"So, Mouser, when do you think we should kill our prisoners? I saw that you seemed to be a bit worked up over my decision."
Had Jocy heard this, she would have thought that Kly was insane. However, the next event might have shocked her even more.
The cat spoke.
"I think that we should kill them tomorrow, before we leave," said Mouser. "Seize the moment, I always say. We don't want them to escape."
"True," replied Kly, "but perhaps one of them will tell us something useful about Jet-a-Miray. You can get nearly anyone to tell you anything if you merely torture him enough. On the other hand, they might hold out until after the war, if it is as brief as planned. And, as unlikely as it seems, they could somehow escape."
"What about the fairy?" asked Mouser.
"I'll send Periwinkle in to talk to him tomorrow, before we leave. She could convince anyone to help me. In fact, I shall send for her." Kly opened the door and told one of the two guards to fetch Periwinkle. Kly then returned to the room.
"Now Mouser, are you sure that you don't want to reveal yourself as an intelligent animal in Jet-a-Miray? Unlike this country, the citizens of Jet-a-Miray are fond of talking animals."
"I prefer to act like a dumb beast, Kly. If they think I am an ordinary cat, they may say things in my presence that they wouldn't dream of telling you."
The door opened, and a small, glowing figure entered.
"You wished to see me, sir?" she asked.
"Ah, Periwinkle," said Kly. "So glad you could join us. Do you think that you could talk to our new guest, the fairy? Maybe you can get him to tell us more about Jet-a-Miray."
"I'd be happy to. However, judging from his weapon, I'd say that he is a fighter. They hate those who betray fairyland," said Periwinkle in reply.
"Then have Shaw-maylo visit him when you're done. Get him to try to persuade the fairy," said Kly.
"Consider it done, Kly," replied Periwinkle. "Shall I go prepare?"
"Please do. I have important matters to... think about."
Periwinkle left, and Mouser spoke. "I still don't like them. Periwinkle, maybe. The others may be plotting against us."
"Patience, Mouser. We need them, to show that we are really friends with the fairies. Don't worry, you know the last stage of the plan." Mouser grinned wickedly. "Well, now, we should get some sleep, Mouser, don't you think? We have a big day tomorrow." Without another word, the two left the room, with the guards following behind.
Hi-lee was the only one of the three spies who was still awake. Normally, she could fall asleep easily any time she wanted to. Somehow, though, she couldn't sleep tonight. She couldn't have dozed off if her life depended on it.
Suddenly, she heard the door open. She immediately laid down and pretended to be asleep. Out of her slightly opened eye, she saw two fairies come in.
"How can I do that?" asked one. "When I joined, it was the biggest mistake of my life."
"Be quiet," whispered the other in a feminine voice. "We can't let them hear us." The two fairies left and closed the door behind them. However, Hi-lee could still hear their conversation.
"I still couldn't."
"If you don't, Kly will be angry."
"Let him be angry! I'd be better off dead, anyway!"
"Don't talk like that. You must go in and speak to him. I'll let you know a secret. Kly said that, if you don't do it, then he will kill you slowly, and then kill two of us from fairyland."
There was a brief silence.
"All right. But don't expect me to be enthusiastic about it."
"Very good. Kly will be pleased."
Hi-lee didn't hear any more conversation. She assumed that the two fairies must have left. She didn't have any idea about what they were talking about, but she figured that it meant trouble.
"Elk-lore!" she called as loudly as she dared, trying to wake him up. He knew about as much about fairies as anyone else. "Elk-lore!" He didn't even stir.
Hi-lee couldn't wake Elk-lore up, no matter how hard she tried. "Jocy?" she called.
Jocy opened her eyes and fluffed her feathers slightly. "What is it now?"
Hi-lee explained the visit of the two fairies and what she had heard.
"Well, I don't know what they were talking about," yawned Jocy. "Whatever it is, we can't do anything about it. Why don't you get some sleep?" Jocy was asleep again in a matter of seconds.
Hi-lee sighed. How could she sleep now? She had too much to think about. What was the fairies' conversation about? How could she, Jocy, and Elk-lore escape? Hi-lee knew that, if they didn't escape soon, they would die. All of the fairies in fairyland would be killed, and Kly would take over Jet-a-Miray. For what may have been the first time in her short life, Hi-lee stayed awake all night.
At about 7:00 in the morning, Jocy woke up. (They had no way of knowing the time, however; there was no window through which they could see the sun rise, and there were no clocks in that world, though there were some sundials.)
"Are you still awake?" asked the eagle.
"I couldn't sleep. Aren't you worried?"
"Nah. What can we do about it? It's not gonna kill you to miss a night's sleep. I wouldn't worry about that."
"JOCY!" yelled Hi-lee, annoyed.
"What? Oh, you mean the other things. Like being locked in a dungeon where they're going to starve--"
The door creaked. The two spies immediately froze.
As they watched, the door opened. A flying, glowing figure came in. It went straight over to Elk-lore and shook him.
"Huh?" asked Elk-lore, waking up. "Tirah!" The name meant 'sly beauty,' and at least the latter half was accurate--even Hi-lee could see that, though she glowed brightly. "What are you doing here?"
"I go by Periwinkle in Tas-et-lal," said the fairy.
Elk-lore stood up and flapped his wings a few times. He looked shocked, then immediately sat back down again.
"What's the matter? Can't you even fly up to greet me?" asked Periwinkle with a grin that even Hi-lee could see.
"Of course I could. It's just more comfortable to sit down," said Elk-lore in reply.
"It's so terrible. How can he do this to you? You're so young.... I'm sure that if you just told him all about Jet-a-Miray, then he'd be more than happy to let you go, or at least give you your magic back."
"I'll never tell him anything!" said Elk-lore, almost shouting. He stood up again, as a reflex.
"Just picture flying freely through the air, going back to fairyland, talking with your friends and family back there. Don't you miss that?"
Elk-lore sighed. "Look, you can try to convince me all you want, but it's not going to work."
"Are you sure?" She leaned close to Elk-lore and whispered, "You'll find that I'm very persuasive." Elk-lore didn't respond, so Periwinkle changed her tactics.
"Listen, Elk-lore, I'm worried about you. If you don't talk to Kly, then he'll be mad. He'll probably kill you. I don't want anything bad to happen to you." Elk-lore still didn't respond, or even acknowledge that Periwinkle was talking. "He's leaving in less than an hour, if you want to tell him anything. I'll be here, though. If you ever want to talk to me, just ask the guard to get me. I'll see you later." Periwinkle ran her fingers through Elk-lore's hair, then left.
"I can't believe her," said Elk-lore.
"I think she likes you," said Hi-lee, grinning.
"Can't you see? She's only using me because it will benefit her. She's working for Kly because it was the only way to get her magic back. If Sela Kotu had offered Periwinkle her powers back, then Periwinkle would have jumped at the deal, provided it was a better value than Kly's. Periwinkle looks out for herself and only herself. She uses guys all the time. She has half the guys in fairyland wrapped around her finger. With all of them to choose from, do you really think she needs me?"
"Why not?" asked Hi-lee.
Elk-lore glared at Hi-lee. "She's about a 200 years older than me! And she never even paid attention to me when we both had our magic in fairyland. She had left long before I even decided to use the name Elk-lore." Jocy and Hi-lee looked questioningly at the fairy. "Oh, I guess you don't know about that, huh?
"When he or she is born, a fairy's parents give him or her a name, but a name that is not in the name language. That's why Tirah goes by Periwinkle here. When the fairy is old enough, he or she decides on a name that means something. Then, the fairy can use either name. I just chose mine a few months ago, before I had killed anything. Come to think of it, Periwinkle's been gone for about a year and a half. So she must have been spying so that she could find out my name."
"What's your other name?" asked Hi-lee.
"You don't want to know. It's really stupid."
"Come on. I told you mine!"
"I know. It's just that--"
The door of the dungeon creaked open again. Another fairy entered. Elk-lore alone could see how miserable he was.
"Elk-lore," said the fairy. "I was afraid it was you."
Elk-lore's eyes widened in recognition, then narrowed again in anger. "Shaw-maylo. We sent you here because you were one of our bravest spies. I would've gone, but everyone said that I was too young, and that I'd crack under pressure. How could you join them?"
"Don't call me Shaw-maylo. They do, and it's almost too much for me. I don't deserve to be called 'brave one.' Call me by my old name until I think of a new one."
Elk-lore's expression softened, if only slightly. (Hi-lee and Jocy had been looking at Elk-lore so long that they had adjusted to his glow and could just about see his expressions, if not those of fairies they didn't know. Or maybe his glow was dimming...)
"All right, Rosewood." Elk-lore's tone of voice had softened slightly, too. "Why did you join?"
"It was so easy.... If I helped Kly, then I'd get some of my magic back. If I didn't, then I'd be killed. I took the easy way out. Now I can do minor feats of magic. You know. I can make myself invisible--to anyone but Kly, of course. I can turn lead into gold. I can do anything that can't harm the great king." He said the last two words loudly, without sarcasm. However, he spoke his next sentences in a whisper.
"All three of you, listen. Don't give up, even if he's going to kill you. You two," he pointed at Jocy and Hi-lee, "if you talk, he'll wait until you've told him all he needs to know. Then he'll kill you. Giving in will merely buy you a few more days in chains, at the cost of your country.
"Elk-lore, I know it's hard not to help Kly, but don't. Yes, you will die slowly, but the pain will be merely mental." He paused. "I'm not doing this very well, am I?" Rosewood waited a moment, then started again. "I'll just say that I decided to help Kly, and now I know that it would've been better had he just killed me. Don't give up; there's always hope. Good luck," said Rosewood softly.
"So you realize that it is pointless to resist, and that surrender is the only escape?" asked Rosewood loudly, grinning at Elk-lore.
"I'll never give up!" exclaimed Elk-lore.
"Good," Rosewood whispered. He nearly shouted his next few sentences. "Very well. I tried my best. This was probably your last chance. Kly is leaving in less that half an hour..." Rosewood lowered his voice to a whisper so low that Jocy couldn't hear it.
"He's going into Jet-a-Miray. You must escape and warn Sela Kotu. I'll try to help." He said, much louder, "Farewell, Elk-lore. You shall never again see the light of day." Shaw-maylo closed the door behind him, leaving the dungeon a lonelier place--even though his menacing words were a farce, they still disturbed the inhabitants of the dungeon.
A few minutes after Rosewood's speech, Hi-lee discovered the best way to pass time in a dark dungeon.
She fell asleep.
Go on to Chapter 12
Go back to The Stories of Julie Bihn