egala is a region of low mountains and green hills, in fields and in meadows edged with forests, which, in the Lot, forms the border of the Massif Central. Picturesque villages intersperse these mountains in the soft slopes. The picture is delightful, especially in nice seasons when chestnuts, trees kings of this land, have their leaves. Among these villages, the one who interests us is called Labathude because it is there that lives Beatrice de Longpré.
She chatted with her cat, Mistigri, when this story began. They were, both, sat on the short grass of a meadow and looked at clouds.
– Look at that one. Do you not find that it resembles a cushion ? Beatrice asked.
The adults often said to Beatrice that her cat would not answer her and that it was not necessary to speak to him as though he was a human being. This kind of speech put the girl out of her, and she retorted to people that they did not know about what they spoke and that, in that case, it would be better that they kept being silent. She said it very politely and with a lot of respect but remained firm. Her cat answered by waging his tail or his ears. He was a tabby and lean cat. He resembled a miniature tiger with his ash grey fur streaked with fine white or black stripes. When Beatrice told him something, he used to stare at her with his shrewd blue eyes and it was obvious that he understood what she said.
He nodded and gently waged his tail.
"Yes, it looks like a cushion and it seems to me very comfortable."
Mistigri enjoyed this game.
"Look at this one ! It is a ship. " He seemed to say, showing the cloud with his left forepaw.
– A ship, an old one. It sails across the huge celestial ocean and go to fabulous lands.
Beatrice's green eyes became dreamy as she imagined the boat's trip in the sky and the fantastic thing it would encounter. Mistigri, who wanted to continue their game, tried to catch her attention but nothing worked. He saw a young boy who climbed up the hill. Mistigri recognized Kay, the other Beatrice's best friend.
– Hello, Beatrice ! Do you want to go for a walk with me ?
The young girl leaped and her movement frightened Mistigri who did not expect as much. He jumped and ran away. Beatrice did not call him back, knowing that he had his own life, which was quite mysterious and private, and that he would come back home.
– Yes, I want. Where will we go ?
– We go to Lavitarelle and visit my grandmother. She is very kind and she is a very good cook. We will be at her home for the afternoon snack. You'll find her cookies very tasty.
This programm seemed very pleasant to Beatrice who smiled joyfully. She was such a pretty girl with her clear eyes of the colour of the beech's leaves and her black hair. Her smiles were full of the day's joy and they made other happy. Kay felt very happy he had made this proposition.
The stroll to Lavitarelle went through Rouqueyroux, a small village divided between the municipality of Labathude and the municipality of Sainte-Colombe. The view was so beautiful here. The road was on the top of the mountains, sneaking between the meadows where herds of cows and sheeps grazed. Beatrice's heart was so full of joy that it was just about to burst. The day was very good.
– I've heard a noise, Kay said suddenly.
Beatrice stopped and listen carefully.
– Are you sure? I don't hear anything.
– Yes, it came from here, the boy answered, going towards the wayside.
Suddenly, he disappeared! Beatrice stared at the place where her friend had vanished, wondering what had just happened and what she had to do. "What must I do?" was the only thing she could think. Her head was empty and she was not able to move at all.
The breeze brought the flowers' fragrance to the eleven years old girl. The spirits of the dandelions, the daisies and all the wild flowers fluttered around Beatrice's head and whispered that if she wanted to see Kay again she should get the Talisman.
– How will I find this Talisman? Beatrice asked.
– Walk towards the setting sun until the moment you will see the red golden sunbeams diving into the water. Here you shall enter in the halo of iridescent light. When you find the Talisman, you shall find the Charm of Finding and then the Key which will allow you to enter the Realm of Falonia where your friend has been taken. But beware of the Great Wyvern, it is very dangerous and it will try to kill you. When you bring back your friend, do not forget to give the Talisman to the Queen of Falonia.
– I understand but why do I need the Charm of Finding?
– You need it to find exactly where your friend is.
The flowers' spirits came back in their little houses which were the flowers themselves and Beatrice started her long walk towards the setting sun. She walked and walked a lot. Her legs started to hurt and her eyes did not want to stay open but she kept going on walking until she found the sunbeams diving into a small pond. The water was of silvery green colour and the beams were red gold. Where they melted, in the middle of the pond, Beatrice saw an iridescent light. Without hesitation, she entered the water and went to the halo. The coldness of the water clasped her, taking her breath away.
She came in the light and felt very warm. She did not feel the cold and the humidity. She looked around her and discovered a new landscape, a place she had never seen before. It was a plain field with a tree in the middle. Something was hanged on one of his branches. She went near the tree and found the Talisman which quite big. She felt a bit ill-at-ease, asking herself how she would be able to take it with her.
The Talisman had the shape of a heart with complicated pattern engraved in the metal. While Beatrice was staring at it, it slowly got shorter and she soon could take it in her palm. She put it in the pocket of her blue dress and said for herself:
– Now I'm here, I just need to find the Charm of Finding and the Key. But I haven't the smallest idea where they can be.
As she spoke out loud, something happened. The tree vanished away, Beatrice heard a great noise like the rush of the water on the rocks and she saw an impetuous stream flowing towards the right side of the field. A kind of small boat floated upon the cold stream. Actually, it was more like a medium fish-shaped paper box with an arrow on a thin stick.
"I suppose it is the Charm of Finding. The arrow must indicate the direction where are the things we look for. I didn't imagine it like that. In fact, to tell the truth, I didn't imagine it at all."
The arrow, which stayed still, started to slowly move. As the young girl looked at it, the movement became faster and faster. When it stopped, the arrow indicated the north of the field.
"The Key must be in that direction." Beatrice thought.
Beatrice sighed and started to walk. She was brave and she only wanted to find Kay again. She walked and walked and quit the field. She walked in a wood of willows. She was about to leave it when a deep voice growled abover her head. She rose her head and...
Ooooooh! A scary giant snake balanced slowly far above her. During a brief moment, Beatrice could not move, her head was empty. The snake which frightened her to death was surely the dangerous and terrible Wyvern the flowers' spirits told the girl.
Beatrice was in a great danger. At any time the Wyvern could charge at her and swallow her in one gulp. Even if she knew that, Beatrice was totally unable to do move! Her legs were like stone. She struggled with all her strength. At the moment when the Wyvern swooped onto Beatrice, the girl made a step and, whiiiiiiiizzz! she was blown off.
She ended up in a strange biplane with two big white wings of paper. In front of her, there was the pilot. He did not turn his head to Beatrice, so she could not see him and his head was hidden by his cap. He did not have anything special so she looked at the wings and discovered, to her amazement, that they moved vertically and sometimes stayed still in horizontal position. "Like the wings of a bird!" Beatrice thought. She leaned overboard and had just the time to see a long rope which ended by a great hand before she got dizzy. It was this hand which saved her.
The trip in the air was an experience Beatrice would never forget. Was she half asleep or was it real? She could not say but it was not so important. The biplane flew above fields, small woods, lovely villages. A little green bird flew far off. Its body seemed to be of velvet and its wings shone like emerald jewels. The biplane approached it and Beatrice ought to change her mind: the flying creature was not a bird but a little... dragon!
Beatrice's eyes opened wide and she began to shake with fear. The small dragon looked like the great Wyvern and Beatrice wondered if they were not related. In that case, no doubt that the dragon would directly fly towards its giant cousin and tell it where its prey is.
– They are not related, the pilot said as if he had read in her mind! It is a fairy dragon and it has nothing to do with the Wyvern, even if they are both reptiles.
Then, the pilot became silent again.
Relieved, Beatrice carefully looked at the fairy dragon. It had beautiful and cute peridot-coloured big eyes and an air of tenderness. It was more like a kitten than a dangerous predator. With a soft voice, she called it and he flew towards her without any fear. She rose her hand, the palm turned to the sky. He landed into it and they remained still, staring at each other.
At this moment, the biplane landed on the ground. Beatrice understood she had to continue on foot. The little dragon followed her and she thought she had to name it. After all, fairy dragon was not a name. Talking about the dragon, it was now on her right shoulder, its tail around her neck.
– I will call you... I will call you... Ah! I don't find a name which fits you. What about Emerald? No, it's too common and evident. Oh! I found it! What about Kerlyn?
The fairy dragon liked this name and thus it was since that moment called Kerlyn.
– Now I must find my way. I am here for my best friend Kay and the flowers' spirits told me that I must have the Key to deliver him. But the Wyvern scared me so much that I forgot to take the Charm of Finding with me and now I don't know where to go.
She spoke with a sad tone and was about to weep. Kerlyn shrieked and showed her dress' left pocket. Beatrice put her hand inside and took a small item out. At her great surprise, it was the Charm of Finding but it was very smaller than when she had seen it before. Smiling, she asked where the Key was and the arrow began to move faster and faster. It stopped and pointed to the East. Beatrice smiled again and went to that direction.
The sun set when she and the fairy dragon came to the shore. In front of Beatrice's filled with wonder eyes, a splendid harbour stretched between the emerald sea and the forest they came from.
– Look, Kerlyn! It's so beautiful with all those flowers, those marble walls, those pale blue or green, pink or violet and all seems in fire! It is so gorgeous! Beatrice shouted. She was beside of herself with joy and admiration. The harbour was almost a little city and the sun's red beams shone on the walls and they blazed.
A sailing boat was waiting for Beatrice and Kerlyn near the Nereids' esplanade. Beatrice and her little friend took on board and the boat sailed to the open sea. The sailor were sea faeries, males and females. During the crossing of the Great Sea, the young girl chatted with mermaids, mermans and sea nymphs. The mermaids told her that the Key belonged to the King and the Queen of Ghilandia, the realm which was between the Great Sea and Falonia. To obtain the Key, Beatrice should ask them for it and try to convince them. Beatrice spent the rest of the crossing thinking and polishing up her arguments. She wanted so badly to set Kay free.
The main city of Ghilandia, Harmonia, was more magnificent than the harbour. It was like a jewel of sapphire, aquamarine, peridot, ruby and topaze nestled in a blue and pale mauve setting. The trumpets rang out as the boat and the sentinels' captain asked them what they wanted to do in Ghilandia and the boat's captain explained that Beatrice would like to meet the King and the Queen of this realm because she had something very important to ask.
Beatrice and Kerlyn (who was hidden in her pocket) were brought to the palace in the Room of the Throne. The King and the Queen seemed so stricts that Beatrice did not dare to speak. The Queen understood Beatrice's feelings and said with a soft voice :
– Do not be shy, my dear, and tell us why you are here and what we can do for you.
Beatrice explained she came from a distant country to seek her best friend who was imprisoned in Falonia. She explained, with a passionate voice, that she needed the Key the honoured King and Queen of this beautiful realm, Ghilandia, had and that she could not come back home without Kay. She spoke truly with her heart, with tears on her eyes and the Queen, moved, agreed. Beatrice got the Key.
To go to Falonia, Beatrice had to go through a hill which was closed by a big and thick door. The Key helped to open it. During the long journey she had to walk until the main city of Falonia, Beatrice met dwarves and pixies who taught her some secrets of the wilderness and of the forests. Once, the young girl took a rest near a fountain in a wood. Came a sad and beautiful lady who, Beatrice saw it when the lady was nearer, was hurt. Her right leg bled. Beatrice rose and came near the lady, saying :
– Please take my arm, madam. I will help you to sit on the fountain's edge.
– Thank you very much, my dear child. You are very kind to me. I shall reaward you.
– Oh! You do not have to, I assure you. It is my pleasure.
The lady said nothing more until she had washed her leg and stopped the bleeding. Then, she turned to Beatrice and briefly told her story. She was the Fairy Queen of Falonia but a false queen seized the realm and sent her in exile under the shape of the Great Wyvern. The poor Fairy Queen only could regain her true nature when a young girl, coming from a distant land and seeking her best friend, would escape her and obtain the Key to Falonia. Beatrice was this girl and the Fairy Queen thanked her. To Beatrice's terror, she also explained that the wicked Queen needed to get four boys and four girls from another world to secure her leadership. To set them free, the true Queen of Falonia needed her Talisman back.
Beatrice listened closely to her heart and to the whisper of the flowers and the trees. They told her she could trust the lady, they knew she was the true queen and she was telling the truth. So, she took the Talisman and gave it to her. With a gentle smile, the Fairy Queen hid it in her pocket and took Beatrice in her arms. She stretched out her translucent wings and took off.
Big black clouds were in the sky above Falonia's main city, dust and leaves whirled, the wind howled. Storm was coming. The false Queen was killed by a deadly spell cast by the Fairy Queen. Beatrice went to the jails where the children where imprisoned and set them free. In the last cell, she discovered Kay who seemed very tired and hungry. Beatrie hugged him and helped him to rose on his feet. The Fairy Queen of Falonia waited them outside. She kissed them on the eyelids, telling them :
– With this gift you will always be able to see fairies and everything which is hidden and, moreover, you will be able to come back this world. Now, Gifted Children, come back to your homes.
They fell asleep and woke up in their beds. Beatrice thought it was just a dream but she soon saw a pixie. She hurried to Kay's home and met him halfway. He also had seen a pixie and he wanted to talk about that with her.
Since that adventure, Beatrice and Kay often went to the Other World and often saw and spoke with fairies, pixies and other members of the Little People.