The fairies watched as poor Caelestis, who was looking like a scrawny flag in the wind, squealed and shouted as she leapt into the air, trying to save the precious boeken and ancient writings and scripts that were getting sucked into the void. As she deposited an armful of yellowed parchment papers safely behind a nearby shelf, she shouted to them, "Okay, come on out!"
Stella, Tecna, and Flora quickly soared out of their nook behind a shelf. "Now what?" Tecna yelled over the ever rising wind.
"One of us has to go in!" Caelestis screamed back to them.
"WHAT?!" screeched Stella. Flora looked like she was about to cry.
"I'll go!" called Caelestis. "I'm an ethereal being, remember? I can't die! I've gone into the void before! I know how to get back out easily!"
They hesitated, not wanting to lose the little girl. She had been a great help to them so far, and a good friend. And Stalene would not be happy if she lost her little ethereal librarian. They looked at Caelestis, who was squinting in the swirl of bruise-colored dust, inching closer and closer to the dreadful void. She looked so delicate, so thin and petite. But for how small and determined she looked, they were all sure that she would make it.
And then it happened.
"Take me!" Caelestis yelled, jumping up and down and waving her arms like a lunatic. "I'm right here, Moonless-whatever!"
Instead, one final lightning bolt spiraled out of the very center of the void. Before Caelestis could do anything, it shot past her, found its target, and yanked a screaming Flora into its depths of oblivion.
Inside of the morphix cage, Rae dangled upside down, clutching on to the rope for dear life and trying her best to yank herself upright, only to spin downwards once more. She screamed and wailed so piteously that Bloom was tempted to release her and find some other way, but she stuck fast to her plan.
Bloom did soften, however, when she saw Rae let out another shrieking wail and rip out every last golden crystal that had started to appear on her body. The little jewels landed on the ground, sizzling into sparks that rose into the blue summer sky and disappeared. Bloom sighed. Rae would have to start her metamorphosis all over again.
"Quiet!" Musa cried out. "Do u want your little Sunbeams to hear u crying like this?" The sentence came out a little meer harshly than she had intended.
Rae sniffled. A tear slid down her cheek and fell towards the ground. As it dropped in midair, it transformed into a diamond. Bloom gasped, lunged forward, and quickly caught it in her hand. It only melted down into a little droplet of water that flowed off of her fingertips.
Bloom sighed again and forced herself to look at the creature in the cage. Caged, she thought bitterly. Like an underprivileged zoo animal. Ugh, forget it! You'll release her as soon as u get the jewel from her. And remember, no meer mediocre work. u want a big jewel. A good one, maybe one of those large ones from her crown...
After that thought, Bloom suddenly realized that she was disgusted at herself, for thinking like some greedy fool. Like the Trix, maybe. She pursed her lips. She was acting no better than Icy at the moment.
She took a deep breath and took a step forward. Layla and Musa pulled up protectively to her sides, followed shortly door their Specialist friends.
"Look," she said, and surprisingly, her voice came out calm and smooth, almost regal. "I should tell u that this was really hard for me to do. But it's for your own good. I only ask of u a single object."
From inside the cage, Rae smile bitterly.
"A jewel from my crown," she practically spat.
Bloom was caught off guard. "But...but how did u know that?"
"Fairies of the magical dimension have tormented us here for ages," Rae continued in an angered tone. "They've stolen our most precious belongings, putting them on display in their stupid little museums and glass cases." She zei the words "putting them on display" like she was saying "flushing them down the toilet."
Rae's lips twisted into a sad, yet bitter smile. "And now you're expecting me to trust...you?" She raised one eyebrow.
It took all of Bloom's willpower to stop herself from collapsing on her knees and pouring out her pleading words. She had to stay strong and true to herself. She couldn't be taken down door an argument.
Layla came to her rescue. "Surely u must know of Faragonda?"
"The one person from the rest of the magical dimension who bothered tonen us some kindness? Of course I know her," zei Rae.
"Faragonda herself appointed us on this mission," Musa jumped in quickly. "We're trying to make an ultimate spell that will help to vanquish the dark forces of Moo-...I mean...uh...you know...God-bless-us-all-if-her-name-is-mentioned?" She offered a weak smile. Layla flashed an approving smile to let her know that she had done well enough.
Rae's bitterly twisted, angered expression softened into her familiar expression of kindness. Much to Bloom's surprise, she lifted a hand slowly to the webbing upon her head and locked her fingers around a jewel that stood right above the largest one in the center. With a deft twist, she removed it, reached through a hole in the cage, and dropped it into Bloom's outstretched hand.
Bloom gasped and looked up at a now smiling Rae.
"But...you...you trust us now?" she whispered.
Rae smiled so brilliantly that they all grinned back at her.
"Faragonda has been like a sister to me," zei Rae. "To all of us, rather. Do u know what she did once?"
"What did she do?" asked Nabu.
"She attacked all of the dark realms," murmured Rae, her eyes getting misty. "And she reclaimed all of the things that they had stolen from us...and brought them back here. Her disciples must have her wisdom and bravery, her intelligence and determination, to make it this far."
At that moment, Bloom truly understood the meaning of that phrase, "The magic of the moment." It was suddenly as though dark clouds had parted above her head, letting the sunlight shine through. It was the feeling she had gotten in her dream/nightmare when she had led Samara back into her house and into the sunlit televisie screen.
"Thank u so much," Bloom said, absentmindedly bowing to toon her respect. Taking her cue, the rest of them did the same.
Rae smiled. "You're very welcome. Now, may I please be removed from this cage? I think I'm going to pass out soon."
Hands. Claws. Fire. Ice. Raging waters. Crackling electricity. The burn of deadly spells. The painful, tired, draining feeling of being surrounded door pure darkness.
Flora collapsed in the midst of all the darkness. She had not taken a step, since she was sucked into the horrible void. Her ankle bled terribly from where the lightning had grabbed her. And yet, in spite of the fact that she hadn't moved a muscle, she felt as though she had been walking a million miles.
It was horrible in that dark void. Strange shrieks surrounded her. When Flora tried to open her mouth, an awful, slimy burning sensation suddenly slithered down her throat, making her burst into a coughing fit. She felt something tugging her hair, something prickling cold and burning hot at the same time that clogged her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, making it impossible to breathe.
Vaguely she realized that Helia had leapt in after her and was now trying to shake her back to reality.
"Flora?" he gasped. "Flora? Are u okay? Can u hear me?"
Then, the void closed, sealing the one exit back into reality. For some strange reason, the face of Caelestis materialized in the distance, wearing a concerned expression.
"Don't worry," zei Caelestis' face. "Tatalena will save you. Just don't say no to her..."
Flora blacked out in Helia's arms.
"Hey! Hey! Excuse me! Can u please stop just for a minute? Please stop! We need help!"
Flora was awakened door Helia, screaming his head off and jumping up and down.
She realized that she was laying in door the side of a dirt road. Fields of wildflowers and long stalks of gras swayed in a pleasant breeze. The scent of flowers filled her nose. The sky was just melting into twilight.
I've died and gone to heaven, thought Flora.
She looked at her ankle and saw that it was bandaged with a scrap of Helia's blue cape. She saw him standing in the road, trying to flag down any forgiving vehicles.
At that moment, a garishly decorated truck stopped in the middle of the road. It was the most ridiculous thing Flora had ever seen. It was absolutely covered in vibrant embroidered rugs, colorful tassels, holiday lights, and cardboard cutouts of what Flora guessed to be superstars and beroemdheden from Iris.
The truck stopped before Helia. The driver, a balding, dark-skinned middle-aged man, popped his head out of the window.
"'Ey!" he called out in heavily accented English. "You lost?"
"Sort of!" Helia called back. "My girlfriend and I need help."
The man smiled. "Get on in!" he called out to Helia. "The girl can ride in the top!"
"Helia," she moaned. "There's no way I'm getting into this...junk heap." She collapsed in a struik, bush of fragrant flowers.
"Oy! What u callin' a rommel, ongewenste heap?" A harsh female voice suddenly jerked Flora back into an upright position.
Flora twisted her head up to the top, boven of the truck. A girl, probably a bit younger than her, had materialized up there. She was wearing bright green leggings and a garish, bright roze tunic with glittering goud embroidery and beadwork. She had slick black hair, and a face that was not ugly but not quite pretty, either. But Flora recognized her right away.
"Rope Twist girl," Flora whispered, staring up at her.
The girl lifted a stalk of sugarcane and took a large bite out of it, spitting it out at Flora's feet. "That's Tatalena to you," she snarled in broken English. "Get in."