Fairies in the forest, p.1

Fairies in the Forest, page 1

 

Fairies in the Forest
 


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Fairies in the Forest


  First published in Great Britain by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2019

  Published in this ebook edition in 2019

  HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd,

  HarperCollins Publishers

  1 London Bridge Street

  London SE1 9GF

  The HarperCollins Children’s Books website address is

  www.harpercollins.co.uk

  Text copyright © Lindsey Kelk 2019

  Illustrations copyright © Pippa Curnick 2019

  Cover design copyright © HarperCollinsPublishers 2019

  Lindsey Kelk and Pippa Curnick assert the moral right to be identified as the author and illustrator of the work respectively.

  A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook onscreen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

  Source ISBN: 9780008292140

  Ebook Edition © October 2019 ISBN: 9780008292157

  Version: 2019-09-30

  For Penelope Rose Nancy Clay.

  May all your wishes come true and may you never have to do the dishes.

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Read on for an extract from book one …

  Keep Reading …

  Books by Lindsey Kelk

  About the Publisher

  ‘Hansel!’ Cinders squealed. ‘If you don’t loosen your grip, you’re going to be walking the rest of the way to Fairyland.’

  ‘Perhaps you ought to let me be in front for a while,’ Hansel replied, slackening his arms just a little. ‘I’m very strong and I wouldn’t mind if you needed to hold on to me to feel safe.’

  ‘You’re going to need more than something to hold on to to feel safe in a minute,’ Cinders muttered back. ‘My horse, my quest, my rules.’

  Cinders was on a very important mission to find out some very important things, and it was bad enough having to listen to Sparks, her magical talking dog, rattle on about sausages, or lack thereof, without a boy in a silly hat giving her grief. Every time Mouse the horse (Mouse was a mouse whom Cinders had accidentally turned into a horse, but that was another story altogether) took a sharp turn to avoid running into a tree or off the edge of a cliff, Hansel would let out a terrible shriek and squeeze Cinders’s waist so tightly she thought she might snap in two.

  ‘Perhaps you shouldn’t have invited him along in the first place,’ Sparks suggested from his comfortable position curled up in front of Cinders, his muzzle resting in Mouse’s mane.

  ‘Excuse me, you were the one who said he should come along when he offered you those chipolatas,’ Cinders reminded him. ‘Honestly, Sparks, I don’t think there’s anything you wouldn’t do for a sausage.’

  Sparks considered this for a moment, decided there was a good chance that she might be right, and so said nothing.

  It felt as though they’d been riding for days, but really it had only been a few hours since Cinders had escaped King Picklebottom’s guards and fled the palace. But, as they rode deeper into the forest and the air grew chilly, she was starting to wonder if they’d made the right decision. Long, spindly branches wove themselves together overhead, blocking out the sun, and the further they went, the darker and darker and darker the sky became until Cinders could barely see her hand in front of her face.

  Thankfully, she was very, very brave. Most of the time. She wasn’t afraid of anything – King Picklebottom, the Dark Forest, munklepoops, gadzoozles or nobbledizooks. Not that she’d ever been in the Dark Forest before, or met a munklepoop, gadzoozle or nobbledizook in real life. All she knew was that she had to get to Fairyland. Just a week ago, she’d been living in the countryside with her father and her stepsisters and her really rather awful stepmother. An ordinary girl with an ordinary life. And then one day, out of nowhere, her fairy godmother had arrived and Cinders had started to develop magic powers, and everything had changed.

  ‘Cinders.’ Hansel ducked his head to avoid getting slapped in the chops by a low-hanging branch. ‘Can I ask you a question?’

  ‘Yes, Hansel.’

  ‘You said your mum was a fairy?’

  ‘Yes, Hansel.’

  ‘Which means you’re half fairy?’

  ‘Yes, Hansel.’

  ‘So why don’t you cast a spell and magic us all to Fairyland rather than riding through the Dark Forest?’

  Cinders sighed. If they’d been through this once, they’d been through it a thousand times.

  ‘Because my magic isn’t strong enough,’ she said as she flicked Mouse’s reins, encouraging him to go just a little bit faster. ‘I only found out I was half fairy a week ago. These things don’t work themselves out overnight, you know. I mean, if I’d been more in control of my powers, I wouldn’t have made that pig come back to life at dinner, I wouldn’t have scared the king, he wouldn’t have decided I was a witch and we wouldn’t have had to run away in the first place.’

  Cinders couldn’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier to just stay at the palace, marry Prince Joderick and behave herself. Except she didn’t want to marry Prince Joderick, and she never had been very good at behaving herself. But now she was lost in the forest with the palace guards after her, and the only thing she could think to do was go to Fairyland, where her mother apparently came from, and try to get some answers.

  ‘Fair enough, fair enough,’ said Hansel. He closed his eyes as Mouse leaped over a fallen tree trunk and thundered on, deeper into the forest.

  ‘One more question. Do you think your magic might be strong enough to find us a toilet? Only I really have to go.’

  Truly, she should have left that boy where she’d found him.

  ‘It’s not my fault!’ he wailed when she spurred Mouse on to ride faster. ‘It’s all this jiggling around on the back of the horse. I drank a massive bottle of elderberry juice this morning and I’ve been holding it in for ages.’

  ‘Can’t you wait ten more minutes?’ she asked.

  ‘Not unless you want an accident,’ he grumbled, ‘and I don’t think that’s a good idea on the back of a horse.’

  All Cinders wanted to do was keep riding, avoid being eaten by a munklepoop, get to Fairyland and solve the mystery of how her mother had found her way into the kingdom, met her dad, given birth to Cinders and left her with a magical talking dog. Was that really too much to ask for?

  ‘All right, all right, we’ll stop.’ Cinders closed her eyes, concentrated very hard and took a deep breath. ‘I wish we could find somewhere for Sparks to eat some sausages, and Mouse to get some cheese, and Hansel to have a wee bec
ause he’s a useless boy who can’t even hold it in for a minute.’

  ‘Oh, really,’ Sparks sniffed, turning up his shiny black nose. ‘There’s no need to be vulgar.’

  All at once, Cinders felt a tingling in her fingertips. In the darkest part of the Dark Forest, her hands began to glow silver and gold, thousands of tiny lights flickering brightly all around her.

  ‘Oh, I say!’ Hansel grabbed hold of his green felt hat. ‘What’s she doing?’

  ‘What do you mean what’s she doing?’ Sparks asked, a little indignantly. ‘She’s using her magic to find you a loo, just like you asked!’

  Hansel looked shocked, the rosy-red colour disappearing from his round cheeks.

  ‘So she really is half fairy?’

  ‘Not everyone is a fibber,’ replied Sparks.

  Hansel went very quiet. He had a reputation as a world-class porky-pie teller, and not without good reason.

  ‘Look!’ The light from Cinders’s hands suddenly began to flow outwards, carving a golden path through the pitch-black of the forest floor. ‘I think we’re supposed to go this way.’

  ‘Follow me!’ Sparks cried bravely, hopping down from Mouse’s saddle to race ahead of his friends.

  ‘So you can smell the sausages as well?’ Cinders asked.

  ‘Certainly can,’ he confirmed. ‘Top-notch wishing, Cinders. Very well done.’

  A few minutes later, the golden path faded away and the foursome found themselves in a little clearing. Cinders looked up and saw stars in the night sky. It was much later than she’d realised. In the middle of the clearing was a sweet little cottage. The walls were white and the roof was thatched and there was an archway of roses growing round the wooden front door.

  ‘Really, very well done, Cinders,’ Sparks said as he bounded up to the cottage, marvelling at the perfectly tended little garden full of pretty flowers. All the better to wee on later, he thought to himself.

  ‘Let’s see if anyone is home,’ Cinders said, straightening her shoulders and trying to tidy her messy hair. She held up her non-sparkly hand and knocked on the door. No one answered.

  ‘Knock again,’ Hansel suggested, crossing his legs and doing a little dance from side to side. ‘Louder this time. They probably couldn’t hear it.’

  ‘Perhaps they’re in the kitchen cooking,’ Sparks agreed with his eyes closed. Something inside smelled very good indeed.

  And so Cinders knocked again, but there was still no answer.

  ‘Try the door,’ Sparks suggested, popping his paws up on the windowsill and peeking in.

  Cinders gave a cross little sigh. She really, really, really wanted to get on with her journey.

  ‘Honestly, Sparks, nice people don’t go around leaving their front doors unlocked for just anyone to walk in and—’

  The handle turned in her hand, the door opened and Hansel raced past her and disappeared down the hallway.

  ‘Hello?’ Cinders called. ‘Is anyone home?’

  She turned on a lamp to get a better look at the place, which appeared to be empty. In the living room there was a fireplace and in front of it was one big chair, one medium-sized chair and one little chair. Walking into the kitchen, she saw a large wooden table. Placed round it was one big chair, one medium-sized chair and one little chair.

  ‘Would you look at that!’ Sparks bounded up on to the smallest chair, walked round in a circle and plopped his red, fluffy tail down on the comfy cushion. ‘Perfectly Sparks-sized.’

  Still not altogether sure about being in someone else’s house uninvited, Cinders tapped an uncertain finger on the arm of the biggest chair. It was awfully late and she was awfully tired. It had been a peculiar day to say the least. She was only having a sit-down, after all. Surely no one would mind?

  ‘Good golly gosh, that’s a comfy chair,’ she gasped as she sank into the cushion. She could have closed her eyes and gone to sleep right there and then.

  ‘Cinders! Sparks!’

  Quick as a flash, Cinders and her doggy pal ran off to find out what was wrong with Hansel.

  ‘Hansel! Even I know you shouldn’t wear your shoes in bed!’

  The bothersome boy was in the bedroom, in a great big bed with the covers tucked up to his chin.

  ‘It’s so soft,’ he said, plucking off his hat and placing it on the bedside table. ‘And look, there’s one for each of us! It’s as if they knew we were coming.’

  Sure enough, just like in the kitchen and the living room, the bedroom had one big bed, one medium-sized bed and one little bed. And Cinders was awfully tired …

  ‘I hate to agree with Hansel, but I think he’s got the right idea here,’ Sparks said, making himself comfortable in the smallest bed. ‘We’ll sleep here tonight and start out for Fairyland in the morning. No point trotting off through the forest half asleep, is there?’

  ‘What about the people who own this house?’ Cinders asked, gazing at the medium-sized bed with its big fat pillows and fluffy white blankets.

  ‘We’ll leave them a nice note,’ Sparks declared.

  ‘Everyone loves getting a nice note,’ Hansel said, already dozing. ‘Come on, Cinders. Who would send us back out into the forest in the middle of the night?’

  ‘Well, King Picklebottom for one,’ she replied. ‘My stepmother for another. And all the people you’ve managed to annoy in the village, including your own sister.’

  ‘All very good points we should discuss in the morning,’ Hansel muttered sleepily, rolling over and turning out the light. ‘Goodnight, Cinders.’

  A tap at the window made her jump, but it was only Mouse, keen to find out what was happening inside.

  ‘I think you should get comfortable,’ Cinders said, opening the window and giving him a scratch between his rather large ears. ‘Looks like we’re staying here for the night.’

  Mouse squeaked happily and curled up underneath the low cottage window.

  Cinders climbed into the middle bed, Hansel and Sparks already snoring on either side of her. Maybe a couple of hours’ kip was a good idea, and then they could start out fresh first thing in the morning.

  ‘Just one day away from Fairyland,’ she muttered as she closed her eyes. ‘And finding out who my mother really was.’

  Back in Cinders’s little pink cottage in the woods, no one was sleeping.

  ‘I’m very sorry,’ Cinders’s dad said, scratching his head, ‘but could you run that past me again?’

  Prince Joderick Jorenson Picklebottom took a deep breath and started to tell his story for the third time. ‘Basically, the part you really need to know is that my father, the king, has declared Cinders a witch and exiled her for ever.’

  Margery, Cinders’s stepmother, held one hand to her forehead and swooned, collapsing on to a conveniently placed settee behind her.

  ‘A witch!’ she declared as her two daughters, Agnes and Eleanor, rushed to her side. ‘I always knew there was something up with that girl.’

  ‘But Cinders couldn’t possibly be a witch!’ said Cinders’s father, looking distraught.

  Meanwhile, Joderick was eyeing a plate of tasty-looking biscuits on the kitchen table.

  He really had ridden quite a long way and he would have loved a quick snack before he rode back to the palace. But with all the crying and swooning this didn’t really seem like the time to help himself.

  ‘If Prince Joderick says she’s a witch, she’s a witch,’ Margery declared. ‘I know she’s your daughter, but I think she’s had you under some sort of spell. We always knew she was shifty, didn’t we, girls?’

  ‘Oh, yes,’ Elly replied at once.

  ‘Did we?’ Aggy asked.

  ‘I didn’t say she is a witch,’ Joderick said, inching closer to the biscuits. Hmm, were those raisins or chocolate chips? ‘I said my dad thinks she’s a witch.’

  Cinders’s stepmother fixed Joderick with an unpleasant smile. ‘But if she isn’t a witch, why would he think that she was?’

  ‘Um … there was some unpleasan
tness at dinner,’ he muttered. ‘Involving some magic and a roasted pig.’

  It was fair to say that Margery and Cinders had never really got on. Margery thought little girls should be prim and proper and enjoy ladylike, polite activities like brushing their hair, sitting quietly and possibly taking a short nap in the afternoon. Cinders was neither prim nor proper. Cinders liked to play outside and get her clothes dirty, and she never, ever brushed her hair properly. That said, Margery was prepared to overlook what a terrible disappointment her stepdaughter had been when the prince chose her to be his bride. At the time, she couldn’t for the life of her fathom why he had picked that little ruffian to be a princess, but now it all made sense. She was definitely a witch and had put him under some sort of spell.

  ‘Oh, Prince Joderick!’ Margery sat up and nodded at Elly to grab the plate of biscuits from the table. ‘Where are my manners? This must have been so hard for you. Would you like a snack? Perhaps something to drink?’

  ‘I wouldn’t mind a glass of water, if that’s all right.’ The prince nodded, his stomach rumbling.

  Margery gave Aggy a pinch and the girl ran off to the kitchen. ‘And to think you were going to marry that little witch,’ she said, patting the settee beside her. With the greatest of reluctance, Joderick sat down. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something off about this woman. No wonder Cinders didn’t like her, he thought to himself.

  ‘You must be heartbroken,’ Margery said sympathetically.

  ‘Something like that,’ he agreed. ‘I’m more worried about Cinders than anything. I don’t really know what’s going on, but I don’t believe she’s a witch, no matter what my father says.’

  ‘Cinders couldn’t possibly be a witch,’ her dad repeated, staring into space. Joderick thought he looked awfully pale.

  ‘Now here’s the thing,’ Margery said as the prince took a glass of water from Aggy and a biscuit from Elly. ‘You say Cinders has been exiled?’

  ‘That’s right.’

  ‘And you say she rode off into the Dark Forest?’

 
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