Also by Really_Awesome_D00d
She hadn’t seen it coming.
Of all Faeries to be caught unawares, it had been Syldris. She was renowned for her agility, and yet she had been captured, just like many of her kind. She had even boasted that as long as she had her wings, she would be able to evade anyone who tried to snag her into one of those cursed glass bottles. She’d zipped out of the grasp of many who had tried to catch her, but now she was finally done in.
“Let me out! Let me out!” the tiny Air Faerie screamed, beating her miniscule fists against the walls of her glass prison. Through her walls she could see that she was swinging high above the forest path, whizzing past trees, rocks, and dirt. She swung back and forth, slamming into all sides of the bottle, tossed about dizzyingly.
By the time she stopped swinging around in the bottle, her captor had already stopped and had placed her in darkness. The only glow was that of the dust that glittered around her cerulean frame, and even with it she could see little. All that she could recognize was that her boasts had been in vain, and that she, for once, had been captured.
“Let me out!” she shrieked again, desperately trying to break from her container. When she realized that it was fruitless to try and escape, she sunk, defeated, to the floor of the bottle. She didn’t notice as she lifted into the air again.
“Hello, my lovely,” sneered a harsh, growling voice from all sides. Syldris stood up shakily, staring around at the glass. She had no idea where the voice had originated, but all of a sudden it flashed before her eyes.
A menacing yellow eye peered in on the right side of the bottle. “You’re mine, now,” the voice spoke. “Air Faeries usually fetch a hefty price.” The eye gleamed, and the bottle swung out so that Syldris could see everything about her captor. She swallowed a scream.
She was standing face to face with Balthazar, a Faerie’s worst nightmare.
Oh, no, she thought to herself, staring in terror at the horrible, glinting yellow eyes. Not Balthazar. Anyone but Balthazar...
She had heard stories of the fearsome Lupe, whispered in trembling voices around evening fires; every Faerie knew his name. The twisted creature's heart was swollen with dark greed, and his very being was driven by a powerful need for revenge...
Being captured was frightening enough, but this was every Faerie’s worst fear confirmed.
Laughing, Balthazar slammed Syldris’ glass jar hard into a cupboard. The glass of the container vibrated dangerously, but did not shatter. The rotten smell of mould and dank wood swept into the jar, almost choking her. Then Balthazar’s mighty paw clapped against the container door, and she saw nothing but darkness.
For the first time since she’d been taken, Syldris realized the hopelessness of her situation. For many faeries, being captured was simply an inconvenience; most were simply let free in return for a blessing.
But Balthazar would not sell to the merciful.
The tiny air faerie felt tears prick needlelike in her eyes, stinging with the bitterness of despair. “It’s over,” she sobbed out loud, not caring that no one could hear her in the empty darkness. “I will never see my friends again… my family…” Her one-time boasts of uncatchable swiftness were sour in her memory, and she wished nothing more than to repent them, now that she understood the fear of the captured.
“Hello?” said a soft voice.
Alarmed, Syldris snapped her eyes open, but the darkness of the cupboard revealed nothing. “Is someone there?” she asked, a wild and desperate hope rising in her heart. “Hello?”
“I’ve been captured, too,” said the voice. It sounded as if it were coming from beside her. “I am Ildrian, a Water Faerie.”
Syldris’s heart leapt with a relieved sense of joy. She wasn’t alone! She wiped the tears from her eyes, running a stray hand through her glossy white-blonde hair, and sighed with a renewed sense of relief. Turning to the left wall of the glass bottle, she placed her delicate fingers on the translucent surface and stared out into the darkness of the cupboard.
She could faintly see the darker blue outline of a beautiful Water Faerie with flowing golden locks and bright eyes of azure. Ildrian seemed to be smiling. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“I am...” Syldris began, but hesitated. “I am Syldris.”
“Syldris... You’re the one who said she’d never get caught, right?” In the darkness, Syldris could see her faint smile. “That’s what I thought, too. Yet Balthazar caught me when I had my back turned... Don’t worry, Syldris, we are definitely not alone.”
“Not at all,” added a new voice. It was calming and airy; almost musical. “I am Tryana, a Light Faerie.” From her left side came a soft golden glow, and in it Syldris could distinguish the graceful form of a Light Faerie with wide brown eyes and luminescent golden hair.
And suddenly, a great din rose throughout the cupboard as new flashes of color and light shone in the darkness. Bursts of purple, green, blue, light blue, red, and gold pierced the inky blackness, her own light included, showing the forms of other Faeries, each one just as hopelessly trapped as the next. Syldris’s mouth fell open as she watched the cupboard slowly light with all colors of the Faerie spectrum.
“I am Jernella, an Earth Faerie. I was in Illusen’s Glade when Balthazar found me.”
“Syldris, I am Tisith, a Fire Faerie. I was watching the volcano on Mystery Island when I was caught.”
“Pah! I was trying to see what Jhudora was planning next when Balthazar saw me coming back down from Faerieland. I’m Mauva, a Dark Faerie.”
Syldris whirled around, facing her sympathetic kindred. She truly wasn’t alone!
But suddenly all fell silent. The lights of her fellow captured comrades dimmed as Syldris stared out. “Welcome, young one,” said a voice laced with sorrow. “I am Yiari... You can see what Balthazar has done to me.”
Her heart skipped a beat as she realized the origin of the voice. Coming from the very back corner of the cupboard was a soft, dim grey glow… A Grey Faerie. A pang of sorrow rose within her as she made out the stooped form, and the ragged edges of wings torn and tattered. Not all Faeries were sold, no; some were doomed to a life of eternal misery under Balthazar’s cruel watch – none of which could forever withstand the dreary hopelessness of it, and all eventually succumbed to their despondency, turning a pale, sickly Grey.
A profound stirring of sorrow moved within her, and out of some inner impulse she began to hum an ancient song of Faeries. A few others joined in the low hum, singing wistfully of times past, and then Syldris opened her mouth and began to sing the words.
Dance with me in Faerie glen,
Come with me, rejoice again,
Sing of lore to be and past,
Take my hand and hold it fast—
More Faeries joined in the song, and the lights of the elements glowed with fiery strength, illuminating the imprisoning bottles, shining and refracting through each individual jar until the entirety of the cupboard’s inside was alight with blue and green, orange and yellow, and even the silvery cast of grey. The combined Faerie voices rose musically as one, intertwining in power as they sang the ancient words.
From outside, they could hear thundering footsteps approach; Balthazar heard their song.
Sing the sun, sleep the moon,
Dance with me to Faerie tune,
Dream the sea, live the light,
Join we now with Faerie might…
The bottles trembled with the force of the power; the glass jars shook as the waves of light and song pierced them. As the enraged paw of Balthazar jerked the cupboard open, the jars shattered as one.
For a moment they were still, the Faeries and the Lupe, gazing at each other in mingled shock and awe. Syldris was the first to move; she outflung her wings and lifted into the air with her legendary speed. She could feel the air rushing in a million eddies as the others joined her, surrounding Balthazar with countless pinpricks of dizzying light.
They sped in a cloud of color to the windows, darting against the glass, and it yielded in a burst of fragmented sound to the Faeries’ heat and light.
As they rushed out of the dank room into the welcoming evening air, Syldris thanked each star lighting her path that she’d once been too slow.