Friday, September 15, 2017
Welcome back to the faery world of Thistledown!
The writing of this episode was frequently interrupted. That can make it even harder for creativity to flow, to fly by the seat of my pantser pants. Then I reminded myself that there were still faery characters waiting in the wings, marking time until their parts in the story are found by my flying pants. Actually, that didn’t make it any easier. However, I finally finished the chapter.
About This Episode
It’s been fun to imagine slightly off-kilter versions of the characters in this serial, what I called the “scary faeries,” from the colorless world of Bedlam Thunder’s visions. You’ll meet another of those today. Without further ado, let’s fly off to Thistledown.
Midsummer Bedlam 10
Fire and Furry
Beautiful birdsong made music throughout the branches of the primeval evergreen tree. My grand-uncle’s house was nestled in the boughs of the great tree. Trilling, lilting, happy chirps filled my attic bedroom.
I threw a shoe out the window in attempt to silence the blasted cheery sounds.
Uncle had been none too pleased when I went with Rhymer Rainbow all the way to the orchard to visit Peaches Dragonfly. Not that the orchard was far, it’s more that I wasn’t supposed to go anywhere at all. I wasn’t even supposed to leave my bed until the healer said it was okay. No one cared that I had gotten a bluebird message from Peaches and feared something was wrong. In return for me being a conscientious friend, Uncle forbade me to go to any of the pre-solstice gatherings. Adding insult to injury, Uncle decided to have a bonfire right there at our home!
Of all the nerve! My grand-uncle would host a party right under my nose and I wasn’t allowed to attend.
At the sound of another chirp I threw the other shoe, venting my anger at the injustice of it all.
“Hey – watch out!”
Whimsical blue spectacles were the first thing I saw when I turned in surprise toward the window. Calico Ranibowforest hovered at the opening, her blue spectacles uncharacteristically askew.
My cheeks heated in embarrassment. I invited Calico to come in at the door, and hurried to the corner of my room to open it.
“I came to get details about your uncle’s pre-solstice bonfire party so I could announce it in the Trumpet,” Calico began. “But I wanted to see how you were doing first. Based on the shoes you threw out the window, it looks like there’s still plenty of lift in your wings, as they used to say.”
I blushed redder at the reference to my temper, but Calico waived away my apologies. She uncurled a trumpet vine leaf to show me the draft of the announcement. As she unrolled it, I thought of the voice that came from the vine, exclaiming “Extra! Extra!” and then the perky chirp of “Take a leaflet.”
“Just don’t tell the grumpy old geezer that I got out of bed to let you in,” I said, making it something between a complaint and a plea. “I’m not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. And now he’s having a party right under my nose and I can’t even go to it!” I added on a wail.
Calico took my elbow and pulled me to the window. She pointed to the clearing that was well away from the branches of the massive evergreen.
“I think maybe he’s doing it for your sake, Bedlam. Although I doubt he’d admit it. I realize your grand-uncle is set in his ways. But the bonfire is going to be in that clearing — and your window has a perfect view. I think it’s his way of letting you be at the party without having to go back on his word in grounding you.”
That idea shocked me. It was hard to imagine Uncle doing anything for my sake. Any solstice was a big event in Thistledown. Celebrations could go on for weeks before and after the actual date. However, Uncle rarely hosted anything. I was undecided as to whether it would be better or worse if I could watch the party from my window. Maybe my friends would at least fly up to say hello. If they weren’t so busy having fun that they forgot about me.
Feeling utterly dejected, I watched the preparations for the pre-solstice bonfire. Uncle oversaw the dead wood being brought in and arranged.
I spotted Blossom Stargazer gently guiding a team of muskoxen with a staff. Blossom was Belle Stargazer’s younger sister. While Belle had a gift for hospitality, Blossom’s talent was training any species of “working” animal.
It was amazing to see the group of huge and strong muskoxen. They stood at shoulder height. The animals had coats in various shades of blue. Their silken hair cascaded almost to the ground. Curved horns were on either side of a patch of short curly white hair at their foreheads. I remembered being taught that their wool was highly prized for its softness, length, and insulation value.
As I watched, the muskoxen moved ponderously but steadily. With whispered encouragement from Blossom, they pulled the heavy stones into place around the perimeter of the bonfire. The stones would serve as seats for the visitors.
The well-dressed furry faery was unmistakable. He stood head and shoulders above even the tallest fae in Thistledown. I watched as Uncle and Field Yewwasp worked an enchantment around the dead wood that would become the bonfire. The spell would keep the fire from spreading or otherwise doing any harm.
The bonfire was lit. Uncle grudgingly permitted me to sit on the steps outside my attic bedroom high in the branches of the towering evergreen. However, I was emphatically not allowed to go down to the party. He wouldn’t let me descend even a single level down the stairs.
The fire crackled and sparked. I wondered if the ancient tree that held our home felt anxious about the popping flames. However, just as I had watched Uncle and Field Yewwasp work the protective spell around the dead wood, doubtless the tree was looking on as well.
I sat quietly on my step, watching while everyone else enjoy conversations and communion as they congregated around the big bonfire. Belle Stargazer circulated amid the crowd with refreshments and snacks she brought. The little Opal siblings fluttered up to my perch carrying a tray for me. I tried to smile as I thanked them. At that moment, I didn’t realize that they would be the only people with whom I had a chance to interact. As the evening went on, I got the impression that just as I was not allowed to go down to the gathering, no one was permitted to come up to me.
Abruptly the branches of the primeval tree trembled. My eyes searched the crowd below, to see if anyone else appeared to have felt anything. However, the gathering carried on as before. I shivered and the pit of my stomach went cold. The hairs on my arms rose as my skin prickled.
The bonfire did not diminish, but the redness of the flames dulled and then brightened several times. No one else seemed to notice. I felt a vibration that seemed to come from the core of the massive evergreen.
A round hole parted the center of the bonfire. A loud roaring thing burst from the opening. It looked like a doubled version of Uncle’s unicycle with a seat connecting the two wheels. The rumbling sound came from the machine. A woman sat astride the fierce seeming thing as it was propelled from the bonfire. It sailed over the people standing at that end of the fire, and then skidded in a circle.
As the thing paused, the rider looked up at me. A bright pink streak was in her hair. She wore a closely fitted jacket and trousers that had a gray snake skin pattern. She gave a feral grin when she made eye contact with me. The machine she rode bounded up the stairs toward me.
I never noticed him move or even saw from whence he came, but just as the two-wheeled thing roared up to me, I caught a glimpse of a well-made green jacket, a top hat with a poppy in the band, and rose-colored spectacles. That glance showed me the huge furry form of Field Yewwasp was at my back. His russet-colored wings had not yet settled.
The rider didn’t seem intimidated by the big furry faery. She looked at me as if she evaluated and calculated everything about me. I felt Field move a protective step closer. His huge hand rested lightly on my shoulder. I knew he was ready to zip me away with his extraordinary speed.
“You are even more powerful than Rotten said,” she commented with a smirk, and then thrust out her hand in greeting. “I’m Fallow Blackmoon. It’s good to meet another seer.”
I felt Field Yewwasp shift his stance behind me. The slight movement made me think he was startled or uneasy.
“She looks familiar,” he murmured so quietly that I barely heard. “Could it be?”
Fallow Blackmoon’s half smile and manner reminded me of the others I had met in that colorless world. I was sure that was where she was from. I took Fallow’s outstretched hand, but I was too shocked to speak.
While I had visited that strange place in my visions, no one was able to tell that I had left Thistledown. However, this woman was obviously present in her physical form. Field clearly saw her. Was he the only one besides me who could see her? I tried to look down at the partygoers but my gaze didn’t make it that far. My eyes were drawn immediately back to the strange fae.
With a grin and a nod, Fallow Blackmoon abruptly disappeared.
I hope you checked out the mystery folks who were revealed in this episode. Be sure to click over and say hello to them.
- Fallow Blackmoon the “scary faery” name for the character from Andrea Stephenson — Thistledown faery name Luna Moonglow.
- Blossom Stargazer, the character name from Eloise De Sousa.
As some of you have seen, beginning Wednesday just past (for a while anyway) I’m going to do Jazz Age Wednesday posts in celebration of Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I and The Three Things Serial Story. Those of you who like short stories or the Roaring Twenties are welcome to drop in. Those midweek posts will be vignettes from the “Pip-verse” as I call it. Of course this serial will be back again next Friday.
Thanks so much for visiting Thistledown today. See you next week.
Hugs on the wing!
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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