Sela Kotu, Tay-Bry, and Elay didn't know what to do after the spies and Dewdrop left. They ended up discussing war plans.
"I hope that we aren't forced to make our citizens join the Dumix against their will," said the concerned queen.
"Most citizens would join the military to save their own country, I think, Your Majesty," replied Tay-Bry.
"I'm not so sure about that," said Sela Kotu. "Would you? Well, it can't be helped. I'd bet that Dewdrop's right and Kly forces just about every man in his country to join the military. Except, perhaps, the rich and powerful ones. I guess it's a good thing that Kly doesn't allow women to fight, though. If he had a military of all his men and women, we'd be hopelessly outnumbered."
"It's terrible that we have to kill them or let Kly take over our country," the unicorn said sadly.
"I know, Elay," replied Sela Kotu, "but we can't help it. They declared war on us. You can--" She stopped herself, for she saw four figures coming into focus on the other side of the room.
"We're back, your Majesty," said Hi-lee, before she had fully materialized.
Dewdrop, who was the first to come back completely, flew to the queen. "Please don't be mad at me, your Majesty. Hi-lee and Jocy really wanted to go to fairyland, and I--"
"It's all right, Dewdrop. But how did you take them?" she asked.
"It's my magic, your Majesty," replied Dewdrop.
"I thought Kly took your magic away," said Tay-Bry.
"I got some back for helping him, sir."
After a few seconds of silence, Sela Kotu spoke to Jocy and Hi-lee. "So, did you two get to go into fairyland?" Hi-lee shook her head.
"Your Majesty, none of us could enter fairyland because the others banished the fighters, and if any of us go back in, they will kill us," said Elk-lore.
"How terrible!" exclaimed the queen. "Are the fighters still willing to go against Kly's men?"
"Most of them are, your Majesty, but some of the fighters think that Your Majesty is the one stealing their magic instead of Kly, or at least think that Your Majesty wants them dead," said Elk-lore, rather sadly.
"Really?" asked Sela Kotu, shocked.
"I think they're more interested in doing nothing to help or hinder Your Majesty in the war, but caution would still be wise," said Elk-lore.
"I will be careful. Now, how are the fighters going to kill Kly's men?"
"They will keep a lookout to see where Kly's troops will invade, like Zobo's troops will, Your Majesty, and then they will hide in areas that Kly's men will be fighting in," replied Elk-lore.
"Excellent." Hi-lee yawned, and Jocy looked tired. "Well, you three haven't had much sleep in quite a while, have you?" the queen asked her spies.
"No," yawned the mouse.
"Why don't you three take a nap? We'll have some important things to do, and I can't have my best spies sleeping on the job. You can go to sleep too, Dewdrop. I'm sure that you'll be a great help to us."
Sela Kotu, Elay, Tay-Bry, Dewdrop, Hi-lee, Jocy, and Elk-lore all left the tower and went to the courtyard, since Jet-a-Miray normally had nice weather and the talking animals of that land usually preferred sleeping outdoors to sleeping inside a man made building. However, they found that it was raining slightly, so the spies decided to sleep in a guest room. Sela Kotu absently opened a door and had her spies lodge in the room with the green curtains. Almost as soon as Sela Kotu set Hi-lee (who had been riding on the queen's shoulder) on the edge of the bed, she had her earplugs in her ears and was fast asleep. Dewdrop laid down on the pillow, and Sela Kotu brought a perch from one of the other rooms in for Jocy.
Elk-lore had intended to stay with the queen and tell her about what they had learned in Tas-et-lal, but he suddenly felt tired again. This scared him even more than it had the last time because he was in Jet-a-Miray, his native country. Though he was still in denial of the fact that his powers were slowly fading, he didn't want to fall asleep unexpectedly in front of the Sela, so he dropped down on the middle of the bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
Sela Kotu blew out all the candles in the room. She noticed that, though Dewdrop and Elk-lore's brightness lit the room, Hi-lee and Jocy didn't seem to mind. The queen went into the hall where Elay and Tay-Bry were waiting, closing the door softly behind her.
Elk-lore woke up. He didn't know how long he had been asleep, so he got up and parted the green curtains. It was still dark outside, so he knew that he had either slept for more than twenty-four hours, or he had only slept for a short time. He hoped that the latter was true. He saw that everyone else was still sleeping in the same position on the bed (or on the perch) as she had been earlier, so he decided that it was later that night.
Elk-lore was happy to find that he was now wide awake. He was going to leave and find Sela Kotu but, though he had no idea that this had once been Kly's room, he suddenly felt compelled to look in the top drawer of the dresser. He pulled it open, trying not to make any noise.
He looked inside the drawer. It was empty, except for one small object that was impossible to overlook. It was a straight stick about a two inches long, and it had a star shape attached to the top, or at least what we would call the shape of a star. In Jet-a-Miray, there is no word for that shape; they would have to call it a figure with five points or something of the sort. Anyway, these features didn't make the object stick out. What did was the fact that the star glowed a brighter green than you could imagine. It glowed brighter than a candle, brighter than a fairy, almost as brightly as the sun. It was so bright that a human would not want to stare directly at it. (Fairies could because, naturally, their eyes are used to looking at bright things. They can even look at the sun if they want to, and they won't see spots afterwards.)
Elk-lore was entranced by the object. He had never seen anything like it in his life. He flew into the drawer and picked it up. Immediately, he felt strange. He felt very warm on the surface, yet something inside him felt ice cold. He felt dizzy, yet he could think more clearly than he had ever in his life. His mind was filled with joy, but his heart was saddened and panicked at the same time. He wanted to throw the stick far away, where no one would ever find it, and he wanted to hold on to the stick forever, never letting it out of his sight. These opposite feelings wrestled with each other, giving Elk-lore a headache, though he hardly noticed the physical pain. He stopped flying and landed on his feet.
Suddenly, he noticed another fairy flying next to him. Elk-lore only noticed that he or she had gloves on as it pulled the stick away. Pain and relief washed over Elk-lore, and his mind overloaded. He lay unconscious in the drawer as the other fairy pushed it shut, then disappeared.
The others woke up at about the same time, in the middle of the morning. Dewdrop was the first to get up, and she tapped Hi-lee's shoulder until the mouse opened her eyes. "Hi-lee! Get up!" Dewdrop said in a loud whisper.
"Huh?" asked Hi-lee sleepily. She took out her earplugs and put them in a small pocket in her cloak. "What's wrong?"
"Elk-lore is missing," said Dewdrop, "and we should find him."
"He probably just left 'cause he woke up and got bored or he wanted to talk to Sela Kotu or something," said Hi-lee.
"Maybe," said Dewdrop. "Hold on. I'll check around the castle." In less than a second, Dewdrop disappeared.
After about two minutes, Hi-lee got bored. The room was terribly quiet. Hi-lee's sensitive ears could hear Jocy softly breathing. She heard another noise, too. She couldn't recognize it at first, for it was a slight noise that was also muffled. Then, all at once, she knew exactly what it was. It was someone inside one of the dresser drawers, and Hi-lee could guess who it was. She climbed down off the bed and went over to the dresser. She concluded that the breathing sounded like it was coming from the top drawer. Hi-lee was puzzling about how to get into it when Jocy's eyes opened. The eagle stretched her wings, and Hi-lee could hear that her friend was awake.
"Hi-lee, what are you doing?" Jocy asked, looking down at the mouse from her perch.
"I'm looking for Elk-lore," said Hi-lee, "and I think he's in the top drawer of this dresser."
"Why would he be in there?"
"I don't know, but something's breathing in there. I can hear it."
"Okay." Jocy had learned to trust her friend's ears. She flew up and, with some effort, used her talons and feet to pull the door open while she flapped her wings furiously to stay in the air. The eagle landed on the ground near Hi-lee.
"He's in there," the eagle said. "I saw him." Hi-lee used Jocy as a ladder by climbing onto her head, and then climbing into the drawer. She shook Elk-lore gently until he opened his eyes. (Even if Jocy had been able to see into the drawer from the ground, she wouldn't have been able to tell if his eyes were open unless she was very close. Hi-lee was on the same scale as Elk-lore, so she could see him pretty well close up, if not from a distance.)
"Hi-lee? What are you doing here?" he asked, confused.
"I might ask the same of you," retorted Hi-lee.
"Oh. Well, I don't quite remember. It was something about a wand...." He shuddered slightly.
Suddenly, the door opened. Sela Kotu and Tay-Bry entered, with Dewdrop flying behind them. She had her head down and was obviously depressed.
"Hey, Dewdrop, what's wrong?" asked Elk-lore, flying out of the drawer.
"I'm glad to see that they found you," she replied, dodging the question.
"But what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. Why would something be wrong?" Elk-lore noticed the signs of denial and didn't push her further.
"I, too, am glad that you are here, Elk-lore. Now, let's go down to breakfast," said Sela Kotu. She led the way out of the room and down to a small dining room near the great hall. "I can't believe that I put you guys in Kly's room," she muttered to herself, loudly enough for her companions to hear. Elk-lore remembered the wand and wondered if it had belonged to Kly.
They sat down at the small table in the dining room, and fresh fruit was soon brought to them, along with some cooked fish for Jocy. Everyone but Elk-lore ate something.
"Why were you in that drawer?" asked Dewdrop, eating a small piece of apple.
"I... I just felt a pull towards it. I looked inside, and I saw a glowing green stick in it, a wand. That used to be Kly's room. Do you know anything about that wand, Dewdrop?"
"A-are you sure it was green?" asked Dewdrop, worried.
"Yes, I'm sure."
"You don't know the myth, do you? If it's true, and if Kly has the green wand, then every fairy in the world is doomed," replied Dewdrop. Hi-lee stopped eating her grape, for Dewdrop's words had sent a chill up her spine. Sela Kotu and Tay-Bry stared at Dewdrop.
"What myth, Dewdrop?" asked the queen, sounding concerned.
"It is an old legend, nearly forgotten, your Majesty. All that we remember is that, if the green wand is found, then there will be trouble for all fairies, and perhaps for humans and animals as well. It could be the death of us all."
"Or it could just be a legend," said Elk-lore. "We have some terrible stories, and some wonderful ones. We don't know that any are true."
"We don't know that any are not true, either," said Dewdrop. "And don't you believe in the good stories? That they're really true?"
"Now, you two," said Sela Kotu. "This wand could be dangerous, or maybe not. Elk-lore, does Kly have possession of this wand?"
"I'm afraid I don't know, your Majesty. A fairy came in and took it. He or she could've been one of Kly's helpers, or he could have been acting for reasons of his own," said Elk-lore.
"Well, whoever has the wand, we can't do much about it," said Sela Kotu, not sounding overly concerned. She changed the subject. "While you were asleep, I sent some of our spies into Tas-et-lal. However, I think that it would be foolish to send you three--" she looked at Jocy, Hi-lee, and Elk-lore "there, since they already know to keep their eyes open for you."
"Even if they wouldn't recognize us, your Majesty, Elk-lore shouldn't enter Tas-et-lal anyway," said Hi-lee.
"Why not?" asked the queen.
Elk-lore answered, "Any fairy that isn't one of Kly's helpers that goes into Tas-et-lal loses all of his or her magic after a while. I know. I almost died in there."
Sela Kotu put her fruit down and was silent for a while. No one else spoke, not even when the servant brought various pastries in and placed them on the table. Finally, Sela Kotu replied.
"I think that power, whether it is Kly's or not, is far more dangerous than the wand's power, unless the powers are related."
"Between Kly and the wand, Your Majesty, I'm sure that all fairies are doomed," said Dewdrop pessimistically.
"Maybe," said Elk-lore, "but we're not going without a fight."
"Darn right, you're not," said Sela Kotu unexpectedly. "Is there anything else you guys know about King Kly?"
The three spies told the queen about all of their adventures in Tas-et-lal. After telling her their experiences, Jocy said, "I think we've told you all we know, Your Majesty."
"I could tell you some things, Your Majesty, but I'd rather talk in private," said Dewdrop.
"All right, Dewdrop. Now, Elk-lore, I was thinking that, if you've already told me all you know, then perhaps you would like to join your fellow fighters in the war," said the queen. "And Jocy, you could help the other birds with the aerial spying."
"What do you want me to do, Your Majesty?" asked Hi-lee.
"Well, I know that you have trouble hearing private conversations during a battle--"
"How come?" asked Elk-lore, for the moment, forgetting just who he was interrupting. "Oh, your Majesty, I'm sorry. Please go on."
"No, it was a good question. Between the noise of battle and how stressful wars are, Hi-lee can't hear as well as she can in times of peace. Her hearing is still well above average, but nothing too extraordinary. Normally, in small battles, Hi-lee stays here at the castle, or goes back to her own house. What do you want to do this time, Hi-lee?" asked the queen.
"I don't know, your Majesty. Except I don't want to stay in the castle again," replied Hi-lee.
"Perhaps you could stay near the battle lines and do some spying for Zobo, if you wanted to," suggested Sela Kotu.
"Really? That'd be nice," said Hi-lee.
"Then the three of you should leave now, I think," said Sela Kotu. "Dewdrop, could you send them?"
At this simple question, Dewdrop burst into tears. Sela Kotu looked surprised, and Elk-lore flew over to the queen and whispered in her ear.
"How sad," said the queen quietly. Then, she said, more loudly, "On second thought, I think that you three should fly to the border. After all, the war hasn't begun yet, and perhaps, from the air, you will observe something useful. You may leave whenever you care to."
"Then we shall leave at once, Your Majesty," said Jocy. In a matter of minutes, Jocy was in the air, with Hi-lee on her back and Elk-lore beside her, flying toward the border of Tas-et-lal and Jet-a-Miray.
Go on to Chapter 17
Go back to The Stories of Julie Bihn