Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume Two
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 5: Ravens of the Forest
Another pleasant day passed. Malcolm was tired, but fulfilled. He settled in bed as everyone else went to their respective homes. He was asleep before anyone else. But his rest didn’t last long. He might’ve gotten an hour or two before feeling a nudge on his arm. The nudge continued like the tick of a clock over and over, invading his subconscious until finally forcing his eyes open.
He blinked away the bleariness to find Kara kneeling above him. “Hi.” she said, an excited grin on her face.
“Uh? Hi.” He could barely think.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” She seemed even happier than usual... elated even.
“No.” he said. “I need sleep.”
This put a dent in her enthusiasm. “Oh. Are you sure? I was hoping we could explore the forest together. Have a fun night, just you and me.”
“Sorry, Kara. But I’m really tired. Maybe tomorrow?”
Visibly saddened, she nodded. “Okay. Tomorrow then. Night.”
She stood up and went outside, letting the door close behind her. Malcolm settled back into his blankets, ready to doze back off.
Amid the silence of the night, the only other sounds coming from happy crickets and hungry owls, Malcolm heard another sound. A crying fairy? He stopped trying to doze and listened closer. Yes, he heard correctly. Soft sniffles were coming from the front porch. It chased away any chance of him being able to sleep that night. (To a man, there was nothing more frightening and sobering than a crying woman.) In his mind, he kicked himself for being cruel towards her, realizing then that she was looking for a friend, not a walk.
Malcolm stood up and went to the door, opening it and standing in the threshold. He found Kara there, sitting on the edge of the porch with her face buried in her hands. When she heard the door open, she quickly began wiping tears away. “Hey.” he said because he wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Hey.” She hurriedly wiped her face dry and sniffled more. “What is it?”
“I’m sorry.” He walked across the porch and sat down beside her. “I was tired and not thinking straight. Fact is, I’d love to go on a walk with you.”
She shook her head. “No, no. I shouldn’t have asked. You’ve had a tiring day. Go back to sleep.”
“I can’t sleep now. So we might as well take advantage of it.”
Kara looked up at him, a gentle smile crossing her face. Her eyes were still red and swollen, her voice shaky. “Are you sure?”
“Sure I’m sure. Let me change out of my sleep clothes and we’ll get outta here.”
A few minutes later, they made their way out of the bubble. April watched out from her miniature house’s window as the two of them left together. She smiled.
The moon was beginning to loose its fullness, which it’d had for the last couple of days. It now had a sliver cut off the edge, but still shone a good bit of light into the dense forest. It was a pale, white glow which trickled in through the forest cover. Beside him, Malcolm had another light source: a fairy’s wings which glowed a constant light blue.
As they walked side by side in silence, listening to insect chirps echo through the forest, Malcolm snuck glances at her every now and then. Again, he found himself unwillingly fixated by her. And could a human such as himself ever hope to escape it? There was something about the fairies that gave them unearthly beauty. Was it magic? Was it the glow that emanated from their wings? Or was it simply because they looked different from humans? Their faces were small, their noses were small, their cheeks raised, their lips tight, their jaw-lines rounded. The only thing about them that wasn’t small were their eyes, which seemed larger than a human’s. However, this could have been a proportional difference since their heads seemed smaller. Or perhaps a side effect of starting out the size of an insect and then enlarging themselves to human-size?
All of the fairies had a small, frail-looking appearance. They seemed more fragile than China dolls when Malcolm had first met them. However, the events which had happened since then had taught him just how strong they really were and that looks were very deceiving. He had to remind himself that the gentle girl he walked beside could easily turn him inside out if she so wished. It brought a smile to his face as he contemplated that such a powerful being had cried when he said he wouldn’t take this walk with her.
Perhaps the most beautiful feature of the fairies were their smile. It seemed that they spent the majority of their lives smiling and actually enjoying life. Perhaps that was what most humans were missing. But then, there was Slipha. Sure, Malcolm had caught her in a smile now and then, but it was a rare occurrence. In truth, he found Slipha’s scowl just as cute, though if he said such a thing to her, she would turn him inside out.
He turned his attention back to the fairy walking beside him. Her short, black hair gave off a slight shine from the moon above. Her eyes were alight with excitement. Her cheeks were still pulled in a smile of contentment. The moonlight made her skin glow a pale color. Her dress, like Autumn’s, was the quintessential fairy dress, not as modern and refined as the other three’s. Malcolm thought that, if fairies had visited artists of the old world, they had worn the same dresses, thus creating that commonality in culture. Was that what was happening to him now? Were fairies somehow destined to visit artists? Were they the secret muses spoken of in the world of art? Malcolm felt that, if he were the latest in a line of artists who had found muses, he didn’t deserve to be counted among the greats of the past. He was simply a guy who liked writing. He didn’t consider himself a great writer, certainly not great enough to deserve a visitation by fairies. Or had destiny chosen him, not because he was a great writer, but because his mind was ready to accept them? Most people, not even the artistic, would be ready for such a journey.
“Enjoying the walk?” Kara asked.
“Oh yes. It’s very nice out here.”
“So what is there to discuss?” she asked.
“Not sure. Why don’t we talk about you?”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I’m curious. You seem to be the quiet one. I have a feeling there’s a lot going on under the surface.”
“Well, thank you for the compliment. But I’m not sure if that’s true.”
“Don’t sell yourself short. I think you have great things bubbling inside you. Maybe you’re just not sure what that is yet.”
“I’d sure like to believe that.”
“Maybe I can help you find it. Somehow.”
“Thanks.” She looked at the ground for a bit before adding, “Is that what you’re doing with Slipha?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I’m helping her with writing. Or maybe we’re helping each other.” He let a small chuckle escape. “I didn’t think artists were supposed to help the muses. It’s supposed to be the other way around. Then again, maybe it’s my helping that inspires me and not magic pixie dust.”
“I suppose that’s a false legend. It’s especially false because now...” Malcolm held his palm up and ignited a ball of electricity, twirling and cracking above his hand. “I have the magic, too.”
Kara clapped her hands together. “Amazing! You’re getting better every day!”
“Thanks.” He let the energy fizzle out. “I’m starting to feel comfortable with it.”
They continued walking aimlessly until coming out at the highway. They’d gone down and over in an L shape through the woods. They looked across the road at the wall of trees. “What’s over there?” Malcolm asked.
“Forest as far as the eye can see. I’ve flown above it, but I haven’t been able to go far enough to find the other side.”
Malcolm pulled his phone out and opened the map. He could see his GPS location beside the highway and a satellite view showing an endless sea of forest. He zoomed out until he found the other side. The forest was massive, looking to be a dozen or more miles across. “You’re right, there’s no way we’ll ever see the other side. But do you want to venture into it anyway? Just for fun?”
“Sure, why not?”
They crossed the road and entered the woods. The trees were well-spaced out, not seeming as dense as the forest the fairies lived in. Malcolm and Kara walked side-by-side in silence; not the awkward kind, but the kind of silence that friends could enjoy. They listened to the sounds that danced through the forest.
As they walked, the trees began growing closer. The light of the moon became snuffed out. Soon, it was so dark in the forest that not even the glow of Kara’s wings helped. The sounds that used to be pleasant became ominous. The rustling of leaves were like a great beast floating above them. And the more treacherous the forest became, the more Malcolm wanted to turn back. He looked to Kara, who didn’t seem worried at all. In the faint blue glow of her wings, he could see her smile.
“Does it seem to be getting darker to you?” he asked.
“I think you’re right. Here.” She lifted her hand and began emitting a strong aura of light. It not only illuminated a circle around them, but also radiated warmth.
“Much better! So how does light magic work?”
“It’s similar to electrical magic. Except, you’re turning the energy into light. This’ll be the next form of magic you’ll learn.”
“I’m glad. That seems extremely useful.”
The glow that she emitted lit their surroundings well. However, once the light fell off about ten feet in front of them, it was swallowed by the darkness. And it didn’t stop the eerie noises from reaching them.
“How much longer did you want to walk?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I’d love to find something worth finding. But then again, I don’t know if there’s anything worth finding out here.”
Their stroll through the forest continued along with their small talk. Despite the ominous state of the forest, it was a pleasant outing. As they talked and walked, they lost track of time. It seemed as if it’d ceased to exist inside the forest. But then, they came upon a cabin. It was a sudden discovery, appearing from nowhere as soon as their beam of light could reach it.
“Wow. This looks old.” Malcolm said, studying the cabin. “Might be from the eighteen hundreds.” It seemed aged, but not dilapidated. The thin glass windows were in-tact, but cloudy. Without thinking, Malcolm grabbed Kara’s hand and led her closer to the cabin. “Let’s take a look around.”
“We’re not going in, though.” she protested.
“Don’t worry, I don’t want to go in either. But it’s fascinating. This place has probably been sitting here for two hundred years untouched. We might be the first to see it.”
“But you don’t know that. What if someone still lives here?”
They circled around the side of the cabin as Malcolm studied it, still tugging Kara along by the hand. “Oh come on. There’s no way someone lives here. There’s no signs of life.” There wasn’t much to see as they scanned the walls of the cabin with Kara’s light. It was simply an old cabin. They circled back around to the front where the door and porch were. “Come up closer.” He tugged her forward. “Let’s look inside.”
“No way!” Kara resisted. “We’re not looking in the window.”
“There’s nothing to worry about. Shine your light in and we’ll be able to see everything.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of!”
He cupped his hands over his eyes and peered into the cabin through the foggy window. “Just put your hand up to the window, you don’t have to look.”
Sighing, Kara put her hand against the window. Malcolm struggled to look. “I still can’t see anything. The window is too cloudy.”
“Ok. Can we go now? I’m ready to head home.”
“Sure, sure.” They left the window and backed away, Malcolm still studying the cabin. “It’s really neat, though. Maybe we should explore it during the day. Who knows, might find some antique left behind that would be worth something.”
There was a stirring of wind above them. It rustled the leaves so much that they sounded like the waves of the ocean. There were birds calling in the distance. Kara and Malcolm began walking away from the cabin in a hurry. The croaking of ravens echoed around the trees. It was a terrifying sound, amplified by the crisp night air and the dense forest. It encircled them, swirling around and around like a tornado of laughter. Now, they were running. They could only see so far in front of them with the glow from Kara’s hand. Then, they saw something ahead of them.
They stopped and looked around. It was the same cabin.
Awk! Awk! Awk! the ravens cackled down at them.
“Did we go in a circle?” Malcolm shouted, not knowing he was shouting.
“How could we?”
“It didn’t feel like we were.”
A cloud of black came rushing down upon them. It felt like a dream, disorienting and surreal. The darkness swirled around them, screaming.
It was a cloud of ravens. The tornado had touched down, circling the two wanderers. A loud, maddening clamor of noise rushed around them, a mixture of birds colliding against one another, the air being stirred by their flight and shrill cries.
Kara clung to Malcolm. He clung to her as well. The whirlwind of noise pounded against them. Malcolm shouted into her ear. “Is there something you can do?”
“I’ll have to put out my light.”
The light disappeared. There was no more sight, only sound. Then, the sound of a low boom rippled through the forest like ripples of water, so low that it was felt rather than heard. The birds cried as they were thrown in all directions by Kara’s gravity magic. They began raining down and thumping against the ground. But they were not dead and soon began rustling against the leaves to pick themselves up.
Malcolm fumbled through his pocket for his phone. His hands were shaking. He pulled it out, struggled to unlock it, and hit the button for the flash light. Its LED light was nothing compared to Kara’s magic, but it cast a glow of white light enough to see what was happening. The ravens were scattered all over the forest floor, but jumped back to flight quickly. They began circling again like a tornado, their speed increasing more and more until they once again looked like a solid sea of black.
Kara threw another punch of gravity at them. A pocket of them fell, but the hole was immediately filled by other ravens. Malcolm charged an electrical sphere in his free hand. It was time to see if his training would prove useful. Though he’d never thrown an electrical sphere before, necessity was the best teacher. He flung it at the cloud of birds. It sizzled when it struck, sending bolts of electricity in all directions and electrifying them. Many were stunned, falling from their flight. Others, though they’d been zapped, were able to continue flying.
Kara followed his lead, charging electrical spheres and throwing them at the birds. Malcolm threw another. It sparked and sizzled against their bodies, sending more to the ground. Then, Malcolm reached his hand straight out, getting as close to the moving wall of feathers as he possibly could. Instead of charging, he sent a constant stream of electricity out at them. Every bird that zipped past was shocked. They tumbled from the air, piling atop one another.
“Malcolm!” Kara screamed. “Come close!”
He backed a few steps from the wall of birds until he bumped into her. Once beside her, she thrust her arms outward in both directions, sending another sphere of gravity out in all directions. The birds exploded outward like chaff in the wind, raining down around them and flopping to the ground.
The absence of birds gave them a glance outside the circle to which they’d been confined. The dim light of the cell phone cast just enough to see the figure of a man. He stood a few feet away from them, holding his hands straight out to his sides. He wore a cloak which went straight down from his shoulders to his knees. A large-brimmed hat covered his head from which long, black hair flowed. The features of his face were indistinguishable in the dimness of light. The birds littered around the area didn’t return to flight, rather being content to stand on the ground and yell at their victims.
“Who are you?” Malcolm asked. His voice was authoritative, but laced with fear.
The man didn’t answer. He simply laughed. Not a boisterous laugh, but one of amusement. He clapped his gloved hands together slowly.
Kara hid behind Malcolm, clutching his arm.
“Answer me. Who are you?” Malcolm shouted again.
Another voice came from the dark. “Who are you?” Malcolm and Kara jumped, turning to the side were the voice had come from. A young woman stood beside them. “Maybe you should answer me first?” She wore a pair of short jean shorts and a tight t-shirt which was tied up to show her midriff. Her hair was blonde, frizzled, and seemed to explode from her head in all directions. Her voice was shrill, piercing the night air like a blade.
Malcolm looked back to the man, who had stopped clapping and laughing, instead standing perfectly still. Then, he looked back to the woman and stuttered, trying to catch his words. “I... uh... we were just...” he pointed backwards at nothing. “... walking. We were just walking.”
“I didn’t ask you that. I want to know who you are.”
“I’m...” he stopped himself before saying something he might regret. “I’m Arthur. And she is...” he pointed his thumb at Kara. “She is Tammy.”
The girl grinned a large grin. “Well! Hi Arthur and Tammy!”
“Hi.” he replied, still on his guard. “And what are your names if I may ask?”
“You can call me Honey.” She skipped over to the man’s side and put her arms around his waist, hugging him. He didn’t flinch. Either she was much smaller than him or he was much taller. “And this is Morris. He’s such a sweetie.”
“Hello, Morris and Honey. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I apologize if we trespassed. Was that your cabin?”
“Yes it is!” Honey yelled with bubbly joy. “We thought you were going to attack us! Try to kill my lover and have your way with innocent little me! I was terrified! But I know you have no chance against my Morris. He’s stronger than any man.” She stroked his chest with her finger, bumping a silver pentagram necklace which hung from his neck. “He’s such an amazing man.”
Malcolm didn’t realize that he was squeezing Kara’s hand tighter and tighter. “I’m so sorry. We thought it was abandoned. We’ll leave you two alone, we promise.”
Morris spoke, his voice deep, smooth, and black like oil. “No no no. Stay. We don’t receive many visitors.”
“No, that’s okay. We need to get home, so we’ll leave you two alone.”
“I’m surprised to find fellow sorcerers. And one of them a fairy? I truly am lucky.”
“Perhaps some day we’ll have a nice discussion over coffee,” Malcolm said, backing away slowly from the couple. “but it’s late and we just need to go home.”
“You can’t go!” Honey screeched. “We haven’t paid you back for hurting our friends!”
Malcolm looked around at the angry ravens which circled them. They eyed him with rage.
“I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t know what was happening. I swear. We won’t bother you any longer.”
“Your spells are intriguing.” Morris said. His face was still shrouded in darkness, but a toothy grin glinted from the dim phone light. “I’d like to know which is stronger. Your spells or my birds?”
With Honey still clinging to him, he raised his hands outward. The birds burst into flight, rushing toward Malcolm.
“MOVE!” Before Kara could react, Malcolm shoved her away. She fell out of the ring of birds.
“NO!” She turned to see a wave of ravens crash down onto Malcolm. He screamed as hundreds of beaks began pecking at him. Morris stood, watching from beneath his hat, its brim bouncing as he laughed. Honey squealed with delight.
Bolts of electricity sparked beneath the pile of birds. Malcolm was fighting back, but how much good would it do? Kara jumped from the ground, reached out her hand, and charged two electrical blasts. “Leave him alone!”
There was no reply aside from a constant chuckle of amusement. Kara threw the blasts at him. They came into contact and exploded, sending light and dust flying in all directions. When it had settled, he stood unmoved.
“I’m protected by spells. Your magic can’t touch me.” he said with a twinge of glee. “Wonder how long he’ll survive. How long until my ravens take his eyeballs for a midnight snack? A wonderful game we have, isn’t it?”
Kara reached out and gripped Honey with magic. She yanked her body away from Morris, raising her high into the air above them. “STOP THEM OR SHE DIES!” Honey was no longer squealing with delight, but now with terror.
Morris continued grinning. “Oh, how interesting. The game’s become a standoff.”
With her eyes fixed on him, Kara slung Honey into the trunk of a tree. Then, she swung her into another, then back to another, then another. Each time her body collided into a tree, she yelped a cry of pain. Despite the beating she gave her, Morris didn’t flinch and the birds didn’t stop. Malcolm was still being jabbed by hungry beaks and shooting weak energy bursts at anything and everything.
“Do you think I care about her?” Morris asked, a small chuckle riding beneath his words. “There are plenty of naive playthings out there.”
Kara eyed him with suspicion. She could tell he wasn’t bluffing. He’d sooner let her die in front of him than stop his fun. “Then you are a monster.”
Kara loosed Honey. Her battered body fell on him, knocking him over and sending his face into the dirt. While he was disoriented, Kara gripped the pile of birds and tore them apart as if she were ripping a bag. Their bodies went flying in all directions, colliding with trees all around. Malcolm continued swatting wildly with his eyes squeezed shut. Once the birds were out of the way, she picked Malcolm up with her grip magic and slung him straight up. He flew through the canopy of trees and was gone, screaming the entire way.
She turned her attention to Morris and Honey. “To answer your question, my magic beats your birds.”
Morris struggled out from under the semi-conscious girl, getting up to one knee. “Oh, yes, yes, YES! You are a powerful opponent! You’re almost as powerful as Queen Arany.”
“Queen Arany, the only person on this earth I bow to. She’s a fairy like you.”
His words froze her. A fairy? What could that mean? She wanted more than anything to ask, but Malcolm was still hurtling through the air and would be coming down soon.
The scattered ravens took flight around her. She raised her hand, a ball of snapping electricity encircling her. It became an aura of light, exploding from her and soaking the ravens. As soon as it hit them, they transformed into butterflies. The butterflies, now loosed from Morris’ spell, fluttered away in all directions, excited to explore the forest. She stooped over and picked up Malcolm’s phone, which had fallen from his hand earlier. Morris stared at the fairy, speechless.
“Hope we never meet again.” Kara said before jumping into the air, rocketing upward though the canopy of leaves.
Morris peered at the empty, dark forest. A smile of glee crept over him. He began chuckling. His chuckle became a laugh, which soon became a guttural bellow. “We will! We WILL! I can’t wait, little fairy! I can’t wait!”
Wind whistled. Gravity didn’t seem to have meaning. When Malcolm dared to open his eyes, he saw the world spinning around him. His stomach flipped and flopped in his chest. He realized he was screaming. He flailed his limbs. What else can a guy do when he discovers himself hurtling through the air? At least he was finally flying, though this was not what he had imagined. He was sailing a thousand feet above the forest canopy. It was disorienting, nauseating, and beautiful.
Then, a force that felt like a giant trampoline caught him. He stopped screaming. It felt so good to be held by something again. He slowed to a stop in the air, floating for a moment, then was catapulted back into the air at an arch, sailing away from the forest. He could see the highway below. He hurtled through the air, looking around and taking in the view. The moon was gorgeous sitting above the world. He could even see the ocean laid out in front of him like a sheet of glass.
“Enjoying the flight?” Kara called from behind. She caught up and flew beside him.
“I’m trying.” he said. “Am I going to die?”
She laughed. “Not hardly. I think I can catch you.”
“You think? Have you ever done anything like this before?”
“We’ll land by the road.”
She zipped downward ahead of him, turned, and reached out with her hands. He felt her grip around him and could feel himself being guided. His decent slowed as he approached the road. By the time he reached it, he was drifting at a gentle speed. Malcolm’s feet touched down on the asphalt. Kara landed in front of him in the grass.
Before she could say anything, Malcolm rushed to her and grabbed her in an embrace. He picked her up and squeezed her tight. He was laughing, but on the verge of crying. Kara couldn’t help but join him, laughing the stress and fear away. They stayed that way for a minute. With their hearts racing, adrenaline flowing, and emotion rushing over them, neither wanted to let go.
When they finally loosed each other, Kara looked Malcolm over. “Are you hurt?”
“They were picking at my jacket and jeans a lot. Good thing they’re thick.”
“You’ve got some bloody spots around your head and neck.”
“Oh?” He touched the side of his neck and looked at his hand, which now had a spot of blood on it. “It happened so fast I didn’t notice.”
“Let me heal you. Here, sit down.”
They walked further from the road and Malcolm sat down at the edge of the forest, leaning back against a tree trunk. Kara knelt and cupped her hands around his neck. He began feeling that wonderful healing again. He smiled as he soaked it in. “So what happened back there?”
Kara smiled. “I turned the birds into butterflies. They didn’t cause any trouble after that.”
“You have quite the bag of tricks. Why didn’t you do that when we were first attacked?”
“I can’t control it that well. I would’ve turned you into one as well. That’s why I had to get you out of there.”
“By hurling me into the air?”
“It worked, didn’t it?”
“I suppose it did. I even got to fly... kind of.”
“If you get better at magic, maybe we can fly together.”
“That would be wonderful.” He said, taking a moment to gaze again at the starry sky. “So what happened to the crazy ones?”
“I left them. I had to come after you, so there wasn’t much time.”
“Well, thanks. Thanks for saving me... again.”
She lowered her hands, her eyes falling to stare at blades of grass. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry about what?”
“This is my fault. It’s all my fault. If I hadn't been so selfish..."
"Don't beat yourself up. I enjoyed our walk. Well, most of it anyway." He reached up and grabbed her arm, giving it a squeeze. "I'll still go on walks with you. I enjoy the company."
Kara smiled as she finished healing him. "Thanks. You know how to make me feel better."
“So, are you ready to go home?” he asked, standing up.
She shook her head. “We shouldn’t yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’re being watched.”
“There’s a raven up there. See?” She motioned with her head to look over her shoulder.
Malcolm looked, catching sight of a bird perched on a branch across the road.
“I think it’s following us. When we go home, it’ll tell Morris where we are.”
“That seems a little far fetched, don’t you think?”
“Is it really far fetched? I have an idea, though. Wanna go for another flight?”
“No!” he said quickly. “No, I don’t.”
She thought a moment. “Well, there is one way. Would you be up for shrinking?”
Malcolm held his hands up to say stop! “Now you want to shrink me? This is seeming less safe by the minute.”
“It’s safe. I think. Well, I’ve never done it to anyone else. Just myself. But if I can shrink myself, I should be able to do the same for you.”
“I don’t know... what if fairy bodies are different from humans?”
“It’s probably fine. Besides, it’ll be fun! I’ll shrink you and then put you in my dress and we’ll go for a flight.” She pointed at the V-shaped part of her dress covering her chest.
Malcolm considered for a moment, then shrugged. “Go for it.”
“Okay! This might feel a little funny.” She reached her hands toward him.
He braced himself, but nothing happened. “Are you sure you can...”
Suddenly, the world around him began to grow. His entire body tingled and tickled on the inside. The bizarre sensation grew faster and faster, the world growing larger and larger, including Kara. Soon, the blades of grass he’d been standing on became as tall as him. “WHOA!”
“It worked!” she shouted. “How do you feel?”
Miniature Malcolm looked around at the huge world. “I feel really weird!” He shook all of his limbs. “Everything is tingly.”
“That’ll go away in a few minutes. Here.” She knelt down, putting her hand on the ground. “Climb on.” He got into her hand and she stood up. As she raised him up, the air rushed by as if he were on a roller coaster.
“Geez! Take it slow!”
“Sorry. I gotta remember you’re new to this.” She lifted her hand up to the brim of her dress. “Hop on.”
Malcolm smiled as he stepped down into her dress and put his arms outside, holding himself up. Her warm, soft skin pressed against the back of his body.
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve never been this comfortable in my life.”
“Good! Then hold on!” She took off into flight, leaving the highway behind. The wind rushed against Malcolm as he held tight to the dress.
Once they got to a good altitude, Kara leveled off and began flying down the coastline away from the fairy home. She glanced behind her, then whispered down to Malcolm. “The raven is following us.”
“So it is one of his?”
“It must be. We’re gonna lead it off track.”
Malcolm relaxed, enjoying the view of the world below and the wind slipping through his hair. Unlike a few minutes ago, he felt safe enough to look around and take in the experience (as opposed to flailing his limbs and screaming). The expanse of pines they sailed above were a beautiful carpet, the crisp moonlight casting a pleasant glow over them. After several minutes of an enjoyable flight, Kara began descending. She landed behind a large, brick house.
“Where are we?” Malcolm asked.
Malcolm almost let out a loud exclamation before slapping a hand over his mouth. In a loud whisper, he asked, “Why are we at that psycho’s house?!”
“Because we’re leading the raven here. So if Morris is trying to track us, he’ll come here.”
“That’s a nice idea, except that we’re at his house! What if he sees us?”
“We just need to linger long enough for the raven to think we’re home. We’ll stay hidden back here behind the house.”
Though they had only been there a few seconds, Malcolm already felt the uneasiness of the place. It was a revolting feeling that made him want to crawl out of his skin. Everything inside him wanted to get far, far away from the looming building.
Kara peeked around the corner. The raven sat perched on a tree near the edge of the yard. It called at the night air as if it didn’t like the silence. Kara retreated back into hiding, putting her back to the wall.
“If Morris comes looking for us, Daniel sure is going to be surprised!” She clasped her hands to her mouth as she laughed.
“They’re both evil crazies. What if they decide to team up? Be evil crazies together? That would be just great.”
“Oh come on, now you’re just being silly.” Kara responded. “What are we supposed to do? Let him know where we live? This is the only place I could think of.”
Malcolm didn’t have a response. As he stood on the fold of fabric (or was it leaves?) that was his perch, he chanced a glance around. On each side of him were her breasts. Being the man that he was, he couldn’t just ignore such a thing, especially when they were as large as he was tall. In nonchalant fashion, he slowly reached over while still keeping his gaze forward. He touched her soft skin, allowing his hand to gently rub downward. A wonderful feeling. A giddy smile crept over him as if he were a middle-schooler.
Kara reacted with a giggle. “What are you doing?!” she whispered amidst her giggling. “That tickles!”
He quickly returned his hand to the lip of her dress. “Sorry! Just... trying to stay balanced.”
She took another glance around the corner. The raven called a couple more times, then took flight, content to return to its master.
“Looks like it’s gone.” Kara said.
“Let’s get out of here. This place is creeping me out.”
“Yeah, me too. Let’s just give the bird a minute to leave the area.”
A sudden explosion shook the house. Kara wobbled on her feet. Voices came from inside. Then, the back door was thrown open, banging against the wall. Kara darted around the corner to hide. She flattened herself against the wall. On this side of the house, there were many windows, but no doors, and she stayed beneath them.
Two people ran from the house, coughing. “You idiot! I told you not to push that hard!”
Malcolm and Kara were seized with sudden dread and fear. There was no doubt that the voice belonged to Slipha.
Amidst coughing, Daniel was next to speak. “I’m sorry. I’m having trouble controlling it.”
“You’re too eager and don’t pace yourself. Come on, let’s go around front. You obviously can’t practice indoors yet.”
Kara jumped into flight, zipping up until she was above the roof, and quickly got on her hands and knees. Just as she hid herself, Slipha and Daniel walked around the side of the house. Kara peeked over the edge.
“I apologize, madam.” Daniel said, following behind Slipha. “I will try to better control myself.”
“You’d better. If I’m going to loose sleep to help you, don’t waste my time.”
“Again, I apologize.”
“Just shut up and try it again.” They stopped in the front yard.
Kara whispered to Malcolm. “Get out. I’m gonna shrink.”
Malcolm looked at the steep slope of the roof. It was daunting, but he knew why she needed to shrink. Grasping her dress tightly, he climbed out and onto her hand. She lowered him, setting him on the shingles. Then, she shrank herself down to his size. “Come on, let’s keep an eye on them.”
Malcolm nodded in agreement. He ran across the roof while Kara glided effortlessly. To him, it was like climbing a mountain. He also wasn’t in the best shape and struggled to keep up with the flying fairy. After enduring this great difficulty, he reached the peak of Mount Shingle, only when he tried to stand on its narrow peak, he lost his footing. Falling over on the other side, he began tumbling down the roof so fast that he couldn’t stop himself.
All the way down the roof, he restrained himself from making any embarrassing screaming noises, only letting the occasional grunts of pain escape. Kara rushed down to help. She reached out, using grip to catch him and succeeding in stopping his fall inches from the edge.
She landed beside Malcolm and helped him to his feet. “Are you hurt?” she asked in a quiet tone.
Malcolm breathed rapidly, trying to regain himself. “I’m okay... I think.”
“Please be careful. I don’t have much energy left, so I can’t heal you any more.”
He held his knees as he panted. “I’ll try to be more careful. Honest.”
“Come on. Let’s get closer to the edge.” They lay on their bellies and began crawling toward the edge. When they reached it, they chanced to peak over. Now they could see Slipha and Daniel in the front yard. He was holding out his hand and conjuring an energy sphere. “She’s teaching him magic.”
“Looks like he’s already further along than me.”
“Why would Slipha do that? He kidnapped Autumn and brainwashed her!”
“Alright. You’re holding it better now.” Slipha said to Daniel. “Now, throw the ball at me.”
“Won’t it harm you?” he asked. He was already sweating, making it obvious that he was struggling to maintain the energy.
“Are you kidding? You’re not strong enough to hurt me yet. With practice, maybe one day.”
He vaulted the sphere at her. It curved like a baseball pitch, smacking into Slipha’s body. A small explosion like a firecracker popped as the power dissipated. She shook it off. “Much better. Better than what you did inside, anyway. Control is always more important than raw power.”
“Thank you, madam Slipha. You’re an excellent teacher.”
She smiled, soaking up the praise. “There’s no need to thank me. We’re helping each other, remember?” She walked by him and patted his cheek. “And as long as you’re loyal to me, I’ll reward you.”
“Yes, madam.” He gave a small bow of his head.
“Eew.” Malcolm shook his head. “What, do they have a thing going on now?”
Kara looked to him. “What do you mean a ‘thing’?”
“You know... a thing.”
“Well, they are both acting really weird. Daniel wasn’t this submissive before. And I don’t know what to think of Slipha. They were trying to kill each other a couple days ago. And I’m pretty sure Slipha tortured him.”
“We are talking about Slipha here.” Malcolm shook his head and sighed. “I was really believing she was coming around.”
“We have to tell Yukina about this.”
“Wait!” Malcolm grabbed her wrist and their eyes met. “We can’t tell her yet. Not only don’t we know the details, but we’ve gotten into a lot of trouble tonight. We would have to explain all of that to explain why we were here.”
Kara hesitated to answer. “But what else can we do?”
“What if we wait until tomorrow and confront Slipha? Maybe we can convince her to stop and Yukina won’t have to know anything. Because if she finds out, there’s no telling what she’ll do to Slipha. She might even be banished forever. I don’t want that to happen and neither do you.”
“You’re right. Yukina will probably overreact.” She looked down at the shingle they were on. “But if we confront Slipha... what if she fights us?”
“We’re going to need a plan in case it turns ugly. But I hope we can convince her to stop this craziness.”
“I hope so, too. I don’t want to loose my sister.”
Malcolm took her hand and squeezed it. “Don’t worry. It’ll work out.”
Kara gave him a nod and a smile. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
They turned around and crawled side-by-side up the mountain, taking it slow and careful. After getting over the peak, Kara returned to normal size and Malcolm climbed back into her dress. “Ready?” she asked.
“Yes! Get me as far away from this place as you can.” Kara took flight, gliding just above the trees and away from Daniel’s house. Once they were a safe distance away, she returned to a high altitude and made a straight line for home.
They landed a few minutes later, slipping through the top of the shield. The night was already half over and they both needed sleep desperately. During the flight, Malcolm had fought to stay awake. Once their adrenaline had begun calming, sleep became tempting. As comfortable as he’d been sailing over the earth in her dress, he had to fight to stay awake or chance falling out.
They snuck behind the cabin and Kara set Malcolm down in the grass. Then, she held out her hands and grew him back to normal size. “There. Feel better?”
“Much better! Still tingly and weird, though.”
She chuckled. “Don’t worry. If we end up doing this a lot, you’ll get used to it.”
“My sense of safety is in conflict with my sense of adventure. In this case, I can't wait until our next flight. Can you blame me?”
“Not at all.” Kara put her hands together. “Okay, time for some sleep. I bet you’re much more tired than I am.”
Malcolm nodded. “I am." He turned and walked around the corner of the cabin. Kara followed closely behind. "Despite everything that happened, I enjoyed our night together. So let’s be sure to take more walks together, okay?”
Kara felt immensely better. "You bet!”
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