I think you’re going to like this part, guys! It’s getting really exciting because I finally added the plot twist I’ve been planning for a long time. I had a blast writing this, and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it!
Loren, I used these three prompts:
via (For some reason this doesn’t seem to be showing up. 😦 Anyway, it’s the one with the monsters – or Them as it says in the story – walking through the trees.)
Remember, the last thing that happened was,
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!
I lose no time in hurtling up the mountain, a cloud of bewildered fairies at my heels.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ADELE?” Gwendolyn shrieks into my ear.
“I’LL TELL YOU ON THE WAY.” I shriek back through the sound of air rushing past me.
When I finally I catch up to the soldiers, I’m so exhausted I can barely walk straight.
“Wait!” I cry between gasps. “It’s a trap! Don’t do it… escape while you can… They will kill you…” I crumple to the ground with exhaustion. I catch my breath, then try again.
“May I have your attention, please!” I shout. Dwarves, centaurs, elves, and fauns all stop their work and look at me in surprise.
“I apologize for stopping you, but I have just received a letter that says that They are hiding in the city on the top of the mountain. It’s a trap! They are the hunters and we are the hunted…” Before I can finish my speech, a golden-haired fairy flies in front of me.
“Wait! Wait. It was me. I… I wrote the letter.” The fairy hangs her head and stares at the ground. “I’m sorry. I… I don’t know why I did it, really it’s just…” she trails off and a tear slips down her cheek. “I guess I just wanted to scare you. I’m so sorry, Miss Adele…” now she falls to the ground and lets the tears fall freely. “Truly I am,” she whispers.
The soldiers are bewildered. Some seem disgusted at the fairy and me for causing a false alarm, and some just look relieved.
I don’t know what to say. I should be angry at this fairy for causing so much trouble, but I’m not. She seems honestly repentant, and somehow… I just wouldn’t have imagined she would do such a thing. Poor girl! I try to give the fairy a comforting hug, but that nearly suffocates her, so I quickly switch to another tactic.
“It’s alright,” I tell her softly. “I forgive you. But please don’t do it again – I was really scared!”
The fairy smiles at me through her tears and nods her head.
When we arrive at the hidden city, everything is quiet and still, just as we left it. I’m beginning to feel ashamed of myself for believing the letter – how would the Ferrymen know about a trap anyway?
The soldiers divide into groups and file into the houses. I watch the lines file past as I listen to Gwendolyn tell a story to a group of fairies. I realize absently that the houses can hold a lot of soldiers. It seems like the lines keep filing in, and the houses never get full! What a blessing it is to have this for a fortress. Gwendolyn’s silvery voice fades to a murmur and my eyelids droop. Suddenly my eyes start open at the sound of someone crying right beside me. It’s the same fairy that wrote the letter – Gwendolyn told me her name is Eliana.
“I’m so sorry, Miss Adele,” Eliana breaks off into sobs again.
I frown and try to stifle a yawn. “I thought we already cleared this up, Eliana. It’s okay, really. I forgive you!”
“No, it’s… it’s not that, (*sniff*) it’s just that I didn’t (*sniff*) write the (*sniff*) letter.”
I sigh in frustration. What is the matter with this girl?
Eliana settles on the ground and tells me what the matter is between sobs and sniffs: “When I was about to fly out of the house we were spying on this afternoon, the… the floor just sort of opened up and some of Them came out. They threatened me and said that if I didn’t help them, they would raid my village.” The fairy wringsher little hands in despair. “So I had to agree. I had to! That’s why I said I wrote the letter – I was afraid They would be angry with me if I didn’t stop the letter from ruining their plan. But I know that wasn’t right now.” Eliana stared at the ground and fluttered her wings slowly back and forth.
Every scrap of sleepiness has fled from me now. “But if the letter isn’t a fake, that means it’s true! And if it’s true, They really did set a trap. And if…” A horrible thought suddenly forces itself into my mind. That’s why so many soldiers can fit in a house! They are trapping each one as he enters! My mind is whirling. “Tell Gwendolyn what you told me, Eliana,” I yell over my shoulder. I snatch up a torch and take off running to the nearest house.
I slow down as I approach it. What am I doing? What am I thinking? I can’t singlehandedly save a bunch of strong soldiers from Them! I twist my dress anxiously and hold the torch a little higher. I can’t see a thing through the windows. I just have to know! I have always been impulsive. Now my heart takes over and leaves my brain behind, then my legs take over and leave my heart behind. Stop this, Adele! You can’t go in there – you’ll be killed! But my legs propel my onwards. It’s like I’m watching a scary movie, but I can’t stop it, I can’t change to another movie, and worst of all, it’s real.
My hands tremble as they turn the doorknob. My feet stumble inside. My eyes close in fear, then open again.
I wish I had kept them closed.
The floor of the house is now a yawning pit, and They are in it – the horrible, ghastly, spindly, white monsters that are the terror of every kingdom far and near. And They’re looking at me. Hungrily.
I am paralyzed. I can’t even scream for help. I blink back tears and when I open my eyes, I’m down in the pit, surrounded by Them and… someone else. I realize there is one other human here with me. Only one. The soldiers have disappeared, but this one man stands unafraid amongst Them. Even in my desperate fear, I am curious.
The man takes one look at me and rushes forward, a strange look on his face. It looks like he either wants to kill me or hug me, I can’t tell which. I hope it’s the latter. I gulp, and look at his strong frame and square jaw and glinting steel gray eyes. His piercing gaze rakes me over from head to foot. He locks me in a stare for a moment and looks into my eyes as if trying to draw out all my secrets. I shiver. This man is getting to me.
“Wh-who are you?” I stammer.
When he hears my voice, the man’s face changes. He looks sad, angry, and deliriously happy at the same time. What a strange, strange person. In the back of my mind, a spark is trying to light itself.
He speaks in a rough, broken, but almost pleading voice. “You know who I am. Don’t you? Oh Adele, how could you not know me?”
I shrink back, startled. How does he know my name?
His hard, steel gray eyes melt until they are as soft as fawn’s gaze. His face fills to overflowing with… something. I have never seen anyone look at me that way, except once, when I was younger, maybe 6 or 7. Mademoiselle – I mean my mother – suddenly scooped me up and cuddled me on her lap. I remember seeing that same expression on her tired, ruddy face. Now I know what it was. Love.
I cry out suddenly. No, it can’t be… it has to be!
“Father? Is… is that you?”
The man’s face glows from some inward beam of light. Now I know for sure. The spark roars into flame in my mind. Somewhere, dimly, I can remember my father smiling at me like that: a brilliant smile overflowing with love.
I rush weeping into his outstretched arms. Father’s tears mingle with mine as he holds me close and strokes my hair. “I love you, Adele,” he whispers.
“Oh, I love you too, Daddy.”
*Happy sigh* That was so much fun to write. 🙂