In this fairytale world, not everything is sugary and sweet…
Max, a young fairy godmother, fresh out of training, is in over her head. She has to grant the one true wish of a girl who seems to have everything. If not, Max may be stuck in the human realm forever! Oh, and her own realm might be destroyed as well. Things only get worse when she discovers an evil force stealing fairy magic. No pressure.
Follow Max on a fairylicious adventure full of mythical twists and turns as she tries to save her realm one wish at a time in the first book of the Wishless series.
Targeted Age Group:: 8-12
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always been interested in stories that explored fate and destiny. Why we are who we are and if there is any choice in that. Wishless started out as an idea for a picture book that focused on the tooth fairy that just grew into a novel as I started poking at the idea and asking why.
Max flew through the forest, low to the ground, barely feeling the thin, prickly vines and slender branches slapping against her arms and face. No matter how hard she tried to forget them, Ms. March’s words rang in her ears. Her chest tightened, and she exhaled, trying to hold back tears.
“Not everyone can be a hero, Maxima. Just because your mother was one, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do the things she did,” Ms. March had said in that snooty voice of hers.
Each consonant prickled Max. The vowels rolled around and banged into her thoughts as she ascended blindly above the trees before diving back down, her arms at her side. Her large diaphanous wings paused in their beating as she glided through a thicket of trees.
“What does she know? She’s not the last fairy godmother, I am,” Max reminded herself, as anger bloomed throughout her. Her face grew warm as a renegade tear slipped down her cheek. How could Ms. March say those words in front of all her classmates and on the day of the Winged Ceremony too!
She hovered above the ground to catch her breath before her feet sank to the moist, dark earth. A metallic glint momentarily blinded her as it bounced off the trees, as though playing hide and seek with the sun’s rays. Before she could figure out what it was, something hard crashed into her back and sent her sprawling.
“Oomph!” Max rolled over, wiping away a face full of leaves, and found Ari hovering above her, rubbing her forehead.
“Ow! Why did you stop?” Ari’s brown skin shone with a sheen of sweat as she tried to catch her breath.
Max yanked Ari’s shirt to pull her down behind the bushes as she looked for the source of light. Spying it, she slapped her hand across Ari’s mouth to silence her and nodded toward the stranger, a slight boy, not more than fifty feet away.
The day before, Max had finally found the nest in the bush. It was no easy feat; she had been searching for months, but dragons were known to be excellent hiders when it came to their precious nests. Max would have taken the egg, but a mamma dragon had been circling above, a lick of fire at the ready should Max get too near.
Now, Max was cutting things close, trying to retrieve it an hour before the Winged Ceremony. The event was only the most important day in a 12-year-old fairy’s life, and it would begin soon, but this was the only time she could sneak away. Who was this boy, poking around the egg? Her egg! It was the second to last ingredient she needed on her secret list. She would almost have what she needed to make her own wish come true. The last item, a rare snow flower, wouldn’t bloom for another two weeks.
She didn’t dare breathe a word of her plan to anyone. It went against everything she was ever taught; fairies weren’t supposed to use their magic for themselves. This wish was important, and she had to do it. Who would understand? She didn’t understand it herself. She only knew that she had a bunch of questions building up inside of her and only one person had the answers.
The dragon’s egg and snow flower were the last ingredients needed to cast a spell to discover the truth about what happened to her mother. Dark magic would allow her to stand between two realms and access the ancestors in the shadow realm, which could be used as a meeting place between the living and the dead. She would finally be able to see and speak to her mom.
“Are you following me?” Max half-whispered, half-hissed. Ari pried sweaty fingers off her mouth, one by one, before swatting them away.
Max stared at her. Ari shifted from one foot to the other, her wings continually unfurling and furling. Instead of her usual tooth fairy outfit of a plain white shirt and silver skirt, Ari had dressed up for the Winged Ceremony with a shiny purple dress.
“Ok, yes,” she swept her long braids out of her face and huffed, “but only because you’re not supposed to go into the Deadwoods alone.”
“I don’t need any help.”
“You always say that, but you don’t know-”
A low whistle interrupted them as Max snapped her head to look at the boy. He had pulled back the branches of the shrub and seemed in awe of the pale blue shell that shimmered with golden flecks. Max’s breath caught in her throat. She, too, thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
She figured the boy was a dragon slayer, with his sword in a woven sheath hanging on his back, from Valisa most likely. No one in Katonia had swords, not even the spotters in the tower that guarded the perimeter. No one ever got close enough for them to need them.
She held her breath as she watched him circle around the bush, whistling softly. Tall and thin, his clothes hung off him as though they were hand-me-downs handed down too soon. His face was a study of concentration. She had never seen him before, not that she would have. With its imposing moat of snapping alligators and impenetrable walls, outsiders weren’t exactly welcome at the fortress, and it wasn’t like she was allowed off the grounds unless she was on assignment.
“What are doing here? The ceremony will start soon. We have to go!” Ari pleaded.
“I’m not stopping you. No one told you to follow me.”
Max squinted at the position of the sun. Half-past noon. If they didn’t leave soon, they’d be late. Of all days, this was not the one to dabble in tardiness. It would jeopardize the last seven years of her training. Not to mention, her grandfather, who was also the headmaster of her school, would be furious. Although, lately, he seemed to have only one mood: grouchy. Max felt like she couldn’t do anything without him snapping at her.
Ari shifted; the sharp crack of a branch broke the stillness, ruffling the feathers of nesting birds, causing them to squawk a reprimand. The crisp sound echoed and bounced off the towering trees. The boy whipped his head around, like a wolf zeroing in on its prey, and seemed to look directly at them. Max held her breath as her heart raced in her chest, threatening to break through her skin and bones and keep going. He turned away. She exhaled. Ari wiped her forehead with her hand in relief. The tiny silver bell on her charm bracelet tinkled, breaking the restored silence.
“Who’s there?” the boy questioned.
He pulled his sword from its sheath. The brightly polished metal danced in the sun’s rays, streaking across the trees.
“You and that blasted bracelet,” Max whispered through clenched teeth.
Her heart continued to race, causing a deafening thumping in her ears. She flicked her wrist and startled him when she appeared in front of him. The only thing separating her from the egg was him.
She could feel his eyes sweeping over her appearance, taking note of her sun-kissed brown skin, and six cornrows meeting atop her head and wrapped into a bun. Although they were the same size, Max knew he wouldn’t be a threat. She had the gift of flight on her side.
“A Katonian fairy,” he said, relaxing his grip on his sword. “What are you doing so far away from your fortress?”
“I’m Maxima Burbettin, Fairy Godmother of Katonia, and I’m on official business. Not that it’s any of your business. Who are you?”
The boy put his sword back into its sheath and eyed her warily. “Fairy Godmother, eh? What wishes can you give me?”
“I asked, who are you?”
“Go home. Unless you’re here to put some food in my stomach and gold in my pocket, I have no use for you.”
He turned his back to her and started poking around in the bushes.
Indignation surged through her veins. She flexed her hands.
“I order you to stop!” she winced, hating the way her voice sounded high and tinny instead of foreboding and mysterious like she practiced.
“I don’t take orders from fairies,” he said and continued his search.
“Max, we have to go!” Ari called from their hiding space.
“Two of you, eh? You should be more careful. Fairies like you would bring in a nice bag of silver,” the boy said over his shoulder.
“You think we would let ourselves be captured by some simple-minded slayer?” Max said. She’d read the manual.
Page 19, Field Guide for Young Fairies:
“Uncouth and unkempt, silver and gold rule them. Slayers have no value for life, beast nor man.”
Ari left her hiding place and materialized next to Max. Not exactly the picture of confidence. Her dark eyes darted around, seeking out shadows. Max elbowed her and cleared her throat.
The boy just laughed. He prodded the egg with his foot.
“Leave it be!” Max said.
Paying her no attention, he unfurled a burlap sack that was attached to his belt. Without thinking, Max conjured a gust of wind, sweeping the sack from his hand and dislodging the sword from its sheath, sending both out of arm’s reach.
“You blasted fairy!” the slayer exploded. “Give them back!”
“Leave the egg alone!”
The boy turned to charge when Max flicked her wrist and froze him in place. Max chewed on her bottom lip. She knew how much trouble she could into for using her magic outside of her assigned duties.
“What have you done? Unleash me from your magic!” he howled, his face contorted with anger, the rest of him unable to move.
“Be quiet before I freeze your mouth as well,” Max said. She edged past him to put herself between him and the egg.
Ari gasped. “Maxima, what are you doing? We haven’t been winged. You can’t use magic out here!”
She flew in circles, her wings, large and gossamer-thin with a hint of purple sparkle, beat silently. “I shouldn’t have come with you. Nothing good ever comes out of your silly ideas.”
“You weren’t invited!”
“That’s not the point!”
“Hey, you fairies!” the slayer tried to interrupt.
“Why are you always spying on me? I didn’t ask you to come. I’m fine on my own!”
“I wasn’t spying!”
“Hey!” he shouted again.
“What?” Max and Ari yelled as they turned to him.
The acrid smell of burnt earth and ancient decay stung Max’s nose as a suffocating breeze singed the hairs on the back of her neck. A cacophony of cawing crows erupted, blotting out the sun with a black cloud of wings, screeching as they took flight. The earth trembled beneath her feet and the unmistakable sounds:
Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump.
It could only mean one thing… a dragon.
Max dashed under the bush and scooped up the egg, surprised by its warmth. She wouldn’t let that slayer sell it or eat it or whatever slayers did with eggs. She needed this egg.
The Winged Ceremony was starting soon. She wouldn’t have to worry about being late if a protective mamma dragon found them first.
She grabbed Ari’s arm and yelled, “Run!”
“Hey! What about me?” the slayer called out.
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Sibylla Nash is a Los Angeles-based writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of outlets including Lit Hub, Essence magazine, Vibe, and many others. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Otis College of Art and Design and BA in Journalism from the University of Southern California.