by Gracie Jane
Funny story: This is from last week, and I was too forgetful+busy to post it. Please enjoy, and let me know your feedback!
ALSO: I’m trying to ‘write’ a ‘book’ so I’ll try to release new ‘chapters’ every week! As for when the next chapter will be out, it’ll be sometime around Monday, I’m hoping, though with spring sports coming around, no promises for that date!
I sat up, brushing the leaves from my hair. The dew kissed my olive skin as I stood in my small clearing in the wood. Pushing the branches out of the way, I made my way to the Gathering, where the Loster fairy colony trades, talks, and meets the Queen to conference. Little paths lead off to different homes for fairies. The only difference with my home is that the path and clearing are much larger than the fairies’.
A small fairy flew up to reach my eye level. She wore the lovely pastel purple dress of a Queen’s Assistant. I cocked my head, wondering what she meant to tell me.
“Miss Amaranda Lockreed?” she buzzed in the language of Fairish. Everyone knows me as I’m the young orphan human, so I know she was only asking for politeness. “Our Queen would like to see you. I will be your escort.” She led the way, and I dutifully followed, wandering what Queen Loster would want to see me for.
We walked the Queen’s Path. Well… I walked; the fairy flew. We passed majestic lily flowers swaying in the breeze. The Vider River flowed around a clump of trees, and I could see some fairies gathering water from the stream.
As we reached the river, I stopped, though the fairy took a few seconds to notice that I wasn’t – No, I literally couldn’t – follow.
“Oh, excuse me, miss! I do seem to have forgotten my manners!” the fairy said. She snapped her fingers and I watched a water bridge form from the river. I stepped on it, smiling at the fairy.
“Just believe,” I thought, walking across the water. We had arrived at the Queen’s castle.
The Castle itself was as marvelous as I had remembered it from my walks outside. It was an art of the elements, with the ground floor being the earth, with Queen’s Assistants scurrying all around. To the side, there was a gap in the large trees-made-to-be-walls, where a large cloud carried people from floor to floor. The fairy brought me to the cloud, and we passed the water and fire floors, finally ending at light, where the crystal walls shot beams of light everywhere We walked through the main hall, with the Fountain of Sunshine, and we went through the Loster portrait gallery, depicting royals of he colony from forever ago. Finally, we arrived at the throne room.
Light shined out of the golden throne, placed by the balcony. Dawn was breaking, making the view absolutely breathtaking. And then there was the Queen herself.
Queen Charity Loster sat perched on her throne, with a beautiful yellow gown. She was incredibly big for a fairy, and gave off an inhuman glow. Her chocolate brown hair flowed onto her tan skin, mixing for a spectacular effect. She turned towards me, her kind, hazel eyes yet boring into my soul. She seemed to me like a bald eagle, majestic and fierce.
“Thank you for coming, Amaranda,” she addressed me.
“Hello, my Queen. You wished to see me?” I replied in my politest manner.
“Yes. I would like to discuss your education.”
My eyebrows raised. I knew basic concepts taught in regular schools, and was fluent in both Fairish and Modern Latin, the language spoke commonly by humans. Was I not intelligent enough for Queen Loster’s liking?
“Let me get straight to the point. The council has considered this for long enough, and we have decided that you are to go to Oakmer Academy,” she said.
My eyes bulged. Oakmer? That was on the other side of the country! Outside of Loster Woods!
“You are not a fairy, and therefore will no longer be treated as one. I’m sorry for the brief notice, but school starts extremely soon on Monday, and the poof stations open shortly. I will leave it up to you to decide when you leave.”
I was still grasping the thought that I was leaving Loster. I took an excited breath in, and remembered that it was Saturday. I said, “I’ll pack my things, My Queen. Thank you for treating me well.”
“A few more things, Amaranda. First of all, later today you’ll receive a package via poof, as a token from the fairies. Here is a letter addressed to the King of Bejult. You’ll have to stop there, too, to explain your… absence from the records and your history,” Queen Loster told me.
“Thank you, My Queen. I promise to deliver your letter.”
“Good. Now, Genesis, please accompany this lady to the poof stations,” Queen Loster told the fairy who had escorted me to the palace. The fairy nodded, and I went to what used to be my ‘home’ to pack.
The packing passed in a blur. Soon, I had my things and had left my clearing. The path to my home glittered away, leaving just a cluster of trees.
Genesis led me to the poof stations, going slow to match my pace, which was a normal walk for a human, but pretty slow for fairies, who have wings. Finally, we exited the forest. It was my first time leaving the colony’s territory. Was this where my parents had abandoned me thirteen years ago, when I was still an infant? My heart skipped a beat, a little flash of recognition passing. I shook my thoughts away. It was time to focus on my future, not the past.
We walked a few minutes, and I looked out at the grassy plain, the ocean in the distance, the towering trees of Loster. It was beautiful, seeing more of my country in five minutes then I had seen in a lifetime.
The poof stations came into view all too soon. Fairies in white and pastel blue outfits were snapping their fingers, causing different people and species to appear and disappear in thin air.
Genesis guided me to a sation where the words ‘Bejult’ were staked. I stepped onto a fluffy rug, which almost felt like a cloud under my feet.
“Poof Pass?” a station attendant asked. I stared at her, puzzled. I had never poofed before, and I assume that people could tell.
“Here,” Genesis said, pulling out a card that was very large for tiny fairy hands. The print on it read ‘Queen’s Excuse’. The attendant raised her little eyebrows and waved her fingers, presumably checking if it was a fake or not. She bobbed her head, causing the special Poof Pass to vanish.
“Are you ready?” the fairy asked.
I nodded, then thanked Genesis. The Queen’s Assistant smiled in reply. With that, I held my suitcase to my chest as the fairy attendant snapped her fingers.
I was not ready.
My body turned a blinding white, then it felt as if water was pulling me apart. All the sudden it felt hotter, then my body turned solid once again and I heard a “Poof!” in my mind, pulling everything back together.
I took a deep breath, my eyes allowing me to see the normal world again. I gagged, but help my puke in at the last second.
“So you’re the Queen’s Excuse from Loster?” an attendant asked. However, I was to dazzled to listen at the moment.
Bejult, the capital of Camifae, shimmered like a million diamonds. The buildings were made out of gemstones. Aristocrats sauntered down the sidewalks dressed in clothing that was over-the-top. Tourists laughed with friends, eating what I would later learn to be jakadish, a tangy taco-like treat with fruit slices stacked in between the tortilla Everything shined so brightly, I have to admit that it hurt my eyes. In the distance, sitting on a hill, there was an amethyst castle which literally brought me happiness just to stare at it.
I shook myself out of my trance. “Oh, yes, sir.”
“Well, I’m not in the position to ask why you have a Queen’s Excuse, and from Loster Wood out of all places. Thank you for using poofs,” he said promptly.
As I traveled the glittering roads of the city, I took the feeling in. There was something new on every turn, and it was my first time visiting an urban environment. Look, there’s a cute coffeeshop there! And see, that activewear shop is super adorable! Wow, those croissants look delicious!
Thirty minutes later, I approached the Peace Castle Gates, a long fence surrounding the hill. I walked over to somebody who was letting people in. There was a small line, so I picked up a pamphlet about the Peace Castle and its gates.
ESTABLISHED IN 700 WS
Peace Castle is a landmark and the central government location for Camifae. Founded by Skott Bejult, the natural amethyst structure was originally a block of large stone, later carved into Peace Castle in 100 FB. Its gates require passes, as possible terrorists make it unsafe to set up *poof stations.
*More history: Fairies were stripped of the power to poof anywhere and everywhere after their original Queen Beecun was killed back in 4000 FA, restricting fairies’ powers greatly. Poof stations now require hard-to-find dissadust in order to activate fairy poofing powers in that area.
Soon, it was my turn to speak with the attendant. She regarded me with a smug grin, and said, “You look like that Loster Wood kid with the Queen’s Excuse. Forrest rubbish if I’ve ever seen one. You’re invited to visit King Bejult in his fifth conference room. Now get your skunky smell out of here, please.”
I withdrew, unused to this kind of flat out rudeness. I was in a casual dress, made of leaves patched together, and sturdy hiking boots made out of branches. Did I really look that bad? I scampered up the hill, only taking a breather when I reached the top, where the ginormous entrance of Peace Castle towered above me.
A few people tried to walk into the open castle, but it was as if there was a hidden barrier blocking them from entering. The air shimmered a bit as I approached the doors. I was almost inside when a man sprang towards the entrance. He was clothed in new, gray material, which covered his body almost entirely, other than his eyes. I let out a little shriek, terrified. Just when I thought that I had committed treason before I was officially a citizen, that same invisible barrier bounced him backwards, first sending him catapulting, then he disappeared in a puff of smoke. As I drew in my breath, I noticed a newly torn rag with a small right angle to the right, with a diagonal line piercing through. It looked like a piece of a bigger picture, and I shyly tucked it in my boots to look at later.
I braced my teeth, and walked through the doors, hoping to death that I wouldn’t be barred from entry, or worse, tossed into a random void. Surprisingly, I survived. Check that off the list, and add a bonus: A dashing, handsome young teen with curly brown hair and olive-green eyes.
“Hello, miss. Queen’s Excuse? My father has been expecting you,” he said, a brilliant smile coming to his lips. So this must be King Bejult’s son.
“Uh, yes, that’s me,” I stammered, wondering how news of a ‘special’ Poof Pass could travel so quickly, and what crazy importance and permission it could give.
“I’ll take you up to the conference room, then,” he said, offering his hand. I took it, blushing madly. He actually didn’t look too different from my age, maybe a year older? Fourteen, maybe?
The palace was gorgeous, with glimmering pink walls and yellow-gold rugs and furnishings. Politicians dressed in their best suits scurried upstairs, patches of sparkly dust coming off their heels with each step. I felt extremely plain standing next to the prince in his flashy amethyst and gold attire. At that moment, I felt like I was the perfect example of a walking tree.
We finally ascended the fifth staircase of the ground floor. The prince stopped in the middle of our walk, with a startled expression on his face. My heart sped up. Had the gray clothed guy found a way into Peace Castle?
I endured another second of petrified worry when the prince spoke up, saying, “I’m so sorry, but I don’t think I introduced myself. My name is Benjamin Bejult.”
“Oh, I’m uh, Amaranda. Amanranda Lockreed,” I timidly told him.
“Nice to meet you, miss Amaranda,” he said, shaking my hand, which was still clasping his. My flushed face became even redder.
We reached the fifth conference room, and I took a deep breath, letting go of Prince Benjamin’s hand. He asked, “This is you, Amaranda?”
“Yes, thank you, Prince Benjamin,” I said, sounding like a robot.
“Okay, it was nice meeting you. Also, please just call me Ben,” he smiled, opening the door.
My heart skipped as I walked inside the conference room. There, an older duplicate of Ben sat, looking almost as regal.
“Hello there. May this be the Queen’s Excuse who would like to speak to me?” King Bejult dryly said. I immediately thought that Benjamin had a much more likeable personality.
“Yes, sir,” I said, my heart beating ever faster.
“First order of business. What’s your name, darling?” he said, laying the word ‘darling’ out flatly.
“Amaranda Lockreed. The fairy queen of Loster Colony has a letter for you, Your Majesty.”
“Loster Colony? Don’t be shy, pass it up here,” he said, sounding curious.
I grabbed my forgotten suitcase, and fished out the letter from Queen Loster. What’s with all of these monarchs’ land being named after them.
“Thank you.” A minute passed by, then five, and then ten. His expression darkened, like a raincloud taking form. “So this letter says you’re an unregistered orphan who was abandoned at birth and has no known parents,” he said.
“And you’re to attend Oakmer Academy?”
“And you and your queen do realize that all humans – especially of magic blood – are supposed to be registered?”
“Yes, sir…” I stammered. What was to happen to me??
“You’ll be added to the records, miss Amaranta. As for your education, it says here you know the basics, so you’ll be admitted to the Academy.”
I took a relieved intake of breath, before correcting him. “With all due respect, my King, and I am extremely grateful for your kindness, but it’s Amaranda, not Amaranta.”
He cracked a sad grin. “Got that… Also, my son, Prince Benjamin, will be attending Oakmer Academy this school year as well. It will be the start of his third year.”
Ah, so Ben was fifteen. I was close enough.
I was sent back to the Poof stations after meeting with King Bejult. I took a few hours to visit the magnificent (and free) public attractions, like Peace Park. It was close to dusk when I reached the poofs. An attendant scampered up to me when I was in view.
“Amaranda Lockreed? This arrived for you,” she said in a sing-song fairy voice. I wondered how these people knew me, but hey, it’s magic. It’ll mess up your brain if you think about it too much.
I was handed a large package. It was from the fairy council of Loster Colony. I opened it, revealing a Poof Pass with my name on it, a schoolbook titled “Fairy Magic for Students”, and some new boots, made out of vines. I put all of my new items in my suitcase, then prepared to poof.
This time I was prepared when the fairy attendant snapped her fingers. I felt the same rain-like transformation during the poof and only gagged for a few minutes after arriving at Oakmer.
The town was much more casual than Bejult, and I was satisfied when no one looked at me like I was a hobgoblin. Cottages were hidden behind cute little shops. People were at the well, pulling up water, and fishing at the ocean boardwalk. Little flowers bloomed alongside dirt roads.
“Oakmer Academy students are welcome to stay inside the Night Preserve motel for free; If you’re a new student, the teachers always stop by Oakmer to take their pupils up to the school, and they come by the motel as well!” a man said, waving kids over to a wide building with flickering lights.
I started to walk over there when the man yelled, “Hey you!! Yeah, you!! Are you a student at Oakmer?” I paused, not answering, but he went on. “I just knew it!! Well, what’s your name, young sorceress?”
“Uh, Amaranda Lockreed.”
“Amaranda- What an enchanting name!! Welcome to my humble abode, miss Amaranda. I hope you do enjoy your stay!! Ah, also please do excuse our tiny bug infestation! You can help yourself to Room 43. By the way, I’m Hip Hyre, the hype man in a place that needs hyping!” the man said excitedly.
I had nowhere else to go, so why refuse his offer? I had no problem living with bugs after living in the woods my entire early childhood.
“Okays, thanks Mr. Hip.” I felt like this guy wasn’t a person who preferred formality with names.
When I reached Room 43, I kicked off my old boots and put on the new ones made out of vines. I flexed my toes. The boots had seemed a bit too big at first, but ow it was as if they were a perfect fit. I took out the fairy magic book and decided to read on the slightly hard bed to pass the time.
An Introduction to Fairy Magic
Ever since the Fairy Age (FA), fairy magic has been a strong use of power and has led to many great things in the world. In this non-standard textbook for extra-smart go-getters, you will learn elemental fairy magic, the core of their power. Humans that can give in a lot of time and strength can only master these tougher spells, but it’s doable.
I was busy finishing the introduction, and didn’t notice the blueish bubble pulsing under my bed. I didn’t notice the tiny bugs coming out of the bubble, like a jet stream of . But I did feel the nip on my thigh.
I looked down just in time to see a thousand blueberry-like things crawling up my bed from the bubble thing. The miniscule bugs began to nip me, and before I knew it, tons of little blue dots popped up, dotting my skin. It looked like giant blueberries were growing on my skin! I screamed, kicking my legs in rapid succession. Get them off, get them off!!
I ran outside, where the quick little bugs kept up with me. I heard someone yell, “Navarites!” and Hip looked at me with a slightly guilty expression, but a small smile on his face.
“Well, do something!” he shouted. I stomped in frustration. That was when long vines poked out from the ground under my feet, sending the navarites flying. I landed on my butt with a loud thump.
Hip doubled over laughing. “You just made such a big fart, vines came out!” I was confused. One, the vines came before I fell, and two, how did the vines even appear in the first place?
“Miss, you need to be treated for the navarite bites. The side effects can be harmful,” said the woman who had shouted earlier. She held one finger up to me, and ran to a cottage behind the motel. A minute later, she was back, this time with a clear vial filled with blue liquid gel. She took a seat on one of the larger vines.
“Here, this should cure the bumps,” she informed me, opening the vial and carefully touching my bites with some of the gel.
“Thank you, ma’am… Also, did you cause these, uh, vines to sprout?” I asked.
“Goodness, no. I haven’t got a single drop of magic blood in me, though some say I ought to be, due to my healing skills. Anyway, enough of my ranting. See, they’re clearing up pretty well. May I ask you your name, dearie?”
“Oh, it’s Amaranda Lockreed,” I said, still wondering about the vines.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Leah Poshtar,” the woman said.
After the bumps were fully healed, Hip invited me to dine in the Traveler’s Tavern, the restaurant in the back of the motel. I accepted the invitation, and went back there.
The tavern needed some modern lighting, and I think Hip tried way too hard to theme it like a pirate ship. I glanced over at a family eating as I walked in, and I had to cover my laugh when I saw a little kid’s meal menu that said, “Ahoy, mateys! Travelers are always welcome ‘ere in my tavern, and you can even get yo’self a parrot plushie ifs you knows how to speak like one of us. Anyways, please enjoy yur visit!”
I walked up to the bar and faced the man at the counter. I told him, “Can I please have a menu? Just a regular meal menu, I’m uh, not looking for any drink.”
He nodded and handed me a menu, asking me, “You one of those fancy Academy kids? The rest of them are seated over there.” He pointed to the right. “You can have a seat at those tables. I don’t get paid enough to be givin’ all of y’all your own separate tables.”
I blanched for a moment, then dutifully walked over there. I didn’t want to get in trouble, goodness knows how dangerous it is on Hip’s bad side, so I took a seat even though I had never met any of these kids. They probably already knew each other from their villages or past school years, so this was going to be weird, but everyone needs to at least try to make friends, right?
I sat down. Immediately, everybody turned to stare at me. I raised a shaky hand, and said one word. “Hi.”
The kids took a moment to register the fact that I had just approached them out of nowhere. Finally, some girl grew tired of the awkwardness. “Hey there! My name’s Kenna Smith,” she said, waving. Her blonde ponytail bounced as she smiled.
“Oh, mine’s Amaranda Lockreed,” I said shyly. How many times had I been asked my name that day? It’s so weird, after everyone knowing you just by sight for the past thirteen years of your life.
“Nice, I like it! We were just talking about the Academy. Are you a first year, too?” Kenna said.
“Yeah.” I was glad I wasn’t the only kid at the table going into first year.
With that, the conversation carried on like it had before I showed up, except I slid in a few excited words. After we exhausted the topic of school, I felt curious to ask the group if they knew where those vines had came from.
“You have any kind of new, special item?” an older kid starting his fourth year asked.
“No… Well,” I took a second, looking at my boots, which were coincidentally also made out of vines. “I kinda got these boots from uh, fairies, today that are made out of vines.”
“That must be what happened. What were you doing when the vines appeared?”
“Just running from navarites.”
“Uh… I stomped?”
“Bingo! If you stomp with those boots, vines must pop up!”
“Cool,” I said, happy that the mystery was solved, and happy that I had a new special item.
It got to be really late, so we all started to head back to our motel rooms. Hip saw me, and let me know that he had done the dirty work for me and had scraped the navarite goop out from under my bed and ‘saved my life’. I rolled my eyes and thanked Hip, then closed the door on him.
Turning off my blinking light, I sat down to bed and went to sleep after kicking off my boots. A little vine sprouted too after the boots hit the ground. More stuff for Hip to clean! I took a deep breath, excited to be brought to my new school tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I would be leaving my old life behind.