If you liked this story, stick around this Thursday for the cover reveal for Adela’s Curse!
“Lidia, are you coming?” Adela called.
“Yes! I had to get some things first. I told you!” Her best friend Lidia exited the gate to their mountain home. The faery’s dress pockets were bulging with parchment and charcoal sticks. “You’re so impatient!”
Adela rolled her eyes. “There’s no star flowers close by. It’s going to take some time to get there.”
Lidia spread her wide wings. The thickened membrane was the same light blue as her dress. “Then let’s go.”
Adela opened her wings. They took on a pale gold color as sunbeams danced across their surface. They lifted her off the ground and she headed east, closely trailed by Lidia.
An hour later, they alighted on the ground.
“We’ll have to walk from here. They’re small flowers and hard to see from the air,” Adela explained. They were now outside the territory she normally cared for, and the vegetation perked up with interest at her unfamiliar presence.
She saw a tree gamely holding on to a broken branch, knocked loose by a storm weeks ago. Its pain was obvious. Adela ran a soothing hand over its bark.
“It’s all right. Let it go,” she whispered. The tree sighed and dropped the branch.
“How do you do that?” Lidia asked.
“The same way you work metal into the finest jewelry anyone’s ever seen, I suppose.”
Lidia’s cheeks tinged a light pink at the praise. “Well, sometimes it leads to uppity faeries only giving me three days to make a complicated necklace.” She shrugged it off. “Are we finding these flowers or not?”
Adela led the way, picking their path along a narrow game trail that eventually meandered into a small clearing. There the forest floor and the bases of the trees were stained silver.
“Oh,” Lidia sighed. She crouched down to better look at the tiny flowers that grew in clusters. Five silver petals surrounded a deep blue center that emitted a faintly sweet smell.
Lidia sat on the ground and settled her skirts around her. Out came the parchment and charcoal as she began to sketch the flowers. Adela took a seat beside a tree, smoothing her skirt over her knees. She picked a flower and rolled the stem between her fingers as she waited.
“What is that?” she asked Lidia as the faery took something out of her pocket and popped it into her mouth.
“Krysia had an idea for Summer’s Feast. She’s been experimenting with it. I don’t think she has a name yet.” Lidia held out a short wooden stick with a golden glob of something at the end. “Here.” She took another from her pocket and handed it over.
Adela cautiously licked it and the taste of crystallized honey mixed with oak syrup burst over her tongue.
“This is amazing!” she said around the candy.
“Why do you think I snagged a whole handful before I left?” Lidia asked, speech similarly impaired.
“But why put it on a stick?” Adela inspected the combination.
“Oh, that was Rafael’s idea. He thinks he’s so clever.”
Adele bit back a giggle. There were notches cut along the stick, with a tiny carving of a horse at the base. One word was carved below it. Run.
“Watch.” Lidia took one from her pocket with the candy already missing. She held it in the palm of her hand and instructed it to sing. The stick shifted, breaking into pieces and rearranging itself into a rough caricature of a bird that sang a few bars of a lullaby before it returned to form.
Adela hastily finished hers and watched a horse trot around her palm.
“It really is impressive, you have to admit,” she said.
“I’ll only admit that Raf is self-centered and irritating.”
Adela giggled again and Lidia tossed another candy at her.
“Eat that so you’ll be quiet.” But a faint smile tugged at her lips.
Adela settled back down, soaking up the warm spring air. Summer was only a few days away and they would celebrate with a night-long feast. She began to hum the same tune as Rafael’s bird and noticed Lidia was trying hard not to pay attention to her.
“Are you going to sing at the feast?” Lidia asked.
“No,” Adela promptly answered.
“Why not? You have a beautiful voice.”
“Every faery in the mountain will be there, and so will the king and queen. Too many people for me.”
Lidia’s look fairly screamed “We’ll see about that.”
“Are you almost done?” Adela changed the subject.
The sun was slowly taking its afternoon position when Lidia finally put away her charcoal. She wiped stained fingers on the grass and stood. Adela joined her, dusting off her dress.
“Did you figure out how you’re going to make the necklace?” she peered over Lidia’s shoulder at the drawings.
“I think so.” Lidia carefully folded them away. “I want to take some flowers back with me, just in case I need another reference.”
Adela coaxed a cluster from the ground and placed it carefully in her skirt pocket.
“Ady, you’ll get your dress filthy!”
“Like putting charcoal in your pockets won’t?”
“Hmph,” was all Lidia replied.
They chose to walk most of the way back to the mountain, savoring the last of Lidia’s stolen candies. Lidia offered to take Rafael’s carved sticks off Adela’s hands and pocketed them without a word. Adela smiled but said nothing either. Lidia would admit it one of these days, and she wanted to be there to see it.