Part 4

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“Cricket, wake up. Please, wake up!”

The voice echoed in her head. The strong, sweet scent of roses snapped her out of her dazed state.

Slowly, she opened her eyes. “Wh— Where am—?”

“Don’t talk. Let me explain.” It was Silver. “When we reached the end of the tunnel, you let go of my hand and fell backwards into the Dreamscape. Fortunately enough, the Mystic Star still shone bright. I was able to catch you before you were lost forever.”

“Silver, I owe you my life! How can I ever repay you?”

“You can save my country,” she said, and there wasn’t the least bit of sarcasm in her voice.

A small shiver went up Cricket’s spine, for she never expected to save a whole country!

“Don’t worry,” Silver said. “You will not be alone.”

At that moment, a tiny fairy with green wings, a pink dress, blue skin and yellow hair flew in.

“Good morning, Ariel. Go fetch Kria and Treeka. Tell them to bring some cloth and set up a bath. Cricket must be tired after her journey. I’m positive she’s not accustomed to warping. Off with you. We must prepare for dinner.”

“Kria” and “Treeka” came in almost at once. They were fairies also. Cricket was amazed as they took her measurements and flew off.

Fairies did exist. Cricket smiled to herself. She had always known the had.

They prepared a bath and left Cricket in peace. She stripped and got into the water. It was hot and smelled of lilacs. Silver had pinned her hair loosely on top of her head. Cricket laid back and let her troubles float away with the steam.

She washed thoroughly and got out. She dried off and noticed a dress on the bed. The fairies worked fast! It was a misty green that fell to her knees. Silver and Ariel came in shortly after and fixed her hair into a long braid.

Cricket admired herself in the mirror. A princess, she thought as she looked at herself. A princess in his castle. What a life that must be.

“At dinner, we’ll introduce you to Airik,” Silver commented.

“Airik?” Cricket asked. “Is he the leader of your people?”

“Not only my people, but all of Golendria. You see, when the last king and queen died, there was no one left to rule, and no one did for many years. Then Airik came. He promised security and guidance for the Ledians and he proved himself worthy. That s how he became High Lord.”

“No offense to anyone,” Cricket said, “but is he elf or fairy or—?”

“He is human, as you are. We are a family of many races living together in harmony. It has been that way for as long as I can remember.”

“Your country seems fine to me; what’s so wrong with it that you need me?”

“I’ll let Airik explain. Excuse me. I must see tat dinner is going along smoothly.” She and the fairy went out the door, leaving so many questions unanswered.

Cricket stared at herself in the mirror. She didn’t look normal. She looked like someone else, like a character in one of her novels—like a princess. Through the mirror, she scanned the room. Everything was neat and orderly, quite unlike what she was used to. She closed her eyes and thought about this place. She decided she liked Golendria, or what she had seen of it so far.

There was a footstep in the doorway. Cricket’s eyes snapped open. There was a man standing behind her. He had rich blonde hair and handsomely bronzed featured. He was covered with dirt and sweat. It looked as if he had been working in the fields.

The things that kept Cricket in a trance were his eyes. They were a deep purple, a majestic purple. As spectacular as they seemed, Cricket thought purple eyes might not be very rare in this world. But she was spellbound, if just for a moment.

He also wondered about this human of fair skin. She took over his mind and he couldn’t think of anything else as their eyes locked. Above all, he marveled at her eyes. No one in all of Golendria had green eyes. Green was limited to the basic color of nature, not to be possessed by any but the most blessed of creatures.

Although it was in truth a fleeting moment, it seemed an eternity before either of them spoke.

“Who are you?” he asked. His commanding yet soft voice caught Cricket by surprise. “Where is Silver?”

“I—I’m Cricket. I came to—”

“Oh,” he said, “you’re her. Good. Silver has done job number one. Where is she?”

“I—I think she went to check on dinner.”

“Good then. She’s done job number two. I guess I don’t need her after all. Never mind. You needn’t tell her I was here. Good day.” With that, he left.

She didn’t even know who he was!

Silver walked in later to get Cricket. She didn’t think she wanted to mention the stranger. She went with Silver to meet people. By supper, she must have been introduce to every elf, dwarf, fairy, or other creature of importance in Golendria. Cricket tried to remember all the faces she met so that she could greet them at dinner. There was Masik, the blacksmith; Rudchuck, the wood carver; Turnip, the cook; Shreen, the temporary head warrior; Sign, the scout; and many others.

By dinner, she was a friend to all who knew her name. Ledians of every size and shape came to dine in the great hall. Silver sat Cricket down across from her at the head of the table, to the left of the High Lord’s throne. There was a buzz of noise for a few minutes, and then all sound ceased.

Fraziel and Frithen, the High Lord’s personal servants, opened the main doors and bowed deeply.

Cricket held her breath. Airik walked in the door.

He stood for a moment while everyone bowed their head—except Cricket. She just stared. He was the stranger in her doorway earlier that day.

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