I’m back with “Beyond the Looking Glass” part 5, and some exciting news! (Hey, how did you know? 😄 ) This part got a tad long, so I didn’t get to put in the plot twist I was thinking of, but never fear, I’ll put it in the next part.
Loren, I used these three prompts:
THIS PROMPT – border
THIS PROMPT – door
THIS PROMPT – “It is hunting us”
Misty, I used the word “silent” or “silence” several times in my story, and I also used a swan.
Settle back because this may take a while to read. 🙂 And one note before you start: make sure to remember that anytime capitalized “They” or “Them” is used, I mean the strange monster-creatures from this prompt.
Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 5
Before sunrise the next morning, strange people begin trickling into the fairy village. Centaurs, dwarves, elves, and fauns appear in groups around the fairy ring. By mid-morning, the army is complete and we begin the march.
Gwendolyn is supposed to be my guardian. If I was not so preoccupied with the thought of the battle ahead, I might have laughed at the thought of a little fragile fairy serving to guard me from terrible monsters. But as it is, I am grateful for any companion, however small.
At least I don’t have to fight. The fairy rulers had assigned me to spy duty along with Gwendolyn and several other fairies. Although I can be more easily spotted than a fairy, I have much better hearing and eyesight, which will be useful on our mission.
After nearly an hour of marching, we arrive at a soaring stone wall with a small wooden gatehouse wedged in it. Here we stop to rest, and Gwendolyn gives me a history lesson.
“This gatehouse is the way to Their kingdom. We have not always been enemies with Them. A little over a decade ago we did not know They even existed. We went freely in and out of Their land, which was inhabited only by friendly trolls – or so we thought. But one day the trolls living in Their land found something, we know not what. Trolls were suddenly hurrying through our land and theirs with a mysterious glint in their eyes, gathering this and that and following each other in long lines. About two weeks after the trolls started acting strangely, the wall went up. No one was allowed into Their land without the gatekeeper’s permission, and soon They appeared and started hunting us.”
Gwendolyn shuddered and continued. “Eventually no one was let past the stone wall. The trolls locked the door in the gatehouse that led to their land with many chains, and someone, probably one of Them, scratched a message into the door: ‘The world is not safe anymore.’ No one ever comes back if they stray beyond that door. What lies beyond is unknown.” Gwendolyn’s tiny head bows with sorrow and fear and she finishes her story:
“At noon we will storm the gatehouse and destroy the door. Then we must fight or die.
They are cunning and brave,
Brutal and relentless.
They are hunting us,
But now we will hunt them back.”
The little mouse named Fear runs up my spine again with its cold feet.
At noon the dwarves and Centaurs work quickly to destroy the door, and the whole horde surges through the small opening like a huge river being channeled through a tiny pipe.
I take in my first sight of Their land as I stand on Their side of the wall with Gwendolyn in my open palm. Empty meadows stretch around us, but in the distance we can see a mountain covered in dense, black forest. The spikes and spires of hidden buildings pierce the air on top of the hill.
“That must be Their headquarters,” Gwendolyn whispers to me, nodding her head at the hidden city. “Remember? The Healing Lily lives on that mountain, and so do They.”
“Do we h-have to go there to spy?”
Gwendolyn nods her head yes. Our fellow spies make a group around us, and Gwendolyn flits around to each member, explaining our mission: we must find out how many people dwell in the hidden city, and how hard it will be to win it for ourselves.
Our party finally flies forth – or in my case, creeps forth through the tall grass. I know the minute we are seen They will wipe us out, but They seem to be in hiding. The meadow is as devoid of creatures as it is of shelter. Hmm… and I wonder why there were no guards at the gateway. But I have no more time to wonder: we are at the mountain. Gwendolyn flies from my hand and addresses our group in a hushed voice.
“While traveling in this forest, you must all use extreme caution. They may be waiting for us behind any tree. Everyone must be absolutely silent – no talking and no whispering unless it is an emergency.” The fairy turns to me. “Tread carefully, Adele.”
Fortunately for me, the forest is made up of mainly evergreen trees, and the pine needles are silent under my feet. Once I thought I saw Them and my head shot up in fear. For that one moment I wasn’t looking where I stepped and a twig cracked loudly under my feet. My hand flew to my mouth and all of the fairies stopped in midair. I felt like the clumsiest being that ever lived. But it was a false alarm; even then They did not appear. Now I still feel vaguely nervous, like we are doing something wrong.
As we climb higher, I shiver in the cool air and try to hold back puffs and gasps as our way steepens.
Suddenly, we’re there.
Another stone wall surrounds this city. There are no guards or signs of life. Everything is silent. Maybe this is an abandoned city. I spot several small chinks in the mortar, and step cautiously up to one of them.
Whoa. I see towering wooden and stone buildings with many turrets standing proudly inside the walls, stretching up, up into the sky. But there are no signs of life at all, not even a smoldering fire or a stray toy. Gwendolyn signals everyone to gather around and whispers that we must go into the city. Even though the city looks deserted, the order still sends a shiver through me. What if They are just setting a trap for us? I must tell Gwendolyn! But the fairies are already flying high over the wall. I climb the wall clumsily using old vines as handholds and chinks as footholds. The climb down is much easier because there is a narrow staircase running down the wall to the ground. It’s a good thing you’re not afraid of heights, Adele.
I look around the city, on the alert for any signs of hidden monsters, but I see nothing. I catch up to the fairies who are just about to enter a house.
“Stop, Gwendolyn!” I whisper fiercely. “It might be a trap!”
Gwendolyn whispers back. “It might be a trap, but I don’t think so. We looked in the windows and the house seems empty. Besides, They won’t notice a few little fairies. You… you’d better stay outside, just in case. Get ready to run.” I gulp and edge closer to the narrow staircase.
Gwendolyn and her fairy friends slip softly into the house by way of a small knothole in the wood.
I hold my breath.
It feels like hours until Gwendolyn finally pops out through the hole and flies over to me, grinning. “There’s no one home!” she exclaims gleefully. I breathe a sigh of relief. Gwendolyn smiles and continues, “It looks more and more like this is an abandoned city. Although we can’t conquer any inhabitants, the city will at least provide shelter for our soldiers.”
What a relief! “So now we have to tell the soldiers, right?”
We set off down the mountain with joy in our hearts. We are safe! At least for now…
When we break out of the forest into the meadow, we head straight for the wall where the soldiers are preparing for battle. Gwendolyn eagerly tells her fairy king the good news that now they will be safe at night. But we spies still haven’t exactly accomplished our mission – where are our enemies? So after a short drink break, the spy party reforms and sets off as the soldiers begin the march up the mountain to settle their food and extra weapons in the city. If we bring them news of the enemy before nightfall, they will fight; if we don’t, they will wait till morning.
As we start off again, I spot a large white bird soaring overhead. Is it one of Their spies? I swallow hard and shrink down into the grass. Now I can see that it’s a swan – wearing something around its neck. It’s obvious that the swan is acting as a messenger, but whether from enemies or friends I do not know. I slip the loop of string from its neck and open the letter with trembling hands.
Beware! Things are not as them seem, Adele. Beware the hidden city, for it hides unpleasant surprises. They are the hunters, and you are the hunted. Do not fall into their trap. Signed, The Ferrymen
My heart stops. It IS a trap! And our soldiers are walking right into it!
If you read that whole thing, I heartily congratulate you. Here’s a virtual bag of truffles for your effort! 😄
Now for the exciting news: we rescued a kitten tonight! It had climbed up into the attic of one of our sheds, and fallen about 8 feet down a hole in the wall! My dad was able to cut out a hole in a board, and my sister reached in and got her out. She’s SO cute! We named her Casey. I’ll definitely show you pictures in a future post, but for now I’ll just have to tell you that she’s a medium sized gray tabby with big ears. Adorable! She’s snuggled down in a box beside me now. 🙂 ♥