The Price of Magic
A story for the True Fiction Project by Gary Krivtsov
Clair was absentmindedly watching the dust particles swirling playfully in a ray of light, coming through the window. The new house was much bigger than their city apartment. Yet, the added space was only making her feel smaller and lonelier. The countryside, however, had its charm. Clair had never seen so much grass in one place. The house was surrounded by a meadow. The lush sea of green was interrupted only by the edge of the woods on the horizon. Clair didn’t care about it much, being accustomed to the dirty streets of the city. However, she didn’t care where she lived, as long as her mother could recover faster. And, according to rhe doctors, the fresh air of the countryside was just what she needed.
Clair sighed and looked away from the window as she heard her brother, Charlie, running up the stairs. Despite being twins, Clair was often playing the role of a big sister. Charlie rushed straight into her room, jumping and landing on her bed.
“Isn’t this place amazing?” He asked. He didn’t wait for a reply. He was at the window in one bouncy motion. “I wonder what kind of animals live in the forest! Let’s go check it out!”
“We need to unpack first.” Clair replied unenthusiastically. “And besides, what if there are bears out there?”
“Bears?!” There was not an inkling of fear in Charlie’s eyes. He only became more enthusiastic.
They did not go to the forest that day. Instead, the children spent the rest of the day unpacking, cleaning and taking care of their mother. When the night finally descended, all Clair could do was crawl into bed and close her eyes. She began to doze off, but she set up abruptly, as she realized that the room was flooded by bright, warm light. A softly glowing figure of a beautiful, young woman was sitting on the side of her bed. As her eyes adjusted, Clair realized that, although the woman had the proportions of an adult, she was only half as tall as Clair herself.
“Hello, Clair.” Greeted the stranger, in a friendly, soothing town. She smiled lovingly, melting Claire’s shock away.
“Hello… Uh… Who are you? How do you know my name?” Clair asked, rubbing her eyes.
“I know all about you, dear Claire.” The woman said. “As well as your brother and your… poor mother.” She looked down with profound sadness, as though Clair’s sick mother was a close friend. “My name is Siofra. I live in the forest.” With a gracious gesture, she pointed at the pitch blackness beyond the window.
Claire was sitting on her bed, blinking rapidly, not knowing what to say. Siofra was smiling at her softly and patiently.
“Pardon me for asking,” Claire finally said, “But are you a…”
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Both Claire and Siofra turned to the sound of Charlie’s voice. He was standing in the doorway, wearing his pajamas. His wide, unblinking eyes were glued to Siofra. She smiled at him and put her exquisite finger on her lips. “Shh… yes, little one. I’m a real fairy. But, please, your mother needs rest. Let’s not wake her up. In fact, I am here to help her.”
“Help our mother? How?” Claire asked.
“Come with me to the woods. Queen Radia is eager to meet you. She can use Fae Magic to help your dear mother recover.” Siofra replied.
Something in her tone made Claire’s doubts dissolve before she could verbalize them. She was further distracted as she noticed a row of lights outside the window. They were shimmering and floating playfully, just like the dust particles from earlier. They formed a path, leading into the forest. Shortly, Claire found herself following Siofra down the stairs, into the meadow and towards the woods. Charlie was following closely behind.
The lights turned out to be other Fae Folk. Softly glowing, beautiful beings, they were greeting the siblings, as they walked towards the trees. Some were introducing themselves, trying to talk to them. Some shyly hid behind the trees. They dispersed suddenly, as one of them, taller than others, with wings and a crown of oak leaves, descended from a tree branch in front of the siblings.
“Claire, Charlie,” she said, “My name is Radia. I am the mother and ruler of the Fae Folk in this forest. I’ve been waiting for you. You don’t know just how valuable you are to us and how much we love you.” The rest of the Fae Folk formed a circle around Radia, Claire and Charlie, bowing their heads respectfully.
“It’s an honour to meet you, um… Your Majesty.” Claire said. “But I’m not sure how we can be of any help to you. We are just human children. However, if you really can help our mom, I will do anything you ask. I can cook and clean and…”
Radia stopped her with a wave of her hand. “Sweet child,” she said, “We have no need for your labor. All we ask for is that your brother, dear Charlie, would stay in the woods with us, as an honored guest. Although you don’t know it, humans are born imbued with magic. You have long lost the knowledge of it. But us, Fae Folk, we can tap into it. Rest assured, child, no harm will come to your brother. He will want for nothing. We will care for him and protect him. And the magic within him will be more than enough to cure your mother, as well as keep us alive and happy for decades to come.”
Claire’s heart began to beat faster. Her brother was oblivious to the conversation, quietly playing with a group of Fae children. The spell of Radia’s soothing voice was shattered as Claire realised what she was asking for. She was not going to trade her brother for Fae Magic. She grabbed Charlie’s hand and began to run. The forest was illuminated by the Fae Folk, following them, crying and begging them to come back.
“Claire, please! You didn’t even give us a chance. We mean you no harm!” It was Siofra. She caught up to the children and was running nimbly beside them.
“I’m sorry, Siofra.” Claire replied. “Perhaps we, humans, have long forgotten how to use magic. But we care for each other and work hard to achieve our goals. And that is how we will help our mother recover.”
Claire heard no reply. She turned back to see Siofra and Radia, joined by other fairies, as they stopped chasing the children, looking at them with pensive sadness in their eyes.
Claire opened her eyes. It was morning. She immediately remembered last night’s events, wondering if it was all a dream. However, she was distracted by the familiar smell of pancakes. “Wait…” She said to herself. “But that would mean…!” She ran down the stairs and saw Charlie, already sitting at the kitchen table.
“Claire, good morning, my dear!” Claire’s mother greeted her as she entered the kitchen.
“The doctors were completely, right!” she said, as she placed three plates of pancakes on the table. “I already feel much better. The fresh countryside air really works wonders!”
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