Alex Iby, Unsplash
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, and magical creatures of all ages! I’m happy you’ve come back to Thistledown.
Congratulations to the winners of Sunday’s lightning contest! Annette Rochelle Aben won the faery mug and Lavinia Ross won the Creative Haven adult coloring book. Congrats ladies! I hope everyone will take a moment to visit their blogs.
I know that sometimes it can be a challenge for guys to embrace something as “frilly” as this story. So I’m extra appreciative of the men who chose to “come out and play” by naming characters.
I posted a faery name chart/game (click here to see it) that gave folks the chance to find their faery names. I did one for “frilly” names and one for “scary” faery names. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but not many of the possible names seemed to be, well… masculine. So when a guy joined the game, often as not, I made up my own name for him. One example is Skypainter Morning — that was the name exchange I made when Kirt Tisdale joined.
Thinking of Kirt’s amazing photos and photo-art, an image popped into my mind of a young male fae, winging through the sky, and painting it as he went. Kirt generously allowed me to use some of his photos for episodes involving the Skypainter character.
Last time (Episode 3) Bedlam Thunder had a new vision of the dark faery-verse and we met some of the “scary” faeries. Although they actually seemed pretty nice. I’m flying by the seat of my pants, so I’m not sure if the serial will get to this but — I see the “scary faeries” I’ve introduced so far as being a rebellious group with a rather punk-edge. In a world where everything is dull and people don’t tend to wear anything that isn’t black or gray, this group can’t resist a splash of bright color. How will learning about Bedlam’s “sugary” world effect their already mutinous tendencies?
About This Episode
Like I said, this serial is spontaneously written, but I’m beginning to wonder when we’re actually going to hear about Bedlam’s main vision that got her (and River Mindshadow too) suspended from school and generally into trouble. However, I think you get the basic idea.
Today I introduce Skypainter Morning and his fae talents. This time we also learn about a bit of faery magic (or maybe it’s faery tech) belonging to Tinder Willowtree, a character we met in Episode 1.
Without further ado, here’s the next installment of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.
Midsummer Bedlam 4
The musical sound of happy laughter filled the orchard. Lanterns were arranged and rearranged and lit by the spark of magical peppers. Everyone seemed to enjoy experimenting with the various lights Pepper Stargazer brought. Peaches Dragonfly would surely have the best of all the Midsummer parties.
The people I admired most in Thistledown were willing to hear about my awful vision — the one that had caused so much trouble. They wanted to hear it straight from me. However, being as bereft of grace as always, I had hurt myself. Then everybody thought I had fainted, when I actually had another vision…
I realized everyone going outside to help with the lanterns was just a pretext. They were giving me time to regain my composure. How could I deserve such kindness? Though I felt like a wretched coward, I quietly slipped away while everyone was occupied by a particularly explosive pepper.
Aimless wandering brought me near the reflection pool. The Opal sibs, Moonglow and Stargazer popped up, saw me, and ran down a wooded path. Their fun laughter trailed behind them. I didn’t see anything of interest that the children might have been watching, so I guessed they were playing chase.
Drew Collins, Unsplash
Then I heard a crash and a splash. A bright flash caused spots to dance before my eyes. Momentarily half blind, I stumbled on a stick. Reflex caused my wings to abruptly unfold when I lost my balance. I cried out as much from fear of hurting my injured wing as from pain.
“Woah there! I’m really sorry! Are you okay?” asked a familiar voice.
Someone ran from the reflection pool to the place where I wobbled. At least I hadn’t fallen on my wings or on my face. I would settle for a stumbling wobble.
A hand reached out and steadied me. I was beginning to see a little more than the spots.
“Hi Bedlam. Are you okay. I guess you got caught in the flash. I didn’t expect anyone to be around. I should have set up some kind of warning,” Skypainter Morning apologetically told me.
“What are you doing, Sky?” I asked curiously. “Your legendary talents are usually displayed in the heavens. That flash was at ground level.”
“Something that’s never been done!” Skypainter exclaimed. “You know the reflection pool helps us see visions. So rather than just paint a composition on the clouds, I want to have a real, moving vision reflect onto the sky,” he explained with smiling enthusiasm.
He was right. I was sure that had never been done. It hardly seemed possible. However, if anyone could make such a spectacle, it was Skypainter Morning.
“I know it will work, but I just haven’t found the right catalyst,” he began. “I’ve tried fae enhanced carrot powder, distilled ginkgo extract, and bilberry wine. This time it was ground red flash-pepper. That was a challenge to make, let me tell you. It kept exploding before I could finish grinding it. And well… as you see that didn’t work out either.”
Sky had pulled me into his experiments that easily. I was fascinated. My mind automatically chased the riddle he presented.
“Except for the flash-pepper, all those are plants that help with eyesight. I can understand the symbolic aspect of the magic,” I said and he nodded, looking glad that I had followed his thoughts. “Have you thought about gems instead of plants? Gemstones that are used to enhance scrying or visions? Maybe black onyx? That’s what my grand-uncle used for scrying. Or how phantom quarts helps meditation, or rainbow fluorite increases intuition?” I asked.
Abruptly I felt like I had said something stupid. Sky was so expert in his visual creations. I couldn’t possibly have anything to offer.
“Maybe it’s not a useful idea. It would be a lot harder to grind a stone to a powder than grinding a plant or distilling a liquid.”
To my surprise, Skypainter’s eyes lit up at the idea.
“It wouldn’t be that difficult!” Sky called over his shoulder, hurrying in the direction of his home.
As I gazed heavenward, I was surprised to see someone flying past. It looked like my friend, Tinder Willowtree. I had known her for as long as I could remember, and maybe then some, but it had been awhile since I had seen her. However, I knew Willowtree was busy with the visit from her grand-niece and nephew — the Opal siblings. It seemed odd that I had seen the Opal sibs headed in the opposite direction only moments before.
I waved and Willowtree gently settled to earth. She had a hopeful look in her eyes.
“Have you seen Moonglow and Stargazer? They should be around here somewhere,” Willowtree asked as she repeatedly looked at a plate-sized piece of black obsidian.
The children seemed to have a combination of exuberance and curiosity. It had to be difficult to keep up with them.
“I got a glimpse of them a moment ago. It looked like they were headed for home,” I replied and Willowtree huffed an annoyed sounding breath. “Don’t worry, they looked fine. I have a hunch they were spying on Skypainter Morning,” I added and her eyebrows went up, but her mouth slowly turned to a smile. “He was at the reflection pool, experimenting on his solstice spectacle. He had a couple of, shall we say flashy setbacks.”
Willowtree chuckled before saying, “Well, they aren’t that late. I guess I can take it easy on them. I’m sure watching Skypainter blow up something was irresistible to them.”
It was ironic that Willowtree should be out trying to find the kids. She had such a talent for bringing people together. Athletes in need of someone to fill a spot on a team, craftsmen wanting an apprentice, musicians looking for partners, they all came to Willowtree. In fact, she was responsible for arranging for Holly Songbird and her group Dragon’s Nest to perform at the Midsummer party Peaches Dragonfly was going to hold.
She looked at that unusual piece of black obsidian again. Abruptly a fond smile came to her lips. I asked what it was. The gemstone slice was bright and reflective, but I could tell it wasn’t an ordinary scrying mirror.
Erik Eastman, Unsplash
“Oh, you’ll love this. Fleur and I have been working on it,” she said, meaning her husband, Fleur Moonglow. “Fleur calls it a finder. Take a look.”
She handed me the obsidian. Where I expected to see my own reflection, I saw multiple pieces, like a broken mirror. Then the parts started to move and an image melded together. I watched as the Opal sibs quietly entering the back door of their grand-aunt’s house.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” I exclaimed. “It lets you see where they are?”
“In a manner of speaking, but it’s a little more complicated than that, and not always exact,” she explained. “For instance, even though you saw them getting home just now, it didn’t pinpoint where they were here. I would have flown right past if I hadn’t seen you wave. It’s still pretty great though,” she added with a grin.
“That’s still hugely impressive,” I told her. “How does it work?”
“Naturally it needs a little magic. It also needs whoever I’m looking for to wear a medallion that’s been attuned to the ‘finder’ — otherwise it’s not much more than an ordinary scrying mirror. And that of course, would need the talents of a seer,” Willowtree told me.
The finder had gone almost dark. It held a dim view of Fleur standing on their front porch lighting a lantern. My friend’s face became serious as she looked from the obsidian to me.
“It only shows me Fleur because of our bond. He’s left the medallions on the children to make sure I could know they’ve gotten home. But you, Bedlam… You have the gift. Even though you don’t think there’s any magic in what you do, you are a seer. I know you wanted the school to bring out another talent in you. And maybe you think there’s no longer any hope for that, since you got suspended before even your freshman term was finished. But that part of your life doesn’t have to be over,” Willowtree told me, but I could tell she hadn’t gotten to her point.
“I know your visions come to you unbidden,” she continued. “But I believe you will eventually be able to master them. I’m certain of it,” she stated and smirked at my eye-roll of denial. “Okay, it might take some time. Measure that in years, not weeks. Bedlam you might even be able to do things like this,” she said, holding up the finder. “But if your gift grows the way I believe it will, you won’t need a finder or any other special magic enhanced device. I know it, Bedlam. Whatever else you do or don’t do, you can’t keep believing that your abilities are limited to frightening visions,” she stated emphatically.
Willowtree’s forceful words left me speechless. I couldn’t think of a response. After extracting a quick promise from me that we would get together soon, Willowtree zipped into the sky.
Photo by Kirt Tisdale
As I watched her fly away, I suddenly wondered if Skypainter Morning could glean any inspiration from the finder for his moving vision idea.
I looked up at the twinkling sky. Soon the stars would be in alignment for Midsummer. An inexplicable chill traveled down my spine.
End Episode 4
Do you get the feeling that something unexpected might happen with Skypainter Morning’s moving vision creation? I think we’ll eventually come back to that. Be sure to fly back next time because we’ll have a special visit from A Pug in the Kitchen. Until then, mega hugs!
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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