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Authors: Mary Fan

Let Me Fly Free

BOOK: Let Me Fly Free
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US copyright
2016 by Mary

All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America on
acid-free paper.
No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by
any informational storage and retrieval system, without permission
in writing from the publisher, except for inclusion of brief
quotations in a review.

[email protected]

Published in the United
States by Glass House Press, LLC, 2016. GLASS HOUSE PRESS and
colophon are trademarks of Glass House Press, LLC.



Library Of Congress
Cataloguing-in-Publication is on file with the


Cover by White Rabbit Book

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First Edition




A trail of death
leads to the river. Flower petals, once brilliant
shades of purple, hang shriveled from brittle stems. Blades of
grass, once vibrantly green, lie curled and brown and dry. Patches
of exposed dirt, usually invisible beneath a lush carpet of flora,
gape like open wounds.

And though it should horrify me, I find myself
oddly captivated. Nothing like this has ever happened here, within
the enchanted bounds of Kristakai. Each felled piece reminds me of
a person suffering under the sharpest instruments of torture—a
person who has coiled herself into a little ball and wept into her
knees before the bliss of death ended the pain forever.

I make a derisive noise at my own thought.
Nothing as appalling as that could ever occur in this land of peace
and magic, which is guarded by the power of the unicorns. They are
the keepers of this domain and ensure that it remains forever safe.
Though this place might be more interesting if that weren’t so.
I’ve only read of terrors like violence, beings purposely
inflicting pain on other beings, in books that detailed the affairs
of the human world outside. And as a nymph bound to her homeland,
I’ve never so much as set foot in their realm, let alone witnessed
the dangers that plague them.

Until now.

If a human could see me in this moment,
staring in astonishment at the sight of the lifeless plants, she’d
probably laugh at me. In her world, such things would be
commonplace. I almost laugh as well… How tedious a land must I live
in if a few dead flowers can shock me?

But they’re a harbinger of something far
darker, and knowing that frightens me more than I wish to

Nothing that draws its life from the earth
ever dies here. The flowers, the grass, the bushes, the trees—they
only sleep. They descend into slumber when winter falls, becoming
crisp to the touch and dull in color, but then awaken each spring.
They never turn to ash as the ones before me have.

And I know in my heart that the barren sight
can only mean one thing: A threat from beyond our borders has
infiltrated this protected land.

I rake my fingers through my thick hair,
glimpsing flashes of its copper shades in the edges of my vision.
Under the sunlight, the strands flicker like the flames I’m so used
to casting. But fear trickles down my spine in icy drops, and I can
almost hear the specter of danger whispering in my ears. I don’t
know whether it’s a curse or a creature or some other force of evil
that’s invaded Kristakai, only that it can destroy life.

And if that’s true, what’s to stop it from
trying to destroy me?

I clench my fists, reminding myself that
should anyone—or anything—threaten me, I can transform into a
column of flames and demolish them. The unicorns created each of
the nymphs from the element we embody, and I was born from a blaze.
In the sixteen years I’ve walked this earth, I’ve never had to face
a menace that would merit a fight … but I know I can protect myself
if I must.

I am fire, and fire fears nothing.

Yet, I will still expire in my time, and I
can still be killed. The spells around Kristakai were supposed to
keep out anything that could harm me… But if something can poison
the immortal land, then no one is safe anymore.

At least I’m better suited
for survival than most others here
, I tell
myself. This place is so serene—infuriatingly so—that it wouldn’t
occur to many to fight back should something attack them. They live
in willful ignorance, believing that nothing bad could ever happen
as long as they remain here. But I know better, having read much
about the human world outside and the kinds of dangers that could

Though I never believed before today that
I’d ever face any such threat, I always told myself that if I did,
I’d strike back. And if there is truly danger in my land, I mean to
do just that.

Before me, the shriveled plants form a
morbid path through the otherwise lush riverbank, and I follow it
anxiously toward the water, wondering if the source of the death
lies beneath the clear ripples. I do not step on the fallen blades
and stems, in case some poison lingers on their surfaces. The
still-healthy grass feels cool and soft against my bare feet …
which makes the cracked and broken flora all the more

Whatever caused this destruction did more
than just kill—it sucked the life out of its victims. And I find
that both disturbing and fascinating. What must it be like to wield
such deadly magic? Whatever did this must be very powerful to have
breached the enchantments around Kristakai. Those spells were cast
by the unicorns themselves, thousands upon thousands of years ago.
And it’s not just any magic they used. Celestial beings, created by
the Divinity at the dawn of time to watch over the Terrestrial
Realm, the unicorns are immortal and wise—earthbound deities who
safeguard the world. Their magic is not easily defeated.

In fact, I do not think it possible for any
Terrestrial being to break a spell they cast. Not a nymph like
myself, or a fairy whose small stature belies great power, or a
sprite whose ethereal appearance disguises mighty abilities. And
certainly not a human—even one with magic.

I pause as a dark thought
enters my head.
Perhaps whoever did this
is not Terrestrial…
I gasp as a
realization hits me.

What if a monster escaped the Infernal

My heart beats harder at the thought—from
both fear and anticipation.

Not long after the Divinity created the
world, Her wicked brother, the Fiend, sought to destroy it by
unleashing hordes of beasts on the world to ravage the living.
Though the Fiend and his minions were ultimately defeated, cast
back into Inferno by the Divinity Herself, it’s said that the
creatures sometimes manage to escape, beings of shadow and flame
that wield the power of the Fiend. They come in many forms, from
incorporeal spirits to beasts with sharp teeth and deadly claws.
I’ve read about several, but there are too many to name… And the
types described in the books are only the ones that left survivors
around to write about them.

What if such a creature somehow made it
here? And which one could it be?

I yearn to know more, and though the sun
shines bright against an azure sky above, I sense an invisible
shadow creeping across the world. The thought of an Infernal
creature in Kristakai should fill me with horror. It could destroy
everything, leeching the life from both the land and those who
inhabit it. The kind of pain and suffering the unicorns enchanted
our borders to keep out could strike the innocent and unsuspecting…
Or maybe it already has, and I simply haven’t heard of it yet. I
should be appalled.

BOOK: Let Me Fly Free
7.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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