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The Scavenger Hunt


"Sunset alert! Sunset alert! Everyone gather in the clearing!" The announcement was confirmed by enthusiastic blasts from acorn trumpets.

"Come on, Teeny," Doreen called. "Merette and Jemi will be waiting for us."

"Coming!" A small, round Ursa fairy fluttered down from the branch where she had been sitting. She greeted her friend with a sunny smile. "I just love Midsummer Festival. Itís so much fun!"

"Maybe weíll win the scavenger hunt this year," Doreen said as they flew through the trees.

"We might," Teeny agreed. "Are you going to be in the leaf relay?"

"I think so," Doreen said. "You could be on our team."

Teeny shook her head. "I never win races. I donít fly fast enough."

"But youíre not usually last, either," Doreen said.

"I know. I guess Iím sort of average," Teeny answered thoughtfully.

"Doreen! Over here!"

The two fairies flew to the branch where Merette and Jemi were sitting. Jemi pointed at the sky, ablaze with scarlet and orange. The four friends joined the other Ursa fairies in silent admiration of the beautiful display. A contented peace filled the valley, broken occasionally by quiet murmurs of awe or appreciation.

The colors faded into purple tinged with pink as the sun slipped behind the horizon. An early star twinkled, gradually joined by others as the sky darkened.

Suddenly, there was a crackling sound as a small pile of sticks was set on fire. The Ursa fairies left their perches to gather around the blazing bonfire. Tym, leader of the Ursa fairies, flew to a place where everyone could see him and waved to get their attention.

"Greetings, friends!" he called. "Tonight is Midsummerís Eve. It is a very special time for us because, on this day, we remember how King Arnon set us free from the evil wizard, Kazab." There were cheers and applause in response to Tymís words. "Later this evening, Abyn will remind us of that day and all that took place. There will be a feast and dancing after that. But first Ė it is time to have a little fun. Will all the teams for the scavenger hunt come forward? Abyn will give each team a list of the items you must find."

"Iíll get our list," Teeny volunteered. She flew to where Abyn was handing out small pieces of paper made from flower petal fibers. Teeny tired to squeeze through the crowd around the older Ursa fairy, but made no progress. She tried to stand on her toes, but still her view was blocked. At last, she bounced into the air, fluttered for a moment, then landed. She did this several more times, watching as other Ursa fairies received their list for the scavenger hunt. "I wish I was a little taller," she thought, bouncing up into the air once again.

As each Ursa fairy received their list, they flew off to where the others on their team were waiting. No one could start the hunt until Tym gave the official signal. Soon Teeny stood with three other fairies, patiently waiting and trying to see around their wings.

"Thereís your list, and yours and yours," Abyn said as he handed out each one. He looked at the remaining list in his hand. Puzzled, he scratched his head. "I still have one list here. Did I miss someone?"

"Thatís my list," Teeny said from where she stood behind another Ursa fairy who had not rejoined her team.

Abyn looked around. "Who said that?" he asked.

"I did," Teeny said, trying to wriggle around the fairy in front of her. She moved to Abynís side and tapped him on the arm. "Iím right here," she added.

Abyn located the voice at his side often a moment of confusion. As he handed her the list, he chuckled. "I almost didnít see you, Raychelle," he said with a warm smile. "You were hidden behind Alex and Nik."

"I know," Teeny sighed. "Iím not very tall."

"A diamond is far more valuable than the lump of coal it came from," Abyn observed.

Teeny nodded. "I know. Size isnít really that important." She turned and flew toward her friends. "It would be nice to be a little taller, thought," she thought. "Or faster, or stronger."

She reached her friends just as Tym gave the starting signal. The scavenger hunt was on. Each team had one hour to find as many items as they could.

Merette was taking charge, reading the list over Teenyís shoulder. "Doreen, you go look for a acorn cap and a spider web thread. Jemi can get a harp string and a blue ribbon. Iíll look for the feather and a piece of bark. And Teeny Ė "

"I can find a button," Teeny interrupted excitedly. "I saw one on the ground this afternoon!"

"Thatís on the bonus list," Doreen said. "If you find it, we get more points."

"All right," Merette said. "Everyone knows what to do. Meet back here as soon as you can."

"Iíll keep the list," Jemi said. "After I get my two things, Iíll wait for everyone and watch our collection."

"Letís go!" Doreen said. Eagerly, the Ursa fairies set off on their hunt.

Teeny flew quickly through the trees, following a path that wound away from the clearing. One of the Ursa fairiesí human friends had lost a button on a recent visit. Teeny had caught a glimpse of it while gathering flower petals to use in making various lotions and ointments.

As she flew, eyes searching the ground, Teeny thought about Abynís words. "A diamond may be valuable, but it doesnít win races or contests," she said to herself. "Doreen can fly fast and gather a lot of leaves at one time. Merette is so tall and strong Ė she can lift me easily. Jemi makes up songs and plays them so beautifully. I donít fly fast enough to win races or sing well enough to sing alone. I don't win prizes in school, either." She sighed. "Iím just an ordinary, average person. No big prizes, no big awards. Average."

Just then, a strange sound greeted her ears. She hovered in the air, listening. The strange sound came again. Curious, Teeny flew forward through the trees, searching for the source of the sound.

Moments later, a curious sight met her eyes. A tree had snapped during a recent thunderstorm, toppled by the powerful winds. The stump left behind was rather jagged, but level enough to hold a small bundle. It was from this bundle, which squirmed and wriggled from time to time, that the sound had come.

"What is it?" Teeny asked as she flew closer. The bundle wriggled and made some new noises, louder than before. Teeny gasped in amazement. "Itís a baby!" she cried. She fluttered down to the stump, perching beside the babyís head. "Poor thing," she said, stroking the babyís soft dark curls. "What are you doing out here all alone?"

In answer, the baby began to cry. Teeny fluttered to where the baby could see her and began to sing, dancing and making funny faces. The baby quieted, watching with wide eyes. Teeny continued to sing, searching her memory for lullabies. In a few minutes, the baby closed her eyes and slept.

"Now what do I do?" Teeny wondered aloud. "I canít leave this baby here alone; itís too dangerous. But I canít help her by myself, either." She closed her eyes. "King Arnon, please show me what to do. Show me how to help this baby."

A quiet warmth filled her mind as she listened for the answer. Although no words were spoken, Teeny knew she must wait with the baby. Somehow help would come. She must be patient and wait.

The baby was wrapped in a soft, warm blanket. Teeny shivered as a cool breeze began to rustle the leaves about her. She adjusted the babyís blanket, then wrapped a loose end around herself as she settled onto the babyís stomach. "Sleep, little one," she cooed. "Iíll stay awake until help comes."

The warmth of the blanket and the babyís soft breathing seemed to wrap themselves around Teenyís mind. Her eyes began to droop. She felt as if she was floating on a gentle breeze, flying above the skies through a field of twinkling stars.

"Greetings, Raychelle!" came a familiar voice. Teeny turned to see King Arnon standing before her, his hand outstretched. She called to him and floated down, settling on his palm.

"I am glad to see you, Little One," King Arnon said with a smile.

Teeny sighed quietly, then tried to hide it with a smile. King Arnon watched her closely for a moment. "There is a sadness about you tonight," he said. "What is wrong?"

Teeny looked down at her paws, feeling shy and unsure.

"You never have to be afraid to tell me what you are thinking," King Arnon said. "I already know your heart."

A sigh escaped Teenyís lips. She threw out her arms, waving them in the air. "Iím not fast in races, like Doreen. Iím not the smartest in school, like Alex. I don'í win prizes in music contest, like Jemi. I'm not tall like Merette or Nik. Iím not the best at anything. Iím just so . . . so ordinary!"

King Arnon regarded her thoughtfully, but there was a twinkle in his eyes. "Come. Let me show you something." He waved his hand. Suddenly, the ground was covered with snow. Icicles hung from tree branches. Snowflakes danced from the clouds, playing with the wind.

King Arnon reached up, letting several snowflakes fall onto his hand. Then he held them so Teeny could see them. "There are billions and billions of snowflakes Ė more than you could ever hope to count. And each one is different."

Again, King Arnon waved his hand. Now they were in a great wood where thin birches grew close together. Several spiders were busily spinning their webs. "Every spider makes a web, but the pattern of each if different."

A third time, King Arnon waved his hand. Teeny saw faces of humans living in Kyr flash before her. "Every face has two eyes, a nose and a mouth," King Arnon said. "But they are all different from each other. Even twins and triplets are not exactly alike.

"You see, everything in my kingdom has its own design and its own unique place. You may not be the tallest or the fastest or have the best singing voice among the Ursa fairies, but you are special in your own way. You have been given talents and abilities that are different from Doreenís or Jemiís or Abynís. Because of those talents, you can express my love to others in a unique and special way. In fact, no one else can express my love in the same way that you can. You are special."

Teeny listened to King Arnonís warm voice. She closed her eyes, feeling his love wrap around her like a soft blanket Ė

A blanket! Teenyís eyes snapped open suddenly. It was still dark. How long had she been asleep?

Just then a leaf blew onto the babyís face. She woke with a frightened wail. Teeny tried to comfort her, but the crying continued. "Sheís probably hungry or something," Teeny thought. "What am I going to do?"

At that moment, Teeny heard the sound of voices. She looked up to see several Ursa fairies flying toward her. Three of them carried a bottle, filled with milk. Two others carried a clean diaper while several others carried a small rattle.

"Over here!" Teeny shouted, waving her arms.

The Ursa fairies flew down to the stump, ready to comfort the wailing infant. In no time, her diaper had been changed and the blanket wrapped warmly around her. Two Ursa fairies held the bottle while the baby slurped happily.

"How did you know where to find us?" Teeny asked.

"King Arnon showed us where you were in the magic mirror," came the answer.

"The baby has finished her bottle," an Ursa fairy named Daniel announced, patting her on the back while several fairies held her up. The baby gave a loud burp followed by a happy sigh.

"Now what?" Teeny asked.

"King Arnon told us to carry the baby to the village of Nalla. He will meet us there with further instructions," Daniel answered. He waved to get the other fairiesí attention. "Everyone take hold of the blanket. We must all work together here."

Teeny flew to the babyís shoulders and began to lift. The baby began to cry.

"Set her down for a moment," Daniel shouted over the crying. Teeny moved out of the way so she wouldnít be squashed as the baby was settled back down onto the stump.

The wailing stopped. Teeny smiled and waved at the baby who cooed in return.

"Letís try it again," Daniel announced. Once again, Teeny flew to the babyís shoulder. As they lifted her into the air, the baby began to cry.

"Set her down! Set her down!" Daniel cried. He covered his ears with his paws. "What is going on?"

Teeny waved to the baby, who once again stopped crying. Teeny danced a gig and the baby gurgled happily. Daniel watched them, a slow smile spreading across his face.

"I think the baby likes Teeny," he said slowly. "When we tried to lift the baby, Teeny took hold of the blanket near the babyís shoulder. The baby couldnít see her and started to cry." He grinned. "Youíll have to sit where she can see you. Then sheíll be happy."

"But if I do that, I wonít be able to help carry her," Teeny protested.

"We have enough fairies here to carry her," Daniel said. "Youíre the only one who can keep her from crying."

Teeny perched on the babyís stomach while the others lifted corners of the blanket. This time there were no wails as they moved through the air. In fact, as she watched Teenyís antics, the baby gurgled and even chuckled a few times.

"Keep up the good work, Teeny," Daniel called. "Weíre almost there!"

It did not take long for the curious procession to reach Nalla. There they found King Arnon waiting outside a small, comfortable-looking cottage. Behind the cottage was a small mound of fresh earth, marking the place where a tiny baby had been buried only days earlier. "Come in, little friends," King Arnon said, moving toward the open door. "Bring your gift."

Inside, a young man and his wife greeted the Ursa fairies with delight. The woman cradled the baby as tear filled her eyes. "Thank you, King Arnon," she whispered. "She is so beautiful."

Her husband peered over his wifeís shoulder. "What shall we call her?" he asked softly.

"Ava," he wife replied. She crooned to the baby, who closed her eyes contentedly. Teeny saw a tiny cradle beside the fireplace, waiting to its new owner.

"Raise this little one as your own daughter," King Arnon said gently. "She will bring you great joy."

"Thank you, King Arnon," the woman said again. "You have given us joy to replace our sorrow."

King Arnon motioned to the Ursa fairies as the new mother rocked her sleeping child, singing softly. They left the cottage quietly, heading into the forest. King Arnon held up his hand, motioning for Teeny to fly beside him.

"I have a task for you," King Arnon said as they moved through the trees. "I want you to visit Ava often and help her parents raise her."

"Me?" Teeny was surprised. "Why me?"

"Because she likes you," King Arnon replied. "You were the only one who could make her stop crying while the others were carrying her. You can serve me by showing Ava and her parents my love in your special way."

From that day on, the Ursa fairies made frequent visits to the cottage in Nalla, visiting baby Ava and helping her parents. But, while Ava enjoyed all her visitors, she would laugh and coo whenever she saw Teeny. Over the years, Ava and Teeny became close friends.

And so, the Ursa fairies learned that every creature has a special place in King Arnonís kingdom. Each has unique gifts and talents and so can express his love in ways that no one else can. For King Arnonís love is great and can best be shown through all of his creatures together.

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