A child with pale blue wings tiptoed towards me, watching me with wide brown eyes, as if afraid I would reject him.
I smiled. "Hi there." I knew he couldn't understand, but hoped my voice would be reassuring.
"Hello." He surprised me by answering.
How did so many fairies speak English? I could hear them chatter in their light, foreign tongue, and the shaman had not seemed to understand us, yet this child was the third fairy who had at least a rudimentary knowledge of English.
From behind his back, he revealed one of the red pear-like fruits Aiden had seen earlier and held it out to me. "Present?"
Hoping it wouldn't turn out bitter like the berries, I smiled and accepted his offering.
As soon as I had grabbed it, he ran off with a giggle, his dragonfly wings shimmering with the sunlight.
"Do not eat this!" Aric warned me.
I looked at the fruit then back up at him.
"Why not?" Autumn asked.
"A man at camp, he eated one. He was -" he made a face.
"Sick?" Autumn suggested.
"Yes. For three suns." He held up the corresponding number of fingers. "Do not eat it."
I pushed the fruit away. "Are you sure? Well, maybe they're bad for us, but not for fairies."
Chase came back, followed by Aiden, who looked just a bit guilty.
Chase sat down next to me with a sight and grabbed my hand, giving it a squeeze. I kissed his cheek and he managed a tired smile.
"So how are the fruits?"
"Good. You should eat, too," I said. Seeing him so worn out made me feel guilty. Aiden was sulking, and Autumn's hair was uncharacteristically messy. I had been selfish to drag them along on this unplanned and potentially dangerous adventure, without a second thought. I wanted this; I was tired of being in doubt about who my mother was and why she had left. However, they had nothing to gain from what had turned out to be a dangerous journey. I resolved to tell them how much I appreciated them as soon as we had some time alone and to make it up to them when we got home.
The woman with the pixie cut from earlier came back.
"If you have eaten, we will be on our way."
"Can we get our stuff back?" I asked.
"Your belongings will be returned to you, but we will keep your weapons."
Chase stood up, a half-eaten fruit in his hand. "Fair enough. We're ready to go."
At a signal from the shaman, the fairies all grouped together on the central platform. There seemed to be a quick headcount, and five fairies, including the man from earlier and our translator moved to surround us. At another signal, fairies took off in small groups, one after the other, and disappeared into the vegetation.
"Let's go," the woman told us.
We opened our wings and followed the rest of the tribe, flanked by out five guards who seemed there more for show than actual restraining. Then again, who knew with fairies?
The fairies were light and fast and managed to go through passages between branches which were too narrow for us. On such occasions, our guards laughed between themselves and found a wider path for us. The gryphon soon gave up, and we occasionally caught glimpses of it flying high above us in the empty sky. Some children fell behind, zipping between branches, spinning, diving, and flying back up to us with gleeful shouts.
YOU ARE READING
With her mother's diary in hand, Hailey now has more chance of finding her than ever. Her search will lead her on a journey to one of the more obscure places of the kingdom of Aeolus where she will discover creatures she thought were only legends...