Disclaimer: I do not own Fablehaven. It is the creation of Brandon Mull.
A/N: This story is the eighth entry in a ten-story series, and is a follow-up to "Loyalty of the Ultimate Angel". Please make sure to read the previous seven stories before starting this one! Thank you and enjoy!
Chapter 1: Fair Is Fair
The sun was shining down from atop its apex in the sky. Its brilliant glow stretched across the countryside, spanning from one end of the horizon to the other. Additionally, the sky was completely devoid of any clouds, ensuring that the intense warmth of the sun's summer glow was able to reach every unobstructed inch of surface area throughout the land.
As beautiful as the weather was, along with it came a blistering wave of heat. For most of the creatures that resided on the Fablehaven preserve, it meant that they had to find ways of coping with the increased temperature of the summer. While a fair amount of creatures were unaffected by the rise in Fahrenheit, the majority of them had to change or make adjustments to their routine, be it seeking refuge in the shade, or increasing their daily intake of water.
With regards to the human inhabitants of Fablehaven, they too had to endure the heat that came along with the weather that late August had brought with it. As it was currently the middle of the day, the height of the heat was at its absolute worst.
Wiping a layer of sweat from his brow, Seth Sorenson made his way through the first floor hallway of the house. Seth was nearing in on the kitchen, and he clearly had only one sight set in mind; the refrigerator. His mouth feeling particularly dry, Seth entered the kitchen and proceeded to walk up to the fridge.
"Seth Andrew Sorenson," said Grandma, as Seth stopped short in the center of the kitchen. Seth looked over to the doorway that led into the dining room, and saw where his grandmother had been standing. He had failed to notice that she was even there until she had spoken.
"Hey, Grandma," said Seth, trying to come off as sounding casual.
"You weren't thinking of helping yourself to something in the fridge now, were you?"
Seth rolled his eyes. "Yeah, so what? It's hot!"
"I know it is," said Grandma, as she walked over to the refrigerator and opened it. "But you just ate lunch!"
"All I wanted was a can of soda," muttered Seth. "What's your alibi?"
"Have some water instead," said Grandma, pulling out a glass pitcher of water from the fridge. "You don't need all that sugar! Besides, you'll be going to the fair very soon, and there's plenty of junk for you to eat there!"
"That water does look pretty good," said Seth, eyeing the few droplets of water that were dripping down the outside of the pitcher, making trails through the condensation that had formed upon the glass. "But I still wish we had air conditioning! I mean, come on!"
"I understand," said Grandma, as she proceeded to pour some water into a glass. "But the brownies who designed this house don't understand the concept of central air conditioning. They don't utilize that sort of architecture."
"I wish they would," said Seth, as he gulped down the glass of water that Grandma has presented him with. "At least this was cold. I would've gone swimming, but Dad said we'd be leaving soon."
"Kids, we're going!" said Mr. Sorenson, whose voice had echoed from the front hall.
"It's so hot, I almost just want to stay here and go swimming with you guys," said Seth.
"The car at least has air conditioning," said Grandma. "Have fun!"
Seth made his way back into the hallway, where his father, mother, Kendra, Ingrid and Warren had all gathered.
"Ready to go?" asked Mrs. Sorenson.
"Yeah," said Seth. "Let's get out of this boiler room of a house and have some fun!"
"This should be nice," said Kendra, as the family made their way out through the front door and stepped into the yard surrounding the house. "We haven't really left the property for a real outing in several weeks, now, have we?"
"You'll enjoy the fair," said Mr. Sorenson, as he unlocked the doors to his SUV with his keyring.
"Thanks for letting me come along," said Warren. "Even though I have all of you, it gets kinda lonely without Clover, sometimes."
"Our pleasure," said Mrs. Sorenson, as everyone climbed into the SUV and took their seat. "With three kids to look out for, Scott and I don't mind having an extra chaperone."
Warren laughed. "Your children are world-class adventurers. I think they can handle themselves at the local county fair just fine. Not that I'm trying to talk you out of excluding me or anything."
"We haven't been doing too much world-class adventuring lately," said Seth, as everybody fastened their seat belts.
"What do you mean?" asked Ingrid, who was sitting in the seat next to him. She placed her hand on Seth's shoulder.
"Think about it," said Seth, as his father started the SUV's ignition, which was followed by a blast of cool air circulating through the vehicle. "We haven't accomplished anything since the whole ordeal with the Pyruby. And even that whole thing we only stumbled into completely by accident. The whole summer's almost gone by now, and still we're no closer to finding the Necromaster than we were the moment we first learned about it!"
"Seth, you know we've been trying," said Kendra. "But there -just- -haven't- -been- any leads!"
"I know what this is about," said Ingrid, as the SUV made its way down the driveway. "You want the Necromaster to be found already, so that we can kill Murdred once and for all."
"Don't we all?" asked Seth.
"It's not so bad," said Warren. "We do have three of the five relics."
"Says the guy with the Sapphazure," said Seth, pulling the Pyruby out of his pocket. "You wanna trade? The Pyruby isn't doing me any favors in this heat."
"I think I'm good," said Warren, admiring the blue relic that he was holding in his hand.
"Seth, you need to get your mind off this whole Murdred thing," said Mrs. Sorenson, as the SUV drove out through the front gate. "You've been making a fuss about it all summer!"
"Look, I just want Murdred to be defeated already," said Seth. "I know he hasn't been a concern since the whole thing with Nemenemi, but I just want to never have to deal with him again."
"I think we're all in agreement with that," said Ingrid.
"I really mean it. More than the rest of you. It's because of me and my debt to the Singing Sisters that we got caught up with Murdred in the first place. Plus, I'm a shadow charmer. Murdred and I may be sworn enemies, but he does value the darkness that lurks within me."
"Don't worry so much," said Warren. "Whatever happens, we'll be there for you."
"You don't understand. The rest of you are either associated with fairies, or just plain normal. I'm a shadow charmer. And even though I like to consider myself a good person, sometimes I feel like I just don't belong."
"Of course you belong," said Mrs. Sorenson.
"That's not what I mean," said Seth."Like it or not, I have a connection to darkness. One that doesn't feel all that appropriate for someone who'd rather consider himself to be one of the good guys. And being an ally of the night, that only places me one degree of separation closer to Murdred than I actually want. Even if I can't change who I am, I can at least aspire to get rid of Murdred."
"I get what you're saying," said Ingrid. "I understand what you mean, even though I can't exactly relate to you."
"Seth, I know you're not fond of the association," said Warren, "but you can't let it get to you. Dark or not, you're still you."
"We'll stop Murdred somehow," said Kendra. "Even though we're no closer to stopping him than we were before, he's no closer to stopping us."
"What makes you so sure?" asked Seth. "We don't know what he's been up to at all since we last saw him."
"Seth, please try to relax," said Mr. Sorenson.
"Sorry," said Seth. "But we're really running out of options! The knights haven't found a single lead on the relics since the Pyruby. I honestly think there's only one way to turn at this point."
"What's that?" asked Ingrid.
"The Singing Sisters. If anybody can find the remaining relics, it's them."
"No way," said Warren, holding up his hands. "We are not resorting to them! This is not something that we absolutely need in order to survive. Even if they can help us find the Necromaster, there's no telling what they may want in return. The might make you their slave for the rest of your life. They may force you to spend fifty years standing on one foot. Or they might just ask you to bring them a bologna sandwich."
"Either way, I would never condone a visit to the Singing Sisters," said Mrs. Sorenson. "And I'm sure I speak for the entire family when I say that."
"I dunno," said Seth. "They might let me haggle with them."
"Seth, that's enough," said Mr. Sorenson. "Can we please stop talking about Murdred and the relics? We understand your concern and everything, but today is supposed be to fun."
Before long, the SUV had made its way out of the forest, and soon approached the small township of Crossroad Pass. Consisting of only a few blocks of houses and other low-rise buildings, as well as several small parks and plots of unused land, Crossroad Pass was the closest place to Fablehaven that one could consider to be "civilization".
Mr. Sorenson soon found a parking spot on a residential street where many other cars were already parked. The moment that he turned off the ignition, everybody piled out of the SUV. Right away, both Kendra and Seth could feel themselves being hit by the heat that was coming down from the sun, almost making them wish that they had stayed in the car.
"Is everyone wearing sunscreen?" asked Mrs. Sorenson, as she closed her door. Everyone responded to her question positively.
"I guess we're good then," said Mr. Sorenson. "Let's go, we're only a block away from the school."
The family made their way down the sidewalk, then turned at the corner. In front of them, on the other side of the street, was Crossroad Pass High School. Kendra was familiar with the place. It was where she had gone to school at the beginning of the previous school year, although only for the first week. After she had been kidnapped and gotten wrapped up in Oblivion's ploy to awaken Tritanoss, Kendra and Seth both found themselves being pulled out of school, only to be home-schooled by their mother from that point onward.
"So this is where you went to school?" asked Ingrid, as the family got closer to the property.
"Just for a few days," said Kendra.
"Bet you made tons of friends here, huh?" said Seth.
"Shut up, Seth. At least I wasn't friends with someone who was a pawn of the Society."
"Don't diss Lance," said Seth. "He's cool! The real Lance, that is."
"Well sorry if I have trouble making friends," said Kendra. "But I prefer being taught in a small group with people I know, even if there's only three students."
"Make that six," said Mrs. Sorenson. "In the new semester, Raxtus, Skyfrost and Firesquall are going to be joining your class."
"Really?" asked Ingrid. "Why then?"
"Because they lack an education," said Warren. "They're smart, don't get me wrong. But they can't read or count past twenty. And I know they're capable of learning."
"Can we not talk about school?" said Seth, as he stepped on to the front lawn of the schoolyard, where a number of other people were standing around. "At least let me enjoy what's left of the summer, would you?"
"As you wish," said Mr. Sorenson.
The family walked around the side of the school and entered the rear yard, where the actual fair was taking place. A ticket booth with a turnstile had been set up, serving as the entrance. Mr. Sorenson paid for everyone's tickets, and they all passed through into the school's rear yard.
The yard, which was large enough to contain a football field surrounded by a running track, had numerous tents set up throughout it, along with several carnival rides, the most prominent of which was a Ferris wheel that was sitting at the far end of the field. There appeared to be hundreds of people scattered throughout the area.
"This looks like it'll be a lot of fun!" said Ingrid.
"Dad, can we have some money?" asked Seth.
"You kids already got your allowances this week," said Mr. Sorenson. "And I know you have some money saved up."
"Please?" said Seth, giving his parents his best puppy-dog-eyes face.
"All right," said Mr. Sorenson, as he pulled out his wallet. He then thumbed through his bills, and pulled out several twenties. He proceeded to present one each to Seth, Kendra and Ingrid.
"Can I have one too?" asked Warren, his eyes widening. "I'll pay you back when I receive my stipend for September."
"Don't worry about it," said Mr. Sorenson, as he pulled out another twenty and handed it to Warren. "You're practically a brother to our children."
"Okay," said Mrs. Sorenson. "What does everyone want to do?"
"I dunno," said Kendra. "I should've asked Bracken to come. But he really hates being in large crowds of people. I can at least tolerate it, but Bracken really feels uncomfortable in them. He'll only put up with a crowd if he absolutely has too. But he certainly wouldn't enjoy it."
"Kendra, I'll hang out with you," said Warren.
"Thank you," said Mrs. Sorenson. "In fact, I think we should all stay in groups. Seth, why don't you go with Ingrid? Your father and I will be together as well."
Everybody agreed to Mrs. Sorenson's suggestion in unison.
"Okay," said Mr. Sorenson. "Marla, why don't we start with the antique car tent?"
"Let's check out the bazaar," said Kendra. "I bet there's some really interesting stuff we could purchase."
"Sure," said Warren. "You know, last year, there was this booth that sold corn dogs. I hope it's back again."
"What about you, Seth?" asked Ingrid. "What do you want to do?"
"I dunno," said Seth. "Let's just check out the midway and see what we can find."
"Okay then," said Mr. Sorenson. "We'll meet up at five o'clock, by the ticket booth. But try not to snack too much. Grandma said she's making us a big dinner."
The family then split up into three groups, which soon got separated amongst the large crowd of people in the area.
"So, Seth," said Ingrid, as they walked past several tents. "What looks interesting?"
"Why are we even here?" asked Seth, as he found himself a seat on a vacant bench.
"Seth, you agreed to not be in such a rotten mood. We're at a fair! Have some fun!"
"What's the point?" asked Seth. "It's not like we're accomplishing anything by coming here."
"Listen, Seth," said Ingrid, sitting down next to him, "please don't do this to me. I don't have fairy powers. I can't make you happy by force. But you seriously need to cheer up. I know! Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back!"
Ingrid walked over to a nearby booth that was selling various fair foods. She then returned a moment later, carrying two slushies and a stick of cotton candy.
"I think the heat's getting to you," said Ingrid, as she held out a slushie in each hand, along with the cotton candy. "You want the orange or the lime?"
"Lime," said Seth, accepting the green slushie from Ingrid. The moment that his humid hand touched the plastic cup that contained the slushie, Seth experienced a sudden chill from the frozen drink. He took a sip. It was certainly refreshing.
Seth and Ingrid spent the next few minutes consuming their slushies, while also tearing away at the stick of cotton candy. It had been a while since the last time Seth had eaten cotton candy. It was sweet, but he'd forgotten just how sticky the pink fluff could make his hand.
"Feel better?" asked Ingrid, as she sipped up the final drops of her slushie.
"I'll say," replied Seth. "I think that just curbed my sweet tooth. Thanks."
"Now that we've had a snack, what do you want to do?"
"I dunno. We can just walk around for now."
Ingrid nodded, and together, the two of them proceeded to walk down the midway. As they traveled, the two of them passed by numerous stalls, most of which were hosting carnival games, serving food, or selling various knickknacks.
They soon came across a small roller coaster, where many people were lined up. It was the type of roller coaster meant for younger children, as the track barely took up more space than the dining room back at Fablehaven, while the train resembled a serpentine green dragon with a cartoonish head for the front car. Upon taking a closer look, Seth saw that most pretty much everyone in the line was a small child, if not a guardian or older sibling who was accompanying them.
"I think we're a little big for this ride," said Ingrid. "It's too bad they don't have a bigger roller coaster. I've never been on a big one."
"We'll have to convince Grandpa that the next time we go on vacation, we go somewhere with lots of rides," said Seth.
"Mommy," said a little boy who was in line, "I get to ride the dragon!"
"I know," said the woman next to him, "he sure looks scary!"
Seth rolled his eyes, then held his mouth up to Ingrid's ear. "Poor folks. If only they knew what it was like to ride a real dragon."
Ingrid snickered. "Let them have their fun. Come on, let's go look for something that we can both enjoy!"
Seth nodded. "Sure! There's bound to be something here that'll captivate us. Let's go find it!"