By Kohan L. Eybergen
Three weeks had passed and Thomas was still staying in the palace with the fairies. The King had allowed him to go practically anywhere in the palace that he wanted, but never outside. By now, he had already thoroughly explored most of the place; there were large indoor gardens, ponds that he could swim in, and a huge library full of books that he couldn’t read, for they were all written in a different language. Now that the initial wonder he had experienced upon arriving had worn off, Thomas was growing quite bored. He started to feel like he was a prisoner, even if he was never called one, and he often wondered if he would ever be allowed to leave. Some of the only fun he had was playing with the fairy children once they were finished their daily lessons. Typically, they would play hide and seek in the gardens or library.
One day, while playing in the library, Thomas overheard two fairies talking in hushed voices.
“If the King allows him to leave, he might tell the other humans where to find us. Or worse–he could tell the giants where we are and they’ll destroy us,” one of them said from behind the bookshelves that Thomas was hiding under.
“We can’t let him leave,” the second fairy said. “But the human can’t join the other children in lessons either. Our knowledge is sacred; he’s not one of us.”
Thomas waited until they were gone before leaving his hiding spot. He ran back to the room that he was staying in, thinking the whole while about what he had just heard. He was basically a prisoner as far as he was concerned, and he hated feeling like one. It was almost like he was stuck at home again, except that at least here, he was well-fed and nobody yelled at him. But Thomas still felt left out and neglected.
When night came, Thomas waited until he was sure that everyone should be in bed before sneaking out of his room. He had decided that he was going to run away, just like he ran away from home. Thomas crept through the dark palace towards the entrance hall. Reaching the archway, he saw outdoors properly for the first time in weeks; it was an inviting sight.
Not wanting to go too far in the dark, he only ran for a short while before stopping beneath the boughs of a large fir tree for the night. The tree was almost like a tent and Thomas had lots of dry space to lie down in on the fallen needles. He lay there for awhile before drifting off to sleep. Soon after, he was awakened by voices drifting towards him. They weren’t the fair voices of the fairies though; these were deep, harsh voices that didn’t sound very friendly at all.
Thomas sat and listened for awhile but he couldn’t make out what the voices were saying. Making up his mind suddenly, he crawled out from beneath his tree and crept quietly towards the sound of the people talking. Hiding behind some bushes, Thomas peered around and realized that these certainly were not fairies; they were giants, and there were at least twelve of them.
“If we wait another day to attack, they’ll find us before we get the chance and it’ll ruin our plan,” one of them was saying. “We won’t be able to beat them if they know we’re coming.”
“There in’t enough of us yet,” another complained. “They’ll outnumber us for sure.”
“It doesn’t matter how many of us there are if they don’t know we’re coming! We do it tonight, before daybreak, and that’s that! We’ll finally rid the forest of them, and take their lands for our own!”
Thomas was worried. He knew that the fairies were in danger and that he should warn them, but if he warned them, the King would know that he disobeyed him and that he had run off. He sat struggling for awhile. Telling them about the giants was the right thing to do; the fairies were good people, they had fed him and let him stay with them.
Forgetting his fear of punishment, Thomas ran as fast as he could back to the Palace of Living Trees. When he reached it he tore through the entrance to the door that lead to the great hall. Once inside Thomas yelled as loud as he could with his small voice, “Help! Wake up, wake up! The giants are coming to attack!”
Fairies came bursting through the many doors off of the entrance hall shortly after Thomas had started yelling. Then the King arrived. “What is this insufferable racket?” he demanded.
“It’s the giants! They’re attacking, I heard them talking about it in the woods!”
The King looked shocked. “Stations–now!” he commanded to the other fairies.
It was thus that when the giants attacked, the fairies were well prepared. The battle was quick, for the fairy King had many archers in his army that were stationed high up in the trees. In fact, it was much less a battle as it was more of a reverse ambush, with the would-be victims surprising the would-be attackers. The archers peppered the approaching giants with arrows before they could reach the archway to the palace. The giants, being quite lazy and unintelligent creatures, turned tail and ran after a few minutes of being target practice for the fairies.
Once the giants were gone, all the fairies assembled in the great hall. Thomas stood below the King’s table while the King himself looked down at him through his thick-knitted eyebrows.
“I am disappointed that you disobeyed my orders, Thomas.” The King spoke slowly.
“I know. I shouldn’t have ran away, and I’m sorry,” Thomas answered, and he meant it. He was ashamed that he’d repaid the fairy King’s hospitality by running off and disobeying him.
“However, without your warning, the giants surely would have decimated the Palace of Living Trees. By warning us about them, you’ve saved us all; you did the right thing, and for that we are all grateful.” At the King’s words, the rest of the fairies clapped and cheered for Thomas.
Thomas couldn’t help but feel a little bit proud of himself as he heard the King’s words of thanks and the praise of the fairies, but he was also still worried that he would have to remain as a captive in the palace.
The King motioned for silence with his hand. “It is my decision to allow Thomas permanent citizenship of the Shade Garden Realm, though he is welcome to come and go if he pleases, for he is a valued ally of fairy kind. Furthermore, he will also be permitted to join the other children in lessons if it is his wish to do so, for he has done a great service to our people, and we are forever in his debt.”
The great hall reverberated with the noise of hundreds of cheers and the sound of the fairies clapping. Thomas stood still in front of the fairies as a wave of emotion passed over him, filling him with happiness; he finally felt like he belonged somewhere.