The darkness had just covered the path, the was but a sliver of silver hanging in the western sky. Tiny hands and feet appeared, but only to the sharpest eye. This little one was well versed in the art of concealing oneself. She slipped across the path in the black shadow of a very large oak tree, traveling on all fours making it difficult to distinguish the nature of the tiny creature. Silently removing two stones allowed room to slip through the wall.
Once there the shadow of the wall hid the tiny figure quite well. She eased silently along until she saw it, the target, and the desire long held in her heart. The tree with elongated golden globes. The timing was perfect, the golden globes shimmered in the bit of moonlight, the branches hung low with weight of their many treasures.
The little figure waited, watching the sky, and when the wisps of clouds passed over the bit of moon in the sky she reached up and plucked the treasure she sought and slipped it into her small sack. She plucked another and carefully wrapped it in the white cloth Tandy have given her. She slipped it into the sack alongside the other.
Turning she dodged into the shadow of the wall once more, found her way to the small hole and eased through. She replaced the stones and retraced her steps back into the forest. The golden globes were large and heavy for the tiny one carrying them, she held them sung against her, but not too tight, fearing to bruise their delicate skin.
Her feet were sure, and her pace quickened, running a path she many time gone, she smiled knowing she would please madam Tandy with her prize. ‘Wait, too late!’ She had gone too far a huge hand reach down and snatched her up. Feet dangling in the air, the tiny girl’s heart fell.
“So, what have we here? Filching the king’s apples are we now?” The guard was tall and strongly built, he held the child by the scruff of her collar as he reached for the little bag tied to her waist. She started to struggle but his grip was sure, he laughed as he loosened the bag, but his face went nearly white as he peered inside. Without another word he strode purposely toward the main gate. Once there he plopped the child in a large cage that must have been made for a very big bird, it was domed and hung by a chain from an iron pole protruding from the castle wall.
“Well now you gonna fry.” Tinder told herself softly. No more than two feet tall, she had fiery red hair that stuck out all over and wide, slightly slanted, lavender eyes. She pulled the cloak tighter over her thin frame and hoped the bumps on her back didn’t show. She didn’t know why they were there, there were two between her shoulder blades and most hunch backs had only one. But then she also had no other deformities, maybe she wasn’t a hunch back like Freddy said. She hid them so others would quit calling her names.
Accepting her fate, she sat cross leg in the center of the cage and never moved when two huge guards lifted the cage from the hook and set it in a wagon pulled by several boys dressed like pages. They wheeled it down a long hallway, people peered from doorways, whispered. And pointed. Two huge ornate doors opened, carved from ash trees, the symbol for luck and protection. ‘I could use a bit of pertactin about now,’ she thought. Tinder watched in wonder as the small wagon was pulled between rows of men, knights it appeared, as they were all fully in armor and had swords lashed to heir hips. Peculiarly, she felt no fear, she knew the fate of those that stole from the king, and those golden fruits seemed quite special now.
The boys dropped the ropes and bowed low as they backed away. Tinder looked up and realized she was alone before the king, his face expressed amazement, not anger. He had a long white beard, shoulder length white hair as bright as a new snow. His skin was smooth and golden brown, but his eyes were mesmerizing, deepest of blue and focused solely on her. In his hand he held the small bag she had place the fruit in. He leaned forward, perched on the edge of a very beautiful silver throne, studded across the top with magnificent emeralds. He was very tall, she surmised, even though he remained seated, he looked powerful and strong not an ounce of fat. The tunic of blue and gold, was stretched across his massive chest and clasp together with a gold chain. He wore knee high boots of black leather fitted snuggly to his calves.
He leaned back a bit and opened the sack, sliding his hand in he gently removed the two large pieces of fruit, one still wrapped in the white cloth, the other visible for all to see. The king looked to his right, a small man in black, with narrow peevish features and large spectacles perched on the end of his nose took a very small step forward. “You have summoned her?” The king asked his voice rich and deep, flowed over those nearby. Tinder wanted to smile but dared not, the king instilled no fear at all in her tiny fluttering heart. She wondered why, everyone else was cowering, except the knights, who stood rigid in place.
He seemed to sigh as he unwrapped the other fruit and place the two perfectly matched golden pears on a small stand to his right. Tinder blinked, the pears no longer looked real, they appeared shiny, smooth, like gold. “I cannot send a mere child.” The kings announced sounding a little stressed now.
“She is not a mere child your royal highness.” Tandy’s soft voice behind her caused Tinder’s head to spin around. She smiled up at her friend and mentor.
“What are you saying, Madam Tandayono?” The King as softly as he leaned closer.
“A simple child would never have been able to pluck the pears from the tree. Only one chosen by the Creator.” Leaning down she peered into the cage and winked at Tinder. Straightening up she leaned toward the king. “I do not believe the entire court needs to know what I have to say.” She looked around, “Except maybe your knights.”
The king looked over at the little man in black again. “Clear the court Perdy if you please.” He immediately reacted and a small bell clanged loudly throughout the massive throne room, echoing off the walls. “Guards hold.” The king’s command rooted all the guards in place. In minutes only the guards, the king, Tinder and Madame Tandy remained, even the little man in black had disappeared.
Tandy turned her attention back to the king. They both straightened up and faced each other. “There are two ways to go about this,” she smiled then. “Since you have her securely locked up under the threat of death, I would say the first way is mute, seeing has there seems to be no trace of fear nor stress.” She waved a hand over the cage holding Tinder, it clicked softly, and the door opened of its own accord. “I suggest we try the other way.” Tandy reached over and removed the cloak from Tinder’s shoulders. Tinder looked up at Tandy with a growing embarrassment. “If there is anger, fear, or embarrassment it happens. But I have only seen this much . . .” Tandy quickly sliced an eight-inch opening in Tinder’s shift exposing the bumps on her shoulders. She then swirled her finger indicating to Tinder that she should turn and show herself to the king.
Tinder’s lip trembled as she stared up at Tandy. Repeating her command to Tinder she hoped this would finally be the breakthrough. As Tinder turned the bumps grew and then opened, a beautiful set of silver wings unfurled, stretched, and fluttered. “She’s a fairy then.” The king said surprised. “We cannot simply send a fairy.
One of the knights stepped forward and removed his helmet. He looked exactly like the king except he had ebony hair and no beard, but he had the same stature, features, and deep blue eyes. “The one sent is allowed a single guardian as accompaniment to fight the white witch, is she not?” A deep and rich voice much like the kings asked. “I volunteer.”
The king hesitated, “But son, must it be you?” Tandy saw the fear in the king’s eyes, it was there a moment and then gone. He sighed, “Of course it would be you.”
A tall slender figure slipped up behind the knight. “My only son . . . is going against the white witch?” The queen was elegant in her long gown of lavender and gold. She stood stately as she confronted her son. Long silver and gold tresses, her sky-blue eyes shimmered with unshed tears, she reached for her son, and he gathered her close.
“She has a much better chance if I go mother. Maybe together we can convince her to lift this curse of perpetual Frost. Besides this is a brand-new fairy and will likely need much guidance.” They turned and looked at the tiny girl as she tried once more and succeeded to rise a few feet and hover. Tinder giggled and the queen smiled.