I'm posting Episode 3 a little later in the day than I had hoped but at least it's still Wednesday!
Read the series prologue here.
Read Episode 2 here.
Episode Three: The Great Boat Race
Lilac, a flower fairy girl, dodged another tree branch as she raced her friend, a red haired pixie boy named Reuben, through the forest. They had recently grown their wings. Now that they learned to fly on them properly, they often raced to different points throughout the woods. Lilac’s long brown hair streamed out behind her. She flapped her purple butterfly shaped wings a little harder, remembering when they had been no more than itchy lumps on her back. She enjoying the alternating sensations of warm spring sun and cool forest shadows on her lightly tanned skin. She found it easy to keep track of Reuben by the reddish glow he gave off and the slight buzzing of his insect shaped wings. She realized he was gaining on her and increased her speed, with a look of determination in her warm brown eyes.
The sound of rushing water and a constant thundering boom alerted her that they were nearing the falls of the great Farawad River which cut through the center of Fairy Wood. This was the last stretch; they passed the oak with the very tall rock beneath it. Reuben put on a sudden burst of speed, momentarily passing Lilac. She recovered, whizzed past him, and landed on a rock in the river a safe distance from the waterfall.
“I win!” Lilac announced.
“No fair, you always win,” Reuben whined.
“I do not always win,” Lilac replied.
“You do too!”
“I'm not going to fight with you over something so stupid,” Lilac said.
“It's not stupid,” Reuben mumbled, but Lilac ignored him.
“So you're here, are you?” said a water sprite girl popping her head out of the river. Sunlight glistened off her whitish skin, which was covered in small fish-like scales. Droplets of water fell from her pale blond hair.
“Yep, here we are!” said Lilac. “Hi Lilly!"
“Lilac always wins,” Reuben pouted.
“What?” asked Lilly, confused.
“Don't ask,” Lilac advised.
“Okay,” said Lilly. Then she pulled herself onto a rock and began talking. “The fairy boat race is coming up. Are you two going to enter?”
Once a year fairies raced leaf "boats" down the river to the waterfall, which served as the finish line. When the fairies reached the waterfall they flew into the air, letting their boats slip over the edge.
“You can enter now that you can fly,” Lilly continued. “You really should get some practice boating if you want to do it, though. I can help with that.”
“We'd love to enter and we'd love your help,” said Lilac.
“Yeah, and I'm going to beat Lilac,” Reuben chimed in.
Lilac gave him a withering glare.
“Great!” said Lilly. “I'll get you both signed up, then we'll start boating.”
They spent the next few days on the river, practicing for the race. They were not the only ones. Fairies were practicing boating up and down the river.
Once, Wispen, a gnome boy, stopped to watch them. He stood on the far bank stroking the white-blond peach fuzz on his chin. All respectable male gnomes had beards and he was doing his best to grow his. Lilac had met Wispen before on several occasions. He was a nice fellow, quiet, though not shy, and very polite. Lilac paddled her boat closer and hailed him.
“Hello, Wispen! Are you entering the race?”
“No, I can't,” Wispen replied, removing his pointed red cap to her. “You need wings to make it over the finish line.”
“Quite true!” she laughed.
“I'll be watching though, and cheering for you,” said Wispen. “I came about another matter which I think might interest you personally.”
“Many of the older messengers are retiring so the queen is looking for new fairies to fill their rolls. I was personally offered a position keeping the court up to date on the progress of a new mine the dwarves are building. I had to turn it down because I've got animals and plants to take care of but I thought I’d pass the word along to you. You’re a fast flyer and have wonderful endurance. You could make a great messenger. I know who to talk to if you’re interested and can put in a good word for you.”
“That would be wonderful!” said Lilac. “Thank you very much.”
“It’s no trouble,” replied the gnome. “I just hope you get the job.”
Lilly noticed Wispen and called a greeting.
Wispen waved then put his cap back in its place. He headed off into the greenish light of the surrounding trees saying, “I’ll see you at the boat race!”
Lilac paddled her boat next to Lilly's, her mind filled with excitement at the thought of becoming a messenger. She could see the entire forest and more!
A sudden splash and cry drew her attention.
Lilly groaned, “Reuben tipped his boat again!” She paddled over and helped him right his leaf.
We'll see who beats whom, thought Lilac.
Finally the day of the race arrived. Fairies from all over the woods lined the river to watch. The boats of the competitors formed a line stretching from one bank to the other. A sprite flicked a wing and shouted, “Go!” to signal the beginning of the race. The fairies and sprites in the boats paddled furiously to get ahead of the others, while those on the shore cheered. At first the water was calm and the going easy. As time went on, however, the water became rough and then rapid.
At the rapids it took all Lilac’s concentration just to keep her boat from tipping over. She was tossed here and there by the rushing water. She moved roller coaster fast, up and down with the water’s foamy course. It was scary, but at the same time exciting. Amazingly, not even Reuben tipped his boat this time.
As the roar of the waterfall grew, Lilac watched for the place where it dropped over a cliff. She realized she was there in a frightening moment as her boat tipped downward and she saw the foamy water crashing on rocks far below her. Regaining control of herself, she flapped her wings hard until she rose with the other fairies like a flock of colorful butterflies.
The winner was a beautiful buttercup fairy, a slim blond clothed in yellow. She was crowned with a wreath of flowers by the fairy queen while all the little people watched. Then there was a celebration. A feast was laid out on several long tables in a huge meadow filled with lush grass. The fairies ate, talked and laughed far into the night. A group of musicians played enchanting music to which many fairies danced. When it became dark the elves who lived in the forest lit colored fires. Smaller lights given off by the pixies could be seen flickering among the trees.
Lilac was enjoying the food and might not have noticed Reuben approaching if she hadn’t seen his reddish glow.
“Hello, Reuben,” she said as he stopped beside her. “What are you doing?”
“Dance with me,” said Reuben, “I don’t know who else to ask and I want to dance.”
“Well, all right,” she replied. “I’ll dance with you for a little while.”
She hoped that they wouldn’t look silly dancing together because she was noticeably taller than Reuben. They danced around a small meadow for a few minutes until all the fairies joined hands to dance their famous circle dance. Before she realized what was happening, someone grabbed Lilac’s hands and pulled her into the circle. She danced round and round the circle with the other fairies until their feet formed a ring of mushrooms. The mushroom ring held magical qualities for a few days afterward.
The festivities were coming to an end and Lilac was preparing to return home when an elderly fairy with a weathered brown face beckoned her to him. She approached, filled with curiosity.
When she was near enough to hear him, the old fairy said, “Wispen tells me you’re interested in becoming a messenger.”
“That’s right, sir,” Lilac replied.
“I’ve been carrying messages since before you were born,” said the old fairy shaking his head, “but I’m old and it’s time to pass on my duties to younger folk. If you are serious about this job, return to this meadow in three days time and show me what skill you have.”
A wide grin spread across Lilac’s face as she said, “Yes sir! I’ll be there, sir.”
Continue to episode 4.