A serialized fairy story as yet to be concluded.
Chapter 1: Fairyetta Discovers Something Wonderful
One day Fairyetta was buzzing about Fairy Valley where she and her parents and her baby sister all lived in a house fashioned from an old log that had fallen across a tiny brook. To Fairyetta and her family, the brook was as wide as a river and their log house was as spacious as a castle. They were fairies, you see. And Fairyetta was only about as big as the thumb on your hand.
Fairyetta spent many days exploring Fairy Valley, which was filled with ruins of a civilization built by the Fairies of Old. Her Mama told her that once upon a time the Fairies of Old had a special magic they used to build extraordinary things—castles with moats, a giant colossus, and bridges suspended in the air by nothing but spider webs. No one knew what had become of these fairies. And when they disappeared, sadly, so did their magic.
On this particular day, Fairyetta was out hunting for acorns. Her Mama used them to make their morning porridge. It was a very important job, because acorn porridge was her baby sister’s favorite food. Fairyetta flew along the riverbank, using her delicate pink wings to keep low to the ground so she could spot the acorns hidden in the brown leaves. She flew and she looked. And then she flew and she looked some more. Her eyesight was very good, but she couldn’t find a single acorn!
When she reached the big quartz stone that divided their river into two streams, she stopped. That was the boundary of their kingdom. Beyond was the Land of Seminaria where the fearsome NORCs ruled. The fairies would sometimes tell stories about the NORCs, who they said were as big as mountains with spiky purple hair and sharp green teeth. When they left their Towers, the NORCs would crash through Seminaria, rolling from side to side like great creaking ships at sea, looking for something to eat. And what do you suppose they loved most of all? I think you know: delicate pink fairy wings!
Now, you remember that I told you that fairy magic had disappeared when the Fairies of Old faded from time? Well, that’s true. But it’s not the whole story. Before she faded away, the last Queen of the Fairies used all the magic she had left to cast a powerful spell that would hide her kingdom from the eyes of the fearsome NORCs. And she decreed that no fairy could ever fly beyond the quartz stone at the boundary of Fairy Valley. If any fairy did, the spell would be broken. And ever since that decree, made so long ago, no fairy had.
Fairyetta sat on the quartz stone, sad and frustrated. She had so wanted to find an acorn to bring back to her Mama. She didn’t want to fly home yet. She was so mad that she picked up a stick and started poking at the quartz.
And then, do you know what happened?
The quartz stone started rocking back and forth! All on its own!
Startled, Fairyetta flew right up into the air and perched on a tree branch. The quartz was spinning in a circle now, faster and faster! As Fairyetta watched, it rose right up out of the tiny brook, pulling other stones and pebbles behind it. It rose so high that it knocked Fairyetta off her tree branch! Luckily, she had practiced her acrobatics that morning, so she was able to somersault back down to the ground without a scratch.
And then, all of sudden, the spinning stopped! And the quartz and the stones, along with all the pebbles and some sticks and mud, all came crashing down—on the far side of the tiny brook!
At first Fairyetta thought “Oh what a terrible mess.” But then she looked harder with her very good eyes. And what she saw amazed her. It wasn’t a pile of rocks at all! Every stone and pebble fit together perfectly, creating a little chamber that looked just like an upside down U. And right at the top, the white quartz stone sat like a crown.
It was a cave! A secret cave! Fairyetta was so excited her wings were fluttering, lifting her right off her feet. Maybe there were acorns hidden in the secret cave! She wanted to fly closer to peer inside, but suddenly she stopped. This was the border of Fairy Valley! Her secret cave sat right over the border in Seminaria! No fairy had ever beat a wing in Seminaria! Not since forever!
Now Fairyetta was a very brave fairy, but she was also a very good fairy. She knew her Mama would be wondering where she was. And her baby sister was waiting to play with her when she got home. She sighed and was about to turn back for home when she heard a faint cry coming from deep inside the cave.
“Help me! Help me, please!” The voice sounded very far away.
“Hello?” Fairyetta called back. “Are you very far away?”
The voice called back, “Help me! Help me, please!”
Fairyetta bit her lip. You see, even though she was a young fairy, she knew about the spell the Queen of the Fairies had cast long ago to keep them all safe from the NORCs. She knew if she stepped into the Land of Seminaria, the spell would be broken!
But the voice! It sounded so sad! She had to help!
She looked into the cave. It was very dark. She wished she had brought her firefly lamp with her.
And then she remembered a trick her Dada had taught her once on a rainy day when they were all stuck at home inside the log. She held her breath and beat her delicate pink wings very hard until they started to glow—just like a firefly! She would be able to see everything now!
Then, with one last look over her shoulder, she lifted up into the air and flew right into the mouth of the cave.
Chapter 2: Fairyetta Flies Far From Home
She had expected the cave to be a dark and dreary place, full of spiders and bats, but as she flew the walls of the cave grew brighter and the ceilings grew higher until, all at once, she wasn’t flying in a cave at all! She looked up and saw a full moon far above her head. It cast a pale light across a strangely flat and shadowy landscape.
Where could she be? When she flew into the cave it had been the middle of the day and the sun was shining through the leaves of the forest! She stopped and hovered for a moment to think, when the voice called out again.
“Help me! Help me, please!”
It was a little boy! She was so close! She couldn’t turn back now! But just when Fairyetta thought she was about to reach him, a strong wind whisked her far up into the night sky. She felt a drop of water splash her face. And another. And then another.
Now, you may already know this, but fairies find it very difficult to fly when the weather turns stormy. Even the slightest breeze can throw a fairy off course. And rain! Well, a fairy’s wings are lighter than air. But even a single raindrop can make those wings as heavy as lead. Fairyetta knew she needed to find shelter quickly—before the rain made it impossible for her to fly!
By this time her eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness. When she looked around her she realized she wasn’t flying over land at all! No matter where she turned, all she saw were dark, churning waves. It had only taken her a few minutes to fly through the secret cave, but now she was far away from her home in the log across the tiny brook. She was in the middle of a boundless ocean without so much as a twig to land on!
I did mention that Fairyetta was a very brave fairy, didn’t I? Well, I think you’d forgive her if I told you that when she looked out across the wide expanse of the sea, she felt very afraid.
“Help me! Help me, please!”
Whoever was calling her was very close now.
“I’m coming!” Fairyetta cried. “I’ll be there soon!”
Fairyetta flew as fast as she could, fighting against the wind and dodging rain drops as big as boulders. Just when she thought she could fly no farther, she saw what looked like a giant whale breaking through the skin of the ocean. She paused in mid-air, dodging raindrops while she hovered to look more closely. It wasn’t a whale! It was an island! And anchored in a small cove right at its edge was a Brigantine, a magnificent sailing ship painted red and black and gold.
Just then, the moon, which had been hidden behind a storm cloud, slid slowly into view, edging the Brigantine with a glittering silver light. At the very top of the tallest mast Fairyetta could see something fluttering in the breeze: a glowing white skull and crossbones emblazoned across a flag blacker than the blackest night.
A pirate ship!
When she was very small, her mama read her stories about pirates. They were outlaws and brigands who captured ships at sea, boarded them, and plundered their treasure, burying it on islands just like this one. The best thing she could do if she ever met a pirate, her mama told her, was to fly the other way as fast as possible!
But the boy! He was still calling to her and she could see him now, waving a white flag from the deck of the pirate ship.
A white flag? Fairyetta remembered that a white flag meant peace. The boy was signaling that it was safe! She made up her mind and flew down to the poop deck. The boy stopped waving his flag and smiled at her. But just as she was about to land on the gunwale, he dropped the flag and snatched her right out the air with his bare hands. Fairyetta tired to fly away, but the boy held her tight.
“I caught you!” he cried, triumphant. “I claim you as pirate booty, little fairy. Surrender now and I’ll spare your life!”
Fairyetta struggled to free herself. She was FURIOUS!
“YOU TRICKED ME!” she yelled with all her might. “I thought you needed my help! I crossed the border of Fairy Valley to find you, breaking the Fairy Queen’s decree! I will NEVER surrender to you—NEVER!”
The little boy’s bottom lip trembled just a bit as if he wanted to cry. Then he stood up a little straighter and said, “You WILL surrender. Because I am Alfred, King of the Pirates! And this is my ship, The Restless Rogue.” His first-mate, a man in a ragged blue coat who was missing at least four front teeth, handed him a bottle. Quick as a flash, Alfred popped open the cork, shoved Fairyetta into the bottle, and sealed it up again. She was trapped!
Alfred glanced up at his first mate, his eyebrow cocked. Then he peered into the bottle. “Prepare to meet your doom,” he said. “Tomorrow at dawn, you walk the plank!”
Chapter 3: Fairyetta Makes a Friend
Alfred took Fairyetta with him to the captain’s quarters, which, Fairyetta thought, weren’t nearly as nice as her own little home in the log across the tiny brook. He put Fairyetta’s bottle on a long table that was already cluttered with all sorts of maps and charts that pirates use to make their way across the Great Salt Sea.
“You might as well sleep,” Alfred muttered as he turned to climb into his own bed.
Fairyetta pushed her nose up to the glass and glared at Alfred.
“Never,” she cried, still defiant. But the journey across the Great Salt Sea had been a very long one and Fairyetta was very tired—and very cold. She shivered. And that gave her an idea.
She sat down in her bottle, took a deep breath, and counted to ten.
Then she called out, as kindly as she knew how:
Alfred rolled over in his bed.
“What is it?” He sounded very sleepy.
“It’s very cold in my bottle and I don’t even have a leaf to keep me warm,” she said.
Alfred sighed and sat up, looking around.
“Will this do?” He picked up his pirate scarf from the floor (he wasn’t a very neat pirate) and held it out to Fairyetta.
“Yes, thank you. That will do quite nicely,” she said, standing up. She was ready.
Alfred picked up the bottle—it was rather big so he had to use two hands to balance it. When he popped open the cork, Fairyetta flew right out of the bottle, fluttering her wings as fast as she could, startling Alfred. The bottle slipped from his hands and shattered on the floor.
“Now, take me back to the secret cave!” Fairyetta yelled, still beating her wings furiously.
But Alfred was a pirate king. And pirate kings never surrendered.
“En garde!” he yelled, pulling his cutlass from the scabbard hanging from the arm of his captain’s chair. The sword glinted in the moonlight.
Fairyetta didn’t hesitate. She flew right past Alfred’s raised cutlass before he could even take a stroke, then rocketed straight up into his face, pinching him hard on the nose.
If you have ever been pinched by a fairy you know it can be quite painful.
“Ouch! Bat’s snot fair!” Alfred yelled, holding his nose, which was turning purple and red and swelling to twice its normal size. But Alfred was a Pirate King so he took a deep breath, raised his cutlass, and lunged at Fairyetta.
She brought her wings together and dove head first toward the floor. Alfred’s blade whizzed past, just missing her! That was close! This was a real battle! Fairyetta somersaulted in midair, pivoted off the floor to gain speed, and flew up over Alfred’s head. He swung frantically, but Fairyetta was just out of reach. She beat her wings hard, preparing to dive again, when Alfred jumped up onto the captain’s table! Maps and charts scattered everywhere. And now Fairyetta was just an arm’s length away! Alfred raised his sword, pointing it right at Fairyetta’s heart. She froze and looked right at Alfred, expecting to see his triumph written on his face. But when their eyes met, she saw nothing but sadness—and a loneliness so deep it almost broke her heart.
And then, before either of them could move another inch, the ship lurched and rolled! Alfred lost his footing and fell from the table in a tremendous crash; his cutlass clattered across the floor. Fairyetta saw her chance and swooped down, landing right on his nose with both of her feet.
Alfred burst into tears.
“That hurts!” he cried.
“Well, YOU called me across the Great Salt Sea for NOTHING,” she said, pinching his nose. “And YOU put me in a BOTTLE,” she said, twisting his ear. “And YOU challenged me to a BATTLE,” she said, snatching the pirate scarf from the floor. And before Alfred could even sit up, she had tied his wrists together in a very intricate and very tight fairy knot. She gave it a final tug and then sat down, near enough to Alfred so that they could talk.
“Now,” she said, drawing a very deep breath. “It’s time for you to take me home.”
That look came back into Alfred’s eyes. The one that made even Fairyetta feel just a little sorry for him.
“But you can’t go home,” he said.
Fairyetta felt a jab in her heart that was worse than any sword wound could have been.
“What do you mean, I can’t go home?”
“Because the door shuts forever once the call has been answered,” he said.
“But you can open it again,” said Fairyetta. “You’re still the Pirate King. No one needs to know I defeated you in battle.”
“It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid,” said Alfred, and Fairyetta believed he really was sorry.
They both sat very still while the ship rolled on the waves, creaking and moaning. There was shouting above deck and the sound of feet running.
Finally Alfred sat up a little. His nose was starting to feel better.
“You should go,” he said. “You’re not safe while you’re on the Restless Rogue. If you fly very far across the Great Salt Sea, there’s always a chance you could find your family again.”
“What about you?” Fairyetta had begun to wonder whether Alfred even enjoyed being a Pirate King.
“Me?” Alfred smiled a very sad smile. “If there’s no fairy here in the morning, I’ll have to walk the plank instead. That’s pirate justice.”
Fairyetta fluttered up from her seat and landed in the palm of Alfred’s hands. They looked at each other again, not as foes locked in battle, but as blooded allies.
“Then we’ll just have to leave together,” Fairyetta said and began to untie the fairy knot binding Alfred’s wrists.
Fairyetta knew they had to act quickly. When the fairy knot fell to the floor, she headed for the hatch. “Let’s go, Alfred, now!”
As Alfred stood up, the Restless Rogue groaned a terrible groan. As he made his way over to Fairyetta, the pirates above deck screamed a terrible scream. And then Fairyetta and Alfred heard a terrible crack. The Restless Rogue rolled on its side, sending them both skittering across the floor.
“Abandon ship! Abandon ship!” The cries seemed to come from everywhere. Until there were no cries at all.
Because the Restless Rogue was sinking!
Chapter 4: Fairyetta and the Sea Monster
When Fairyetta and Alfred reached the deck they saw something quite marvelous.
“What is it?” asked Fairyetta.
Three unhappy pirates were dangling in the air, held there by three large gray and purple tentacles, twice as thick as the ship’s mast and almost as tall! Two more tentacles squeezed the middle of the ship so hard that the deck bulged and splintered. Another held the Jolly Roger aloft in triumph!
Alfred gave the command to abandon ship, but he needn’t have bothered. The pirates that hadn’t been tossed overboard by the sea monster had lowered the ship’s tender and were rowing frantically toward the island—without their Captain!
“The rogues!” cried Fairyetta. “Alfred, we will have to save ourselves! Here, this is just the right size!” She pointed to a broken plank jutting up from the ship’s deck. “I made a raft once from tree bark. It will float! Throw it overboard and jump!” she yelled.
Alfred heaved the plank over the gunwale and was about to follow it when the sea monster, who had really just been toying with the ship and its crew until now, rose up from the churning waves and looped a long gray tentacle around Alfred’s chest, lifting him high into the air.
“Alfred!” Fairyetta flew as close as she dared to the sea monster. Its tentacles spread out in a wheel from its bulbous head and its hooded eyes peered at Alfred as if he were a tasty bit of pudding.
“Don’t hurt him!” Fairyetta yelled as fiercely as she could. But to a sea monster big enough to smash a pirate ship to smithereens, Fairyetta was hardly more troublesome than a butterfly.
“Ooof,” said Alfred, as the sea monster tightened his grip.
What could she do? If she were the Queen of the Fairies she could use her magic to send the sea monster back to its watery cave at the bottom of the ocean. But the Fairies of Old were gone. And so was their magic. She was just Fairyetta. She would have to depend on her wits.
“I imagine you’ve smashed quite a few pirates ships to smithereens in your time,” Fairyetta said, hoping she sounded like she was just making conversation.
The sea monster turned its monstrous eyes toward Fairyetta, but she could see that he was having a hard time focusing on such a small fairy.
“I have smashed my share,” the sea monster rumbled.
“Do the ships always sink?” Fairyetta asked.
“Yes, always,” said the sea monster.
“And do the pirates always run away?”
“You must be very lonely,” Fairyetta said, hoping she had guessed correctly. The sea monster’s tentacles drooped a bit, and Alfred’s feet touched the tips of the waves where his plank of wood floated in the water.
“Sometimes I grow weary of all the screaming,” the sea monster admitted. Then he saw a pirate swimming desperately for the row boat and, quite casually, plucked him out of the water. The pirate screamed.
“Well,” said Fairyetta, trying to ignore the pirate, “Alfred hasn’t screamed once since you captured him.” She didn’t point out that Alfred could only say “oof” with a mighty tentacle wrapped around his chest. “And you and I are having a very civilized conversation. No screaming at all. In fact, I rather like your company.”
The sea monster nodded his bulbous head toward Fairyetta. “I’ve never met a fairy before,” it said. “You remind me a bit of a flying fish I met once, but she had nothing very interesting to say. So I ate her.”
“Oh,” said Fairyetta.
“Her wings were quite prickly,” he said, looking at Fairyetta with a mournful eye. “Pirates are sometimes stringy,” he said, “but always tasty.”
“Oof,” said Alfred as the sea monster squeezed harder.
If she didn’t act quickly, the sea monster was going to eat Alfred! Fairyetta took a deep breath and flew as close to the sea monster as she dared, darting between his waving tentacles until she hovered right in front of his glassy red eye.
“I am not a fish,” she said, as firmly as she knew how. “I am a fairy.” She began to beat her wings as hard and as fast as she could and they began to glow.
“I flew across the Great Salt Sea to answer the call of the Pirate King.” Fairyetta pointed to Alfred, who was by now turning all sorts of interesting colors. “I broke the Queen’s decree to find him. I opened the door to the Secret Cave. Even the Queen’s magic couldn’t bind me.”
By now, Fairyetta’s wings were vibrating so quickly that they were a blur of color so bright that the sea monster had to squint to see the tiny fairy.
“I may be a tiny fairy and not even fully grown, but I know a bully when I see one. And YOU,” said Fairyetta, pointing her finger at the sea monster so that he couldn’t mistake who she meant, “are a BULLY!”
The sea monster still had tentacles wrapped around what was left of the Restless Rogue. And he had tentacles wrapped around the wretched pirates who had been abandoned by their cowardly shipmates, who were now rowing quickly to the nearby island where they would be castaways until they turned into nothing but dust and bones. But that would be many years after the sea monster had gone back to his watery cave at the bottom of the ocean and many years after he was challenged by a fairy with pink wings and a brave heart. Today, the sea monster still had one tentacle wrapped around Alfred, who, by now, was almost as green as the Great Salt Sea.
“Did you call me a BULLY?” roared the sea monster.
“I did,” Fairyetta roared back. “A big, scared, purple, BULLY!”
“DO YOU THINK I AM AFRAID OF A LITTLE FAIRY?” the sea monster boomed.
Fairyetta doubted very much that he was, but she had a plan. You see, while Fairyetta had been chatting with the sea monster, she had secretly counted how many of his tentacles were wrapped around one thing or another (including Alfred). And she knew, from the bedtime stories here Mama read to her, that sea monsters always had eight tentacles to grasp and smash things. How many tentacles do you think Fairyetta counted? That’s right! Eight! That meant that the sea monster would have to drop something if he wanted to capture her!
Fairyetta beat her wings and flew straight to Alfred. The sea monster, in a rage, dropped Alfred—plonk!—into the Great Salt Sea.
“Alfred, the raft!” Fairyetta called. Alfred, shocked awake by the cold, dark sea, grabbed the wooden plank and held on. Fairyetta smiled. The first part of her plan had worked!
Then, before she could could count to eight—or even one—the sea monster’s great tentacled arm whipped across the water, seizing her right out the air.
But Fairyetta was ready. She was glowing now as bright as the sun and when the sea monster touched her, she burned as hot as a supernova!
“OUCH!” yelled the sea monster, and let go of Fairyetta as fast as he could. She flew down to Alfred, calling to him as she dropped from the air like a shooting star.
“Row, Alfred, row!” she called.
The sea monster was in a rage. He dropped all of the pirates and let go of the poor Restless Rogue, which sank slowly to the ocean floor. Then, the sea monster did something very unlike a sea monster. He let out a loud, frustrated sigh. And his breath caught a wave and the wave caught Alfred’s raft and Alfred caught Fairyetta who had been cooled by the breeze. And together they rode the crest of the wave far away into the Great Salt Sea, leaving the sea monster far behind them.
To be continued…