The King of the Diamonds
When a young girl tries to save her brother and her dog, she finds hidden magical folk.
The blue and green tent stood at the bottom of the garden, illuminated from the inside by flashlight. It glowed against the dark bushes. Fireflies looped lazily around it, like specks of gold in the failing dusk. Annabelle's voice drifted across the lawn, 'once upon a time, the land was filled with fairies.' Inside the tent, her older brother, Henry, rolled his eyes. Annabelle looked up from the book in her lap, 'I saw that.’ Henry opened his mouth to retort, but their hound-dog, Moth, nudged the book gently with her nose.
Annabelle looked back down at the page and continued, ‘they were magical folk who blessed truthful children, and they loved all animals.' Henry let out a snort. Annabelle ignored him, ‘but one day a wicked spirit, who was jealous of the fairies powers, drove them underground and placed upon them a curse.’ This time, Henry yawned loudly. ‘Henry!’ cried Annabelle as she snapped the book shut. ‘What?’ He said, ‘it’s lame.’ Annabelle looked at him fiercely, ‘I like it,’ she said. ‘That’s because you’re still a baby who still believes in fairies,’ he replied. Annabelle’s eyes flashed, ‘I’m not a baby, I’m just as big and brave as you.’ Henry scoffed, ‘You couldn’t protect us even if you tried. That’s why I’m here -‘ but Moth’s bark cut him off. She was standing at the mouth of the tent, her wire-like hair on end, every muscle alert.
Suddenly a chill swept through the tent, Annabelle gasped. ‘See,’ said Henry, ‘baby.’ But then a colossal sound of cracking wood shot through the air. Annabelle jumped, Moth bolted out of the tent with a yelp, and Henry didn’t think twice, he tore after her. ‘Henry!’ Annabelle cried, still huddled in the tent. But there was no answer, just a ringing silence. Slowly she crawled towards the front of the tent, listening hard for any sound. Nothing. The night outside seemed darker. She could no longer see the bushes. She fumbled with the flashlight’s cord, un-knotting it from the roof of the tent, it's light swung wildly around until she had it safe in her shaky hands.
Another deafening crack sounded. ‘Henry!’ She called out again. There was no reply, but a sinking feeling somewhere in her stomach told her that this wasn’t a game. Gently she gathered all her courage and brushed the tears from her eyes. Then she hurled herself out of the tent, brandishing the flashlight. Its beam didn’t seem to work in this darkness. It was as if it was shrouded in thick, impenetrable fog. She was running forwards blindly ‘Henry!’ She called, ‘Moth!’ Then her foot caught in something, like a knotted tree root. She somersaulted over, but she never found the ground again. Instead, she was falling through the darkness in a dreamy slow motion. Her hair fluttered out behind her, and all the words knocked out of her body. Then her knees collided with a pile of soft, chalky earth.
The flashlight's beam decided to abruptly function again. It cut a clear path through the dank air and illuminated rough, earthen walls. She angled it up to find a solid ceiling of mud and rocks. The tunnel seemed to stretch endlessly in either direction and a battered railway track ran like a seam down the middle of its floor. Annabelle's breathing was quick and shallow now. How had she managed to get here? But her panic was punctured by an echoing bark somewhere deep down the tunnel to her right. ‘Moth,’ she breathed, and a flicker of hope burst, warm, in her heart.
‘Moth?’ She called out, and the bark sounded again. She stood up, shaking but determined. ‘I’m coming,’ she called out as she moved towards the sound. Her feet broke into a run, the flashlight swinging with her movement. Somehow it felt better to move quickly. Tears of fear slid down her cheeks, but she carried on, calling Moths name every few paces. The responding barks acted like a warm drink, soothing and stimulating. Was it her imagination, or was the tunnel getting lighter? The darkness seemed to be mixing with a pale, blue glow.
Then she rounded a corner to find the lightest stretch of the tunnel yet. And there, slumped against the wall, was Henry. Annabelle rushed towards him, ‘Henry!’ she cried, pulling his shoulders towards her. But his head lolled as if in the deepest of sleep. Annabelle’s eyes flicked over his face, peaceful but pale. Then they found his leg, it was broken, lying at an odd angle with a dark liquid soaking through the jeans. Annabelle gave a little yelp of shock. She ran her hands over the leg only to find her fingers damp with blood. She tried to shake him awake, calling his name. His eyelids fluttered. It was enough for relief to spread through her heart. He was alive. Moths bark sounded again, close. Annabelle stood, wiped her hands on her shirt, and headed towards it. The tunnel became lighter and brighter, it forked and branched in many directions, but she kept following the light. Then when she rounded the final twist in the tunnel, she found herself in the most magnificent place she had ever seen.
She was standing in front of a circular cavern. It had deep, uneven steps rising up steeply around its walls and was lit by thousands and thousands of tiny pale blue lights that seemed to dance and move of their own accord. As her eyes adjusted to this wonderland, she realized that they weren’t lights at all. They were each a fairy complete with tiny wings and pointed feet. Forgetting her fear entirely, she wandered into the center of the cavern where a crude plinth stood. As she got nearer, she saw that sitting happily on its top was Moth, with fairies nestling in her fur. Annabelle called her name again, Moth wheeled around and barked happily. But just as she moved to greet her, the fairies danced and twirled in front of her nose. Moth’s eyes slid out of focus. Then the biggest fairy moved over her muzzle, shining brightly and performing a complicated dance. Moth sat back down obediently.
‘Hey!’ Called Annabelle, ‘What are you doing to her?’ Every fairy in the cavern stopped and turned towards her. Silence fell. Annabelle looked at Moth and all the fairies, then she puffed out her chest and said bravely, ’Take me instead!’ Some of the fairies began to whisper to each other. It sounded like soft rain. Then the big fairy fluttered towards her, up close she could see that he was their King. He looked at her with tiny disbelieving eyes, ‘You can see us?’, he asked. Annabelle's eyes flashed, ‘of course, I can see you. You’re right there.’ The King stared at her, and so did every other fair. ‘Then you believe we exist,’ he whispered, and a ripple of excitement seemed to move silently through the fairies. ‘What do you mean?’, asked Annabelle. ‘Nothing may exist unless it is believed it does. Our curse is that so long as all sons or daughters of man believe we do not exist, then we shall never be seen for what we are’, the King replied.
Annabelle frowned, but the fairies were now staring at her with hungry looks in their eyes. ‘What have you been doing to my dog?’ She asked. The King waved his hand impatiently, 'we have been healing her so that she can stay with us here happily,' he said. ‘She’s not yours to keep!’, growled Annabelle. The King ignored her, ‘she told me that there is a boy with you too’, he said. It was Annabelle’s turn to stare, ‘Yes, he’s my brother.’ The King's eyes gleamed, ‘does he believe too?’, he asked. Annabelle hesitated. The fairies around Moth began to nestle in her fur again. It made the hair on Annabelle’s arms stand on end. ‘If he does, and he sees us with you, we will be free’, said the King, and his eyes were sharp with anticipation.
Annabelle turned her eyes towards Moths, then she looked at the sea of fairies. In truth, she had imagined that fairies would be kinder than this. She looked back to the King. ‘He believes,’ she said, ‘but if I take you to him, will you promise to let Moth go?’ The King seemed to buzz angrily. Moth whimpered in the background. Annabelle turned to the King, ‘she doesn’t like that,' she said. The King buzzed more, Moth began to growl, she shook her fur, and the fairies in it were thrown out. Then with a leap, she bounded down towards Annabelle, who grabbed her collar. Together they pelted towards the tunnel. But the fairies were too quick. They swarmed down and created a barrier to the tunnel with the King right at the front.
‘Wait!’ He boomed, ‘you don’t know how we have suffered. We cannot be seen in our true form, but we have been trapped and imprisoned in your world. Take us to your brother, and you can keep your dog.’ Annabelle looked at him long and hard, then nodded once. The barrier of faires opened like a curtain, and the King fluttered onto Annabelle’s shoulder. A group of fairies formed a chain and attached Annabelle’s flashlight onto Moths head. Annabelle held her sleeve out to Moth, still smeared with Henry’s blood. Moth sniffed it and then sniffed the air, her body alert in concentration. Then she lurched forwards and bounded into the tunnel.
Moth, Annabelle, and the fairies hurtled through the tunnel, following each twist and turn that Moth made. The light from the cavern was fading with each step just as the light from the flashlight grew. Finally, Moth skidded around the last bend and stopped before Henry, still slumped against the floor. She snuffled him nervously and licked his face. His eyes flickered. Annabelle scooped the King and the fairy chain into her hands, ‘you have to wake him!’ she cried. Then she held them in front of Henry’s face, the fairies buzzed and glowed bright momentarily, and Henry’s eyes opened. ‘Henry! You’re okay! We’ve come to rescue you!’ cried Annabelle. ‘Who?’ asked Henry, then he winced in pain and held his leg. ‘Us,’ said Annabelle, ‘here’, and she held out her hands full of fairies. He stared at them, a groggy and strange expression on his face. Then he looked up at Annabelle and said, ‘diamonds. Are those real?’
The King turned red, he buzzed angrily, ‘you lied!’, he bellowed at Annabelle. Tears slid down her face, ‘please, I just want to go home, please. I thought if you could wake him and heal his leg, then he’d believe’, she cried. ‘Who are you talking to?’, asked Henry faintly. ‘Fairies, Henry, fairies’, croaked Annabelle desperately, ‘they woke you up.‘ But Henry rolled his eyes and dropped back into his sleep. The fairies began to weave and dance around Moth again, who plonked herself down on the ground. ‘Please?’, wailed Annabelle to the King, ‘I do not help liars.’ he said, but she stood up, a fierce fire in her eyes ‘You’re a stupid King,' she said. The King glowed even deeper red, ‘you dare to -‘ but Annabelle talked over him, ‘don’t you know that sometimes you have to take action for people to believe in you? You have to prove yourself. If you just expect people to believe in you just because you want them to, then you deserve to be cursed.’
The King stopped buzzing. He hung in mid-air quite still, his eyes locked on Annabelle’s. A small, squirming feeling settled in his stomach. He hated to admit it, but she was right. His fairies behind him began to fidget in Moths fur. ‘Fine’, he said crisply, ‘let us prove ourselves.’ and he flew into Annabelle’s cupped hands. She crouched down once more in front of Henry, her hands now full of fairies. They woke him up again, and before he could say anything, she held them out over his leg. He stared as her hands full of diamonds began to flicker and flutter. The pain in his leg was dissolving. The blood on his jeans was sucked back into his body, and the diamonds grew little legs and faces. Then he felt his bone knitting together, and the diamonds had wings. With a final rush of warmth, his leg was healed, and he was staring wide-eyed at the blue, glowing fairies in his sister's hands.
At that moment, in the window display of the jewelry shop in town, the diamonds in each ring, necklace, bracelet, and earring suddenly glowed bright blue. Then where a diamond had been on a particularly large engagement ring, was now a fairy. Its tiny face was alive with happiness as it zoomed out of the display and into the street. And each fairy from each diamond rose into the night air, high above the town, to join the hundreds of other fairies floating in their new freedom.
Annabelle, Henry, and Moth could never remember exactly how they found their way out of the tunnel and back to the tent. They woke up the next morning in the bottom of the garden, wrapped in their sleeping bags. They looked at each other, each wondering the same thing. Henry spoke first, ‘Did you have a strange -‘, then their mother's voice cut through the morning peace, ‘Henry! Annabelle! Get inside. There’s been a robbery, my diamonds are gone!’ The children looked at each other and grinned. Then Henry held out his hand. 'I was wrong,' he said, 'you were the bravest of us all last night.' Annabelle smiled, then she scooped up her book and ran with Moth and Henry back across the garden and home.
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.