Excerpt for Night by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

I.Rin/Night
















Night

by I.Rin





























Part 1

A strange night guest


It was just after midnight. The room was illuminated by dim night-light. Lica was sitting on the window-sill and looking up at the starry sky. Suddenly the door of her room opened and her mother came in.

Liсa, why are not you asleep?” she asked. “It’s late!”

Mom, you know, how I love night! Night is wonderful and quiet ... and it is so cool to dream at night! And it is so romantic to walk under the Moon!”

And bump into the bandits under the Moon. Romantic, isn’t it?” her mother remarked.

You're always spoiling everything!” the girl said petulantly. “You can possibly cross with the bandits during the day. But at night it is easier to hide from them - all cats are grey at night!”

Ok, a dreamer!” mom said amicably. “Let's get down sleeping! Sixteen-year-old girls must sleep at least nine hours a day.”

She kissed her daughter on forehead and left the room. Liсa sat for another ten minutes looking at the stars. Then she jumped down from the window-sill and went to bed.

Suddenly, she noticed an envelope on the desk. Angelica could swear that ten minutes ago that envelope had not been there!

"My Mom must have laid it,” she thought. “What a restless inventor!”

Young girl went to the desk and picked up the envelope. It was sealed. There were no inscriptions or names on it. Liсa opened the envelope and pulled out a folded sheet of thick paper. She opened it and read:


You are a true admirer of Night!

So Prince Night invites you to his

annual ball, which will be held today...

Get ready by three o'clock in the morning –

You will be picked up!


And she saw a luxury signature below. Angelica read the letter once more and said aloud:

What nonsense! Mom surpassed herself! Well, when she comes by three o'clock in the morning, I'll be waiting for her ready. Furthermore, I have not much time left to three.”

The girl opened the wardrobe and pulled out her only ball dress, which her parents had bought when she participated in the school beauty contest. The beautiful golden dress was perfectly matching Liсa’s auburn hair. Angelica put on the dress and high heels, let her hair and slightly tinted her lips. Then she looked in the mirror and satisfied with herself went to bed.

"Let a little scared,” she thought sarcastically. “When she comes at night here, I’ll be fully ready!”

She smiled her own joke, and did not notice that fell asleep.

No sooner had she fell asleep, when something touched her face. Liсa opened her eyes and at first could not understand anything. Moonlight filled the room and she saw a huge eagle-owl sitting on the chair back just in front of her.

Oh!” Angelica screamed. “Shoo, shoo!”

It may have flown through the window,” flashed in her mind.

She was waving her hands but the owl just narrowed its eyes.

Oh, you're so!” the girl got her rag out. “Well, hold on!”

She got up and began to creep to the owl slowly to grab it. But it suddenly fluttered and whirled around the room.

I wish it wouldn’t break down anything!” Liсa had just thought.

At that time an owl’s feather dropped from the wing and stacked into her hair. The girl did not understand what was happening to her but suddenly she became to shrink. A minute later she was sitting on the floor scrutinizing her arms with surprise, which had turned into wings. Owl hooted and it is oddly enough but now Liсa could understand it!

We're already late!” the owl said.

Where to?” the girl wanted to ask but just heard bird squawking from her throat.

To the ball, where else?!” the night guest hooted. “Fly!”

So is it all true?!” Angelica was marveled. “And what if I refuse?”

In this case you will stay as an owl forever!” the eagle owl replied.

It did not explain anything more and making a circle around the room flew out of the window. Lica had no choice and followed him.

They were flying over the night city and she could not help admiring the beautiful neon advertising lights. Then the owl turned to the side and they flew over woods and fields. They were soaring for a long time Angelica even stopped counting the time. Finally they saw the walls of a castle in front of them. Lica couldn’t see it properly but it seemed to her that the castle was pretty dark in the moonlight. The eagle owl circled and flew into the window of a high tower. The girl followed him. They passed through the long corridors and got into a small brightly lit room. Here the eagle owl hit the ground and turned into a quite old man, dressed in dark clothes. Angelica sat down on the chair back and was watching for a while.

A little more and we would have been late!” the old man said peevishly.

He approached the girl and took out a feather from her plumage. And immediately, Liсa became the young girl again.

No good!” the fellow traveler said looking around Angelica. “You are so disheveled and your dress is tattered. As if we had made the way through the thorns! Who is flying like this? Ok, wait!”

Just he said that the man came out of the room. He was absent a few minutes then he came back with a luxurious white dress.

Put it on, hurry up!” he said throwing the dress to Liсa’s hands. “Ball is in full swing! I'm waiting outside!”

The old man came out and closed the door. The girl immediately changed her clothes perplexedly. The dress fitted her like a glove. Angelica went to the mirror hanging on the wall and looked at herself. She saw a very pretty girl in the mirror’s reflection; however, she was slightly disheveled. Liсa put her hair straight and said aloud:

Well, those fools who had not given me the first place in the beauty contest! If only they would see me now!”

When she came out of the room the night guest had been waiting for her behind the door.

Well now you are quite different!” he smiled and gave Angelica his hand.




Prince asks Angelica for help


While the girl and her fellow traveler were walking down the corridor they could hear nice music ahead. The man led Lica to the stairs running to a large posh room where ladies and gentlemen were spinning in a beautiful dance. Angelica tried to see their faces but alas all the guests were wearing masks.

Why...” she was going to ask her new friend, who had brought her here, but he had already disappeared.

Lica was going down the wide stairs trying to find her night visitor, who so carelessly had left her alone. She was in a large spacious hall where hundreds of guests were dancing and enjoying themselves. The walls and the ceiling of the hall were decorated with amazing chandeliers with burning candles. Beautiful curtains with gold and silver embroidery were falling down the windows and the flame of the candles was glancing in the white marble floor. Angelica was confused by this entire splendor. She was looking around but what she could see just a lot of masks. Somebody was laughing others were saying something but she heard nothing. It seemed to her that she was spinning on the carousel. She wanted only one thing - to break out of this circle! Lica rushed back to the saving stairs to get away from here. But the laughing people, dancing just in front of her, blocked the way. Angelica thrashed about between well-dressed ladies and gentlemen and suddenly heard a mellow voice behind:

You look great!”

The girl looked around and saw a handsome young man. He was without a mask.

Let me invite you to dance!” the stranger said and held out his hand to Lica.

Angelica nodded. After all now this handsome man was her escape from those faceless laughing people. The girl put her hand on his shoulder. They heard beautiful music and began to waltz. Now Lica could see her savior better. He had regular features. His pale and thin skin gave the young man an aristocratic look. Black curls were hanging down to his shoulders. The fathomless black eyes looked straight into the soul. Angelica embarrassed and blushed.

What is your name?” the man asked.

Lica!”

The young man raised his left eyebrow amazedly.

Oh, sorry! Angelica…” Lica corrected herself. “And you?”

Edward! You are very beautiful, Angelica! Do you love night?”

The girl nodded. She felt how she was beginning to sympathize with this handsome stranger. They continued to whirl in the dance and Lica did not notice laughing masks any more. Soon the music was over and Edward accompanied Angelica to the room with set tables. This room was much smaller than the ball hall but also decorated beautifully. There were all sorts of dishes and drinks and guests could take anything they wanted!

Help yourself!” Edward turned to the girl. “I'll get to you a little later. Now I have to deal with other guests.”

He bowed and left the room. While Lica was looking around in confusion, her night guest –“eagle-owl” approached to her.

I see that our Prince liked you!” he said smiling.

Prince?” Angelica surprised.

Prince!” an "owl" confirmed. “But do not kid yourself too much about him!”

What do you mean?” Lica flushed.

I mean that he is engaged...”

Why are you telling me this?” the girl said angrily.

Because I saw the way you looked at him!”

Angelica blushed and decided to stop talking to that nasty old man. At this moment Edward entered the room.

Henry!” he called the “owl”. “So you had told me about this girl, hadn’t you?”

Yes, I had,” Henry nodded. “She loves night like no one does!”

In that case, Angelica, can I talk to you?”

The young man gave the girl his hand and led her to a separate room, which was in another wing of the castle. Henry followed them. Prince Edward suggested Lica sitting down in an arm chair and began his story.

Angelica, I invited you not without a reason! I have been looking for someone who is madly in love with night. For this reason, every year I arrange the ball for all fans of night. I am looking for a person who can help me!”

Help you?” the girl amazed.

Yes... Many years ago, when I was a young boy, I fell in love with the princess from the neighboring kingdom. She was so pretty almost as much as you are, Angelica. We were going to get married and it seemed nothing would prevent our happiness! But... the evil wizard envied us! He created a Frankenstein's monster-spider who kidnapped the Princess. That Wizard hid her somewhere in the caves and put a spell on her. He said that one who was madly in love with night would be able to disenchant the Princess.”

That's why you called me, didn’t you?” Lica whispered.

Yes, I did!” Prince nodded.

But I thought you had liked me!” she said even quieter.

I had told you do not hope for nothing,” Henry whispered in her ear.

Angelica was very disappointed. It was the first time did she really fall in love with a man and Edward so insensitively "put her down". She looked at the Prince again and realized that she was gone! His eyes just fascinated her.

I'll help you,” suddenly Lica said. “I will save your Princess but not for her sake but for you!”

Thank you,” Edward replied. “The road to the caves where the Princess has been hidden is through Nightmare Forest, Sleepy Lake and Ghosts Fields. We have never day time in my kingdom so you will have to get there in the dark. I cannot go with you because by the condition of the Wizard I mustn’t leave the walls of my castle as long as the Princess is released. But I am going to send my faithful servant and friend – Henry with you. It will be a lot easier with him!”

Yeah thank you!” the girl muttered. “Just let me change my dress! I do not want to climb the mountains in a ball dress and high heels.”

Henry! Bring a suit for the lady!” the Prince said.

The servant bowed and left the room.

Tell me, do you really still love her?” Angelica asked the young man curiously.

Princess? Of course!”

But you are talking about it so easily... Besides, so many years passed!”

Edward looked at Lica and was about to add something but at that moment the door opened and Henry came in with men's clothes in his hands.

Change your dress!” Prince said, standing up. “Henry and I are waiting for you outside.”

The men went out of the room and Angelica took off her wonderful ball dress with great regret. Then she put on the suit, however it was also fit her perfectly. The only thing that the old servant had not guessed was the size of the shoes. The shoes, which he had brought for the girl, were too big for her but Lica decided that they were better than high heel shoes.

A few minutes later she came out of the room. Prince Edward looked at her admiringly and a smile has slipped on Henry’s face.

Horses are waiting for you!” the Prince said. “You will find food and water in baskets tied to the saddles! Come on!”

They went out of the castle to the wide courtyard. Edward’s servant jumped into the saddle and the Prince helped Angelica to mount a horse.

Have you ever ridden a horse?” he asked suspiciously.

No never!” Lica answered honestly. “But everything has ever made for the first time!”

Henry briefly explained the girl how to handle a horse. Then he pulled the reins and left the yard. Lica followed him.

Angelica, you must promise me that you back sound in life and limb!” Edward shouted after her. “It is very important to me!”







Nightmare Forest


The horsemen were galloping down the dusty road. They had been ridden for a long time and Lica not being used to riding was awfully tired.

How far is the forest?” she asked her companion.

About an hour and a half,” Henry said.

When the moon moved in the sky the dark wall of the forest appeared in front of them. The huge trees seemed to touch the sky.

Is that it?” the girl showed forward.

The old man nodded.

Yes, it's Nightmare Forest,” he said. “If you have ever had nightmares, even as a child, they all live here. Do you remember any of your nightmares?”

No.”

It’s a pity. If you had at least we would have coped with them! If not... we would have to skip at random.”

Do you remember your nightmares?”

Of course! I even had time to make friends with some of them. After all, I have an advantage - I live here! And I am a magician a little bit.”

Angelica and Henry came into the forest. The moonlight hardly permeated through the tall thick trees. Their branches were so intertwined that they looked like a picket fence. Only a narrow road led along.

Follow me on my horse's hooves!” Edward’s servant said quietly.

But only could he say that something huge and grey blocked their way...

Meow - Meow!” grey creature roared. “What are you looking at? I will not let you go further! And it is all her fault! She is always saying that "all cats are grey at night." But I used to be another color! So, until she guesses my color, you will not go!”

Is it your nightmare?” Henry pointed toward the huge grey cat. “Come on, disentangle! Unless my nightmares come, I am afraid they may. If that happens, we will not be in laughing mood!”

The girl was lost in thoughts.

She remembered that when she was a little girl and refused to go to bed, her mother used to scary her by a horror story. Her mother would say:


At night Kitty will come after you,

And walk away with you!


It was the time when Lica came up with a huge scary cat Mr.Greytail. And at first it was not very scary. But then night by night he was getting more and more frightening!

I am wondering what color he was,” Lica thought aloud. “White? - No... Red? - No...”

Suddenly they heard terrible howl and a sound of hooves in the forest.

Harry up, remember!” Henry was getting nervous.

Ah! I have remembered!” Angelica shouted. “You were black… a usual black cat but with a grey tail!”

As she said that, the cat disappeared in the air.

Come on, let’s go!” the old man called her. “Someone seems to be chasing us! If it is my nightmare, it will not be easy! There must be fork road ahead. You will turn to the right and I will go to the left! Meet me beyond the forest!”

And Henry spurred his horse.

Hooves clatter was getting closer. Lica did not linger and had let her horse galloping. Soon she saw the fork road ahead. Although it was hardly perceptible, she instinctively turned to the right. Hoof beats had left behind her. But now she heard another unpleasant sound. As if sand was sifting somewhere. Angelica instantly remembered the horror of her childhood – Mr. Sandman! Since she had read a book about him she hadn’t been able to sleep properly.

How had I escaped from him?” the girl began to remember quickly. “I think I just had closed my eyes and hid under the duvet!”

The noise of sand was coming. Lica closed her eyes and stopped to control the horse.

It will deal!” she thought. “Horses are intelligent animals!”

Angelica!” she heard someone's nasty raspy voice. “Angelica! Open your eyes! I'm here! I have come for you!”

The girl clutched the reins tighter and even more screwed her eyes. But the voice continued:

Angelica! At least once look at me!”

Lica did not respond. For some time the voice was saying something and then had gone but then she heard the sound of hooves behind her again. Someone or something was going to catch up the girl. She began to pull the reins of rushing galloping horse. But she felt that the "something" was reaching her! Suddenly she saw the edge of the forest in front. There was much brighter and Lica rushed there! Only when did she quite a bit get out of this horror Angelica felt someone’s a stinking breath behind. She turned around and saw a huge black rider racing to her with his head in his arms.

Sleepy Hollow!” the girl amazed. “But it's not my nightmare!”

At this point the rider raised his head and threw it into Lica. She screamed and fainted...








Sleepy Lake and Ghosts’ Fields


When the girl came to life, the first person she saw was Henry. Angelica was lying on the grass carefully covered with his cloak.

Oh, well done!” the old man said seeing that Lica had opened her eyes. “You had coped with the "headless horseman"!”

Have you seen it?” she asked suspiciously.

Yes, I have! I had just got out of the forest. What I had heard was your scream. When I had been riding to you I saw him throwing his head at you. That was good you had lost consciousness and the nightmare immediately vanished!”

But it was not my nightmare!” Angelica protested.

Neither was mine!”

Then whose?”

You never know... I'm telling you can find all nightmares collection here. We were just lucky that we had passed so easily.”

Aha! Easily!” Lica needled and tried to sit up.

Something was buzzing in her ears and everything was swimming before her eyes. But she clung to the grass and soon the girl finally came to life.

How long have I been a "sedated"?” she asked.

For no more than three hours. In fact it has been morning in your time.”

Oh, what’s about my mother?” Angelica scared. “If she comes into my room and I am not there!”

Do not worry! While you're here no one will even remember about you! No wonder that I am a bit magician.”

Then let's go on!”

First, you must eat! I had already had while I was keeping watch over you.”

Lica had some white bread and milk and our heroes hit the road again. The horses had rested and were running quite briskly.

A wide valley stretched beyond the forest. Here and there were small groves. And they looked very romantic in the moonlight. Very soon they saw a huge lake ahead.

This is Sleepy Lake!” Henry explained. “If someone sleeps here, it will be forever! So any hook or by crook we mustn’t let each other sleep.”

The horsemen rode up to the lake where they saw a lot of white human bones on the bank. Just near the shore the boat was swaying on the water. Our heroes dismounted and tied the horses to a tree quite far away from the water.

And what if they want to drink?” Lica asked pointing to the animals.

There is a lot of fresh grass around. They can quench their thirst. And if they drink from the lake, we will never get them awake!”

The girl nodded. Henry untied the baskets with food from the saddles and the travelers went to the boat. There was only one oar at the bottom.

Only one oar, we will reach eternity with it!” Angelica said.

She returned to the trees and broke off a big wide branch.

Now - sail!” she told Henry.

Our heroes had put food baskets on the bottom of the boat and pushed off from the bank.

You will row on the right and I will on the left!” Lica commanded.

And they began to row. They did not always smoothly but the boat was significantly moving forward. Ten minutes later the girl noticed that her eyes began to stick together. Henry also was nodding.

What fools we are!” Lica screamed in the hearts. “Henry, get the salt and knife from our baskets!”

What for?”

Even children know that! In order not to fall asleep we must cut ourselves and sprinkle with salt. Then even if you really want to you won’t! The pain won’t allow you!”

The old man looked at the girl with respect and immediately took out the knife and salt. Travelers slightly notched their hands on the back and covered the wound with salt. They felt such intense pain that forgot about sleeping.

When the boat was moored to the opposite bank Angelica and Henry jumped out and first thing they did was washing off the salt, which they had taken with them, from their hands.

Wide fields were stretching beyond the lake. They were quite different from the valley stretching after the Nightmare Forest. There had been low grass and everywhere they met copses. Here the grass was almost reaching their knees. It was thick and fragrant as a carpet. There were not so many trees and they were scattered throughout the place. Here and there you could see a lonely tree.

These are Ghosts Fields - a rather peaceful place. And behind them the cave of the Evil Wizard is. So let's go! Now we haven’t got horses here,” the Prince's servant said.

And shall we turn into birds again?!” Lica suggested. “I will turn into an owl and you will be the eagle owl!”

Henry grinned.

You know,” he said, “I can transform into a bird only for some time each night. Today I have exhausted my limit. So it can’t be help we will have to go on foot.”

The girl nodded, picked up her food basket and they set off. In the fields above the grass they often saw whitish figures reminding people and animals. Sometimes something was lamentably howling or someone was moaning but no one else was chasing our heroes or attacking them.



In the Wizard’s caves


The moon had moved to the opposite side of the horizon sky again and the high black mountains appeared in front of them.

Here the Princess is imprisoned!” Henry pointed to the mountains.

Is the Prince really still in love with her?” Lica asked gently.

How would I say…” old man hesitated “…it is his duty! And what about love; I would not say anything after seeing how he had looked at you today.”

Joy filled Angelica’s soul. She remembered Edward's eyes and smiled.

In about two hours our heroes came to the mountains. Very near there was a wide entrance to the cave.

But there is no moonlight,” the girl said quietly. “How can we go in total darkness?”

I saved some oakum and took a flint with me. And we could find some sticks right now!”

Henry quickly found two sturdy sticks wrapped them with oakum and set on fire. He gave one torch to Lica and the other left for himself. They put baskets at the cave entrance and went inside. The ceiling and the walls of the cave were covered with a thick spider’s web. Wrapped into spider cocoons birds, small animals and bats were hanging from the top.

Well at least it’s good that there are no people!” Angelica said.

And she and Henry passed on. First the entrance narrowed then widened again and travelers came into a large room. There they saw a lot of bones lying around and some gnawed bodies.

Suddenly they heard some rustle behind. The girl and the old servant looked back and saw a huge house size spider was quietly creeping towards them.

Run!” Henry shouted and pushed Lica into the side aisle.

They were running but the spider did not want to leave their victims. He spit a few balls of web chasing our heroes. Five minutes later Angelica and the Prince’s servant ran into another room where a fairly wide stream was flowing in the middle.

Web is afraid of water! Jump!” the old man shouted.

He grabbed girl’s arm and pulled her along. She had no choice and obeyed. While they were running and jumping over the stream the spider’s web, following them, appeared. It rolled to the stream but did not jump over it.

Thank God, you had been right,” said Lica barely breathing.

But suddenly they heard ramble in the cave and at that moment a strange gray-haired man in a black cloak appeared in front of the girl and the Prince’s servant.

Hello, Henry!” he said. “We haven’t seen for ages! You are getting old...”

Greetings, Wizard! And you've changed for the worse!” the servant parried. “By the way, Angelica, this is the Wizard who kidnapped the Princess from Prince Edward.”

Yes, I am!” the old man giggled. “Many years have passed... I see the Prince has managed to find someone who is madly in love with night!”

And the villain began to examine Lica with curiosity.

She is very beautiful!” he said finally.

You do not get distracted,” Henry pulled him. “We have fulfilled your condition, so you must return the Princess!”

Princess? Oh, yes, please! I am not interested in her anymore! But the girl... I need a ransom!” the Wizard croaked.

What ransom?” Angelica said.

I want something that you haven’t had yet!”

Please, take it!” the girl surprised. “If I do not have it and feel quite normal then why I need it?”

Are you sure?” the Wizard laughed in his beard.

Of course I am!”

The villain clapped his hands and they heard boom again.

All right, take your Princess! But she is not the same as she used to!” the old man burst of laughing.

He whistled and the side wall of the cave moved apart. Lica and Henry saw a tall thin woman who tried going by touch to them.

What happened?” Henry asked.

Since being here in absolute darkness she has gone blind!” the Villain giggled.

What a rascal you are!” Edward’s servant wiped at the Wizard.

Henry!” the Princess shouted. “Stop it! Anyway you can change nothing.”

Laughing the Wizard had disappeared in the air.

Have you recognized me, Your Mightiness?” the old servant said with tragic voice.

Of course, because your voice has not changed at all! Come on, I'll get us out of these caves!” the Princess replied. “I have explored them well enough.”

She was leading Angelica and Henry some known only to her way. And our heroes came out quite far from the place where they had left their food baskets.

We had better not to come back!” Edward’s servant said. “I don’t want to meet with the spider again.”

Lica and Princess agreed with him.

Without any incidents they got to Sleepy Lake and crossed it. Then Henry untied the horses from the tree, sat with the Princess and Lica mounted on the other. Riders pulled the reins and went across the wide valley to the Nightmare Forest. When they got to the edge of the forest the moon was on the other side of the sky again.

Hooray!” the old man shouted. “One day has passed! My magical power went back to me! Angelica, I'll turn you into an owl and I will ride with the Princess through the forest. I would have bewitched the Princess but unfortunately she wouldn’t have seen where to fly.”

But it is very dangerous!” the girl said. “I will not leave you!”

The less we are, the less we will have nightmares haunting!” Henry said emphatically. “And never ever argue with the old!”

He muttered something quickly under his breath then took a feather out of his coat pocket and stuck it into Lica’s hair.

















The Wizard’s Curse


The girl felt how her body was getting shrunk again. And a minute later she turned in to the owl and she went up the sky and flew towards the castle. The Nightmare Forest, fields and valleys were had left far behind her. Lica was flying in the dark starry sky and her wings seemed to touch the clouds. Soon on the horizon she saw the spires of the tall building. It was the castle of Prince Edward, who Angelica nicknamed "The Prince Night." Edward was sitting in his room and looking through the open window. Suddenly the owl flew in to. She sat down on the chair back and rubbed her head on it. The feather dropped from her head and the bird had turned into the girl.

Oh my God, Angelica!” the Prince exclaimed. “If only you knew how I had been worried about you! What happened? Where's Henry? Where is the Princess? Have you saved her?”

We have saved your Princess! But, unfortunately, because of spending many years in the dark, she had gone blind. So Henry had to ride with her through the Nightmare Forest. However, he turned me into the owl. I think your friends will be here in just a few hours.”

Thank God! She's alive!” Edward said. “Or I would never have dared to tell you what I am going to say now. Angelica, I think, no, I'm sure that I love you! I am going to talk with the Princess about it! I hope she will understand and forgive me!”

The Prince Night came to Lica and kissed her on her lips gently. Before she had not even dreamt about it! But at that moment they heard familiar hoarse ha-ha and the evil Wizard came into the room.

Alas, Prince! In the caves to save the Princess, this girl had refused to you!”

It’s not true!” Angelica protested.

Do you remember you had given me what you hadn’t had in your life yet? It was the Prince’s love. So - sorry!”

And the villain rubbed his dry hands snidely.

Edward, no!” Lica screamed and ran to the Prince.

It’s time for the last dance,” the Wizard mumbled.

Suddenly the Prince Night and Angelica saw themselves in a huge bright room and heard beautiful music. Lica was wearing a great white ball dress, the one in which she had danced with Edward for the first time. The Prince offered her his hand gallantly and they whirled in a waltz. When the music was over the young man bended over to kiss Angelica but she suddenly disappeared...


Young lady, how do I have to understand this?” Lica heard her mother's voice.

She opened her eyes and saw that she was in her room.

Mom, what a wonderful dream I had!” the girl said stretching herself.

This is good! But why were you sleeping in clothes and where did you get such a luxurious ball dress? I don’t remember that I or your father had ever bought something like this!”

Only then did Angelica see her lying on the bed wearing the white dress, in which she had been dancing at the Prince’s ball.

Is all that has happened true?” Lica asked herself amazedly and joyfully.

Since now every night the girl stared out the window for a long time waiting for news from the wonderful Kingdom of night, where she had been lucky enough to visit.















Part 2

Henry’s comeback


It was a full moon night. As usual Lica was standing and feasting her eyes on the starry sky through the window. A year has passed since she attended the Prince’s Night ball. But as yet hasn’t she been able to forget Edward. However, sometimes it seemed to her that it had been only a dream. But doubts vanished as soon as Angelica, opening the wardrobe, saw her beautiful white ball dress, which she was wearing at the Prince’s ball. The dress was absolutely real and the girl began to hope that one day she would meet Edward again!

Lica, you are not going to bed again?” she heard her mother's voice behind the door.

I am… I am going to!” the girl answered.

She was about to lie down when suddenly something large and dark struck the window outside and then slipped down onto the sill. It was the eagle-owl!

Henry?!” Angelica whooped.

She immediately opened the window and brought the bird into the room. The owl had no signs of life. The girl put it on the carpet and began to sob:

Henry! What have you done? How could you beat into the glass with all over the fluff?”

Some of her tears fell on the owl’s head and it suddenly started up. Then he shook his head and one small feather fell to the floor. At the same moment the Prince Edward’s old servant appeared before Lica.

Henry! You're alive!” Lica was happy.

She rushed to the old man and hung around his neck. The Prince’s servant smiled but then said with serious face:

Angelica, a young lady ought not to behave like a cur! In addition I'm not feeling very well after a collision with your window.”

Oh, Henry, I'm sorry,” she apologized. “I was just afraid that you had died. And when I saw that you had been alive, I was so happy that I could not resist! But why didn’t you notice the closed windows?”

Tonight the moon is so bright that apparently it had blinded me. So I had miscalculated a bit.”

Lica offered the old man to sit down on the chair and began to interrogate him:

Well, how are you? How is the Princess? Because I was not there when you had returned from the Nightmare Forest.”

Then a little girl hesitated but then continued:

How is Edward?”

The Prince’s servant stared at Angelica and began to speak:

I and the Princess got out of the forest safely; although we had met some nasty nightmares, we reached the castle without any incidents. And then the Prince told us everything. He explained the Princess everything and asked her to let him go. Admittedly, the Princess held with dignity. She promised not to hinder Edward. The only thing that she regretted about was her blindness. And my lord is the man of honor. Therefore, he vowed that he would return the Princess the ability to see, whatever it would cost him! So Edward went to a very powerful witch, who lived on the edge of our kingdom after Goblins’ City. And we had not received any news from him for ages. But recently he had come back. The witch gave him a magic potion that returned the Princess her eyes. The girl can see now and has gone back to her country. But strangely something has happened to the Prince. He has completely changed. He does things that he didn’t use to before. He became arrogant, sarcastic and cold. His thirst for power began to frighten me! The other day he told me that he would like the whole world to be plunged into eternal night and he would have become absolute ruler of the night. You know, Lica, I have known Edward since his childhood and I can state with full responsibility that after his visit to the witch he has become a totally different man. But the strangest thing is that he does not remember many things. For example, when I reminded him about the annual ball for Admirers of Night he was very surprised and then he just charged me to do it. However, he used to invite guests to his ball personally! Then I reminded him about you. And he said without batting an eye that he did not understand who you were. With the help of a magic mirror I had to show Edward last year's ball, where you were dancing with him in the center of the room. Seeing him with you the Prince smiled wryly and said: ‘Well, Henry, if you want you can invite this girl! Withal, she's pretty sweet.’”

What?!” Angelica exclaimed. “Pretty sweet?! He told me that I was beautiful!”

She jumped out of the bed and began to pace nervously from one corner of her room to another.

Lica? Are you still awake?” she heard her mother’s voice behind the door.

I am sleeping! It’s just a bad dream!” she replied.

It is very suspicious how the Prince has changed,” Henry continued, “that's why I came here to take you with me to the ball for Admirers of Night. And there together we shall understand everything somehow!”

Let’s fly!” Angelica agreed.

But are you going like this?”

The girl looked at herself in the mirror and saw her standing in pyjamas.

Yeah...” she drawled. “I am not ready for the ball. But I still have that white ball dress, which Edward had given me as a present!”

You know, the Prince doesn’t like bright colors any more. Now he prefers black, dark brown, dark blue and burgundy. So let’s fly in pyjamas and in the castle I'll find something for you.”



The ball


Henry got quickly two feathers. One he stuck to Angelica’s hair and another to his. Soon the two birds flew out of the window of Lica’s bedroom towards the Kingdom of Night. The girl remembered that wonderful feeling very well. The feeling of flying! The first time she had been confused so she hadn’t really looked around but now she was enjoying herself in the night scenery of the sparkling moon. She was flying over dark woods and forests, glistening lakes and rivers, cities and villages. Everything looked too mysterious and inscrutable.

Reaching the castle the birds as before flew in to the window of the tall tower and along corridors got to the small hall. Here Henry hit the ground and became a man again. Then he pulled out a magic feather from the owl Lica and she immediately turned to the girl.

Wait, I'm not for long!” the old servant said and quietly left the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a luxury black dress and black shoes.

Get dressed! We are short of time!” Henry said and gave it to Lica.

But it is very black!” she tried to protest. “I’d rather put on something burgundy.”

I am telling you, get dressed!”

The old man went out leaving Angelica being at a loss. But just a few seconds passed as she pulled herself together and quickly put the dress on. The dress was gorgeous! Lica put on the black shoes and pleased with herself said:

At least this time Henry had made no mistake with the size.”

She looked in the mirror and did not recognize herself... She saw a very beautiful young girl in the mirror but it was something unfamiliar in her to Angelica.

"It's just the color; it doesn’t suit me!" she decided to herself.

She left the room. Behind the door she saw the Prince’s servant who was impatiently waiting and shifting from one foot to the other. Seeing Lica he, satisfied, nodded his head.

You look just as if my Lord prefers now,” he said contentedly. “Come on! You must invite him to dance. Now he is unlikely to do it himself. But keep alert! You should talk less about yourself and try to find out about him as much as possible.”

Henry gave his hand to Angelica and led her to the huge hall where the ball had already begun.

Lica looked around the room from the stairs. As last year there were a lot of people. Men and women in the Viennese masks were all around the girl again. Some of them were waltzing; others were standing at the walls, talking and laughing merrily. Angelica was trying to find Edward among them. Suddenly she thought she had seen him. The girl moved through the crowd of people but someone grabbed her hand and whirled in the dance. He was a tall and skinny man in a mask. Lica tried to escape but couldn’t; the man was just laughing. Then he handed Angelica to another man in a mask who made her dance again. Lica could not get rid of these unexpected admirers. She began to feel dizzy of the endless dance as then she saw Edward. He was standing at the wall and watching with interest what was happening with her. He was wearing a dark blue suit holding a Viennese mask in his hand. When they made their eyes meet he laughed cheerfully. Angelica pushed her next fellow and moved to Prince. Suddenly the Prince Night put the mask on his face and got lost in the crowd.

What’s happening?” the girl surprised. “Edward would never hide from me or even more laugh at me!”

She continued walking and looking for the disappeared Prince and soon she saw him. He was standing and flirting with two girls in bright dresses and Viennese masks. Lica went toward him. At this point one of the girls opened a big fan. And when she closed it, Edward disappeared again.

The Ball was on and Angelica was trying and trying to find the Prince. Again she climbed the stairs and suddenly saw the Prince Night waltzing in the hall with one and then the other partner girl.

"Now or never!" Lica decided.

She quickly came down and mingled with the crowd of dancing people. Dancing she passed from one partner to another and finally came face to face with Edward. Prince had nothing to do but start dancing with her.

You can dance very well!” he grinned.

And you too!” Angelica retorted.

It was so strange to dance with the man who had declared his love very recently and now pretended to be an unfamiliar to her. The girl took a close look at the young man. Yes, something had changed but what? Lica could not understand it.

And you're so...” the Prince began to speak.

Yes, I know I'm so sweet!” Angelica interrupted.

The Prince Night looked at her and then said:

And I think we have known each other! You're Angelica, aren’t you?”

Yes, I am!” she nodded.

She wanted to tell him everything but she remembered that Henry had asked her to talk less about their feelings and find out more about the Prince. Therefore Lica took courage and said:

I thought last year we had made friends.”

Maybe... I do not remember!” the Prince said. “You know I was very busy.”

And also you had declared your love to me,” Angelica said quietly.

Had I?” Edward raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

And...”

The girl had not finished when the music stopped and the Prince Night bowed gallantly. Then he turned around and went to the entrance. Only now did Lica realize that if the Prince went away, she wouldn’t be able to talk to him anymore. So she ran after him through the crowd of the guests who seemed to deliberately stop her and block the way. And only in the corridor Angelica had caught up with the young man then turned him around and kissed on his lips.


















Meeting Elsa


Lica came to herself when the guests had begun to laugh at her. She pushed Edward and ran away to the room, where she had arrived with Henry today.

Running into the room she slammed the door and burst into tears. All her hopes were dashed. Not only didn’t the Prince love her but he even did not remember her!

A few minutes later she heard the footsteps in the corridor. Angelica hid behind a high throne, which was standing in the room. And soon Henry came into.

Lica!” he called her quietly. “Lica, are you here?”

Blubbered girl came out of the throne.

The Prince did not recognize you, did he?” the man said.

Angelica nodded and began to cry again.

And did not you see that he had changed?” Edward’s servant asked.

Absolutely everything had; if you start with his appearance and finish with his behavior.”

So, I was right. Something had happened to him on that journey... when he had gone to take a potion for the Princess. We need to know but what...”

And how will we know?”

You just must go to that witch, who gave him a potion, and ask her about everything. I would have gone myself if I had been able to, but the Prince does not let me go a step. I have a feeling that he even does not know anything about our castle but he is just trying not to show it anybody. So he needs me to be close all the time as a consultant.”

I will go!” Angelica said firmly.

I would have offered you to do it before if I had known your reaction.”

No more words. Can you tell me where this witch lives and how I can get there?”

She lives on the edge of our kingdom. You need to leave the castle and go to the opposite direction of the Nightmare Forest. Behind the Dark Canyons you will see the big City of Goblins. Passing it, you will be at the foot of the high mountains. There in one of the caves this witch lives.”

My clothes for travel are still here?”

Yes! They are in that trunk!” Henry said.

Give me a couple of minutes!”

See you in corridor!” the old man nodded.

Lica changed clothes quickly and they both unnoticed sneaked to the royal stables.

While you were dancing, I was able to prepare a horse for you.”

Henry helped her to climb the horse. This time she managed to do it much easier than before.

Do not stay in the Dark Canyons for a long time and be careful with the Goblins! They will not harm you a lot but they may play a prank. It's in their blood. All right, go! And good luck!” Edward’s servant counseled her.

Angelica hugged the old man and yanked the reins.

If she always hugs me, I'll get used to it,” Henry said to himself.

The girl left the royal courtyard and went into the opposite direction of the Nightmare Forest. The Moon was high in the sky and brightly lit all around. Lica was riding at full speed. A few hours later her horse suddenly began to stumble. The girl looked around and noticed that the road was not as flat as before. Here and there she came across small ravines and ruts. And soon they turned into the canyons.

Well I have reached the Dark Canyons,” Angelica made glad. “They are not so far from the castle.”

She went on choosing the road carefully. After a while Lica noticed that her eyes began to stick together and she feels dizzy.

That’s it!” the girl said in the hearts. “It looks as if it was at Sleepy Lake! I hope Henry had put some salt for me.”

She got down the horse to check the food basket. To her delight Lica had found the desired bag. As before on the lake she made a cut on her hand and sprinkled it with salt. Then she thought for a while and made a cut on the horse's back. The animal was kicking but the girl managed to sprinkle the cut with the salt.

Their doze had immediately disappeared. And Lica continued going without any drowsiness. Very soon she saw the lights ahead.

"It must be the City of Goblins," she decided.

When Angelica came closer, she could see the high wall and the gate to the city. Two guards were standing at the gate, they looked very ugly and not so tall and both had very big heads and rugged features. Lica got nearer to the gate.

Where are you going?” one of the guards shouted sharply.

I need to ride through the city. I'm going to the witch!”

Wait until the morning. At night the way through the city is closed!” the guards said and "snickered."

Are you kidding me?” Angelica said raising her voice. “What a morning are you saying about in the Kingdom of Night?”

Goblins continued laughing.

Well, you’ll see,” the girl said. “When I get to the witch and ask her to have turned you into frogs!”

Go, go away!” the guards cackled.

Lica turned her horse around and pulled away from the city.

What should I do now?” she thought.

And then she saw an old goblin woman. The woman was going towards the city carrying a large basket. Apparently, the basket was heavy because the woman often stopped and had a rest.

Shall I help you!” the girl asked the goblin woman.

Go on your way!” the woman answered rudely.

I would love to but the guards do not let me,” Lica replied.

Where?”

To the witch!”

And the goblin woman looked at the girl with interest.

Why do you want to see her?”

I want to know something about the Prince Night.”

Ok, help me with the basket! Just be quiet all the time whoever will come across and whatever they’ll tell you!”

Angelica came down her horse and helped the woman to put the heavy basket onto the seat. Then, holding it on both sides, they went to the gate of the city.

Who, who is going?!” the first guard shouted.

What are you yelling?” the goblin woman snarled. “Can’t you see it's me Elsa!”

I see you. But who is the ugly mug that next to you?”

Lica flushed with anger but remembering the woman’s words said nothing.

This is my new maid! She is helping me to carry something.”

Oh, I see then, why she was going to the witch,” the guards jabbered.

They opened the gates quickly and let Elsa and Lica to go into the city.

Hey, you...” the other guard pushed the girl in the shoulder, “don’t tell the witch about us...”

Lica grinned and looked at the goblins emphatically.

And the women entered the city.

























The Goblins’ story


The City of Goblins looked like a strange heap of houses, huts and slums. It was as if they had built in a hurry. Passing along the narrow streets, Elsa turned into a small lane and stopped in front of the low house. They put the basket down out of the saddle and Elsa said:

Help me to take it to the house!”

The girl helped the woman with the basket then the goblin woman invited her to come in and get some rest.

Angelica had to bend down a little because the ceiling of the house was low. She sat down in the old but comfortable armchair and waited for Elsa. After a few minutes the woman came in holding awkwardly a metal tray.

I have made some herbal tea,” she said. “If you want to - drink!”

Lica thanked Elsa but refused to; referring to the fact that she was not hungry or thirsty.

It’s up to you!” the goblin woman shrugged. “You're going to the witch, aren’t you?”

Yes, I am!”

To find out about the Prince?”

Yes.”

And I serve the witch!”

Do you?”

Yes, I do! I pick up some roots and stones for her... then I take them to her. And she makes potions from them.”

How long have you been working?”

For ages! Since our young King died.”

Did he?” Lica repeated.

Hey, you do not know anything at all?” the goblin woman surprised. “I think you are not from our kingdom.”

The girl nodded.

Ok, listen... Before the goblins were not as ugly as they are now. We were exactly the same as other people. We used to live and work together until the evil Wizard and his army captured our kingdom. He vowed that he would destroy all our people including the old and children. That’s why all of the people went into the caves by secret passages. We had been living there for years. The men had been mining ore and precious stones, the women had been farming and bringing up their children. We have changed over time. Our bodies have adapted to the living underground. We had become stunted and our hands and feet had been thickened. Our eyes stopped seeing during the day. But in fact the life in the caves was awful. Therefore, when the Prince Night had allowed our King to build the city in his kingdom, we were very happy! No matter that it was night all the time but we could live in the open air and not underground! Here, our King’s son was born. His mother died during childbirth. The boy looked like the man - not the goblin. Our King was afraid and went with that child to the witch that you were looking for. The witch told him that there were some magic books where was an old legend about the goblin with the appearance of a man who would be able to return his people to life in the daylight. However, the fate of this goblin was sad... he would die young.

The King listened to the witch and came back to his palace. He named his son Swein. Since then the King never took his eyes off the boy. The child grew up handsome but very spoilt. All his whims were immediately performed. But despite the arduous nature of Swein, our King was able to bring up a smart, brave and responsible goblin. When the boy was eighteen, the King took him to the witch.

You must fulfill your destiny and return the nation of goblins to real life,’ the witch said. ‘To do this you have to go back to the land of your ancestors. It is the kingdom which was captured by the evil Wizard and you have to find the magic crystal there. And finally, you have to find the Book of Destiny. Then you must bring them to me and I’ll tell you what to do...’

When they came back to the castle on the same day the King crowned his son. So Swein had become the King of Goblins.

Soon the young King assembled a squad and set off to the Land of his Ancestors. We had no news for a long time. Finally, after eight months, some men from the squad returned back to our city. They brought the wounded King with them. Swein was hanging between life and death. The soldiers said that Swein had been fighting heroically but the vile wizard used a magic and was able to wound the young King mortally in the main battle.

Our King took his son and immediately went to the witch. For some days we had heard nothing and then the King came back and told us sad news - Swein had died. He has been buried in the Valley of Oblivion, which is just next to our city.

The witch also was at the funeral ceremony. She had held some mysterious rituals before we placed Swein’s body into the tomb.

After the ceremony the witch came up to me and suddenly offered me to assist her and I agreed. Since then I have been helping the witch. And I was there when the Prince Night had come. But my master had sent me home early; so I do not know what had happened there. But I'll take you to her...”

Oh when will we go?”

Let’s have a rest a bit and then we’ll go!”

Lica agreed. Elsa gave her a few pillows and a blanket. The girl put the pillows around, covered with the blanket and fell asleep in the chair.







At the witch


Angelica did not know how long she had been sleeping but suddenly felt that someone was shaking her shoulder. It was Elsa.

Get up!” she said. “It's time to go! Just help me with the basket, ok?”

Lica nodded. She roused herself and was fully awake. After that she went outside and helped the goblin woman to put the basket on the saddle. Soon they left the City of Goblins and came to the wide valley.

Over there,” the woman pointed, “is the Valley of Oblivion. While we are passing that way you can even see the tomb of our young King.”

Indeed, about an hour Lica saw a tall stone building.

This is the tomb!” Elsa said.

Can I go there and see?” Lica asked suddenly.

  “Not now! It is at least two hours both ways. Moreover the horse is loaded... So come on - on the way back you will go there!”

The girl had no choice and agreed.

About two hours later Elsa and Angelica came to the foot of the mountains. Here the woman had been leading Lica some secret paths and soon they were at the entrance of the cave.

The girl and the woman put the basket down and took it inside the cave, which was quite a well-lit by torches.

  “Elsa, who is it with you?” Angelica heard a woman's voice.

  “Madam, this girl has helped me to lift the basket with roots and stones here. And also she wanted to ask you about something.”

It was silence and then the voice said:

Well, let her go to the hall.”

Elsa nodded and said:

You see, you’re lucky! She has not turned you away.”

She was pushing Lica to the corridor in the far corner of the cave.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-47 show above.)