It is rare that I write short stories, especially of this sort, but I had a lot of fun with this one!
I hope you enjoy reading it!
The Girl of Rivel Visits Fairyland
The snow falls thickly. Kara scowls at the frosted windowpane and stomps one of her feet on the floor, “Why does it have to snow today?” Her father drops a box onto the kitchen table, “Well Kara, it is the holiday season.”
Kara continues to scowl as she turns around, “That doesn’t mean that we should be stuck inside because of some ridiculous snow!” Her father gives her a sideways look, “You’re not stuck inside Kara; you could run out and play if you wanted to.” She slumps into her chair at the table, “But it isn’t fair, I wanted it to be sunny today. That way I could ride into town with the Sommers.”
Her father pulls a pie plate out of the box, “You could still go outside Kara, and see if the Sommers want help with their Christmas decorations. You had fun helping them last year, remember?” She sinks lower into the chair, “I don’t want to have anything to do with Christmas this year. In fact, I don’t want to have anything to do with any of the holidays. I just want it to be summer again.”
She stomps out of the room before her father can come up with a response; and politely tell her that she was complaining about summer from January through September.
Kara flops down on her bed and tries to ignore the happy shouts of the children across the road. She crosses her arms over her chest with a scowl, “This is not fair!” But her bedroom walls do not answer and she grits her teeth together. She gets up with an exasperated sigh and stomps over to her window, “This isn’t fair at all; I want it to be summer! I would do anything for it to be summer again!”
“Anything can be a dangerous word you know.”
She jumps at the unexpected voice and stammers for words, “Who- what- h-how did you…” A small woman in a long white dress peels herself off of Kara’s bed, “Well, you know, you did say anything Kara.” Kara stumbles backwards and wonders if her eyes are going to jump out of her head and run around the room “H-how do you know my name? Are you an angel?”
The woman raises an eyebrow, “An angel? Goodness no! The word ‘angel’ would imply that I am better than someone else; no Kara, I am simply someone.” Kara crosses her arms over her chest, “But everybody is someone. That doesn’t make any sense.”
The woman shakes her head and smiles, “It only makes sense if you allow it to Kara.” Kars scowls, “What are you doing in my bedroom?” The woman’s smile widens, “Now that is the right question Kara; what am I doing in your bedroom indeed? I am here because you said that you would do anything; and I happen to be an expert in anything. Where do you want to go? I can take you anywhere that you wish to be.”
Kara opens her mouth to argue, before realizing that she truly does want to be somewhere else, “I- I want to go to a place where it is always summer; no, wait… I want to go to fairyland.”
Her words are prouder than she intended, but they seem to fit remarkably well; and she rejoices in the fact that she has chosen the one place that most girls her age wish to be.
The woman studies her for a moment and sighs, “Alright, whatever you wish. Grab my hand and hold on tightly; this will be a rocky journey” Kara does as the woman asked before she can talk herself out of it. She holds back a shriek as the room rocks, and then she is floating in darkness.
She can still feel the woman’s hand in her own, but she cannot see anything. She tries to gulp back her fear as they float forwards; and then down and down. They float until she is sure that an entire day has passed. And she wishes that she could do something, anything to pull her out of her boredom.
She starts to wish that she was back in her kitchen and watching her father make dough for dinner rolls. But her wish does not change anything as they continue to drop downwards. Her feet finally land on something hard, and the woman steps into view as the pitch dark blackness fades. She finds herself standing in a forest of trees with candy cane trunks and sugar leaves.
The woman sighs again as Kara looks around, “Well, here we are Kara. Everything else is up to you now; but you should know that you simply have to call for me twice and I will bring you back home when you are ready. There are a few times that I may not hear you, but those are rare enough.”
The woman lets go of her hand and steps back; Kara is so engrossed in the trees around her that she does not understand the woman’s words until she is alone. Kara jumps and clenches her hands in fear, “Wait, what do you mean? What happens if I can’t call you?”
But the woman does not answer even though Kara wishes until her teeth ache. She gulps and looks around again as she resigns herself to the fact that she is alone, “Well… if I’m stuck here, I might as well try to explore.”
She shoves her hands into the pockets of her pants as she starts walking and hopes that she is going in the right direction; whatever the right direction might be.
She starts to shiver as a glowing sun heads toward the horizon, “I should have brought a coat.” Somehow, talking makes the candy trees seem less frightening. She swallows thickly as she tries to list all of the reasons why she should have brought a coat, “I could wrap it around myself to stay warm; I could use it as a blanket or a pillow if I need to sleep; I could use it as a bag in case I need to pick candy apples; I could cover my rabbit with it, if I had a rabbit…” She trails off before she can start listing all of the reasons why she should have asked her parents for a rabbit as a present.
The candy forest becomes darker and darker; and she stumbles on with her teeth chattering from the cold, “M-maybe I sh-should have thought of b-bringing a h-hat too.” She stops walking as her legs start to ache. And she settles down at the base of a tree to wrap her arms around herself, “W-why did I ever choose to come t-to fairyland; this place doesn’t seem like fairyland at all.”
Her words seem to even more true once they are spoken and she realizes that she is entirely alone. She chokes back a sob as she wonders what a fairyland is without any fairies. She should be surrounded by fairies right now; there should be a feast with all sorts of wonderful things and dancing and pixie dust and unicorns and…”
She trails off again as sobs break out of her. Why oh why did I want to see fairyland? But maybe she is not in fairyland at all… maybe she ended up in the wrong place. Her face brightens as she remembers that she could simply ask the woman in white to bring her back home; but she sags back down to the ground as she realizes that she does not know how.
She curls back into a ball as gusts of wind sweep through the trees and make the sugar leaves rattle. But she does not seem to have a reason to stay where she is, and it only seems fair for her to stand up and start walking again. She does not know who it would be fair to since she is alone; but fair is fair.
She curls her hands into tight fists as she starts walking again. She hopes and prays that she will run into a town or a village. Or even a single house. Her feet seem to be walking forward on their own as the glowing sun starts to rise again, and she rubs her eyes. She stumbles onto a road as the sugar tree forest suddenly ends and spits her out.
The road is covered in dark asphalt; she jumps back and forth from one foot to the other as it burns her bare toes. She cannot contain her joy as she sees a gate ahead of her with hundreds of chimneys peeking above it. The candy tree forest moves farther away from the road as fields with grains of all kinds take the trees’ place. She stops as she sees a small man with dirt smeared across his face chopping cornstalks into piles.
She waves to him with a grin, but he barely glances at her and she feels her stomach sinking. What kind of fairy is not happy? She scowls as she heads toward the gates and stops suddenly as they loom above her. They are made out of dark strands of licorice that have been woven together and hung from pretzel poles; and she takes a deep breath as she steps forward and knocks.
The gates slowly open; she stands in shock as she stares at the dark web of streets in front of her. Dirty cobblestones cover the ground and reach toward the doors of houses and shops with half covered windows; people walk to and fro with worn baskets on their arms or bags slung across their shoulders.
Kara moves forward as the gates start to close and she stares at the dirty and patched clothing of the people around her. Everyone seems to be about her height; but they do not look like fairies at all. No one is smiling and there is no music or dancing or feasts. Everything is simply dreary and dark. If she is standing in fairyland; then it must not be the right fairyland. Perhaps there is more than one fairyland and she has ended up in the wrong place.
She takes a deep breath as she hurries into a crowd and plucks at the sleeve of a woman with a covered basket, “Excuse me, where am I?” The woman looks at her blankly, “Yureve; the biggest, the best city of all. The town of joy where everyone dances and sings.”
The woman keeps walking and Kara scurries to the side as a flood of people hurry toward her. Something is wrong; this is not fairyland at all. But maybe it is… what has happened? This town seems to be opposite of joy, and no one seems to notice each other. Everyone seems to be walking purposely without knowing where they are going; no one shakes hands or stops to talk. And everyone avoids each other without looking up.
Kara tries to swallow the sour taste in her mouth as she plunges back into the streets and allows herself to be swept into the crowd. If she is standing in front of a mystery, she might as well try to figure it out.
The crowd of people grows larger as it she is swept through the streets. The cobblestones slowly open up to a large square with a decorated platform. Kara finds herself standing in the middle of the crowd as everyone faces the platform and the square becomes unnaturally silent. A thin woman in a long dress and a patched coat climbs up to the platform and approaches the edge.
The woman opens her mouth a few times before speaking, “My great citizens of Yureve, today is a celebration; we have finally caught the thieves that have been wrecking our city. And today is the day that they will face the justice they deserve.” The woman’s words are flat and her voice is filled with sorrow, but she smiles a large smile and people lift their hands in agreement.
The woman steps to the side as a line of prisoners are marched onto the platform with chains running from their arms and legs. The woman’s smile grows wider, “Rejoice citizens of Yureve! This is the day that our streets become safer and our minds are brought back home! Rejoice citizens: it is time! Rejoice for the execution that we are about to behold!”
Kara shivers and starts to back up, but she bumps into a small man behind her. He does not seem to notice her, and she turns around in a tight circle as the entire crowd seems to become a field of stone figures with grins on their faces as they stare at the platform.
The only people who do not seem to be dreaming or sleepwalking is the line of chained prisoners. Kara swallows as she stares at them; they should do something. They should plead for their lives or break the spell everyone in the town seems to be under.
But they do not do anything. They barely move as sharp blades are lowered down to the sides of the platform from the sky and slide toward each other in a giant arc. The prisoner’s heads tumble to the ground before they can speak, and the head of the woman who was announcing follows a second later.
Kara lets out a shriek as blood spills across the platform. The crowd turns in one giant wave and sweeps her back down the streets. She scrambles toward the first shop that she sees and throws herself inside as sobs break out of her.
This cannot be fairyland; a place where everyone moves at the same time and no one talks or smiles unless there is an execution is not fairyland. A place like this must be the opposite of fairyland. She hides behind a shelf covered in candles and rocks herself back and forth.
Where is she? She cries until she cannot cry anymore. She leaves the empty store just as a pale woman walks inside with a torn bag in her arms. Kara stares at her feet as she hurries down the street and toward the center of the city. There must be someone who is not sleepwalking. There must be someone who can tell her where she is and how to get back home.
She stops as she finds herself standing in a second eerily silent square. Laughter soon comes through the door of a large building on the other side of the cobblestones. The noise makes her jump, and she bites her lip as she heads toward it. The door opens as soon as she knocks; a long grey hallway stretches out in front of her with antique lights lining the ceiling.
She takes a deep breath as she starts walking. The hallway opens up to a large powder blue room with dark wooden benches lining the walls and chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. A large desk stands in the middle of the room with a small man behind it, he grins at her as she walks toward him, “Welcome! Welcome traveller! If you are looking for room and board, I suggest the tavern on sixth street; and if you are looking for a meal, I suggest the quaint place on first street with the green awning. Otherwise, you could always try one of the other taverns for lodging and one of the other restaurants for a meal. Everything is perfectly suited to a traveller like you. And if you are looking for entertainment, I have many places that I can suggest. How may I help you?”
He does not seem to take a breath between the time that he starts talking and the time that he finishes. She clenches her hands by her sides, “I-I was just wondering why everyone outside seems so sad?”
“Sad?” The man shakes his head with another grin, “I do not understand your meaning. This is Yureve; the city of great buildings, wonderful forests, quaint attractions, open places, happy dancing and singing, and all sorts of wonderful things. No one here has a reason to be sad.”
Kara opens her mouth to argue with him. But she is cut off as a small woman rushes into the room with a laugh, “You would not believe it Raph! The Vicereine called; she will be in town in two days with the Marquis!” Raph jumps to his feet, “We must announce it to the town! We must prepare for their entrance with flowers and thousands of jewels! There will be dancing and pardoning and the children will not have school! This is a wonderful day; this is a day to rejoice!”
Kara slowly backs away as the man continues to talk, and he jumps on top of the desk to dance from one end to the other. She finally reaches the doorway and flees back into the square. How could two people in one building believe that everything is wonderful when she saw an execution is the other square? How could anyone say that a city where no one seems to notice that they are alive is the happiest place on earth?
But she is not on earth; she is simply in a place, and it seems impossible for anyone to tell her where she is. There must be two versions of fairyland, and she must be in the worst one.
“Psst!” She jumps as a hand reaches up from a hole in between two cobblestones, “Psst! Girl outside! I can tell you where you are.” She gulps and bends down to look closer, “H-how did you know what I was thinking?” The hand grips the side of a cobblestone, “I didn’t, but you’re the first visitor who has been here in centuries.”
The hand pulls back and she bends down to press her eye against the open space, but it is too dark for her to see anything, “Who are you?” “I’m the last person who came here. Now I’m just like everyone else.” She catches sight of a dark shape and pulls back, “What happened here?”
“The same thing that happens everywhere else; or maybe it was something completely different. If you come and find me, I can help you get back home. But it won’t be easy.” She jumps, “I-I want to go back home. But- but how can I find you? You’re underground.”
The hand reaches back up and scratches against the cobblestones, “No, I’m in a prison. If you find me and break me out, I’ll take you back home. You’re world is my world too, and I have been waiting a long time for someone to come here.” She gulps, “I-I don’t-“ “I can’t tell you anything else right now. But I will once you find me.” The hand pulls back again and she drops to the ground to search for it. What if whoever it is can actually take her back home? She should at least try; breaking someone out of a prison in a city where everyone is sleepwalking should not be that hard.
She gets back to her feet and starts walking across the square; she just needs to find the prison. The streets are empty as she walks without knowing where she is going. The glowing sun is starting to dip below the horizon again as she heads toward the city gates. She shivers and wraps her arms around herself; but they are torn away from her body as someone grabs her and yanks a bag over her head.
She screams, but it is cut off as a knee hits her in the stomach. She looses track of her feet as she is hauled forwards and then down. Someone tosses her to the side and she hits a hard floor. The bag is yanked off of her head and a door shuts with a clang. Her face presses against a dirty blanket as she tries to stay as still as possible.
“So… it looks like it was pretty easy for you to find me; although, being caught wasn’t exactly the best idea.” The familiar voice pulls her to her feet, and she scowls as the small, suffocating room that she finds herself in, “I didn’t want to be caught.”
“Well, now you have been. You might as well try to make the best out of a bad situation. You might be here for centuries you know.” She draws herself up as high as possible, “People don’t live for centuries, and I don’t intend on spending my entire life in this box.” She stomps her foot on the ground for emphasis and winces at the pain.
The familiar voice laughs, “Time works differently around here. I was nineteen when I left my home, and I’ve been here for centuries but I’ve hardly aged. You spend a few days here and you realize that you might be able to live forever if they don’t kill you first. They’re paranoid about spies and you look a bit too much like one.”
Kara shivers, “I-I don’t like the idea of dying. I-I don’t want my head to be chopped off.” The voice is silent for a moment, “Well, you might not have much of a choice unless you can escape. I’ve tried every way that I can think of, but you might be able to have more success. Take me with you when you leave, will you?”
She nods even though she knows whoever it is cannot see her, “Wh-what is your name?” “I’m Ndidi, or Nee if you want to shorten it. Nice to meet you.” Kara shivers again and sinks against the wall, “Wh-what should I do?” Ndidi sighs, “Well, you need to find a way out… if you want to, of course. But I recommend trying. Wasting time easily becomes a habit around here; just ask me, I spent the entire morning reciting all of the names I know that start with the letter K. Does your name start with K? I’m getting tired of the list I have.”
She gulps, “Kara; My name’s Kara.” Ndidi sighs again, “Great, now I have another name to add to my list. Kara, Kara, Kara. No, I don’t think that I’ll forget your name anytime soon. That’s going to be a shame when you leave. I won’t be able to forget you no matter how hard I try… that’s another reason for you to take me with you. If you’re able to find a way to escape that is.”
She wraps her arms around herself, “Won’t they just let us go eventually?” “Humph, I’ve been here for centuries Kara; do you think that they’re planning on letting me go anytime soon? No, and that’s something that I can be sure of. Doubly sure, triply sure.”
She falls asleep when Ndidi does not say anything else, and she wakes up again with her teeth chattering, “N-Ndidi, a-are you still th-there?” Something rustles on the other side of the wall she is pressed against, “Where else would I be? Of course, I’m still here. What do you want?”
She swallows, “I-I think I might have an idea.” Ndidi snorts, “That’s good; you might want to get on with it though. The longer you stay here without doing anything, the easier it will be to stay forever.” She gets to her feet and shakes her head; she does not want to stay in a box forever. But the truth is that she does not have a plan. Maybe it would be easier if she did; but she already feels like she will never be able to see anything outside of her tiny dark box again. No one would even need to lock the door; she would be happy to stay right where she is until she keels over.
She shakes her head and walks to the door; it seems impossible that it would be open. But what if it is? What if she can simply walk out and find Ndidi and return home? What if there is a simple solution to everything, and fairyland truly is a happy place?
No, she is thinking of ridiculous things. The door could not be unlocked. But what if it is; oh, what if it is? She turns away from the door, before turning back and yanking on the handle. But it does not move no matter how hard she yanks on it. Perhaps she truly will be trapped forever.
She needs a way out more than she has ever needed anything else in her life. She needs a way out, and the door must open. It must. She grabs onto the doorknob and yanks back as hard as she can while she turns it; it must be open. It will be open. It has to be open.
She tumbles out of the room as hinges creak and the door cracks open. The hallway on the other side is dark and damp with old lights lining the walls and packed dirt forming the floor. She gulps as she rushes to the door on her left before she can wonder if it is open as well. She presses her face against the edge of the door, “Ndidi? Are you in there?” Ndidi sighs, “Where else would I be Kara?”
Her hands fumble as she yanks on the door and it slowly creaks open; bright eyes look back at her and Ndidi stumbles out of the room, “Ah, so you finally found a way out after all. I was wondering when you were planning on putting your idea to use. Come on, we need to get out of here before the alarm is turned on.” She gulps as the lights flicker and Ndidi grabs onto her hand, “Wh-what alarm?”
A sharp buzz cuts into the walls and Ndidi yanks her into a run, “That alarm. Come on- hurry! We need to get to the gate before morning if we want to get out of the city anytime in the next few days.”
She reluctantly follows. Ndidi yanks her down another hallway and up a flight of stairs that continues on and on until she can hardly feel her legs. Both of them are gasping for breath when they reach the top; and Ndidi yanks her onto a street and through a rough doorway, “Wait here for a moment Kara. I’ll be right back. This used to be my house, but I’m not sure what it looks like now.”
She gulps as Ndidi lets go of her. Something rustles, and she shivers as she wraps her arms around herself. A lamp flickers as Ndidi walks back to her with a burning candle, “Shh Kara, we need to be quiet. The person who is living here now is asleep upstairs; I’ll try to find some food and clothes for us, but we can’t spend the night.”
She opens to her mouth to ask where they will spend the rest of the night, but her words come out in a squeak as she sees Ndidi’s face. Thin iridescent scales line two thirds of Ndidi’s face and neck, before surrounding bright eyes with large pupils. Ndidi stares back at her, “I think I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like when people see me; but at least you haven’t started running away yet.”
She gulps and stumbles back a step, her shin bumps into something hard and a crash rings through the room. Ndidi grabs onto her arm and hauls her out of the house as they hear someone yell, “Who is there?” She can barely catch her breath before Ndidi is dragging her down the street and into a narrow alleyway to hide, “Well, it looks like we’ll have to steal food and clothes from a different place.”
She pulls away from Ndidi and gasps for breath, “Wh-what are you? You’re- you’re not human.” Ndidi shakes its head, “No, I’m not human. But I used to be a long time ago. You see, everything that has happened here has one very simple explanation. But you’re going to have to listen for a moment.”
She reluctantly nods in consent and moves closer to the wall, “If- if you show me how to get back home.” Ndidi nods again, “We have a deal. This place used to be fairyland; but a mean joker cursed it and now no one knows where they are.” She gulps and finds herself drawn forwards, “But you know how it happened right? You know how to fix it?”
Ndidi sighs, “No one knows how to fix it, and anyone who might was swallowed by the joker’s spell. As for me, I was here before fairyland was cursed. I went home for a few months; fairyland changed only a few weeks after I returned. I was normal until a few days before I was thrown in prison. I’m not sure what happened, but I know that this is what I’ll continue to be. You can imagine how the way I look now wouldn’t help me in a human world. There used to be so many strange people here that no one cared if I was different; but it seems that some things always end up changing. Soon fairyland will disappear forever.”
She clenches her fists and shakes her head, “But there must be a way to change it back. There must be a way to make sure that fairyland does not disappear.” Ndidi draws a long breath, “Well… maybe it would be possible for me to remember a way. I used to know much more than I do now. But you might not be able to return home; you’ll have to make a choice: either you decide that retuning home is the most important thing, or you decide to try to do something that no one has ever managed.”
She opens her mouth to answer, but she snaps it shut again as she realizes that she does not know what to say. Ndidi looks up at the sky, “You don’t have to decide right now; if there’s even a decision to make. Before we talk anymore; I haven’t been this hungry for a long time. And you look conspicuous in those clothes. I think I might have an idea of where we could steal what we need; just follow me and try to be quiet.”
She reluctantly follows Ndidi down the alleyway and from shadow to shadow. They creep forwards and she presses a hand over her heart to try and quiet it. What is she supposed to do? She wants to return home. Oh how much she wants to return home.
But fairyland should not be allowed to fade away; and what if she can save it? Will she give up on her own life to try and save fairyland?
Ndidi tells her to wait as they crouch underneath a windowsill. She hides her hands in her pockets as they shake; she is only ten years old, she should not have to make choices like this. How is she possibly supposed to decide what is important to her? She barely knows what she wants to do the next day.
She can plan things for years in the future; but she can barely decide what she wants to have for breakfast. She should not have to decide between returning home and trying to save fairyland. But… maybe she does not have to make a decision at all. Maybe it does not have anything to do with what is important to her. Maybe the only question is what is the right thing to do?
She stands up as Ndidi sneaks out of the house and tosses a dress to her, “Here; put this on.” Ndidi turns around as she yanks off her top layer of clothing and pulls on the patched dress; it hangs down to her ankles and swallows her in fabric. Ndidi nods with approval, “It’ll work, for now at least. Now we can work on getting you back home.”
She straightens up as far as she can, “I’m not going home.” Ndidi stops and narrows its eyes, “You want to stay? Even though you know that you might never be able to return home again?” She nods and clenches her hands, “I’m going to stay. And I don’t care what you say; I’m going to do the right thing. I want to save fairyland.”
Ndidi stares at her in silence for a moment before chuckling, “Well, it looks like you have more spirit than anyone else who’s come here. Alright, I’ll help you if I can.” Kara turns around as Ndidi changes into different clothes and tosses a cheese sandwich to her. She eats it in two bites and Ndidi grabs her hand, “Come on, I might have an idea; but we’ll have to move quickly because no one will ignore the fact that two prisoners escaped. Especially when one of those prisoners is a foreign girl.”
Kara gulps as Ndidi leads her down the streets and toward the gate. She gasps as Ndidi pulls her into a narrow building that is entirely filled with books. Books line the walls and form dusty piles on the floor; they climb up to the ceiling and cling to flimsy shelves. Her shoes become gray with fallen plaster as Ndidi leads her in between the mountainous stacks, “I think there might be something helpful here. If only I can find it.”
She starts coughing as they stop. Ndidi rummages through one of the piles, “It must be here somewhere; I know I hid something here a few centuries ago, or maybe it was the librarian. Either way, it must be here somewhere.” She covers her nose with one hand, “What are you looking for?”
Ndidi moves to the next pile and spreads the books across the floor, “A book; a book of magic to be exact.” Kara stifles another cough, “But I don’t know how to do magic.” Ndidi lets out a contented sigh and picks up a thin book with a blank cover, “You will soon enough.”
Ndidi grabs her arm and pulls her deeper into the building, “Magic is a matter of association. You might not know how to do spells; but fairyland was cursed with a spell and someone needs to do a spell to break it.” She gulps and skips to keep up with Ndidi, “So… you know which spell we need to use?”
Ndidi stops and motions her closer, “Not yet; in fact, I don’t even think that I can do whatever spell you need. You’re the one who wants to save fairyland; and you’re the one who will need to do the spell. I might be able to figure out what it is. But you should know that I’ve been a prisoner for centuries and I’ll probably be caught again. You can escape because people might not remember you and you’re small enough to hide. Either way, whoever does the spell must believe in it with every fiber of their mind.”
She gulps, “Otherwise… Otherwise it won’t work?” Ndidi flips through the book and holds it out to her, “You should keep this with you; it’s almost morning and I think they’ll be looking for us soon.” She wraps her hands around it, “I-I don’t know what to do with it.”
Ndidi sighs, “Bah, you know enough. And anything that you don’t know you’ll learn.” Ndidi grabs onto her arm again and leads her out of the building; she digs her feet into the ground, “You’re- you’re not leaving are you? You said you’d help me.” Ndidi shakes its head, “I’ve been here long enough to know that I can’t stay free; but you can. The prison’s a mind game, and you already have the makings of a magician. I can’t help you learn the spell you need because magic is between the person doing it and their beliefs.”
She gulps and shakes her head, “But… but I don’t know where to go.” Ndidi smiles a fish smile, ‘That’s easy, you need to go to the center of fairyland. That’s where magic is the strongest. Now, I need to go before they find us.” Ndidi turns to leave and she briefly wraps her arms around Ndidi’s scaly body. It seems strange that she would become attached to a fish-scaled human so quickly; but she feels entirely alone as Ndidi walks away and disappears behind the corner of a building.
She bites her lip and tightens her grip on the thin book. She did not think things through as well as she should have. She did not expect Ndidi to leave her alone without showing her how to save fairyland first. She stomps her foot on the ground; she does not know how to do magic. She does not even know what magic is.
She is a foreigner; she does not know what the center of fairyland is. She grits her teeth as she hides behind a trashcan and opens the thin book. Thin cursive fills the center of each page; the words are lopsided and close enough that they seem to string themselves together. Her face wrinkles as she stares at the open pages, “How am I possibly supposed to use this?”
She expects Ndidi to answer; and she snaps the book shut in the silence, “Right; I’ll just have to figure everything out on my own then.” She starts to throw the book away, before shoving it into a large pocket in the side of her stolen dress. Who knows when it might be helpful. She frowns as she starts walking and wishes that she had more to eat.
Someone said that Yureve is the best city of fairyland, but no one seems to notice where they are or even what they are doing. How can she possibly find the center of fairyland when she cannot ask anyone and expect an honest answer?
She scowls as she starts walking toward the gate and slips through. What is magic anyway? She starts walking down the asphalt road with the candy forest on her right. Maybe she should have simply decided to return home. But she is trying to do the right thing; and the right thing is always the best thing to do, right? It must be. She believes it is.
Her feet kick up dust as she walks, maybe there is no such thing as the right decision. Maybe it is impossible to do the right thing. Does it even matter? She steps off of the road and curls up at the base of a candy cane tree with the book on her lap. She takes a deep breath as she opens it; she still cannot make sense of the words, but the book seems to grow heavier and heavier. She gasps as it starts to expand across her lap.
The pages grow thicker and wider, until the book drips off of her knees and onto the ground. She flips it open as it stops growing and her eyes widen. The letters have entirely rearranged themselves; they crawl across the pages and grow darker as she reads the first line.
Once a long time ago in a place that is now forgotten, there grew a tree; it had lived for a hundred years in the solitude of a deep meadow.
She moves to the next line, but the words fade before she can read them and the book snaps shut. It shrinks back to its tiny size; and she shoves it back into her pocket. What she is doing? What if she is looking for a tree? What if the center of fairyland does not exist? And how is she possibly supposed to use magic from a book that will not let her read it? She starts walking again and tries not to think about the life that she has left behind.
She cannot go back; or perhaps she can. But she truly wants to do the right thing. And the right thing is saving fairyland. If only she knew how. There must be a way… Ndidi said that she might be able to become a magician, and she most certainly needs to be one now. But how can anyone become a magician? She does not want to stay in this messed up version of fairyland forever.
Ndidi said that he had been in prison for centuries; how much time has passed since the woman in white brought her to fairyland? Is time the same in both places? And what if- what if it is not? What will happen when she returns home? But maybe she will never return home; maybe she is at the end of everything.
She lifts her chin as she continues to walk; no, she will find a way to save fairyland and she will find a way back home. She must. And anyone who tells her it is impossible is lying. They must be; otherwise she will not know what to believe in.
Ndidi told her that most of magic is belief; perhaps she truly can save fairyland if she learns quickly. But what is she supposed to believe in? And how is she possibly supposed to come up with a spell? Spells are supposed to be words that hold meaning, but she does not know the right words. She clenches her hands tighter, she will simply have to come up with the best thing that she can. Her feet ache as the sun starts to rise.
The problems that she used to complain about seem small compared to what is in front of her; and perhaps that is the point. Everything that you think is irrelevant becomes important when it is gone. Oh, how she wishes that she was not alone. If wishes are magic, maybe they can come true.
But wishes are still wishes; and she still does not know what magic is. She shakes her head, “I will figure this out. I will!” She stomps her feet on the ground, “And no one is going to stop me!” She expects someone to respond, but the road is silent. She shivers as she starts walking again and closes her eyes. She needs to find a way to the center of fairyland.
She starts to fall asleep as she walks and the sun dips toward the horizon. She stops as she thinks of the woman in white, “I would do anything to get to the center of fairyland.” She waits for a moment, but the woman in white does not come. It should work. She should carry me off and grant me my wish.
But Kara is still alone. She scowls as she starts walking again and pulls the book out of her pocket to wrap her arms around it, “I’m going to the center of fairyland!” She wraps those words around herself as though they are the only thing that can keep her alive. I will I will I will.
She stumbles backwards as dust gathers around her feet. A shriek is sucked out of her lungs as she is swept off of the ground and surrounded by a swirling cloud of dust. She gasps as she hits the ground and the dust sweeps away from her.
Dull grass buries itself in her clothes as she stands up and tries to brush the dirt off of herself. She stops as she realizes that she is standing in a meadow; maybe there is such a thing as magic. Or maybe she is simply dreaming… but she does not remember falling asleep. She was wishing that she would end up in the center of fairyland.
Maybe… maybe she truly is in the center of fairyland. Thorn bushes ring the center of the meadow in a thick dome. Kara gulps as she moves toward them and pulls at the first of the thorns. It reluctantly snaps off, and she drops it on the ground as she reaches for the next one.
Her hands are bloody and scratched by the time she finishes clearing a small tunnel through the thorns. She crawls to the center on her hands and knees and stops at the edge of a green pond. Leaves float across the top as she stands up and gapes at the tree that rises up from the center of the murky water.
Is this the center of fairyland? Does everything turn back to a tree? She shivers and wraps her arms around herself; what am I supposed to do? She walks to the very edge of the pond as she realizes that she wants to see what fairyland used to be like more than she thought. She already decided that she does not need to return home; will she have to make another impossible decision?
She wants to return home; but she is willing to let that go. She wants to do the right thing, but what is the right thing? Would she do anything to save fairyland if she could? Yes, she would; and that has to be the right thing. It has to be. But she does not know the right spell. She does not know any spells at all.
If a wish brought her to the center of fairyland, is a spell the same thing as a wish? She bites her tongue, I want fairyland to come back. She wants for something, anything, to happen. But the dome stays the same. Can she return home if she decides to? But she has to try her best to save fairyland; even if it is because she told Ndidi that she wanted to. And she meant it. Oh, she meant it more than she has meant most of the things that she has said in her life.
She cannot help but feel like she owes Ndidi more than she knows; and maybe saving fairyland will help Ndidi and everyone else be free. And maybe, just maybe, she will be able to return home.
But she still does not have a spell. And she cannot guess; or perhaps she can… perhaps she has the right to try. She clenches her hands and tries to dig her feet into the ground, “I want fairyland to come back because everyone here should be able to control their own lives and make their own choices-“ She stops and shakes her head; a spell is not the same thing as a reason.
She clenches her hands tighter, “Fairyland needs to come back. I’ll stay here forever if it’ll make fairyland come back; and maybe… maybe I’ll stop hoping that I can return home. If I’m willing to leave everything I used to know behind to bring back fairyland, fairyland can’t stay away. It has to come back. It has to.”
She breaks into tears and covers her face with her hands. She does not know what she is doing; how is she possibly supposed to come up with a spell? She is alone and she does not know what is going to happen; and the future seems to be the only thing that matters.
She needs a spell. And she needs one now. And then she will find a way to ask the woman in white to take her back home, and then… No, she should not think about what might not happen. She needs a spell. She needs a spell more than she has ever needed anything before. Everything else is irrelevant; it does not matter if she cannot return home, how could fairyland possibly become such a horrible place?
Fairyland is not supposed to have a prison underneath its streets. And fairyland is most certainly not supposed to have executions where everyone claps and returns to their sleepwalking chores without thinking. That is not a fairyland. And she wants the real fairyland back!
Her tears turn into sobs and she stomps her feet on the ground, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair at all!”
“Kara! Kara, you did it!” Kara jumps as the voice and peels her hands away from her face as she turns around. The woman in white smiles at her from the other side of a small thorn bush, “You did it Kara; you managed to change fairyland back. Everyone will have to find their way again, but now they have the choice to do so.”
Kara swallows and shakes her head, “B-but how? I-I just wished.” The woman in white’s smile turns into a grin, “A wish is more powerful than you know Kara. Now, do you want me to take you home?”
Kara nods and looks over at her shoulder at the tree before accepting the woman’s offered hand, “Yes; yes I want to go home. B-but will I be able to return again?” The woman in white nods, “You will have to decide. But that is not a matter for today; go home Kara, and decide what you will do from there.”
The woman in white leans closer as they are swept off of the ground, “Everyone has a choice you know.”
Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com
All rights reserved.