Here it is - the new, revised version of "The Legend of Medige"! Enjoy, and please leave a review with any suggestions or comments. :)
"CALLEIGH!" A sharp cry rang out through the darkening forest. Crashing through the blanket of fallen leaves and twigs, sixteen-year-old Calleigh van Houten put on a burst of speed.
"Faster!" a voice panted behind her. She quickly glanced behind her at her good friend, Doug, who was hot on her heels.
"I'm trying!" Calleigh whispered back, turning sharply to the right to avoid the large pine tree that blocked their path.
Coming up quickly behind her, Doug grabbed her by the arm and pulled them both into a clearing that was sheltered by a clump of trees. They had to squeeze through two trunks to get in, and once they made it into the clearing they plopped onto the ground, trying to catch their breath. Seconds later, another set of running footsteps sped by the tree clump. Calleigh and Doug smiled to themselves. The two friends quietly scrambled up a couple of trees in case their hiding spot would be found. The footsteps grew quieter before stopping altogether. Silence hung in the air.
"Calleigh!" the voice called again. "Doug!"
Holding her long blond curls back with one hand, Calleigh peered at the ground below her through the leaves. She was able to see a petite brunette come into view, scanning the area around her. She chuckled. A simple practical joke had led to a full-on chase through the forest, along with a stream of threats from the brunette. Calleigh turned back to face Doug, who was crouching in a tree on the opposite side of the clearing. He glanced up at her, silently laughing. Smiling along with him, she put her finger to her lips in a silencing motion, giving him a warning look.
"Seriously, you guys," the girl's voice huffed. "This isn't funny anymore!"
Suddenly, the branch below Calleigh began to creak. Turning her focus sharply to the branch, she gasped softly. A thick crack had begun to weave its way along the connecting point between the branch and the trunk. Calleigh turned to Doug, wide-eyed, seconds before the branch crashed to the ground, bringing her with it.
The brunette let out a shriek as the branch came down only yards away from her, with her friend landing in a heap beside it. Meanwhile, Doug had leaped out of the tree and was hurrying over to the scene. Both were relieved when Calleigh stood up, sputtering, and brushed herself off.
"And here you were telling me to be quiet," Doug joked, placing his hands on his hips.
"Shut it," Calleigh mumbled, although a smile spread across her face. She turned expectantly at the brunette. "Well, Emery, you've caught us... now what?"
"Well... I..." Emery began. When she couldn't finish, she huffed in frustration. "I don't know! We all know I wouldn't be able to hurt you two even if I wanted to."
Calleigh and Doug laughed. "True."
Once their laughter died down, Doug gazed up at the sunset, which was quickly fading. "We should probably start heading back."
The two girls agreed, and the trio began retracing their steps.
"So, have you enjoyed your sweet sixteen?" Doug asked Calleigh as they picked their way back through the forest.
The blonde grinned and nodded. "With my two best friends with me? Definitely!"
"Yeah, well try being on the other end of the jokes next time... you're lucky it's your birthday." Emery sent a mischievous look to Calleigh, who only laughed in response.
"Didn't we just go over this?" Calleigh asked. She quoted her friend, "'I wouldn't be able to hurt you two even if I wanted to'!"
Even Emery had to smile. The three friends had known each other since Calleigh was five years old, and Emery and Doug were six. Calleigh and Emery had been neighbors and had grown close when Calleigh first moved to English Hills. Just a few months later, Doug moved into the neighborhood. He instantly hit it off with the two girls, and they had become best friends since then. Eleven years later, their friendship was still going strong.
Calleigh was lost in thought, reflecting on the memories they had made over the years when suddenly the patch of leaves below her gave way. She gasped as she slipped through the forest floor. Her fall was harshly cut short as her feet hit solid ground seconds later.
"Are you ok?" Emery cried frantically. "You're just the queen klutz today, aren't you?"
It didn't take long for Emery and Doug to reach the edge of the opening. They leaned over so that their heads were visible from down below.
Calleigh nodded. "I'm fine." She shook her legs out to release the pressure of her landing. Setting her foot down, she took in her surroundings. The place looked strange - it seemed as if it had once been above ground, but had somehow developed a dome of land above it. The ground was made of cool dirt, and the walls around the area were solid rock. To Calleigh's right was an opening in the rock... a sort of cave. She took a few steps toward it, having the sudden urge to explore its depths.
"Where are you going? What's down there?" Doug asked.
"That's what I'm about to find out," Calleigh replied, still heading toward the opening.
"We're coming with you," Doug stated. He swung his legs over the side of the hole and slid to the ground. He turned to help Emery down, and then the two broke into a jog to catch up to their friend.
With the sun already nearly gone for the night, and the forest floor covering most of the space below, it was almost impossible for the three friends to see where they were going. They slowed to a walk and allowed their eyes to adjust. When they finally gained their vision back, they saw that they had reached the mouth of the cave. They stopped only briefly to gaze inside before entering cautiously.
They had been walking for a few minutes and approaching pitch blackness when Doug finally spoke up. "As much as I would love to explore this place, I don't think it's the best idea when we don't have a source of light."
"That's true," Calleigh agreed. "Maybe we should..."
"Wait!" Emery interrupted. She squinted and pointed ahead. "Do you see that?"
Doug leaned over so that his head was next to hers, trying to see whatever she was looking at. Squinting a bit, he was able to make out a faint glimmer off in the distance. "Light."
"Yes!" Emery squealed excitedly. "Come on, let's keep going!"
"I don't know..." Doug said hesitantly. He was protective of both of the girls and didn't like the idea of the three of them going so far into a mysterious cave at night.
"Oh, don't be a downer," Calleigh complained. She grabbed Emery's hand. "We're going to keep going. If you want to turn back, go ahead. We won't be long."
Sighing in resignation, Doug followed behind the two girls. Their pace had quickened significantly. As they approached the light, they became faintly aware of the sound of rushing water. Curiosity peaked in the group, and they lengthened their strides. The sound grew nearer, the speck of light grew, and soon they had reached the opposite end of the cave.
Being the first one to reach the mouth of the cave, Calleigh stopped in front of her friends. The view that lay before her was beautiful, but it threw her for a loop. When they had entered the cave, the sun had just about set... yet on the other end it was shining brightly. In addition, a waterfall flowed neatly over the mouth of the cave, spraying the trio lightly with a cool mist. A ledge made up the distance between the cave and the waterfall, and it extended to the right to meet the grass on the other side of a sparkling pond. Beyond the pond was a large meadow filled with flowers of every type and color. As Emery and Doug came up alongside her, they too stopped and gazed at the scenery in wonder.
"What is this place?" Emery breathed. She tentatively began wandering along the ledge toward the grass.
"Amazing," Calleigh answered, following close behind. She turned to face Doug. "Do you still want to go back?" she asked, a hint of laughter in her tone.
"Forget home," Doug murmured, reaching a hand out toward the waterfall. "A few more minutes won't hurt."
He followed the girls out to the field, where they had a better view of the surrounding area. Calleigh turned in a slow circle, observing every detail of the setting. Off to her right was a forest, which looked somewhat similar to the forest they had been making their way out of when she had fallen. The field extended directly in front of her as far as she could see. To her left, a river wound its way through the field, which was accompanied by a cobblestone path that led to a castle in the distance. Completing her circle, she came to face the waterfall and cave. To her surprise, the cave was no longer there; solid stone stood in its place.
"Guys..." she said uneasily. She drew her friends' attention to where the cave had once been.
Doug ran back to the spot where they had entered. He felt along the rock wall, searching for an opening. It seemed unbelievable that the cave would simply close up only minutes after they had walked through. He ran around to the back of the rock, only to realize that it was only a few yards deep.
This doesn't make any sense... the cave we came through must have been half a mile long, at least, Dough thought. Frowning thoughtfully, he turned on his heel and returned to where Calleigh and Emery were awaiting him. They looked at him expectantly. He looked them straight in the eyes as he spoke.
"We can't get back."
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