The Orb’s Whisper


Ms Moon (teacher)

Under a moon crusted with light, the city of Foggybrooke slept. 

In a time now forgotten, the city had once been carved from stone. Some of the original architecture had survived: market squares, archways, and spires marbled blue and white gleamed under the moonlight.  

The water had swallowed the rest of it.  

From the eastern shelf of the world to the west, water subsumed the feet of the city. Silent. Undisturbed. The glittering starlight spangled across its black surface might have been beautiful if it didn’t look so much like a thousand eyes watching. 

Above the wreckage of the sunken city, a new wooden metropolis grew skyward, boasting none of the skill of the original masons. Neighbourhoods of thatched-roofed houses were threaded together with rickety bridges. Long stretches of wood nailed together formed treacherous roads. 

In the centre of Foggybrooke, a clocktower sagged treacherously to one side, topped by the Duke’s royal flag. Somewhere, a graveowl hooted, and the wind moaned in response. The flag thrashed half-heartedly and fell limp. Further down, where stone met the inky black tide, there was another noise.  

Feet. The slap of bare feet. Running. An odd sound, for the part of the city most avoided at all costs. None wanted to venture near the water. Like rats escaping a sinking ship, the citizens of Foggybrooke kept their industry moving upwards. 

Atop the clock tower, a short figure robed in a full-length brown coat materialised out of the shadows. Startled, the graveowl made a strangled noise and flapped away. Anyone in the city would recognise the badge pinned to the breast: the symbol of the bounty hunters. 

The evening wind ruffled the hem of their coat, revealing tan trousers, a loose blouse and no less than ten or so leather straps roping diverse arrangements of weapons to their chest, back, and hips. Pistols, daggers, and a bizarre-looking crossbow. Hair black as a crows was cut into a jagged mop exposing two, pointed ears. 

Gripping the flagpole with a gloved hand, the girl surveyed the city. She turned the side of her head towards the city, the tips of her ears shivering like the flank of a big cat when touched by a fly.  

She listened. The world seemed to hold its breath. To any other ear, the wind was the only sound. Suddenly, a small smirk curved over her lips. 

She hurled her coat to one side, revealing a pair of mechanical wings attached to a motor; they whirred with the hum of life and then she knelt and sprang into the air.  

She flew over the city and zoomed down to a cobbled lane several streets below. She landed with a booted thud on the stone, right in front of a small man who was sprinting as though the Grimwere were behind him. He skidded to a stop in front of her.  

“Pex!” he squeaked.  

“Hello, Jaxon.” 

She glanced down at something clasped in his dirty fingers. An orb, not unlike a little moon, webbed with gold. Her pupils fattened in the darkness. “Taking things that aren’t ours again, are we?”  

Jaxon licked cracked lips nervously, revealing two front teeth quite like a rat’s. His eyes darted around the lane, searching for an escape route.  

“You don’t understand,” his voice trembled. “It’s not… it’s not that. It’s not what it looks like.” 

“Well, it looks like you’ve stolen the Duke’s dragon egg, Jaxon,” Pex said, tone patronising. Clicking her tongue like a mother scolding a child, she slid one of her pistols out of its holster. “He’s not very happy.”  

Shuddering and cowering in a distinctly ermine way, Jaxon held the orb out to her. His filthy hands trembled.  

The royal egg.  

The enduring symbol of House Dragaris, the family of nobles who had ruled the land of Selin since the sun was young. Legend said that the sun herself was the first dragon egg and her hatching marked the beginning of the current era, the Age of the Sun.  

That same legend foretold the next hatching would mark the end of this era. Some theologians believed this would mark the end of time itself. After all, not all dragons are good and only one can live at any one time. And so it was that Pex had to scoop her jaw off the floor that the royal egg, usually nestled on a cushion in the throne room surrounded by a net of protective magic, was open.  

And… ticking. 

Pex took a few steps back, never taking her eyes away from the thing in Jaxon’s hands. 

“Jaxon.” There was a warning in her voice. “Don’t put that down.” 

“I’m sorry, Pex!” he wailed, and his hands were shaking now. “I didn’t know. I just got a letter and was told… Pex.” His voice became pleading. “Please… you’ve got to help me!” 

Pex shook her head, stepping further and further back. When her heel met the water’s edge with a splash, she stopped with a shudder. Just then, the thing in Jaxon’s hands stopped ticking, and it seemed there was no sound in the world except for the distant murmurs of the wind.  

And then, just as Jaxon opened his mouth to say something, an explosion ripped through the air and Pex was thrown backwards. The last thing she saw before the street ignited in flame and burning rock sprayed everywhere, was the expression on the little thief’s face.  


Tumbling through the air, Pex slammed her mechanical wings into place, and they shot out just in time to prevent her from braining herself on the pavement, or worse, being eaten by the water. She swooped out of the plummet, soaring back up into the sky where she could now see the wreckage of the street. There was nothing remaining of Jaxon. 

She rubbed her ears, which hadn’t yet recovered their hearing. Thoughts hummed in time with her wings, frantic. 

How had someone trapped an explosive device inside the egg? Was it an egg at all, or a decoy?  

Who was trying to kill the Duke? 

She hovered under the canopy of the night for a while, watching the black water snake over the crumbling street, gulping stones one after the other. It felt like the whole city buckled somehow, groaning under the weight and grief of more of its belly lost.  

A dark thought turned itself over in her mind.  She had served the Duke for many years and earned her reputation as the best of the bounty hunters. He had sent her to retrieve the stolen egg.  

What if…what if he knew?  

What if the explosive had been for her? Was there a bounty on HER head? 

She glanced back at the clock tower, where the wind tossed the Duke’s flag upon waves of air.  

Her ears twitched. Her mouth hardened into a resolute line.  

She sure as heck was going to find out.  


*This story was written as a part of Teacher Takeover. Would you like a more creative section of the We Are Site, where creative pieces could be exclusively published? Let us know and send We Are a submission*