You can view the previous chapter here.
You grab the girl and tuck a rainbow into a pocket of extra-dimensional space before the emperor can change his mind. You generally consider yourself more of a craftsman than this, but no point in being fancy just now.
“Ow!” she says.
“Sorry. Had to be a bit slapdash here. We’re at the second Unnameable. Do you see that mountain over there?”
“Fun fact. Not a mountain. Great hulking beast bigger than our entire city. The only way we could keep it from attacking us was to build that wall over there. Made entirely out of baby teeth. Serves the dual function of being sharp and jagged and making it wonder what sort of ferocious thing could have amassed so many bones of it’s enemies.”
She stares at the second Unnameable. “It looks lonely.”
“Probably. Come on.” So saying, you turn gravity off for just long enough to power a trip with the girl’s memories of birthday cake. It’s not up to your usual standards, but should be more comfortable for her. You can at least do that.
“All right, see the tiny cave lined with teeth? Evil Wizard in there. Made himself immune to every form of damage except a bite. Tried to take over the world about a thousand years ago. We threw him into the cave and then started lining it with teeth. He’s still trying to crawl out, so we keep lengthening the cave.”
“Doesn’t it hurt him?”
“Well that was rather the point. He was really not a very nice man.” You check your watch. Plenty of time left. “All right. One more quick stop.”
This one is just for show. You grab a diamond from the floor of the cave (there are dozens) and turn it into a lump of coal. Using that energy, you bounce the darkness of the cave around itself until it becomes half as bright as a quasar. You step into that dark light and arrive at your destination. Only a handful of fairies could do that.
The river isn’t exactly water. You’re not actually sure what it is. That’s sort of the point. It flows directly at the Tree of No Endings. It’s called that because no one has ever seen the top of it. But you’re not looking for the top.
“Aren’t we going back to the emperor?”
“Ah, yes, about that. You see, he would like me to go to the dungeon, and I would like to, well, not.” You hand her the lump of coal. “Throw that into the air once I’m gone. It should explode into a shower of diamond dust and get somebody’s attention. They’ll get you back to your home.”
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“This canal runs straight down into the roots of that tree. From there . . . well no one has any idea. I’d say it’s been a pleasure, but, well you’ve pretty much ruined my life. Toodle-pip!”
There is always a boat docked on the Root Canal. No one knows where it comes from, but it’s always there waiting to take someone who needs passage. You untie it and wave to the girl. The current takes you, growing steadily faster as you careen to the darkness under the roots.
When one life ends and another begins, there is usually a moment of remembrance. In a moment, you’ll be sure this was a dream of a fairy who could do the impossible, but for now, you know you’ve changed from that form to this larger, more oafish one. Your clumsy tongue searches your mouth and you find the gap you expected. You roll yourself over and stick your gawkish hands — small with lots of growing to do, but somehow impossibly big — under your pillow.
A small, cool metal coin rests there, assuring you that you have something to start your new life with.