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© 2006 A. Nivette Connors. All Rights Reserved.

Hemlocks & Hollows

The Tale of Milo Walters & Longren Fairchild

By: A. Nivette Connors


This book is dedicated to my husband Matt; thank you for being
there for me, no matter what, every step of the way.
Part I
Chapter One

Milo Walters was a normal boy. Well, as normal as any


fourteen-year-old who lived in the middle of nowhere could be.
Not much could be said for living in a town, if it could even be
called a town, named Speculator. Situated in the middle of the
Adirondack Park in Northern New York, this town was everything
the city was not. Milo despised the carpet of leaves that appeared
every fall and he especially hated the swarms of mosquitoes that
infested the area every summer. They were intruders, ruining his
every chance for a comfortable day outside.

Milo was tow-headed and tawny-skinned, with his father’s


propensity for being picked on. The woes of Peter Walters’ own
childhood had made their way to the life of his young son and
Milo did little to revolt. His knack for being apathetic and sarcastic
did little to help him avoid the daily “attacks” at school.

“Like you can even call it a school,” Milo moaned almost on


a weekly basis. “It’s a dump.”

Granted, the schoolhouse was nothing more than a


converted barn, complete with lofts and feelings of would-be
grandeur. It was Speculator, however, and there was a severe
lack of town buildings other than the small grocery, post office
and church. With houses here and there on the few roads that
were considered the “town”, Speculator was not the place one
would go expecting to have a great adventure. It was a solitary
and quiet town; just the way Milo’s parents liked it. The Walters’
both worked for the state Forestry Department as land assessors.
They made sure all of the surrounding parks and nature
preserves were running smoothly. Mr. Walters was especially
involved in preventing and dealing with behavior that was
harmful to the forest areas and their animal inhabitants.

“Try and enjoy nature,” Milo’s mom said to him one day. “If
you got out and about more, you might not have so much trouble
at school,” she laughed.

“Jan!” Milo’s dad protested. He knew all too well the pains
and aggravations Milo had to deal with, although he knew Milo
did little to stop anything. “Come on, Milo,” he added. “Get
involved in something and you might like it.”

Milo just muttered under his breath, My life is the most


boring life in the entire world. The day of this particular thought
had been particularly bad. It was the middle of winter and winter,
above all other seasons in Speculator, was the worst of all to Milo.
Though he wasn’t a very tall boy, Milo did pride himself on being
of average height for his age. The bitter winters of upstate New
York quelled his pride, however, when the snow drifted as high as
the kitchen windows. Snow, to most children, is a happy thing,
but snow this deep was enough to make anyone nervous.

Today was one of those days. It was a Sunday, so even the


less than stellar opportunities at school weren’t there to distract
him. The snow was deep and getting deeper each hour. His
parents had pled with him all afternoon to get out and play in the
snow. All Milo could muster, while trying to act brave, was “No…
does that look like snow you can play in? That’s snow you get
lost in. I’ll pass.”

The day continued in muted silence. That is, of course, what


snow does. It makes the world quiet. Dinner at the Walters’ home
was uneventful. Even chewing food became monotonous to Milo.
When he finished, he went to his room and flopped down onto the
quilt his grandma had made him. My grandma made things more
interesting, he thought sadly. I want to go back to where she was
and stay there forever. Milo’s grandma, his dad’s mother, had
lived a few hours away in a slightly larger town. That slightly
larger town, however, was where Milo’s heart rested. He couldn’t
believe his parents had forced him to move to Speculator, just
because it was “nice.” He was used to seeing his grandma almost
daily, and now she had been taken away from him, not only
because he had moved, but she had recently passed away. I was
taken away, and by force, he thought angrily. A single tear
escaped from his eye and reached his pillow as he fell asleep,
revealing just how alone he felt in this very solitary town.

Chapter Two

Sunday became Monday and thoughts of another week of


school soon filled Milo’s head. Breakfast came and went quickly,
almost too quickly, and then Milo grudgingly left for school.
Unfortunately, Speculator was so small that there was no comfort
of any impending bus ride to lessen Milo’s anxiety. What would
this week bring? He had only been at this school for a few
months, but had already become the victim of the entire
population of kids. Any other child, at any other school, would
consider this as bad as dying. Being Speculator, the entire school
population was not something to be that fearful of, but it was still
daunting. No one normal would ever enjoy being bullied by one
hundred children.

Milo trudged to the end of his street. I hate this road and
everything on it, he thought to himself as he kicked at a pile of
snow. The Walters’ lived on a road called Black Bear Run. I’ve
never seen any black bears running around here, was his angry
thought. At least that would have brought some kind of
excitement into his life. He continued the epic walk to the
converted schoolhouse, dreading the things that could possibly
happen that day.

Rounding a heavily wooded corner on the main street in


town, Milo came face to face with Lake Pleasant School. It was
called a school, because it wasn’t just an elementary or middle
school. It held the classes for grade school but also middle and
high school classes as well.

“Ironic,” Milo said aloud, but quietly. “There’s nothing


pleasant about this school or the lake. It’s all just one big
misunderstanding in my life…I don’t belong here.” With that said,
he shuffled slowly towards that day’s fate. There were no stairs to
climb. It was, after all, just a converted barn. Milo dodged in and
out of the small groups of children surrounding the entrance,
grateful for the still calm interior of the large building.
His parents didn’t understand him, not completely. It wasn’t
that he really hated school. Mr. and Mrs. Walters knew that Milo
had trouble with other kids at school, but they had no idea how
much it affected him. He tried to make friends with people, but
he always stumbled over his words and then they came out
completely wrong. Milo tended to be kind of shy. Most of the kids
thought he was being a snob, his being from a “bigger” city and
everything. How could he get them all to realize how wrong they
were?

Ripped from his reverie as the bell rang, Milo quickly moved
to his assigned seat towards the back of the room. The groups
from outside were making their way into the schoolhouse,
bringing not only their chatter but their glares. All of the students
met together for a few brief moments every day. With only one
hundred in attendance, all grades were split into two general
groups. Kindergarten through eighth grade met at the front of the
room and 9th through 12th met at the back towards the doors.

Those doors, Milo grimaced. My best friends and my worst


enemies all rolled into one. Those doors more often than not
offered a quick escape from the day’s troubles. He was usually
the first to reach the door at lunchtime and when the school day
was over. He did enjoy nature when he’d been cooped up at
school all day. He admired his teacher, Ms. Langley, but the rude
attentions of his classmates ruined the learning experience. How
could he enjoy school when he was trying to ward off his
attackers? Nothing was worse, however, then having the bullies
at school push him back into the doors and out into the clearing
near the school. They taunted him and found nothing but
negative things to say. Yes, Milo had no choice but to love and
hate those doors.

The students began to quiet down as the principal went


through the morning announcements. There weren’t very many,
as one can only tell one hundred students so many things, but it
was a school. Morning announcements must be made. Typical,
Milo thought sarcastically as the principal pointed out the
importance of keeping the schoolhouse neat and clean. It’s a
barn. More trivial announcements followed and then came the
Pledge of Allegiance. Milo stood and repeated robotically, hoping
the day would end much sooner than he knew was possible.

It was almost three o’clock in the afternoon and though the


day outside looked bright and beautiful, a normal boy inside
found it very dreadful indeed. It had been one of the worst days
of school yet, and Milo hadn’t done anything to try and resist the
bullies. It was paper balls thrown to the back of the head in
English class, and then spitballs during Math. Lunchtime brought
a small glimmer of hope that the day would be different, that
they would all just ignore him, but Milo had no such luck.

Trying to eat his packed lunch in peace, Milo had tried to


ignore the snowball that hit his face and left a frozen wet streak
in its path. The approaching shadow he saw from his down turned
eyes told him this would end very unmercifully.
“Hey Walters,” called the gruff voice of the biggest kid at
school. Humphrey Gable was only a year older than Milo’s
fourteen, but more than doubled him in size. If anyone could be
influential in a town of less than five hundred, Humphrey’s
parents were those people. Mr. Gable was the mayor and Mrs.
Gable was, well, she had a lot of say about everything. She was
one of the bossiest people in town. Humphrey seemed to take
this to heart on a daily basis and used his “power” to influence
his own group of peers. This power included the normal name-
calling, pushing, shoving and also the bit of torture every once in
a while. Milo knew all about the torture. He was proud to say,
however, that although Humphrey wanted his victims to scream,
he never made a sound. No, Milo would not give him the
satisfaction. He would rather die than give Humphrey Gable
anything he wanted.

“Hey yourself,” Milo responded, trying to sound somewhat


friendly. He went back to munching on his sandwich, though his
face was still stinging from the first attack.

Humphrey scowled. “What is that supposed to mean?” He


threatened menacingly with his fist. Milo didn’t respond. He didn’t
know which would have the better outcome, speaking or staying
silent. He knew they would both have the same outcome, but
which would be less intense? He decided to stay silent. Sure
enough, and before he could tell what had happened, his face
was a little closer than he’d like to a very beefy set of knuckles.
He could taste the lint from his shirt and coat. The scenario
played out in Milo’s head. Not good…this is not good.
“Well?” the bully demanded.

“Um…I was just saying, uh, hi?” Milo squeaked, hoping the
question in his voice would somehow appeal to the massive teen
holding his fate in his hands, at least for today.

“The snot-nosed twerp thought he should say hi to me,”


Humphrey cackled loudly for all to hear. At this point, there were
many who could hear, for it seemed like the entire school had
gathered around to watch. Everyone laughed as if they knew
exactly what happened to people who said hi to Humphrey Gable.
“Don’t think for a second,” he continued, “that you can get away
with stuff like that. You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Somehow everyone else knew that Humphrey Gable had


spoken his part. Children of all sizes and grades moved out of his
general radius and waited to see what would happen. Milo was
almost on his tip toes, and felt a bit sick, as if he knew what was
coming. Humphrey stood there, still fuming, deciding how to
dispose of his victim.

“I’ll let you off easy, but only for today, creep. Don’t cross
me again,” Humphrey finished. With that, Milo thought for a
second that he would be a free man, left alone at last. He was
wrong. Humphrey Gable took his gigantic foot and smashed the
remains of Milo’s lunch. Still in his grips, Milo looked down as best
he could…no, that isn’t edible anymore, he thought resignedly. If
that was all Humphrey had to give, Milo would have been okay
with it. But it wasn’t the end of the tirade.
Milo felt a huge surge of energy run through the bully’s
arms. Suddenly, and with almost inhuman strength, Humphrey
picked up Milo Walters and threw him into a massive snow drift.
Time slowed as Milo twisted and flew through the air, eventually
eyeing the snow with apprehension…I’m going to get lost, I just
know it. As he hit the powdery mass, it cushioned the initial
impact of his fall, but it left him in a very wet and unfortunate
predicament.

Chapter Three

If Milo Walters was the only main character in this book, it


would be only mildly interesting. There was at the same time,
however, another character that was dealing with his own set of
troubles.

In a land very far away, yet as close as the town of


Speculator, New York, there lived another boy of fifteen years.
Longren Fairchild lived with his parents Golgrian and Esmerelda
Fairchild. One might be thinking, what odd names for people
these days. The Fairchild’s were, in fact, not people at all. They
were fairies. Not the type that flit about in the sky with light
attached to them, but fairies of normal human size, though they
do have their own unique abilities and talents.

The Fairchild’s lived at Frenleerden Manor, a castle of


reputable size, in the fairy city of Hemlorn. Hemlorn was the
central and main city of the fairy kingdom known as Elornia.
Hemlorn was so named for the type of tree that was common in
the wooded city. Hemlocks were the chosen tree in the kingdom
of Elornia. Elornia was not a large kingdom, but its influences
reached further than many people knew.

As a tiny youngling, which is what the fairies call their


children until they are grown up, Longren Fairchild knew that he
was different than all of the other fairy children. He was watched
over and guarded by many people, not to mention his parents.
What his parents had forgotten to mention to their young son was
that he was the prince of Elornia and they, his parents, were King
and Queen. It was daunting news for any five-year-old to handle,
although it didn’t take long for Longren to enjoy his newfound
rank. Golgrian and Esmerelda had refrained from revealing to
their son just who they all were because they didn’t want it to go
to his head. What they were afraid of was now happening right
before their eyes.

At fifteen, Longren Fairchild was what most parents would


call “their worst nightmare.” He was strong-willed and quite
disobedient and had no social grace whatsoever. Every day, the
King and Queen would hear more news from their subjects about
what Longren had been up to. One day it was Longren teasing the
smaller younglings and another it was Longren using magic to
confuse the aging elders. His parents were at their wits end trying
to figure out how to reform their rebellious son and make him into
the prince that would one day take over their reign. It was
becoming a very tiresome project and looked like it would only
get worse before it ever got better.
In his own defense, Longren was bored witless with his life.
Although he had the best of everything and he was nice enough
to admit that his parents were quite pleasant, that wasn’t enough
for him to stay out of trouble.

Like any good youngling, whether royalty or not, Longren


was enrolled in Felda classes. Felda classes were divided up into
four general classes ranked in order of fairy capabilities.
Generally one would move up in rank with age if they progressed
at a normal level. There were always the exceptions, though it
was rare. The first level generally had students aged two to four-
years-old. These younglings learned the basics of fairy
knowledge, such as how to creep quietly about in the woods.
They also learned how to perfect the ancient fairy language.

The second level included younglings aged five to nine-


years-old who were learning to fly and perform the simple
magical tricks that fairies are famous for, while also learning
proper fairy etiquette. The third level usually consisted of
younglings between the ages of ten and twelve-years-old. These
young fairies were learning how to make the many potions that
fairies are known to concoct. Middlings, which they were
nicknamed, also studied fairy history during this level. The very
last level was reserved for younglings who were thirteen to
eighteen-years-old. The only things these noble younglings, as
they were called, were learning in this advanced class was how to
reach the real world, a rite of passage that had to be
accomplished to move on to adulthood. Reaching the real world
was a very complicated matter and it took many younglings
years to figure it out, hence the greater age span than the other
levels.

Being part of the royal family, Longren was expected to


have a natural affinity for the fairy arts. He was also expected to
do well because without perfecting everything he learned, he
would never make a truly wonderful king. It was as it should be,
for Longren was a very clever boy and especially gifted for only
fifteen. He had routinely aced all of the exams in all the levels
and was now learning how to reach the real world. He hadn’t
made much progress, but it was the one thing that interested him
in life.

Longren spent a lot of time in his parents’ royal library and


had since he was old enough to read. There was a certain section
on humans and Longren found them most fascinating. Humans
actually had fun, from what he read. They had extreme sports
and regular sports. They had none of the abilities fairies did, and
Longren was interested in knowing why. How could they not fly
and perform magic? Well, perform magic as easily. He had read
about humans who did things considered “impossible” and yet to
Longren, they were just normal things that fairies did. And their
names, how could he explain their oddly plain names, names he
had never heard before? John, Mary, David, and Anne…how
perfectly boring! He was also fascinated that humans could get
sick and feel pain. That was something completely new for a fairy
to comprehend, for they were immune to things like that.

On the particular day that Milo had his run-in with


Humphrey Gable, Longren had gone on his normal rounds of
mayhem after eating breakfast with his parents. He had just been
off teasing some of the younglings again, although he did it
halfheartedly. He was so used to getting in trouble and being rude
to those around him that it was almost a routine. It was just what
he did, although it was starting to lose his interest. As he rounded
a bend in the path he was following through the forest, he almost
ran right into a small girl.

“Watch where you’re going, middling!” he taunted. He


turned around and faced her. He was a tall boy and she was quite
short and she had to crane her neck to see his face.

“You know my name, Longren!” the girl retorted. “Say it.”

Longren smirked. “Why should I? I can call you whatever I


want, and you shan’t stop me.” The girl crossed her arms and
Longren saw that she looked very upset. “Fine,” he relented,
“Isabelle. You don’t have to take it so badly.”

Disgusted, Isabelle practically yelled, “You’ve known me


since we were young. You used to be nice to me, and to everyone
else. Plus, you know I’m not a middling. I’m thirteen and short for
my age. Ever since you found out who you were…well, it’s
obvious isn’t it?” She ended with a quiet voice of disappointment.
“All you do is make everyone’s life miserable, and no one ever
does anything to you. Why don’t you…” she trailed off. Bowing
her head, she slowly walked past Longren and muttered under
her breath, “Why don’t you just leave Elornia…” and then she
quickly hurried off down the path towards the city.
Longren had turned aside as she brushed past him. He was
angry, but he knew he didn’t have a right to be. She was right,
right about it all. I have turned into a mean, ugly person, he
thought to himself. He felt like he needed to get away and with a
sudden burst of energy, he flew off towards his favorite thinking
spot. It was an old hemlock tree in the middle of the densest part
of the Elornian forest. Hemlorn was, of course, named after the
hemlocks and while there were so many of them, there was
something special about this one. Longren hadn’t figured out just
what made it so special, but he figured he had time enough for
anything.

The tree was very tall and thin, except for the very bottom
of the trunk. It was at least ten feet around, which for a hemlock
is quite large indeed. Longren liked to perch himself on one of the
uppermost branches and just stare out onto the lands of Elornia.
It comforted his troubled mind. As his mind reached out and
thought about everything and nothing at once, he said aloud, “It
doesn’t matter what I’m like. I just want to get to the real world
and then I’ll be satisfied.” He stood up halfway and then leaped
into mid-air, only to drift to the bottom of the forest floor. He
would have to walk back into the city. He knew that his father and
mother would only approve of flying during an emergency, and
this was no emergency.

Longren reached the city a little while later, ready to engage


in some real work. He picked and plodded through throngs of
people on his way back to Frenleerden Manor, not caring if he
was rude or not. He was on a mission, and that was that.

Upon reaching the courtyard of the manor, Longren looked


around at the vast number of windows that surrounded him. No
use wasting time, he thought with a grin.

Taking in a deep breath, he bellowed, “Father! Where are


you?” He looked around for someone to answer his question. He
didn’t have to wait long. He saw the shadow of his father’s form
inside the library windows getting ready to peer out of the
drapes. He raced inside the castle and made his way through
many halls and archways, finally ending up in the royal library
and presence of his father.

Golgrian looked up from the book he was flipping through


and sighed. “Son, must you be so loud? As a prince, you’re
expected to use some sense of decorum while in the royal
home…what will people think…” He trailed off knowing that what
everyone might think, they already did, for Longren’s reputation
had spread far and wide.

Longren laughed it off and said, “Father, I know all that. I’ll
work on it later. What I want to know right now is the secret of
reaching the real world.” Golgrian stopped suddenly and without
looking up, closed his book. He walked over to his son and
motioned for him to sit down next to the fireplace.

“Longren,” he started as they sat down, “reaching the other


side is not something to be taken lightly. Everyone must go
through at some point, or they will never have a real place in
Elornia.” Longren impatiently contemplated this and started to
say something, but his father cut him short. “You must
understand. Once you go through and come back, you can never
take your responsibilities lightly again. You come back a changed
person, whether you actually want to be or not. Your place in life
will change and all of what you do now will no longer be
tolerated.”

Longren teetered on the edge of his seat for several


moments. Furrowing his brows, he replied, “I know that, Father.
You must believe me when I say I want to go and I know what it
involves. I can do this, I just need your help getting there.” He
looked down and then gave a ragged sigh. In a muted voice he
added, “There is nothing left for me here anyway, not the way I
am now. I need to prove myself.”

Golgrian thought to himself for a few moments. I am the


King and yet I continue as a father. I hope that he can understand
how much he needs to change. With that, he looked to his son
and said in a determined voice, “It is different for everyone. You
must find a place, a place that is one with you, where you have
peace.”

Longren was confused. “What, that’s it? I find a place and it


just happens?” He was angry; his father wasn’t giving him the
entire truth. “You said you would help me, Father. If you aren’t
willing to, I will go to someone who will.”
Golgrian held up his hand at his son’s motion to leave. “I
am telling you the truth, Longren. You must have a place, it is
true. But there is also a spell……come. I will give it to you…” he
left off, his voice ragged with sadness. I can only hope that all
turns out as it should, the great fairy king thought as he led his
son to the next stage in his life.

Chapter Four

Longren followed his father down many staircases, trying to


keep up with the king’s increasing speed. He huffed in an attempt
to let his father know there wasn’t the need for this much of a
hurry.

Golgrian correctly interpreted his son’s thoughts, but said


nothing. No one can know that I am helping my son do this. We
cannot be seen. Reaching the real world was something that
younglings were supposed to achieve on their own, without the
aid of parents or elders. How could he say no to his only son,
though? He so desperately wanted Longren to change his ways
and become a better person, a fairy worthy of the throne. As both
king and prince followed the same path, it became clear to
Longren that they were following a hallway that he was not
familiar with.

“Where are we going, Father? I don’t know this part of the


manor. Are we going the right way?” Longren asked. His father
continued through the darkened passage without answering his
son’s question. After what seemed like ages, the pair finally
stopped in front of a door Longren had never come across before.
He waited, somewhat patiently, as his father looked up and down
the clearly deserted hallway.

“There’s no one here, Father. Why do you keep looking


around as if something bad was going to happen?” Longren
waited for his response. He didn’t get one until his father had
opened the door and they were both inside.

Golgrian closed the door quickly and then went about the
room, lighting a few candles here and there. As there were no
windows at all in the room, it made for very dim prospects. Finally
he seemed to be at ease and he made his way to a chair and
table in the middle of the room.

“Longren,” he started, “you must never tell anyone that this


room exists. There aren’t any windows for that very reason. No
one knows what rests here, not even your mother. It contains
some of the most powerful secrets that exist in Elornia, secrets
that if placed into the wrong hands, could ruin the kingdom.”

Longren slowly walked over to join his father, sitting


opposite him at the table. He leaned back into the seat. He
thought for a moment, digesting what his father had said. He still
had little patience for anything that wasn’t his own idea.

“What does this have to do with helping me reach the real


world?” he said. He opened his mouth to complain some more,
but stopped when he saw his father get up and move towards
one end of the room. The candlelight gave off little light and
Longren’s eyes were still adjusting. After a few moments, he
realized there were floor to ceiling bookcases surrounding every
side of the room. They were filled with endless books, worn and
smooth with age.

Longren was almost in a trance, fascinated by the number


of books, books he had yet to delve into. His fathers’ voice
startled him, breaking the previous moments of silence. “All of
these books have been passed down through the generations of
our family,” Golgrian began. “They contain powerful spells and
knowledge that most fairies will never know in their lifetime. That
is why no one must ever know of this room’s existence. These
books can never be destroyed, yet they should never be
revealed. Do you understand, son?” Golgrian looked expectantly
at Longren, waiting for the appropriate response.

“Well, if it’s that important to you, I guess I can manage not


to tell anyone this room exists,” Longren offered. His father
started to speak, so he added, “I promise. Is that good enough?”

Golgrian nodded and then pulled down one of the older


books. He began to explain. “Longren, this book contains many
spells which you must never divulge to anyone. Most of them
aren’t important right now, except one. I believe it’s the one you
are in need of.” He opened the book to the very middle page and
turned it around so Longren could see. “This spell, when recited
in the place you have decided, will help you find the portal that
leads you into the real world. Each fairy has a difference place,
and as such, each portal is different, so you need not fear that
anyone will ever use yours.”
Slightly taken aback, Longren retorted, “Why did no one
ever tell me it was this simple? I could have done this ages ago.”

His father chuckled, though a bit sadly, and replied, “The


spell is the easy part. It is finding the place that takes so much
time. You must commit the spell to memory. Binding spells forbid
anything from this room to be copied down.”

Longren looked over the spell again…it doesn’t seem that


long to me, he mused. It should only take him a day or so to
memorize it and then he could leave. He could finally get out of
this place!

Golgrian quietly rose from his chair and turned as he


reached the door of his secret room. “You are the only one now
who can finish this, Longren. Let me know if you need help
finding this room again. For now, I will leave you to it.” He opened
the door a bit, paused without turning back, and then in an
instant, he was gone.

Longren let his eyes linger on the door for a while. He knew
his father had mixed feelings about what he was doing, but he
would prove that he could rule Elornia. He would do it if it was the
last thing he did.

Over the next day and a half, Longren worked hard trying to
memorize the spell he would need to reach the real world. It took
him longer than he thought; he was a little nervous about it
getting it just right, so he worked extra hard. He tried to avoid his
father, knowing there would only be awkward silence if they
should meet. Longren loved his father, but he needed to do this.
He felt this urgency, but he wasn’t sure why. Somehow he knew
he needed to do this now and not wait, that any other time would
not be the same.

He’d only asked his father once how to reach the secret
room again. Now he knew the way like the back of his hand.
Every time he went there, which was every few hours, he was
able to memorize another line or so. The only time he wasn’t
thinking about the spell was when he was eating, and even then
his parents couldn’t get much conversation out of him. He didn’t
know if his mother had any idea what he was up to.

The night before Longren was going to try and reach the
real world, he was walking around the city. As usual, he was
feeling a bit mischievous. It was apparent that the impending
need for maturity hadn’t had any effect on him yet. He wanted to
have fun.

He was in the middle of the main market area. It was


getting dark; lamps and lanterns of all shapes and sizes were
being lit, giving the entire street a warm glow. Up ahead he saw
one of his favorite targets: Isabelle. A plan began formulating in
his head. He didn’t know if he’d be able to pull it off or not, but it
would certainly be fun to try.

Isabelle Dunlagen was the daughter of the former Prime


Minister. Her mother had been a famous fairy beauty but had
died shortly after Isabelle was born. Her death was a result of the
terrible Goblin Crisis of the previous era. Goblins were the only
enemy the Elornian fairies had, although they usually kept to
themselves in their neighboring kingdom. There had been,
however, some strange misunderstanding between the two
governments. Unfortunately, Isabelle’s mother had been one of
the casualties. Isabelle’s father was never the same after the
death of his beloved wife. He was, in fact, very old himself. He
and Isabelle had actually lived in Frenleerden Manor since the
Crisis. Though he was no longer Prime Minister, Isabelle’s father
and the king were the best of friends. With no other blood
relations to go to, the father and daughter stayed on with the
royal family because of Mr. Dunlagen’s failing mental health.

Because of these circumstances, Isabelle and Longren were


like brother and sister. They also fought like siblings, though it
was mostly Longren’s fault. He was the one who annoyed, teased
and bullied. Isabelle was actually quite good about ignoring him,
but there were occasions where she simply couldn’t refrain.

This evening she had her hair pulled into tantalizing braids.
It was especially fetching in the early glow of twilight. Very nice,
thought Longren. It’s nice enough to……his thoughts became his
actions as he padded up without a sound behind her and gave
her braids a sound yanking. With keen perception, he took a
quick step back, knowing her angry fists would follow.

His predictions were right. Isabelle swung around, obviously


aware of who had caused the momentary pressure on her head. It
wasn’t painful, because remember, fairies don’t feel real pain.
They can die, that is apparent, but when that happens, it just
happens. It is sad for whomever they leave behind, but their
relatives need not worry; they were in no pain. Longren knew
Isabelle was fine. After all, he hadn’t pulled that hard. Isabelle,
however, thought differently.

“How dare you,” she spat. “Who says you can just go
around making mischief and causing everyone problems? You’d
think you would have learned by now.” Isabelle’s usually light
green eyes were dark with anger. “Now you’ve ruined the
conversation I was trying to have with one of the elders.”

Longren smirked a bit, but as Isabelle pushed roughly past


him, he caught her arm. “I’m sorry, okay?” he pled. “I was just
trying to have some fun…you know I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Isabelle’s anger was gone, but the annoyance was still


there. “That’s the problem with you, Longren!” she explained.
“You always mean to have fun, but that’s not how it turns out…
ever.” Before he knew it, she was gone, disappearing quickly in
the crowds eager to get home for supper.

Great, Longren surmised. What a lovely way to leave things


before I go. I could have been so much better about that. Put in
his place, Longren trudged back towards the manor hoping that
tomorrow would be a better day.

The next day came quickly and Longren woke up feeling


excited yet a bit sad. He looked around fondly at his room, taking
in every detail in case it should be different when he returned.
How silly of me, he realized. It’s not like I’m going away forever
and never coming back…he dismissed his worries and got ready
for the impending day.

After dressing, Longren tramped down the main stairs


towards the breakfast room. His parents were already there
waiting for him. He took his seat and after being served, began
his usual routine of eating breakfast very quickly. When he was
almost finished, it dawned on him that his parents weren’t eating
their own food; they were staring at him.

“What?” Longren asked, giving a small laugh. As he went


back to finish what little was left on his plate, his father spoke.

“Son, I’ve informed your mother of the plans you have for
the day. I’m taking leave of you now, but good luck with
everything.” King Golgrian went to his son and offered his hand,
which Longren took hesitantly and shook. His father continued.
“I’ll let you say goodbye to your mother.” With that, the king
swept out of the room.

Longren watched his father’s figure get smaller and then


disappear from view as he left the house. He turned to his
mother. Queen Esmerelda looked with fond eyes over her young
son. One tear fell from her eye to her cheek. “You are growing up
so fast, Longren,” she said, her voice wavering. “Please try to be
safe as you go on your journey…we will see you soon.” She took
her son into her arms and kissed the top of his head.
Longren spoke after a few very long seconds. “Yes, Mother,”
he said. “I will see you soon…you will see me again a changed
person.” He held his mother a few more moments and then
pulled away. He gave his last words. “I need to go now. I have to
prepare my things. Goodbye, Mother.” He turned to leave the
room, hoping he had spoken the truth about himself.

It took Longren only a few moments to gather the things he


wanted to take with him. He knew he wanted to take his
communicating stones; those were always useful to have around.
He didn’t need food. He had his magic skills to assist him with
that if he really needed it. The only other items Longren knew he
needed to take were his special vanishing shoes. They had served
him well many times before.

With all he needed ready, Longren made his way through


the city and towards the densest part of the Elornian forest. His
father had said that finding the one place was the hard part, but
he didn’t know that Longren already knew where that place was.
He’d known for quite some time that it was a place special to
him. He knew it was just what he needed to reach the real world.

Without the speed of flying, it actually took quite some time


to reach the old hemlock tree. When Longren reached its base,
however, all of his impatience disappeared. He looked with
excitement at the familiar bark and lofty branches. All I need to
do is repeat the spell and I’ll be in the real world, he thought
excitedly. He thought for a moment over the lines he had
painstakingly memorized. He put his pack on the ground and
then took in a deep breath. He began the spell, taking the time to
remember the exact words and intonations.

The real world beckons with each new day,

Calling me in with its enchanting ways;

Give me strength to find my own path in,

Let me know of all the wonders therein.

Longren felt his eyes close and the wind furl around his
body. A sudden thought entered his head…look to the bottom of
the tree. It was such a simple idea that Longren almost dismissed
it, but it came stronger when he tried. Look. Opening his eyes,
Longren shrugged and decided to give it a try. He looked at the
bottom of the beloved tree. Nothing. He continued to stare,
waiting for something to happen.

A few moments passed with still no hint that anything was


going to happen. Longren sighed and though he had been a bit
frustrated, now he was humbled. Please, he thought. There was
another burst of wind and a noise that Longren barely heard.
Suddenly, with an equally imperceptible sound, a line started to
appear on the trunk of the tree. The line slowly but surely made
its way up and then over and down as it traced the outline of a
small door. Longren was entranced and couldn’t take his eyes off
of the tree. With a loud crack, the traced door slowly gave form to
an actual door that came slightly ajar.
Longren grabbed his pack, looked around for a moment, and
then crept towards the door. He reached for the wooden handle
and pulled gently. The door opened. There isn’t any room in this
tree for me, thought Longren. How is this supposed to work? He
had only to put one foot into the doorway, however, and he was
transported to the real world. As he was spinning slowly through
waves of light, he had no idea where he was going, but anywhere
was better then Hemlorn. Suddenly the light was gone and he
was sitting somewhere…somewhere dark…where was he?

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