Printed from WriteWords -

Beyond the Hedge (ISBN1420885766)

by  Minxie

Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Word Count: 614
Summary: The first in a series of reality-based fantasies, set on the south-west coast of Scotland, which chronicle the adventures of Sandy Henderson. When her cat Leo tumbles headlong into the enchanted land of Sylvania, beyond a huge hedge at the bottom of the garden, Sandy undertakes a dangerous journey to rescue him in the company of a handsome, swaggering crow and the Hendersons' haughty Siamese cat Jamie. Will Sandy be in time to save Leo and will she and her companions ever see Scotland again?

Storm clouds gathered out beyond Corvine Harbour.

The sunset was an open wound trailing bloodclots of dark red clouds in its wake. The sky had the intensity and desperation of a doctor who is unable to save his dying patient not through lack of skill on his part, but because fate in the shape of some meddlesome gremlin has made off with all the bandages.

Grim blankets of mist gathered at the harbour mouth and spectres of jaundiced sea fog floated in over the lower slopes of the palace like restless wraiths, condemned to drift round and round for eternity.

The Fairy Queen stood on the highest balcony, her eyes fixed on a distant point to the northwest and the Island of Long Forgotten Dreams.

Celestina was gripped by flutters of fear round her heart. An unknown yet all-too-familiar terror tugged at the coat-tails of her consciousness. When she tried to bring the fragmented memory to the front of her mind it slipped further away.

The young queen sensed potent evil radiating from Long Forgotten Dreams. The Harpie's star was rising and it terrified her.

Rolls of thunder rumbled out in the bay and jagged streaks of lightning mutilated the sky above dense fog banks over Fractal Reef.

Celestina wanted to rush from the balcony down through the vast palace to make sure her precious daughter was safe and sound in the nursery.

It was ridiculous to give way to fears worthy of a mere mortal when she could engage the unique magic and awesome power that is the preserve of the Sylvanian Fairy Queen.

She gazed inward through her mind's eye and saw Tabby sleeping peacefully . Sarah, her governess, was embroidering a cushion cover by fairy starlight beside the child's bed. She heard Sarah politely ask the stars to come closer and form a constellation over the detail of needlepoint she was working on.

Tabitha was in good hands but Celestina sent a spell of protection to the nursery all the same. The magic was transported in a small chariot of sapphire stars drawn by a pair of tiny unicorns. She watched the dainty beasts trot through the air into the solarium before they broke into a canter by the spiral staircase leading to the main part of the palace. The enchanted carriage disappeared in a dissolving galaxy of spiralling stars. Perhaps Tabby might surface from her dreams just long enough to see the spell delivered.

The deluge came unexpectedly and Celestina found herself a captive audience of one. The water fell in torrents quickly turning the balcony into a fast-running stream. The drains struggled to dispose of the rain which was forming deep, swirling pools at her feet but she remained where she was, mesmerised by a sky the unappetising colour of raw liver. Angry clouds churned and boiled as they were ripped apart by malicious bolts of sulphur yellow lightning.

The Queen's bodyguard of white-winged rooks cawed raucously and took to the air from the glass roof above the balcony. they flew in well-practised formations above her head. The leader of the squadron restlessly scanned the horizon, searching for any danger that might threaten his sovereign before he swept down onto the balustrade in front of her.

Celestina was frozen in time, oblivious to the presence of the black and white bird or the torrents of rain that soaked her hair and seeped through her clothes. The rook inched towards her only to find she was no longer there. Her physical form was standing on the palace balcony high above Corvine but her spirit was far away on the deadly island where Maligna the Harpie schemed and plotted her downfall.