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The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part Three

by desibick


By the time Laimane had arrived at her home on the outskirts of Faerie City, the moon had begun to set. Shadows danced and crawled across the streets and darkness settled happily across the walkway like a thick shroud, content that, without the moon, it could remain there undisturbed until the sun rose. Its only irritation was the soft candlelight filtering through the thick curtains that blocked the house's front window.

     She frowned as she noticed the candlelight. Had she honestly been that careless, to leave a candle burning when she left the house? Her brows furrowed; an action uncommon to her face that caused her forehead to crease sharply. No, that could not be right. She had left hours ago, the candle would not have burned that long.

     There was only one conclusion to make. Someone had entered the house, and was possibly still there.

     Giving the child in her arms a nervous glance, Laimane silently padded over to the gate that lead to her garden behind that house and effortlessly climbed it, the girl still firmly held against her hip. Dropping behind and silently cursing the crunch her feet made against the gravel, she hurriedly hid herself amongst the thick plants of her garden.

     Laimane had put her heart and soul into her garden when she had moved to her small cottage in Faerieland, years ago, and it had grown more and more magnificent under her tender care. Arranging and caring for the most fickle, but most beautiful, plants she could discover, she had grown a miniature jungle for herself; a jungle consisting of plants from all different climates and parts of the world. It was a feat only an earth faerie with her skill could have accomplished. The rapidly dying moonlight did not do the garden justice, but Laimane was beyond noticing that, she was too relieved to be safe amongst the haven of plant life.

     Huddling the sleeping girl next to her, Laimane considered the situation. It would have taken a powerful faerie to make it through the locks she had on all of her doors, or, she thought bitterly, a group of powerful faeries. Had the dark faeries finally discovered where she lived and broken in? And if they had, why would they leave a candle burning to warn her of their presence? It might be a mistake, but all Laimane knew of her enemy's doings pointed to her being an extremely careful plotter, too careful to make such an elementary mistake.

     Soundlessly she shifted, pondering the situation. So where had the candle come from? She crouched there, debating the answer, until it occurred to her that no normal candles gave off enough light to be seen through her curtains. Any light strong enough to be seen through the curtains would be amplified by some form of light magic.

     That was a comfort, at least; she doubted that any dark faerie knew much about light magic, and certainly not enough to make a candle burn that brightly. But it was strange for a light faerie to work with candles, candle flames tended to respond more to…

     Fire magic. For an instant she sat there, stunned, and then gave a large sigh of pure relief. The very air around her seemed to loosen, and a soft, cooling breeze rustled the plants around her. There was only one faerie she knew of who could control both fire and light magic, a faerie powerful enough to make her way into the house. The candle had not been a mark of her enemies, but a sign to alert her to her ally's presence.

     Neatly and fearlessly she emerged from the garden and headed to her back door, easily undoing the lock with her magic and entering. Instantly she headed for the room with the candle in it: her kitchen.

     The kitchen was small but comfortable; large wooden cupboards lined that wall on two sides and a large, sturdy dining table set with multiple ornate wooden chairs occupied most of the floor space. Neatly exchanging the dripping cloak that sheltered the child for a knitted blanket from a cupboard, she carefully dried the child and laid her on the tabletop before turning to face the riddle that had been left for her.

     At first glance it gave off the aura of a deceptively ordinary candle, one of the many Laimane had in every room of her miniscule cottage. The earth faerie smiled as drew closer to examine it, enjoying the surprising warmth that the tiny flame emitted. She loved codes and all manner of secret messages, the more challenging the better. It was merely another sign that the candle was left by a friend that they recognized that she would be attracted to the challenge the strange candle supplied.

     She ran her finger along the wax and found that it was made of the finest beeswax, its scent sweetened by a drop of clover honey. As an Earth faerie, its very materials gave her a sense of joy; she could taste almost taste the warm summer air and smell the rich soil that had given forth to the clover. Forcing herself not to be distracted by such pleasures, she calmly ran her fingers down its smooth, supple length until her finger met an inconsistency, something unheard of in such fine candles. Drawing her face close to the candle, being careful not to burn herself on the amplified flame, she saw that it was a small etching of a star, surrounded by a ring of flame.

     Without further ado, she snapped the candle in half, breaking it off right next to the symbol along its length; the flame was extinguished instantly, as though she had thrown water on it. Not surprisingly, the candle was hollow, with an area inside just wide enough to fit a small object. Turning the two halves upside down, she twitched her wrists lightly so that whatever they contained would come out. Like clockwork, a miniscule bronze key fell with a clatter upon the table. Picking it up, she instinctively ran her fingers over the complicated series of sharp protrusions that would unlock the door. She had checked so many keys like this before that she instantly knew what it would unlock: the door to the most important room in her house; the reason she had remained hidden all these years. And, just as interesting, the symbol at the key's handle was the same as the one on the candle: the star surrounded by a ring of flame.

     Where is she then? Laimane frowned again as she saw that the key had been left for her. Did she leave? Or is she hiding somewhere else in the house? Why didn't she just go in the room and wait for me to find her…

     She found herself interrupted in mid-thought as she glanced at the table. Two more symbols were there, subtly, but legibly carved on its worn surface. The first was a mountain, its peak obstructed by a cloud. The second was a rippling pool with a scallop shell in the middle.

     So they were here too. They were most likely waiting in the room, waiting for her to come down. Why all three of them had come at the same time, on such short notice, Laimane sensed she didn't want to know.

     Scooping the faerie girl, who had slept through Laimane's puzzling, into her arms, Laimane dug a small key, almost identical to the one hidden in the candle, out of the deep pockets of her breeches. The only clear difference between her key and the other was the symbol engraved in the top: a pattern of intertwining vines with an amaryllis in the center.

     Placing the girl in a safe place on the counter top, she neatly went over to one of the four battered chairs surrounding the table. Engraved on the side of the wooden armrest, slightly more elaborately, was the pattern of vines which matched her key. Impatiently she thrust the chair to the side and knelt, searching the floor beneath the chair until she found what she was looking for: a small brass lock smoothly carved into the floor. The wooden surface around in was slightly rounded, caused by the constant pressure from the chair leg that had covered it, undisturbed, for almost a decade.

      Laimane slipped the key into the lock and twisted it 180 degrees.

      The effect was instant. She had hardly stepped away from the lock when a resounding crack met her sharp ears. She could not see what was happening, but she could feel it with her magic. Vines of all sorts of plants writhed like snakes beneath her feet, twisting in and out of complicated knots and patterns that had held the floorboards beneath the chair together. The plants twisted and wove, their movements emitting a rhythm Laimane could feel in her bones, the weaving increasing in speed until it made her ache. She could not help but feel a surge of pride: she had done well when she created this lock. Only an Earth faerie, one who was very well trained in controlling her powers, could resist the spell the vines wove, all others would find themselves hypnotized until they could not act further.

      Finally the vines released the last floorboard and thrust them all outward to land with a series of clunks on the kitchen floor; the aching in Laimane subsided into nothing. She opened her eyes and found that the faerie girl had been woken up by the vines. Laimane's heart began to pound. What if she had been hurt? But the girl didn't seem to be the least bit scared; indeed, she didn't seem to have been affected at all. She met Laimane's eyes easily with no trace of fear or pain, only mild curiosity, as if she had seen a magician do a puzzling trick she knew was not real, but couldn't figure how to do for herself.

      The spell was made so that it would not hurt anyone not trying to open the door, but it would cause discomfort; more than enough to trouble a young child. A sharp fear caused Laimane's nerves to tingle. Who was this child she had found? Why was she abandoned? And what were the powers that she had?

      Laimane knew she would have to find these answers out soon, if she was going to think of a way to keep her safe-her instinct left her without a doubt about the girl's importance-and there was also the question of what kind of faerie she was. Who could teach a faerie that didn't have an element?

      The others would know more than she did, and together they could hopefully figure out what to do. And if there was going to be any possibility of danger, it would be safer to keep the girl in the secret room for now, rather than Laimane's exposed kitchen.

      Cradling the girl in her arms, Laimane tiptoed to the side of the hole in the floor and jumped. Wincing as her aching feet hit bottom, she laboriously padded across the cold stone to a wooden door at the end of the passage under her home, beams of light greeting her from the crack underneath it. There was no doubt in her mind now: they were there, waiting for her.

      Shifting her weight, Laimane opened the door and screamed as she was thrust to the ground in an explosion of light.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part One
» The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part Two
» The Rise of the Space Faerie: Discovery - Part Four

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