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The Garden: Part One


by digital_microwave

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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 teacher chastised.

      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 spell instead.

      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 upon it.

      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 structure.

      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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