*Gulp* It’s the last TIWC. 😦 This has been a lot of fun, Grace! Thank you so much for hosting this lovely writing challenge. I’ve enjoyed writing this series and watching what twists and turns the writing prompts make.
Grace, I used all three prompts and the word “pencil” in my story. I also included something lost, something found, true love, heartbreak, and a betrayal.
Here’s a refresher from last chapter:
“But now he’s gone,… and I don’t know if he’ll ever return. Oh please, won’t you help me?”
I swallowed hard and glanced at Lise. She nodded her head ever so slightly. “”We’re in,” I said.
Anabelle Rose took a deep breath and gave us the background for the ‘case.’ “I have always dreaded The Collecting. Finn does that once a month, you know. Makes a trip out of it. He travels all over the house and outdoors as well to gather replacements for our clothing, pencil-wood, candles, and such things. I’m so lonely here by myself, but he insists that I stay here, where I’m safe. But that’s what worries me. If I’m not safe, neither is he. Before now he’s always managed to come home safe and sound, but this time… this time he hasn’t.” Anabelle Rose bit her lip, and continued in a quavering voice, “Usually when I wake up in the mornings and see the sun rays dancing through the window, it feels good to be alive. But with Finn gone, all I feel is heartbreak. I keep imagining all the terrible things that could have happened to him, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m only a fairy, after all. I couldn’t do search for him on my own, and no one would dare help me, even if I worked up the courage to go and ask… except you.” Anabelle Rose glanced at us pleadingly.
I took the hint. “We’d be glad to help you find Finn, Mrs….”
“Call me Anabelle,” she said.
“Then we’d be glad to help you, Anabelle. That’s actually why we came to the attic in the first place…” Then I told her about meeting Rosalind, about her story, about our quest. I realized, as I told the story, how far Lise and I had gone – we had associated with a human and now with a fairy. We had betrayed the dust pixies. We had become traitors. But somehow I couldn’t find it in myself to be guilty. Now that I had met a human and a fairy for real, I liked them. It felt wrong to be against them – they were really just like us.
After discussing the matter with Anabelle, we decided that the most logical place to start was outside, at the willow tree overhanging the brook.
“Finn knows his way around this house so well – I’m sure that wasn’t a problem for him. But he is a dust pixie, and dust pixie’s aren’t raised outdoors. If Finn could get in trouble anywhere at all, that’s where it would be. Outside. And I have a friend who lives at the willow tree. She keeps close track of everything that she can see from her tree – which is a lot, believe me.”
So that’s where we went. Outside. None of us had ever been outside before, and Fiona and Petre especially were awed as we flew out the attic window. We had seen The Outdoors of course, from windows, but the cool, fresh air and the glorious smell of leaves and grass and growing things were new to us. I loved it.
Anabelle confidently alit on one of the top branches of a beautiful, stately willow tree that shaded a whispering brook below. Anabelle knocked on a protruding knothole in the tree trunk. She waited, smiling, watching our amazed faces trying to take everything in. She seemed to feel better now that we had begun our quest.
Suddenly the knothole swung open and a fairy stepped out. Her light brown hair had strands of willow leaves braided into it and her eyes were olive green, just like the leaves. Her elegant, gray-green wings looked delicate yet strong. She looked, in fact, much like her tree: green and brown and graceful.
“Meet my friend Elaena,” Anabelle smiled. We all greeted her shyly and introduced ourselves. Elaena nodded pleasantly at us, but she was reserved and quiet for the most part. She seemed a little shy as well.
“What has brought you here, Anabelle?” Elaena inquired. So Anabelle told the fairy how Finn had gone missing and explained that they had come to her for clues. Elaena stood still thoughtfully for a moment, silently opening and closing her wings.
“Yes, I have a clue,” she said at last, in a soft voice. “But I don’t think it’s a happy one.” Elaena spoke slowly, her eyes downcast. “I saw Finn enter the Inner Forest, but I have not seen him return.”
Anabelle’s pale skin turned even paler. She gasped, and her hands flew to her mouth. She blinked hard against threatening tears. “No,” she whispered. “Please, no.”
Now I understood her reaction.
We had traveled down the brook in Elaena’s bark boat. That was quite an experience for Lyri, my siblings, and I. I nearly lost my balance getting in, and Petre did lose his balance. Twice. Then Lyri and Fiona who were sitting in the back of the boat almost got catapulted into the water when the front end hit a rock. Despite these difficulties, however, I found that I enjoyed boating. I the push of the water against the paddles. I loved the sound of the brook laughing at us and singing to us. I loved the feeling of gliding through the water.
But the brook changed when it reached the Inner Forest. Instead of bubbling with laughter, it flowed sullenly onward, barely making a sound. It was darker here in the Inner Forest too. Lyri’s eyes reflected her worry into mine. I couldn’t help but reflect it back. Mighty trees rose around us, their lush crowns of leaves blocking most of the sunlight. Moss dripped from their arms and ran down their trunks. It felt like the attic, but different. Spookier. Our paddles silently churned the water. No one spoke.
Finally we docked at a small, flat rock to the side of the stream. We hauled the boat ashore, tied it to a nearby sapling, and set off on foot. I carried Petre on my back, and Lyri and Fiona walked close together. Everything was silent, as if waiting with bated breath.
Suddenly Anabelle stopped short and let out a piercing wail.
She had found Finn. He was bound to a tree, eyes closed in despair and exhaustion. He opened them when he heard his wife’s cry, but immediately shook his head and motioned us to stay away.
But he was too late.
YIKES! Major cliff-hanger! That was really fun to write. 🙂
Since TIWC is over and The Dust Pixies, apparently, is not, I’ve decided to continue the series! *Everyone applauds* *Or maybe boos* I hope it’s the former. 😉
Thanks for reading, readers! 😄
P. S. I got an Instagram account!