Read the series prologue.
Read episode nine.
Episode Ten: Purity’s Guardians
Lilac drifted slowly over the rocky peaks of the Emerald Mountains. A cool breeze pushed at her back but she fought it enough to remain in sight of a group of elves chosen by the elders to journey to the fairy kingdom where they would fight to keep the unicorns safe. Beritta and Faralasa were part of the group. Lilac had just finished giving Faralasa a more detailed account of affairs in Fairy Wood.
“That’s quite the chain of misfortune,” Faralasa commented.
“Sounds like something broke Fairy Wood’s protection wards,” said Beritta.
“That hasn’t happened in years!” replied Lilac. “I think we would have noticed if the charms were gone.”
“You noticed that something’s wrong in the forest,” Beritta argued. “That’s enough proof for me. After all, poison spells should have no effect on your water if your charms were working like they’re supposed to.”
Lilac was quiet for a while, thinking about this. She had to admit that made sense. Still, if that was the case the fairies should be repairing the protection spells, not just getting elves to defend the unicorns.
A high pitched squeal came from behind them.
“Wait for meeee!”
Faralasa groaned. “Did you have to bring Glibbin?”
“I told you,” Beritta answered, “I tried to leave him with Oakley, but he just wouldn’t stay.”
“I’ll bet you anything he’ll get in the way.”
“I’m telling you he followed me. I didn’t want him to come.”
By that time the little hobgoblin caught up with them. “Are we almost there?” he asked in a whiny voice.
“Not much farther,” said Beritta. “We’ll be there soon.”
“How soon?” asked Glibbin.
“See for yourself,” said Lilac.
The fairy was hovering over a steep ledge. The others walked within a few feet of the edge and looked where Lilac was pointing. Below, several more peaks rose and fell. Beyond that, a vast forest stretched down to the plains. Looking out at the rows of trees, Beritta remembered hearing that Fairy Wood spanned the entire western border of the kingdom Windola. She strained her eyes to see the edge of it, but that was beyond even an elf’s range of vision.
“We should reach it by tomorrow,” said Lilac.
They continued until nightfall, at which time they stopped to rest. In the morning, they set out again reaching the forest before midday. As they stepped beneath the canopy of trees, the elves couldn’t help noticing the unnaturally large number of unicorns roaming there.
“Lilac, exactly how many unicorns are in Fairy Wood right now?” Faralasa asked.
“No one really knows for sure,” the fairy replied. “We only know there has never been so large a gathering of them in one place before now.”
“Well Beritta, our job just got harder!” said Lasa with fake cheerfulness.
Lilac flew to inform the fairy queen of the arrival of the elf warriors and after a brief greeting by both the queen and a few unicorns the elves spent a lazy day exploring the forest.
When twilight fell, the elves broke into small groups scattered throughout Fairy Wood in order to cover more ground and therefore protect more unicorns. At first the night was calm and uneventful. Just as Beritta and Lasa were beginning to think nothing would happen, the noise of a large group of animals crashing through the undergrowth reached their ears. The leader of their group motioned for them to be ready as the noise came closer. They remained motionless as a herd of about a hundred unicorns thundered past them. Once the herd passed, a group of small hairy trolls appeared, giving pursuit. The elves leapt at the trolls, pulling out weapons they had brought with them. Beritta slashed at the face of a fat black troll who clawed at every part of her he could reach in panic. She rolled out of his reach then moved around him slipping in to poke him with her sword and out to avoid more scratches from his claws and teeth. Lasa fared similarly. At the first opportunity they got, the trolls retreated from the forest and ran to the safety of their caves.
The next day, while the elves were resting, Lilac flew up to Beritta and Faralasa. She was followed by two other fairies and a gnome whom she introduced as her friends Lilly, Reuben and Wispen.
“We have something for you,” Lilac explained. “The gnomes made some medicine to help any wounded unicorns. We think you should keep some with you in case you find any hurt animals.”
“That’s a good idea,” said Beritta. “Thanks.”
Lilly and Reuben lifted a large jar of the medicine and gave it to Beritta. Wispen gave another jar to Lasa.
“I hope the medicine will come in handy,” said Wispen.
Later that night, as Beritta patrolled the forest, she heard the sound of hoof beats and a large animal breathing hard. She quickly moved toward the noise and soon saw a grey unicorn running at a furious pace followed by a large troll. The troll crouched and sprang at the unicorn, a line of drool dripping from its mouth. Beritta drew a small knife from her belt and flung it at the troll. The knife lodged itself in the monster’s throat. The creature fell on his back and began making a gurgling screech. It was a horrible noise. Beritta covered her ears and the unicorn stopped and ducked her head. They remained like this until the troll had stopped writhing and lay still.
“Are you all right?” Beritta asked the unicorn mentally.
“I’m fine thanks to you.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“I’m grateful all the same,” replied the unicorn. “Unicorns protect purity, but not everyone respects that. As you can see,” she pointed to the troll with her horn, “some hunt and destroy everything pure.”
Beritta glanced at the monster lying at her feet. She pulled her knife out of it and wiped it on the grass.
“What should we do with this purity hunter?” she asked with disgust.
“Leave him. He will turn to stone in the morning. You’re Princess Beritta aren’t you?”
Beritta nodded. “Are you Mist?” she asked. “Lilac told me about a grey unicorn named Mist.”
“That’s me. I hope Lilac said good things about me.”
Beritta grinned. Suddenly she became serious. “Wait, trolls turn to stone in sunlight. Why didn’t we think of that sooner? All we need to do is keep the trolls out until the sun rises!”
“It’s not that simple, believe me, I’ve tried it,” said Mist.
“Maybe it’s not easy, but I it could work. After all, trolls aren’t very smart.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“If we could get elves, fairies and unicorns to work together maybe we could trap the trolls into staying out until sunrise. I need to get back to the other elves. I’ll tell them our plan. The woods will be free of trolls before you know it.”
“Want a lift?” asked Mist. “If you give me directions I can take you where you need to go.”
“That would be great.”
“Is everyone in position?” asked Beritta Lilac the following night as the fairy came to hover in front of her.
“Yep. Reuben, Lilly and I will be watching the trolls from the air and giving you pointers,” replied the flower fairy, reviewing the plan, “Wispen will be guiding the unicorn herd and keeping the trolls form hurting them. The trolls will come out to hunt, the unicorns will lead the trolls to you, you’ll keep them out all night, the sun will rise and they will turn to stone.”
“Right,” said Beritta. “Keep your eyes open and let me know the moment you see the trolls.”
“Yes ma’am!” Lilac saluted as she flew off to follow Beritta’s instructions.
“Well, well,” said Faralasa as she came to stand beside Beritta. “Look who’s finally taking charge.”
Beritta didn’t comment on this but a slight flush crept into her cheeks.
“Get ready,” Beritta snapped, “The trolls will be coming out of their caves any minute.”
“Yes, your majesty!” said Lasa with an exaggerated bow. Beritta’s face went redder.
A few minutes later Lilac whizzed back to the elves shouting, “They’re coming!”
“Get ready!” Beritta ordered.
The elves scrambled into their positions. A herd of unicorns thundered passed, closely followed by a group of trolls. Wispen sat on the head of the lead unicorn calling out directions to ensure the unicorns’ safety. Once the unicorns reached the elves, Wispen shouted, “Split up!” The herd split into several smaller groups veering off in different directions. This momentarily confused the trolls. The elves confused them further by making noises and throwing things to distract the monsters and keep them from following the unicorns too closely. When the trolls finally recovered, they also split up to give pursuit. The elves, stalked the trolls from the cover the forest provided.
As Beritta moved across a hillside with Faralasa, Mist ran below her mentally calling out, “Beritta, come with me. I’ll help you keep up with one of the unicorn groups.”
“I’m going with Mist,” Beritta told Faralasa. “Try to keep up with some of the unicorns. Remember; keep the trolls busy until sunrise.”
“Will do,” said Lasa. “See you in the morning.”
Beritta leapt from the hill onto Mist’s back. The unicorn turned and galloped into the night. Meanwhile, Lilly flew up to Faralasa.
“Follow me,” said the sprite. “I can spot trouble from the air and direct you to it.”
“All right, lead on!”Lasa replied.
Faralasa ran so fast it seemed like her feet barely touched the ground. From somewhere above her, Lilly cried, “A group of trolls is backing some of the unicorns toward the edge of a ravine!”
“Where?” asked Lasa.
“We’re on the other side of it. I’ll see if there’s a safe place to cross.”
“Don’t bother!” Lasa shouted and began running at top speed toward the fissure.
“You’ll never make that jump!” Lilly yelled in alarm.
With that Lasa leapt out over the ravine. She moved across in a wide ark, seeming to hover in midair for a minute as Lilly held her breath. Lasa fell gracefully back to earth, crashing into the bewildered trolls. As the monsters scattered and ran, Lilly started breathing again.
“Wow, great job!” called Wispen from where he sat astride one of the unicorns. “I was just getting worried before you came.”
Just then Lilly flew up screaming. “That was amazing! How did you do that? It looked like you were flying.”
“It felt amazing,” said Lasa, grinning.
“Do you think you could do it again?” asked Lilly.
“Probably.” Faralasa jumped into the air, did a flip, and then landed.
“Trolls beware!” Lilly laughed.
“Can we stay with you?” asked Wispen indicating himself and the unicorns with him.
Faralasa laughed. “Sure!”
They found the trolls Lasa had frightened and herded them deeper into the woods. As they guarded the trolls, Reuben joined them.
“Hey Lilly, watch this!” the pixie called. He landed on the tip of a troll’s nose. The creature went cross-eyed trying to see him. Suddenly, Reuben flashed his pixie light in the troll’s eyes and flew off his nose. The troll stumbled around in confusion until his sight returned to normal. Reuben watched laughing.
“Really funny, Reuben,” said Lilly without much feeling, “but you should find another group of unicorns and elves to help. We have enough help here.”
“Okay,” said Reuben dashing off to find another group. He hadn’t gone far when a pair of slimy green hands shot out and caught him. A smiling hobgoblin peeked through his fingers at the pixie. Glibbin had been running wild all night. The elves had forgotten him in the excitement.
“I caught a pixie, I caught a pixie!” Glibbin chanted. “Now you have to grant me a wish.”
“First let go of me,” said Reuben.
Glibbin opened his hands letting the pixie free. Quick as a flash Reuben flew into the woods.
“What about my wish?” Glibbin wailed.
“You should have made it before you let me go,” the pixie called over his shoulder. “Bye sucker!”
Lilac caught up to Mist and Beritta as they pounded through the woodlands. She brushed Beritta’s cheek with her wing to get her attention. When the elf turned to her, Lilac said, “Stay on guard. You’re practically surrounded by trolls. I’ll fly above you and warn you of any approaching danger.”
“Thanks Lilac, that should help a lot,” Beritta replied.
An extremely ugly troll jumped out in front of them.
“Look out!” Lilac yelled.
Mist lowered her head and charged the creature, running it through with her horn.
“Unicorns need to fight back!” She told Beritta and Lilac as she wiped her horn on the grass. They were too stunned to say anything. Mist turned and began galloping again, leaving the dead troll in her wake. The trio didn’t get much farther before they heard another troll snarling at them.
“It’s right behind you!” Lilac shrieked.
A hairy black troll jumped from some bushes, digging claws and teeth into Mist’s rump. The unicorn screamed and reared. Grabbing a handful of Mist’s mane in her left hand to steady herself, Beritta drew out her knife with her right hand. Then, pressing her knees against Mist’s sides for support, Beritta twisted around and stabbed the troll. The creature let out a roar and dug his claws deeper. Mist bucked and finally threw the monster, but as he fell his claws leftdeep gashes on her sides.
Mist spent several minutes running wild with pain causing Beritta to drop her knife, before Lilac and Beritta managed to calm her.
“Stand still, Mist,” said Beritta jumping off the unicorn’s back as she stood shivering.
“What are you going to do?” asked Mist.
“I’m going to help you. We’re going to find out how well the gnome’s medicine works.”
Beritta pulled out the jar Lilly and Reuben had given her and unscrewed the lid. It was filled with a salve.
As Beritta smeared some on Mist’s wounds, Lilac said, “It will work. The gnomes know about those kinds of things.”
By that time a greyish light was creeping up from the horizon. “It’s nearly dawn,” Beritta commented. “Can you still walk, Mist?”
“Of course I can!” Mist replied slightly offended. “You don’t think I’m going to let a few scratches stop me do you?”
Beritta thought that her fit a few minutes earlier proved they were more than scratches, but she didn’t tell Mist so.
“Okay,” said Beritta, out loud this time. “Lilac, try to locate the other groups. Tell them to round up as many trolls as they can. We’ll try to get a bunch of them together in one place when the sun comes up fully.”
“I’m on it,” said Lilac flying off at once.
Beritta turned to Mist. “Let’s get to it,” she said.
As light spread across the sky, heralding the sun’s rising, the trolls began to panic, scrambling to make it back to their caves. Despite or perhaps because of this, the elves managed to herd a large number of them together. The unicorns helped by prodding the monsters with their horns. The unicorns, more than any of the others, wanted to be rid of the trolls for good. Finally, all the groups merged beneath a grove of gnarled old oaks. The elves and unicorns formed a ring around the trolls, keeping them in place with knives and horns. Then the sun rose above the treetops, its rays touching the creatures on the ground. The trolls shrieked as any part of their body touched by sunlight turned to stone. Before long they were completely petrified. Unicorns raised their heads, elves lowered their weapons, and fairies hovered to watch. Then they all gave a cheer of victory.
“No monsters will dare mess with purity’s creatures when we have something to say about it!” Beritta shouted.
“Uh, Beritta, you do know that some of the trolls got away right?” asked Faralasa as she, Lilly, Wispen and Reuben rejoined Beritta, Lilac and Mist. “I mean, we couldn’t turn them all to stone.”
“I know,” said Beritta, “but I still think we did a good job. Hopefully the other trolls will think twice before coming back to Fairy Wood.”
“Let’s hope so,” agreed Faralasa. “By the way, you lost something last night.”
She held out Beritta’s knife.
“Thanks,” said Beritta taking it.
“You saved our lives,” said Mist approaching with a few other unicorns.
“It’s not like you sat idly by and watched us,” Beritta commented. “We all deserve credit.”
“Three cheers for the troll killers!” Reuben shouted. “Hip-hip-hooray!”
Faralasa yawned. “It’s been a long night.”
“Yeah, but it was worth it,” said Lilly.
“I just wish we knew what made the waterways dirty,” said Lilac. “I mean, that’s what started all this trouble.”
“There will be time enough to worry about that later,” said Wispen. “We should all get some rest.”
“You’re right,” agreed Beritta. “Come on everyone. Let’s find some place to sleep.”
Continue to episode eleven.