The story so far:
The blackness from Ras's pupils sprawled over the dark irises and into the whites of his eyes to turn his eyes into completely dark, obsidian orbs. Black lightning crackled from the ground up into the sky as Zane's scorched body sailed high into the air. Faster than any fairy wings could transport, Ras was waiting for Zane in the air and brought the willow staff in a fierce strike forcing the Commander to hit the ground hard.
The newly empowered fairy dived and allowed gravity to propel his body onto his opponent. Zane barely managed to erect a magical shield which hindered the bodily missile only enough to keep the blow from being the final attack. Zane couldn't breathe. The powerful blow created a vacuum through sheer pressure. The powerful form of Ras lifted Zane over his head, then tough wings,the color of golden embers, separated from the guardian fairy's body as they were pulled in different directions.
As Zane screamed, Ras's eyes turned to normal.
Anthony scratched his head totally complexed. It almost seemed like the bats were following him. He was several miles away from Austin, and the bats had descended upon the truck stop that he came to relieve his bladder at and buy a couple of Twinkies. He realized that this could be no ordinary bat migration. The bats left, and came back, and left again. It was the weirdest thing he had ever seen, but what he witnessed after that was even weirder. As the night became suddenly still, for once in his boring life, Anthony's curiosity compelled him to investigate.
“The goblins flew away again.” Anthony couldn't believe his eyes as witnessed two pretty, lithe girls with wings like fairies talk in a grove of nearby trees. “It seems we are momentarily safe, so who are you're new friends?”
For moment, Anthony wondered if the feminine but strong looking beauty talked about him, but only seconds later two more dainty, identical twins with blond hair stepped out of the...trees. Witnessing the impossible, Anthony began to wonder if he was delirious after being bitten by a bat, but he felt fine, not giddy like the times he smoked weed or took LSD in his youth.
“Nymphs.” The young girl with white hair and translucent wings spoke and in the process seemed to melt into something more human without wings.
One bowed: “Cardilla Fendaline Armallia.”
The other curtsied: “Verona Milanot Rominia.”
“There's not much time to loose.” The obvious leader who now also looked human spoke with urgency. “The goblins could return at any moment. We need to get you back to the fairy realm, Layla.”
“Well, that's easy.” The slender twin that identified herself as Cardilla spoke. “This grove is a hidden node, with my sister's help we can guide her to any realm.”
“You will do that for us?” The young girl identified as Layla asked.
“Sure, deary.” The other called Verona chimed in.
“Why?” The strong woman's demeanor was protective. “Why are nymphs helping us? We have been enemies, since the Great War.”
“Sylphs fought in the Great War.” Cardilla seemed perturbed by the statement. “We are Dryads! Would you like us not to differentiate among the Fey Folk; Goblins...Fairies...Elves—you are all alike.”
“Yes.” The young girl raised her hands to bring peace among the group. “You are right, please, help us get back.”
Lights flickered around the forest as if will-o-wisps and fireflies grew from thin air. Anthony began to feel hazy as the world seemed to get lighter and brighter. He could feel himself able to, not move but, will his body to follow them, and the curious cat followed.
“Chelise, are you not coming?” Anthony could hear the young Layla ask.
“No,” the other said, “I have to find Zane.”
“But the human realm is so fearful...” The words drifted as they were between realms.
“Worry not. I am half-human.”
Goldrang diverted his attention from the mystic visions and control to Digby's zenith sword directed towards his body. He ducked under the attack and rolled away. “Thanks for the warning;” the goblin magician taunted, “if you didn't yell at me, I might have not avoided that attack.”
“Avoid this!” Digby growled as he rotated around, and the zenith followed in a large arch.
“Quite easy...” There was a smirk on the goblin's face as he became translucent and the blade passed harmlessly through his body. Energy visibly emanated from his once again solid body, then the powerful wizard focused it forward as he he double palmed punch the fairy guardian.
Digby exploded backwards and hit heavily against the stone wall. Trine rushed to his side. “Anything broken?”
“My undefeated streak of defeating goblin wizards within ten seconds.” The was no time to enjoy Digby's joke as Goldrang summoned fire between his arms and threw the bolt at the two guardians.
Trine barely managed to pull Digby to safety before the magic impacted. The explosion propelled them farther than old guardian intended. The ancient wizard jumped in the air and punched the ground. From that point, ice grew along the ground in the direction towards the two fairies.
“Watch out!” Trine yelled as he jumped into a back-flip. In midair, he cast off his human guise, and elegant wings colored in teal, lavender, and turquoise carried the jewel guardian over the danger below.
He watched as Digby ran away, and jumped over the queen's bed that covered the frozen assault. “Wouldn't it have been easier to just cast off your human guise?”
The bed exploded in flames reminded them of the real danger of Goldrang. Trine dived forwards; his zenith sword leading the aerial lunge against the goblin wizard, but before contact was made, the wizard vanished. As Trine's sword impaled the stone ground, Digby felt a sharp pain in his back. He surged forward and wheeled around to a bloody emerald in the gnarled hand of the goblin wizard.
“I'm impressed,” the goblin taunted the two fairies, “you have survived much longer than your two companions in the labyrinth. I guess there's something to be said for experience.”
“Roland... Hasby...” Trine turned away from his futile efforts to dislodge the impaled weapon from the stone floor.
“No!” Digby angrily threw his zenith sword at the sinister goblin.
After the blade harmlessly passed through, Goldrang raised his arm, and mystical energy collected in his hand. He brought his arm down towards Digby. The fairy found himself in a painful mystical tempest. Trine charged Digby. With all the power his fairy wings could muster, he carried his fellow elderly guardian out the castle window and fell down into the abyss below.
Goldrang smirked as he watched the fairies fall from the queen's bedchamber. He doubted if the fall would kill the mystical creatures with the power to fly, but he didn't care. He looked at the blood covered Jewel of Amarillia; he had more important matters to attend to.
“Why don't you change forms?” Trine growled at Digby at the bottom of the ravine. “You could have flown, and you'll heal faster!”
Digby only shook his head in shame. “Digby,” Trine said, “I have known you since I joined the guardianship, and in that time, we have fought together in many battles, but I have never seen your fairy form.”
The fairy in human guise remained silent.
“You can trust me. It doesn't matter if your wings have feathers or are on leather.”
“I know,” Digby finally spoke, “but it doesn't matter now. We have to figure some way to defeat Goldrang.”
“I already have.” Trine's words surprised the old fairy warrior. “The Prophecy of the Jewels is upon us; there's no way to deny it now; all we can do is alter the outcome. I need a favor from you, Digby.” He brandished a diamond.
Loraint's heart was beating in fear, yet the two fairies bravely entered the cavernous throne room of the Goblin King. Silent dreadful stares beat upon the two as they approached the giant, muscular goblin on the throne. Not a word was spoken as Maggie gave King Sklaborn the scepter to become General of the Jewel Guardians.
“It must be horrible to be you.” Ras spoke and hovered leisurely over the wingless Commander Zane. “To train, you whole life to protect, to fight, to be the best. You worked so hard to be a young commander, but in the end to know all your hard work was simply not enough. How foolish you must feel.”
As Ras taunted, Zane summoned the strength to stand. “Where is she?” Blood spat out his mouth as he spoke.
“I have naught a clue, but that should be the least of a dead fairy's worries.”
“I swear...I kill you.” Zane denied the fate given to him by dark winged fairy.
“How?” A powerful strike from the willow staff showed the wingless fairy how foolish his proclamation was. “You have not the strength, already I can hear in your words that your mind is fading, but you should feel honored: know your end came at the hand of the future King of the Fairies.”
“No!” Zane jumped to attack his adversary with nothing more than his bare hands.
Ras twisted his body in midair and batted the jumping fairy with his willow staff. The power of the staff propelled the fairy like no other, and Zane went crashing far into the lake inside the park. “You can't stop the prophecy, Commander!” Ras flew away, leaving the crush, limp, broken guardian to drown.
“Umm, John,” the police officer turned to his senior partner, “how do we explain this?” The veteran beat cop slowly turned his head and just stared at the rookie.
“Who are you!?!?” Layla yelled at the human who had followed her to the Fairy Castle.
“Anthony.” The human face was an expression of awe as he marveled the majestic high chambers of the Fairy queen's throne room. “What are you?”
“What are you doing here?” Layla ignored his question.
“I followed you.” He hesitated as he examined the magically ordained throne to provide the Fairy Queen enhanced wisdom. “Where is here?”
“Anthony Dewitt.” The voice surprised both human and fairy as the goblin archmage Goldrang stepped into view from the glorious, winding stairwell. “You are in the Fairy Realm. Currently, you are in the dwelling, which is the Fairy Queen Nora's castle, but soon it will be mine!”
Prince Ras felt the stone pull him away. Instinctively, he reached for the black onyx stone. He knew for some reason the goblin was calling him back to the fairy realm. It was good have the archmage's power. He knew without it that he would have never defeated Commander Zane. With it, however, he will never be able to defeat Archmage Goldrang. With all his might, he forced his hand to release the black onyx stone, which fell on the ground in the human realm where it could control him no more.
Goldrang held the Jewel of Amarillia over his head as Ras appeared in the throne room that he felt was destined to be his. To his surprise and joy, little Layla was already there without any pesky guardians to cause more problems, but rather a mere human instead. Only, he well knew that Goldrang wasn't the loyal advisor to King Sklaborn and questioned his motives, but if he would transfer the essence in the diamond, the throne was unquestionably his. He was so close to accomplishing his dream that it was irritating to practice patience. Wouldn't it be nice if the Goblin mage just transferred the essence of the Queen to him as they had agreed upon?
“Do you have the diamond?” He knew he could easily frighten the child, but it seemed like her body was devoid of any emotion. As she sat oblivious to the world around her.
“I have it.” Goldrang raised in it the air like victorious trophy.
“Well,” Ras smiled as he spoke, “I believe we have a deal...and what's with the human?”
Anthony raised his hands to enter a defensive posture. “I'm just an observer. I really have no clue what's going on.”
“He speaks the truth;” Goldrang said, “he really has no clue.”
“Well, it shows.” Ras knew he needed to tread carefully, but he was eager to become King. “Now, let's bound the spirit of my dear sister to my will, shall we.”
“I think not.”
Ras boiled with anger. It took his whole will to maintain a calm demure. If had the stone, Goldrang could make him a possession at any moment, and it would have a relaxing effect as the goblin's will overpowered his own. He was glad that he had done the right thing by leaving it in the human realm. “Why not?” His words came out smooth and lied about the angry he truly felt.
The goblin smile inflamed every cell in the Prince's body. “Because, you are not worthy.”
Ras fell to his knees, and he did not looking at the goblin in fear that the may reveal his true rage. “Yes, master.”
The was a couple of resounding knocks that echoed through the throne. Then by magic the doors swung inwards by themselves to reveal the King Sklaborn, Maggie, Loraint, and the whole goblin army in attendance. “Goldrang!” King Sklaborn, General of the Jewel Guardians, bellowed like no other. “What is the meaning of this?”
The archmage passed Ras as he walked towards his former liege and began summoning the mystical energies about his body. “Consider it a resignation.”
Unexpectedly, blood spilled from his mouth, and the energies stopped manifesting. Goldrang looked down to see the tip of a zenith sword impaled through his torso. “Consider your resignation more than just your job.” Ras, the goblin archmage slayer, spoke with triumph.
With the magician's death, the spell over Layla broke. She began screaming as he picked the diamond with the Queen's essence off the floor next to the wizard's body.
“No!” Loriant unsheathed his mini zenith and was about to charge when the firm large hand of his new General came down firmly on his shoulder.
Maggie calmly walked forward. “Get him, Maggie!” Layla cheered.
Everyone watched as they slowly walked towards each other. The tension was thick as the moved closer and closer. Then—they embraced in a kiss.
“My king!” Prince Ras returned her gesture with: “My queen!”
“WHAT!” Both Layla and Loraint yelled at the same time.
“I am the new King of the Fairies.” King Ras proclaimed to all within the throne room. “I ask you to recognize my reign.”
Maggie was first to kneel, then King Sklaborn who was immediately followed by all other goblins, then even elves in attendance bowed too. “Never!” Layla was defiant as she rushed in what was a futile attempt to save her queen. Maggie was between her royalty, and the young fairy was no match against an experienced guardian and was restrained in seconds.
King Ras turned his attention to the last guardian. “What about you Loriant? Will, you swear allegiance? You'll retain your position as a Jewel Guardian.”
Loraint looked around as if trying to find some resolve for the conflict that fought within. Finally, his voice cracked as he said, “I swore an oath of loyalty to the Queen, not you!”
“Pity, put them in the jewel room. I will capture their souls tomorrow if they don't change their minds.” Ras waved a royal hand. “Take them away.”
“What about the human?” Maggie asked.
Ras shrugged his shoulders. “Throw him in the dungeon.”
“Under what crime?” King and General Sklaborn asked.
After being convinced by his old friend and former General of the Jewel Guardians, to do one last favor, Digby found himself outside the Fairy Castle trying to sneak back inside. He heard that Prince Ras came back, and their was a great commotion about his future coronation, but before the council will crown him, he had to absorb or destroy the Queen's essence. In theory, the essence could remain in a gem indefinitely, but in reality, after a few days there's a kind of spiritual leak, so the Kfairydom could remain in a governmental limbo without a direct line.
Goldrang was one of the few powerful mages who could restore or transfer the essence of the Queen. No fairy would destroy or let Ras absorb the Queen, but the Prince also had elven allies. Digby knew he had to hurry. A light flared bright as he tried passing some goblin guards. The only reason he didn't kill them is because they mentioned that they would take him to 'King Ras.'
“Surprised to see me?” Digby asked as he was presented to the de facto 'Fairy King' inside the spiral tower.
“Surprised you gave yourself up,” Ras confessed as he jockeyed in his hand, the diamond that contained his sister's soul. “I'm impressed; you can stay a Guardian if your willing to swear loyalty to me.”
“And the other's?” Digby asked. “Zane? Chelise? Maggie? Loraint? The apprentice Layla?”
“Zane is without wings.” Ras spoke matter-of-factly without emotion. “Chelise, I'd be willing to offer her the same. Maggie is to be my queen, and Loraint and Layla had already refused.”
Digby was surprised by the information and very concerned. “What did you do to them?”
“They are my captives,” Ras explained, “but that shouldn't be your concern unless you want to join them. Digby, you have performed a long noble service to the Fairy Court, to my sister, to our father before her, why should it be any different with me? I promise to bring back a golden age for fairies. An age where fairies are not afraid to show their true form; unlike before when we hid as humans. An age where goblins, elves, humans and nymphs know that, yes, fairies are the masters as they should be. Why would you not fight along my side for such a dream. There is no reason to hide your true form. It has been so long do you even remember what your wings look like? Digby, join me!”
“Damn it, Ras!” Digby growled. “I don't hid my true form because I'm ashamed of being a fairy. I hide my true form because of stupid, ignorant bigots like you are so damn quick to judge! Do you want to see my true form? I'll show you my true form!”
There were only shock and gasps as the old guardian cast aside his human guise. Wings jutted out from the old guardian's back, but the were neither like butterfly, moth, nor dragonfly, that one would associate with fairy wings, but they were as if skin stretched over very deformed and elongated hands. They were wings like a bat.
“By the guards,” Ras forgot himself, “you're half goblin!”
“Too right!” Digby smacked the sinister fairy with little black wings with his comparatively large bat wings. The diamond with Queen Nora's essence was an easy catch with the huge mitts that Digby had in his true form.
Securing the diamond with a smaller hand, Digby rushed and dived out the tower window. He let gravity accelerate him before allowing his wings to take flight. Although he wasn't a practiced flier with his wings, he knew that once he gained momentum, no pure fairy wings, that could accelerate faster and hover, would ever catch him.
“GET HIM!” The Prince yelled to all he commanded then followed out the window.
As goblins and elves ran, Ras flew, but none could catch him. Digby flew like he never did before. He reentered the castle through an open window and weaved through the halls towards the dungeon. He knew at the speed he traveled if his wings would hit a stone column or wall the bones would break, and all would be lost.
Digby didn't slow his flight as he came upon the goblin guards to the dungeon cell. Instead, he turn to human form and allowed his body to turn into an impressive jump kick. Before the other guard steadied his spear towards Digby, the guardian had the other's spear impaling the guard. He grabbed the keys from one's belt, and unlocked the huge stone door. Effortlessly, the giant store swung out and gave the old guardian access to the prisoners below.
He never been in the dungeons before, and stench was a type no fairy should have to endure. He pushed forward. He examined the cages; most were empty, and none had Layla. “A human? What are you doing here?”
“That's a good question.” The human kept speaking despite the lack of interest from the old fairy; he was quickly leaving him to continue to rot in the dungeon. “I guess my crime was curiosity; I followed a fairy named Layla. Suddenly, I was here listening to a goblin about how he was destined by some prophecy, then the Prince appear, killed the goblin, and threw me in here.”
“Layla!” Digby returned interest to the human. “Where is she?”
“What so special about her?”
“No time to explain.” Digby showed the key that could free the man from his cell. “Do you know where she is or not?”
“The new King...”
“Still Prince!” Digby corrected.
“Fine, Prince,” Anthony sighed in defeat, “said something about a jewel room.”
“No!” Digby unlocked the door and ran.
Anthony was right behind the old fairy, but both stopped as Soon-to-be-King Ras hovered down before them. The clamor of goblins echoing through the halls. “Valid attempt, Digby, but it was for naught. Now, give me the stone, you half-breed!”
“It's time for the observer to step forward!” Anthony walked forward, and entered a fighting stance. “I better warn you; I took Karate when I was eight years old!”
“You're not even a speed bump, human.” Ras flew against his opponent.
“Run!” Anthony shouted. “I'll buy you as much time as possible!”
Digby felt like a traitor as he, for the third time that day, jumped out a window, and for the second time in decades, stretched his wings to take flight. Ras didn't lie. In less than a minute, Digby was pursued by the fiercely flapping black wings, but it was a precious semi-minute, because it gave him the time he needed to achieve the momentum to fly faster that his full-blooded fairy foe.
Digby tucked his wings in as he crashed through the window to the Jewel Room. The elven guards where surprised by his entrance. Both Loraint and Layla were shackled to the stone slabs greased with bonding oil. As he rolled forward, Digby reached in his pouch to retrieve a pair of diamonds. As Ras followed through the windows and the elven guards moved to detain Digby, he released Layla from her bonds. Before turning to face Ras, he tossed the diamonds. Layla caught the two diamonds, and for her time seemed to stop.
Layla look up into a brilliant sky of intense brightness, but no sun could be seen. Her body could drift effortless in any carefree direction. She wondered what realm she had been transport to until both Queen Nora and General Trine from out of a seemingly non-existent fog.
“Where am I?” She asked.
“Between stones, Layla.” Queen Nora's sweet voice was refreshing to hear. “Oh, my dear Layla, I had hoped that it wouldn't come to this.”
“Come to what?” She asked her Queen.
“The future of the fairydom rests in you.” The guardian spoke for their majesty.
The Queen added, “and you must ascend to the throne.”
“How?” Layla asked. “You are the Queen!”
“Yes,” Queen Nora said, “but the prophecy upon us demands a change.”
“How do you expect me to fulfill that change?”
The calmness by which the guardian explained scared Layla. “By absorbing our essences into you.”
“It takes a powerful mage to transfer essences, usually it can be transferred to family members.” Layla question the validity of their plan. “How do you expect me to absorb your essence?”
“Because Chelise, my daughter, is your mother.” Nora spoke first.
“And Zane, my son, is your father.” Trine finished.
Layla was shocked by the revelation. Her family never abandoned her. They had always watched over her, protected her, and things began to make sense: the Queen's tenderness towards her, the Commander's unrelenting demand and expectation for her to be the top student in anything and everything, Chelise instinctive protection, and the General always taking time to advise her about life with a gentle smile, which is unaccustomed to old warriors. Why the secrecy? Then it occurred to her, “that would mean I'm one quarter human.”
Her grandmother nodded to the secret truth, and then, her grandfather explained the most coveted secret, “and one quarter elf.”
Layla gasped. “That explains why Commander Zane was so powerful with combat magic!”
Her grandfather finished explaining, “and now you know why the power lies within you to absorb our essence and lead the fairydom to a new age.”
“But that would mean,” tears crept into her eyes as she said, “that you'll be gone forever.”
“No, my sweet Layla, no.” Queen Nora had the tenderness only a grandmother could. “We'll live on in you! It is our duty as both Queen and Guardian to put the welfare of the fairydom before ourselves, and I can think of no better way to go than by saving my own granddaughter!”
Her grandfather smiled. “Do what you need to do!”
Layla consciousness returned to her body, and instinctively she smashed the diamonds together. As they exploded into fine dust, it was as if two apparitions whirled around her and smiled while her body absorbed the energy.
“NO!” The Would-be-King Ras yelled.
“Yes!” There was a power in the young apprentice eyes that had never sparkled before. No longer did she seem naïve, lost, and inexperienced. Instead, she had determined, focused eyes that could accomplish and master any difficult task set before her.
“It's no matter; when you are dead,” Ras growled, “I'll still be King.”
He smacked Digby aside with his willow staff and continued forward with his zenith sword. She erected a mystical shield before his attack could connect. He flew backwards from the force of the blow.
“Ras,” she stepped forward as she spoke, “Prince of the Fairies. By mother's mother, and my father's father, I strip you of your title and banish you from the realms of Fairy, Man, and Nymph. You will plague us no more.”
A vortex suddenly appeared and Digby answered by picking the ex-prince and throwing him inside. The vortex closed. Casually, Digby picked up Ras's Zenith sword and turned towards the elven guards. “Do you have any objections?”