Kly left a few minutes after Hi-lee fell asleep. He took Mouser and Dewdrop, one of the four fairies who worked for him. He chose Dewdrop because her spirit was completely broken, and Kly could instantly summon Periwinkle (or any other fairy) with a mere snap of his fingers.
Kly didn't travel with a grand parade of attendants. Instead, he chose to ride fast horses all the way across his country. He rode a horse from his castle to a farmer's house that was about nine miles away. He rode a fresh horse that was waiting for there to the next house, and so on. Kly had made plans with all these men weeks ago, so that he could get into Jet-a-Miray very quickly. (Fortunately for the horses, no one in that world would even know what a whip or spurs was.) Kly, Mouser, and Dewdrop spent the night at a house less than four miles from Jet-a-Miray.
The next morning, Kly rode his horse, with Mouser sitting in front of him and Dewdrop on the horse's head, straight into Jet-a-Miray. He approached fairyland and spoke.
"Residents of fairyland, listen carefully. I am Kly, the king of Tas-et-lal. I will be passing through fairyland. Feel free to shoot at me. However, whoever tries it will instantly die." He laughed a little, then took his horse through fairyland. Somehow, the second he entered, fairyland lost almost all of its magic. Those who weren't fairies suddenly wanted to return to their homes outside of fairyland. Naturally, Kly didn't want to stay in fairyland, either.
About six fairies shot at Kly using their bows and arrows, since he was the leader of Tas-et-lal. However, the arrows didn't even come close to hitting Kly. Each fairy that tried to shoot Kly instantly died, just as Kly had promised.
Kly was almost through fairyland when a seventh fairy aimed at him. She was one of the fighters, an old fairy, and she figured that it would be worth death if she could just get a shot at the leader of Tas-et-lal. Her name was Tree-mer-islo--wings of color, which didn't quite seem appropriate, as most of the color had long since faded from her wings. She released her string, and the arrow flew.
The arrow hit Kly in the right shoulder, and Tree-mer-islo died satisfied. Kly galloped out of fairyland.
"Why did you enter fairyland?" asked Dewdrop.
"Need I explain all my plans to you? Now, pull this arrow out. Gently." Dewdrop carefully removed the arrow and cleaned the wound. Really, Kly didn't have a good reason to go through fairyland, except that it would have taken an extra five minutes to go around. Perhaps he figured it was a quick way to get rid of some of the bravest fairies.
Dewdrop finished washing out the wound. Kly moved his arm and found that he couldn't raise it without minor pain. However, he didn't care to bandage it. If Sela Kotu knew that he had been shot by a fairy, then she might be suspicious.
He rode in the same fashion as he had before until he was only three miles away from Sela Kotu's castle wall. He spent the night at the house of one of his friends that had moved to Jet-a-Miray many days ago, and he reviewed his plan with his two companions.
The next morning, Kly got up early and chose his friend's finest horse to ride. Then he brushed the magnificent white stallion until he shined. He braided the horse's mane and tail into hundreds of little plaits. When this was done, Kly left the stable to see to his own appearance.
Kly did everything he could to make himself look splendid. First, he took a bath. (In that world, unlike the Middle Ages of ours, baths were both acceptable and expected.) After he dried himself off, Kly changed into an outfit similar to the one he had worn in Tas-et-lal, only grander. The edges of his sleeves and the bottom of his shirt that gathered at the waist into a skirt were lined with jewels. The belt buckle had a large emerald in it, and his buttons were made of navy blue sapphires. Only his pants and boots were not dotted with sparkling stones.
Kly put on a cape to look even more impressive. His cape was not like Sela Kotu's--it always was the same shade of navy blue, and the top part that went over his shoulders and part of his chest were made of beautiful white fur. The cape's clasp was made of a large, pure, red ruby.
Finally, Kly combed his brown hair. By now, it was almost dry, so he put water on it so that he could style it. He spent twenty minutes combing through it and wetting it down again. Finally, he was satisfied with his appearance. He took Mouser and Dewdrop, mounted the beautiful white horse, and trotted toward Jet-a-Miray's castle.
Kly arrived at the entrance and proceeded to trot right past the guard. The guard (who happened to be the same guard who had escorted Cos-la-si to Sela Kotu so many days ago) stopped him.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked.
"Idiot! Can't you see? I'm the king of Tas-et-lal, and I want to see the queen!" shouted Kly. He had not expected to be stopped at the castle wall by a female guard.
"I'm sorry, but you have never been in this country before, and I don't know what the king of Tas-et-lal looks like. Do you have some form of identification?"
"I am the king! Can't you tell? Who else would wear these clothes?"
"Any merchant could purchase those."
"How dare you keep me out! If you were my subject, I'd see that you were more polite."
"I'm sorry, sir," said the guard in a voice that suggested that she meant the opposite. She shouted loudly, "Idnib!" Another female guard--her name meant 'blue'--rushed over.
"Is everyone in Jet-a-Miray a girl?" asked Kly. He was quite annoyed. "Aren't there any men here?"
'Not among the three of us,' thought the first guard. She said aloud, "Idnib, could you watch the post, and the 'king' of Tas-et-lal?"
"Sure," answered Idnib agreeably. "Why?"
"If he gets past the castle wall, I think that Sela Kotu should be the one to let him in."
"Got it," replied Idnib. "Listen, king of Tas-et-lal, you're going to have to wait here while she goes to see if Sela Kotu will let you in." The other guard took a horse and galloped away.
"This is an outrage!" yelled Kly.
"No, this is safety regulations. How do we know that you're not trying to take over the country or something? You don't even claim to be a citizen."
Kly merely folded his arms and, in a childish way, ignored Idnib with an angry expression on his face. The horse walked a few steps and started to nibble at the grass. Kly was still on its back at the time.
"Stupid horse," mumbled Kly.
"He's not stupid," said Idnib. "Just because he can't talk doesn't mean that he can't hear you." She patted the horse's neck. "I wish I had some carrots for you." She looked at the horses head and suddenly noticed something that she had overlooked before.
"A fairy!" she exclaimed. Sure enough, Dewdrop was sitting on the horse's head. She had made no effort to blend in because Kly had only told her to get on the horse.
"Yes," said Kly. "See, the fairies are friends with us at Tas-et-lal. I'll bet that this is the first time you've seen a fairy, isn't it?" Idnib nodded. "In Tas-et-lal, we see fairies all the time. You'd be surprised at how many help me around the castle. They're wonderful creatures, really. Just a bit playful. Why, I heard that one wrote you guys a letter saying that we were stealing their magic."
"I never heard about that," said Idnib.
Kly realized that he had made a mistake. "Of course not," he said. "It was merely a rumor."
Kly continued his 'friendly' conversation with Idnib. In reality, of course, Kly's talk was a fine piece of propaganda. By the time the other guard returned, Idnib almost believed that Kly was the good-natured king of Tas-et-lal. Fortunately, she still remembered his superior and sexist attitude from before, so she was not completely taken in.
"Her Majesty, Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol, will arrive in a few minutes," said the first guard. Kly used his reins to sharply pull the horse's head up from the grass. Kly was glad that the horse had a good temper; otherwise, the horse might have thrown Kly to the ground. In fact, the first guard wished that the stallion had.
About two minutes later, the queen of Jet-a-Miray approached. She was not part of a grand entourage, as Kly had expected. Instead, she was riding a brown horse. It was a pretty horse, but nothing exceptional. She wasn't riding it sidesaddle, either, because that form of riding was not practiced of in Jet-a-Miray. Her skirt was loose enough that Sela Kotu could ride the horse normally. It was the same skirt that she always wore, in fact. It was the only part of her that didn't shock Kly. In Tas-et-lal, all women had to wear skirts, but in Jet-a-Miray, they seemed to be allowed to wear whatever they wanted to. One of the female guards wore shorts; the other had pants.
"Idnib," she said to the guard in pants, "has he done anything suspicious while you were watching him?"
"No, your Majesty."
"Good." She looked at Kly. "Would you please introduce yourself?"
Kly got off of his horse, and Sela Kotu did the same. "I am Kly, the king of Tas-et-lal. I assume that you are the great Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol?"
"I go by that name, but I doubt that I am great." Kly sighed. This country confused him. Women were allowed to be guards, and their queen didn't fall for simple flattery. Still, Kly figured that, by being a gentleman, he could gain her trust.
"You have a fairy with you!" exclaimed Sela Kotu.
"Yes," said Kly. He didn't want to mention the note he had heard about because maybe, after all, it had merely been a rumor. Perhaps the cry for help hadn't even reached the queen.
He decided to play it safe. "Why, fairies are our friends at Tas-et-lal. This is Dewdrop. She works with me. Dewdrop, say hello to Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol." The fairy bowed.
"Please call me Sela Kotu." Tay-Bry, riding a black horse, trotted up.
"Your Majesty, it is unwise to meet this stranger in such haste. He could have killed you," said Tay-Bry.
"I have my guards here," said the queen.
"Surely you do not let this man speak to you in that manner," said Kly defensively.
"He's my doctor," said Sela Kotu shortly. "Tay-Bry, this is King Kly of Tas-et-lal. King Kly, this is Tay-Bry. He has to follow me wherever I go, because my subjects are worried about me." She didn't delve into details. Instead, she went on, cheerfully. "Why don't we go back to my castle? Just let me talk to my guards for a minute." She pulled Idnib and the other guard aside and whispered to them nervously.
"This man is the king of Tas-et-lal. He got his place when the other king of Tas-et-lal was stabbed to death. The queen was in love with Kly, and the two got married, making him the king. Then, the queen mysteriously died. They say she jumped off her balcony. However, Kly is still the king, and I must be hospitable--it wouldn't do to insult them. Idnib, take one of the horses and warn the Dumix. Tell Zobo to send extra guards to the castle, and to stay alert when we pass through. Thay-rah, ride another horse and warn the castle guards to be watchful, and wake up those which are sleeping in the barracks. Thanks." The two guards ran off, and Sela Kotu spoke to Kly again.
"Come, King Kly. I'd like to introduce you to the leader of my Dumix." A lion, wearing a gold diamond shaped necklace like the other two guards, walked up to the guard post while Kly looked on in shock.
"That's a lion!" he exclaimed.
"Of course," replied Sela Kotu. "He's one of our best guards. Oh, you have a cat!" She had noticed this before, but hadn't mentioned it because she didn't know if she'd had to stall for time later. "He looks like a talking cat. Is he?"
Now, Kly was taken aback. He was surprised that Sela Kotu could tell that the cat could talk. Mouser was very good at 'playing dumb', so to speak. In Tas-et-lal, not one man was able to tell that the cat was an intelligent animal, and in Jet-a-Miray, a woman could tell in five minutes! Anyway, Sela Kotu knew that Mouser could talk, so Kly had to think of a convincing lie.
"He could talk," said Kly, "before his accident. I won't go into the details. A lady shouldn't have to hear such terrible things. Anyway, poor Mouser can no longer speak." The cat meowed pitifully.
"That's too bad," said Sela Kotu, stroking Mouser. He obediently started purring. He really was good at playing dumb.
"Well, come on," the queen said, getting back on her horse. Kly did, too. Tay-Bry had never dismounted. "Follow me."
Sela Kotu trotted at a pretty low speed, with Kly and Tay-Bry behind her. She went right through the military land, stopping to chat with about one in ten of the people and animals she passed, praying that Kly wouldn't suspect that she was stalling to make sure that the guards had time to warn Zobo and the castle guards. Finally, they reached the leader of Jet-a-Miray's Dumix.
"Hello, Zobo," Sela Kotu said. "This is King Kly, of Tas-et-lal."
Zobo nodded respectfully. "What brings Your Majesty into our country?"
This was another question that Kly was unprepared for, since he had assumed that no one would ask it, so he came up with a quick lie. "I like to get to know the leaders of my neighboring countries. I decided to visit Sela Kotu first, since Tas-et-lal is your country's only ally."
"Then why is it said that you are taking the magic away from the fairies?" Zobo asked. He was suspicious of the fairies, but he was also suspicious of Kly, and he liked to get right to business.
"I am not taking the magic away from the fairies," said Kly. "You know how mischievous the little sprites are. They're playing a trick on you. If I was taking the magic away from the fairies, then would my friend Dewdrop be here?"
"Who's Dewdrop?" asked the hyena.
"Why, this fairy, of course. She's one of my dearest friends. Say hello, Dewdrop."
"Hello, Dewdrop," said the fairy obediently.
"Heh, heh, heh," laughed Kly. "Very cute, Dewdrop." Zobo started going into hysterics. Kly shot an angry glance at Dewdrop, and the fairy suddenly found that she couldn't talk.
Two minutes later, Zobo stopped laughing. "That was a good joke, Dewdrop," the hyena said, still grinning.
"Yes, it was," said Kly. "Your Majesty must have a lot of patience to put up with a Dumix commander like this hyena."
"If I chose to, I could have Zobo banished from my kingdom or beheaded." Zobo cringed. "However, I consider his sense of humor to be an asset," said Sela Kotu. The hyena grinned and nodded.
"I did not mean to insult your judgment, your Majesty," said Kly. "Please accept my humblest apologies."
Sela Kotu nodded.
"Your Majesty, perhaps we should be heading toward the castle now," said Tay-Bry. The sun was sinking low in the lavender sky.
"I think you're right. Come, King Kly; if you don't mind, I'd like to get to the castle before night. Goodbye, Zobo." The three horses, guided by their riders, trotted briskly to the castle. Sela Kotu hoped her guards had had enough time to warn the guards.
She had. There were at least twice as many sentries around and in the castle of Jet-a-Miray as usual. Kly, of course, had no way to know this, though. There were two lookouts at the drawbridge, a man and a German Shepherd. Sela Kotu nodded to them, and the drawbridge was lowered. They went over, and then all the way around the inner castle wall to get to the gatehouse, a structure that had gates that could be dropped on an intruder passing through, or trap him in the gatehouse. It was the entrance to the main castle.
On the way to the gatehouse, they passed the military barracks on the east side. The buildings were mostly empty, since Sela Kotu had ordered them up to watch the castle, but there were still some low-ranked troops keeping watch, to make it look like they were filled. The guards eyed Kly suspiciously, but Sela Kotu said, "He's with me." They let Kly pass, but they still watched him until all three of them turned the corner and were out of sight.
As they went through the gatehouse, Kly said, "You have a well fortified castle, don't you, your Majesty?"
"I guess so. My ancestors fought a lot of battles. This land would belong to some other country if we hadn't had a well-built castle. I hope that I never have to defend it, though."
Kly did not like the castle. He couldn't think of a single way to penetrate it with his military, except, perhaps, with a tunnel dug under the moat and wall, weakening the structure. Still, tunnels were risky and time consuming. Kly decided that he would have to rely on his wits.
"It's about time for dinner," said Sela Kotu. "I'm sorry that it probably won't be as grand as you're used to. My meals are never lavish unless I have a guest, and I didn't have time to tell my cook that the king of Tas-et-lal would be feasting with us."
"That's all right. I'm sure the meal will be splendid, your Majesty."
Sela Kotu, Kly, and Tay-Bry tied their horses by the stable, and a couple of men saw to the care of the horses. Then, the three went to the royal banquet hall, with Mouser and Dewdrop following. Kly was taken aback with the hall. The room was large, and it had a big fireplace at the end. There was a huge rectangular table near the fireplace, and the walls were decorated with tapestries and fancy candlesticks. Every candle in the room was lit, including those in a circular stand hanging from the ceiling. Kly had expected all of these things. What confused him was the fact that people (and even a couple of animals, a pigeon and a wolf) were seated, and eating and talking, at the sides of the huge table. The humans were all wearing clean but plain clothing, and they looked like commoners. Only some of the women wore skirts, but some of the men did, too.
"What are these peasants doing here?" asked Kly angrily.
"They're not peasants," said Sela Kotu. "They are my servants. The cook might as well make a large meal for my servants and I instead of giving those who work for me what is left over from a queen's feast!"
"That's fine, I suppose," said Kly, " but do they have to eat at this table?"
"No one else is using it. Why let it go to waste?"
"Commoners never eat at my table in Tas-et-lal."
"I don't usually entertain guests. Don't worry, King Kly; I'll see that they aren't here tomorrow," said the queen.
"Only if it's convenient, your Majesty," said Kly politely, contradicting himself.
"It's no problem at all." Sela Kotu walked to the head of the table. She was about to pull her chair back, but Kly did it for her. "Thank you," she said, sitting down.
"My pleasure, your Majesty," replied Kly.
Though there was plenty of room for Kly to sit next to Sela Kotu at the table, he chose to sit near her at the left side of the table. Tay-Bry sat across from Kly, at the right side of the queen. Mouser sat down on the floor next to Kly, and Dewdrop sat between the two leaders, but closer to Sela Kotu.
"Dewdrop is awfully quiet," said Sela Kotu. "Why, she hasn't said anything since we talked to Zobo."
"She's not very talkative, I'm afraid," said Kly. "Especially around strangers."
"She has the prettiest voice.... Why won't you talk, Dewdrop?"
At this point, something strange happened to Dewdrop. She hadn't intended to respond to this comment, because she had found earlier that she couldn't speak. However, she suddenly heard and felt her voice coming out of her mouth, saying words she hadn't meant to say at all.
"I'm just shy, that's all, your Majesty."
Dewdrop covered her mouth in shock, but Sela Kotu didn't notice.
"Do you think that she'd fly into my hand so I could get a better look at her?" asked Sela Kotu.
"Ask her and see, your Majesty."
"Dewdrop, would you fly into my hand?"
Dewdrop would have agreed, but she didn't want her voice to be out of her control again, so she clenched her teeth as tightly as she could. It was no use, though. Dewdrop wasn't surprised to find herself saying, "I would be honored to, your Majesty." She quickly flew into the palm if the queen's hand, for fear that her body would do that against her will, too.
Sela Kotu slowly and carefully lifted the glowing figure up to her face. Dewdrop sat down to steady herself and held on to Sela Kotu's thumb. In a very short time, the two were eye to eye. The queen looked closely at the fairy's face. It had an unmistakable expression of fear and sadness, even though Sela Kotu could hardly see Dewdrop's tiny features because she glowed so brightly.
"Poor Dewdrop. She's trembling!"
"Don't worry about her. She's fine," said Kly.
"Poor thing. Are you frightened of me?"
As Tay-Bry, Kly, and Sela Kotu watched, Dewdrop slowly and nervously shook her small head, never taking her eyes off the queen.
"What are you scared of?"
Dewdrop opened her small mouth, trying to speak. Of course, she couldn't. However, she said words she hadn't intended to say.
"I'm not scared, your Majesty."
She shook her head again. 'What is Kly doing to me?' she wondered. She could only hope that her actions displayed her true panic.
"Come on, Dewdrop. You must be scared of something here," said Sela Kotu.
"I've just never been out of my country, your Majesty," said Dewdrop, but it wasn't really her.
"Fairyland?" asked the queen.
"No, Tas-et-lal." Dewdrop still had a look of utter panic on her face that Kly hadn't changed.
"Well, you're safe here. There's no one here to hurt you, and your friend King Kly will protect you?" She had said the last seven words in a doubtful tone, seeking reassurance from the king of Tas-et-lal. Dewdrop shook her head and, while Tay-Bry and Sela Kotu were staring at the fairy, Kly gave Dewdrop a menacing look. Before Kly had a chance to 'comfort' her, Dewdrop fainted.
"Oh, my. Poor Dewdrop!" said Kly worriedly. "She'll wake up on her own, I think. But until then, do you have a place that I can put her?"
"Sure," said Sela Kotu. "Come on, Tay-Bry. We can eat later." She led the group, including Mouser, out of the great hall and up a stairway. They found themselves in a long hallway, filled with doors.
"What color do you like your curtains to be?" asked the queen.
"Well, I like green curtains, Your Majesty. Why?"
Sela Kotu led them to a door with a sign on it that said 'The Green Room'. She opened the door, and they went into a room with green curtains, but white sheets on the bed. There was a dresser made of wood and a small mirror hanging on the wall. A bucket filled with water was next to the door.
"You can thank my great-great-great grandfather for this, King Kly. He was very sensitive about the color of curtains. In fact, instead of merely changing the curtains to some of a different color if that was what his guest preferred, he made sixteen different rooms, all with curtains of different colors. It's kind of childish, really. Then again, my ancestors have done a lot of childish things." She carefully laid Dewdrop on the bed.
"Your Majesty, I think that I could wake Dewdrop up if I had a few minutes alone with her," said Kly. "Could you please excuse us?"
"Sure. Come on, Tay-Bry. We'll just wait outside." They left, but Mouser refused to go.
"Just let him stay in here," said Kly. "What harm will he do?" Once the door had swung shut, Kly touched Dewdrop's wing. She woke up instantly.
"What were you doing?" asked Kly in a very low, menacing voice. "Acting scared in there, making like I was scaring you?"
Dewdrop opened her mouth and found that she could speak again, if only in a whisper. She was incredibly relieved to have her voice back, but her fear of Kly canceled the relief. "I-I was scared."
"You'd better not be scared anymore, Dewdrop. You thought it was bad when you couldn't control your voice. Think of how much worse it would be if you couldn't control your body."
The dinner was not as fine as Kly was used to, but it wasn't bad. He had left Dewdrop in his room, and Mouser to watch her. He hadn't put it in those words, though. He had said, 'I think it would be best if Dewdrop stayed in the room for now. She's awfully excited.'
'What about your cat?' the queen had asked.
'Your Majesty, he refuses to leave.'
'Then I guess it will just be the three of us, King Kly.' They had come back to the great hall and found their meal ready for them. The food was fine, but Kly was used to having entertainment all around--a jester here, a violinist there, maybe a juggler. Kly was not used to eating in a place where the only noise came from people and animals talking with each other and chewing their food.
"I'm sorry again for this meal, King Kly," said Sela Kotu. "Tomorrow night will be different."
Even the queen didn't know how true her statement was.
Go on to Chapter 13
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