Though Sela Kotu sent messengers to Tas-et-lal to see what Kly would give for the return of his men, she got no response. A week of not hearing from Kly made the queen and Zobo both very suspicious. At Sela Kotu's command, Zobo gladly sent more than 200 troops to guard the border, in case Kly had something up his sleeve. However, due to the fairies' request, no troops were put anywhere near fairyland. The fairies said that they could take care of that area themselves.
Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened for over a month. So, of course, everyone's guard was down the day that something finally did happen.
That day, Mayda and his followers were wandering quite near fairyland and the border of Tas-et-lal. In a different part of the country, but still pretty near Tas-et-lal's border, Sela Kotu, Tay-Bry, and a few others were walking near the edge of a cliff by the sea. Jocy, Hi-lee, and Elk-lore were all with the queen, as was Dewdrop.
When the queen had heard that Mayda was in the same general area as she was, she wanted to go see him. (He had never visited the castle, as Sela Kotu didn't want him to go out of his way for her.) However, Tay-Bry thought that visiting Mayda outside of the castle would be too risky.
Elk-lore had an idea. "Your Majesty, Jocy, Hi-lee, and I could find Mayda, and see if he is very close to Tas-et-lal's border, or if he is headed this way."
"That's an excellent idea," replied the queen. Looking at the eagle and the mouse, she said, "Would you two like to do that?"
"Our first spy mission for over a month, Your Majesty," said Jocy. "We'd love to." Hi-lee nodded in agreement, and, in two minutes, they were there, having been sent by Dewdrop.
As they became aware of the world around them, they could see fairyland, along with Mayda and his followers.
"He's too close to Tas-et-lal," said Jocy. "And he's not going anywhere--towards the queen or away from her." And, since no one wanted to interrupt him, the spies got ready to report back to the queen, though Elk-lore and Hi-lee hated to leave. Then, they saw something else.
Suddenly, ten men came out from hiding behind the Tree (which, as you remember, was close to fairyland) and stormed the border. More men emerged from other hiding places, and they approached Mayda's group, with their swords drawn.
"What are you doing?" someone asked.
The attackers just shook their heads. "We can't have a blasphemous demon here."
Several of the invaders were shot down by the fairies, and a few fairies were killed by the invaders. Elk-lore was about to make the rest fall asleep, and some of Mayda's 'pacifist' followers were about to kill them, but the great man put his hand up.
"This must be done," he said, and, without another word, he let the invaders lead him off. Somehow, no one, not even the fairies, resisted as the men went back into Tas-et-lal.
Then, right on the border of the two countries, the men forcefully took the red part of Mayda's outfit, then tied his wrists to two branches of the Tree. And, as everyone near Tas-et-lal's border watched, the invaders nailed his hands and feet to the Tree. Everyone was shocked as Mayda's blood dyed parts of the white bark of the Tree red, but, somehow, no one even thought about helping him.
At this point, Hi-lee and Elk-lore could no longer bear to look. However, Jocy, who had seen many deaths, continued to watch as the men spit in Mayda's face. Then, they took a crown of roses (to wear one is one of Jet-a-Miray's highest honors) and removed every rosebud on it. They mockingly forced it onto Mayda's head, causing many painful, bleeding scratches.
Jocy and some others observed all the things that the invaders did to Mayda. But everyone heard him say, "There is no greater love than one has to give his life for his friends." Suddenly, the sun was covered by clouds, and the whole sky was grey and overcast, where it had been sunny five minutes ago. The men from Tas-et-lal retreated back into the forest.
At this point, Elk-lore uncovered his eyes. Seeing Mayda hanging limp from the Tree, he dared to venture over there. He touched Mayda's finger, and it was nearly as cold as ice. Some other fairies, too, dared to touch the man, and there was no mistaking the fact that he was dead. Elk-lore slowly and forlornly flew back to his friends.
"He said it had to happen," the fairy said in a low voice. He paused for a moment, then said, "Come on. Let's go back to the Sela."
Since Dewdrop was not with them, they had to fly back to the queen. It didn't take very long, since it was a pretty short distance, but to Hi-lee and Elk-lore especially, it seemed like a long, painful journey. Finally, they were within sight of Sela Kotu. Jocy gracefully landed next to her, and Elk-lore flew down and hovered slightly below the queen's head. Hi-lee climbed onto the stone wall of a nearby farmer.
"What's wrong?" asked the queen, noting HI-lee's sad expression.
"Your Majesty, Mayda is dead," said Elk-lore in an unsteady voice.
"What?" asked Sela Kotu, visibly surprised. "How?"
Jocy replied, "Some men from Tas-et-lal came in, nailed him to the Tree, and killed him."
"How terrible! Why didn't someone stop them?"
"I'm not sure, Your Majesty," said Hi-lee, who, for some reason, found herself unable to cry. "He said that it had to happen."
"But some fairies tried to stop them when they came in, and some of the fairies and the invaders were killed." said Elk-lore.
"Well, I'm sorry I never got to meet Mayda." The queen sighed, then looked at the sea. Suddenly, she felt a cold object against her throat, and someone holding her arms to her body.
"I could have become more powerful than any other person in the world if it wasn't for you," the man restraining her said. "Now, all my power is gone. But you're going to die too."
Hi-lee could see that the man was Kly, but he looked extremely different than he had when she last saw him. His fine clothes were tattered, and his hair was a mess. His formerly fair skin was tanned, like he had been outdoors for a week. But what really stood out was the fact that his eyes looked fearsome, like the eyes of a hungry caged animal who would kill its own offspring just to escape.
Kly raised his dagger, and Sela Kotu futilely struggled to escape. "Goodbye, Your Majesty," he said as he brought the dagger down.
Just then, before her chest was pierced, the queen managed to hold Kly's arm back. She somehow freed herself, and hid behind Tay-Bry. No one but Kly had a weapon, and Elk-lore had temporarily forgotten about his abilities, so Kly dove at the queen again. Just then, though, a lion, an armed human soldier, and a wolf appeared, along with Dewdrop. The fierce creatures surrounded Kly, and edged him towards the edge of the cliff.
"Put down your weapon," said the wolf to Kly, "and we won't hurt you."
"I know what will happen if I surrender," said Kly. "I'll spend the rest of my life locked in a dungeon, with no hope of ever escaping. I have a choice--to die free or to live a prisoner." Kly stepped backwards a mere two steps, and noiselessly plunged down hundreds of hir to the sea.
"Do you think he might have survived?" asked Sela Kotu weakly.
"I know this coast, Your Majesty," replied Jocy, "and there are lots of rocks just under the water. I doubt anyone could live through that."
Despite this fact, even the Sela, who didn't believe in killing anyone, didn't feel sorry for Kly. Neither did Hi-lee, who was still sitting on the stone wall. She was, however, glad that she hadn't seen him hit the water.
Suddenly, Hi-lee felt a strong push from behind. It caused her to go forward a couple of steps and fall on her face. She looked behind her angrily, wondering who had done it, then gasped in shock.
She saw Mouser, grinning wickedly. If she would've looked a bit more closely, she'd have seen blood on his claws. "Mouser's here!" she shouted, and, in less than fifteen seconds, the cat was captured. Dewdrop had told the queen about his intelligence, and the cat was sent to a dungeon for the rest of his life.
But Mouser hadn't pushed her. Hi-lee looked down, and saw a glowing object sprawled on the part of the wall that she had formerly occupied. He had some pinkish glowing stripes on his back.
It was Elk-lore.
Hi-lee ran to him, and he raised his head enough to see her.
"You saved my life," said Hi-lee, realizing that Elk-lore had pushed her out of the way as Mouser attacked.
Elk-lore spoke, though it was obviously hard for him. "Yeah...I guess we're even now."
"Huh?" asked Hi-lee. But Elk-lore couldn't answer her, and, in a few seconds, he had faded, until he didn't glow at all.
The words 'When a fairy's dead, then he stops glowing, and looks like a small human with wings' echoed in Hi-lee's ears. And, though Tay-Bry examined Elk-lore, the mouse knew that Elk-lore was dead. He looked just like a small human with blonde hair that reached down to his chin, a black cloak, shirt, and skirt, a purple belt, and black shoes that nearly reached his knees. He had light blue, transparent wings, though they hung limp and torn by Mouser's claws. His black cloak was also torn and bloody.
Jocy flew next to her friend and said nothing for a while. Then, she quietly said, "Hey, if it wasn't for you, he'd have been dead months ago." Hi-lee realized that she had saved his life, and now, he had saved hers. However, that didn't make her feel better. If anything, it made Elk-lore's death sadder.
Tay-Bry spoke, failure in his voice. "I'm afraid that there's nothing I can do for him, Your Majesty. He is dead."
Sela Kotu didn't say anything for a while. Instead, she silently stared at the ground. Finally, she said, "Dewdrop, do the fairies have their own funeral traditions?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," said Dewdrop through her tears.
"Then, Jocy, do you think that you could take Elk-lore to the area outside of fairyland? And Dewdrop, could you go with her? You can go, too, Hi-lee." The mouse got on Jocy's back, and the eagle sadly did what she had been afraid to do when Elk-lore was still glowing--she carried him in her feet all the way to fairyland, no longer afraid of being spotted by his glow.
A few hours later, when it was late in the afternoon, the eagle, mouse, and fairy returned to the queen, who seemed to have hardly moved since they had left. They approached Sela Kotu, but somehow, everyone there was at a complete loss for words. After about a minute and a half of uncomfortable silence, the Sela asked a question.
"What kind of funerals do they have for fairies?"
"The funeral of all the fairies killed today will be held the day after tomorrow, in the afternoon, Your Majesty," said Dewdrop meekly. "If Your Majesty wants to witness our traditions, Your Majesty can come. Anyone can."
"Then I shall attend," said Sela Kotu. "Now the rest of you may go where you want, but I can't go back to the castle and be back near fairyland by the time of the funeral, so I shall lodge in one of my friend's houses." Without another word, she nodded to Tay-Bry, and they left, with the Dumix members who has caused Kly to jump over the edge of the cliff--though Kly was dead, all present--including the queen--felt she should still be protected. Jocy and Hi-lee just stayed in the place where they were, and Dewdrop went back to fairyland. Sela Kotu's other companions went back to their homes.
Sela Kotu and Tay-Bry stayed in a sturdy stone house that belonged to the queen's dead husband's mother and father. When their son had become king, they could have had easy jobs in the court of the queen, but they loved living on a farm, so they declined the additional money and power. They planned to live in the same farmhouse until they died.
The queen knocked on the door and it was soon pushed open. Sela Kotu was greeted by her mother-in-law, who would have enjoyed the company of her daughter-in-law even if she wasn't the ruler of her country.
"Why, what brings Your Majesty here?" the woman asked, somehow managing to sound motherly.
"I have a funeral to attend the afternoon after tomorrow, and I was wondering if I could stay here until then," the queen replied.
"Of course. Now, why doesn't Your Majesty and your friend come in?" They did, and the Dumix members stayed outside to guard the house.
"Your Majesty looks tired. Would you like to take a nap in Salo's old room?"
Sela Kotu was somewhat shocked, for she hadn't heard her deceased husband's name spoken aloud for days. She almost cried; his name meant 'cheerful,' and she could hardly remember him without a smile on his face...even when he had died, he had faked a smile... The queen replied, "If it wouldn't be too much trouble."
"No trouble at all, Your Majesty. Just go on in. The bed's already made."
Sela Kotu went into the bedroom, laid face-down on the bed, and did something that she hadn't done since her husband had died. Something that she was surprised to find herself doing for a Savior who she had never met and a fairy who she had hardly known, though he had saved her life.
She cried herself to sleep.
Mayda's funeral took place that evening. No one had spoken about him at his funeral, for even his most loyal follower didn't know too much about him. Hi-lee did learn that he was not born in Jet-a-Miray, as she had expected, but in Air-ren. She didn't learn much else about him; the service was like the standard funeral in Jet-a-Miray. Basically, a noble stood near the site as six workpeople dug the grave. Everyone just stood and looked at the polished wooden coffin that held Mayda's body. The coffin was nicer than some kings had had for their funerals; it was made by one of Mayda's loving followers who was a woodworker. Many cried as the coffin was carefully lowered into the ground. Hi-lee burst into tears because of how simple the great man's burial was. She thought he deserved better.
Elk-lore's funeral, which took place the next afternoon, though, was as elaborate as Mayda's was modest. Sela Kotu, Hi-lee, and Jocy were three of the few non-fairies who attended the funeral. They showed up, uncertainly, at about noon right outside of fairyland, afraid to go in, for fear they'd never come out. However, Dewdrop quickly spotted them, and flew over to them.
"Dewdrop, how are we going to go into fairyland?" asked Sela Kotu. "Won't we lose our memories?"
"No, Your Majesty, but you won't want to come back out," replied Dewdrop. "But as long as one of us--a fairy, I mean--is touching you, then you will remember the outside world and you will remember everything you have seen in fairyland when you leave. Come on. We have volunteers to keep in contact with anyone who isn't a fairy but who wants to attend the funeral." As if out of nowhere, two fairies appeared. "They can keep a hold on your spies, Your Majesty," said Dewdrop, and in a matter of seconds, a glowing object was on Jocy's back, just like Hi-lee often was.
"Do you really need to pull on my feathers so hard?" asked Jocy, sounding more annoyed than she really was. Sad events had a way of doing that to her.
"Sorry," replied the fairy sarcastically, but he was a bit more gentle. The fairy who volunteered to keep Hi-lee from staying in fairyland forever, though, was kinder. She never said a word, but carefully kept her hand on Hi-lee's shoulder the whole time she was in fairyland.
"Your Majesty, the funeral will not start for another hour and a half, but it is a sign of respect to arrive early," said Dewdrop.
"Then let's go in now," said the queen. They went into the glowing land, with Jocy flying and Hi-lee on the queen's right shoulder. Fairyland was as beautiful on the inside as Hi-lee had expected, though she was too sad to really pay attention to its beauty. Everything in the land glowed, usually a bright yellow color: the houses, (which were all made of dead leaves), the rivers, the grass, and the flowers and trees. Some of the flowers were seven feet tall tall, and the bizarrely shaped trees formed a complete canopy over their heads, so they couldn't even see the lavender sky. It took Hi-lee's eyes a while to adjust to the bright glow. Dewdrop somehow led the way without saying a word or flying in front of them. She just sat on Sela Kotu's left shoulder.
They arrived at a clearing that seemed to be in the middle of fairyland, though Hi-lee wasn't sure about the exact location. They sat down on the glowing grass nearby. Here, they could see the sky above them. Dewdrop led them to an area to the left of four non-glowing coffins. No one spoke, and they waited silently for over an hour.
Finally, after a great many other fairies had arrived (though no additional non-fairies came), a fairy flew up and hovered behind and slightly above the coffins. "They will speak about all four fairies, and since Elk-lore was the last to die that day, they will talk about him last," said Dewdrop in a tiny whisper.
Out of respect, Hi-lee paid attention to the three ceremonies before Elk-lore's, though it must be admitted that she couldn't remember a thing about them afterwards. The format of the funerals was interesting, though. Each individual ceremony took a couple of hours in itself, partly due to the fact that, after each sentence, a fairy (usually the speaker) translated it so those who weren't fairies could understand it. (They were conducting the funeral in the language of the fairies because it was more of a ceremonial language than one that anyone used when speaking to others. If the funeral hadn't been spoken primarily in the language of the fairies, it would have been considered disrespectful.)
Anyway, the average funeral ceremony for a fairy went as follows: First, a fairy would fly in front of everyone and tell the dead fairy's birthday and date of death, and then say something about him or her. Next, other fairies would come up and tell about some adventure they had gone on with the fairy, or a story they knew about him or her. Then, the first speaker would ask for a moment of silence, to think about the dead fairy. This 'moment' lasted around fifteen minutes. Afterwards, all in attendance who had known the deceased flew forward and touched the coffin for a few seconds. Whether it was true or not, they believed that any messages in one's head could be sent to the dead, but only during those few seconds. No one kept his or her hand on the coffin for more than four seconds or so, because to do so would be considered rude. After everyone who wished to had touched the coffin, there was another few minutes of silence, and then the first speaker for the next fairy's ceremony came to the front and spoke.
The same basic ceremony occurred for the first three fairies that had did, and by the time the first speaker for Elk-lore flew to the coffins, the sky was quite dark, and Hi-lee guessed that it must have been at least six or seven PM. Truthfully, she had been rather bored for the last few hours, but, as Elk-lore's first speaker flew to the front, she suddenly grew attentive.
"Starlight. Otherwise known as Elk-lore. Born Lalack third, 111,653. Died Ferred twelfth, 113,215.
"I must admit that, though I worked alongside Elk-lore, since we were both fighters, I still never knew him very well. He was the best shooter of us all, I know, and he saved many lives by killing some of the invaders. I know that he went into Tas-et-lal and nearly lost all of his magic, but he made it out, and managed to warn the queen about all Kly was doing. I know that he was very brave. Would Her Majesty care to say something about him?" The queen nodded and carefully walked to the front of the clearing. Hi-lee and Dewdrop were still on her shoulders. Most of the fairies had to crane their necks to see the queen's face when she was standing, so she sat down on the glowing grass, hoping that it wasn't disrespectful. As she spoke, a fairy translated her words into the language of the fairies, mostly for reasons of tradition.
"I, too, didn't know Elk-lore very well, but I know that he was very loyal and brave. He saved my life by killing two assassins. He was partially responsible for this country's victory in the war. But he died humbly and heroically at once, by pushing my spy, this mouse here, out of the way of a cat's strike, taking the blow on himself instead." At this, Hi-lee started to sob. "What's more, though, he also died for his beliefs. If he hadn't had so much faith in Mayda and his teachings, he would have still carried his bow and arrows, I'm sure. And if he'd have had his weapon, he easily could have killed the cat. But, since Mayda taught not to kill, Elk-lore did the only thing he could do in the split second he had to save this mouse--he gave his life in exchange. It's terrible to see someone die at such a young age, but we can all be comforted by the fact that he gave his life due to his morals, and we can remember that Tay-Free takes care of all His children." The queen had said the last sentence carefully, but her voice broke in the end, and she was in tears before she got back to her seat again.
A few other fairies came up to tell stories about how Elk-lore had helped them out, but nothing they told was really touching, and none of the speakers seemed sad. It was like the war had made the fairies numb to the tragedy of death. Then, a female fairy spoke.
"This isn't about how Elk-lore helped me, because he never really did much for me, and I never did anything for him. But I remember, when his friend Kara was killed, he never cried--not even once. Because of that, many thought that he was insensitive, since Kara was Elk-lore's best friend and all. But he wasn't insensitive. After she died, Elk-lore never left Kara's body, until they buried her. I don't know if he was afraid that something would happen to her, of if he just wanted to get to the funeral early, so that he would show his respect. But if you'd have seen the look on his face as he watched her body, before they had a coffin to put her in--Even though he didn't cry, he couldn't have been sadder if he had lost all his magic except what he needed to live with." Hi-lee suddenly recognized the fairy as the one who was the first to decide to help Elk-lore and the true fighters back before the war began. "And then, when she was in the coffin, he just sat a hir away, staring at the coffin, hardly blinking, until he spoke at her funeral. He even decided to go fifty years without eating for her. How many of you decided to do that for anyone? Don't think that he was insensitive.
"His greatest fear was that Kara would be forgotten. One of his main reasons for living was so that someone would still remember her. By all means, don't forget Kara, but remember Elk-lore. He was a remarkable fairy, and I think that we all wish we had known him better." The fairy flew down back to the grass, sat down, and then, as if she had just realized that Elk-lore was really dead, put her head in her hands and started to cry.
A few more fairies spoke at the ceremony, but they seemed to speak out of politeness rather than to speak about him from their hearts or personal experiences. Finally, no one else came up, and the fairy who was the first to speak about Elk-lore went up and called for the moment of silence. Hi-lee spent the time crying, not even thinking about anything but her grief. Sela Kotu and Jocy both thought about what Elk-lore had done for them, and his country. Both were teary-eyed. Then, everyone came forward to put his or her hands on the coffin. What Sela Kotu, Jocy, and Hi-lee 'told' Elk-lore can't be written here, because it's kind of like the wishes on a birthday cake. If someone told anyone else what they 'said' to the dead, then the spirit wouldn't hear it.
Everyone returned to his seat, and a few minutes went by. Then, sixteen fairies rose, and flew to the coffins. Four fairies carried each coffin, without flying, along a well-trodden path into the woods. Everyone at the funeral followed, though the three non-fairies came last, with their escorts. They came to the end of the path, and found themselves in an area of fairyland that didn't glow at all, though it was still quite pretty. As everyone watched, the coffins were set on the ground, and the ground slowly took them in, as if it was quicksand. However, it wasn't quicksand, because a flower near a gravestone less than a hir away wasn't sinking, nor was the gravestone itself.
When all four coffins were completely covered by the ground, four fairies brought out carved gravestones to put on the graves. They put them in the proper places. For a minute, there was no sound but the sounds of fairies (and a mouse) crying. Then, the next thing they knew, Jocy, Hi-lee, and Sela Kotu found themselves outside of fairyland. Soon, Dewdrop came out and explained that, after the ceremony, each fairy was suddenly transported to his of her home, and every non-fairy was transported to the area outside of fairyland. However, Dewdrop was the one who transported Sela Kotu, Jocy, and Hi-lee back to the castle. All three quickly found a place to sleep and in less than half an hour, they were all fast asleep, physically and mentally exhausted from the long, depressing day.
Go on to Chapter 20
Go back to The Stories of Julie Bihn