Megan awoke with a start. A small but sharp sound, dragging her from her sleep.
There it was again. She looked all around her but could see nothing but leaves and flowers.
This time it was more insistent. She glanced in the direction she thought that the sound had come from, and saw a small brown bird almost camouflaged by the bark of the tree.
He cocked his head on one side when he saw that she had noticed him, and then flew to another branch.
“What’s the matter little guy” she said gently “don’t you like sharing your bush with a stranger? Don’t worry; I’ll be on my way in a moment”
Megan crawled out from under the bush and looked around. In the distance, on the brow of the hill she had walked down last night, she could see something moving. As the figures got closer she could see two men and a dog on a lead, pulling them in her direction.
She looked again at the little brown bird as he hopped from branch to branch, and then again at the approaching figures in the distance. Thinking about it for a minute, she could tell that they were not entirely mortal. The way that the shorter one of the two was dressed seemed out of place. The taller one seemed to have hair growing out of the top of his ears. The dog on the lead didn’t seem to belong to the group. His coat was glossy and brown with small patches of white. He possessed the kind of melting brown eyes that could make anyone feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Megan could not decide exactly what type of dog he was but she felt an instant stab of jealousy towards the two men. Having a dog, that she instinctively felt would be just the sort of dog she would like, made her decide that they might be the sort of people that she might well get on with, under different circumstances. Still she hesitated; the dog did look out of place with them, so it could be that they were not so nice after all. She crawled under the bush again and waited to see what would happen when they passed her. She peered between the foliage wondering if they would pass her by with out noticing. As they drew closer she could hear the tone of their voices, lowered as if they knew that someone was hiding there.
Megan realised in a flash that they must be looking for her. She drew back in the heart of the bush, and screwed up her eyes, wishing with all of her might that the two strange men would not see her. She could not imagine why these men were after her she just knew that she would be better off hiding from them.
* * * * *
Orlaith’s attendants, on discovering Megan’s absence from her mother’s house, informed the queen. She had decided to send after her, two of the best trackers in fairyland. Strictly speaking they were retired from the tracking business, to act as private detectives in the mortal world. But as they were not as successful at this business as they had hoped, they found that every now and then they could be persuaded to revert to their former talents
Eamon was the tall one that Megan had noticed as having hair growing out of the tops of his ears. He was part troll and was considered to have the brains of the outfit. Dermot was part goblin and dressed in peculiar looking clothes to try and minimise the less human aspects of his appearance.
“Eamon” the shorter of the two men spoke first. “That bush over there”
“Yes Dermot” the second man replied. “Don’t look at it, the little mite might realise that we have spotted her.” then who knows what might happen, he thought privately
“Eamon, how did Orlaith know that we would find her here?” Dermot lowered his voice so as to make sure that only Eamon would hear.
Eamon didn’t bother to reply. Turning instead he glanced at the path they had crossed to reach the young girl.
“Wouldn’t you rather know how a young girl like her managed to travel so far so fast? How she managed to hide herself away on the journey so that she was not seen by anyone who she passed?” He sighed,
“Dermot that was no ordinary punter that gave us this job, we both know what goes on here, I’m part goblin and you are part troll, we may be part mortal too but that is no reason for us to be stupid. This has all of the hallmarks of being one of her majesty’s grand plans.”
Dermot fell silent. His brow creased as he thought hard about what Eamon had said. Then ignoring his friends warning he glanced at the bush. He saw the beautiful white flowers and the dark green leaves nestling behind them, he noticed the way that the twigs and leaves curled round the trunk of the bush. He glanced again, the girl had gone.
Megan sat motionless under the bush, hardly daring to breathe. She saw the shorter of the two men glance at her and was sure for a moment that she had been seen. She felt terror rise up within her as she met his eyes.
But he did not see her. I don’t understand, Megan thought. He looked right at me. Right now he should be nudging his friend and rubbing his hands in anticipation of the reward that he will get for taking me home.
The two men walked right up to the bush and circled around it a few times. Maybe he did see me, she thought. Maybe he is just pretending so that I don’t run.
Eamon and Dermot walked round the tree more slowly.
“I said not to look at her, didn’t I?” said Eamon angrily. “Now look what you’ve done. She’s gone and vanished on us. How do you think we are going to catch her now Dermot? It’s pretty hard to catch an invisible girl”.
Dermot didn’t bother to reply. Instead he untied the dog from his lead. The dog, which until now had not showed much interest in anything around him, pushed his way under the bushes branches.
“Get that dog out of there” Eamon’s roar sliced through the air like a knife.
Dermot stood looking at Eamon, with an open mouth. “We have worked together for nearly thirty years and you have never spoken to me like that before” he said. “There is no job on the planet worth enough to break up our friendship”
“I know Dermot,” said Eamon somewhat more quietly. “But for goodness sake call back that dog. We don’t want to loose him too.”
Dermot called the dog. A slight rustle of leaves was the only reply. Eamon walked round the bush once more. “It’s no good Dermot you won’t see that dog again. I’m sorry; I know how much you liked him. I should have warned you.”
“You didn’t know that I was going to let him off. I just thought that even if we couldn’t see her, that the dog would be able to smell her.”
After a short pause Eamon turned to Dermot “let’s go home. I knew this job would be trouble from the start. Fancy sending us the invitation to come before the event had taken place you know as well as I do that I never get mixed up with the time zones. I don’t like loosing a dog but I don’t want to loose the only partner I have”
The two men turned around and started to walk back in the direction that they had come from. Eamon glanced once over his shoulder at the bush, and then lengthened his stride as if he could not wait to leave.
* * * * *
Underneath the bush Megan was trembling, no longer with fear, but with delight.
She looked around her and could see the little bird in the branches and the dog, who was sitting by her feet panting. She could see them quite clearly so why couldn’t the men? Reaching up, to brush her now tangled hair out from her eyes, Megan jumped in surprise. Her hand wasn’t there. She moved it about in wonder. There was a slight pucker in the air it moved around but if she held it still, it was completely invisible.
Looking over at the dog once more she stretched out her hand and touched it, then withdrew as she realised that he too, was now invisible. Megan watched the two men striding away, but they did not take any further notice of her. Once more, she passed her hand in front of her eyes. She waited until they had crossed over the brow of the hill, and then looked down again. She had reappeared. She looked at the dog. He had pricked up ears and a jolly expression. “It must have been that fairy dust I swallowed. I wonder if the ‘her majesty ’ those men were talking about was Orlaith?”
“That was her alright,” said the dog “Pink dress, swirling wind at her feet, shouts a lot?” the dog looked questioningly at Megan, who nodded. “Yes, she gave us an audience about two hours ago and asked those men folk to catch you”
Megan caught her breath as she realised the dog had spoken. The look on her face must have been full of amazement because the dog decided to explain.
“A few years ago I did some small service for one of the fairy attendants to the queen of Fairyland. The attendant granted me one wish as my reward. I chose the gift of languages. I can understand any creature and make myself understood when I choose.”
“How wonderful!” exclaimed Megan, “a talking dog. Can you tell me who those men were and how you came to be chasing me?”
“They are Eamon and Dermot P.I.’s. I decided to stay with them until I found someone who I would like to live with more. I was chasing you because I didn’t know until I saw you that you were the one I would like to live with.” said the dog “can you scratch behind my ears for me please?”
“P.I.’s?” wondered Megan.
“Private Investigators. Go on please; I’ve got an awful itch”
“I think I ought to know your name before I scratch you behind the ears.
“Johan Sebastian, better known as Bach, at your service” Said the dog. “You humans have a funny sense of humour”
“Well Bach, Why don’t you tell me more about yourself and the men and why they were after me?” said Megan “and I will scratch your ears at the same time.
“I am guessing that you won’t be interested in the whole ‘puppy, one of a litter of six stories’. So I will cut to the chase. Orlaith explained what has been going on with you and Michael to Eamon and I listened in. I know Michael so I thought I would come for a walk and meet you.”
Megan sat up as if she could not have been more surprised if he claimed he had come from the moon.
“What’s more than that, I know that Michael is in trouble and we are going to be the ones to save him.” Megan hugged Bach tight.
“Really you’re going to help me” She exclaimed.
“On one condition” said Bach solemnly “I don’t want to eat any more of that disgusting dog food from tins, in chunks in gravy, with jelly or otherwise. It’s all utterly horrible.”
“I promise,” said Megan equally solemnly
“First things first” Bach said standing up “you are going to need to learn to control your magic. This is a rather splendid bush, but it is not the type you need, to make a wand from.”
Megan looked blank
“You know a wand like the fairy’s have” said Bach impatiently”
“But I’m not a fairy”
“No, but you have all the power of one because you ate some of the fairy dust. How did you think you managed to get so far, so fast, without anyone seeing you?”
Megan looked a little puzzled but Bach continued to talk.
"It said in the papers that Michael had fallen in love with you one day, and then this morning there was a followup piece that stated that Michael was suspected of stealing fairy-dust from the castle and that furthermore that you were suspected of having tasted it. After tracking you this far was sure that it was the case. I could smell the changes taking place within you as you traveled. I don't suppose you remember what it tasted like do you?"
Megan tilted her head to one side a she thought about it. "Honey and lemons" she said at last. "It was a bit like cough syrup but without that nasty tang."
"Okay said Bach "I think that because it tasted nice to you it means that you now can work with the magic of a fairy even though you are still mortal".
So they sat under the pretty bush and made a plan for the rescue of Michael. As Megan was not a fairy she could not enter Fairyland though the gates with the guard troll. Fortunately Bach knew of another way in.
“The Dragonlands” he said proudly. “No mortal is brave enough to go through the Dragonlands, so the fairies don’t bother putting warding spells and guards there because they think no-one will try and get in that way.
“I wonder why” Megan muttered under her breath.
“Don’t take on so, we will be fine. You have the fairy dust inside you, that will get us though.” said Bach “The only thing that we need to worry about is where to find the path to the Dragonlands.”
So under the cover of the invisibility spell, Megan and Bach set out to find the perfect wood for her wand. All mortals have inside them the path to the Dragonlands, Bach had explained. It’s just that they don’t know how to read what is inside their heads. The wand will just show you the way your heart already knows.
Megan reflected for a while. The vast majority of people don’t even know what they want out of life, how they can possibly know the way to somewhere that they are not even sure exists, when … She stopped ‘this is far too complicated for me,’ she thought.
Bach grinned in a doggy way. Humans, he thought, can’t teach an old human, new tricks. He stopped at a tree with long smooth twigs, snapped one off in his mouth then passed it to Megan.
“So far you have been relying on instinct to control your magic. This is fine for now but you will have to learn how to spell cast soon, so that you can be more precise. There is not much to it. You just have to think what you want to do and form your thoughts into a rhyme. It does not have to be good poetry but it does have to rhyme. That way the spell knows when you are finished casting.”
“For now, we will rely on your instinct. We will just focus it a bit more. Lesson one. Hold this out in front of you and think of Michael.” He instructed.
The twig twisted in Megan’s hand until it pointed towards the direction of the village they had walked through last. They walked in that direction for a while until the stick turned again.
Eventually they came to the cliffs but the stick pointed over the ocean, into the path of the setting sun.
Tired, with the walking they had done and discouraged at the impossibility of the task ahead, Megan and Bach went to sleep in the open. It was once more a balmy night. They needed no cover, as they had each other to keep warm.
Megan discovers more of what she can do with the fairy-dust inside her.
Chapter 6 - Pathway to the Dragonlands
Sleep well and don't let the bed bugs bite.