Who doesn’t love a good fairy-tale?
Did you land in the middle? Go to Page 1 to start the story.
*Narration Change. Ciaran is no longer telling the story from first person perspective.*
The next morning Ciaran awakens to find that Áine is already out and about visiting folks and a half pot of dandelion root coffee is on the stove, still piping hot. He pours a cup and takes in the sights and sounds. Everything seems as it should be. Perhaps today will be a good day to talk with Donnchadh, The Tinker as most people called him because of his love of gadgets, metalworking and scientific experimentation. He might have some thoughts about last night’s sighting, if you could call it that. Or should it be Eamhair, The Seer who could give some insight about it. Of course, as he and Áine agreed, it would be best not to run around telling folks:
“Oh, the stalkers are coming, the stalkers are coming!”
But it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few questions and see if anyone else might have seen something strange or have some thoughts on what sort of creature might buzz like a big bug but not quite and hover around above the tree tops at night casting a shadow that doesn’t look quite like a bird. First, and foremost though, how about going back down to the fishing spot under the big black walnut tree to see what there might be to see this morning?
A Fairy-tale Setting
On the way down to the opening in the thick growth of arrow bamboo which grows along the banks of the nearby creek there is a grouping of trees common to these parts called honey locusts. These trees have some thorns on them that are sharp, strong and come in lengths of 4 inches (10 cm) or longer. They can be very useful for making tools and putting things together but if you don’t watch where you’re going they can very easily go through a shoe or a foot. Most of the people who grew up here know to watch out for them but a few have ended up with some pretty nasty injuries to their feet over the years which has served as a reminder to themselves and others not to just wander around willy-nilly without looking where you’re stepping. Snakes, spiders, scorpions and other biting, stinging critters can also give one a bad day. Never turn a log over with the bottom towards you, always away, just in case there’s a snake underneath waiting to strike. Just one of the many things kids learn growing up in these woods. So, as Ciaran made his way past the thorny honey locusts to the grove of black walnuts he was looking closely, especially when he approached the biggest, darkest of the trees in that particular grove growing just a few steps away from the bank of Aodh Creek.
This spot has been a favorite of Ciaran’s for as long as he can remember. As a child he spent many summer days fishing for catfish, perch or crawdads for a quick and easy meal or gathering the black walnuts whose shells were hard as rock but the sweet, tasty meat inside made them worth the effort. But on this day, he saw something up in the top branches of the tree he had never seen before. Something glimmering and shiny like gossamer but in the shape of a wing but impossibly large for an insect or even a bird for that matter. “What the Hel?” he thought to himself. But it was too far up in the branches to see it very well. If he wanted to examine it, he was going to have to climb up into the top of the tree. Oh, in his younger days he had climbed this tree many times before but he was older now and not feeling as indestructible as he once did. So the prospect of making it all the way up there where the branches became thin and the drop was probably more than 100 feet (30 meters) if he slipped seemed daunting. But still, whatever that was up there looked like something out of….well out of a fairy-tale.
Oh sure, Ciaran believed in the fair folk. Just about everyone in this community did and some of the traders even have arrangements to exchange items and services with a group of them who live up in the Appalachian Mountains to the east. Some people with “the sight” as it’s called have even seen them around here in these woods but as everyone knows, they have a way of not being seen when they don’t want to be. So, Ciaran, like many others, believe but have never actually seen one of them. Still, a fairy-tale was no trivial matter in these parts. Could this thing up in the tree be an actual fairy wing and if so, how did it get there? Surely it must have hurt to lose it? Is the shining one still around and are they injured? Of course they’re injured, fuck, they lost a wing! Do they need help? Better tread carefully though because everyone knows that dealings with the fair folk can go either exuberantly well or horrible wrong depending on their nature and the circumstances. Not every fairy-tale has a happy ending. In fact a lot of them don’t.
You see, this group of people are descended from a loosely based collective of folks who once lived in cities to the west just as the world was going through major upheavals and changes. These people weren’t like most other citizens in the world at that time. They didn’t think like them, they didn’t act like them and they had a different set of values from the majority of mainstream society. Even their spiritual beliefs were outside of the norm. They could see the direction things were moving in and knew they didn’t want to remain in the cities as life was becoming increasingly difficult for common folks there. They were members of a group who called themselves the Alliance of Pagan Eclectics or A.P.E. for short. To this day, members of the tribe colloquially refer to themselves and others as apes as a nod to their origins. Grandfather and the other A.P.E.s loaded up trucks full of equipment, supplies, and other necessities and, at the invitation of some friends who owned some land in the Piney Woods, moved out here to establish a permanent encampment in the forest. They brought their values, their beliefs and their ways with them. This fairy-tale is just getting started. Ciaran heads back up the path to Donnchadh The Tinker’s roundhouse to borrow a ladder.