Lord Orgulous came to our province some time ago, and when he did, he inherited the rule of the province. As might be expected, he arrived with quite a flurry of rumor swirling about him, for he hailed from a distant land, and he was young and handsome and mysterious. Some said he left behind a fortune so grand that even the stars looked down upon its glittering magnificence with envy. Some said he was exiled for some preposterous boast that insulted a very powerful personage. And there are some among us—the romantics—who believe that he came to our land because he was fleeing from heartbreak.
“Wait until you are within the borders of the forest before you open the box, else you have failed before you have begun.”
With those words, the schoolmaster turned away and left Naji alone before the borders of the forest.
Naji entered the forest with no other possessions but that box, as the test required. He carried no water, no food, no clothing but what he already wore, no bedroll, nothing to trade or barter with.
But that is what he had chosen. A box.
It’s quite easy to get into the fairy realm, you see. They want you to come to them. They need you to come to them. So quite easy to get into the fairy realm. But almost no one gets out.
There is a valley, where grow flowers of every hue and kind, colors and fragrance in harmony. They sing songs, it is said, in spring and summer, songs whose ghosts and echoes can be heard in winter and fall.
These flowers are singular, for each is inhabited by an animating spirit.
The valley is haunted, they say.
The thief fell from the tower’s upper window. She had lost her precarious grip on the pitted brick. She remembered that she should roll herself up into a loose ball to protect her head and neck. But by the time she remembered, she had already struck the first branch of the tree in the orchard below. Then she struck another and another. Scratched and thrashed and bounced about, she finally reached the ground, thankful that the soil was soft. She lay there for far too long a moment. The breath had been knocked out of her. And she feared moving for fear she might discover that she could not.
When I was born, a clever mage, who was also my mother, made for me a triptych: three panels, attached in a row by hinges, depicting paintings of our home. The middle panel depicted our capital city, where we lived. The left panel depicted my mother, her hands raised as if in the casting of a spell. The right panel depicted the Arx, the great tower of knowledge where mages learned their trade. The flanking panels were each half the width of the middle one, so they could be folded inward, and the image could be hidden. And strangely, my mother had built a lock into the triptych. Once folded, the triptych could be secured. I did not know why it would need to be locked. There were no secret or blasphemous things depicted in the paintings, as far as I knew.
The starry-eyed youth named Carson cast his gaze at the full moon. His father had just cursed it, or rather, he had cursed those who dwelt upon it.
“A storm is coming,” his father said, gazing up at the low and looming clouds. “A storm with high winds.”
Yet another storm, the fourth one in as many days.
“Soon it will storm day and night,” his father said. And then he raised a fist to the full bright moon and shook it.
When buds are twisted too tightly, they will never bloom beautifully, my grandmother always said, all the more so after she’d witness my staying in my little corner of the room at a party in our house while the other children played with each other. But she did not know that I was surrounded by friends in my own world, in Castle Farouche.
Rare are they who can by their very presence bring about the emergence of the fantastic from the most common of things and the most mundane of people.
So rare indeed, that most towns only had one such person, only one whose speech inspired the emergence of energy from lethargy, whose gaze transformed ugliness to beauty, and whose touch could change a blunder into a wonder.
Feodora was one such person.
A person known throughout the realm as a fantasticator.
This week’s story will be posted soon. This is the anniversary post for Storyfeather’s fifth year!
The Year of S.T.E.A.M. is done! That was the theme for Storyfeather Year Five. Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts. Mathematics. Year Five’s stories aimed to center around one of the aforementioned elements. It was quite the challenge.
Also a challenge, keeping the bar for the artwork as high as I could manage after the visual upgrade the site received in Year Four.
Thank you to everyone who read even a single story. And if you liked or commented, thank you again. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Five.
A lot happened in the fifth year stories. A cast and crew of middle school students put on an original play about cosmic heroes and deadly aliens. A malfunctioning beauty product gave whole new meaning to the term “vanishing cream.” An explorer got lost in a spatiotemporal anomaly that was once the treasure vault of an alien pirate. And a woman started turning into a cartoon…
I’ve written over 250 stories now. And I’ve produced 52 podcast episodes (one for each story from Year One). Year Five was a (sometimes delirious) struggle, but well worth it. Storytelling is still my true love, still my destiny, still my path.
Year Six is on the horizon. Here’s to seeing what stories will brew. I hope you’ll come along.
I have stories to tell you.