Fable Page 36

Mina touched her fingers to her lips as the memory of his life-saving kiss came flooding back to her. She was grateful that he couldn’t see her cheeks burning in embarrassment. Deciding that the immediate threat was over, she slowly sat up and stretched. Her whole body ached from head to toe, and she couldn’t help but feel like a ton of bricks had landed on her chest. Nix came over and handed a small piece of fruit to her. It was only slightly bruised from the fall.

“Here, eat this,” he commanded, before moving to sit across from her. His skin looked lighter under the morning sun, less green.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to eat the food in the Fae world,” she said.

“That’s true for most food here. It can be addicting to your kind, but as far as aftereffects go, this is the mildest fruit there is.”

Mina took the odd-looking purple fruit and sniffed it carefully before rolling it between her fingers. She was starving, but even the simplest temptation could endanger her whole reason for being here.

“What happened back there?” she asked, hoping he would know she was referring to the sea witch. “And why did you save me, when I thought you were leaving me to die?”

Nix looked at her carefully over his own piece of fruit before raising the fruit in the air like a toast and taking his own careful bite. “You had an unfortunate run-in with one of the oldest and strongest sea witches around…my mother.”

“Your mother? I thought that…well, I don’t know what I thought. I just figured that you and Raina were the only ones left.”

“We are, I mean…were, the only nixies left. The rest have all changed. So I try to stay out of their waterways as much as possible. But you, you trespassed right into her home. You’re lucky I came when I did, or you’d be dinner. But I’ve got to hand it to you. You’re either crazy stupid or crazy brave for what you attempted. You’d almost made it out.”

“It doesn’t matter. I was crazy either way, but I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I was going to die in that cave. You could have told me you were going to come back.” Mina paused in thought and then said in a softer, uncertain voice, “You were going to come back, right?”

His shoulders dropped, and Nix looked at the ground. “I needed time to think, to decide what I was going to do with my life. You killed the one person I loved.”

“But she was a monster. You said so yourself.”

“Yes, and I know no one has ever come back once turned. But after running into you, I knew that I would be pulled into whatever quest you’re currently embarking on. I, too, know of the book and the deal made with the Grimms. I also know of how the stories end for most of the nixies. Not good. So I had to decide if I was going to purposely turn, or join you on your quest and die sooner rather than later.”

Mina’s fingers dug into the purple fruit, and she stared at him in disbelief. “So you left because you couldn’t decide if you were going to kill me and join the monsters or help me. Talk about peer pressure,” she replied sarcastically. “So much for going out all noble.”

Nix stood up and began to pace back and forth. “No, you see, that’s what I thought at first. I thought living near Raina, even though she was a monster, would be enough for me, but now that she’s dead, I thought I should be the one to take revenge for her death, but I can’t. I told you before that we are gentle creatures until we turn. So I decided that if I can’t live with Raina, I don’t want to live without her.”

He stopped pacing and sat on the ground, eye to eye with Mina. His hands crumpled into tight fists. Mina could tell this was a difficult conversation for him.

His bright green eyes looked deeply into hers, pleading with her to understand. “I turned seventeen last month, and, like Raina did, I’ve lost my ability to hear the creatures of the water. And I can no longer control the currents. I can feel myself getting older, becoming weaker. It won’t be long now…I’m dying, Mina. ”

Mina stared at the passionate Nix with utter shock. She could tell from the way he spoke that he was serious.

He swallowed cautiously and didn’t stutter one word when he valiantly said, “I would rather die now helping you in whatever quest you’re on than to live as a monster without her.

She repeated his own words back to him. “You’re either crazy stupid, or crazy brave.”

“Either way, I’m just crazy.” He chuckled softly.

“Well, crazy always likes company. So, do you think you’re up for a dangerous quest that will probably get us both killed?”

Nix got up, only to kneel before Mina. His green hair still mysteriously swayed, but now that they were farther away from the water, it moved less. His piercing green eyes were filled with determination as he grasped her hand and muttered, “I don’t fear death—death should fear me.”

Chapter 22

Mina couldn’t believe her luck. After she told Nix her story and about her quest to save her brother Charlie, he was actually even more gung-ho to help her. Probably because it was a life-saving mission. What was even more unbelievable was that Nix knew how to get to the Fates’ palace. It seemed too easy, too simple. So she knew better than to take it for granted. But first they had to make it to the palace, which, according to Nix was at least two days’ journey on foot.

“I really wish we had a faster mode of transportation,” Mina said, after she tripped over another tree root and fell face down in a pile of leaves. That was the third time she’d tripped in the last two hours.

“What’s a mode of transportation?” Nix asked, and helped her back up.

“Um, an automobile, a car…you know, vroom vroom.” She made a driving and sitting motion. Goodness, she sounded stupid.

Nix just looked at her in confusion, and then his face brightened. “Oh, I get it. This way.” He motioned for her to follow him, and he walked back toward the river they had very carefully been skirting. They’d been careful to follow it so they wouldn’t lose their way, but he always carefully kept a wary distance. He paused at the river and hesitated.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know if they’ll answer me. I haven’t been able to talk with them. They may not even come, so don’t get your hopes up.” He walked along the riverbed amongst the tall grass until he found a blue speckled reed. Using a sharp rock, he quickly carved out three holes and another toward the top.

Mina watched in fascination, and once his whistle was done, Nix waded out to the middle of the river and began to play a silent song. His hair began to come to life again and flow widely with the rushing water. His mouth blew, his fingers moved, but Mina didn’t hear a single note from the flute. On and on he played his silent flute, but nothing happened. After two more songs, he walked out of the river and sat on the bank solemnly.

“I couldn’t hear anything,” Mina said.

“That’s because you’re human. You can’t hear the beautiful music I played for them. It would have paid for our passage, but I don’t know. I couldn’t hear the music, either. I had to play from memory.” He flopped onto his back and stared at the sky.

“They’ve never before taken so long to come. I’m sorry. I failed you,” Nix groaned.

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