This week’s #blogbattle theme word is hero. #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.
Winter, Tango, and Spring, followed by the flock of nine birds, flew as far away from the garden as they could. Winter’s wings tired first. She hadn’t really rested since the effort of freeing the birds. She came down on a tree branch that formed the edge of a small copse of trees.
She sank down onto her bum, her feet rested over the edge of the branch. Her wings ached from shoulder to tip.
The birds settled all around her, and Tango and Spring landed beside her.
Spring sat down. “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Just really tired.”
“The sun’s going down anyway,” he said. “Perhaps we should rest here for the night and decide where to go in the morning.”
She nodded her agreement, too tired for words, then crawled to the part of the branch where it met the tree, and laid down. Her eyes were so heavy that they closed straight away, and she was asleep before she could even think about it.
Her shoulder was shaking. And she wasn’t the one shaking it.
She opened her eyes and saw a blurry Tango looking down at her. “Winter,” she whispered, “wake up. They’re coming. Wake up.”
Winter forced her eyes open, and the image of Tango cleared. “What?”
“Pim and Swift, they were on watch. Birch and Indian are coming, along with some more fairies that Spring recognises. We have to get up and leave now.” She was urgent, afraid even.
Winter sat up. The birds were flapping their wings, ready to go. Spring was trying to get them all together, so that they would fly all in the same direction like a proper flock of birds. “They’ve found us.”
“Yes. So we have to go.”
Her waking mind comprehended what that meant, and she shot to her feet. “Then let’s go.” She didn’t know what would happen if they were caught, and she didn’t want to find out.
She and Tango flitted over to Spring. “You ready to go?” he asked. In the darkness it was hard to tell, but his face looked paler than usual, Winter was sure.
“Yes,” she said.
“Then let’s go.” He took off into the air, waving his hands in an apparent gesture for the birds to follow, as they all took to wing together, flapping up noisily through the bare trees. Winter and Tango followed Spring’s lead.
Above the trees Winter looked back over her shoulder. Birch and Indian were leading a large group of fairies in their direction. Her heart ached to go back and try to break the spell, try to make Birch remember her and what they had. But she knew it wouldn’t work. Magic could only be defeated by magic.
She looked ahead again, and thought where they could go, what they could do to get away from Birch and Indian. They weren’t exactly a small party, so they must have been seen escaping the trees. So they had to lose them, and find somewhere to hide. But how, and where?
In the distance Winter spotted a river. And an idea came to her.
She gestured to Tango, who came a bit nearer to her. Winter pointed to the river. “When we fly over that, could you make it shoot into the air, kind of like a reverse waterfall?”
Tango looked ahead, following where Winter was pointing. “I don’t know. I mean, it’s a lot of water.”
“I know. But remember what you did at the waterfall all that time ago?”
Tango bit her bottom lip, then said, “Okay. I’ll try.”
“Thank you.” Winter knew it was a big ask. But it was her best, and only, plan.
The upside down waterfall would give them cover to find somewhere to hide. She just hoped they could find somewhere.
She explained the plan to Spring, who passed it along to the birds ahead of them.
As they passed over the river, Winter nodded to Tango, who waved upwards with her arms, a look of deep concentration on her face.
A gush of water sprang up beneath them. Just as they cleared the far bank of the river, the water hit where they had just been. Winter grinned at Tango. But she was still concentrating, keeping the upward flow going, so Winter turned her attention to finding them somewhere to hide.
But Spring beat her to it. He pointed down to a cluster of large rocks.
It was better than nothing. She nodded her agreement.
Then they all dived, Tango looking like she was about to burst with concentration. Winter hoped she could keep it going until they were safely hidden.
The ground came rushing up to meet her. She and Spring landed first, as they were faster movers than the birds. Tango followed next, then the birds almost all together. They all found rocks they could fit under, then Tango let go of the upside down waterfall. The water dropped back to earth like a stone falling from the sky. It splashed back into the river, sending spray back up almost as far as it had reached. The sound was deafening. Some water sprinkled down on them like rain.
Tango looked exhausted, but proud.
“Well done,” Winter told her. “That was amazing. Really heroic.”
“Thanks,” Tango said, the word little more than breath. A faint blush coloured her cheeks.
As the noise from the water died away, the sounds of fairies flying came to Winter’s ears through the silent night air. She pulled herself further under her rock, and saw the others do the same.
Birch, Indian, and their group passed overhead, faint shadows on the ground under the moonlight.
Her heart was beating hard, and she felt slightly sick. This wasn’t right. None of it was right.
They waited under the rocks for a while, as silent as the night, until they were sure the danger had passed.
Winter was just about to say it might be okay to move, when Pim spoke up. “There appears to be a tunnel back here, you know.”
Winter met Spring’s gaze. In all the fear and escaping, she hadn’t noticed, but this place was giving off some strong magic. Could it be a Clan’s home?
She wiggled out from under her rock, and joined Pim under his. He was right. There was a tunnel leading into the ground. Spring joined her. “What do you think?” he said.” Find out what’s down there?”
It was dark, and scary, and who knows what could be down there. But if she didn’t try, she’d never know. “Okay,” she said, “let’s find out.”