On the other side of the portal lays a horrible sense of deja vu and a river reeking of death and depair.
The other end was like living in a flashback, I was here a long time ago and not too much has changed since then except for the shrine that was placed a few decades ago. Everyone was waiting and took cover out of sight before Jake came through. He looked around and snarled viciously, I acted as though my being brought here was an accident, which he stupidly bought.
"This is exactly where you belong, to be swept up and carried down to burn in the fires of Hell." HellFire. I was backed up to the edge of the river. I should have nothing to worry about, only evil spirits and creatures got caught up in the current, but I still felt a chill of fear throughout my body.
"Cienna! Kill him!" I heard someone yell, I glanced over and saw a young man with black and green hair and wearing his signature red jacket. It was Jake's spirit.
"Kill him! Drown him in the river!" he ordered,
"I can't." I whispered, I knew it wasn't Jake in there but I still couldn't bring myself to kill him... not again.
"Trust me. Do it." he begged. I watched as Jake's body walked to the edge of the river next to me, he swiped at the swelling water and laughed as nothing happened. My eyes widened in shock, nothing? I could feel my plan unwravel at the seams.
Our ears twitched at the sound of Trixie's gasp. Orision (a/n Jake's living body [for now]) turned towards the trees in which they were hiding and I turned to Jake's ghost, he looked at me helplessly as Orision turned to kill our friends.
All options closed, I used my tail and pounded on the unstable ground. The Earth collapsed beneath us and we fell into the rushing water. The water was as a brilliant blue but was very hot (hence the "Burning" river), if I wasn't heat resistant I would have been scalded and suffer 3rd degree burns on impact, the only way magical creatures could enter the river was if they used the small pond connected to the river at the base of the waterfall (which is where we wanted to be). I broke the surface and gasped for breath as I tried to cling to the bank.
Gramps and the others had abandoned their hiding spots and were at the side of the river
"Call for help!" Jake instructed me, he was standing right above me. I felt a sharp tug on my tail and I lost my hold,
"Help!" I yelped before I was dragged under. Under the surface was a completely different river, there were spirits swimming at the bottom who were reaching up to drag me down deeper. The river was at least 200 yards deep and the water turned to black sludge the deeper you went. I could hear the other dragons dive in (minus Trixie and Spud) but all I could see where the forest green eyes glowing in front of me where they were once a deep brown, almost black. I felt the heat in my chest rise again, I was reminded of when I felt this way a few days ago... when I wanted to kill Jake. This time I knew I had to, I couldn't sit back anymore.
I kicked him in the gut and started to swim upwards, I have to get him to the pond. I passed the others on my way up, why would I risk their lives by dragging them into this? I waved them out and they followed. I found a stable area where I could pull myself out of the raging waters, I couldn't fly out because my wings were still put out from the blow to the back I took earlier so I swam as fast as I could.
I heard Orision burst through the surface, the way I saw it the less he knew about Jake's abilities and strenghts the better chance I had of using that to my advantage, like for example, being able to take flight directly out of water.
"Feel free to contribute." I whispered to Jake who was standing beside me as I pulled my exhausted body from the burning river. He nodded and turned to Orision who was gliding through the water and climbed out behind me as I crept slowly up the slope to the pond.
I heard a monstrous sceam cut the air, I looked back and saw Orision crumple to the ground. I could tell Jake was trying to regain control as the pitch of the screams would change from being a normal tone to a demonic noise. Trixie and Spud flew up in their tricked out costume and started to assult him with fireballs and tail whips (Spud was obsessed with his magical tail). Orision rolled on the ground for a few minutes as I took a quick break on the side, it didn't take long for Jake to lose control over his body and he materialized next to me.
"Run!" he urged, I obediently stood up and trotted over to the pond. I could hear Orision stomping after me, I reached the pond in just a few minutes, OK, now how am I going to get him in? My question was soon answered.
He jumped on my back and I fell in face first, he held my head down under the water laughing at my weak attempts to resurface. Is this what Jake felt when he died? Was I to suffer the same fate as my partner? Suddenly, the pressure on my head lifted. I felt myself be pulled up, when I surface I found that I was no longer in my dragon form. Orision was floating lightly in the river but wasn't dead. I stared at him, was he playing some kind of game? No, he would have just finished me off. Jake was in the water looking down at the now unrecognizeable being that was once his body, he looked up at me and grinned.
"Do it, he can't hurt you anymore." his eyes sparkled happily, why would he be happy? I'm going to kill him and he's grinning like a lunatic!
I waded over to the whining beast, Gramps had walked into the pond with Sun, they joined me next to Orision who looked up at me sadly. Gramps stared at him pitifully, I placed my hands on the dragon's shoulders and pressed him down into the cool water. He started to struggle so Gramps and Sun helped me push him down further. Sun chocked back a sob as the body went limp, I tried to keep the tears from rolling down my face but was unsuccessful. The dragon reverted to its human form and started to struggle with a new energy.
"Let him up!" I croaked, we let go and the teenager sprang up to a kneeling position in the waist high water. He coughed violently before turning to me, a lopsided grin grew on his face and I gasped in shock as I realized that it was Jake.
I jumped in excitement and hugged him eagerly, Trixie and Spud ran into the water. We all hugged Jake like a hundred times if not more, although I was relieved beyond belief I shook from the [extrememly] close call and I could not stop the tears from overflowing. Fu coughed nervously at my disposition.
"We should go check the damage or something." Fu suggested, obviously trying to give us some space. I chuckled at the lack of a good 'reason' but was thankful all the same. We waited until they were all out of earshot before anyone spoke.
"I thought I was gonna lose you again." I sobbed into his shirt as he held me close and rubbed my back.
"Not this time. You did everything right, I'm proud of you." I looked at him oddly,
"You almost die and you're comforting me?" I jeered, he sighed, dropped his hands and gave me an exasberated look.
"Fine. Make me feel better then." he laughed, I gave him a big bear hug. He returned the hug, buried his face in my neck and sighed deeply. I could soon feel his tears land softly on my skin. I stroked his hair lightly while rubbing his back soothingly.
We stood there for a good 5 minutes, I could feel my legs become numb in the cool, glassy water. Jake drew back composing himself, wiping away any leftover tears. I didn't really think dragons were allowed to cry... the strong ones anyway. But I guess we get scared too, I always thought that we grew out of getting scared after everything we have to go through... like Gramps. That crying or being unsure was a luxury we gave up with the job, maybe I'm wrong. He smiled sheepishly, embarassed at the 'unmanly' display of emotion, why do they care so much?
"We should go help them 'check the damage or something'." I winked, we turned to leave and he grabbed my hand as we exited the tiny pond. Fu greeted us with a gentle smile and motioned us towards the portal, I stopped. I haven't seen this place in centuries and I wanted to take another look at the river. Despite it's name, history, and purpose it was a beautiful place.
"Just give me a minute, Fu." I said, letting go of Jake's hand. I walked towards the river where not 10 minutes ago I was fighting for my life. The water was beautiful, moreso when your looking at it from the side than when you're in it. my ankle was frozen where a spirit near the bottom grabbed it when it tried to pull me down, I shivered. The steam from the river felt good after being in the cool waters of the pond, which I found weird that they were both at different extremes in temperautre though they came from the same place. The trees and grass were lush and full of life, I was wrong about this place, when I was last here there were little trees and the grass was dead. The river was always blue but there use to be flames that sat on the surface and you could hear the cries of the dammed coming out of the hole in the Earth that led straight to Hell. All in all this was much better.
"It's time to leave now." I heard Jake from beside the portal, Gramps, Sun, Trixie and Spud had already crossed over so it was just us three. I looked at the spot where the ground had collapsed and realized that that's where we defeated Orision, where Jake had died. I pointed to the landmark and turned to Jake, he nodded and held out his hand. I looked at the river once more.
I felt redeemed... as if this whole mess, this disaster, set it all straight. I felt proud but a little worried of a relapse, I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.
When we got out of the portal, Gramps was waiting for us on the other side. Sun had left and brought Trixie home (they lived in the same neighborhood), I can't believe we have to fly home!
"I figured that we've all had a long day. I decided to call a cab instead of flying home." he smiled exhaustedly. My fatigue hit me in waves, I soon found myself at a curb in the Hamptons waiting for a cab. Spud was lying on the grass, talking to someone about constelations. I started to lean over under the weight of my own body, Jake was leaning against my shoulder which didn't help.
"Son of an itch!" I heard Spud 'curse'. I turned my head over to see what the fuss was about, Spud's orange long-sleeve was smeared in dog crap and he was furiously trying to wipe it off on the grass.
"Aww, Spuuuuud!" Jake whined. I didn't notice he had woken up, nor did I notice the cab waiting at the curb in front of me until Gramps started tugging at my elbow. The cab was very dirty, it smelled of cigarettes and cheap whiskey. We collectively decided that Spud would sit at the front with the unimpressed driver. The car didn't have any seatbelts and McDonald fries littered the floor, I quickly forgot about the state of the probably illegal cab as I started to fall asleep against the cool window. Jake was snoring softly against my shoulder, it wasn't even snoring as much as heavily breathing. The heat of the river lingered on our clothes and skin despite the cool 'dip' in the pond and the air temperature outside.