“What big teeth you have, Grandmother!”
“All the better to––”
“Eat me with?”
“I was hoping you wouldn’t notice.”
“Yeahhh, I’m not sure why you thought that would work.”~ Mirriam Neal
Now, here is “Shadow Wolf: Part 2”!
“Stop worrying. You’re making my skin itch just looking at you.”
I glance at Lysander, hovering beside me at the edge of the rainbow lake. Lines mark anxiety into his pale face. “Your skin itches?”
His green wings, which match his green sparkle suit, whir behind him and stir the surface of the lake. Directly below us, the lake is shaded orange, but a bit farther down, it melds into sunshine yellow, then the bright green of Freya’s fur, the colors shifting with each ripple.
“Because you’re twitching,” Lysander continues.
My wings grow weary. Part of me longs to touch the surface of the water, even to be submerged in the rainbow liquid. Perhaps that would distract me from Marielle’s absence. But I don’t wish to ruin my dress, a navy blue sparkly sheath that hugs my figure. “My twitching makes your skin itch? Oh, Lysander, you are something.”
He huffs. “Just stop worrying, Stella!”
“I’m not worrying.”
“Liar.” Snorting, Freya paces the shore of the rainbow lake. Her three green tails twirl behind her. “I’m sure Marielle is fine. Maybe she’s just busy.”
“She’s five. What could make her so busy?” It’s a warm Endellion day, almost too hot and still to be doing anything––except worrying. Fine, perhaps I’m worrying a bit.
But Marielle never leaves us for this long. She always comes to Endellion every few days.
Has she . . . grown tired of us?
“She’s a human. Humans do strange things.” Freya pauses to lick her paw. Marielle says Freya looks similar to a creature called a fox in her world, except the green fur and three tails. I always love finding out what’s different in our world as compared to hers.
Maybe it’s time for me to go to her world.
“I’m going to visit her,” I say.
“In her world?” Freya thrusts her muzzle toward me. I flinch. I’m only about twice the size of her nose. “Are you crazy?”
“I need to make sure she’s okay.” Why must they both stare at me like I’m out of my mind? She’s our little Marigold! We must take care of her!
“She’s okay, Stella.” Lysander shakes his head softly and talks in a patronizing voice, as if I’m the child instead of Marielle. “Besides, we don’t have the shoebox. She does. Only she can cross the barrier.”
“We’ve never tried, but I think I could.” I know Marielle better than either of them. Lysander pretends he doesn’t care when he’s around the golden-haired child, and Freya won’t risk leaving Endellion, being a foreign animal that would likely be killed on sight. But I am a small faerie, able to slip into hiding places and use my magic to protect me.
I simply have to return to Marielle’s arrival point in Endellion. Surely there’s a portal that I could open, shoebox or no shoebox.
“I don’t think humans believe in faeries,” Freya says. “You would be in danger––”
“I won’t be seen.” Why can’t they trust me? Why can’t they see that this is important?
Freya shakes her head, ruffling her long green fur. “Once you open a portal, how are you going to close it?”
“I’ll close it myself.” My stomach clenches. “Don’t you sense it? Our Marigold is in trouble!”
Lysander’s green eyes are cold, almost emotionless. “Let those in her world handle it.”
Stung, I fly away from the lake and into the undergrowth, zipping past crimson-barked trees with orange and yellow leaves. The blending of shades give them an appearance of rippling flames. The hurt gives my wings new strength. I thought he would care. I thought he would support me. But I was wrong.
“Wait, Stella!” Freya’s paws thump against the grass. “You don’t know what the human world is like! How do you know they won’t capture you and take you?”
“Marielle believes in me.” Freya is right about one thing; I don’t know if I will make it back to my beloved Endellion. But Marielle is worth the risk. Can’t they feel the waves of distress coming to us from Marielle’s world? Or am I the only one who knows her well enough to sense them?
Ourapos trees ring the clearing where Marielle normally arrives. Marielle loves these trees. She calls the pale blue fruit “sky-fruit,” saying they taste like the sky.
My throat tightens. I’ll be right there, my little Marigold. Don’t you worry.
Freya thunders into the clearing, jumping toward me with her strong hind legs. Her mouth gapes in a wail. “You can’t do this! I don’t want to lose you!”
“You won’t lose me. But if I don’t do this, we might lose Marielle!” I strain to find a crack in our universe, somewhere, somehow. The shoebox would certainly be convenient right now.
A hand grabs my arm, pale against dark––Lysander. Green magic hums in his fingers and dances along my skin. “You’re going to drain your magic.”
“I need to see her.” I need to make sure she’s okay. Otherwise, I’ll never forgive myself.
I sense something unstable, something in the fabric of the universe that isn’t quite right. I gently remove myself from Lysander’s grip and reach out with my magic, prodding closer at the spot. A crack! I flick my fingers to the side, trying to tear it open. Blue now rims the hole’s edges courtesy of my magic. It’s almost big enough for my tiny form.
“Now that you mention it, something does seem a little odd.” Freya’s cocking her head, her ears tilted toward the hole. She must be able to sense it now that the portal is open, at least partially. This confirms that I’m not crazy.
“Do you really think she’s in trouble?” Lysander says heavily.
My eyes flick to his. He seems more cordial than when he dismissed me earlier. “Yes,” I say.
“Then I’ll help you,” he mumbles. “If I really need to, I’ll go with you.”
“Really?” My heart skips a beat, and my concentration slips, making the hole dissipate. I let out a frustrated growl, then work on reopening the portal. Just . . . a little . . . larger . . .
Lysander lifts his hand, and his green magic bleeds into my blue. The crack widens, now large enough to fit both of us. Through the hole is darkness.
He follows me like a shadow as I move toward the portal. “Wait,” I say, gazing at his pale, serious face. “I need you here so you can open the crack behind me and be my anchor.”
“An anchor? Why can’t I be your anchor?” Freya asks, tail twitching.
“I need someone magical for that role. Sorry, Freya.” I touch her furred cheek. She leans into my hand, letting out a low, affectionate growl. “Take care of Lysander for me,” I say.
Her fur smooths. “You know I will.”
Lysander takes my hand softly, carefully, his white skin intertwining with my dark. His magic hums against my fingers. When he lets go, a faint green strand connects the two of us. “There,” he murmurs, meeting my eyes. For a moment, I can’t breathe.
The portal starts to shrink. I snap out of my trance and let my wings carry me toward the hole. What if it doesn’t lead to Marielle? Then what will I do?
There’s no time to worry about that. All I can feel is Marielle’s pain and distress yanking my wings toward her. So I slip through the dark hole.
Come back tomorrow to see what’s happening with Marielle in Part 3!