Untitled Starfell #2 (Starfell #2) - Dominique Valente
By the time you read this, I will be gone. My experiments with cross-pollinating a memory flower with samples from the Great Wisperia Tree have worked. I am happy to report that I can now see ten minutes into the future. Unfortunately, I have just seen that my kidnappers will be arriving IMMINENTLY! Which means, alas, I can’t even have a decent cup of tea before I send this letter via leaf-mail.
I once had a rope swing that might have offered a means of escape, but the baby dragon, Floss, accidentally burnt it to a crisp during a rather unfortunate coughing fit on his last visit. So I fear my captors are likely to catch up with me soon. (Well, in seven minutes and thirty-three seconds to be precise.)
My attempts at getting hold of the cloud dragons through pepper-tree communication haven’t gone according to plan … So I thought I’d drop you a note to ask if you wouldn’t mind terribly trying to rescue me? Also, could you please look in on Harold while I’m held hostage? He gets a bit lonely when I’m not here. Though he is very capable of feeding himself.
Hope you are well otherwise? The apple-pie blossoms are in bloom again and they always remind me of you …
Must dash —
Oh dear, thought Willow, putting the leaf-scroll down on the cluttered attic table, her heart starting to thud.
The post had arrived in a rather unusual way. Willow had answered a knock on the attic window only to find herself confronted by a rather grumpy oak tree with a face carved deep within its trunk. The tree had scowled at her with thick, bushy twigs for eyebrows, hard knots for eyes and a grim slash of a stick for a mouth. It had made an annoyed and windy huffing sound as it handed over the leafy scroll. Then, after giving her one last thunderous glare that seemed to scorch her very soul, it had slumped back to its usual spot by the garden wall, leaving a steady stream of acorns in its wake – and a fair bit of swearing too. Mostly about being rudely awoken from a rather enjoyable two-hundred-year nap and NOT being a blooming postal service.
Willow hadn’t known that trees could move, never mind swear or deliver mail. But she’d had a good guess, before she’d even read the leaf-letter, that it had something to do with the forgotten teller, Nolin Sometimes, and the way his rare ability helped him make use of the hidden magic of plants. Still, even Willow Moss, who was used to a bit of odd in her life, had to admit that this was all something of a shock.
Willow wasn’t the only one surprised by the strange visit. So was her best friend, Oswin, who greatly resembled a cat, but was in fact a kobold – a type of monster – who usually lived under her bed. At this moment, his panicked wailings could be heard from the fat blue stove in the corner, where he had shot off to hide when Willow answered the knock on the window.
‘Oh NO! Oh, me ’orrid aunt Osbertrude, WOT fresh eel is this?’ (Kobolds regularly overheard popular sayings from beneath beds or other hiding places, but often got them a bit confused.)
Ignoring Oswin, which was sometimes the best approach for general peace of mind, Willow took a deep breath and tried to summon Sometimes from the clutches of his kidnappers. If only he’d said who they were! She concentrated hard, her eyes scrunched up tight, silently begging her magic to work. Though begging hadn’t had much effect lately to be honest.
Alas, her face formed a rather regrettable expression that made Oswin snigger behind a fluffy green paw. ‘Looks like yew needs the privy.’
Willow ignored this. Her heart pounded, but, despite how much she tried, her hands remained empty. She just couldn’t seem to find her friend …
Which was unfortunate, as Willow had a magical ability for finding lost things. Like shoes, or socks, or, most recently, a lost day that had been stolen by the Brothers of Wol, using a thousand-year-old spell. With the help of her friends, including Nolin Sometimes himself and Moreg Vaine, the most powerful witch in Starfell, Willow had got it back.
But she had never tried to find a missing person before. The closest she had ever got to that was when she ‘found’ Oswin. She had summoned him from a neighbour’s stove a few years