Chapter 2: Queen Maylada
One thing was for certain, what the entire family knew was, Queen Maylada should not hear about Flashter for as long as they could manage. Sofire grimaced when she remembered how upset her mother became when she spoke of the shame it would bring on the family.Her father had shook his fuzzy blue head and patted her mother on her shoulder to try to sooth her, Kaflinsk just slapped himself over the mouth to hold in the laughs.She rolled her eyes when she thought of her brother, it would be so much more helpful if he would stop laughing at Flashter and give her a hand.
The following morning, Sofire woke up after a good night’s dreaming with a start when she realised Flashter wasn’t a dream. He was leaning over her snail shell bed dragging her treasures off of her shelf and dropping them on her head.She pushed the feather off of her and jumped up in annoyance.She picked up one of her treasures and dropped it on Flashter’s head.Tears welled up in his eyes as he collapsed dramatically on the floor holding his head in pain.
“See how you like it then” yelled Sofire.
Flashter started whimpering and immediately Sofire realised she had been too hard on him. She bent down, pulling his hands away from his head and dried his cheeks.He looked up at her with big blue grateful eyes and she shrugged her shoulders.She told him that they would get some breakfast downstairs and then they would start their lessons.He bounced in excitement and held her hand tightly as he skipped down the stairs like she was the best thing in the world ever.Sofire tried to pretend she wasn’t that bothered with his happiness while her green eyes sparkled that little bit brighter.
“I don’t know why you’re looking so happy at yourself” snapped Tyran.
“Sorry Dad, I just felt that I was making some headway with Flashter.”
“Early days my fairy-girl, early days” he replied.
Sofire sat Flashter down on the little acorn chair and helped him to berries and dew juice, showing him how to peel off the skins and spit out the pips. She managed to catch him just as he was about to spit a pip at Tyran. He nearly swallowed it in surprise as she held out a small pot for him to spit them in.She explained that it was important not to bite them because when they dried out they would plant them back into the ground for new berries plants to grow.Flashter looked mesmerised and kept picking up the pot to look again at the spittle covered pips.
After they finished having breakfast, Sofire helped her mother Suprena put all the dishes into a large acorn bowl to clean them in. Normally Kaflinsk and Sofire had this task and it usually ending up with Sofire getting soaked!Today she was going to work on this job with Flashter to help him settle in and learn how to fit into family life.They filled up the acorn and then between them they wiggled it onto their pet ant, Bobski’s back.He brought all of the washing up to the stream at the end of the garden and this is where Sofire and Flashter were to do their cleaning.Bobski would leave them there and then return some time later to bring the clean washing up back to the homestead.
Once Bobski was loaded with the washing up, Sofire took Flashter by the hand and led him down to the stream while he tried to hop into all of the footsteps Bobski had left behind. It took slightly longer than normal to get there because he kept falling over when either trying to fit both legs in the same foot hole or different legs too far apart.Against her own resolve, Sofire couldn’t help laughing at times.He was so floppy and out of step with himself it was so obvious he was going to trip up and all the funnier when he actually did.Bobski had got bored of waiting for them and was walking back passed them tutting when Sofire realised she better take Flashter in hand. She dragged him down to the stream by the back of his tightly curled, green, petal tunic.
The difficulties arising from showing a fresh fairy how to wash up had not quite crossed Sofire’s mind until she introduced him to water. Just as she was lifting the bowl she heard an almighty splash and turned around to see Flashter spinning around like a whirlpool in front of her.He was laughing, crying, coughing, spluttering, his legs looked like they tangled up at one point and his orange wings were flapping about splashing water all over her.She pulled out a reed, directed it towards Flashter’s flapping hands and told him to hold tight so she could pull him back in.She managed to drag him up the bank but not without soaking herself too and getting them both covered in thick mud.
At the precise moment when Flashter and Sofire had tumbled to the ground, soggy and covered in mud they heard the sound of a trumpet. Sofire’s magical insides gave a lurch and she stared at Flashter with a mixture of panic and upset.Not only was she about to get caught red handed with a fresh fairy but she was also totally unpresentable looking like a soggy, muddy mess.As she scrambled to her feet, her father appeared in a glow of gold, grabbed Flashter, winked at Sofire and flew them away like lightening.In an instant, Sofire heard the terrifying tinkling of tiny, fairy, bell chimes and rushing of air.She stood up, smudged the mud over her pink petals a bit, looked down at the pots and pans and sighed to herself.
The carriage of layered flower petals slowed down in front of her pointy purple feet while the unicorns stopped and eyed her curiously. The carriage was stunning, even in Sofire’s fear filled, panicky state, she could see that.The pink petals curled upwards to a point with shimmering yellows where the bends curled the hardest.The rain from the night before shined over the carriage like diamonds and any fairy that failed to be impressed was quite obviously not a lover of beauty.The eight perfectly white unicorns were naturally the exact size to compliment the petal carriage.Every fairy knew that unicorns always matched the exact size of the being that required them and the duty they were intended for.Sofire held her breadth as the purple dressed fairy footman opened the petal door for Queen Maylada to peer out.
“Sofire, what is the meaning of this?” squeaked the Queen.
Her pointy nose sticking further out of the door way than any other part of her. Her beady black eyes hastily looked this way and that.
“I’m sorry your Highness, I’m afraid I slipped when I brought out the dishes” murmured Sofire.
“I thought I heard voices?” questioned the Queen.
“Erm, no, just me” Sofire smiled awkwardly.
The unicorns swished their tails as if they were not impressed by the explanation. She peered up at them under her long purple eyelashes.She thought one of the unicorns winked at her and glowed pink at the end of its mane.Sofire looked again quizzically as the unicorn turned its head and continued staring forward along with the others, showing a very slight smile in the corner of its mouth.
“I suppose a curtsey is out of the question then” snapped Queen Maylada.
Sofire quickly sunk low into a curtsey, almost losing her balance on the slippery muddy surface that Flashter had soaked. Queen Maylada smiled cruelly and then tapped the window with her silver wand.
“Are you sure you’re here alone Sofire?” asked the Queen.
Her pointy dark green eyebrows raising up into a higher point just below her gold crown.
“Yes your Highness, my brother is helping my mother in the homestead today.” Sofire answered quickly.
“Interesting” sighed Queen Maylada stifling a yawn. “Well, make sure you remember to be well presented next time I see you. And always, always, remember to curtsey.”
“Of course” answered Sofire as she bobbed politely into another curtsey.
“How old are you now Sofire?”
“150 years, as the humans tell it.”
“Oh so you’ll be going into your wand training in a couple of human years. Well make sure you behave yourself and don’t get into any trouble or it’ll get put back again.”
Sofire’s heart felt like it dropped through to her shoes as the fairy doorman closed the door and clicked to the unicorns to continue on their way. Long after the shimmering gold fairy dust had vanished, Sofire still remained rooted to the spot with her little red mouth wide open and her shoulders drooping down.Eventually she turned back to the dishes, realising how lucky she was her father had taken Flashter away.When the dishes were finally done, she whistled to Bobski to return.When he appeared, she loaded the acorn dish of clean things onto his back and followed him home.
Finally she opened the front door, kicked off her muddy pointy shoes and stumbled into the living room. When Sofire saw her father, Tyran her little face changed from relief, to concern, to worry, to upset in a matter of milliseconds. Tyran looked up, held his finger to his wide, smiling lips to sign quiet.Sofire realised her mother didn’t know he had whisked Flashter away from the questioning glare of Queen Maylada.She made a little smile as her cheeks glowed pink in the beginnings of contentment.Her father looked towards the ceiling and Sofire realised he must mean that Flashter had been put back in her bedroom.After she had followed Bobski to the kitchen and put away the washing up, she made her way back upstairs to dry off and find the fresh fairy.
Her father had quite sensibly locked Flashter in her bedroom. She opened the door and saw that he was caught up on the curtain rail with his orange wings getting more and more tangled in the material. She closed the bedroom door and flew up to the curtain tops, hovering while she tried to untangle his pointy fingers and toes from the curtains.As she finally unhooked the last limb and let go of him, Flashter fell straight down onto the snail shell bed with a thud which promptly turned into a bounce.The exhausted Sofire was not in the mood for his fun and games and floated back down to the floor and walked to her twig covered waredrobe to find some clean dry clothes.
Once she had changed herself, and Flashter, so that they were presentable again, she hauled him back down the tiny wooden staircase to find out if her mother needed any help. As they passed by her father, he smiled at her and then let a giggle escape.Sofire saw that his eyes had flicked to Flashter who was walking, while staring and playing delightedly with his new green outfit’s buttons.Sofire turned to see what her father was trying not to laugh at and raised her eyes to the sky, she was hoping the fascination with everything might have calmed down a bit by now.As if hearing her thoughts, her father smiled again at her.
“It’s not going to happen overnight my fairy one, everything is new, exciting and fun to him.”
Sofire tried to smile as she walked into the kitchen dragging the bedazzled Flashster behind her. As they entered the kitchen, a lovely warm smell of baked bread flew up their nostrils.The kitchen was immaculate with its tiny little curled arches over the ceiling and the dried herbs hanging from the beams.Suprena, Sofire’s mother, was busy on the furthest side of the kitchen from them chopping herbs on the board.Her chopping was so fast that to Sofire it looked like a purple mist in the distance but she knew from previous visits to the kitchen, it was her mother’s hands.
“We finished the dishes some time ago and got cleaned up. Would you like us to help you with anything?” offered Sofire.
Sofire watched as she thought she saw her mother steady herself against the kitchen unit and take a deep breath. Finally she smiled, dusted off her pink apron with her fluttering hands and turned towards them.
“What a lovely offer.Let me think now.Why don’t you and Flashter cut out some shapes from this pastry with these cutters?I want to bake them hard and turn them into decorations for the Ice Fairy Festivities at the end of the month.”
“Thanks Mum, I forgot about the festivities.” She answered as she pulled Flashter towards the kitchen unit where the pastry and cutters were.
Sofire pulled out a seat and told Flashter to sit down, then she pushed it back in tightly under the table. She handed Flashter a fairy shaped cutter and showed him how to push it and wiggly it to free the shape from the remaining pastry.He smiled as he tried it himself with Sofire standing over him.He whooped with delight and his orange wings twitched in pleasure when the tiny fairy shape dropped out of the cutter.Sofire sighed with relief, smiled at her mother who had turned to watch them and took a seat opposite him to cut out some shapes as well.They sat there for some time, cutting out fairy shapes and with Flashter whooping with joy as each one escaped.Suprena said she just had to pop outside to check on her father and walked out of the kitchen to leave them at their task.
It took a split second for Flashter to be out of his seat and flying around the hanging, drying herbs. Sofire was up and running towards him, jumping up to pull his ankles back down to her level again.There was a big crash as the pan closest to her arm went tumbling to the floor, rolling chopped mushrooms spinning across the kitchen floor and water dripping down the cupboards.Her mother and father both appeared through the kitchen door as Sofire managed to pull the wing flapping, wriggling Flashter down from the herbs.Suprena looked as upset as Sofire felt.Her bright green eyes looked close to tears, her usually smiling red mouth pointed down at the corners and her shoulders sagged.Sofire looked up at the sad fairy that still slightly resembled her mother and cried.
“OK.” Tyran said. “We can see you are trying”.He held out a soothing hand to her mother’s sagging shoulders.“Maybe chores are a bit too much for him at this stage.Why don’t you take Flashter upstairs, sit him quietly on the bed and read him some of the old stories?You can tell him about the ways the fairy folk are supposed to behave and maybe that will help.”
Sofire dried her eyes, smiled meekly to her parents, mumbling how sorry she was as she dragged Flashter out of the kitchen.