It was dark. One visible shape detached itself from the clump of fluttering figures and flew down towards the girl. Before she could react, her hair was yanked back and a dagger cut into the skin on her neck.

"Don't move," hissed a reptilian voice nearby. "It would be so easy to kill you, wouldn't it? After all, you are merely a human." The voice was calm, collected, and cool, full of disgust and superiority. In the background, the fluttering figures began to murmur among themselves, their voices rising into a cacophony of sound. One cried out something unintelligible that was quickly silenced.

"Quiet," snapped the figure with the dagger. Immediately, there was silence. "All of you, don't say a word. This is hard enough as is, without you making those pathetic noises. Now-"

As if provoked, one of the fluttery figures flew up behind the him and suddenly, the girl felt the dagger move from where it had been pressed into her neck. Her attacker was staggering for balance in the near darkness. There was enough light to see. Just barely. As the dagger flew through the air towards her, the girl ducked and the blade whizzed by overhead. Its thrower had recovered his balance and turned, thrusting the fluttering figure that had attacked him down onto the ground. There was a sickening crack as he stamped a heavy boot down upon the figure's face. As he did this, the girl felt an uncharacteristic anger come over her. Before the creature could turn, she grabbed the dagger from where it had lodged in a tree trunk nearby and swiftly covered the distance between them. Blood sprayed across her face as she slit his throat. There was silence. The fluttering figures merged together, appearing to be strange creatures in dark cloaks. Nothing happened. The girl did not have to check to know that her attacker was dead. It had been painfully simple.

Then, suddenly, there was a flash of light. The darkness vanished, plunging them all into blinding daylight. A sun appeared in the sky. The trees all grew leaves. Grass and flowers sprouted up around their feet. The figures landed on the ground, and their black cloaks suddenly vanished, revealing them to be small, three feet tall creatures with neon blue hair. They wore yellow clothes that appeared to be made of gold. This metamorphosis happened in a surprisingly short time. The girl stared at them; suddenly self conscious in her tattered brown clothes, her face and hair splattered with blood, holding a dagger that had killed so many. Nearby, the ragged breathing of the figure that had helped her suddenly accelerated. He let out a small cry. He had not transformed as the others of his kind had. The girl rushed over, taking in his mangled face and broken body.

"You saved my life," she said simply, kneeling down nearby.

He replied in a suddenly calm voice. "Yes, I did. And you saved my people. For that I thank you. Tell them that I am granting you the three sacred wishes. They will explain." Then, the ragged breathing stopped, and he was dead. The girl stood, her face stained by tears she didn't even recall shedding. After glancing at the sky for a moment, she took a deep breath and turned to see all the creatures watching her in silence.

"What did he mean? The three sacred wishes? Who are you? Please, I want an explanation."

One figure stepped forward, taller than the rest.

"What is your name?"

"I am Agate. Now tell me who you are. Please. Why did he die? That wound couldn't have been fatal."

"We are the Payne, the natives of this land. We, along with the land, have been enslaved by an evil sorcerer for many years. There was a prophecy that one would come to help us. We all knew that it was you. You, who would restore peace and light to us. Arek," the figure broke off to gesture towards the dead body, "gave his life to help you save us. To answer your question, the sorcerer knew that it was an easy way to kill one of the Payne. The pain was probably unbearable. Arek died in intense agony, but he thought of you first. He has granted you the three sacred wishes. You can wish for anything except more wishes, and it will be given to you. Unfortunately, since Arek granted you these wishes as he lay dying, there is a catch. One of the Payne is not supposed to grant the wishes if he or she is to die soon. Therefore, the only way that a wish can be granted to you is to kill someone you love in exchange for the wish."

Agate stared at him in disbelief. Something clattered to the ground at her feet. She looked down. It was the dagger, still coated in blood. As she watched, the blood ran off the once shiny blade and oozed into the ground, contaminating it forever.