The water was clear and blue. When I peeked over the side of the bed I saw strange fish swimming below us. They had long snouts and small fins, and most of them were purple and yellow. The fish were sprinting through tubes made of something spongy and, every once in awhile, they jumped above the water to do a flip.
I saw that that we were in a small pond. The bank had bright emerald grass and a group of houses that were the size of dog houses, but fancy as mansions.
At the far edge of the pond was a flat stone with dozens of glowing lights dancing around on top of it. They were the same lights that had flown by us during my “landing”. They were moving in a way that even the best Christmas lights in the world couldn’t mimic.
“Why aren’t we sinking?” asked Soy.
But before he got an answer, the bed started to float towards the stone platform. I got a closer look at the lights and realized that they weren’t just lights. They had a human shape, with one big difference.
“Are those over-sized fireflies?” Soy asked.
“I think… those are fairies,” I said, when I saw their wings.
“That’s right,” said Deli, “Pavidale is the home of the fairies.”
“… Do you ever do anything normal?” Soy asked.
The fairies wings were glowing brightly, and you could almost see right through them. Their ears were tall and pointy on the sides of their long faces. Each fairy had its own colorful glow, and they all hummed with excitement as we drifted closer. Without a sound, the bed tapped the edge of the stone.
I guessed that the fairies must be about six inches tall. Almost all of them were a shade of green or blue, but there were a few yellow and red ones, too. There was only one pink fairy, and its glow was stronger than any of the others. The pink fairy floated forward from inside the crowd.
“Allow me to introduce, Tryt,” Deli said as she gestured towards the pink fairy.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Tryt,” Soy said, bowing his head low behind me.
“We have waited a long time for your arrival. Although, I had hoped that you both would have learned some manners by now. Just because a fairy is pink, does not mean that it is a female,” Tryt said.
Soy picked his head up and blushed. As we stepped off the bed onto the stone, the fairies swarmed us. They fluttered and giggled, and gossiped in whispers.
“Come now,” commanded Tryt, “leave them be. They’ve traveled far, and there’s much to do before they leave.”
I had never seen a place like this before. There was something magical and comforting and serene about it. I wasn’t ready to think about leaving anytime soon. We followed Tryt down a wide, tan road. He flew low to the ground, at the same height as Deli’s hops.
Tryt had a regal look about him. He wore a magnificent clear robe that glimmered (with holes in the back for his wings). Somehow he always seemed to be talking down to us, even when he was speaking from a few feet below.
“There were some fairies here who were beginning to wonder if you’d ever find him,” Tryt said to Deli.
“Yes, well. It’s just that, I needed to be certain,” she responded meekly.
After a long pause, Tryt spoke again. “Of course,” he said calmly, “I knew you wouldn’t fail with so much at stake.”
Tyrt led us to a circular building much bigger than the houses, with pillars and some letters above the entrance that I did not recognize. As we walked through, I discovered there was no roof in the center, just an open garden with a round table. Around the table were four chairs that looked like they were made of glass.
“The pond fairies will take care of your bed. Although I must say, we did not expect you to land so abruptly,” he said to me. “Have a seat and let us get down to business."
Tryt showed us to our chairs around the table. Soy was to my right and Tryt was to my left, with Deli straight across. I noticed that the chair was super hard and strong, but somehow still really comfortable. It was like mine had been made specifically for me. I also noticed that Tryt’s chair was the perfect size for him, and so was Soy’s. Deli’s chair was the only one that wasn’t the exact right size. It was even taller than mine, and she had to hop up to sit on it.
“These are beautiful chairs, Mr. Tryt, sir. Are they made out of glass, Mr. Tryt?” said Soy.
“Your words are more transparent than this fairy glass, Soy,” answered Tryt.
Soy shot me a puzzled look.
“Transparent,” I whispered, “it means he can see right through it and knows what you’re trying to do.”
“Ah,” Soy whispered back, “… I don’t like him.”
“Soy, I think he can hear everything we’re saying,” I responded shyly.
“Oh, because of those pointy elf ears? You might be right. He can probably hear Miss Weaver’s lesson from here with those things.”
By this point, Tryt was glaring at Soy.
“Miss Weaver isn’t teaching right now,” Tryt said.
I looked at Tryt and wondered if he was being serious. His face hadn’t changed and, besides that, Tryt didn’t seem like the type of fairy who was known for joking around. Although, to be fair, I could count the number of fairies that I knew on one finger.
“How do you know what Miss Weaver is doing right now?” I asked.
“I told you, it’s the pointy ears,” whispered Soy.
Tryt took a calm breath. “A fairytale begins when a single sentence appears in the Book of Lore. After that, it is up to the fairies to record what happens. In order to do so, we must keep a close eye on all those who may be involved in the story. For this we use lore,” Tryt said. When he spoke, it wasn’t with the same kindness as Deli, but it still made me feel better to know that he and his fairies had been looking out for us.
“And our ears aren’t that pointy,” he added crisply.
Soy smiled back, rubbed the top of his ear and then pretended to cut his finger on a pointy edge. Apparently, Soy was no longer worried about staying on Tryt’s good side.
Given his history, it wasn’t all that surprising. Soy never got along with authority figures; it usually took less than a day for him to battle with one. The fastest that I ever saw it happen was when he held a “special election” on the walk to school and decided that he would only respond to “President Soy” from then on. (I was the only other person who voted, and Soy told me there was an error with my ballot). The substitute teacher never made it past roll call that day.
“So are the fairies speaking to you right now?” I asked, still not understanding.
Tryt pulled out a shiny yellowish pen from the pocket of his robe. It had a broad tip, and the top of it was an even shinier crown of gold. There was something about the shape that grabbed my attention, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Magic pens are extremely powerful. They can use lore in many ways. I use the Fairytale Pen to collect information from fairies all over the world. It’s how I’m able to write the stories as they happen,” he explained.
“This isn’t a story. It’s our lives,” Soy protested.
“I see no difference,” replied Tryt coldly.
“How do the fairies collect the information? Are they watching Miss Weaver right now?” I wondered out loud.
“As you know by now, magic can be used to disguise. The fairies take the form of small creatures that go largely unnoticed by humans,” Tryt explained.
Deli hadn’t spoken in a little while. She just sat and listened. I looked at her for a moment and thought about what Tryt had just said.
“Small creatures… so, does that mean that Deli…” I asked.
“No,” replied Tryt, “a fairy would never choose the shape of a frog. And Deli isn’t a fairy, she’s —“
Deli cut him off before he could finish. “What about Ream?” she said loudly.
“Ah, yes. The King of Dragons,” he responded.
Deli nodded, happy to have changed the subject.
“He took his human form again and stole a costume from the set of the school play,” said Tryt, “he left the campus twenty minutes after you fled.” He was staring at Soy as he emphasized “fled”.
“Where did he go?” I asked.
Tryt paused for a moment and looked at Deli. Deli looked back at Tryt blankly. She waited for an answer. It was clear that Deli was just as much in the dark as we were since leaving the school.
“He went to your house,” Tryt said to me. “My fairies tell me you missed each other by less than two minutes."
It took a moment for the news to sink in. I stared down at the table. A dragon. At my house. With my mom! The thought scared me beyond words. And then I got angry. I stood up from the the table and pressed my hands down hard.
“My mom was home when we left!” I shouted.
“Yes,” said Tryt, “now calm down and have a seat.”
“No! He’s a dragon, and he could destroy my entire house with one breath and my mom is inside!”
I was hysterical. The tears came pouring out. My view of the courtyard blended into watery colors. Deli hopped onto the table and then onto my shoulder. She patted the back of my head. It was so soft that I could barely feel it, but still, it was nice. She spoke to me in a soothing voice.
“She's all right,” Deli said.
Tryt spoke in a matter-of-fact way. "Ream cannot enter your home. He was struck with stonegold in a battle many years ago, and it cannot be removed. Stonegold is an ancient metal with a strong magic. It’s the same magic that forged The Fairytale Pen,” Tryt explained, gesturing towards the pen he had shown me. Through my teary eyes, the shape looked even more familiar to me.
“That’s the same color as his bowtie,” I said.
“Yes,” said Deli, “Ream’s stonegold took the form of a bowtie when you met him. Lore is able to control stonegold, and nothing that touches it may enter your home unless the fairies permit it. It’s the same magic that has protected Pavidale for centuries.” Her voice faltered a bit as she spoke the last words.
Soy stood up now, looking just as upset as I had moments ago.
“What about my mom? What about my family?!” he asked.
“We’ve done the same for your home,” replied Tryt, “although your brothers proved to be a challenge.”
Soy laughed a little in relief. “Ha, yeah that sounds right.”
“My fairies found them throwing a squirrel out of a window upon their arrival,” Tryt said with disgust.
“I’ve told them not to,” said Soy, a bit more relaxed.
“Yes, well it won’t be a problem anymore. Two of my most trusted fairies gave the squirrel enough lore to truly fly. When your brothers tried to throw it out the window this morning, the squirrel simply kept on going and flew away.”
Soy smiled now. “How did they take it?” he asked.
“Rick accused Hank of throwing the squirrel too hard. Hank accused Rick of secretly attaching it to a drone. They wrestled for seven minutes, and then looked up “flying squirrels” online for the next two hours on their phones,” Tryt elaborated.
It occurred to me then that fairies must be better with details than any other creature in the world, imaginary or real (although, I felt like I really didn’t know which animals belonged to which category anymore).
“I always liked that squirrel,” said Soy.
“So what happens if our families leave our homes?” I asked, becoming nervous again.
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” said Tryt, “Ream left Stagwood hours ago and is headed straight for us.”