The breeze stopped, dead, and the Wish, as if too exhausted to move after its marathon of acrobatic windsurfing, slowly drifted down onto a branch and rested.
Ylika knew of places like this. There was no sunlight to peek through the trees. There was a calm that she had never felt before. She looked nervously around and could see a lone farmhouse just barely through the trees and even that did not make her feel better. With a house close by, brownies would be near, again that settled her. Help was around, in the worst case. It was not help that worried her; it was what ever lurked in the darkness of his wretched place.
She sat beside the exhausted Wish. With her knees drawn up to her chest and with her wings curled around her, she stared at the fluffy white ball. Sleep was not allowed just in case the Wish decided to fly again. With both her partners missing, it was impossible to close her eyes for even a moment. To make matters worse, the Wish, as if it had no idea where it was, just stayed put. It would not budge. With not even a sigh of a breeze to come around to urge it to move, it refused to get out of this miserable place that Ylika disliked so much.
The more she struggled, the more entangled Loulouthi got in the sticky web. She eventually gave up her struggle, surrendered to the bug trap and started to cry. She looked up hoping that Ylika or Anixi would come back and save her, but she knew in her heart that they would stay to guard the Wish. The sun was just coming into the opening and shone brightly on her. It warmed her tear-stained face and lit up the area around her.
It was a lovely area, all things considered. The grass was thick and lush and several flowers reached up to the sun as if being awoken by a light. But other than the swaying of the grass, there was nothing but the sound of the breeze sighing through the branches of the trees and the leaves dancing with it. Even the birds stopped singing as if puzzled by the site in the web. All was quiet…until she heard it.
It was a far off sound, but not far enough away to let her believe she was safe. She peeled her ears to catch where it was coming from, and to her left, she heard it again. She quickly turned her gaze towards the oncoming sound and frantically searched for any movement, her heart raced and she started to panic. Again, she tried to free herself from the web but only made matters worse, when her wings folded over and locked her deeper into the web. Her vision swept to her left. The sound, of whatever was, was ever so near now and although she could not see it, she heard it clearer and clearer. Music of some sort... a song.
"I wished a wish upon a Wish, I wished a Wish away, I wish the wish, I wished would wish, my wish come true today."
A child! A human child! Loulouthi was terrified. She had never seen a human child before. Ava rounded a shrub and came into the light of the clearing. She was so tall Loulouthi thought, and her fear only grew more intense as Ava spun herself deliriously, in the sunlight.
"I wished a wish upon a Wish..."
Spinning, around and around.
"... I wished a wish away..."
Her hands by her side head thrown back, she continued spinning.
"... I wish the wish, I wished...."
Her verse paused, as her speed took the balance out of her head.
"... Would wish my wish..."
And down she went onto the grass just in front of Loulouthi, not more than a foot away.
Ava's eyes were closed tight as to regain her senses. She paused and giggled, "…come...” She opened her eyes and spotted Loulouthi in the trap,
"... true..." she tried to continue the rhyme, but upon seeing Loulouthi before her, she was dumbfounded.
She rolled onto her stomach and shuffled ever so close to Loulouthi. Mesmerized by the sight before her, she tilted her head to inspect the faery. Awestruck, she raised a finger and pointed at Loulouthi, as if to poke her to see if she was real.
Loulouthi squinted her eyes, rolled up as much as she could to protect herself, which made Ava stop before she touched her.
"A faery!" Whispered Ava, breathlessly.
Loulouthi opened her eyes, smiled wryly and shrugged confirmation.
“Oh my...” Ava moved even closer. "What was it that mother taught me? Don’t be afraid, little faery…I know it…. oh yes... Bendith y mamald faer nagh y tylwyth teg."
Loulouthi opened her eyes. The human child knew the mother's blessing. A sign of a friend. She stared at the child and a reassuring smile crept to her lips.
"Can I help you?" Ava offered kindly.
Loulouthi’s smile grew into an embarrassing one.
"I would be greatly indebted, if you could,"
"It would be my pleasure." Slowly and carefully, as if dis-mantling the finest of lace, Ava worked the web away from Loulouthi, careful not to harm the faery or her delicate wings, Ava finally managed to free her.
"I am grateful for your kindness lovely child, but I have fallen behind on a most important engagement. Please forgive my rudeness, but I must quickly rejoin the others. Thank you, again and I shall see you another time to show you my full gratitude." With that said, Loulouthi shot straight up in the air and disappeared in the sunlight above.
"Others??!" Exclaimed Ava, as she stared into the sky, hoping to catch one more glimpse of the faery. But the sunlight blinded her and Loulouthi was gone.
The soft moist floor of the forest made no sound as one walked upon it. A cushion of moss muffled any noise, but still animals scattered with panic. They did not have to hear Mootro to know that he was coming, they sensed it. He trod his way along a centuries-old path on a mission. He knew the way to the main Gob lair. He had been there long ago, before his failure and ridicule, but this time he had purpose and no amount of humiliation would keep him away or stop him from attaining the help he needed to get him where he wanted to be. And as he neared the Gob village, they too sensed him, if not smelled him.
The few who saw him were silent with shock, as he plodded past them in silence. Without their numbers, they were afraid of him. Not only was he the eldest of all the goblins, but also evil and strong, not to mention the most insane.
They all knew of his devouring of one of their own, and thus they kept quiet. As he passed, several hags gathered and whispered about him. Word spread faster than Mootro could walk. So as by the time he arrived at the main denizen, the council was waiting for him outside. With leers of contempt, they stood shoulder to shoulder behind Scroffa, a wiry goblin with wicked eyes.
Mootro approached the council and as the wiry goblin opened his mouth to speak, Mootro threw him to one side without effort. Before Scroffa even hit the ground, the wall of goblins parted to allow Mootro entry. No one dared talk to him.
Inside, the den was a slovenly hole. Just as dank as his cave and with more goblins within, the pungent effect was far greater. Vothe, the leader of the Hoofta, sat at the head of a large stump that was used as a table.
Although full of power over the area, Mootro could see the nervousness that Vothe was trying to hide.
"What brings you to us, Mootro? Not that your business is any of ours"
Mootro moved around the stump and came up beside Vothe. The need for help with his plan overrode the desire to rip off Vothe’s head and assume leadership. That plan of action could not be ruled out as of yet, and he kept it in mind as an viable option.
"The Elpitha Tree is dying." Mootro said, smugly.
Almost the entire village had now crowded into the den and, in unison, they gasped. Then started to cackle comments until the noise was unbearable.
"Silence!" Shouted Vothe over the raucous. "What conniving treachery are you up to Mootro? You expect us to believe the word of a fool?"
The crowd fell silent and Vothe coward, upon hearing his own words.
Mootro leaned in close to Vothe and whispered in his ear. "You choose your words carefully, cousin. I have not the patience, nor need any for you. What I know and say is true and trickery is not the reason I am here.” He gazed toward the crowd there in and then back to Vothe. A smile crept to Mootro’s face as he slapped Vothe on the back and rose to speak to the gathered.
“The bane of my existence has been the seed of the Elpitha Tree. Yes, it was a failure for me, but that was four centuries ago. But that seed was the sole seed of the Tree and four hundred years have passed and no seed has been planted. The Tree will die, and leave no heir…”
"You speak of lies. False hope!"
“I have seen. I have been to the border of Carthya many times, five times a moon. And there is panic. Pringipsa has called in many a faery to seek a seed from the human world.
The winds of change have worked in our favor and brought no seeds back from a thistle that grows out there. I know that it is only the breeze that can touch the seed.
No other creature from our realm can bring it to root. It is time once again, to raise the armies of the Unseelie court. Our time is at hand for without a seed, the entire Seelie Court will die!
"How do we get in, Mootro?"
Mootro snickered slyly. "You forget cousin. I have been in once before. For all the ridicule you have dealt me, I, alone, have been the only one of us is set foot on Carthyan soil. A feat, in itself, more spectacular than you or yours have even come close to. I know the only path in and still the faeries have no idea how I gained access.
You gather the troops, for the battle will be fierce and the rewards will be beyond our wickedest dreams. We need bogart's and bogeys, the Unseelie court must band together. I don't care if you like me or not, you need me, and I need you. Our day has come, and even though our attempts in history have failed, our hour is now! We will rise from the underworld and take the faeries out forever!"
He had raised the goblins into frenzy. They cheered yelled and started to shove each other. Fights broke out, and then within moments of a full scale riot ensued.
Mootro shook his head with a devilish grin. He was back, two steps closer to his vision and one step away from the throne.
In the middle of the day it was unusual to see stars, even if one was a faery, but Anixi saw the at least twenty of them as they flashed in her sight. She lay on the soft moist floor of the forest.
She rubbed her head gently for the lump was huge and very tender. She had no idea how long she'd had been out, and in here, in the midst of this dark forest, she could not see a trace of the sun to help her. The leaves of the massive trees were like a lid on the forest. She tried to fly to check out for an escape but found her wing was far too sore for flight. She looked around cautiously. It was seldom that fairy’s walked, but walk she must for in this miserable place, where no breeze blew, it would be unsafe to sit still. She walked with eyes skirting back and forth along the path that made no sound, as the earth cushioned her every step. And if in another place, she would swear she was walking on a heavenly cloud. This was nowhere near heavenly.
She took a few more steps and froze, for she had seen something, more so she felt it. A cold, lifeless, chill ran through her. Ahead, she saw movement, a den, a window.. inside movement and cheering and yelling and then a scuffle and a brawl.
The fight burst out of the den and into the clearing before it, as far too many goblins spilled out.
She was petrified. Afraid to move. Unable to fly. Paralyzed with fear.
"Goblins" she whispered, ever so softly.
Just as she spoke the word, a hand grabbed her and dragged her into the dense shrubbery. She had no chance to see what it was that had snatched her. All she saw was the fight had stopped and all goblin eyes looked her way. All was silent except for her heart beating like that of a scared rabbit’s.
Her mouth was covered and whoever had captured her, was running like the wind. Skirting this way and that, sometimes it felt like she was flying. She could not tell what or who had her. She felt the roughness of fabric. Thankful it was not goblin hair, she breathed a slight sigh of relief. It seemed like forever before she had any sense of where she was. Into a clearing, sunlight, beautiful, warm, bright sunlight meant she was out of that wretched forest. But was she out of danger? She still did not know who had her and if they meant her harm.
The run was fast and silent. Where was she being taken to, she asked herself, just before she saw the lone farmhouse.
Too Close for Comfort
She couldn't sleep, not dared to now, for thirty feet below her a fight broke out in the clearing. The melee was cut short when she heard them stop and stare to their left.
She slapped a hand over her mouth to stop from saying the word goblin aloud.
She was more afraid than she'd ever been in her life. She stayed rooted in her place threw a glance at the still resting Wish, and then slowly turned back to the vision below.
"Did you see that?" Drooled one goblin.
"So did I"
"Where did it go?"
They all looked around not moving... Yet.
Mootro burst out of the den and the moment he was outside, his nose caught the scent.
"Faery" he muttered.
The rest of the goblins, upon hearing his words, took off madly into the forest to find it but Mootro stood still, sniffing the air.
Ylika held her breath as if it might be enough to stir the long hairs of Mootro's nose. Being a large grotesque one, there was no need to help it.
Ylika prayed upon the mercy of the earth, upon the praises of Mother Nature and the elements of all that was good. She pleaded for a breeze not only to awaken the Wish, but to carry her scent away from that monstrosity in the middle of Mootro's face.
In the midst of her fear, she thought of where the rest of the goblins ran. To the left. She was above. Was one of her friends down below and in trouble? Was it another wayward faery about to be captured? She had to help, but couldn't. She had to stay with the Wish.
Below, Mootro kept testing the air with his nose. Turning this way and that, looking about as if he misplaced something. Around in a circle he walked slowly, tilting his head slightly, he turned his gaze upwards.
If not for the broadness of the branch she was on, Ylika would have been discovered. As she ducked behind a leaf for cover, she peered over the edge of it only to see Mootro as he was searching the canopy above him.
"Your friend is theirs... you are all mine." He muttered, hungrily, as he moved closer to the tree Ylika and the Wish were in.
Ylika shifted her weight ever so slightly to watch his movements below, and as she saw him move directly underneath her, she saw it.
Mootro saw it.
The Wish was drifting slowly downward.
Ylika looked back hoping it was another Wish. Any Wish but the one she was guarding, the one with Ava's wish. The Wish. Her worst fear was realized as it was no longer beside her and was falling slowly down towards the soft moist forest floor.
Mootro's mouth fell open. "The seed!" He whispered dreamily. He waited for it. This was the thing he needed. To catch it, to keep it, to destroy it, anything could be done to it. For if it got back to Carthya the faeries would live, kill the seed and the faeries and the Tree would die. Either way the key to greatness came drifting down from the sky at a horrendously slow pace.
Ylika gasped in terror. To dive down and rescue the Wish would kill any chance of it growing in Carthya. But to let the goblin have it was equally as bad. She thought hard and fast, and it came to her. She jumped to her feet and dove down towards the Wish.
Mootro could not believe his eyes. A seed and a faery! Life could not get better.
The Wish was ten feet away from him the faery, twenty, and both getting closer. To Ylika, it seemed as if the Wish had now decided to speed up.
To Mootro, it moved far too slow. Five feet from the Wish and Ylika was closing in as the Wish was a mere two feet of the lecherous goblin.
Ylika beat her wings harder than they had ever moved and just as the Wish was inches from the clutches of Mootro, the breeze picked up and awoke the Wish from its lazy slumber. As if it meant to trick the goblin all along, it skipped away from his grasp laughing with the leaves, which picked up on the joke.
Ylika thanked the powers that helped her and tried hard to come out of the perilous dive she was in. Now only a foot away from the outstretched hand of the goblin, she was more afraid for herself.
Mootro's hopes were shattered upon missing the seed and a split second later, he saw the faery coming at him.
Ylika pulled out of the dive, inches from Mootro. The brown stained teeth were revealed in an evil smile, as Mootro had jumped to catch the faery.
Ylika twisted her body as she swooped within a hair of his hands as she too escaped certain death. She picked up speed to catch up with the Wish, as it resumed its romp on the breeze. Zigging, zagging, up, up, up it went. How it found space amongst the leaves to escape the forest, Ylika had no clue, but it did, and Ylika followed it into the blue sky, into the sunlight and off to anyplace. Anywhere would be better than where they were.
Mootro melted with disappointment, the seed and faery, both within seconds of each other, both within reach, both gone. He shook his head and hung it in shame. After a moment he raised it and stared in the direction his prizes fled. Thankfully all the other goblins were chasing another faery and none were around to see yet another failure. He looked around. Just to make sure.
"A spy." The voice was shaky.
It took Mootro a moment to find the source of the sound. He shot his glance to the right and saw a Mixxa cowering to avert his gaze. Mootro walked over to his old slave, grabbed him roughly and threw him into the woods.
"You saw nothing, you say nothing and be thankful I do not end your life here."