Chapter 3. AF
As soon as the competition was declared over, Holly flew as far away from the place as she could. It wasn’t because of her dislike of gnomes, (although that might have been a part of the reason) but it was more to do with the small, yet seemingly significant golden ring that was clenched tightly in her fist. Holly gritted her teeth as she flew faster and faster towards Atlantis’ delivery tunnel which was connected to Haven. She tightened her grip on the ring and dived towards the tunnel. She wasn’t sure why the ring was so important but every cell of her body screamed to her that the golden ring had to stay hidden. She increased her speed to the limit before entering the tunnel.
Being situated several thousand metres underwater, Atlantis would have been the darkest fairy habitat underground had it not been for the artificial glow strips on the domed roof, which provided a brilliant light all day around. However, the architects had forgotten one small detail. The tunnel. Most of the fairies living in Atlantis preferred to live there for the whole of their lives rather than to move, and the inhabitants of Haven likewise preferred to do the same, so the tunnel that linked the two cities together was rarely used by the People as a means of travel. However, it was used as a delivery tunnel, and the fairy who had built the complex evidently didn’t seem to consider the possibility that fairies just might use the tunnel occasionally and instead, went with the idea that parcels and packaging didn’t need light. So, as Holly flew down the gloomy tunnel, she had to rely on her senses to navigate her way through the dark. Since there had been light in the dome, Holly hadn’t set her helmet to night-vision mode but unless she stopped now – and that was no option- she couldn’t change the settings because of the G-force that was petrifying her hands and face. She couldn’t even use voice command. Her suit lightly grazed the tunnel wall, producing sparks. Foaly’s inventions were indeed, anything short of missile-proof, so there was no need to worry about her suit getting ripped. After a few more encounters with the tunnel wall, Holly saw a pinprick of light growing larger and larger as she flew towards it, until it swallowed her whole.
Holly zoomed out into the warm light of Haven city. Next to her was the conveyor belt used for delivering parcels to Atlantis. There were a couple of sprites loading the parcels onto the belt, but apart from that, she was alone. Good. She breathed a sigh of relief and started to walk- it would attract less attention than flying.
Suddenly, “How’re you doin’ Holly?” asked a familiar and irritatingly smooth voice. Holly spun around to find herself facing Chix Verbil. The sprite smirked. “Looking good as always I see,” he continued. Holly was now thoroughly irked.
“Yes, well I make a point of looking presentable at all times, Verbil, seeing as I’m a member of the LEP,” she said, “and speaking of which, I’m on a recon and you’re delaying me.” She looked pointedly at Chix, who didn’t take the hint.
“So, sure you can spend a few minutes talking to little green me, can’t you? It won’t “hurt,” offered the sprite, flashing his practiced grin, which in truth still required more.
“No, Chix. I don’t have the time for this,” said Holly, and she pushed him out of the way, cutting back any more (which were many more) of the flirtatious comments that the sprite had in store for her. She ran down to the nearest turn and then started walking again when she was out of Chix’s sight. I need a safe place to put this, thought Holly, gripping the ring tightly. Somewhere safe… She looked down at the hand which was holding the ring, and saw her fairy communicator, innocently winking at her in the light. Perfect.