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This is the second chapter of my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I will be posting a chapter every week. Click here to read Chapter 1. Hope you enjoy!
I knocked at the door of the thatched roof house. Tap, tap. Ratta-tap. I waited for a moment, then knocked again.
A spindly fairy with fluttering wings opened it, her mouth immediately twisting into a tight grimace. “Gesu wants to see no one—you should get some sleep, little girl.”
I found it funny that she’d call me little, when I was a foot taller than she. Though I supposed eighteen was young compared to the hundreds of years the fairies lived.
“I’m Dahlia and I have an important request,” I said quickly, noticing the blue glass wand she held tightly in her white fist. “Can he heal a girl with the Livs?”
The fairy tapped her wand on the door frame. Tick, tick, tick. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I grabbed her wand, trying to yank it out of her hand. “Hollis is going to die. She needs Gesu’s help.”
Tears came, whether real or pretended I could not tell. I was sorry about my sister and in a hurry all at once. Sinking to my knees, I begged the fairy to help me.
Suddenly I heard the high chatter of several fairies at the door.
“Oh my! What do we do?”
“Poor child, don’t you turn her into sawdust, Prima.”
“Cheer up, girl, Gesu is still awake; I’ll go see if he could help just one more.”
It worked. Of course it did. That was the fairies’ weakness. They gave into sympathy far too easily.
“Get along, ladies—I’ll do the work. You know you can’t be seen.” And with that the fairies’ chatter disappeared before I could ever see one of their faces.
Now Prima, the spindly fairy who had opened the door, pulled me up to my feet. Her pink lips managed a quick, prim smile. “You aren’t goin’ to cry again, are ya?”
Her light green wings beat steadily, as calm as a Spring fairy’s would. I’d never seen a Summer fairy so calm. Or maybe it was I who felt calm in her presence. I imagined the rippling of tall grass and a faint coo-coo of a dove from the woods. Suddenly conscious of myself, I glanced at the wand in her hand. Prima. She must be the soother fairy—after firing up people’s emotions first, of course.
The fairy touched my cheek with her long, slender finger. “No more tears, Dahlia,” she said.
I nodded, slowly. Maybe I should get to sleep.
Wait, what was I thinking!?
Prima lead me into the living room to Gesu, who was seated on an armchair, staring into the fireplace. When he saw me, he ushered me in to sit down on the couch.
The man was broad-shouldered, strong, yet he slouched in the leathery chair as though he was a small fairy with droopy wings. “Why have you come?” he asked, his intense, soulful eyes staring into me.
My cheeks burned. I realized all at once how foolish I’d been to come here and interrupt this man’s rest from the day’s chaos.
“My sister is dead,” I told him, “or will be if you don’t help. She’s in Spring. Is there any way we can get to her and you can heal her? She has the Livs.”
Gesu scratched his dark bristly beard. “No one can cross into another season unless it is their Time.”
I narrowed my brows but managed to level my frustration in my voice as I said, “Yes, of course, sir. But there must be some way, with your powers—”
“—his powers are for healing, Dahlia,” Prima interrupted, her pretty face contorting into an ugly scowl. “He can do nothing more, so you might as well—”
Gesu raised his hand to stop her. “You are right to say that my powers are for healing, Prima. My mission is to heal. And I will use my power to do anything that will bring about such healing.” He smiled at me. “Anything at all.”
Prima looked at him in dead silence, paled, flapping her wings slowly in the shadowy corner.
I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, but aware of the respect due to this man, I spoke quietly: “Thank you very much, sir.”
I was speechless after that.
Gesu and Prima did not speak either, as if waiting for me to say something, but for some reason I did not know of anything I wished to say.
“Who are you, Gesu?” I said, because it needed to be said, because if it wasn’t said, I wouldn’t know what to do. Was he trustworthy?
The man lifted his eyes to mine. “It is not the time to reveal such things. I am Gesu, the healer, and that is all you need to know.”
“Of course,” I said quickly, remembering why I was here again. “Please, help me. Hollis is in Spring. Do what you must do to get her out, and to heal her before it’s too late.”
After studying me closely again, Gesu rose from his big leathery chair. “Prima, I need to talk to you alone.”
When the door to another room shut, I gazed at the pictures on the walls.
A painting hung on the wall for each stage of Gesu’s life: first as a newborn, held in the arms of a mother; then as a boy, smiling with a bouquet of flowers; then as a teenager, hard at work in the mines; and then as the forty-year-old he was today, smiling with Minerva by his side. The last one must have been painted today to celebrate her healing, I thought, although bewildered. Even more perplexing was the fact that at each stage, he was surrounded by fairies—not one brand of fairies, but a colorful mixture of yellow Spring fairies, green Summer fairies, orange Autumn fairies, and blue Winter fairies. I had never realized what color the Autumn and Winter fairies were, but now it was obvious, as if I had known it all my life.
Were those the fairies I had heard chatting earlier, the ones Prima had shooed away?
Soon Gesu and Prima returned; Gesu, solemn, Prima, smiling.
“I’m expected to be transferred to Autumn soon,” Gesu said. “Getting a little old, I suppose.”
I tried to laugh, but it came out short and stiff. Why was I afraid of him?
“Prima will take you to Spring.”
But how? I wanted to ask. What was he going to do about the mud walls?
“You will find the way—both of you, together. And I will always be with you.”
The pixie’s wings fluttered ever so slightly as she gazed up in admiration at the huge man.
I shivered, even though the regular warmth of Spring encased me with sweat. I didn’t know what Gesu meant, or who he was. I didn’t know if I could trust him, or this dainty fairy who baffled me almost as much as himself. What if this was a trap? What if Gesu was trying to get rid of me, to let me face the wrath of Queen Hazina, the ruler of Istagun, the builder of the towering mud walls?
All I knew was that Hollis needed me. And she was worth whatever risk I had to take.