Authors: Ashley Du Toit
Tags: #Children's Fantasy
First published in 2009 Australia by Dragons Publishing
This edition published in 2011 by Ashley Du Toit
Â© Ashley Du Toit 2009
Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to one LEGAL copy for your own personal use. It is illegal to send your copy to someone who did not pay for it. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book.
Editor: RoseMary Bellamy
Cover and internal design: Best Legenz
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
The words can never be enough but I'm going to give it a try anyway. To my gorgeous husband and kids, I love you guys. I thank you for your patience. I could never have done any of this without your encouragement or support.
To my Mom and Dad, thanks for the endless phone calls to see how we were surviving and how my characters were growing.
To my girlfriends, Jillian and Bec â¦ it's been lots of fun; I thank you for the endless coffee rounds and the constant sessions of âhole proofing'. To K.T, who poked holes through my very first try, I thank you for doing that; you inspired me to do better.
And to my new friends at Best Legenz, my publishing teamâyou ladies are wonderful. This journey has been an incredible one and you have made publishing this book an absolutely joyful experience and one I shall relish repeating. So Helen Elward, Rosemary Bellamy and Bernice Kesbach, thank you so very much.
And finally to all the readers out there, should you pick up this book and read it, I hope you'll fall in love with the characters as much as I have.
Fairy of Pure Heart
The King of the Trolls
A Rescued Kiss
A Rainbow Sliver
The Immortal Markets
Black Mist Mountain
Nemesis the Dragon
nce, many eons ago, there was a magnificent, breathtaking world. It was filled with twelve distinctly different realms made up of an assortment of immortals, including Fairies, Leprechauns, Pixies, Manukies, Elfins, Nuffins, Water Sprites, Unicorns, Centaurs, Trolls, Goblins, Dwarfs, Witches, and many more. Each of the realms linked to two others, so forming a complete ring around the one mortal race, and they coexisted with the mortal realm, even though humans would never realise it.
The immortal realms were ruled by a powerful, ferocious dragon named Nemesis.
Nemesis was beautiful, in a striking way, and those who managed to get close enough could not fail to be awed by his impressive girth and magnificent stature, and the four powerful muscular legs upon which his massive body rested. His long tail was coated with spikes shooting straight up towards the sky, and on his back were immense wings that spanned his body's length. He was pitch-black, as the darkest night, but hidden within the black depths was a shimmering emerald green that glistened tantalisingly as he moved. No one was sure how old Nemesis wasâsome said twelve thousand years, others said sixteen, but any brave enough to look into his many-faceted and all-knowing eyes became instantly aware that they stood before greatness.
For the last ten thousand years Nemesis had kept the balance between the realms, and had been the ultimate protector of each immortal realm, bestowing fairness and justice to all who needed it. Each realm appointed a leader who reported directly to Nemesis, keeping him informed of all activities and happenings. Together the twelve leaders formed the Guild of Immortals, and every so often Nemesis would gather the guild together to discuss matters that needed attention.
Although feared by some, Nemesis was greatly respected by all magical creatures. He could breathe fire. He could see things that the rest of the immortal realms could not. He knew everything, and his control throughout the realms was absolute.
But above all else, Nemesis knew the ancient magic, the forgotten magic. He had been taught by the sixteen dragons that came before him. The last dragon in his line, it was said that when he left to join his ancestors, the magical kingdoms would cease to exist.
Nemesis made his home in the most secret place in all the realms. The Valley Mystic was hidden behind the roaring, spitting, furious volcano of BlackMist Mountain, and it was only revealed to those who needed his guidance or help.
Those who sought Nemesis must climb the bleak path that scaled the side of BlackMist Mountain, passing through the bellowing clouds of ash, and negotiating the narrow, rickety bridge that crossed high above the rumbling lava flowing below. Only thus could one reach the other side of the mountain to enter the Valley.
Those who had braved the journey said that once they reached the valley, the scene was spectacularly brilliant. Bright vibrant greens stretched as far as the eye could see, and the randomly scattered array of flowers created splashes of orange, red, yellow, purple and blue in between. At the centre of the valley was a huge, cool, refreshing lake, and to the right a massive, churning waterfall that carefully shielded the cave where Nemesis made his home.
Nemesis had woven ancient powerful magic across the whole valley. To reach the entrance to his cave, visitors must swim across the lake, endure the force of the crashing waterfall, and then heave themselves up onto the ledge that guarded the entrance to the cave. The atmosphere inside the cave was still, and the odour of brimstone clung heavily to the air. The walls of the cave were scorched black from flames that had licked their way up before being quenched by the spray that filtered in from the waterfall.
All in all, Nemesis was a force not to be defied.
Fairy of Pure Heart
ella, the Fairy of Pure Heart, the Protector of Tulips, lived deep within the fairy haven, surrounded by her favourite vibrantly coloured tulips. All the fairies agreed that she was the most beautiful of them all. Her skin was like moonlight, smooth and translucent. Her hair was the colour of deep autumn, russet-reds mingling with tints of copper and auburn. The front was shaped to frame her small face perfectly; the back fell in a waterfall of long waves that reached to curl around her bottom.
Bella's lavender eyes twinkled with a thousand shades of laughter gathered from hours of fun, and her inner light beamed with a brightness that drew all those around her. Her frame was petite, and she had dainty, elegantly-shaped feet. She boasted shimmering, graceful wings that glittered different shades of auburn as the sun reflected from them.
On one special night, at the stroke of midnight, the fairies held a festive gathering in the moon's pale golden light. At the gathering, every fairy who had come of age in that year was presented to the queen, and was gifted with a small bag filled with all sorts of shield enchantments to be used as the fairy would have need of them. Then each fairy was allowed to pick a creature to befriend. The fairy and their chosen creature would grow together and become the best of friends, caring each for the other.
When Bella was presented to the queen, she graciously accepted her charm bag and tied it around her neck, then chose her new friend. She chose for herself a beautiful butterfly. His orange body was long and slender. His wings, spanning fifteen centimetres on either side, were of fluorescent lime green surrounded by elaborate patterns of black-painted velvet. Bella named her new friend Teague.
Bella and Teague soon became the very best of friends. When Bella was not attending to the needs of the tulips in the fairy haven, or working at her other chores, she would lift her fingers to her mouth and blow gently, sending out an almost silent message heard by Teague alone. Soon she would hear the flutter of his wings, and smile delightedly as he alighted on the nearest toadstool or flowery bough. After they had greeted each other, they would play the game of which they never tired. Teague would lead the way, flitting from one corner of the fairy realm to another, Bella dancing daintily along behind.
One miserable, sodden day, Bella sat sheltered beneath a large spotted mushroom just outside the borders of the fairy realm. Fat drops splashed down onto the tender young leaves of the plants around her before running down to the ground to form muddy puddles, and Bella sighed as yet another small splash of mud jumped up to land on her. Twilight was approaching, but she was waiting for the rain to stop pounding down so hard so she could continue her search for the warrior prince that Nemesis had taken from her.
The rain continued to beat down. Bella lowered her head to rest upon her knees, and sniffed as tears etched their way down her face. Lifting her gaze to stare at the falling sheets of rain, she knew that any hope of following Nemesis was gone.
He would have taken her prince to his home deep in the hidden valley behind Black Mist Mountain. Bella feared for him, and wondered what he must be feeling and thinking at this moment. He would be totally out of his depth to find himself in another realm, one so foreign to him, and forbidden â¦
Bella had taken on the form that enabled her to appear no different to a human, and ventured into the mortal realm to tend her thriving tulips. And that was where she met her prince. He was strong and well-built, his muscles rippling beneath the robes he wore, and quite tall. When Bella stood beside him in her human form, she reached just below his shoulders. He had intense features that bespoke his royal heritage: high cheek bones, strong chin, and eyes shaded midnight blue. His dark brown hair hung down to his shoulders.
He was out with his army of men that day, a warrior prince fighting to protect his kingdom from those who sought to take it from him. They met by chance, an accident, a happenstance. Bella lay on her belly talking to her tulips in soft husky tones, lavishing them with loving words, completely ignorant of the prince's presence. With every word that left her mouth, she had slowly drawn him closer to her until, his interest caught and his heart captivated, he was unable to help himself.
He came nearer, intending to speak to her, but startled her when she became aware that she was no longer alone. It was the very first time that she had come into direct contact with a human, and not knowing how to react in his presence, she remained silent. The prince spoke to her in reassuring tones,
“Good morning, my lady.”
Bella smiled shyly at him. His deep, smooth voice oozed lazily around her, enfolded her, making her feel oddly safe. He slowly moved closer to her.
“I am Prince Arthur. What is your name?”
Bella smiled sweetly at him.
“Bella,” she said. “My name is Bella.”
The prince smiled. “Bellaâyour name means beautiful, as you are.”
He reached forward, taking her small hand in his and shaking it in greeting. Sensing her hesitation at talking with a stranger, he began to tell her about himself, and soon she was enjoying his company. She found herself telling him silly stories just to hear his rich laugh.
“Where do you come from?” he asked after some time.
“Oh, I come from the land of tulips,” she teased, knowing that he wouldn't believe her.
He laughed. “Oh yes, I've always wanted to go there,” he jested.
“Tell me about yourself,” he asked, leading the way to an old tree that had been sawn off at the base. Holding out his hand, he helped her to sit next to him, and side by side they leaned back against the old stump.
“I know this butterfly.” Bella began, “His name is Teague â¦”
Her thoughts drifted to reminisces of her times with Teague, and her voice trailed off. She came back to herself with a smile when the prince trailed his finger down her nose.
“Where did you go?” he murmured.
Bella smiled “Oh, you know, off on the back of a butterfly.”
He laughed. “That sounds as if it's something I should like to try. When was the last time you did that?”
“Why, only yesterday,” she giggled in glee.
Smiling at her, he asked: “Something you do often, then?”
“Once or a thousand times,” she replied. “Let me tell you the story of how I learnt to fly.”
Arthur smiled. He should have been working, training his men, but he was content to just sit and listen to her nonsensical stories about a butterfly. What she was telling him was impossible, but he was intrigued nevertheless.
“Most of us begin to fly just after our coming-of-age, but I was just too nervous to try. Then, early one morning, just as the sun began to kiss the tulips awake, Teague pushed me out of my snug tulip bed and insisted that this was the day he would teach me to fly.” Bella smiled wistfully then continued. “I told him âNo', but he just laughed, and pushed me up the tallest tulip that he could find. Calling âready or not”, he nudged me over the side with his wing, then leapt from the tulip himself.”
Arthur raised his eyebrows. “So, if Teague is a butterfly, then you would be â¦”
“A fairy of course,” she smiled. “Anyway, at first it seemed that I must surely plummet to the ground. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it might never slow again, and my mind was frozen, but my wings instinctively knew what to do, and they began to flap, furiously and frantically. It seemed at first that my body would be too heavy for my tiny wings, but soon my fall began to slow. My wings steadied their rhythm, and soon I was gossamer-light, floating softly down like a feather in a breeze. By the time my feet touched the ground, I was exhilarated and eager to taste that sensation again.”
“But surely it would be the other fairies who would teach you how to fly?” asked Arthur in a playful tone.
“Well, normally the other fairies would show us how to use our gifts and teach us how to fly, but Teague knew me. He knew that I had thought and thought, worried and worried about flying, delaying the moment when I actually must do it, and I guess he thought the best thing would be to remove any choice I had in the matter and just make it happen. He believed that I could do anything I set myself to, and he was right. He believed in me long before I did. Friends like that are very important.”
Bella glanced at Arthur, watching to see what he would think.
“That was a lovely tale,” he said.
Part of Bella was relieved that he hadn't believed this was real, but another part of her had wanted him to know who and what she was.
This is so confusing,
Each time Bella visited her tulips after that, she would see him. But in all the times that Bella and her prince talked, she never again tried to reveal to him her biggest secret, that she was the Fairy of Pure Heartâthe guardian of all tulips.
And then one day the prince asked where she disappeared to when she left him and her tulips, and Bella realised that the day she had come to dread had arrived. This must be her last visit with Arthur. After spending a last wonder-filled day talking and laughing, her heart breaking a little more with each word, she told him.
“Arthur, you know how special our time together has been, and how much I value your friendship, but this is the last time that I will be able to see you.”
Arthur stopped what he was doing and looked closely at her. “What do you mean?”
“I can't see you anymore,” she whispered sadly.
“But why? Don't we have fun?” he asked, walking towards her, his voice full of bewilderment.
Bella moved a step backwards. “I have to go,” she whispered again.
Arthur wouldn't hear what she was desperately trying to tell him. He refused to accept her decision. Instead of the understanding that she had expected, his face showed confusion and hurt, and then anger.
“No, I won't let you go. Why do you say that you must? What is it you are not telling me, Bella?” he demanded.
Unable to deal with his anger, Bella turned and ran. She ran towards a massive Jacaranda tree covered in fragrant purple flowers and disappeared through a narrow opening within its trunk. Arthur followed.
And found himself in another place. Before him, small dragonflies darted through the air and beautiful butterflies flitted between the assortment of small flowers that lay scattered upon the woodland floor. Bewildered, he turned back to the opening. The Jacaranda tree was no longer behind him; in its place stood a tree with vibrant ruby-red flowers.
He slowly returned his gaze to the vista before him. He had expected to find Bella near the tree from which she had stepped, but instead saw a tiny fairy hovering just beyond his reach, her back towards him. She was sobbing. He lifted his hand and wiped it across his eyes in disbelief.
He looked more closely at the fairy, and noticed that her hair was the exact shade of Bella's. A thought came to him, one that was both probable and impossible, and a groan rose from deep within his throat. Bella heard the groan behind her, and whirled around. Seeing her face, Arthur found himself swaying, and then falling to his knees in astonishment. This fairy that hovered above him was indeed his beautiful Bella. He marvelled at the difference between her human form and the one in which she now appeared. Both were small and petite. Both were beautiful beyond words.
My Bella has wings
, he thought as he watched them shimmer and shine as she moved in the sun's light.
A hundred thoughts and questions raced through his mind, but they moved too swiftly, tumbling one after another, coming and going before his mind could grasp them. He was still on his knees when he realised that the shock he felt was mirrored on Bella's face. She hovered, staring at him. Something flickered in her eyes that he didn't recognise.
“How is this possible?” he asked.
“I cannot explain it to you, my prince, but you must leave here now. It is not safe for you in the immortal realm,” Bella said, moving towards him, and now he understood the expression in her eyes. It was fear he saw there, she was frightened for him.
He opened his hand and she came to land on his palm, raising her sweet face to his. “I cannot leave you. Do not ask that of me. Don't you know how special your friendship has become to me, Bella? Do not ask me to leave you, please.”
Before Bella could answer, they heard a thunderous roar in the sky above them. Bella and Arthur raised their heads to see a great dragon coming to land just before them, his furiously flapping wings lifting the tiny flowers and swirling them around in the air.
The dragon breathed out a hot breath and glared at the prince. Before Arthur could ask Bella about the dragon, she flew up to it, leaving him behind. He watched closely as Bella started to speak to the massive dragon. Her body language told him that she respected it, was in awe of it. He heard fragments of their exchange, and raised his eyebrows as he heard Bella telling the dragon that the man was just leaving.