Jocy woke up before dawn. She wasn't surprised to see troops preparing for battle only a little ways away. She was, however, surprised to see that Hi-lee was still awake and didn't even look tired. The mouse was aggressively rummaging through a pocket in her cloak.
"Nope... Maybe this one... Oh, here it is!" Hi-lee took out a piece of bark and read something that Jocy assumed was written on it to Elk-lore. "'Ah-lay, bah knee yah-may--are noy-aye-an sah-moo.' So what does it mean?"
Neither of Elk-lore's friends noticed the shocked, then sad expression on his face. "He said this, and burned their bodies?" he asked.
"Yeah. What's it mean?"
Elk-lore was quiet for a while, and Hi-lee wondered if, perhaps, she shouldn't have asked. Finally, he replied.
"I never thought the day would come when fairies would be that hateful to one another. We've had quarrels before, but we always treated the dead on both sides with respect. That fairy said, 'Curse you, and all your descendants--if you have any.' It's not much of an insult by human standards, but it's the best we have. But burning the bodies! That is the deepest insult that can be bestowed on a fairy. It's a complete sign of disrespect, or even hatred. Things are worse than I thought."
"I'm sorry," said Hi-lee immediately.
"That's all right. I would have found out in the end, whether you had told me or not. But I'm almost...no, I *am* sorry for what I did."
"What'd you do?"
"I killed one of them, Hi-lee."
Hi-lee thought for a moment, then said, "You had to, didn't you?"
"No. Mayda teaches that killing is wrong. Even if it wasn't, though, I'd still be guilty of killing a member of my own species, a fellow fairy. I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life."
"Not to interrupt," said Jocy, "but shouldn't you be going back to your hiding place, Elk-lore? It's nearly dawn."
"I'm not going back."
Jocy was shocked. "What? You're one of our best archers--human or not!"
"But I can't kill anyone anymore, Jocy," said Elk-lore.
"They're killing us!" Elk-lore just looked at the ground. "Okay, then why don't you just hurt them? Shoot them in the arm or something," suggested Jocy.
"I don't know. Maybe. Not today, though. I'm willing to die for this country, but I don't know if I can fight.... I'm going to find Mayda. Would you two like to come along? It's not dawn yet, and you don't have lookout duty for a few more hours, right, Jocy?"
"Yes, but I feel like I should be fighting. I can attack Kly's men," said Jocy.
"You should be careful," replied Elk-lore. "There aren't too many creatures that can fly even left on our side. We need all the birds to work primarily as lookouts. Remember? That's what Zobo said."
"I know. All right, Hi-lee, hop on," said the eagle, flying to the ground. In a very short time, the three were in the air, searching for the remarkable man.
They saw him, back behind the battle lines, talking with a larger group than he had been around the day before. In fact, Jocy and Elk-lore decided to land on a tree, because they would have had a hard time seeing on the ground, behind all the people. To their amazement, however, a stranger noticed them and whispered to them.
"The animals and the fairies are sitting in front of us humans, since they're shorter than us, so they can see better," said the man. "You can join them if you'd like."
Jocy was especially taken aback. "Uh, thanks," she said, and, in less than a minute, she and her friends were quite near Mayda.
He had just finished answering someone else's question, and he looked right at them for a second before he spoke. "Even though some of the animals have free will here, and can think for themselves, all of them are naturally more loyal to my Father than most humans, or even some fairies, though a few of the fairies have waited for me for a long time. But none of the animals that cannot speak to humans shall ever turn against me." Suddenly, a cold breeze blew through the area. Everyone, including Mayda, shivered.
Hi-lee stepped forward, alarmed to see such a man feeling cold. Mayda crouched down and looked at her. She said, "Uh, Mr. Mayda, sir, if you want to, you can skin me and make me into a mitten, so your hands don't get cold."
Mayda smiled slightly at the mouse's innocent sincerity, and then looked sad. "No, my friend. You weren't sent here to die for me." He put up his hand, and the wind instantly stopped, shocking all who saw it. At that instant, Jocy knew that Mayda must be Tay-Free's son.
"Jocy." Mayda called the eagle. Jocy nervously walked forward a few steps toward the man, not daring to fly, and then bowed gracefully, extending her wings.
"Jocy," he repeated. "You believe now, because you have seen me. It is much harder to believe what one cannot see. Someday, I will be gone from this land, yet some who have never seen me will hear the stories and believe, especially the animals. It will be so much harder for them to have faith!"
Mayda spoke about many things while Elk-lore, Hi-lee, and Jocy were there. He talked about the war, answered questions, and healed anyone who asked him to. Jocy noticed when the sun was nearly directly above them, and knew that it was time to go. Not wanting to be disrespectful, she nudged Hi-lee and, after a few seconds, the mouse realized that they had to leave. When he saw them creeping away, Elk-lore reluctantly left, too. In a short time, all three were far away from Mayda and his followers.
The scene near the lines of battle was frighteningly different from the tranquil atmosphere farther back. As Jocy circled around in the air, on lookout duty, Hi-lee could tell that the fighting was even more furious than it had been before the cease-fire. Fortunately, Zobo had taken advantage of the short truce, while Kly's men didn't seem to be arranged in any particular way at all. Due to this, the battles were pretty fairly matched. Though only a few hours had gone by since the war had started again, lots of bodies were lying on the ground. Hi-lee looked away, not wanting to see any more blood. Jocy still looked at the battle, because she was on lookout duty, and Elk-lore also kept watch, since this was one thing in battle he could do that didn't directly involve killing anyone. Hi-lee looked at the peaceful mountains to the east in Air-ren, wishing that the battles were over.
Jocy glided on the air currents for several hours, until her duty was over. Hi-lee got bored, and almost fell asleep. Jocy figured that things were back to normal.
When her duty was over, Jocy got something to eat, and then rested, having nothing better to do. To be truthful, she wished that she was in the actual battle, fighting for her country, but Zobo wouldn't allow it. Elk-lore continued his lookout duty, but now with the other fairies. When the sun set, another cease-fire was called, but only until morning. Despite the truce, the fairies were still suspicious, and had at least one guard in the air all night.
The next week went by in about the same fashion--war while the sun was up, and truces after sunset. Jocy was often in the air, making sure that Kly didn't try any secret strategies. Hi-lee sometimes rode on her back, to keep the eagle company, and sometimes not. The only secret 'strategy' that Kly's troops seemed to have, though, was a few of his men, unarmed, sneaking through the battle lines. Jocy was amazed to find that they came through, risking their lives, just to try to find Mayda. This didn't keep Zobo's troops from trying to kill the men as they snuck in, but the worst that happened too most of them was being taken prisoner. Anyway, the prisoners were all chained outdoors, and Mayda visited them every day.
The battle continued on and on. More people, animals, and fairies were killed, though none of the fairies died from losing their magic any more. They died of wounds they received fighting. More of the troops on both sides also took to following Mayda, either because they admired his teachings or just to get away from the battle. The two rulers of the opposing countries naturally responded quite differently to the news that their troops were following a man who claimed to be the son of Tay-Free.
Sela Kotu didn't mind in the least. When she heard of Mayda, she even wanted to go out and see him, because she figured that, if a quarter of what she had heard he had done was true, then the man was completely remarkable and most likely Tay-Free's son. However, Tay-Bry wouldn't allow her to go, for it would be too dangerous. She wasn't disturbed by the fact that her soldiers were following this man because she knew that Kly lost about as many troops as his followers as she was losing.
Kly responded oppositely, of course. He was angered at the fact that some of his troops weren't fighting.
"Tell the captains to keep their men from leaving. Tell them to make their troops fight!" Kly said angrily to a messenger.
"They try their best, your Majesty," he replied, "but it does no good. Some men are willing to become Jet-a-Miray's prisoners, just to get a glimpse of Mayda."
"Then we'll have to do something about that," said Kly, somewhat wickedly. "Get Almor and Cawlay. They know what to do."
"But, sir, Mayda is completely harmless. He has done nothing wrong," said the messenger.
"He is disrupting the war, and he claims to be Tay-Free's son! That is crime enough. As if there was a God! And tell the captains to kill anyone they catch trying to sneak past the troops into Jet-a-Miray."
"As you wish, my king," replied the messenger reluctantly as he left.
The war continued on for more than a month before an out-of-the-ordinary truce was negotiated. A cease-fire for an entire week was called, and, since there were no clear-cut battle lines, a strip of land 400 feet wide into Jet-a-Miray (Kly's troops had advanced about that far into that country) was declared neutral ground, and soldiers from either side could congregate in that area. (Fairyland was not part of this land.) Naturally, Mayda stayed in the neutral ground, and more troops from Tas-et-lal ventured to hear a bit of his teachings. Some women from Tas-et-lal even came to hear him, or to bring him food. After just 48 hours of the truce, nearly as many men from Tas-et-lal followed Mayda as troops from Jet-a-Miray.
Though Kly shouldn't have minded this, since it was a time of peace, he was afraid that his men would not want to fight in battle again. He spoke to Mouser about it.
"Almor and Cawlay didn't do their job. Have you heard why?"
"They were afraid, and said that the man was innocent. And I even think they may be right. For all the gold you offered them... Unless there was a very good reason, more than Mayda's innocence, I'd have done worse than imprison him. He must be--"
"You are a fool!" shouted Kly angrily at the cat. "He can't be the son of someone who doesn't exist, can he? I'll find someone else--someone to do worse than imprison him, for twice, three times as much gold. I just want Mayda disposed of."
The cease-fire had been going on for about 96 hours when a strange event occurred. A fairy came flying at an incredible speed through the fighters' meeting place (where Hi-lee, Elk-lore, and Jocy were at the time), as well as fairyland, shouting, "Come to the Tree! Someone has the wand! Come to the Tree!" Most of the fairies obeyed the command, as well as Hi-lee, Jocy, and a very few other non-fairies.
The Tree was a huge, old tree that had pure white bark. It had been right on the border of Tas-et-lal and Jet-a-Miray longer than anyone could remember. (The stream that had once separated the countries had dried up long ago.) When Jocy, Hi-lee, and Elk-lore arrived there, they saw a fairy holding up a green stick with a glowing, five-pointed object on the end. Elk-lore could tell that the fairy was wearing gloves.
"Kly is useless without this wand!" the fairy shouted. "I approached him, and he said that he'd give me 300 times my weight in gold for it. But I decided to see if you guys will pay me more, or if I'll have to sell it to Kly. It'd be the death of you all, you know."
"He's lying!" yelled a female fairy. "Kly didn't offer anything. He doesn't know that Lighting has the wand!"
All of the fairies seemed to believe the other fairy's word, and they started to doubt Lightning.
"Okay, so I lied," said the wand-holder. "But if you don't pay me 5000 kins of gold, then I'll give this to Kly." A gasp went up from all the fairies, so Hi-lee could guess that a kin was no small measure.
Suddenly, a fairy flew up to Lightning and tried to take the wand from him. The fairy was flung back, and one of the fairies in the crowd flew over to it, concerned.
"She'll be fine," laughed Lightning. "The next who tries it won't be so lucky, though. I could kill you all with this."
Some of the fairies doubted this, and turned to the fairy that had told them that Kly didn't know who had the wand.
"No, it's true," she said. "Anyone who has the wand, if he's not directly touching it, has the power to take as much magic away from any fairy as he wants."
"You heard her!" shouted Lightning. "So get me those 5000 kins of gold, if you value your lives."
At that statement, a good fifth of the fairies retreated into fairyland. "They know Lightning would kill us all for some gold," whispered Elk-lore gravely.
"How do they know he'll give back the wand once they pay him?" asked Hi-lee.
Elk-lore sighed. "We don't. We'll just have to hope and pray that he doesn't kill us all. Anyway, he can't give it back to anyone. No one owns it."
"Then what will he do with it?" asked Jocy.
"I don't know. He'll probably keep it until he's taken every piece of gold we have. Maybe even after that."
"Can't you guys stop him?" asked Hi-lee.
"No. He'd kill any of us."
Despite that fact, a fairy carrying quite a bit of gold slowly and cautiously approached Lightning.
"This is all the gold I have," she said, in a low voice. "But I could give you something better than gold, if you'd let me." She came a bit closer and, taking a chance, quickly kissed him.
"Did you enjoy that?" she asked. Lightning didn't reply, but, judging from the shape of the other fairy's slight silhouette, Hi-lee guessed that he didn't mind the kiss. Then, without warning, the fairy flew quickly toward Lightning, held his head in her hands, and passionately kissed him for about ten seconds. Then, even more suddenly, she pulled herself away, kicked him in the stomach, and wrenched the wand away from him. She flew back a couple of hir, holding the stick, and looked so strange that even Lightning didn't want to try to retrieve the wand.
"She wasn't wearing gloves!" whispered Elk-lore to himself.
No one knows how long everyone just stood there, looking at the wand and the fairy who held it. Then, as if out of nowhere, Mayda appeared. In one smooth motion, he bent down, took the wand from the fairy, and caught her as she fell. He set her gently on the ground, and she woke up almost instantly. Then, as everyone in the crowd watched, Mayda broke the wand in half. Bright, glittering sparks flew in all directions, and there was a brilliant flash of light right after the wand was broken. Then, Mayda spoke.
"Only one person can break that wand," he said.
Suddenly, one fairy flew back into fairyland and brought back a rather large (to a fairy, anyway) stone tablet.
"Read it," said Mayda.
The fairy read the writing on the tablet aloud, and, though the poem was written in the language of the fairies, everyone there, fairy and non-fairy alike, could understand it. It said:
Dal get, om ilo, malos sum mapal.
Dal get, om ilo, al ool sum mapam.
Dal get, om ilo, Mayda sum mapam.
Dal get, om ilo, Mayda sum caw tan.
Dal get, om ilo, Mayda sum mapan.
Dal get, om ilo, soon sum linal salumon nalen jalam.
One day, my friend, invaders will come.
One day, my friend, the green stick will come.
One day, my friend, a Savior will come.
One day, my friend, a Savior will be gone.
One day, my friend, the Savior will return.
One day, my friend, believers will live forever in heaven.
A few seconds after the poem was finished, many whispered conversations broke out at once.
"That poem was written by the only fairy who ever saw the future," said Elk-lore. "My grandmother told me about it. That fairy--his name has been forgotten by now--predicted quite a few events that came true, from anything as trivial as the weather to something like a war between the fairies. Every one of his predictions came true, and he carved out another prediction, one that he knew wouldn't come true during his lifetime, in that stone tablet. Since he was the only fairy that could tell the future, and he was always right about his predictions, many fairies waited for this one to come true. Other stories that we had since almost the beginning of the world, and some we got nearly 2000 years ago helped to reinforce the prophecy. But by the time I was 140 years old, he and the words on the tablet were almost forgotten. I had a hard time finding a copy of those words that we all just heard. But now that some have come true, the prophecies are remembered."
"So Mayda will leave?" asked Hi-lee.
"Yes," replied Elk-lore.
"But he'll come back, right?"
"That's what the prophecy says."
"And he'll leave again."
"That's what the prophecy says," Elk-lore repeated.
"You don't think he'll come back, do you?" asked the mouse with a doubtful tone in her voice.
"He could if he wanted to. I'll believe whatever Mayda says, but not necessarily a stone tablet's writing, all right?" Elk-lore sounded irritated, so Hi-lee didn't ask him anything else. She looked around for Mayda, but found that he was gone.
"Where'd Mayda go?" she whispered to Jocy.
"He just slipped off, I think."
"Where do you think he went, though?"
"I don't know," replied the eagle.
"Elk-lore, where's Mayda?"
"I don't know," he said, still irritated. He stared at Hi-lee for a second, and she suddenly fell asleep.
The look that Elk-lore got on his face in that instant was indescribable. He looked like someone who had heard that his friend had died a few hours ago, and then just now found out that his friend was alive and well.
"What happened to her?" asked Jocy in a voice normally loud enough to wake Hi-lee even when she had her earplugs in. The mouse didn't stir.
Elk-lore slightly shook Hi-lee, and she opened her eyes.
"Hi-lee! Jocy! You won't believe it!" Elk-lore exclaims. Then, more quietly, and in awe, he said, "I think I got my magic back."
"Really?" asked Hi-lee.
"I think so... Jocy, let me see if I can make you fall asleep." Before the eagle could object, Elk-lore had flown up to her and looked her right in the eyes. Jocy instantly fell asleep.
Hi-lee looked confused, and Elk-lore tapped Jocy to wake her up. The eagle opened her eyes.
"What's going on?" she asked, confused.
"I got my magic back," said Elk-lore softly, but with a huge smile on his face. "I can make anyone fall asleep, by just staring him or her in the eyes!" All around them, other fairies were discovering that they had use of their powers again, too. Some shouted for joy, and some were just quietly grinning, like Elk-lore was. Suddenly, a human cry went up from the area just west of fairyland.
It was true. All of the troops from Tas-et-lal were violating the terms of the truce and attacking, taking Jet-a-Miray almost completely by surprise. Even the lookouts in the air hadn't been able to see them approaching, for they had all been near the border for some time and were not in formations, even now. In a short time, almost all of the neutral ground was retaken by Tas-et-lal, except for a very small area that Mayda happened to be in. However, at this unfair invasion by Tas-et-lal, the vast majority of the fairies realized who the true enemy was. In an instant, the troops from Tas-et-lal found themselves being shot by a bunch of glowing objects. But that wasn't the only way that the fairies were attacking. Hi-lee saw people falling asleep left and right, and knew that Elk-lore was taking advantage of his power. Other fairies were, as well. Several men found themselves stabbed to death by an invisible fairy carrying a rather heavy, but visible, dagger. A few became frozen into giant blocks of ice before the fairy causing it was maimed. Overall, the fairies were driving the invaders back, with little help from the Dumix, at an incredible rate. In a mere 15 minutes, the newly-invaded neutral ground was occupied by the Dumix, who was following the fairies' path of destruction. Many soldiers were so afraid of the fairies that they surrendered immediately. Others fought furiously, though, trying to kill just one of the little flying creatures that was defeating them. But in less than an hour, a pitiful amount of Kly's troops were still fighting.
Suddenly, the leader of Tas-et-lal's military came forward. All of his own troops, along with Jet-a-Miray's, made way for him, though a couple of Jet-a-Miray's soldiers insisted on escorting him, to make sure he didn't try any treachery. However, the captain had no look of betrayal in his eyes, but a look of defeat. He walked forward until Zobo approached him. Then, the captain took off his sword belt, kneeled, and placed his sword, still in its hilt, in front of Zobo.
"I cannot speak for my troops," he said, "but I surrender. Do with me as your system dictates." The man's hands were tied, and he was led off, looking utterly defeated.
At the sight of their captain giving up, nearly all of Tas-et-lal's men surrendered, too. However, a few of the soldiers scattered, ran away, and hid, in the hopes that they would escape. And, though a few were caught or killed by the fairies, most of those who didn't give up got away.
Though this was definitely something to worry about, it seemed insignificant in comparison with Jet-a-Miray's amazing victory. Tas-et-lal's captured men were chained outdoors and kept under close watch, since no one knew what to do with them. Sela Kotu, of course, did not want to kill the prisoners, and so there were nearly 8,000 men, in chains, being guarded outdoors. The queen could sympathize somewhat with the men, since they were human like she was, and she hoped that it wouldn't rain or get too cold outside.
Oddly, Kly didn't even care whether Sela Kotu killed his men or not. When he heard of his staggering loss, he was angry, of course. However, since his men were now incapable of protecting his country from invasion, he didn't care what happened to them. Instead, he spent a long time developing a stealthy do-or-die mission to take over Jet-a-Miray--not just because his country needed a passage to the sea, but because he wanted to gain his respect back. He had very little to lose, and everything to gain.
Go on to Chapter 19
Go back to The Stories of Julie Bihn