Chapter 8: The Alliance
The big unicorn took Albert fast through the trees, speeding so fast that he couldn’t make out anything of the ground below. Everything became a blur but at least his eyes were not streaming now as the day was warming up.They got to the human house in no time at all and Albert sprung off of the unicorn and ran through the house as quick as he could.The unicorn hovered above the house so that human eyes would not see him if they should peer out of windows.
As Albert dashed through the house and up the stairs he wondered how he was going to tell Daniel about the adventure they were going to embark on. He struggled with all different possible rational explanations and realised none of them would work once he saw the unicorn anyway.As he huffed and puffed through Daniel’s bedroom door, he sat bolt up in the bed with a start.
“What is it Grandad?” exclaimed the squeaky child’s voice.
“We have got no time to lose, you need to get dressed and we need to get going. I’ll tell you while you get dressed” whispered Albert as loudly as he could in a whisper.
“Ok” said Daniel, looking concerned and excited at the same time.
“There has been a bit of a disaster and both our lives and the lives’ of the fairies could be affected.”
“What?!” said Daniel, standing dead still.
“Chop, chop, Daniel” said his Grandad. “We need to go, there is a unicorn outside and you’ve got to get on it!”
Daniel gave his grandfather a sideways look, checking to make sure he wasn’t teasing him. Then seeing the worry on his face, Daniel got busy and was dressed as quick as it was possible for a seven year old to get dressed.Albert pushed him in the direction of the bathroom and made him clean his teeth, once properly checked and his face was washed, they ran out.Albert stopped short before rushing through the back door remembering his daughter would be worried sick if she woke to find them both missing.He grabbed a sheet of paper and left a note saying they had gone out for a morning walk and would see them later.
As they walked out the front door, two unicorns flew down and dropped suddenly in front of them. Daniel gasped in amazement as Albert grabbed him and threw him onto the second white horse.He leapt onto the first one in a quick movement, even for an 80 year old, and they were in the air in a split second.Daniel squealed with joy and laughed and cried out to his grandfather who couldn’t help but laugh back at the boy’s excitement.They flew above the trees and bushes, the ground beneath them getting further way and rushing by as it had earlier for Albert.
They arrived at the site of the machines in an instant. Karmy shook his head in resignation at Albert and then shook Daniel with some golden fairy dust.With a start, Daniel saw Karmy as if he stepped out of the shadows.He looked at his granddad, then he looked again at Karmy, then he stroked his unicorn’s mane as if to comfort the mystical creature.Karmy shrugged his shoulders and walked over to Daniel looking him up and down.
“You’re still big, but you’re smaller than I was expecting” announced Karmy.
“I’m seven” stuttered Daniel.
“Pleasure to meet you” sighed Karmy.
“No, I’m Daniel, my age is seven” said Daniel.
Karmy shrugged his shoulders as if it didn’t matter which way around that was and continued over to Albert. He looked again at Daniel and then up at Albert.In an instant he was standing on the top of the unicorn’s head that Albert was sitting on and with his hands on his hips looked directly up at him.
“So what’s the plan?” asked Karmy.
After an awful lot of plan making, plan unmaking and then a few more plans being made, they finally decided that Daniel would have to help Uni get into Queen Maylada’s castle. Even though Albert was concerned this might be the most dangerous part of the day’s adventures, he knew the chances of the local press taking a seven year old seriously about a sacred human site was far less than them taking an 80 year old seriously.After Karmy reassured Albert and then reassured him several times after that, Daniel’s granddad jumped back onto his unicorn and was out of sight within milliseconds.
Karmy stared at Daniel for a while as he hovered over the big the unicorn’s head. After looking hard and harder into his eyes, he finally sat cross-legged on Daniel’s unicorn’s head.He stared once more deeply into Daniel’s eyes, gauging how trustworthy this small human was and then finally feeling as confident as he believed he ever would, he explained.
“I realise you are human and you are a little boy. I know that both of these things are tricky on their own but must be harder to deal with when together.I will explain as clearly as I can and if you get confused stop me and I will try to tell you another way.Try not to interrupt too many times though because we do need to save Sofire sometime today.”
Daniel nodded quietly and patiently.
The plan was to fly to Queen Maylada’s Castle immediately, as fast as they could and without being seen by humans. This was easier for the fairies as they had not sprinkled the rest of the humans with gold fairy dust.However for Daniel, it would be a great deal harder and would take a fair amount of explaining as to why he was flying over the trees on his own.Once they got to the castle, Daniel had to create a distraction so that the castle door would open and Uni could get in.Uni would be able to find Sofire relatively easily because it went without saying that her need would probably be the strongest in the castle walls.Once Uni was with Sofire, all he had to do was avoid Queen Maylada and get her back out.As soon as they were out, they had to get to the Elders at Elvedon Manor without being caught.
Daniel continued to nod patiently and didn’t interrupt at all. Karmy looked concerned.
“Did you hear and understand everything I said?” he questioned.
“Everything” Daniel replied very earnestly.“Just one little question.”
“Yes?” sighed Karmy.
“What sort of distraction should I create?”
“That’s a good question, well done!” said Karmy. “To be honest, just being human and standing outside the castle should cause a problem in itself.However, if no-one notices you or reacts you could just stamp about and bump into things.That type of thing usually works.”
With their plan fully worked out and questions all answered, the team of rescuers all prepared themselves. Uni was obviously eager to get going because he was now glowing bright pink almost red, the other unicorns were glowing a gentle pink.Karmy raised his arms to show the unicorns they were readying to set off while the larger unicorn kindly put forward his front left leg and lowered himself so Daniel could use it to climb up.In an instant they were in the air and flying over the trees, straight into the direction of the bright sun.
They flew so fast Daniel could barely see a thing, all he could hear was the whooshing noise the unicorns made as they flew hard into the morning air. His eyes were streaming and his ears were getting sore from the chill in the air but he didn’t care.His heart was full of excitement and amazement that this was really happening to him.He knew that nothing in his life would ever come close to riding on a unicorn as fast as the wind to save a fairy.He loved listening to his granddad’s stories about the fairy folk but he never truly believed in them, well not until the other night.He shook his head, it was a moment when he wondered if he climbed through those trees would he find a fairy too.Now it was all real.It was a huge, exciting, wonderful secret that he could share with his beloved granddad forever.
He noticed the change in the noise of the air first, then he looked about him and saw that all of the unicorns were beginning to lower down gracefully into the thick trees below. As they got lower and lower he started to be able to make out the pale, shiny, white of some the square towers.They looked like they should be see-thru but he couldn’t see beyond their pointy, hard looking shapes.As he felt himself lower further he could feel leaves around his ankles.Then he saw it, the castle was a perfect rectangle with a square tower at each corner.
At last they were on the ground and Daniel climbed back off the unicorn with a thud as he hit the floor. The castle was now directly in front of him and the towers didn’t reach any further than his waist.There was no chance of him being able to get into the castle to look for Sofire but he knew that wasn’t part of the plan anyway.All he had to do was get someone to open a door so that Uni could get in.As Daniel walked about on the mossy ground he started to feel a bit stupid, he looked around to see what everyone else was doing and they were all looking at him.He felt his cheeks burn and his vision went a bit cloudy.
Suddenly two other fairies appeared, one wearing green with orange wings and the other in dark blue with yellow wings. One smiling broadly and tripping over a lot while the other looked worried.Daniel walked over to Karmy with a lowered head and asked who they were.Karmy hadn’t noticed them but now greeted Flashster and Kaflinsk quickly.Then he turned to Daniel.
“Do this” yelled Karmy, throwing his arms like a windmill and stamping about.
Daniel laughed and followed suit. He stamped and threw his arms while laughing hysterically.It wasn’t long before they could hear a commotion from within the castle’s shiny walls.Daniel thought he heard metal banging together and the scurrying of feet.He carried on stamping and throwing his arms around, when finally the earth beneath him felt like it moved a tiny bit.Daniel looked up and saw that Karmy, the other two fairies and the other unicorns had vanished leaving just him and Uni outside.
Sofire had been huddled in a tight ball since she was first taken to Maylada’s castle. The walls of her cell were dark, hard and cold.She didn’t want to lean on them so she curled in the centre of the floor.The moss growing down the walls sometimes looked like it was moving.Once a centipede popped his head out and looked directly at her.She thought about speaking to him but was too scared in case he was a spy.Occasionally the grumpy, stern looking, guards peered in through the bars on the window or pushed leaves of dew juice under the door.She had only taken a couple of sips since she got there, she was too cold and scared to move from her curled up position.
She didn’t know how long she had been there, no natural light came into her cell. She didn’t even feel stiff or achy from not moving any more.She had laid there so long that she was numb to everything except the cold and her fear.Then out of nowhere she heard a lot of noise.It sounded like thunder but then she also heard the clashing of metal against metal.Her eyes grew wide as she stretched them as far around her cell as she could without physically moving her head.All of a sudden she realised what the thunder was!What made the smile suddenly appear on her cold little face and her green wings start to twitch a little at the tops, was when she realised it was a human’s voice shouting.Not only was it a human, it was a small human.It was definitely Albert’s grandson!
In a flash she was hovering above the ground, circling her cell and trying hard to find a crack somewhere to peek out of. She darted from this side to that, went round and round and pushed her head hard on the metal bars on her window to try to see out.Her wings sung they beat so fast on the stagnant air in the cell.She thought she heard a harder thud and then the ground felt like it moved.She stopped dead in the air, hovering without a sound.She waited and waited, hardly daring to breathe when she heard his squeaky human voice again and sighed in relief.Then she began darting about the cell again without even realising she was on the move.It went quiet again and Sofire slowly started sinking to the ground confused, worried and feeling a bit sad and alone again.She was just about to curl into her safe little ball again when she noticed a pink light glowing at the bottom of her cell’s window.
Sofire was back up in the air in a blink of an eye and straining her head against the bars on her window to try to see into the corridor. She was stretching and bending and her eyes grew wider and wider.She bent her head back a bit to look at the bars again, trying to work out if there was a better way of seeing through the bars when she thought she heard a voice below.
“Is somebody there?” she whispered, too quiet for anyone really to hear.She shook her head.
“Is that you?” chimed the croaky voice.
“It’s you, it’s you?” cried Sofire.
The funny little pink unicorn with green splodges appeared on the other side of the bars. His big smile matched only her own and his eyes sparkled in excitement as hers did in relief.
“I thought I was going to be here forever” squealed Sofire.
“Well you will be if we don’t find a way of opening this door” said Uni, smiling.
“The guards only come here once in a while to spy on me or post through dew juice. I don’t know where they go the rest of the time” said Sofire, feeling a little less cheerful.
“Well don’t give up yet, Sofire. That’s not the fairy way!Do they hang the keys up or something?”
“I don’t know, I’ve just been curled up cold and scared the whole time” said Sofire, lowing her head.
“I know where the keys are” said a voice that made them both jump from their hovering positions.
Sofire was too scared to move but Uni was eagerness itself and fluttered this way and that trying to see passed his fairy friend.
“I’m right here” said the moss on the wall.
“Right where?” chirped the puzzled unicorn.
“Here” waved a green little hand.A hand of, what looked like a, centipede.
“Nice to meet you” said Uni.“I must apologize for my friend, she’s a bit nervous.”
“Yes I know, I’ve been keeping an eye on her. This is the first time she’s moved since she got here.”
Uni looked straight at Sofire, who slowly started to look less rigid and more like his friend. She turned to look at the voice and saw a big red smile stuck on the face of a green centipede.
“You’ve been keeping an eye on me?” she asked, nervously.
“Well yes, of course” smiled the centipede. “That Queen fairy is a tricky one and so many innocent fairies get stuck in here from time to time.Honestly, the things us wood folk have to worry about we shouldn’t need to deal with difficult fairies to boot!” yelled the centipede, waving a few of his legs about like fists.
“Quite” laughed Uni.
“The keys are in a box outside the cell two doors along from this one. Before you rush off though, there is a very loud snoring ladybird in that cell so be careful not to wake him.”
“Why is he there?” asked Uni.
“Why is anyone here?” said the centipede. “Other than me, and I can get in and out through the moss and cracks in the wall, everyone here has been imprisoned because she’s bored or something.She just spends her time charging about the forest looking for beings to stick in her cells.It’s very strange!”
“Well, maybe the ladybird can be of use to me then” smiled Uni.
At that, Sofire and Uni turned towards the opening where they heard fairy feet come pattering along the hard floor. Sofire bit her lip while Uni started glowing more pink than green.Suddenly they both bounced up into the air with their wings taking over as they got to Uni’s height.Kaflinsk and Flashter had managed to sneak passed the guards to see if they could help.They reassured both Sofire and Uni that Daniel had done his part of the plan brilliantly and was now on the back of the big unicorn.
The centipede ran down the wall, across the ground, up the door and through the bars in the window. He nodded at Sofire as she gasped when he ran by her, all of his legs running at slightly different speeds to the others.They went so fast it actually looked at times like there were no legs at all and he was just floating on green fluff with points poking out of it.
“I’m coming with you” smiled the centipede to Uni.
Sofire looked out through the bars as much as she could while the flying unicorn, the two fairies and the fast running centipede rushed along together in the direction of the ladybird’s cell. She could just make out a dusty old box high on the wall if she leant her head hard on the bars.She saw the centipede running up the cell door and in through the bars of the window there and if she really concentrated, could just about hear the heaving breathing of the snoring ladybird in between all of the footsteps.Uni was now up at the box and looking all about it, then he looked back at her, waved, and carried on looking at it.
She heard a croaky in breath and gasped as she thought it sounded like the ladybird’s last. Then she heard a slap sound and then the centipede saying things about not making too much noise as this was a rescue.Then she heard the clinking of some hard wings just about the same time as she heard the creaking of the box door opening.She leaned hard against the bar again just as Uni began prizing open the box.The centipede reappeared between the bars at the window and started pointing various different legs in a variety of different directions.Then Uni glowed bright yellow, flew right up in the centipede’s face with his front hooves on his sides.They both stayed in that position for several long seconds until the centipede nodded and Uni went back to looking at the keys in the box.
“My key is black and looks a bit rusty” shouted out the new croaky voice.
“Mmmmmmm” said Uni. “They all look pretty rusty.”
As he turned back to pink and began glowing a bit brighter, he picked out a black key and tried it in the lock. It fitted but he couldn’t turn it in the door with his hooves.The centipede smiled widely, ran across to the key hanging out of the door and leapt on it.Suddenly a hard bang echoed from the door and the ladybird pushed the door to escape out through the side.The ladybird stretched his arms and legs a bit and wiggled his feet while he got used to using them again.Flashter ran up to him, watched his legs stretching for a moment and then grabbed him in a hard hug.Sofire thought she saw the flash of a gold badge on the ladybird’s chest as he finished off stretching.Then he flew up to Uni and pointed out another key and looked straight at Sofire.She crumpled her little forehead as she tried to remember where it was she had seen him before.
With the key in their possession, the gang of new friends flew and ran directly across to Sofire’s cell. The second they got there they heard the sound of lots of steps and a fair amount of metal clanging getting closer and closer to them.
“They’re coming” said the centipede to Uni.
“Right, help me unlock this cell. I’ll go in with Sofire.Then if you can push the door closed behind us, would you be able to run off so they chase you?”
“Of course we can do that” said the ladybird.The centipede nodded as fast as his feet fell.
“You’ll be ok?” asked Sofire.
“Don’t worry about us” said Kaflinsk and Flashter at the same time.
The sound of feet and metal was getting louder and louder, closer and closer. The more they panicked the harder it was to get the key to the door.Uni dropped it once but the centipede grabbed it in one of his hundred pairs of hands and pointed another hand to say keep going.The ladybird flew up the passageway to see how much time they had.
“We need to be quicker” he gasped.
Uni put the key in the lock as the centipede ran up the door and jumped on the key. The key banged in the lock as the door creaked open.Uni dashed in just as the ladybird, centipede and two fairies pushed it tight closed behind them and turned and fled.Uni grabbed Sofire by the hand and sat on the floor, he beckoned her to curl round him in the position she had been in for the last week.She curled into a tight ball but felt warmed by his closeness.He smiled at her as their eyelashes felt close enough to touch.The stamping of lots of feet rushed passed the door with a clash of metal.Sofire looked briefly over her shoulder as she caught sight of a bouncing guard peering into the cell as he went by.
In an instant, they were both up and Sofire was on Uni’s back. It felt like she blinked and they were both on the outside of her horrible cold, damp cell.He turned to smile at her and then like lightening they were off up the passageway.Suddenly everything was bright and she could barely see.She forgot how bright day time was compared to a dark cell.After a few seconds and a fair amount of blinking, she could see all about her.The trees were there, the ferns were there, everything in the outside she remembered was there.She breathed in deeply and then stopped with a start.Albert was standing over them with a human sized unicorn’s mane in his hand.
“Where are the others?” yelled Uni.
“Some went that way after Karmy” pointed Albert.“The rest went into the castle.”
“We need to get to Elvedon Manor before Queen Maylada catches up with us.Let’s go.”
They were in the air and moving at a speed that Sofire could not ever remember travelling and she had been in trouble for travelling fast before. The air was rushing by her ears so hard she couldn’t hear anything so knew there was no point asking questions.The large unicorn and Albert suddenly changed direction and disappeared from sight.Uni turned to give her a reassuring smile but her mind was racing to what was happening.Within seconds the huge unicorn was back with both Albert and Daniel sitting astride him.Daniel smiled directly at her, which did nothing to calm Sofire down.