This week’s #blogbattle theme word is indigenous. #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.
Taking A Chance
Winter went with Flame to see the well, and what awaited them. They landed on a branch as close to the clearing as possible, and peered through the leaves. The well was in the centre of the clearing, a round construction of the things humans made houses from, topped by a wooden roof with a string hanging from it.
A large group of fairies surrounded it. Some sat in the grass, others flitting about in the air. They were clearly waiting for something. And that something was likely her and her friends. She looked around until she found Birch and Indian, they were stood near the well, but she was too far away to make out their expressions.
She drew back and looked at Flame, who took the hint that she’d seen enough, and flew away with her.
Back among their friends, she shook her head. “I don’t know what to do,” she said.
“I do.” Flame was stood with his arms folded across his chest, and his face said he wouldn’t argue. “I’ll lead a diversion, draw them away while you get into the well.”
“What?” She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “They’ll catch you!”
He shrugged with one shoulder. “Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, the important thing is that you get into the well.”
“No.” She shook her head in disbelief. “You can’t take that risk.”
“Winter, I’m not going to argue. You said yourself that you don’t know what to do. Well, here’s a solution. Take it.”
Tears welled in her eyes. This had become such a mess. All she wanted to do right then was go home and get Layla to make it all better. “Will you go alone?” she asked, her voice rough with tears.
“Depends if anyone wants to come with me. I’d thought at least a few of the birds with me will help to make it look like it’s all of us.”
Winter looked around through a haze of tears. They fell, clearing her vision. She brushed them off her cheeks, not wanting anyone to see her cry, to see how afraid she was. “You’ll have to ask them, I suppose.” She couldn’t do that. She couldn’t ask anyone to risk getting themselves caught like that.
“I will,” Flame said, and laid a hand on her shoulder, drawing her attention back to him. “Things will work out, Winter, I promise.”
She tried to smile. “You don’t know that.”
He grinned. “I’ll make them.”
She couldn’t help smiling too, though it soon faded. “Okay then, let’s put this plan into action.”
She sat down on the branch, as Flame flew between the birds and fairies. Soon there were two groups assembled. Flame, three birds, and Spring, and then the rest waiting for her to join them.
She flew over to Spring first. “Are you really sure you want to do this?”
“I am. I’m part of the reason we’re in this mess. So I should take the risk to help fix it.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Winter said, “it really wasn’t”
“I could’ve warned you,” he insisted. “Then maybe Birch and Indian would be with us.”
She couldn’t argue with that, although she wanted to. So she gave him a hug, then went over to her group.
Pim was among those waiting for her. “I’m not sure whether I should feel like a coward or like I’m being brave standing on this side,” she said.
“Both sides are brave,” Winter said. “They’re taking the risk of getting caught, but we’re risking getting stuck in that well.”
They didn’t have a plan for getting out again. Winter couldn’t think of an answer, and Flame was more concerned with doing things one step at a time. He wasn’t a planner.
The two groups were on opposing branches. Winter met Flame’s gaze across the gap. “Good luck,” she said.
“You too,” he replied, then, “ See you soon.” And with that, he took off, leading his small group up and away over the trees.
“Right,” Winter said, as she watched them go, “let’s get to the clearing.”
She took off, her own group following her. She glanced over her shoulder at Tango, Summer, and Autumn. All were sticking close together, and all looked afraid. Winter prayed that she wouldn’t let them down.
At the clearing, they landed in the branches, so far back that they could only see glimpses of the well and the grass that surrounded it. If they were seen, the plan was pointless.
Winter felt every beat of her heart as she waited for Flame and his group to appear. It couldn’t have really been long, but it felt like forever that she knelt there, waiting and watching.
It seemed sudden, that the noise started – talking and laughing, from above. Winter looked up, and through the leaves saw flashes of Flame and her friends flying overheard. They were acting as if they were comfortable, and not expecting trouble at all.
They flew down into the clearing from above the trees. Then activity started down below. The fairies who had been sat stood up, and then they all flew into the air, the shape of the flight like an arrow, pointing up. They split up, trying to surround Flame and the others. Flame acted shocked, and shouted, “Quick! Fly!” They turned to get away, quick on their wings, and Birch led the pursuit after them. Winter saw him, out in front, completely focused on his task. Her heart broke all over again.
But she didn’t have time for that. The well must be clear. She waved everyone on, slowly at first until they could see that the well was truly unguarded. Then they sped up, knowing it was only a matter of time before either Flame was caught, or Birch and his company found out that Flame was a decoy.
Winter didn’t stop to examine the well. She could feel the powerful magic emanating from it, the magic that was indigenous to this place, older than the oldest fairies alive today. Older than all humans that had ever existed.
She flew down into the darkness, hoping the others were following.