short story that I am working on. the word cap is 750 but not sure what else to take out
| “Lyra…. The witch… will… get you…” wheezed her mother between coughing fits, delirious from the fever.
“I’ll be fine Mother,” Lyra said, shouldering her pack. Her mother had fallen asleep and Lyra prayed she would wake. Nina, Lyra’s baby sister, would care for their mother, but she still worried.
It was a two-day trek to the domed garden city of Illearyn; where the witch Morganna lived in her abandoned garden. She slipped into the throng of people heading to the temples, but Lyra snuck away, heading for the abandoned garden. Lyra slipped inside, heedless of the warning on the door. The heat and humidity in the dome was near stifling and Lyra was unused to all the plant life she was encountering.
As Lyra tread the path, she marveled at the buildings she passed, all of them overgrown now. Lyra looked at the center ring of the garden, a low brick wall surrounding a group of Dragon Lily plants. One even had two flowers on it; a rarity amongst this plant. As Lyra passed the final house, clean of any plant life, a voice thundered through the dome.
“Who dares to intrude in my garden!” Lyra whirled around to look at a woman standing in the doorway.
“I’m here for my mother, she needs medicine.” Lyra stood tall and proud, unafraid of Morganna though she grinned and paced around Lyra.
“Only way to get the medicine is playing my game. And I never lose.” Morganna laughed as leopards, jaguars, tigers, and panthers appeared surrounding Lyra. Instead of letting fear take hold, Lyra stared each animal in the eyes, forcing them into submission. Morganna watched in calm amusement as Lyra circled back to face her.
“Cute trick but it won’t help you. Find all of the Dragon Lily plants and return them here before my protectors trap you.” Morganna raised her arms, and darkness engulfed them. Lyra could hear the growls from the jungle cats and she realized she’d have to move.
Lyra knew that Dragon Lilies emitted their own light, and Morganna would do what she could to keep Lyra from finding them. Searching the homes surrounding the edge of the dome working inwards; Lyra cleared the first few houses, finding no plants. She thought it odd that none of the cats had come near her. Lyra approached the next house.
Close to the doorway was a Dragon Lily, and a jaguar. Circling the building, Lyra found a second doorway and slipped through, coming up behind the cat. She took a brick and threw it; the jaguar pouncing towards the noise. Lyra scooped up the plant and ran towards the center, avoiding the cats that remained. Lyra noticed a pattern as she continued. A cat guarded each plant, yet none attacked her. Time wore on, Lyra becoming sluggish the longer she took to find the plants. What seemed like minutes to her could have been hours. Lyra could hear Morganna’s voice in the wind; taunting her, saying she’d fail. Ignoring the whispers that threatened to take over, Lyra persevered finding all but two of the precious plants.
“You’ll never find them,” came Morganna’s whispered taunt. Feeling exhausted, Lyra thought of her sister and mother, so she pushed on, scanning the trees to. She looked everywhere and for any place that had cats. Then Lyra remembered something, the double Dragon Lily. Weaving in and out of the trees, Lyra laughed into the wind and ran back; hearing the drumming of large paws behind her. She stopped when she saw Morganna in the center ring, holding the final plant.
“I told you, I never lose,” she laughed as the cats surrounded Lyra.
“However,” she continued, “since you did so much work, I’ll allow you five days to bring this to your mother.” Morganna held a vial out to Lyra, tempting her. Before Lyra could take the vial Morganna spoke again.
“You must return here in five days, or your sister replaces you.” A loud crash echoed through the dome and something heavy knocked Lyra in the head. Lyra opened her eyes feeling dizzy. She was sitting outside the dome, and in her hand was the vial of medicine. There was a note on it, reminding Lyra that she only had five days to complete her task. Lyra slipped out the dome and into the crowded marketplace to find a horse. After finding one, Lyra rode the horse back home quickly, making the journey in only a few hours.
Once home, Lyra gave the medicine to her mother. While they waited, Nina, Lyra’s little sister, asked many questions about what had occurred. Once her mother awoke, Lyra sat with her, while Nina was outside tending her mini garden.
“How did you escape Morganna?” asked her mother. Taking her time, Lyra explained everything that had happened, down to the agreement she had made with Morganna.
“I won’t allow it!”
“Mother, I’ve agreed, and I won’t put you or Nina in danger.” Lyra hugged them both; preparing to leave. Before Lyra left, her mother gave one last piece of advice.
“Show that wild garden city your true power and prove to your aunt you aren’t so easily broken.”