Opposites Attract

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Opposites Attract

by Kalpana Mudambi, 11

An April 2024 Monthly Story Challenge Winner 

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This is a story of how two dragonlets became friends, despite their differences. In a not-very-far-away world, there lived two young dragonlets. One, Jade, was very adventurous and took any risk she could, sometimes without thinking it through. The other, Flame, was more cautious, taking time to think about every aspect of a risk before taking it-if he had to. This is a story of how both the dragonlets became friends, despite their differences. 

One day, in their school, The Academy of Magic, during flying class, where everybody was still learning to fly, the teachers announced an exploring club. Jade, excited, was one of the first to sign up. Meanwhile, Flame watched others sign up and boldly decided to sign up too, never expecting him to get accepted in the club. 

That afternoon, lists with the names of the dragons in the club were put up. Both Jade and Flame got it, but had different feelings about it. 

The next day after school, Jade said bye to her friends, who were used to her running off to explore, and Flame said bye to his, who looked on with interest. This was new! 

A trembling Flame and jumping Jade walked over to the club, where everybody was paired up. Both of them turned to each other. They had seen each other before but didn’t know the other. Awkwardly, they introduced themselves and made a pair. 

Soon, the teacher was telling them about the first “Test” they had to pass. A few students groaned at the thought of a test already, but others looked on with interest. 

The test was to get out of a cave, but the interior was a maze filled with “traps” 

“Of course,” the teacher explained, “ The ‘traps’ won’t hurt you, but you will be disqualified if you get caught. The first pair to get out wins!” 

The pairs were then escorted into the cave and the teacher handed them emergency switches that would alert the adults to take them out of the cave. 

“I’ll be watching, but if you really need help, press this!” Then, she walked out of the cave and a wall closed behind them. 

Jade looked at the switch they had been given for an emergency. It read, “Team 10: Jade and Flame.” 

‘How do they know our name?’ Jade wondered. Then she looked ahead. It looked like they had two choices in front of them, labeled Left and Right. On the right wall, close to the Right sign was some writing, reading “Go the Left way.” On the left wall it said, “Go the right way.” 

The first pair decided to go the right way, their reason being that “‘Go the Left way’ doesn’t make sense!” 

The first step they took into the Right section, a trapdoor opened up and they both fell inside. Jade and Flame watched in horror as they fell through. They landed on pillows and said they were fine.

Flame suddenly realized what went wrong. “Go the right way wasn’t capitalized!” He whispered to Jade, who caught on. 

“Oh, yeah! The sign said Right! The text meant to go the right, or the correct way!” 

They continued on the left path, along with the other teams until they reached a big area with checkered squares everywhere, and some horse props leaning on a wall, along with some writing, which read: “Some were white, some dark as night, but all the colors of the knight.” Suddenly, a yelp was heard as a second pair of dragonlets fell into the trapdoor. Jade and Flame looked over to see that they had tried walking across the board. Then, they looked over to the riddle again. 

“I wonder why they keep mentioning chess…” Jade asked, thinking out loud. 

Flame looked confused. “Chess?” he asked. 

“Yeah,” said Jade. “The knights, the horse props, the big

checkered board that looks like a chess board… That’s it! We need to be knights, and move like they would in a real game, across the board!” 

Flame still looked confused, so Jade started in the black corner of the big chess board and moved 3 squares up and one square right, and then 3 squares up and one square left. Flame followed her lead, along with the other 7 pairs of dragons. 

They kept going until they reached a sign that showed a diamond with a big X on it and the word ILLUSION. Confused, the dragonlets walked on. Then, the dragonlets walked until they saw a sign saying ‘CORRIDOR OF’ 

“Um, do you think illusion goes here?” asked Flame to Jade, who nodded. All the dragonlets continued ahead but realized there were two choices to take: a big hole ahead or a corridor on the side marked EXIT. 

Two groups opened the EXIT’s door but as they took the first step, all four fell through. The rest of the groups decided to move forward. 

“This is all an illusion, this entire corridor,” Whispered Flame, trembling and nervous. They continued ahead, seeming to walk over the big hole and past more ‘obstacles’ like a lava pit, vines that seemed to grab things, and a big dragon statue that Jade thought had blinked, which seemed uncanny. 

Then, they reached the end, marked END OF CORRIDOR OF ILLUSION. The remaining 6 groups now had to choose with two doors. One marked “Treasure” and the other was unmarked. The dragons decided to split into 3 pairs and take a door. Jade and Flame had to take the unmarked door, but they were okay because of the earlier sign, showing a diamond with an X on it, possibly portraying the diamond as the treasure and the X to say not to go in. The remaining 3 groups went forward, hearing a big thump, possibly the other three groups. 

“Um…” Flame said, “Can we go back now?” 

“Flame,” Jade said kindly “It’s ok! Think of it like an adventure!” Flame smiled weakly, trying his best to keep up his courage. Suddenly, they heard a noise. 

“Was that…” Jade said, confused. “A nursery rhyme?” 

“Um… yeah? I guess. It did sound like Dragon’s Night,” Flame uncertainly said, referring to the popular lullaby. Suddenly, they entered a long, narrow tunnel, painted white and black. 

Jade confidently took a step forward, but Flame dragged her back. “What?” Jade said, a little frustrated. One of the other teams was ahead of them and Flame kept stopping her! 

Suddenly, the team that stepped forward made a loud, ploink sound that sounded off tune. Then, a trapdoor opened and left two teams gawking at the hole, now rapidly closing up. Jade turned to Flame, still a bit irritated but mostly relieved they weren’t the ones down in the hole. 

Flame continued, his voice wavering, his plan. “Um…” he said, “Do you know how to hover or fly?” 

“I can’t fly, not yet anyway…” Jade said sadly “But I CAN hover for a few seconds.” 

“Same!” Flame said. Both of them grinned. 

“So what’s your genius plan, Professor Flame?” Jade teased Flame. 

“Actually, I thought we could sort of play Dragon’s Night on uh, the piano.” 

“Oooh, I love to play the piano!” Jade said, excited. They looked at the floor. 

“There's a C flat,” Flame said. “We can start there!” They jumped on the white rectangle, hovering and leaping over to the next and next until they finished the song. 

To their surprise, the other team was right behind them. Jade gritted her teeth to stop herself from yelling out loud. ‘They copied us! They can’t win!’ she thought. 

Flame sensed his friend was tense, and put a hand on her wing. “Hey, it’s all right! We came this far!” 

Jade listened to her friend, feeling a bit calmer. Her wings ached, but she was determined to go on. She lifted her head, and her emerald green eyes shone. “Yes,” she said to Flame. “Let’s win this contest.”

Flame laughed, and they both walked out of the door. Soon the other team followed, done with their piano playing. As soon as both the teams walked a bit further, one of the dragons on the other team stepped on something. A loud CRACK filled the cave, and then rumbling was heard. Jade snapped her head around, nearly knocking Flame over. As Flame stumbled for balance, Jade gasped. A big metal ball was coming straight for them. 

All four dragonets yelped and started to run. Jade turned around…other than the rumbling ball, the only sound to be heard was her heartbeat pounding in her ears, her panicked, terrified thoughts, and herself panting for breath. “We’re not gonna make it!” Jade whisper-yelled at Flame. 

Flame looked back, wide-eyed, when Jade got a plan. On one of the walls about 50 meters ahead was an open doorway. Jade looked at Flame, and whispered, “I’ve got a plan.” 

Flame squeezed his eyes shut, but nodded. 

Jade quickly put a wing around Flame and watched as they got closer and closer to the doorway. 

They were now 25 meters away, 15, 10, 5… tightening her grip on Flame, Jade jumped, dragging a screaming Flame behind her. The doorway was filled with torches. 

Suddenly, Jade noticed that the other group wasn’t with them. Jade peered out of the doorway, her snout barely missing the stampeding ball. Flame, grateful to be alive, watched out of the doorway too. The other team was running wildly when a trapdoor opened under them, and a ball crashed into the wall, leaving nothing but a dent. Then, a ginormous cup came from the ceiling and dragged the ball away. 

Flame and Jade looked at each other. “Thank you,” Flame said to Jade, who was repeatedly screaming “WE WON! WE WON!!!” 

Hand in hand, they both walked to the final challenge: A door. 

Opening the door, they were greeted by the teacher and their friends. Awkwardly, they waved to them, and everybody broke into laughter. The other nine groups were there too. They smiled and congratulated them, and all 20 soon became friends. 

The teacher was also surprised. “Did you notice how well you guys cooperated, despite the fact that you are so different? You even helped each other in different parts!” 

“Yeah,” Jade replied, grinning at Flame. “Like when Flame thought of the left and right thing and the piano on the floor!” 

“And,” Flame added, also smiling at Jade with a hint of embarrassment, “when Jade saved my life by pulling me into the doorway.” 

“It wasn’t saving your life, you know,” Jade said, faking exasperation, and all of them broke into laughter again. 

From that day onward, Jade learnt to be more cautious, and Flame learnt to take a few more risks, but the two of them stayed close friends for a long, long time. 

The End

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