Nemesis and the Fairy of Pure Heart

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Authors: Ashley Du Toit
Tags: Children's Fantasy
them. It crept up and wound its way up her spine, cutting off contentment. Bella wondered if it was a spell to frighten intruders away.
    Teague moved restlessly. Bella climbed off his back and stroked him gently, seeking to soothe him.
    I can’t stay here, Bella, his thought entered her mind. He moved into her touch for a moment before backing away edgily.
    â€œI know, my friend, you need the light. Go to the other side of the forest where the sun still shines and wait for me. As soon as I am able, I will call you, and then you can come back for me.” Bella smiled a little sadly at him.
    â€œBe safe,” she whispered, and watched him flutter his wings in agreement a moment before he took to the open sky, leaving her behind.
    I wonder where I’ve come to this time, she thought as she looked around. Tall dark trees surrounded the forest, giving it an eerie feel. Shadows haunted every nook. The icy coldness slithered up to her, winding its cold fingers around her feet and climbing up her legs. Bella shuddered.
    The mountain, silhouetted in darkness, loomed ahead. She squinted her eyes to make the most of the pale light in the mountain’s shadow. She could just make out a darker area, ebony on black. Since it was the only feature she could see, she headed in that direction.
    As she approached, the darker patch revealed itself to be an opening in the mountainside. Bella walked up to it and looked closely. There was writing etched in the rocks that surrounded the entrance, and she was startled to recognise that it was formed in the ancient script of the dwarves.
    The dwarven folk were all but extinct, the few that remained having gone into hiding many years ago. Their language, long not heard in the immortal realms, was almost forgotten. But only almost, for the fairy folk kept alive the knowledge of all the immortals, and fairy children learnt all the spoken and written languages before their coming-of-age.
    Bella moved closer towards the etchings, wanting to glimpse the intricate curvy inscription. It flowed whimsically, the words plainly etched clearly for any who could heed its words. This must have taken a long time to carve, she thought as she lifted her hand to run her fingers lightly over the markings, in awe she began to read.

    So, this was indeed the entrance to the Cave of Forgetfulness. While Bella had been concentrating on the words etched into the rock, she had slipped her small hand into her bag to find the shimmering blue protection dust. She sprinkled it over herself, then once more reached into her bag. This time she withdrew a bright yellow bracelet and wrapped it around her wrist. The bracelet would hopefully ward against losing her way within the dark walls of the caves. Straightening her shoulders and lifting her chin, she entered the cave’s mouth.
    An even more bitter cold cloaked itself around Bella, and she realised that there was no light at all to guide her. She shuddered. For one brief moment, she considered going back, but then Arthur’s face flashed before her and reminded her why she was doing all this. She felt for her bag, reached inside and sought her light crystal. She moved her fingers over the precious stone, and then lifted it high above her head, lighting the caves.
    And found herself in a large cavern, from which several small tunnels appeared to lead further into the mountain in many directions. Bats hovered above her head and spiders swung in their cold webs. Bella listened for any other sounds within the walls of rock, but found none. She walked further into the main cavern, trying not to think about the cold seeping into her bones, the silence, or the cave’s inhabitants—those already encountered, and any as yet unseen.
    Having no idea where she was or where to go, she stared at the many tunnels that lead off form the cavern, and decided that the safest path would be to investigate the largest. After some minutes of groping her way towards it, she

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