately curving around each other. They were like polished ivory and its fur reminded Dani of hummingbird feathers, glinting different colours each way it turned when it moved its hoofs.
Dani finally turned to face the King and Queen, as did Caden, curiosity alight in both their eyes.
“Mirror Daemons?” she asked, tilting her head.
“Are they animal versions of ourselves?” she said.
The King smiled and shook his head, “They are the manifestations of your own mind, each thought changes an aspect of them and so they change. For the beings with good magic and pure intentions, they are beautiful, wise creatures. “
“But for the beings who have betrayed the goodness that was given to them and turn themselves to evil and dark thinkings, the creatures become vile and menacing, thrashing against the mirror, in attempt to gravitate to the evil and to destroy all that is pure. “
A slight shudder ran through the Queens shoulder and the King placed a firm hand to her shoulder to comfort her. The Queen smiled thankfully at her husband and turned her attention back to Dani and Caden.
“For the creatures of evil mind, they seek to destroy, but the mirrors are too strong for them to break. For the creatures of pure of mind, they impart wisdom, goodness and calm to the human reflection. “ The Queen replied, and the King nodded, affirming the Queens statement.
“Can all the mirrors do this?” Caden asked, holding Dani’s hand. Dani quietly brushed her fingertips along Caden’s hand as he waited for an answer.
The King shook his head. “Evil humans look often into the mirror, in the hopes that their evil creatures will break out of the mirror and assist to help them in their destruction. The Mirror Guards will recognise when they are causing the strength of the mirrors to weaken and renders them useless, taking away the mirrors ability to show creatures. The mirror then cracks after this, to show that the mirror has been sabotaged by the evil and is stopped.” The King paused momentarily, and then continued.
“Those mirrors do not reflect any creature, good or bad. For evil to be stopped, sacrifices must be made. “ The King finished, then looked directly into Dani’s eyes. She felt that it was a warning and instinctively, she held Caden’s hand tighter.
The King spoke again.
“Enough of the Mirror Daemons, we have a story to finish, and an important message is held within that story. There are things that Caden must learn of to, for he has missed much in his travels.” He said meaningfully.
Dani looked at Caden, surprised. They still had much to talk about it seemed, but Dani did not mind. She counted on having a very long time with Caden, more than enough to find out everything about him, and more.
Caden looked down at her, a little embarrassed. Dani shook her head and released a thought.
She heard Caden’s thought at the same time.
“I was going to tell you, I promise.” He stated, looking into her eyes. Caden’s thought flew through her head and she smiled.
She sent out another thought to him.
“I believe you. And we have time. Plenty of it.” She replied.
Then they turned to face the King and Queen. When they listened to each other’s thoughts, it felt like hours, when it had really only been seconds.
The walked through the long, endless cloud corridors and marvelled at the intricacy of the many rooms they passed.
They arrived again to the area they had been yesterday, and Dani noticed that there was a beautiful crystal chandelier hanging above it, and at the wave of the King’s hand, the chandelier lit up with dozens of candles emitting a soft candlelight as it was still the early morning, and sunlight had not yet begun to stream into the windows of the palace.
They took the seats yet again on the Cloud couches, and Dani sunk into them with a sigh of contentedness. They were not as soft as the cloud chambers, but still comfortable nonetheless and Dani moved next to Caden and he spayed his wings out behind her as not to crush them.
The King and Queen sat opposite to them on the same cloud couches and then the King once began his tale.
“Dani, I told you that the Dark Powers are gaining strength rapidly. Now it is time why you know of your importance.” The King took a deep breath and Dani noticed the Caden seemed to be holding his breath as was she, in bated anticipation.
“You are a direct descendant of the Shadow Daughter, Dani.”
“Which means you hold the original power of the Shadow Veils in the very depth of your soul.”
Dani’s mouth dropped open in shock and she felt Caden let out a breath.
“How?” she asked, flabbergasted, turning to looking at Caden who instead of looking shocked as she had a massive grin on his face.
“My parents…how do they not now of this?” she asked, still in a state of shock.
“They do know of this, but they could not tell you, nor even hint of it to you. It was up to you to realise that you were different to the other people on Earth, to hear the voices of the Shadows and then to delve further into what your soul knew to be the truth.” The King said, smiling at her, in spite of her astonishment at this discovery.
“But, I’m just – “
“Dani, you’re not just ordinary. You have power that no other that we know of has. And it our job to discover what must be done. To learn of the power that is besetting us and to overcome. We must restore peace to the Dimensions, we must bring back purity and true magic back to them.”
Dani looked at him with shock then love slowly overtook that as she saw Caden’s wisdom. She saw where she needed encouraging and knew exactly what to say. He took away the scales from her eyes and helped her to see, which helped her to discover the truth and how to conquer any menace that may come to their paths.
“You always know exactly what to say to me, don’t you?” she said softly.
“You do the same for me Dani,” he replied fervently.
They then realised the King and Queen were smiling at them as they engaged in their own private conversation and Dani still felt it hard to prevent the slight flush of pink that alighted her face.
“Before you go, Dani. Caden. We have something that we want to give you.” The King said to them. He disappeared from the room and then just as quickly reappeared next to the Queen.
The King held out two pieces of clear glass, cut to a smooth finish, the jagged edges gone.
Caden and Dani silently took the pieces in their hands and turned them over, examining each detail in the glass.
“It is the Cloud Glass. We sincerely hope it will help you and be of assistance to you in your journey. Wherever it may take you.”
Dani took the Cloud Queen’s hand and grasped it firmly.
“Thank you. For everything. Please, be safe.” She said fervently. The King hugged her with the hug of a father to a daughter, even though he was of the Clouds.
Caden clasped the King’s hand firmly and looked him dead in the eye.
“You have done a lot for us. Thank you. Thank you for helping Dani, for helping me.” He said, strength painting his features.
“We hope to see you again. You know that we will. You will not fail. Stay strong and never leave each other. Protect each other with your lives.” The King said, valour wove through his voice and he lead them to the outskirts of the Kingdom, where the Clouds began to grow thin, to become more permeable.
“One word before you go.”
“Look twice at all you see. For there are deceivers. And they will prey upon any good they see.” The King warned them.
Caden and Dani nodded fervently and then turned towards the horizon, where they could see the deep forest in the distance, and many indiscernible sights that they did not yet understand.
When Dani and Caden looked back towards the King, he had vanished and the Cloud Kingdom was a blur in the distance.
Dani looked again into the heart of the horizon and leapt off the safety of the clouds, with Caden close behind her.
Dani weaved through the thinning clouds, flying was easier for her now, but Caden up with her easily, after all he had been flying for thousands of years.
“Caden, where you born with you wings? Or did they grow when you reached a certain age?”
“Ah, I was wondering when you going to ask that. They grew slowly, they took me years to grow actually. They still are growing. They don’t stop. They grow at a very slow pace, each wing at about an eighth centimetre a year. So I wasn’t actually able to fly until I had lived for about 90 years. “ Caden said, looking at Dani.
“Until then I had to suffice myself with walking or riding. “ he finished, then letting his wings lay out to their full span, about 6 metres.
Luckily for me I can withdraw some of their length while I am walking or they would drag on the ground and pull me over.”
He looked slyly at her, and then said “I’d ask you how long you’ve been flying for, but of course – “ Caden was cut off with a playful nudge from Dani.
“Of course I have been flying less than you. You’ve had hundreds of years of experience while I have only had...a few hours.” She said, shaking her head and sighing.
“But, I am improving. Very quickly.” With that last comment, she gave Caden a surprise by dipping quickly under him and then shooting off into the horizon and suddenly she was a blur in the distance.
Caden’s mouth dropped open in surprise, and then he shook his head and smiled to himself.
“Just can’t help herself, can she?” And with that, he took off into the distance after her.
He wasn’t going to let her get away.
He came up silently behind her and grabbed her around the waist.
She squealed and grabbed his arm, trying to shake it off; but he had an iron grip.
“Caden! Stop it!” she shrieked, batting at his arm and squirming.
Caden chuckled and unhanded her, and then moved next to her.
“Quite contented now are we?” she smirks at him, and straightens her clothes.
“Perfectly.” He said, replying somewhat smugly.
Then Dani let out another shriek.
“Caden! We need to go and get Amanda! Who knows where she is right now. Is she still in the Elf Realm?”
Caden put a hand on her arm and pulled out the Flame stone.
“When we land we can take a look, but she should be alive, at least. She’s only been there for a few days. The Elf King isn’t that cruel. Maybe a bit arrogant, but he isn’t merciless.” He said, re-pocketing his Flame stone and spanning out his wings so that he could glide effortlessly.
“Should we land right outside the Elf Realm? Something tells me that would be an unwise move to make.” Dani said, looking around now at their surrounding’s as they had descended through the clouds and they were slowly moving towards the tops of the trees in the forest.
“You’d be right about that. He’s already had one intruder, he’d about explode if he received more. He’s not used to visitors. Evidently.” Caden replied, taking Dani’s hand as they weaved slowly through the depth of the forest.
Dani could see something from where they were moving and realised it was the top of the turrets of the Elf Castle.
Dani tugged on Caden’s hand.
“Should we land? I can see the turrets from here. We had better stop before we get too close, or we’re going to have a raging Elf Prince any moment.” She said urgently, pointing through the ferns of the tree and the winding vines to where Dani saw the white tips of the turrets of the castle.
Caden looked to where Dani was directing his gaze and nodded grimly.
“You’re right. Wouldn’t want to get any closer than this without the guards being able to see us and warn the Prince ahead of time. It’ll be an hour’s walk at least.”
“An hour?” Dani raised her eyebrow and looked at him dubiously.
“It doesn’t look like more than a few minutes from where we are.” She said doubtfully.
“I agree, it looks that way. However, this forest likes to play tricks on its travellers. That was the Elf Prince’s fault to be fair. He did it to stop others from getting to the castle, so he made the travel look short and many were lost here. Wandering for hours before they realised the forest was playing tricks on them. It was too late for them to turn back.”
“That’s why it’s important that we get what looks like to be close enough, it’ll end up being a much longer trek that it seems.” Caden said seriously.
Dani was a little shocked to say the least. She hoped nobody had died out here.
“Don’t worry, they didn’t die; but they definitely did not venture into the forest ever again.” Caden said reassuringly, as the now were about 20 feet from landing and the vines brushing past Dani’s skin and Caden’s wings, almost seeming to grab at them.
Dani knew there was only good magic here, but it didn’t change the Elf King was doing everything to protect his privacy. Dani wondered why he seemed to be so obsessed with concealing his castle and himself.
“The Elf King values his privacy apparently.” Dani said, and then they landed and Dani heard a scream in her head.
“NO! It’s not safe! Head to the Elf Kingdom now, before it’s too late!” the voices in Dani’s head rattled against the cage in her mind and she hastily unlocked them; and they flew around her head recklessly, shouting relentless warnings at her.
Dani stiffened immediately and her senses heightened more so than usual.
She turned to face Caden, he had already sensed her distress and his wings were immediately at attention, ready to take off.
“Caden. We need to go.” She said, struggling to control her voice and keep calm.
And then she heard them. And saw them in her mind. Black beasts. Running through the ferns, trampling trees, slaughtering them with swords and the black creatures sitting on their backs were worse. Dani could not begin to describe the pure evil than permeated out from them.
They were just a faint sound in the distance, but in Dani’s head, they were like the pounding of a thousand war drums.
“Dani, we need to fly, we can’t reach there on foot!” her eyes widened as Caden grabbed her arm and spread his wings. Just has he had lifted only a few centimetres off the ground, he came tumbling down onto the forest floor.
“My wings.” Caden said in horror, then looking at them in disbelief.
“There not working.” He said, in horror again.
Dani tried the same to lift off, but was pulled back down to earth by an unseen force that grabbed at her ankles and pulled her down to the ground.
“We need to run.” Dani whispers.
Caden tucked his wings into themselves and Dani pushed her boots into the ground. The sound of them was becoming louder.
Then they ran.