Within the Mist

Alana Pasion, Staff Reporter

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Within the heart of this swamp lies a beast, known to many as the Mist Regional. No one has lived to tell the tales of what it looks like nor are there any accounts about its abilities. The light mist that surrounds the swamp soon turns into a dense fog as one goes near the center. All is eerily quiet except for the light splashes of water, the slight rustle of leaves and the sounds of birds. The swamp itself is filled with murky water and dull colors. Once again all is quiet, until those light splashes of water slowly turn into rushed, heavy footsteps. Dragging his feet through the water and mud, a black-haired figure runs. A low growl resounds from behind him. Hiding behind a tall willow, he heaves trying to catch his breath. His once immaculate uniform now dirtied by swamp water, mud, and the crimson color of blood. Holding his wounded arm he quickly wraps a stray piece of cloth around it, successfully stopping the bleeding. After examining the wound a bit more, the blacked-haired boy concludes that it’s only a surface wound and isn’t too deep. Heaving a sigh of relief he leans against the rough bark of the willow. Closing his eyes he remembers something. A warming memory. A memory that comforts his racing mind and heart. 

+++

“Hey, Euph! Euph!” A cheerful voice says.

“Is he dead or something?” The bluntness of the second voice makes him flinch.

Slowly opening his blue eyes, the black-haired boy, or rather Euph, sees the faces of his two siblings. The warm rays of the sun still reach him even though he had placed himself under a large oak, the green leaves blocking most of the rays. Euph looks at his two siblings in annoyance, after all he was enjoying that nap of his. 

“What do the two of want? Couldn’t you see I was preoccupied?” Euph states in a flat tone.

“Sorry, sorry, but we wanted to make sure you didn’t actually die from studying so hard,” the cheerful voice says. 

“As if I’d let something as trivial as that kill me. I simply took a nap, nothing more, nothing less.”

“Uhuh. Whatever you say.”

“Well lunch is ready, so if you can spare some time from studying to eat feel free to join us!” The once blunt voice states but now it’s surrounded by an air of warmth.

“Yes, yes, I get it. I’ll join you guys.”

The three get up from the soft, green grass and head to their home. A light breeze passes by them, bringing with it the light scent of flowers. Euph pauses and takes in the light scent, lightly smiling at the warm memories it brings him. He regains himself and goes into the wooden house. On the worn wooden table sits three bowls filled with a warm stew. Euph seats himself at the head of the table and takes a sip of the stew. 

“Delicious as always, Lenaya. I’m glad I didn’t sleep through this,” Euph says, smiling.

“Aha. I wish you did because then there’d be more for me!” The warm voice laughs. 

The three siblings eat lunch with laughter thrown in the mix due to dumb jokes and conversations that made them laugh. Once finished, the three clean up their bowls and head off to do their own things. Euph returns to his spot under the oak tree, once again immersing himself with spell and arcane magic books. His sister, Lenaya, heads off to her room. His brother, the cheerful one, goes towards the oak tree where Euph sits. With nothing better to do, he decides that bothering Euph is the best option.

“Whatcha doing? Studying again?! When will you ever stop? Hey, don’t ignore me!” The cheerful voice pesters.

Furrowing his eyebrows, Euph tries to ignore the annoyance that is his brother, Finn. After a minute passes, he quickly realizes that Finn isn’t giving up anytime soon. Putting his arcane magic book down, cold, blue eyes face Finn. 

“So you did hear me!” Finn says happily.

“Who wouldn’t? What do you need?” Euph bluntly says.

“What’s with the hostility?! I have nothing better to do, so I thought why not talk with my dear brother?” 

“If you’re so bored as to pester me then why don’t you go study?”

Finn sighs heavily, obviously this had been stated to him numerous times that he’s grown tired of hearing it. 

“Study, study, study! What’s the point? Unlike you some people don’t want to be in the mage district.”

“Well at least I have a goal for my future,” sighs Euph. “Why don’t you pester Lenaya?”

“Hmpf. Rude! She kicked me out before I even thought of it.”

“Makes sense because unlike someone she wants to do something with her life instead of pestering others!”

“Fine, fine I’ll back off. Have fun reading about spells and stuff I guess.”

“I will, thank you very much.”

Finn walks back into the house and lounges on the couch, opting to take a nap. Euph goes back to his book, picking up from where he left off. Once again he’s left to himself with the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze being the only noise he hears. 

+++

A loud growl resounds, making Euph open his eyes quickly. Looking around he sees the leaves of other willows sway. 

Why did I suddenly remember that? I’m sorry, Finn. I shouldn’t have been so harsh on you.

Euph trudges through the thick mud again and finally ends up on a spot of grass. Sitting down on the first patch of solid ground in what seems like miles, he sighs. Next to him are blue orchids, their color cuts through the dense fog and dullness of the swamp. Tenderly he strokes a petal, looking down at the blue flowers his face morphs into a frown. Euph remembers how harsh he was to his brother that warm, summer day. How he pushed him away not knowing that it would be one of his last few encounters with his brothers. One of the last times he’d taste the savory flavor of his sister’s stew. One of the last times he’d see that warm, wooden house. His childhood, his family back in the town while he’s here in the swamp, meant to be slowly rotting away. Euph chuckles at how pitiful his situation is. He chuckles at how idiotic he was to be sent to such a dreadful place. That he, who had worked so hard, would be exiled to the outskirts of the kingdom. He realizes how much he took everything for granted, he realizes that he might never get those times back again. Suddenly a fire sparks within his cold, blue eyes.

Hmpf. What am I thinking? Hah. What pitiful thoughts. Well, I got myself into this situation may as well get myself out. 

Picking himself up, Euph looks around and notices the light rustle of leaves amongst the willows. Suddenly the rustling settles and all is quiet once again. Euph squints his eyes, which widen in surprise as he dodges an attack from the beast. A cut forms on his cheek where the beast had scraped him. He caught a glimpse of the glistening white scales and the dulled turquoise fur of the beast. It quickly disappears into the mist and water. Euph has already realized that this beast is an ambush predator, waiting to attack its victim. His awareness spikes exponentially, hurriedly he takes a look around at his surroundings. 

In some places the trees are condensed together while in other places there’s only water. The ground itself is soft, almost sludge-like waiting to suck up the swamp into the depths below the surface. Taking another look around he realizes that the swamp is like a ring. An arena all made in favor of the beast. The trees surround the patches of open space like a boa constrictor surrounding its prey, making it unable to escape. Beyond each ring of dense flora is another ring. No matter what, whoever is captured is trapped in a corner. The beast itself is agile, meaning it can weave through the ring of trees easily. 

I see now, no wonder no one has been able to escape. With each ring, the size gets smaller and smaller making escape harder. I doubt anyone has gotten this far before. 

Scanning the ring he’s in for the thousandth time, Euph relaxes his posture. Closing his eyes, he immerses himself into the environment. The sound of birds chirping, the sound of leaves rustling, the sound of water rippling, the sound of the ground shifting. Opening his eyes, he once again dodges the attack of the beast. However, instead of going back into the soft ground the beast wraps itself within the ring of trees. Now Euph can get a clearer look at it. 

The scales aren’t white but rather they’re a light grey amid the dull turquoise fur lining the ridge of the back. The grey of the scales shine white under the filtered sun rays. Large claws in the color of a muted green rest at the front and back of the beast, ready to attack at any given moment. Overall the beast’s body is serpent like, easily wrapping around the trunks of the ring. However, the most striking feature of the creature before Euph are the eyes. The eyes are a bright red amongst the soft, dull colors. Clearly it means that the beast is in attack mode. However, Euph is unable to pinpoint any weak spots on the creature, meaning he’ll have to guess and hope he hits the right spot when it attacks again. 

The creature does end up attacking soon after, Euph lunges toward his left avoiding the long talons of the beast. It doesn’t stop there, it quickly flips its tail towards Euph who is still trying to regain his footing. Euph skids across the murky water and ends up on a raised piece of dry land. However, he quickly stands up making sure his stance is centered and he has a stable footing among the sludge of the ground. Raising his right hand, he lightly mutters an incantation causing a bright green spiral of smoke to form. The spiral forms just as quickly as it shoots out at the beast, causing it to show a weakness for a split second. That weakness being that it lets down its guard when it’s surprised. It quickly regains its composure within a second. Euph takes a guess that it’s never been attacked before, so of course being hit with magic must’ve been quite a shock. With a snap of his fingers Euph summons a ring of green fire around the beast, the fire hits the beast making it fly back a couple of feet. Surprise crosses its red eyes once again, only to be quickly replaced with fury again.

A low growl sounds and the fog becomes denser, the air around the beast seems to be the thickest. Only a second has passed by and the entire swamp has been enveloped in a dense, heavy fog. Euph extends his arm and surely enough it’s instantly submersed. One of the abilities the beast has is the ability to control the environment it’s in. So surely the beast has more hidden talents and abilities, only now having been revealed in defense of the new threat. With a snap of his fingers Euph surrounds himself with an air of green, breaking through the dense fog. Looming over him is none other than the dragon of the swamp.