|© Claudia McKinney and Tiffany Mize-Carter|
Book I: Charmed
One and all
Without a step
Without the fall
Chapter 1: Gibberish
The world raced by in all its fiery madness. I could see my epitaph now:
Here lies Yvan Frollingswyrth
That cranky old bastard
Who was foolish enough
To marry a cloud faery
And was never seen again
(If you only knew half of the story)
Through a tunnel of fire we bounded, our essence thundering across the world of Adura. My eyes burned, teeth chattered, and balls ached. Before I could curse the dragon whose magic sent us here, an explosion ripped through the spinning inferno.
I grabbed Ivy, and held her close as molten debris rained down on us. As we bathed in a hail of fire and brimstone, a wayward fragment shot into my mouth, and down my throat. Even if I could swallow fire, I did not want to see what it looked like coming out the other end, so I hacked as best I could, coughing my lungs inside out. To my surprise the sinking ember had gone down smoothly, as if I’d inhaled a firefly rather than charred ruin. But what would an insect be doing in the tunnel of fire? Aw, well. Perhaps I needed a little extra protein.
Before I could rub two brain cells together, we burst into the kingdom of Timara, landing at the edge of a floating meadow.
We had arrived.
Paradise at last.
Once I had my wits about me, I promptly kissed the ground, promising never to travel by magic again, especially that of a dragon. I rose, making sure all of my well-seasoned appendages were intact. With any luck, one might even work.
“So…what do you think?” Y’velina grinned, a snowy wisp of hair brushing across her cheek.
“Did the trip over fry your brain?” I adjusted my bifocals.
“I knew you’d like it,” she beamed.
I shook my head. Cloud faeries—thick-skulled as always.
I scanned over our new home, a towering oak that twisted into the clouds. In the distance, several floating islands drifted by, including a small patch with a hand-painted sign that read ‘This way to Holloway Springs.’ Although the tree was massive, it was also somewhat limp, like so many other things in my life.
“So you brought me all the way out here to live in a tree?” I balked.
“Not just any tree, a tree of life from the Faeries of the Underwood.”
“Next I suppose you’ll want me to swing from the vines and devour the commoners,” I said.
“Just the naughty ones.”
As our little tiff unfolded, a young faeling (or faery child for those as ignorant as I) scurried down from the tree. He winged over and stared at me, his mouth agape.
“What’s wrong, boy—crap your pants?”
He unleashed a tirade of gibberish, bouncing up and down as he spoke.
“What in the blazes are you babbling about?” I snapped.
Ivy smiled as the green-eyed twit yakked in sounds of ridiculous tone and length, punctuating it ever so often with the words “Joo-mey Joo-mey.”
“Listen, you little popperwot—if you don’t stop, your head’s gonna explode.”
The young fool mumbled something more, and then shot back into the tree, yapping all the way.
“You failed to mention the locals are savages,” I glared at Ivy.
“Silly, he said his name is Joomey, and he just wanted to,” Ivy bit her lip, “welcome you to Holloway Springs.”
“Joomey, eh?” I scratched my chin. “You sure he wasn’t looking for a bone to gnaw on?”
Ivy frowned, and then yanked me by the ear over to the tree. As we stepped into the shade, a chorus of whispers loomed over us.
“They’re waiting for us up above,” Ivy sighed. “Shall we, my prince?”
Did I have a choice? I guess I really didn’t want an answer.