The new queen gave her a smile like the edge of a knife, bright and shining and ever so sharp. “For the same reason you had to give up your roots to sprout wings. To have one, you must give up the other. Not all dearest dreams are willing to share.”
The queen turned and sat on her throne, her hair white and her gown silver once more. “It is a cruel fate, but one that all creatures share if they only dare to look.”
Kya looked down at the perfect moon apple that glimmered with a quiet light. If what the Moon Queen said was true, then she held perhaps the rarest and most dragonish of treasures in her hand. And the dragon himself had given her not one, but three. Entrusted them to her care.
And the seeds!
Her eyes widened at the hint of what that could mean, and for a moment, the heavy stillness of a dragon’s gaze seemed to rest upon her shoulders. Then the dragon blinked and was gone, and she could breathe again.
“Please, I promised him I would bring this to you.” She held the apple out to the queen. The apple felt cool against her hand, and brought with it the faint scent of vanilla.
The Moon Queen leaned back in her throne. “Do you bring this to me of your own free will or have you been compelled by another?” The sweet smile was still on her face, but Kya had a feeling that any sort of not-truth spoken in the Moon Queen’s hall would result in a swift end to the lie.
Kya shivered against the memory of the dragon’s gaze. “I’m certain he would be unhappy if I did not keep my end of the bargain, but bringing an apple to you was my idea.”
Wordlessly, the pale Moon Queen held out her hand. Kya gave her the apple, and it pulsed gently against her palm. “There are few things of greater wonder than this apple. Why did you feel to bring it to me?”
“I don’t know.”
Kya grimaced. It was the truth, and yet the words themselves felt like a poor harvest of dried stems and bitter leaves.
The Moon Queen gave the apple one last look of longing before she sighed and handed the apple back to Kya. “Then you are not ready to give it away. Keep it safe against the time when you’ve riddled out the answer.”
Kya stared at the apple in her hand, dumbfounded. “You . . . You don’t want it?”
The queen stood, agitated. “Oh, I want it very much.” She swept past Kya and was the dark queen once more. “But I cannot accept the apple until the conditions have been met.” She stopped at a glass table that winked into existence just then in the center of the hall. A bottle, a key, and a small cake rested upon it.
“Conditions?” Kya asked, following after the queen, but not too close.
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2014 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved. Originally published in Curiosities of the Moon.
I hope you’re enjoying the journey so far. Can you feel the call of another quest coming shortly? Two more weeks before The Curious Leaf embarks on a new journey to a strange new land. Join me next Monday to see what the conditions are for gifting the apple and to see which object Kya chooses. #chooseyourfate
Come back tomorrow to journey with Gwyn as she fights her way through the Garden in The Faerie Thief.