The Rise of Agnil
Sitting on a small canvas stool on the riverbank, Aggie held her fishing rod in both hands. It was the first time her dad had trusted her to go fishing on her own. Until now, it had always been the two of them, always together. Aggie had pleaded with her dad and this time he’d given way.
The reeds that lined the bank on the far side of the river quivered in the cool morning breeze. As Aggie sat, she dug deep into her thoughts looking for an image of her mother. She had died a long time ago when Aggie was only three. Seven years of living just with her dad meant that her memories of her mother were fading. Please don’t let me forget her, she thought, and felt a warm tear roll down her cheek.
On her 10th birthday, her dad had given her a bracelet that belonged to her mother. Until then her wrist had been too small and he was afraid she might lose it. Her mother had always worn an identical bracelet but had another made to give to her daughter. The bracelet was precious, her father had said, and was all that was left of her. Aggie could never understand why her dad had never kept any photos of her mother and so all that was left were Aggie’s memories and the bracelet she now wore every day.
Glancing down at the silver bracelet, she reminded herself of its strange and delicate beauty. A silver tendril wound round her wrist, completing the circle with two leaves and a simple silver flower from which three small gemstones cascaded like coloured dewdrops; one purple, one claret and the third, a milky white, each one smaller than the next.
Suddenly, Aggie felt a powerful, sharp tug on the end of the line. She was pulled to her feet as the force dragged her closer to the water’s edge, her feet slipping along the muddy bank. She gasped from shock as she hit the icy river water but didn’t have time to scream. Then she was under the water. River weed tangled through her limbs, dragging her further and further down, deeper and deeper. Where was the river bed? I’m drowning, she thought. Darkness and cold surrounded her. She closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, she found herself lying on a bed of straw in a gloomy cave. A small fire was burning a short distance away and the smell of the smoke tickled her nose. For a few moments she watched the flames as they licked around the glowing logs. And then she noticed it. Rather oddly, a trout stood next to the fire.
Aggie rubbed her eyes in disbelief. A trout? she thought. But trout don’t stand!
As she watched, the trout seemed to shed its skin and a thousand silvery scales flew like sparks up to the roof of the cave where they sizzled against the rock and became small star-like lamps. Where before there had been a trout, now stood a strange small man.
He was a little shorter than Aggie, dressed from head to toe in bright green, his pointy ears sticking out beneath spiky blond hair. Aggie had seen pictures of elves in some story books she’d had since she was a small child and this little man looked just like one. All that was missing was the pointy hat. She thought she had to be dreaming; she knew he couldn’t be real and had stopped believing in the tooth fairy when a boy called Alex in her class had told her it was a load of rubbish that babies believed in. She didn’t want to be called a baby so had put thoughts of such things right out of her mind.
“Who…oo…oo are y…ooo..uu?” Aggie quivered. “Garallil, at your service!”
The elf smiled and bowed politely. As he held out his right hand to one side, a shiny silver platter appeared on top of it. Aggie couldn’t help thinking how he looked like some kind of undersized waiter!
“I am so pleased that I found you, Agnil! Now you can fulfil your destiny and help us get our world back to normal!” He held out his free hand to pull her up from the ground.
Aggie’s mind was in a whirl! How did this being know her name? Her father was the only person who ever called her Agnil and only when he was telling her off. The last time had been the previous week when she’d stubbornly refused to do the washing up.
Aggie hesitated and tried to stand on her own, but her legs felt stiff and her chest felt as if someone had been sitting on it. Eventually, she let the elf help her up despite being unconvinced that he’d be able to, as he was so small. Garallil, however, lifted her to her feet effortlessly.