A Star-Spattered Sky: Part Five
The world was wildly tilting, shifting this way and that as if she was in a whirlpool. "Uh, my head," Jessica groaned. "My poor, aching head."
"You are one lucky faerie, you know that?" Deriun said from his desk. "Not only did you get poisoned, you fainted and we found that cure. How great are we?"
Jessica moaned and covered her ears, surprised that her aching body still worked. "I never got poisoned," she mumbled. "I'm perfectly fine."
"Now you are, but you weren't. Somebody poisoned you. We have a hunch it's the cooks. They have been acting oddly mysterious lately."
"It's not them." Jessica's eyes snapped open and she looked at Deriun who was staring at her in a surprised manner. "I know cooks," she explained. "They use a special blue potion, the food glows slightly. My food was not glowing. It was someone else."
"Well, who was it then?" Deriun asked impatiently.
"I don't know!" Jessica snapped. "How am I supposed to know? You're the investigator here!"
"You're such a help, genius!" Deriun pulled out a blank piece of paper and wrote down all of the names of the crew on it. "Okay," he said, "we'll deal with this methodically. First person is Silver. Second person is James. Third person is Red."
Jessica tuned him out, staring at the wall while Deriun muttered to himself, pulling on his hair. She heard the door open but didn't turn; it was probably just another stammering, adoring, Deriun-fan who needed to know if it was okay for his friend to swab the deck with him.
"Well, it's nice to know you're awake," Silver said with a smile.
"Silver!" Jessica exclaimed joyfully. "I didn't think it was you!"
"Well, of course you wouldn't if you weren't looking at me, silly. So, how have you been? When did you wake up? Do you feel alright? Has Deriun told you all about who poisoned you?"
"One question at a time, Silver," Jessica said, laughing. "Okay, I'll answer your questions from first to last. I've been good, but I only just woke up. I feel like I've just been through a whirlpool and Deriun has told me who he suspects, but I've told him that I don't think it's them."
"Why?" Silver demanded. "There's plenty of evidence against them. They were always shady sort of people although we only had to pay them minimum wage so Deriun hired them anyway" -- he shot the still muttering Deriun a seething look -- "even though I protested."
"But where is your rock-solid, hard-core evidence, Silver? Those are not proof; those are assumptions. There is nothing you can charge them with there. And anyway, as I told Deriun, cooks only use a blue potion that makes the food glow slightly."
Silver just frowned at the wall, clearly frustrated. He had nothing to say so he remained silent. This air faerie was dead-set on convincing him that there was absolutely no way that the cooks could have poisoned her. Who else was there?
"Well," Deriun said with a sigh, "I can't find anyone who was likely to have done it. There are so many reasons why some of these crew-members had absolutely no chance to even poison a scrap of the food. We don't even know if they poisoned other food! The next meal you eat might kill you!"
"Oh, stop fussing!" Jessica scolded. "I'm fine. I'll show you." She swung her legs to the ground and stood, only to stumble and clutch her head, Silver having to catch her before she fell.
Deriun snorted. "Yeah. Right. I'm sure you'd make it, oh, say... five seconds?"
Jessica gritted her teeth. "Deriun, I will not be powerless," she growled. "I am going to get better, I am going to find whoever poisoned me and throw them overboard!"
"I never knew she had such a temper," Silver said, shaking his head. "A feisty one, she is. You wouldn't think it, though, would you? Her appearance is so innocent. I have learned better."
Jessica snorted. "Yeah, like I was ever innocent. No one ever thought I was innocent for more than a minute."
"Second is more likely," Deriun said dryly, examining his bitten nails. "As soon as you so much as look at someone, they get shivers."
"Why thank you," Jessica said. "But back to matters, I want out of this cabin! If anything, let me get better on deck. No bed, no pillows, no blankets. Just the rough deck beneath me, the sea breeze tangling my hair. That's the life for me."
Deriun gulped at Jessica's words. It was like she was confirming his assumptions. She clearly loved the sea and being on a ship. She needed the sailor's life, if not the pirate's.
"Indeed," Silver said solemnly, looking at Deriun. He merely shrugged in response to the questioning glance. Jessica was not oblivious to the exchange.
"What?" she said, looking first at one and then the other. "Are you holding out on me?" Her blue eyes narrowed dangerously as she looked at them suspiciously.
"Deriun believes that your place is on a ship, he thinks that you are proving his theory," Silver explained airily. "Does that answer your question?"
"Yes," she said, eyes still slits, nodding curtly. "That explains everything perfectly."
Silver and Deriun were surprised that Jessica's words were true. She improved immensely as soon as she could feel the salty breeze on her face. She visibly brightened as well, her pale face almost luminous in the pale light of the moon. She glanced up at the sky that was speckled with a light spattering of stars.
"Perfect," she breathed, looking up. "Thank you." She turned around to look at Silver and Deriun with soft eyes. She then went back to staring in rapture at the stars.
"It's odd the way she transforms," Deriun mused, studying Jessica. He glanced up at the stars himself and felt the lure that they must hold for her. A faerie who had been so sheltered in her life, most likely kept inside a magical hidden tower, never seeing other faeries, never seeing proper magic except that used to clean the house, she must have been bored to death.
Shelter, warmth, a home -- things Deriun had never really had. He'd always had the pirate's life and when he really thought about it, he wondered if he wouldn't be so wide-eyed about every pirating experience as Jessica was. The simple pleasure of looking up at the stars, for example. She acted as if he'd just given her a ship-load of chests, each full of gold and jewels galore.
And with a smile that he hadn't felt on his face for a long time -- a soft, gentle smile that he reserved for his huge piles of gold and stacks of jewels -- he wondered if he had.
Her heart was pounding, her legs carrying her through woods. There was something after her, something was chasing her. Jessica's mouth was dry as she ran and ran, her feet barely touching the ground. She'd always been a good runner, but this was really pushing reality.
Then, the trees came to an abrupt end and she was in an underwater world. A line of bubbles escaped her mouth and she looked around. She saw a shadow, it was gaining on her! Her breathing was fast -- although she didn't know how she was even capable of breathing underwater -- as she ran slowly underwater.
"Jessica," a regal voice said from behind her. "I must speak with you." Jessica's legs slowed, and she very slowly turned. "I knew you were sensible," Fyora said with a pleased smile. "Your mother is here."
From behind Fyora her mother stepped. "Hello, Jess," she said, tucking a wisp of her hair behind her ear. "I've missed you so!" Jessica could tell she was a little breathless, not from running -- after all, this was a dream -- but from seeing Jessica again.
"Your mother and I have been very worried about you," Fyora continued. "We did not know where you were! We are giving you a chance to come home. To be a faerie. You can learn how to fly, you can protect Faerieland if you must. Just come home."
"Home," Jessica whispered, her focus slipping for a moment. Then, her eyes turned cold. "I am not going home. I have a place here. A bigger place than I would ever have at Faerieland."
"Very well," Fyora said with a nod while her mother wept. She looked up to smile weakly at Jessica.
"If it's what you want" -- she took a huge breath to steady herself -- "stay. Just remember to be yourself. Take care of yourself. Watch out for the rascal, Deriun as well."
"And learn to fly," Fyora told her sternly. "If we had been intending to hurt you, you'd be dead now. Running is not practical for a faerie, despite how light we are. Fly, Jessica. Spread your wings." Every word her voice grew fainter and more mystical and her form blurred, before disappearing. Her mother bit her lip before squeezing her eyes shut and melting away herself.
Jessica woke up in the dark, mild air of the night. It was slightly muggy and she could almost taste the air. Shaking her head, she stood up. Her dream had seemed so real... Perhaps it was her mind trying to tell her something. What had been said?
Her mother had said that if this was what she wanted, she could stay. But she had to take care of herself. She smiled when she remembered what her mother had said about Deriun. Then, it struck her.
Fyora had said to learn how to fly! "Well, I better get cracking," Jessica said, unfurling her beautiful, light blue wings with the calm sky, still spattered with stars and the black sea as the backdrop.
To be continued...