The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part Three
By the time Laimane had arrived at her home on the outskirts
of Faerie City, the moon had begun to set. Shadows danced and crawled across the
streets and darkness settled happily across the walkway like a thick shroud, content
that, without the moon, it could remain there undisturbed until the sun rose.
Its only irritation was the soft candlelight filtering through the thick curtains
that blocked the house's front window.
She frowned as she noticed the candlelight. Had
she honestly been that careless, to leave a candle burning when she left the
house? Her brows furrowed; an action uncommon to her face that caused her forehead
to crease sharply. No, that could not be right. She had left hours ago, the
candle would not have burned that long.
There was only one conclusion to make. Someone
had entered the house, and was possibly still there.
Giving the child in her arms a nervous glance,
Laimane silently padded over to the gate that lead to her garden behind that
house and effortlessly climbed it, the girl still firmly held against her hip.
Dropping behind and silently cursing the crunch her feet made against the gravel,
she hurriedly hid herself amongst the thick plants of her garden.
Laimane had put her heart and soul into her garden
when she had moved to her small cottage in Faerieland, years ago, and it had
grown more and more magnificent under her tender care. Arranging and caring
for the most fickle, but most beautiful, plants she could discover, she had
grown a miniature jungle for herself; a jungle consisting of plants from all
different climates and parts of the world. It was a feat only an earth faerie
with her skill could have accomplished. The rapidly dying moonlight did not
do the garden justice, but Laimane was beyond noticing that, she was too relieved
to be safe amongst the haven of plant life.
Huddling the sleeping girl next to her, Laimane
considered the situation. It would have taken a powerful faerie to make it through
the locks she had on all of her doors, or, she thought bitterly, a group of
powerful faeries. Had the dark faeries finally discovered where she lived and
broken in? And if they had, why would they leave a candle burning to warn her
of their presence? It might be a mistake, but all Laimane knew of her enemy's
doings pointed to her being an extremely careful plotter, too careful to make
such an elementary mistake.
Soundlessly she shifted, pondering the situation.
So where had the candle come from? She crouched there, debating the answer,
until it occurred to her that no normal candles gave off enough light to be
seen through her curtains. Any light strong enough to be seen through the curtains
would be amplified by some form of light magic.
That was a comfort, at least; she doubted that
any dark faerie knew much about light magic, and certainly not enough to make
a candle burn that brightly. But it was strange for a light faerie to work with
candles, candle flames tended to respond more to…
Fire magic. For an instant she sat there, stunned,
and then gave a large sigh of pure relief. The very air around her seemed to
loosen, and a soft, cooling breeze rustled the plants around her. There was
only one faerie she knew of who could control both fire and light magic, a faerie
powerful enough to make her way into the house. The candle had not been a mark
of her enemies, but a sign to alert her to her ally's presence.
Neatly and fearlessly she emerged from the garden
and headed to her back door, easily undoing the lock with her magic and entering.
Instantly she headed for the room with the candle in it: her kitchen.
The kitchen was small but comfortable; large
wooden cupboards lined that wall on two sides and a large, sturdy dining table
set with multiple ornate wooden chairs occupied most of the floor space. Neatly
exchanging the dripping cloak that sheltered the child for a knitted blanket
from a cupboard, she carefully dried the child and laid her on the tabletop
before turning to face the riddle that had been left for her.
At first glance it gave off the aura of a deceptively
ordinary candle, one of the many Laimane had in every room of her miniscule
cottage. The earth faerie smiled as drew closer to examine it, enjoying the
surprising warmth that the tiny flame emitted. She loved codes and all manner
of secret messages, the more challenging the better. It was merely another sign
that the candle was left by a friend that they recognized that she would be
attracted to the challenge the strange candle supplied.
She ran her finger along the wax and found that
it was made of the finest beeswax, its scent sweetened by a drop of clover honey.
As an Earth faerie, its very materials gave her a sense of joy; she could taste
almost taste the warm summer air and smell the rich soil that had given forth
to the clover. Forcing herself not to be distracted by such pleasures, she calmly
ran her fingers down its smooth, supple length until her finger met an inconsistency,
something unheard of in such fine candles. Drawing her face close to the candle,
being careful not to burn herself on the amplified flame, she saw that it was
a small etching of a star, surrounded by a ring of flame.
Without further ado, she snapped the candle in
half, breaking it off right next to the symbol along its length; the flame was
extinguished instantly, as though she had thrown water on it. Not surprisingly,
the candle was hollow, with an area inside just wide enough to fit a small object.
Turning the two halves upside down, she twitched her wrists lightly so that
whatever they contained would come out. Like clockwork, a miniscule bronze key
fell with a clatter upon the table. Picking it up, she instinctively ran her
fingers over the complicated series of sharp protrusions that would unlock the
door. She had checked so many keys like this before that she instantly knew
what it would unlock: the door to the most important room in her house; the
reason she had remained hidden all these years. And, just as interesting, the
symbol at the key's handle was the same as the one on the candle: the star surrounded
by a ring of flame.
Where is she then? Laimane frowned again
as she saw that the key had been left for her. Did she leave? Or is she hiding
somewhere else in the house? Why didn't she just go in the room and wait for
me to find her…
She found herself interrupted in mid-thought
as she glanced at the table. Two more symbols were there, subtly, but legibly
carved on its worn surface. The first was a mountain, its peak obstructed by
a cloud. The second was a rippling pool with a scallop shell in the middle.
So they were here too. They were most likely
waiting in the room, waiting for her to come down. Why all three of them had
come at the same time, on such short notice, Laimane sensed she didn't want
Scooping the faerie girl, who had slept through
Laimane's puzzling, into her arms, Laimane dug a small key, almost identical
to the one hidden in the candle, out of the deep pockets of her breeches. The
only clear difference between her key and the other was the symbol engraved
in the top: a pattern of intertwining vines with an amaryllis in the center.
Placing the girl in a safe place on the counter
top, she neatly went over to one of the four battered chairs surrounding the
table. Engraved on the side of the wooden armrest, slightly more elaborately,
was the pattern of vines which matched her key. Impatiently she thrust the chair
to the side and knelt, searching the floor beneath the chair until she found
what she was looking for: a small brass lock smoothly carved into the floor.
The wooden surface around in was slightly rounded, caused by the constant pressure
from the chair leg that had covered it, undisturbed, for almost a decade.
Laimane slipped the key into the lock and twisted
it 180 degrees.
The effect was instant. She had hardly stepped
away from the lock when a resounding crack met her sharp ears. She could not
see what was happening, but she could feel it with her magic. Vines of all sorts
of plants writhed like snakes beneath her feet, twisting in and out of complicated
knots and patterns that had held the floorboards beneath the chair together.
The plants twisted and wove, their movements emitting a rhythm Laimane could
feel in her bones, the weaving increasing in speed until it made her ache. She
could not help but feel a surge of pride: she had done well when she created
this lock. Only an Earth faerie, one who was very well trained in controlling
her powers, could resist the spell the vines wove, all others would find themselves
hypnotized until they could not act further.
Finally the vines released the last floorboard
and thrust them all outward to land with a series of clunks on the kitchen floor;
the aching in Laimane subsided into nothing. She opened her eyes and found that
the faerie girl had been woken up by the vines. Laimane's heart began to pound.
What if she had been hurt? But the girl didn't seem to be the least bit scared;
indeed, she didn't seem to have been affected at all. She met Laimane's eyes
easily with no trace of fear or pain, only mild curiosity, as if she had seen
a magician do a puzzling trick she knew was not real, but couldn't figure how
to do for herself.
The spell was made so that it would not hurt
anyone not trying to open the door, but it would cause discomfort; more than
enough to trouble a young child. A sharp fear caused Laimane's nerves to tingle.
Who was this child she had found? Why was she abandoned? And what were the powers
that she had?
Laimane knew she would have to find these answers
out soon, if she was going to think of a way to keep her safe-her instinct left
her without a doubt about the girl's importance-and there was also the question
of what kind of faerie she was. Who could teach a faerie that didn't have an
The others would know more than she did, and
together they could hopefully figure out what to do. And if there was going
to be any possibility of danger, it would be safer to keep the girl in the secret
room for now, rather than Laimane's exposed kitchen.
Cradling the girl in her arms, Laimane tiptoed
to the side of the hole in the floor and jumped. Wincing as her aching feet
hit bottom, she laboriously padded across the cold stone to a wooden door at
the end of the passage under her home, beams of light greeting her from the
crack underneath it. There was no doubt in her mind now: they were there, waiting
Shifting her weight, Laimane opened the door
and screamed as she was thrust to the ground in an explosion of light.
To be continued...