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CHAPTER 5 – The Ring and Between
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Terrible things are happening in Rhino Valley, where Dengani comes across local farmers killed by leopards, and the women of the village are all taken by crocodiles. He and his family leave. Dengani’s friend Hugh arrives in time to save local beekeepers from their own bees and discovers that the ‘fairies’ he has always seen are real. Back home, he stops taking meds prescribed for his ‘hallucinations’. It turns out that Tyrentia, the objectionable daughter of a woman Hugh’s father hopes to marry, can also see the fairies, and the two of them are summonsed through a ‘bubble’ wall into Breena – ‘fairyland’. Their guides, Felin and Avinia, test to see if they can go back to their own world or go ‘Between’. Hugh fails in the latter:
(‘You weren’t trying!’ Tyrentia accused him, and added maliciously, ‘Why don’t you fly through from high up? Your sense of self-preservation will probably make sure you don’t change.’)
‘No!’ yelled Felin and Avinia together, but Hugh, in a mood of recklessness, was already doing it. It worked. He came through to a perfectly normal sight of the other three below him, and a quite abnormal and fuzzy sight of his own world. Apart from their sudden enormous size, trees and plants looked as he was accustomed to seeing them, if a bit blurred, but houses and anything man-made were only vague outlines.
The ibis, looking down suspiciously from a treetop, lost all blurring when Avinia got near it, though. ‘There, there,’ she said, hugging it. ‘Fright all gone away; gone away.’ The bird rubbed his head fondly against her. The sight of Hugh and Tyrentia coming up as well did not disturb it, but it cast a wary eye on Felin. ‘Birds are my special thing,’ Avinia explained. ‘Felin’s, however, are cats.’
They would have liked to have stayed exploring their own world from this different perspective for much longer, but now Felin put his foot down – but not the way he would have done to stop flying. ‘We need to get on with our journey,’ he insisted, ‘and time spent Between takes up time on your side as well.’
Now they set off properly after crossing through again, and flew non-stop for a good distance. Tyrentia seemed to take it fairly matter-of-factly, but Hugh was completely overcome with the wonder of the sensations. ‘No human can really have the experience of a bird,’ he enthused, ‘as we are doing now. Parachuting, paragliding, ballooning, or any kinds of aircraft simply can’t give the same. I think it is the most glorious, wonderful feeling there is.’
He was so taken with it that he started breaking off into little aerobatic trials until Avinia became irritated with him. ‘Plenty of chance for things like that later,’ she snapped. ‘Fairies tire out just as easily as humans. Keep your energy for the journey; the journey.’
From the air they saw a lot of activity by all sorts of little people. There seemed to be villages where mainly one kind or another of those who didn’t fly were found together. The flying fairy types mainly seemed to go in for tree houses.
Something which struck Hugh was how normal all their activities seemed in many ways. They were working, building and gathering food just as humans did. The idea that their lives were spent in dancing and feasting, having fun and playing tricks was obviously far from the truth.
There were also any number of animals, birds and insects, all seeming enormous. The larger ones all appeared to keep politely away from the fairy areas. Hugh wanted to ask about this, but one thing or another prevented him each time he remembered, and when he could have asked he had forgotten he wanted to.
Well before the sun set – there seemed to be a normal-looking sun which set in quite a normal way to produce a normal night – Felin had led them to a large tree-house Inn which he told them catered mainly for travellers on their way to visit the Queen of Glit, and which had small – even for here – but comfortable rooms for all of them. The fairy innkeepers and helpers were quite literally in a flutter of excitement at having a pair each of princes and princesses as guests. They asked numerous questions, which were mainly given wordy answers which said nothing by Felin, or brief answers in spurts, which said even less, by Avinia.
The supper was delicious, even if the two ex-humans weren’t always too sure what they were eating, but a certain dizziness afterwards made Hugh suspect that the nectar wine wasn’t as innocent as it had seemed. He tumbled into bed fully clothed, and fell asleep almost immediately.
[To be continued with Chapter 6 (i)]
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