by Amelia Michell


The fire flared. Four women, Fire, Water, Earth and Wind, stepped out of the glowing coals. Eyes focusing on the crackling fire, the sisters joined hands, forming a circle. The shortest sister, Fire, narrowed her fox-orange eyes, muttering. She opened her mouth and a snake, the colour of poison, slithered from between her teeth into her gnarled hand. The snake crawled across each of the sisters’ hands, moulding them together, one by one. It reached the last finger of the last hand and the sisters shivered. As Fire swayed whispering, the flames rose higher, scalding the cave ceiling. Distorted shapes flickered in the fire. An eye formed in the middle of the embers. Gradually, it turned into four animals. An octopus, a tiger, a firefly and a hawk. The fire died out, as though somebody had thrown a bucket of water over it. 

The firefly flew to the centre of the circle and said, “I, Handon the Firefly of Fire, accept the challenge you offer. The Animals of the Fire and I will find Ivy Ramen and do as you say.”

“I shall come too!” Wind hissed quickly. “After all, Ivy and I are close.”

Earth stared coldly into Wind’s stone-grey eyes, as if piercing her thoughts. “It is the way that is destined,” she said. 

Water grimaced, but stated, “Even though I am the least trusting of us, I agree with Earth.”

Fire nodded. “Water?”

Water’s arms shot out. “Parvas.” 

The waterfall that was guarding the cave entrance parted and water cascaded down the rocks. 

Wind murmured a spell and started floating. She narrowed her eyes and flew out of the cave entrance, into the eerie night. The Animals of the Fire followed.

Chapter One

The sun rose sluggishly over the horizon as birds twittered like they were telling gossip. Clouds glanced lazily below, drifting above the treetops. Dew shone on the grass like the stars of a night sky. Ivy blew impatiently on her hot chocolate, watching the mist from her breath rise towards the veranda roof. She huddled further into her blanket. Brocky, her grandmother’s dog, suddenly bounded onto the veranda and immediately ran away with the doormat. 

“Broc-Broc,” her grandma crooned, coming out of the door behind him and setting down a slab of ham by Brocky’s food bowl. Brocky left the rug without a further thought. 

“I’m going to the Farmers Markets today if you would like to come?” asked Grandma.

“Sure! I’ll come.” Ivy smiled, rubbing her hot hands in her lap. 

Her grandma’s green eyes lit up. “Come inside!” she said. “I’ve got something to cool that down.” 


Ivy sat in bed, reading, savouring the last morsels of her grandma’s market pie. Ivy had just had her shower, so her hair clung to her neck and shoulders like tentacles. When she had finished the pie, Ivy stood up to get her toothbrush from Grandma’s room. As she reached the door, Ivy could see a faint orange glow coming out from under it. Frowning uncertainly, Ivy placed her ear to the door. 

“Not right away! We have to wait until we’re both ready!” Her grandmother’s voice was soft and brooding, but she sounded angry.

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, we’re both ready.” The other voice was crackly, like a fire.

“This isn’t the time, Han–”

“Do not speak my name!” the other voice objected.

“Be quiet. The lady is right,” another voice, deep and cutting, shot through the air like an arrow. 

“Hush!” The other voice was angry now. “Somebody is listening.”

Ivy’s eyes widened as she realised that she’d been somehow spotted. Darting back to her bed, Ivy quickly opened her book, pretending to read. Her door slowly creaked open as her grandmother entered the room. 

“Good night, Ivy,” Grandma said, kissing her on the forehead. Ivy glanced into her grandmother’s eyes. They were grey, not her usual green. Ivy’s heart pounded. As her grandma left the room, she knew that something was very wrong.


Ivy’s dreams were troubled. She was climbing, climbing a tall ladder. Up, up, as high as a tall tree. Suddenly, her grandmother’s face appeared over the top, only a metre away. She smiled down menacingly upon Ivy, her grey eyes like stone. Reaching a hand down as if to pull Ivy back up, she pushed. Falling, falling, the ground rising to meet Ivy’s feet. Wind whistling in her ears. Fear rising in her throat. Down, down, dow…Ivy woke up in the dark, with sweat glistening on her forehead and her feet tangled with her blankets. It was just a dream. It couldn’t have been real, she thought to herself. But still, those grey eyes. Ivy rolled over restlessly and got back to a fitful sleep.