She had since frequented the unpopulous place of which wild trees still stood and everything that belonged beyond them left undisturbed, and kept her visit as secretive as possible. The silver mirror sparkled, reflecting activities day and night, usually the lustre of morning and twinkling stars at dusk, but now recorded some other commotion, beginning to show its importance in the taking part of a grand occasion.
She had a special affinity towards this man, a strange happiness and contentment never was with the other opposite gender who some also left good impression on her, but felt when she was close to him. Although she knew that it was improper to stay close to him too often a while.
That day, Philip was training her with the magical hammer, to prepare her for future scuffles.
He demonstrated his skills, which he most likely to have perfected it all over the thousand years and counting, manoeuvring it with great adroitness, spinning, twisting and juggling from hand to hand naturally. Then, with a quick shot without even Elyn noticing, he banged the hammer onto a tree, leaving an obvious dint on the bark.
Elyn took over the handle, quite heavy as she felt the weight pulling her hand down to gravity. Trying to imitate him, she swung it round three times, over the head, then attempting a throw and catch with her hand. However, she missed ungracefully, and it plummeted, wobbling off from her reach. Abashed, she screwed her eyebrows and a self-derisive look, her fists tensely clenched. Picking the hammer from his feet, Philip handed back to her, consoling, “it’s a good head start, but don’t take it too hard on yourself. You just need practising.”
The next training brought them to a more open ground, where trees dwindled to a few at the grassier lands. There was nothing much except for the hilly backdrop that split the horizon off the landscape, and some rock formations that scattered all over the place. Most of the stones were miniscule, but few of them reach sizes of small boulders. Quite a distance from them, she could see a couple of protruding cone-shaped concretions, which Philip said that they were for part of their training.
“Observe.” He made a rotary arm-swing, and then with a powerful jerk, and releasing his grasp, he sent the hammer hurtling straight towards one of the rocks. It shattered into sand, while Mjollnir rebounded into his hand. He passed it again to Elyn almost immediately, wanting her to experiment. While she remained doubtful of her ability, but learnt through observation, mimicking whatever she watched of Philip’s moves.
She had thrown iron balls before, so perhaps it worked the same. Lifting and stretching her arm behind as far as possible, and throwing the hammer forcefully, Mjollnir bolted, but travelled short before dropping to the ground. Unsatisfied, she picked it up and repeated several throws, yet unsuccessful all the time.
“No, that’s not how you do it,” Philip shook disapprovingly, “you seem to be treating Mjollnir like a burden to you, yet it is actually flowing energies inside your blood. It’s in your adrenaline; all you have to do to activate it is to concentrate, and think of it being part of you. Communicate with Mjollnir, and you’ll know.”
It was quite a muddling and lengthy instruction due to her shallow understanding of the meanings behind those words. Nevertheless, she tried out, on her instincts, closing her eyes, focusing on the concretion, seeing it as some foul object ought to be destroyed. Soon afterwards, in her mind left nothing but the triangular stone mass, and in her imagination she saw it explode, struck into a thousand pieces. Somehow, in some peculiar ways, Mjollnir had some interconnection with her, as it seemed to really read her mind, and rose enchantingly from her hand, and bolted towards the rock formation. The deep impact of the strike exploded the rock into dust, dissipating into fine powdery sand that sprinkled onto the ground, joining the dirt and soil. For once Elyn marvelled at her own achievement, which Philip too agreed to that it was a remarkable performance for a beginner.
“Watch out for its return.’
Extending her arm, she attempted to catch the hammer, hoping that there was no miscalculation in her coordination. Amazingly, in the gyration, Mjollnir managed to slip itself accurately into her out-stretched hand, and fitted firmly. Elyn jubilated over her triumph, shouting and waving her hammer animatedly, yet her excitement short-lived when she began to feel a searing heat scalding her palm. “Ouch!” she cried, and dropped the hammer instantaneously. She examined her palm and saw some dreadful blisters and scalds, which were painful to bear.
There was a chuckling grin on Philip’s face, yet not to offend her, he hid the grimace behind a serious stern expression, and dipped his hands into his pockets in search for something. Pulling out the item, which looked like some fabric, he threw it over to her. “I’m very sorry that I’ve forgotten to tell you that Mjollnir can get very hot at sometimes. This is the problem of dainty little female’s hands. But wear that, and it’ll protect your hands from being burnt.”
It was a piece of glove of five sheathes for each finger, and rather cold as she touched the material, as cold as metal, yet when she wore it on her hand, it felt as soft as silk. After fetching the hammer, it was evident that the glove was resistant to heat, whilst sensing a warm tingling glow that radiated in her grip. “It’s made of steel fibres, strong and solid yet soft and cosy. You can’t get this from anywhere in this world because it’s made from the finest silk steels produced by the Bronze Silk Worms reared by the Svatalfars. Keep it, it’ll prove great use to you.”
She had worked hard on her practice all day, and he had been striving to pass down his knowledge and skills. Yet it was not all work and no play. Sparing themselves time for a little recreation, they strolled the beautiful lake of Starvane, lay on the soft grass and watched the sky and clouds, under canopy of trees that sheltered them from the shimmering sunlight. The evergreen laurel trees were gentle to the eyes, and camphoric scent was pleasing; flowers started blooming their early buds of April’s end, colourful flowering petals of various tinges attracting the bees and flies; while rodents scampered, mighty aviary creatures soared the vast space, at far looked like dots and curves, reminding her much of Hewlett.
Resting on her back, reclining her head on shoulders, she mesmerised the splendour of the morning picture. Attired in plain shirt and short cargo pants, she allowed the mild air to circulate through the loose-fitting garments, ventilating her skin in the rather humid weather. Further into the clearing, colourful flowering shrubs wavered their brightly coloured petals – the tulips were lively in hues, the daisies white but vibrant, and dandelions beamed yellow, releasing white fluffy clocks drifting into the atmosphere by the flow, like merrily little parachutes into a journey of the world, full of turbulent adventure.
“It’s a beautiful day!” Elyn exclaimed, “How I wish to stay here longer!” She plucked a flower growing from the soil next to her, sniffed the bud and sighed. She eyed Philip for a while who was reading by a tree, and started pulling off the petals, one by one, while mumbling, “he likes me… he likes me not… he likes me….”
Keeping repeating those words acted as a hypnotiser that rendered her drowsy, almost nodding off into her vivid dreams again, of sheer fantasy of her man of admiration, until a deep voice spoke at her ears, “Elyn, what’re you doing?” She rolled her eyes and saw the huge face of the red-hair staring at her amusingly, and jumped with fright. “What’re you doing Elyn? He asked again. “Oh, I… I… well, I was just counting the days when the holidays will start, yes, honest!” She stuttered nervously, for fear that her secret thoughts once exposed would spell doom for her! Where would she bury her face into if he should find out about it?
“Maybe I should pick some flowers for mother,” said Elyn, remembering her mother adored the spring petals of tulips. “I’ll help you,” volunteered Philip, “let’s get down to the lake, there’s aplenty there.”
They began their gather of the shrubs, picking each by the stalk. After some time later, they had acquired a few bunches, but still remaining the stretch of flowers in abundance filling the whole pasture, impossible to gather them all. They had had with them an interesting collection: most of them were bulbous tulips in luminance of brilliant red, shallow blue and pale yellow. Amongst them there occasioned a few dainty daisies of white petals and yellow heads. Philip took out a paper bag and wrapped them up for Elyn. “Here’s your bouquet for your Mum. I’m sure she’d be glad.”
“Yes, she likes flowers, especially fresh ones. Thanks Phil, for helping me out.”
Feeling that they had had enough, they left Starvane for home, in the usual scarlet convertible.
He dropped her off at her front yard, and drove off. Carrying the flowers, Elyn opened the gates and walked in. The grass of the lawn was freshly cut recently by an odd job gardener, who was her family’s old-timer, and he arranged the flowerpots neatly in a row. The narrow flagstone path was swept clean of the dried leaves of past autumn. The gates and fences were given a new coat of paint. The old house had somewhat turned brand new.
Indoors, she saw her mother busying herself with some cleaning up, wiping paintings and portraits that hung on the walls, one of them being a photo of her late father. Her mother was in sweats, trying very hard to give that particular picture the best polish. Elyn's father, the respectful man, deserved to be clean and perfect, in due veneration, for the New Year.
“Mum, I’ve brought back some flowers for you.”
She stopped from work when she heard that and turned to her daughter, and exclaimed, “oh my, how thoughtful of you! Thank you dear, these would certainly brighten up our little home. Come, let me put them in the vase.”
Elyn passed the flower to her, “well Mum, I’ve got to go now for tennis practice with friends. Take care!”
“Off you go then, dear. Remember to come home early for dinner!”
While her daughter left, Mrs. Forrester removed the paper and went to search for a vase. Finding one at the kitchen, she filled it with water, and dipped the stalks into it. Then, taking the flower vase out, she arranged it at the centre of the dining table, muttering to herself, “that’d be perfect!” Sitting down, she gazed at the flowers, infatuated by its loveliness and dewiness that was incomparable to ones selling at the florists.
A sudden itch at her nose made her sneeze. “A tishoo!” she snuffled, and rubbed her sore nose. Soon, it turned red. “A tishoo! A tishoo!” the sneezing just would not stop. “It looks like I’m too stressed out,” she said to herself, “I think I should take a rest.” She went out to the living room and slumped down lazily on the couch, her head spinning dizzily.
The blissful day went on to be fine and sunny. The serenity of the azure sky, the liveliness of the atmosphere, one could not abstain from appreciating. The latter days of spring were always the best times of the season.
Traversing the streets in broad daylight on her skateboard, letting voluminous wind greet her face, elated she felt, ambling buoyantly along the sidewalk, passing shop windows. Stopping by a bakery, she grabbed herself a bun, and ate along the way. Still ambling, she pushed herself smoothly along, and while arriving at the end of the road, she finished her last crumb, and swerved gracefully at the right turning.
It was not long before she was aware of the company of two individual skateboarders tailing her behind from an intersection of lanes, and not surprised by the familiarity of them. A boy and a girl, both below her age, she recognised them, if memory should persist without fail, by names of Ned and Kate. She took no exceptional notice, but they hailed.
“Long time no see, Sister Lindy!” he called, as Ned passed in front of her, face to face, gliding backwards. (Elyn smiled, recalling how they addressed her during the years ago.) While the little girl pushed forwards and said, “it’s very long since we see you on rollers again. Are you busy?”
“As a matter of fact, I am,” she replied, looking at Kate, “for ten-year-olds like you, you may not know, but when you’re starting to grow old, you’ll soon realise that time’s never enough for you to spend indolently. Bet on it, you’ll know in time.”
“I find it hard to disagree,” broke Ned into the topic, “Brother Bill’s also saying this kind of things over and over again. We haven’t seen him for a while too, for the same reason he gave us!”
At the mention of Bill, Elyn remembered the days when she was younger. Bill, also somewhere around her age, used to be the leader of their little organisation of skateboarders. Memories of the days hanging about at the streets on skateboards were still intact. They (Bill, she, and a few kids in the neighbourhood), congregated under the same interests, often held themselves unofficial races, and had quite some fun with them. Her one and only rival whom she could not defeat was, no doubt, the streetwise leader, Brother Bill. Elyn had since then polished her skills, vowing to challenge him some days later. All the same, they were good friends, sharing a common hobby.
“I’m going for tennis practice, want to come along?” she asked. “No thanks,” both of them replied, “we’re better off on our way. Nice to meet you, Lindy!”
“Nice to meet you too! And send my regards to Bill, if you see him. Tell him that we’ve still some unfinished business!”
They parted their ways.
She skated straight through the main gates of Heimford, rounding the circumference and into a course way, where led to a mini arena, more of a sheltered tennis court. At the arrival at the entrance, she jumped down and jacked the board up with her foot, and catching with her arm, dexterously coordinated. Entered she into the building, full of infuriating screeching of shoes fractioning against the floor that upset the ears, and the loud rackets, swatting green balls like flies, and strident battle cries, whether a lost or a gain.
“Hi Elyn!” greeted Yvonne, “I thought you’re tight on your schedule, but you’ve turned up today. Let’s have a game when they’re finished.”
Smiling, Elyn sat beside her friend, and wore on her wrist some bands as guards, while Yvonne offered her a racquet, and she was ready to play. Over to one of the playing fields, Monica was practising hard against a champion, Richard Torreson, a high achiever in sportsmanship. Sitting on a bench looking on was another boy called Harvard, also a skilful tennis player, but at most times, just like to watch. He spotted Elyn, and gave a friendly call, “Elyn, show your feat in the next round, you’ll need to work hard to keep up with Lyra!” Another girl beside him was Sonya, a greenhorn like her.
Richard made the last winning ball, smashing straight down in front of the weary Monica, and ended the game. “Good work, Monica,” he applauded, “you’d really put up a good fight against me. Now let’s clear the court for the rest.”
The two friends entered into their positions. The starting ball was in Elyn's hand, and so she served. Although it was long since she last played, the ball flew smoothly over the net. Yvonne rushed up to it, and returned a shot. Elyn panicked, as she watched the ball propelling back to her. Straining her eyes, she attempted for a clear hit, but somehow lost her sight of it altogether under the glaring lights. She jumped and thrust the racquet, not knowing the ball had already passed behind her (and just hitting air). “My serve!” shouted Yvonne at the other end.
The game continued for minutes until Elyn was totally clobbered. Though Yvonne was unquestionably kind to Elyn, in games she had turned into a cold-blooded adversary, always pounding onto her opponents without mercy. In the meantime, Elyn was losing touch to the sport that she took up for a couple of years, or perhaps the ball was purposely deflecting from her strikes. Whatever ways, the end result, as expected, did not favour her. A vast difference of forty-fifteen.
Elyn fell to her knees, head drooped and lips pursed, dissatisfied over herself. Yvonne, seeing her friend’s dejection, (perhaps changed back into her warm-hearted self after the tournament ended), went near her to console, “you did quite well, Elyn. Don’t be upset. Get up, and let’s rest for a moment.”
She could not help felling cheered every time comforted by Yvonne, as her best friend seemed to be the healer of all her emotions. As her dejection subsided into a new glory, she stood up before her friend with glistening eyes, an assurance that she was still all right and not to be worried for. Yvonne took Elyn by her hands, showing conformity.
Lyra making an appearance from the back hallway received some attention, seeming to be sickly in sniffles. She was weak, in white shirt and dress, she appeared completely pale, except for the garland of roses on her head as an adornment that livened her face. The friends approached her, concerned about her dismal state. Elyn was first to ask, “what happened to you?”
“A cold, maybe. I’ve just come from the fitness room, the nurse gave me a jab and some pills. Well, just want to say I can’t be practising today.”
“It’s okay, we’ll definitely excuse you prior to this reason,” said Richard, the person in charge, “it’s best you go home early. Need a ride on my car?”
Lyra accepted the offer, then sneezed again, rubbing her nose with a handkerchief. Richard wasted no time to accompany her out of the court. The rest of them dispersed when the practice session was over.
“You want to come round my house afterwards?” asked Elyn as she waited for Yvonne to pack. “Why not?” Yvonne looked up with lips drawn, “it’s been some time I haven’t paid your mother a visit. Let’s go then!” and ushered Elyn along, seemingly to be more eager than her.
At the door, Elyn fumbled to get the key inserted into the hole, while Yvonne stood waiting. She turned the knob handle and opened to her living hall, quite airy as the mild draught blew into the space through the shutters. Yvonne eyed around the modest little abode and gave a slight nod.
“Mom, I’m home!” Still, there was no answer.
“Come in, Yvonne,” invited her, “I’ll get us some drinks to quench our thirst.”
Giving an appreciating smile, Yvonne stepped in gingerly, on the frosty floor that could have been waxed earlier. She remembered, not too long ago, there were frequent visits she paid to Elyn's home, and the alignments of the sitting place, the hallways, the stairways all still envisaged clearly in her imagery memory, to what she saw when resting on the long couch (her usual seat) while enjoying a television programme in front of her, sipping cold beverage, crunching cookies, and chatting with the Forresters. A warm hospitality.
Swinging her attention towards the jarring yell, she saw Elyn looking worried, kneeling by the cushion shaking her slouched mother. But no matter how hard she tried, her mother remained unconscious. She touched her forehead with the back of her hand and felt the burning heat. “Fever! Oh, I need to get her to the clinic, would anybody help me?” She stirred, perturbed, dishevelled, but still managed to control herself, and calmed down, momentarily.
“I’ll call Philip,” said Yvonne, as she picked up the telephone and dialled a number.
Elyn was puzzled. She wondered about the suddenness of her mother down with a high temperature, which was very unlikely to happen. “Unless…” she thought to herself, and when imagination ran wild, she dashed into the kitchen, and found the flowers in a vase, now withered and dry, hanging on the stalks were only pale, ashen petals. Out of the vase she took those suspicious decaying flowers, and into the dustbin she threw, shutting the lid tight.
The scarlet convertible, the sunroof drawn, hit the road on high speed, the relentless driver at the wheel. Yvonne sat next to him, worried in her sedate eyes, but present in a calm posture. She glanced at the rear mirror to the back seat where the mother and daughter sat: Mrs. Forrester came to herself not long ago, but powerless to speak; Elyn watched on with care and silent pity.
“We’re almost there,” Philip declared.
The hospital looked crowded and packed with people. They wasted no time helping Mrs. Forrester out and rushed her to the wards, squeezing through the lot of people, patients, hospital personnel. Rooms were unexpected to be full, but still they were fortunate to find a vacancy. Immediately she was put under the supervision of a doctor and nurse standing by, while the temperature was taken, read, and pronounced, “forty degrees, high fever. Well, she’s not the only one here, there’re others who fell ill so suddenly as well.”
“What do you mean by others?” asked Philip. “As you can see,” the doctor, wearing his stethoscope, started to check her breathing, while explained, “those patients outside, almost every of them came here for the same reason – fever and flue. This is April, and histamine levels are on the rise. Perhaps Mrs. Forrester’s allergic to flowers.”
“Never! My mother always likes flowers! She can’t be sick because of flowers!” Elyn exclaimed with a sobbing, stammering voice, and pushed her way out of the room, brushing past the others.
“What happened to her?” Yvonne stared at her emotionally disturbed friend with shock and concern. “Never mind, Yvonne,” Philip assured, “leave her to me, I’ll see that she’s fine.”
Slumping at the corner against the walls, Elyn closed her eyes in tears, sobbing with dejection. Never she knew that her little gift from Starvane would turn out to be a disaster, or perhaps it seemed. The feeling of the whole world crashing down upon her. Glints of teardrops rolled down her cheeks, the trail ended at the droplet hanging to her chin, wiped off by a finger. Startled, she glimpsed above her, to see her teacher bending aloft, more of a friend now, with beady eyes locked into her gaze, and a kind, caring, cherishing grimace. Slowly, the world opened up from her, the other clamorous folks around ignored, and left was Philip, engaged in her sentience.
“Elyn, I know things have turned out really hard on you, but don’t put all the blame on yourself. Sulking alone does not help, but hurts more. In this situation, you’d strengthen your spirits, and play your part in setting things right.”
The words somehow enlightened her and brought her back from tumult to sensibility. “Can I?” she asked, not thoughtfully, still light-headed, but saw Philip nod reassuringly all the same. And after returning to her conscious self, regaining the perks of her appearance, she took his hand offered, and stood up on her feet.
“Feel any better?” Philip asked, smiling. “Yes,” she replied sheepishly, “I’m sorry I was being pettish for the hours ago. I hope you’re not disappointed with me, for not living up to your expectations of me – ”
“No.” He cut her short. “You’re doing fine from my observation. I like the way you’re now. Just keep up your fortitude and be strong.”
The inspiration from his gentle, affected manner pacified her much, allowing a tranquil mindfulness for serious mentation, over the series of incidents that seemed correlated yet there were still missing links to join them. Pondering intensely, she figured out a possibility: her mother fell ill because of flowers (which she accepted it as a deduction). So was Lyra who adorned a garland on her hair (remembering the anaemic state of her friend in the morning). Still uncertain, she hunted around for clues, finding one obvious confirmation – she spotted Mrs. Fullerton, the town florist, sitting among the patients, sick, on the waiting list. Curious, she approached the sickly woman and asked her wellness. “Mrs. Fullerton?” she addressed politely. The elderly woman turned to the voice, staring at Elyn with red tired eyes, appearing sore and miserable. “I’m Elyn Forrester,” she stated her name to clarify. At last the woman’s eyebrows twitched, and she exclaimed, “you… daughter of Madame Forrester, right?” Elyn nodded. “How’s your mother, girl?”
“Same as you, Madam. She’s not so good,” Elyn suspired. “I’m sorry for her,” the woman rubbed her nose following a sneeze, “excuse me. Well, I don’t know myself how it spread, but it sure spreads fast. My customers all got the bug, and started shunning me, but I wasn’t the one infecting them! Oh, never mind. Young girl, you better leave this place, lest you catch the flue. It’s full of germs here.”
Elyn took the unwelcoming ye well-intended advice and excused herself from the conversation, ambling to the exit. The graveolent whiff of medicament made her head bulge, but gradually waned when she reached open-air. Philip stood with folded-arms at the doorway, expecting her.
“My mother caught the flue, so was Lyra, so was Mrs. Fullerton,” Elyn listed out her findings, “most probably, it has something to do with flowers. What do you think, Phil? Do we need to notify the authorities for some necessary quarantine?”
“Oh, for heavens, definitely no!” Philip dismissed the suggestion straight away, “it’s your job, not theirs.”
“But… do you mean… some supernatural occurrence cropped up?”
“I’m not sure, but fat chance it is. Judging from the rate of people falling ill, I took this wild guess that a preternatural creature has shown itself. Perhaps a flower spirit.”
“Then we must stop it before the situation gets worse!” cried Elyn, “but, how!”
“First, we’ll need some details about the sprite we’re dealing with. Let’s head for your home for a check.”
Elyn coincided with the plan. As the events unravelled, the excitement heightened.
The gigantic Lexicon lay open on the table, and looming over it, stretched palms hovering, she chanted silently in her heart, using the charismatic approach. The magical pages flipped as if a spectre lifted them, the rasping of the crisp paper, and stopped, at a broad page of inscriptions. Elyn bothered less of the wordings, but captivated in the unusual illustration of a flamboyant personage, resembling something of the female gender, covering her whole body with leaves and flowers excepting her head, and sparked a pair of unusual pink glares.
“Just what I’ve suspected. The flower foison is behind all these hay fevers. No doubt, the flower foison spreads her pollen through other flowers, and next enters our nostrils. A work of the little devil.”
But how can we find her? She could just be anywhere?” Elyn asked impatiently, studying Philip’s face for an answer. Philip just smiled, and reached a bookshelf for an atlas. He opened to a map of their current home place, and said, “somewhere here, of course. Perhaps it’s time to use some help from Mjollnir. Let him show us light.”
Elyn took out the pendant, dangling the chain round her fingers, and hanging it low, just over the map. Mjollnir swung and oscillated, to and fro, up and down, swithering from one point to another. Both of them looked on eagerly, hoping it would locate the place. At last, Mjollnir glowed its tinge of blue, and sucked onto the paper like a magnet. Philip marked the spot.
“Farrand. The vast plains of Farrand are sure a good place to spread the buds.”
“And we must hurry, there’s no time to lose!” cried Elyn, springing out of the room before Philip could say anything more.
Farrand lay northwards from Heimfirn, no much difference from Starvane, minus the water and huge trees. A grassy meadow it was, expanding to a few kilometres wide, growing nothing but grass. However, they had expected more than that during their visit, more than just plain green pasture.
They saw before their eyes a grotesquely transformed plains into an extravagant floral garden full bloom. All kinds of flowers, some which they had never even come across before, flourished strikingly all over the place. The gigantic plants had petals measuring the size of a person, awfully staggering, pulling off one’s nerves. Also as baffling was the way the flowers pollinated by spurting the spores into the air.
“Phil…” Elyn stammered, looking at the huge mass and yellowish cloud with alarm, “it’s getting terribly noxious here. I don’t know, but we might be poisoned like others were.”
“Relax, Elyn,” calmed Philip, without the slightest trepidation, “we’re both protected by Mjollnir’s magical aura, in case you’re not aware of it. Now, the only thing we must do is to find the heart where the flower foison lies, and seal it back into the netherworlds.”
They moved into the jungle of weeds with great caution, not knowing whatever that was lurking beyond it, obscured by the thick vegetation. As the thicket became denser, they had to squeeze between the stalks in order to pas through, at times difficult when they stumbled upon sharp jagged thorns. Inside this huge mesh, the only guide they had was Mjollnir, always glowing and seemed to know its way very well, pulling Elyn's neck with its chain, wanting them to follow. Evidently, Mjollnir had led them to a more manageable and safer path for roaming, cutting short the distanced walked. Finally, they found what they came for – the flower sprite, jumping and pirouetting in the centre of her giant creations, and the foliose attire fell off some leaves as she shook. She did not seem very threatening, and from her behaviour she resembled more of a child, playing gleefully on her own. “What on earth is that? I don’t see no monster!”
“Bear in mind that these sprites are not evil, Elyn. They’re just a bunch of naughty kids, who sometimes can get out of hand. But howsoever you perceive them, just beware – they may be fierce when provoked.”
Taking a step closer, she tried to surprise the sprite and attack her unprepared. However, at the slightest movement, the flower foison stopped her frolic, and turned round to observe Elyn. Elyn froze at her steps, startled by the sudden attention she received, but carried on after that. The flower foison looked on obtusely. Using the chance before she reacted, Elyn slammed the hammer down full force and trembled the earth, tossing the sprite off her feet. The flower foison squealed in a very high-pitched tone, starting to show her anger. Elyn, in the heat of fury, charged onto the sprite. However, this time, there was a backlash. The foison’s arms then changed into prickly vines and lashed out at her. She jumped with fright, but too slow, and sustained a horrid whip across her arms and stomach. Her clothes were torn, and blood seeped out from her wounds almost instantly. It was searing pain, but fortunately, the gashes were not deep. After overcoming her anguish, she collected herself, and held Mjollnir, posed to strike.
The vines kept lashing out towards her, but she responded to the following attacks swiftly without getting hurt. Striving hard, the sprite tried to inflict injuries on Elyn, but missed a number of times. So, Elyn continued to play with her, blocking the thorny vines with Mjollnir’s impenetrable surface, while waiting for an opportunity to have a clean strike.
“Wait till I overpower you, you little brat!” she said to herself. Soon, when the vines retracted to invoke another attack, she saw the cool-down as a chance surfaced, and sprinting towards the foison, she landed the deathblow, lunging the hammer at the helpless sprite and blasting her off. She yelled, tumbling on the ground, totally immobilized. “Ha! Now let’s see what else you can do!” standing triumph above the sprite, Elyn stared at her opponent below, still vigilant, lest there would be unsuspecting retaliation. However, in contrary to her assumption, the foison remained still, the vine-arms disappeared altogether. Elyn then saw in the sprite’s eyes a countenance of a subdued being, readily submissive. There was strange feeling in Elyn's heart, a mixture of sympathy and guilt. Looking at the dissipating vitality of her glance, as if was asking “why?”, Elyn wondered that things could have happened another way round, if possible, to avert such a rueful episode.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to…” she knelt down, touching the sprites arm tenderly, to sense an extraordinary tingle, a unique intimation something close to preternatural. The glow emitted through the fingers touched would have been an indication of acceptance. Elyn grinned; she smiled.
“I’ll have to send you back,” she affirmed her course. Nothing said, compliance given, unspoken but made known through a special telepathic communication. When matters were settled, Elyn stood up once again, holding Mjollnir before her, and above the sprite she completed the rites, chanting, “sun and twilight give me strength, send thy soul back to realms before land.” White light effulged, encircling the foison, and then disappeared, taking her with it back to the netherworlds, or some place else from human’s dwelling.
“A good riddance,” she huffed a huge sigh of relief, lay flat on the grass. At the same moment, the thicket started receding, the flowers faded away into dust, fleeting from the peripheral, layer by layer towards the middle, and finally nothing at all. As the overgrowth cleared up, she could once again feel the sunbeam shining upon her whole body, warm and comfortable, a pleasant victory.
“I knew you can do it!” a voice spoke from behind, “at first I thought I’d had helped you, but now I see there’s no need to.”
Elyn sat upright and cast a disgruntled gaze upon him. “Help? Where were you when I was in that terrible situation? Why didn’t you lend me a hand in that battle?”
“It’s your job, remember? Strictly speaking, you’re allowed any help from your trainer. I’m just assisting you in the dark.”
“Look at these cuts! It hurts!” she showed him her arms, and pointed to the wide gash across her waist. Philip just said, “It’ll heal,” and ran his palm along the wounds. With instantaneous effect, they mended, quite unbelievably, and left no scars.
“How about that?” the man smiled, pleased with his miraculous work, but shocked to receive a negative response. “What about my torn clothes?” Elyn cried coquettishly. Philip frowned. “Oh well, I’ll buy you a new piece, alright?”
The hospital had been brimful since the outbreak of the flue, and now quite empty. Elyn kept watchful eyes over her mother, ministered her. The others provided little company, giving moral support to enhance her recuperation.
“Sleep well,” Elyn whispered into her ears, and massaged her coarse, wrinkled hands tenderly.
Though she slept, in her dreams she heard, in heart she knew that her daughter tucked her tight in bed, and that they were the closest kin of all, and that they shared a special attachment, of mother and daughter.