Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Pearls, part 1

It isn’t every day that you find a pearl necklace just lying on the ground. You might find dollar bills, coins, rings, gloves, or small toys lying on the ground, but a pearl necklace is an incredible rarity. And even if you were to find a pearl necklace lying on the ground, it would most likely be artificial, broken, ruined, dirty, or otherwise out of shape. You wouldn’t expect perfect condition, with eyecatching, perfectly round pearls as smooth and white as the petals of a magnolia blossom and not a sign of wear or tear.
            That’s why when Dani found such a necklace lying on the ground, she pocketed it without any further thought. She was not usually so dishonest, but she had very low self control when it came to pretty baubles. She did not own many precious stones, but she was obsessed with them. Her personal visions were akin to those of a queen sitting atop a golden throne or a dragon sitting high on a pile of jewels. Happiness, to Dani, was being surrounded by gold, jewels, brocades, and silks, and not necessarily living just like a queen, but looking like one.
            Dani had never owned a pearl necklace, and it was a matter of excellent luck that she found one with such large and splendid pearls, that were so clean that Dani could smile at her reflection in each one. The clasp was shining silver filigree twisted into the shape of a rose. Who on Earth would lose this? Dani wondered in astonishment. It must have belonged to royalty, or else someone so rich that they had hundreds of other things just like it or even better. If they even noticed that it was gone, they probably wouldn’t miss it much.
            If Dani had donned the pearls right there and walked around wearing them, she might have run into the owner by chance, and she might have learned that she was wrong in thinking that they wouldn’t miss them. So she waited until she arrived home before trying on the pearls. She looked at herself in her big vanity mirror and gasped with delight. She had never been as beautiful as she was when she was wearing those pearls! She smiled at her reflection, and the woman smiling back at her seemed to be a queen, a princess, a countess, anyone but plain old Dannica Halliwell. But she felt awfully foolish wearing the pearls with a t-shirt. She searched through her closet and brought out a short, soft pink velour dress. Tomorrow, she decided, she would wear this while showing the pearls off at her favorite bar. She figured that by then, the owner will have completely forgotten about them.  

            

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Into the Land of the Elves hiatus

I will be placing Into the Land of the Elves on hiatus to accommodate a fairy tale I am currently working on. It will return a week after this tale is completed and the final part is posted.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Into the Land of the Elves: What's in the Lacy Book?

The Diary of Miss Aidyn Hall, author
July 10
12:34 PM
What’s In the Lacy Book?

“Why do spiders serve as your guardians?” I asked Apple Blossom yesterday afternoon, as the two of us sailed along the Bell’s Rush on a thick raft made from oak logs. I wondered if the use of spiders, like the Jadeites’ written language, had originated with the tree elves.
“Tales from the first Jadeites say that humans fear spiders more than any other creature,” Apple Blossom explained, “so the Jadeites formed an alliance with the spiders: they could have undisturbed places to build their webs in exchange for keeping humans away from the Jadeite Greenwoods.” She looked at me and asked, “Is it true that humans fear spiders more than any other living thing?”
I chuckled and answered, “Yes, for the most part.”
 “Why?” she asked “Spiders are so much smaller than humans, and so out of the way.”
“I can’t answer that,” I said with a shrug. I always thought the fear of spiders was irrational and ridiculous. Spiders do nothing except look cool and keep pests out of the yard.
It would have been very nice to be able to see the banks of the Bell’s Rush instead of row upon row of blue-clad civil soldiers—three in each row, standing tall and grim-faced in perfect chain formations, watching us. It was part of the “careful observation.” Apple Blossom had asked the queen if the two of us could have a sail along the Bell’s Rush, and the queen had sent for a squad of civil soldiers to keep an eye on us…or rather, on me. We had to wait until they were all lined up before we could go. It was still a lovely sail, and I enjoyed listening to the “tingle-tingle-ting” of the Bell’s Rush. I just wished I could’ve had a better view of the scenery around us.
Thinking of the queen made me think of that lacy book in her office that I never got to discover the use for. I wished I hadn’t thought of it, because now it was going to bother me all day. “Apple Blossom,” I whispered, “do you know about that book sitting on your mother’s desk in the office with all the roses and lacy things?”
Apple Blossom nodded. “I know which book you’re talking about, but I don’t know what’s written in it.”
“Oh,” I said. “I was just curious about what it might be used for. But you don’t know.” I shrugged my shoulders.
Apple Blossom looked at me, and her face held an impish grin. “We can see what’s in it,” she said. “Remember, I know where the key is kept.”
I shook my head. “That’s not a good idea, Apple Blossom. It’s not for us to read, and I need to stay out of trouble.”
“We won’t get in trouble,” said Apple Blossom. “I know how to keep from getting caught.”
“You got caught last time,” I reminded her.
“That was because I hid! I won’t hide this time.”
“Still…”
“We’ll just look at one page,” she said. “Just one page, and then we’ll get out! I can tell you what the page says.”
I wasn’t curious enough about the book to get into trouble over it, and I was on thin enough ice just for being a human. Apple Blossom is a princess, but she is a child and I’m an adult, and because of that I hold a certain amount of dominion over her. “We’re not going to do it, Apple Blossom,” I said as sternly as I could, “and that is the end of that.”
 “Okay, we won’t do it,” said Apple Blossom, playfully rolling her eyes.
“Thank you.”
She gave me that impish grin again and said, “But I will do it myself!”
This was certainly not a better option. Since she was with me, I would likely be blamed for her mischief if she was caught. “That’s not what I meant, Apple Blossom,” I said firmly. “I meant that neither of us is going to do it.”
“You won’t get in trouble if it’s only me.” Apple Blossom steered the raft towards the shore.
“Oh, I have a feeling that I will.”
 “You won’t,” she assured me, patting my knee. “If I do get caught, I’ll be sure that Mother knows it was all my idea. But I don’t think I’ll get caught. I really do know how to go in and out without anybody seeing.” She stepped off of the raft and approached a line of three soldiers, nodding to them in a respectful manner. “Our sail is over for the time being,” she told them. “I thank you very much for taking the time to ensure that Aidyn and I had a safe sail.” She had gone from mischievous little kid to well-spoken regal princess without a second thought. The soldiers nodded their heads to her and moved aside to let us pass through. “Thank you,” I said, polite to the end despite my unease. I caught up to Apple Blossom and grabbed her by the hand.
“Let’s not do this, Apple Blossom,” I said. “It’s really not all that important for us to know what’s in that book.”
I need to know!” said Apple Blossom. “You’ve got me curious, and it’s going to be on my mind forever unless I find out!”
“It won’t be forever,” I assured her.
“What if it’s about me?” she asked.
“Your mother would never write anything bad about you!”
“I don’t mean anything bad. I mean anything at all about me!”
There was no stopping the irrepressible little imp. I let go of her hand with a sigh. “Promise me you won’t get into any trouble over this,” I said, though I knew that if she was caught she’d be in trouble anyway—and so would I. Still, Apple Blossom said, “I promise, Aidyn.” She sounded so solemn that I wanted to trust her, but I knew that children’s promises usually amounted to nothing, even when they were solemn.
When we reached the palace, Apple Blossom told me to wait in the garden.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I’m going to wait by the door, so if I have to cover for you, I will.”
“You would really do that?” Apple Blossom’s eyes widened. “You could get into even more trouble than I could! Isn’t that what you were afraid of?”
“Now I don’t mind it so much,” I said. Suddenly, I’d rather have had the queen, king, and whoever else be cross with me than with her. She was my friend, and nobody wants to see their friend get into disgrace, no matter the age difference. Still, I was quick to remind her, “We can still forget this and go back to our nice sail.”
Apple Blossom shook her head. “Please run into the garden if anyone comes by,” she pleaded.
“I’ll try.”
Silently, Apple Blossom scampered off around the side of the palace. I held my position, and when I saw two men dressed in red—palace guards—approaching, I continued to hold my position despite Apple Blossom’s plea. I looked far less suspicious now than I would have looked if I had just run off into the garden. “Good afternoon,” I said, nodding to the two men.
“Good afternoon,” replied one of the guards. “Where is the princess? Wasn’t she with you?”
“She was,” I replied, “but she wanted to show me something from her room, so she’s gone to get it.” I wasn’t sure how deep within the palace Apple Blossom’s room was, but I figured that this would leave enough space for her to attempt her little stealth trick. Sure enough, the guards departed without another word, and I heard the big front doors swing open. Apple Blossom returned, smiling and proudly holding up the key.
“You’d better make this very quick, Apple Blossom,” I warned. “And leave everything exactly the way it was when you went in!”
“I will,” said Apple Blossom, and she unlocked the office and went inside. I kept an eye out for guards and passerbys, but the garden was calm and empty today—a sharp contrast to the day of the party. I felt a pang of guilt for allowing Apple Blossom to do something that was obviously forbidden, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again.
            I heard the door creak open, and Apple Blossom peered up at me, her expressive eyes asking if it was safe to come out. I looked around to see if the coast was clear, then nodded when I saw that it was. Apple Blossom crept out of the office, locked the door behind her, and gave me a push. “Run to the garden!” she cried. “Hurry!”
            We scrambled for the garden and took cover in the spot that the party table had once occupied. We sat down in a soft patch of grass, and Apple Blossom hid the key in her shoe. Immediately, I felt the need to lay down the law: “Apple Blossom, this is the first and last time I am letting you do something like this. From now on, if I see that you have to sneak to do something, then that shows me that you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, and it will not be allowed! I am not covering for you anymore the way I did today, and if you do something like this again I’m afraid that I will have to tell your mother.” I expected her to argue or protest, but she just shrugged her shoulders and said, “Okay, I understand.”
            “So what was written in the book?” I asked, now more curious than ever—I wanted to know exactly what it was that had nearly caused so much trouble!
            Apple Blossom hugged herself and burst into loud and sudden laughter.
            “Hey, what’s so funny?” I asked. “Come on. Tell me what you found in the book.”
            She shook with laughter for a few moments more before she said, “It was nothing! Oh, Aidyn, we went through all that trouble for nothing! It was only a court record book!”
            “A court record book?”
            “It’s just a record of the citizens she sees when she holds court, and what their problems are and how they were solved. It’s nothing that concerns us!”
            I would’ve liked to see that court record book. I would’ve liked to know what kinds of things Jadeites brought before their monarchs. But I knew to leave well enough alone. “That isn’t ‘nothing.’ It’s very important,” I told her. “You will be queen someday, and then you’ll have to hold court. Don’t you think you ought to start taking it seriously?”
            Apple Blossom shook her head. “Court is boring. I shall let my husband hold court when I’m queen.”
            I chuckled at that. For a moment I wondered what kind of monarch Apple Blossom would turn out to be. I had a strong feeling that the negative reception of humans would diminish under her reign. She was already working on that.