Welcome back to Thistledown, everyone! If you are joining this serial for the first time, or if you need to refresh your memory click here for the premier episode. I also have a category button on the right side-bar of the screen for “Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.” However, these days I can’t make promises about WordPress behaving as it should. (For several days I found myself unable to comment on any blogs — including my own! WP just told me to email somebody else… Finally and laboriously got it fixed myself.)
Alex Iby, Unsplash
As a writer, I tend to reject rules. (Often things are presented as rules, but feel more like “formulas” than anything else. I don’t care for formulas either.) Although, when writing in a genre, (to a degree) I do try to follow some general expectations, for the comfort and understanding of readers.
So before anyone asks… When writing fantasy, I’m fond of using archaic forms of words. Hence my spelling of “faery.” I followed the lead of Brian Froud. Many people see him as an expert on fairies/faeries/fae. If you want to know more about the topic, click here or here.
I had expected to reveal Bedlam’s vision in this episode. However, I’m flying by the seat of my pants. It didn’t work out that way. That’s all part of pantsering.
About the Episode
The mystery folk from the first episode return for this one. However, several new characters are introduced. Be sure to click the links (like this) to reveal the mystery folk behind the character names.
This time we get an idea of what sort of gifts, talents, and magic the faeries of Thistledown might have in their daily lives.
Midsummer Bedlam 2
Trumpet Vine, by Manu via Wikimedia Commons free media repository
In the Kitchen
Smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage where Peaches Dragonfly lived. I could see it a short distance away. The warm breeze brought the aroma of tarts Peaches had cooking in the oven. Even though my mouth watered, I couldn’t get my feet to move.
“Come on!” Peaches encouraged. “Bedlam Thunder what’s wrong?” she asked, letting go of my arm and giving me a concerned look.
My eyes had found the bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine. A horrible idea sprang to my mind when I saw the blossoms. The vine bore the local news. I touched a petal, fearing it would shout my name.
“Extra! Extra! Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried. “Get the time and place of all the best Midsummer parties! Take a leaflet,” the blossom added encouragingly.
“Oh good,” murmured Peaches as she reached to pluck a curled leaf. Unrolling the leaf she read the list of parties before commenting, “Good, they got my information right. They mentioned that Pick is visiting. They even included that Holly Songbird will be singing! I had to ask them to update the announcement for that. I didn’t think I had given them the information in time. Perfect!”
I was relieved at not hearing my own name or anything about my awful vision. However, I still couldn’t manage to raise my eyes to look higher than the ground, or lift my feet to follow Peaches.
Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash
“People are saying that the things in the vision I had will happen because of me — as if I’m going to make them happen. That it’s my fault. Or they just make fun of me. I haven’t been around much of anybody since River Mindshadow and I were suspended. That was so humiliating… I just haven’t wanted to deal with seeing anyone,” I explained, eyes still firmly fixed on my feet. “And I just can’t face River. It’s all my fault that she got suspended with me. I should have done something to stop it.”
It was hard to hold back tears. I was overwrought, I had been for days. Stellar the cat twined around my ankles consolingly. However, it took all my concentration to keep my composure, so I didn’t pet her. I sniffled and swallowed and sniffled some more before I could finally hold up my head.
Both Peaches and River stood watching me impatiently, fists planted firmly on hips. I was startled because I hadn’t even heard River come up to us. Peaches was tapping a foot. River’s wings were unfurled, so I knew she was about to leave.
“Bedlam, I’ve been given a curfew, a truly unreasonable one too. So I can’t stay, but I want you to know that none of this is your fault!” River told me in a firm voice. “Especially me getting suspended, or this curfew. If you say that again, I’ll be insulted. My analysis of your vision was mine to state. I made my own choices. You didn’t make them for me.”
I drew back. River’s reaction was not what I expected. I started babbling an apology, but she cut me off with a smile and a wave of her hand. Then she nudged me with her elbow.
“It’s alright. Go on inside and get a slice of tart. Pick Dragonfly already had two slices,” River said in a kinder voice before she zipped into the sky.
“Ha! My cousin has been accused of having hollow legs, a slim guy who is always hungry,” Peaches commented fondly as she waved to River. “He’s actually a good cook. That more than makes up for it.”
Vincent Van Zalinge, Unsplash
Peaches drew me toward her cottage. Blackberry vines covered the roof. It was dotted with berries in various degrees of ripeness, white, red, purple, and black. The kitchen windowsill was lined with bread and pies set there to cool. The aroma of desserts in the oven was irresistible. The pink haired faery did not spare the ovens for her solstice celebrations.
As we neared her home, we had to stop for something most people would find unusual. A long line of red cherries rolled from the other side of the orchard. The cherries tumbled along, in single file across our path and through the open front door of her cottage.
Peaches shook her head and made a wry face. That was how her cousin Pick took care of the cherry picking chore when he visited. It was part of Pick’s gift, convincing the cherries to leave the tree and come to him.
“If I find a single bruise on those cherries…” Peaches muttered.
Different faeries had different talents or magical abilities, and to varying degrees. The school was meant to help us, from an early age, to develop our apparent talents, and to uncover hidden gifts. Some faeries had hardly any magic at all. Like me. I didn’t see my visions as any sort of talent, and they certainly weren’t magic.
I had hoped that going to the school would cause me to manifest a better talent. However, before my freshman term of senior level was finished, my visions got me suspended. I sighed without meaning to make a sound. Peaches gave me a sympathetic look before we went inside her home.
Her cottage had a huge kitchen — the largest room in the house. The way Peaches baked, that was a necessity.
Across the room, the first thing I saw was a uniquely lovely flower arrangement. It contained the most unexpected combination of things, with all manner of wildflowers, and even stems of cotton bowls.
Cotton plant circa 1901, Wikimedia
However, I stumbled to a halt the moment I stepped through the doorway. The cherries continued to roll until they went into a basket beside the sink. Pick Dragonfly carried not just one, but three plates to the sink. Yet none of those things were what caused me to stop in my tracks.
I faced the long kitchen table, mouth agape. All of the people I admired most in Thistledown were gathered in my friend’s kitchen. They weren’t the official council, but they were highly respected people.
The fae at the other end of the table sat head and shoulders above the rest. He was known far and wide as the furry faery, Field Yewwasp. The huge table looked ordinary next to him. I knew the large top hat on the coat rack had to belong to Field. Wire rimmed spectacles with rose colored lenses sat on his nose. The red jacket he wore was perfectly tailored for his large frame. I supposed that if your size and hair automatically drew attention to you, then you would want to be well dressed.
Ember Beamwitch sat at Field’s left. The flowers in her hair bobbled when she looked up at us. The fiery colored print of her dress had a soft radiance even in the daylight. After dark it would give a fanciful glow. A voluminous sleeve swayed gracefully when she raised her hand to wave at me. Ember would judge the dance competition that Peaches planned to include in her Midsummer celebration.
One of the spectacles of the Midsummer gathering would be worked by Catseye Glimmer. From practically nothing, Catseye could create fun and useful things. I suspected that he would somehow make the dance floor, and that his creation of it would kick-off the party.
At seeing these enormously respected fae, I was a nervous wreck, on top of being an emotional basket case. My eyes were wide with shock. I stood speechless even when someone bade me sit down at the table. That’s when I had one more shock than I could handle. I dazedly realized the person offering me a seat was Calico Rainbowforest. She ran the Thistledown Trumpet News!
Oh no, I thought. This is horrible. What if she puts my vision in the news? She’ll probably agree with everyone else. What if she blames every bad thing on me, like some people are doing?
“Oh dear. You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Calico spoke in a kind voice. “Poor Bedlam, I know what you’ve been through. Did you know that the Readings Master suspended me once too?”
That admission got my surprised attention. I couldn’t imagine Calico Rainbowforest getting into trouble at school, but she grinned and nodded.
“It wasn’t that long ago, you know. I believe you and I are more alike than you’d expect. That man just seemed to take an instant dislike to me. Anyway… I would very much like to hear the story in your own words,” she requested and paused as if waiting for my answer. When I didn’t speak she continued, “Whenever you’re feeling ready to talk about it. I’d just listen, mind you, nothing more. Then if everyone here agreed that it was safe to share with Thistledown, only if you approved would I put it in the Trumpet.
At that moment I knew Calico was saying something, because I could see her mouth moving. However, I was already intimidated by the individuals who sat around Peaches’ table. Plus I was downright paranoid about the Trumpet. I was slow to absorb Calico’s words. It seemed like I heard her voice from far away.
Fairy Islands, 1916, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Wikimedia
Faeries have a fight or flight reflex — quite literally. Mine abruptly kicked-in, and my wings unfolded before I knew what was happening. My wayward wings knocked a honeydew melon off a sideboard. The honeydew hit the floor in an explosive crash of seeds, juice, and melon flesh. It splattered half the people at the table.
I jumped backward in my agitation. One of my wings caught painfully on the doorjamb. I gasped and turned, not understanding what was causing the pain. My wing started to tear as I moved.
In the recesses of my mind I heard more than one person scream “No!” They could see what I was too distressed to understand — that I was about to do serious harm to myself if I moved.
I was vaguely aware of seeing Catseye Glimmer stand. He turned to the unique flower arrangement behind his seat. Quickly he picked a stem with several cotton bowls. He whispered to the plant and flexed his fingers in an impossible looking motion. Then he threw it toward me.
The stem sailed past, an inch from touching me. It transformed to a soft cushion the size of the doorway, gently preventing me from moving or doing serious damage to my wing.
“Goodness, she looks like she’ll swoon!” Ember Beamwitch exclaimed. “Here Bedlam, sit down.”
As if he had the same thought as Ember, Pick Dragonfly handed me a glass of chilled water.
Ember put the first two fingers of her right hand to the “third eye” area of my forehead. A soft glow emanated from her hand. After a second I felt a wonderful cool sensation and I no longer felt faint.
I was suddenly aware of Field Yewwasp bending over me. Everyone else had been between the furry faery and me. How could someone so large move so fast that I didn’t even see him? As I looked at him in confusion, he asked if I was all right.
“You’d best stay earthbound, rather than fly, until that heals,” Field advised.
The big pain in my wing seemed disproportionate to what was actually a small tear. Calico unexpectedly drew a tiny jar of ointment from her pocket. She gave me a sardonic smile.
“Bedlam, my flight skills aren’t any better than yours. I’ve learned to keep first aid with me,” Calico confessed. “May I?” she asked indicating the ointment.
I nodded, still mute. The ointment did lessen the pain. I drank from the water Pick gave me. Wide-eyed, I gazed in amazement at the kindness of the people around me. However, a most unpleasant sensation reverberated through my head. I shook my head to clear the ringing, but it wouldn’t stop.
I hope you clicked the links to reveal the mystery folk. Additions to the cast for this episode include characters named by Hollyberye, Colleen Chesebro, Chris Graham, Mary J. Mccoy-Dressel, and Tim Price.
Fly back to Teagan’s Books next time to reveal new mystery folk and see what happens in episode three.
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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