The Mushroom Feast #11

Sorry I’m late (again!) we’ve been really busy lately!  Becca’s Bright Lights group met for the last time yesterday!

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Such sweet girls!  Her group has grown a lot since she started.  I’ve been so blessed to know all of these girls!

We were gone all morning and all evening in addition to BL, so I didn’t get this posted. . . and I was gone almost all day today too!  So anyway, here we are!  Enjoy the story–we only have two more left!

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Amelia woke up feeling miserable. She found the leaf that she used as a cloak in cold weather, wrapped herself in it over her nightgown, and went outside. The walls of her house were dry by now, and she leaned against the warm mud-bricks and furrowed her brow at the breeze-tossed leaves above her. But she didn’t really need to think—she knew what was right and she must do it, no matter how hard—and she knew it. But she thought for a long time anyway; because it was hard, terribly hard.

She made up her mind at last though and went inside. She dressed in her best dress and put on her necklace, and the little shoes that she wore so seldom. She took the pieces of the mushroom and put them in a sack. Then she started off towards the Bluestone; the sack slung over her shoulder, one of the tough old leaves in one hand as breakfast, with Jerry at her heels. She picked up the centipede to flutter across the river on her bright blue wings. Tears burned in her eyes as she set him down again and walked on. Selfish girl, she scolded herself, wiping her eyes; she knew everyone was just as hungry as she was.

King Titus and Queen Elva’s great castle towered in front of her at last. A River Birch had stood on that ground once, which had had two large trunks. The great tree had blown over, but one stump was still four feet tall. The the other had been torn off inches from the ground. The castle had been carved into the taller one, and the shorter one served as throne-room (or porch) on which the Royal Family and their courtiers sat. The floor of it had been sanded smooth. At the far end, closest to the taller stump, stood the thrones of the King and Queen: great wooden chairs with flowers and insects carved into them. A wide canopy of flower-petals was stretched over their heads. Courtiers in brightly colored clothes thronged about the edges of the platform, and Amelia could dimly make out the form of Ryan, standing beside the thrones.

She felt awed. Not to mention small and shy, and out-of-place here. She saw the young prince almost every day, but she did not often go to the castle. Amelia stopped for a moment to smooth the folds of her red maple-leaf skirt and run her fingers through her hair. She plucked the dying flower out of her necklace and laid it on the side of the path that led up to the great structure she was headed for. It was too wilted for a king’s court. “Come along, Jerry,” she said, to cheer herself as much as her pet. “We know the King and Queen, and they know us.” Us was a nicer word than Me, even if it was only because of a centipede. “Besides, we’re bringing food. Of course they’ll welcome us!”

A guard stood in front of the three steps that had been carved into the porch, but he recognized her and let her in—most people knew by sight the determined little fairy who lived alone at seventeen. She walked slowly down the carpet-strip of carefully-tended lichen that led to the thrones, hoping her nervousness wasn’t showing itself. The magnificence was overwhelming. She had forgotten that Ryan dressed differently here than in the forest when he visited her, and she would have been surprised by the way he looked if she could have gotten her eyes off the Queen’s dress. Every millimeter of it was covered in tiny scales from the wings of a Monarch Butterfly, and was all shimmering orange and black. Her hair poured freely over it like a waterfall, gold against orange. Both her and her husband wore a crown made from the stamens and carpel of a lily, and their hair was dusted with pollen.

Amelia bowed down before the thrones, and glanced nervously at Ryan as she straightened. He gave her a questioning look. I didn’t come here to talk to you! she thought. I can’t answer you, Ryan, so don’t distract me! She turned towards the King; only to find herself tongue-tied.

“Miss Amelia,” he said. He sounded calm, but surprised. “Was something damaged in the storm?”

She shook her head and managed to speak. “No, sir. I-I found. . . food.” She dumped the contents of her sack onto the smooth floor. “It can’t feed the whole colony, but it can help.”

The King and Queen both stood, and Titus bent down and lifted one of the pieces. “Is this all you found?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you brought it all?” He discreetly did not mention the small hunk that had been broken off the cap.

“Y-yes, sir.” Amelia struggled again to keep from crying.

“Amelia!” Ryan burst out, forgetting the Miss that was supposed to be used in formal conversations as he spoke for the first time. “You always say you don’t need help—well, what us needing you? You. . . you’re a hero! I could kiss you right now!” he ended seriously.

Amelia gave him a fiercely determined frown, even while wiping her eyes. “Don’t!”

“Miss Amelia, where did you find this?” King Titus asked suddenly.

“W-where? Just by my house. Back in the ferns.  Why? Your Majesty?”

“One mushroom can feed a whole colony, Miss Amelia,” he answered, lifting his gleaming, golden wings. “Would you show me, please?”

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