Copyright 2016 Corey Daggett
All Rights Reserved
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This is the second volume in an ongoing series. If you haven’t read the first one, it’ll be hard to understand this story. Visit to find it.
Cover design by E. A. Jones,
Chapter 1: Welcome Home
Malcolm awoke. The bright sun shone down on him. He rolled over onto his back and shielded his bleary eyes from the light. Above him, resting her arms on the back of the bench, Slipha stared down at him. Malcolm jolted when he saw her, both surprised and stricken with fear. He also immediately noticed that her hair was no longer tied up. The sleek, mahogany strands hung from her head, swaying above him. It suited her better than the strict look she’d worn before.
“Good morning, sleepy head. Enjoy sleeping under the stars?” she cooed, seeming much too happy for Slipha.
“Um… no, not really.” His eyes were gradually adjusting to the bright sunlight.
“So why did you spend the night in our yard?”
“Does it matter?”
“Were you worried over me?”
“No.” he answered without taking time to think. “I mean…” Then he stopped. “What are you fishing for?”
Slipha laughed with her hand over her mouth. “Sorry, sorry. You’re just too much fun to play with.” She left the bench and walked over to the fire pit. “Your girlfriend kicked you out, didn’t she?”
Malcolm sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and fooling with his hair. “I’d rather not answer that question.”
Slipha began cooking breakfast over the fire pit. She sat on one of the five chairs which circled it and stirred the fire with a stick. “Human relationships are so interesting.”
“Irritating more like it.” Malcolm stood from the bench and stretched. “So…” He looked around the yard. “Where can I use the bathroom?”
Slipha shot him a confused look. “What’s a bathroom?”
Malcolm’s shoulders slumped. “Oh.”
“What do you need?”
“Where can I… you know… do business?”
Slipha stared with a blank look.
“Don’t you fairies ever pee? Urinate? Relieve yourself?”
“Oh that? Just go out in the woods. There’s plenty of cover.”
Malcolm was not happy at that idea, but knew he had no other choice. He left the safety of the bubble and walked far enough away so that he felt she couldn’t see him. Once finished, he went back into the bubble and sat on the bench. He began rummaging through his duffle bag until he found his bottle of hand sanitizer. “Ha ha!” He looked back at Slipha, who was still studying him like a specimen. He held up the bottle. “Never leave home without it.”
She didn’t seem impressed. “Come over here. Breakfast is ready.”
After a thorough sanitizing, Malcolm came over to the fire pit and sat down beside her. She served him several eggs on a wooden plate. “There you go. Enjoy.” She placed some on a plate for herself.
Malcolm eyed the eggs. He used the wooden fork to inspect them. Then he looked to Slipha as she ate. “I thought you were vegetarians?”
“Well… my sisters have some kind of moral thing about taking eggs from mothers, but I see no problem. I rather enjoy them. Don’t tell anyone.” She winked and smiled.
“I’d say I’m surprised, but then again, I’m not.” He inspected the tiny fried eggs some more. “These aren’t chicken eggs, are they?”
“No, no. There aren’t chickens out here. Just birds.”
“Then this will be a first for me.” He took a bite of them and nodded his approvement. “Very good. Very, very good.” He smiled at Slipha. “Thank you. They’re great.”
She smiled back at him as she chewed and swallowed, then replied, “Glad you like them.”
He still felt uneasy around her, considering the way she’d acted in the past toward him. But he felt a glimmer of hope that she might be warming up to him. He would try hard not to ruin their fragile relationship.
“So. What are you going to do now?” she asked.
Malcolm was chewing a new bite. He shrugged, looking down at his plate and tapping it with the fork. After he’d cleared his mouth, he said, “Don’t know. What should I do?”
“You’re going to stay here, aren’t you?”
“I doubt you want that.”
“Oh come on. Don’t take things I say too seriously.” She pointed at him with her fork. “Things have gotten a lot more interesting since you came around. And I was bored to hell before. I much prefer when things are interesting. So as far as I’m concerned, you can stick around. Keep some entertainment going in this boringly perfect place.”
“It sounds like you’re deriving pleasure from everyone else’s misfortune.”
Her grin returned to its usual fiendishness. “Maybe I do.”
Malcolm chuckled. “In that case… I will consider staying. After all, I’d have to get a real job if I wanted my own place. And if its one thing writers hate, it’s real jobs.”
“Speaking of which, I’ve given some thought to what you said the other day.”
“I’ve started working on translating the book into English. When I’m done, I’ll let you read it. Maybe we can eventually publish it.”
“That’s great. I’ll look forward to it.”
“Just… please don’t make fun of it. I’d have to turn you into a rat if you did.”
Malcolm raised his hand. “I promise you won’t get any unfair criticism from me. Just… promise not to get mad over the constructive kind.”
“Agreed. So does this mean I have to review your stories?”
“Well…” Malcolm thought it over. “Not sure. Truth is I’ve been publishing them online myself without showing anyone.”
“Not even your girlfriend?”
“No. I used to. But she wasn’t really interested in what I wrote. Didn’t have anything good to say about them. Actually, I think she just liked finding things to complain about.”
“Hmph. That sucks.” Slipha pulled her feet up onto the chair and folded her arms atop her knees. “I kinda know what you mean. I haven’t actually let anyone read my stuff, but I’m convinced none of my sisters will like it.”
“Because…” Slipha pondered. “Because. I like dark stories. They’re all too… happy. I guess. Maybe that’s not the right word. Cheery? Yeah, they’re too cheery. My stories aren’t cheery. I’m afraid I’m just too different from them.”
“Don’t worry about that. You might be surprised. Lots of people like dark stories. Horror and suspense are huge sellers in the book world. Even cheery people buy them.”
“Really? Hard to believe.”
“Sure. As a writer, I tend to stay away from horror. I feel more led to adventures. Escaping to a different world. But I love reading horrors. I think people with duality make the best writers.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well…” Malcolm thought it over. It was the first time he’d spoken his thoughts out loud, a strange experience. “… I suppose what I mean is that people with two polar opposite sides to themselves make for better writers. We can put ourselves in the shoes of many different characters. If that makes any sense.”
She nodded. “I think I know what you mean. Then I should be a good writer.”
“I think so, too.” He patted her arm. “Don’t sell yourself short before anyone has a chance to read your work.”
Slipha turned her head and looked at his hand on her arm. Then she looked up at him. “Thanks, Malcolm.” she said, smiling. “I think you actually made me feel better.”
“That’s good.” he said as he stood up. He picked his dirty plate off the chair beside him. “Thank you for breakfast. It was enjoyable.”
“Perhaps we can make a habit of it? I’m usually the first up.”
“That would be nice.” Malcolm genuinely hoped that things might continue pleasantly between them.
The rest of the fairies emerged from their tiny homes well rested. After growing to normal size, they greeted Malcolm and started about their daily routines. Autumn and Kara went out into the forest to gather wild berries. Slipha was in the corner of the yard sitting cross-legged and writing in her book. Malcolm felt a bit of pride knowing that he might have helped spur her onward. April had gone straight to her garden and began tending it. Malcolm still felt curious about everything that went on at the fairy home, so he walked over to the garden to talk to her.
“Hi.” he said, his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets.
“Hello.” she said, glancing over her shoulder, then going back to the plant she was tending. “How are you?”
“I’m doing great. Just curious to see your handiwork.”
“You’re welcomed to watch.” She put her hands around the tomato plant and they began to glow. Malcolm watched closely as he noticed it begin to move. The plant was growing right before his eyes. Its vines snaked up the post which she had stuck in the ground. Soon, little green tomatoes appeared on the vine and began enlarging. Then, April stopped. “There. That’s good for now.”
“Amazing!” Malcolm said. “Do you grow a new plant every day?”
“No, if you don’t give them enough time, they’ll turn out bad. I give each plant a little boost each day and it takes a week to complete. Then, I harvest and replant. That way, we always have enough food for everyone.”
“It’s really incredible. Hard to believe that such magic is real.” He chuckled, then added without thinking, “Wish I could use magic, too.”
April stood and turned toward him. “I could teach you.”
He was taken by surprise. “Oh… I was just thinking out loud. I didn’t think a human could use magic.”
April shook her head. “There’s no reason that humans can’t practice magic like fairies.”
Malcolm folded his arms and eyed her skeptically. “So… I could learn to do that? Like you do?”
“Sure! But it takes lots of practice.”
“Then why don’t people use magic?”
“Simple. They don’t believe they can. That, and they don’t have anyone to teach them. There are many things you don’t know about your own world. Even your own abilities.”
Malcolm walked closer to April, leaned in, and whispered. “You won’t get in trouble for teaching me, will you?”
She laughed. “No, no. I don’t think my sisters have anything against it. You’re one of us now, after all.”
Malcolm straightened up, still having trouble believing everything he was hearing. “Really?”
“Sure! We’ve already been through so much together. Yukina says you’re trustworthy.”
Malcolm felt like he was on the verge of blushing. “I feel… honored. I really do.”
“Uh oh!” she gasped, clasping her hands to her mouth. “Maybe I wasn’t supposed to tell you that much.”
Malcolm chuckled. “Well, at least it was good news. I would have felt bad if you guys thought I was a freeloading jerk.”
“Well, Slipha did say something to that effect last night.” She stopped. “Oops… again.”
Malcolm shrugged. “Don’t worry, I already knew that. But maybe I’m making progress with her. She’s starting to act differently toward me.”
“I’m glad!” April said. “I like having you around. Your company is enjoyable. I just want everyone to get along.”
“So… magic lessons? I could get excited about that.”
“Sure! Talk to me later today and I can get you started.”
Malcolm smiled ear to ear. “I can’t wait.”
They all sat down at the outdoor table and enjoyed a breakfast of fruit. Once they were finished, Yukina stopped anyone from leaving right away. “We need to talk about what happened last night.”
“Why should we?” Slipha asked. “We beat him, didn’t we?”
“Does he still live?”
“Good. You shouldn’t take life unless there is no other way. But it seemed to me that the man has deep-rooted intentions. If he were to ever come into contact with us again, we will have a repeat of last night. So let’s discuss what transpired so that everyone understands… especially for Malcolm’s sake. He wasn’t there.”
“I’m okay with that. I doubt I would’ve been of help.”
“So, Autumn, could you tell us what happened?”
Autumn fidgeted with her hands, her eyes locked to them. “Well…” she began. “I’m sorry for drawing attention to us with my pranks. It won’t happen again.”
Yukina shook her head. “Don’t worry about that. It’s in the past. All we want to know about is the man and what happened between you and him.”
“Right. Well… his name is Daniel Orthenlow. He could tell that I was the one manipulating gravity because he’s met our parents in the past and knew I wasn’t a cosplayer.”
Yukina’s face grew solemn.
“He said that he met them at a festival. They talked for a bit and he wanted to learn about their magic. But they wouldn’t have anything to do with him and he never saw them again.”
“I never would have guessed it was him.” Yukina said.
“You knew him?”
“I never met him, but my mother warned me of him when I became old enough to understand. She used him as an example of why we shouldn’t interact with humans.” She looked up to Malcolm. “If you wonder what you’ve done to help us, Malcolm, you’ve shown me that there are good people out there. But most of my life, I thought everyone was like him.” She turned her focus back to Autumn. “He craves power over others, doesn’t he?”
She nodded. “He tried to convince me to stay with him so that we could teach each other magic. But I could sense that his intentions were evil and I refused. That’s when he attacked me and put the choker on. I can remember everything after that just as clearly as anything else, but I can’t believe I acted that way.”
“You were under a spell, that’s all.”
“I know you’re right. But I still can’t believe it.” She took a deep breath before continuing her story. “He’s been studying and practicing magic all his life. But he has no idea how to perform physical magic. He only knows spirit magic… black spirit magic.”
Yukina nodded. “That’s what I thought. And in those areas, he is a powerful sorcerer.”
Slipha held up a hand to interject. “I really don’t think we need to worry about him. He’s afraid of me now. He’s not going to mess with us.”
“You’re wrong.” Yukina said with a stern voice. “He’s been searching for us for twenty years. If he finds us again, he will have a new plan to capture us. A new, more powerful spell to control us. If we aren’t cautious, he will strike when our guard is lowered.”
“But we can’t keep hiding in the forest.” Kara spoke up for the first time. Everyone turned their eyes toward her. “I don’t want to stay hidden all my life.”
“I don’t want that either.” Yukina said. “We’ve lived in fear too long. It’s time for us to enjoy things… like we did last night. However, we have to be careful in doing so. We always have to be on guard. And always have a plan of what to do if we are caught. Because I’m afraid that was our mothers’ downfall. They trusted in their powers so much that they walked freely among humans.”
Everyone grew silent and looked down at the table. Malcolm raised the next question. “So you believe they were kidnapped?”
“I do. Whether they’re still alive or not, I don’t know. But I believe that’s why they disappeared.”
“Then why haven’t you gone looking for them?”
Yukina glared at him. It pierced Malcolm and he realized he’d overstepped his bounds. “Don’t you think I wanted to? But I must put my sisters’ safety first. At that time, they were all very young and unable to take care of themselves. And it’s been so long that I wouldn’t know where to start looking.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay. You’re a curious one.” She took a long breath. “I think that right now, our best defense is staying together when we leave the forest. And if any of us, no matter what the situation, see Daniel, we fly. Take off, fly home as fast as possible, and don’t look back.”
Autumn shook her head. “It’s not that simple. As soon as he looked into my eyes, I was frozen. I wanted to run away, but couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t move. It’s another one of his spells. It’s like he can project it into your eyes with his. It’s pure fear. I couldn’t even speak but a whisper.”
“So there are many things we can’t guard ourselves against.” Yukina said. “But the more we know about his powers, the better we can react if he shows up again.” She paused and looked around the table. “Does anything else need to be added?” There were no responses. “Good. Keep what we’ve talked about in mind and let me know if you think of anything.”
Kara and Autumn jumped from their seats, happy to be free from the serious meeting. Slipha returned to her writing in the corner of the yard. Yukina stood and went to Malcolm. “Mind if we take a walk?”
They left the sphere together and headed out of the woods, ending up in the usual spot where the fairies relaxed. They walked side by side along the edge of the cliff.
“So, do you mind me asking what happened last night?” she asked.
Malcolm shrugged. “It’s nothing.” He kept his hands firmly planted in his jacket pockets and his eyes to the ground. “Nothing that should worry you.”
“But I am worried. What happened to force you to sleep in our yard?”
“Just… trouble at home. My girlfriend always assuming I’m cheating on her.”
“I see.” Yukina sighed. “So it is our fault.”
“No, no, no. It’s not. It’s my fault.”
“Except that you were with us all night because of the trouble we were in.”
“Well… maybe that’s true. But I made the decision to stay out. Not you.”
Yukina kept her hands behind her back as she walked. “Do you regret the decision?”
Malcolm was quiet for a moment. He sighed. “No. Truth is my relationship with Blaire hasn’t been great lately. She’s become a serious career woman and I’m the creative type. We’ve just grown apart more and more day by day. I guess because we have less in common than we did in college.”
“If you weren’t happy, then you should see this as a good thing.”
“In ways I do. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. We lived together for two years.” He smiled slightly as they walked. “She was always the responsible one. I’m not really the type of person suited for living alone.” He shrugged. “Now I don’t have a place to stay. Not sure how long I can survive sleeping on your bench.” Malcolm chuckled at the thought. “My life has sure gotten strange since I met you.”
“Don’t worry, Malcolm. As far as we’re concerned, you are welcomed to stay with us. Perhaps we can work out a better living arrangement for you.”
He laughed. “I would like that a lot.”
She stopped walking and turned to look at him. He looked back at her and could tell she was being serious. “There’s something I need to warn you of.”
“What’s that?” he asked, not sure how he should feel about her sudden change in demeanor.
“Don’t fall in love with one of us. Romantically, I mean. It can only lead to hurt.”
“I’ve already promised you I won’t make romantic advances. My relationship with you and your sisters are strictly plutonic. Trust me.”
“I trust you, Malcolm. But that doesn’t mean your heart won’t try. So don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m warning you against falling in love with a fairy to protect you from heart break, not because I’m trying to keep my sisters from you.”
Malcolm pulled his hands from his pockets and placed them on Yukina’s shoulders. He looked into her eyes. “You don’t have to worry about me. I want to stay here because I love being with you guys. It’s like heaven to me. And I feel more inspired to write than ever before. Do you know what a gift that’s been to me? You and your sisters have changed my life.”
Yukina smiled a soft smile and put her hand on his hand. “You’re a sweet man, Malcolm. You really are. Just please remember what I’ve said.”
“I will.” They parted and began walking again. After a few minutes of silence, Malcolm spoke up. “I talked to April earlier. She said that she would teach me magic.”
“That’s good.” Yukina replied. “I hope that you can learn.”
“I hope so, too. Just wanted to make sure you were alright with it.”
“Of course I am. I would love to see you become skilled in magic. Just as long as you use your magic for good. Unlike Daniel.”
“I agree. I just hate being so helpless when I’m with you guys. I want to be able to help in some way, even if it’s a small way.”
“You have a curious mind and are willing to think differently. That is the most important part of it. After that, you’re simply learning how to become better with time.”
Malcolm couldn’t help but grin in delight. It was hard to believe that a human like him would be able to perform the same kind of miracles the fairies had done. His mind began wandering. Then, a crazy thought occurred to him. “So… do you think it would be possible for me to fly one day? You know, like you do?”
Yukina responded to the question with a short laugh. “It’s hard to imagine. But I can’t discourage you from it.”
“Do you use magic in flying or is it all in the wings?”
“Yes, similar to Autumn’s gravity trick. But that simply makes you weightless. The wings do most of the work propelling you forward and helping you maneuver. So yes, you might learn how to float, but finding a way to control your flight is a different matter.”
“Is that why you were laughing? Because you were picturing me floating around helplessly?”
Yukina gave him a look and laughed. “How did you know?”
“Because I’m picturing the same thing.” he responded. “But if there’s a way, I want to find it. I think every human who has ever lived has dreamed of flying as free as a bird. Maybe I can be the first.”
“It’s a wonderful idea. And it’s not impossible. Nothing is. Just promise we can go flying together when you do.”
He smiled. “You bet I will.”
Chapter 2: Magic Lesson
April led him out into the woods. It seemed like they walked miles and Malcolm had no idea where they ended up. “This seems like a good spot.” April said when she was satisfied. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the place, except that the trees had thinned out. April plopped down to sit cross-legged on the pine needle floor. “Sit down.”
Malcolm did as he was told. He crossed his legs, sitting opposite her.
“First, I should tell you a little about our culture.” April began. “If you go back thousands of years, fairies didn’t have all the magical abilities we have now. Our small villages were led by the Grand Clerics and they were the most powerful wielders of magic. Now we know that there wasn’t anything special about the Grand Clerics, except that they unlocked their magical abilities.”
“So they used their magic to rule over the fairies?” Malcolm asked.
“No. Most Grand Clerics saw their powers as a gift and worked to help the people. Most were benevolent. However, there were some who were evil. They caused many wars between villages. Because of this, a class of warriors came about. Their only job in life was to protect their village from all things that threatened them, both other fairies and animals.”
“Animals? Like what?”
“Oops. I forgot to mention something important.” She raised her index finger like a teacher might. “It wasn’t until much later that fairies learned to change size. We were always small, just like when we go into our homes at night. So you can imagine that living in the forest as tiny creatures, we had many enemies. Locusts, birds, snakes, and especially rats! That’s why the fairies needed skilled warriors. Though they weren’t as big and strong as our enemies, fairy warriors were legendary in sword skills and were faster than their enemies. We’ve all grown up hearing the legends about them. But the most important fairy warrior is Bealabre.”
Malcolm cocked an eyebrow. “Say that again.”
April chuckled. “Bealabre. It’s a name from our native language. She was a powerful warrior. It was in battle that she discovered her magical abilities. In time, she became the most powerful fairy that’s ever existed, so the legend says. And it was in the most painful moment of her life that she discovered her magic. You see, necessity is what manifests it. You can’t just want to create magic. It’s not something that if you concentrate hard enough, it’ll happen. Necessity pulls it out of you. That was the great discovery that Bealabre gave us. From then on, more and more fairies learned to use magic. And now, there aren’t any fairies of age who don’t know magic.”
Malcolm nodded. “That’s really incredible. So how does it work?”
“Well, we all have energy. You and I have energy because we eat food and our bodies turn that food into electricity. Magic is putting your energy to use.” April turned her palm up and held it out. Sparks of electricity jumped from her palm. Then, a sphere of electricity grew from it. It was as if a thousand bolts of lightning were meshed together in a ball. “You’ve seen this recently. It’s the easiest magic to create because you’re simply taking the energy inside yourself and pushing it outward. This is what you’ll learn first.”
“Wow.” Malcolm stared closely at the ball.
The energy then shrank back into her hand. “But it’s not easy to learn. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“Yes. Without a doubt.” Malcolm felt more excited than he’d ever felt in his life.
“That’s good. Without that hunger, you’ll never be able to do it.”
“So… how do we begin?”
“That’s tricky.” April stood up and stared off into the trees. “You see… you can’t learn it. We have to trick your body into using the energy. It’s your own survival instincts that will take over.”
Malcolm didn’t feel excited anymore. What she was saying sounded very unpleasant. “So…” He stood up and folded his arms. “What do we have to do?”
April charged a sphere of energy in her hand. “You have to fight me.”
“Have you and the other fairies gone through this?”
“Yes, we all have.” She looked from the sphere of energy to Malcolm, her eyes solemn. “You will experience pain like never before. Remember, the only way to escape is to shock me. Understood?”
Malcolm took his phone from his pocket and dropped it on the ground. He braced himself. “Okay. I think I’m ready.”
“No, you’re not.”
April turned quickly toward him and lunged her hand at him. Her energy sphere left it and went flying at Malcolm. It burst against his torso. Malcolm screamed as pain electrified his skin. He hugged himself tight, stumbled backwards, and fell to the ground. He stayed in a fetal position for a moment. April walked to stand over him. “Stop crying and fight back.” Her demeanor was completely different. She was no longer the gentle, loving fairy that Malcolm had come to know. This version of April was strong and forceful.
Malcolm struggled to sit up. He raised a hand toward April and thought about creating an energy sphere like hers. It was the only thing he could fathom to do, but nothing appeared. April raised her hand in retaliation, electrifying it, and slapped him across the face. White light took over his vision and he screamed as lightning singed his face. He fell over.
“Is that really all you can do? Just roll around and cry? I was hoping you’d show potential.” She charged another burst in her hand and threw it down on him. It snapped and sizzled against his skin, causing him to curl into an even tighter ball on the ground.
“No more!” he screamed. “Stop! No more!”
“Too late for that!” she screamed. “Fight back!”
Another blast hit him. Every muscle clenched. He cried out in pain. “STOP!”
“No. Just stop.” He coughed as he tried to talk. His body shook all over. “I’m just a writer. I don’t need magic. I give up.”
“No. I’m not letting you give up that easily.” She charged another ball. “Stand up and fight me.”
Malcolm breathed heavily. After a moment of trying to collect himself, he began laboring to stand up. When he got to his feet, his legs were shaking.
“Good. Now, if you don’t want to be electrocuted any more, you’re going to have to stop me.” She held her hand out at him.
He raised his hand at her and fought within himself to shoot energy. Still nothing. She let her power loose. It slammed against Malcolm and sent him tumbling. He came to a rest and heaved air in and out as he tried to regain himself.
“If I zap you too much like this, you’ll become numb and won’t feel it anymore.” she said, walking toward him. “But there are other types of magic which can be used as weapons.” Malcolm’s limp body began to levitate from the ground. “Such as gravitational magic.” She flicked her wrist, which sent Malcolm hurtling into a tree trunk. His body thudded against the tree like a rag doll. Then, she swung her hand again, throwing him at another tree. He yelped and fell to the ground.
His entire body cried in pain. He fought to crawl slowly toward April. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Why aren’t you fighting back?”
“I’m… trying.” he whispered.
“You’re not doing a very good job. Maybe I should show you another form of magic.” She stood over him, holding her hand out. “This is how you use light magic to do harm.” Bright rays of light shot from her hand. They hit his body, burning his skin like lasers. Malcolm screamed. His eyes squeezed shut, tears pouring from them. He couldn’t think. The pain was too great. He could only cry. She projected the beams for a few seconds, but they were the longest seconds of agony Malcolm had ever experienced. Smoke curled up from his clothes where he’d been singed.
“Fight back! I’m not stopping until you stop me!”
She threw more electricity at him. Malcolm cried out again. It crackled and sizzled on him. But he fought to stand up. His legs were weak and his vision blurry. Everything whirled around and he barely knew what was going on. April charged an energy sphere in each hand, holding them up like trophies. “Ready for more?” she asked.
“NOO!” Malcolm let out a guttural cry, lunging at her with all the strength he had left and slammed into her. The air in her lungs leapt out when he tackled her. Her energy dissipated. He pinned her against the ground and clamped his hands over her wrists, holding them hard against the dirt. “NO MORE!” he yelled at her face, heaving for air.
“If you want this to end, all you have to do is shock me.” she said. “Until then…” her fists opened and her palms faced him. Light shot from them, striking Malcolm’s face. He yelled out in pain, letting go of her and rolling off. April got up, staggering a bit. She placed her foot on his stomach. She charged more energy spheres and threw them down on him one after another. Over and over, he seized with each blast. “Come on already! Shock me!” She continued throwing electrical blasts down on him. He cried out as they arced through his body.
Malcolm gritted his teeth. He grabbed her ankle with both hands, gripping as tightly as he could. Every muscle was tense. He trembled as he strained. He wanted more than anything to shock her. He pictured himself sending electricity through her leg. He pictured her screaming in agony as he electrocuted her, just as she was doing to him. A primal anger boiled inside him. There was no reason left in his mind. The only thing he could think of at that moment was his own survival. Her energy continued raining down on him. He squeezed her ankle harder. He pushed in his mind. It was like trying to birth the electricity from his hands. He could feel his hands growing hotter. Then, amidst the constant barrage of lightning coming down on him, he felt it. Sparks of power in his hands.
April cried out. Malcolm continued pushing until more jolts escaped him. She screamed and the barrage stopped. April fell over, landing on her wings. Malcolm wouldn’t let go. He sent more jolts through her leg. “You did it!” she cried through pain. “You did it! We can stop now.” He rolled over and jumped on top of her. He clamped a hand around her wrist and pushed his forearm against her throat. More sparks of power shot through her wrist. “No… stop.” she gagged.
But Malcolm wasn’t in his right mind. His teeth gritted, he pushed more power down his arm and into her wrist. He pushed hard against her throat with his arm. She was gagging and writhing under his weight. Her eyes bulged out, pleading for him to stop. April struggled to raise her free hand and put it against the side of his face. As soon as she touched him, she sent electricity into the side of his head. Instantly, Malcolm lost consciousness. He collapsed on top of her. April heaved for air, coughing and wheezing.
She lay limp on the ground for several minutes beneath Malcolm, his head beside hers. She could smell smoke rising from his skin where he’d been singed. She reached around and touched the back of his head, stroking his hair with gentle fingers. “You did it.” she whispered in his ear. “You did it.”
With her hand still cupped to the back of his head, she projected healing magic into him. She struggled to free her other hand, which was pinned beneath him. Then, she wrapped that hand around his back so that she was hugging him. With it, she began projecting healing into his back. Though not as effective as the chest, it would still cover his whole torso. For several more minutes, she stayed in that way, healing him slowly due to her own lack of energy.
After a while, Malcolm began stirring. He awoke to find himself laying atop the battered fairy, caught in her embrace. “I’m sorry.” he whispered, barely able to speak at all. “I… don’t know what came over me.”
“It’s alright.” Her words tickled his ear, her voice still hoarse from choking. “It’s alright. You had to go to a dark place to find your magic.” April stopped to cough. “But you did it. You projected energy.”
“I did, didn’t I?” He could feel the healing power soaking over him. It was already bringing him back to normal health.
“Do you remember how it felt?”
“Yes.” He rolled over, leaving her arms to sprawl himself on the carpet of pine needles.
She turned her head to face him. “Can you show me? Just show me?” she asked.
Malcolm stretched his hand out and let it lay on the ground beside her. Just as before, he began mentally pushing the energy outward, imagining it traveling toward his hand. He could feel a tingle dancing inside his arm, trickling all the way down to his hand. Then, sparks snapped from his palm. A moment later, the sparks became an arc of electricity which bent from the palm of his hand and ended at the tip of his middle finger.
He turned his head and looked at his hand with awe. “Amazing.”
“I’m proud of you, Malcolm.”
“There’s no reason to be proud of me.” he replied. “I wanted to quit, remember? You’re the one that wouldn’t end it.”
“It doesn’t matter. Almost everyone wants it to stop not long after beginning. The teacher’s job is to continue no matter what.”
“And you and your sisters did this, too? That’s hard to imagine.”
April turned her head upward to stare at the leaves above them. “Yukina was trained by her mother. Then, Yukina trained Slipha and I. The three of us took part in training the twins. Yes, we’ve all been through this. It’s terrible, for both the teacher and the student. But once it’s over, you’re glad you did it.”
“Well… thank you. You’re a good teacher.” He sat up and she followed suit. Then, Malcolm scooted closer to her so that he could put his arms around her. She returned the gesture, hugging him back. They held one another, neither wanting to let go. “Thank you, April.” he whispered.
“You’re welcome, Malcolm.” Her voice was shaking and on the verge of collapse. “I’m glad you’re okay.” After lingering a bit longer, they parted. “My energy is drained and I need to be healed. Can you carry me home?”
She shrank down and Malcolm put his hand to the ground in front of her. “As long as you can guide me home.”
She lay down in the palm of his hand, curling up as if she were in a comfortable bed. He stood up, now feeling as strong as ever, and held the fairy close to his chest as he walked.
When Malcolm entered the bubble, the fairies who were scattered around the yard looked up. Yukina walked over to greet them.
“Welcome home, you two. How did it go?”
“April needs to be healed.”
Yukina reached out. Malcolm gently picked her up and placed her in Yukina’s waiting hand. She cupped her other hand over her and began emitting healing magic.
“So?” she asked. “Did you succeed?”
Malcolm stretched his hand out and began emitting arcs of electricity.
Yukina smiled with delight. “Very good. I’m proud of you.”
“You knew what I was getting into, didn’t you?”
“Of course. We’ve all gone through it.”
“You could have warned me.”
She smiled at him. “Would you have gone through with it had you known?”
Malcolm thought for a moment. “Maybe… maybe not. I don’t know.”
“Are you not stronger now because of it?”
“Then I’m glad you weren’t dissuaded from the training.”
Malcolm felt hands on his shoulders. Startled, he turned around to see Slipha.
“So you really did it?” she asked, seeming much too excited about the whole thing. “Let me see.”
Again, Malcolm held out his hand and showed off the sparks of energy.
“Wow! So humans can do it. I’m impressed.”
“I thought you guys knew that already.”
“Well… not really. In theory, yes. You might be the first human to produce magic.”
“Wait… the first? No one has ever done this before?”
Slipha shook her head. “I was skeptical, but you’ve proven me wrong.”
A slight grin crossed his face. “The first, huh?”
Yukina spoke into her cupped hands. “Are you ready, April?”
She tossed the fairy into the air where April popped back to full size. She floated down until her feet touched the grass. “Thank you, Yuki.” She turned to Malcolm, still wearing her eternally-chipper smile. “We can begin your next lesson tomorrow. Let’s eat and rest for now.”
Chapter 3: Slipha’s Night
Malcolm pulled his laptop from the duffle bag. It was a heavy, bulky thing that was several years old, but he loved it. His fingers had grown used to its keyboard and typing on anything else now felt strange. He tucked it under his arm and hurried over to the group of fairies who were leaving the bubble. Evening was approaching and they were ready to head to the cliffs.
Yukina set up her painting – or whatever it was – overlooking the ocean and began manipulating it. Slipha sat on the edge with her book, just as she had the other day, and began writing. Malcolm sat down beside her, but stayed a few feet away from the cliff’s edge. He put his laptop on the ground in front of him and opened it. It’s hard drive began grinding as it booted and the fan began to whir.
Slipha glanced back at him and took interest in the thing. “What is that?” she asked, closing her book and scooting over to see it.
“It’s a laptop. This is what I use to write.”
She looked at the screen, her eyes wide with wonder. “That’s a strange looking book.”
He laughed. “No, it’s not a book. It’s a computer. It can do anything you want, not just reading and writing.” The desktop appeared and Malcolm began clicking through folders. Slipha crossed her legs and settled in beside him. She wanted to see more from this odd machine. He opened his pictures folder and brought up a picture from college. “That’s me when I won the college writing contest.” In the picture he was holding a certificate on stage with the awarder. “It really wasn’t such a big deal, only a few people entered. But it was the proudest day of my life.”
“Very interesting. So it works like your phone, but bigger?”
“Sorta, yea. The phone’s too small for a lot of things, like writing.” He clicked through the pictures, which were mostly nature pictures he’d taken. Then, he came across a picture of him and Blaire. They were standing outside and he had his arm around her waist.
“Oh, is that your girlfriend?”
“Yea. That’s Blaire.”
“You two look happy together.”
Malcolm stared at the screen. “We were.”
Slipha glanced up at Malcolm, who now looked like a statue. His eyes didn’t move, but thoughts rushed behind them. He hit the X on the window and the picture disappeared. “Let me show you how writing works.”
He quickly brought up his word processor. “You see, instead of drawing the letters on the page, you push the keys.” He typed out some words on the screen. “It’s better than writing because you can easily go back, erase, and change things. Though… I suppose that since you write with magical ink, it’s not so hard to edit.”
“No, it’s not hard. As I’ve been translating my book into English, I simply run my fingers over the words and change them with my thoughts.”
“That’s neat. I’ll always use this, though. It has to be digital to be put up on the internet or submitted to agents.”
“Oh. Does that mean I’ll have to learn how to use this, too?”
“No, you stick to what you’re comfortable with. I’ll do the typing when you’re done.”
She smiled. “Thanks.”
“Ready to get started?”
She opened her book in her lap. “Sure. But no peaking.”
“Not a problem. Same goes for you.”
They smiled at one another, then continued writing side by side. As they did, the hours rushed by and the sunset grew dim.
By the pale light of the moon, they returned home. The glow of the fairies’ wings cast strange shadows on the trees surrounding them. Malcolm enjoyed the remainder of their evening. If every day were like this one, he’d be a happy man. They ate porridge by the warmth of the fire. They sat around the table and chatted about everything, from the world outside to legends of the past.
Then, it was time for bed. The fairies shrank and retreated into their homes. Yukina pulled blankets from a chest and put together a make-shift bed in the cottage for Malcolm. It was a few feet away from the dimming fire, just enough to keep him warm through the night. He didn’t fall asleep right away, his mind busy with thoughts of his strange new life among fairies, magic, and his story.
His eyes were just beginning to droop when he noticed a faint purple glow light the room. He looked up to see miniature Slipha emerge from her home and fly across the room. He stayed quiet and pretended to be asleep with one eye open. She floated to the door, which creaked open. Then, she slipped out through the crack and it closed.
Malcolm jumped from his bed and went to the window. Cupping his hands around his eyes like goggles, he peered outside. The purple glow rose into the sky and slipped through the bubble. Once she was gone, he returned to his bed. He thought that she must have been having trouble sleeping and wanted to go for a midnight flight. He returned to his quest for sleep and imagined what it might be like to go for a midnight flight.
After a casual flight of about ten minutes, Slipha grew to full size and landed in Daniel’s front yard. She walked up to the front porch and, like any proper guest, knocked on the door. A few seconds later, Daniel opened it.
“Good evening, madam Slipha.” he said in his most proper manners. “Lovely night, isn’t it?”
“It is.” She pushed him aside and walked into the main hall. She looked around at the dark house. “Place is cold as ever. Don’t you ever light fires?”
He closed the door. “I do, but only when the winter necessitates it. I prefer the house being on the cold side.”
“So, are you ready to begin?” She clapped her hands together.
He smiled and folded his hands behind his back. “Ah yes. And what exactly are we beginning?”
She shot him a coy smile. “I have a few ideas. But first, how about you give me a tour?”
“There isn’t much to see.”
He continued grinning at her. “Alright. I will. Have you seen the sitting room?” He opened the double doors and beckoned her to follow. It was the same room where Autumn had been trapped just last night. “This is where I spend most of my time. I do a lot of reading.”
Slipha took a look around the room. “Interesting.”
“Of course you’re welcomed to read anything you find. My home is yours.”
“Thanks, but I doubt I’ll be spending a lot of time here. Remember, I have sisters and a human to keep an eye on. What’s next?”
Daniel led her down the hall. She stopped by a door and opened it. It was a long bathroom which was completely tiled. It was dark inside and there was no window. The bathroom had no decoration or attire. Some of the tiles were smashed and revealed plaster behind them. Daniel stopped and turned toward her. “It’s just a bathroom. Use it when you need it.”
She closed the door. “Of course. Just silly curiosity.”
He beckoned her to follow. “This is the kitchen.” He stood in the center of the white kitchen and raised his hands. “I might not be a cook, but I dine on only the finest frozen meals.”
The kitchen, much like the bathroom, had cracks throughout the tiles which covered the floor and bottom half of the walls. The top half was cracked plaster. The fridge was not a fridge, but an ice box, and the gas stove looked to be a relic of the ancient past. There was a large, porcelain sink which hung all by itself from the wall. The cabinets were plain wood and white washed. Despite the size of the house, which was almost like a mansion, everything seemed slapped together and half-assed. There was nothing ornate or intricate about its construction, aside from the fancy furniture which adorned the sitting room and the grandfather clock which counted the years in the entry way.
Slipha held her finger up to interject into his tour. “Is there anything the least bit intriguing in this place?”
“Well…” he clasped his hands together and thought. “Not really. It’s where I live. What else is there to say?”
“I can tell you don’t have a lot of pride in your surroundings. Aside from your sitting room, which is quite nice.”
“As I said before, it’s where I spend most of my time.”
“But what I would like to see is your work area. You must have a place where you practice magic.”
“Ah yes. So that’s what interests you. Follow me.” He walked back through the hallway and turned to climb the stairs. When Slipha reached them, she didn’t have any interest in climbing the rickety things, so she flew up until they reached the second floor. Up here, there were multiple rooms, all large and utterly empty, save the one small room which Daniel used as his bedroom. He pointed into it. “I suppose you’re familiar with my room. After all, it is where I awoke to find you standing over me last night.”
“And aren’t you glad I’m forgiving?” she said with the purr of a sly cat. “After everything you did to my sisters, I should have murdered you many times over.”
Daniel turned to her and took her hand. “For your mercy, madam Slipha, I am eternally in your debt.” He raised her hand and kissed it. The gold watch on his wrist jingled as he moved. Slipha eyed it, then returned her gaze to him.
“Good. Let’s keep it that way. Now where’s your work place?”
He led her up another set of stairs, these hidden behind a door. They were so narrow that they barely accommodated a normal-sized person. Slipha tucked her legs under her so that she could fly up without hitting her head on the angled ceiling. They entered the dank, utterly dark attic. She touched down on the floor. Daniel flicked a grill lighter and lit the kerosene lantern which hung from the center beam. It took hold of the flame and cast a soft glow.
The attic was huge and empty. The ceiling was bare, showing the rafters and underside of the roof. A single window was at the end of the attic. There were candles, stacks of old books, and scattered paraphernalia which indicated his practice of black magic. An oppressive feeling crept over her. It felt as if the air was thick, making it hard to breath. As she scanned the area, she noticed marks on the ceiling and floor. Scratches in the wood.
“So, this is where you practice?”
“Yes. You are the first person to see it.”
“It’s a special place, you know. It’s known for being haunted. Ask anyone in town. It’s infamous.”
Slipha folded her arms and gave him an unimpressed look.
He couldn’t help but smile like a boy showing off his room. “People died here, you know. Children. Did you see the scratches?”
He turned and pointed at the support. “I believe that one of them stayed tied to that post. Days? Weeks? Who knows. But how that one died is still a mystery. It’s exciting… isn’t it?” He turned back to look at her, the glee still dancing in his eyes. “I just love studying history. Especially when it involves murder. There’s so much spiritual activity here. It’s a wonderful place to practice magic.”
Slipha smirked. “I found my first spirit in the woods when I was a youngling. It was lost, wandering aimlessly. I didn’t know anything about it. Could’ve gotten lost in the woods a hundred years ago and were never found. I learned from a young age that you can manipulate them. My sister never would have approved. She calls it black magic. I didn’t care. It was fun.”
Daniel could barely contain himself. “You’re an incredible woman! I can’t wait to learn from you.” Then, his face changed. The grin went from sincere to strained. “I suppose you manipulated spirits to torment me last night. Didn’t you?”
“Yes. You asked for it.”
“Yes yes, I suppose I did, didn’t I?”
She turned back to the steps and began her descent. “I’ve seen enough.” She returned to the second floor. Even with her experience in the dark arts, the attic made her uneasy. She would never admit it, though. “So, you want to expand your education?”
He followed her down the steps. “Absolutely. It’s been my life long pursuit.”
“Good. Then follow me.”
They went out to the yard. Slipha continued until they were a good ways from the house. Then, she sat down cross-legged on the lawn. Daniel watched her with curiosity. She pointed to the grass in front of her. “Sit down.”
He did as he was told. “Are you going to teach me magic?”
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