Mandrake grinned as he looked over his beautiful work. No, he was not dead. How could he die from his own power? But it worked, letting them all think he was dead. With all the power he had gathered from this new triumph, he would soon be ready to face them again. To destroy them all.
He laughed at the thought of that. A cold, sinister sound. It made the fairy shiver. She waited until it slowly faded away before bolting. She flew as fast as she could, as close to the dead ground as possible. It was easy to avoid looking around at all the decay. She didn’t want to see what her once lively, green home had been reduced to.
‘The Leafmen,’ she thought. ‘I have to get to the Leafmen.’ She almost made it to living forest again when one of Mandrake’s henchmen found her.
“…and next thing I know, I’m flat on my back with Mub on top of me!” Nod and MK laughed at the end of the story.
“I guess being a Leafman really is still pretty adventurous,” MK said.
“Yeah,” Nod said. “But not as much as it was with Mandrake around. Which is a good thing.”
“A very good thing,” MK agreed. “So, have you guys-“
“Nod!” Nod turned to see a Leafman by the name of Slannen fly over on his hummingbird. “Ronin spotted something by the Eastern border. We need to go. Now!”
“Sorry, MK,” Nod said. “I gotta go.” Before MK had the chance to say good-bye, Nod was gone.
‘What was that about?’ MK wondered. The Eastern border . . . She knew where that was. She ran to the foyer and pulled on her boots.
“Where you going, MK?” her dad called.
“Something’s going on at the Eastern border!” MK shouted back. “I’ll be home later!” With that, she raced out of the door and towards the edge of Moonhaven.
The fairy huddled behind the root of the tree. She had barely gotten away with her life. Her wing was bent and she was bleeding. She had to get to the Leafmen quickly. Before Mandrake found the bulbs. Before he could begin his raid on the Leafmen.
But how? She was exhausted, and she never did pay enough attention in lessons. So she only knew a few healing spells and none of them included speeding the healing of a bent wing. She would never make it in time.
It was then that she heard a low humming. It started out very faint, then grew louder and louder until the entire air was filled with it. She looked up at the canopy above her and saw them. The hummingbirds. And…were those fairies riding them?
No, not fairies! Leafmen! They had found her! She was so excited, she lept up to her feet despite her sore legs. She jumped up and down in excitement. But her happiness dwindled when an arrow came whizzing by her ear, digging into the ground behind her. Did they really think her a threat?
The Leafmen encircled her in the air before landing on the ground and dismounting their hummingbirds. The one that seemed to be the leader walked forward towards her.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” he demanded. Soonrah shrunk back, reaching behind her to feel the safety of the wood against her fingers.
“I-I…Well, I…” She was too nervous. She couldn’t speak. She shivered as she crouched beneath the overhang offered by the tree root. “P-Please, I-“
“Ronin.” A young man made his way over to the leader. “Ronin, look at her,” he said. “She’s so scared. And she’s wounded. She probably just needs help.”
“Nod,” the leader, Ronin, apparently, said sternly. “Go back to the ranks.”
“Back to the ranks!” The young man, seemingly Nod, frowned. He set his chin and walked right up to the fairy, who only backed up more. But he offered out his hand.
“I’m Nod,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of that old guy. He only wants to protect his people.”
Shakily, she took his hand. She looked around quickly to make sure no arrows were drawn. None were. “I-I…I’m Soonrah,” she said softly. “P-Please, I need your help. My home is gone. Completely destroyed. And if you don’t listen to me, the same will happen to yours.”
“What are you talking about?” Ronin demanded.
“I ca-can’t talk about it here. It’s too dangerous. Please. We must go further into your land.”
It didn’t take anything more to convince Ronin. But he made certain to keep this fairy under a close watch. He helped her on to his own bird and they flew to Moonhaven in silence. Once they landed, Ronin dismounted and walked towards the Queen’s meadow. Nod helped Soonrah off the hummingbird as Ronin walked into the meadow.
“My Queen,” he said with a bow. Queen Darcy turned at the sound of his voice and grinned at him. “Ronin. How are things?”
“I’m not sure, My Queen,” Ronin said. “We found a fairy by the border. She says Moonhaven is in trouble.”
“A fairy?” the Queen asked. She had heard tales of fairies, of course. But she had never known them to be real. Beyond her lands, she always thought there to be other Leafman-kind protecting their own lands.
But she had to focus on what was important. The safety of her people. “How is Moonhaven in danger?”
“She would not tell us. Not until we were well within our borders.”
“Then let’s hear what she has to say. Let her come.”
Ronin nodded and left to fetch Soonrah and Nod. All three walked back in together, Soonrah keeping close to Nod. Ronin still made her uneasy. When she saw the Queen, she gasped. She was so beautiful.
“Hello,” Queen Darcy said gently. She grinned at the fairy, happy to see a real one for the first time in her life. “I am Darcy.”
“Hello, Your Majesty,” Soonrah said respectfully. She gave a small bow, as much as her wounded body would let her. At least the fairy knew some sort of royal protocol. There had been a queen of fairies, as well.
“Please tell me. Why do you think our lands are in danger?”
“Because of him, Your Majesty. He has destroyed my home. Everyone and everything is gone. And you’re all next. I know it.”
“Who, Soonrah?” Nod asked.
“Mandrake,” she said gravely. “He’s alive.”