Dust (Of Dust and Darkness)





Copyright © 2012
Devon Ashley


All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.


This is a work of fiction. Any similarities within are purely coincidental.
Fonts used in this novel are Hawaii Lover;
Café Rojo
Glider Girls
courtesy of kevinandamanda.com. Brush for back cover wings created by Jennifer Apple.


First Edition

September 2012


ISBN 10:
































Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? ... If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!



J.R.R. Tolkien

























I smile as my eyes adjust to the morning light, squinting as a beautiful blur of yellow and white
squeezes between my eyelids. Sunbeams stream in through the thatched roof made of wood and twisted vine
, one directly onto my face
My eyelids twitch as they fight their way open.
Specks of dust float
aimlessly through
the air, twinkling
as the
stars in the night sky. A thickleburn pushes through one of the cracks in the thatch and flits about my
tiny tree house
, finally landing on the uneaten
I left on the floor last night. It looks at me thoughtfully with those black
metallic, oval-shaped eyes
that are
way too big for its head.


“It’s alright. You’re welcome to help yourself.”
The thickleburn releases a tiny squeak, then
eagerly punctures the flesh of the blueberry with the point of its oversized beak. A gentle, repetitive sucking noise barely makes its way to my ears. The little bug reminds me of a hummingbird, yet no larger than a fly. The green sheen of its silky coat shimmers now that it’s settled down within a sunbeam.


I stretch my limbs as far as they go, feeling the sigh of my muscles as they extend farther and farther. The fresh, soft leaves I picked last night to make my bed have dried and
crunch beneath me, a few broken twigs poking my skin in random spots. My skirt wrinkled during the night
and I try to rub the creases out of the silky fabric
that drapes
over my thighs. No go. My best bet is to dip into the river and fly to air-dry it quickly. 
I can’t see them, but I’m sure the tails from my matching bikini top that wrap and tie behind my back are wrinkled too.


I roll over and notice
a vine flower has pushed through one of the floor cracks and bloomed. The white flower petals are wilting, its stem
weakened and curved over, exhausted from trying to
the warmth of a sunbeam
just out of reach
. “Aww,” I sing
. I pull a pinch of pixie dust from the weathered satchel around my waist
, the fine particles prickly against my thumb and forefinger
. Concentrating my desire, I will the dust to grow the
as I sprinkle the glittery particles over it.
A shimmer forms around the structure and an iridescent glow pulsates, first slowly, then so fast it’s constant.
Like a still heart suddenly brought back to life, th
e vine strengthens and the neck of the flower rolls upward. Th
e stem lengthens and the flower reaches the sunbeam, its petals th
ickening with magical strength
as the wilted, curvy tips suddenly stiffen and hold strong
.  Satisfied, I roll myself up and lean back on my hands.


Morning is my favorite time of day. The air seems fresher, like every living organism releases a sigh and fills the forest with a delicious combination of sweet and floral scents. The thickleburn has its fill of blueberry juice and buzzes my nose in appreciation before squeezing back through the thatch above me. I reach for
the purplish fruit
and savor the semi-sweet flavor for myself.


There’s a terse knock at the makeshift door and I rush to pull the rickety wood inward, imagining the aged structure crying
n pain
, begging me
the knuckles from rapping harshly once more. My roommate Poppy glares at me. Her arms are crossed over her chest and her
wings flutter madly
in the light
, splattering the walls of my small tree house with dancing rainbow-colored specks.


“Seriously? You slept here
?” Her lips curl in a way that makes me think I smell, but really it’s because she’s disappointed in me.


“As if you
’ve never slept up here before,” I accuse.


Poppy’s arms drop and wave dramatically as she cries, “We were pixlings then! We’re teens now, Rosalie! Do you really think hotties like Tin and Mustard will want to court a pixie that prefers a pile of leaves to fine silks?”


I want to be mad at her for being so shallow, but I know how important the idea of courtship is to her. I just don’t feel the same way. Sure, I’d like to find a mate, but it won’t ruin my life if I don’t. Lots of pixies go through life solo. And secretly, I fancy the idea of living life within nature’s warm


“Poppy, I love nature. I love to touch it, breathe it, taste it.
And I love my tree house.
I’m sure if the right pixie is out there, he’s going to feel the same way.”


Her mouth drops and her face scrunches in such a way that screams an overdramatic o
h, the horror
, but she quickly answers with, “Whatever. Come on. The others are already gathering at the river.” She doesn’t wait for me to reply – probably afraid I would say no.


I step out of my tree house and onto one of the thick
stems supporting my
I built the structure way up high in the canopy. Partially because I love to watch the sky, but mostly because it offers me a sense of privacy I just don’t get down in the village.
I give my wings a little shake and catch out of the corner of my eye the yellowish
shimmer that courses through the veins and crossveins. I dive into the air and allow myself to fall head first with my eyes shut tight. I know exactly how long I can fall before my wings need to activate and curve my descent ninety degrees. When they do, I feel a hefty amount of air rage against my form, angry that I defied gravity once more. My eyes open and I shoot forward above the dirt paths lined with gorgeous green ferns that zigzag through the forest. Poppy dips from above and cuts me off, shaking her head at me for performing my nosedive. She finds
my actions
pretty reckless most of the time. I consider it enjoying life. I see her dive into a bush
of miniature strawberries
and exit the other side with
a reddish blur
each arm. I follow suit and pluck two of the succulent ruby-red fruits from the stems for myself, the green leaves gently brushing
my skin.


I follow Poppy as she leads us into the heart of our Hollow.


Pixies of all ages are already up and about doing their morning chores. The older
are cleaning up around the homes we’ve burrowed into the tall Lauralyn trees. They use a cluster of pine needles to sweep the dirt and leaves that have blown into their homes during the night
, the sap snatching everything within its sticky grasp
The younger males have already piled fresh twigs in bundles at each of the fire pits around the village. The older males are working on various jobs that keeps our little village functioning. Three are shaving wood into usable pieces of furniture. One is going around knocking down spider webs that went up overnight. Teenage females like Poppy and I gather fruits and nuts
every morning
. We
our strawberries to the pile already started on the large, flat river rock in the middle of the Hollow. I snag one of the
amongst the fruits and nuts,
and devour the morsel as we continue on our way.


Poppy doesn’t take us out of the village though. Instead, she pulls her body upright and stops at the base of the home we share.
When Poppy and I turned
last year
we were
allowed to
move outside the pixling home
and we
chose each other as roommates.
We’ll stick together until the end, unless one of us decides to bond with a mate, which surely Poppy will.
I pull to a stop beside
. “I thought we were meeting the others.”

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