The next morning the eagle flew to fairyland with the mouse on her back. The two approached in the late afternoon and circled high up, outside of the land. Even from the outside, they could see that the country glowed mostly a bright yellow and green, though spots glowed pink, purple, and blue. One small area in the very center didn't glow at all. Jocy thought that she could make out trees in the land, glowing green, of course.
"Let's fly through fairyland," suggested Hi-lee rebelliously. "I've always wanted to meet a fairy."
"Are you crazy? No one's ever come out of there before. Anyway, the Sela commanded us to stay outside fairyland," replied the eagle in an annoyed manner. The truth was, Jocy would've loved to go into fairyland, too, but had no use for talking about it because Sela Kotu had forbidden them to enter. Jocy was certain that, if given the opportunity, she would be the first creature to make it out of fairyland--besides fairies, of course.
"Look!" exclaimed Hi-lee. "It did it again!"
"What did what again?" asked Jocy in an even more annoyed manner. (Being less carefree and forgetful than her partner, she was still angry over being barred from venturing inside the glowing land.)
"All of fairyland. You know how it normally glows? Well, it stopped glowing for a second. And then it went back to normal again."
"Sure it did," said Jocy, thinking the mouse needed to see a doctor.
"Watch fairyland for a few minutes. I'll bet it'll do it again," said the mouse.
The eagle, still flying, watched fairyland for at least 10 minutes. Just when she was about to give up and yell at Hi-lee, the mouse said, "There! There it is again! Did you see it?"
"Hi-lee, there was nothing to see. You know that I have good eyes, being an eagle and all, and I didn't see the glow stop," said Jocy.
"You probably just blinked," said the mouse defensively.
"Look, Hi-lee, I'm sure you thought you saw the light go out. You wouldn't lie to me, would you? But I--"
"Down there! There's a fairy!" interrupted the mouse excitedly.
The eagle thought to herself, 'Oh, great. She's hallucinating again,' but looked down anyway. Sure enough, though, she saw a flying ball of yellow light which, in Jet-a-Miray, was known as a fairy.
Jocy flew down above it quietly. The fairy looked up and saw nothing because the eagle's feathers (and beak, feet, and talons, for that matter) were again the same color as the sky. The fairy didn't fly away, not even when the eagle revealed herself. The mouse found this odd. If she saw an eagle approaching (except her friend Jocy, of course) she'd panic and run the other way as fast as her paws would carry her, or at least stay still in the grass (which would probably be wiser). The fairy did neither. It hovered as if it hadn't seen the conspicuous bird of prey with her shiny golden feathers. Hi-lee decided that maybe fairies weren't afraid of being eaten. They had their magic, after all.
The fairy was easily small enough to be eaten by an eagle of that land. It was just a little taller than the mouse when she stood up on her hind legs (as she did quite often). In other words, it was about a hir, or eight inches, tall. The fairy looked, even close up, like a glowing ball. It glowed so brightly that Jocy and Hi-lee could hardly see what it looked like. They could just see some wings and the yellow silhouette of a type of a body very similar to a human's.
Jocy and Hi-lee were silent. Neither knew how to start a conversation with the fairy. They had no idea of what to expect from it, or if it would or could even speak to them at all. Finally, the fairy spoke in a voice which was neither cheerful nor musical, as the two spies had expected it to be. If anything, it sounded depressed, and was a bit gravelly.
"What do you want?" he finally asked.
Hi-lee, trying to sound grand, approached the fairy and said, "We have been commanded by Her Majesty Sela Ber-Islo-Tayli-So-Ber-Ol to investigate the wrongs that have been committed against the fairies. May I inquire of your name?"
The fairy was silent for a while. "You may call me Elk-lore," he finally said, taking out a bow and pulling an arrow out from some sort of a long jacket which he seemed to be wearing.
"Sharp shooter? That's a dumb name... Oh my goodness! Jocy, do you think that he--"
The eagle nudged Hi-lee with her wing as a signal to be quiet.
"You say that I have a dumb name? Well, you two hold on a minute." The fairy retreated back into fairyland. Jocy and Hi-lee were on their guard, in case he came back with reinforcements. Hi-lee had forgotten that fairies were not known for their pleasant tempers. However, the fairy came back alone, with only his bow, the arrow, and a grape. The grape was the size of a grape from our world, and it was a brilliant shade of violet.
"All right, Jocy, would you fly over there about 200 feet? Take the grape with you, and stay in the air. You may drop the grape whenever you want. All right?" The eagle nodded. She didn't know what the fairy was going to do. For all she knew, Elk-lore was going to shoot her or her partner, but Jocy was reckless and Hi-lee was trusting. Both were willing to let Elk-lore make the first move.
Hi-lee watched the fairy intently. She could faintly see the outline of his arm pulling back on the string of the bow. He must have already put an arrow on. The mouse saw that the bow was made of some sort of faintly sparkling wood. In a brilliant flash, Elk-lore let the bow string loose, and the arrow went flying.
"Come on; let's see who has the stupid name," said
Elk-lore, calmly flying to where the eagle was landing. Hi-lee
followed hurriedly, running on all fours, because Jocy seemed
to be in shock, and she had heard the arrow strike something.
Hi-lee was worried that the fairy had shot her, either on purpose
Arriving on the scene, Elk-lore followed the eagle's gaze and found the grape. He picked it up by the arrow that had gone through the very center of it.
"T--that's impossible! Didn't he cheat or something?" stuttered Hi-lee, amazed.
"Of course he didn't cheat!" said Jocy. She didn't want an armed fairy to get mad at her, especially one that was such a good archer.
"You're right. It is impossible, but through Tay-Free, all things are possible. Do you still think that I have a dumb name?"
"No, no, of course not, not at all," said Hi-lee, only partially exaggerating her fear and admiration.
Glancing over her shoulder at fairyland, Hi-lee exclaimed, "There it is again!"
"Not again," muttered the eagle under her breath.
"There what is again?" asked the curious fairy.
"Oh, you probably can't see it either. Every so often the light of fairyland goes off, just for a second, and--"
"No, I can see it perfectly, but please, don't remind me," said Elk-lore.
"What are you two talking about? I still can't see that stupid glow going off!" cried the annoyed eagle.
"The blind shall see, and those who see shall be made blind," replied Elk-lore.
"Huh?" asked the confused eagle.
"Never mind. The wisest man ever said something like that once, long ago and far away."
No one spoke for a while. Jocy finally broke the silence. "Elk-lore, I think that Sela Kotu would like very much to speak with you. Would you come with us to see the queen?"
Elk-lore appeared to consider the proposal for a moment. "All right," he shrugged. "I'd be honored to meet Her Majesty. Anyway, I've nothing else to do."
Jocy thought that it may have been foolish for the fairy to go willingly with an eagle whom he knew little about but could eat him in a few bites. She didn't say anything about it, though. After all, maybe it was stupid for Hi-lee and her to trust an armed fairy. Especially since fairies are magical.
Elk-lore flew alongside Hi-lee and Jocy, heading towards Sela Kotu's castle. Presently, the eagle spoke.
"I'm hungry, and I'm going to get some dinner. Elk-lore, do you want me to catch anything for you?"
"No thanks... Jocy," he replied.
"H--how'd you know my name? It's not some of your magic, is it?" asked the eagle in alarm.
"No, of course not. Not now, anyway... Your friend just slipped up. She said, 'Jocy, do you think that he--' and then you quieted her down. What were you two talking about, anyway?" asked Elk-lore.
"Classified information. We can't tell you that," said Jocy, amazed at how observant the fairy was. In fact, if the eagle herself had been paying attention, she would have noticed that Elk-lore had called her 'Jocy' once before, too.
"The Sela will probably tell you everything later," said Hi-lee to Elk-lore. She glanced at the ground below them. Suddenly excited, she shouted, "Ooh! Look! Berries! I think they're kotu-berries!" (Kotu-berries are somewhat like our blueberries, but sweeter and the color kotu, hence their name.) "Drop me off so I can have them for dinner." She said to Elk-lore, "They're my favorites. Do you wanna try some?"
"No, that's all right. I'm not very hungry," he responded, sounding sad. The eagle landed right in the middle of the large patch of kotu-berries, which in turn was at the edge of a bright, cheerful looking forest.
"You can get your own food or whatever," said Jocy to the fairy. "I'm going to get my dinner. I'll be back in half an hour or so."
Once Jocy had left, Elk-lore asked the mouse, "Why does she leave you like that?"
"Because I can't bear to watch her catch her prey, or eat it. She may not like the taste of mice, but she's very fond of fish and rabbits," replied Hi-lee.
"So she just goes out and kills something like you so she can eat?"
"Not especially, but most do. See, we don't think that the fish here are intelligent. At least, the dolphins that we talked to don't think so. They've known the fish since the beginning of the sea. And the other animals... Not all mice... or rabbits... or hyenas... or eagles, even, can talk. The ones that don't are the kind that Jocy eats. You can just tell if they can talk. There's something in their eyes. Lots of animals don't care which they eat, though. I never can stand it when she kills them, even if they aren't smart. I just see myself in their place and, well, I guess it's easier to accept the food chain if you're closer to the top." Hi-lee brooded in silence for a full two seconds before proceeding to consume her favorite food.
"You sure you don't want any?" she inquired with her mouth full. "They're really good."
"I couldn't. Not now," said Elk-lore. Hi-lee looked curiously at him, so he changed the subject. He didn't want to tell her why he couldn't. "So, when's Jocy going to be back?"
"I don't know," replied Hi-lee. "This doesn't look like good hunting ground, but she's learned to hunt and eat quickly. She won't bring her food back here. I guess she'll be back in 20 minutes or so. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap." She yawned loudly. "Kotu-berries always make me sleepy."
The mouse immediately fell asleep after crawling beneath a kotu-berry bush. As Elk-lore watched her there dozing, he realized that he couldn't do what he had been sent to do, even if he had volunteered for the mission after she was killed... He couldn't. Not to anyone who was so naive, and stupid enough to trust a fairy. To take such a fragile creature as the mouse a hostage, to kill her if the queen wouldn't listen... No. He would find another way to get the same result, to get help for the fairies. He had to. Elk-lore spent the time while Hi-lee was asleep waiting and thinking, thinking of a new idea.
Elk-lore had perfected his new, simpler plan just as the eagle returned.
"Where's...uh...the mouse?" asked Jocy. "Oh, don't tell me she's sleeping again! I shouldn't have let her have kotu-berries! Did you know that if you dry these things, they make sleeping pills?" Elk-lore had noted everything that the mouse and the eagle had said, but he had a feeling that this knowledge would be especially useful later. 'Not that I'd need to use berries if it wasn't for them,' he thought angrily. But he only said, "Really? That's interesting. If you'll hold on, I'll go get the mouse."
Elk-lore walked beneath the kotu-berry bush where Hi-lee was sleeping. Before he woke her up, he took some kotu-berries and put them in one of his many pockets. His jacket pockets were vaguely magical, even now, and could hold much more than they appeared to. Then he approached Hi-lee.
"Hey, mouse," he said loudly, though not rudely. "Your friend's finally back."
Hi-lee rose, yawning. "Right," she said. "Well, then, what are we waiting for? Let's go!" She ran out of the bush and enthusiastically leaped onto the eagle's back. Elk-lore noticed that the mouse took a pair of earplugs out of her ears once she had found her seat, but didn't ask any questions. "Come on, Jocy. To the Sela's castle, and to glory!" she shouted.
Jocy decided that Hi-lee really needed to see a psychiatrist as she flew out of the forest toward the castle with the fairy close behind.
Go on to Chapter 6
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