Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume Two
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 1: Welcome Home
Malcolm awoke. The bright sun shone down on him. He rolled over onto his back and shielded his bleary eyes from the light. Above him, resting her arms on the back of the bench, Slipha stared down at him. Malcolm jolted when he saw her, both surprised and stricken with fear. He also immediately noticed that her hair was no longer tied up. The sleek, mahogany strands hung from her head, swaying above him. It suited her better than the strict look she’d worn before.
"Good morning, sleepy head. Enjoy sleeping under the stars?" she cooed, seeming much too happy for Slipha.
"Um... no, not really." His eyes were gradually adjusting to the bright sunlight.
"So why did you spend the night in our yard?"
"Does it matter?"
"Were you worried over me?"
"No." he answered without taking time to think. "I mean..." Then he stopped. "What are you fishing for?"
Slipha laughed with her hand over her mouth. "Sorry, sorry. You're just too much fun to play with." She left the bench and walked over to the fire pit. "Your girlfriend kicked you out, didn't she?"
Malcolm sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and fooling with his hair. "I'd rather not answer that question."
Slipha began cooking breakfast over the fire pit. She sat on one of the five chairs which circled it and stirred the fire with a stick. "Human relationships are so interesting."
"Irritating more like it." Malcolm stood from the bench and stretched. "So..." He looked around the yard. "Where can I use the bathroom?"
Slipha shot him a confused look. "What's a bathroom?"
Malcolm's shoulders slumped. "Oh."
"What do you need?"
"Where can I... you know... do business?"
Slipha stared with a blank look.
"Don't you fairies ever pee? Urinate? Relieve yourself?"
"Oh that? Just go out in the woods. There's plenty of cover."
Malcolm was not happy at that idea, but knew he had no other choice. He left the safety of the bubble and walked far enough away so that he felt she couldn't see him. Once finished, he went back into the bubble and sat on the bench. He began rummaging through his duffle bag until he found his bottle of hand sanitizer. "Ha ha!" He looked back at Slipha, who was still studying him like a specimen. He held up the bottle. "Never leave home without it."
She didn't seem impressed. "Come over here. Breakfast is ready."
After a thorough sanitizing, Malcolm came over to the fire pit and sat down beside her. She served him several eggs on a wooden plate. "There you go. Enjoy." She placed some on a plate for herself.
Malcolm eyed the eggs. He used the wooden fork to inspect them. Then he looked to Slipha as she ate. "I thought you were vegetarians?"
"Well... my sisters have some kind of moral thing about taking eggs from mothers, but I see no problem. I rather enjoy them. Don't tell anyone." She winked and smiled.
"I'd say I'm surprised, but then again, I'm not." He inspected the tiny fried eggs some more. "These aren't chicken eggs, are they?"
"No, no. There aren't chickens out here. Just birds."
"Then this will be a first for me." He took a bite of them and nodded his approvement. "Very good. Very, very good." He smiled at Slipha. "Thank you. They're great."
She smiled back at him as she chewed and swallowed, then replied, "Glad you like them."
He still felt uneasy around her, considering the way she'd acted in the past toward him. But he felt a glimmer of hope that she might be warming up to him. He would try hard not to ruin their fragile relationship.
"So. What are you going to do now?" she asked.
Malcolm was chewing a new bite. He shrugged, looking down at his plate and tapping it with the fork. After he'd cleared his mouth, he said, "Don't know. What should I do?"
"You're going to stay here, aren't you?"
"I doubt you want that."
"Oh come on. Don't take things I say too seriously." She pointed at him with her fork. "Things have gotten a lot more interesting since you came around. And I was bored to hell before. I much prefer when things are interesting. So as far as I'm concerned, you can stick around. Keep some entertainment going in this boringly perfect place."
"It sounds like you're deriving pleasure from everyone else's misfortune."
Her grin returned to its usual fiendishness. "Maybe I do."
Malcolm chuckled. "In that case... I will consider staying. After all, I'd have to get a real job if I wanted my own place. And if its one thing writers hate, it's real jobs."
"Speaking of which, I've given some thought to what you said the other day."
"I've started working on translating the book into English. When I'm done, I'll let you read it. Maybe we can eventually publish it."
"That's great. I'll look forward to it."
"Just... please don't make fun of it. I'd have to turn you into a rat if you did."
Malcolm raised his hand. "I promise you won't get any unfair criticism from me. Just... promise not to get mad over the constructive kind."
"Agreed. So does this mean I have to review your stories?"
"Well..." Malcolm thought it over. "Not sure. Truth is I've been publishing them online myself without showing anyone."
"Not even your girlfriend?"
"No. I used to. But she wasn't really interested in what I wrote. Didn't have anything good to say about them. Actually, I think she just liked finding things to complain about."
"Hmph. That sucks." Slipha pulled her feet up onto the chair and folded her arms atop her knees. "I kinda know what you mean. I haven't actually let anyone read my stuff, but I'm convinced none of my sisters will like it."
"Because..." Slipha pondered. "Because. I like dark stories. They're all too... happy. I guess. Maybe that's not the right word. Cheery? Yeah, they're too cheery. My stories aren't cheery. I'm afraid I'm just too different from them."
"Don't worry about that. You might be surprised. Lots of people like dark stories. Horror and suspense are huge sellers in the book world. Even cheery people buy them."
"Really? Hard to believe."
"Sure. As a writer, I tend to stay away from horror. I feel more led to adventures. Escaping to a different world. But I love reading horrors. I think people with duality make the best writers."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well..." Malcolm thought it over. It was the first time he'd spoken his thoughts out loud, a strange experience. "... I suppose what I mean is that people with two polar opposite sides to themselves make for better writers. We can put ourselves in the shoes of many different characters. If that makes any sense."
She nodded. "I think I know what you mean. Then I should be a good writer."
"I think so, too." He patted her arm. "Don't sell yourself short before anyone has a chance to read your work."
Slipha turned her head and looked at his hand on her arm. Then she looked up at him. "Thanks, Malcolm." she said, smiling. "I think you actually made me feel better."
"That's good." he said as he stood up. He picked his dirty plate off the chair beside him. "Thank you for breakfast. It was enjoyable."
"Perhaps we can make a habit of it? I'm usually the first up."
"That would be nice." Malcolm genuinely hoped that things might continue pleasantly between them.
The rest of the fairies emerged from their tiny homes well rested. After growing to normal size, they greeted Malcolm and started about their daily routines. Autumn and Kara went out into the forest to gather wild berries. Slipha was in the corner of the yard sitting cross-legged and writing in her book. Malcolm felt a bit of pride knowing that he might have helped spur her onward. April had gone straight to her garden and began tending it. Malcolm still felt curious about everything that went on at the fairy home, so he walked over to the garden to talk to her.
"Hi." he said, his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets.
"Hello." she said, glancing over her shoulder, then going back to the plant she was tending. "How are you?"
"I'm doing great. Just curious to see your handiwork."
"You're welcomed to watch." She put her hands around the tomato plant and they began to glow. Malcolm watched closely as he noticed it begin to move. The plant was growing right before his eyes. Its vines snaked up the post which she had stuck in the ground. Soon, little green tomatoes appeared on the vine and began enlarging. Then, April stopped. "There. That's good for now."
"Amazing!" Malcolm said. "Do you grow a new plant every day?"
"No, if you don’t give them enough time, they’ll turn out bad. I give each plant a little boost each day and it takes a week to complete. Then, I harvest and replant. That way, we always have enough food for everyone."
"It's really incredible. Hard to believe that such magic is real." He chuckled, then added without thinking, "Wish I could use magic, too."
April stood and turned toward him. "I could teach you."
He was taken by surprise. "Oh... I was just thinking out loud. I didn't think a human could use magic."
April shook her head. "There's no reason that humans can't practice magic like fairies."
Malcolm folded his arms and eyed her skeptically. "So... I could learn to do that? Like you do?"
"Sure! But it takes lots of practice."
"Then why don't people use magic?"
"Simple. They don't believe they can. That, and they don't have anyone to teach them. There are many things you don't know about your own world. Even your own abilities."
Malcolm walked closer to April, leaned in, and whispered. "You won't get in trouble for teaching me, will you?"
She laughed. "No, no. I don't think my sisters have anything against it. You're one of us now, after all."
Malcolm straightened up, still having trouble believing everything he was hearing. "Really?"
"Sure! We've already been through so much together. Yukina says you're trustworthy."
Malcolm felt like he was on the verge of blushing. "I feel... honored. I really do."
"Uh oh!" she gasped, clasping her hands to her mouth. "Maybe I wasn't supposed to tell you that much."
Malcolm chuckled. "Well, at least it was good news. I would have felt bad if you guys thought I was a freeloading jerk."
"Well, Slipha did say something to that effect last night." She stopped. "Oops... again."
Malcolm shrugged. "Don't worry, I already knew that. But maybe I'm making progress with her. She's starting to act differently toward me."
"I'm glad!" April said. "I like having you around. Your company is enjoyable. I just want everyone to get along."
"So... magic lessons? I could get excited about that."
"Sure! Talk to me later today and I can get you started."
Malcolm smiled ear to ear. "I can't wait."
They all sat down at the outdoor table and enjoyed a breakfast of fruit. Once they were finished, Yukina stopped anyone from leaving right away. “We need to talk about what happened last night.”
“Why should we?” Slipha asked. “We beat him, didn’t we?”
“Does he still live?”
“Good. You shouldn’t take life unless there is no other way. But it seemed to me that the man has deep-rooted intentions. If he were to ever come into contact with us again, we will have a repeat of last night. So let’s discuss what transpired so that everyone understands... especially for Malcolm’s sake. He wasn’t there.”
“I’m okay with that. I doubt I would’ve been of help.”
“So, Autumn, could you tell us what happened?”
Autumn fidgeted with her hands, her eyes locked to them. “Well...” she began. “I’m sorry for drawing attention to us with my pranks. It won’t happen again.”
Yukina shook her head. “Don’t worry about that. It’s in the past. All we want to know about is the man and what happened between you and him.”
“Right. Well... his name is Daniel Orthenlow. He could tell that I was the one manipulating gravity because he’s met our parents in the past and knew I wasn’t a cosplayer.”
Yukina’s face grew solemn.
“He said that he met them at a festival. They talked for a bit and he wanted to learn about their magic. But they wouldn’t have anything to do with him and he never saw them again.”
“I never would have guessed it was him.” Yukina said.
“You knew him?”
“I never met him, but my mother warned me of him when I became old enough to understand. She used him as an example of why we shouldn’t interact with humans.” She looked up to Malcolm. “If you wonder what you’ve done to help us, Malcolm, you’ve shown me that there are good people out there. But most of my life, I thought everyone was like him.” She turned her focus back to Autumn. “He craves power over others, doesn’t he?”
She nodded. “He tried to convince me to stay with him so that we could teach each other magic. But I could sense that his intentions were evil and I refused. That’s when he attacked me and put the choker on. I can remember everything after that just as clearly as anything else, but I can’t believe I acted that way.”
“You were under a spell, that’s all.”
“I know you’re right. But I still can’t believe it.” She took a deep breath before continuing her story. “He’s been studying and practicing magic all his life. But he has no idea how to perform physical magic. He only knows spirit magic... black spirit magic.”
Yukina nodded. “That’s what I thought. And in those areas, he is a powerful sorcerer.”
Slipha held up a hand to interject. “I really don’t think we need to worry about him. He’s afraid of me now. He’s not going to mess with us.”
“You’re wrong.” Yukina said with a stern voice. “He’s been searching for us for twenty years. If he finds us again, he will have a new plan to capture us. A new, more powerful spell to control us. If we aren’t cautious, he will strike when our guard is lowered.”
“But we can’t keep hiding in the forest.” Kara spoke up for the first time. Everyone turned their eyes toward her. “I don’t want to stay hidden all my life.”
“I don’t want that either.” Yukina said. “We’ve lived in fear too long. It’s time for us to enjoy things... like we did last night. However, we have to be careful in doing so. We always have to be on guard. And always have a plan of what to do if we are caught. Because I’m afraid that was our mothers’ downfall. They trusted in their powers so much that they walked freely among humans.”
Everyone grew silent and looked down at the table. Malcolm raised the next question. “So you believe they were kidnapped?”
“I do. Whether they’re still alive or not, I don’t know. But I believe that’s why they disappeared.”
“Then why haven’t you gone looking for them?”
Yukina glared at him. It pierced Malcolm and he realized he’d overstepped his bounds. “Don’t you think I wanted to? But I must put my sisters’ safety first. At that time, they were all very young and unable to take care of themselves. And it’s been so long that I wouldn’t know where to start looking.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to...”
“It’s okay. You’re a curious one.” She took a long breath. “I think that right now, our best defense is staying together when we leave the forest. And if any of us, no matter what the situation, see Daniel, we fly. Take off, fly home as fast as possible, and don’t look back.”
Autumn shook her head. “It’s not that simple. As soon as he looked into my eyes, I was frozen. I wanted to run away, but couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t move. It’s another one of his spells. It’s like he can project it into your eyes with his. It’s pure fear. I couldn’t even speak but a whisper.”
“So there are many things we can’t guard ourselves against.” Yukina said. “But the more we know about his powers, the better we can react if he shows up again.” She paused and looked around the table. “Does anything else need to be added?” There were no responses. “Good. Keep what we’ve talked about in mind and let me know if you think of anything.”
Kara and Autumn jumped from their seats, happy to be free from the serious meeting. Slipha returned to her writing in the corner of the yard. Yukina stood and went to Malcolm. “Mind if we take a walk?”
They left the sphere together and headed out of the woods, ending up in the usual spot where the fairies relaxed. They walked side by side along the edge of the cliff.
“So, do you mind me asking what happened last night?” she asked.
Malcolm shrugged. “It’s nothing.” He kept his hands firmly planted in his jacket pockets and his eyes to the ground. “Nothing that should worry you.”
“But I am worried. What happened to force you to sleep in our yard?”
“Just... trouble at home. My girlfriend always assuming I’m cheating on her.”
“I see.” Yukina sighed. “So it is our fault.”
“No, no, no. It’s not. It’s my fault.”
“Except that you were with us all night because of the trouble we were in.”
“Well... maybe that’s true. But I made the decision to stay out. Not you.”
Yukina kept her hands behind her back as she walked. “Do you regret the decision?”
Malcolm was quiet for a moment. He sighed. “No. Truth is my relationship with Blaire hasn’t been great lately. She’s become a serious career woman and I’m the creative type. We’ve just grown apart more and more day by day. I guess because we have less in common than we did in college.”
“If you weren’t happy, then you should see this as a good thing.”
“In ways I do. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. We lived together for two years.” He smiled slightly as they walked. “She was always the responsible one. I’m not really the type of person suited for living alone.” He shrugged. “Now I don’t have a place to stay. Not sure how long I can survive sleeping on your bench.” Malcolm chuckled at the thought. “My life has sure gotten strange since I met you.”
“Don’t worry, Malcolm. As far as we’re concerned, you are welcomed to stay with us. Perhaps we can work out a better living arrangement for you.”
He laughed. “I would like that a lot.”
She stopped walking and turned to look at him. He looked back at her and could tell she was being serious. “There’s something I need to warn you of.”
“What’s that?” he asked, not sure how he should feel about her sudden change in demeanor.
“Don’t fall in love with one of us. Romantically, I mean. It can only lead to hurt.”
“I’ve already promised you I won’t make romantic advances. My relationship with you and your sisters are strictly plutonic. Trust me.”
“I trust you, Malcolm. But that doesn’t mean your heart won’t try. So don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m warning you against falling in love with a fairy to protect you from heart break, not because I’m trying to keep my sisters from you.”
Malcolm pulled his hands from his pockets and placed them on Yukina’s shoulders. He looked into her eyes. “You don’t have to worry about me. I want to stay here because I love being with you guys. It’s like heaven to me. And I feel more inspired to write than ever before. Do you know what a gift that’s been to me? You and your sisters have changed my life.”
Yukina smiled a soft smile and put her hand on his hand. “You’re a sweet man, Malcolm. You really are. Just please remember what I’ve said.”
“I will.” They parted and began walking again. After a few minutes of silence, Malcolm spoke up. “I talked to April earlier. She said that she would teach me magic.”
“That’s good.” Yukina replied. “I hope that you can learn.”
“I hope so, too. Just wanted to make sure you were alright with it.”
“Of course I am. I would love to see you become skilled in magic. Just as long as you use your magic for good. Unlike Daniel.”
“I agree. I just hate being so helpless when I’m with you guys. I want to be able to help in some way, even if it’s a small way.”
“You have a curious mind and are willing to think differently. That is the most important part of it. After that, you’re simply learning how to become better with time.”
Malcolm couldn’t help but grin in delight. It was hard to believe that a human like him would be able to perform the same kind of miracles the fairies had done. His mind began wandering. Then, a crazy thought occurred to him. “So... do you think it would be possible for me to fly one day? You know, like you do?”
Yukina responded to the question with a short laugh. “It’s hard to imagine. But I can’t discourage you from it.”
“Do you use magic in flying or is it all in the wings?”
“Yes, similar to Autumn’s gravity trick. But that simply makes you weightless. The wings do most of the work propelling you forward and helping you maneuver. So yes, you might learn how to float, but finding a way to control your flight is a different matter.”
“Is that why you were laughing? Because you were picturing me floating around helplessly?”
Yukina gave him a look and laughed. “How did you know?”
“Because I’m picturing the same thing.” he responded. “But if there’s a way, I want to find it. I think every human who has ever lived has dreamed of flying as free as a bird. Maybe I can be the first.”
“It’s a wonderful idea. And it’s not impossible. Nothing is. Just promise we can go flying together when you do.”
He smiled. “You bet I will.”
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved