Under the Starlit Sky: A Tale of Fairies and Giants (excerpt 2)
by Debby Cameron
(A chapter book for children 9 to 12. Below is another excerpt from the first chapter titled “The Beast”)
“Bravo! Bravo!” the people called out, rising from their seats one, two, and three at a time until everyone was standing and clapping wildly. When the thunderous applause ceased at last, King Vandrake held his gleaming sceptre high, sending flashes of blinding light across the hundreds of faces below. “Let the dance begin!”
Holly stood slowly and waited as everyone rose up into the air in a frenzied rush of excitement. Suddenly, an unseen hand closed around hers and lifted her up, higher and higher, through the swirling mass of dancers. Then, as the press of hundreds of flapping wings fell away below, she looked into the face of her partner and saw that it was Dane. Still higher they flew, up to the top of the mighty oak where they danced, skipping and twirling, across the highest branch in time with the sweet strains of music and the steady beat of the drums.
Holly looked down at the multitude of dancers, at the ring of burning fires, at the musicians, at the king and queen on their thrones. Everything looked so tiny in the distance. She looked up at the thousands of stars twinkling in the darkness. Then she looked into Dane’s smiling blue eyes. If Laurel could see me now, she thought, wondering if Dane could hear the wild thump, thump, thump of her heart.
Then, all too soon, the music faded away. As the other dancers dropped quickly to the ground and hurried to find places near the front of the clearing, Dane spread his wings into a slow glide and lowered Holly to her table before quickly darting back to his place of honor.
Twyla, a lavender-winged brunette with thick curly hair that fell in hundreds of springy ringlets down to her ankles, came hurrying over to Holly. “You were dancing with Dane! What did you talk about? Is it true he may be crowned the new king?”
Laurel swooped down to the other side of the table. “What? What did you just say?” The teeming throng of people grew suddenly quiet. Holly’s face burned crimson red. King Vandrake was standing.
Stroking his beard, the king looked out across the mass of faces. “I would like to let you dance until dawn, but there are matters at hand. The seasons are quickly passing, and my reign as your king is drawing to an end. Queen Silver Raven and I are looking forward to moving to our new home at the dwelling of White Thorn.” He paused as a murmur rose before him. Then, with a slight raise of his sceptre, he continued. “As you know, your new king will be chosen from three of the finest young men in the kingdom. During the last few weeks, you have recommended more than 50 young men for the title of king, and out of that number, the three young men at the table to my right have been carefully chosen.” He looked down toward the table and nodded.