Papyrus

The Dryad of Xyleen | Chapter 6

What A Wonderful World

After Lady Balanis left the room, everyone started breathing again. They had held their breath the entire time, waiting for her to stormout. For a while, none of them talked or moved. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Chief Yan started to yell at Princess Lia.

‘Why did you tell her that I was afraid of her falling ill?’ he asked angrily.

‘Oh… so it’s my fault now?’ Lia raised her voice.

‘I have to fix this, thanks to you’ He started pacing back and front.

‘Really? I am about to go away and you are putting the blame on me? Great!’

‘Sorry’ Chief Yan lowered his voice and looked very concerned. ‘I am going after her. Lus, help Lia to pack her things and contact Laetitia. She can take care of Lia.’

Amorphophallus opened her mouth to protest but was cut in the middle by Princess Lia.

‘Laetitia! I haven’t seen her in ages,’ she squeaked happily.

‘Sire, with due respect, I do believe that I am more capable of protecting Princess Lia than a pixie’, Amorphophallus clearly looked hurt. Her pride was hurt.

‘I am well aware of the situation. One day you will understand, Lus, and thank me for what I am doing now. Anyway, I should follow Balanis now. You two keep it going. Ask General Sequa to see me after lunch. You too come with him. We have work to do after Lia goes away.’ And he left the room.

‘For the millionth time, my name is Amorphophallus’, she mumbled to herself, but it was loud enough to be heard by Lia. Lia did not pay attention to this little tantrum. By this time, she seemed to be in deep thought as well as quite excited.

Nightfall came sooner than expected. Amorphophallus had taken Lia’s large backpack to the cave where the human showed up the day Rose died. Balanis had cooked Lia’s favourite dishes by herself and all of them ate together at Lia’s bedroom. Even though Balanis was putting up a brave face in front of everyone, Lia could sense that she was worried inside. Chief Yan was also no different from his wife. They quietly finished dinner and waited for the entire city to fall asleep. As it was risky for all of them to go to that cave, Chief Yan and Lady Balanis said their goodbyes in Lia’s bedroom.

‘I have packed some dry food and water. Be sure to eat them. And stay away from any danger’, Lady Balanis hugged Lia and wept. Lia hugged her back in assurance.

‘Don’t worry. I’ll be safe.’

‘After reaching there contact us every night. Laetitia will show you how to do it. It is a secure way so Gus won’t be able to know.’ Chief Yan said in a worried voice.

‘I will contact you. And will find out the truth.’

‘And read the letter on your journey over there. You… might … um… get distracted while reading the letter and instructions, but please don’t forget who you are!’ said Chief Yan.

Lia wanted to know why she would feel distracted, but thought it was best not to ask at the moment. She just nodded.

‘Find out what Gus is doing over there. Also, we will try to find what he is up to,’ he added.

‘Safe journey, my dear. Remember, I love you,’ Lady Balanis kissed Lia’s forehead.

‘I love you too’, replied Lia.

They all gave Lia a final hug. Amorphophallus and Lia left the enchanted castle-tree. Lia could feel that Balanis was still crying on Yan’s shoulder who was also trying not to cry.

The journey from castle-tree to the cave was very intense. They had to cover their tracks just in case anyone found out. Lia thought the night would never end.

Finally they reached the cave without any difficulty. Inside the cave, the fountain was still glowing. The final moments were here.

Amorphophallus started to check her belongings, ‘Backpack check, food and water check, letter and enchanted map check. Weapon to kill human, check…’

‘Why would I kill humans?’ said Lia in a surprised tone.

‘Why wouldn’t you?’ Amorphophallus raised an eyebrow.

‘No! I wouldn’t.’

‘Alright, you win. So Laetitia will wait for you at that end. She knows everything about the human realm. She will guide you. Now off you go.’ Amorphophallus tried her best to control her tears.

‘What’s in your eyes?’ Lia noticed.

‘Oh that. Pff… don’t you know I’m allergic to air?’ she tried to lighten the mood.

‘So cliché.’

‘Are you feeling alright?’

‘To be honest, I’m terrified, excited, and nervous at the same time.’

‘I don’t blame you. Just be careful on your way, and I will take care of your parents here.’

‘Thank you. You too take care of yourself’, Lia hugged Amorphophallus, who hugged her back.

‘Now let me open the portal to Protos.’ She summoned her illuminant and touched the water of the fountain with her fingertips. The fountain glowed brighter than before.

‘Now off you go before we both become allergic to air,’ she said to Lia. Lia laughed in reply.

‘Goodbye. I’ll miss you’, Lia steps inside the fountain with these parting words,

It felt like a cool lair of an invisible wall embraced her and suddenly she stepped on the ground of an unknown forest. She thought she might have to change her clothes but she was completely dry.

‘Good’ she thought, ‘wait a minute. It’s too quiet.’ And then she remembered that Laetitia was supposed to wait for her in here. ‘Where is she?’ she mumbled.

After waiting for Laetitia for a while, Lia begins to walk. She is too nervous to call out Laetitia’s name. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew over her head and a trail of flower petals gently landed on the ground. The petals created a trail, which made Lia a bit suspicious. However, curiosity won, and she chose to follow the petal path.

Lia could not tell how long she walked on the flowery trail because it felt like a lifetime to her. In between she stopped for a while to eat and drink, then resumed walking. Finally the trail ends in front of a huge gate. It was almost dawn and she finally realized that she had ended up in front of a villa. The villa is duplex, with a garden on the back. The entire area is surrounded by trees and tall wall. She was thinking of how to get inside when she heard someone whispering.

‘pstt…pstt… over here’, a female voice called from her right side. Even from this distance she can recognise the voice.

‘Laetitia!’ she exclaimed.

‘Shfff… not so loud! Come over here.’

Lia got closer and saw the little pixie standing on a branch of a huge tree which was so tall that it can be easily seen from outside of the wall.

‘Come on up’, she whispered. Lia nodded and used her magic to extend the branch and climbed up.

Laetitia hugged her, rather hugged her face. Lia noticed that the she is not glowing and could barely fly. ‘Come and follow me’, she said and jumped from that tree to another. Lia quietly followed her. At the back of the garden there was a cherry tree. Laetitia moved her hand and a petal flew into the sky. She turned to Lia and said, ‘I have sent a word to the Chief that you have arrived safely. I am so glad to see you. It’s been seventy years to be exact. I missed you.’

‘I missed you too. What happened to you? Why didn’t you come back? And why aren’t you flying?’ Lia asked under her breath.

‘Relax! I’m not going anywhere. I will answer all of your questions.’

Laetitia began her story: The day she opened the portal to send the human safely in Protos, she was instructed to send him home safely and erase his memories about the other world. When she was about to erase his memories, she realized that she was being followed. So she stopped, sneaked up on the follower instead. It was a spy sent by Gus. He attacked her immediately. While she managed to save herself, one of her wings took most of the hit, and broke. The spy ran away and told everyone that she was a traitor. So she was told to live in Protos and see what Gus is up to in the human world. Eventually her pixie-dust ran out. To sum up, she got stuck in the human world.

‘Well, it’s not that bad,’ she tried to minimize the severity of the situation after watching Lia’s horrified face. ‘People hardly come here. The owner comes every year and stays for a month and leaves again. The entire forest is kind of off-limits to humans. Several of them come around a year and look for something and go away. So basically, I have the entire place to myself.’ She said with a smile in her face.

‘Then why are we whispering if there is no one here?’ asked Lia.

‘Actually the owner came back for his yearly visit couple of days ago.’ Laetitia replied in a hushed tone.

‘I see. Did you ever go inside the house?’

‘Yes, I have. I play inside on rainy days. Usually I hang around and live in this tree, but on wet days I go inside.”

‘You know about my mission, right?’ Lia asks, to which Laetitia nods affirmatively. ‘So I need to talk to that boy. I am pretty sure he is a grown up by now.’

‘Oh he has grown up, dear.’

‘And you have not erased his memories?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then I need to speak to him.’

‘Before you go and see him, you need to change your clothes and eat something.’

‘Right.’

After eating some food, Laetitia gave Lia some new clothes which she found on the wardrobe. She also told her to pretend to be a human, taught her some rules and manners related to human world.

There are three people in the house at the moment – the owner, the butler, and the guard.

‘But before we begin our mission, let’s go and see some sights,’ said Laetitia. Lia gladly agreed as she was really curious about Protos.

Lia placed Laetitia on her shoulder and took a walk around. When the day broke, they were sitting on top of a tree and looked down the hill. The magnificent view took Lia’s breath away. They decided to spend the day enjoying the world around them, and start their mission from the next day.

It is indeed a wonderful world, thought Lia.

Written by: Kazi Nabila