Flouncy, orange, short pigtails bounced on her shoulders as she rushed down the slippery glass staircase. Her breathing was uneasy and her green eyes darted from one corner of the glass tower to another. The glass gleamed in the open moonlight and sparkled against the reflection of the stars. She had to jump down each stair because her legs were too short to step gracefully. Clump! Clump! She stomped down the stairs, flinching each jump she made.
She cautiously peeked around the hall and through a doorway with an ice looking throne facing a giant glass window. She swallowed her fear down her tiny throat and walked slowly into the room careful not to trip on her long, brown dress this time.
“Pipses here, missus lady.” She squeaked timidly, “Pipses at missus ladys ‘rder, Missus. Pipses a very well list’ner wif a good ear, Missus.” A lady in a long black gown stood from her throne. Her golden, brown hair hung in surrender at her feet, gliding gracefully behind her. Her green eyes glanced up and down the tiny girl who tried to look brave under her hard gaze.
“Little Monster,” Missus Lady spoke softly, “I have a task for you.”
“Yes’m missus lady.” The tiny girl nodded her head furiously. Her orange curly pigtails bounced with her shaking until she was satisfied with her nod and too dizzy to continue.
“I’m sure, Little Monster, you will love this task.” Missus Lady smirked at the wide greened eyed girl, “It’s in the Earthen Dimension.”
Phoenix twirled a golden key across his knuckles. The key was bent at an angle and was twisted into knots here and there.
The tunnel was long and dark. Phoenix glanced about and was tempted to use his night vision but he might scare the girls. The hall finally became lit as they reached a dead end. A torch flickered on the dead end wall and there was a pause of silence. No one moved. No one spoke.
Phoenix stepped forward and ran his hand across the wall. His hand stopped short of the end and he stuck his key in a hole that wouldn’t have been seen. Phoenix let go of the key and took a step back bumping into Ona. Startled, Ona jumped a few feet away from him.
The key straightened out its knots and turned slowly. A quiet scrap of rock meeting metal echoed in their ears before the rock trembled and melted in pools at their feet. It was as red as lava and its heat was even hotter than lava.
Phoenix took a deep breath through his teeth. The lava cooled in seconds. Phoenix stepped over the pile as if nothing happened. Ona followed timidly and Lexi faught with a strangled gasp.
The sight behind the melted wall was gorgeous. Trees taller than redwoods towered over grassy forests with dancing flowers and sparkling streams. They were standing in a cave and on their right was a crystal clear waterfall leading down to another cave.
In the trees, tree houses were built on a couple of trees and were connected with bridges and zip lines.
“Welcome to the Enchanted Grove.” Phoenix exclaimed with a grin. He pointed to the cave:
“This leads to the Keeper’s Library and Study which is closed off by a lava rock spell.” He motioned to the tops of the trees, “The Giants are the perfect trees to make my home treehouse.” Phoenix watched as their eyes wandered over the magical landscape.
“What is all this for?” Lexi asked as she gaped at the scenery.
“Right.” Phoenix took and deep breath and cleared his throat, “I am the Keeper like my parents before me. I contain and control all the magic on the Dimension Earth and keep it here. I can make Dimensions, travel by Dimensions, create portals…basically anything magical. But what makes me so important is that I can read other magical peoples’ magic and tell them what they can do or I can figure it out to protect myself from evil magic.”
“You can read what people can do?” Lexi asked.
“Sort of.” Phoenix answered.
“So you read me?” Lexi asked.
“What did you see?” She asked looking him up and down.
“You, can use invisibility and camouflage into your surroundings.” Phoenix answered in a bored tone and smiled when he finished. Lexi nodded.
“So if you can read anybody, can you read her?” Lexi pointed at Ona.
He lifted his hand and opened his mouth to speak, but stopped suddenly. Ona’s gaze fell to the ground and her head dropped downward. She didn’t object to the idea. She looked defeated, almost like she’d given up telling people “no”. She looked like a broken, fragile doll someone dragged across rough, dirt streets with sharp rocks and deep holes. She had no confidence. She had no strength. Magic radiated off of her pale skin and floated to his. He could feel the hatred rolling off of her and it was surprisingly strong, but not as strong as her quavering fear closing her spirit into a cage.
Phoenix’s heart raced and poured out to Ona wishing he could take away her fear and give her strength. His fists clenched and turned white.
“No,” He said quietly. Ona’s head snapped up and for the first time, color of emotion rushed to her face: surprise.
“I won’t look at her magic.” He continued firmly but gently. Lexi’s jaw dropped and her blue eyes grew ten times larger.
“You’ll look at mine, but you won’t look at hers?” Lexi glared at Phoenix.
“I said no and that’s the end of it.” Phoenix snapped. He quickly composed himself.
“Now shall we continue the tour?”
She stood in front of a silver mirror. Her Missus Lady stood behind her casting a portal spell in concentration.
She jumped about and tried to contain it when her Missus Lady glared at her, but her excitement was bubbling inside herself. She was going to the Dimension Earth! Missus Lady was super nice to let her leave the glass world and let her explore earth.
She wanted to try to taste clouds and see if they were really cotton candy like her poems said they were. She was excited to feel grass and see if it was prickly or soft. She was excited to see the color blue. She was excited to see any color. She was going to Earth. She was going to be free!
Pip jumped one more time and gave one last squeal before stepping through her Missus Lady’s mirror. There was no turning back.
“Don’t fail me, Little Monster.”