A/N: This is a sequel to Dragons at Twilight, a planned trilogy in an alternate fantasy universe. You could jump right in with this one, but I would advise reading the the first book to keep you from being confused. Apologies to returning readers for all the summarizing.
Book two: Dragon Prophesy Chronicles
Fairies in Moonlight
The tilt of the gateway made us all fall when we hit the ground on the other side. I landed on a pile of arms, legs, and complaints, just in time to watch the gateway close. My wings fluttered and I was the first one up. Be'lah climbed off of Ehd Wyrd's prone body and helped him to stand. J'Spurr looked like he'd been on the bottom of the pile, and I worried about him when I noticed his wing was bent. In moments, the gossamer silver wing straightened, and he fluttered to my side. M, Ghar'rett, and Rose all brushed themselves off as they stood. We'd made it!
A wizened old man approached us clapping his hands together, a smile stretching over his notably white teeth.
"Wonderful! I thought I'd never see visitors again! What can you tell me of Ny'a, it's been such a long time?" Even as he asked the question, his eyes fell to my necklace, and the smile disappeared from his face.
"You're not Ny'a, and yet you wear her necklace... you look like her. Who are you, what's happened?" He sat down on what looked like a giant red mushroom. "I knew something bad happened. I would have gone through to check on her, but every time I leave my post, those rapscallions sneak through!" He glanced around him and over his shoulder, and I heard faint giggling.
"I'm Ny'a's daughter—I'm Alyss. These are my friends: Be'lah—who is a fi'nyx, even though she looks completely human; Ehd Wyrd—who was once a human prince, but is now a dragon—he chose human form with magic; Eh'met and Ghar'rett—who have always been dragons, but they're also traveling as humans; and Rose—Ehd Wyrd's sister, who is still a human princess. That gorgeous fairy there is J'Spurr—Ehd Wyrd and Rose's brother—who was once a human prince, but now is also truly a dragon, but he chose that cute fairy form just for me."
The man looked confused, then stood up to greet each of us. "I am... Al...Al'stayr—I almost forgot. It's been a couple human lifetimes since I've had real visitors. Do you know why there have been no new guardians? I am very tired and... it's been so very long." I could tell this was going to take a while.
Our group needed some time to adjust to being in Fey, where the very air was different than we were used to. To me, it was energizing, and tasted delicious on my tongue. While they took stock of our surroundings, I told Al'stayr what had happened on the other side
"My mother, Ny'a, was attacked over a hundred years ago, by a human wizard named Jheyms. He was an evil man who had learned how to leech the life and magic from living things. He was able to find and subdue Ny'a—though I don't believe he even knew about the gateway at the time. He drained most of her magic, and you know fairies have a lot of magic. You know that the gateway was on a sea stack, and it perceived what happened to its guardian as an attack against itself. There was an earthquake, and the sea stack with the gateway and my mother's garden, crumbled into the ocean, completely disappearing from human eyes." Al'stayr gasped at the news, and tears trickled from his eyes.
"So he killed her...?"
"No, not exactly. Jheyms was poisoned by the magic he'd stolen from her, and it turned him into something worse than an evil man. He was entirely corrupted by the power, and there were no good sorcerers powerful enough to stand against him. He killed those who even tried. Jheyms set many things in motion, that have lead us to this point."
"What happened to Ny'a? She was such a pretty little thing, and so cheerful. She threw me a party for my birthday... how long ago was that...?" He seemed to lose track of what he was saying.
"It had to have been over a hundred years ago. She could no longer guard the gateway, and she couldn't even return home without her magic. She swam to the mainland, and the people there took care of her until she was physically mended. She gave them her necklace and told them to keep it for me, even though I didn't exist then. She told them of the future as she saw it in her visions. Then one night she slipped away while everyone slept.
"She went to Plaht Island, where she knew these prophesies would culminate, and Jheyms would meet his end. She didn't arrive soon enough to stop his enslaved witch from putting the royal Kellan family under a curse, and disappearing. She knew he would return as the curse expired, since he believed he would gain control of the throne, as well as the gateway to the Elvish realm—which has been invaded and is occupied by dragons. Jheyms wanted to call the dragons through the gateway, into the human realm, so he could subjugate all of humanity.
"Ny'a spent eighty years there, spinning fortunes and selling herbal remedies, before she met and married my father. A'lek was a small man himself, and he adored my mother. Most of those on the island considered her a witch. My father wasn't from the island; he was a peddler from the mainland, and he sold some of his goods to her. They fell in love and were wed. Two years later she was expecting me, and she knew she wasn't going to live long after my birth; I was too big and she was too small." It hurt to admit my part in her death, though I had no control over what happened.
"She lived just long enough to pass on her memories to me before she died. Those memories were locked in my head, and some of them leaked out occasionally. I also inherited the gift of foretelling, and as I grew up I was looked at as a witch, just like her."
Al'stayr laughed. "How could they think you were a witch, when you're clearly a fairy?"
"I didn't look like this then. I looked like a normal girl, with dark brown hair and eyes. But it was their fear that kept them from forcing me to submit to their decree. Life on Plaht Island had gone from being very good to almost unbearable. A new regent had been chosen to hold the throne while the Kellan's were away. Because they were cursed and in hiding, no one could take the throne and call themselves king or queen. Even after so much time had passed, the kings crown still hung from the throne, and no one could claim it. The ruling line of Plaht Island is descended from a dragon, and the crowns are crafted by the dragon's own scales. Only legitimate heirs can wear these crowns, or they die." I snatched the crown from Ehd Wyrd's head, and showed it to Al'stayr.
"Only someone descended from the first dragon king of Plaht Island, can wear the crown, unless it is the king chosen by the queen. Plaht Island is ruled by a matriarchy, and the title is passed through the women. King Kharl and Queen May were both in hiding, along with their children, Rose, J'Spurr, and Ehd Wyrd. They had to hide, because Jheyms wanted to kill the king and force either May or Rose to marry him—making him king. As king of the island, he would have unopposed access to the gateway to the former Elven realm. Jheyms' curse, changed the males into dragons. May could break the curse by leaving her husband and marrying Jheyms. Rose could also agree to marry the leech, and break the curse on her father and brothers. But no one could seize the throne, even though everyone who remembered the Kellan's grew old and died.
"May remained true to her husband, and Rose had fallen in love with a most unlikely suitor." I smiled at Rose and M, as he put an arm around her. "M was the new guardian of the gateway, though the elf guardian still lived. The Kellan family hid in the caves where this gateway remained unknown to humans. Because the witch and her husband who cursed them were both good people who were forced to do a bad thing, the curse kept them all young for a hundred years. The curse was tied in with the prophesy my mother had foreseen." It awed me how so much had been set in motion so long ago, even knowing how it all worked out. The prophesy was what my mother had seen shortly after Jheyms had stolen her power.
"The dragons come for the great bird. Only in losing her life will she gain her future. Only in her future can the people be free. The dragons will seek her for their own, and the white wizard seeks her blood to open the gateway, and evil shall descend upon the great bird. Only when all hope is lost will hope be found."
"That's not right!" Ghar'rett interrupted my story. "That may be how humans see it, but the dragons have a much better grasp of future events. Our prophesy is complete, and yours is missing the most important parts. This is how it has been passed down through the ages." What came from him sounded more like a chant, or a song.
Great and noble, strong are we, until we find the door.
Foolishly we run away, noble nevermore.
Monsters all who doth partake, beings as our prey.
Doomed we are and glory gone, waiting for the day.
Younglings born not of our soul, little more than lizard.
Many go when 'ere we hear, the calling of the wizard.
Choose your leader carefully, one will save your soul.
The other will enslave you, no virtues to extol.
Chosen by the dragon prince, the sacrifice too high.
Unexpected mysteries, the swan will surely die.
Two will battle for the right, to lead the noble home.
Hate will die and love prevail, bursting from the dome.
Only when all hope is lost, will it be restored.
Fiery justice takes to flight, to slay the evil hoard.
Glory rests with honor, waiting for the call.
Sight can be deceptive, rock enshrines not all.
Passing from the realm of Man, into one of Fey.
Questing for the doorway home, maybe find the way.
Unexpected rivalries, hatreds, wars, and feuds.
Careful of the treacherous, whimsical of moods.
Foes come from forgotten home, enemies of brown.
Horror dies at hands of fair, unfair taken down.
Fiery justice takes to flight, called into the war.
Heeding promises to lead, the noble to the door.
Love is tested once again, will it lose or win?
Fragile peace and hope is born, 'cross the lines of kin.
Glory seems at last at hand, sleeping soon to wake.
But foul the evil lurking, proves goodness to be fake.
Hope again is tested, balanced on a lie,
Will love fragile disappear, or prove to never die?
Sinister the plans unfold, of unseen hands that toil.
If the noble make it home, the wicked may they foil.
Lovely is the vision, of our realm restored.
Something is amiss so foul, in the land adored.
Shame to those of treachery, shame to those who scheme.
Evil are the ones who make, nightmares out of dream.
Plotting seeking power, control and adulation.
Conspiracy of havoc, descends upon all nations.
Three together six apart, stronger by the pair.
Evil works with unfair tools, stills the breath of care.
Fiery justice takes to flight, fighting evil's woe.
Sacrifice again too high, loving one will go.
Hope is lost, love is gone, evil testifies.
From the other side of life, history defies.
From whence the prophesy began, history denies!
We all stood around Ghar'rett, and for a while none of us spoke. M merely nodded, as if assuring the rest of us that Ghar'rett spoke correctly.
"That's a lovely poem, but what does it all mean?" Rose asked the question those of us who weren't born dragons wanted to ask.
"The most wise among us have been pondering that one for centuries. No one really knows. But I do believe we have seen the first part of the prophesy come to pass. Is there anyone here who thinks the fi'nyx is not the 'fiery justice?' I am convinced the wizard who called us is the one from the prophesy. Remembering the prophesy is how I knew to fly into the dome to escape."
"So I'm supposed to be fiery justice?" Be'lah looked skeptical. "Ghar'rett, how old is your prophesy?"
"I learned it when I was a hatchling, about two thousand years ago, but it's older than I am."
"That doesn't make any sense! R'ness hadn't even begun her plan to guide my lineage—I don't even know if she had been born then." Be'lah had always had a hard time with prophesy, especially since she was right in the middle of it.
"You don't understand, Be'lah. I've been dealing with prophesy a lot longer than you have. It's got nothing to do with sense, and more to do with magic." I tried again to explain it to her. The prophesy didn't care that her grandmother, the elf R'ness, had only begun her plan a thousand years before. Through her manipulation, Be'lah was as close to an elf as was possible, with her combined human and elven lineage. As far as I knew, she could be one of the last of her race, as their realm had been overrun with dragons over a thousand years ago. Even her elven ancestor didn't make it out of the caves when the volcano erupted on the island—poor thing.
It was difficult to explain everything to Al'stayr as well, but he was so hungry for information, it felt cruel to leave without speaking to him. The guardians of the gateways were tied to the gates, until someone else took their position, or the gateway was destroyed. Both Be'lah's elven ancestor, and the dragon M had been guardians of a gateway located in the human realm. The gateways were magical conduits between realms, and he'd been alone since my mother's gate collapsed into the sea, over a hundred years ago. Well, maybe not completely alone, as it seemed we were surrounded on all sides by some kind of beings watching us from the trees.
"Who are they, Al'stayr? I can hear them; I can feel them watching us." I looked off into the trees, seeing little glints of light and color flickering too fast to be seen clearly.
"They're pests!" He raised his voice, and I distinctly heard giggling. "I swear, the demons from the pit must have sent them to torment me in my old age—nonsensical little bugs—nothing good ever happens when they're around. They're the bane of my existence, they are. They're the reason I can't leave this gate unguarded, or they would have overrun the other side a long time ago."
"They're bugs?" He was confusing me, especially since I could hear laughter, and sometimes even whispering.
"No, they're fairies! Miserable miscreants all of them!" His eyes fell on me, and his demeanor changed instantly. "Oh, I don't mean you my dear. I forgot you're not from this side. You have to understand, there are many, many different kinds of fairies, and some of the differences are profound. Those little rascals are the most bothersome I've found. They're sneaks and spies, and they take special delight in tormenting me. I must be careful when and where I take my rest. I have awakened tied in the top of a tree, or with a hornet's nest woven into my hair. They've stolen my clothes so many times I have lost count, and they have even tried to murder me in my sleep! Don't trust them—ever!"
"How many different kinds of fairies are there? My mother didn't pass that along to me." It was strange, since I had so many of her memories in my head, I often thought I had all the knowledge of her entire life. But I'd discovered there were gaps—sometimes profound gaps. It's the reason I didn't know that putting on her necklace would keep J'Spurr from touching me, unless he wanted to be painfully zapped across the room.
"There are more kinds of fairies than I can count. Most of the creatures on this side are some sort of fairy. You are related to some of the most civilized and human-like. Those ones..." He pointed at the trees surrounding us. "...are magical mischief makers. They're almost pure magic, and they have absolutely no conscience. I've come to understand that this realm changes every creature in it. I believe the gateway is what keeps me human, or in all this time on this side, I would likely have grown wings and sparkling skin." He laughed at the absurd image.
"Do you plan on staying long?" His question made me pause. I knew the other fairies were listening to us, and he'd already called them spies. Ghar'rett's prophesy was still fresh in my mind, and I worried about our mission being hampered if our news fell on the wrong ears. Another of my mother's memories surfaced, and without thinking, I cast a spell for privacy. The two of us were enclosed in a silence bubble, and though we could see out, I knew from the way everyone else reacted, that we were invisible to them. J'Spurr quickly discovered the dimensions of the bubble, and I hated that the magic had left him on the outside, and separated from me again. I knew no one could hear us while we were inside the magical shield.
"We're looking for another gateway. We have a lot of dragons on the other side, and they want to go home. The door leading to the elvish realm has been destroyed on the human side, so they can't go back the way they came. I know where to find the other gateway, and we hope to be able to lead the dragons back home, through this realm."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean I'm not very familiar with dragons, but they're pretty frightening. Not only that, but the fairies on this side would probably react poorly to having dragons roaming through their realm. All it would take, would be for one dragon to do something wrong, and... fairies are known to be quite merciless when they're crossed—no offense."
"I think if we find the gateway and get permission from the fairies, it should be possible to make the crossing short and painless."
"The only thing short and painless about fairies, is their size. I hope you know what you're doing." He glanced over my shoulder. "Are they going to be alright?" I looked at the rest of the group, and only Be'lah seemed to be doing well. Her elven ancestry was probably helping her deal with the magic. Rose looked terrible, leaning on M for support, as her face seemed to change colors by the minute. Her hair was lank and lifeless around her, and even her blue eyes seemed dull. It was more than just being damp from the swim to the gateway; she really looked ill.
"They're fighting the magic." His comment got my attention. "It's like they're underwater, and holding their breath. It's not a conscious choice they're making, it just happens when beings from other realms come here. Only fairies are attuned to the abundant magic; elves are a close relative of the Fey, so it doesn't bother them as much. But the rest will have to adjust—like learning to breathe under water."
"How long will that take?" I was worried, as everyone was looking as if they'd eaten a bad meal.
"It can happen in a few hours, or it can take weeks. Those with stronger wills take longer, unless they are very adaptive. The affects are mostly harmless, but it can make them miserable for a while. I don't need to tell you, that staying here too long will change them. As soon as their bodies adapt to the magic, it starts trying to change them. In as little as a full cycle of the moons, you could see differences. If they stay here too long, they may never want to leave." His warning resonated with me. I'd felt that very strong desire one time back on the other side. I'd visited the place where Be'lah's grandmother had made her home, and the magic I felt from the place had a magnetic pull on me that was almost impossible to deny.
"Well, I hope you'll understand then, that we need to leave as soon as we're able. I want to make our plans and get to the gateway before any of those changes take place." His face fell, clearly showing his disappointment.
"I was afraid of that. I've become a lonely old man guarding this infernal gate. When I took this assignment I was young, and so filled with pride to be chosen. Tell me, are the K'will Uttes still living on the mainland across from the gate? I'm sure they've forgotten about me by now. Maybe you could give them a message when you go back?"
"They're still there, but without my mother on that side, they could never find the gate. It was magically hidden."
"That explains a lot. Well, let me know if there's anything I can do to help you along. I won't hold you here any longer."
As soon as I dropped the privacy shield, everyone converged on us, asking questions. With a flutter of my wings I was eye to eye with them, and I didn't have to strain my neck to look up.
"I'll be happy to tell you everything I know, but I think we need to get moving, since we're not alone here, and we don't have much time."
Be'lah came alongside me as everyone stood up so we could travel. "I take it we should be careful what we say?" Her voice was soft, but I didn't know how well the fairies could hear.
"I'm worried about that prophesy. I don't want to get caught up in someone else's wars, rivalries and feuds." I found that I too was whispering.
"It might happen anyway." She bit her lip and glanced at the trees. "No matter how hard I fought against it, I couldn't make the prophesy go away. I couldn't change what happened. Maybe we should start preparing for that prophesy."
"I don't know how we can prepare a defense, when some of us can barely stand." Even as I said it, Rose stood taller and squared her shoulders.
"I'm ready to go. The prophesy hasn't killed us yet, and I'm not giving up now." She laced her fingers with M's, and as if that was the signal we were waiting for, we waved goodbye to Al'stayr and started to walk.
We were in the center of a small island, and soon we reached the beach. We could see the mainland from where we stood.
"Do we swim or fly from here?" J'Spurr was close enough I could hear his soft question, but he was careful not to touch me.
"Flying would be faster, but if everyone changes back into dragons, it could attract a lot of attention. We could swim, but we really don't know what's in the water. My mother's memories are making me feel afraid of what could be lurking below the surface."
"Then we should definitely change back. If we've got to face danger, we'd be better off facing it as dragons."
"I"m not so sure. We're in their realm now, and something tells me fairies aren't as easy to defeat as elves—not when they have limitless magic. Can't you feel it, J'Spurr? It feels like a warm blanket surrounding me. I can smell it in the air, like sunshine and perfume. I can taste it, like honey on my tongue. I can even see it floating through the air like dust motes. It makes me tingle from the inside out!"
"I used to do that to you." His sullen words tore at me. I couldn't look at his sad eyes, and I fought not to touch my necklace for reassurance.
"Okay. We'll do it your way. If the four of you want to change back to dragons, we'll fly across."
In minutes there were dragons on the beach. The giggling I heard in the distance told me we had been followed by the "spies." I wondered if they'd ever seen dragons, but my mother's memories assured me that dragons lived in Fey. Four dragons rested in the sand: one silver, one bronze, a large black, and an enormous blue. Be'lah was already astride Ehd Wyrd, and M carefully lifted Rose to his back. J'Spurr waited for me, and I stepped closer. Even as I reached for him, I felt the gathering of the magical energy that would send a charge through him. I couldn't do it.
Instead I flew to Ghar'rett and alighted on his back. Even though Be'lah and I could fly on our own, it was faster and easier to ride on the backs of the dragons. One by one, they leaped into the air, and their great wings unfurled.
We knew to expect trouble, but we were still unprepared when we were out over the water and came under attack from the sea. Even my mother's memories failed me, as massive tentacles reached up from the ocean below us. Ehd Wyrd was the fastest and most likely to escape, so I was surprised when he was ensnared by two of the living black cables. Even before he could fly his evasive patterns, he was wrapped in powerful coils that crushed his wings to his body, and ripped him from the air like he was nothing more than a bug on the end of a frog's tongue.
Be'lah tumbled from his back and immediately she flew with her own magic. She managed to evade the whip-like tentacle that was trying to grab her, but the magical bolts she cast at those holding Ehd Wyrd seemed to have no affect. I screamed a warning too late, as another living rope shot up from the water and wrapped around her, and she disappeared amid the thick coils.
M faced the waving mass of tentacles and breathed his fiery breath at them. Several burst into flame, then disappeared back into the water. Before I could take a relieved breath, more replaced those he'd damaged. They snapped toward the big black dragon with a single-minded menace, and a speed he couldn't match. He choked out one burst of flame before he was caught in six of the binding ligatures. Princess Rose fell.
J'Spurr dove to save his sister, and I held my breath until he snatched her in his clawed fingers. Watching him fly thrilled me, even though we were in such danger. His silvery form moved with lightning speed as he evaded the grasp of the tentacles. With a twist he doubled back, and breathed his icy attack, freezing both tentacles and the water surrounding them. He soared into the air, and the two limbs that were still reaching for him, were too short. He was free!
"Do something, Ghar'rett!" I didn't know what I expected him to do, but I couldn't stand feeling so helpless, as Ehd Wyrd and Be'lah were pulled into the water. The immense dragon had been further behind the others, and he'd stopped a cautious distance away. With a burst of speed, he flew at the tentacles holding M. His savage claws and teeth tore through four of the cords, and I was sprayed with a burning ichor that spurted from the severed tentacles. I knew he couldn't bite through all of them, and more were speeding toward us to replace those he'd destroyed.
"Use your breath!" I knew he had a powerful lightning breath that could fork out and catch all the offensive bindings.
"No! I'll kill your friends too. I can't choose friend or foe with..." His draconic speech was cut short, as a massive cord wrapped around his body with whip-like speed. He fought, and momentarily his strength won out and he was freed. His great wings beat the air and he circled around the mass that was still holding M. Another burst of speed took him into the mass, and he snapped five more of the strands. Whatever it was below the surface, decided he was their greatest threat, and a dozen of the heavy black ropes came for him. He was no match for so many, and they wrapped first around his hind legs and tail, dragging him closer to the writhing mass.
He was caught, and I heard the snap of his wings breaking, as a tentacle the size of a tree trunk snaked around his torso. I would have been crushed if I'd kept my seat on his back. Instead I flew, fighting to get away from the menacing cords.
I was faster than all of them. With the magic of Fey surrounding me, I easily dodged the through the tentacles, seeking something more substantial to attack. In the middle of the mass I could see a great black form, just beneath the surface of the water. The leviathan was larger than any ship I'd ever seen, and even from so far away, I could make out a great maw, lined with teeth.
I pulled the magic to me, feeling it gathering at my will. With nothing more than a thought and a pointed finger, I directed an burst of pure, magical destruction at the monster. The sea exploded, sending up a spout of water and more of that burning fluid. I'd hurt it badly, but the waving tentacles told me I hadn't killed it. I called even more magic to me—then screamed. An iron band wrapped around my ankle, and I felt the agony as it crushed the bone. I lost the spell.
For a moment I forgot I was a fairy, and clawed at the snare like a human girl. I knew the next tentacle would kill me and terror seized me, making me panic.
Then I was free.
J'Spurr came back for me, and his attack severed the binding on my leg.
"Go!" His roar snapped me out of my daze, and I flew like death itself pursued me. It did. I dodged and wove through the tentacles trying to grab me, feeling the whoosh of the air as they narrowly missed. I was soon out of its reach, and I spun to look for J'Spurr. He was caught!
He'd freed me, but he'd sacrificed himself and Rose to do it. I watched in horror as two tentacles wrapped around his precious body, squeezing the air out of him, and crushing his beautiful wings. I reached for my necklace, as a scream tore out of me.
Bright power blinded me from somewhere inside my own mind. In the after-image, I saw everything clearly: Bella and Ehd Wyrd were floating beneath the surface, as the creature sought to drown them before it would eat them; M and Gharret were still held above water, and I knew as if by instinct, that it would save its prey for a later meal; J'Spurr was ensnared, but even still he protected his sister in the powerful cage of his dragon mitt.
Heat seared my hand but didn't burn me, and my necklace transferred a power to me unlike anything I'd ever felt. It was old magic, refined and aged to a potency that momentarily made me drunk with it. Kill the krak'ken! The faint whisper in my mind, came with a knowledge of exactly how to accomplish the feat.
Ghar'rett's attack couldn't differentiate his friends from his foes, but mine could. With my eyes closed, I focused on the image in my mind, of the gigantic creature beneath the water. I saw its gaping mouth, and the rows of teeth that would shred its prey as it devoured them. I focused on the monster beneath the surface, and unleashed the power. Jagged bolts of lightning shot from me—through me—racing to the monster holding my friends and the one I loved. Multiple forks of power found their targets, and tentacles were obliterated in an instant.
The brunt of the attack was directed below the surface, and with my eyes closed, I saw the destruction. The creature convulsed and jerked before it burst, exploding into fleshy chunks, teeth, and tentacles. Without a doubt, it was dead, and the tentacles fell into the water. Everyone was free, but they were all injured, bobbing in the water.
My wings fluttered weakly, keeping me in the air, but I was exhausted. I couldn't do a thing to save them. I saw the struggles of Ghar'rett, M, and J'Spurr, and I knew they'd all suffered broken wings and other crushing injuries. Ehd' Wyrd and Be'lah still had not surfaced. I knew she was a water elf and could hold her breath a long time, but I didn't know how seriously they'd been hurt. I felt the tears on my face, and didn't even have the strength to wipe them.
I heard a buzzing sound. It came from behind me, and quickly became a loud noise, like a chorus of swamp frogs during mating season. I saw them coming toward us, a buzzing, humming cloud of hundreds of small beings. They flew right up to me, and several regarded me face to face. They looked like a combination of bugs and tiny little people. Large black eyes, tiny pursed lips, on nose-less faces, stared at me. Wings beat so fast I couldn't see them, and tiny, arms and legs protruded from colorful androgynous bodies.
"Helpyou, we. Yes. Helpyou, wewill." Several spoke at once, but as if they shared one thought. Before I could respond, they darted away, swarming around the others. I couldn't believe that the fairies that were no bigger than my own hand, could lift a dragon the size of Ghar'rett. But in moments he floated free of the water, along with J'Spurr and M. I was even more surprised, when dozens of them disappeared below the surface of the water, and in seconds they had Ehd Wyrd and Be'lah out of the water, and hovering over the ocean.
They must have used magic; even with their numbers they couldn't have lifted them so easily. As I watched, they started to move them toward the mainland. I willed myself to follow, but I just didn't have the strength. I worried as they got further away. In the distance I saw them arrive at the mainland. I closed my eyes again. Once I knew they were at least momentarily safe, I felt even more drained as all of the tension left me.
The cold waves pushing against my crushed ankle woke me with pain, and I realized my wings had let me drop to the water. I didn't have the energy to fly. Even as I realized I was in danger, a wave washed over me, soaking my wings. I was in the ocean and I had no energy to even tread water. I weakly held my breath as another wave engulfed me, forcing me underwater for a moment. I knew it wouldn't take many more waves to drown me. Ironically I watched bits of the dead krak'ken float by. At least J'Spurr would live.
They came back for me, and the buzzing noise broke me out of what I thought were my dying memories of J'Spurr. I was lifted and carried by the tiny fairies, while others carefully dried my wings. Several fluttered along, just caressing my face, and cooing to me as they gazed into my eyes. It was oddly comforting.
They carried me to the shore of the mainland, and set me gently on the sand, some distance away from everyone else. There was a small group of them hovering around each of us. I was far enough away from the rest of my friends, I couldn't tell how they were doing. I wanted to move closer, but I was losing the battle to even keep my eyes open.
I screamed, suddenly awake and alert. Three of them had taken hold of my crushed ankle, and it felt like hot needles stabbing into me. Two more held my face and again their cooing calmed me. Little by little the pain eased, and I watched them as their tiny hands traced over my skin, and each touch brought a little bit of healing magic to me. They were mending my ankle, and as I glanced up the beach, I realized they were working to heal all of us.
"Why are you helping us?" I saw a ripple go through all of those I could see, like they were all attuned to what I'd asked.
"Helpyou princess sprytz musthelp." I waited for more of an answer, but they didn't go on. I tried to figure out what their answer meant, but I soon lost the battle with exhaustion, and fell deeply asleep.
A/N: I'm not sure what my update schedule will look like, especially with how busy this time of year tends to be. I have these next two books planned out, and I can tell you I don't intend to abandon the story. I hope for weekly updates, but as you can see from this sequel, sometimes that doesn't happen. Thank you for reading, and I love to hear from you-good or bad.