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The Elemental Rings
I went to check the sundial to see what time it was. An hour until midnight, I told myself. Just an hour before the party sets out.
I am Geon, a 16 year old girl that is bound to a hard, rocky, cold cave. In our cave, there are 4 portals at the top rim of the cave. One is a fire ring. The one to the right of that is green and made of leaves. The one to the right of that one is a cloudy circle. And the last one is always dripping with water, which makes the cave we live in wet. No one has ever been able to get through these rings for two reasons. One is they say they are too high up and the other is just because they’re too scared. Many people have flying hippogryphs to ride on. I have a hippogryph, which is a gryphon mixed with a horse.
At midnight a group of kids and I are to set out to go through one of the rings. We don’t know which one to go through yet, but I want to go through the Water Circle or the Fire Ring.
For now, I’m going to get my hippogryph ready to fly. I got to her stable and fed her some mice. She loves mice and hay. I gave her some water and stroked her feathers with a brush. I cleaned out her hooves and un-folded her wings to check on them and stretch them for her. I also buckled a saddle on her to sit on. My hippogryph is named Thundering River, but I just call her River.
When River was ready, I walked her out to the sundial in the middle of our village and waited for the party to come out. The air felt heavy with humidity and my robes clung to my body. The ground was moist and my feet were bare.
I heard someone coming so I hopped on River and we flew to the top of the cave. No one is supposed to be out of their hut at night, so I was scared of getting in trouble. It was only Elder Jeffrey. Elder Jeffrey is blind so I went back down and noiselessly went back to the sundial with River.
I saw Skyler come out with his hippogryph, Cloud, and greeted him. “Hi Skyler, be careful, Elder Jeffrey is out and if he hears us, we’ll be in trouble.”I whispered. “He’s just as deaf as he is blind,” he snorted.
Later, Melissa came out with her Pegasus. Her parents are pretty wealthy so she has a Pegasus instead of a hippogryph like everyone else. I don’t think it’s very fair but oh well.
A couple more kids came with their hippogryphs and we flew up to the front of the Rings. The Rings were a bit intimidating. The Fire Ring was flaming, the Earthen Ring had leaves dropping from it, the Air Ring had gusts of wind hitting us and the Water Circle was just dripping, as always. They were large enough for us to squeeze in one at a time. We sat there, floating in the air on our hippogryphs, deciding which Ring to go through. Melissa and Skyler wanted to go in the Earthen Ring, and I wanted to go in the Fire Ring, and the twins Amy and Adam wanted to go through the Air Ring. We couldn’t decide so we went through the one we wanted.
I was really scared to go in the Fire Ring. It was flaming and getting hotter every time we got closer. I think River was scared too because at first she refused to go in. She was tugging away until I patted her head and said, “Come on girl, you can do it.” Then we plummeted into the Fire Ring.
I opened my eyes and we were in a fiery chamber where gryphons flew, a fire inscription was carved on the floor and where a phoenix flew. I couldn’t believe it. We were always taught that gryphons and phoenixes were extinct. Wow. Only one phoenix is left. I flew back out and stood on a piece of rock where I told River to go after she flew me into the Fire Ring. We flew back into the Fire Ring. I kissed the top of her head and she set me on the ground where the inscription was. River flew back out and looked back at the Fire Ring before obeying her master.
I stood on the strange series of lines, not being able to read them. The Phoenix was flapping around quietly. Its feathers were like a rainbow. Gold, blue, purple, red, green… So many colors on such a magnificent beast. It came and landed on the rocks that I stood on and stared at me. It was as large as River. It kept coming closer, and I kept backing up. When I hit the side of the cave and stood there, almost cemented to the wall, it came up and opened its beak. I thought it was going to eat me but it just sang. It sang a beautiful song, although it sounded sad. I walked up to it and it dipped its head. I reached my hand out carefully, thinking it would burn me but when I touched the soft feathers it was the temperature of my own body. The Phoenix looked up at me with sorrow filled eyes, as though it were about to cry. An orange flamed tear ran down its face and I didn’t know what to do so I just kept petting it until it stuffed its large head into my body, forcing me to hug it. It stopped tearing but I wanted to figure out what was wrong.
I walked along the inscription and looked up to watch all of the thousands of gryphons flying above me. Maybe it was lonely without any other phoenixes around. It was impossible to get another phoenix but maybe that was the problem. It landed beside me once again, this time walking with me. I lie my hand on its neck as we walked, feeling somewhat comfortable with it now. Every time I saw a gryphon flap by, I flinched. They were so large and scary that I couldn’t stand still seeing them swoop over me.
The phoenix now sat down, its back flat and its wings flapping. It was obviously beckoning me to ride it. I giggled and nodded, walking over to it. I gently through me leg over its back and sat down, feeling odd bare back riding. It flapped me around the room, and I was getting very close to screaming as I almost slipped off of its back. It flew me to a small oval, somewhat like the Fire Ring, but not flaming. It was just made of hardened lava rock like the rest of the cave.
It flew me in and this room made me wail in terror. It was a large room with an island in the middle and an outer ring of rock. There were four solid rock bridges that led to the middle and under the bridges was molten lava. On the middle island stood a large, almost demon looking man with skin that was the color of the black rock. He wore metal plate laggards and gloves. He bared upon his head a helmet of spikes which had a sharp point. He was very tall and frightening. His breath was fire itself.
The phoenix flew me behind the demon man so that he could not see us. The lava was so loudly bubbling that he didn’t notice my wail. The phoenix was obviously showing me their master or keeper. It flew me back to the first room and I pet it while I thought of something I could do about this. There wasn’t much I could do.
I pointed to the entrance to the Fire Ring and the phoenix understood and flapped outside. We were floating in the cave, it was morning and the party was waiting for me outside. I guess the time out here went by much quicker in our world. Everyone in town had gathered under us, noticing the giant flaming bird flying in the sky with me on its back.
River lie in her stable, asleep. She awoke though, as everyone entered the middle of town. I pointed at the empty ground where the people had left a space and everyone in the town was crowded around us, asking me where it came from. I just smiled and laughed at the questions then flew back up. I pet the phoenix and tried to think of a name for it. First, was it a male or female?
I told everyone to clear out and go back to your huts so that I could land and not get millions of questions. Everyone still peered out of their window but at least it was somewhat peaceful. I hadn’t studied phoenixes so I didn’t know how to tell.
For a hippogryph, it was the markings on its wings. I had no other phoenix that was opposite to compare to, so I went to the oldest person in our village. Maybe they had studied them before they recently went “extinct”. I went to Elder Jeffrey’s house and knocked on his small, rotted wood door. I told him the story about the Fire Ring and the phoenix, and he told me to describe the colors of the phoenix. I told him every color of the rainbow which was on my phoenix. I noticed though, that orange was missing. It went boldly from red to gold.
He spoke to me in a hushed tone, “Male phoenixes have orange missing on their plumes. Females are covered in every color.” I pat the phoenix as thoughts whizzed through my head. Is this phoenix mine now? What should I name it? What about River?
I went to our stables which housed three hippogryphs and had two extra living spaces left. I put the phoenix in the largest one and went to River.
A tear drizzled down my face as I tried to choose between the two. I had known River since she hatched and this phoenix seemed as though it needed me. I was torn between two magnificent animals; then a thought flashed. Hippogryphs only live for 18 years. My 17th birthday was in a month. I received River on my first birthday. That means that she only had two more years! I burst into tears, hugging River and whispering to her. I knew that I would have to make her last couple years great. I decided that I would fly them both; but I would use River much more. I would take her out for special treats or snacks and make sure she left our world happy.

A year has passed and the flying plan worked great. Sadly, as I write this, tears are streaming down my face. River has left us a year early and we never expected her to. We hugged her body and sent her with many flowers and notes, telling her we will miss her and we love her.
I buried her with stacks of hay. Skyler had his arm around me as I cried, grieving for her.
Skyler is my boyfriend now. You know, the one from the Rings journey?
Anyways, we miss her terribly so and she will always be in our heart. I grieved for her for four straight months. Those nights I cried myself to sleep and didn’t go to study at school.
After I was well enough to return to school and do everyday things again, I started to fly Flowing Rain, my phoenix. Every time we flew, we would get amazed stares. I guess people couldn’t believe I had the only phoenix in the world. We visited the Fire Realm often while we were flying, and as I grew, I started to come up with a plan to talk to the “Keeper” without him trying to kill me because I had taken his phoenix.
The day had come for my 18th birthday. River would have still been alive, I thought to myself. I shook my head and knew she was in a better place now. I had always been excited for my 18th birthday; for it is the day a person gets to decide where they will live on their own. I took my phoenix to a large mushroom house in the middle of town, very near the sundial which is a great location. It had a single stable where it had room for three animals. It was a bit small but I wouldn’t have any other animal except for my phoenix.
I put Rain in the stable and went into the home and set up the little furniture I had.

The Huntress Artemis
Community Member
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