We land softly on the top of the stone castle. There are no fires or volcanoes or screeching creatures or horrible roots up here. There are birds chirping and the air is fragrant with jasmine, Lily-Bella's favorite shampoo scent. We're on a luminous pale surface with potted orange and lemon trees along the edge of the bailey next to the battlement. The glowing iridescent stone walls of the castle are adorned in a crisscross pattern of the star jasmine vines. There is a feeling of utter peace and beauty, and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to leave this place.

Lily-Bella puts her fingers to her lips indicating we should be quiet. Then she gestures for us to follow her. She waves her wand and an arched wooden door appears in the wall of the castle. We enter a dark, room that smells like baking pies and melted chocolate and yeasty bread. My stomach grumbles.

Lily-Bella waves her wand again and the room is bathed in a magical fairy light. Wands are so cool. I wonder if I have enough fairy in me to use one?

There are gleaming silver ovens, and the marble countertops are covered with the most beautiful baked goods I've ever seen: golden-crusted latticework pies with oozing red fruit, sugar-sparkled razor-thin cookies, a seven-tiered tower, laden with violet and unicorn-topped cupcakes.

"What is this place?" I whisper.

"It's the castle's pastry kitchen. But DON'T eat anything."

"Not a problem for me," says Pierce.

My mouth waters. "Why not?" I'm already planning to live permanently in this very room.

"Because once you eat the food in the fairy dimension, you'll never want to leave here."

"But don't fairies eat it?"

"Of course, but it doesn't have the same effect on us."

She pops a cookie into her mouth as if to prove her point. "I protest!!!! Why are there so many rules in Fairyland?"

"Fintan and Pickles are close by," says Lily-Bella, totally ignoring my question. "But I can feel the presence of others as well. Powerful fairies are here at the castle today. Stay close, the castle changes at its own will. Passages shift, rooms reposition themselves. If you separate from me, you may never get out of here. My wand will show us the safest route. Any questions?"

"Only one," I say.


"About my clothes." Everyone stares at my bare legs.

"Oh, right," says Lily-Bella.

She waves her wand, and now I'm dressed like Lily-Bella in a long poufy satin gown, but mine is a lovely teal instead of pink. It doesn't seem like the best outfit for subterfuge, but I don't want to argue. At least I'm not prancing around in comical underwear! "Thanks."

"Sure. I suppose I did us all a favor," Lily-Bella says, smiling at me.

"Speak for yourself, Lily-Bella. I rather enjoyed her other outfit." Pierce grins. He thinks if he does that adorable dimpled grin thing, I won't say anything about his remark. My mouth is open, forming a retort when Lily-Bella's wand starts to vibrate, the glowing tip flashing on and off like a lighthouse.

"Let's go," she says.

We exit through a door on the opposite side of the kitchen from where we came in and walk into a hallway. Even though we're still indoors, the floor is carpeted with sweet-smelling grass sprinkled with wildflowers in dazzling colors I've never seen in the earthly realm. Ivy climbs the walls. There are fairy lights dancing on the ceiling, and tiny allicorns flying from flower to flower like pollinating bees. Miniature fairies, in sheer gowns, frolic on the leaves.

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