Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they're created?
It's been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they're back, tormenting her as nightmares she can't remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story's hidden memories, or a truth she'd rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they've ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.
Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.
Excerpt from Fractured Dream, Chapter 10
“Well, which way?” she asked. Straight was much of the same. To the left, Story noted the stones changed from purple and blue to a pale pink light that was warming and welcoming. Two large doors encrusted in a clear crystal that must be quartz could be seen only a few feet down. Guessing the doors led to Sandeen, she turned to the right, which glowed a vibrant green. Feeling curious, Story tugged on Elliott’s arm and steered him down the hallway until they stepped out into a large cavern.
What they found was a verdant land of loveliness. Fresh flowers and an earthy scent assaulted her nose while she noted the lush plant life that grew with abundance among the uncut crystals that made up the interior walls. A sense of peace stole over her at the melodic rush of the water as small waterfalls splashed into bubbling crystal-clear pools. Tall staircases built into the walls led to different levels and balconies where diminutive women gathered, laughing and talking, or were busy at work. Men of modest stature also were busy lugging boxes of crystals or chatting up the women.
Story was so engrossed with her surroundings and its inhabitants that she didn’t realize the ground beneath her had grown soft until she looked down and saw she was walking on beds of plush moss that were the envy of any grassy knoll. The sides of the central cavern broke off into tunnels that resembled alleyways and streets.
“My God, it’s like an underwater village,” she whispered. Elliott’s only response was to nod. His alert gaze was taking it all in, his chest so still it was if he thought that breathing would break the magic.
A small woman scurried by them, clutching a child’s hand. Although really, they were all the size of children.
With unspoken agreement, they turned down a side street called Fisher’s Market.
“I think you need to adjust your vernacular,” Elliott offered, interrupting their joint silence.
“What?” Story barely looked at him, taking in the shops, pubs, and street vendors selling goods.
“You keep saying ‘my God’ when everyone else seems to say ‘Oh The Green,’ or something like that.”
Story glanced at him for a moment. “The Green . . . that sounds . . . “ She was going to say familiar, a word she found she kept repeating, but was cut off when a street vendor cried out to them as they passed.
“Pure cadence stones from Maya’s Valley. Very rare.”
She looked at the woman who was holding up what seemed like circular balls of glass. She couldn’t have been taller than four feet, and she had the delicate bone structure of a ten-year-old. Her features, however, were Elven-like, sharp and dainty, while her white-blond hair curled past her tiny waist. She was quite pretty, in a spritely, pushy way, as she continued to dangle an array of the glass beads in front of Story.
Story shook her head, “I’m sorry, I have no money I’m afraid.” She started to move on, but the little woman called again.
“What about a Thumbelina Rose? This one is quite tired of living beneath the water and, despite our greenery, would much prefer the surface if you’re going there. I presume you are since you must be that girl everyone is whispering about,” she continued.
As the girl babbled, Story realized now that this child-like elf was probably about as old as she was. Holding her hand up to slow the girl down, she smiled. “I’m sorry, but what did you say was for sale?”
Smiling knowingly, the girl held up a flowerpot containing the largest red rose Story had ever seen. It had to have been as big as a man’s fist if not larger.
“Wow.” She wanted the flower. She didn’t know why, but it felt like it belonged to her. Entranced, she turned to Elliott. “Do you have any money on you?”
Elliott gawked at her and shook his head. “Even if I did, who knows if they would take that here.”
“No, I can’t use your money here.” The girl interrupted.
“See?” Elliott said smugly.
Tearing her gaze away from the rose, Story shrugged her shoulders dejectedly. “Sorry, we don’t have any money.”
The girl giggled. “I don’t get paid with your Real Worlder money. I get paid with this or that. What do you have?” Her exotically slanted violet eyes peered at them up and down.
Glancing down at herself and seeing only the dress she wore, which she didn’t even own, Story spread her hands. “We have nothing, I’m sorry.”
The girl laughed again. “But you do. You come from above, right?”
The two nodded uncomprehendingly at the strange pixie girl.
“Well then, you could give me a memory!”
“A memory?” Elliott asked, his brow a furrow. “What do you mean?”
Story shook her head, wondering why anyone would want such a thing from her. “But what kind of memory could you possibly want from me? I have holes in my brain as it is.”
“Oh, it’s an easy one for you!” she said clapping her hands together.
Story arched a brow and waited for the girl to go on. The Elven woman’s delight was a little nerve-wracking.
“All I need is a little bit of sunlight.”
Story and Elliott glanced around, and then both looked back at the girl.
“Ummmm, yeah, not seeing any sunlight,” Elliott said.
“No, sillies!” she said again with excitement. “A memory of sunlight!”
Story let out a breath, relieved. “That’s all?” She had been worried the girl would take an important memory—not that she even knew what sharing memories entailed.
The girl tossed her whitish hair and smiled hopefully. “By the way, my name is Lark.” She held out a tiny hand for Story to shake. “And you’re Story,” Lark said, dimpling at Story before turning to Elliott. “But I don’t know your name. Are you sure he’s a part of the story? I was sure there was something about two brave champions, one a tracker and the other a seer, but—“
“The seer? I’m the seer, I must be,” Elliott interrupted, looking concerned that he wasn’t important enough to be a part of whatever story she was talking about.
But Story didn’t care about any of that. She was more interested in the story that wasn’t her. “What story, Lark?
“Well, you must know it. You are her, right? Story?”
Nodding evenly, Story remained silent.
“Well, I actually don’t. I . . . ” Nervously shaking her head as if that would change the conversation, Lark smiled stiffly. “So would you like your Thumbelina Rose?”
No, she didn’t want the damn flower, she wanted to know what the girl was talking about. But when the flower caught her eye again, she felt a familiar pang and was reminded of her childhood—what she could remember of it, anyway.
“Yes,” she answered resolutely. “How do we go about this? Will it hurt?” The thought suddenly popped into her head, and she imagined a drill being used to extract the memory.
Shaking her delicate head, Lark smiled sweetly. “No, of course not.” She crawled out from beneath the table so that she was standing next to Story and Elliott.
Lark was so small that Story felt like a giant even though she wasn’t tall. “Just bend down so that your forehead touches against mine, where our third eyes can meet,” Lark commanded.
Giving Elliott a shrug, Story bent down and moved her forehead until it touched Lark’s. She closed her eyes, but opened them again when Lark brushed a strand of Story’s hair back from her face. “Keep your eyes open so that we can connect,” she whispered.
Awkwardly, Story stared back into Lark’s exotic pale purple eyes. They looked even more enormous up close, consuming her vision until it was all she saw. She was only in position for a few moments when she started to feel the nagging pain from bending over uncomfortably.
“Think of a day filled with sunlight for me,” Lark said impatiently. Almost immediately memories zoomed through Story’s mind before she could fully pull them to the surface—playing outside with Adam, her mother swinging her by her arms at the park, sitting by Lake Sandeen. The memories sped by in a dizzy rewind of bright colors, and then suddenly her memory paused and her world was lit by the sun.
She was lying on her back in a field of flowers. It was an idyllic scene―the sun warmed her skin and when she held up her arms, they were tan and pudgy with the first spring of youth. A sense of purpose overwhelmed her as she recounted all that she had learned that day.
Tall grass swayed around her, and the heat of the earth cradled her. She closed her eyes and felt the breeze play with her hair, sending it to dance across her face and tickle her nose. She reached a chubby, dimpled hand to scratch her nose, and heard Papa and Ninian in the gardens murmuring together.
They actually seemed to be arguing. “She needs to be trained.” Ninian’s voice was fierce and wafted toward her, making her frown. She didn’t like it when they argued, and they had been doing that more and more as of late. She knew it was about her, and that made it worse.
“She’s only a small lass, it’s too early. She’s just a child.” Papa answered gruffly back.
“She’s a child with a destiny. You’ve always known that.” Ninian was softer now, kindness sweeping back into her voice, making Story feel better.
“I don’t know nothing,” he stomped away until he was a looming shadow above Story.
“Story! I didn’t know you were out here.” His voice was chastising, but it was coated in adoration.
She grinned and held up her arms. “Papa, what’s a destiny?”
He frowned for a moment before winking a twinkling eye and wrapping her in his strong embrace. “Nothing you have to worry about right now my little lass. Nothing right now.” Story wasn’t listening anymore anyway, she was too busy cuddled in his arms, stroking his coarse red beard between her fingers and feeling the comfort and security of her papa’s arms.
When Story opened her eyes again, she was on the ground being supported by Elliott while a concerned Lark fretted above.
“Story, are you alright?” Elliott said in a voice that was so calm it felt forced. Shaking her head to clear it, she brushed Elliott off and rose to her feet, swaying slightly before the euphoria and confusion of her memory all but slid away.
“What was that?” Story stared at Lark. “Who was that man? Where was I? Did you plant a memory in me?”
Shaking her head, Lark’s large pale eyes filled with tears. “Oh no, Story! I don’t know what you’re speaking of, the memory you shared with me was so lovely,” she said, her eyes taking on a dreamy quality and her lips smiling with a happy secret. “The memory I saw was of you and your mother. You were at the beach and the sun beat down, and it was hot and dry.” She sighed happily.
“What’s the big deal with the sun here?” Story asked, still recovering and using her frustration to mask her fear. But that wasn’t the question, or even questions, that were really running through her mind. Just why was she here? And did she even really know herself? And finally, had she known her father?
“I’m what is called an Asrai,” said Lark with misery. “Our natural habitat is beneath the water—it is where we are born and where we live our lives. When exposed to the sunlight, we turn into water until we find darkness once again,” she finished with a sigh.
“So if that’s all you’re used to, why do you want to see the sun so much?” Elliott asked, while Story barely listened, trying to catch the fleeting memory that had mostly slipped away at her waking.
“I see it refract through the water, and some days it reaches almost to the bottom. When I can, I bask in its light. I was never meant to be such a Fae. I believe The Green made a mistake when she made me one,” Lark said.
“Oh dear, I know I shouldn’t say such things against The Green,” she continued, placing a delicate hand against her rosebud lips. “But I do yearn so for the sun.”
Elliott and Story gaped at her, the memory episode all but forgotten. Now all Story wanted to know was who this mysterious lady was who everyone kept talking about.
“Who is The Green?” Elliott asked before she could formulate the words.
Now it was Lark’s turn to look surprised. “Who is The Green? How can you not know of The Green?”
Story was about to try to dig information out of the spritely Fae, but a robust little man approached them. He was hairier than any man she had ever seen, but he smelled nice—like sea salt and the beach.
“Good day, Gimlet,” nodded Lark.
“Miss Lark,” the man responded back in a gravelly voice that held an air of authority. Turning to Story, Gimlet bowed his head as if in reverence. “Lady Sandeen requests your presence in her chambers. Your friends may come as well.” He turned on his heel, obviously expecting them to follow him.
Glancing at Elliott, Story shrugged and turned to follow Gimlet with a smile and nod at Lark. They only got a few feet away when Lark stopped them with a shout.
“Wait! You forgot your Thumbelina.” She ran around the counter of her shop with the flower outstretched in her hands. Story stopped and took the flower from her gratefully, again feeling a strange attraction to the rose.
“She’ll be so happy to be on the surface and, of course, with you,” said Lark, a little breathlessly.
Story laughed. “It’s just a flower.” When the pot started to vibrate in her hands, she thought it was her imagination at first. But then it stopped as suddenly as it started, and she could feel her arms become still again. It was almost as if the rose had been angry.
Lark shook her head with a smile. “She’s actually considered royalty among Thumbelina Roses, so you may want to watch your tongue. She’s a feisty one.” She dimpled again and before Story could question her, gave her a little shove. “Gimlet will be cross if he finds you’re keeping Sandeen waiting.”
“Well, thank you.” Story nodded at the rose and smiled at Lark, who gave her a wistful smile in return.
“Wait, before you go . . . If there is ever a time that I can be of aid, go to a body of water and call of my brethren, the Kelpie and the Asrai. Tell them my name and they will call me or help you themselves. We’re a fickle race, but we are good. The gift of sunlight you gave me will keep me warm for a good long while. You grace this world, Story.”
Story gazed at Lark a moment before smiling and placing a quick kiss on the small woman’s cheek. “As do you,” she murmured before turning and joining Elliott and Gimlet, her rose clasped against her chest.
As a girl, K.M. always wished she'd suddenly come into magical powers or cross over into a Faerie circle. Although that has yet to happen, she instead lives vicariously through the characters she creates in writing fantasy and delving into the paranormal. When K.M. is not busy writing her next novel, she is the editor-in-chief of a blog covering the media industry, as well as an editor with Booktrope Publishing. She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in English-Lit from Nazareth College of Rochester. K.M. lives in Upstate New York's Finger Lakes region with her husband and her extremely energetic little boy. Fractured Dream is her first novel.
Please visit K.M. Randall at her Website frequently for up to date buying links.
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