Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 10

Friday, September 15, 2017

Marketing Graphic for Thisledown

Welcome back to the faery world of Thistledown!

Writing Process

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.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 10

Tall Bonfire neonbrand-266212

Neon Brand, Unsplash

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!”

L0059071 Turn pin spectacles, steel wire, eye preservers, double fold

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.

Wire glasses blond flowers ryan-winterbotham-227426

Ryan-Winterbotham, Unsplash

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. 

***

Muskoxen blue

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.

***

Fires Bi-Colored jacob-kiesow-349451

Jacob Kiesow, Unsplash

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.

Stunt_Pyrotechnics_Luc_Viatour

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.

***

The End

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

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 9

Thistledown Girl

Friday, September 8, 2017

About This Episode

We’re privileged to have another recipe for this episode.  When “agave” fluttered into my imagination I asked Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen if she had a drink recipe using it. (Right now, I have no idea how agave managed to get into my twisting mind. However, I had just finished Episode 8, and was already working on this one, when there it was — agave.)  

The creative wheels in Suzanne’s mind whirred into action!  She imagined things Peaches Dragonfly might gather to make a refreshing beverage, then she sweetened it with agave nectar.  Suzanne let me use the recipe and her beautiful photos for this post. Here’s the recipe.    

Sun n Moon Tea in jars Suzanne DeBrango

Sun and Moon Tea, by Suzanne DeBrango

Recipe:  Sun and Moon Tea

https://apuginthekitchen.com/2017/08/21/murder-at-the-bijou-teagans-book-launch/

1 tbs chamomile flowers

1 tbs rose hips

1 tbs red clover flowers

2 sprigs fresh mint

Place all of the ingredients in a 64 oz. glass jar, or two 32 oz. jars.  Pour in fresh filtered or spring water to fill.  Place lid on jar, and set outside in the morning.  Leave the jar(s) all day and night soaking up the rays of the sun and moon. Add agave syrup to desired sweetness, starting with 1/4 cup.  Stir until combined. Strain into a serving container or bottle and chill.

Thanks for the refreshments, Suzanne!  And now today’s episode…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 9

Sun n Moon Tea w Agave Served apples

Sun and Moon Tea Table, by Suzanne DeBrango

Gone to the Dogs

Bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine swayed in a warm breeze.  The vine ran throughout Thistledown.  It bore the local news.  River Mindshadow touched a petal awakening the vine.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Dull haze reported in random parts of Thistledown!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added shifting to an encouraging voice.

“It says the haze leaves quickly, and that there’s no cause for concern,” River said as she uncurled the leaf to read the news.  “Considering your visions of a dull, colorless place, I find that haze worrisome,” she added with a shudder.

Monticristi_Straw_Hat_Optimo

“Well bless my eyes, Bedlam and River,” Pick Dragonfly said tipping his wide brimmed hat as he walked up.  “Bedlam, it’s nice to see you up and about.  “You know,” he began as if telling a secret.  “Your grand-uncle has been worried about you, even if he doesn’t let on.”

I smiled at the comment, but I doubted it was actually true.  River and I exchanged a glance.  My friend spared me by changing the subject before that conversation could get started.  She motioned to the unusual hat Pick wore.  It was white and made of fine, tightly woven straw, with a brim that was about a finger-length wide.  Pick traveled more and farther than anyone in Thistledown, so I assumed he got the hat in some exotic locale.

River darted up with just a thrust of her wings and grabbed the hat off Pick’s head.  She placed it on her own head and asked how she looked.  River shrugged at our surprised expressions and put the hat back on Pick’s head before settling back to the ground.

“These are popular way down in the southern lands where the sun is hot,” Pick explained, adjusting the hat.  “It’s not the only thing I brought back with me,” he added with a motion to the cart in front of him.

The little cart was hitched to two large dogs.  They wagged stubby tails when River and I walked over to them.  The short tails moved even faster when we paid attention to the dogs.

It was not unexpected to see dogs pulling small carts in Thistledown.  Most creatures enjoyed having a job to do, especially if they were rewarded for it.  I saw Pick hand the dogs treats.  However, what was unusual was the dogs themselves.  Most canines weren’t larger than knee-high.  These dogs were much taller and I had never seen such stubby tails.

“Yes, I got the dogs on my way back.  They needed a home.  I also brought back these agave plants,” he told us motioning to the spikey looking blue plants.

Agave_plant.jpg

I remembered the healer mentioning the tiny drop of nectar she gave me was from a plant related to agave, and described it to Pick.  He nodded.

“Agave is mostly used in making grownup drinks.  You two aren’t old enough for those yet,” he said to our protests.  “The potent kind of drink uses the heart of the plant.  But the nectar from agave is very, very sweet.  So I brought some to Peaches, and now I’m taking some nectar and plants to Belle Stargazer for the Starlight Saloon.  With Belle’s talent in hospitality, I know she’ll put them to good use.”

“Are you ladies ready to go?”  Pick spoke to the two dogs in an encouraging tone.

River and I chuckled when he called the dogs ladies.  But their stubby little tails wagged faster and faster until they seemed to spin in a circle.  Their bottoms lifted into the air.  The back feet of the dogs were barely on the ground.  The dogs shot ahead, pulling the little cart along.

“Hey!  Wait a minute!” Pick called after the dogs.  “You’ll bounce the plants off the cart.”

Pick unfurled his wings, but shook his head.  Apparently he had a leisurely walk in mind, not flying as fast as his wings could carry him.

“I’ll get them,” River said and zipped ahead, quickly catching the excited dogs.

Pick followed, only a heartbeat shower.

I was still grounded from my injured wing.  Even if it had been fully healed, Lavender Cozy had laid out firm instructions for me to rest after the shock of my most recent vision.  I saw Pick look back in my direction.  A moment later, River flew back with a bottle for each of us of the sweet agave nectar.

“He still wouldn’t give us any of the grownup stuff,” River complained as she touched down.

***

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Unsplash.com

My grand-uncle’s home was nestled in the branches of an impossibly broad and towering redwood tree.  My bedroom was in the attic, the loftiest room of all.  The healer and Uncle insisted that I get a lot of rest.  Let’s be honest ― they’d rather I was confined to my bed and completely unable to get myself into another mishap.

Ironically, I had never been fond of heights.  With my injured wing, I couldn’t glide down from my room, and the view from the top of the stairs was dizzying.  So, I was disinclined to leave.  Fate had conspired to force me to rest.

Fate must be a fiend, I thought.  I was wretchedly bored.  My only “entertainment” was the school books Uncle brought up, so that I’d have a chance of not having to repeat the last term.  You see, just before the end of the term, River and I had been suspended because of the uproar surrounding my vision.

Trying to read one of the books, I nodded off.  A light tapping awakened me.

Psst, Bedlam are you awake?” a quiet voice asked.  “Interrupting your rest isn’t a mistake I’d want to make.”

I could only see one eye and a fragment of the face that peeped at me from the side of my window.  However, the extraordinary long mane that lifted on the breeze was easily recognizable.  It graduated from blond, to blue, to green, to purple.  Only Rhymer Rainbow had such a head of hair.

“Rhymer?  There’s no need to hover outside.  Come on in.  I’d love to have company.”

“I know you’re supposed to rest, so I didn’t want to be a pest,” Rhymer began.  “But I came upon a lost bluebird.  Peaches uses them for messages, or so I’ve heard.  Then on its beak I smelled something odd, and I thought maybe it’s lost because it’s drunk.  So, I brought it up to your bunk.”

“Did it carry a peach blossom?” I asked and Rhymer nodded emphatically.

I took a close look at the bluebird as it clung woozily to Rhymer’s hair.  It did look like one of Peaches’ birds.

“That’s strange and worrisome.  I should go to the orchard.  Do you want to come along?” I asked.  “I’ll have to take the stairs, but I’ll be down in a moment.”

“Don’t worry,” Rhymer assured me.  “I’m in no hurry.”

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Unsplash.com

The cottage belonging to Peaches Dragonfly was in the middle of a beautiful orchard of fruit trees and other delicious things.  No matter what the time of year, smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage, because Peaches was nearly always baking something.

When Rhymer and I reached the cottage, we looked from the vine-covered roof, dotted with colorful berries, to the chimneys.  Peaches was still cooking treats in preparation for her Midsummer party.  She started baking well in advance of the holiday, but considering how much she planned to cook, she had to start early.  Our mouths watered as we breathed in the aromas.

I heard Peaches giggle.  Her head of fluffy pink hair bobbed into and out of view from the other side of the low stone wall that surrounded the cottage.  She was outside, apparently playing with something that she had to bend down to reach.  I heard a yip and knew it was the strange gray colored dog she found at the pond.  She had called him Pucker because a suckerfish was attached to his face when we found him.

The little dog was gray from his twisty tail to his squished black face.  Even his tongue was gray.

Rhymer called out, “Peaches!  We brought your bluebird.  I think his eyes were blurred.  I found him before he reached Bedlam.  So, we both came, in case you were in a jam.”

“Hi Rhymer.  Bedlam, I’m sorry I sent for you.  I didn’t know you were supposed to stay in bed until Lavender Cozy told me a moment ago,” Peaches apologized.  “Come inside.  You can try my new recipe!  It’s for sun and moon tea Isn’t that perfect for my Midsummer party?  I’ve been gathering chamomile flowers, red clover, and mint.  I’ll sweeten it with Pick’s agave nectar.”

Peaches was always enthusiastic when she thought of a new food or drink creation.  The tea sounded refreshing and delicious.  A different thought occurred to me.

“Erm… Did Pick leave you some of the grownup kind of agave?” I asked.

“Yes, for the solstice party,” she answered.  “But we aren’t to have any of it.”

Mountain_Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird, Fort Rock, Oregon

“That’s not why I asked.  But I think your bluebird may have had a nip,” I commented and pointed to the little bird that still clung to Rhymer’s multicolored tresses.  “She’s too tipsy to fly right.”

“Oh!” Peaches exclaimed with wide eyes as she fluttered up so Rhymer could hand her the bird across the wall.  “You silly thing,” she told it.  “I was experimenting with making some ice pops with the potent kind.  I splashed some onto the windowsill.  I remember seeing her investigating it.  She must have drunk some!”

“Luckily Pick had left an agave plant here for the healer.  Lavender stopped on her morning rounds to pick it up, so I asked her to take a look at Pucker.”

Rhymer seemed confused when she started to speak, “Look at pucker?  Your mouth couldn’t… pucker?”

Remembering that I couldn’t use my wings, even for a bounce, Peaches invited us to come in at the gate.  Two brick columns were topped by arched white latticework.  Flowers of every color climbed the columns and wove across the arch.

As we walked, from her side of the wall, Peaches told Rhymer about the day we found the dog.  We came to the gate and I heard another yip.  When Rhymer and I set foot inside the blossom filled garden Pucker barreled into me, knocking me onto my bottom.  It was so sudden that all I saw was his squished black face and the pink tongue that licked my face.

“Hey!  His tongue is pink, not gray!”

“Yes, that started yesterday,” Peaches began.  “his tongue turned pink.  It was so different form the gray that it scared me.  Then his gray fur…  That’s why I wanted Lavender Cozy to look at him.”

“If he’s gray that’s all in your head.  That dog is red,” Rhymer tried to insert when pucker jumped over to her.

“He’s not gray!” I exclaimed finally seeing more than Pucker’s face.

The dog’s curly tail wagged as he bounced around at Rhymer’s feet.  As his tail moved, Pucker’s fur changed from red to a sky color.

Pug Yello

“A dog that changes hue!” Rhymer enthused.  “How wonderful ― now he’s blue.”

Indeed, Pucker was suddenly blue, and then yellow, and then green.  Though his face stayed black, the rest of his fur continued to change color as his tail kept wiggling.

“That is what I was so worried about, when I sent the bluebird to you,” Peaches replied.  “But the healer said he was fine.  Lavender said it might be from a change in his environment.”

Peaches and I exchanged a significant look.  I was sure she was remembering the thicket that had developed at the pond, the shadows, the brown suckerfish, and the eerie feeling of the place.  It reminded both of us of the colorless world of my vision. 

Had the little, formerly gray dog come from that other world?

***

The End

New mystery folk revealed this time are Belle Stargazer — Marjorie Mallon and Rhymer Rainbow — Christy Birmingham.  I hope you’ll visit all their blogs and say hello.

Toasting you with a refreshing cup of tea.  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

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.