The Garden: Part One
It was a fairly formidable day, saturated with the winds
of dry heat, felt even at Faerieland's high altitude. A little faerie girl with
violet hair brushed against an ornately craved wooden banister, going up the stairs.
She arrived at the top, took a left turn and proceeded to go down to the second
last room of the corridor.
"Hello, Fyora." A fire faerie's voice greeted
her. "Ten minutes late today. Didn't I tell you to come here immediately after
lunch?" Her eyes narrowed, face stern.
"But why emphasise today?" her student questioned.
"Because, did I not tell you, that we were going
to view the source of all fire magic and understand its workings? Did I neglect
to mention that the source is only active for thirty minutes of the noon?" the
Realisation hit Fyora's mind. Of course! Shardi
had mentioned the Blaz Aoka, as it was called in the Faerie tongue. It was a
sacred plant that fueled all fire magic, and it was kept in the secret conservatory
at the bottom of the castle. She had been doing intensive magic studies on what
magic essentially was, what forms it took and its sources. "I'm sorry, Shardi,"
she said. "I promise it won't happen again."
"No matter, but we must make haste. I have to
show you the way should you ever need to use it." She opened the door, and strode
to the nearest window, where sunlight fell on two tiles, which were of a slightly
lighter colour than the others. Shardi pressed a switch, and the two tiles they
were standing on plunged into the ground. Inky darkness engulfed the whole area
as the entrance sealed itself.
Fyora's tutor grabbed a torch from the wall
and ignited it with a burst from her palm. Together, they walked down the tunnels,
Shardi occasionally feeling about the walls. "Should you ever get lost, look
at the walls. They will show you the way with symbols if correctly deciphered,"
she explained to Fyora.
A bit more of walking later, a faint glow of
orange crept onto their faces, stinging with its potent power. Fyora approached
it, and nearly cried out in amazement.
For the source was a short tree, but on every
branch blossomed the most exotic orange and red flowers, petals perfectly curled,
each one burning with a flame in its heart that gave off the ethereal glow she
had felt earlier. The whole area was suffused with it, the leaves bathed in
orange, the tree stretching in the magical light. Even the very walls seemed
to have moving figures of fire as dark orange shadows danced and wavered, bending
their sinuous, elongated forms.
Shardi grinned with pride. "Beautiful, is it
not? Go ahead, touch one."
The soporific influence of that shimmering light
aided the faerie's suggestion, and Fyora stroked a petal, only to recoil her
hand sharply as her reflexes stopped her finger from being burnt. She rubbed
it vigorously, glaring at Shardi. "You knew that would happen!" she accused.
"Shows that you have forgotten the most basic
rule of magic: don't fool with it, no matter how tempting. If you can't restrain
from touching everything new and beautiful, imagine what would happen when we
learn how to control and use dark magic." Shardi shrugged. "Anyways, I have
to explain how it fuels our magic.
"You see, this is proof of the most ancient,
powerful type of magic, which has existed from the dawn of time. Its power is
so immense that the tree cannot hold it all. So all fire faeries appear with
a certain amount of magic that the tree gives to them directly. Then it will
not give anymore, for magic can be replenished through rest. But in the most
critical of situations, when rest and restoration cannot prevail, we can call
on its power for help. But we must be careful. Too little, and it is of no aid;
too much, and we are liable to burn away our magical roots."
Fyora listened, entranced, suddenly aware of
the ambiguous force that governed their lives. It was terrible and great, a
tyrant and a servant at the same time. And most of all, magic knew. It was like
a wild creature, only domesticated by faeries. And yet, they had not completely
conquered it. There could be swaths, streams, clouds full of wild magic floating
all around them, undiscovered. The revelation kept her tight-lipped and respectful.
Shardi wrapped up her lesson in the classroom,
and then sent Fyora back to her quarters. "Don't forget," she yelled over her
shoulder, "that you need to hand in a three-page essay on the workings of fire
magic by Thursday!"
Fyora shouted her reply, and then decided to
spend her free time exploring the lesser known regions of the vast pink castle.
By accident, she had discovered a switch some days ago, and found that it swung
back a panel in the wall that revealed some stairs and a few more levels. She
pressed the knob in one of the paintings, and then climbed the spiraling stairway,
which stopped at two rows of long corridors, each with plenty of rooms that
had fine, sturdy mahogany doors as their entrances.
Smiling, Fyora fed her curiosity, going from
room to room, finding each one well furnished and neat. Some were guest rooms,
she supposed, elegant and luxurious, and some were private libraries and studies,
gauzy drapes hung over the windows to keep out light. She wandered around, each
new door bearing a new excitement.
Finally, she stopped at a smaller door. Suspecting
that it was a storage closet of some sort, Fyora opened just to make sure. What
she saw was beyond comprehension.
It was a small terrace, sealed off from the
rest of the castle, a tiny area that was fenced by a pink railing. It was set
on a bed of dead, withered grass, and around it, a few sorry shrubs of grey,
wilted flowers drooped pathetically in even the slightest breeze. A wooden bench
that was on the verge of crumbling into ash swung precariously in the wind.
The only plants thriving were knotted, tangled vines of olive green, with poisonous
dark leaves. They curled around the pink railing, dominating, obscuring its
colour and slithering up the walls like venomous snakes of malady. Worst of
all, she could see no sunlight, only banks of foggy clouds, as if they were
wardens who stopped the plants from flourishing.
Fyora shook her head, horrorstruck. How could
anyone let such a beautiful, secluded spot go to waste like that? She loved
flora more than anything, for it was basically the most exquisite form of the
art of Mother Nature. She adored the multitude of vibrant hues of the flowers
of the palace gardens, growing in one with verdant carpets of grass. She admired
the sturdy trees with their thick heads of green growth and strong, dark trunks.
An idea burst forth in her mind, out of a pool of determination. Reconstructing
the garden was her new project. She would make it lovely and young again, restore
its former joy and glory.
It was the next day, when Fyora had finished
her studies, when she entered the small garden again. She let out a tiny sigh.
First things first--she would try to get rid of the clouds, because no sunlight,
no plants. Air magic wasn't exactly her forte, so she tried a simple removal
Nothing happened. Fyora unfurled her slender,
flimsy wings and wobbling a little, reached up to the limits of the barrier.
It was a magical shield, like a thick bank of roiling clouds. It was twice her
height, and was almost impossible to reach. If not for the dilapidated garden,
she would not have bothered with this at all.
Involuntarily, some of Shardi's teasing came
back to her: "Truly, Fyora, your colour belies your power. You have the earth's
magic pregnant in your veins."
That was it! Fyora worked her strong bonds upon
the vines that choked the railing, and willed them towards the shield. They
snaked up slowly, twisting and lurching. But finally, a network of green enveloped
her obstacle. A flexing of her fingers and the shield crumbled into bits, taking
the vines with it, plummeting earthward in a flurry of green and white. Fyora
staggered a little as rich golden sunlight descended upon the area in a flowing
stream of bliss, blinding her a little. The plants even seemed to perk up slightly
in the presence of this warm blessing.
Fyora had become suddenly overprotective of
this little patch of land. She felt slightly selfish, but really, she didn't
want anyone to find out about it. This was her private area, her sanctuary,
and nobody had the authority to disturb her. She enchanted the vicinity, so
that it was invisible to everyone except her and Shardi. She would not tell
Shardi of it, but she trusted her enough to keep this secret should Shardi stumble
Right... now to work upon the grass. It was
nearly beyond hope, a tangled, sickly mass of black, brown and grey that lay
recumbent, flattened against the earth. Fyora, however, did not believe in wasting
these plants. She knew that they could be resurrected, and placed her hands
upon a shriveled bush. With all her might, she wished for the roses on them
to bloom again, and the leaves to sprout along the naked branches. She fixed
a picture of a healthy bush in her mind, and concentrated on it, sacrificing
her energy for the plant.
She felt it reaching towards the warmth slowly,
as opened her eyes. Young leaves began to run along the once bare spots, and
buds stretched into red roses, delicate petals glossy and fragile. It shimmered
with the aura of renewed life, vibrancy present in every single strand of its
Fyora, white and drawn, severed the connection,
and let a smile touch her lips. She felt weak, for her energy had been siphoned
by the plant. But she did not regret. It was marvelous, seeing at least part
of the garden whole again.
And it was in this manner, day by day, she added
a touch of colour on her battered canvas, stroking out the essence of life.
With every spell she brought forth rebirth, and verdant grasses soon swayed
with the winds, and flowers, all dancers of the rainbow, twirled towards the
sun and their saviour, waltzing, strong and supple. Over time, the bench had
been transformed into a sturdy seat, and the whole area sang of life, of joy
and beauty. Fyora had created her own masterpiece, all of it resplendent in
their vigour. And it was complete. Her garden.
Like her garden, Fyora grew up sweet yet strong,
into the Queen which she knew she would ultimately become. She succeeded the
throne, taking over where her mother, Carlelle left it. Shardi, whom she had
always respected and liked, became one of the senior members of her council,
and wisely offered Fyora advice.
But she never forgot her garden.
When things got busy and she was thrust into
a whirlwind of politics, government, troubles and tasks, she knew where to find
solace. She always went there, still hidden away behind her enchanted door.
It was the perfect paradise, and Fyora would spend many a tranquil hour losing
herself in the rich aroma of her plethora of flowers. She enjoyed their colours,
and their silent, comforting company. She spent some of the most beautiful hours
of the day witnessing the pink, rosy-cheeked sun rise from its sleep at sunrise
or when it sank and the sky turned a mottled orange-red. She connected to her
element, earth, and felt its coolness wash over her and whisper her into relaxation.
Wildlife such as Miamice were attracted to her
unique haven and with their keen senses, saw through her spells and scampered
around playfully in their new playground. Fyora did not shoo them away; instead
she welcomed their presence watched them happily. Ah, it was always so quiet
here, so peaceful when she closed her eyes in solitude, attaining almost a non-existence,
because she felt so strongly for her creation that she nearly became a part
of it, sinking into its gentle folds.
To be continued...
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