“I’ll not let you hurt her again!” Trixen cried as she let go of Currick and with new strength and agility she had never felt before lept to grapple with Kindle.
“Hurt her? What?” Kindle managed before the strange white-haired girl lept at her. Kindle spun in place, dodging Trixen’s leap.
*Kindle! That wolf must be attacking the Queen! This girl may be a servant of Rath!* Cirrus cried.
Kindle drew Cirrus and flew towards Currick. Kindle saw the blood on the bandage of the Elf Queen. The huge white wolf stepped in front of the Queen and snarled. Before Kindle could say anything she was knocked out of the air by another incredible leap from Trixen.
Kindle raised her sword to make a swipe at Trixen, in self defense as Trixen now had a strong grip on her waist.
“STOP!!” Julia burst into the room.
With her Mage-Sight Julia tapped into one of the lines of magic that laced the Queen’s home. Tree roots erupted from the floor and ceiling and enveloped Trixen, Kindle, and Currick. Everyone stared, awestruck at the display of power.
Julia’s eyes began to glow with an inner light. More and more tendrils emerged, advancing on the Elven guards, and even the Queen! The energies Julia had tapped into were far more powerful than anything she had ever felt before. She felt drunk with power, like a rich warm river flowing through her. She was forgetting herself in the heady flow of magical energy. Vaguely she remembered Granny Lin’s warning about learning to control the power flowing through her, or it would control her. She tried to regain some measure of control but she was swept away by the torrent of magic flowing through her. Part of her was giddy with joy, feeling the rush as she commanded the life force of the tree roots to move to her bidding.
Then abruptly, she was bereft of her power, and it drained from her like water through sand. The Elf Queen Braigeth was standing in front of her - small, delicate, and beautiful, with her blue eyes and striking golden hair. Braigeth was touching Julia’s cheek and saying something to her.
“You can relax now, Child of the Earth.” Braigeth said calmly.
Julia looked around. Kael held a huddled Kindle to his shoulder. Kyte was there, staring at Julia. The white haired girl was standing close to a huge white wolf. She looked familiar- no! Could it be?
“Trixie? Trixie!” Julia cried.
Trixen looked to Braigeth, as if asking if she should mention her new name. Braigeth shook her head slightly.
Only then did Julia realize that one whole side of the building had been completely blown out by the force of Julia’s tree root assault, and the floor beneath them was pockmarked by holes the roots had erupted from.
“What - what happened?” Julia said in a small voice. But she already knew what the answer would be. She had lost control.
“The Elven kingdom is a land rich in magic, Child of the Earth. There are forces and powers harnessed here over thousands of years of Elven Mages directing energies to great ends. When you reached out to intervene, you tapped into one of the primal sources of energy here. If I had not stopped you, just now, you would have destroyed us all. As it is, I’ve only placed a temporary shield for you. “
“That’s Herbie for you. She’s a real magical chaos magnet.” Trixen said.
“Oh Trixie!” Julia broke out of her stunned silence to run up to Trixen and hug her.
“I thought you were dead, or … taken by Rath?” she pulled back slightly, looking at the silvery strands of Trixen’s hair in her hand.
“Is she a friend of yours?” Kindle asked weakly, from where she still sat in Kael’s arms - almost like an infant.
“Kindle!” Julia exclaimed again and rushed over to the fairy.
“I’ll be ok. If I can take on a Knife Resper and win, a little tree root is no match for me”
Julia shuddered. Her friends were already starting to equate her with a power like Rath’s. What had she done?
“I’m so sorry! Everyone!” Julia began to tear up.
“Don’t even think about running off again, Mage” Rein said harshly.
He had entered the ruined room from the now gaping opening in the wall, along with Findar. He eyed the white wolf uneasily. Currick returned the gaze, his ears going back.
Faerdhinen stepped up to the group.
“The Queen is very tired. She - and all of you- “ his eyes cast around the room - settling on Julia, who took that opportunity to stare at the floor, “-have been through quite a lot this morning. Just to let you know, until this wolf and girl arrived, we did not think our Queen would last another day. As it is, they have helped to heal her. Somehow it appears this has changed both their appearance and the Queen’s. We need some time to assess what has happened this morning. We have set up a place for each of you to stay while I confer with the Queen.“
The group of healers converged on Braigeth and ushered her away while the Elven guards gestured for the group to follow them. Many uneasy looks were exchanged - especially between Rein and Currick.
“I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions, ah, Trixie” Kindle was saying.
Julia, Trixie and Kindle were sitting in a small, elegantly decorated room. It was one of many in the Inn that the guards had hastily ushered the group to. Currick, or Cur as the rest of the group knew him as, was lying outside the Inn, talking strangely enough to Kael. They seemed to have found some common ground in their friendships with very exceptional women.
A very nervous looking Elf girl was serving the girls drinks and a range of small foods that seemed designed to fill the mouth with flavor, but did not do much to allay hunger. Trixen was famished and ate far too many of the rich snacks.
“From the sounds of it, we’ve all been reacting to everything Rath’s been throwing at us. How could you possibly have known that a giant wolf was only trying to help and not eat the Queen.” Trixen made a sheepish expression.
“Heck, I would have thought the same thing just a few days ago myself!”
“I never thought I would see you again, Trixie.” Julia said as she sipped her drink.
She felt very hollow inside after the tremendous energies that she had channeled. Everything seemed grey and flat. It must have something to do with the block that the Queen had built in her mind, she thought.
The rest of the group - Kyte, Findar, and Rein - had decided to explore the Elven city while they had the chance. Rein coming along mainly to keep an eye on Kyte and Findar, as opposed to any real curiosity he might have had in the amazing city with its tall spires, incredibly beautiful architecture, and busy, loud marketplaces.
“You had us all pretty freaked out, Herbie!” Trixen said.
“After you came in to break up our … fight?” she looked at Kindle with a contrite glance, “Your eyes started to glow and these huge tree roots came out of nowhere and started grabbing everyone. We could feel the ground shaking, and the Elf Queen - did you know her name is Braigeth? - just walked up to you as calm as if nothing was going on and touched you on the cheek. By that time you were sending the roots to blast a big hole in the wall and you had a crazy smile on your face. Are you sure you’re ok Herbie?”
Julia bit her lip and shook her head. She told them about what had happened in the past few days, with Varun and the task that she was now forced to accept. Kindle repeated her own story including her time before accepting the armlet and becoming a FairyKnight. She showed them the tattoo-like markings on her arm, that were the vestiges of the armlet, as well as the golden thread that was given to her as a gift.
Both Kindle and Julia sat in rapt attention as Trixen related to them her own story of capture by the Rath worshippers, meeting Thalon, and the ordeal with Cur and the goblins.
“We’ve all been through something unprecedented.” Kindle mused.
“Do you think all of this is connected somehow?” Trixen asked.
“It has to be.” Juia said, “at least for you two. As for me, I’m probably just someone who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“How can you say that, Herbie? You’re the “Child of the Earth”. You nearly tore apart the Queen’s home and you faced down this Varun guy. I hardly call that an accident.”
Trixen touched Julia’s hand. Julia recoiled and brought her hand reflexively to the amber gem hanging from the necklace under her shirt. She did not feel at all exceptional.
“I don’t know what to do! Both this Granny Lin entity and now the Elf Queen says if I don’t learn how to control this power, it’ll take me over. I can’t let that happen.” she squeezed her eyes shut.
“Listen, Julia, I know we have not known each other very long, but look at me.” Kindle said, as she rose into the air, her wings buzzing loudly.
“I’m just a fairy. Was. Just a fairy. There isn’t a day that goes by now that I’m not terrified of this change that’s happened to me. I’m what? A dragon now? A killing machine? I’m not going to let someone else tell me what I can and cannot be. And neither can you. It’s ok to be afraid. You just need to know that now you are not alone.”
Kindle smiled. She placed her thumb on her chest in an exaggerated motion.
“I’m your friend now. And so is Trixie.”
Trixen nodded, while inwardly wincing that she was in a small way lying to them both. She was no longer Trixe, but Trixen, and she hadn’t even begun to explore what that even meant. She could feel Currick outside, even get a vague idea of his mood. All of her senses had been heightened since the Healing with the Queen. And her hair? What was up with that? But she also secretly liked it. It made her feel closer to Currick.
The day wore on and Findar and the others made it back in once piece. Kyte had brought Julia a flower and a basket of exotic fruits. Julia had blushed at the gesture. Rein hardly talked to anyone and sharpened his swords.
They were beginning to wonder if the Queen and her counselors had forgotten about them when a particularly well-dressed Elf walked into the Inn and handed them an invitation, as well as a bulky package for each of them. They were to come to the castle in one hour. The Queen had arranged a celebration in their honor and they were to dress in the clothing provided.
Bemused, Kindle said “I was expecting a war council invitation, not a party invitation” as she opened up her own package of clothing.
Trixen wondered how she was going to get Currick to wear the large, elaborate collar that had also been sent along. She hoped she’d avoid getting bitten, at least for now.