Part 2 Tale of the Fairelands: Raven’s Perch
by Lyr Lobo
Mynx cringed as she tried to evade the enormous tongue of the Frog King. It whipped out, long and wet with a stickiness that put the smaller frog’s tongue to shame.
“Time to go, Esme!” she said as she dodged and flew past that fast moving tongue.
The Frog Prince quivered in her arms, so great was his fear, while she flitted between the flowers and hid behind a tree. His struggle was in vain, for she would not let go. Mynx wished he’d keep still until they were out of their predicament.
He may have guessed her thoughts, for the frog stopping pushing at the crook of her arm to break free. Instead, he swatted his tongue at her nose, distracting her.
As the frog king’s tongue lashed straight for her head, Esme spoke. She whispered a word of power and with a crack of lightning, the land shifted before Mynx.
“It’s about time!” Mynx said, staggering with relief. Looking around, she could tell that they landed in a strange, mysterious place.
A mist rose from the ground, and then dissipated wherever it touched the stones, and one of them on closer inspection looked like a gravestone. Through the haze, she saw symbols carved on the nearest stone and moved closer to read it.
The smell of fragrant red roses reminded her of home, but that is where the resemblance ended.
“Check out the size of that crow,” said Esme, staring at a huge bird who stood atop the nearest gravestone.
“Raven,” said the bird, correcting her.
“I beg your pardon?” Esme gaped at the bird.
“You heard me. Get it right. I’m a raven. This is Raven’s Perch, after all. The sign didn’t say Crow’s Perch, did it?” said the raven, her head tilted to study her.
“Mynx, he talked! That bird, he talked!”
“She talked! What are you, an imbecile?” asked the raven, shaking her head in disgust. “Do I look male to you?”
“Whatever. Where we come from, the birds and frogs do not talk, or if they do, it is mostly to druids.”
The Frog Prince frowned at Esme. He turned his back to her as he adjusted his hat and gave a little sniff of indignation. He turned to study the raven, whose wings fluttered as she bounced up and down in response to Esme’s words.
“Again, you are incorrect! Birds talk all the time. You simply don’t listen,” said the bird, stamping her little feet on the gravestone. “Now, I know why. A more useless conversation, I cannot imagine.”
Seeing the Lady Raven’s feathers ruffled in anger, Mynx stepped beside her friend and whispered.
“Hush, Esme. Let me take over. We don’t want to alienate everyone in the vicinity, especially dignitaries of consequence,” said Mynx, giving the bird a low curtsey.
The bird shook her feathers and settled down at Mynx’s words.
“I have the pleasure to introduce Lady Esme, my childhood friend, and I am Mynx. We are princesses from a nearby kingdom.” She waved an airy hand in a general direction and ignored Esme’s tug on her sleeve. “Our dashing frog companion is the Frog Prince, a rescuer from the land of lilypods.”
“Mudrana,'” said the bird, her dour tone softened as she stared at him. “He doesn’t look like a Prince.”
Mynx turned to let the frog speak for himself, but he said nothing. Instead, he shook his head and gaped at her. He opened his mouth to talk, but nothing came out.
He turned to the raven, removed his top hat and bowed low over an extended right leg, a bow suitable for royalty. The bird’s eyes gleamed in response.
He finished his gesture with a sweeping flourish and presented his hat, gazing up at the bird with a smile.
His manner earned him a nod of approval from the raven, but her approval shifted to alarm as Esme pushed past him, knocking the frog off balance.
“Look up!” Esme said, her voice breaking with fear.
The frog hopped to one side and smashed his hat on his head.
Mynx saw what alarmed Esme. A dozen or more ravens circled them, darting around the trees and cawing their protest.
Snorting, the lady raven perched on the stone and tilting her head at an angle, continued.
“Our Queen left this realm when the lady of the roses faded from this land. The poor lass’s body lies nearby, yet does not slumber nor age. Bespelled, and not in a good way. Mad with grief, our Raven Queen left these lands to find solace elsewhere. The ground weeps for them and a sickness permeates the forest. Without her guidance, dark forces prey upon the land, and drive some of us quite mad.”
The raven paused as one of the circling birds dive bombed the gravestone in a mad frenzy. She sidestepped the spatter and gave a little sigh.
“I must be mad to suggest such a thing, but will you help us? We need our Queen to return. Oly she can remove the foul madness that plagues Raven’s Perch. What we seek lies beyond this realm, yet none of us can leave this place. Seek out the Raven Queen and bring her home.”
Esme muttered something about having better things to do than to help a bunch of bird-brained ravens.
Mynx winced. She knew that ravens had excellent hearing. By the look in the lady raven’s eye, she’d heard every word.
“W are happy to help,” said Mynx, stammering fast as she pushed Esme behind her. “It is a noble quest. We will go in search of your Queen.”
Mynx gestured to the frog to scurry Esme on her way before turning to courtsey to the Raven Lady. The raven took to the skies, and Mynx raced to catch up. Sure enough, Esme was swatting at birds and crying out when she caught them down the path.
The birds that circled her head were not trying to harm her, but what they dropped was an affront to her dignity. .
“Stop it. Stop, I say.” Esme dodged from side to side, but couldn’t avoid all of the droppings. Splat!
By the time they reached Dawn’s Promise, even the Frog Prince kept his distance. Esme cried out under a last barrage of birds as she crossed into the light.
by Bluebarker Lowtide
A lad’s quest, so grave, gloomy, and grim; he’d do anything to heal his mum’s wounds so fatal and full of dread.
He traveled because he was the only one that could, his six sisters were too young or unwilling to leave the safety of the Mystic Glenn where they dwelled. Remembering always to have a way out, he heard his mother’s words as he looked back at their fae fox den with one open entrance and a secret exit in his mind. Advice that always came in handy whenever he got stuck in a pinch.
The task was up to him to find something that would cure her for her time would come too soon. An encounter most inauspicious, one day whilst they played along the clear fresh stream, a bag precariously floated along the current and caught on to a branch. His sister found it and he came over and fished it out with some rope and large stick. It was filled with an abundance of golden trinkets that we happily clamored about how to divvy up the treasures. Mum soon came and took the bag, upset at us for not showing fellowship amongst one another. A night without supper, but the next morn, Mum was terribly sick and the waterlogged sack contained mirror which oozed dark miasma. My Mum destroyed the mirror, but in return the mirror gave one final curse and a sick-like illness for seven years and by its end his mum would die.
“She was going to die. I couldn’t just sit there and not do something.”
He had been out for three years already and even though he had learned a lot he still was no closer to finding a cure.
It was his first venture out, the young half-fae fox marveled and wondered all that he saw. His mother a full fae and his father who was mortal and long gone. It was sad, and he was too young to remember, but his mum’s passing would be all too real.
“She was my everything…”
So away he went on and ventured out further than he ever thought possible, his bright orange bushy fox tail strolled behind him and his tall fox ears keen to the sounds of the forests and the world of man. He soon learned that for a fae (even a half-fae) he was to be ever so weary of humans. They were too unpredictable and often volatile. So to the shadows he stayed, and even though most fae could survive merely on magic and nectar alone, he was only a half-fae fox and he had to catch his own food, or when times got rough, steal it. But he did not like to steal. His Mum would scold him if she ever knew what he was doing. She probably wouldn’t even let him travel out so far…
He missed her terribly, but beating the clock and being ahead of any dangers that came his way was the fae fox way.
Traveling and being vagrant in another strange forest, some noises certainly caught his attention and they should have.
Hearing a caravan of Gypsies out as they too traveled the many paths of the world, he crept secretly to hear the tales of the town lost in time and the flowers that grew there that could heal all wounds and extend one’s life. Only the brightest red rose would be all he would need to save his mum from the evils of dark magic of the cursed hand mirror. And as quick and slick as he could be, he was out in a flash like a comet across the night sky he went in search of this time-lost town.
The lands towards this town stuck in time became sparse with animal life so he had to conserve his strength and grab a stray rabbit or rat if he saw it. The terrain was also becoming more uneven, true he was on a main road with cart treads, but it was certain that it was beyond a blue moon a cart would take these roads. The vastness of the lands was great, but for his mum he would walk the ends of the world and back again. To see her smile and be well again. To hear her lullabies and to be in her embrace. He had to find a way to save her. He had to find the brightest red rose and soon.
Without much animal life, the plants and trees and grasses grew wild and untamed. He could sense that magic here was just as wild, but the closer he got to the mysterious town the magic did seem stiller as if all the magical energy was sucked out of them. Something very powerful must have done this and he made himself a bit more cautious as he ventured on.
But at last, he could sense magic so still and stuck in time, the town he had been looking for. He creeped around the edge to make sure humans couldn’t see him. Upon further inspection there really weren’t any humans at all. Very few fae could he see, with their glowing eyes along the farthest forest’s edge.
Just the sounds of raven cawing and the pitter patter of a decrepit fountain that echoed in the hollowed stone buildings. What was once a tavern, a shop and library were all overtaken by the growth of voracious vines and skulking shrubbery. The trees had grown so low and overhanging, the valance of branches kept much in shadow.
So many homes abandoned…
A town void of life was a more frightening thing than he thought possible. He hesitated at the gate, but he continued on knowing it was not about him, it was for his dear mum. That thought alone kept him brave during the dark and lonely nights. His bushy orange tail giving him the only comfort from the early cold months of his travel.
An unkindness of crows flew off, whipping up wind and dust around him. He covered his sensitive nose and eyes with his travel-worn cloak. He took down his hood to give his tall ears a chance to listen to any unseen dangers, but other than birds and the nearby of the crashing of waves from the sea, nothing seemed too alarming.
As he walked through the streets he wondered what could have happened to this quaint little town. He imagined seeing people walking through the streets, about on their daily routine. He followed a very curiously deep crack that seemed to sprout with roses. And not just a couple of roses, there were hundreds if not thousands of roses flooding his vision. He followed his instinct and followed the jagged tremor in the ground. The multitudes of ravens were either flying above him or perched upon anything that could hold their weight.
He pondered the many ravens, too. There was certainly a mystery about the town, he just knew he had come because of this magical healing flower, but if he had stumbled upon it during a casual outing the mystery would certainly draw him in.
The split and shattered ground led deep into a thicket covered by the tall giant-like trees, but a soft glow could be seen. Around the town were small red glowing crystals that seemed to spring up from the ground itself. Here in the grove was a sea of red glowing crystals, untouched by hands of fae or man alike. At the top of the hill was a giant crystal with what looked to be a female trapped inside its blood red crystalline structure, stuck in time like the town that surrounded her. At the foot of the crystal was the brightest and reddest rose that rivaled the crimson hue of polished garnet or ruby. The ruby red rose that appeared to be at the start of the tremor he followed and appeared to be a ripping scar upon the town.
As he approached it a booming voice appeared above him and he drew back in fear. A large raven with elegantly gleaming feathers, cawed vociferously in human tongue, “Keep away young fae!”
He gulped, “Can’t you see. I am not here to harm you. I need the rose to heal my mum…”
“Begone! Leave this place at once.”
“I can’t. Haven’t you ever loved someone so much, you’d do anything for them? You’d do anything for them…”
“Yes,” the voice grew sullen and mournful. “I did this because I loved too much…” The large winged creature landed by him and began her story.
The young half-fae fox, learned the tale of the venerable Raven Queen and her bond with the mortal lady. “She sounds amazing. You must miss her terribly.”
“Beyond words can say,” the Raven Queen vehemently cried at the sky as she reverted into a human form, her beauty unmatched as her hair glistened like her shiny black feathers.
“I…” choosing his words carefully as he continued, thinking about what he would tell himself if he lost her, things he had thought about before in his lowest of lows… “I can’t say what your Lady would say for sure, but I don’t think she would want you to be sad… You have made this beautiful monument to honor her memory, but you need to hold onto the good times, good memories you’ve had together.” The Raven Queen began to walk away, her face disinterested in the turn of the conversation. “Can’t you remember the last time she laughed? The last time she smiled?” He chased after her as he found the opening of the woods lead out to a high cliff with clashing waves below. The Raven Queen looked out as a harsh splash of colors burst in the sky.
The Raven Queen, whose face was always so stoic and reserved, felt the pangs of tears. Her cheeks and eyes red like the ruby rose, she looked out into the sea, caught in memories of better times. The young half-fae fox, gently pulled her sleeve back as it seemed as though she would fall off the cliffside. “It was here young one.” She outstretched her free arm in a grand motion. “It was here where we shared so many good times. We’d talk about cares in a careless world and we talk so long we’d be able to watch the sun set. So many sun sets…” She looked at him with a strong focus that broke into a soft laugh. She held her side as if she had been punched by an unknown force, “She hate to see me like this. You didn’t like to see me worry. I never showed her such things. But… but I miss her so much.”
“And you always will. But hold onto those good times. She has moved on from this world. You must know that. She’s with my dad somewhere in the great beyond. She has moved on and it is time you do too… At first, I didn’t understand why my dad was gone. He just was, and I thought he would be back some many. Many years of waiting, and still he did not return. I had cried and sobbed many nights before I realized he really was gone, to know he had moved on. The part of my life was dark, but I can’t stay in the sadness my whole life. I had to find things worth living for. Find things to get me out of my sleeping place. It is not in such gloom where one finds the path to live in the light again.”
He let the words sink in as her face slowly drew to a calmness that she hadn’t known before. “You are right child. Perhaps I was so afraid of losing her that I lost sight of myself. I lost my purpose and became a shell of my former self…”
“Please, I beg of you. May I have the ruby red flower to save my mother. It is filled with great healing powers that you have bestowed upon it. Please, do not let my family go through what you have gone through, Raven Queen, I beseech thee.”
She holds up a hand, “Now now. We’ll have none of that. The flower is yours young fae. Is there still time?”
“I dare not speak of time, for I know that I must keep trying regardless of the fact.”
“Then to your home we fly,” says the Raven Queen as she transforms back into the giant elegant raven.
He was a bit taken back, she was royalty, a very powerful Goddess, and here she was letting him ride her. She did not wait for him to make up his mind as she plucked him up and plopped him on her back. With the ruby red rose in tow, he directed her and with great speed they made it back to his home in the Mystic Glenn. His siblings, grown a little older still looked wide-eyed at this elegant woman that stood behind him as he rushed in to prepare a fresh pulp from some of the petals of the rose for his mum to chew. She was incredibly weak and the gleam seemed lost from her white fur. We worked to get her to chew and swallow the powerful medicine and she rested soundly for seven days and seven nights and by the eighth day’s morning light my Mum was bright as rain and vitality coursed through her veins once again.
“Our family was most gracious to the Raven Queen for her aid, and as it turns out came every Spring to catch up with our family and made a second home there from time to time. The change of scenery had down her wonders, and on one of my outings I return back to the town. I now know to be called Raven’s Perch, and marvel how it means to be a verdant paradise of vivid green vegetation as the sorrow and sadness has lifted the clouds and life slowly returned back to the town. The red crystals remain and the giant red crystal became a beacon for the field of roses that grew beneath it were roses that could heal and bring comfort to those that were in pain.
And as time continued to pass, the Raven Queen would make an annual trip to watch the sunset with her Lady, but not of tears, o no, they were talks of exciting things happening in the world and sharing those good times like they used too. Where the good times was all the healing she ever needed.
This story may seem strange and farfetched, but take it from this half-fae fox that loss can only be healed by the good times. Those good memories you hold close to your heart. Do you remember the last time your loved one laughed? The last time they smiled? It’s those memories we must hold on to, it’s never easy, but we try. Don’t give into sadness, would they have wanted you to be sad? Would they want you to think of them only with mournful tears? It is a saying amongst the fae, “to celebrate life is to go and live your life, a life that is happy is a happy life indeed and in earnest.” That is why you see most fae with smiles you see. A grin or a cheerful smile makes all the world seem right, you just have to think happy thoughts, you know.”
The Fairy Ring
The hiccup that came out of the Dinkie’s mouth was not one of minimal proportions.
Having found the bottle on the path — it was a shame to let it go to waste. And without it she would never have found the boat nor the treasure chest!
Of course, she had not found the the fairy ring — the blue wizard had done that …
The raven’s caw raucoused through the shadows causing her left ear to twitch; and the scent of roses thickened through the air.
Fidget hiccuped again. It was as if someone knew her very weakness! A bottle half-filled with chocolate milk, laced slightly with bacon bits — just waiting to be uncorked. One paw wiped an indelicate brown froth from her whiskers. It was delicious!
Not bowl shaped, so definitely not a coracle, the little boat was just soooooo her size! Who had it left it moored just off the glade was still a mystery, but there had been a trail of gummi worms on it’s front bench. She had followed, it was worth the risk of being found-out by the Officers of the Paw.
And the lure of the treasure chest! It was a siren song with it’s lock just waiting to be sprung. But the locks were recalcitrant. Not even the best pick had managed to cajole either of the locks into opening.
Rumor had it, that perhaps on the morrow with the rising of a new sun that the magick of something known only as The Quest would fill the lands and the locks would become more malleable.
Only time would tell, and now — now it was time for a quick nap. Something about the fairy ring had made her drowsy. Stretching one arm to safely snug the bottle next to her, Dinkie eyes closed leading to dreams of untold treasures.
Her infamous epitaph was boldly illustrated to any within hearing distance, “I am Dinkie, hear me snore!”
She dreamed of makers of wonders and keepers of hats and a dwagi or three.
The morrow would bring further adventure, in Dawn’s Promise ..