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Authors: K.D. Faerydae

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BOOK: An Army of Good
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*Liberty Realm*

Stay away!
Leah told herself, but she couldn't. She'd been photosynthesising on a sun-drenched branch with her arms outstretched to expand the surface of her leaf, ensuring that the warm, nutritious rays of light penetrated as much of her thin membrane as possible, when ‘
' walked smack bang into her. She was knocked from the branch and sent into the air, gently floating, before eventually coming to rest on his forehead.

* * *

“Are you all right, Harry?” Mary asked.

“Yeah, Mum, I'm fine. That's the problem with being this tall, always smacking my head on things,” Harry said, peeling the leaf from his forehead and tossing it aside.

Leah did not drift from Harry's hand to the ground, for she was not like the other fallen leaves that speckled the floor, she was a member of the Woodland Kith. She spread her arms wide, catching a gentle breeze beneath her leaf and coasted on the warm air behind him. There had been murmurs throughout the canopies about the Humans. Superior Leaf Kith had warned her and the other young Kith that they must ‘
Stay away, where there are Humans there is bound to be trouble. Let the Berthold deal with them.
Keep yourselves hidden and keep yourselves safe

But she couldn't help it, she had to stay near Harry because, from the moment he had pulled her away from his forehead, and her dark green eyes had looked into the swirling blue-brown blend of his, she knew that not only had she fallen from the tree, she had also well and truly fallen for him.

She sailed the air behind Harry for quite some time before catching a gust of wind that propelled her near enough to grab a hold of his grey hoodie. She grasped the thick jersey material that housed the corded drawstring at the perimeter of his hood and hauled herself inside.

* * *

As Zavier, Ice and the Darlings left the shade of the woodland trees and approached the beach, the full warmth of the sun became apparent. Harry lifted his arms, grabbed the shoulders of his hoodie and tugged it up and over his head before tying it by the arms around his slim waist. Leah was tossed around within the folds of the hood as Harry did this, but she managed to grapple her way back up to the neckline and into a wedge of the hood's material that rested just above Harry's left hip. She held on tightly, Harry's hip dipping and rising as he navigated the rocky incline down to the sandy beach. She turned her head, pushing a wisp of mossy hair from her eye and gave a quick glance over her shoulder back toward her woodland home, as it disappeared from view behind her.

Once again, she heard her conscience whispering to her in the voices of her superiors, ‘
Stay away!
' they said.
‘Where there are Humans there's bound to be trouble!

This is it, Leah,
she thought,
this is your last chance to turn back.

It was as if she'd been split in two. The sensible side of her pleaded, ‘
Go back, you don't belong here at the beach, go back into the woods, you know it's the right thing to do,
' but the young, fun-loving, adventurous side of her, the side that was always getting her into trouble, the side that was frequently taking off for days on end to explore the woodland, was shouting the loudest. ‘
Stay with him. Youuu knowww youuu want tooo. He's sooo attractive. Look at those eyes, so gentle and kind. The Superiors must be wrong. This Human doesn't look like trouble at all. This Human looks like an angel.

Leah lay back in the soft material, nestling herself inside its folds as if she were laying in a hammock. She breathed in the scent of fabric conditioner, the familiar smell of lily-of-the-valley reminding her of the sweet-smelling bell-shaped flowers that grew near her home. Then she placed her hands on her stomach, partially entwining her webbed fingers and gazed dreamily up at Harry.

Mmmm, my giant, my guardian Angel,
” she murmured, smiling.


“Mum! Dad!” Grace cheered when she spotted her family walking along the beach. She sprang off the beach house steps and ran barefoot through the sand towards them.

“Oh, Grace,” Mary cried, tears running down her cheeks.

Grace jumped into her mother's arms, and the pair embraced, sharing a special union, the merging of two hearts. An overwhelming wave of emotion flowed through them both, filling them with a love that only a mother and child could experience.

“Thank God you're okay!” Mary wept. “I can't believe you were taken from us and we didn't even realise. I'm so sorry!” she cried.

“Don't cry, Mum. It wasn't your fault. Zavier told me that Ice would make sure you thought the clone was me. You weren't to know that the real me had gone, were you? And anyway, I've been fine here. Everyone's so nice, I can't wait for you to meet them all,” Grace said, beaming.

Evan placed his arm around Mary's shoulder as she carried Grace. Dan and Harry greeted their sister in their usual way, by taking turns at ruffling her hair. “All right, squirt. All right, sis,” they said.

Mary put Grace down and held her by the hand. Then the reunited family made their way up the wooden steps to the beach house where, amongst others, the Berthold of Liberty were waiting to welcome them.

The Darlings went inside the house and into the lounge where they stood like a row of carol singers, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. They'd admired the beauty of Liberty as they'd travelled to the beach, but they hadn't experienced much else of its magic; well, not since Ice had cloned them, anyway. They'd left the coldness of winter behind in the Human world, travelled to a serene beach where the weather rivalled that of the hottest English summer and now, inside the magnificent wooden beach house with its many verandas and turrets, they were slapped full pelt in the face with what felt like all of Liberty's magic at once.

Fire Fairies had come to be nosy and were fluttering around excitedly in the rafters. Francis, having returned earlier that day, was seated beside Chester on a wooden beam above the seating area. Aaron, Jazmine, Hazel and Ezekiel were seated on the large sofa, and April and Tobias balanced on the arms at either end of it. Tobias was clutching a cushion to his lap, fiddling nervously with its tassels. Pelagia and his Warriors were fluidly dispersed around the room, melting into their surroundings, invisible except for the occasional shimmer of their rippling water, and the frothing of their sea spray. In front of the fire hearth lay the wolves, Rian, Remus and Romulus, with Takoda their leader standing proudly at one side and Aurora, in her leopard form, stood at the other.

Romulus glared at the Human family, his fierce yellow eyes narrowed into suspicious slits that shone out from the darkness of his dense black coat. His hackles rose, his nose crinkled and he pulled his lips back into a snarl, exposing large, dagger-like canines. Then he let out a low, rumbling growl. Takoda responded swiftly, and after a short burst of clashing heads and snapping teeth he had Romulus pinned to the floor by his throat. Romulus rolled onto his side, raised a paw and lowered his hackles. The growling ceased, and he submitted to his leader. Takoda released his hold on Romulus's throat then turned to the Darlings with a bow.

“Please accept my sincere apologies. Romulus is having a hard time coming to terms with the concept of Humans being welcomed into our land, as you can see.”

The Darlings didn't respond verbally, but Mary's hold on Grace tightened, and Evan pulled his wife closer to his side in a protective manner. Grace wriggled her hand free from her mother's grip and walked toward Romulus.

“Don't be scared, Mum, they're my friends. And as for you, you're a big old softy really, aren't you?” she said, flinging an arm around the wolf's neck and burying her face in his thick black coat.

“Grace, sweetheart, come here,” her mum said, holding out a trembling hand as she watched her daughter cuddling into the ferocious-looking wolf.

Grace didn't find Romulus scary at all. She always saw the good in everyone and everything and she knew that underneath his aggressive façade was an intensely loyal and protective soul. He was just doing his job, protecting those that he cared about. Romulus was nervous and uncertain of the Humans, but his intention wasn't to strike fear into them, so he respectfully stood, leant forward while stretching out his back legs, and then moved himself away to a less threatening position. He slumped to the floor and rested his head on his paws in the same way that a contented family pet would.

Mary felt a little happier now that Romulus had moved away from her daughter but, instead of returning to her side, Grace laid herself down between Rian and Remus.

“Where's Christian? I thought you said that he was here too?” Mary asked, momentarily glancing at Zavier before returning her watchful gaze back to Grace who was sandwiched between the two wolves.

“I expect he is exploring the ocean with Mateo,” Zavier replied.

“Yes, he is. He's barely been ashore since he arrived here in Liberty. I think he must be part fish!” Jazmine said, grinning as she passed the Darlings on her way out of the room, before promptly returning to offer round some freshly baked cookies.

Dan and Harry both took a cookie from the wooden plate. Harry was starving. His mouth watered as the smell of the warm cookie dough teased his taste buds. Dan's senses were also awakened, but not by the delicious aroma of Jazmine's baked goods. His eyes widened and his pupils dilated, ensuring that he took in as much of her smouldering beauty as was humanly possible. He broadened his shoulders and held his head high as he gave her an approving grin and thanked her for the cookie. Mary and Evan shook their heads and raised a hand in a ‘no thank you' gesture.

“I think it is time that we introduced ourselves properly, and then Jazmine can show you to your rooms,” Zavier said.

“As you know, I am Zavier, the Berthold of Maytime Meadow. You have also met Ice,” he said, nodding toward the snowy owl. “She is the Berthold of Winter Forest. And up there on the beam next to Chester the robin, is Francis. He is the Berthold of Bluebell Wood.”

“Very pleased to meet you all,” Francis said, spreading his tawny wings and bowing his head.

As Zavier continued with the introductions, Leah peered out from within Harry's hoodie. She caught a glimpse of Francis and quickly wriggled herself deeper inside the folds of material. She had made it this far undetected and the last thing that she needed was for Francis, her Berthold, to see her and order her back home.

* * *

Once Zavier had finished with the introductions, Jazmine showed the Darling family up to their rooms.

“Mary, Evan, this is your room. I have filled the wardrobes and drawers with clothing that is suitable for you both, and there are toiletries in the en-suite,” Jazmine said.

“Whoa, Mum, your room's well nice,” Grace squealed, as she ran across the wooden flooring and leapt on the four poster bed.

Jazmine walked a little further down the hall.

“Dan, Harry, this is your room.”

“Aaggh, I suppose it'll do,” Harry said jokingly, as he and Dan entered the beautiful south turret.

“I'll leave you to get settled, yell if you need anything.”

“Thanks Jazmine, we will.” Dan grinned, lying back on the bed, exhausted.

“This is mental, isn't it? I mean, talking animals, people made of water, fairies made of fire, what next?” Harry asked.

“God knows,” Dan replied, pulling his mobile phone out of his trouser pocket.

Harry ran up the wooden stairs to the upper level.

“I'm having this bed!” he called down to Dan. He untied his hoodie from his waist and tossed it onto the bed, then threw open the double doors and stepped out onto the turret's upper veranda.

“Wow, Dan, you have to come and check out this view,” he called out, grasping the balustrade with both hands as he looked out over the ocean. A cool and pleasant wind was tumbling in with the tide and the sun blazed intensely in a clear blue sky, its brightness reflecting dazzlingly across the rippling waves. Harry placed one hand above his eyes to protect them from the intense glare of the sun, and he looked down at the fishing boat. He could see someone rising out of the ocean and climbing up the boat's rope ladder to board it. “Hey Dan, it... it's... Chris! Come and have a look.”

Dan didn't come, so Harry went back inside to find him. He looked down from the top of the stairs to see the gaping black hole that was Dan's open mouth, as he slept sprawled out on his back like a starfish, his mobile still clutched tightly in his right hand.

Ahh yeah, my phone, I'd forgotten all about my phone,
Harry thought, fumbling in his pocket. He pulled out the slim-line touchscreen and pressed the power button, but nothing happened. He tried again, this time holding his finger down harder and longer on the button, but still nothing.
That's strange it was fully charged when we left and I haven't used it at all, so it shouldn't be flat
, he thought, puzzled, but the phone was black and lifeless.
Oh well, no social networking for me then,
he sighed. He lay on his back on the bed, staring up into the point of the wooden turret and contemplated the day's events. He began to feel sleepy, so he rolled onto his side and pulled his hoodie up under his head for a pillow. He nuzzled into it, closed his eyes and quickly went to sleep.

“Hey, hey, let me out! I can't breathe! Let me out!”

Harry opened his eyes.

“Let me out!” the voice screamed loudly into the ear that Harry was resting on the hoodie.

He lifted his head and carefully uncrumpled the screwed-up sweater.

“About time! I thought I was going to die in there!” an angry voice yelled.

Harry was astonished to see a small, leaf-like creature crawling out from inside his hood. It pushed itself up onto its feet and held out a hand.

“Greetings, friend, my name is Leah, nice to meet you.”

Harry blinked a few times and rubbed at his eyes, but it didn't change what he saw, for the little leaf creature was still there, standing on his hoodie, tilting her head curiously as she stared up at him with intense green eyes.

“Err, der, Dan!” Harry stuttered.

“Shhhh!” Leah pleaded, opening out her leaf membrane and flapping her arms to hover in front of Harry's face.

“You mustn't let anyone know that I'm here. They'll make me go home and I don't want to go back to the woods. I want to stay here with you.” She smiled, leant forward and rested her elbows on the bridge of his nose as she continued to stare dreamily at him.

Harry brushed her off as if she were an irritating feather tickling at him.

“Well, what the bloomin' heck am I supposed to do with you?” he asked.

“Ssshhh! You don't need to do anything, you won't even know that I'm here,” she said, snuggling herself back inside the hood of his sweater.

“Well, what about your family? They must be worried about you, surely?”

“Nah, they're used to me disappearing. I'm always off on adventures, me. Sure, they'll be mad when I do return, and they'll probably order me not to leave the woodland ever again. And I won't. Well, not until the next adventure beckons, anyway!”

BOOK: An Army of Good
13.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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