Chapter 7: Audoria

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If there was one thing Alana Winters hated most in the world, it was the cold.

Ironic, really, considering that her surname was Winters.

But still, the feeling of shivers creeping up your skin gave your goosebumps goosebumps. (Alana thought the idea was half hilarious and half gross.)

And yet, after driving for hours, the three witches had parked, and now they were in a very, very cold place.

Oh, and one more thing - Alana was blindfolded.

"What are you doing...?" Alana asked, shivering as they got down from the van. Raven got out an empty lantern and put a ball of flame into it. Then, Mora had immediately put a smooth cloth around her eyes. 

Seriously, just as Alana thought the witches were nice, they just had  to backstab her like this.

"It's okay, kitty," a voice that sounded like Selena's said from somewhere behind her. "It's only for a while."

"You know I could just take it off, right?" Alana said, noting that her hands weren't tied.

"We know," Selena replied. "We just want to see if you actually would."

Alana shivered against the cold as they led her forwards into darkness. Whether it was actually dark, or it was just Alana's blindfold, Alana didn't know. It just felt dark. And cold. And... dank , somehow.

They walked in silence.

Maybe this was a bad idea, after all, Alana thought. Or maybe it was always a bad idea, from the beginning - to let three witches kidnap you, just because of that little sense of belonging.

Drip. Drip.

Little droplets fell of Alana's arm, each one coated with more coldness, making Alana more aware of the warmth near her right side, where Raven was probably carrying a lantern.

Alana breathed in a shuddered breath, hoping what Selena said was true - that this would only take a while.

She felt something furry brush her leg.

"AHHHHHHHH!!" Alana screamed.

She heard rushed footsteps, and a voice. "What? WHAT'S WRONG??"

Alana reached up to her blindfold, but a firm fingers caught her hand before she could tear it off.

"WHAT. WAS. THAT??" Alana practically shrieked. (Being blindfolded and surrounded by witches and darkness makes you a bit paranoid sometimes.)

All three witches started cackling.

Alana flushed.

"Aww," she heard a snarky voice, like Mora's, from somewhere on her right, somewhere near Raven. "Little baby scared of a racoon?"

Oh, right, Alana thought, ashamed. It's Raven's racoon. Alana sighed. She should have known the witches wouldn't leave their familiars in the van.

"It's okay, Alana," a kind voice said, from beside her. An arm was put around Alana, and Alana cherished the warmth. "Here, you can hold him."

Something warm and furry was put into Alana's arms.

Alana smiled. A racoon familiar would be nice. 

"Oh, come on, Raven," Mora's voice said again, from beside Raven. "Stop babying-"

"You're scared of the dark too," Alana said softly.

Silence.

"What did you say?" Mora asked Alana quietly.

"You're scared of the dark," Alana said again - she could just imagine Mora's face, thin eyebrows raised. "You are meant to stand on my other side, I'm guessing, but you chose to stand over there, next to Raven, because you are scared of the dark."

Silence.

"And," Mora said, dramatically. "HOW does standing next to Raven make me scared of the dark, exactly?"

"Raven has a lantern."

Silence.

Then laughter up ahead.

"OH Ramora!" a voice wheezed. "YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN YOUR FACE!!"

Raven had started laughing next to Alana. "A teenager found out your big secret, eh?" Raven nudged Mora, while Mora grumbled. " YOU should be ashamed."

Raven turned back to Alana, patting her shoulder. "I like this girl better each moment," Alana could hear the smile in her voice.

Alana Winters felt warm and fuzzy, like the racoon curled up in her arms.

And she realized she didn't feel very cold anymore.

And with each step she took, she felt lighter, and she felt the world around her become brighter, despite her blindfold.

"WE'RE HERE!!" a voice announced.

Alana felt warm fingers take down her blindfold. 

Her eyes were flooded with light.

She saw Raven smiling at her.

She saw Mora staring at her with a weird expression, that looked ashamed, yet impressed? Mora's fox nudged her leg, and she cracked a rare smile.

And finally, she saw Selena up ahead, arms raised. And behind her...

Alana gasped.

She had never seen anything like it.

Buildings that looked like they were cut out of jewels. Shops and vintage cobbled streets. People and animals alike coming out of random caves placed around the city, much like the one Alana had come through. An unbelievably tall black castle, which looked intimidating and majestic at the same time. Another castle opposite it, but pure white, that looked like it came straight out of the movie Frozen. Streams and hills and trees, colours all intensely vivid. 

And behind the whole kingdom, there lay endless deep emerald woods.

"Alana Winters," Selena said, turning to her, smiling widely, her eyes crinkling. "Welcome to the secret kingdom of Audoria."

"Your new home."





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