Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

#FridayFlash: Nano Excerpt - The Fair Ones

Nanowrimo continues, and as such for flash this week I offer another snipit of my nano-novel. Spoiler alert – if you’ve been reading my Smashwords novel ( this section has not yet been posted! The full version is more developed, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet :) I borrowed characters I first created in my story The Magic of Spring... I couldn’t let go of them and felt they might work out here. Let me know what you think! ------- Jezina awoke to see Kale heating water over the fire while a man and a woman watched on from the sidelines. They were almost eerily gorgeous. Tall and thin, both had the perfectly symmetrical features rarely seen in reality. Their skin was pale, but seemed to glow. Both had dark hair with a stunning gold stripe through the centre; the woman’s was quite long and flowed freely over her shoulders. The man had the dark portion shaved while the golden portion was formed into spikes, somehow giving the impression of power and confidence rather than ridiculousness. The man smiled at her blatant inspection and Jezina felt herself blushing, ashamed of her behaviour. “See,” he said to the woman next to him, “I told you she was the one.” “We don’t know that yet,” she warned, although seemed to disbelieve the words she was speaking. “Hello,” the man spoke to her in her own language, “do you yet miss the woods?” “How can I miss what I never knew?” she asked in response to the strange question. “Jezina?” Kale interrupted, sounding puzzled. “Sorry, should I have waited for an introduction?” she asked, sure she had yet again broken some rule of social etiquette. Kale looked worried, “introduction to whom?” he asked. The woman giggled – a surprising sound from one as elegant as she. “He can’t see us,” she told Jezina. “Unless we let him,” the man finished. “Jezina?” Kale queried. Jezina looked at the pair and back at Kale, who was watching her worriedly. She was coming to believe all the myths were true. “Kale, do you know any stories about a race of fair people with a golden stripe in their hair?” Seemingly concerned about the non-sequitor and puzzled as to why she had her mental shields up, Kale nonetheless could see no reason not to tell her. “Sure, although I don’t remember much about them; they’re supposed to be so gorgeous that to see them would be death to any human – although since they’re also invisible, how we could possibly know that, I never understood. Some cultures pay homage to them; they leave offerings in return for being treated kindly. Seems a bit of a waste to me.” At which both the visitors smiled. “Why?” Sensing this was going to be an interesting morning, Jezina couldn’t see any way to break the news easily, “because we have company for breakfast,” she told him and watched the disbelief steal over his face for a split second before he managed to hide it behind his mask. “So clearly seeing you is not death, how much of the rest of the story is true?” Jezina asked the fair ones with a smile. “I’m Az,” the woman avoided the question by introducing herself still smiling, “and this is my twin Goht.” “Jezina,” she introduced herself, “and my… friend, Kale.” She said, stumbling only slightly over how to introduce him. “Would you like some tea?” she asked, certain that was what Kale had been making. The stunning pair declined gracefully and looked at each other, the silent communication of those who’ve known each other forever flashing in their eyes. A decision was reached. “What do you want from her?” Kale asked them cautiously, suddenly able to see the stunning people. “Come with us and meet with our queen,” Goht requested instantly, “she is knowledgeable in the ways of prophecy and will be able to tell if you are the one it speaks of. She also may be able to give you information that could be useful.” Kale looked at Jezina and shrugged. The prophecy was hers and so was the choice. “Why not?” Jezina stated, “it’s not every day I’m invited to meet invisible royalty.” They walked for a while, making the kind of small talk strangers do; an activity Jezina had little experience with that fascinated her to no end. While she got to know the life story of her new friends, Kale kept his thoughts to himself, watching quietly. They stopped beside a tree – the biggest by far that Jezina had ever seen. The beautiful people gave them masks, warning them they were needed to pass the spirts. The tree came to life. It reached down with its upper branches to the base of the trunk, making a giant bow. The massive tree then rocked backwards onto the bow with an ominous creak, revealing a cavernous opening with steps leading underground where one would expect to see roots. With a wide-eyed look at Kale, Jezina took Goht’s hand and descended, Kale and Az following immediately behind. There was a loud groan as the tree righted itself and the group was plunged into darkness. And dark it was. In all her life, Jezina had never seen such dark. She touched her hand to her face and at no point could she see even a hint of a shadow of it. Without her sight, Jezina’s other senses increased exponentially. She could hear every footstep – the confident ones of her hosts and the hesitant shuffle of Kale, as blind as her, behind her. In the distance she heard other sounds. The flutter of wings. A scrambling of clawed feet. And other sounds she couldn’t identify. Sounds she didn’t want to identify. She could smell nothing. It was as though her nose were as blind as her eyes. She had never considered how much she used scent until it was gone. Her sense of taste, however, was still strong. Even though she hadn’t eaten a thing she felt as though she’d eaten something incredibly bitter. She felt her cheeks pursing in reaction. “Tighten your mask,” Goht told her as soon as he noticed her expression. Evidently the darkness really didn’t affect them. Goht let go of her hand to tighten the mask for her. She could feel her heartbeat accelerate in panic instantly when he let go of her hand, but Az, clearly understanding, reached out from behind and held her other hand for both security and stability until he was done. The path twisted and wound endlessly. They walked for minutes. Hours. Days. Jezina lost all concept of time and space, until all of a sudden, in the distance there was a glimmer. “We’ll take the masks back now,” Az told them. “We’re through the spirit’s realm. Your vision will also return shortly.” As Az collected the masks, Jezina realized the depth of her mistake. Without a mask and a light source, there was no way to return the way they’d come. She and Kale would be trapped here. She wondered that he who had concerns about her wandering the village with Malla, would let her come down here. And then she realized, he had never tried to stop her from exploring the village, just from doing so alone. Here he was with her. The choice of where to go was hers and hers alone; his only concern was to watch over her while she went. And if the choice was hers, so was the responsibility. She felt an uncomfortable pit in her stomach, and had the horrible feeling that she had chosen wrong.


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