The White Rose of Fiorazzurro
Chapter 18 (or, “A Second Visit to the Faerie King”)
Milaya held onto her seat as the train sped through downtown Fiorazzurro. By now, she anticipated that anything could happen with their planning. So far, they had spent the last five days perfecting their approach. They had split up, taking cues from any source they could find. Their group of magic users now numbered more than a hundred, including several former songstrummers, an entire group of water readers, the well known Adam Gutschmidt and his son Jonathan, even a summoner. People she had never even heard of were gathering at the lab, so many people that Daisy had suggested they all start hiding out in the faerie kingdom instead. That was where Milaya was headed - Calimero was staying in Fiorazzurro so he could work on the potion, and Daisy was being left behind so she could gather additional resources - not to mention stay away from her mother.
She crossed her feet at the booted ankle and sucked in another breath of air. Daisy had given her a leather corset, black in color, that had vines on the edges to match her dress. She had said Milaya should wear it at all times to blend in better with the natives, but all Milaya had managed to do so far was keep from breathing. She pulled on the sides and hoped she could get back to Calimero’s lab soon. At least there she didn’t have to worry about the corset.
Milaya tried not to think about Calimero too much. Her alliances led elsewhere, not to the smiling boy with the goggles who made her heart skip a beat. She didn't have time for matters of that kind, not to mention the fact that such an idea for a relationship was doomed to fail. Besides, it was just some guy who knew how to mix potions. Daisy had noticed, though. She had confronted Milaya about it, which was how Milaya had noticed in the first place what she was feeling. Daisy had said Milaya was in love. Milaya didn't think it was nearly that extreme. Love was an emotion she knew well, but in completely different respects.
She stole a glance down at her phone. She had now been in this strange world for nine days, and she had yet to hear from any of her friends. How long would it take them to get here? Time was running short. Milaya was doing her best to gather as many magic users as she could. That was her only plan. They would need everybody’s help against…him.
Which was the other reason she was returning to Gallathia at this point. She wanted to speak to the Faerie King.
Considering the nature of her assignment, she should have probably spoken to him first, but the most important task had been to find a guardian. Once Calimero had been secured, the next task was to ensure the survival of this world, no matter what came next…especially considering the circumstances.
Arriving at the last stop on the line, she got off and pulled out her communicator. Swiping it open, she pulled open the MAPS function and tapped on the coordinates she had saved the last time she had come this way. For security purposes, she hadn’t wanted a link straight from Calimero’s lab to the throne room, but had built one instead from this train station.
Accessing the coordinates, she made the jump. Weaving in and out of realities was second nature for Milaya at this point: there was no big flash of light or computer effects like in the movies back home. There was simply one world one moment, and another world the next. She was now standing in the throne room of King Raza’qiel’s castle, and in an instant, a bunch of guards surrounded her.
“Back off,” she told them in faerie. She had been told by Daisy to be up front with them if she ever ran into any trouble. “I am from the Survival Strategists. I wish to keep company with the King.”
“His Majesty is very busy,” one of the guards said, “but we shall find him. Princess Margherita has requested that you be shown company here.” They escorted her to the cushioned area where she had sat before, and two guards sat nearby while the rest went to go find the King.
She waited in the huge throne room of the castle, pushing buttons on her communicator to pass the time. Her thumb ran over the familiar Colemak button, which still wasn’t working just right. She had tried to push it every single morning since she had gotten here, but her communicator was still on and operating the way it needed to…for the most part. She still hadn’t gotten any messages.
She opened the messages function anyway, scrolling through her history. It made her homesick. For what home she had remaining.
“I understood you wanted to speak to me about something.”
Milaya jumped and almost dropped her communicator. She turned and saw King Raza’qiel Gericaria Fae of Gallathia standing before her, a crown of laurels on his head and a cape made of thorns around his neck. He still stood tall as he had before, the same long jet black hair, the same armor covering his body.
She got up and bowed to him. “Greetings and thank you. Might I speak in Italian?”
“You may. It must be important for you to request my company, Miss Milaya of Moscow.”
She blushed. She had forgotten she had told them that part. “That’s just the thing. My full intentions are to assist your daughter with her mission to overthrow Queen Cendrillon and bring magic rightly back to Fiorazzurro.” She sat back on the cushion. “But there is a secondary motive to my process. Should we speak here?”
“I don’t see why not.” And with that, the King of the Faeries took a seat on a cushion, across the way from Milaya.
She grabbed her communicator and wished Calimero was there. “You look rather comfortable talking to me.”
“It’s not comfort. I can easily erase your memories if the circumstances get complicated. Never forget that you will not be my ally. I do not make alliances well with members of the human race.” The King’s eyes did not move from Milaya. “You have a secondary motive, and that is enough to make me distrust you.”
Milaya had prepared for this. She unlocked her communicator with a swipe and handed it to the King. “Do you know what this is? It won’t hurt you. You said yourself that you have no reason not to give the illusion of trust, so do whatever you want with it.”
She hoped the King would take the communicator, and he did, staring at the screen. “What is this?” He pressed on the screen with his thumb, and the screen changed to the MAPS function, showing the location of the faerie castle in Gallathia.
“It’s a communicator. Devices of this technology have not yet been developed in your world.” Milaya wasn’t sure if the King would believe the words she was saying, but she had to try. Somebody other than her had to know the severity of the situation.
The King looked over the device, turning it over in his hands. “I do not believe I have ever seen one of these before. Is it magic?”
“I’ve told Daisy and Calimero that it is magic, but it is not. It is purely scientific technology. Sophisticated.” Except I’m pretty sure I know who broke it, Milaya thought to herself.
The King was silent for a long time as he looked at the device. “It has been millennia since anybody has seen one of these in this world,” he said as he handed it back to Milaya.
She was confused. What? Representatives had been to this universe already? “What do you mean?”
“You wouldn’t know this, being from Russia, but long, long ago, a prophecy was made in England, home of King Arthur and Merlin, the father of all magic.” The King knew this story well. All faeries were required to know it.
"Long, long ago, the world had no magic in it. The magic was owned solely by the gods, who kept it secret and never shared it with regular human beings. The stories of Greek legend are shared throughout the world as truth, even though to humans they are mere legend. The first to be gifted by the gods was Merlin himself, who longed to study magic at the cost of his own life. The story of Merlin tells of how he journeyed far and wide, gathering information and knowledge no matter where he went. During one of his travels, he found his way to a deep, dark cavern on the edge of the world. This cavern was said to be where the Lady of the Lake awaited him, and indeed she was there to bestow gifts to him, notably the future King Arthur's sword Excalibur. But what nobody knows is that there is a three year gap between when Merlin arrived at this cave and when he left for Camelot once more. During this time, nobody knew where he was or what he did - until the gods on high spoke to the faeries. The great faerie goddess Atlianora gave us all knowledge of these times and told us that Merlin had in fact disappeared to an entirely separate Earth."
Milaya paused. Somebody had jumped between the universe framework? That was only possible with operatives with communicators...unless Merlin himself was one.
"This world was home to technological advancements unlike anything our world has ever seen," King Raza'qiel continued, "and Merlin learned their secrets. He discovered how to harness energy and how to transform it from the sages who lived in the other world. We are gifted because without this knowledge, Merlin would not have brought magic back to our world, and faerie culture as we know it would not exist."
Milaya tried not to interrupt. "So you're saying this other Earth...that it was more advanced than this world even is today?"
"I am saying that."
"And it's been a few centuries since that happened. That means that they are probably even more advanced now - oh, this is not good." Milaya bit the inside of her lip. "I wish my friends were here. If I know Sarah, I bet - and I bet that's where they are, too." She folded her hands, uncertain how much to tell the King.
"Speak to me," the King said. "Give me the information I request, lest I make you forget it."
"Okay." Milaya took a deep breath. "There is a separate Earth. You are right about that. There is going to be - how should I put this - a war between the two worlds, yours and this other world. You cannot stop it. It will happen."
"How do you know this?"
"Because..." Milaya still didn't know how to respond. "I'm kind of like the Greek gods. I don't have magic, per we - maybe I'm just a demigod. But me and four of my friends help govern over several worlds. We knew about the war that is going to happen, which is why I am here. But the goddess who reigns over us - her name is Sarah - she gets to pick which world wins and which world loses. And I'm pretty sure she has picked for the other world to win." She gritted her teeth. "This is why Tama and the others aren't here with me. It's a fluke. In fact, I think Dvorak messed with my communicator and made it so I couldn't get to the others because he wants me to fight for this world instead. I'm Dvorak's lackey and I don't even know it."
"Well, aren't you perceptive, Miss Ivanovna."
They turned. The guards lunged for the man in the three piece suit with the red tie, but he was quicker. He pulled out a similar device to Milaya's, and the guards fell to the ground.
"Who are you?" the King asked, rising to his feet, but Milaya rose to her own.
"Stay here. I'm the one he wants." She switched back to Russian, her native language and one she knew he knew. "Glory to our Soviet motherland, Mr. Romanov."
"So nice to see you here." Dvorak Romanov crossed his arms and smirked at Milaya. "Look at you! All fancy and sitting with the Faerie King! I was kind of worried that you would have thrown this entire world upside down looking for me. Well, now that all of that is settled, let me make my position clear." He glared daggers at Milaya. "You've been here for nine days, Ivanovna."
"Here, it's Milaya. Trying to keep it impersonal."
"Ahh, going for Dimitri's approach?"
"You mention his name again, and I swear, I'm gonna push this Colemak button as many times as I need to -"
"Ah hah, but you can't, can you? You see, I've disabled that little part of your device for the time being. Don't want the rest of the Dealey Five interfering with our mission."
Milaya couldn't believe this. She should just turn and run, not listen to this man. Dvorak was a problem. But here he was, saying he was for this world surviving the merge, and she - she couldn't not be, could she? After meeting Daisy and Calimero - and Calimero. She had been told time and time again to never let assignments get personal. And now, it was, and she was about to pay for it.
"Where are my friends?" she asked. "Where are the rest of the Dealey Five?"
"On world A, assisting their guardian without a clue as to what I'm up to." Dvorak grinned. "You're on your own, Milaya. Will you join with me and save this glorious world from destruction, or say goodbye to all of your new friends?"
Milaya didn’t know what to do — if she retaliated now, Dvorak would fight against her, and there was no way she could win without her friends. If she gave in, that was it, the end. She knew Dvorak would never help her; he would either dispose of her and save this world or ruin them all. She was out of time and out of options.
Then, without warning, Dvorak dropped his communicator. Milaya cocked her head to the left for just a second and saw the Faerie Queen in all of her regalia, with a long blue dress on, an elaborate crown of flowers in her hair, and a magic wand pointed straight at Dvorak. “Intruder!” she yelled. “Out of this castle immediately!”
“If it suites you.” Dvorak winked at Milaya. “Don’t forget what I spoke to you about, little mouse.” And with that, he disappeared. No flashes of light, no notice beforehand. He simply folded into the framework — but Milaya knew he wasn’t done. If anything, he was plotting his next big move right now.
“We have to move,” she told the King. “The reason I was coming here is because that man will stop at nothing to destroy both worlds. I’m here to make sure he doesn’t. But I need your help, and Daisy’s, and all of the magic users in this world. That is why I have come here.”
The King didn’t waste a moment. “Guards,” he spoke in faerie, “surround this castle. Milaya, come with me. We must plan for war.”