"First off," the queen addressed Jocy and Hi-lee, "what did you two find in Calma?"
"The country is not planning a war against us as you feared, Your Majesty," replied Jocy. "We went inside their secret towers and heard their conference--"
"What do you mean we?" interrupted Hi-lee angrily, jumping up from the table. "I'm the one who hid inside their secret towers and waited for someone to come in! I'm the one who listened in on their conversations--for obvious reasons, may I add. And I'm the one who--"
"Calm down, calm down, you two," said the Sela. "We all know that both of you run more risks in one day of your work then the rest of us will in a lifetime--"
"You can say that again," muttered the eagle under her breath.
"But you both run risks, as a team. Hi-lee, if Jocy was caught, wouldn't it be easy for you, as a mouse, to sneak away? And Jocy, if a cat came, wouldn't you be able to fly away and leave Hi-lee to be eaten?" (Cats, like mice, are twice as big in Jet-a-Miray than they are in our world. However, they would probably not attack an eagle unless provoked because cats there are rather lazy, and like to kill things that won't put up much of a fight.)
"If a cat came, I'd beat it up," said Jocy. In reality, the eagle and mouse were very loyal. If Jocy got caught, Hi-lee wouldn't run away, unless it was for the good of the country, though they would both probably be killed. And if a cat attacked Hi-lee, Jocy would kill it or die trying. They had to have absolute trust in each other, as well as loyalty to their country, in their line of work.
"Now," said Sela Kotu, "would you two please tell me how you know that Calma is not planning to attack us?"
Hi-lee thought for a second, having forgotten why they were assembled. Finally, she answered, "Well, Your Majesty, I heard them discuss it, and they decided that our Dumix was too large and well-trained for them to conquer without great losses to their side."
Zobo had a modest grin on his face. Jocy hit him with her wing and laughed.
Sela Kotu looked at the eagle reproachfully, then went on. "What about our ambassadors? Have you heard from them?"
"No, Your Majesty," said Jocy, turning serious at once. "I believe they were killed once they got inside Calma."
"I was hoping that they were safe," said the Sela, looking sad. The unicorn looked even sadder. Both of them were extremely sympathetic, if a bit naive about how a powerful nation has to be run.
"Don't give up hope yet, Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol," said Hi-lee. The queen couldn't help but grin. Though she had a very royal name, it was also long and awkward. She was amused when anyone addressed her by her full name. Almost anyone. Its use also made her recall the morning, a little more than four years ago, when a commoner had asked, 'Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol, will you marry me?' She tried not to think about that, although it was a lovely memory. So many sad days had come too soon after those words.
Sela Kotu came back to reality when she found everyone in the room staring at her, obviously waiting for her to bring up the next item of business.
"Um... Next, I have reason to believe that fairyland is in danger," said the queen. "A robin left this note on my throne today."
Everyone stared at the small piece of paper, but no one except for Hi-lee and Jocy could read it because its writing was so tiny. The eagle had good eyes, and the letter was about the size of something that Hi-lee would write.
"Could you please read it for us, Hi-lee?" asked Sela Kotu.
The mouse saw that the letter was written beautifully in pink script and had a light yellow-green, sparkling, almost glowing signature at the bottom. She read the letter aloud:
Dear Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol,
My fellow fairies and I are in great danger. Those who you are friends with are really your enemies. You know that we fairies don't ask for help very often. Even now, many of us are against this plea. We are in very bad trouble to be asking you mortals for help. And you too shall be in terrible peril shortly if you don't listen to us. They stole our magic! Beware!
No one said a word after Hi-lee read the letter. Finally, the doctor asked to see it. He put on his glasses and examined the note, still unable to read it. Hi-lee got bored and started to stare at the Sela's clothes.
They were worth looking at. Sela Kotu wore a long skirt of her name, or the color greater than the sky. The closest color I have to compare it with is a lovely purple. She wore an unadorned white blouse and comfortable black shoes that were slightly similar to moccasins. She had a necklace on that her husband had given her shortly before his death, with a beautiful tree engraved on its gold surface. Her crown, a lovely circlet of gold leaves, lay on the table. It wasn't terribly uncomfortable, but she didn't enjoy wearing it when she didn't need to--like when she was in private company. The most beautiful garment that she wore was her cape.
The cape went over her shoulders to clasp in the front on her chest, and it nearly touched the ground. What made it unique was the fact that it sparkled. The entire cape shone as all sorts of different colors in the light. As the mouse watched Sela Kotu slightly turn her body, the shoulders of the cape turned blue, yellow, red, and then blue again in the dim candlelight of the tower room.
Although the cape was gorgeous, Hi-lee liked Sela Kotu's hair most of all. The queen had brown hair the shade of the mouse's glossy fur. Actually, Hi-lee blended in very well when flying through the air with Jocy and her lavender wings. The mouse's plain but functional purple cloak helped her to blend in with the sky, and no one looking up from the ground could see her. Few animals wore that much clothing in Jet-a-Miray.
The doctor had dark hair and wore a long brown robe. His skin was a tan color, and he was about fifteen years older than Sela Kotu. Finally, he spoke. "We cannot do much to help the fairies."
"Why not?" asked the unicorn curiously.
"It could be a trap," said Zobo. "You know how fairies like to play tricks on people."
"True," said Tay-Bry, the 'great doctor,' "but something tells me that this is no trick. Even fairies don't joke around about having their magic stolen. What do you suggest we do, Sela Kotu?"
She thought for a minute. "I feel that it would be wise to send someone up into fairyland to examine the problem."
Tay-Bry said, "That's why we can't help. Have you forgotten about fairyland? Those who enter never come back."
"That sounds like the perfect job for us!" exclaimed Jocy recklessly.
"Hold it!" said Sela Kotu. "I'm not going to let my two best spies go out and throw their lives away."
"But we're spies," muttered Hi-lee under her breath so quietly that no one heard her. "It's what we do."
The queen continued. "You two keep your eyes open for fairies, and get some rest. Day after tomorrow, I want you to fly around fairyland and see if you notice any problems. But don't set foot into fairyland. And no, Jocy, don't fly through fairyland, either. I command you not to enter!" It was evident that Sela Kotu was concerned about the spy team; they were not just trusted allies, but her friends. "Now, Zobo, how is it coming with your new cadets?"
"They seem to be good fighters. A bit fond of silly jokes--" at this, Jocy laughed "--but they're promising, overall, Your Majesty," replied Zobo.
"Excellent. How many full troops do you have now?"
"I have about 7,000 humans, 6,000 animals, and a few hundred birds, Your Majesty." This was an impressive amount considering that most countries in that world had about 20,000 men, women, and children, and few speaking animals. The other countries didn't even let animals or women in their military, except for Air-ren, who let some determined women fight. Jet-a-Miray's acceptance of any citizen into the Dumix ensured a large army of only those who wished to join. (Many wanted to join; moving up in the ranks in the Dumix was nearly the only way for those who weren't born nobles to attain power.) Jet-a-Miray had about 30,000 humans, 26,000 speaking animals, and 2,000 birds, total. It had a fair number of inhabitants; more than most its neighbors.
"Even better. No wonder Calma doesn't want to invade. Good job, Zobo," said Sela Kotu. "Is there any other business that needs to be discussed tonight?" The lavender sky had gradually turned to a deep purple as they had been talking.
"Not that I can think of, Your Majesty," said the physician. Everyone else in the room responded similarly.
"In that case, you are all dismissed," said the Sela. She left with Tay-Bry and the unicorn. The hyena left next, following at a respectful distance, and Jocy and Hi-lee were the last to go.
Go on to Chapter 4
Go back to The Stories of Julie Bihn