Nutlidge~ Chapter Six

Chapter Six

The Fairy Glen

Sky awoke the next morning at the crack of dawn.
Nobody had surfaced yet, so she quietly got dressed,
had a wash and ate breakfast. She wore her jeans again
for the climbing of the tree, but remembering the looks
from the nutleys the day before, she took a change of
clothing for when she got there. The old fairy outfit that
she used to dress her Barbie dolls would fit her
perfectly. She put her belongings into a shoulder bag,
cleared away her breakfast and headed for the garden.
It didn’t take her long as she ran most of the way. She
got to the creek and headed across the rocks until she
came to the entrance. Slipping through the vines, she
headed around the tree trunk till she came to the
clearing. Up she went, faster than last time,
remembering all the lumps and bumps of the tree to get
her up there. It took her about twenty minutes to get to
Malley’s bough. She knelt down just on the outskirts of
the garden, puffing from the quick climb. There was
movement inside, so she knocked quietly.
Curley opened the door yawning, but smiled happily
and swung himself around the place when he saw Sky
there.
“Mum! Pop! It’s Sky! She’s come back!” He ran out to
greet her, hopping excitedly all around her. Malley and
Florrel came to the edge of the garden to greet her also.
Florrel was the first one to speak. Dressed in feathers
and silk in a flowing dress and her hair tied up with a
beautiful scarf, she looked lovely.
“Greetings Sky, it is lovely to meet you, Curley
couldn’t stop talking about you last night.”
“Hello Florrel, it’s lovely to meet you too.” said Sky, as
she shook her hand very gently. “You have a beautiful
house, you’re very talented.”
“Oh, well thank you Sky,” replied the nutley lady
blushing. “Perhaps I can show you how to make some of
the things I have done?”
“Oh would you? That could be fun!”
Malley had popped back in quickly to get some
‘Changeabilitea’ for Sky to drink.
“There you go,” he said happily, “get that down you
and then, please, come in.” They left her there to change
her clothing.
Sky thanked them and said she wouldn’t be a
minute. She was careful to take out the fairy outfit from
her bag and place it on the floor as she didn’t want
these things to shrink smaller than what they were…
It didn’t take her long. She hid behind a few giant gum
leaves and with a quick change of size and clothing the
fairy outfit slipped on perfectly! It did fit her well. Once
inside, the family praised her fairy dress, telling her
they couldn’t tell the difference! They laughed their way
through a delicious berry pancake breakfast and had
plenty of gum juice, which was mixed with all sorts of
things.
“We’ll have to pop into the tea garden before we really
look around and go visiting.” said Malley. Coral will be
run off her feet this morning.”
Curley was swinging off everything there was to
swing from, happy as a monkey, with his new friend in
tow. They called in a Nird for their lift to Coral’s place
and off they flew dodging in and out of branches and
foliage and out around the humungous tree. They went
the long way to show Sky the views of the river and the
land around the area. They could see for miles and
miles. Sky was sure she saw her own house out in the
distance.
They passed more Nirds and the odd fairy. Heaps of
birds of all different kinds flew in and out of the tree.
Sky couldn’t see the top of the tree as it was in the
clouds. “Can’t humans see this tree?” she asked, as
they flew. Florrel was in front of her so she answered.
“They can only see what is real to them. Most
humans don’t see the magic, only the logic. Therefore
they can only see what they think they can see, which in
this case, is an average sized tree. Those who manage to
go beyond the logic can see and experience all sorts of
magical wonders. Just like you are Sky! Look where
your intuition has brought you! Enjoy it my dear!” she
said knowingly as they flew back swiftly into the tree.
They went through some hanging vines, across a
mossy edged creek, over a roadway of sorts. Many
different kinds of folk were using lots of different types
of transport. It was obviously a gathering place for
meeting up with family friends and acquaintances.
They landed near the main entrance to the tree
trunk. There was a large, round-topped gateway that
had a huge sign above it saying ‘Welcome to Nutlidge!’
The massive bough was like a huge park, lush and
colourful. Nutleys, fairies, gnomes and many others
who resided in the tree were flying in on birds, floating
in on fluffy seeds, walking or riding in. Some sat with
drinks at picnics, some played with friends, and some
talked to the birds and animals that helped them to get
around the tree. Florrel explained to her that inside the
trunk was the museum, the art gallery, and the peoples’
gathering chambers. Further up the trunk was the
home of Lord Nutwood and his beloved Lady Acacia
Nutley, the descendants of the founders of the tree,
which was some twenty thousand years ago.
Malley Gum picked up a large cocoon full of some
kind of yellow powder and hopped back on the bird.
They got to their tea garden just in time as Coral was
getting frightfully behind. Florrel and Malley chipped in
and Sky cleared the tables of used nut cups. Goblins
and witches, fairies and gnomes, frogs, grasshoppers,
birds, lizards and mice came to the store to get either a
cup of tea, or some tea to take home and brew. They
also had light snacks such as bottlebrush seeds,
crushed almonds and sesame seeds to munch on. A few
mixtures needed to be made up, so Malley Gum was
busy chopping while Coral and Florrel served the busy
crowd.
“A bag of Masculinitea, thank you.” said a doormouse
lady, to Florrel. Coral was bagging up some Popularitea
for a small feeble looking elf. An old frog, wearing a
brimmed hat with a feather sticking out came up with a
walking stick and asked for a cup of Flexabilitea. A
young nutley fellow bought Possibilitea, Invisibilitea,
Spontineitea and Posteritea, while another elf asked for
Availabilitea and Qualitea. They often left something on
the counter for Coral, whether it be flowers, fruit, or
gems. People bartered with whatever they had. One
fairy organised with Coral to do some work in the herb
garden in lieu of her goods.
Raw herbs were also greatly sought after. Things like
wild oat for strengthening intuition and trust, mamalis
for erasing fear, chicory for self-love, wild rose for inner
freedom and hornbeam for when one is feeling insecure.
Lavender was used for just about anything.
Sky was fascinated with all of this and remembered
as much as she could while she collected the cups and
wiped the tables. It was flat out for about an hour in
Sky’s estimation and then it quietened down. Florrel
insisted she take Sky around the tree to do some
shopping.
Now that was fun!
Florrel took Sky to where the best fairy clothing
shops were. “I just know you’ll love this Sky. I have a
friend just around the corner I’d like you to meet. Her
name is Yellow Flower, but I just wanted to show this to
you first.”
They walked down a lengthy path covered in moss.
Flowers were everywhere, as were little ponds with fish
and tadpoles. There were shrubs and grasses and
bonsai trees lining the way amongst the mushrooms
and butterfly flowers. They came to a large area full of
rock pools and mossy sitting areas. An array of food was
laid out on leaves, a grasshopper and a lizard played
music and there was a huge punch bowl amongst a
smorgasbord of delicious fruits, nuts and berries.
Fairies danced and flew about. Some sat and talked to
their fairy and pixie friends and played on swings
covered in vine. Birds were patted and butterflies came
in to chat and to drink from the ponds of crystal clear
water.
There were fairies of all shapes and sizes, dressed in
all types of flower, petal and feather dresses. Some
looked as though their skirts were almost luminous, as
they floated around them when they flew or just
fluttered around the place. The area was decorated with
huge blue bells hanging down over their ponds. It was
so beautiful!
“This is wonderful! I’m so glad I am dressed for this!”
she said, and patted her fairy skirt down and touched
her hair to make sure it wasn’t too messy.
They walked around taking in the festivities of all the
fairy folk, elves and pixies. It was so entertaining and
enchanting. Florrel said hello to a few people there,
introducing Sky to them. They mingled for a while
meeting more fairies and a pixie friend called Chinebie.
He was a tall lanky fellow with a floppy hat and a long
bowed pointy nose. He had a cheeky grin and Sky liked
him very much.
Another group of fairies and pixies were introduced to
Sky, and she didn’t know what to say at first. It was a
bit like a party but more casual. There was a lot of
chatter going on between them all, fairies talking about
things like herbs and fabrics, fairy babies and home
talk. This was a gathering place and they all had their
own little huts in the trees foliage. Florrel looked up and
high up above were what looked like hanging nests.
They were made from laced leaves, bark, and other
such things and they were decorated with spider web
nets and pretty things that they collected, that hung
down like droplets of jewels.
Sky was in awe of this. Fairy houses! Not in amongst
roots, but in their own little cocoon type clusters.
Fairies and pixies flew to and from their fairy glen to
check their fairy babies and other such things.
“I’ll arrange for you to visit one some time Sky.” said
Florrel, watching her friend’s delightful expression.
Florrel made her way through the garden and showed
her where the fairy’s clothing could be acquired. She
helped her to pick out two beautiful fairy dresses. One
was made from pink rose petals and the other from a
jacaranda flowers. They were both lavished with trails
of hand painted silk and magical fibres. Jewelled
bodices and touches of sparkly beads decorated the
already gorgeous outfits. Sky decided to wear the rose
dress. Florrel helped her with her hair and put some
flowers in it to match. She looked beautiful, and Sky
wished her mother could see her now! The next thing
they got was a pair of fairy slippers for her. They were
also beautiful, beaded with jewels and feathers.
The both of them walked around for a while looking
closely at all the wares that the fairies had on offer. The
jewelry was wide and varied, but all colourful and
unique. She chose herself a ring made from a curly vine.
The picture it created was a beautiful decorated heart,
and she chose another one for her mother. This one
looked like a flower with curly touches. She couldn’t
wait to give that to her mum when she saw her next.
Baize loved chokers, so Sky chose a stunning carved
Staurolite, which Florrel informed her was often called
the Fairy Stone, strengthening ones faith in the unseen,
it healed emotions and was worn to shield oneself from
fear. She had that wrapped in a piece of red paper bark
and tied with a curly length of vine.
Then they came across some coloured silk that was
also exquisitely hand painted. She thought of her
grandmother and the crystal ball she loved so much. It
would make the perfect bag for it. She chose a purple
one with bright orange curly, exquisitely patterned
vines with curly ends. A gumnut blossom was splashed
in the corner.
Her thoughts drifted off to her mother and Baize, and
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wondered how they were. Tommo went through her
mind also and she wondered how he was going. Was he
still alive? Sky went and chose a beautiful bunch of
mixed flowers for Florrel, who thought they were just
divine, and a new crystal pestle and mortar for Malley.
She had noticed earlier on at the café that his favourite
one had been broken, and she had them gift wrapped in
jacaranda flowers.
She watched quietly at the different age groups
chatting, from the elderly to the very young. They were
beautifully dressed no matter what age they were. Sky
found herself looking at some of the fairy males that
looked about her age.
There was one young fairy boy that had long blonde
hair and was dressed in a tight fitting purple outfit with
a pointy hat, and pointy laced boots that curled slightly
at the end. The fairy boy noticed that she was staring at
him and went bright red. His ears turned an even
brighter red and he looked like he didn’t know where to
put himself for a moment.
Florrel made a comment and took Sky’s attention
away, about a couple of fairies that looked sad.
“It’s very unusual for fairies to look sad you know. I
must tell Yellow Flower this when we get there, she
might know something about it. Come,” she said gently,
“we shall go and see Yellow Flower.”
Sky left the fairy glen with Florrel, and looked behind
her at the gathering of fairies and pixies once more. She
couldn’t help noticing the blonde fairy boy again, and as
they left a taller fairy male walked up to him and said
something. They both looked at Sky as she walked out
of the garden.

Nutlidge ~ Chapter Seven…

Nutlidge

Chapter Seven…

A Golden Meeting

They walked back down the path chatting about all they had seen and walked up another bough before they came to a garden. The garden was very quaint and magical looking. Crystals hanging from bushes caught her eye and chimes rang, leaving lovely sounds to follow them down the path.
There were sculptures everywhere in amongst the moss and flowers. Ponds trickled with small waterfalls attracting brightly colourful birds. The air was fragrant and the closer they got to the house in the tree trunk the more they heard music.
As they walked Sky could hear a piano playing softly.
“Is that Yellow Flower playing that music?” she asked Florrel.
“Yes it is. Isn’t it lovely? She plays all sorts of instruments. She sings and writes and is very artistic. Just wait until you see her house! I know you’ll just love her.”
They came to the fairy’s front door and rang the bells that hung outside the doorway. Sky thought they were the most magical bells she had ever heard! The music came to a stop quite nicely and the door opened.
A lovely fairy, bright and vibrant stepped out to greet her visitors. She was tall and wore a gorgeous dress made of silk threads, that were soft and flowing and she had tiny flowers in her bodice. The fairy’s golden locks floated around her as if weightless, moving like a slow river around her head. It was long and thick and glittered in the sun like spun gold.
“Florrel, how lovely! I was just about to put some juice in a jug and find a nice spot in the garden to have lunch.”
“Hello my friend, how are you?” replied Florrel, as she gave her a peck on the cheek and a warm hug.
“This is our new friend Sky. She has come all the way from ‘The Garden’ to visit us. Sky, this is my friend Yellow Flower.”
Sky and Yellow Flower’s eyes met and they shook hands warmly, instantly liking each other.
“Hello.” Sky said, feeling like she was meeting someone very special.
“Well Sky, it is lovely to meet you. Please, come in.” And the golden fairy showed the way into her beautiful house.
Sky’s breath was taken away when she saw all the pieces of art around the living room and the way Yellow Flower had decorated her house. The lounge chairs were made of beautiful golden silk cocoons, decorated with colourful silk hand painted cushions. The little tables alongside each one was a decorated gumnut with a stand and a polished piece of bark on top with all the patterns accentuated by beautifully painted outlines.
Her floor mats were discarded butterfly wings and her grand piano was covered with colourful picture frames with favourite people painted within them. Pictures on the walls were all unique, painted or made by Yellow Flower herself. She ushered them to sit for a moment in the chairs while she finished making the juice. This gave Sky more time to finish looking at all the treasures around the room. There were handmade spider webs in the corners hanging up and decorated with crystal beads. Herbs and flowers hung dry from the ceiling, ready to use, and curtains made from silk to match the chairs, flowed in the breeze.
There were beautiful things made from crystals hanging all over the place, trinkets and spiritual tools such as a crystal ball, magic wand with a diamond star and unique statues filled shelves. Everywhere you looked; there was something unique to look at.
She came flowing back in and suggested that they perhaps sit in the bay window. She led the way, and they sat in a very pretty area adorned with ferns and plants that looked out over the tree. The sun was trickling in and it made a lovely spot to chat. Yellow flower poured a juice for all of them.
Sky couldn’t wait to say what she felt.
“You have a beautiful house Yellow Flower. You must love living here amongst all this beautiful artwork. And your garden is so pretty!”
“Oh, why thank you Sky. That’s very kind of you. I do enjoy what I do and I get a lot of satisfaction seeing a painting go to a good home.” she replied, and held her hand out elegantly as if to be receiving something, and the tray of cookies she had made that were still in the food preparation area, came sailing through the door and gently into her hand. “So what brings you up this way my enchanted friend?” she said happily, and handed her a cookie.
Sky had watched the plate of cookies fly in slowly and had an expression of sheer delight as she took one. “Well, I was playing in my grandma’s cottage when a Raven began talking to me and I followed it to the tree. I couldn’t resist climbing it, and I met Malley Gum and his son Curley and of course Florrel. I just think it’s wild that you’ve all been here so long and no-one knows!”
Yellow Flower smiled. “Ah, one day, humans will be awake enough to see many things which for now avoid the sleeping eye. It is only people such as you, that allow themselves to see the beauty outside of logical reality. You are obviously a gifted child, I can see that.”
Sky beamed and felt her cheeks redden. She wondered if she was really awake or if she was going to wake up in her bed soon. She pinched herself again just to make sure. She jumped from the pain of it and decided it must be real.
Yellow Flower noticed and said, “You still think you are dreaming Sky? Why allow your logical thoughts to spoil such an adventure?”
Sky looked at her and smiled timidly. Yellow Flower looked deeply at her. Then she frowned, “Why Sky, you are very worried about something, is it someone close to you?”
Sky looked at her. Her mother and her grandmother did this a lot too. They always seemed to know what she was feeling.
“Well, yes actually, I am a little worried about my brother Baize. His best mate was hurt very badly in the bombing in Bali. I’m not sure how Tommo is, I haven’t heard anything.”
Yellow Flower stared into her face as though looking through her and then said, “The young man is still alive. He is very ill though, badly burned and has deep wounds. But it will be his emotional scars that haunt him. However, you have acquired a crystal. It is a carved Staurolite and it is to be passed onto this one who is sick.”
“But I got it for Baize.” said Sky, trying to understand.
“It shall pass through Baizes hands and he will pass it on. You may not have to say anything. This will help the man to heal. It will be activated by the love between the two friends. It is a very sad thing this human aggression. I was talking to Elm about it only yesterday. He had some things he wanted to discuss with me. He wants to talk about what is happening in the tree.”
Florrel remembered what she had seen in the fairy glen.
“Yes, there seems to be something happening. Two fairies in the glen were looking extremely sad.”
“That’s unusual,” said the gold fairy with a concerned look upon her face. “Oh I do hope Elm calls in soon.”
Trying to lift the energy a little, Florrel poured another drink.
“How’s your bathing room going?” she said, “Last time I was here, you had just decided to pull out your old bathing pod to put a new one in. Has it been done yet?”
“Oh it is going fine! A little slow, but fine. All the rest has been done. I’m just waiting on the new bathing pod from Queensland! Actually by my calculations, it should be here by this afternoon. I can’t wait to soak in a crystal and herb bath again; I’ve missed it terribly! Not to worry,” she stated, handing the cookie plate around again, “It will be here soon enough!” With that she stood up and went over to her writing desk. As she approached it, she seemed to stare at the wall for a moment before grabbing onto the writing desk to steady herself.
“Holy webs!” she said quietly.
“Are you alright dear?” said Florrel, standing up to catch her if she fell.
“Well I’m not sure.” she said, with an uncertain look on her face. It was as if I lacked energy for a moment there. I’m sure I’ll be alright,” she said, still holding on to the desk.
“By the way Florrel, Elm said he was popping in today if you would like to catch up with him.”
“That would be nice. Malley is at the tea garden. I could send for him to come when…”
Before she could finish what she was saying there was a knock at the door.
“Well, that must be Elm!” said Yellow Flower, and went to the door, to find, not Elm the wizard, but a very tall nut man. He wasn’t from around the tree; that was obvious. He was created from a huge blackbean seedpod, which was quite bulbous in two places and his head was a blackbean seed with a funny nose. He had strong, lanky legs, long arms and huge feet. His hair was floaty, and there was lots of it, and he had tied it into a ponytail at the back. He wore a pair of overalls made from brownish leaves and had a huge stick cocoon for a shoulder bag. His short tail curled up slightly, protruding from his overalls.
“G’day!” he said happily, his voice deep and friendly. “Me name’s Blacko!” And he shook her hand in a business like manner. “I do believe I have something you have been waiting patiently for, you being, Yellow Flower?”
“Yes! My bathing pod! Oh Blacko! Welcome! You must have had a long journey.” she replied, leading him to a place in the garden where he could sit comfortably. Florrel and Sky heard the conversation and came out to see the new pod and the man who was delivering it.
They were introduced and sat on the mushrooms around the garden table as Florrel poured Blacko a drink.
“Actually it was a much longer journey than I expected. All sorts of things went wrong on the way, hey! My transport Albatross got cut short. The poor old dear got crook on the way from New South Wales from the pollution! I had to get another one for all the gear I had to deliver. I had a large boat in amongst the load also and it took me a day, but I found some help and got it loaded again. Then there was a freak storm, and I lost one of the bathing pods!”
“No! You poor thing!” said Yellow Flower, sympathising with him.
“But it’s all right; it was only a sample anyway. I have yours right near the garden gate.”
Yellow Flower smiled at him in anticipation, but continued the conversation to allow Blacko to finish his drink.
“So how are things in your part of Australia Blacko?” she asked.
“Pretty good. Can’t complain, they keep me busy and that’s how I like it. Hey! I tell you what. Something big is happening in the forests in Queensland though! The energy has dropped considerably, nature folk are losing their powers, animals are getting sick and frogs are disappearing! So I guess things aren’t so good environmentally.”
“Oh how awful!” the three ladies all said together in horror.
“Yeah!” he said, casually nodding his head. “It’s not looking good. They’re chopping down the forests faster than we can move our people! It’s getting really difficult. There is a conference to talk about the situation if any of your folk want to join in. I guess we could do with as much help as we can get!”
He took a long well earned drink out of his large gumnut mug.
“Oh yes, well I would definitely be interested in that!” replied Yellow Flower, wide eyed. “Perhaps once we have the bathing pod inside, we can talk about the matter further.”
“No worries there. I’ll just go back and grab it, you make sure there’s a space for me to put it down and we’re right.” He got up and headed for the garden gate.
Yellow Flower was excited about her bathing pod, but more concerned with what was happening to the Nutleys and folk of the trees. She was hearing more and more things that weren’t really supposed to be happening, and she herself felt way out of whack. There was definitely something unusual going on.
Sky was horrified to hear what her fellow humans were doing all in the name of money. It was obviously hurting the people of the trees far more than even they realised. Not to mention the damage caused by the loss of forests everywhere! ‘It’s so silly,’ she thought as she looked at these magnificent creations of life, ‘to think that they are destroying the air that keeps us alive and yet they manage to allow it to happen. What happens when they’ve cut the last tree down? What then?’ She stared at the floor almost in shame, thinking about the consequences of people’s ignorant actions.
Before they took another step, a rumble was heard and they watched a cup on the table wobble slightly.
Suddenly, the whole place shook around them. Pots fell over, leaves and nuts showered them all and birds took off with fright from the foliage. They all fell about losing their balance, ending up on the floor. Then just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped, leaving them all shaken and bewildered.

Nutlidge ~ Chapter Eight

Nutlidge  Chapter Eight

The Hall of Records

Deep into the roots of the tree, down into the blackness and tangled mass of livelihood, a dark creature was stirring. Amidst the dark tunnels and caves in the undergrowth of mulch and worms, moved a finger sticking out of the cave wall. It was long and dirty and its nail was extremely long and bowed, hosting chunks of clay and sand. Little by little, with slow movements, the finger wiggled about, determined to get out of its muddy jail.
It moved some rock and a most grotesque bony hand with three fingers and a thumb broke free. The ground shook around it, working its way up to the tree’s massive boughs where nutleys and tree folk were busy going about their daily lives. Items began to fall over, people began calling out and screaming for their lives and little nuttles were crying loudly from the fright.
Food on tables went everywhere, making a terrible mess. Nutley horses reared up on back legs and even the Nirds coming in to land had trouble navigating their way. One of them crashed into the main tree trunk wall, bringing down with it the Nutlidge sign and just missing a family of four nutleys. Ducks flapped and waddled everywhere, and birds took off in startled flight as things fell around them.
The tree stopped shaking and everything came to a standstill. There was a big pause before people began to talk amongst themselves. Moving around, picking themselves and others up off the floor, the Nutlidge folk tried to work out what had caused the tree to shake as viciously as it did.
Malley Gum and Coral were doing much the same thing, making sure their customers were all okay. Once Malley knew that everything and everyone was fine, including Curley, he left Coral and Curley to tidy up with a friend and headed up the tree after Florrel and Sky. He knew they would be at Yellow Flowers place.

Back at the garden of Yellow Flower, Blacko, Yellow Flower, Sky and Florrel and now Yellow Flower’s pet galah Dusty, were all composing themselves after the frightful scare.
“Is anyone hurt?” said the fairy, looking around at her guests and lifted Dusty off the ground stroking him affectionately.
“Oh you poor thing, are you alright?” she asked the galah. He was fairly ruffled with his crest sticking up and his eyes were wide open in fright.
“What on earth was that?” Florrel said, dusting herself off. “I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before.”
“I’m not sure,” said Yellow Flower helping Sky off the floor, “but, I think it’s time we found out!”
Before they could say another word they heard a voice coming from somewhere above them. It got louder and louder, calling out,
“Yellow Flower, Yellow Flower! I’m having trouble! Please focus on me if you would!” And as Yellow Flower focused on the person behind the voice she said. “It’s Elm! He’s having trouble getting here!”
There was a whirling noise that also got louder and louder and then suddenly a space in the garden filled itself with bright glittering blue and gold mist that was filled with tiny lightning bolts and spirals. A group of bats actually appeared first, flapping around the mist, which was growing brighter by the second.
Suddenly it exploded into what looked like a fireworks display and there left standing in the mist of it all was a very tall and bedraggled wizard. He was still spinning, and so much so, that he keeled over from the strenuous journey.
As he tried to get up, he waved the bats away, but they weren’t going anywhere. The bats were a spell gone wrong and he hadn’t been able to get rid of them for at least a day now. It was frightfully annoying!
Florrel and Sky helped the wizard to his feet as he fumbled about, trying to get his balance.
Elm was a kind and popular wizard whom everyone loved. He was very powerful, but he was also very clumsy. He stood as tall as Blacko, with a floor length mane of silver hair and a beard that frequently got in the way. His hat was high and covered with real diamonds cut into stars and he had a kind old face.
“Oh my goodness me!” he huffed and puffed, “That was a journey and a half! I could have sworn I said it the right way, or maybe it is to do with the tree shaking… However!” he said, pointing his finger upwards to make a point, “I have just been to see Lord Nutwood and he gave me the key to the Hall of Records.” He fumbled around looking for the key in one of his many pockets. He pulled out a very long scarf and a frog, and from another he pulled out a wand and a bag of herbs. Another pocket contained a dozen beetles and in there he found the key.
“Here it is!” he laughed. “Let us not waste any time at all dear Yellow Flower! We must find out what is causing the very foundations of the tree to shake like it did!”
Blacko came around the corner carrying the pod, a little shaken.
“Are you alright Blacko?” said Yellow Flower.
He nodded. “Yup, no worries! Just a bit amazed that’s all.”
“What do you mean?” said Sky; curious as to what could be more amazing than what had just happened.
“Well I reckon, that for something to be able to shake a tree of this size it must be either an earthquake, or a pretty mighty force of a negative kind…” They all looked at him blankly. “Well, it’s not exactly a build up of positive energy is it?” he added, and continuing into the tree house, put the bath down in the bathing room as the others all looked at each other. He came back out dusting off his hands. “As far as I know, the meeting with the Federation of Nature Spirits is to be held just outside of Cairns, in North Queensland. If you need a lift, I can take you there. I’m on my way back now.”
“Thank you so much Blacko, I do appreciate your offer,” said Yellow Flower, “but we need to get to the ancient library first. But listen, we just might see you at the gathering. Will you look out for us?”
“Yup sure thing! I’ll even save you a seat. Hey do you need a hand cleaning up here?”
“Thanks Blacko but we’ll manage. You had better get your deliveries finished. I’ll probably see you at the gathering in Queensland.”
“Well, folks, I’ll be seeing ya. Take care of yourselves now.” And he waved as he walked up the pathway to the gate.
“He was a nice nut man.” said Sky, watching him disappear around the bush.
“Yes, the Blackbean people are genuine and kind people,” said Florrel. “They live their lives similar to us, but in warmer, more tropical surroundings. We often see them delivering things to the tree. They are always polite.”
Yellow Flower suddenly realised that she had not introduced her guest to her old friend.
“By the way, Elm, this is our new friend, Sky. Sky, the amazing Elm…” she smiled cheekily.
“Ah, I’m delighted my child! Welcome to Nutlidge! And what an introduction! It’s not always shaking like this you know, so not to worry!”
“Pleased to meet you Elm,” said Sky also smiling. She took an instant liking to him and his eccentric personality. The bats were still flying around him!
Elm began to look through his pockets again for his wand and a bag of magical powder. “I do believe we need to get to this meeting and be there on time. Therefore we must away to the Hall of Records!”
Malley came running down the path and slowed down when he saw them all standing there. They were obviously all right. Florrel went to greet him and gave him a warm hug.
“Well! That was a bit of a shake up! I trust you are all unhurt?” he said, rather calmly.
“I think we are more confused than hurt,” said Sky, racking her brain to work out what was going on.
“Is Curley alright?” asked Florrel.
“Yes, he’s with Coral at the tea garden,” he replied.
“Bit of a mess down there. I’ll have to go back and give them a hand to clean up.”
“Malley, we are heading for the Hall of Records, perhaps you would like to come with us?” enquired Elm, knowing that Malley Gum wouldn’t miss an opportunity for adventure. Malley thought about it for a moment.
“Yes, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” he replied. “It’s not likely to take all day is it?”
“Well then, let’s go shall we?” said Elm, and before anyone could say another word he threw a handful of magic dust over them all and called out, “To the Hall of Records!” And they all disappeared in a purple cloud of lightning enforced energy.

They re-appeared in a garden similar to the fairy glen, but it was much darker and there were no fairies flying around. It seemed to be near the top of the tree, yet the vines and thick masses of gum leaves and gumnuts of all kinds, kept out a lot of the sunlight.
They stood looking at the huge door before them. It hadn’t been opened for some time and there was ivy growing just about all over it. There were tall windows that towered them were made of dragonfly wings. Mushrooms of all kinds flourished and frogs of all colours hopped about their feet. Elm went looking for the key in his pockets again, which took him a moment or two.
“This is creepy,” said Sky, moving closer to Yellow Flower, who was opening a nut jar of fireflies to help with the darkness. They flew around and gave them enough light to see with. “I’ll just have a look through the windows upstairs,” said Yellow Flower, and she rose from the moss-covered floor, flying up to the windows, which were quite high. They held the second floor of the ancient library.
They were all concentrating on Yellow Flower and Elm so much that they failed to notice several tall, strange creatures creeping up from out of the bushes behind them. Yellow Flower came down and landed softly.
“There is no-one there,” she said, “which is unusual, because it is supposed to be guarded.”
Sky watched the Elm try to get the key into the keyhole when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and a shiver went down her spine.
“This place really gives me the creeps!” she whispered and as she did, she looked casually over her shoulder and out of the corner of her eye saw tall dark figures swaying behind her.
She screamed loudly, pushing herself backwards a little from the shock, and they all jumped around to see where the source of the fear was coming from.
They all froze with eyes wide. At least six of these creatures stood swaying slowly in the darkness. They were much taller than the group, and seemed to tower over them.
Suddenly a green light began to light up, throwing more light all around them. The creatures suddenly became clear to them. They were a type of bird. They had large bodies; long necks and their heads were long and lumpy looking. Their hair was like feathers going all the way down their long necks a little like a horse’s mane. They had a large feather down their front, and feet that looked more like three fingered hands.
They were all staring at the group before them. If they hadn’t been so innocent looking, the friends would have all been paralyzed with fright. However, the swaying creatures stood proud, and the wizard was the first to speak.
“It’s the Freds!” he said, almost with relief in his voice. “Yes! Of course, now I remember. They’re the Freds. There are twelve of them, and they’re quite harmless. They guard the Hall of Records and have done so for centuries.”
One of the Freds spoke.
“Sginteerg” he said in a funny voice.
They all looked at each other, wondering what it had said.
“Uoy gnitcepxe neeb evah ew.” said the Fred, waiting for an answer.
“I didn’t realise they spoke a different language.” said Elm, scratching his head.
“I think I might know what kind of language it is.” said Malley Gum, “I do believe he is speaking backwards!”
The Freds continued to watch the group closely, swaying as they sat.
“Ereh egrahc ni si ohw?” he spoke again. His big eyes blinked gently at them.
“Does anyone have a writing stick?” asked Yellow Flower.
“Yes, I do,” said Florrel, groping in her cocoon. She came out with a piece of paper and a quill that had hardly any feather left on it. Yellow Flower scribbled down what he said and studied it for a moment. “This could be tricky; I think we might need a little help.” She looked inside her cocoon for something and came out with a gumnut pot. It had tiny containers of all kinds of tea in it. She opened one and placed the contents in her palm and closed her eyes for a moment. Then she slowly placed the tea before the Fred’s and pointed to it with her finger:
“Voice and words that tease our ears,
Break the code and take our fears,
Make it clear so we can see,
Thank you, Adaptabilitea!”
The dry tea floated up and became a glittering mass of yellow and gold light that swirled around them and the Freds.
It soon died down and disappeared leaving them all standing looking at each other.
The Fred, who had spoken before, gave his head a shake. It was like watching a horse shake his mane. Then he said, in his distinguished voice, “Greetings.” and then looked at Yellow Flower, adding, “Thank you.”
The group all sighed with relief, and relaxed their somewhat tense muscles.
“Well done Yellow Flower!” said Elm happily, “I might have known you’d have a solution.”
“We have been expecting you,” said the Fred, “Lord Nutwood sent a message to say that you were coming. If we can be of any assistance, we are at your service.”
He looked at Elm and the bats that flew consistently around his head. “Perhaps I can be of assistance to you sir!” he said kindly, and with his eyes and a fine electrical impulse he seemed to remove the spell and sent the bats off packing.
“Oh how wonderful!” cried the wizard, “Do you know I was beginning to get extremely dizzy! How can I ever thank you?”
“That is unnecessary. But please use the key to open the door to the Hall of Records. We shall find out what is lurking beneath the tree…” And he waited for Elm to turn the key and open the door.
The doorway was high enough for even the Freds to walk under with out lowering their heads. The ceiling was very high, painted in water colour, the images of the first Nutlidge settlement, twenty thousand years ago and the walls were crammed with books from floor to ceiling. Several ladders were scattered around the massive hall for retrieving books from the highest bookshelves.
Elm led the way into the great Hall of Records with the Freds, now having grown to twelve, following them.
The hall dwarfed them all as they gazed about themselves.
“Where do you suppose we start?” said Elm, half laughing, half struck with confusion.
“What about earthquakes?” said Sky, feeling more confident.
“Or what about the tree’s records?” said Malley, “Surely there must be masses of information about the tree’s history.”
“May I suggest,” said a Fred in a grave voice, as he stepped from the crowd of strange flightless birds, “that you look for the original manuscript labelled ‘Nutlidge’. Look for the chapter on Negative Elements. There you will find your answer.” He stepped back into the crowd of ancient birds, allowing their group of visitors to go and look for the book.
It didn’t take them long as it was on a huge pedestal towards the back of the hall in between shelving. A space had been designed around the pedestal and its host, and on it was a huge bark covered manuscript the size of a kitchen table, bulging with content.
Elm, Yellow Flower, Malley Gum, Florrel and Sky all clambered up the four steps to the main platform. They gathered around the huge book with the words beautifully carved into the book’s thick cover and so highly decorated it was, that they all took the time to study its design. Elm, who was in front of the large book at that moment, and feeling empowered by its presence, carefully opened the heavy bark cover.