The White Rose of Fiorazzurro
Chapter 19 (or, “Gallathia Rises”)
King Raza’qiel escorted Milaya down the hallways of the elaborate faerie castle, speaking the entire way in Italian so fast she had to be sure she paid attention. “We’ll need all of the help we can get from everybody you have gathered. This is a serious threat to our well being, and I’m glad you have returned here to make it clear to me.”
“My only concern was that I was coming too late for anybody to do anything to help.” Milaya tied her hair back into its pigtails as she walked. “What should we do first?”
“Gather everybody. They’ve been staying at the Seaside Village, north of this castle, so they can be protected by our guards and warned if anything comes our way. It is exposed to the elements and guarded at all times so that, if Cendrillon finds out about them, her soldiers cannot hide —“
Milaya took another step into nothingness. Before her eyes, the faerie castle disappeared into thin air, just as Dvorak had a few minutes prior. “What the —“ She turned back to the King. “I bet this was him! Him and his own brand of magic did this! You can ask anybody. Strange things have been happening around here!”
“I have personally interviewed all of the magic users whom are staying here and I know what you say to be true.” Something small and heavy fell from the sky; the King reached out his hand and caught a red apple just as several more began to rain down from seemingly nowhere.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” Milaya said as she ran for cover under the nearest tree.
The faeries moved fast. Within a short few minutes, all of the guards were gathered, and the magic users were ready and available to fight. Milaya stood in front of them, as the person with the most knowledge of the situation, and explained to them what was happening. A wandering whisperer spell had been cast to alert Daisy to the situation; she would most likely bring Calimero with her back to Gallathia.
And then, everybody would be together again. Mostly.
“We all must work together to eliminate this threat to our world,” Milaya told the group of magic users. “It is no longer Queen Cendrillon who poses the only danger. If we do not gather together to fight this monster, then this entire world and all you know and hold dear to your hearts will be gone. Be ready at a moment’s notice.”
“Oh, how I like where this is going.” And Dvorak tapped Milaya on the shoulder. “Have you thought about my proposition?”
The crowd surrounding where Milaya had been standing, in the main clearing of the faerie compound, started chattering and asking questions. Dvorak simply gave Milaya a smile. “You’re not going to join with me, are you? I already know what you’re thinking. Why would you join up with me?”
Milaya thought back to the red apples that had fallen from the tree. Were they here, or was that wishful thinking? Was Dvorak playing tricks on her? “You can’t win. Simple as that.”
“I like the way you think.” Dvorak raised his hand. “Friends of Fiorazzurro, I shall use my own magic now. For this is a battle of wits between myself and this young lady, who claims to be from another world. Who is she? Who am I? Does it really matter? Why are we even involving your world? You should all be left to live out your lives in peace, however, the Quintessential Works will not have that taking place. They are the ones who are out to ruin your world, and this poor little girl has been caught in their crossfire.”
He looked out at them. They all looked so helpless, without a true leader to assist them. “And, therefore, I am forced to teach you all a lesson.”
“No!” Milaya screamed, taking out her communicator. If she could find something to use against him, anything — but he was already working his magic, wasn’t he? Already the crowds were becoming silent, not speaking out against what he was doing, following his direction. It was Dvorak’s way of working. Soon, he would have them all under his beck and call. She couldn’t rewrite the system, and she couldn’t fight back. She wasn’t that talented. If she didn’t do something, anything, they would all be in limbo in seconds.
Dvorak raised his communicator high in the air, then pointed it in the crowd. He gave it the signal to send the group of people to limbo, to make them disappear from their world forever. But nothing happened. Dvorak tried to push it again, but his fingers wouldn’t move. “What —“
Milaya realized that nobody was moving, as if time itself had frozen. She wiggled her fingers, able to move herself, then tiptoed around Dvorak and looked over his shoulder, at his communicator. “What are you doing?” he screamed as she noticed the communicator itself had been frozen.
Like time itself had stopped.
She paused as she heard a song on the wind, rising up like its own magic, a song that was somehow familiar.
The phoenix lies beyond the sea
As long as you come back to me
We stand forever clad in red
Strong for our Soviet motherland
Wait. She knew this song. And there was only one other person she knew who knew this song.
She ran from the area where she and Dvorak had been standing, through the crowd of people, and finally saw him. The space that had once held the spacious faerie castle was now home to a simple clearing with random stores thrown in, and he was standing on one of the stores. He was dressed for the period, unlike Milaya, with a silk robe on tied at the waist. His usual baseball cap was gone from his messy dark hair, but even more surprising was the old boombox he now had lifted above his head, playing the music she had recognized.
He was mouthing the words in his native Mandarin, and she mouthed them back in Russian, her green eyes never leaving his dark ones.
Oh, praise our Soviet motherland
Prosperity until the end
Her Socialist mantra we will send
For our dear Soviet motherland
She choked up. No longer was she from Soviet Russia, and no longer was Jen from Soviet China, but it was something that would always connect them. It was a past only the two of them shared.
The music on the boombox changed immediately, playing something akin to a patriotic march — and then the dubstep kicked in. Milaya watched Jen hold on to the boombox for dear life as the bass vibrated the entire machine, sending its sound waves out among the crowd. In an instant, everybody whom had been hypnotized by Dvorak was set free from his spell. They rallied to arms, the spellcasters readying their wands and the water readers ready to toss Dvorak into the ocean.
“Stay classy, San Diego!”
Milaya turned to the nearest store on the left and saw a well-dressed boy, trousers, suspenders, pageboy cap and all, who jumped down from the three story height with the greatest of ease. He ran over to her. “So this is where you went missing!” he yelled in American English, the language they all shared.
Milaya gladly gave him a hug. “You have no clue how glad I am to see you.”
“You have no clue how crazy Tama’s been. You miss one cog, and the Dealey Five doesn’t run right.” He cocked his head at Jen. “Like the touch?”
Jen was still on the roof, blasting dubstep as loud as he could. The magic users in the crowd were now rushing toward Dvorak, who then disappeared without a pause. The Survival Strategists had the upper hand, for now — and Milaya realized it was thanks to the coding wonder that was Jason’s boombox.
“It’s working! How did you do it?”
“We kept trying to physically fix the blasted thing back at headquarters, but Jen realized that if he was going to code Dvorak out, he might as well code the boombox to fix itself in this realm. Don’t know if it will work back home, though. Hey, nice corset! Can you breathe?”
The boombox finally shut off its music as Jen slid down from the roof. “Relax, Jason. She can breathe. Passing out on the dance floor is sooooooo last season.”
Milaya turned with a smile. “When did you get so sassy, Jen? You’ve been spending too much time around Rosa.”
Jen handed the boombox back to Jason and let himself be swept up in Milaya’s arms. “We missed you sooooooo much!”
“I know, I know. Where are Tama and Rosa, anyway?”
“We split up in two groups,” Jason said. “We came to find you, and Tama and Rosa went to go find the guardian. I’m surprised you aren’t together.”
“I know. I came here alone because I needed to tell the Faerie King something.” Milaya realized what nonsense she was speaking. “I have a LOT to fill you in on.”
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