Shrinking Violet struggled to come to terms with the amazing alterations of body, hair, and costume that had taken place as she faced Meridian, captain of the Leaf Rangers.
“Wings? I have wings, now! First Mysa went crazy, and now I’m dreaming! This has to be some type of illusion!”
Meridian reached out to her and drew her closer in an embrace. “Tis the fairy glamor I placed upon you! You were perfectly enchanting as you were, but in order to fill the role of a fairy maid and bride to the captain of the Leaf Rangers, you needed certain changes! You’ll grow used to it all in time, my love!”
She rammed a knee into his body and shoved him backward to the ground. “Are you insane? I’m not your love. I’m not a fairy, and contrary to this little number I’m wearing, I’m not a nudist! You shot me and abducted me! This is no courtship. It’s a crime!”
Meridian stood up and said, “No maid, be she fairy or mortal, has ever rejected me! This is not possible! Let me kiss away your fears, fair one!”
Shrinking Violet flew into the air and marveled at the sensation of flying by her own power. “Look, pal, unless you want me to break more than your illusions, turn me back to normal and tell me where my friend is! I was with another woman when you shot me!”
“Enough!” he shouted. “Let no lass claim Meridian ever forced himself upon a maid! I assumed you would be overcome by the honor, and your new form would please you! I also felt that, in such dire times, you would welcome the strong arm of a Leaf Ranger for your support and protection!”
“I protect myself,” said Vi. “Now, about my friend?”
“She was taken by the Beastmen,” said Meridian. “I saw it all and could do nothing to help her. She was a giant and thus none of my concern! It is her kind that threaten to destroy the home we call the Bower!”
“Mysa and I do not come from this world,” said Violet. “We are not your enemies but came here to help rescue a woman taken from the human realm to the Glade by magical beings. Do you know anything about such an act?”
The ranger shook his head. “No. Why would we take giants into our domain? We have ever tried to keep them away.”
Violet nodded. “That makes sense. Change me back, and I’ll go find Mysa. I’ll do nothing to disturb your home!”
“The glamor will not fade for three moons,” said Meridian. “I had planned to renew it after our union!”
“Don’t even think about it!” said Shrinking Violet. “Tell me, just how do these giants threaten you?”
Meridian pulled his quiver and bow to his back and said, “They are draining the magic of the Glade, which in turn contains the Bower — the home of the Fairy Folk. When the magic is gone, we shall all perish!”
“I heard the opposite was true,” said Vi. “The Glade’s residents were trying to take over the human realm!”
“It has ever been our way to live in peace with those who do not seek to intrude upon our affairs!” said Meridian.
“I have had some doubts about the story from the start,” said Vi. “I think King Artros is hiding something.” She flew higher into the air and said, “Can you help me find the Beastmen?”
“I shall do more than give you directions,” he said. “I will take you there, and perhaps in so doing, I shall change your mind about our union!”
She sighed and said, “If you can take me to Mysa, I’ll forgive and forget this whole pixie thing.”
He whistled loudly, and a butterfly landed before them. Shrinking Violet noticed the insect obeyed Meridian’s commands, and he treated it like a steed. He climbed on its back, and it flew higher as Vi followed behind.
She rolled her eyes as the butterfly carried him skyward, and she sighed. Nice ride. I just hope nobody sees me in this thing! she thought as she tugged futilely at the filmy costume.
Mysa Nal, the White Witch, found herself bound to a wooden stake in the middle of a crude encampment. She noticed her captors were all feral types with the characteristics of both humans and animals. She knew about lycanthropy from her studies on Zerox, but she had never encountered such amazing beings in real life.
She struggled to break the cords that bound her wrists together above her head, but she could not free herself. I’ve changed back to my original appearance! she thought. Reddish-blonde hair and normal skin coloration have replaced the pale white look I developed after spending so much time on Zerox. If that change was merely cosmetic in nature, then I would care little, but with my altered form has come a loss of my magic! I can recall none of my spells!
One of the creatures bounded up to her and smiled at her with an evil grin. “I thought you were a weird one before, but now you look most pleasing!” he growled.
“I mean you no harm,” she said. “Why have you brought me here?” she cried as he gripped her by her long hair.
“We brought you here for sport!” he replied. “Your kind have robbed us of all we value, and we intend to war against your breed to our dying days!”
A woman with large and menacing fangs approached and said, “Leave her be! Kill her and be done!”
The male slapped her to the ground and said, “I lead this pack! Never forget that!”
Mysa fought her natural fear and tried to work any type of magic. I earned my powers by years of study! I cannot allow all that work to count for nothing! My friends and my teachers would expect more of me than easy defeat!
She stared at the campfire, and beads of perspiration dotted her brow. A simple spell to stoke the fires should not be so hard! Why can’t the right combination of words come to me? she thought as she whispered arcane words.
Then she realized that she had other resources as a heroine beyond her lost magic. She had her Legion flight ring, and she had her strong will. She concentrated and struggled to command the ring’s antigravity metal to enable her to break her bonds and take flight. She knew her brilliant and beautiful sister Nura Nal had mastered more than one impressive stunt with the rings that few if any other Legionnaires had ever accomplished. Still, she was Nura’s sister, and as their late mother’s daughter, she had strength of will beyond her fragile form.
The stake is merely wood! The ring is far stronger! My wrists are in agony from the strain, but I will be free! The ropes finally split as her sheer willpower lifted her into the air, and she soared away from the shocked and angry Beastmen. She rubbed at her badly damaged wrists and tried to soothe away the burns from the ropes and wood.
Suddenly, Shrinking Violet swooped into view, along with a strange man who rode a butterfly. Mysa gasped as she saw how much Violet had changed. “I see we’ve both changed a lot!” said Vi. “You’ve got coloration, and I’m a… pixie!”
“Be swift, my love!” said Meridian. “The Beastmen are deadly foes!” The Leaf Ranger released arrow after arrow, but his magical shafts could only do so much against the savage and much larger foes.
“If I could just grow, I could fight, but like this I’m not much help to anyone!” said Salu Digby
“We can’t fight them all!” said Meridian. “We have your friend — now let us depart!”
As they flew away from the raging creatures, Shrinking Violet turned her head and looked at the White Witch. “Mysa, you’ve lost your magic?” she asked.
Mysa bit her lower lip and shook her head. “No! I’ll regain my magic or die trying!” she vowed.
Meridian ended their flight by suddenly falling off the butterfly and landing on the ground below.
As the women bent over him, Violet’s wings suddenly vanished along with her altered hair and makeup. She still wore the filmy garment, but now it was strangely vulnerable, and it began to fall apart with her every step. “I’m changing back to normal! I thought you said the spell would last three moons! Are you hurt?” she asked in a rushed tone.
Meridian sat up weakly and smiled ruefully. “Fair one, I feel as though my very life was ebbing!” he gasped.
“It is!” cried the White Witch. “When first I came here, I was nearly driven mad by the excess magical energies of the place. Now, I feel little if any! The magic is dying!”
Violet glanced around her and saw the Bower not too far away. The high flowers were now wilted, and she saw a general decay of the entire natural world around her.
“We feared the magic would die in time, and now I feel it is so! I am perishing, but I will not mourn, since your beauty was my final sight!” said the Leaf Ranger.
Shrinking Violet leaned across his still form and called his name, but he was gone. She looked up sadly at Mysa and said, “He’s dead! I think when the magic did leave this world, all the magical creatures died as well! I’d wager the Beastmen are no more, either!”
Mysa placed a hand on Violet’s bare shoulder. “When the magic left, so did the enchantment he had placed upon you! Our rings are working fully now as well! We can contact Cham and Tinya!”
Violet grew to full size, and Mysa gently placed her own white cloak around the other girl’s body. “I know I said I’d never be a victim anymore, but I still feel so sorry for Meridian and his people. They wanted nothing more than to live in peace! I guess I’m not so tough after all!” she said as she wiped away a tear.
“You are merely more caring than you want to admit,” said Mysa. “That is nothing to be ashamed of, Salu.”
Soon, they made contact with Chameleon Boy, who was thrilled to find that his friends were all right.
Back at the castle of King Artros, the Legionnaires were reunited, and they faced some difficult truths.
“Apparently, when the dragon’s blood-crystal was destroyed, all the magic of this realm began to die!” said Grimoire sadly. “The Glade is no more, and all those who lived within it are gone as well!”
“Then I killed them all!” said Chameleon Boy.
“No!” said Princess Elwinda. “The magic was dying. Its brief return was only due to the discovery of the first blood-crystal that possessed my father! Before that time, the little magic that remained was confined to the Glade. Time would have ended all the faerie people eventually, my love!”
“I suppose you are right,” said Cham. “Still, I can’t help but wonder why the crystal was found when it was and by your father. The pattern seems to rule out mere chance.”
“The crystals had a type of sentience,” said the White Witch. “We need not look beyond their own natural malice! Still, I fear we have a far more pressing problem!”
Shrinking Violet pulled the cloak tighter around her shoulders and said, “If the magic is gone or going, then the dimensional barrier that we parted to get here will return and perhaps make going home impossible, now that Mysa’s powers are gone!”
“What can we do?” said Phantom Girl.
“My little magic ability may suffice to get you home if we hurry, and no malignant force tries to stop us!” said Grimoire.
“Sir Changeling, you saved us all!” said King Artros. “I would not like to lose your good right arm!”
“I have to go, but doing so breaks my heart!” said Chameleon Boy. “Elwinda, I will never stop trying to return to you!”
“We must hurry!” said Grimoire. “I can sense the barrier closing as we speak!”
Princess Elwinda jumped forward into Chameleon Boy’s arms as he and his friends faded from view.
Moments later, the Legionnaires were back in their main meeting room on Earth.
The White Witch cried out in pleasure, “I feel some of my magic returning to me! Praise the teachers of Zerox! I am whole again!”
Phantom Girl nodded and said, “I may be wrong, but I think your coloration is beginning to fade ever so slightly!”
Chameleon Boy gazed at Elwinda in disbelief. “You came with us! You gave up a royal title and your home for me?” he said slowly.
She kissed him and then said, “I gave up nothing. I finally gained a happy ending to our story!”
Cham embraced her and said, “Or a happy beginning!”
A deep voice caught their attention, and they turned to see Grimoire standing behind them. “I came as well. I would like to learn more of this bold new universe, and you would be a most charming guide, my dear!” he said as he took Mysa’s hands in his own.
She smiled demurely and said, “I think I would like showing you my universe! I need to return to my teachers, anyway, in order to reclaim that magic which was lost!”
Shrinking Violet watched them and remained silent. She was presenting a stolid façade, but inside she mourned the death of the magical beings she had briefly been a part of on Nadir.
Phantom Girl noticed this and cleared her throat to catch Vi’s attention. “Salu, you know I’m sure the boys would love it if you’d like to start wearing that fairy outfit all the time!” she said with a smile as she pretended to pull Mysa’s cloak away from Violet.
Violet grimaced and said, “Very funny.” She heard a loud whistle and whirled around to see Sun Boy standing behind her and gazing happily at her exposed form. Laughter filled the room as Violet shrank out of sight and started to put what had occurred on Nadir out of her thoughts, at least momentarily.