The Faerie Thief: The Ruby Queen’s Garden 017

The Ruby Queen's Garden (Episode One)With a flash of crimson sleeve, the queen’s arm snaked out and she caught Gwyn by the ear and pinched down tight.

“Don’t think you can escape me, girl,” she whispered. “You belong to the garden, and thus to me.”

Gwyn winced and tried to keep her head even with the queen’s grip. It wasn’t easy, though, with the queen being a few heads shorter than she was.

“W-where are we going?”

The Ruby Queen gave her a look so filled with fury and hate that she nearly made a door back to Lyra’s world then and there. The only thing that stopped her was the certainty that the queen would follow her and drag her back to the garden after she’d destroyed Lyra’s world completely.

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The Curious Leaf: Voyage to the Sea 004

TCL#2 CoverThe sight made Kya want to run and scream, cry and rage, hide and forget. Instead, she took a tentative step forward.

Then another.

And another.

“May I?” she asked, holding out her hand. Though she had been a flower of repute so small that she’d only mattered to her keeper, the greenlife and knowing was stored deep within her roots—for all that she’d left them behind for a pair of wings and a beautiful ship.

The sea gave Kya a wary look, a wounded creature that would bite the hand trying to mend and heal, like as not. But she couldn’t think of teeth right now—no matter how fierce or sharp. All she could focus on was the pain of the sea’s wound.

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Mira Morganstein: The Pink Lemonade Club 015

The Pink Lemonade Club (Episode One)“Fine,” Mira breathed, wishing, in that moment, that she could take back her exhale. The Pink Lemonade Brigade’s scent was suffocating. Like she’d stumbled into a garden that had been bred for the smelliest of flowers. Individually, they might have been nice. But all together like this, overpowering was a more accurate word.

She tugged on the end of the ribbon, and the bow unknotted. The other ribbons fell away, leaving only the yellow paper to contend with. Mira slipped her finger into a fold in the paper and followed it up to the point where it had been stuck to itself with beeswax. (Another oddity of the Pink Lemonade Brigade was their inability to deal with a simple piece of tape. The one time she’d talked one of them into helping her wrap a present of her own had resulted in the entire roll of tape mummifying Auntie Marigold’s hand.)

The wax came away easily, and Mira pulled the paper away. Now all that remained was the box.

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The Faerie Thief: The Ruby Queen’s Garden 016

The Ruby Queen's Garden (Episode One)“Busy?” Gwyn slowed to a stop. As much as she hated the daisies, turning her back on them when they’d a taste for blood was only foolishness.

The Q.P.D. nodded, her grin curling all the way across her face and bleeding into her sepals. “We know how you got there,” she said, vicious laughter crinkling the corners of her eyes.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” Gwyn said, although she had a sinking feeling that she did. Still, it was impossible. There were no daisy beds near the croquet course.

The Q.P.D. turned up her nose. “Do you hear that, girls? The child expects us to believe her tales of innocence and no wrong doing, as though the clover would lie!”

“Clover—“ Her stomach twisted with the memory of sugared pear. Of course there had been clover, but why had it turned on her?

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The Curious Leaf: Voyage to the Sea 003

TCL#2 CoverKya and Hearthorne gasped as though they’d been swallowed by the waves after all. The woman’s voice was a tidal wave of sound and music, with the roar of the waters and the swell of the currents flowing at the edge.

“He-hello,” Kya said. She sat on the deck with a sodden plop before her legs could give out beneath her.

“Hidden One,” Hearthorne said in a strained voice as she bowed. She shot Kya a look that was both dismayed and exhilarated, and shook her head slightly in warning.

Kya gulped and nodded. It hardly mattered whether the woman standing before them with hair and skirts streaming out behind her in watery waves meant to harm them or not—not when her very presence came so very near to crushing them all.

“You are the one whom the moon favors,” the woman said, gesturing to the waterlogged petals Kya had forgotten she’d been clenching in her fist.

“I am on an errand for the moon dragon,” Kya said. While she might have earned the white queen’s favor, the dark queen was another matter entirely, and she couldn’t be sure. And something about the woman warned her against speaking a lie—even if on accident.

The woman nodded as she thought, the waters composing her body swirling and in constant dizzying motion. “I have spoken to my sister and she speaks highly of you. She believes you must be worthy if the dragon parted with his most precious of treasures.”

Kya frowned. What the woman said was the truth, but it didn’t feel like it. Honor was cold and distant, hardly akin to the friendly fire in the moon dragon’s eyes once it had decided not to eat them.

Hearthorne’s petals trembled, and she smoothed them with her leaves. Then, turning the blue bud of her face to the woman, she asked, “Have we done aught to offend you?”

“Offend me? Of course not. I hardly know of you, and believe me, if you had done aught against me or mine, I would have known of it.” She gave them a smile that was all sharp, ragged teeth—no less frightening for being made entirely of water.

“Then why have you tried to destroy our ship?” Kya asked, finding the smallest seed of courage hiding in her heart. If the sea was going to drown them all, she wanted to know why.

The woman blinked at them, bewildered. “I have not tried to destroy anything. If I had, your ship would be little more than bits of flotsam that would be returned to the shore as per the treaty.”

Hearthorne pursed her lips, a bit of her old spark coming back. “And yet you called up this storm. Don’t deny it, for your word was on every breath of the wind, and it was you who drenched us, not the ordinary clouds.”

“I tried calling to you many times,” the woman sighed, her shoulders slumping just enough to take the edge off the danger radiating from her. “But you didn’t hear. Didn’t respond. So I called louder.”

“You have our attention now,” Kya said. She pressed her lips together against the surge of temper she longed to hurl at the woman. All the fear and anguish, every dent of her ship, every tear in her mast. She took a deep breath and tried to swallow back the rills of relief and fury crackling through her, for just because the woman no longer looked dangerous didn’t mean she couldn’t still sink the ship and all her crew should she wish to.

“Any louder, and we would have been beyond giving you aid,” Hearthorne said, shaking the sea water from her petals.

“Sometimes I forget how . . . fragile those from air and earth tend to be,” the woman said, lowering her watery lashes and frowning. “But it hurts so terribly . . .”

She held up her hand, and for the first time, Kya noticed the silver chain wrapped around the woman’s wrist and trailing off into the waters. Though the woman was made of water, the chains cut deep enough that the water swirling about them was of a bluer hue than the other water, and—impossibly—brought to mind the image of blood.

“Who could shackle the sea?” Hearthorne whistled her amazement.

. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .

© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.

If this is your first time visiting, check out the first installment of this voyage, and swing by the library to read The Curious Leaf for free if this is the first time you’ve met Kya or Hearthorne. Or, subscribe to join the Wonder-Kin and receive The Curious Leaf free as part of your Free Starter Library. 🙂

Happy Monday!