[Invert text color]

The Crystal Princess
by Rob West


          Jana was getting annoyed. She had been riding around the same rocky desert area for what seemed like an hour. It was hot here, and she was afraid of passing out. The nearest place she knew of with people in it was Vengeance’s city and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him right now. If given the choice between dealing with the heat of the desert or with a megalomaniac who can change into a dragon...well it wasn't much of one. Jana wished she could choose to go to an ice cream parlor or something else but knew even suggesting it would just annoy Sylvia and she didn't want to listen to her yelling either. Jana was really starting to hate her life. As if she hadn't already.
          “You’re sure you sense something here?” Jana asked trying not to sound annoyed. Driving around in circles, even on a magic bike, was only fun for so long.
          “I’m Positive. I don’t know if it’s a wish or not, but there is definitely something...... mystical here.” Sylvia, The skull in the box, replied. “I know that doesn't really help much but it is something to go on at least.”
          Jana sighed heavily and kept looking around. She had to admit that she too had an odd feeling in this area. Something other then the heat of the desert was effecting her. It was an otherworldly presence, something like the feeling she had heard described about a place called the Arizona Vortex which she remembered from the world before. A feeling like something just wasn't right about the place. Jana laughed at the thought. There wasn't anything right about this whole world, but even contained within that reality there was another feeling of things being off around here. Jana put the kick stand on her bike down and stood up. She thought maybe a closer look at the area might help her find whatever it was she was looking for. At the moment all she could see were rocks though, and lots and lots of sand. Driving around in circles was getting her nowhere. She looked around the area they were in. Other then her bike and herself there was very little around. There were a few scattered shrubs that appeared to be either dead or dieing, a large cactus off in the distance, and a bunch of rocks scattered around.
          “IT'S HOT!!! I really don’t want to be here right now!” Jana whined
          “Well you have to be. If there’s a wish in this area you have to collect it.” Sylvia said starting to sound annoyed, but her voice quickly softened. “I know it's not fun being out here like this but don’t get disheartened. We have to find the wish here, then after that we can take a break and get you some ice cream or something. On me. Hows that sound?” Sylvia asked. “Huh?!? Jana said surprised. “I was just thinking I wanted ice cream. Can you read my mind now?” Jana asked.
          Sylvia chuckled. “Let's just say that one wasn't hard to figure out. Now keep looking. Were bound to find something. The mystical energy around here is almost electrifying. Surely you can feel it?” Sylvia asked.
          Before Jana answered she noticed a small orange lizard scurry past. It was much too small to invoke her hunter instincts. It wouldn't have even made a decent sized meal let alone tasting. “What did someone wish they were a lizard or something? If so they wont be able to speak English and it will make it hard to get the wish back from them.” Jana jokingly said.
          “Unlikely although....... I do supposed something like that is possible....hmmmm never thought of that actually. I think I used to know someone who was really into cats, and if she was in the diner maybe she would have wished to be one....that might pose an interesting puzzle should we face one. What happens if a wisher is simply incapable of giving up the wish?” Sylvia thought about that disturbing possibility for a few moments while Jana looked around. “Well let's just deal with that when and if we come to it shall we?” Sylvia asked more rhetorically then anything else.
          Jana wandered around some more, still totally unsure what she was trying to find. She walked over to a pile of rocks and picked one of them up, looked it over and then tossed it behind her shoulder. “I don't suppose one of these rocks is the wisher.” Sylvia commented behind Jana. “That would really suck.” Jana picked up another rock and repeated the process. Then again, and again. She didn’t think much of it at first, but after the fourth rock she realized she wasn’t hearing them hit the ground. “That's weird.” She thought as she turned around expecting to see a couple of rocks a little ways behind her but they weren’t there. At first she didn’t see anything, but after a few moments of looking in the area she noticed a strange, and barely visible, haze floating a small ways above the ground. She walked over to it and as she got closer it became less of a haze and more of a ripple. She got a feeling of static on her skin and her hair began to stand up like she was next to one of those electrical balls one often sees in science fairs. She reached her hand out to the haze and as her hand contacted it the air, or rather the fabric of reality, around it rippled like a pebble dropped in a still pond. “Ummm.... Sylvia. I think I found something.” Jana said as she quickly pulled her hand away from the haze checking to make sure all her fingers were still there.
          “What is it? Let me see.” Sylvia asked. Jana reached into the box and pulled out the skull. She held it facing the haze and pointed. “See right there.”
          Sylvia was quiet for a moment. “I feel something weird, but I see nothing.” She said.
          “Here watch.” Jana said and she placed Sylvia on the ground facing the haze, she then found a small pebble and threw it at the haze which rippled violently for a second and then stopped. “Ahhh. It is a wish after all. Or rather a pocket created by a wish. That explains why I sensed it so strongly. Well off you go then.” Sylvia cheerfully said.
          Jana looked at Sylvia. “Excuse me?” She replied
          “You gotta go in there to get the wish back obviously. It’s a pocket universe created by someone’s wish. A kind of folded space if you will. Inside there is an entire world existing parallel to our own. Or perhaps not parallel but attached to ours yet separate. This is clearly a weakness in it, or at the very least some kind of gateway there.” Sylvia said sounding like a school teacher.
          Jana just stared at Sylvia blankly.
          “What?” The Skull asked. “I don’t be understanding them words ye be using.” Jana said in a badly done pirate voice that she remembered from a cartoon she once saw.
          “It’s a world created by a wish and this is the doorway that leads inside. Understand?” Sylvia said very much wishing she had eyes to roll.
          “You should have just said that. Well I guess we better go in then. I just hope there isn’t like lava flows or open space on the other side. If I die when I cross this door I will have to kill you. Again! You do understand right?” Jana said as she placed the skull back in the box. Sylvia didn't reply.
          She found a rock that was semi triangular in shape and placed it on the ground with the point facing the ripple, or whatever it was, and went back to get her bike. She then revved the engine a few times and drove the bike right at the direction the stone was facing. It was actually quite easy to cross. It felt like passing through a bed sheet hanging over a doorway, and the landscape changed completely and instantly. Instead of a desert she was in what looked like a meadow. The temperature changed from blistering heat to a casual spring afternoon. There were small brown rabbits lazily jumping around, and not at all acting scared of Jana’s presence. Small white flowers were everywhere mixed in with the greenest grass she had ever seen. When Jana looked behind her she could still see the ripple she entered through. The rocks she had been tossing before were all laying on the ground next to the ripple. She was about to say something to Sylvia about this when she noticed the bike was shaking and making an odd sound it had never made before. It sounded almost like a whinny but that was just silly. She jumped off of it and stood back.
          “What the....?” Was all Jana could say before the bike began to, rather violently, change. Actually mutate would have been a better word, as the bike was rather grotesquely pulsating and almost liquefying. Jana just stared at the bike with a horrified expression, totally oblivious to the change that was also occurring to herself, the wooden box with Sylvia inside, and the bag with all her supplies in it. The bike’s color changed to an ivory white with a slightly pinkish tint, and the wheels became legs with hooves on the end. The body of the bike shifted into what appeared to be the back of a horse, and the seat became a saddle. The front of the bike morphed into a horse’s head complete with bridle, and the headlights became the eyes, which kept their glass appearance. A horse tail sprouted out of the back of the bike and the transformation was complete or so Jana thought. She started to walk towards what was now a beautiful horse, when the forehead of the animal pulsated for a second and then a large black horn popped out. It was odd looking, kind of rubbery and had the texture of the bike’s tires, but at a distance it looked like a unicorn horn only black instead of white. Jana again slowly walked towards the horse, or rather the unicorn. It didn’t react at all to her, it just scratched the ground with one of its hooves bent its head down, and started grazing.
          “Sylvia do you see what happened to my bike?” Jana asked
          “Umm.... the bike isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Take a look at yourself.” Sylvia replied. Jana looked down at herself and noticed she was wearing a totally different outfit then she had on a moment ago. She was wearing a long lilac colored dress that that fell all the way to the ground. The upper part of the dress had a V shaped neckline that stopped just enough above her breasts so that all you could see was the slightest hint of cleavage, she was also wearing a corset under the dress that helped with this effect. The dress had long sleeves with poofy shoulders, and the very bottom of the dress it had a white lace trim. Her hair was tied into a single long braided ponytail, and on top of her head she had on a gold tiara with diamonds set into a row in the front with a large one in the center. She felt her shoes had changed so she lifted the dress and looked at them. Instead of her boots she was wearing a pair of pink high heels. She could also see that she had on white stockings with a lace pattern on the top. She lowered the dress back down with a semi embarrassed expression on her face. The outfit was quite beautiful and made her look like something from a fairy tale or rather something straight from a Disney movie. She’d always wanted to wear an outfit like this but thought it was kind of odd how it just appeared on her.
          “Wow this is a beautiful dress, but what happened to my other clothes?” Jana asked
          “I guess this world has an effect on anyone, and anything that enters it. Probably something to do with the wording of the wish itself. Umm... I almost hate to ask but could you open the box right now?” Sylvia asked.”I don't feel quite myself.”
          Jana picked the box up which had somehow ended up on the ground. The box itself was now a woven basket with a handle. It looked like the kind of basket that Little Red Riding Hood would carry around. Jana slowly opened the lid. She was always reluctant to open a box containing a human skull anyway but she was even more so now. She wasn’t sure what kind of demonic thing she’d find in it this time. As she lifted the lid of the basket off a small bright light jumped out of the box and flew past Jana's face so fast it made her drop the basket. Picking it back up Jana saw it was empty, she then looked at the light flying around. It was what appeared to be a small fairy or pixie bathed in golden light but otherwise naked. It landed on Jana’s shoulder.
          “I have a body again, and I can fly! Isn’t this great?” Sylvia asked. Before Jana could even open her mouth the Pixie Sylvia launched herself into the air and flew all around the meadow giggling loudly. She left a fading trail of golden light everywhere she moved. “Wow this is so much better then even before I was a skull. I can fly and it takes no magic at all to do it. It's like I have wings or something.” Sylvia said.
          “Ummm you do.” Jana said.
          “Oh yeah I do don't I.” Sylvia said while buzzing around the flowers and chasing the startled bunnies around playfully.
          “Ummm not to interrupt you, or anything like that, but what’s going on?” Jana asked. Sylvia flew back over to Jana and landed on her shoulder. “I guess we have entered some kind of fairytale world. We have all changed into things that reflect that after all. Your clothes, the bike, me. Perhaps the person wished for a world all things Disney Princess or something. Either way I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts. I’m pretty sure when we leave here we will all change back to what we were before, but for now lets take a look around. I think the unicorn there will let you ride it as it is your bike.” Sylvia rather joyfully said.
          Before Sylvia could fly around some more her head was gripped with pain and she fell the the ground screaming. Jana ran over to her in a panic and lifted her off the ground. The tiny pixie weighed nothing at all.
          “Sylvia what's wrong?” Jana asked in a panic.
          Sylvia shook her head as the pain subsided a little. “I'm ok give me a second.” She said and she floated out of Jana's hand and into the air. “I was hit by an enormous amount of ambient energy. It overloaded my senses for a second.” Sylvia opened her mind and tried to use her future sense, but it was clouded. “The wish is all around us. We are literally inside of it. It's causing a glare in my mind. I can barely sense anything else. Sylvia shook her head. The pain was subsiding as she became accustomed to the sensation. “It was like looking directly at the sun for a second there. I think I am ok now.” She said.
          Jana nodded. “Well I guess we will have to do without your predictions here.” She said. Jana walked over to the unicorn and put her hand on its face. It felt like the softest velvet she had ever touched, and it made a soft whinnying sound as she touched it. She could clearly tell the unicorn didn’t fear her or even mind her presence, so she felt safe mounting it. It was a lot easier then she expected it to be and she felt quite natural in the saddle. Perhaps with the wardrobe change also came a riding ability. Sylvia now in pixie form alighted once again on Jana’s shoulder and pointed to the east.
          “I sense the wisher in that direction. I think. This glare is making it difficult but it does feel stronger that way. Lets go see what’s there.” Sylvia said with a more cheerful voice then Jana had ever heard from her.
          “Ummm wait.” Jana said. “Where are the wish stones?” She asked almost panicking again. “Oh damn that's not good.” Sylvia leaped off Jana's shoulder and buzzed around quickly looking everywhere. “I don't see them anywhere. Your bag of supplies is gone too. I guess princess don't need to carry supplies.” Sylvia buzzed around the meadow some more and then alighted on the ground. “Jana!” She shouted. “Come here I found something.”
          Jana dismounted the unicorn and ran over to Sylvia. She hadn't noticed this before but she seemed to be able to not only walk but run in the high heels she was wearing as if she had been wearing them all her life. Not only that but she felt no pain or even discomfort on her feet from them. If anything they felt perfectly natural to her. Also the corset she was wearing should have made it hard for her to breathe and move around but not only did it not feel even the slightest bit snug it was quite comfortable. Clearly the wish that created this world suspended the reality of the feminine garments she was wearing so instead of sacrificing comfort for some superficial sense of beauty they were totally comfortable and still preformed their job of superficial beauty. All this was beyond Jana really, she was just glad she didn't feel like she was walking on stilts while bound around the chest. She shook these thoughts away before they confused her more and approached where Sylvia was hovering. Laying on the ground was her magic dagger, and next to it a small pouch. She reached down and picked the dagger up and then looked at the pouch. Opening it and looking inside Jana saw, much to her relief, all the wish stones she had been carrying with her. Neither the dagger or the stones had changed at all. They remained as they were before entering this world.
          “That's odd. Princesses don't carry daggers so why is it still here?” Jana asked. Sylvia shook her head. She smiled as she did so. It was great to be able to shake her head again. “I guess the magic in the dagger protected it. Probably best to conceal it if you can. We don't know what the rules are in regards to weapons are here. As for the wish stones. Probably their power protected them. Magic doesn't always interact well with other magics. We should count this as a blessing I suppose.”
          Jana nodded and looked at her dress for a pocket. There wasn't any so she tried to stick it between her breasts, but quickly decided against that as it wasn't safe to put a sharp, and magical, blade there. She pondered for a moment and then, forgetting all modesty for a moment, she lifted her dress up again. She considered putting the dagger in the lace garter belt that was holding up her stockings but again decided against it. It might hold it but riding that unicorn was likely to jostle the dagger and cut her leg all up. Jana then shook her head and realized she was overlooking the obvious solution. She sat down and used the dagger to cut a strip off the bottom of her dress just long enough to tie around her waist. She then placed the dagger in the pouch amidst the wish stones and tried to tie the strap around it. She failed at several attempts and swore each time. She figured she might have been able to sew them together but she didn't have any sewing utensils.
          Seeing she was struggling with this, but knowing it was a good idea Sylvia floated over to her and smiled. “Let me try something.” Sylvia said and with a voice more dramatic then it probably needed to be she extended her hands and said. “Become a belt!” Her voice seemed to echo slightly and the strip of cloth floated out of Jana's hand and Jana watched in amazement as it seemed to sew itself into a makeshift belt with the pouch attached to it. It then floated to Jana's hand and she took it and trying not to show her amazement at the magic she tied it around her waist. It fit nicely and comfortably not seeming to blemish the dress at all.
          She looked down at where she had cut the dress, and before she could feel bad at damaging such a beautiful gown the dress pulsated for a second and then reformed totally repaired. Sylvia laughed. “You know for a proper princess you sure have naughty underwear on.” Jana was exasperated. “After all that just happened that's what you think of to say?” She said trying not to get too annoyed.
          “Well you do. I mean a white lace garter belt? Maybe the person who wished this one had more of a princess fetish then anything else.” Sylvia giggled even though she felt she should have been offended by the idea. Perhaps it was the wish working on her that was causing her unusual cheerfulness. Either way she was happy. Happier then she had been in a long time and she was going to enjoy it.
          Jana blushed as she mounted the unicorn again. “Well.....something has to hold the stockings up. Come on lets go.” She said wanting to change the subject.
          Sylvia landed on Jana's shoulder again and pointed to the east once again. “Onward to adventure.” The Pixie shouted.
          “You're enjoying this far too much you know.” Jana said as she kicked her legs gently into the unicorns flanks. She never rode an animal like this before but somehow she knew exactly what to do and it worked. Another wonder of this wish Jana assumed.


          The countryside was beautiful. There were gently rolling hills, majestic snow capped mountains in the distance, and flowers and bunnies as far as the eye could see. Riding the Unicorn was much easier then the motorcycle. It moved about the same speed but it was a lot gentler a ride. There was no loud motor sound, and no vibration, and best of all it didn't require Sylvia's magic to keep it going. When it needed to be “refueled” it simply stopped and ate some grass. Jana wished she could keep the bike in this form for good.
          “I know what you’re thinking and don’t. The last thing we need are more wishes.” Sylvia scolded.
          “I’m not. Besides we can’t make more wishes anyway. If I could don’t you think I’d just wish all this was over with?” Jana replied.
          “I suppose, but that probably wouldn’t work because then you’d have to take that wish back and everything would go back to being as it is now and.... well never mind. Looks like there is a town of some sort coming up ahead.” Sylvia said pointing ahead of them. She couldn't help but smile at the ability to point again. She was amazed at how much she missed little things like that.
          “Is that where you sense the wish?” Jana asked
          Sylvia closed her eyes for a few seconds and then said “Feels like it. This glare is really not helping but I am pretty sure the wisher is there. It feels a bit different the the rest of the magic. I guess this is going to be an easy one.” Sylvia sighed. The quicker they got the wish the less time she would have this body. She almost hoped it wouldn't be so easy. She wasn't sure if she should feel guilty or not.
          “Easy to find maybe.” Jana commented. “As pleasant as this place is I find it unlikely the wisher will give up their wish so easily.” Jana said
          “You may have a point. Well on we go then. We should at least locate it before we worry about getting it. Besides there is no rush right?” Sylvia asked. Jana didn't seem to catch the question.
          The town looked like it came straight out of Tudor England. The houses were all in a neat row with tiny alleys between them, there was a blacksmith, an inn, a pub, a public fountain complete with crystal statue, and a large church sitting by itself at one end of the town. One thing that was absent was anything that would be considered gross. In towns like this it wasn’t uncommon to see the contents of emptied chamber pots laying next to houses, but there was none. Also there wasn’t any trash or animal droppings in the street. There was no sign of rats or stray cats and dogs. Everything was pristine as if it had just been made this morning. The people in the town were all cheerful and going about their business as if things had always been like this. It was then that Jana noticed something odd. The men were all wearing typical medieval townsfolk wear, brown or green tunics with knee length pants, and brown boots, while the women were all dressed similar to Jana herself. All in what could pass for princess gowns, or at the very lest the gowns of noble women. They all had similar tiaras, and all carried themselves demurely. There wasn’t a single ugly woman present, no tough women, or for that matter a single plain looking woman. All of them were strikingly beautiful and seemed to shine with a divine light. None of the men seemed to notice either.
          “Ok this is odd. The person who wished this place clearly has an interesting view of women. The men seem to just be part of the background.” Jana said more to herself then to Sylvia.
          “I really have no idea on this one. Well at least the nastier parts of this kind of world seem to be missing. I hated cleaning the bathrooms back at the restaurant, and being in a town filled with that smell isn’t something I had in mind when I woke up this morning.” Sylvia commented. “Woke up. Hmmmm do I really sleep. I guess not, but I probably can now.” She mumbled to herself. Jana nodded and dismounted. The unicorn didn’t seem to be attracting too much attention either, neither did the pixie Sylvia. Jana figured that mythical creatures were also common here. She looked for a place where she could “park” her unicorn and remembered from stories she had read that Inns often had stables. Jana walked over to the building with the Inn sign. There was a man standing next to the door who saw her coming and moved to greet her with a bow. He was dressed like all the other men were. A peasant straight out of a renaissance fair.
          “Welcome your highness to my humble Inn. Are you seeking lodgings for the night?” the man asked.
          “Ummm.... I’m not exactly sure how long I plan on staying here. I’m looking for someone, but for now I need a place to keep my motor.....I mean my Unicorn while I look around a bit.” Jana stammered
          “And a fine animal it is I might add.” The man said as he patted the Unicorn on the flank. “Such an unusual breed with a black horn and it feels so odd doesn't it? This horn. Not like what I have felt before. Where did you get it?” The man asked.
          Jana thought about stealing the bike from Vengeance, and figured telling the man that was probably not a good idea. She quickly thought up a story. “I got it from a.......a foreign nobleman.” She said and Sylvia nodded her approval at the story smiling at the ability to nod. “Well I have a stable in the back that would hold it just fine, and I’ll keep a room open for you in case you need to stay the night. We have fine meals prepared every night here at 6pm sharp. Probably not what your used to but we like it.” The man said still petting the Unicorn's nose. Jana searched her gown again for pockets and found nothing. She sighed and wished she had her bag still.
          “I don’t really have anything to pay you with.” She said
          The man held up his hands. “Think nothing of it My Lady. A woman of your obvious high birth doesn’t need to pay here. Just tell the folks back home about us if they ever visit.” The man said with a smile.
          Jana just nodded, and followed the innkeeper to the back of the inn were a stable was located. She was a bit relieved when she saw the stable was in fact there. Following a strange man behind a building is never a good idea for a girl in just about any situation, but still she was wearing those pink high heels, and a good kick to a certain spot with those could go a long way in a world that clearly didn’t have guns. Also her pointy friend in the pouch would work in a pinch too.
          “Just leave the Unicorn with me and I”ll make sure she is cared for.” The man said motioning to one of the stalls. “We have the best grains for it to eat.”
          “Thank you for the help.” Jana said.
          “It is an honor to help such a beautiful Lady, and such a rare breed of Unicorn. Do you know what the breed is called?” The man asked.
          Jana smiled. “It is of the Kawasaki breed I believe.” Jana said trying not to laugh. “Kawasaki did you say?” The man thought for a moment while patting the Unicorn's flank. “Can't say I have heard of that one. I should like to visit this foreign noble sometime to see his stables, but that would have to wait till another less busy time.” The man started to walk the Unicorn into the stable.
          Jana watched as the Unicorn was being lead away before she moved towards the end of the alleyway. Sylvia seemed to know where the wish was and Jana was anxious to find it. This world seemed pleasant but her experiences lately had taught her to be prepared for things to be as bad as they seemed good.
          “I sense it around here. We can’t be more then a few feet from it.” Sylvia said and flew towards the town square. “It’s here. Right next to us I feel it.” Sylvia started to eye every person who walked by.
          Jana looked around the square. There were a few people around but they all looked pretty much the same as everyone else she had seen. Either women dressed like princess, or men in the tunics and boots. There was a large fountain in the center of the square and on top of the fountain was what appeared to be a sky blue crystal statue of a girl with long hair who was also wearing a princess gown. Jana walked over to the fountain and looked closely at the statue.
          “The person who made this wish must have some really weird preoccupation with princesses. Not that I blame him or her. I love this gown I’m in, and have always wanted to dress like this. Heck if things weren’t the way they were now I’d want to stay like this.” Jana said with a smile Jana, not remembering where she was for a moment, started talking to herself like a princess would, and made a few curtseys and twirling dance moves. She was completely absorbed in the moment, and none of the people in town seemed to mind this odd behavior except Sylvia. Sylvia just rolled her eyes and flew over to the crystal statue to get a closer look. It was then that Sylvia noticed the wish was right underneath her. It was actually coming from the statue itself. “Umm.... Jana if your quite done with your rehearsal I think I have found it.” Sylvia said
          Jana’s face turned red for a few seconds and then she composed herself.
          “The wish? Where?” She asked
          “Its coming from here.” Sylvia said and pointed at the heart of the crystal statue
          Jana looked at the statue. “You're kidding right?” She said.
          Sylvia leaned her head against the statue as if listening for a pulse and the nodded her head. “No question about it.” Sylvia shook her head and backed away. “I sense the wish all around us but the feeling is stronger from this statue.”
          “The statue? The statue is the wisher? What the hell kind of wish did she make? Is she dead?” Jana stammered
          “No clearly not. If she was the wish wouldn’t still be inside her. I guess she must have worded her wish badly or something. I have no idea what to do about this.” Sylvia said.
          “It's just like we said before. What happens if someone wishes in a way that makes it impossible for them to give it up. I guess we had one of your future sight moments there.” Jana said.
          Silvia buzzed around the statue looking for any signs of life, she saw nothing. The statue stood frozen. “I guess so. I don't know what to do here. We are so close yet it might as well be miles away.” Silvia said. She tried to open her mind to the wisher thinking maybe her new pixie powers would let her do something like that, but nothing happened, and the glare started to make her dizzy so she stopped.
          Jana reached out her hands to the statue but quickly jerked them away. “Maybe we should smash it. Put her out of her mystery. Maybe we could get the wish that way.” Jana said.
          Sylvia stared at Jana for a moment. “You do know what you're saying right? Are you prepared to take that step?” Sylvia asked unsure if she wanted to know the answer or not.
          Jana shook her head. “You're right I can't just kill someone like that not without a good reason. Besides it's probably too hard to break up anyway.” Jana's eyes wandered up to the face of the crystal princess and it was then she noticed how she looked. She had her arms in a protective stance in front of her, and had the look of a scream on her face. Clearly she hadn't become like this willingly.
          Sylvia noticed where Jana was looking and saw the expression of horror on her face as she slowly backed away from the statue. “Noticed that did you. I saw it almost right away. I don't think it was her wish that did this to her. I am willing to bet this happened after her wish created this pocket world.”
          Jana kept her eyes locked on the terrified eyes of the girl in crystal. “But....but....Princesses don't get turned into crystal. How could this have happened?” She stammered.
          Silvia buzzed around Jana thinking. For the first time she wasn't thinking about how great it was to have a body. Seeing this girl in such a state had caused reality to slam down on her once again. People were suffering and they needed to be helped. She had no right to be so happy at her new body when others were in such states. “Fairy tale Princess don't carry skulls around. They don't need supplies and don't drive on motorbikes. They don't live in towns with refuse and strays in the streets, but there is one thing they do have. They have magical villains trying to destroy them.” Sylvia said softly.
          Jana looked at the pixie. “What?” She said.
          “I think what we have here is the doing of the evil queen, or dark witch or whatever. Every fairy tale has one. Undoubtedly there is a dashing prince somewhere around here who can fix this. We need to find him.” Sylvia said.
          Jana shook her head. “You're not serious. You can't be.”
          Sylvia flew all around the town square before returning to Jana's side. “Look around you. It's obvious we are in some kind of fairytale wish. This world is too perfect to be a wish for the life of a medieval Princess. It much more fits that of a fairy Princess.” Sylvia looked at a few of the women walking past, all dressed as royalty. “Albeit an oddly structured fairy tale but still a fairy tale nonetheless.” Sylvia smiled at her realization. “If there is a princess and an evil witch there has to be a dashing prince to save the day. It all fits.”
          Jana shook her head. She liked fairy tales. Of course she did, but this didn't feel like any fairy tale she had ever been read. “So we find the prince. He kisses the princess, and she comes out of the crystal and gives up her wish rather then living happily ever after.” She said. “I doubt that.”
          Sylvia floated up to the head of the crystal statue. “Well maybe being trapped in here will make her more willing to give it up when we free her.” She said optimistically.
          “And falling in love with the prince wont make her not want to give it up?” Jana asked. Sylvia slowly floated down from the statue almost crestfallen. “We will just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Either way we need to get her out of there, unless you want to just smash the statue and kill her for the wish....” Sylvia was glad Jana didn't want to do that. She didn't want Jana to fall that far. Not yet at least. “...it's our only option.”
          Jana shook her head. “If you say so. How do we go about finding him then?” She asked.
          Sylvia floated over to a man who was pulling a small cart across the street. Jana couldn't make out what she was saying to the man but she was clearly pointing at the statue. Jana looked up at the girl in crystal again. She felt a shutter go through her as she saw the look on her face. She looked like an ice sculpture only sky blue instead of clear. Her features appeared to have been carved rather then formed naturally out of flesh. The girl had clearly screamed, and was obviously no match for the one who had done this to her. Jana wondered if she was still aware of her surroundings. She hoped not. To be aware, but not able to do anything. It was a fate worse then death Jana. Almost like Sylvia outside of this world. But at least Sylvia could talk. Sylvia buzzed Jana's ear and she had to fight the urge to swat her away. “Were in luck.” Sylvia began. “That inn where we left the bike unicorn. There is a local troubadour preforming there tonight and he apparently knows the story of this girl better then anyone. It's a good place to start I think.” Sylvia said with a smile, once again happy at being able to smile.
          Jana again shook her head. This world was giving her a migraine. “What is a troubadour?” She asked holding her hands to her head.
          Sylvia laughed. It was no surprise to her that Jana didn't know that word. “A traveling minstrel. A bard.” She said.
          Jana perked up for a moment. “You don't think it's Mee Lien do you?” She asked remembering her friend from before. She could really use her help now.
          Sylvia shook her head. “It's a man, besides I don't think Mee Lien would likely have found the entrance to this place, though it would have been interesting seeing her dressed as a princess I have to admit.” Sylvia laughed and then caught herself. The magic of this world was definitely making her unnaturally cheerful. “Come on it's starting to get late and we don't want to miss this chance.” Sylvia flew back towards the inn with Jana following and shaking her head.
          Jana and Sylvia were welcomed with open arms by the innkeeper. Apparently the idea of having a princess, such as herself, there was a great honor which was odd since every women in this world seemed to be a princess. Jana wondered if the owner acted this way when any women chose to visit this inn. It must get very annoying having to act honored all the time she thought. The owner informed them that the performance was to happen later that night and they should have some dinner first
          The interior off the inn was dark, the only light was coming from the now setting sun through the windows. In front of the check in desk was a bear rug, and two empty suits of armor. The inn itself was called the empty armor inn so Jana assumed these suits were the places namesake or at the very least an homage to it. Behind the desk was a woman wearing an oval shaped pair of glasses. She probably would have been dressed like the medieval equivalent of a receptionist if she had been anywhere else, but instead she was dressed in a light red princess gown that Jana could only see the top off. She had medium brown hair and on her head she had a small opulent tiara with jewels in it. Jana couldn't help but laugh at the fact that even the inn workers were dressed like princesses.
          “Name please?” The princess/receptionist said sounding bored.
          “Ummm Jana and this is Sylvia. Perhaps you have heard of us?” She asked. After all people were starting to hear of them around the world. A lot of them were told to fear or even attack her. Jana figured she would nip that bud right away if needed. If she could just explain that she meant no harm, well no harm aside from ruining the dreams of over forty people, then there shouldn't be a problem. Or at least she hoped there wouldn't be a problem. Jana really hated her life sometimes.
          The princess/receptionist shook her head. “Sorry sweety the name doesn't ring a bell. Did you have a reservation?” She asked sounding bored.
          Jana couldn't help but sigh in relief. Clearly her reputation had not penetrated this strange pocket of princesses. She figured if anyone would have heard of her here surely the local inn keeper and his employees would be among them.
          “Umm no we don't, but the inn keeper told us that it wasn't needed. Something about being of high birth.” Jana stammered.
          The princess/receptionist seemed to want to die after hearing that. She let out a sigh so loud it almost shook the walls. “If he keeps doing that we wont ever be able to fix this place up.” The princess/receptionist turned her back to Jana and started rummaging through the keys hanging on the wall behind her. Jana could see the back of her dress was bare exposing a large area of her back. She was quite beautiful and looked very out of place behind a desk. She grabbed one of the keys and turned and handed it, well threw it at, Jana. “Your room is on the second floor. Third door to the left. We hope you enjoy your stay.” She said with a very insincere voice.
          “Umm thanks I guess.” Jana said looking at the key.
          The princess/receptionist pulled out a book and started looking at it. Jana could tell she wasn't reading it, but more trying to look like she was in the hopes that Jana would go away. She made no effort to point them towards the stairs, but Jana could see them easily enough running up the room parallel to the desk. She slowly headed over to them.
          Sylvia, on the other hand, flew to the reception desk and landed right in from the the princess/receptionist. She stared at the women for a few moments before she looked at her with an annoyed expression.
          “Is there something else?” She asked the annoying Pixie now staring at her.
          “I don't mean to be rude, and don't get me wrong it's a beautiful gown, but don't you think that dress isn't really... I hesitate to use the word inappropriate but rather out of place for a receptionist during work hours?” Sylvia asked trying to sound as unsarcastic as possible. Jana just watched.
          The princess/receptionist just looked baffled at Sylvia. “What is something on my dress?” She asked sounding concerned.
          Sylvia shook her head. “No it's not that it's just. Not standard innkeeper garb.” Sylvia said. “What else would I wear?” The princess/receptionist asked.
          Sylvia could see this was a pointless discussion. This pocket world obviously didn't even allow for women to notice how weird wearing princess clothes in every situation was. “Nothing...nothing at all. Sorry to have bothered you.” Sylvia said as she flew back over to Jana.
          “Did that help any?” Jana asked.
          Sylvia shook her head. “If we ever get that girl's wish back we clearly need to have a little talk with her about fashion.” Sylvia said unsure if she was annoyed or amused at this situation. Probably a little of both.

          The second floor of the inn wasn't much to talk about. It was just a dark hallway with one window at the end and a series of doors. Jana's key unlocked the third door on the left just like the woman said it would and she entered. The room was rather small with a single bed, a plain brown rug, pictures of random flowers, a bathroom with a odd looking tub that showed no sign of running water. There was no evidence of any facilities, no toilet, no sink, not even a chamber pot under the bed. Jana was a little worried about this. They were going to be there a while and eventually she would need some...personal time.
          “Umm Sylvia...” Jana started to ask but her former skull friend held up a hand.
          “Don't worry about it. I get the feeling it wont be a problem. Besides princess don't do such things right?” Sylvia said half laughing.
          Jana shook her head and held her hand to her forehead which was beginning to pound. “This world makes no sense! Everyone has basic needs they have to fulfill even if they are of noble blood! How can a world like this function. It's insane!” The basic laws of nature didn't seem to apply here and this was the last straw for Jana. “Princesses everywhere even in desk jobs! No bathroom facilities except a tub that doesn't seem to work! Next thing you're going to tell me is we have Bigfoot delivering the newspaper! I want this craziness to stop right now! It makes no sense at all! I want some ice cream!” Jana was getting hysterical and Sylvia could see it would only get worse if she didn't do something.
          Sylvia flew right in Jana's face and with her tiny arms she tried to grad her and steady her. “Jana this isn't going to help.” Jana just shook her head and looked about to cry. “Jana listen to me. Think about all you have been through so far. Does a guy only being able to eat rabbit make sense? Or how about a car that never runs out of gas no matter how far you drive it. Does that make any more sense then this place?”
          Jana shook her head and steadied herself a bit. “No it doesn't.” She stammered.
          “This place is no different from those. It is governed by the wish that created it. Once we get it back this place will start to change into something more realistic. Tell me is a world were all women dress in beautiful ball gowns, no matter their station in life, any less believable then a guy who can turn into a dragon?” Sylvia asked.
          Jana shook her head. “Of course not.” She said sounding more calm.
          “And didn't you say outside you always wanted to dress like this?” Sylvia floated over to a large mirror that was standing against a corner. She pointed to Jana's reflection. “Look at yourself. It really is a beautiful gown isn't it?”
          Jana looked at her reflection and started to smile a bit. “It is nice isn't it, and not having to feel the discomfort of these shoes and this corset is a nice touch.” She said.
          “There you see it's not so bad. Just remember that girl in the square. We are here to help her. No matter how weird it gets for us think what she is going through right now. It doesn't compare does it?” She asked.
          Jana shook her head.
          “Now let's go downstairs and get that food that is waiting for us, and talk to that troubadour person. The sooner we get that wish the sooner this nonsense ends.” Sylvia said with confidence. Jana smiled. She was completely calm now. “You're right. Let's do this.” She started for the door but then realized something. “Ohh but Sylvia your new body. Once we leave...” She couldn't say the rest.
          Sylvia felt like she was carrying a ton of bricks on her back. “I know, but don't you worry. I am a big girl I can handle it. This was a nice taste of freedom, but it isn't what I am supposed to be right now. Best not stay this way for long. The longer I am like this the harder it will be to let it go. Once this is all over I'll get my real body back. I am sure of it.” Sylvia said completely unsure of anything. Who was to say she wouldn't be dead for real once this was all over. Who was to say anything would be normal again once it was all over. It was something to hope for at the very least. Sylvia knew it would be very hard to leave this pocket once all was said and done. She might even have to ask Jana to force her out of the pocket when the time came. She wasn't going to ask that of her yet. It would be a heavy burden for the girl who was already carrying so much. Sylvia sighed and followed Jana out the door and down to the dining hall. At least a good meal was waiting for them judging by the smell.
The dining hall was dark with the glow of candles making shadows dance on the walls. There were about ten circular tables arranged around what looked like a stage of some sort. It was hard to make out details in the low light, but Jana could just make out a few hunting trophies on the walls. A large stag's head with enormous antlers was in a central position on the wall and the dancing glow from the candles almost made it look alive. On the floor were more bear rugs, and a few empty suits of armor was lined along the walls. This was a place Jana could easily see her hunter self feeling right at home in. The animal trophies could easily have been kills she herself made out in the wilderness. This had a calming effect on her and seemed to balance out the nonsensical nature of the rest of this world. This was damaged slightly by the beautifully dressed waitress that approached Jana and Sylvia with two bowls of a steaming and wonderfully smelling stew. Jana stopped paying attention to all the gowns the women were wearing. It was giving her a headache to even think about how ridiculous having a waitress dressed for prom was, so she focused on the food instead.
          “This smells wonderful.” Jana said as she sniffed the bowl in front of her. “What is it exactly. The waitress smiled and bowed slightly. “It is a rabbit stew that this inn is famous for. It has finely cooked potatoes and carrots in it as well as a hint of beef. I hope you will find it to your liking.” She said as she laid a smaller, but no less savory smelling, bowl in front of where Sylvia was hovering.
          “Oh goodness it will be nice to eat again.” Sylvia said as she almost dove into the soup. In mere moments the bowl was empty and Sylvia quickly asked for another one, perhaps in a bigger bowl. “Excellent stuff. Keep it coming ok?” She asked as the rather amused waitress set down two glasses of what appeared to be some kind of ale. “Ohh it will be nice to drink again too.” Sylvia said as she downed the drink in record time. “More of this too ok?” She asked. The waitress laughed as she nodded and headed towards the kitchen.
          Jana just stared at Sylvia with a blank expression. “Umm...” She said.
          Sylvia eyed Jana's bowl but out of politeness she didn't dive into it. “What I haven't eaten in a long time. You have no idea how one misses things like that.” Sylvia got a ponderous look on her tiny face. “Wait did she say rabbit stew? I wonder if Jin is here. Nah probably not we already got his wish back.” Sylvia almost literally dived back into her ale.
          Jana looked around checking to see if anyone heard. “Don't say that so loud. It's bad enough how many people know what were looking for outside of here.”
          Sylvia looked embarrassed for a second and then composed herself and cleared her throat.
          “Sorry...lost myself for a second there. It's just so nice to do stuff like this again you have no idea. To taste food on your tongue and to feel it going down your throat. To be able to shake my head and move my eyes around.” She sighed loudly she knew she had to ask Jana now. “When this is all over if I try to stay here, don't be afraid to drag me out ok. Our quest is too important for me to get lost in this world. Please just do this for me ok?” She pleaded.
          Jana was shocked at Sylvia's sudden change in tone for a few moments she didn't know what to say. Then she nodded. “I'll do what I can. I don't think I can do this without your help. If I had been alone before I would probably still be upstairs curled into a little ball. We really do need each other don't we?” Jana said.
          Sylvia just nodded. She knew Jana was maturing even if it was slowly. Soon, not right away, but soon Jana would be able to take Sylvia's wish and move on by herself. Her decision to not smash the statue and take the wish that way was proof of that. A mindless child or bloodthirsty hunter would have made that choice easily and walked away with the wish in hand, but Jana clearly thought about and understood the consequences of that action on her own. Sylvia hadn't said anything but she was proud of her for realizing that. She knew Jana could do this without her help, but she would hang on longer, at least until Jana knew she was ready.
          Jana tasted the stew and it was some of the best food she had partaken of in quite a long time. It tasted just as savory as it smelled. The ale tasted fine too. It had a fruit flavor and none of the side effects of ale seemed to go along with it. Princesses don't get drunk after all Jana thought to herself. She wondered if Sylvia would get drunk from it though. That might be a problem. Before she could ask the room was filled with applause as a man in a very unusual outfit entered.
          His outfit was mostly purple in color and he wore what appeared to be either a really thickly layered skirt, or poofy shorts, with purple stockings on, and boots with a strange curl on the toe. He wore a white frilled shirt and a large purple almost musketeer like hat with a large yellow feather coming out of the center of it. Around his neck was what looked like a pleated coffee filter, Jana was baffled as to its purpose, but she did remember seeing similar things around the necks of people such as this in old paintings in some of the art museums she had visited before the world changed. He carried a mandolin and was strumming it absently as he approached the lone chair sitting on the stage. His eyes were an almost emerald green and he had short brown hair and fair skin.
          “Greetings ladies and gentlemen. I have some special songs planned for tonight. Songs from the old world. Songs that I, Ryan Turner, will now preform for you.” The oddly dressed man said as he seemed to be tuning up his mandolin.
          “Songs from the old world?” Jana said surprised. “What does me mean by that?” She asked. Sylvia studied the man. “You know I have gotten a two dimensional sense from everyone we met so far here, but with him...” Sylvia stared at the man. “He feels different from everyone else. It's hard to tell, I am still being blinded partially from the wish that created this place, but I think he might have been real before the wish.”
          “You mean the inn keeper and the others are creations of the wish? I hadn't noticed.” Jana said.
          “I don't know for sure but I think so. Most people we have met here seemed...” Sylvia struggled for the right word. “...I don't know artificial. Kind of like talking to a character in a video game or something. I don't know why but I don't get that impression from this person. Maybe I am just thinking too much.” Sylvia looked like she was going to say more but at that moment the waitress returned with another, larger, bowl of stew and Sylvia was instantly preoccupied with trying not to drown in it.
          “Pixies eat weird Sylvia. You realize that don't you.” Jana said amused.
          Jana would have said more but the man started singing.
         
“What would you think if I sang out of tune, Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, And I'll try not to sing out of key....”

          Both Jana and Sylvia looked at the man as he finished singing the Beatles song. He then went on to sing other songs all of them either Sylvia or Jana recognized from the world before the change. This proved Sylvia's theory that this man was no a creation of this wish. He was much more solid then anyone they had met here.
          Jana leaned forward and whispered to Sylvia. “How does he know those songs?” She asked. Sylvia whispered back. “Vestiges of the world before I guess. Maybe he was a performer or something that got dragged into this wish because it felt he would fit in. I couldn't say for sure. We could always ask him I suppose.” Sylvia said and tried to get the man's attention as he packed his mandolin up. She didn't want to miss the chance to speak to him so she flew over to him and spoke to him directly.
          Jana watched her friend talk to the oddly dressed man. He seemed amused at whatever she was saying and as Sylvia flew back to their table he followed behind. Before sitting down he bent to one knee, took Jana's hand, and kissed it. “It is an honor that a lady such as yourself was here to listen to my music. I would be more then happy to give you any help I can. You wanted to know about the crystal statue did you not?” He asked.
          Jana's face turned beet red as he kissed her hand and she stammered for a few moments while he sat down. Shaking her head to compose herself she addressed him. “Where did you learn those song?” She asked.
          The man, Ryan he had said, smiled and chuckled. “I don't know really I just know them. I call them old world songs because that is the impression I get when I think about them. Like they came from another world. The people here seem to enjoy them regardless so I keep preforming them when I get the chance. It's good fun and pays for my room and board.”
          Sylvia wanted to ask more, but they had a job to do in this place and the longer it took the harder it would be for her to leave here. “Well what works works I guess.” She said trying to sound nonchalant. “What can you tell us about the crystal statue though? It seemed, well real if you know what I mean.”
          “Real as in not sculpted you mean.” Ryan said. “Indeed it is, and a strange tale at that. I witnessed it when it happened. The poor girl.” He looked down at the table for a moment. “Princess Alicia was her name and a more beloved women you would be hard pressed to find. Her beauty out shined all the women in this realm, and it was matched only by her charity. Never would a man get lost or harmed when she was around. She always had money to spare and a shoulder to cry on for anyone who needed it. Everyone loved her and it was assumed she would marry the prince one day and become Queen of this realm.” Ryan stammered for a second as if he was about to weep but he didn't. “Then one day it happened. She was wandering around the streets like she always did looking for people to help when, on a chariot of fire, the fairy who lives in the mountains to the north burst into town in front of her. Without so much as a word the fairy, Macha is her name I believe, reached into the girls chest and took her very soul from her. Alicia's body turned into the crystal form you now see and Macha left town just as quickly as she had arrived. She said nothing and did nothing to anyone else. She appeared, attacked and crystallized Alicia, and left. No explanation was given, but with dark fairies explanations are rarely forthcoming. It was indeed a tragedy. Every day the people of this town feel the absence of Alicia. They erected the fountain you see in the square and placed the crystal form of their beloved princess on it so they would never forget her.”
          Jana took a mouthful of her stew while letting this story sink in. “Has anyone tried to confront this Macha person about it?” She asked.
          “Few would dare approach her. She is powerful beyond measure. The prince, once he heard of these events, set off after her but that was months ago and there has been no sign of him since.” Ryan said.
          “There is the prince of the story we have been looking for.” Sylvia whispered to Jana. “I think we know what we have to do now.” She said.
          Jana whispered back. “You mean storm the dark fairies fortress. Battle her to the death, retrieve the girls soul, possibly saving the prince at the same time, and them give the girl her soul back so we can take her wish stone from her. Is that it?” Jana whispered back. Ryan strummed his mandolin so he didn't hear any of this.
          “In a nutshell I would say you got it.” Sylvia replied and then addressed Ryan. “Well thank you for the information. It was very helpful.” Sylvia said with a smile.
          Ryan did a single loud strum on his mandolin and looked at Sylvia. “You're going aren't you? To Macha's abode?” He asked.
          “Why would you think that?” She asked in reply.
          “Oh an interesting story that would make. The princess and her pixie friend who saved the other princess.” Ryan said as he stood up and bowed. “People would love to hear that one. I only wish I could go with you, but I can't get involved lest I risk my own life. I wish you the best of luck with it. Remember Macha is a fairy. Don't forget that.” Ryan said as moved away from the table. Before Jana or Sylvia could say more to him he walked out of the room and disappeared into the darkness of the inn's corridors.
          “Hmmm I wonder what he meant by that?” Jana pondered.
          “Who knows what goes through the mind of a bard. Anyway it's probably best we get some sleep. Storming the fortress of an evil fairy isn't something one does at night.” Sylvia said as she gorged herself one last time on the stew she had been given several times now.
          Jana nodded and stretched in a big yawn. She was too tired to storm anything but a bed right now anyway. She had an uneasy feeling though. All she had was an enchanted dagger, and whatever powers Sylvia as a pixie had. What chance did she have against a dark fairy. “Oh well think of this as a trial run for Vengeance” She said.
          “What's that?” Sylvia asked.
          “Oh nothing just thinking out loud. Let's go.” Jana said as she headed for the stairs to the second floor. “It will be nice to get a good night's sleep for once. Princess do sleep soundly after all don't they?” She asked.
          “Yes they do indeed.” Sylvia laughed. “It will be nice to be able to sleep again too.” She added as they went upstairs. Both were unaware of being watched from the shadows.
          Sylvia was right Jana slept like a newborn baby that night, and all her dreams were fluffy clouds, rainbows, and unicorns. She woke up feeling as if she had slept a month. All the weariness she had built up over the course of her adventures felt like dust on the winds. She sat up in her bed, which was quite comfortable, and stretched letting out a loud morning yawn which woke Sylvia up abruptly. Sylvia was a bit sad to see the night go. It was her first real sleep in who knows how long, and she wanted to stay right where she was.
          Both sat in the bed for a few moments not saying a word. They were just letting everything sink in before getting started. They both knew they had to get going, and the sooner the better, but still it was hard. They both could easily get lost in this world. Free meals, never having to use the bathroom or clean up after themselves. It was almost a paradise here. The one thing that was making them not want to lose themselves here sat in the center of town on top of a fountain. Jana couldn't shake the terrified look that poor girl had on her face. She had to do something to help her, even if it meant ending this world.
          Without a word Jana got out of bed and slipped her princess clothes back on. She went into the “bathroom” and looked at herself in the mirror. There was no sign of bed hair, and her makeup was in no way smudged. “Another thing that Princesses don't ever have.” Jana thought to herself. Jana looked over to Sylvia who had floated over to the window and was looking down at the town square. Jana walked over to her and looked out too. In plain view was the crystal statue standing like a frightened sentry in the square. Townsfolk were strolling past going about their daily business. None of them seemed to want to look at the statue, as if doing so would make it real. As long as they didn't see it, then it wasn't really there. Jana didn't blame them. It was like a huge stain in the center of a silk blouse. You didn't want to look at it, but you know it was there.
          “I guess we should get going then.” Sylvia said.
          Before Jana could respond there was a knock on their door. “My lady may I disturb you just a moment.” The voice of the innkeeper said through the door.
          Jana looked at Sylvia and she nodded. “Yes come in.” Jana said.
          The innkeeper came in, and unlike Jana he showed the signs of having just woken up. His hair was slightly disheveled and he had a 5 o'clock shadow working. This world clearly favored women quite a bit. Jana wasn't sure what to think of that fact.
          “I am so sorry to disturb you but I thought you might want some breakfast before you left.” The innkeeper rolled in a small tray with two plates that had eggs, ham, and some bacon on them. He straightened up and looked at Jana. “Ryan informed me of what you have planned.” The innkeeper looked nervous. “Is there any way I can talk you out of it?” He asked with the voice of a father wanting to protect his child.
          Jana shook her head. “As much as I would like to stay here and forget my cares I don't really have a choice. That girl down there must be helped, and...” Jana hesitated.
          Sylvia finished Jana's thought. “And we have to be the ones to help her. It's complicated and I can't explain it any more then that. Just think of it as a destiny thing.”
          The innkeeper shook his head. “And no one can fight their destiny.” He looked right at Jana.
          “Just promise me you will be careful. Flee if you have to ok? No one will think less of you for that.”
          Jana smiled. “Thank you for your concern but we will be ok. We have faced things like this before. If there was more time I would tell your patrons the story at the dinner, but unfortunately there isn't.” Jana wasn't sure if she had actually faced something that was akin to a dark fairy, Vengeance maybe, but the thought made her feel a bit better.
          The innkeeper pulled what looked like a small tube out of his pocket and handed it to Jana. “Here. This isn't much but it might help you find where your going. Your unicorn is fed and ready to go, and...well your room will be waiting for you when you get back.” The innkeeper wanted to say more but couldn't find the words. He turned and left the room closing the door behind himself.
          Jana looked at the tube and quickly realized it was a retractable telescope. It was a tad primitive but it worked well enough. Jana went to the window and pointed the telescope at the mountains. She thought she could just barely make out what looked like a building of some sort but she wasn't sure. It was rather dark where she was looking.
          “This might be useful. Hopefully we can keep it outside of this place.” Jana said as she sat on the edge of the bed and ate the food she had been given. Sylvia did the same, but this time she had more control over herself. The novelty of being able to eat again must be wearing off for her Jana assumed. They both quickly and quietly finished their breakfast and Jana headed for the door, wrapping the makeshift belt with the wish stones and dagger inside it around her waist. Sylvia followed Jana out the door and they headed down to the stables. Neither was really sure what to expect from this adventure, but they both knew that come what may they had to do it. Not only was that girl suffering down there, but she had a wish stone that had to be collected. Sylvia prayed that being trapped in crystal for who knows how long would make her more willing, then most had been, to part with her dream.
          Jana mounted the unicorn with Sylvia buzzing in the air around her. Jana could tell that Sylvia was really enjoying her freedom of movement. She couldn't help but be a little shaken by what she knew Sylvia was going to have to face when they finally got the wish stone and left this world. Jana wasn't sure if she could force Sylvia out like she had asked. She was, for once, grateful that Sylvia had more maturity then she did. If she had been stuck in a box for so long then given a body only to have it taken away again....She shook her head trying not to dwell on it. “How fast you think this thing can go?” Jana ask trying to keep her mind off of things.
          Sylvia buzzed around the unicorns rubbery horn. “Probably as fast as the motorcycle could go.”
          “Let's find out then shall we.” Jana said as she pointed towards the spot on the looming mountains where she thought she saw a building of some sort. “That way as fast as you can. Giddy up.” Jana kicked her legs on the unicorns flanks.
          Jana, once again, got her wish. The unicorn took off at a blurring speed and it was all she could do to keep on top. The terrain seemed to melt into lines of color, and Jana could have sworn there was a trail of fire behind the dashing beast, but she couldn't look to tell. She couldn't do anything except hold on and hope the unicorn would stop when it got to its destination. She couldn't tell if Sylvia had managed to stay with her either.
          The wild ride lasted for the better part of an hour with Jana holding on for deal life. After a while she eventually got the hang of it enough to look around her. The town had faded into the distance, and they appeared to have entered a more desolate area. The trees were all either dead or dieing and looked like something from a Halloween cartoon. Jana realized they were probably entering the darker area that Fairy Tales always had in them. It made since because they were going towards the lair of the evil Dark Fairy. This might have been amusing if it wasn't for the fact that Jana was going to have to fight this creature with nothing more then a dagger. “HOLD UP FOR A SECOND!” Came Sylvia's voice a little behind the unicorn.
          Jana was thankful the unicorn was silent. She never would have heard that over the sound of the bike. Jana pulled on the reins and after a bit of a struggle managed to get the unicorn to stop. She directed the unicorn to move, slowly, towards where she heard Sylvia call to her.
          Sylvia was floating above what looked like a pile of supplies of some sort. It was only when she got closer that she noticed there seemed to be a large pile of bones next to them. Jana shuttered as she approached it.
          She dismounted the unicorn and investigated the pile. There was a full set of clothes that appeared to be that of a man. Unlike the men in town these clothes seemed to have a hint of money behind them. There was a very finely made green tunic with a scabbard laying under it and a pair of brown pants under that. Jana picked up the scabbard and looked at it. It was jewel encrusted and had what looked like a coat of arms depicted on it. The coat of arms was a Lion with a Serpent in its mouth and had some words under it on a scroll.
          “Victoria Super Serpente?” Jana read. “So this was owned by someone named Victoria and she was a super ummmm serpente?”
          Sylvia shook her head and grumbled. “It means victory over the serpent. It's Latin. Probably the family crest of the person who owned this stuff.” Sylvia floated over to the scabbard and took a look at it herself. “This looks like the sheath a noble would use.”
          Jana dropped the scabbard and walked over to the bones. Upon close inspection she quickly realized they were not human, and judging from the size and shape of the skull she figured it was probably a horse. She noticed some of the bones appeared to be scorched.
          “Jana check this out.” Sylvia said before Jana could comment on the bones.
          Jana walked over to where Sylvia was looking and saw what appeared to be a sword hilt without a blade attached. On the ground in front of the hilt was a pile of ashes of some sort.
          “What is it?” Jana asked.
          Sylvia picked up some of the ashes and smelled them. A soft breeze blew them out of her hand and they vanished in the wind. “I think it was a sword. That's rather obvious from the hilt. It seems to have been dissolved somehow.”
          Jana pointed to the horse remains. “Those bones seem to have some kind of scorch marks on them.
          As if it was killed in a fire or something.”
          Sylvia floated over to the bones and inspected them. She got a nasty feeling in the pit of her stomach. Her magic senses were still blinded by the ambient magic in the air around them, but she could tell enough to know that this horse had been killed by a magic attack. Something that vaporized the skin and left burns on the bones.
          “I think we have just learned the fate of our heroic Prince.” Sylvia said.
          Jana looked around and shivered. “Why do you say that?”
          “Look around you. Traveling clothes and a horse on the path that leads to the mountain where the Dark Fairy lives. That opulent scabbard and the remains of a sword. A battle took place here I think, and judging from all this it didn't go so well for the Prince.” Sylvia said solemnly. Jana picked up the scabbard again and looked at the crest for a few moments. “You think he's dead?” She asked.
          “I don't know. The clothes don't appear to have any scorching on them like the horse bones do, and there is no sign of human bones anywhere.” Sylvia said.
          “Of course he isn't dead. You can't kill the handsome prince. That doesn't happen in fairy tales. He will show up in the last second and save the day.... of course he will.” Jana said uneasily. Sylvia looked around the area for anything they might have missed. She didn't find anything else and floated back over to the unicorn. “Jana I don't think we can take for granted that this world will behave completely like a fairy tale would. We can't assume the prince will save us from the fairy. After all...” Sylvia gestured towards the bones. “...the hero's horse doesn't usually die like that, and neither does the hero's sword suffer such a fate.” Sylvia looked Jana directly in the eye. “We have to act as if we are alone in this ok. Assuming otherwise might get us both killed.”
          Jana sighed. She knew Sylvia was right. This world might seem to be a fairy tale, with the only exception being how all the women were princess, but that doesn't mean it would always act like one. And not all fairy tales ended well for the hero anyway.
          “Well let's hope this is the Disney version of the Little Mermaid, but act like it is the original version shall we.” Jana said as she remounted the unicorn.
          “A wise precaution. Let's not become sea foam.” Sylvia said.
          The two headed, much slower, to the base of the looming mountain. The scene they had just left had visibly shaken both of them, and neither wanted what waited for them to know they were coming. Surprise might be their only chance.
          It wasn't hard to find the place once they were at the base of the mountain. A quick look through the telescope revealed a small and rather scary looking path up the mountain at the top of which was a rather ramshackle looking house. It wasn't the looming castle Jana was half expecting. It looked more like the place an evil witch would live. Jana thought that was appropriate for a dark fairy.
          The trip up the path was uneventful. It was lined with dead trees, and bats flew about over head. It appeared to have become night immediately when they had stepped onto the path which was odd since it was only mid morning elsewhere. Jana just chalked it up to another fairy tale aspect of this wish. She only hoped this was a fairy tale where the hero would win.
          The house was even scarier up close then it had been below. It looked like it had never been cleaned in anyway. The wood was rotted in some places, the roof had shingles missing and one or two holes, and it appeared to have broken windows with cobwebs in them. The front door was slightly off its hinges. If she didn't know better she would have assumed this house was abandoned.
          “Do you think this is the wrong place?” She asked Sylvia but her question was answered before Sylvia could speak.
          A dark shape appeared in the sky above them, and Jana and Sylvia had only just ducked behind a tree in time to go unhidden. The shape turned out to be an extremely beautiful, yet terrifying woman. She had long black hair that fell past her shoulders. Her eyes were a bright, and almost glowing, crimson. She was wearing black lipstick, and purple eyeshadow done in a swirling pattern around her eyes. Her skin was quite pale, almost a ghostly white. She wore a dark purple dress with a square cut neck trimmed with a spider web like lace. Her breasts almost spilled out over it as she clearly had little use for modesty. The skirt went to mid thigh and flared out quite dramatically with a large petticoat. The skirt was trimmed with matching spider web like lace, and she had on black stockings that also had a web pattern. She was wearing black stiletto heels. Jana figured the heel had to be at the very least 6 inches high, but it didn't seem to matter as she floated around rather then walked. On her back were large purple butterfly wings. She would have fit in perfectly at a gothic lolita party Sylvia thought. She was about to make a side comment to Jana when she noticed around the fairy's neck was a necklace with a sky blue crystal set in it. The crystal was identical to the crystal of the statue in town. Sylvia opened her magic senses and focused them at the crystal. Again she was blinded by the power of the wish but she could sense just enough to feel that the crystal gave off a similar power. It had to be the girl's soul.
          The fairy looked around at bit as if feeling herself being watched before she pushed the broken door aside and entered the house. Both Jana and Sylvia felt the energy in the air around them die down a little as she vanished from sight. Both also felt like this was a really bad idea. “Maybe we should go back. I think we would need an army to fight that thing.” Jana said. Her hunters instincts were kicking in. She knew there were times when the prey was too big, too dangerous to tackle alone, and she was getting that feeling in extreme mode right now.
          Sylvia shook her head. She knew Jana was right, but who could they ask? Someone like Allisandra or Vengeance would be needed to help them with a frontal assault here. She knew they had to somehow get that girl's soul back from this creature but how was the problem. Sylvia floated cautiously around the back of the house to see if she could find a possible entrance.
          A few uneasy moments past with Jana hiding behind the dead tree when Sylvia flew back over to her. “Jana there is a window in the back of the house with no glass at all in it. I looked inside and it appears to lead to some kind of sitting room that is empty and dark and shows signs of not having been used in years. I think that is were we make our entrance. You can be silent right?” Sylvia asked.
          Jana nodded. Her pseudo life as a hunter had taught her to stalk prey silently. “Yeah. When hunting animals like deer it is essential to move silently otherwise you scare them off.” Sylvia nodded. “Think of this as a deer then. A big, scary, amazingly dressed deer with a girls soul around her neck.”
          “Around her neck? How do you know that?” Jana asked.
          “Didn't you see the necklace she was wearing. It was the same type of crystal as the statue in town. It also felt like the magic of the wish that created all of this. It has to be it. Maybe we will get lucky and she will take it off and we can swipe it and leave unnoticed.” Sylvia suggested not believing for a second it would be that easy.
          Jana, silently as a scared rabbit, followed Sylvia around the back of the house. Jana removed her heels, as they would only be a liability even if she had an unnatural ability to walk in them. The window wasn't too high off the ground so it was easy to squeeze through it without making noise. Inside the house was dark, and smelled of dust and mold, and was thankfully carpeted. A tiled floor would have been much harder to sneak around on. It was too dark to make out many details but they could see that there was an empty book shelf, a sofa that looked like it would collapse if sat on, a few chairs scattered around including one that lay broken on the floor with all its legs scattered around it. Jana thought she saw a mouse, or was it a rat, scurry past and disappear into a wall. She was grateful her hunters instincts were kicking in, her 8 year old self might have yelped at the sight.
          “So what know.” Jana whispered almost silently.
          Sylvia, who now appeared to be a tiny and very naked woman since she was struggling to keep her body from glowing, held a finger to her lips and floated over to what appeared to be a partially open door on the far side of the room. On the other side she was an empty hallway that led to another door at the end with a flickering light shining through the cracks. This door was also partially opened, and she could she the shadow of someone moving around inside it. Sylvia pushed on the door and it opened with a creaking sound. Both Jana and Sylvia froze as it finished it's movement. The door at the far end opened and Sylvia dashed back into the sitting room just in time. She was getting tired of all the close calls.
          “Humph.” Came a mature feminine voice from the hall way, and it was followed by the sound of a door shutting, and then creaking as it partially opened again.
          Sylvia sighed in relief. “Can't do that again. One time is just the house settling, twice is intruders.” She gestured to Jana to follow. “Come on and hunters silence.”
          They crept down the hallway, every step Jana was convinced would set off alarms or she would step on a rat and it would screech in pain, but it never happened. They reached the door and carefully peered through the crack. Inside the room looked like something a witch from Halloween would feel right at home inside. There were shelves lined with bottles of scary looking liquid, a large cauldron filled with a bubbling and foul smelling brew, that the fairy stirred while having her nose stuck in a rather dusty looking book. In one corner of the room was an iron maiden that appeared to have a pool of blood at the floor beneath it. The gruesome looking thing had a greenish tint to it indicating it was made of bronze. The room was lit with several candles. Jana was about to make a comment to Sylvia when a loud thump resounded from the sitting room they had left. Both Jana and Sylvia jumped behind what appeared to be a laundry basket sitting in the hallway. The fairy burst through the door and headed down the hallway to the sitting room. Jana and Sylvia both knew an opportunity when they saw one and they entered the room with the cauldron. They knew they would only have moments before she was back so they needed to find a place to hide quickly. Luckily the iron maiden was a bit off the wall and there was room behind it to hide. Before ducking around it they saw it was occupied by what looked like a man who was quite dead. This sent a shutter through both of them.
          They managed to get behind the gruesome device a few moments before the fairy reentered the room carrying a rather large and struggling rat. She swore under her breath as she tossed the struggling creature into the cauldron. It screeched loudly for a few moments before falling silent.
          Jana shuttered. No creature deserved to die like that, even a rat. As a hunter she knew it was her duty to limit the suffering she caused her prey. Clearly this fairy had no such instinct. Jana hated her already.
          “Now let's see.” The fairy said as she floated over to a window that had a large, and rather complicated looking, telescope in it pointed outwards. “I know it's not in the town. It has to be somewhere nearby though. The town is the focal point of all this.” She muttered while adjusting the telescopes position. She looked through it for a few moments and then swore. “Blast it all. It is probably invisible anyway.”
          The fairy walked over to one of the shelves and removed a bottle with a metallic silver liquid. She poured it into the cauldron and stirred it. The liquid now smelled like an odd combination of licorice and rotting tomatoes. Jana had to fight the urge to gag.
          After stirring it for a few moments the fairy walked over to the telescope and removed a lense from it. She dipped it into the cauldron for a second and then removed it, wiped it clean, and replaced it on the telescope. She looked again through the telescope and smiled. “I am getting closer I can feel it. Just need a few more ingredients.”
          The dark fairy turned away from the telescope and stretched. She looked directly at the iron maiden. “You can come out now Jana Anderson and Sylvia Walker. I am not so rude as to ignore guests forever.”
          Both Jana and Sylvia felt their hearts stop for a second. How did she know they were there, and better yet how did she know their names?
          The fairy tapped her feet. “Come on now. Don't be shy.” She said with a sickeningly sweet voice. “I wont bite.” She chuckled. “Well I wont bite outside the bedroom.” She laughed.
          Jana and Sylvia crept out from behind the iron maiden and looked at the fairy who was looking at them with a gaze that could freeze boiling water. Neither found they had any words to say. “I am Macha. The people of the land of Ireland know me, or rather know my inspiration, as a Goddess of war, but have no fear I am not violent by nature.” She said trying to sound gentle and not pulling it off.
          Sylvia managed to gain enough of her confidence back to start glowing again and float in the air. “I don't think Alicia would agree with you there.” Sylvia said.
          Macha lowered her gaze to the floor and shook her head. “A regrettable, but necessary action on my part. As was him.” She said pointing to the iron maiden. “I couldn't have the prince come and rescue her either.”
          Jana and Sylvia looked inside the iron maiden again and realized this was the fate of the prince meant to rescue the princess. Both felt a sense of horror at the true realization that there would be no man on a white horse to save them.
          “I know what your thinking...” Macha began. “...how can the villain of this fairy tale kill the handsome prince. Well I had a devil of a time doing it. My magic attacks only managed to kill his horse and destroy his sword. It seems this wish didn't want any of its characters straying from their designated roles. And as the villain it is my destiny to die at the hands of the prince is it not? Anyway I had to created that device myself using very arcane magics. Magic that should be beyond anyone inside this pocket dimensions abilities.”
          Jana and Sylvia looked at Macha with stunned expressions. They had expected to be told they would die, that their souls would be added to her collection, or some other kind of villain like boasting. They hadn't expected this.
          “How do you...”Jana started but Macha held up a hand to stop her.
          “How do I know this world is the creation of a wish and exists inside a pocket dimension. The same way I know about the fact that your really an 8 year old girl. I know that Sylvia was a skull and before that a witch, and before that a waitress. I know Vengeance was once a 13 year old boy named William I believe. Could be wrong on that one. Shall I go on or is that enough?” She asked calmly.
          Sylvia and Jana just stood there stunned. Neither had expected this in their wildest imaginings. “I was created as the villain of this world, and I was happy to play that role in blissful ignorance. I was planning on how to senselessly ruin the princess's happiness out of some ridiculous sense of two dimensional jealousy when during a divination spell I saw things I wasn't meant to see. This world was created by a wish inside a wish, yours I believe...” She gestured at Jana. “I learned that I was merely a construct, based on the template of a magical monster inside the mind of miss Alicia Shaw. Do you know what that is like? Discovering you aren't supposed to exist at all? Can you even imagine?” Jana and Sylvia both shook their heads. They still were shocked at this turn of events. “I did more divination, but this time I directed them at the world around me. I learned many things. I learned that this is but one of many places created out of the hearts and dreams of forty two. I grew beyond the pitiful intentions of my creation. I refused to play the role I was given. A mere plot device intended to bring the prince and princess together. That was when I learned about you Jana. You see I was watching you as you raced Marty across the plains. It was amusing and I actually found myself routing for you. But then after it was all over I saw what happened. How a stone came out of him and you took it. It ruined his car. It was then I knew a similar fate awaited me. I am afraid I cannot allow that Jana. I wish you no harm but I cannot allow you to continue your quest. I knew you would one day come here and I took steps to make sure you would come to me. I took that girls soul and encased her in crystal. It would keep her wish safe till we had the chance to talk. I knew this would also have the annoying side effect of triggering the prince in the wish so I had to take steps to remove him as well. He had to die, otherwise he would keep coming back for me. That is how fairy tales work after all.” Macha shrugged.
          Jana stepped forward forgetting how scared she was for a second. “What exactly do you want to discuss with me?” She asked.
          Macha fell to her knees in a gesture of prostration that surprised everyone. “I am here to throw myself on your mercy. I don't wish to die. I wish, no I deserve to continue to exist. Just leave this world the way you came. I'll even let the princess go if you do. Go back to your hunter life. It is what you wanted after all isn't it?”
          Jana stammered for a second unsure what to say. “I....I don't wish to kill you or anyone. I just want to make the world as it was before all of this.” She said.
          Macha stood up and took Jana's hands in hers. Jana shuttered at how cold she felt. “But I don't exist in that world, and neither do most of the people in the town you just left. By bringing that world back you are killing us. Are your prepared to become a mass murderer like that?” Macha said almost in tears.
          “But that world is the way things are supposed to be. This world is a mistake.” Sylvia said not falling for Macha's performance.
          “Says who?” Macha said shooting a sharp glare at Sylvia. “Who is to say this isn't meant to be how things turn out?” She asked. “What arrogance gives you the right to make that choice?” Sylvia was getting angry now. “What about all the people from that world who's lives were lost in the change? What about all the people who are suffering now because of it?” Sylvia flew right in Macha's face. “Someone has to speak for them.”
          Macha glared back at Sylvia. She let Jana's hands go and balled hers into fists. “The people from the old world are gone, we are here now. Don't we have the same right to life as them. The only difference is we are here now and they aren't. Does that not give us the greater claim to existence?” Macha waved a hand at Sylvia and she felt herself pushed away though she felt no pain from it. Macha looked back at Jana. “I ask you to give up this quest and to give me the wish stones you have collected already. I give my word as a fairy, which cannot be broken, that if you do this I will allow you to leave unharmed, and will set the princess Alicia free to live and enjoy her wish. Another prince and another villain will be created for her I am sure. Just go home and forget all this. You will be forgiven and forgotten by me. I wont play the villain anymore. I swear that as an oath.” Macha said with a tone of finality in her voice.
          Jana thought on this for a while. She couldn't deny that Macha had a point. People in this world were suffering, but would ending this world cause the same amount of suffering that creating it caused. Jana thought about all the people who's wishes she had collected. Jin was happier now without his, and Marty seemed ok, but then there were others who weren't. Allisandra for one, and she still didn't know how she would ever get Vengeance's wish. Jana then thought of her parents. They were out there somewhere in wishes of their own most likely. Would she ever see them again. She missed them terribly. She thought of the people of the Earth who ceased to exist or were changed because of all of this. There were, without a doubt, more of them then the ones that were created by the wish. She even thought of the possibility of life on planets other then Earth. If they existed had they too been effected by all of this. No there were just too many hurt by the wish and too few created by it for Jana to agree fully. Macha had a point but it wasn't enough. Jana backed away. “I am sorry. You do have a right to exist, but far more people have been taken away to allow it to continue like this. I cannot abandon them.” Jana said lowering her eyes to the floor. Sylvia had never felt more proud of her then in this moment.
          Macha shook her head. “Them I am afraid I must play the villain one last time. Farewell Jana Anderson. Perhaps you will be reborn.” Macha held a finger towards Jana and Sylvia felt energy building up for an attack.
          “No!” She shouted as she launched herself at Macha's finger, wrapped her arms and legs around it, and bit into it as hard as she could.
          Macha screamed in pain and shook her hand trying to get Sylvia off. “Jana attack now while shes distracted!” Sylvia shouted.
          Jana pulled her dagger out of it's pouch and filling it with all the anger she could muster she flung it directly at Macha's heart.
          Two things happened at the same time. Macha loosened Sylvia's grip and flung her against the wall which took Sylvia's breath away, and she held up her other hand in front of the flying dagger and in an instant the dagger froze in mid air. Jana let out a gasp.
          “Foolish child. You try to fight me with magic do you? Magic is mine to control. Magic is the core of my being and I can bend it to my will.” Macha said leaving behind any sounds of sympathy she had had before.
          The dagger wobbled in the air and then turned towards Jana. With a flick of her wrist Macha sent the dagger towards Jana. Jana tried to dodge but the dagger sliced through her right shoulder sending waves of pain through her and tearing her dress. Blood dripped down her arm and Jana fell to her knees holding the cut with her other hand.
          Macha then gestured towards Sylvia. “You have magic to. Which means you are mine to control as well.” She lifted her hand and Sylvia felt herself moving to match it.
          Sylvia struggled with all her will against Macha's control but she felt like she was playing a video game with a broken controller. All she could do was watch as Macha caused her to build up her magic into a blast that would easily kill Jana instantly.
          “I was hoping you would show me the exit to this world. I can see outside it but I can't go there. There are other ways I can prevent this world from ending, and I am sure you're death would only result in someone taking your place. I will leave here eventually and place every wisher in crystal. This world, and my existence will never end once I do.” Macha said as she prepared to make Sylvia attack. Sylvia whispered a silent apology as she felt herself getting ready to fire that blast directly into Jana's heart.
          Then the control dropped. Sylvia fell to the floor at the same moment as a horrible scream of pain came from Macha followed by a sizzling sound. Jana, with a stunned expression, watched as Macha doubled over and collapsed to the floor with what looked like a smoking dagger protruding from her back. Standing in the doorway was Ryan the troubadour looking annoyed.
          “I told you she is a fairy. I told you to remember that didn't I? Trying to fight her with magic. You might as well try to stop a flood with a bucket of water.” He said.
          “What did you do?” Jana stammered as she pulled her dagger out of the wall behind her and wiped the blood off of it. She winced in pain from the cut on her arm. It would definitely leave a scar she feared. Looking over at Sylvia she saw that her friend was fine if a bit dizzy.
          “My dagger was made of iron. Fairies don't like iron it hurts them like acid and drains their magic. There is no time to talk take what you came for and let's get out of her before she recovers.” Ryan said.
          Jana, almost out of instinct, darted over to Macha's prone body and ripped the necklace from around her neck and placed it in her pouch. She then held her dagger up and tried to thrust it into her neck to finish her off. Jana was pushed back as if she was a magnet facing a magnet with the same polarity. Ryan shook his head.
          “Your dagger is enchanted. Anything magical is hers to control even in this state. We would need iron to finish her off and unfortunately the dagger was all I had, and it wont help anymore.” Ryan said pointing to the dagger which was quickly dissolving into a gray powder. “Come on let's get out of here before she recovers.” Ryan said heading for the door.
          “But...” Jana said.
          “Talk later! Run now!” Sylvia said and she darted towards the door.
          Jana took one last look at Macha, who was starting to groan loudly, and dashed for the door. The three intruders made it to the front door of the house in record time. They knocked the door off its already weakened hinged and ran down the mountain to where Jana had left her unicorn. She saw that there was another unicorn next to it, only this one looked less like a converted motorcycle, and more like it had been born in this world.
          “Come on we have to get out of sight.” Ryan said and he pointed to a large series of boulders a short ways off. “There will be good.” He said and mounted his unicorn and dashed behind the rocks.
          Jana followed on hers with Sylvia floating behind. They were only behind the rocks for a moment when the shock waves of an explosion shook the land all around them. Bursting off the mountain, encased in fire, was Macha. Jana couldn't make out her face but she knew it was probably twisted in anger.
          “YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM ME GIRL! I WILL FIND YOU EVENTUALLY!” Macha said and she flew off in the direction of the town.
          The trio waited in their hiding place for about two hours. Jana looked at the crystal containing the girls soul. It was a sky blue topaz gen encased in a pewter setting and attached to a chain. If Jana didn't know better she would have thought this was a wish stone as it looked almost exactly like the others she had collected. The biggest difference was she didn't get the same feeling of power from it that she got from them. It felt more like holding a small piece of ice. It was quite cold to the touch but it didn't feel wet at all like ice would.
          “Ok I think the coast is clear now.” Ryan said snapping Jana out of her chain of thought.
          “Are we safe now?” Jana asked.
          Ryan shook his head. “From that thing? I don't think we will ever be safe from her as long as she exists. We should keep a look out for her while we head back to town. She did take off in that direction after all.”
          Sylvia fluttered and landed on Jana's shoulder. “Yeah we would be foolish to assume she is gone for good.” Sylvia shuttered as she remembered losing control of her body and almost killing Jana. She didn't know she had such magic inside her. She tried to summon it herself but found that it wasn't there.
          “She must have used my body as a lense of sorts.” Sylvia muttered to herself.
          “Hmmm?” Jana asked.
          “Oh it's nothing.” Sylvia replied not wanting to think about it anymore.
          The three began riding back to town. Sylvia on Jana's shoulder while she rode her Kawasaki unicorn, and Ryan on his more “natural” looking unicorn.
          “I've never seen a unicorn like that before. The horn is very unique.” Ryan commented. Jana and Sylvia both chuckled. “I doubt you would believe us if we told you why it looks different.” Sylvia said.
          “You know what's been bugging me?” Jana asked.
          “What?” Replied Sylvia.
          Jana shook her head. “It's nothing really it's just.... If Macha is hurt by iron how did she have an iron maiden in her room that she obviously used. Wouldn't touching that burn her as well?” Sylvia was glad Jana was paying close attention to little details like that. Such attention in this messed up world, and any others she encountered on her quest, could mean the difference between life and death in the right circumstances. “I think it was made out of bronze actually. It seemed to have a semi green tint to it. Bronze doesn't hurt fairies like iron does.” Sylvia replied. “Also I am currently a fairy of sorts and I felt no pain from touching it either. It must not have been made of iron.”
          Jana nodded. It made sense. As much sense as anything in this pocket dimension did. “I guess we need to find some more iron then.” Jana looked at Ryan. “You know where we can get some more of it?”
          Ryan pushed his unicorn to be alongside Jana's. He had been riding a little slower while he was thinking of things. “We could probably get some from the blacksmith in town. We probably should visit there when we arrive.”
          Jana nodded but before she could say anything Sylvia whispered in her ear. “Jana a word in private please?” She asked.
          Jana nodded to Ryan. “Excuse me a moment sir.” She said trying to sound like she fit in this world.
          Jana rode her unicorn a small distance from Ryan so she could get a private moment with her companion. Sylvia seemed troubled and this worried Jana. Sylvia was the more level headed one of their group, and seeing her with this look of almost panic on her face really meant things had to be bad. Jana sighed as she anticipated the bad news.
          “Jana I don't think I need to tell you that this has become about more then just getting a wish stone.” She started.
          Jana was confused. “What do you mean?” She asked.
          Sylvia sighed. “That creature Macha. She is one of the most dangerous things we have faced. She seems able to look outside of this pocket but as of yet she can't seem to leave it. She said she wanted you to tell her where the doorway was. That fold we passed through from the desert that was once Del Rio. You remember right?” Sylvia asked.
          “Of course.” Jana replied.
          “We cannot let her escape this world. Imagine the damage she could do out there. If she can take control of anything that uses magic like she hinted at...” Sylvia stopped as she saw the light come on in Jana's eyes.
          “The Frozen Daggers!” Jana exclaimed thinking of Allisandra. Would they become puppets as easily as Sylvia had? “Vengeance too. My god I didn't even realize.” Jana was almost in tears at the thought. “We have to kill her don't we.” Jana said.
          Sylvia nodded. “That or trap her in here somehow. I am hoping that when we retrieve the wish stone this world will cease to exist and everything created by it will as well. Or at the very least this pocket will fold in on itself and be closed trapping her inside it. It is paramount that we not lead her to that doorway no matter what happens. You understand me right Jana?” Sylvia asked with a tone of finality in her voice.
          Jana nodded. Sylvia was right, even a fool could see that. The world outside this pocket was in enough turmoil without some enraged fairy reigning fire down upon it or something else equally dramatic. Jana sighed at the thought that none of this would have happened if she had just wished for a new doll. “How can my wish have created something like this. Things as powerful as Vengeance and Macha. I don't understand it.”
          Sylvia silently agree with Jana. Her wish back in that diner did have some stunningly powerful results. “Best not to dwell on that chain of thought right now Jana. We need to focus on what is at hand, not what caused it. Think how far you have come already.”
          “You're right I...” Jana raised a hand to where her dagger had cut her shoulder and ripped her dress. She had been so distracted she had forgotten all about the pain she had felt when she had been cut. Much to her surprise not only was her dress mended but there was no evidence she had ever been cut. “My cut. It's gone!” Jana exclaimed.
          Sylvia smiled. “In fairy tales the princess usually isn't hurt for long after leaving the evil witch's lair. Looks like that happens here too.” She laughed glad to have something good happen for a change.
          “Too bad we can't rely on the princess doesn't die and the prince kills the monster like that. Macha has really disrupted this wish hasn't she?” Jana asked.
          Sylvia nodded. She was glad there didn't seem to be any environmental side effects from Macha's disruption of the “natural” order of this place. Still Sylvia couldn't help but wonder how a wish could go so horribly wrong like this. How could such an integral part of a fairy tale like Macha possibly have such control over things. This troubled Sylvia greatly.
          Without realizing it they had managed to arrive at the outskirts of the town while talking. Ryan rode in front of Jana's unicorn and held up his hands to stop them moving. Jana, noticing just in time, pulled on the reins causing the unicorn to rear up and neigh loudly.
          “Something isn't right. You feel that at all?” Ryan asked.
          Sylvia opened her mind to the magic around them and directed it towards the town. Again the blinding glare from the wish all around them blocked a great deal of her sensing ability, but she felt a sense of dread and darkness coming from the town. Jana pulled out the telescope the inn keeper had given her and pointed it towards the town. What she saw chilled her to the bone.
          “Macha is standing in front of the crystal statue.” Jana said while looking through the scope.
          “What do we do now?” She asked Sylvia.
          “We have to get her away from there somehow. But how?” She said unsure.
          Ryan turned his unicorn away. “Follow me I know a back way into the inn. We should be able to get inside without being seen from the fountain. We can figure out what to do there.”
          Ryan slowly moved his unicorn towards the east side of the town with Jana following slowly behind. Both riders jumped at every little noise they made for fear of being heard by the fairy. All Jana could think of was she thought fairies were supposed to give money for lost teeth, and make flowers bloom. Someone needed to tell that to Macha she thought with an uneasy smile.
          Getting into the inn wasn't hard. As Ryan had said there was a back entrance that was accessible from the outside of town. Jana, Sylvia, and Ryan all sat in the dining hall trying to figure out what to do next.
          “Obviously I can't do anything. She will just take control of me again. Also you best leave that dagger of yours where she wont be able to use it either.” Sylvia said.
          Jana nodded and laid the dagger on the table. She also placed the bag of wish stones there as well. Jana didn't know if Macha could somehow make use of those, but she figured it was best to keep them out of her reach for the moment. She was at a loss as to what to do. The blacksmith shop was on the other side of the square. There was no way to get to it without Macha seeing her, and she was unlikely to just stand by the statue and allow it. Jana rolled the soul gem in her hand. She had already tried to break it open, thinking that doing so would let the soul go back to its body, but it was proving to be as hard as a diamond.
          “So how do you think I get this back in the girl?” Jana asked nonchalantly.
          Sylvia floated over to the gem and looked at it. “Probably just touching it to the statue would be enough, but I don't know for sure. It would explain why Macha is guarding the statue. She knew you would have to come to it eventually and she is waiting for that.”
          “I would offer to do it myself, but she would likely kill me before I got close enough and take the gem back.” Ryan said while mindlessly strumming his lute. “We seem to be in quite the pickle here don't we.”
          Jana crept over to a window and peered out making sure not to be noticed. She saw Macha standing there with her arms crossed around her waist. There was no way to get past her without being noticed. Sneaking up behind her wasn't going to work either because she kept looking all around as well. The statue seemed as far away as the moon at the moment.
          “Macha disrupted the natural flow of this world, by violating the conditions of her creation.” Sylvia began talking more to herself then to anyone else. “She killed the prince, and the villain of a fairy tale never kills the prince. I wonder if her disruption is having other effects. If only I could get the exact wording of the wish that created all of this maybe that would give me some idea.”
          Ryan strummed his lute. “I wish to be a princess in a hidden fairy tale world full of princesses dressed in lace and gowns with a handsome prince looking to rescue me.” He almost sang it and didn't seem to pay any attention to the reaction he got.
          Sylvia just stared at him silently for a few moments. Jana was pacing in front of the window and didn't seem to notice what had just happened.
          “Is that it? And if so how do you know?” Sylvia asked.
          Ryan placed his lute on the table, stood up, and stretched. “I don't know for sure. I seem to remember hearing Alicia sing something like that once when she was dancing in the town square. People loved watching her dance. She was quite beautiful.” Ryan cleared his throat. “It was shortly before Macha attacked her. I don't know if it means anything but you keep talking about wishes like they are important. Figured maybe that would help?” He said with a question in his eye.
          “It might. I don't know.” Sylvia mused. “Hidden world.... that could explain the pocket dimension rather then just changing a part of the world like most of the wishes have done. But if it's hidden then how is there a doorway?” Sylvia thought. She floated into the air and ran all of this through her head several times. “Macha is able to look outside of the pocket but she can't find the entrance. A hidden world wouldn't need an exit, but it might have one, then again it might not.” Sylvia was trying not to confuse herself.
          Jana paced over to one of the suits of armor and ran her finger over it. It felt like a cold metal man with no soul or emotions. Just a silent sentry doomed to spent eternity guarding nothing. “Hmmm metal.....” Jana had an idea. “Innkeeper I have a question for you?” She shouted startling Sylvia. Ryan looked up with interest.
          The innkeeper almost raced to Jana's side and bowed. “Yes my lady. Anything I can do to help.” He said.
          “These suits of armor. What are they made out of?” Jana said. Sylvia's eyes lit up as she realized where Jana was going with this.
          “Umm steel I believe.” The innkeeper said.
          Jana smiled. “Steel is made from iron is it not?” She asked Sylvia.
          “Yes it is but.” Sylvia smiled. “I think I know where you going with this but usually steel doesn't hurt fairies like iron does. I don't know why. Possibly something to do with the refining process.” Sylvia said and Jana's smile dropped.
          “Damn...well it was an idea.” Jana lamented.
          The innkeeper bowed again. “I have one made out of iron.” He pointed to a tarnished looking suit next to the fireplace. “It's rather old and rusty. I got it from the blacksmith years ago in return for introducing his daughter to her husband.”
          Both Jana and Sylvia rushed over to the suit kicking up a cloud of dust in the face of the startled innkeeper. It was far too big for Jana to wear and it must have weighed a ton. Glancing at Ryan, who was watching with interest, they could tell it was too big for him as well. Wearing it like this would be like wearing a clunky suit made out of cans with no eyes and barely the ability to walk.
          “If I put this on it would probably morph into a dress anyway. Maybe we can throw pieces of it at her.” Jana said running her hand over the cold metal.
          “THAT'S IT!!!” Sylvia shouted loudly startling everyone in the room.
          Jana looked astonished. “I was kidding. But I guess it would work for a second. Hitting her in the head with an iron gauntlet or whatever it's called might work long enough.” Jana said and she tried to remove one of the suit's hands.
          Sylvia sighed. “No I don't mean that. This wish it changes things. It made your bike a unicorn. Every time you tore your dress it fixed itself. You haven't even had to use the bathroom since we have been here and it's been two days.”
          Jana was confused. “What are you getting at?”
          “Come on Jana you have to have noticed this too.” Sylvia buzzed around the head of the suit of iron armor. “This wish. It corrects itself. Whenever something happens that doesn't reflect whats in a fairy tale the wish tries to fix it.” Sylvia flew at Jana and ripped a piece of fabric from her sleeve.
          “Hay what the...!?!” Jana exclaimed.
          They watched the torn spot fix itself after a few seconds. “See?” Sylvia said. “This wish wants to correct anything that is... I don't know incorrect about it.” Sylvia didn't care that she couldn't find a better word to use. She was on a roll and didn't want to lose it. “So answer me this. Macha killed the prince and the villain never kills the prince. So why hasn't the wish corrected that mistake yet?” Sylvia asked.
          Jana pondered for a moment. She remembered the site where they found the horse bones, and then her mind went to the iron, or rather bronze, maiden. “Maybe she isn't letting it. She is aware of what's going on and she shouldn't be. So maybe anytime a person seems to be taking on the role of the prince she kills him before he can. After all we don't know what she has been up to in other towns assuming there are any.” Jana said. “I still don't see...” Jana smiled. “Wait a second...” Sylvia smiled. “You got it now don't you? Macha is disrupting this wish with her determination, her stubbornness to survive.” Sylvia floated directly in Jana's face. “This is a wild idea and it might not work but maybe you can be the next prince Jana.”
          “Me?!?” Jana choked. “Why me? I was thinking Ryan or the innkeeper.”
          “You're the most stubborn person I know Jana, and you also have your hunter instincts. I bet you can make this armor fit you with your belief that you are the next prince.” Sylvia said.
          “But I'm female.” Jana said.
          Sylvia laughed. “This wish has been so disrupted that I am willing to bet the doorway we entered through is a sign that it's beginning to tear itself apart. I don't know that for sure but it's a safe bet. Anyway with all that is going on maybe the wish wont notice, or wont care that you're the wrong gender for the role. It's worth a try isn't it?” Sylvia asked.
         
          Jana pointed at Ryan. “Why can't he be the next prince?” She asked.
          Ryan laughed. He was having trouble following the conversation. But this part he understood. “Oh no. I lack any decent fighting skills other then throwing a dagger which I doubt would help us here.” Ryan patted the innkeeper who didn't even seem to notice what was happening. “And the other men here are too old.”
          Jana sighed. She knew there was probably no way out of this. Once Sylvia had set her mind to something it was almost impossible to change it. “Ok I'll try it but it wont work.” She said. “You can't think that Jana. You have to make it work with your willpower and stubbornness. Just like Macha has changed things.” Sylvia said.
          Ryan, and the innkeeper helped Jana into the clunky half rusted suit of armor. It took the better part of an hour and they had to start over a few times, but eventually they managed to get her inside the clumsy thing. Jana couldn't see through the helmet as her height wasn't enough to reach it, and she couldn't figure out how to move much either.
          “Ok what now?” Jana asked with a muffled voice.
          “Wait till it starts to...” Sylvia stopped as it happened.
          The suit began to change to a pink color and Jana noticed it started to feel more like silk then metal. It was becoming a princess gown just as she had predicted.
          “Now it's time to see if I am right or not. Jana listen to me and do exactly what I say. Think to yourself. No think isn't the right word. Believe in your mind that you are the prince and it's time to save your princess from the evil fairy. Think it. Repeat it over and over again in your mind. Channel all your stubbornness into that one thought.” Jana was about to ask a question but Sylvia interrupted. “There is no time for anything else. It's almost completely a dress now and once the iron is gone completely I doubt we can get it back. Just try it please.” Sylvia said. “Ok.” Jana muttered. She began to repeat the phrase in her head. She thought it was silly at first and she felt the suit becoming more and more a princess gown by the second, then she started to think that was silly on it's own. “Why should a suit of armor become a gown just because a girl is wearing it? That is so sexist.” Jana muttered again, and she began to get angry. How dare this wish assume a girl can't wear a suit of armor. How dare it make that assumption. Women could fight just as well as men any day of the week. Jana had proved that several times as a hunter. If she could be a hunter for 18 years when she was just a child why can't she be a prince for one day. Jana noticed the suit had stopped changing and was stuck in between a dress and armor.
          “It's working Jana keep going!” Sylvia shouted excited. “Bend the power of this wish to your will now.”
          Jana closed her eyes, and poured all her anger at the sexist nature of this wish, she poured all her stubbornness into the thought. “I am the prince and it's time to save my princess.” She felt herself grow in size and her body shifted and changed. The pink silk vanished and was replaced by pristine iron armor. All the rust fell away, and Jana found she could see through the helmet and move as easily as she ever could in her hunter clothes. In her hand she felt an iron broadsword appear, and a shield in the other.
          Jana took a few steps forward and Sylvia clapped giddily. “Wow I can't believe that worked. Deus ex Machina is a terrible plot device but sometimes in a place like this it can come in handy.” Sylvia said. “How very fairy tale though. Suddenly the hero can win. I guess we should have seen this coming.” Sylvia was almost falling over in joyous laughter.
          “Deus what?” Jana said and noticed her voice was now more rough sounding. Masculine is the word she'd use. “Ummm I think I might be a guy.” Jana said.
          Sylvia laughed again. “Not surprising. This wish has the ability to change stuff drastically. I mean look at me. Don't worry it probably isn't permanent.” Sylvia hoped. She didn't want to add to Jana's fears.
          “I wonder what Allisandra would think of this.” Jana said with her surprisingly male voice. Ryan looked astonished at what had just happened. The innkeeper however seemed to not have noticed at all. He gestured towards the door. “Good sir. Your love is being held captive by the evil fairy in the town square. You must go to rescue her now, and save the rest of us from her evil wrath.” He said as if Jana had always been a dashing prince. The wish have shifted to allow for this change, and the people created by it were reflecting that.
          Jana looked at Sylvia who nodded. She was enjoying this far too much Jana mused. “You're never going to let me hear the end of this are you?” She or rather he asked.
          Sylvia chuckled. “Maybe. Maybe not. Anyway best of luck to you. I'd help but then you would have to fight me too. I'll keep out of sight.” Sylvia winked.
          Jana walked towards to main entrance of the inn the suit of armor clanking all the way. She knew she had to ability to fight, her hunter training had taught her that. She just hoped it, along with the iron, would be enough to win.
          “JANA!!!” Sylvia shouted flying up behind her. “Remember don't assume just because the prince is meant to win that you can't lose. You have to make the win happen. She has killed princes before she can do it again. Don't forget that.” Sylvia said and she flew out of sight of the door again. Jana shook her head. “Was that supposed to make me feel better about this.” She mused as she reached for the doorknob.
          The light of the town square filled her senses and she saw Macha standing before the crystal statue waiting for a challenge. Jana would give that to her, and she would win. She had to.
          The sunlight reflected off the face of the crystal statue and the water from the fountain poured all around it making a soft sound. It would have been a beautiful effect if not for the terrified expression on the girls face. Jana slowly approached the statue confident in herself. She felt her hunters instincts in full force behind her. The square itself was empty of people. The towns folk were either too scared to come out or where simply busy elsewhere.
          Macha looked at the armored Jana with a look of annoyance. She lowered her gaze to the floor and shook her head. It was more as if she was tired then angry. “Another stupid prince to deal with.” She threw her hands skyward. “I so long to leave this pocket world and be done with this nonsense. When is this wish gonna learn it can't stop me.” Macha jumped down from the statue and approached Jana. “I suppose you are going to spout something about being here to save your beloved? Well don't I have heard it all before. Now shove off I have other things to deal with right now.” She said angrily.
          Jana hesitated for a second. She was surprised that Macha didn't realize who she was talking to here. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe Macha wouldn't take this battle seriously. That would give Jana an advantage.
          “Face me witch. It is time to release the princess.” Jana said in her new rough voice trying to sound heroic and maybe a little cliché. It seemed appropriate.
          “I don't have time for this.” Macha said and pointed a finger at Jana.
          She fired a beam of energy at her. One that Jana could tell would have vaporized her instantly if it hit her skin. The beam impacted with the chest plate of her iron armor and Jana was pushed back a little but otherwise unharmed. The beam dispersed around her body and vanished harmlessly in the air.
          Macha looked more amused then surprised. “I see this wish is getting cleaver now.”
          She launched herself into the air and dove at Jana. Jana quickly ducked and made a swing with her sword at Macha. She clipped the fairies arm and Macha fell to the ground. Her arm sizzled and a tiny part of Jana's sword disintegrated and fell to the ground.
          “It is your time demon fairy. This world is better off without you.” Jana said trying her best to ham it up. She was starting to enjoy having Macha on the defensive. “Surrender now and I will spare your life. Fail to do so and I shall run you through like a dog.” Jana said.
          Macha stood up and brushed herself off. She winched in pain at the burn on her arm caused by the iron sword. Turning her gaze to Jana, Jana jumped a little at the now demonic look she had. Her eyes were glowing red with what looked like fire shooting out of them and she had an aura around her. The ground shook a little, but Jana kept her footing. Macha opened her mouth much wider then any human could ever do and a burst of fire shot out heading for Jana. Jana held up her iron shield to block the flames and they passed harmlessly around her. Macha looked really annoyed now as she stood to her full height.
          “Very well.” She said with a voice that shook the town. “If you want my full attention you shall have it.”
          Macha fired another beam of magic at the ground Jana was standing on. A large chunk of it was vaporized and Jana fell into the small hole it created. Her armor made loud clanking noises as she hit the ground and the breath was knocked out of her for a moment. She looked up at the top of the pit she was now in and saw Macha hovering over it.
          “I suppose you think your smart don't you? Using all iron like that. But as you can see there are ways around that little problem. I tire of this game already.” Macha turned her attention away from Jana, and using some kind of telekinesis, ripped a piece off one of the buildings and hurled it into the pit. Jana managed to lift her shield enough to hold off the rock long enough scramble out of the pit. She lost her shield in the process but thankfully she wasn't a pancake now. “You're only prolonging your suffering you know.” Macha said and took to the sky again out of the reach of her sword.
          Jana looked up at her enemy and tried to figure out what to do. Macha just floated around and fired beams at the ground around Jana, systematically cutting of her places to run. The occasional beam hit Jana but the iron in her suit simply deflected the blast.
          Jana looked around the square, frantic for some kind of weapon that could hit her airborne foe. Her eyes fell on the fountain and the crystal statue. If the girl died Jana would get the wish stone, she knew that. She bet that Macha realized that as well and knew that she wouldn't want the girl dead. She realized she had to risk the wisher's life on this gamble but she really didn't have another choice. It was only a matter of time till Macha opened enough holes to cause the entire street to collapse making Jana to fall to her death. Iron wouldn't protect her from that. It would only make it worse. Steeling her resolve Jana ran over to the statue and clung onto it as if it was a life raft. Macha almost fired a beam directly at the statue but caught herself just in time. She dove at Jana and shouted “GET AWAY FROM THERE!” She swung her arm and knocked Jana clear of the statue. Macha's arm burned from touching the iron and large portion of the top of Jana's breastplate fizzled away like the tip of the sword had.
          Jana knew she was in trouble now. A good portion of her armor had dissolved away leaving part of her vulnerable to attack. One good shot from Macha and she was finished. She knew if she was going to end this fight it had to be right now while Macha was distracted by the pain. She considered rushing her and trying to chop her head off with the sword, but figured that wouldn't work and if she miscalculated her aim her sword would dissolve leaving her unarmed. Jana looked at the shavings from her armor laying on the ground, and at Macha who was rubbing her arm. With a coy smile, an idea formed in her head. She didn't know if it would work but if it did she could end this right now. She had to try. There was nothing else.
          Jana grabbed a handful of the particles and rushed at Macha letting out a fierce war cry. Macha, startled, looked at Jana charging her and started to lift a finger to attack, but before she could Jana tossed the handful of what she hoped were iron shavings directly at Macha's face. They went into her eyes and a loud sizzling noise accompanied by Macha's screams of agony filled the town square. Jana lifted the sword in her hands and felt the spirit of the huntress fill her body once again. To her amazement the suit of armor melted away and Jana found herself back in her huntress clothes and female body. She had inadvertently changed the wish again around herself.
          Her sword was still in hand and with a bright flash she arched it through the air towards Macha's neck. Macha's skin melted like butter and as Jana's sword disintegrated she saw Macha's head fall to the ground severed from her neck. A wave of energy came out of Macha's body knocking Jana several feet back. She landed on the ground but was only slightly dazed. She couldn't help but smile as she looked at Macha's headless body. It slumped to the ground and collapsed. The head rolled to its side and its eyes met Jana's.
          “So I couldn't escape my role after all. Well met Jana....but....remember......I...a..m....not your.....only....kill.....toda.....” A breathy voice came from the mouth of the head before letting out a single gasp and falling silent.
          Jana stood up and limped over to the severed head. She was surprised it had ended so quickly. In the end it was no harder then slaying an animal for dinner back in her time before she met Sylvia. Was that time even real or just a memory created by her wish. It didn't really matter at this moment.
          Macha was arrogant. She thought herself invincible, and in the end that was what defeated her much more then Jana's sword had. She picked up the head by the hair and held it up. She let out another war cry, this one of victory, and tossed the head aside. Right now Jana felt invincible. “Bring Vengeance on...”, she thought. “...I'll cut him down to.” The moment passed and Jana composed herself.
          Jana looked at the statue and for a split second she felt in her mind that she was really the prince of this world. There was her beloved standing in crystal waiting to be rescued so they could live happily ever after. The moment quickly passed and Jana thought to herself. “Ok it is time to be me again. I am not a prince I am a huntress on a quest to fix the world.”
          Jana almost didn't notice Sylvia and Ryan rushing up to her. She was so caught up in this moment the world around her didn't seem to move at all. It was like everything was in slow motion. She had saved the world today. Not from her wish, but from the tyranny of something created by that wish. Jana really felt it was truly possible to complete her quest at this moment. If she could over come such a powerful foe with such ease, then surely nothing could stop her.
          “You did it Jana. And you did it alone. You must feel so proud right now.” Sylvia said. Jana nodded. “I never would have figured out that trick with the armor and bending the wish to my will without you. Never in a million years.” Jana said as she took the pixie Sylvia in her arms and hugged her trying not to squash her tiny body.
          Ryan coughed. “I hate to break up this touching scene but don't you have something you need to do.” He tossed the necklace with the soul gem at Jana who caught it. He then handed her back her dagger and the pouch with the wish stones.
          “Yeah.” Jana said looking at the tiny stone that contained something so important. She looked around at the town which was starting to repair itself, much like her princess dress had done so many times before. She wondered what was about to happen to this place. Would it keep going or vanish? Jana shook the thoughts from her head and approached the statue. She held up the crystal and pushed it against the chest of the frozen girl. At first nothing happened, but after a few seconds the crystal melted and enveloped the gem. Jana backed away as the crystal princess floated into the air and light poured out of it. Not a bright blinding light but a more soft and warm light.
          The statue seemed to melt in on itself and the figure of a young girl, in a breathtaking golden gown with a diamond encrusted tiara, golden blond hair and light blue eyes appeared in its place. She looked as if she was just waking up and Jana knelt next to her and helped her sit up.
          “Do you know where you are?” Jana asked.
          The girl, Alicia, rubbed her eyes and looked around the town square. “I'm still in my dream.” She said with a whisper.
          Jana explained to the girl all that had happened. Not just with her own wish but with the whole world. The girl looked saddened when she realized her wish had created such a terrible monster. She felt tears on her face as she heard that the prince of her dream was dead. Jana didn't mention that the wish would probably create another prince for her in time. She hated being dishonest like that but she felt if the girl knew a new prince would arrive she might not give up the wish.
          “After all that has happened to you. Do you not want to give this dream up?” Jana asked as softly and as kindly as she could.
          Alicia, who was clearly no older then12, started crying. “I just want to go home.” She said and fell into Jana's arms. A bright light came between Jana and Alicia and Alicia cried in pain. Jana pushed herself gently away from Alicia and saw that familiar corona of light coming from her chest. The light formed itself into the spitting image of the soul gem, a sky blue topaz, and it fell to the ground. Alicia collapsed to the ground and Jana picked up the gem. She looked around the town and all the towns folk started to slump over, like marionettes that had just had their strings cut. The buildings all started to take on the shape of two dimensional stage props. Jana stood up and looked at Sylvia with concern. Sylvia was still a pixie but her skin was turning into the pale color of bones.
          “I think we should go back to that doorway while we still can.” Sylvia said. She felt her heart hurting as she knew she was about to lose her body. She was heartened knowing that it was going to happen with or without her leaving here. At least that was one choice she didn't have to force Jana to make.
          The sky started to turn dark and Jana lifted up the unconscious body of Alicia. The poor girl was so over whelmed by all this she had fainted. She quickly walked over to her unicorn which was starting to look more metallic, and mounted it laying Alicia across her lap. Ryan followed behind and mounted his unicorn which was starting to look rather sickly. Sylvia floated over to Jana and lighted on her shoulder.
          As Jana and Ryan yanked on the reins of their mounts they started towards the entrance to this strange pocket dimension. Jana couldn't help but think how she would miss this place. Not needing to use the bathroom, and having her wound's heal themselves was nice. Her mind went to Sylvia and to what was about to happen to her.
          “Sylvia I'm sorry. Is there anyway you can stay like that?” Jana asked.
          Sylvia sighed. She didn't want to show Jana how much this was hurting her. She knew Jana could do nothing about it and she didn't need that added burden. She mustered up the best cheerful voice she could. “It's ok Jana. We both knew this was coming. It's ok I really am fine with it. My purpose now is to be your guide in that box. I'll be alright trust me.” Sylvia said only half believing it herself. It had been nice to move around freely. To eat and to sleep again. She wanted to keep it that way desperately but knew she couldn't. Once this was all over she would have her body back she hoped. She was unsure that was true but didn't mention a word of her doubts to Jana.
          The ride to the doorway was done mostly in silence. The change seemed to be slowing down somewhat. Jana's unicorn felt more like the bike but it still was a unicorn. Ryan's unicorn was looking a bit green but still running as fast as ever. The bunnies were all gone and the grass seemed to be withering. The sky was getting steadily darker in spite of the sun being at its apex. Magic was a weird thing sometimes. Alicia was still unconscious hanging slumped over Jana's unicorn.
          The door seemed more visible then it had been when they last saw it. Maybe Sylvia had been right and Macha's meddling was tearing this world up. It didn't really matter anymore now that the world was ending on its own.
          Jana hesitated in front of the portal. “Sylvia...”She said but her pixie friend shook her head. “Just go. It's going to happen anyway. Best it happens willingly.” She said and closed her eyes feeling tears begin to form.
          Jana gave one good whip of the reins and the kawasaki unicorn jumped through the door. The change was instant. As soon as Jana felt the blast of heat from the desert she felt herself sitting on the motorcycle. Her bag of supplies lay just outside the portal and Jana picked them up. She looked in the bag and everything was there, including the telescope the innkeeper had given her. She heard a plop in the sand and saw Sylvia's skull laying there next to her dagger and the bag of wish stones. She picked her up, and whispered an apology to her before placing her back in her box. She didn't want Alicia to see the skull. She had been through enough already. She placed the box on the ground and lifted the unconscious girl in her arms.
          Ryan's unicorn hopped through the portal, and instead of changing into anything it simply lost its look of being sick and became a healthy, and majestic beast of legend. “Wow.” Jana said. “It looks like things that leave there become real somehow. It is a good thing Macha is dealt with.” She said.
          Both Ryan and Jana watched as the wrinkle in the air folded in on itself and vanished. The odd feeling of things not being right faded as well and soon they found themselves in a very normal and hot desert.
          “Jana let me out!” Sylvia shouted from the box.
          Alicia was still unconscious so Jana felt ok letting her friend out. Ryan could take it she was certain. She lifted the lid of the box and held Sylvia up. Ryan was clearly shaken for a moment but it passed.
          “So that is the true form of our pixie friend then.” Ryan said as he dismounted. “I guess I have seen weirder things.
          “You have a wish yourself. I can sense it now that I am not being blinded by Alicia's.” Sylvia said which astonished Jana. Ryan just smiled.
          “I was trying to keep that fact from you back there though I am not sure how good as job I was doing.” He strummed his lute softly. “You had enough on your mind as it was.”
          Jana just stared blankly at Ryan. She couldn't believe her luck at finding another wish so quickly and with such little effort. “Umm Ryan ummm.” She stammered.
          “You want my wish stone as well I am guessing.” He said while strumming his lute mindlessly. Jana just nodded. “If you would be so kind.” Sylvia said.
          Ryan strolled around his unicorn strumming softly. “I am not refusing you. I have a sense of how important it is, but you see I am not quite ready to give this up. You see...” He cleared his throat. “... back in the real world I was in an accident a few years ago. Lost the use of both my legs and my left arm. I had wanted to be a musician. To sing songs to screaming crowds and soak in their adoration as they listened to me. Now I have a chance to do that. I got stuck in Alicia's wish. I guess every fairy tale needs a bard after all.” He stopped strumming his lute and looked solemn. “Now that I am free of that place I have the chance to live my dream even if it is just a fantasy.” Ryan looked at Jana in the eye. “I will make a deal with you. Don't pursue me. Allow me to travel this new world and sing my songs to all those who will listen. Then when you are nearing completion of your quest I will find you and give you my wish willingly. Don't worry. I am a bard finding people is what I do. I will know when the time is right.”
          Jana looked at Sylvia and then back at Ryan. “This world is dangerous Ryan. Not everyone will want to listen to you. Some will want to hurt you or worse.”
          Ryan smiled and shook his head. “I will be ok as long as all I do is sing songs and tell stories. My wish will protect me.”
          “What do you mean by that?” Sylvia asked.
          “You remember when I said I didn't want to help you with the dark fairy. I said I can't get involved lest I risk my own life or something like that?” He asked with a smile.
          Jana nodded.
          “That is exactly it. As long as all I do is travel and sing and tell stories nothing can harm me. It is only when I get involved in what is happening around me am I in danger.” Ryan cleared his throat dramatically. “I wish to travel the world in safety telling my stories and singing my songs for all to enjoy.” Ryan smiled. “Trust me I will be ok.”
          Jana and Sylvia discussed this. Both quickly agreed that since they technically had an I.O.U. on Ryan's wish stone that it was ok to agree to his deal.
          “Ok I agree.” Jana said and held out her hand to Ryan to shake. Ryan took Jana's hand and the deal was set.
          Ryan walked over to Alicia and picked her up. He laid her over the flank of his unicorn and mounted it himself. “I will take care of her don't worry. She could be my companion or something to that effect. Besides you got enough to deal with without a 12 year old girl following you around.” Ryan smiled. “Don't worry I am not some weirdo or anything. I will treat her as my own child. She will be ok.” Ryan said.
          Jana nodded a little relieved at not having to drag around a new companion.
          “Jana one request. I had a helper with me in the restaurant. She had gone to the van we drove to the restaurant in but I don't know if she had made it outside before...” Ryan gestured with his arms. “...all of this so she might not be here, but if she did make a wish and is here somewhere and you meet her tell her I am ok. Her name is Tiffany Grace.”
          Jana nodded. “I'll keep an eye out for her. You be careful and don't get involved. Trust me there are nasty things out there.”
          Ryan reared up his unicorn and took off into the distance waving a hand at Jana. Jana and Sylvia watched him grow smaller and smaller until he vanished over the horizon.
          “You think she will be ok? Alicia I mean?” Jana asked.
          “I don't think Ryan is a perv. Maybe the protection of his wish will extend to her. Who knows. Anyway we got to get going ourselves. There are more wishes out there to collect.” Sylvia said.
          “You owe me some ice cream remember?” Jana asked as she got on the motorbike.


Material, HTML and text contained on pages originating from DOLARI.NET and DOLARI.ORG are written by Jenn Dolari. Copyright 1992-2019 Jennifer Dolari. All Rights Reserved. Individual stories are copyright their respective owners, all rights reserved, used with permission.  All other materials are copyright by their respective owners.