Chapter 1: Waterfall Mischief

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Ilyia raced through the winding path towards a glistening waterfall. The warm wind tugged playfully at her black hair. The winter thaw had taken so long to arrive, she scarcely believed that it was finally spring. She clutched a large willow leaf against her chest and brushed hair out of her face.

"Come on!" she shouted over her shoulder. "We're not far!"

Two dragonflies, one green and one blue, fluttered after her. The green one, Sage, flew ahead, his body shimmering iridescent in the bright sunlight.

"Elpis isn't going to like this," he chided her.

Ilyia scoffed. "She doesn't approve of most things I do. Stop worrying!"

The blue bug, Iris, sighed as she buzzed after her mate. "Don't blame this idea on us this time if it goes awry."

"When have I ever—"

"The bog," Sage muttered.

"The rainstorm," added Iris.

They both looked at her incredulously. "The flood."

"That was not my fault," Ilyia retorted. "I didn't know those sticks were holding back a dam. It's not as if I flooded the whole valley."

Iris buzzed her wings and chuckled. "Only half of it."

Ilyia grumbled under her breath. She didn't try to get into trouble, but it seemed to follow her wherever she went. Sage called her a walking catastrophe, and her mother would just give her the look. Ilyia couldn't help if life at home was boring. There weren't any fairies to spend time with except her mother, which wouldn't have been a problem had she not been so controlling. Her mother wouldn't even let Ilyia go to town with her! So could she be faulted for wanting to make her own fun?

Ilyia set her jaw rebelliously and dashed between the dragonflies. The sound of the waterfall roared just ahead. She climbed the rocky path up to the very top, the water mist dotting her skin, and looked down.

A crystalline waterfall spilled out over the valley and took a winding path down into the pool beneath it. Sunlight gleamed off of the surface, creating a misty rainbow that arched towards a willow tree hiding the waterfall from sight. Sparkling droplets raced down the leaves and rained onto lily pads and watercress blanketing the water. Somewhere beneath, frogs and fish lounged. Flowers circled the pool, filling the air with their sweet perfume.

Ilyia backed up a couple of steps and smiled at the dragonflies. "Ready?"

They exchanged nervous looks.

Ilyia ran forward and jumped over the edge.

She brought the willow leaf beneath her feet and squared them, as she'd trained herself to do. The leaf hit the water with a splash. It carried her up and down, and twirled her around. Ilyia exploded with laughter and held out her arms to steady herself. She blinked back water spray and ducked beneath grass-made tunnels, her cheers echoing against the green walls.

She burst through the other side and twisted around another corner.

A squirrel collecting nuts gave a start when he saw her. He bolted, sending two acorns splashing into the water, just shy of hitting Ilyia.

"Ah!" She gasped and leaned to the left. Her leaf spun her twice in a circle, threatening to hurl her to the shore, but Ilyia held on. As she steadied herself, the watercress rushed up to meet her.

Ilyia crouched low.

Just before her leaf careened into the pool, she sprang free of it. She spread brilliant blue and black monarch wings behind her. In the sunlight and spray, they seemed to glitter all around her. The wind caught her, carrying her over the lily pads. She flapped and reached down, running her fingers against the watery greens. They felt cool against her warm hand—

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