Missing Pieces – Part 2
I hoped you enjoyed part 1 of Missing Pieces! If you haven’t read the first half of this story, you can find it here. Now for the conclusion:
It didn’t take much to disguise me as a Fae. Erissa used some magic to make my ears pointy and give my skin a pale shimmer. For her part, Belle stole some elegant Fae garments. Apparently pixies were known to be mischievous, and the Fae wouldn’t find it suspicious for clothing to vanish.
The dress I now wore was a light airy fabric the color of a plum with a golden belt cinching it to my waist. Belle wove golden leaves through my auburn hair, and the effect was striking. I suspected Erissa’s magic had also given me this otherworldly beauty as I gazed in a mirror.
“You’re ready,” said Erissa. “I’ll lead the way.”
We stepped out of the tree house and into a dim morning light. I was able to take in my surroundings as we walked. Throughout the forest many trees had doors set into them, like Erissa’s home. Glowing orbs, like the ones hanging from her ceiling, sparked to life as we walked. Bursts of colorful flowers sprouted up as we walked by, and the blooms closed once we moved past them.
I looked down at Erissa. “Why is it that everything seems to come alive as we reach it?” I asked.
“Magic powers everything in our world. It’s similar to electricity in your world. That’s why we need to keep taking items from humans to replenish our supply. I only take what I need for my little home, but the Fae like extravagance. You’ll see,” Erissa said.
“Also, you might not want to speak once we get there,” Belle said. “Your voice is rough and will certainly stand out.”
I gaped at her. But my voice did seem rough compared to their singsong voices.
It wasn’t long before I saw what I could only assume is the territory of the Fae. The fairies made their homes inside the trees, but the Fae’s sat atop them like open-air palaces. Large branches created archways and bridges linking close-knit trees that were larger than any I’d seen. The trunks were wide enough to serve as floors. Some rooms were closed off by partitions of vine and leaves. The furniture that I could see grew from the wood, similar to the fairy’s, but these were polished and elaborate instead of simple carved pieces.
My awe turned to disgust when I remembered that this was all fueled by captive people. My anger made me unafraid, as I followed Erissa and Belle into the Unseelie Court.
I kept my head held high, as we wove through the massive treetop palace, passing Fae and fairies alike. Erissa stopped at the top of a staircase that led down into the base of a massive tree trunk. As we stepped down the staircase, I braced myself for the sight of imprisoned people in a miserable dungeon. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
The so-called dungeon was like the most lavish hotel in a magical land. People lounged on soft beds piled with pillows, leafy canopies able to afford them privacy when they slept. Mis-matched pieces of fancy furniture were set around the open space to create living spaces. It looked like they had been stolen from mansions throughout the ages, with a mind to bring a familiar comfort to the humans. Tables were piled high with vegetables, nuts and berries. Pitches of juices and wine were set out next to wooden goblets. My jaw dropped as I took it all in.
Gradually people began to notice us and stopped what they were doing to stand and face us. They looked like they were waiting for instructions. It was then that I remembered that I looked like a Fae.
“Oh umm, I’m not actually a Fae. I’m a human, and I’m here to rescue you,” I said.
The people looked between each other, some wary and others curious. I scanned their faces, my gaze falling on a girl who looked at me with a glimmer of hope.
“I can take you home to your families,” I said, looking at the girl.
She gulped. “How?”
“I can create a portal to send you home. I have magic, like the Fae. We just have to get you out of the palace first,” Erissa spoke up.
“Do you expect a group of humans to just walk out of here? And how do we know this isn’t a trick? She doesn’t look human,” a man said.
“I can show you. I just need a volunteer,” Erissa replied.
“I’ll do it.” The hopeful girl stepped forward.
Erissa created the same pointy-eared shimmery look that she did for me. A murmur of excitement spread through the room, and others stepped forward. Soon, it looked like we were all ready to make our escape. But I noticed a teenage boy sitting alone at the back of the room.
“Are you ready to get transformed?” I asked him. “I think you’re the last one.”
“I don’t want to,” he said.
“It doesn’t hurt. I promise,” I replied.
“No,” he said with a frown, “I don’t want to leave.”
I stared at him for a moment. “Why wouldn’t you want to go home? Your parents must really miss you,” I tried.
“This place is better than my home.” He crossed his arms and looked away. “My parents…well, they don’t miss me.”
I didn’t know this boy’s parents or what his life was like at home, so I didn’t try to convince him that his home was better. I thought quickly. I couldn’t leave this boy here to miss his only chance to come back to the human world. At least, not without being certain.
“I’m sure there is someone that you would like to see again,” I said.
I scanned his face, and I saw it light up for a brief moment. But he shook his head.
“I mean, there is a girl, but I don’t think she misses me. We’ve never even hung out outside of work.”
“I know she misses you,” I told him.
He glanced at me sceptically.
“I know,” I continue, “because you’re still here. The Fae wouldn’t have any need for you unless someone in the human world missed you.”
The boy looked at me longer this time, and something in my gaze must have convinced him. He stood up and walked over to Erissa.
I sauntered up the stairway, casually looking around to make sure the way was clear. I turned and nodded to Erissa before continuing on. Belle flew beside me, showing me the way out. Erissa sent a handful of people to follow a few steps behind. She was making sure everyone was spread out enough, so that it didn’t appear suspicious. Afterwards, she would bring up the rear and make sure no one got lost.
I walked down the hall at an agonizingly slow pace. I wanted to run out of this palace, but I knew I had to set an example. Whenever I passed a real Fae, my heart skipped a beat. Still, I nodded my head and touched two fingers to my forehead in the greeting that Belle had taught me. So far, everyone had returned the gesture, and no one seemed to notice anything amiss.
Erissa had explained that the Fae shouldn’t be able to detect the human’s absence until we crossed over the border of the Unseelie Court. At that point, they would be alerted by the significant loss of magic, like how we only notice a power outage because things turn off. When that happened, we would run. I only hoped they didn’t figure out right away which way we had gone.
Belle stopped and held out a hand to signal for me to stop. We had reached the border, but we couldn’t cross until the others caught up. I had to ensure we all had enough time to make it out.
I leaned casually against a tree branch banister, and started chatting with the group that came up behind me. They played along, making sure not to step onto the staircase leading down from the trees. From the looks of it, Belle had taken us to an entrance that wasn’t frequently used. Pretty soon, we had a large group gathered, and I knew we would stand out if anyone came by. I silently urged the others along, trying not to look antsy. I sighed when I saw Erissa trailing behind the last couple clusters of people.
Then, I saw a Fae approaching us from another direction. I glanced back to Erissa. I didn’t know what to do. If we took off running when the rest of the group arrived, this Fae could give chase or alert the other Fae to our location. We needed to convince her that nothing was unusual.
The Fae woman’s eyes roamed the group as she walked closer, and her brows scrunched together. I tried to think of a reason for such a large gathering near an exit. Erissa and the rest of the group were nearing, and I hoped that no one would panic. And then I thought of our excuse.
I turned to the approaching group and yelled, “Happy Birthday!”
I only hoped that the Fae celebrated birthdays like humans did. The others caught on, and a chorus of enthusiastic “Happy Birthdays” rang out. When the Fae walked past, I smiled in that apologetic way you do when your friends are causing a ruckus, and touched my fingers to my forehead. The Fae smiled back and returned the greeting.
We all kept up the hugs and chatter until the Fae woman was out of sight. We gave her a few minutes to make sure she was far enough away before we crossed the border. Belle told the group to follow her glowing wings as fast as they could and flew off.
We raced down the stairs after her and Erissa, who tried to fly at a pace we could keep up with. It was obvious the Fae would be able to catch us, if they knew where to look. It was important that we make it into the forest quickly.
For a few tense moments it was only pounding feet and the sharp intake of breath. Then, we were out of the clearing and under the shade of dense vegetation. But we couldn’t stop yet.
Erissa had picked out a spot that would be far enough into the woods to hide what she would have to do. We continued running after her until she stopped ahead and began tracing markings along the ground. The last of the group caught up to us right as she seemed to finish and turned to look around. That’s when her eyes went wide.
I looked behind us to see a group of Fae sprinting toward us. They were unearthly fast. Erissa flew into the air and began muttering rapidly above the markings. Then she opened her eyes.
“Go,” she yelled as a portal swirled to life behind her.
I didn’t even pause to say goodbye as I leapt through the portal, hoping that the others would make it.
“Ugh, I still can’t find the match to this sock,” my sister cries out. “I’m just going to throw it out.”
“Don’t do that,” I say with a fond smile, thinking of my friend Erissa. “Just hold onto it. You never know when that sock might turn up.”
My sister sighs and stuffs the sock back into her drawer. I consider that deed a small measure of repayment for all the lives saved by a scared little fairy.
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-Clever & WTF