Saturday, February 10, 2018
Thank you for flying over to the faery land of Thistledown.
I mentioned “mushrooms” to a couple of readers when I wrote the previous episode, Spores*. Photographer, Tim Price kindly offered to let me use some beautiful images he captured of mushrooms. You’ll see them throughout this chapter. You can also see even more at his blog, T & L Photos*.
When writing serials, particularly stories that go on for months, I sometimes reach points where I need to tie up loose ends. I also might need to leave answers for clues I’ve left along the way. This is such an episode. So the pace is not as fast, and it’s a little longer than the past few chapters. I hope you’ll still enjoy the story. Now to Thistledown.
Previously in Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam
Bedlam Thunder’s seemingly endless descent into the black abyss stopped. Her fall was broken when she landed on a bed of giant mushrooms. She couldn’t help inhaling air polluted by a cloud of the mushroom spores. Then she saw horrible creatures.
Midsummer Bedlam 24
The Other Seer
I floated in blackness. I knew the vague feeling of having woken to a horrific image, but along with wakefullness it seemed far away.
A nagging beat entered my mind. I had heard it somewhere before. Tap tap. Pause. Bum-dum dah-dah. Pause. Tap tap. Pause. Bum-dum dah-dah.
Softly spoken words came to me. I had heard them before too.
“Bedlam. Bedlam Thunder, can you hear me?”
I remembered the voice that spoke those words, now and before.
I tried to answer but the chimera roared, frightening me. However, it’s roar became a voice.
“The potency of the mushrooms increased with their size,” the creature said. “She must have inhaled a lot of hallucinogenic spores.”
“Is everyone alright? Take deep breaths of the fresh air and stay away from the cave opening,” the first voice instructed.
The beat continued. Gradually, I identified it as a drum. No, several drums. Soft murmurs surrounded me, a jumble of words and voices in my mind. Fragments of sentences eluded my grasp.
Finally, a another string of words coalesced and I understood them.
“I don’t understand,” someone said. “She has wings. Why didn’t she just fly back to wherever?”
“She wouldn’t have been able to. Not even with two good wings. The abyss has subtle but powerful magic. Dark magic,” the first voice replied.
My eyes fluttered open. I drew back in fear when I saw the chimera leaning over me. Then the features of the creature blurred and became a regular face. I beheld a circle of relieved looking faces. They were familiar, yet… wrong. Beyond the faces I saw a gray-white sky. A milky sun tried unsuccessfully to burn through the persistent clouds.
So, I’ve gone there again. The colorless world, I thought. I wonder if this world has ever seen bright sunlight or a blue sky.
“Didn’t I warn you not to breathe?” the now familiar voice demanded.
She leaned into my line of sight. A bright pink streak in her straight brown hair stood out against the dullness of the day. I remembered meeting her at Uncle’s bonfire party. It was quite an entrance she made. She seemed familiar to me then, and Field Yewwasp had mumbled as much too, though he never told me who he thought the woman was. I sat up on my elbows. Disoriented, I searched my mind for her name.
“Fallow Blackmoon?” I asked.
She nodded and the other faces surrounding me smiled. I noticed that they all held small drums.
“You have a knack for turning up in the most unexpected places,” the man who had leaned over me, at first seeming to be a chimera, commented.
“Catseye,” I addressed the man. “But no. You’re Royal Chimera. The mushrooms!” I cried in sudden realization. “You must have caused them to be so large.”
“Yes, but how did you know?” Royal wanted to know.
“Because,” I began with a shrug. “That’s like the magic Catseye Glimmer has. He can create something useful out of nearly nothing,” I tried to explain. “Once I stumbled and he transformed a single cotton bowl into a huge pillow, quickly tossing it into place to keep me from further injuring my wing. You look like him.”
“There is hardly any magic in this world, Bedlam Thunder. I’ve been working to bring out any traces of magic I find ― the things and people that have a seed of innate magic inside. I sensed such an ability within Royal Chimera,” Fallow Blackmoon explained. “That’s why I haven’t tried to get back to Thistledown. Magic begets magic. I am needed here.”
“With Fallow’s guidance, I’ve been able to do some simple things. Making tiny mushrooms into huge ones is far more than I’ve ever done before,” Royal told me in a modest tone.
“He’s learned quickly,” Fallow added a word of praise. “Especially considering this was not a spell to be taught, but something he has to find on his own, from within.”
“So, you used to live in Thistledown? You aren’t originally from this place. You have no double here?” I confirmed, turning back to Fallow Blackmoon. “I feel as though I should know you,” I added lamely, not knowing how to finish the sentence.
Fallow nodded. I hoped she would elaborate, but she did not.
“Neither of us have a double here. Yet everyone else seems to. Why are we unique?” I asked.
I wished I could take back my words. Looking at the faces around me, I realized my tone had been harsh and demanding, though I had not intended to sound that way. The circle of faces around me glared in response.
“I mean…” I tried to smooth my rudeness.
Fallow smiled and her friends seemed to relax.
“The cave,” Fallow began with a motion to the nearby opening. “That cave amplifies magic. So, we come here to practice. Bedlam Thunder, these people represent all the magic I have found in this world. We were holding a drum circle inside the cave when I sensed the presence of another seer. Of course, that was you, in your descent.”
She gave me a moment to process what she said. It was only a handful of people, yet they represented the magic of the entire world?
“I have concluded that this world does not have seers, like you and me,” Fallow told me. “Yes, we are unique in that we don’t have a double in this world. The furry faery, Field Yewwasp, is also unique, even though he is not a seer. Some describe a legendary creature of this world that could be his ‘double’…” she added. “Although it is far from being a true duplicate Field Yewwasp.”
“I’m Drummer Soulfire,” the woman on the other side of me introduced herself. “I’m relieved that you are okay. Dah-le! That was quite a fall!”
“Fittingly enough, Drummer, leads the drum circle,” Fallow inserted. “She has a true talent for it. The properties of the cave, combined with the drumming helped us retrieve you from your descent. Otherwise, you may have continued falling forever.”
Her words caused me to shudder. The idea of an endless tumble had entered my mind while I fell. It was a horrid thought.
Feeling more alert, I took a closer look at the faces around me. It was a sadly small group if these were the only people with any trace of magic. There were three more familiar, yet wrong, faces. Two of them I had met.
“Rotten Soulfire!” I exclaimed. “You really are more like River Mindshadow than either of you would realize.”
“Of course my cousin, Rotten, is part of the drum circle,” Drummer commented and gave her drum a tap for emphasis.
A sound like knives slicing through air caused me to look away from Rotten. Remembering the sound of the sharp, jagged edges of the leaves that decorated his hat, I smiled to see Poison Ivy Razorleaf again. With a wicked grin, he doffed his hat and bowed.
Though I knew a face like his, I had not met the final member of the drum circle. He gave me a quizzical look, as though he had yet to get a read on me. His shoulders twitched as if he tried to force the muscles to relax. He gave his name, Stranglevine Starquencher.
“The copper battleaxe!” I said in abrupt realization. “That’s why I hallucinated about the axe. Carver Eastdoor has one. Do you?”
Stranglevine Starquencher, Carver’s double, drew back. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. He stared at me for a long moment before speaking.
“The copper battleaxe is a closely held family secret,” Stranglevine began. “Not even the drum circle knows about it. How is it that you know?” he demanded.
Razorleaf looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Then he snorted and smirked.
“I always suspected those rumors were real,” Razorleaf told him. “Your double in that sugary world had an enormous copper battleaxe. When he used it to break a magical doorway, it also shattered the great scrying stone here. But it let me visit that world, and it got Bedlam back home. At least until she landed here yet again.”
Stranglevine seemed minutely less distrustful after Razorleaf spoke. Although, I didn’t think I had made a friend yet. He seemed much different from Carver Eastdoor. Yet Poison Ivy Razorleaf was vastly different from quiet, unobtrusive Ivy Twinkle too. I reminded myself that there was no telling how drastically different the lives of the doubles had been, compared to anyone who grew up in Thistledown. Who could guess what had shaped Stranglevine into a skeptic. After a moment his shoulders relaxed. He seemed to have settled something in his mind. He cleared his throat.
“The family always said the copper ax was magical. I’ve never seen anything unusual or special about it. Except for how big it is. And how old,” he finally told us. “I don’t think it’s particularly valuable. It’s just copper, not gold or rhodium. But some people might think it’s worth something,” he added turning back to me. “You don’t let word get out that you own something that might be valuable in this world.”
“Could you bring it here to the cave?” Fallow asked gently. “I’d like to see how it reacts to the magic of this place.”
This Week’s Faery Namers
Click the links to reveal the identity of the namers. Be sure to visit the “secret” bloggers who have faeries named in honor of them in this episode.
Field Yewwasp https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/about/
Fallow Blackmoon https://harvestinghecate.wordpress.com/
Royal Chimera http://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog
Stranglevine Starquencher https://nofacilities.com/
Drummer Soulfire https://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/about/
River Mindshadow http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/
Poison Ivy Razorleaf https://hughsviewsandnews.com/
Our hapless faery, Bedlam, seems to have gotten a reprieve. However, she is once again stuck in the colorless world. It does not seem like a very benevolent place, despite the apparent kindness of the drum circle. How will Bedlam get home? Fly back to Thistledown again next time to learn more. Until then…
Hugs on the wing!
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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