Short Story – The Lori Saga: Faery Blood – Part 1
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It wasn’t the first time Lori woke and thought she was covered in blood.
Her own blood or other faery folk, didn’t matter. She dreamed about being drenched in it. Dripping. So far, it was only a dream.
But that dream was coming more and more often. Most often the night after she found more of her kind had disappeared. Couldn’t be found anywhere in the Faery Kingdom.
Even the worst of the faery folk, like trolls and goblins, all vanishing without a trace.
This morning, it was a nightmare too far. She got fed up with everything. All her life was getting wrecked around her, so she decided.
It was time to call for help. From the humans. Or at least the one human she trusted – to at least try. In all the multi-verse, he was the only one she knew who could.
– – – –
I saw her sitting on an old log under a tree. Like one of its biggest branches had been blown down not too long ago.
And for some reason that problem we had with a troll sometime back came to mind. I never looked at a tree the same way after that – particularly ones that simple broke about 10 or 12 feet off the ground. Shoulder height to a rampaging troll. But if it was the only one, you figure the wind caught a weakness just right. If there were several like that – well, I had to count my blessings that it had never happened again.
While I was talking to myself in my mind, I got closer. And something in this girl’s smiling face seemed familiar.
Then I got it. No wonder I was thinking about trolls – this was Lori in her human form.
My step got a bit quicker and my eyes got a bit moist when she stood, waiting for me.
My walking stick seemed to fling itself down to give both my arms room to hug her and lift her off her feet. Not that she was heavy, and her blond 5-foot plus frame barely filled my arms.
But made me happy to see an old friend. One I loved as much as any, more than most.
She hugged me back until I let up – and then she grabbed my head with both hands to bring it down to her level for a big, long kiss. Not that I minded at all. Some people you could just stay that way forever if you got the chance. Especially where it wasn’t going to bother anyone. (Cows just keep grazing – only another stupid human trick to them.)
At last we came up for air and went back to hugging.
With her head tucked under my chin, I had to profess. “I had no idea I’d missed you this much. Of course, I ran out of stories from you long ago – and was hoping for a refill.”
She said nothing, just hugged me tighter.
At last, she sniffed, and raised one hand to wipe her eyes. “I don’t know if there are going to be many more stories, John.”
I pushed her back to look into her weepy eyes. “No? How come?”
“My land is under attack, and most of the faery folk I ever knew have gone.”
“Well, you know to solve this mystery, we have to visit the scene of the crime.” I nodded to Lori as we walked along one of the cow paths back toward my cabin.
Lori stopped right there, considering that thought. “Oh, that’s simple. And somewhere I’ve always wanted to take you.”
She looked me over. “Well, you’re big for a fairy or pixie, but short for a troll. Maybe you could pass as a friendly dwarf or a tall elf. Just a little tailoring is all you need.”
I stood there as she walked around me. She nodded and pulled my clothes at different points, like figuring how to adjust what I was wearing.
“You know, I’m used to my usual clothes…” I protested.
Lori smiled. “Well, I’m not thinking of anything radical, but just how to help you fit in. Actually, they are pretty used to humans, just not ones showing up in person at our kingdom.”
“Where is your kingdom?”
Her smile turned into a grin. “You didn’t know this, but it’s right where you are standing. Well, the secret is in whether you’re looking for it or not.”
She stopped circling me and nodded. “Yup, you’ll do just fine. And now the stage is set.” She waved her hand.
Nothing seemed to change.
“OK, you’re here.”
“The Faery Kingdom.”
“You know, I always wanted to meet a real king.”
Lori laughed, a sound like a twittering bird. “Oh, we haven’t had one of those in eons. I think we still do, somewhere, but he doesn’t want to rule anything or anyone. Spends his time reading poetry and tending his flower garden, I think. On winter days, he’s seen whittling outside his little hillside hut, enjoying what sun there is. And his dandelion wine is a favorite. So he keeps busy.”
She started us walking toward my cabin again.
I could see it looking like always in front of us. “So what’s the difference between the human world and the Faery Kingdom?”
“Not much, but when you really look and compare, it’s an incredible difference.”
“I see no changes. Am I looking wrong or something?”
She smiled again, hugging my arm. “The main reason this doesn’t look much different is because the Faery Kingdom is so empty right now. Here – let me show you some differences.”
We were coming up on a grazing cow, one of my white-belted black Galloway’s (which most people know as Oreo-cows, or Belties.)
“You see this cow?”
“Sure, that’s Socket — she’s got one white hoof in front.”
“OK, look her over with care this time — look for something different from usual.”
We stopped right next to her. She sniffed my hand as usual, then stepped forward so I could scratch between her shoulder blades — but that‘s normal for the cows I hand-raise.
“Can you hear that sound?”
I listened while still scratching her. There was a tiny melody, like someone was humming.
“She’s singing to you.”
Socket swung her head toward me and looked up, then nodded.
“And she understands you better. What else do you notice?”
I scratched down her back toward her tail – cows like getting scratched by the top of their tail, since it’s hard for them to reach.
“She seems a lot cleaner.”
Lori nodded with a wider smile. “We won’t wait around for this, but the cow paddies she leaves dissolve faster into the soil. Do you see those little clumps of flowers here and there?”
I saw them now, like someone had planted daffodils in all these different spots around the pastures.
“Those flowers sprout wherever a cow manures, just to help balance the nutrients in the soil. If you look at the flower’s base, you’ll also see mushrooms near them. The fungi have a little network under the soil and transport needed nutrients to other plants. Trees and shrubs help that mushroom network with their long roots.”
I looked and saw multi-colored mushrooms almost hidden under the flower leaves. Reds, blues, yellows, and whites – all besides the grays I most often saw.
“But before we move on, check over your Socket again.”
I looked and saw that there was something extra around that white hoof of hers. Something frilly around the top edge of the white. It was lace. And her foot was a pristine white.
“It’s like she’s wearing an actual sock.”
The cow looked up at me and nodded, then batted her eyes.
“Oh, you’re kidding!”
Lori came around me and scratched Socket under her jaw, which the cow responded by raising her head a bit and closing her eyes.
“John, you can see why it’s easier to tell the sexes around here. Cows have longer eyelashes. Bulls have more pronounced eyebrows, and broader shoulders.”
She gave Socket a light pat on her neck, then took my arm to get me moving toward my cabin again.
“This is like the cartoons I’ve seen.”
Lori hugged my arm. “Where do you think they get their inspiration? Walt Disney made friends with the faery folk around his family farm as he was growing up. And just because he moved to the cities didn’t mean he left his contacts behind.”
“Well, there’s the question — does the Faery Kingdom extend to cities?”
Lori frowned. “Sure, the two worlds have the same locations — just different ways of looking at things separates them. Do you remember a cartoon called ‘Cool World’?”
I nodded. “Ralph Bakshi. About a veteran-turned-detective who gets sucked into an alternative cartoon world.”
“Well, that ‘cartoon world’ overlays cities, just like the Faery Kingdom does. It‘s only a matter of looking at things from a different view.”
“Does that mean there are other worlds that also overlay?”
“Sure. As long as they stick to commonalities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find jumping-off places for alternate histories and so forth.”
“Like a steam-punk world exists right along with our modern world —but only as long as the history is the same?”
“Right. And then your variations tangent off on their own. Looking like spikes out in different directions, much like a pine tree. And then you then have the worlds of writers — who build their own universes. In those cases, it’s kinda like a Venn diagram – where some things intersect and others don’t.”
“Shakespeare wrote about historical events, but not right on the money.”
“That’s right. And then you have the actual event in your human timeline of Cinderella, Snow White, and others. The ‘fairy tales’ that the Grimm brothers popularized, and Disney capitalized, were just different versions.
Lori was smiling again. “This makes the animated universes somewhat connected to your reality – at various points.”
We were close to my cabin when Lori hugged my arm again and grinned.
“Oh, here’s something you’ll want to see. We’ll step just off the Faery Kingdom into your own writer’s universe for a second. I’ll help you take a peek into this one, but don’t expect me to be your tour-guide.”
She stopped me right at the steps onto the front porch. “OK, look over to that far side of your cabin – what do you see?”
I saw nothing but the side of the cabin. “Nothing. It’s empty.”
Lori smiled. “You’re being difficult. Now, just tilt your head over a little and think about the stories you would like to write.”
I tilted my head and then could see a long line of story characters who were queued up right next to the porch. A quiet, continuing line off somewhere in the distance. All smiling, with expectant looks on their faces. Each dressed in different garb, some with sheafs of papers in their hands, others with notebooks, some with bound ledgers. A few were writing in them. All were waiting.
“See that? Just like you told me about — all queued up and waiting.”
“How do they keep themselves organized?”
“Group effort. Mobs don’t get published as the author can’t figure out who’s saying what. So they work out a line and use their self-discipline. Just like you wrote about, or one of your cousin writers did, anyway.”
I had to smile. “So it’s true.”
“About as true as anything. Any writer has to write on faith.”
She stepped in front of me and straightened my head. The line of stories disappeared. “But we’re here to solve the Faery Kingdom mystery, not pump up your ego with how popular you are with the story-folk.”
I shook my head to clear it. “Right. But it was a good example, and thanks for showing me all these worlds. At least that explains a few things.”
Again Lori took my arm, then ushered me into my cabin.
“OK, John, now you’re back in your own cabin – but this time you’re in the Faery Kingdom. What do you see?”
“Other than the colors are a lot brighter, not a lot.”
“Look at me.”
Lori appeared full size, but now with her wings and back to her green, skimpy leotard-type outfit. Ears pointed. Still fetching.
“Oh, now that makes more sense. You appear in human form so I can see you in my human world, but here you can be my size but with wings.”
Lori just grinned. “You’re right, but you have the scale wrong. Look out your window.”
I glanced out and saw that the grass had grown way beyond the bottom of the window, and the grass blades were as wide as the flat of my hand. “How did the grass grow like that?”
She shook her head. “You’ve got the scale wrong. The grass didn’t change size — you did. So did your cabin.”
Reaching a hand up to touch the side my face, “You’re even cuter this size. Oh — feel your ears.”
I did. And felt the points on them. I had to smile at that.
“All temporary, I hope.”
She pouted her lower lip in a tease. “And I thought you’d like it enough to stay here with me – at least for a while.”
Lori patted my cheek. Then swept her arm as a gesture around the small space. “Like the colors are brighter here, your other sensations are much more vibrant and alive.”
Taking my face in both her hands, she kissed me for a long time.
“See what I mean?”
I could only nod. And imagine where that would go if we let it.
For a short moment, anyway.
Lori looked off to the side with a sudden motion — then looked back into my eyes. “Oh that’s bad. There’s been another disappearance!”
She stepped over to my side, taking my arm, and the room shimmered out of our sight…
Coming Soon… Part 2
Can’t wait? Want your own copy? Visit https://calm.li/FaeryBlood
Also published on Medium.