“I don’t know how to use the Everspell, and why did Zoey put it in me?” Lyssa asked rhetorically as her father put another log on the fire. “This wasn’t how things were supposed to go.” She looked at her dad who appeared calm and without worry. At one time she would had given anything for him to be that way, but now she felt a sense of urgency and he was warming his hands by the fire.
“I forgot how cold the nights in the Black Forest got,” he said, ignoring Lyssa’s distress.
“I don’t care how cold it gets! Didn’t you hear me? What’s expected of me? The Drakes call me their queen and I’m supposed to give power to a prince of a lost city.” Her dad turned towards her. “Dad,” she said softly and on the verge of tears. “How am I supposed to do that when I couldn’t even decide on a major for college?”
He laughed, but Lyssa was serious, and as if her dad’s laughter was magic, she found herself joining him.
“Lyssa,” he said. “You are a part of this world, and that can never change. As hard as we tried to push it away, it came to us. Sometimes there are things we can’t control that are guiding us and we can’t ignore them.” He looked back into the fire. “Your mother liked the Black Forest, and we came here several times. Though it wasn’t deemed a recreational spot for the Faes, and really, very few liked the forest with its gnarled trees that looked like they had been tortured since they were just seedlings, and the rushing streams that were too violent to fish or swim in. Most thought it was an eerie, evil place not to spend too long in.” He looked over at Lyssa with a shrug of his shoulders. “But your mother liked it because it was unique and pristine. It had a dangerous beauty of its own that she wasn’t scared of—even at night.” He raised his eyebrows.
“But you were?” She asked.
He smiled with a small chuckle. “At first, yes, but your mother showed me another side to it that was there and very few could see. It was beautiful in its own way and I would’ve never seen it if she didn’t show me.” He leaned back as the flames danced around the charred logs emitting its soothing warmth that curled around Lyssa. “I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that even though we never planned on going to some enchanted, scary place, there is beauty and purpose there if you chose to look for it.”
“But being a Queen is being a leader, and I’m not a leader.”
Her dad continued staring into the fire. “Lyssa, since your mother died I’ve been fighting this spell she put on me so I wouldn’t mourn her.” The fire crackled and popped as if it was trying to speak also. “She was always that way,” he said, “always trying to make someone not hurt, but her spell came at a price I couldn’t see.” He looked over at Lyssa with saddened eyes.
“It’s alright.” She reassured him. “I was sad and sometimes angry at you, but it wasn’t your fault. And besides, the spell is gone and we still have each other.”
“True.” He smiled. “And now you and I are here.” He glanced up at the darkened sky laced over with barren twigs from the trees that surrounded them. “This is your world, Lyssa.” His words seemed to weave through her like a ribbon. “This is your world that you belong in, and they don’t take destiny and fate here lightly. You are special, just like Sean used to tell me every so often when you were growing up. Somehow, I think he knew you’d be here doing something great.”
“That’s the problem,” Lyssa said switching her gaze from her dad to the fire. “I don’t know how to do something great. I don’t know how to save this world, use the Everspell, and be a Queen.”
“No one does, but you have the Drakes to protect you now, and we must trust them.” His voice had a tinge of uncertainty.
Lyssa turned towards her dad. “You don’t trust them, do you?”
He glanced over at her from under his eyebrows. “Not totally, but Zoey does, she came to me in a dream and said to trust you and them.”
Lyssa felt a lump form in her throat. “You talked to Zoey?”
He nodded. “Yes, and I trust her enough to walk to the ends of any world if she asked me. If Zoey trusts the Drakes, then I will listen to her.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Besides, we don’t know the dangers that surround us, they’ve done nothing so far to harm us, and,” he tilted his head to the side. “Elsa is a pretty good cook.”
“Yes, she is, but dad,” she looked into his eyes. “I’ve been with them and I know we are safe with them. Whatever they did to mom’s village, Elsa and Dane aren’t the Drakes that destroyed her village.”
He nodded his head. “I know, but I am cautious.” He grinned at her.
Lyssa felt a sliver of relief at her dad’s Zoey-induced trust for the Drakes she had faith in, but still felt overwhelmed. She curled her legs to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “If only the Everspell came with an owners’ manual. Then all I’d have to do is read the instruction, and we’d be done.”
Her dad laughed as he patted her on the back. For a moment, is she closed her eyes, Lyssa felt she was at home again sitting in the kitchen talking to her dad. But no matter how much she longed for that, she felt a slight tug inside of her that felt this world, the Fae world, was her home now.
“Dad,” she said. “I think we are in the right place at the right time. I can’t explain it, but even thought I want to go home, the longer I’m here the more I want to stay.”
Her dad smiled down at her. “That’s what your mom used to say about the Black Forest.” He paused as if collecting his thoughts. “You are part Fae, and that will always pull you here no matter what or how you try to stop it. It will always be with you and you with it. The Everspell was a gift from Zoey, and she had enough faith in you to handle it and from what I know and saw what you’re capable of,” he said looking into her eyes. “I know you have the strength in you to help save you and your mother’s world.”
You and your mother’s world.
Those words hung in Lyssa’s head like the colorful hanging baskets of flowers that filled her dad’s greenhouse. She felt a new edge to her she didn’t know was there, and her dad’s words helped uncover it. Lyssa was strong, she knew that now, but was she strong enough to save the Fae world?
“We must move,” Dane said, startling Lyssa and her dad. He stood motionless as if had materialized from out of the shadows. “Landmerrows have been spotted and are headed this way.”
Lyssa stood up as Dane hovered at the edge of the fire’s glow. She looked at him as he gazed back at her like a cold statue. She wondered how long he was standing there and if he had been listening to their conversation. He continued to hold her gaze and she wanted to say something, but didn’t.
“You didn’t call them here or let them follow you so you could have me kill them and risk everyone’s life to see if the Everspell worked?” She asked sarcastically instead of asking Dane if he was eavesdropping or not.
His eyes were locked on her in a curious way as Lyssa thought she saw a slight smirk on his face. “No, you’ve already proved that. There’s no need to risk that, Lyssa. You’ve shown us what you can do, and now isn’t the time to show-off what you can do—there’s more important things going on right now.”
Lyssa shook her head—that’s not the way it was supposed to go. “No, I didn’t want…”
“Lyssa you will ride with me, and Thomas,” Dane said, ignoring Lyssa as she tried to explain herself. “You will travel with the rest of the Drakes.”
“Where exactly are we going?” Lyssa’s dad stepped towards Dane.
Dane stood with his hands clasped together in front of him as the warm glow of the fire softly lit his features. Lyssa kept her eyes focused on him.
“We are to go to the Spindle City. The Prince has found his way and will be coming soon.”
“How do you know this?” Her dad asked.
Dane drew in a tiresome sigh as if he didn’t want to take the time to elaborate on what he was telling them and Lyssa knew he didn’t like to be asked too many questions. But Dane claimed she was to be their Queen, and that thought suddenly ran through her head. Queens needed to be informed of everything and not led around like a puppy.
“You said I’m your Queen?” Lyssa stepped forward and crossed her arms across her chest as Dane looked at her with a nod. “Then I want to know what’s going on, and I am involved if decisions are being made.”
Dane’s smirk appeared again on his face, this time he didn’t try to hide it.
“No, that’s not how it works.” He stepped in front of her like an overbearing shadow. “You are our Queen, but that doesn’t mean you rule over us. We have a command in place and right now we must get to safety.”
Elsa and two other Drakes came from behind Dane.
“We must move, Thomas.” Her warm face was nearly shrouded by the over-sized hood from her long cape. All of them, the Drakes nearly blended in with the darkness that surrounded them. “Landmerrows are headed this way, and Izzet has gained their loyalty at least for now. The Spindle City will be our sanctuary and the safest place for Lyssa and you. Old wards were set in place a long time ago that protect the city, and I can activate them until the Prince arrives.”
“Who exactly is this prince?” Lyssa’s dad asked as Dane stepped closer towards Lyssa.
She looked into his eyes knowing he would take her kicking and screaming if he had to.
“The visions will not tell me, but he has found his destiny and knows who he is. He comes from Avalon, but he hails from the Arrinia Forest, but he wasn’t born there but grew up there among others his age. His past is complicated, and he’s just finding that out. A face that belongs to the Prince of the Spindle City, I can’t see as my visions won’t let me. He is strong, young, and courageous.” Elsa stepped closer towards Lyssa’s dad. “And he has the alliance of a sky serpent drawn here by Izzet. Duegar District burns as we speak and we will too if we don’t get to the Spindle City.”
“He comes from the Arrinai Forest?” Lyssa asked as the ground shook under her feet and branches overhead creaked and moaned.
“Landmerrows—no time to waste,” Elsa said, looking from Dane then at Lyssa. “Take her to the Spindle City.”
No sooner had Elsa spoke those words, and Dane had latched a belt around Lyssa’s waist, expelled his wings and jolted through a small opening through the tree branches and into the thick darkness of the night sky.
The forest loomed underneath them as Dane held tightly onto Lyssa. She worried about her dad as she didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye. Tears threatened behind her eyes, but she forced them away. Of course she’d see her dad again, and she’d use the Everspell to save this world and they’d be together. All she wanted was a normal life in the Etherworld, but when you are part from another world, normal is relative. The Fae world was beginning to beckon her and instead of resisting, Lyssa was listening.
“Not frightened anymore of flying I see.” Dane said to her as other Drakes joined them.
“Is that what you like to do to Fae girls—scare them?”
She heard him make a noise that sounded like a snicker.
“The last thing I want to do is scare Fae girls. Just my race alone is effective enough to do that. A look alone will do the trick.”
“Did you ever try smiling?” Lyssa watched the shadowy scenery go by as she listened to Dane’s wings that sounded like a slowly beating heart.
The night encased them in a mixture of black marbled with shades of dark blue and tiny stars that dotted the sky. Everything looked different up this high compared to the ground and was very quiet, including Dane. Lyssa thought maybe he didn’t hear her question and before she could answer, they took a sudden dive towards the ground that made Lyssa scream.
Before she knew it, they were on solid ground.
“Why are we landing here? Is this the Spindle City?” She looked around and waited for the other Drakes to land. She heard their beating wings, and searched the black sky, but couldn’t see them. “Are the rest of the Drakes going to land, because it sounds like they are passing over us?” Lyssa wondered what was going on and looked to Dane as he released the strap around her waist.
She stepped to the ground and turned to watch Dane fold his bat-like wings behind him. He steadily looked at her with shadowed eyes and a stillness only the dead could replicate. Dane’s sharp facial features looked even sharper in the dim light from the moon. He just gazed at her, and she back at him with heart pounding. Maybe her dad was right about Drakes. That thought flickered through her thoughts. Danes intimidating silhouette towered in front of her, but she knew he would never hurt her. He had always welcomed and helped her in his almost cold, reptile-like way.
“No, they won’t be joining us.” He finally said stepping towards her in a fluid movement. “They have my orders to meet us in the Spindle City.”
“So…why did we stop?”
Dane stood beside her and gazed at her from over his shoulder that nearly touched her. “There is something you must do before you go into the Spindle City.”
“Do something? Like what?” She asked and Dane ignored her.
“Follow me and find out.”
Lyssa followed him up and down steep ravines laden with loose rocks that rolled under her feet. Dane glided over the terrain like he was walking on a paved sidewalk. She kept up and followed his nearly invisible form through the barren landscape until they reached an area filled with slender columns.
“This is the gate to the Spindle City, and it needs to be lit.” Dane stood in front of one of the columns and gazed back at her.
Lyssa looked up at them. The columns towered over them like trees of an ancient forest. Most of them stood straight with their ornate tops still intact and untouched by elements. A few leaned slightly and looked like broken bones stuck in the ground with their tops gone crumbled to the ground as if someone had tried to destroy random columns. They were evenly spaced and reminded Lyssa of a chess board with its different pieces strategically placed. She saw their outline in the moon-lit sky filled with stars and ghost-like clouds that continually boiled and curled into different shapes as they passed by like ships on a still sea. She didn’t know how many columns there were, but looked to be many that faded into the darkness.
“Do you remember how to light a landtower, Lyssa Cleverthorn?” He turned away from her and placed his hand on the side of the column he stood by. It began to glow with a dim, gold light.
Lyssa remembered the caves her and Dane had stopped at when he was taking her to the Arrinia Forest and back to Zoey. The cave was filled with what Dane had called landtowers and skytowers that she knew as stalactites and stalagmites. They were just fascinating cave structures that were a buildup of minerals over many years inside caves, or at least that’s what she thought.
She recalled it clearly. Dane had showed her how to light them up by placing her hands on them. He had helped her by covering her hand with his. Dane was strong, no doubt, but she had felt his power and strength run through her. She had never felt so alive and strong herself, almost like it was a drug that she craved. Lyssa had a taste of the lands energy along with Dane’s, and she didn’t want it to stop.
“Yeah, I remember.” Lyssa timidly replied with a smile from Dane.
“I can’t do it alone, and neither can you—at least not yet.”
“But I don’t know how to do it. You were the one who lit the landtower in the caves. I didn’t do anything.” Her eyes met Dane’s as he held his outstretched hand towards her.
She looked at him then at all the towers before she slipped her hand in his. Dane gently grasped onto her hand and placed it against the cool, smooth stone of the pillar. The ground under her feet had springs of thick grass growing in clumps that was littered with the crumbled sections of ancient columns from the size that could easily fit in your palm, to large sections that you could sit on. Lyssa felt nothing at first, then like a wave that rushed towards shore, power, strength and the very essence of life that had slept silently for years, surged towards her.
Lyssa wasn’t sure she could handle it, and wanted to pull away, but Dane pressed her hand securely against the smooth stone. She looked at Dane with his eyes closed and his body as still as the columns that stood like a petrified forest of ancient times. He looked relaxed and almost like he was enjoying it. Lyssa looked up at the slender pillar that she could just about wrap her arms entirely around. It glowed, and suddenly, so did several broken pieces strewn around her.
Gold light, soft and dim like moon rays, emitted from the column and the pieces that belonged to it scattered over the ground. Slowly one by one, the sections on the ground lifted and floated in midair traveling upward. Just like a puzzle being put back together, the column, slowly reconstructed itself until it was whole again. Lyssa watched amazed at the glowing structure with a top that reminded her of a palm tree with its large, jagged leaves.
Dane removed his hand as Lyssa stilled pressed her hand to the glowing pillar. She couldn’t take her eyes from it.
“You did well, and can do the rest by yourself,” Dane said, standing close to her in a soft voice.
She looked at him. “Do the rest by myself.” She repeated in disbelief. “I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough.”
Dane smiled. “You are and did this one by yourself.”
She looked up at it still glowing like a beacon.
“The Prince of Nerabeth, the Spindle City, is coming and we must light his doorstep for him.” He whispered in her ear as Lyssa closed her eyes. “We are losing the night’s darkness, and there are nineteen more to do, my Queen.”
Lyssa took her hand from the pillar. “Nineteen? How do you know that’s how many we have to do?”
Dane took her hand and guided her to the next column. She looked up at it and then at Dane.
“Nineteen have been counted and that’s how many you must bring back to their glory.”
Lyssa felt her stomach drop as she looked up at the column. Dane covered her hand with his and leaned closer towards her. The tower began to glow slightly illuminating his face. His steely eyes focused on hers. She felt the rush of power run through her feet planted firmly on the ground that traveled up her legs and to her arms then into the cold stone that shone with increasing brightness.
She pulled her hand away not feeling weak, but strong.
Dane smiled at her. “Now only eighteen.”