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(I do know that instalments of novels, whether completed or – as in this case – in progress, are not usually popular posts. However, they provide a useful way of relooking at the segments. Also, such comments as do appear, even if very few, often prove invaluable. At the stage of this excerpt the novel is still largely engaged in scene-setting, but the close of the current chapter leads to more action.)
CHAPTER 6 – A Walking Tour, Under, and Over.
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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, cat-like Felin and bird-like Avinia, test to see if they can go back to their own world or go ‘Between’, and then take them on a journey to familiarise them with the Rings before they are to have a meeting with the Queen of Queens. They spend the night in a treetop Inn. After they set off again Tyrentia starts being particularly difficult, but is cut down to size by Felin.
Now, when the roadway became more of a path and they split into pairs, Tyrentia tried to stay with Avinia, but (as Hugh had noticed before) the latter tended to stick at his side. He didn’t mind at all. She was quite lovely, and seemed a truly nice person – or fairy. He was becoming accustomed to the fact that her dress had assumed vivid colours which seemed to vary according to whim, or mood, or the way he was seeing them. She moved in an abrupt, almost jerky, manner, which was enchantingly bird-like. Her expression was merry, and her eyes were bright and alert.
Also, as had mostly been the case before, Felin remained doggedly close to Tyrentia, try as she did to move away from him. At one stage, when a gap had opened between the two pairs, Hugh whispered to Avinia, ‘Has Felin been told to pay special attention to her?’
Avinia gave a grin. ‘Maybe,’ was all she would say. He deduced logically, then, that he was her special responsibility, which wouldn’t suit Tyrentia in the least.
Noticing a particularly bright colour combination in Avinia’s dress made him glance down at his own clothing. It seemed to have settled to a shimmering black, which reminded him a bit of the Darxen he had seen. Over his shoulder, he could see that Tyrentia’s was a slightly depressing dark blue. Felin’s costume, however, had assumed some striking tabby markings.
The farther they walked, the further their knowledge of all sorts of little aspects of this land increased, but the more unanswered questions accumulated. There simply wasn’t time to ask them all. Then it was Tyrentia who posed one which, indirectly, solved what he had been worrying about since the previous day.
‘Avinia,’ she called forward, ‘I thought fairies were all supposed to do magic, and that fairyland …’
‘Breena,’ Felin corrected.
‘… that Breena was supposed to be filled with magic?’
‘It is, indeed,’ Felin assured her. ‘It relies on magic for its very existence, and most of us are able to use magic. Some, only very basic kinds, and others right up to Highest Magic. We use it as sparingly as possible, though. As I said, a great deal is needed for our Rings to exist at all, and then we need to do important things like protecting our own living areas and roadways from animals or insects which might harm us. We have a constantly renewed spell around each village or palace.’
‘Ah,’ said Hugh. ‘That explains why we can see all of those from the air, but not while on the road or in village areas. Surely it would take a lot to protect a town or city, though?’
‘We don’t do those; don’t have those,’ Avinia said. ‘Small villages are best. Palaces are for lots living together. Those are built in the most suitable parts. Ones where they will intrude least on the countryside. Like flattening the tops of steep hills. Little would grow there, anyway.’
Just when Hugh thought he was getting some idea of how things worked, Felin had to throw his mind into confusion again by adding, ‘Of course, many of those animals or insects are actually connected through the Interface, and are more in your world than ours. That doesn’t stop them from being dangerous to us, though.’
The path took them alongside a face of rock dotted with cave entrances. ‘This village is called … began Felin, but Tyrentia cut in.
‘What village?’ she asked crossly.
Hugh raised his eyebrows at Avinia, who gestured towards the caves. ‘Cobleys,’ she said. ‘They like living and working underground; like it underground.’
With that, a number of greenish goblin-like fairies started popping out of holes and calling greetings while blinking at them in a dazzled manner. Before they could be waved away, Hugh said eagerly, ‘Can I please have a look inside?’
There was a rush of cobleys to conduct him, all talking at once, and he vanished into the nearest entrance with them. Calling protests about not having the time, Avinia and Felin followed, while Tyrentia trailed behind, muttering.
Hugh was entranced with the comfortable living quarters set fairly well back from the entrances. Most of the homes had a tunnel for a mine as the ‘back door’. There didn’t seem much light in the homes, and none at all in the tunnels, but Hugh ventured some way down the one at the back of the third home they visited without bothering to wait for Avinia to give him a lesson on how to increase their Glow potential, as Felin did for Tyrentia. ‘S’pose it comes in handy for dark places if one can become one’s own lamp,’ she admitted grudgingly. Her mood, though, failed to match her increased brightness.
When they were led to the communal tunnel, which the cobleys told them was linked to the main natural cave system, there was no holding Hugh back. He went off eagerly without even seeing whether the others would follow or not, so soon they gave up and didn’t.
After a couple of hours he came back enthusing about the wonderful sights he had seen, and apparently failed to notice that he was getting a reception which would have converted the sun into an icicle. Not that there was much sun left to convert, by that time. ‘Nearly sunset; sunset,’ snapped Avinia, waving a hand towards it. ‘We’ll be late at the next Inn. We’d better start flying; start flying.’
Soon the four were winging their way, following the road they had been on but well above it. As twilight deepened, Felin said at last, ‘Ah, I know that forest shape. Not too far, now.’
Something caught Hugh’s eye and he glanced in that direction. ‘Look out; we’re being attacked!’ he yelled, pointing at the enormous black dragon-like shape flying straight towards them.
© Colonialist January 2014 (WordPress)