Story Excerpt








The armory appeared much as it had when Ludin was a prince, except for the disarray wrought by the recent battles. Piles of weapons filled most of the floor and damaged and stained suits of armor lined the walls. By the amber light from wall sconces, Arabella and Thad sorted through the war-making paraphernalia. The princess tried on a few mismatched pieces—a shield and a helmet. “I suppose these will have to do.”

            “I found my sword.” Thad held up the weapon; its handle was still wrapped with the princess’s cloth. “And my armor.” He bent over and picked up a breastplate. He put it on, then rescued a second piece of armor and held it out to Arabella. “This should fit you.”

            When she donned the metal vest, the princess sagged beneath its weight. She staggered and plopped down on the floor. Thad dropped his helmet and rushed to her.

            “We can do this, my love. Oh, please. I love you so much.”

            The princess held her head with both hands. “I was weak for a moment, but I feel better now.”

            As he helped her up, a muffled noise wafted from the fireplace.

            The pair approached the hearth warily. It sounded again, louder and more distinct, “Caw, caw.”

            A plume of black billowed out as a sooty crow tumbled into their presence.

            The princess recoiled, and Thad pulled his sword. The large bird gasped and coughed. “It is I, Zandelor. Fear not.”

            “Zandelor!” Arabella took a step toward the bird.

            Thad pulled her back. “Wait, it may be a trick. He departed as an eagle.”

            The crow hopped toward them. “I am under a spell at the hands of Malessa.”

            Arabella faltered when she heard the name and Thad steadied her.

            The crow took another hop forward. “Dear Princess, I hoped you might escape her magic.”

            The lad scowled. “We needed you here. Where have you been?”  

            “No time to explain. Just listen carefully. This is all the witch’s doing.”

            Arabella put her hand to her forehead. “As we thought!”

            The crow flew up onto the mantle.

            Thad waved the sword with a grunt. “We are on our way to defeat her.”

            “Hold!” the crow cautioned. “That is why I have come.” He pointed a wing at Thad. “You cannot confront her.”

            “I am well enough to defend the one I love.” He thumped his chest and winced with pain.

            The bird regarded the lad for a moment. “Even if you were whole, it would not be up to you.” He cocked his head at Arabella. “This you must do alone.”

            Thad protested, “But, I am fine. I can—”

            The crow screeched and silenced him.

            Zandelor looked at the princess with an eye like a hard, gold bead. “Because you are both fairy and human, you are the only one who can defeat Malessa’s curse and undo what she has wrought.”

            The princess reeled and Thad held her close. “She is failing!”

            The crow addressed the young man, “Your love truly does help her. However, the witch may seize control of your mind. Do you understand why that could bring failure? You are threatened by her evil at this moment. As such, your love is not enough to sustain the princess.”

            Thad nodded sheepishly as the wizard again focused on Arabella. “Because of your dual nature, belief in yourself is your greatest strength.”

            With growing confidence, the princess moved out of Thad’s embrace and stood tall. “Yes, I do feel stronger when I believe in myself.”

            “But weaker when you doubt—when you allow the power of Malessa to work on you.”

            Arabella moved to eye level with the blackbird. “My Lord, please tell me what to do!”

*   *   *

            Malessa consulted her looking glass and viewed the scene where Celeste and Ludin had fallen.

            She screamed, “The princess is no longer there!” and wiped her hand over the glass. “Show her!”  

            Arabella and the crow came into view.

            “Still alive!” The witch spat the words. “The miserable blackbird is still alive! How many times will I allow the knave to fail me?”

            She clenched her teeth when she heard the crow speak.

            Zandelor was saying, “Self-confidence can only make you strong enough to confront her. To destroy her and undo her curse, you will need my staff.

            Arabella held out her hand. “Then please, give it to me.”

            The crow hopped along the mantle. “The witch has it. You must take it from her.”

            The princess took a deep breath. “Can I do that?”

            “You must. Then, direct the magic charm straight and true and you will prevail.”

            Malessa ranted at the mirror. “Just try to take the rod. Just try!”

            The wizard considered Arabella for a moment, and added, “Princess, go forth not as a warrior, but as the gentle person you truly are. You need no other shield. Believe in yourself, and her powers cannot harm you. It is self-doubt that renders you vulnerable.”

            “I understand.”

            “I must leave now, but I will not be far. You will find her coach along the main road to the village.”

            Gazing directly into Arabella’s eyes, the bird reminded, “Remember, all are counting on you. You are the last fairy.”

            The crow dropped onto the hearth, bowed to the princess, and disappeared up the chimney.  

The Last Fairy

Copyright © 2008 by Augustine F. Campana
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations,
and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously.

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