I know that I have so many projects going at once, but welcome, dear friends, to my first novel! I, being only thirteen, have obviously never written a novel and before I send it of to a bunch of cynical, nasty, critical, and downright mean publishers, I am giving you the option to read it. It has not been Beta-ed or anything (I don't like the idea of using a beta) and I will willingly take any criticism, be it flames or merely helpful advice. I am seriously hoping to get this book published, and if anyone could steer me in the direction of how to do so, I would greatly appreciate it. So here you have it, ladies and gents, chapter 1 of "Stellin and Lark".

Stellin & Lark (working title)

By Liz Furze aka Mrs. Norris

Chapter 1


I groggily opened one eyelid.

"Stellin! Will you please wake up?"

I opened the other and sat up.

"Thank you. Have you decided to pay attention?"

My view of Madam Tridgen was slowly coming back into focus. I also found my voice, as I always seem to do during situations when it is most likely best to keep quiet.

"Madam, I don't really see what we have to pay attention to. It's the last day of school. Don't we deserve a break?"

Tridgen's face ever more reddened with anger as she gave me her most threatening death glare and replied, "Stellin, don't you think you're getting enough of a break as it is? Will you pay attention during these few precious minutes I have left with you?"

Why must teachers always answer questions with more questions? Leaving this unanswered (though if I had asked it the response would most likely be, "Do you wish to be caned on the last day of school?" though everyone knew quite well that Tridgen had a rough exterior and quite a soft middle and wouldn't dare use a cane, not even on me) I settled back into my pitiful excuse for a seat and listened.

"Now, before we were so rudely interrupted, we were discussing the exciting events that will be occurring in the months ahead. As you all know, you have all been allowed two extra months off school to help prepare for Greenwood's 500th anniversary, the summer solstice, and for the crowning of Princess Sala. Now-"

I had raised my hand again, this time for a legitimate cause (though the hourglass in the corner was moving very slowly and I wondered if I could waste a bit of time).

Madam Tridgen sighed. She couldn't possibly ignore my waving hand. "Yes, Stellin?"

"Well," I began, taking another glance at the hourglass, which said there were only about three minutes of class left, "I was wondering," I let out a long breath and took in another, "If you knew of anything that other girls my age, and by that I mean 14, 15, and 16- year-olds, could" I glanced again at the hourglass. It would not move any faster.

"If you could?" prompted Tridgen with a suspicious glint in her eyes.

I gave up. "If there was anything we could actually do to help with the celebration."

It seemed that Tridgen had every idea of what I was doing and answered pompously, "If you had been paying attention you would have known the answer to that. I was just saying that there are many things you children can do. For example, many of your fathers own farms. Start by doing extra chores. Help your mothers pick fruit and weave baskets. Give thanks for-"

I interrupted her again. "No, you don't understand. What can we actually do to help prepare? Those things are just helping our parents. Why can't we do anything?"

That weasel-nosed Tridgen looked positively perplexed. I know her last wish in the world would be to be confused by me. As she was struggling to find an answer, I glanced at the hourglass. To my delight, I was able to watch the last grains of sand trickle into the bottom and I shouted for the entire sleepy class to hear, "SCHOOL IS OVER!"

And on that final note, I galloped out of the shady grove that was our classroom like a frenzied stallion.

Treelin was waiting for me on the dirt path that led to home when I emerged from the trees. I should say she was waiting above the dirt path, rather, as she was a faerie and was constantly using her wings. Treelin almost never landed on the ground; whenever she stopped to rest, it was usually upon a flower or tree and occasionally my shoulder.

"School is finally over?" She asked in her soft, tiny voice.

"Thank goodness, it is," I answered. "I don't know how much longer I could stand to rot in that pilfing dung hole."

Treelin's little face arranged itself to look menacing as she said, "Really, Stellin, it can't be that bad. And don't swear."

"But it is that bad. That Madam Tridgen knows about as much as an ox and she looks like one too. We sit there and memorize pilfing numbers and letters every day and learn how to read, which I've been doing since I was about five. And in the winter, there's not even any shelter from the bloody cold, and let me tell you, it gets pilfing freezing in there!"

Treelin gave me a loud, exasperated sigh. "How many times a day must I tell you not to use that horrid word?"

"Which one?" I said in mock innocence. "Pilfing? Or bloody? Or could it be dung?"

She threw up her miniature green hands as she cried, "All of them! And all of the five hundred others you use every day!"

I shrugged.

Treelin was, for some odd reason, very intent on staying on the topic of school. "At my school, we must practice using our magic. We don't just come born with the ability to grow things. Well, actually, we do. But we have to train ourselves to use our powers correctly. My lessons are getting rather strenuous these days, as I am a Summer Faerie. We don't get four month breaks like you do, either."

Treelin was one of my best friends, though rather indignant when it came to certain topics. Sometimes, if I was having a bad day, I would bring up a topic she was particularly touchy about and get her all riled up with it. Either that or I would swear perpetually, which I tend to do every day. It makes me feel much better.

I decided to politely change the subject. "So, how is your magic coming? The Summer Faeries are going to be horribly busy this year with the princess becoming queen and all. You'll be growing tons."

"I know," said Treelin. "But I've gotten much better. Watch this," she said proudly as she flitted off to the side of the path and onto an unopened daisy. Smiling, she outstretched the palms of her hands and began to rapidly swirl them around the baby flower. Her wings, which were like little stained glass windows, worked tirelessly to help with the magic; a shimmering dust began to revolve around Treelin's tiny green body as she gave her full concentration, from the tips of her pointed ears to her delicate toes, to her magic. Slowly, but very visibly, the flower opened to reveal a radiant new blossom.

I've always thought it amazing, the way faeries can create life just from the tips of their fingers. I clapped for Treelin, but very softly, as faeries hate loud noise.

"That was great!" I said enthusiastically as my friend settled herself tiredly on my shoulder. The magic had apparently drained a lot of her energy.

"Thank you," she managed to reply weakly. I snorted. Treelin was never one to be rude, no matter what the circumstances happened to be.

Treelin and I bid farewell when I reached the smaller pebble-strewn path that led to my father's horse farm. Father was a very proud man, especially of his prized white stallions, which were the very ones used in the royal army. He had worked for years to come up with the perfect breed of horse, the perfect color, the perfect size. He used all sorts of mares and stallions and finally came up with his "flawless equines", as he likes to call them.

I strolled into our large stone house several minutes later and tossed my things on the floor. Finally, I could rest. I let my hair down from the bun Madam Tridgen forced me to keep it in at school and looked into the mirror at the foot of the staircase.

My light brown hair was at least down to my thigh and still growing. I hadn't cut it since I was about three and I wasn't about to any time soon. The thought of someone slicing through my precious hair with a long silver knife was just enough to make me vomit.

"Stellin!" I heard the familiar cry of Truda, the housekeeper, who promptly came bustling in from down the hall. Truda was around six thousand years old and had been with our family for as long as I can remember.

"Frumping old hag," I said under my breath before addressing her with, "Hello, Truda, what are my chores for today?" in a sickeningly sweet voice.

"Aye, don't start that with me, you little wharf rat. Get going, feed and water the horses and the chickens and sweep the kitchen," she answered in her usual gruff voice.

Truda always looked as if she was caught in a windstorm. With her flyaway gray hair and wrinkled, stained clothes, she was certainly quite a sight. Add in the fact that she was horrible frightening (young children were known to run screaming away form her in the street), and you have the perfect hag. Really, it was already a wonder that she wasn't dead from old age, but I also found it amazing that no one had guillotined her out of pure fright. Of course, I don't really mean that. Poor old Truda. The guillotine probably wouldn't even make it through her nasty hard bones, anyway.

"Truda, what is the point of having a housekeeper that just tells us to do our own chores?" I whined loudly as I climbed the stairs.

Truda glared up at me. "You ask me the same thing every day, child, and I give you the same answer. I have an obligation to take care of this family because it's what your mother told me to do. Now I can't run this house myself, so you best get to your chores if you don't want a good slap. Now git!" She gritted what remained of her teeth on these last words and stomped off through the kitchen.

Why is it, I wonder, that I love to make people angry?