Chapter 9: Elvedon Manor
The unicorns slowed down their pace just as they started lowering closer to the ground. Sofire could just about see the old, stone, turreted fairy house through the ferns.She hoped that the golden glow emanating from the fairy house was a good sign but her stomach lurched in fear as Uni’s gold hooves stopped on the ground below.She slid off of Uni’s back just as Karmy appeared from behind a tree with several unicorns standing close to him.Sofire ran up to Karmy and hugged him tight, letting sparkling fairy tears escape from her long purple eyelashes.
“Now, now,” reassured Karmy, patting her on the back.“There’s no need for all that.”
“What about Albert and Daniel?” cried Sofire.
“We can only do what we can do” Karmy said. “We have lots to deal with right now and your freedom is only part of it.We need to hurry into Elvedon Manor.You need to present yourself to the Elders before Queen Maylada catches us up.”
At the sound of her name Sofire’s eyes widened in horror and she stepped back with wobbly legs. Uni stood close to her to give her something to lean against.Karmy walked up to the manor and once again banged the heavy stone knocker.As the sound rumbled around the stone building they all heard the bells and whips of, what could only be, Queen Maylada’s carriage getting closer.Sofire gasped and Uni stood alert feeling far more protective than he had done before.Karmy tapped his foot as the tiny little wings of the door fairy seemed to take forever to sing in his ears.Finally the door opened and the tiny fairy from before stood smiling toothily at them.
“Oh good, you’re here” he chirped. “You better hurry, she’s nearly here.Although you better leave the humans outside.”
Daniel and Albert smiled at the tiny fairy, who was only just big enough for them to see. Karmy and Sofire ran inside with the seven tiny unicorns while the huge unicorn remained outside with the humans.Sofire heard the heavy door bang behind her and felt her tiny fairy heart leap in her chest.Karmy noticing her nervousness, held her hand while Uni remained closer to her so she could play with his mane for reassurance.Sofire noticed the tiny little arched shaped windows and wondered with a heavy heart if this would be her last view of outside.
Even the tiny fairy jumped when they heard the banging of the heavy knocker on the door. This unearthly sound was followed by a screeching from Queen Maylada.They didn’t know what she said but they all knew who it was about.All eyes glanced at Sofire, who went white, they all picked up speed and started running through the corridors of Elvedon Manor.The pounding of their tiny feet did not block out the sound of the banging of the heavy knocker and the screeching that went with it.They ran as fast as their little legs would go when at last they arrived at the large bright room that Karmy had been in before.Each of them skidded into the one in front as they arrived sharply at the big table with the Elders sitting behind.
It seemed to take forever for the Elders to slowly glance up at their guests who were by now politely standing slightly apart from one another.They all stared patiently with hard beating hearts while they waited desperately for one of the Elders to say something to them.
“How lovely of you to come and join us” said the tall Elder, with the long blue beard.
“Oh yes, lovely” said the tiny Elder with pink curly hair.
“Karmy, so good to see you again” smiled the Elder fairy with the long yellow hair. “Now, firstly, well done on bringing Sofire to us.As you know, we cannot have a fair trial if the fairy on trial is not at the trial.”
“Of course” said Karmy, trying not to look impatient while Sofire lowered her head and made a little curtsy.
“Karmy, would you be so as good to explain where they are two humans outside the Elvedon Manor?” asked the smiling blue bearded Elder.
Karmy cringed a little while he shuffled in his gold pointy shoes and looked around at his friends. Uni smiled at him while Sofire kept her head lowered.
“You are aware of the imprisonment of Sofire” said Karmy, trying his best to sound authoritative.
“Yes yes, of course” they all muttered in response.
“On top of our desperate attempts to recover her to bring her to a fair trial, we also have the added worry of the human monster machines destroying our fairy land.”
The Elders all gasped as one and looked from one to the other, eyes widening and hair looking slightly more upright than it had before.
“What is this?” screeched the Elder with the long yellow hair.
Karmy explained as best he could that Albert knew the humans were using the monster machines to dig up land to make a bridge. The bridge would be built at the back of the human garden and straight through their fairy lands.Karmy explained that while Daniel had helped to create a diversion outside Queen Maylada’s castle, Albert had been contacting humans to try to stop the destruction.He told the Elders that he had seen the yellow monster machines himself and they had already destroyed some land and trees.The Elders nodded in response.
As he finished his explanation, a bright light shone into their eyes and a thud was heard from the direction of the entrance door.
“She’s in” harrumphed the tall Elder with the blue beard.
“We better hurry” remarked the pink curly haired fairy.
“Sofire, please stand before the Table of Fairy-ness” the Elders announced together.
Sofire looked at Karmy for reassurance who smiled gently back and then shuffled with her lowered head closer to the Table of Fairy-ness. She looked tinier than normal standing in front of the big table in the large room, looking at those colourful Elder fairies.Sofire desperately wanted to cry and run home to her mother but knew she had to stand her trial or be in fear of her freedom forever.She thought of the poor Ice Fairy that was imprisoned by the original settling humans and shuddered.
“Sofire, you are standing on trial for communicating, visiting and being in alliance with human….erm….things.” said the blue bearded Elder.
“Is that correct?” said the pink curly haired Elder who was leaning across the table.
“Yes” whispered Sofire.
“Good, good,” smiled the yellow long haired fairy.
They all heard the beating of large wings and the slithering of goo as Queen Maylada and her slug courtiers arrived together in the large hall. The Elders looked from one to the other with expressions that only seemed to look irritated.
“Maylada” said the blue bearded Elder.“How lovely for you to visit.”
“Quite” screamed Maylada, who looked redder in the face as the split seconds passed.
“How particularly nice of you to let yourself in rather than make me return to the door and escort you” said the tiny fairy, flying into her face with his arms crossed in front of him.
Maylada stared back at the tiny fairy for quite some time with neither of them backing down or blinking.
“This fairy has broken our most sacred laws of communicating with humans. She has visited the human household and when a fresh fairy was created, she was with it in the human child’s bedroom.She then went on to hide there from me until I caught her during the Festivities.” continued Maylada, not taking her eyes from the small fairy’s eyes.
“We understand” said the pink curly haired Elder fairy, smugly.
“However, our main concern is the human’s potential destruction of our historic and sacred lands” chimed in the yellow long haired fairy.
“It seems to me that Sofire has been trying to work with the humans to save ours, and their, lands which we would not still have if it were not for this alliance. As a result, we need to discuss if this allegiance created by Sofire, was for the overall benefit for all and if we should punish her or award her.”
Maylada gasped at this new turn in events and they all heard her gargle inwardly as she grabbed her throat. Karmy looked down to hide his smile while Sofire wobbled slightly from her solo position ahead.The pink curly hair Elder nodded at Uni who rushed to Sofire’s side to steady her.
“What happens now” asked Karmy, very respectfully.
“Well, we must speak to the humans of course” said the blue bearded Elder fairy.
They all stood as if one body and worked their way around the table. Karmy had not heard of fairies in allowed communication with humans in the last thousand years. He turned to let them past and saw that Maylada had gone so red she was almost purple.He held out his arm to her which she pushed away and stormed off.Karmy turned to hide his laughter which the other seven unicorns joined in with.Uni offered Sofire his back as he was concerned she might fall to the ground before long.Sofire climbed on using his front leg as a step and they all moved along the corridor in the direction of the humans.Sofire was shaking so hard she didn’t think her teeth would ever sit together in her mouth quietly again.
As they came out into the bright sunshine, Sofire noticed her parents and brother standing on the head of the huge unicorn. Daniel was still sitting astride the mystical beast while Albert stood next to them, resting his arm gently across Daniel’s shoulders.The centipede and lady bird had arrived and were making their way up the huge unicorn’s front leg to join her family on his head.She looked up at the bright blue sky with the gentle fluffy clouds moving slowly across and glanced quickly at the blinding sun.Her heart sunk, it already felt like an age since she last saw the outside and now she feared it would all be taken away from her forever.She let out a huge sigh which Karmy noticed and walked across the mossy undergrowth to pat her arm.
The Elders stood in the centre of the group of humans, unicorns, fairies and one or two more curious woodland animals. The Elder with the blue beard held up his sparkling silver wand for silence.Everything went still, even the light breeze that had been rustling through the leaves stopped.
“We are here to understand why Sofire was imprisoned, if an injustice has been committed and what needs to be done to settle the matter.” He said in a musical voice.
Sofire felt the tiny purple hairs on the back of her neck stand out and her body felt cold. She looked around once again with startled eyes.Everyone was looking sympathetically at her, her mother was dabbing at her eyes but Maylada stared at her with hatred.She shuddered and lowered her head pretending to examine the bottom of Uni’s mane.
“First, I need to find out from the humans if what we’ve heard about the destruction of our lands is true. Old human, what can you tell us about this?”
Albert’s skin went pink at the words ‘old human’ but he shrugged it off, cleared his throat and began.
“It is true.”
A gasp escaped from the entire group in one go.
“Continue” asked the blue bearded fairy Elder.
“I heard about the plans in the local newspaper, it’s the way humans tell each other things.First of all I didn’t believe it would really happen, but then I heard the rumble of the machines.There is a big river at the bottom of the hill and the humans want to build a bridge across it.The road it would lead to it is already too busy and people call it the car park” he smirked.
The fairies all stared at him blankly and he realised they didn’t know what a car park was. He continued.
“Anyway, the fields and farmland around here would be dug up and buildings would go up in their place. My grandson’s home and garden would be ruined.I didn’t put the two things together at first, but then I suddenly panicked and realised your homes would be ruined too.I ran down here to tell any fairy I could find and happened across Sofire.I’m sorry if I’ve caused any trouble but I was just worried about all of our homes.”
Everyone murmured and nodded, even a small rabbit and deer family who had overheard the concerns of the woods were peeking through the bushes and nodding.
“Old human, has anything happened now to stop this destruction or do we need to migrate away?”
It was the question everyone dreaded but the one they all needed to have an answer to. It felt like days before Albert answered and every living creature there was too scared to breath during that time.
“While Daniel was helping to find Sofire, I went to the human’s newspaper and told them I had found a sacred human dwelling.All of the journalists, er story tellers, and photographers, um picture makers, rushed with me to the spot and the machines have had to be stopped.There is proof that this dwelling could be the first home of the original human’s in this area.”
“Oh yes, it is” nodded the blue bearded Elder
“Is it?” squeaked Daniel.
“Oh yes, they were the ones we fairy folk befriended thousands of human years ago.Before all that trouble….Still that’s a long time ago.”
“To the humans, it’s an area that needs to be protected. So the work will stop now and they won’t build the bridge here.”
“You mean it’s over?” interrupted the pink curly haired fairy Elder.
“Yes” sighed Albert, hugging Daniel’s shoulder closer to him.
“Hurrah” said all of the various creatures inside and outside Elvedon Manor.
“Silence” said the blue bearded Elder.
“I think it’s clear that if the old human did not know about us as a species then our homelands would be destroyed. If Sofire had not been in and around the humans so much in recent times then Albert might have forgotten we existed and our home would be dug up.
“Granted, Flashter’s creation in the human child’s bedroom is pushing things but we cannot lose sight of the fact that these humans and Sofire have saved our world.”
The other Elders grouped around the blue bearded fairy speaker and there was a lot of murmuring and shuffling from the circle. Sofire didn’t know if she was hearing right and blinked lots to check she was still awake.Karmy tapped her arm again and she sat up with a start when she noticed Flashter sidling up to Uni looked less clumsy and his green tunic petals had begun curling up at the ends.He smiled bashfully at Sofire who just nodded back at him and gulped.She still couldn’t keep her teeth together and her cheeks were beginning to feel numb.
“It’s agreed.We insist that no more humans can be allowed to communicate with fairy folk.However, we must accept that the old human and child human have saved us so they are awarded our honorary friendship.You must in turn accept that there is a lot of faith and trust resting on this and at no point can any other humans be brought into our world.”
Daniel and Albert nodded seriously.
“It’s also agreed that far from being made into a prisoner, Sofire should be congratulated and awarded for her bravery.We will present her with her own wand which she must learn to use sensibly and for the good of the natural world.”
There was a collective cheer across the group of listeners while Sofire was so relieved she nearly fell off of Uni’s side. Karmy grabbed her arms and pushed her back on where she leaned forward and hugged Uni tightly around the neck.Uni gave a big unicorn smile while he glowed pink and his horn sparkled blue.
“Lastly, while we know Maylada was acting in what she felt was the right course to justice she cannot be allowed to take any creature captive whenever she feels like it.If she feels that any fairy folk or woodland creature is misbehaving, she must bring her case to the Elvedon Manor to be heard by us Elders before the Table of Fairy-ness.”
Queen Maylada was by now so dark purple in the face it was hard to see her in the shadows where she skulked. Her eyes looked fierce and her arms and fingers pointed hard and stiffly at the ground below.One of the rabbit children let a giggle escape its mouth which the mother quickly pushed a front paw over it for fear of another following out.
The fairy Elders then moved slowly from the circle in the centre of the group of beings and one by one walked towards Sofire to shake her pointy hand. The tall fairy Elder with the long yellow hair passed her the most dazzling pink sparkly wand she thought she had ever seen in her life ever.They all smiled at her while the blue bearded Elder took Karmy aside for a quick chat.
Her parents flew over from the top of the huge unicorn’s head and hugged her warmly. Her mother was still dabbing her eyes while her dad blew his nose muttering something about a cold.Even the tiny curly pink haired Elder flew over and fluffed Sofire’s hair, smiling thank you to her.
Kaflinsk hung behind his parents looking embarrassed and awkward. Flashter noticed the change of feeling and quickly patted Kaflinsk on the back.
“Sofire, your brother is really sorry for what happened.He made a mistake and got caught trying to get into the human’s house.Maylada must have been spying on him.”
“I am so sorry Sofire, really I am.I was only playing and I just didn’t even think I could get you in trouble.”
“Still if it wasn’t for his tricks, the Queen would have got here a lot faster.He made a few traps with holes covered with moss and low hanging spider webs which tangled Maylada right up” snickered Flashter.
It was all so much for Sofire to take in. This morning she was still in a cell and wondering if she would ever see the outside again.Now she was with the Elders, the humans, her parents, the unicorns, everyone and not only was she free but she also had a wand.She was a hero.She slowly started to take in the information her brother and Flashter were saying to her.She turned to look at them both, one by one she noticed a slight change in them.There was a friendship but also a kindness and caring.Her heart missed a beat.Her brother might annoy her sometimes with his tricks and traps but if he didn’t know about them, well she might not have got here before Maylada.
She slid off of Uni and grabbed them both into a tight group hug. Flashster laughed first, then Uni, then Sofire and finally Kaflinsk laughed so hard his sides could have split.She stepped back and admired them both for the trouble they had each caused her and the help they had since given her recently.She smiled, well it was worth it if it all turned out right in the end.
Albert and Daniel were the last to make their presence felt to Sofire. Albert tried to bend down but his back hurt so Sofire and Flashter flew up to him and hovered at the end of his nose.
“Thank you for your help” said Sofire.
“Oh no, thank you” said Albert with sparkling eyes.
“Why are you thanking me?” asked Sofire.“Without you I’d be in prison at Maylada’s castle and my family’s home would be dug up by the human machines.”
“Because you brought my Deputy back into my life” said Albert, with tears in his eyes.
“We always said we would look after him for you” piped up Karmy, who had finally got away from the blue bearded Elder and joined them in front of Albert.
“I don’t know, all these years…..” stammered Albert.
“A fairy promise is sacred” said Karmy.“Deputy will always be with us in his ladybird skin.When any friend of the fairies’ life span has run out, we can help you know.”
Karmy and Albert exchanged a funny look that only hopeful Daniel seemed to notice. He smiled up at his granddad and held his hand tighter.
“Sofire, you’re to come and live with me while you go into wand training.I hope that won’t be too much of an ordeal for you.I know I’m not so much fun as the younger fairies but it’s what the Elders w…..”
Sofire hugged Karmy so hard he felt the air escape from his lungs. He let out an embarrassed laugh and hugged her right back.
“Thank you Karmy, I’ve got the best wand master any fairy could wish for.”
“Yep well don’t expect me to be too soft” said Karmy, trying to toughen himself back up.
“Oh no, course not” said Sofire, laughing and giving him a gentle push.
After they had said their farewells to the humans, Sofire, Flashter and Uni walked off back towards the fairy town. They didn’t want to rush this time.They knew in their hearts the unicorns would need to go to the being that needed them most soon.The three friends took a long walk back, climbing over the fallen twigs and the curled up ferns.In the distance, Sofire could just about hear Albert saying his farewells to Deputy the ladybird-dog.She thought she heard him say ‘until we meet again’ but couldn’t quite be sure.
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