The Fae of Aedon Chapter 3- Part 2

“Castle Moirai lies in the heart of this deep wood.  Do the both of you understand that thirty years have passed since you were last there, Natalia?  Much has changed.  The serenity is shattered.  Fae different and alike are grouping together, instead of working together.  You will find Palace politics are now daily bogged with haranguing arguments that echo down the corridors.  Petitioners line up daily to ask for resolve of the most inane disputes.  Paedeon’s grand speeches mesmerize the masses.  The melting pot you left has become a bubbling mass of dissent.  The old ways are ridiculed openly, and the Resistance calls for open war if the King and Queen will not have  the barrier removed.  They wish to pass freely between the realms as in the days of old.  They yearn for offerings at festivals thrown in their honor, like our ancestors were given.  Your own fairy tales tell you all about the grand courts of the Fairy Royalty.  But there were constant struggles between the human and Fae.  I told you how acts by the Fae folk were represented as witchcraft, and innocent people died for it.   When the Duchess’s ancestors settled here, they chose a remote location surrounded all around by trees.  They didn’t tear out the forests to build, rather they chose it for its seclusion.  They built their grand home in the valley near the center of the forest.  They had no idea who they had just moved next to!  Throughout the construction, the Fae tried to dissuade the continuing building.  Sprite and Brownies, Fairy and Orc, Trolls lumbered from their caves all intent upon denying the Snippet’s claim to the land.  The King of Aedon, stopped the bloodshed before it started.  He met with the man named Snippet, and they struck an accord.  If they both would disavow knowledge of the other, and live by rules of disengagement, then there would be no harm done by either side.  If throughout the ages, one side ever broke their vow, then the pact was null and void, and war would be the result.  Britta, I want you to imagine your world suddenly overrun with angry Fae folk, bent on seeking glory by forcing respect.  Humans no longer believe in magic, that doesn’t make it non-existent.  The Snippet family has always upheld their oath, and have been long friends of the Moirai Court.”

Pausing by a brook,  Glen stooped to drink, the girls followed his example.  Stretching his graceful body, he gazed up at the sun through the trees.  Nodding to himself, he began digging a pit, instructing the ladies to gather kindling.  By  the time they had returned he had stuck up two forked sticks and made a spit, a small copper cook pot was filled with water and various vegetation and fruits.  He again grinned at Britta when he lit the fire with a flick of a finger.  He loved watching the astonishment on her face when he used magic.  As the fire crackled, the pot began to warm, slowly coming to a boil.  Fragrant steam floated out of the open pot, reminding the girls that they had missed their dinner.  Glen sat crossed legged on the ground, leaning forward to stir the soup occasionally.  Natalia was unusually quiet, seemingly lost in thought, only appearing half aware of either her friend or protector.  Britta thought for a moment, then looked at her little princess with a mixture of awe and uncertainty.  If what Glen said was correct, then Natty wasn’t six, she was sixty, nearly as old as Aunty Belle.  This was a hard concept to swallow.  How had Natalia really felt all the times the other children told her she was too young to do this or that?  She had never mentioned the aging difference, perhaps to her it really didn’t matter.  She had always been sure that eventually she would return to the Fairy world she claimed to have been born of.  Another question  flitted around Britta’s mind.  How old was she in this world?  Using Glen’s approximation, she was astonished to know she was closing in on two hundred years, or was it cycles?  Her brow furrowed in thought, Britta directed her attention to the land around her.  That in itself was enough to confuse her.  The colors seemed to be somehow more alive than before.  The sky was flaming reds and oranges, with the sunset.  She didn’t know that she had ever seen such a beautiful sight in her entire life. 

                Everything in nature seemed to be more alive on this side of the veil, it seemed to the older girl, and she wondered how her little friend had endured the years without this vibrancy in her life.  Instead of being morose at its loss, Natalia had brought part of it with her into Mercy Home.   It was what they all adored about their Princess.  Britta wondered at many things as they sat by the fire.  She wished her sister were here, Sonya would understand all of this better.  With her nose always in a book, she related to Natalia’s stories in a way that few others had.  Was Sonya worried?  Glen had made clear that the adults knew what had happened, but what of the other children?  How was their disappearance to be explained to them?  Lost in thought, she didn’t notice that dusk had begun to settle around them.

                Peering across the fire, Britta noticed that Natalia again seemed to have gone inside herself .  She wore an expression of only being half aware of her surroundings.  The teen glanced at Glen seeking some sort of explanation with her eyes, the question left hanging unspoken in the air between them.  He gave the barest of nods to indicate all was well, and she did not press further.  Finally, the stew was ready, and Glen passed around light wooden bowls and spoons, as well as a cups for water from the stream.  Britta decided she wasn’t going to figure out anything on an empty stomach, and set in hungrily.  Natalia still acted as if on auto pilot.  Systematically lifting the spoon to her mouth, then back to her bowl, all the while looking as if she were listening to something that only she could hear.  

                The stew was filling, and surprisingly delicious to Britta, who didn’t recognize most of the ingredients.  A concoction of roots, mushrooms, and berries swam in her bowl, relaxing her with its earthy smell, and a calm spread through her body as she gave herself over to the peace and quiet of her surroundings.  As the evening fell around them, the night birds began to chatter amongst themselves.  Fireflies played tag in the woods.  Moonlight dappled through the leaves overhead, and the girl found herself dozing.  Britta struggled to throw off the sleepiness that seemed to settle upon her like a blanket, giving up as she idly wondered exactly what had been in the soup.


The Fae of Aedon – Chapter 3 Part 1

Chapter 3

                “Tell me, Little One, how did you manage to break the glamour placed upon you?  The casting was supposed to last for at least ten human years.  When it was safe, Nyomin and Itania studied and researched the ancient lore, waited for the exact moment of most effectiveness of the spell, yet, you broke the entire enchantment all on your own, several years ahead of time.”  Glen spoke conversationally, but both girls could sense that underneath his calm statements was bubbling up an uneasiness that grew by the second.

                “I guess you would do well for me to begin at the beginning, so to speak, Your Grace.  As you are aware, time moves differently in our realm, than that of the humans.  Miss Britta, I cannot assure you how long will have passed in your world, while you remain in ours.  The greatest minds of the Fae and human world have both tried to calculate and compute the exact ratios, but the answer has eluded the most accomplished minds of both worlds.  Miss Britta, in your homeland, this is but a grand forest surrounding a large estate owned by The Duchess.  On our side of the barrier, it’s an entire kingdom, separated by races, affiliations and by Gaia’s own hand.  You call your land Illinois.  You find the area you live in to be plain, simple, and rather boring, am I correct?”  Glen glanced over at Britta and saw her nod.

                “You have always dreamed of daring adventures with dragons and knights, correct again?”  another small nod, followed by a flushing of cheeks.  The woods garb suited Britta well.  Her natural gracefulness made the shifting fabric appear more fluid.  With her cowl up, one wouldn’t know she was not of this realm.  “The land you tread upon now has been here since long before your people, or the peoples that were here before yours conquered them.  We call our home Aedon, as Ionia mentioned.  For centuries our people thrived in this world, free to come and go as they pleased between Illinois and Aedon.  This arrangement worked out fairly well for quite some time, but as the white people moved to the Americas, they brought with them a horrible disease.  They brought “Religion”.  This ”Religion” taught its followers that anything not approved by the churches was heathen and foul.  Hundreds of years of atrocities were inflicted upon its own people,  whether they were faithful or not.  This epidemic was global.  All over the world, the work of men in “the true faith” tortured and killed their brothers and sisters based on hysteria.”

                Glen’s lyrical voice dropped low as he slightly shuddered.  Shaking his head, a few stray hairs of purple slashed silver fell across his face.  Struggling, he regained his composure and continued.  “The Kings and Queens of all the Fae folk across the world met to decided what should be done to help these poor suffering humans.  After all, most of the victims of the “cleansing” were merely humans who still chose to worship the world around them, as opposed to an unseen God.  They were not being sacrilegious at all, they simply worshipped in their own way, and that would not be tolerated by the Inquisitors.  Men, women, and even children were imprisoned, tortured, and killed in the most gruesome manners to prove that they were not witches.  These good people had the misfortune of seeking natural remedies  to illnesses, or left gifts to the Fae folk to help protect them from unkind forces. “

                Britta spoke up, surprising even herself, Natalia seemed to be absorbing everything around her like a magnet.  Nothing escaped her eyes or ears, it was as if she was seeing the world for the first time.  When she heard Britta’s voice, the clarity came back into her eyes, and Natty smiled up at her friend.

                “Master Glen, we had to learn about the time you are speaking of in history class.  What does that have to do with us now?  There are no more witch hunts,  people who claim to be able to see ‘the other side’ openly offer their services.  Humans have learned to accept the differences in others much easier than they used to.  Children today grow up learning tolerance instead of prejudice. “  Britta cocked her head to one side to keep both her view of Glen and the woods around her clear.

                “Please, no more ‘Master Glen’ business, I am simply Glen. Of the clan Oakseer.  I’m sure our ways seem most quaint, but there is solace and respect in ritual, and then there are those who would promote change, change that would bring terrible events to pass.”  Glancing behind him, Glen could see Natalia listening intently to every word being exchanged.  She offered no interruption, simply listened and made it a part of her.  The woods guide had a feeling he knew how the glamour had been shattered so completely, but would have to dig a little deeper into who the Princess was now.

                “The night you were placed with Aunty Belle, your Highness, I carried you to her in my own arms.  I took a vow the day you were born to be your sworn protector, till my life’s end.  I gave you over to that kind woman to be cared for myself.  You were never lost or sick in the woods.  Your little friend  Welsey pulled that prank.  You see, what we had hoped was that the spell would last you ten full human years.  Welsey was to pretend to be a lost babe in the forest, so that Paedeon would believe that you had indeed be abducted, and had been left for dead.  The human staff at Mercy Home has always known exactly who you are, darling.  They kept the secret to keep you safe, not to lie to you.  Please, harbor no ill will to those kind folks, for they have done well in your care.”

                “As I was saying before, when the first Europeans came to explore our country, they found much in abundance they coveted.  The humans came sparsely at first, but quickly began claiming lands as their own.  The same has happened to our cousins around the world.  As a race, the Fae have been always here, evolving, like humans do, but at a much different rate.  Time moved differently, between our dimensions, as I’ve said.  As time moves in your world, the ratio is about one of your years to about ten of ours.  So you see, when Natalia was but a toddler in both of our worlds, in yours she was three, in ours she was just past her thirtieth cycle.  Did you ever wonder, Britta, how a child so small could seem to do anything she set her mind to?  Or how she managed to get into such high trees and such?  Were you ever curious as to HOW she knew so much about the world around her, without schooling by Ms. Snippet?  It is because she is our own Light of Aedon.”

                “Ionia spoke of cradling Natalia in her own boughs.  Did you notice the look of instant peace and comfort simply being held by one of her own brought our little mischief maker?  Ionia allowed the wood to be taken to make Natalia’s cradle from her own oaken body.  It was a gift whose tradition goes back millennia.  I feel as if I’m skipping around too much, Britta, jumping from subject to subject, yet never hitting the peg on the head.  We only have about another day’s walk to reach before we reach.  Like your country has states, and a capitol to encompass it all, so have we, you’ve just never known about it.”  Glen winked and made Britta blush furiously, something she was not used to at all.  She had never felt so gawky in all her life.  Ducking her head down, she hid her face by the cowl.   The dagger at her waist was very light, but she wasn’t used to having something rub against her as moved.  As they walked Glen carried on his briefing, even if it was a bit random and strayed now and then.

The Fae of Aedon – Chapter 2 Part 3

                “My darling Natalia, how long I have waited to hear your call.  Often I have felt  your spirit touch mine, and always I waited to see you, and now you have come.  Come, my child, and curl in my arms the way you did as a babe, before you were stolen from us.” Leaning with her back to the tree Ionia pulled Natty into her lap, cuddling the child tight against her.  Instead of being rough and hard, Ionia’s skin was soft and supple, like a spring shoot.  Being back in the arms of the one who had swaddled her as a babe every night in a cradle made from Ionia’s own limbs, Natalia felt something start to break free in herself.  Like a butterfly beginning to split its chrysalis open and fly free for the first time.  Anticipation, fear, and curiosity bubbled up inside the Princess’s heart.

                “My Ionia, please, tell me where my parents are?  They are looking for me, are they not?  They know someone bewitched the Fae so that I couldn’t be seen, and right before their eyes the whole time?  Please, where is my mom and dad?  I miss them so much.”  Natalia’s voice faded as she murmured the last sentence.  Britta wanted to comfort her little friend, but knew that a barrier had been crossed, and Natalia had pulled her through too.  She didn’t know that she was exactly welcome, even if to this point no indication had been given that she wasn’t.  Welsey hadn’t been unkind to her, but  neither had he embraced her as someone who had been protecting his Princess these past three years.  So, she remained where she was sitting, on the slab of limestone carved with a tree.

                “Natalia, I am afraid it isn’t as simple as a spell.  Spells can be broken, given the right countermeasures, a spell could be lifted and life continue as nothing had ever been wrong.  Your parents have always known where you were.  It was they who put the glamour upon you.  We had hoped it would last longer, but we should have known your magic couldn’t be contained so easily, darling.  Please excuse me, but who is the lovely young lady you have brought into Aedon?  Surely, your short years in hiding haven’t lost you all your upbringing as Princess of the Realm.  Young lady, please, join us here at my tree.  My name is Ionia, and as you’ve probably surmised, I am a dryad.  I’ve been watching you inspect your surroundings, slightly shocked at the subtle differences you see.  You know you’ve crossed the veil, don’t you child?”

                Britta nodded, and made herself comfortable at the roots of the tree with Ionia and Natalia.  The three sat quietly a moment, before Ionia prompted Natalia to perform the proper introductions.  Natalia stood proudly and curtsied before Britta and Ionia. 

                “Mistress Ionia, my second mother, I would be honored to have you come to know my great friend Britta.  In the years of my absence, Britta has been very kind to me, and always loved the stories I’ve told them of home.  She is brave, kind, and sincere, and I hold her in the highest esteem,”  another curtsy, and Natalia stood poised before Ionia with her tiny hands clasped behind her back.  Britta was astonished with how quickly her little princess had transformed into a real little Princess.  Her entire aura was different, not dreamy and far away as it had often been at Mercy Home, but proud and regal.

                Ionia smiled fondly at Natalia.  Not too much damage had been done to the Light of Aedon, her bloodline ran true still.  This was no changeling child.  Ionia had seen eons of seasons pass in Aedon, but the past few seasons had shown her much intrigue and plotting among the Fae.  Natalia had been sent to live with the Duchess, not because she wasn’t wanted, but because the dissenters couldn’t touch her there.  The veil had been torn, and now Natalia was back in the world of Fae.  Surely everyone knew by now.  Brownies are notorious gossips, and even the trees tell a tale or two sometimes here.  Ionia had to get these two to the King and Queen immediately.  Being a dryad she couldn’t leave her tree for very long, so she had to choose as escort.  That was something to ponder.  Whom could she trust to safely deliver the Princess to her parents? 

                “Britta, I am very pleased to meet you and am thankful that you have loved our Natalia in our absence.  I am afraid your crossing over wasn’t planned by your parents, my dove, but by Paedeon.  I fear the omens that brought you here were a trap.  Paedeon didn’t plan on you remembering though.  He believed as most of us did, that you had been hidden far away, a glamour having been cast on you to make you invisible to the eyes of almost all of the Fae.  A few of us remained aware of all you have done these past three years.  We have kept watch over you, never reaching through and touching you as we ached to do.  Nyomin and Itania have often come here to watch over you.  I can’t take you to your parents, so I am choosing someone to take you home.  Britta, I wish you happiness while you are in our lands, and offer my condolences for what you are about to see.  Natalia, there is a war fomenting.  Your parents asked the Duchess to care for you, as her ancestors and yours have a long history of working well together.  My little Natalia, I fear you have eons worth of politics to learn in a short amount of time.  You must never let Paedeon make you doubt your own abilities.  Now, sit and rest a while more before your escort arrives.” 

                Natalia pulled out her little flute and began to play softly.  The melody was timid at first, as if unsure, but slowly grew stronger in depth and tone.  Natalia called to her protector, the one who she now remembered had always stood guard outside her nursery door.  Glen was a noble warrior, he had never let Natalia out of his site, even if it meant occasionally sitting in on tea parties with dolls.  She teased and cajoled with her little flute inviting her old friend to come play with her once again, but on his turf, in his element.  Glen was the best guide in all of Aedon.  He could track anything.  How could anything stand between her and her parents with Glen by their side?

                Britta started as out from behind Ionia’s oak, a tall fairy man stood before her.  He was the single most breathtaking vision of beauty Britta had ever seen in her life.  His slanted eyes were dark green and perfectly matched the color of his woods garb.  His clothes were made of a strange material that Britta was sure Kristen would die to get her hands on.  It was lightweight and shifted with the background, camouflaging Glen as if he were but a shadow.  A crossbow was slung across the pack on his back, and a short sword hung from his belt.  His boots came up high on his calf, and Britta could see daggers peeking out of the tops.  She wondered if he had any more knives hidden on him.  Suddenly Britta felt like the plainest girl who had ever lived.  Surely a creature such as this could never see beauty in a bumpkin.  Glen watched her taking him in, and smirked.  Cocking an eyebrow, he extended his wings, that had been hidden by the pack he wore.  Light shimmered off of gossamer strands of the finest silk, his wings intricately etched with symbols and shapes.  When he held them still, it was like a painting made of pure magic, and when he rustled them their entire length shimmered.

                “Princess Natalia, I am so glad you have called me.  I believe we are long overdue for tea with the ladies.”  Laughing, he swooped Natalia into his arms and planted a kiss right on her cheek.  A giant bear hug later, Natalia was giggling and panting from laughing so hard.  Setting her down, Glen kneeled before Natty, bowing his head.  Britta once again watched her little friend shift into one who was used to being bowed to.

                “Glen, I ask you to honor me by taking me home.  Ionia says there are many things happening that are not good for our land, please protect us and let me see my parents .  You are not only the greatest guide there is, you are also my Godfather, and I trust that you will do everything you can to protect my friend and myself.  Now, what do we need to get started? “  Natalia’s face was matter of fact.  She intended to get to her parents and find out how she could help save her land.  She needed time to think, to ask Glen questions, and the journey to the palace would provide that time.  Turning to Britta, she grinned.

                “Bet they are wondering where we are by now Britta!  Aunty Belle will be worrying, as well as Hattie and Sonya!  If only we could send them a message that we are well, and will be back shortly!”  Natalia’s face crumpled in frustration.  She almost knew the answer, these memories that she didn’t know she had were encroaching on her mind.  How to send a message to a loved one.  That was the key, she felt.

                “Ionia, if I were to ask a brownie to deliver a message to one of the smaller children, do you think that would be ok? “

                “Darling Natalia, when I said many people know you are here, The Duchess is one of them.  She is also aware Britta is with you, and wishes you both a safe adventure.  Belle Snippet is one of your parents’ closest friends.  You have always been watched by those who cared for you most, you just couldn’t know.  We had hope that the spell would keep you hidden just a few years more.  Your powers however seem to be more advanced than we thought they would be without training.  Just as a babe must learn to walk, we Fae must learn to use our gifts.  I am sure by the time you reach your parents, Aunty Belle will have sent a message of her own.  Now, child, off with you!”  The captivating dryad melded back into her tree, leaving only  traces of facial features in the knots and swirls of her bark.

                Glen had been briskly gathering supplies from a hidden cache in the area.  The ease in which he moved entranced Britta, and she blushed furiously each time he caught her spying on him.  She simply couldn’t help it though.  His hair was like spun silver, with faint traces of purple streaks here and there.  He had folded his wings back in when she became a little too enamored by them and reached a quivering hand to touch them.  Fairies tended to be quite proprietary of their wings, each having been etched by the passage the wearer’s life.  Due to the military and survival guide he’d been his whole life, there were many jagged slashes of crimson, and other places on his wings were designed with ivy in vibrant shades of green.  Fairies earned their wings after a rite of passage, usually around their fiftieth year.  The marks that would later become part of their plumage were badges of sorts.  Accomplishments, Inspirations and dreams colored the painting that was each individual set of wings.

                His clothing shifted with his movements, blending into the trees and bushes around him, a cowl hung from the top of his tunic that when pulled up made the glorious silver and purple hair blend with the forest as well.  The pack on his back was made of the same material, and seemed to disappear behind the crossbow.  He handed similar packs to each of the girls.  To each of them he also handed clothing   He nodded to a bush, and turned his back to it.  Britta blushed furiously, but Natalia grabbed her hand and headed to the bush.  They quickly changed into tunics, breaches, boots and had belts strapped around their waists.  Drawing from one of the many pockets in the dress Natalia had just shed, she found 2 lengths of cord, and they braided their hair and tied it tightly to their heads as Glen had done.   The girls found that when they drew the cowls over their own heads, they also seemed to disappear.  They folded their clothing tightly and placed them in the knapsacks Glen had provided.

                Bestowing a kiss upon the tree her dryad friend had become once again, Natty turned to Glen.  Placing her hands firmly upon her hips, she quirked up one eyebrow.  She was not accustomed to not having pockets hidden everywhere.  This would be a problem, as the things she picked up usually came in handy, and also left her no place to put her flute.

                “Glen, this won’t do at all!  I need my pockets!  Kristen always hid pockets all over my dresses so I could carry whatever I found and wanted to keep.  Where am I supposed to put anything?” whined Natty, the six year old in her reverting to pouting to express her exasperation.

                “Mistress, I believe if you think hard enough, you’ll remember the all in nothing glamour.  First, attach this small pouch to your belt.  Close your eyes, and imagine that it can hold anything.  No matter how large or small.  Imagine each item you place into it being stored and always ready to jump to hand should you need it.  Can you see shelves and book cases, and the storage chests inside your miniature pouch?  Now, open the pouch and place your flute inside.  A word of caution, be careful what you place in there.  Some things can stay there for years, others have their own time limits.  No animals or insects, unless the insect is dead.  You would kill them anyway, suffocating them when you draw tight the string.”  Glen smiled fondly at his God daughter.  She would one day rule all of Aedon, and he would make her a force to be reckoned with.  Her parents were incredible individuals, but none of the Fae folk had ever been equal to Natalia’s power in recorded history.  This made her a perfect pawn.

                “Your Highness, you will stay behind me and before Britta at all times.  Britta have you ever handled a weapon?  Are you savvy enough in the forest to not disturb the creatures that dwell within by your passing?  In short, will you be an asset to this trek or a hindrance.  Answer honestly, the future of not only Natalia depends on it, but the future of all of this great world both our peoples share.  War is imminent, Paedeon made a mistake by not being there when Natalia broke the glamour.  We have but one chance to get Natalia to safety, or we will be prisoners of the Rebellion.”  There was no unkindness in Glen’s voice as he spoke, but his words were edged in steel.   He meant to protect this child to his own death even, and was asking if she was willing to do the same, and if she even thought she could.

                “Master Glen ,  I am adept with a short bow, and have many experiences with knives, one does not peel as many vegetables as I have to not learn how to handle a blade.  In answer to your second question, until I was about a teenager, I played in these woods every day of my life, I was more at home amongst the animals of the forest than being cooped up in a library studying.  I’ve climbed trees, waded creeks, and sought out many wonderful treasures to be found among the trees and earth.”  With that she adjusted her pack and fell in line behind Natalia.

                Glen dropped his pack and opened it up, withdrawing a small scroll worked box.  It measured about 6 inches long.  Inside, lying on a bed of green satin, was an astonishingly beautiful dagger.  The hilt was slim, and etched with runes Britta couldn’t decipher.  The pommel of the stiletto was etched with the same tree as the coin and the stone.  The blade itself was vicious looking.  A slender clean tip and point flowed into a slightly wavy shaft, halfway down the keen edge turned from sleek to barbed clear up to the guard.  Handing the box to Britta, he took a sheath out of his pack and instructed her to attach it to the belt on her right hip.  While she did as told, Glen lifted the dagger off its cushion, and motioned to a concealed lever just under the pommel.  The blade split into three slivers of the knife it had been.  Another click, and they returned to one, any traces of the division of blades invisible.

                After a quick, but thorough check to make sure everything was in place, he nodded, and motioned for the girls to follow him into the dense foliage that surrounded the circle of oaks.  The journey had begun.

The Fae Of Aedon – Chapter 2 Part 2

When she finally reached Natalia, she found the music had dimmed to almost a whisper, and the child glowed even more brightly.  Kneeling by a large round slab of limestone, the child traced her fingers along the branches of the tree carved on the top surface.  The music seemed to swell gently as the tiny digits caressed the leaves, trunk, and roots that were etched in the stone.  Seldom had Britta seen Natalia so subdued, bordering on somber.  The radiant glow that had swallowed the child before now pulsed brightly in rhythmic patterns.  It seemed as if Natalia aged before her, the cherubic cheeks becoming slimmer, more aquiline.  Her fiery red hair grew and grew, cascading down her back, when moments before it had been barely past her shoulders.  The indigo eyes seemed to elongate, becoming more feline.

                “Do you feel it, Britta? Do you feel the call?  They are here, all around, the fae folk.  They’ve agreed to let you stay, as long as you do no harm.  If they think you would harm me in anyway, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop them from taking you prisoner.  I told you it was true, Britta.  This is my world, not that Aunty Belle or anyone else has ever been unkind, but I’ve never belonged at Mercy Home.  There’s always been an aching deep inside me that won’t go away.  I love you and all the others, but I have to know why my parents haven’t come for me yet.”  Tears streamed down the perfect little face.  With a sniffle, she shuffled through her pockets for a tissue.  With a loud blow, and even louder sigh, Natalia flopped down on the stone.  Her eyes scanned the trees and brambles just outside the circle of oaks that encircled a glade of Black Eyed Susan’s.   The oak trees formed a sentinel of silent protectors of what lay on the underside of the giant slab of limestone. 

                Britta’s eyes followed those of Natalia’s, sometimes she caught movements just outside the corner of her eye.  Natalia watched the rustling of hedges and listened to the tiny telltale sounds of brownies and sprites.  If one listened closed enough, you could hear the minute giggles as the girls were inspected by who knew how many invisible eyes.

                “Natty Cakes, what are those?”  Britta felt that she while she did not doubt Natalia was a fairy, she wasn’t sure she wanted to find out exactly what that meant.  The princess didn’t laugh, but restrained a giggle.  The humans amused her often.  Natalia loved each and every human person she had come to call a family in Mercy Home, but sometimes they did the strangest things.  Now for instance, Britta had always claimed to wish to see the creatures Natty had told them during story times, but her hands shook as she edged closer to the child.

                “Come on now, Britta, you KNOW what these are.  I’ve told you how many times about the Wee Ones.  They’re only checking you out.  Older people aren’t exactly welcome here, you know.  It’s the law.”  Natalia chattered on as she edged closer to the closest bush.  Like a lightning bolt a miniature man streaked across the clearing headed straight toward the stone.  Shrieking with laughter Natalia chased him, catching him in both hands as he tried to climb to the top of the slab.  Britta peered in curiously as her princess slowly unclasped her hands, which she instantly shut again when a litany of grumblings came from the brownie.

                “Hey, now, what are ya doin’ that for?  A great beast such as yourself, capturing a tiny little thing like myself,  I’ve half a mind to…..” the angry creature trailed off as he glanced up into the face of the Beauty of Nature herself, Natalia, Princess of all of Aedon.  Stammering, he murmured apologies, kneeling and removing his hat.  With head bowed, the brownie coughed nervously and began again.

                “I’m begging your pardon, Your Grace, I didn’t know it was YOU!  Please, you may catch me all you wish!  It’s only that some of the Mercy Home children play a little too roughly with us, the girls dressing us up in the most ridiculous things, you know.  OH!  Where are my manners, Princess, forgive a humble brownie.  I am called Welsey.  Welsey Shroomhorn, at  your service, miss.” Welsey bowed again quickly and stood looking up at Natalia as if light had shone for the first time.

                “It’s a pleasure to meet you Welsey Shroomhorn, how do you do?” asked Natalia.  This was not the first brownie she had met, and knew the formalities when exchanging pleasantries with one of their kind.  “And how are the mushrooms this season?  Morels coming up nicely?”  Natalia prattled on, setting the kindly brownie at his ease.

“Right nicely, Miss, right nicely.  May I ask you what you are doing here Princess?  The last thing anyone has ever heard about you was that you vanished into the night, across the border, and that no known magic could bring you back to us.  You were a changeling.”  Natalia gasped.  A changeling, indeed!  She was no mere trick played on the humans gone awry.  She was Natalia, Princess of Aedon.   Her parents had thought she had been changed during a switch!  Sobs tore from the throat of the redheaded girl.  Deep, guttural sobs.  Suddenly, the strange beauty that had engulfed her snuffed out.  She was simply a frightened child who missed her parents terribly and just wanted to go home.  As the grief poured out of Natalia, Britta gently rocked her in her lap, stroking the coppery curls and humming a sweet nothing tune.  Welsey watched the pair, and felt his heart melt.  They were merely children.  How could they be involved in what was happening  beyond the veil?  After a few moments, he A-hemmed very loudly.

                “Being as you are here and all, I think it’s best you spoke with Ionia, you do know how to talk to a dryad, right?  The rumors aren’t true, you didn’t turn into one of them?  Begging ya pardon Miss….”  Wesley’s attention strayed toward Britta, who was so stunned by the preceding moments merely nodded in acceptance.  “I think Ionia would be your best bet, she is after all the tree whose limbs made the cradle you slept in.”  Welsey hopped down off the slab, and sauntered off toward the other side of the oaken circle.

                Natalia sat and thought a moment, holding the brass coin in one hand, Britta’s hand In the other.  She turned and stared deeply into the older girl’s brown eyes.  These two girls had gotten into more mischief together than the rest of the kids combined.  But Natalia knew she had to decide if she could let Britta come with her through the veil.  Her parents thought her as good as dead, that was why it had taken so long.  Natalia didn’t know who had left the coin yet, nor why.  Welsey had seemed genuinely surprised to see her, it was as if a bubble had popped and she had crossed the barrier between the human and fairy world.  Maybe it was the music that had caused Welsey to be able to see her, which meant that all the times she had played here before, he couldn’t.  A spell had been cast upon Natalia to make her invisible to the Fae folk.

                “Britta, I think I should speak with Ionia.  Are you ready for another surprise?  Sit on the stone, hold the coin in your hand and trace the face and back with your fingers.  Close your eyes and listen to the wind In the trees.  I’ll play my flute, and she will come.  Each second I am here, I feel an instinct returning, like memories I’ve never had.  I know Ionia, she held me in her arms every night.  Close your eyes, Britta, and let’s see if they can see and hear me.”  Natalia pulled her flute out and began a gentle lullaby.  As that song ended, she began another, a nameless tune that every mother has hummed to her child when it was in need of comfort.  Her notes carried a peace, and the constant motion of Britta’s rubbing the coin created warmth and rhythm,  A rustling of leaves joined in, swishing to the beat of Natty’s flute.  It was a joyous dance of sounds, and then a voice came from the right of the girls.

                Natalia’s flute played on, quieter but continuously.  Britta stared at the miracle happening before her eyes.  A woman was stepping out of the tall slender oak.  She wasn’t so much stepping out, as flowing.  It was almost liquid wood growing out of the tree.  Thin branches and leaves made up her hair, her skin was a walnut color, her facial features carved into the flesh of the wood.  Bit by bit she emerged from her wooden cocoon, until the only thing that connected her to the mighty tree was her fingertips.  She studied the girls, her body swaying to the music Natalia was piping.  Her graceful lithe body was clothed in leaves forming a simple one shouldered dress.

The Fae of Aedon Chapter 2 Part 1

Chapter 2

The next morning dawned clear and bright.  Birds sang out a merry tune as the children went about their morning chores.  The Duchess may have had a royal title, but she was a firm believer in elbow grease.  Each day the children were roused by the rooster, and began their day by making their beds, getting dressed and washing up.  Breakfast was served, and was to last no longer than 30 minutes. Each child was expected to wash and put away their own dishes.  Hattie, the maid was the only housekeeper in the household, and The Duchess made sure the kids did their part to help keep things orderly.  Herman, Hattie’s husband, took care of the day to day needs of running such a large estate.  Repairmen and Gardeners reported to Mr. Jim, and everyone else to Herman.  It was ultimately Herman who decided what was important enough to disturb Aunty Bella with.

Ms. Snippet taught the children in what had formerly been the Ballroom.  They were grouped by ages, and she spent time with each group as the day progressed.  Lunches were prepared by Hattie, and little brown bags lined a side table from which the kids took their sacks and ate at their desks or out on the grounds in nicer weather.  At three o’clock the kids were let out to play before dinner. They went off into their separate crowds, amusing themselves until the bell rang to call them to eat.

Britta and Natalia immediately headed toward the little footbridge.  Straining their ears, neither girl could hear any music at all.  Disheartened, Natalia slumped down on the bridge, dangling her feet above the trickling creek.  Fishing the coin out of a pocket, she stared at it, flipping it over one side and then to the other.  She memorized every line.  She could see the tiny leaves covering the mighty oak, her thumb tracing the trunk and branches.  Closing her eyes, she listened to the sounds of the forest surrounding her.  Over and over her fingers played at the relief of the oak tree printed on the coin.  Soft humming began to emerge from low in her throat.

Britta sat cross legged on bridge, next to her little pixie friend.  She loved it when this happened.  Natalia would somehow reach through the veil of reality and into the fantastic world of her stories.  Each of the other orphans had witnessed it, and all believed in their Fairy Princess.  Fascinated, Britta watched as the barrier was about to be breached, and Natalia’s magic would open whole new worlds to a girl whom this one had cast aside.

Slowly, Natalia began to glimmer, as if seen through a glittery fog.  Her copper curls seemed to blaze with a light of their own.  The impish grin widened, and a silvery laugh came bubbling out of the child.  Her blue eyes reflected a kaleidoscope of colors.  Jumping to her feet, she ran across the footbridge, laughing and twirling.  The melody that had begun from her lips seemed to spread around the forest echoing off the trees.  Britta followed the carrot top through the paths.  Always the glittery fog moved with the child, the music carrying them along happily. 

                As their journey progressed, Britta noticed that although she felt uncomfortable to be going deeper into the woods, Natalia had no such reservations.  The coppery hair bounced up and down as its owner climbed fallen tree trunks and made mad right and left turns.  Always the melody floated around the girls, inviting them just that much farther.  The older girl felt both enticed and frightened by the music.  She worried that she might become a slave to it, unable to do anything other than that which the music compelled her.  She couldn’t abandon Natalia though, and the child was showing no fear or worry.  Past thickets of blackberries and over creeks, Natalia hurried on.  At some point, Britta had missed exactly when, the child had produced a flute from one of her many pockets.  Her tiny notes danced off into the surrounding forestry, begging to play along with the ethereal chorus that had brought them this far.

                Britta’s ears had never heard anything so harmonic and playful.  It seemed that Natalia’s song and the other were performing some intricate ballet of sound.  Each answering the other, having a conversation with no words.  Natalia’s flute piped out high little questions, and the nameless partner of this strange duet would reply with eager whistles.  The sound of the other minstrel was a mixture of a birds song; sometimes nightingale, others mockingbird or robin, and hidden instruments.  Lying just under the surface of this was the accompaniment of the wind whistling through the treetops and the gurgling of a nearby brook.

                Back and forth the girl and the disembodied chorus conversed through the music.  Britta felt her reluctance slipping away inch by inch.  Since she had reached the age of eleven, she had never felt comfortable in the forest, but had many fond memories of playing there as a young child.  The deeper the pair moved into the thick trees, the more she found herself feeling like a child again, not a young woman approaching adulthood.  Out of breath, she flagged behind, straining to keep Natalia within her line of sight.  Britta was very athletic, preferring to be out in the open air, running and climbing than studying as her twin did.  To be outrun by a kid almost a quarter her age irritated Britta enough to give her back her second wind, and she was off like a flash after the musical glowing that was slipping farther away.

The Fae of Aedon Chapter 1 Part 2

“I-I-I think you had better show that to Aunty Belle,” was all he would say before turning back to his pork chops; the girl bit into her roll happily, savoring each and every mouthful.

After the meal was over and the dishes had been cleaned, the kids were given free time before bed.  Usually, Natalia used this time to catch up with the girls.  There were slightly more girls than boys, and the ages were more varied.  Out of the thirty children, nineteen were female, twelve of them under the age of thirteen.  The girls congregated in their powder room.  Aunty Belle had converted three bedrooms to make the room, and they spent as much time in it as allowed. 

Sonya and Britta were sisters, and had been at Mercy home since they were little.  They were nice, but absolute opposites. Britta had dark hair, and Sonya had light.  Britta was athletic, Sonya was bookish.  They both looked after the younger orphans with loving hearts, but they did it in their own ways.  Natalia smiled mischievously at Britta, as she approached.  If anyone would be up for an adventure it would be Britta.  Britta loved to roam the grounds, and did so every chance she got. 

“Hey there, Natty Cakes!  How about telling me why you look like you are going to explode?  Did Daniel finally come around?” teased Britta as she braided her own hair in the mirror.  She winked at the reflection.  Averted but not disheartened, Natalia thrust the coin back into her pocket, thinking about what Daniel had said.  He was right, that was exactly what she would do.  Having made a plan, the pixie child seemed about to burst with her secret.

Each of the occupants of Mercy Home was enamored with the little redhead, and each in his or own way paid their tribute to girl.  Natalia loved dresses, so Aunty Belle always made sure that Kristen had enough material to sew as many as she liked.  Kristen was almost as old as Britta, and she dreamed of being a famous designer someday.  Today’s dress was dark green velvet trimmed in cream colored satin.  Natalia’s dresses were deceiving, as the laundress was to quickly find out.  Kristen knew how much Natalia like to collect treasures throughout the day, so she had hidden pockets all over the dresses. 

Natalia solemnly dug her hand into a pocket and pulled out a small object.  Holding it in her closed fist, she held her hand toward Britta.  With a giggle, she opened her palm, and there sat an acorn.  Britta was curious as to what was so interesting about an acorn, and was about to ask why, when Natalia began furiously digging through a dozen different pockets.  She emptied the contents of each one on the vanity.  Two pieces of bubble gum, a barrette, some very small rocks, a piece of string, were just a few of the things that came out of the hidden pockets.  Natalia cried a great sigh of relief when at last, she found the brass coin.

“I’ve been called home,” she began.  Her voice was barely a whisper, and Britta had to lean very close to hear her.  They both stared at the brass coin in Natalia’s hand.  The little hand shook with excitement.  “We have to go find the tree, that’s where the door is.  And after the door, well, after the door, I’ll find my parents!”  Natalia hugged Britta as tight as she could.  Then leaned back and stared into Britta’s face.

“You can’t tell anyone, Britta, I have to know it’s really there, before I tell the others.  Do you swear by the light of the moon that you won’t tell a living soul?” she begged.  If it was really out there somewhere, she needed Britta to help her find it.  After all, you couldn’t expect magic to do everything.  It made her tired when she used too much magic, and part of her knew this to be because she drew her power from the world around her and from within herself.  Natalia had so many questions, and no one to answer them.

“Of course, I’ll go with you, and I’d never tell.  First of all, where did you find that?  Secondly, how does it have your face on it?”  Britta examined the coin as she listened.

“I was walking down by the creek, where the footbridge is.  I heard singing, and I followed it.  After I crossed the creek, the singing got louder, and I could almost understand the words.  I kept going deeper into the southern woods until the voices were right in my ear.  It was the opening of a tunnel.  A flat stone carved with a tree covers it; I can’t move it by myself.  On top of the stone, right in the middle was this coin, and it has me on it.  Do you know what that means, Britta?  It means they are looking for me.  I always knew they were, haven’t I always said so?”  Natalia’s eyes flashed with emotions. 

Since she had arrived, Natalia had claimed to be the daughter of fairy royalty.  It was easy to half believe that might be true, with the many wonders Natalia shared with the other children at the home.  Being only three however, Natalia’s princess dreams and fairy tales were smiled at.  Over the next three years Natalia began to convince the others that she truly was a fairy, and her parents truly were the king and queen of this land.  Only the grownups remained sure that Natalia was simply another child whom the world had seen fit to abandon.  They all agreed that she was an exceptional child to be sure, but magical, they doubted.  They all secretly wished it could be true, though.

A sudden thought flashed through the princess’s mind.  If they knew she was alive, then maybe they weren’t the only ones!  She had no memory of the night she was taken from her palace bedchamber, only of awakening in the bed she still slept in nightly.  She had been terrified, and confused.  The gentle faces that surrounded her as she came awake explained that she had been found in the woods, very ill, and had been brought here.  No identification had ever been found.  Over time, she had become part of this world, but held firm to the belief that she was descended from royalty.

“What if it’s a trap?  What if whoever took me wants me back?  What if it’s a witch, and I’m finally old enough to learn her spells” Natalia’s imagination wandered, exploring this new avenue of possibility.  Britta combed and braided the little girl’s hair as the child chattered on.  Slowly her eyes began to droop, and her head to nod.  Britta helped her into her pajamas and bed. 

“By the light of the moon, I love you, Britta,” whispered Natalia as she drifted off to sleep.

“By the light of the moon, I love you too, Natalia,” Britta whispered back.


The Fae Of Aedon

I decided to enter this year’s NaNoWriMo. I will be submitting my fairy tale “The Fae Of Aedon”. This story has been evolving for a few years now, and I hope you will like it. I’m taking the plunge, and am going to be giving you excerpts from it as I try to finish it in 30 days, to be able to submit it. Thanks for any feedback you have in advance!

Chapter 1

Natalia was a whimsical child. Big dark blue eyes and an impish grin combined with her coppery curls set her apart from the other kids. But it wasn’t her looks that made them proudly call her leader. No, it was the fact that she was an honest to goodness fairy. It was true; they had all seen her do magic any number of times. It didn’t matter that the grownups never seemed to notice, all that mattered to the other kids at the orphanage was that she was there.
There were about 30 children at Mercy Home for Abandoned Children. A kindly old woman and her not-so-kindly daughter ran the place. The elder answered to the affectionate name of Aunty Belle, the younger went by the prim Ms. Snippet. Mr. Jim (the caretaker) and the Howells (maid and butler) made up the rest of the adults. The orphans were fairly lucky, as far as orphans can be, because the grownups that took care of them weren’t horrible. Everyone was well fed, and each child, young or old, had their own place in the household.
Aunty Belle was very old, she was also very rich, and even had a royal title; Duchess. Actually, the entire place was like a tiny little kingdom all by itself. A rambling estate provided almost all that the orphanage needed, anything else could be gotten from the town nearby. So, you can see, if one must be an orphan, they would indeed be lucky to end up at Mercy Home.
In every kingdom, there is a hierarchy, and while the entire household upheld Aunty Belle as the supreme ruler, the children revered Natalia. From Sonya, the oldest orphan to baby Henry, they all followed their fairy princess. The six year old held court daily in the garden when it was warm and the library when the weather drove them indoors. Each day after classes, and Ms. Snippet had retired to her room to rest before dinner, Natalia called her brothers and sisters to her side. She told them stories, the most amazing stories, or she painted pictures that seemed to have life of their own. She would sing lovely songs with words they didn’t know, or she would play her little flute. During the entertainment, the other kids sat around her enchanted by the creature that could bring such beauty to their lives.
Supper was always Natalia’s favorite part of the day, the older kids helped the little ones through the meal, and she would get to sit with Daniel. Daniel was six, like her, the only other one her age. There were lots of little kids, and lots of big kids, but Daniel was the only other six year old, that made him her best friend. Daniel was amazing! He could run faster, climb higher, and do just about anything better than the rest. Too bad Daniel didn’t agree. He happened to be kind of embarrassed that Natalia liked him so much.
“Daniel, I bet you can’t guess what I found today!” giggled Natalia, her indigo eyes sparkling. Shoving her hand into her pocket, she withdrew a small brass coin. It was stamped on one side with a great oak tree and a profile of Natalia on the other. She rubbed the coin with her sleeve, trying to shine it up.