Upon her thirteenth birthday, Jordan is sent to the Wentworth Home for Wayward Children where she befriends Willie Mooney, a boy who also has no knowledge of his magical gifts. Together they quickly discover their lives are not at all what they seem, and accidentally transported themselves to the magical world. Meeting friends and magical creatures throughout their journey, their destiny and their true identities are slowly revealed. They alone hold the power to restore balance in the magical world.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.29(d)|
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The Keeper and The Key
By Joi Riker Oleksak
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2009 Joi Riker Oleksak
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Legend Waiting
Jordania Reddrick paced nervously across the kitchen floor watching out the window and waiting anxiously for her husband to return from work. He was nearly an hour late. Jordania, now more than a week overdue with the arrival of their first child, found it impossible to relax while her husband was away. It had been a long, hard pregnancy and she feared the event would come without him by her side. For the past few weeks she had awful, dreadful nightmares about the birth. She knew in her heart something was going to go horribly wrong. Her eyes were fixed upon the forest when finally she saw a silhouette approaching their small, cozy cottage. As the figure appeared, "Oh finally. Aremist, thank goodness your home. Where have you been?"
"What a day at work today. How's my princess doing?" Aremist asked with a kiss to her cheek.
"I'm not feeling so well today. The baby has been kicking quite a bit. I feel as if I'm going to explode if the baby doesn't decide to come out soon," she replied, rubbing her stomach. "Aremist," she said with a more serious tone, "I just know something is wrong."
Aremist looked at his wife with a loving smile while placing his hand on her belly. "Jordaniamy sweet, you're letting your imagination get the best of you. We have tried for so long to have a baby, it's only natural to be worried. The doctor said three and a half months along can be normal for your first pregnancy. You have to stop trying to convince yourself something is wrong. It's not good for you to worry so much. Come, sit, and get off your feet. I'll fix us both a plate." Aremist went to the pot hanging over the fireplace. "Acorn stew, one of my favorites," he said as he dished to bowls.
Jordania sat at the table, knowing it was pointless to tell him yet again, a mother just knows these things. She knew the response would be the same as so many times before. You're not a mother yet, just pregnant with the same fears as anyone has who is and has been expecting before. You and the baby are both just fine. What Aremist did not understand was that Jordania was right; something was very wrong, as they would both soon find out.
"Tell me about work today," she said in attempt to occupy her mind.
"Well," Aremist said as he swallowed a bite of stew "it started off very dull, as always. Humans are so very mundane, going about their days as if they were all that existed. While I was walking through Lemwick, a drunken man came stumbling out of Piggly's Pub ..."
"Oh Aremist," Jordania interrupted, "not another laugh at a human's expense." Jordania liked the humans, finding some to be rather sweet and intriguing.
Aremist gave a smug chuckle. "Anyway, the drunk man could barely walk. He then spotted a snake. He tripped, falling over his own feet numerous times. What a fool he made of himself. He finally caught the snake. However, as I drew closer I realized it was no snake he caught." Aremist was laughing finding it hard to continue.
"What was it that he caught?" Jordania asked. Aremist was laughing too hard to answer. "Aremist stop, tell me what it was."
Finally, he managed to spit the words out, "It was Graut."
Jordania gasped, "Graut! Did you warn the human?"
"No," answered Aremist as he was still laughing. "Now why would I go ahead and do something like that? The human was playing with what he thought was a snake, marveling at what a great catch he had made. I didn't stick around, although I have to admit I would have loved to see the look on the human's face when he realized it was not a snake, but rather a grobert he caught."
"Aremist, That's awful, yelled Jordania. "Honestly, I cannot believe you did nothing. And what if Graut revealed magic? He isn't very bright you know."
"Oh, Jordania, relax. Graut might be a dumb grobert, but he is not stupid. Worst-case scenario, a drunken man would mysteriously disappear. What's the big deal anyway? I bet no one would even miss him."
Jordania knew her husband did not care for humans, but she never thought he would let a grobert mix amongst them. Some magical beings could transform themselves into other shapes. groberts could transform into reptiles. They possess no other magic ability, but rather depend on brute strength. A full-sized grobert is about five feet tall and almost the same wide. They are very stocky and almost never bathe. Their skin is thick and rough acting like a scaly armor. They have large noses but small eyes and very poor eyesight. groberts can talk, but they grunt so much it's hard to understand what they say. It is a rare sight to see one in grobert form as it is easier for them to find food as a sneaky reptile as opposed to a clumsy oaf.
Jordania and Aremist Reddrick are both fairies. Fairies have more magical power than human tales tell. They too can transform. They transform into human shape allowing them to observe the human world. Fairies take the job of concealing magic of most importance. They have the power to clean up is exposed. Most are kind natured and peaceful, protecting magic as best they can. Although peaceful, fairies are awesome warriors in times of battle. They are mistakenly seen as no threat due to their small size.
Sitting in disbelief, Jordania asked her husband why he hated and resented humans as he did. There was a long silence when Jordania reached across the table placing her hand on her husbands, "Aremist?"
Aremist thought the world of his sweet beautiful wife. The last thing he wanted was for Jordania to think of him as a coward. He struggled for a moment as he tried to swallow. It was as if he had a mouth full of pride, which he found very difficult to get down.
"I ... I was a small lad, "he started. "No more the size of that a smigott the first time my dad took me deep into the forest. It was to be my first lesson of how to transport anywhere I desired. I was eager to please my dad. I wanted him to beam with pride when he looked at me, telling all of the village what a smart, brave son he had. He would repeat the story over never growing tired of telling the tale of his wonderful son. All I knew of transporting was that it had something to do with the mirrored mushrooms." Aremist took a deep breath before continuing. "Along the way we ran into Mr. Demory. He and my father were discussing important business of a family of humans that were to be closely watched. I grew tired of listening to the boring detail of the family. I happened to spot a mirrored mushroom. My dad saw what I was about to do and well before he could finish yelling my name, I picked it. The forest began spinning, so fast in fact I could hardly breathe. I could hear my dad still yelling my name, but it seemed so far off in the distance. Panic overtook me. I did not know what I had done or what was to become of me. All I could say to myself was please don't go to the suspicious family of humans over and over. Unaware of how transporting works, that's exactly where I found myself. I landed abruptly, falling to my knees. I looked around and saw some sort of a garden like no other I had seen before. The flowers and shrubs were so neatly organized, it was disturbing. Nothing grew as it wanted, but rather was cut and trimmed in to perfect shapes. In the middle of this garden was a huge bench. I did not wish to see who was so large as to need such a bench. There were frozen creatures scattered within the garden as well. I was horrified. I did not want a human to freeze me and stick me with the many bizarre bearded creatures." Jordania had tears in her eyes as she listened to her husband. "Before I had time to grasp the situation and find a place to hide, a glass jar came crashing over the top of me, imprisoning me. At the time I didn't know it was a human child. She looked a monster to me. She was laying on her stomach intensely staring at me. I thought for sure she was going to freeze me with her huge gazing eyes. She slid her hand under the jar, picking me high up into the air as she stood to her feet, keeping me eye level. She said she had never seen such a beautiful butterfly like me before. She planned to add me to her collection, saying I would be her prized butterfly by far. She began running towards their house when she tripped over a rock and fell to the ground, dropping the jar. I quickly escaped the glass prison only to find myself cupped in her massive hand, pinning me to the ground. She scooped me up into the air once more. I fought as hard as I could, trying to free myself. If I could only break free, I could fly over her head to my get away. I was exhausted and could fight no more. She opened her hands just a bit to get a look at her prized butterfly." Aremist paused looking down at the table. With a heavy sigh he began once again. "I started to cry and that's when the girl said, 'You're not a butterfly at all'. I thought for sure I was going to die. I don't quite remember how, but I managed to escape her hands. I flew to the closest line of trees for cover and began frantically scanning the ground for another mirrored mushroom before the girl could find me again. I wanted to be safe in my mothers' arms. Finally I found one. I picked it and came spinning straight home. My parents were in a panic, not knowing where to begin looking for me. I landed hard on my knees once more in our kitchen. I can still hear them like it was yesterday. 'We hoped you would find another mushroom and think to come home. Thank goodness you are safe. What were you thinking?' My dad hugged me, but I could see disappointment in his face. I never wanted to see him look at me like that again. I didn't dare speak of my encounter with the human girl." Aremist gave a chuckle, "I've never told anyone of that before. What must you think of me, my Jordania?"
Tears were still streaming down her face. "I think you are the most handsome, brave fairy in all the world. You were only a child yourself Aremist. It does not make you a coward. Maybe the human girl was ..." Aremist cut Jordania short.
"Jordania, my love," he said as he leaned to kiss her forehead, "you are so naive. Your sweet innocence is one of the reasons I fell in love with you. However, I do not want your pity or explanations of the girls' intentions. It was long ago." With a deep breath he asked, "Jordania, what do you think would have happened to Graut if he weren't capable of taking care of himself? Do you honestly think the human would have spared his life?"
Jordania lowered her head. "Humans, adults and children alike respect the life of humans alone. I have seen what they do. Human males kill animals only to have their lifeless heads mounted on the wall as a trophy to prove how strong they are, 'real men' as I have heard them say. The small humans, they pull the wings off of flipplebees or butterflies just for fun. They crush wigglehuffs and smigotts just to see what is inside. Do not think for one minute that you or I would not be pinned to a board if a human caught hold of us. No animal or magical being is safe around humans. Now I'm not saying they are all like that. I have met some rather pleasant ones, but honestly, most care only of themselves." Aremist got up from the table and freshened their stew, as it was now cold.
Jordania had not spent much time among the humans, as there wasn't much a need to. Occasionally, she enjoyed visiting their world to learn more of human culture. She was fascinated and thought them to be creatures of intelligence, having adapted to living with no magical ability. Moving chairs that took them from one place to another, hellophones that could communicate all over their world depending on which buttons were pushed; genius really, absolutely brilliant!
Not even to think of all their other inventions. Aremist always told her it was only their simple minds that made them need so many of these absurd tools they called progress. Jordania knew how hard it was for Aremist to open up and share with her the story of his childhood. She thought it best to drop the subject of humans and enjoy the quiet time together. Aremist cleaned the dishes then started a fire in the sitting room. They spent the rest of the night in each other's arms talking of how the cottage would soon be filled with the sounds of a baby.
Chapter TwoThe Not So Blessed Event
Only a couple of hours into sleep Jordania's nightmares began. The village was in utter chaos. Mass confusion was everywhere. Jordania lay still under shrubbery with a newborn fairy tightly swaddled in her arms. Explosions filled the night air. Hooded figures were killing all that were in their path. They were crushing cottages with their feet, destroying the fairy village and the forest. Why are they here? What could they be searching for? A voice spoke to Jordania, "War has begun. You must get the key out of the forest. The key must not be captured."
Jordania woke drenched with sweat, screaming.
"Jordania, what is it?" Aremist asked with fear in his voice, being woke from a sound sleep.
"Another nightmare. I know you don't believe me, Aremist but something is to go terribly wrong. I fear it's not just about the baby.
Aremist put his arm around his wife. "It's not that that I don't believe you. Fear can creep into our minds, playing tricks on us, especially with new mothers."
It's not like that. It's ...," but before Jordania could speak another word, a sharp pain ripped through her lower abdomen followed by her water breaking. She screamed again. The pain from the contractions was excruciating. The contractions came one after another with only seconds in between them.
"I'm so sorry my sweet, I'm so sorry." Aremist realized for the first time Jordania was right. Fairy birth was never this hard or quick. In fact, no birth he knew of came this fast. "I'll fetch Dr. Trubis."
"Aremist, no," Jordania's face was covered with sweat, another thing not overly characteristic of fairies.
"But ... but you're right, something is going wrong. We need help!" Aremist was pleading with her.
"No, no please. No one must find out. Do not ask me why, put a protective charm on the cottage."
"What, a protective charm? Jordania, what is going on?"
"Please, Aremist, do as I ask. There isn't much time," she asked with another scream.
Aremist worked as fast as he could. Running, he placed white sage in every corner of the cottage reciting a spell. Aremist was known to be one of the more powerful fairies. When he was younger he was offered a position at the Magical Embassy. He graciously declined, knowing he did not want his life ruled by magic and governed by work. Fairies had no use for seeking power or materialistic items. They had more gold dust than needed, although they used it for magic rather than wealth. While it would take most fairies several minutes to complete an effective charm, it took Aremist less than one. He raced backed to Jordania. Her breathing was labored and blood soaked through the bedding. Fairy blood is a metallic silver color. Jordania's was slightly different, illuminating a light of the purest silver Aremist had ever seen. He was paralyzed with fear. Her screams were getting louder. Aremist couldn't bear to see Jordania in such pain; his heart was breaking as he stood helpless. She reached her hand out for him. He stretched his arm out to reach hers while standing at the bottom of the bed waiting for the crown of the head to show. Jordania was now an hour into labor. A typical fairy birth was no more than half an hour. Aremist begged her to let him call on the doctor. Knowing she must conceal the birth, she refused. It was at one in the morning, two hours into the birth when the baby's head crowned.
"I see the head. You can do this, Jordania, keep pushing." Aremist encouraged her. Jordania was exhausted, having lost so much blood. The long labor was taking its toll on her. "Shoulders, the baby's shoulders are out! You're almost there my love." Aremist loved Jordania more than life itself. He now had a new respect and admiration for her. He had never known she had such strength and will. Jordania was a Flower Fairy and always seemed so dainty and lovely. Aremist had always assumed the role of taking care of her, thinking she could not manage on her own. Finally, with one last push, "It's a girl, a beautiful girl. Jordania you did it!" Aremist was crying with both joy for the baby and fear for Jordania. He quickly cleaned the baby and laid her down across Jordania's chest. He kissed them both.
Excerpted from The Keeper and The Key by Joi Riker Oleksak Copyright © 2009 by Joi Riker Oleksak. Excerpted by permission.
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