The Enchanted Press Part 18
With the force of a battering ram, air gushed past me, pushing me forward through the shaft and the storage cellar. My senses dulled, my vision diluted with tears brought on by our quicksilver pace. It was like staring at a watercolor in motion or a pool with rain pouring into it. I tried to close my eyes, but the air funnel pressed into my lids, hoisting them open better than any scaffold. I was deaf save for the air roaring past my ears.
Unlike our initial arrival into Neverland, we all flew with rapid speed and landed in an unceremonious heap at the shoreline. Alarmed at our abrupt reappearance, the fairies and children of Neverland rushed to our side.
“What’s happened,” a blue-haired fairy cried, then pulled back as if someone had jerked on her wings.
“Peter!” The other fairies and children stopped and gasped too, their eyes on the silent and still form of Peter Pan.
The rest of us hastened to our feet and wings, creating a loose circle around the boy. A velvet blue sky shot through with shards of deep purple hovered above us. It produced a bruise-like sheen on the sweat covering Peter.
Tink fluttered just above Peter’s face, trilling in frantic spurts of worry and despair. As he lay there, his limbs started twitching. Within moments, the erroneous twitch progressed into an absurd jig, drawing Peter to his feet and back toward the mouth of the cave. His eyes were still closed, but that didn’t hamper his sense of direction. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say an unseen string was drawing him along.
“What is he doing?” Sen said as she and Tink pulled on his tunic.
Seeing their attempts were fruitless, Duncan and I lent them aid. With our united effort, we could restrain Peter, but it wasn’t easy. His body insisted on moving toward the cave. In the end, we created a litter and bound him to it with strips of palm frond. The Lost Boys quickly surrounded their chief and took it in turns to guard him from harm.
The minute he was secure, a host of fairies burst into view. Eyes wide, chests heaving, they hung in the air for a moment then dropped to the ground gasping for air.
Sen and the blue-haired fairy were at their sides in an instant. “It-it’s worse than we thought,” a red-haired fairy said.
“Tell me,” Sen demanded as Duncan and I drew closer to listen.
Less winded now, the fairies sat up and recounted all they had learned.
“The PTSD is airborne,” the red-haired fairy said.
A purple-haired fairy nodded. “It’s being spread one Kingdom at a time.”
Sen shook her head in confusion. “But how?”
“The Pied Piper,” the red-haired fairy replied.
“He’s a rat catcher. Or at least he was. We’re not sure where he’s from, but people were employing him to get rid of the rats in their town. He’s able to do it with music. We’ve also heard whispers that he’s a magician, even death itself. One thing’s certain; he made an evil deal.”
The purple-haired fairy nodded. “Now he’s using his music to lore children away from their families. All over Aquaria and Thystia, youngsters have gone missing from their homes.”
Sen and Tink gasped.
“But,” I wondered aloud, “how does this relate to the PTSD?”
“Anyone who hears the music can get PTSD. Children who listen to the Piper’s song get PTSD and another bizarre syndrome that places them under a spell. It’s called the Dance of Death.”
As one, Sen, Tink, Duncan, and I looked in Peter’s direction.