Faeries, like people, are not only good or only evil. Each one chooses its own path to follow. The dark faeries had grown angry with the greedy Queen, for her wealth was quickly catching up to their own. So they invoked a powerful curse to torture and punish the woman.
Their magic spread across the land like a dark cloud, changing everything that existed within the small kingdom. When the people woke the next morning they were delighted to find that everything in their worlds had changed to treasure. Water that ran in streams was really fine threads of silver, the fish were made of the finest of precious metals, apples hung as huge rubies and the leaves of all the trees were made of jade or emerald. Everything was a treasure, and the people rejoiced.
When the Queen woke to discover what had happened she, too, was delighted with the ‘gift’ that had been bestowed upon her. But as she ran out into the garden to start collecting the precious flowers that had turned to gems she realized that all was not what it seemed. The moment her fingers touched the stem of a gem-flower it turned to worthless stone. The silver strands that she scooped out of the fountain turned to ash and were blown away into the wind. That was her curse; anything of value was destroyed by her touch. A world of treasures for her to admire, but always out of her grasp.
But what of poor Crystal, you might be wondering. The Sorcerer who had helped to steal her eyes away was dark, but not without heart. He enchanted the gems so that the girl would still have the gift of sight. When she woke the next morning and saw what had been done to her, and the resulting curse, she saw with her diamond eyes what no one else could.
“We shall all starve!” She cried and gathered up her cloak. “I must go and bring food back for the people.” And so the girl set off on her journey, unaware of what lay before her.
When darkness fell and Crystal was weak from thirst and hunger after her long walk, she fell to her knees in front of an old oak tree, exhausted.
She gasped and whirled around. There, illuminated by her own glow, was a faerie. She smiled kindly at Crystal and held out a hand to her. Her hair was the color of moonlight and her eyes were the night sky, with a million stars glittering in each orb. She was wearing a dress of storm clouds and dreams, and it hung in soft folds around her lithe form.
“Do not be afraid Crystal. I have come to help you on your quest.”
Crystal took the faerie’s hand and rose to her feet. “To find food?”
“No. To restore the kingdom. I am Twylyth, and I have been watching over you from birth. Crystal, you must go to the Faerie Realm and restore things to their proper order.”
“But no human eyes can find the Faerie Realm!” Crystal protested, feeling that Twylyth was perhaps a trickster faerie playing with her.
Twylyth only smiled again. “But you do not have human eyes, do you? Now listen Crystal, you must do this or all will be lost for you and your people.” She held out one hand and two objects appeared on it. A wooden bowl and a plain bag. “Take these gifts. When you are thirsty the bowl will always be full of water. And when you are hungry simply reach into the bag. Food will appear.”
“Can’t I give these to the people?” Crystal asked, taking the gifts and immediately drinking from the bowl. It was the sweetest, coldest water she’d ever tasted in her life. True to Twylyth’s word, regardless of how deeply she drank, the bowl did not empty until her thirst had been quenched.
“No, and that is why you must hurry Crystal. Do not stray from the path or let yourself get stopped.”
Crystal felt the first pangs of despair. “But what path Twylyth? I don’t know the way to the Faerie Realm.”
Twylyth set a gentle hand on her shoulder and turned her around. “A final gift.” She said and waved a hand. Stars fell from the sky and settled themselves along the ground in a glowing path. “Stay on the path and do not forget the people who are depending on you. But I do warn you… to reverse this curse, you will need to make a sacrifice.”
Crystal stared down at the path, now certain it would lead her to her death, and drew a deep breath before starting off. One life lost was better than hundreds.
Crystal walked through the night. She had been exhausted when Twylyth had appeared, but the food that came out of the bag and the water that appeared when she was thirsty seemed to be enchanted. She continued on tirelessly, determined to set things right, whatever the cost.
As the darkness began to fade and the first streaks of sunlight peeked over the horizon Crystal began to worry that the path, made of glowing light, would disappear from view. But as the sun rose higher and higher it illuminated the pathway more.
Partway through the morning she crossed the boundary between her own kingdom and the next. The trees were suddenly real and living, she could hear the leaves rustle above her rather then clink against eachother. The shade was wonderfully cool and welcome. She continued on for some time when she came to a small bridge stretched over a stream. It seemed an awfully silly thing, the water was barely an inch deep, but Twylyth’s path went over it, so Crystal did too.
She was halfway over the bridge when something caught her around the knees and she went falling to the ground.
It was a chaotic scene, her hair had fallen over her eyes and someone was attacking her, pulling at her bag and yelling foul curses and demands. She was yelling and pushing her attacker, pulling hard at the bag and kicking to try and beat him off.
“Gimme gimme gimme!” Her attacker yelled and she was knocked backwards onto her back. “Oh… Girly’s got pretty eyes.”
She had a brief glimpse of a hand before she shut her eyes tightly, screaming as nails clawed at the lids, trying to get to the treasures underneath. “Get off me!” She yelled and delivered a hard blow that sent her attacker flying. Immediately she scrambled to her feet, expecting another rain of blows, but what she saw stunned her.
Her attacker was sitting on the bridge, holding his cheek and crying softly. It looked, at first glance, like a child, but then she realized with a jolt of shock, “You’re a gnome.”
He was sitting cross legged and had brown pants on, with a red cap and a shirt that may once have been white, but was stained so badly it was hard to tell. “Girly didn’t have to hit Nog so hard.” He said, sniffling and rubbing his red cheek.
She planted her fists on her hips and glared down at him. “Didn’t have to hit so hard? You attacked me you evil little thing!”
“Nog ain’t evil! Don’t say that Girly. Nog gotta eat though. No food for Nog around here. Only leaves and twigs.” He sniffled and started to cry again. “Nog starves.”
Crystal scowled down at him. “You have food dribbled down your shirt you liar.”
He paused for a moment; one fist paused where it had been rubbing at the tears falling down his cheeks, then began to wail again. “Poor Nog has no clean clothes to wear! Poor Nog doesn’t have pretty eyes like Girly. Nog has no friends….”
But Crystal didn’t have time for games. She shook her head down at the little gnome before turning to leave.
“Girly can’t stay mad! Nog is sorry. Nog is a bad bad bad evil thing.” He said, slapping his hands as he spoke. “Girly stay and we be friends?”
She sighed and shouldered her bag again. “I can’t stay. I have to go to the Faerie Realm.”
He let out a yell and grabbed her around the leg. “Girly can’t go there! The Riddle Dragon guards the gate! He’ll gobble Girly up quickie quick and Nog will lose his only friend!” And he began to sob again, wiping his nose on her skirt.
“Nog stop!” Crystal yelled and pushed him off of her. “I have to go. Dragon or not.”
Nog peered up at her, tears still shining in his beetle black eyes, his round nose red from crying. “Then Nog goes with Girly. Girly needs Nog to keep her safe.”
Crystal almost protested, but she didn’t have the time and she was rather lonely. “All right Nog, you can come with. But be quick about it.”
Dancing happily around her, Nog clapped and did a few cartwheels before scrambling to catch up with her.
The path continued to twist and turn, leading them over high hills and through lakes. Soon Nog’s happy chatter faded away as they both became weary, in spite of the enchanted food and water. Near dark they came upon a dark and looming wood.
“Girly… Nog don’t like the dark.” He said quietly, moving closer to her side.
She didn’t like it much either and she put an arm around him for as much her comfort as his. “The path glows. That gives us light. Come on.”
Into the darkness they went, sticking to the path, following it as it wound one way, then the other, seeming to lead them in circles rather than to any specific place.
A soft and tinkling music found Crystal’s ears and she paused, frowning slightly. The music was familiar. She listened hard and realized it was the same music that played from the music box her father had left for her before he died. As she recognized the song it became louder and made her feel warm and lazy. She didn’t even realize that she’d left the path until she heard Nog’s shouts, quiet and far away. Into the darkness she went, dropping Twylyth’s gifts as she moved towards the source of the sound.
The clearing shone as bright as daylight. Treasures were heaped all around and in the center of the space stood a man. He held his arms open to her and she moved as one hypnotized, staring at him with wide eyes.
She hesitated only for a moment before stepping into his embrace, shutting her eyes when his hands stroked her hair and held her close. She lifted one hand to touch his chest, to assure herself that she wasn’t dreaming. The cloth was warm and when she set her cheek to his shoulder she could hear his heart beating softly. “Father…” She whispered softly and the music filled her mind and she forgot all else.
Come back for the conclusion this time next week!!!