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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest · #1260050
When the walls that hide the world of the fae begin to come down.
I am in the process of rewriting this into what will hopefully be novel length. There was so much more I wanted to add to it, but I did it for a contest that had a limit of 2,000 words. This is the story that I submitted. Thanks for reading!

“Mommy, look!” The young girl squealed as she pushed a chubby finger toward a small door in the trunk of the tree she was kneeling in front of.

“Betsy, come away from there! Lunch is ready and you just washed your hands.” The girl's mother replied tiredly as she watched her two eldest sons taking a Frisbee from a strange dog and throwing it for him.

The little girl poked at the door again then stood obediently to go to her mother. Turning back to look at the small door she frowned as she noticed it was gone.

Standing only a few feet away watching with interest stood a young gnome named Flik. He frowned watching the girl and as soon as she had gone hurried toward the door and let himself in.

The room was cozy, a small fire burned in the ornately carved fireplace along one wall. Whatever was in the pot hanging over the fire smelled delicious and his mouth began to water immediately. A glance at the small table in the corner showed him a freshly baked loaf of bread was also to be had for dinner tonight. But now was not the time to think of his stomach.

“Father? You here?” he called out. His reply came as a stifled mumble from somewhere under his feet. Flik crossed to a door opposite the one he just came in and headed down the winding tree-root stairs to one of the many subterranean rooms below.

He found his father in the study, a large round room surrounded by over-stuffed bookshelves that spiraled up and around the room to a dizzying height. The room was empty of furniture other than two large desks with chairs in the center that appeared to have been carved out of the same tree roots as the stairs. They were both stacked with books, sparkling stones, miscellaneous metal objects, small glass bottles filled with different colored liquids, pens, quills, bottles of ink, including one that looked to be liquid gold and glowed faintly, as well as several stacks of parchment paper, both written on and blank.

Flik’s father looked up at him from the parchment he was writing on with a particularly long feather quill pen.

“Well boy, what is it?” he gruffed. Then, as if he did not want to forget something very important he dropped his gaze and started writing frantically, the feathery tip of his pen swishing too and fro just under his bulbous hooked nose.

Flik was used to this sort of thing from his father so he did not hesitate.
“I was coming back from delivering those papers to Nagalia for you and as I approached our house a young human girl was poking at our front door. She could see it, father.”

Not bothering to look up, or stop writing, the old man replied, “Human girl saw our house? Load of toddle, boy. You must have been imagining things.”

“Father, she saw it. She tried to get her mother to come look but she was too busy - thank the stars - but the girl saw it. When she went to move away she turned back around to look at it again and I could tell she couldn’t see it then. But I’m telling you father, she did see it!”

The old gnome slowly looked up at Flik, fixing him with a hard stare from his bright blue eyes. “You sure about this boy? Absolutely sure?”

“Yes, Father, without a doubt. She could see our door. I’m surprised you couldn’t hear the banging of her fingers on it all the way down here.”

Pulling on his long beard with a worried expression he replied. “I thought it was squirrels. You know all that racket they make sometimes. But never mind that, never mind. Blast it, boy! This is not good. If that child could see it, then it’s only a matter of time before older children, then adults will see it too.” He paused and drifted back into thought.

“Father, why was that girl able to see it? And what do you mean, more will be able to see it soon? Do you mean the barrier is fading? How can that happen? I thought it had been there forever, why would it start to fade now?”

“Star’s Light, boy! Slow down with the questions. The barrier has not always been there, but it has been around for hundreds of years. It was put up shortly before you were born. When it started becoming more and more populated with humans the Gnomish Council got together to figure out what to do about it. Many of us were being bothered incessantly by some gaping human thinking he should be getting a pot of gold or some nonsense, or worse yet, being chased after with brooms by housewives thinking we were mice.”

“Mice, Father?”

“Never mind that now, boy. Anyway, after several weeks of debating what to do, Stonechime offered to speak with some of the stones deep within the earth, to see if any of them would be willing to help. When he returned he had Dimune with him. A slender, perfect quartz crystal. I’ve never seen so many rainbows within one crystal before. She was beautiful.”

“A crystal is what has been keeping the humans from being able to see us for all these years?” Flik asked, his voice in awe.

“That’s what I’m telling you, boy. So now, it seems that something is going on with Dimune and we need to find out what, and quickly.”

His father stood and signed as his joints popped.

“Flik, run upstairs and grab the loaf of bread off the table, and get one of the skins and fill it with water so we can eat on the way. It’s not a terribly long walk, but I’m hungry and we may as well eat on the way. Meet me at the fourth landing down from here when you have all that.” The old gnome said and then moved toward the door, picking up his gnarled walking stick as he went.

Flik took the stairs two at a time back up to the main floor of the house, his heart was pounding from all his father just told him. Quickly gathering the things he was told to bring he hurried back down the stairs and met up with his father on the fourth landing.

“Where are we going, Father?” Flik asked as he hurried to keep up with the old gnome’s strides.

“Don’t you listen, boy? We are going to see Dimune, to see why the barrier seems to be wavering.” His father did not look at him when he spoke, his eyes were scanning the many twists and turns that branched off from the path they were on. Flik had never been down this deep before.

“What is making that glow along the walls?” He asked the older gnome as they journeyed deeper down into the earth. They had taken so many turns that he was sure he would never find his way back up to his house again.

“Glow-worms.” His father replied as he turned left down another tunnel.

Flik followed but they did not have much further to go, shortly after turning his father stopped in front of a door carved in ancient gnomish symbols. There was a faint pulsing glow coming from under the door. The old gnome gave a quick wink to his son and opened the door and stepped inside. Flik followed, his eyes going round as he heard a soft feminine voice inside his head.

“Greetings and warm welcome, Sons of Gaia.”

His father must have heard the same voice because he smiled at the crystal in the center of the room and responded out loud.

“Greetings to you, Dimune.”

“I know why you are here.” Said the voice in his head. Flik noticed that the crystal's glow seemed to pulse slightly and would sometimes go very faint.

“You come to find out why the barrier I hold up is faltering. I do apologize, Sons of Gaia, I do not wish to break my word of helping you but I grow lonely here.” The crystal went so dim after those words that Flik thought she had gone out completely, but then the voice went on. “If I could have some companionship from time to time, I would be much happier and be able to hold the barrier fully again. As I grow sad and lonely my power fades.”

The older gnome nodded in understanding.

“Of course, dear Dimune. We should have realized sooner that you would get lonely here without any company at all. I am sure that Stonechime could talk to some of your siblings and we could arrange for them to be brought in and out, so they would not have to stay, but you could be with them from time to time.” He tugged at his beard thoughtfully for a moment. “I think there would be a way to keep flowers and grass down here as well, perhaps even a small tree.” He nodded again, his blue eyes sparkling as he surveyed the large round chamber.

“We will be back in a few days, dearest Dimune.”

Flik felt a tingle of joy flow through him from Dimunes as her glow brightened and she replied.

“Thank you, Son of Gaia. I will await your return.”

A few days later Flik was returning home with a bag of seeds for his father, as he neared his house he saw the same little girl from a few days ago circling his tree. She looked confused and as she toddled off to her mother who was a short distance away he heard her whiney voice carry back.

“But mommy, I did see a door in the tree! I did!” She stamped her little foot for emphasis and her mother absentmindedly patted her on the head consolingly.

“Of course you did, dear.” The mother replied as they went off to catch up with the young girl's two older brothers.

Flik smiled and let himself into the house. He hurried down the stairs to the fourth landing then took the path that would take him down to Dimune. The path was well marked now and even more brightly lit. The Gnomish Council had hurriedly got together when Flik’s father told them what was going on. They had done amazing things in only a few short days.

Flik reached the doorway and opened it, smiling as he stepped in. Several other gnomes were inside and his eyes widened in surprise as he took in the transformed room. Live plants blossomed in every nook and cranny and a soft blanket of grass covered what was before only a dirt floor. What appeared to be diffused sunlight sparkled off of Dimune, who was now at the top of a round stone fountain. Water trickled down the sides with a soft pleasant sound and the joy that was radiating from Dimune was enough to make Flik giggle.

He saw his father across the room and went over to him.

“Here are the tree seeds you asked for, Father.” He smiled and handed the bag to the older gnome. He took the bag and withdrew three seeds, handing one to Flik, he said.

“Plant it wherever you would like, son.”

Flik chose a spot near the fountain and planted the seed. His father came over to him after planting the other two. They met at the fountain. Flik’s father sat down and patted the stone beside him.

“Amazing what a little gnomish determination and a touch of magic can do, eh boy?” He winked at Flik and they sat in silence watching the newly planted trees begin to grow. Dimune pulsed with joy behind them while her sweet voice sang a song in their heads. Flik grinned at his father and nodded.

Word Count
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