Chapter Two ~ Meeting with the Faerie
CELESTIAL SENSHI SAYS: Booyaka! We’re on chapter two! Kick ass! Huzzah! And all those other cool words! For those of you who are actually familiar with Celtic folklore and true faeries, yes, ours are a bit different. But hey, it’s our story. Deal with it, and don’t be so judgemental. So grab yourself something REALLY caffeinated, pull up a chair…wait, you’re already sitting down, never mind…and enjoy.
The night sky was a thick black blanket, flocked with stars gently dancing through space. Below, the forest stretched for miles upon miles. Upon closer inspection, there was a small clearing among the treetops.
At the center of the clearing was a pool of water, as still as a mirror and just as clear. Fireflies swirled in lazy patterns over the water that had not been disturbed in a century or two, not since the last mortal who had stumbled across it.
Alongside the clearing were many trees, obviously, each very inconsequential, just another cell in the forest's body. In the high branches of one, however, something was sleeping.
A pair of silvery wings, looking delicate as rice paper, yet full of silent strength, fluttered slightly. Her face was serene as the dreams of the unknown cycled over and over and over...
The wind rustled. She twitched slightly. Her eyes snapped open. Her head jerked upwards in a bird-like movement. A look of apprehension crossed her pale face.
A star disappeared.
The water rippled.
And she was filled with the coldness that something was wrong.
Rydia's feet plodded across the path with the hopeless determination of someone thoroughly confused. After leaving home, she had simply picked a direction and started off. She was beginning to feel like the road would never end.
"This is pointless, Rydia," she said to herself, panting slightly. "You're miles from home, you have NO clue who or what you're looking for, and you've been walking down this damn road for days--" She stopped suddenly. "And you're talking to yourself. Just great."
She plunked down on a rock and took a long sip of water from the flash around her waist. Out of habit, she reached up and clutched her amulet.
"Oh, Odin, why aren't you here?" she whispered, her voice cracking slightly. A tear trickled down her cheek and she bent her head. He should still be here, she thought. I could've done something, I should've, I don't know, but he's dead, Odin's dead---
A pebble struck her in the back of the head, snapping her out of her grief.
"Nani?" Her jumpiness after her attack two days before had not worn off. She whipped around, her hand poised above her knives.
Another rock struck her and this time, her hand was tightly grasping a knife. Her mismatched eyes darted around like flies.
About ten feet away, at the edge of the forest, there was a movement in the bushes, then a faint mocking giggle, then...
Rydia blinked. And blinked again. It wasn't a bird's wing. It was black, orange, and yellow with white speckles. A butterfly wing. Nearly three feet high. It slowly unfolded into a pair, then closed and disappeared into the foliage. Her fatal curiousity took over and Rydia was off like a shot. Crashing through branches, she followed the sounds of laughter and the occasional flash of orange and black. First it would be to the right, then to the left, above her, behind her, below her, all around her. No matter if she was up a tree or under a bush, it was in the opposite direction.
Suddenly it stopped. She nearly fell over. Her breath caught in her throat as she listened and waited.
Her shin was bruised and horribly scratched. Her shining green hair, usually so well kept, tumbled down over one side of her face, while the other side stuck up at all angles. She felt like her lungs would pop with every brath.
The forest loomed up around her like a crazy man's house of mirrors. Her head spun with the images of leaves and branches. Through the gaps in the treetops, the sunlight was beginning to fade.
In every mortal's mind, there lurks basic animal instincts that we have trained to keep quiet. Logic disappears, the ears prick up like a cat, you can practically see the heat radiating off a living body. These things only come out when you're starving, when there's a knife to your throat, when you're about to fall from a huge height...or when it's dark.
Rydia was beginning to feel the kicking of that animal inside her. The hair on her neck prickled. The leaves rustled like the faint sound of bones clacking together. She wrapped her arms tightly around herself and walked shakily wit no idea of where she was. Occasionally the glimpse of a wing or a voice like a breeze made her heart skip a beat. Soon she was running blindly forward, crying with fear. There were things out there, she knew, things that clawed and spat and tore, things that ripped out your throat and crushed your ribs and swam in the warm lashings of blood that gushed from your still-beating heart----
The trees were gone and she was in a clearing. Her ragged sobbing gasps slowly ebbed. There was a quiet pool where the stars up above were reflected. The air was quiet and eerily still. Rydia could sense a strong source of magice that was coming from...well, everywhere.
She walked to the edge of the pool and stared at the wide-eyed girl looking back. She started to pull the loose strands of her hair back into place. A twig snapped and she whirled around, too scared to even breathe.
High up in a tree, a young woman tenatively looked around the thick trunk. A pair of silver translucent wings hung down her back like those of a dragonfly. Her face was inquisitive and intelligent, that of one who loves to know everything.
Rydia looked into her eyes. There was something odd about them, but she couldn't place it. The eyes stared back and blinked in surprise.
"So, you have fae sight, mortal."
Rydia took a step back. "I--I'm--I--what?"
The thing in the tree laughed. "It's rare that a mortal can see fae. One in a million. You're very lucky. Or cursed, depending."
"Your mother never taught you of the fae?" she said incredulously.
"...my mother's dead." There was a pause. "I'm sorry...your eyes, they're a bit unsettling."
The eyes were solid violet, with no pupil in the middle. They glowed slightly in the dark. Dark lashes framed their wide oval shape. The reason they were unsettling was because they were so unearthly. And breathtakingly beautiful.
"You're one to talk, mortal. Your eyes have got holes in them. That's all right, you're the first mortal with fae sight I've come across. None of the others, as few as they were, could see or hear me. It's a bit new for me, too." She looked at Rydia, smirking slightly as if thinking something over. "How'd you come here?"
"I was--there was a wing--laughing, I wanted to see, and--"
"Calm down, mortal. Just pixies playing with you. They love to get mortals turned around in the forest. Oh, they would've let you out in a few years, but you're lucky you found me. Don't worry, you're safe here."
The wings snapped up and she fluttered down next to Rydia. Rydia swallowed her fear and stood her ground.
"Good, you didn't jump that time. I am Sakana, a sky faerie. Welcome to my part of the forest."
"You have much to learn. Well, you're only mortal. I suppose your ignorance is forgivable." She smiled teasingly.
"Hey! Wait a minute..." Rydia yelled, but she smiled faintly.
Sakana looked about twenty or so, with soft features and a graceful face. Her flawless skin was blue, so pale it was almost white. Dark blue hair that seemed liquid flowed down to the middle of her back. It was pulled back behind a pair of delicate pointed ears, from which ornate silver earrings dangled. A purple-ish-green-ish gown that moved as if it were a live itself clung effortlessly to her shyly feminine figure. And of course, the wings and the starfire eyes solidified her identity as fae, no mortal.
"Well, I can't keep calling you 'mortal'. I've given you my name, now what's yours?"
Sakana repeated it, rolling each syllable around in her mouth. "Hmm. I hate to point it out to you, Rydia, but you're bleeding all over the place."
Rydia looked down at her arms and legs, which were oozing blood from where the trees had torn her. A thin trail of it had run down her arm where it dripped from her fingertip. "...didn't even notice..."
"Go wash yourself off in the pool there."
"Demo...," Rydia blushed.
"Oh, Sweet Mother Fae, Rydia, I won't look if you care that much." She chuckled as she flew back up into the tree with a movement too fast for mortal eyes to see. "Honestly, mortals are so skittish."
Rydia self-consciously untied the obi on her kimono ans slipped it off. She cringed at the chill of the forest air. Crossing her arms over herself, she tenatively dipped a toe into the crystal clear water. She yelped and jumped back. The water felt hot, stinging, like it was going to melt her skin away.
"Oh, sorry, Rydia, forgot to warn you. That's not water like you're used to. That's white water, the purest water you can find, and also the rarest. It's laced with magic."
"Yes, I know." Odin had used white water in healing potions, but in tiny amounts, and it was always mixed with other things. "Are you sure it's all right?"
"It'll hurt a little at first, but I think you'll be all right."
You think? Rydia thought. She stared down at the pool.
"You know, nobody's around, you don't have to cover yourself up like that." Rydia turned bright crimson.
"You're not supposed to be looking!"
Rydia glared at the trees, slowly uncrossed her arms, took a deep breath, and slid her body into the pool.
The water seemed to creep up around her body like liquid fingers. Rydia hissed sharply as it burned against her skin. But just as suddenly as the feeling of pain registered in her brain, it was replaced by a cool, soft tingling. It was like being dipped in hot wax, which cools off after a few seconds. Rydia looked at her arms. Every scratched and tear was gone.
After a few minutes, Rydia climbed out of the water. As soon as her skin hit the air, it was completely dry.
"Uso..." she whispered. She put her clothes back on and looked around. "Sakana? Where are you, Sakana?"
Rydia looked up to a branch in a high tree where Sakana was perched. She was moving her hands around as if she was sculpting, or directing music.
"What are you---"
Rydia looked at the sky and nearly fell over. The stars swirled and darted around like fireflies, like a psychedelic cosmic ballet.
"You think the constellations stay that way on their own? Or the sky stays that perfect shade of blue? Who do you think paints the sunsets?"
"Sky faeries," Rydia said quietly, suddenly understanding, and yet still confused.
"Ah, the mortal can be taught," Sakana said teasingly, and grinned. The stars continued to drift. "Can you climb a tree?"
"Yes, I can climb a tree!" Rydia said defiantly. What does she take me for? she thought.
"C'mon up here, then." Rydia didn't move. It was a very tall tree.
"Um..." Sakana stopped and so did the stars. She looked at Rydia.
"Rydia, faeries don't socialize much, and the last time there was a mortal here was 200 years ago." Sakana smiled a bit sadly. "And he couldn't see me."
She's lonely... Rydia realized.
"Onegai, Rydia? Please?"
Without a word, Rydia grabbed a low branch and began to hoist herself up. Her climb was slow, and the height of the tree was dizzying, but branch by branch, she made her way to the top. She teetered out on to the limb and set herself down next to Sakana. Rydia noticed her ice blue skin had a faint glitter to it, and the wings had the color of a soap bubble.
"Now watch," the sky faerie said. She raised her hands, and the stars quivered in anticipation.
What Rydia saw next defied all reality. The stars spun and swept across the sky, changed colors, exploded into celestial fireworks, only to zip back around again. If Rydia closed her eyes, she could almost hear them swoop by. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open.
If Sakana had had red blood, she would've blushed, but her cheeks shone a faint blue instead.
"Oh, it's just playing," she said, not sure how to respond to the first compliment she'd ever received. "You should see when we all get together."
The day's travelling and the pixies and the starry kaliedescope patterns caught up with Rydia and her eyes felt very, very heavy. Maybe if she just closed them for a minute...
Sakana felt a sudden dead weight against her side. She looked over to see Rydia slumped against her, fast asleep. Sakana smiled like a mother over her child, or perhaps like a girl over her sister. She gently put her arm around Rydia and lay her down in her lap.
"Sweet dreams, mortal," Sakana said, and the stars continued their dance.
AYAME-CHAN SAYS: I just want to confirm on the last chapter. Somebody asked me who was the guy Rydia ran into (I'm sorry if I forgot your name...I'm horrible with remembering names) and what does he have to do with the story. Well, you'll find out who he is in the next chapter!
CELESTIAL SENSHI SAYS: Yes, nothing in our stories happens for no reason…mostly. Some of it’s just because we have a really odd sense of humor. Here, let me prove my point… Hey, Ayame-chan! Sword wielding love god!
*Ayame-chan falls off her chair*
WHAT'S TO COME:
Why does that guy look familiar? Rydia thought once again, locking eyes with the young man.
Wow... a faint blue rose to Sakana's cheeks, which was a faint pink to those who could not see her true self.
"Geez, can't trick you, can I, Kentarou?"