“Huh?” Bella muttered and rubbed her eyes. “Weren’t we just here?”
Charon peered through the layer of mist surrounding his body to look at the tunnel walls. He hummed and rubbed his chin. “This looks exactly like the passage we were just in,” Charon said. “Then again, everything looks the same down here.”
Bella sighed. “As long as we keep going downwards, we’ll have to find those prisoners.”
“You’re right,” Charon said and nodded. His hands flickered and a silver light appeared underneath the two partners. “I just cast haste on us; we don’t want to be the last ones to finish, right?”
The two walked through the tunnels, invisible to the bustling fairies around them. They stopped in front of a fork that split off into two directions.
“That way.” The two of them pointed in opposite directions. They looked at each other and furrowed their brows.
“Who’s the fairy here!?” Bella asked as she pouted. “We’re going this way. My fairy instincts are telling me I’m right.”
Charon peered down the tunnel he wanted to enter before he sighed. “Alright,” he said. “Your way it is then.”
The two crossed through multiple forks, with Bella guiding them each time. Charon held a notebook in his hand, scribbling in it while looking up every so often. “This is odd,” Charon said as he flipped back to the previous page in his book.
“What is?” Bella asked as she floated along in the air.
“We’ve been encountering fewer and fewer fairies as time’s gone on,” he said. “It would make more sense to encounter more fairies because the prisoners were close to the fairies’ living chambers.”
“Are you stupid?” Bella asked as she placed her hands on her hips and pointed her chin at him. “Did you forget Grimmoldesser crash-landed against the ground? Of course all the fairies would be rushing outside to see what’s going on.” The two approached a tunnel entrance that was twice as wide as all the others.
“See,” Bella said as she sped up. “We’re here.”
Charon scratched his head as he followed behind. A bright purple light greeted them when Bella pulled open a door at the end of the passage. Multiple translucent purple spheres floated in the room. Flowers grew towards the spheres, blanketing the ground, walls, and ceiling. The room extended as far as the eye could see.
Charon raised an eyebrow. “The fairies converted the prisoners into flowers?” he asked. “Very interesting. I had entertained the idea of transforming a creature from one kingdom to another, but I never succeeded.”
Bella gnashed her teeth. “Okay,” she said and furrowed her brow. “Maybe I wasn’t right. But we’re clearly the first ones here, so it’s our duty to transport the birthflowers out.” Her hand shielded her eyes as she scanned the room. “And knowing Mom, there’s most likely some kind of guardian that will appear the moment we touch a flower. Ah. There it is; it looks like a giant spider. How do we do this?”
“That’s easy,” Charon said as he dusted off his hands on his robe.
“You can kill that thing without hurting the flowers?” Bella asked with wide eyes. “I would never have guessed.”
“Of course not,” Charon scoffed. “I’ll just teleport the whole room to Konigreich. Then we let Lindyss deal with the guardian at her leisure.”
Bella stared at Charon with half-closed eyes and tilted her head. “Do you even see how large this room is?” she asked. “How are you going to teleport the whole thing?”
Charon chuckled. “Just watch,” he said as he placed his right hand inside his mouth. A cracking sound came from his jaw and his face contorted. He pulled out a bloody blue tooth. A gale rose up around him, blowing outwards. Charon started to chant in a low voice. A silver light spread out from his feet, crawling along the insides of the room, coating the flowers in a soft glow. A torrent of blue light flew out of the tooth in Charon’s hand, swirling around and entering his body. Bella watched on as the whole room in front of them was encompassed in the silver glow. The spider guardian twitched and sprang to its feet. It hissed at the duo at the entrance. The glow vanished before the guardian could do anything else and the room disappeared, leaving a gaping void in front of Bella and Charon.
Charon fell to his knees and dragged his body towards the wall. “Ever since that day I had to borrow other people’s mana to teleport a dragon,” he said as he wiped his brow with his sleeve, “I decided to store my mana inside one of my teeth over time. A thousand years, to be precise.” He leaned against the wall. “Give me a few minutes to recover.”
Bella flew down onto the ground in front of him. “Thank you,” she said and knelt on the floor. “Really. Thank you.”
“Raise your head, little one,” Charon said. “Humility doesn’t suit you. A child should act like a child.”
Bella raised her head and pouted. “And a crazy old man shouldn’t be so reliable,” she said. “Who do you think you are?”
Charon laughed. “Come,” he said and patted the space next to him, “finish telling me about queens and birthflowers.”
Grimmy yawned as a cluster of five fairies approached him. A layer of obsidian separated his body from the ground as he lay prone. Thousands of fairy heads at the tunnel entrances peered at him, their bodies too afraid to exit.
“Oh mighty Grimmoldesser,” the fairy at the front of the cluster said. “May I ask what brings you here?” Her body trembled in the air as the dragon’s gaze pierced through her.
Grimmy’s wings flared outwards and the fairies let out cries as their bodies were blown backwards. “Do I need a reason?” he asked, his red reptilian eyes locked onto the trembling fairies.
“No! Of course not!” the fairy said and lowered her head to the ground. “Forgive my impudence.”
Grimmy snorted and closed his eyes before lowering his head onto his front claws.
“W-we’ll be taking our leave now,” the fairy said as she started to inch backwards. “Forgive our disturbance.”
“Wait,” Grimmy said and one of his eyes opened.
“I want a snack. Get me something. All of you,” he said and smiled. The surrounding fairies in the tunnels shuddered as a chill ran down their spines and gripped at their hearts. “If I’m not full by the time I eat all your offerings, then I’ll make up the difference in fairies. No humans or demons. They’re too squishy and watered down.”
Murmurs rose up in the air. The fairies in the tunnels glanced at each other.
“What are you waiting for?” Grimmy growled. The obsidian underneath his claw shattered as he raised his head.
“Eep!” Thousands of fairies streamed out of the tunnels into the air, spreading outwards into the surrounding areas.
Grimmy yawned again and lowered his head.