Monday, March 10, 2014

Fairy Wings (8/13)

The kingdom looked full of activity and excitement, and the colors and noises shocked the fairy, who had grown accustomed to the peace and solitude of the great forest. In fact, she happened upon this street during the busiest day of the year – the Spring Equinox Festival. This was the day for craftsmen to show off their work, and for merchants to sell their products to visitors from the surrounding lands who enjoyed the bustling chaos of a bazaar. The view from the hill was a thrilling flurry of rainbows in motion: tents and shelters draped in red, blue, and green fabrics and crowded almost on top of each other, competing to be the biggest, brightest, or fanciest, and competing for the attention of a thousand strangers with bulging purses and pockets. The open-air stalls were hemmed in by the regular shops, with doors and windows wide open, inviting browsers to come further in and linger a while. The whole scene was beautiful and adventurous.

However, as Lynn descended into the street, her fascination turned to fright. The noise that sounded harmonious and layered from above now clanged and clambered within, clashing in discord and echoing off the walls of the shops in the background, amplifying, reverberating around the packed street. Musicians played their own songs on whistles and lutes on the corners and in the alley ways where people gathered in clusters and dropped shillings in amusement. Lynn felt a sense of aimlessness among the people as she dodged feet and weaved around baskets and jars, always fighting to keep her focus on the castle in the distance. While everyone else was content to dabble in fine or cheap merchandise, she was hopeful that a far greater treasure soon would be found if she persisted in her quest. The shoppers wandered in every direction and turned and stopped with no consideration for anyone else, especially the tiny winged creature who felt trapped in a pulsing wave of giants. And to add to the noise, buyers and sellers talked over each other, making bids and propositions, arguing and urging until they decided it was too much or too good.

“Fresh fish!” a beefy, hairy man claimed in a loud voice. “Today only, a special on flounder - two for the price of one! Get two flounders for one!” Lynn was startled by the overwhelming presence of the man and the even more overwhelming smell of his product, which seemed to her not so very fresh.

The odor lingered at the next stall, where an elderly woman tried to out-shout the fisherman: “Hand-crafted rugs! The best quality and finest dyed materials! What am I bid?”

Lynn crossed the street, and the smell of fish now blended with the scent of fresh pies sitting on the window sill of a bakery. “Apple Cobbler! Gooseberry Pie! Cherry Danish!” the baker shouted out the upstairs window, welcoming any and all to enter in.

The enticing smell followed the fairy to the little tent that had an elegantly painted sign advertising magic mirrors and other enchantments. And just as quickly as her curiosity in the magic came, it went again as she felt the heat of the blacksmith’s house, where she glimpsed everything from tiny charms to farmer’s plows. Then again her attention was diverted to a stand where dozens of little glass vials held spells for beauty, true love, and whiter teeth. She could scarcely pause at any of these, as hurried feet surrounded her and carried her along as if in a current.

By sunset that day, Lynn looked behind her at the chaos that was being closed up and carried away, and then she looked before her at a long, inviting path that led to the castle. It wound through a garden that looked wild and perfect all at once, and ran alongside a pleasant stream that flowed down from the majestic fortress to the busy village.

The castle was brilliantly decorated with the pink and gold highlights of the fading sun, and fog settled round its gates and blanketed the surrounding hills, coloring them with the purple hues of dusk. She shivered as the heat and light of the sun sank behind the trees. Then she looked again to the castle and paused in wonder at the sight.

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