This week’s #blogbattle theme word is surfer. #Blogbattle is a weekly event hosted by the wonderful Racheal Ritchey over at the new #Blogbattle site. Take a look at her website and books as well. It’s worth it.
Answers and Plans
They made it out of the tunnel, out into daylight. Leviathan was sat near the entrance, watching with one ear cocked. Like he was curious.
Winter took off into the air, dragging Tango with her. Her whole body was shaking, so staying in the air wasn’t easy. Leviathan got up from where he was laid, and loped after them.
Where could she hide? Where could she go that was safe? She flew in a circle, casting her eyes about. Then she saw the bird cage, and remembered her promise. How was she going to fulfil it now?
Regret joined fear. But it did give her an idea. She bet they would never think to look for her there.
So she dragged Tango through the air, over to the birds. One, Pim, was perched on a branch near the wire front. He looked happy to see her for a moment, but when she perched on the branch near the cage, and he saw her face clearly, his expression changed to worry. “What’s wrong?”
“Something happened to my friends. Can we hide in your cage?”
“You want to take me in there?” Tango squeaked.
“Of course you can,” Pim said. “But what’s going on?”
Winter took off from the branch, dragging a reluctant Tango with her, and slipped through the gaps in the wire. It was a tight fit, but she could just wiggle through.
On the other side, she flew up to Pim’s branch. Tango sat beside her, looking around wide-eyed at all the other birds. “They’re not going to eat me are they?” she whispered.
“Of course not,” Winter said, trying to be as gentle as possible. “You’ll be fine. We both will.”
Tango nodded, but she didn’t look completely convinced.
Well?” Pim prompted.
Winter sighed, unsure where to start. “There was this book that the Queen wanted to show us. She did. And it turned Birch and Indian into, I don’t know. It was like they were sleepwalking, but awake.”
“Birch was the fairy you were arguing about us with?”
“What about the other one? The red-head?”
“He’s looking for Spring, the fairy that belongs to the Clan here.”
“The one that takes our spare feathers. Yes. I know him.” Pim was nodding his head, looking as if he were thinking things over.
Winter dropped down onto the branch, so that she was sitting beside Tango. “I don’t know what to do.”
Pim brushed her head with the tip of a wing. “You’ll work it out. You’re a determined fairy, and the kindest one I’ve ever met. I’m sure…” He stopped suddenly, eyes wide.
“What?” Winter looked up at him .
“I’ve just thought of something. Or rather, remembered something. A good few seasons ago, a bird like me flew through this garden. She stopped by when she saw me, and we talked for a little while. She told me of a fairy she’d met, who’d told her of a book. A rare fairy book that only a few of your kind can actually read.”
Hope flared inside of her. “What was it about? Did it do strange things?”
“It did.” He was speaking slowly, remembering as he spoke. “She told me that this fairy had said that he had been under its sway, once. It has magic in it, pure magic, and the one who can control that magic, can control any fairy through it. The Queen who had it then was a cruel fairy, nothing like you Winter. She wanted all the magic in the world to herself.”
Winter was horrified. “Is that true?”
“That’s the story my bird friend told me, yes.”
Winter could barely believe it. How could a fairy be so horrible? But there were so many similarities with what had just happened to her that she couldn’t help but believe it. It must be the same book. It had to be.
“Winter?” It was Flame’s voice calling.
“Here!” she called back, shocked out of her thoughts. “In the cage!”
He appeared on the branch outside, Spring beside him. “Oh, there you are,” he said, relieved.
He flew over to the wire, Spring following with his head down. Both fairies squeezed through the wire diamonds, though it was quite difficult for Flame. At one point it seemed his head would be stuck on the other side. But a pull from Pim yanked him through.
His hair all ruffled, the bird lowered him onto the branch. “Well,” he said, “that was an experience.”
“Are you okay?” Tango asked.
Flame sat up. “I think so.” He smoothed his hair down. “The world’s slowing down spinning, so I think that means I’m staying alive.”
Winter smiled, but she was relieved too. He had such a way of putting things.
Spring was looking down at his bright green shoes, misery and shame written all over his face.
Winter stood up, saying. “What’s going on, Spring? What’s happened to Birch and Indian? Why did you disappear like that?”
Spring looked up. “I am really sorry,” he said. “I didn’t, I mean, I never thought she would actually go through with it.”
“Go through with what?”
“With trying to control you. She’s threatened me with it so many times, but I’d always given in, always done what she wanted. I didn’t want to find out if the magic of the book was real or not.”
“So she did do it on purpose?” Winter felt awful at the thought. Her stomach rolled over in disgust.
“She did. And I think she wants you, and Summer, and Autumn as well. And me, once she realises I’ve left.”
One of the pink birds, perched near the wire at the other end of the cage whistled. “Incoming fairies.”
Her heart lurched. “Quick. Hide.” Whoever it was, it was likely they weren’t friendly.”
They managed to hide between the birds, under their feathers. Winter peeked out as she heard wings flitting past. Both Birch and Indian flew past her vision, still with that same blank stare on their face, those same unblinking eyes. A chill ran over her.
When they were gone, and she was sure no more were coming, she climbed out from under Pim’s wings, and he stood up again from crouching to hide her. She turned to look at Spring, who had hidden between two white birds – Merl and Surfer. “Is there a way to fix them?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’m sorry.”
She looked at Pim. “What about the fairy your bird friend spoke to, how did he escape the book’s influence?”
“His friends stripped the fairy who was controlling it of her powers.”
He shook his head sadly. “That I don’t know, little friend.”
Her heart sank. “So what do we do?”
Everyone was looking to her, as if she somehow had the answers. Flame said, “What do you think?”
All the weight was on her. She looked around at her friends, remembered the promise she’d made to the birds, and almost cried when she thought of Birch as her enemy now.
“Well, if we have to strip the Queen of her powers, we need to find someone who knows how to do that. And if she wants Autumn and Summer, then maybe we have to find them first. But I promised these birds that they would be free, and if that’s still what they want, that’s what I’m going to do first.”
She looked around, waiting for someone to come up with a better idea, to point out the problems with hers. But no one did. The fairies nodded their agreement, and the birds nodded that they still wanted to be free. “Okay, then,” she said. “Now here’s the plan.”