Dark Faerie Dreams: Part Two
It is safe to say that nothing in all my life ever terrified me so much as being trapped inside one of Balthazar's bottles. The sensation was that of suffocation, as though someone had a noose about my neck and was tightening it with excruciating slowness. I knew, logically, that I wasn't really suffocating. I knew there was air. But knowing something and believing it can be so different, and though my head knew I was okay the rest of me could not be convinced.
As Balthazar set my bottle down in his bag I began to cry, sobbing as I pounded on the glass and begged him for release. He ignored me completely, if he heard me at all. I tried pushing upon the cork, attempting to get it out. The effort was in vain. My bottle lay atop dozens of others, all of them containing a trapped faerie. I saw some of them watching me with pity. Most ignored me. I called to them and pounded and cried until I found myself sitting on the smooth glass, too exhausted to continue. I wrapped my arms about my legs and buried my face in my knees, trembling and wishing I could be anywhere except for where I was.
I had little notion of time and did not know how long it had been before I was suddenly jolted sideways as my bottle was pulled from the bag and set upon a shelf. I lifted my head and studied my surroundings, breathing shallowly as I tried to control my persistent fear. I was in a shack of some sort, Balthazar's shack, I supposed. It was lined with shelves, all of them full of different faeries trapped in bottles and ready to be sold.
The idea of selling faeries had always sickened me. There was no way to describe it other than wrong, a thing that should never be done and for which there could be no excuse. I wished I could do something about it but I hardly had enough strength to hold myself together, never mind free myself and the rest of them. It would have been easier if I could have fallen asleep, I knew that. Oblivion would have been a blissful alternative to the confinement of the tiny bottle and the throbbing ache in my torn wings. But I was afraid to sleep, too afraid of what was going to happen to me to chance closing my eyes and not seeing it for myself.
"Ah, it's about time you arrived. I've been especially lucky with dark faeries today; I've got more for you to take than usual."
I jumped at the booming voice and spotted Balthazar standing in the doorway, speaking with a mutant Bori who was hunched over, one gnarled claw outstretched with an empty sack. I couldn't hear what he said but Balthazar took the sack and began grabbing bottles with a faint purple glow from the shelves and tossing them into the sack. When he reached me he grabbed my bottle and threw it into the bag, headless of how painful it was to be thrown between the walls of glass as the bottle clattered down among the others. Moaning, I tried to get up, only to be thrown back to my knees as more bottles were tossed in around mine, knocking mine around so that I could barely keep from falling flat on my face. Finally the movement stopped. I glanced up in time to see the top of the bag being tied shut, sealing off all hints of light save for the faint purple glow from the other faerie's wings. There was no glow, however, from my wings, nor would there be as long as they were injured.
Unable to stop the tears that rose yet again to my eyes I stayed down upon on the glass, curling up miserably and wishing that I'd listened to Misty. I couldn't help but to wonder, at that moment, why I'd ever wanted to leave a perfectly safe home.
When I awoke I was cold and clammy and still felt as though something was tight about my neck. I opened my eyes with great reluctance and looked around. To my dismay I was still trapped within the same bottle in the same bag. I wished I'd dreamt up some brilliant idea for getting out but if I had I couldn't remember. All I did remember was that I'd dreamt of fire. It had been warm and welcoming and safe and I clung to those feelings, trying to feel them still. I couldn't. The only thing that kept me from closing my eyes and attempting to drift back to sleep was the sudden realization of light, something beyond that of the other faeries glow.
It took a bit of looking around to figure out that I'd been jostled right into the corner of the bag where I could see a tear in the fabric. As I watched the only bottle between me and the tear slipped through the space, vanishing from sight. My bottle rolled forward and got caught in the corner. A sudden surge of hope momentarily lessened my feelings of despair and I watched excitedly as the fabric strained with every bump and jostle, knowing that sooner or later it would give way and I would be free.
Though I couldn't see what was going on outside I suppose the bag might have been dropped for suddenly I was thrown downward and my bottle practically leaped from the bag, rolling away across the cobblestones.
My initial joy at escaping was hampered quickly by the painfulness of rolling. I could do little other than tumble along with the bottle, finally landing in a dishevelled heap when the bottle half rolled under a bush, coming to a stop against the lower branches. At first I was relieved. That emotion, however, was quickly smothered under a newfound horror. How was anyone ever going to find me under a bush?
Desperation and fear returned like an icy chill that filled me, making me tremble and hide my face in my hands. I felt as though I couldn't breathe, I felt as though there was simply no air...
Gentle movement woke me from a dreamless sleep and I sat bolt upright, glancing around to see what had moved my bottle. I couldn't tell, at least not right away. All I could see at first was that it was dark out and that something was casting a warm, flickering glow across the glass. Then a face appeared outside my bottle, nearly startling me into yelping. After a moment my surprise turned to excitement. The face belonged to an Eyrie, a fire Eyrie.
"Help," I whispered hoarsely, though I'd meant to scream. But my throat was too dry for any more screaming. I reached out and pressed my palms against the glass, staring desperately at the Eyrie and willing him to help me. "Please let me out!" I called, only a little louder.
The Eyrie was already trying to do so. He reached hurriedly for the cork, twisting and turning it to try and pull it loose. I cannot even describe the relief I felt when the cork finally popped out and the Eyrie tilted the bottle so that I could crawl out onto the cobblestone street where I'd first fallen from the bag. It felt wonderful to press my palms against the cold stones while breathing in the fresh, open air. "Thank you," I whispered, lifting my head slightly to smile at the Eyrie. "You have no idea... thank you."
He smiled and nodded but then his smile faded slightly as he leaned forward to get a better look at me. "You're hurt," he observed, reminding me of the pain in my torn wings.
"They'll heal." I hesitated uncertainly, remembering that it was customary for a faerie, once freed from a bottle, to offer a blessing to her rescuer. "I, I owe you a blessing. I'm not very good at it, but I can try." I climbed to my feet while trying think of the proper blessing. Instead my head began to swim and I sank back to the ground, my thoughts lapsing into unconsciousness.
There was a pleasing scent in the air, a smell of leaves and bark and moss, all carried upon the slightest of breezes. The crisp, earthy smells lifted me gently into wakefulness. When my thoughts returned enough to realize that I was awake I opened my eyes and glanced around to see where I was.
At first I thought I might be lying upon a cloud. It was large and white and fluffy and seemed to go on for a great distance. Then, to my amusement, I realized that what I had mistaken for a cloud was really just a pillow. I climbed unsteadily to my feet and glanced around. The pillow that I was on lay atop a bed that seemed very large to me but was probably just the right size for any normal sized person.
I started at the soft voice and wobbled, falling back to my knees. I glanced around again and this time spotted the fire Eyrie who sat beside the bed, watching me curiously.
"Hello," I returned, studying him with equal interest. "Where am I?"
"My home," he supplied. "I couldn't just leave you in the street."
I suddenly realized that the ache in my wings had been reduced to a dull throb and I glanced over my shoulder, touched when I saw the tiny bandages that had been so carefully applied to my injured wings. "Thank you," I whispered, turning to studying the Eyrie with new appreciation, wondering why he had helped me when I hadn't so much as given him his blessing. "You didn't have to..."
He smiled, his beak curving slightly at the edges.
"I still owe you a blessing," I said after a moment, when he made no reply. To my surprise the Eyrie waved a dismissive paw.
"Nah, don't worry about it."
"Can I at least know your name?"
He smiled again. "Viggo. And you are...?"
"Sunrise. I... I'm a dark faerie."
Why I added that, I had no idea. I waited for him to get upset, to tell me to get out or perhaps to make some nasty comment about dark faeries, as most people surely would have. But he didn't. If anything, I could see a certain curiosity in his grey eyes. "I wasn't certain what type of faerie you were," he admitted.
I smiled sheepishly. "I suppose I don't look very dark." I found myself glancing around the room again. "Where exactly is your home?"
"Just outside Neovia. It's a cabin, in the woods."
I nodded thoughtfully, reaching up to tug on a strand of my silvery hair, a habit I have when I'm thoughtful or anxious. At that moment my feelings were leaning more toward the latter. "That's still so far..."
"Far from what?"
"Faerieland." Seeing as how Viggo had rescued me, I figured I owed him, at very least, an explanation. "I, I'm not really like other faeries. I have dreams that, that tell me things, things about the future. I had a dream about Fyora. Someone is going to poison her. I was trying to get to Faerieland, to warn her, but Balthazar..." I trailed off, trying and failing to repress a shudder.
"Poison Fyora? Are you sure?"
I nodded. Viggo looked away from me, reaching up with one paw to tug on a feathery ear. In the back of my mind I wonder if perhaps that was his anxious habit. Abruptly he turned back to me. "I'll come with you."
I was entirely taken by surprise. "You will?" He nodded and I could tell he was serious. I tugged harder on my hair. Having the fire Eyrie along certainly would lessen the chances of Balthazar making any further attempt to put me back in a bottle. And with my wings still healing I knew I wouldn't get very far on my own two feet. Aside from that, I enjoyed the idea of having company. "I'd like that, thank you. When will we leave?"
"I'm ready to go now, if you feel up to it."
I tilted my head curiously, intrigued by someone who could just up and leave their home without a seeming care. "I'm up to it, yes. Only, my wings... I don't think I can fly."
Viggo seemed to consider this thoughtfully for a moment and finally he held out one dark paw, setting it down on the pillow in front of me. "How about my shoulder then?"
Something about Viggo – perhaps his eyes or maybe his manner – made me want to trust him and so I climbed up onto his paw, letting him lift me up to his shoulder. I hopped onto the sturdy material of his jacket and held onto the collar as he left his little house. It was an interesting thing, being on his shoulder. I could feel the heat from his fiery feathers and he had something of a smoky, musty smell about him, like old books sitting beside a fireplace. None of it was particularly disagreeable; in fact, I found I rather enjoyed the high perch and the view it afforded me. "Ready?" he asked.
"Ready," I agreed, unable to keep a grin from my face.
Viggo set off at a fast trot through the trees. I sat upon his shoulder feeling as though nothing in the world could possibly go wrong. Finally I was headed toward Faerieland, the place I'd been dreaming of for so long. And this time, with Viggo to help me, I felt sure nothing could get in my way.
To be continued...