This story is by Laurel Jean Grube and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
A tiny blue flower fairy named Love-in-a-Mist peeked over the stiff grass blades at the edge of the enchanted glen and looked upon the ugly wasteland beyond the trees. A dark mist hung above the mud and decay in the once lush valley. In the distance, she saw wisps of smoke from the village at the edge of the Kingdom and wondered about its people. She remembered stories her mother told about this beautiful village of kind folks. Love, as her friends called her, fluttered her wings, and wished to go there and explore.
“Don’t go over the border,” cautioned the Soldier Lichen standing stiff and tall in his gray suit and red cap.
“I won’t, but don’t you ever wonder what’s out there?” asked Love.
“No,” he replied. “My duty is to guard the flower fairies and protect our glen. Now shoo!”
Love flew off and landed in the Queen’s courtyard. “Perhaps she’ll let me cross the border,” thought Love.
Queen Lisette Rose enjoyed visits from her fairies and offered Love-in-a-Mist strawberry nectar in her garden.
“Your Majesty, what’s beyond our glen and why aren’t we allowed to visit the village?” Love asked.
“Love, you were young and didn’t realize how life changed when mystical King Talon laid his sharp claws into the land. A murky mist crept over everything and gardens blackened as if burnt by a fire. At night one could hear the raw cries of the people as joy left their souls,” explained Queen Lisette.
“The villagers fought King Talon and his Black Spot Knights. They were not strong enough against his power. Flower fairies bravely tried to help. My husband and others were lost during the fight,” Queen Lisette said as tears dropped, “We surviving fairies escaped to this ancient homeland, our enchanted glen.”
Love sat there and felt a stabbing pain inside. “Do the people suffer still?” she asked.
“Yes,” sighed the Queen, “And when King Talon is destroyed, happiness will return.”
“I want to help the people,” said Love about to fly off.
“No, stop!” said Queen Lisette as she grabbed Love’s hand. “You do not understand the power Talon has. You cannot fight him alone. Your infinite love is the seed we have waited for. It must be sown to reveal and bring forth the one who will set us free.”
As part of the plan, Love-in-a-Mist flew off in the early morning sun and gathered spider webs that glistened with dew. Her delicate soft blue petal skirts and their green threadlike leaves twirled in the warm breeze as she flew throughout the glen, visiting gardens and other flower fairies.
“Good morning,” she greeted joyful Yellow Pansy.
“Hello, White Violet,” she said to the innocent flower.
With each greeting, Love received the essence from the flower fairies’ souls. Purple Anemone gave protection from evil. Lightheartedness from Blue Delphinium. Sophistication from White Gardenia. Sweet Pea gave appreciation, Statice gave success and the feathery Astilbe shared patience.
“You have a wonderful selection here, Love,” said the Queen. “Even heartfelt emotions from Blue Hydrangea and forgiveness from Purple Hyacinth.”
Together, they wound the flower fairies’ essence around the strongest spider threads while Queen Lisette hummed a captivating tune, adding her musical soul. They strung the threads between the half heart-shaped wood frame made from branches of maple and spruce for strength and resonance.
“Go gather Goldenrod’s pollen,” said the Queen. “Her essence will give encouragement and luck.”
Love flew off searching for the bright yellow Goldenrod fairy. When she found her, Love fluttered her tiny wings into the pollen until they sparkled in the sunlight. Returning, she shook her wings and the golden essence shimmered down onto the strings.
“We’re done,” proclaimed the Queen. “Take this special harp to the entrance of our enchanted glen, kiss it and lean it against the ancient oak tree. Your kiss of boundless love will set the magic in motion.”
Love and her friends took the small harp and set it at the border between their glen and the dark misty field. Love kissed the harp and leaned it against the mighty oak. The magic harp started to grow taller with leaf and flower carvings entwining its column in beauty. Love fluttered around its magnificence before returning to the Queen.
“Now we wait,” smiled Queen Lisette Rose. “Go home and tonight the wind will carry its message to the chosen child.”
While the village slept, the gentle night wind blew through the harp strings, releasing a soft haunting call. King Talon felt the powerful magic emanating from the border as the call of the harp weaved through the land, carrying its message to the village and through an open window. It swirled into a child’s dream and touched her cheek like a kiss in the night.
The next morning Love-in-a-Mist eagerly flew to the edge of the glen.
“Beautiful morning, Soldier Lichen.”
“Humph,” he replied as he watched her settle onto a lilac branch.
Meanwhile, in the village, Iris Protea, a child named for the flower of hope and the flower of courage and change, awoke. She had dreamt of a colorful land where lay something important she needed to find. She touched her cheek. It felt warm and strange like a kiss of happiness she barely remembered.
Iris felt courageous and followed the calling from her dream. Barefoot, she stepped outside and soon found herself walking through the mist to the edge of the forest. Iris looked out across the field of mud, decay, and murkiness. She saw something sparkle in the distance and felt its pull. She held her ragged skirts up and tiptoed through the mud, searching for a dry path.
“King Talon!” shouted a Black Spot Knight. “A girl has escaped the village.”
“You should have stopped her!” Bellowed the King. “Do I have to do everything myself?”
Iris took another slippery step.
“Yes, come closer,” yelled Love-in-a-Mist when she saw the girl approach. Love fluttered her wings and rose off the lilac branch.
Iris couldn’t hear Love’s voice but sensed her call. As Iris came closer, the foul odor of the muck intensified and made her sick. She turned back.
“No! This way!” shouted Love.
Iris felt Love’s pull and came closer.
“You’re almost here!”
King Talon, disguised as a hawk, appeared out of nowhere. With his mighty talons extended, he swooped down and grabbed Iris’ golden curls. She screamed, trying to fight him off.
“NO!” shrieked Love. She beat her wings fast and shot out beyond the border.
“Sound the alarm,” Soldier Lichen ordered Blue Bugle fairy when he saw Love take off.
The Gladiolus flew forward aiming their sword-like flower heads at the hawk.
The hawk clawed at Iris and tried to grab Love in his talons. Love tangled him with her threadlike leaves allowing Iris to break free. Iris ran to the enchanted glen. Love untangled herself and joined Iris as the Gladiolus pushed the hawk back and he escaped into the dark mist.
Iris reached the sparkling object and fell to the ground before it. Stunned, both fairy and child sat there with hearts pounding, gulping for air.
“Touch the strings,” Love panted, “stroke them.”
Iris touched a string on the magical harp, a melodious note vibrated. She touched another as Love fluttered her wings. Iris had never heard such sounds before. Afraid, she stopped.
“No, don’t stop!” Love screamed and flew to Iris’ shoulder. “All will be right again. Don’t stop! Pluck the strings,” she spoke in Iris’ ear.
Iris plucked another string, then another.
“Yes, more! All of them!” shouted Love.
Iris ran a finger up all the strings. Golden dust released into the air as the magical harp spread infinite musical sounds throughout the land. Music and love combined had the power to break King Talon’s spell and he vanished.
The dark mist lifted. Green grass appeared where mud had been. Cherry trees burst into white blossoms. Daffodils popped up in the meadow, gifting new beginnings toward the brightening sun. Flower fairies appeared as the offerings from their souls spread over the land in the boundless music from the magical harp.
The music reached the village and people followed its call of love and happiness to the lush meadow.
While Iris continued stroking the magic harp, a stately golden Marsh Marigold appeared in the meadow.
“Kingcup!” The fairies shouted; “You’re alive. Hail Kingcup!”
Queen Lisette Rose fluttered to her husband’s arms as he waved his gold petaled cup in the air. A radiant light spilled forth and, in its swirl, King Gillam and Queen Edonea appeared.
The people cheered. Their King and Queen had vanished from Benevolent Castle when King Talon attacked eight years ago.
Queen Edonea recognized Iris and kissed her cheek.
Iris touched her face. The kiss felt warm and familiar, “Mama?”
“Yes, my sweetheart,” and they embraced.
Love-in-a-Mist flit circles around the reunited royal family.
Princess Iris and Love-in-a-Mist later traveled the kingdom; spreading boundless music and love to other villages.