Amelia had been looking through the window for about an hour now. The environment that had been bright and lively a moment ago had drastically changed into a gloomy and dull environment as if it was about to rain. People were hurriedly walking towards their destinations and some even had their umbrellas out as if they were expecting the downpour anytime soon. A downpour on April 1st? When the spring had just begun? Maybe the sky was playing a trick, an April fool's trick, on them.
Amelia got her eyes away from the window and looked in the direction of the grand clock. It took few seconds for her eyes to get adjusted to the dim light inside the house, and the clock read three o'clock in the afternoon. She could hear a distant whistle of a kettle and clanks of spoons coming from the kitchen. Probably grandma was making tea.
Amelia lived with her grandmother in Warkworth, Northumberland, England in a rather old-fashioned house since the death of her parents. Something was pricking in the left pocket of Amelia's jeans. She put her hand inside the pocket and took out a ring which had been owned by her mother after her grandmother. It had a bright red colour triangular stone attached to it.
She sank into the chair and closed her eyes; she could hear the faint groan of thunder. The things that happened recently were more a dream (at least that's what she felt of it even though it wasn't).
The bedtime story her grandma used to tell her when she was small was still echoing in her ears: "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful kingdom called 'Terra Pacificae' (which meant peaceful land) located to the Northeast of England (which was now Warkworth).
The main reason for the peacefulness of this kingdom was that it was kept isolated from other kingdoms and it was believed that the happiest people lived there.
On an exceptionally stormy April 1st, someone was approaching the gates of the kingdom. The hooded figure entered through the gates as casually as someone entering his own house without anyone trying to stop him; either he was invisible or had bewitched others to act at his will. Nobody even noticed him until he reached the king who was waiting for his arrival in the great hall.
"Pardon me, your grace," said the hooded figure with a short bow. There was a sneer in his voice. "Let's finish this as quickly as possible. I don't want anyone to know about this," said the king who had fixed his gaze upon the hooded figure standing before him.
The stranger pulled down the hood revealing a pale face with a long nose, thin mouth, grey eyes and pointy ears. The straight jet-black hair was a complete mess. With the remarkable appearance, it wasn't hard to recognize who it was: Malum, the pixie of power and mischief; the two things that get along really well.
The pixie had asked the king to protect the Imperium stone, the stone of power, keeping it inside the walls of the kingdom and had come to hand it over to the king. Terra Pacificae was the safest and most trustworthy place to hide the stone because it was isolated from the outside world and people who lived there were contented and were not interested in something like power.
Even though everything happened secretively inside the great hall only with the presence of the king and Malum, the king's greatest fear came true in no time.
The rumors of the Imperium stone hiding inside the walls of Terra Pacificae spread across the country. Soon other kingdoms threatened Terra Pacificae to handover the stone or else face the consequences. Terra Pacificae was not a kingdom born for fighting; it was the symbol of peace. The chances to win the battles were less. Their defeat was obvious.
So, the king sent away his youngest daughter along with the stone to the forest of protection (which was now Thrunton Wood) which was under the protection of Malum and was also said to be the home for the pixie.
The kingdom was defeated and destroyed just to find that the stone which was nowhere to be found and nobody knew what happened to it."
Amelia opened her eyes. She could feel the ring on her palm. It had been only a few weeks since she got to know that it wasn't just a normal ring but the stone attached to it was the Imperium stone that had gone missing. They were the descendants of Terra Pacificae's youngest princess who had somehow survived and it was the reason for her parents' tragedy.
Even though everybody had thought it was over when the kingdom had been destroyed, it wasn't. The other kingdoms had kept searching for the stone and although it has passed hundreds of years their thirst for power hadn't been quenched.
Her parents must have known their fate in advance because the day before their death, they had sent her with the ring to her grandmother's place. Some might think it was mere coincidence, and that Amelia got lucky but to Amelia, it was not.
She had lost the two irreplaceable treasures of her life because of some stupid ring. She looked at the ring. She could see the markings that read "If you want to find me you are welcome to my home, but keep in mind that everything you see is not real. If you are smart enough, you'll probably find me, but if you are not you'd rather stayed at home."
It had been a week or so when she had first encountered these markings and gone off to the Thrunton Wood (which was Malum's home) in search for Malum with the fear of losing her grandmother as well if she didn't hurry.
Amelia looked through the window at the sky which was now a shade darker than before. She remembered the journey through the Thrunton wood as if it happened yesterday.
To her greatest relief, there were only a few visitors to Thrunton wood on that day. Amelia hadn't had even a single hint as to how or where to find Malum. She kept walking through the woods carefully looking at everything that was in sight.
She had walked for many hours when she came across a tree that had a small red-colored triangular shape carved in the middle of its trunk. It was the same shape and size as the stone attached to the ring. Amelia was about to press the stone into the carving when she remembered the markings on the ring; it said that not everything was real.
She hesitated for a minute. Was it some kind of a trap? But it was the only visible way that might lead to Malum. So, she pressed the stone. At that very moment, a circular part of the trunk just about the triangular carving moved inside and a rolled piece of paper came out from it. The paper had something written on it: "Find the fire that no one can reach and let the stone guide its light to the place where light cannot reach." From where was she supposed to find that fire and how'd she be able to reach a fire that no one can reach?
She sat on a rock facing the tree. Sun rays came filtering through the leaves and created various designs on the ground. Her eyes followed the designs until they reached a shadowy space where it seemed as if the sun rays were blocked in the mid-air by some invisible barrier. A brainwave struck her.
The fire that no one can reach was the sun, and the place where light cannot reach might be the shadowy space she was looking at.
Amelia stood up and walked towards it. She held out her hand expecting to feel the barrier, but there was nothing. What did the writings say? To let the stone guide its light. Amelia held the ring in sun rays such that the rays hit the stone and reflected in the direction where she thought the invisible and untouchable barrier was.
The reflected light stopped in the midway and started to gather and expand until it formed a rectangular shape of a door. It seemed as if it was made of light and it also had a knob on it. This should be what the ring has told about; even though it seemed as if there was nothing, there was a door leading somewhere. Amelia quickly glanced around to make sure there was no one nearby and turned the knob.
The door opened to a dark passageway. The sunlight that was coming from outside didn't seem to reach inside; the place where light cannot reach. She stepped inside and the door closed behind her. At that very moment, the inside lit up.
The inside looked more like a study that belonged to a messy person. Things were kept in places where they didn't belong. Amelia jumped when someone called behind her. "Want some tea?" asked the tall thin figure holding a tray of two cups and two saucers along with what looked like a teapot, a milk jug, and a sugar bowl. With the pale face, long nose, thin mouth, grey eyes, pointy ears and black hair Amelia could easily recognize who it was. It must be Malum.
The pixie walked past her, set down the tray on a table, and sat down on a chair indicating Amelia to sit down as well. When she sat down, he poured some tea into a cup, then some milk, and finally some sugar and offered it to her.
It was Malum who spoke first. "You are smarter than I thought. I thought you would run through the woods searching for a fire". He grinned and thought for a while and said, "At least that's what princess Spe did." There was a silence for a moment and Malum broke it again.
"So, what made you come here?"
Amelia showed the ring and said, "This."
"The Imperium stone."
"You mean this?" asked the pixie producing a stone identical to the one that laid attached to the ring.
"The Imperium stone."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh my!" Malum let out a sigh, but to Amelia, it sounded more like an insult made under breath. "These humans... They easily believe in lies but it's harder to convince them of the truth", he said more to himself and then looked at Amelia and said, "Don't you get it?"
It took a moment for everything to become clear. She could feel the rage boiling inside her. The pixie spoke again, this time with a grin on his face. "Isn't it funny when people protect something which was said to be precious but was just a normal thing bewitched to look alike?"
Amelia couldn't hold it anymore. "Funny? You call it funny? Even after a whole kingdom collapsed and many suffered because of it? My parents even gave their lives to protect it."
"I didn't ask them to." Amelia felt as if she was about to hit him. "After all, I didn't expect someone to take something seriously that happened on an April fool's day," said Malum and took a sip from his tea.
"I'm not only the pixie of power and mischief, but I'm also the spirit of April fool's day. April fool's day is not just a day for humor. It carries a bigger message than that, but most fail to see it and I'm not surprised because it seems as if people love to fool themselves throughout the year."
"What am I supposed to do with this then?"
"It's up to you to think whether you are doing to end this game or keep it going."
That was the end and now all the burdens laid upon Amelia's shoulders. She should end this game, but how? She can't simply go and tell the truth. Nobody is going to believe it.
She felt a soft hand enclose on her hand, and a kind voice called her, "Amelia dear." Grandma was standing beside her, holding a warm cup of tea. "Grandma, April fool's day is not just for fun right? It also warns us to think before belief, doesn't it?" Grandma gave the cup of tea to Amelia and sat beside her. "Yes dear, but many fail to see it. Even we failed to see it."
Amelia looked through the window again. The sky which was gloomy and grey a moment before was now bright and blue as if it all just happened in her head. The sky must have played a trick.