(Photo by Maddy Baker on Unsplash)
This is the third chapter of my 10 chapter fantasy novella. If you haven’t yet, read chapter one and two first! I hope you enjoy! =) (I couldn’t find a picture of mud walls without brick shapes, so above is a picture of another part of this chapter.)
The next morning, Prima and I traveled in silence along the winding paths that led to the mud walls. Forest trees surrounded us, the branches brushing roughly against my skin as Prima flew swiftly in and out of them.
“Hurry up, girl!” she sang from somewhere ahead of me.
Reluctantly, I bounded forward to catch up with her.
“What’s with you?” I spat out, breathless. “Have you no sympathy like the other green fairies?”
“Ha! Like the others?” Prima laughed long and loud, as we moved together now at a steady pace. “And what do you call those rashes on your wrists and—I bet—on your back? And what about that permanent scar on your face? Sympathy, huh?”
I rubbed the swollen lumps of skin on my fingers from yesterday’s beating. I had been daydreaming about Hollis the whole day, and the green pixie had had no mercy for my inattentiveness to the plow.
“It’s ridiculous, I suppose, but they…” I sighed, shaking my head as the pine needles stabbed my feet through my torn sandals. “Well, those fairies are strangely nice about it. So nice about it that they never let you give in to the natural response of fighting back. Even when it hurts, they won’t let you. Their powers do that to us humans, you know—make us… docile.”
The powers worked especially on Andrea. Poor Andrea.
Prima shivered. “That’s ridiculous—”
“—I told you!” The anger burst through me, mixed with an uncontrollable curiosity. “And the others, Prima. Why aren’t you like the others?”
This pixie wasn’t an overseer of the human slaves, or a scholar, or a servant of Queen Hazina. Who was she?
“Don’t you know, silly girl? I’m a servant of Gesu. The queen stays clear of him and lets him do whatever he wants.”
Prima said it casually, but I stared at her in disbelief. She sped ahead of me through the trees, not looking back at me. The verdant branches concealed our view of the mud wall, but somehow Prima seemed to know exactly where we were going.
“What makes you a servant of a mere human?” I cried incredulously, sprinting after the fairy, my heart pounding as I threw myself forward into the trees.
Prima smiled at me, her green eyes gleaming like emeralds in the shadows. “Gesu has powers greater than the queen, girl—that’s why she lets him do as he wishes, so he won’t overthrow her. Many fairies follow him.” Her wings slowed down as she deepened her little voice. “He’s waiting for the right time to overthrow her. Humans once ruled over fairies long ago, you know.”
When I gasped at this revelation, she darted ahead into an open glade where the afternoon light poured gloriously through the trees.
There, towering above all the forest trees, stood the mud wall that so defined Istagun. Beyond the wall was the land of Spring, where Hollis waited for me.
I had never seen the wall so close up before. Sure enough, strands of hair matted it like it was a giant nonliving beast.
“So?” I looked at Prima expectantly.
She grinned. “Isn’t it beautiful, little girl?”
“Stop calling me that. I’m Dahlia. Now get me on the other side before I—”
I didn’t know what I was saying. I could do nothing to this pretty, innocent fairy, and I had no reason to. Yet there was something about her that utterly disturbed me to the point I wanted to grab hold of those fragile wings and tear them apart.
“Dahlia,” Prima whispered, fluttering up to me and smiling slightly. “Gesu said that he gave me the power to get past this wall.”
“Well, sure! You can fly—but what about me?” I tried to steady my voice, but it came out sharp and quick. Maybe since I wasn’t around any ordinary green fairies, their powers of making humans docile were wearing off on me. Or maybe I finally had a chance to see the one person I truly loved, and I was afraid it would all count for nothing.
“Yes, we must do this together,” Prima said firmly. Then she swung her blue wand at the mud walls, uttering a flurry of words I didn’t understand.
The mud wall stood motionless, unaffected, like a turtle unharmed by a pebble thrown at his shell.
As we stared at the wall in hopelessness, we saw movement. And suddenly, like an egg cracking open, the giant wall split in half, moving apart.
All at once, a long line of silver fairies flew out, disappearing through the trees before we could get a good look at them. Messenger and transporter fairies. I’d seen them many times. They brought news from the villages to Queen Hazina, along with the various food each land produced. This wall didn’t open because of Prima’s powers; it opened for these fairies.
Prima and I stared at the large gap in the mud wall before we rushed forward to enter Spring. But just as I was about to take a step into the fresh grass of my old home, the mud walls shut close before our eyes, the hairy fortress bending and reshaping itself into a monster with giant hands.
I tumbled backwards, into the dry ground of Summer.
Prima screamed as the beast clasped onto her and brought her up to his face.
In desperation, I pounced on the wall monster and tried to climb up to her, but fell quickly again into the dirt that tore into the scars on my back.
Soon the monster plucked me off the ground with his other hand, his strong grip terrifying me more than anything I’d experienced in my life.
His eyes were simply hollowed-out mud, their emptiness penetrating me. “Gesu-followers,” he muttered, before tossing us carelessly out into the Summer forest.
I clung to the top of a pine tree, as Prima flew to me, tears streaming down her pale face.
“I’m sorry—so sorry, Dahlia. I should have thought that through. Of course the queen would only allow messenger and transporter fairies to pass. Not to mention you have my scent now—Gesu’s scent. He thinks you follow Gesu, too. The queen lets Gesu do whatever he wants, but never Gesu’s followers.”
I laughed at the idea that the monster thought I followed Gesu. Gesu was my only hope, but I wasn’t going to follow him. Who was he that I should follow him anywhere?
Gritting my teeth together, I silently climbed down the pine tree, stepping on the slim branches until I slid and tumbled to the ground.
“What is there for us now?” I said numbly, as Prima fluttered down beside me.
“I don’t know—and again, Dahlia—I’m sorry. I do have sympathy, you know.”
I bit back a grin, and we said nothing for a long while. The sky darkened, until stars began twinkling softly.
My mind rested, peace filling my empty stomach like nothing I’d felt before. Gesu’s peace?
No, it was Prima’s powers. I grimaced. She was a soother fairy, after all.
“The stars are talking, like always,” Prima whispered, laying her little blonde head on my shoulder.
My heart melted at her touch. She reminded me so much of Hollis.
“How are they talking?” My mouth quivered into a smile at her naivety.
“They blink—and then I know Gesu is there. He says he loves us and to not give up.”
I laughed at her silly notions. “And before we left the village, he told you to use the powers he gave you, and you did try. What else can we do?”
Prima bit her lip, staring off into the verdant beauty of nature. “Well, I didn’t really try.”
“What?” I narrowed my brows. “What do you mean?”
“I tried to make the walls come down, that’s all. I didn’t try using my soother powers. Lifeless mud walls can’t calm down or anything.” She shrugged. “Little did we know that—”
“—Prima, you’re right!” I grinned, trying to make up for the sour mood I’d had all day. “We—I mean you—can calm that wall down!”
Jumping to my feet, I hastened back to the mud wall, Prima not far behind me, laughing merrily.
The mud wall monster was awake, letting more fairies pass through.
When he noticed us, the monster glared at us, shaking his head gruffly. “Not you two again!” His voice thundered, making the earth and our hearts vibrate fiercely.
Prima nodded to me, then brought out her blue glass wand and waved it in the air, humming softly.
As she cast the spell, the great mud wall monster began to close its hollow eyes, falling into a deep sleep while its walls still stood parted, leaving a gap—an entrance to Spring.
“He’s snoring!” I declared incredulously.
Prima put her slim finger to her lips, hushing me. We tiptoed between the walls into the soft grass of Spring, where the smell of flowers and fruit hung in the air as undeniable as the sound of children.
But the young voices rose not in joyous laughter as they had often when I’d lived there. Instead, they tore the sweet-smelling air with the sound of weeping and tears.