Chapter 1: Fairy and Dragon

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Everything was dark. Karin had no idea where she was.
She reached around her, but sensed nothing. No sound, no smell, no visuals — nothing.
Until she heard a distant voice, screaming. What was that? Who was that?
Karin listened more closely. The voice seemed to draw nearer — it was the voice of a woman. She sounded very upset.
Was she calling someone's name...?
"Lena...!"
The voice drew even closer.
"Lena... My little Lena... Where are you...?" the woman cried.
Karin started to feel bad... Part of her wished she could help, but how...?

Suddenly, a light flash.
Karin saw a silhouette in front of her in the light. It was the silhouette of a woman, who appeared to be almost elven-like — no, fae-like, rather. She had beautiful, long wavy hair and what appeared to be wings.
It was the woman she heard just now.
"Lena... where are you... please help us all..." she cried once more.
Lena...? Who was Lena? Karin had gotten curious.
She opened her mouth to ask the question, when suddenly —

"Karin!"
She awoke from her dream by the sound of the Math teacher, mister Johnson, slamming his hand on her desk.
Still disoriented from the dream, Karin yelled, "Hello! Can I help you?"
The whole class started to giggle. Her friend Rashida, who sat next to her, had a worried look on her face.
"And if you can, young lady!" The teacher walked towards the front of the classroom again. "Instead of taking a nap during Math hours, your time would be better spent solving the equation I wrote on the whiteboard." He pointed with his finger on the whiteboard, towards an equation that Karin had no idea how to solve.
Well crap, there goes my grade, Karin thought while worryingly biting her lip.
"Eh..." was all that came out. Had she really slept throughout the entire explanation? Was she really that tired...?
Rashida, who had been awake and paying attention all this time, kindly raised her hand to help her friend out. "Sir, I think I know the answer."
"No Rashida, it's Karin's turn right now. And if she doesn't answer" mister Johnson continued, "then she gets detention as well as an F on her report card."
Oh no.
Karin was suddenly very worried. Her Math grades had never been that great and this whole incident would make them even worse. And detention too... Her parents would be angry.
Karin sighed. "Okay sir, sorry sir..." she mumbled.
"After school at three. One hour. See you then, sleepyhead". Karin rolled her eyes at the teacher's snarky remark. The only nickname she accepted from anyone was Freckles, given to her by Rashida, who was her best friend. Imagine being best friends with a teacher, gross!
And at least it was an accurate one, because Karin actually did have freckles. But she was not a sleepyhead, dangit!
The bell rang, which meant break time.
As always, Karin and Rashida shared a table together in the cafeteria. Karin stared mopingly at her lunch plate, twirling her fork around in the food.
"Hey now, cheer up, Freckles" Rashida said while smiling and poking Karin's arm.
"Ugh, I just hate Math, Rashida! I'm so bad at it... I feel so embarrassed, especially since the final exams are this summer. It scares me." She grumpily took a bite of her food.
Oh great, today's lunch was apparently fried cardboard. What a delight, not.
"You'll be fine, trust me. I can help you with homework!" Rashida was as cheerful as ever in this dire situation. Granted, it didn't affect her directly, but Karin was still her friend. And Rashida cared a lot about her friends.
A faint smile appeared on Karin's face. "Thank you Rashida, truly." She took another bite of her fried cardbo— er, her lunch. "Say, are you free tomorrow then? Another excuse to come over, haha."
"Yeah I'll be free, no swimming practice tomorrow." Rashida took a bite of her food as well. Judging from the face she made while eating, she probably also thought it tasted like cardboard.
"Well rub it in, will ya!" Karin responded with her mouth full. "You get to do fun things whereas I get to go to detention. I envy you, life isn't fair."
"Well I wasn't sleeping in class!" Rashida laughed. "Also, we have a competition coming up in a month, which means I have to train extra hard. So I don't know how 'fun' my training will be today, honestly."
"Still better than detention though" Karin responded with a sigh. "At least you're good at swimming. I, however, absolutely suck at Math. And I didn't sign up for detention, whereas you taking up swimming was your own choice, right?"
"You do have a point there," Rashida said while chewing on food. "I do in fact enjoy swimming, of course. It's just a bit stressful right now... But the coach told me she has a lot of trust in me, so part of me suspects that I'll at least do well enough. And win, hopefully," she quickly added.
"I wish you luck in advance," Karin said with a smile. "I'll see if I can come watch when the day comes."
"That'd be great, I'll see you then," Rashida responded happily.
Suddenly, the bell rang again.
The girls grabbed their lunch plates and walked towards the counter.
Rashida turned to Karin and said, "Oh, and you good luck with your detention too, of course."
"Haha, thanks," Karin responded while trying to be cheerful about it.
Together, they walked back to class. Thankfully they had Biology now, which Karin was a lot better at than Math.

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