[This is Part Two of the story started yesterday]
The black-lipped fairy smiled.
“Why me?” he asked, his chin tipped up defiantly between the fairy’s fingers.
“We are wicked things,” the fey said, “and we like to be amused. Whether you last a day or a week, this game shall certainly amuse us.”
“What game?” asked Rohan, feeling smaller as the fires of the fey grew tall and towered over him. The black-lipped one came close, the heat dripping from her touch. But when he tried to step back again the ground shifted and saplings grew, up around his legs and held him fast. The other fey became a rustling wall of “game” and “play” and other murmured words repeated menacingly.
Rohan tried to peel himself back, to lean away from the fairy’s touch, but the binds grew up his back and over his shoulders and held him fast. The black-lipped fairy drew close, close enough to kiss him.
They say the fairies can look into your eyes and know what you want most. And that is why if you ever find yourself so close, you must never look at them straight on. But poor Rohan. His eyes found hers, and she smiled.
“This world is beautiful,” said the fairy, and this time her voice didn’t echo. This time the line was loud and clear and sharp enough that Rohan winced.
“This world is filled with things to love.”
And then she kissed each of his ears.
“Love yourself, or love another.”
And each ear.
“Or love the ground, or the sinking sun.”
Then his lips.
“Love until you fall in love.” And these words she said with her lips on his. “Until you feel you’ll break apart from loving…”
And when her eyes, small lights dancing in them, found his again, she said, louder now for the group of chanting fairies to hear:
“The first thing you fall in love with, be it the sun through the trees, or the vibrant and always changing leaves, or a girl, or a day, will be your last. And you shall be a tree in our forest.”
The fairies hissed and cracked with joy. And the black-lipped fairy stepped back, smirking, her head tipped to one side
“How long will you last, Rohan Black?”
The sapling binds vanished. A faint glow poured into the forest, the first sign of a far-off dawn. With the snap of a twig, the faeries disappeared.
Rohan felt something crack inside him, a strange pain that had nothing to do with his aching body. He slipped to the forest floor. The light began to shift and spread, tinting the forest with soft color. The day was just beginning to warm, that lovely air just cool enough to remind you of the magic at the seam between night and day. Young Rohan noticed all these things, and then remember the words in the fairy’s game. Could one really fall in love with the world? The crack inside him deepened. And behind it, something hard, a child’s stubborn will. He would not lose the fairy’s game. He would last.
Rohan took one last look at the moss, and the trees, and the first signs of day. And then he tore a strip from his shirt, a dark red cloth, and bound his eyes against it all.
[to be continued]