The fairies had been going about their daily tasks as usual. The princess seemed to be awfully quiet this morning and Hetty wondered whether Petuna had overslept again. Her second day of training was about to begin and she would have to be ready. This was no time for laziness.
“Oh! A million wandering waterfalls, Hetty!” Hetitia bolted through the kitchen sending all sorts of chaos in the form of wandering waterfalls behind her.
Hetty cleaned up the mess again, “What is it this time? Get yourself together will you, the second day of training is about to begin and we need to check on Petuna.”
“Oh! That’s just it, Hetty my dear, she’s not in her room!” cried Hetitia.
Hetty’s wings flickered nervously as she slowly rose in the air. “Not in her room?”
“I checked in all the usual places and she’s nowhere to be found, oh oh!” cried Hetitia again.
Hetty’s wings started fluttering rapidly and she looked at her sister, panic clear on her face. She flew out of the room with Hetitia close by and they made their way to the castle’s guard room. The guards were up and about having their breakfast while those on duty stood on alert.
“Fairies,” nodded the Chief Guard greeting them.
“Have you seen the princess, Chief?” asked Hetty in a flurry.
The Chief dropped his mouth and the papers he had been holding and looked at the fairies, his eyes shifting from one fairy to the other, “N-no. Was she expected this way?”
“Oh! Oh! Splitting snowdrop this is a catastrophe,” cried Hetitia.
“Hetitia, will you calm down! Are you sure you checked everywhere?”
Hetty turned around but Hetitia had gone off towards the castle, presumably to start searching for Petuna. Hetty sighed and turned back to the Chief Guard not knowing what to do next.
“Has the princess gone missing again, fairy?” asked the Chief gently. The princess was known to play hide and seek with her fairies especially when she was bored and had nothing better to do. He smiled at her, “Are you sure she’s not just playing again?”
Hetty flicked an angry look at him and fluttered up until she was at his eye level.
“Chief Guard, I want you to alert your guards to search for her throughout the castle. This is serious. The king entrusted her to us and our job is to look after her. Yours is her safety!” Hetty rambled in a panic before the Chief stopped her.
He gave out his orders right away for the guards to split up into groups and search every inch of the castle until the princess was found and to report back to him and the fairies.
Hetty sighed and looked at the Chief, “Thank you Chief. We must find her.”
She turned around and muttered to herself, “Oh! Please let us find her!”
She wandered through the castle corridors, occasionally bumping into a group of guards who were busy conducting their search. She would make sure to stop them en route, checking where they had searched and if they had found any trace of her. Only after she was satisfied with the answers they had given her would she egg them on to continue their search. Then she would flutter about through the corridor until she would find another search group. It went on for the most part of the day before they had to give up.
“What do you mean, she’s not here!” screamed Hetty at the Chief Guard, “she hasn’t been out and the doors are monitored all night and all day. So she must be in the castle somewhere.”
“Calm yourself, fairy, we are searching the castle grounds now. We will not stop until we find her, fairy,” said the Chief Guard.
Hetty sank into a heap, her wings fluttering every so often with a sad look on her face and a heavy weight on her shoulders. She thought of the king and what she would tell him. What about using magic to find her? But they had never been in this situation before and she would not know where to start. She looked around her and saw Hetitia flying towards her, a solemn expression on her face.
“Hetty, is there any news?”
“No,” said Hetty in despair, “Where have you been all this time when I have strained my wings trying to find her.”
“There’s no need to take it out on me now, Hetty. I have been doing a different sort of search on my own. I want to show you something,” said Hetitia quietly so that no one else would hear her.
“What is it?” asked Hetty with interest.
“Just follow me, we need to talk.”
The fairies flew back into the castle in silence. Every so often Hetty would try and ask Hetitia what was going on but would not get a response. Hetitita would just indicate to her to follow her. Hetty flew in silence, worry growing within her with every passing second. She looked at Hetitia out of the corner of her eye and noticed an unfamiliar calm that had taken hold of her. It was quite unusual for Hetitia who was known for her sporadic emotional fits. She was reacting quite calmly and had disappeared for the bigger part of the day without setting any water droplets loose. Something must be up, she thought to herself. Perhaps she knows something about Petuna that she herself does not. All would be become clear very soon and she followed Hetitia on.
They had reached an isolated section of the castle. It looked like the king’s quarters she could tell by the colours and layout of the furnishings. Hetitia had stopped and was fluttering in midair, her eyes fixed on a door.
“What are we doing here, Hetitia?” asked Hetty as she turned to face her. Hetitia said nothing and continued staring at the door, her wings fluttering and making her rise and fall slightly in the air like a yo-yo caught in a mild vacuum. Hetty turned to look at the door that Hetitia was fixated on.
“Are these the king’s chambers?”
Hetty’s question brought Hetitia out of her trance and she turned to look at Hetty and nodded, her eyes wide with apprehension. This was quite unlike Hetitia.
“What is it, sister? Are you proposing that Petuna is inside? You know that no one is allowed inside the king’s chambers when he is not present in the castle. Not even Petuna!”
“We have no choice Hetty. We must check, don’t you think?”
Hetty gulped down and thought of the king’s solemn words to them and how he had entrusted Petuna’s care to them. Hetitia was right. They had no choice and the king would understand their predicament.
They flew cautiously towards the chamber doors and stood outside for what seemed like a long time. Finally, Hetitia broke the silence and reached for the door handle. The door felt heavy but opened easily as if it had been waiting for a visitor. They peered into the chambers as the door stood ajar before quickly making their way in and softly closing the door behind them. The room had an air of royalty about it. They felt humbleness and majesty all at once and they treaded through the room carefully making sure not to disturb any of its peace. The sound of a crystal fountain added to the room’s serenity and they looked about, hoping to see any traces of Petuna.
“You go this way and I’ll go the other and let’s meet here in half an hour,” whispered Hetty, “and just make sure you don’t touch anything.”
They went their separate ways and searched high and low within the corridors, nooks and crannies of the chambers. They called out Petuna’s name softly but to no avail. After half an hour had passed Hetty returned to the entrance of the chambers where they had agreed to meet but Hetitia was already there.
“Come with me,” said Hetitia.
“Did you find her?”
“No and I didn’t expect to but I found something else – the whole reason why I brought you here in the first place,” said Hetitia leading Hetty into a corner of the room by the window.
“You know that Petuna knows better than to wander the castle and especially into her father’s chambers when he’s not here,” continued Hetitia. She led Hetty until they both came to a standstill before a huge wall that was covered with a luscious covering. Hetty gulped and realised where they were. They were standing before the Ice Mirror. The fairies looked at each other before looking back at the wall.
“We have no choice but to ask for guidance,” said Hetitia.
“But we’ve never spoken to the Ice Mirror before, Hetitia. The king is the only one who has that privilege and we only get summoned by the Ice Mirror when the king asks for us.”
Hetitia looked at her sister again and blinked. Hetty sighed and realised that Hetitia was right. There was no other way. They had searched the castle and the day had passed with no sign of Petuna. The situation was serious enough and they had to act. Perhaps the Ice Mirror would tell them how to use magic to find her. Hetty looked at her sister and nodded. They flew high above the wall and took hold of the covering that protected the Ice Mirror. They lifted it up and dropped it until it landed gracefully in a heap on the floor.
The wall revealed a mirror that was made of ice. At first glance it looked shiny and reflected every corner of the room, just like any other mirror. But slowly, the mirror took on a different texture and its surface starting becoming translucent as it detected that there was no longer a covering protecting it from prying eyes. The fairies held hands and waited patiently until the Ice Mirror took on its true form. After a few moments, the mirror looked more like it was just a thin layer of transparent fabric that allowed the fairies to see into their world. A gentle tremor started to resonate throughout the mirror until a form appeared within its surface.
“I have been waiting for you, fairies,” spoke the Ice Mirror, her voice echoing through the king’s chambers.
The fairies looked at each with surprise and stood silent momentarily before Hetty found the courage to speak.
“Your Iciness, we are in the midst of a terrible most dreadful predicament. Princess Petuna…”
“I know,” interrupted the Ice Mirror, “that is why I have been waiting for you.”
Hetitia fluttered in the air before the mirror excitedly, “Oh! Oh! Your Iciness, do you know where she is? We have searched everywhere and the guards claim she never left the castle.”
Hetty cast a quick glance at her sister who seemed to have regained her usual self almost instantly. Hetty rolled her eyes and looked back at the Ice Mirror.
“Fairies, we have a serious situation. The princess has been kidnapped!” said the Ice Mirror solemnly. Hetitia dropped to the floor and looked at her sister in alarm.
“Why have you taken so long to come to me, fairies, you wasted a lot of time,” reprimanded the Ice Mirror.
“Your Iciness, we hesitated and wanted to make sure she wasn’t playing games with us,” rushed Hetitia to save the situation.
“Now is no time for reproach. The princess has been taken hostage in the Dark Forest,” the Ice Mirror continued.
The fairies started fluttering nervously before the mirror in a panicked state.
“She fell out of the veranda from her quarters early this morning and there, by the castle lake, she encountered Storm Blazer. Luckily she managed to escape from him but this led her towards the Dark Forest. The last I checked she is to be found in the North side of the Dark Forest just two days away from the Melting Marsh.”
“The North side!! She has travelled so far!” cried Hetty, “And the Melting Marsh!!”
“Oh! Your Iciness, we must get to get right away. Please tell us what magic can help us get there,” said Hetitia in readiness so that they could travel to Petuna.
“You must not use your magic to get to her. The situation is much more complicated than you think. She is in danger. We all are,” said the Ice Mirror.
“But how else can we get to her, Your Iciness, we must get her back,” asked Hetitia.
“The only way is for you to travel through the Land of the Ice Mirror, your land fairies. This is the safest route for all.”