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Chapter 4 Rista

            A few hours after the four friends had walked home from school they gathered in the great dining hall of the castle to celebrate Rista. Everyone was dressed in elaborate, gorgeous, colorful clothes, the elders were telling the young ones stories that were told every year during Rista, celebration games were played by young and old alike and Iris greeted family and friends that she hadn’t seen since this time last year. Like human families, Rae families were scattered all over Shea, the magical realm.

            Rista wasn’t celebrated just by Raes alone, Elves, Sprites, Dwarfs, and the other Fairy species came to Elysia, the capitol of Shea, to take part in the festivities.  

            Iris smiled as she took in the sights, sounds and delicious smells of her favorite holiday. She giggled as she saw Declan, who morphed into a white pony with rainbow colored spots, canter around the hall with a small child on his back. Declan was having fun and so was the little girl, Wycca, who was Iris’ cousin. The other little children waited in line patiently for their turn for a quick canter around the hall.

            “Iris come play Flaie with us!” Raedella called out.

            She joined her friends and the group of other Fairies and Elves that had gathered around to play the Elf sport. It was played a lot like the Human game of field hockey mixed with freeze tag.

            “We Elves are going to beat your Fairy butts,” one of the Elf boys taunted in a playful manner. “You can’t beat us Elves at an Elfin sport.”

            “You forgot that they have me on their team cousin,” Raedella teased back with a grin on her face.

            Raedella’s is half Elf. Her father Raed, was the Ambassador of the Elves and when he was stationed in Elysia he meet Donella, Raedella’s mother, and fell in love. He never returned to his Elfin homeland expect to visit family here and there. Donella promised she would help him teach Raedella the ways of the Elves and she kept her promise. Unfortunately Raed was called into battle to defend his Elfin homeland from the evil Shadow Beings and he was killed in battle. But before he died he made sure that Raedella knew everything there was to know about her Elfin blood and he taught her how to play a mean game of Flaie.

            Raedella’s cousin laughed, “You still think you’re the best huh cousin? We’ll see about that.”      

            The game was intense! The two teams were tied until the last minute when Raedella proved she was the best player and scored the last and winning goal of the game.

            “Good game cousin,” Raedella’s cousin gave her a hug, “You really are the best player I have seen. Uncle Raed taught you well.”

            Raedella smiled brightly at the complements, “I think dinner is almost ready. Why don’t you and your team join my friends and I at the table. We can all sit together.”

            He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and replied, “My friends and I would love to join you and your friends. You are fun to hang around.”

            As the group made their way to the huge table Kallan pulled Iris aside, “When do you want to ask your father about the field study?”

            “Well I won’t have a chance to ask him now and I don’t want to interrupt his dinner.”

            “Yeah that’s one thing you don’t want to interrupt is Uncle Orin’s dinner,” Febrys joked.

            “I was thinking about asking him when the adults gather for their drinks before dessert,” Iris said.

            Febrys laughed, “Oh cousin good idea! Just get him drunk before you ask him to go.”

            “That is not my plan cousin. I figured this way he could talk to the other parents. Besides my father never gets drunk.”

            “He might tonight after that question.”        

            Iris glared at her cousin.

            Febrys chuckled, “I was joking cousin. Relax.”

            “Have you asked Aunt Breena?”

            “Yes and she is letting me go. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to her.”

            “Have you asked your parents Kallan?”

            “Yes I have and they told me to have a good time.”

            “Alright then I will ask him after dinner,” Iris said with determination in her voice.

            Dinner as usual was fabulous! Iris loved all of the traditional Rae celebration foods that were only served during Rista and other holidays. There also was food from the other Fairy species, Elves, Sprites, and Dwarfs. There were tons of food for everyone to share.

            Iris looked at the head of the long table. Her father wore a huge grin on his face as he patted his full belly. He scratched the head of the noble hawk resting on the arm of his chair. Iris saw that the hawk had one blue and the other green, the mark of Declan.

            The king caught his daughter’s glance and smiled at her. She returned the smile and then laughed at Declan who snatched the bones off the king’s plate.

            “Oh sure,” the king chuckled, “steal the best part of the meal right off of my plate when I take my eyes off of it for one second to smile at my beautiful daughter.”

            “You didn’t want the best of the meal to go to waste now did you?” Declan said holding the bone in his talons.

            “And what do you mean by that?”

            “You weren’t going to eat them. Besides you don’t need any extra food in your already extended belly.”

            The King glared at Declan but a smile was across his face, “You better run Sir Declan.”

            “You mean fly,” Declan flapped his wings once and in an instant he was floating in the air over the dining hall.

            “Declan is correct dear,” Queen Orla said.

            “Now my queen is calling me rotund,” he patted her hand.

“I am not calling you rotund,” she said calmly. “You look the same as you did when I first met you.”

            The Queen was right. King Orin was a good looking man, strong and tall. But the one thing that truly made him attractive was his big, generous heart.

            After dinner was cleared from the table some of the adults started pouring the after dinner drinks. Iris took a deep breath in before she approached her father. He was standing with his wife, sister, Kallan’s parents, Donella and her in laws, the King and Queen of the Common Fairies and other representative dignitaries. Declan was perched on the King’s shoulder in the form of a snowy white owl. 

            “Excuse me father?”

            “Yes my dear?”

            “Could I ask you and mother a question?”

            “Why of course,” he smiled then turned to the rest of the parents and Respectables as they are called, “Queen Orla and I will be back momentarily.”

            They walked away from the group to find a quieter place to talk.

            “Could you excuse us for a moment Declan?” Queen Orla asked politely.

            “He doesn’t have to leave Mother,” Iris interjected before Declan could even nod his head. She looked at Declan with pleading eyes and he stayed on the King’s shoulder.

            “What is it that you would like to ask us dear?” the Queen asked.

            Iris took in another deep breath then explained, “Today Donella told us about the Elite Fairy Secret. It’s a field study. Those Elite Fairy Students who would like to, have the opportunity to live amongst Humans for a complete school year. I was wondering if I could go.”

            She tried to stay calm as she looked at her parents. The Queen had looked up at her husband. They both had a slightly worried look on their faces.

            “May I speak your Majesty?” Declan said in a cautious voice.

            King Orin nodded his head not sure of what he himself could say.

            “It has been a few years since but I have gone on this field study before. It was the first time Donella was in charge of it if I do recall it correctly. She needed help and I had gone on the field study once before with the Elite Fairy Advisor before her. The part of the Human world where the students are taken too is a lot safer than what some of the magical creatures have told stories about. The students are well protected and there are numerous members of the Mythical Human Alliance that live in the town and work in the school. This field study has been going on for many, many years and each year has been a success,” Declan tried his best to persuade the King.

            “It was a good choice to take the shape of an owl Declan,” Iris thought to herself. The Drake had always sounded intelligent but there was just something about his voice of reasoning coming from the body of an owl that seemed to just fit.

            The King looked at his daughter and asked calmly, “Who else will be going on this trip?”

            “Kallan, Raedella, almost all of the Elite Fairy Students and Febrys,” she answered hoping that mentioning her cousin’s name last would swing his vote to letting her go along.

            “How badly do you want to go on this field study?” the Queen asked.

            She looked into her mother’s eyes and answered, “Very badly mother. I would be forever grateful to you both if you allow me to go.”

            Her parents looked at each other then the King responded, “I will talk to Donella then sleep on it and I will give you an answer soon I promise. Your mother and I just need a little time to think about this. Now go rejoin your friends and enjoy the rest of Rista my flower.”

            She smiled then hugged her dad, “Thank you father.” She hugged her mother and said, “Thank you mother”, before catching up with her friends again.

            “That went better than I had expected,” she thought to herself.