I gasped. The lake on which the water talent homes sat on stretched almost to the horizon, covering all of Dewdrop Vale. The training area for the PEF was nowhere to be seen. The only thing stopping me from thinking that we had accidentally been picked up and dropped out to sea or something was that I could still see the stubby figures of trees in the distance. I felt a hand land gently on my shoulder.
“How long has it been like this?” I asked Ruby in a shaky voice.
“Since this morning, and it stretches over all of the Spring Meadows.” She replied. I felt my heart sinking like a stone, but managed to keep a straight face.
“Uh… Rose, when we saw this, I thought it may be a good idea to read Jack’s note after all.” She said, pausing for a moment, as if waiting for a reply. I didn’t say anything; just continued staring out at the flood, watching as a Spring Celebration banner slowly drifted past in the water. Ruby took a deep breath, and continued.
“So I decided to do a little re-construction.” She pushed a piece of paper into my hand. “Here. I used a re-carnation potion on the fire – you won’t believe the stuff that was burnt with it – I will never look a marshmallow the same way again.” I turned to see her pulling a face. I sighed, leaning against the door frame, and then opened the letter.
You know what I want. This is your last chance to give it to me. Bring me what I want, or the Spring Meadows will look like this until its dying day.
Yes, that’s right. I knew you wouldn’t read the note until you saw the damage. Got a bit overconfident this year, didn’t we sis?
Bring it to me before sundown – same place as usual. You know this time, you can’t win.
Oh yes, there’s one last thing that you need to know about me:
Jack Frost is my brother.
I stared at the paper for a few minutes, re-reading the note over and over and over. How had he known? This made me suspicious – was there a spy in the PEF? No, probably not – my dear brother just knew me too well. There were a few lines that kept re-playing in my head though… This is your last chance… Bring me what I want, or the Spring Meadows will look like this until its dying day… It was written as if the Spring Meadows would be no more somewhere in the near future… I turned to the other Heads, sticking this thought at the back of my mind. There were more important matters to address right now.
“Gather up the other PEF members.” I said, determination flowing through my body.
“Why?” asked Rachel. “Do you have a plan?”
“Yes.” I said. “We’re going to give Jack exactly what he wants.” I explained to them what I had in mind.
“It’s risky,” Said Izzy, the Head of Disguise, “but it might work…”
“It will work. It has to.” I said firmly, quietly adding in my head; otherwise you’re all screwed.
And it will all be your fault.
An hour later, everything was in place.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Asked Ruby. I could see she was worried about the whole thing. Personally, I was too.
“Yes. It’s the only way.” I replied.
“Ok, just – just be careful, would you?” She said, handing me a small purple box. “You do have a record of getting yourself into trouble.”
“Hey! I’m don’t get into trouble, trouble just happens to find me!” I complained. She smiled. “Good luck.” She said, giving me a hug. “Thanks.” I replied, smiling back, and with that, I flew out the door.
It was cold outside, especially for the Spring Meadows. I shivered, clutching the purple box Ruby had given to me in my hand, and my other stuck firmly in my pocket. Then, after about 10 minutes of flying over muddy water, I reached my destination – a small nook, hidden in the large tree that bore the entrance to the Bubbly Bog. Slowly, I edged my way inside, keeping a firm grip on the purple box to make sure it didn’t fall. Once through, I found myself in the familiar small, rounded space that had filled up much of my childhood.
Jack was already there, leaning against the opposite wall, arms crossed. I straightened, glaring at him. He smiled.
“Well well, isn’t my favorite older sister.” I glared at him. I was his only older sister – Ruby was younger than the both of us.
“So I supposed you’ve noticed my work by now?” He said, gesturing to the flood outside. “Rather good piece of work, if a do say so myself, though flooding the whole Spring Meadows” – He put his hand to his heart in mock modesty – “Was a rather hard task, even for me.”
“Drop the small talk Jack, I have what you want – now get rid of the flood!” I demanded. His eyes dropped to the box. “Give to me first, and then we will see about getting rid of the flood.” He said. I could hear the greed in his vice. Slowly, I held out the box Ruby had given to me. He snatched it up, and yanked it open. Please let this work, I prayed. Please let it work let it work let it work –
An angry growl issued from Jack’s mouth. Just great, I thought, good thing I made a plan B.
“What?” He said, turning on me. “THIS ISN’T THE REAL THING!” He bellowed. I squeaked, and bolted from the nook, only just missing an ice bolt to the head by mere millimeters. I raced out into the open, waiting for Jack to emerge before yelling as loud as I could: “NOW!”
At once, about five different potions flew out of nowhere, all aimed directly at Jack. Relief flowed through me – we were saved! – but as the bottles took impact and smashed, the liquid inside exploded outwards, hitting me and from the sounds of the shrieks in the hiding places of the other PEF members, I took it that they had hit the others too! I stated at Jack cursing my own stupidity. Jack was a water talent, and the potions were liquid! I wanted to curse myself for being so stupid, but had no time to as another ice bolt was directed at me. I yelled, flew upwards to avoid it, and gracefully smashed into a tree branch, which sent me toppling down onto a tulip leaf below.
“Ow.” I muttered, sitting up and trying to keep a grip on the slippery surface. Then a shadow fell over me, and cold laughter filled my ears. I turned to glare at my brother, who was flying just above me.
“I told you wouldn’t win this time Rose. This is your very last chance. Give me what I want, and I’ll remove the flood and leave you, and the rest of your little force, in peace.” He said, hand outstretched.
“Never.” I replied, determined not to let Jack get his hands on what he wanted so dearly. He shrugged. “Your choice.” And he aimed another ice bolt at me. I jumped, flapping my wings madly, trying to get away from it, but my wings wouldn’t work. It must have been the magic sapping potion that hit me, I thought, looking down at my stained dress. Stupid magic sapping potion. I braced myself for the hit, but that didn’t stop the force of the blow, which threw me backwards, causing me to hit the stem and knocking the breath out of me. I gasped in pain. The ice bolt wasn’t really designed to hurt the target, just make them really, really cold. In fact, my back was hurting more than where the ice bolt had hit me. I felt the effects almost instantly – a seeping cold starting to build up inside me. I shivered and huddled into a ball, trying to warm myself.
“You see? It’s over Rose, all over. You’ve lost.” He said. Landing on the tulip leaf and slowly walking towards me. I tried to think of something to say, but it was really hard to concentrate with all that chattering in the distance.
That chattering in the distance that sounded as if it belonged to pixies. Trying hard not to gasp, I looked down. About 20 fairies were gathering below us, maybe even more, and in front was Lily, Head of Healing who I had given the most important task of all, just in case everything else failed…
“There’s no escape.” Said Jack, obviously taking my glance at the ground as looking for a last minute escape route. “It’s all over. There’s no one else to help you. I’ve won.”
“No Jack, you’re wrong.” I said firmly, slowly getting to my feet, still shaking from the cold. “You’ve forgotten a few crucial people.” Jack smirked. “And who may that be?” He asked, with mock curiosity. I smiled at him.
As if on cue, the sound of approximately 25 fairies’ sun spells popped into life. A slow and steady steam started to rise from below us.
“What? What – what is this?” He exclaimed, halfway between shocked and completely and utterly outraged. I grinned at him. “Plan C!” I exclaimed happily. The popping was almost defining now, and the steam was so thick that it stuck to my hair and clothes, soaking the right through.
“No!” Jack screamed. “This isn’t supposed to happen! It’s supposed to be indestructible to any fairy!”
“Ah, but you see dear brother, that’s where your fault is.” I explained, still smiling, even though my whole body felt as if it had been shoved into the Winter Woods whilst I was wearing a bathing suit. “The spell was indestructible to any one fairy, and by the looks of down there –“ I indicated the area below us, “- That, is not just one pixie.” Jack screamed in outrage. “Fine!” He yelled. “You can have the Meadows back the way they were before, but enjoy them whilst they last!” And, with one final cackle, he was gone.
Slowly I sat back down, watching the steam clear, and trying to keep warm. At last, the Spring Meadows were back to normal, though it had been given enough water to last it a whole month, in my opinion. I closed my eyes, breathing a sigh of relief. It was over. It was over, and once again I had survived.
A shout interrupted my thoughts. My eyes snapped open, and I found myself looking at Ruby, Lily, Izzy, Rachel and the most of the other PEF members, the ones who had came when we had sounded the alarm earlier that morning. I grinned.
“W… we won!” I said, my teeth chattering furiously.
“Oh Rose, you were hit, weren’t you?” I nodded. “I… I’m ok though.” I said, not wanting to worry the other PEF members. Ruby, however, knew what it was like to get hit by an ice bolt, and immediately started rummaging through her pouch (she kept all her potions in the dye bottles section, as she wasn’t a member).
“Here,” She said, pulling out a bottle. Drink this. I took it, uncorked it, and drank thankfully. The effect was immediate. As soon as the potion hit my thought, warmth spread through my body. I could feel it trickling down my thought, and it tasted like hot chocolate.
“Thanks.” I said, putting the cork back into the top of the bottle and handing it back to Ruby. I stood up, staring over at Dewdrop Vale, watching as rainbows appeared through the last of the steam.
“What’s wrong?” asked Ruby. Most of the other PEF members had flown off to help repair the damage the flood had made. I sighed, and turned to face her. “It’s just what Jack said before he left.” I explained. “I can’t get his words out of my head. Before he disappeared, he said to me fine, you can have the Meadows back the way they were before, enjoy them whilst they last. It was – it was as if he’s expecting something, something big to happen to them in the future, almost as if he was warning us.” Ruby smiled, pushing the hair out of her eyes. “There will be plenty of time for all of that later. Come on; let’s actually enjoy the Spring Celebration for once. I hear that there’s a band setting up in Springtime Orchard. I nodded, and followed her to finally, finally, enjoy spring.