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| Category: || Fantasy Fiction |
Posted:|| November 11, 2019 Views: 344|
Chapter 26 of the book The Piper
"The Piper, part 26"
Piper is a young musician whose grandfather has passed away, leaving Piper an orphan to be raised by the music guild where he is an apprentice. After the funeral, Piper returns alone to play his flute at his grandfather's grave, and a Fae appears--a creature considered swift, strong and deadly--and compliments Piper's flute playing. Captain Burkehart comes to the rescue and escorts Piper back to the castle. During the next few weeks the Fae approaches Piper on several occasions and says he has some secrets he needs to share, but each time they are interrupted by a vigilant Captain Burkehart. Meanwhile, Piper continues his musical education under the direction of the popular performer Master Braun, including traveling with a performing troupe. A wolf attack leaves Piper separated from the musicians and in the hands of the Fae, Redd-Leif Summerstorm who tells Piper he is half-Elven and Piper's Elven mother (Melodica) is alive and wants to see him.
End of Previous Chapter
Redd-Leif watched the two boys frolicking with the pixies. He felt a sense of . . . what? Pride? Relief? Fulfillment? Redemption for having left Piper behind fifteen years ago? Whatever it was, he was thankful Lynx had asked to join them on the journey home, and relieved Piper had agreed. Perhaps, Piper wanted another person around to act as a buffer between the two of them, or perhaps he found Lynx an eager font of information and was learning all he could. Whatever the reason, it warmed Redd-Leif's heart to see them together. Soon, his family would be complete. A wave of emotion welled in his breast and climbed into his throat. Redd-Leif reached to daub the moisture from the corner of his eye, then started clapping in time with the music.
Piper craned his neck, attempting to see the top of Hidden Falls. Water thundered down in two tiers. He could see the water at the bottom of the first tier crashing into the canyon wall and abruptly changing direction at a right angle. A surging pool formed at the bottom of the second tier before cascading across rocks and boulders into a roaring stream. Lush forest vegetation grew right up to the edge of the water, thriving on the moisture. The aromas of spring flora and water mingled and scented the air. Mini rainbows attempted to emerge at various levels. Piper shook his head. How could anything this beautiful, this large and this noisy be hidden?
He paused to look downstream, checking the foliage for unusual movement. What am I hoping to see? I declined Captain Burkehart's offer of rescue.
A knot formed in Piper's stomach. This is it. In a few minutes, there will be no turning back. He adjusted the strap on his pack and resumed his trek, following Redd-Leif and Lynx to a spot near the edge of the lower falls.
They nodded to each other to indicate they were ready and Redd-Leif signaled them to move forward. Lynx went first, hopping from one stone to the next as if it were a game until he disappeared behind the falls. Redd-Leif moved deliberately from stone-to-stone. Piper took a deep breath and stepped forward. As previously instructed, he placed his feet exactly where Redd-Leif positioned his. A dozen steps later, Piper found himself behind the waterfall staring in awe at the back of the thundering cascade. Drops of water glistened in the sunlight like crystal prisms creating dapples of restless color.
He wasn't certain how long he stood mesmerized by the waterfall, but he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Redd-Leif mouthing the words, "Beautiful, isn't it?" Then Redd-Leif motioned for Piper to follow and moved toward the back of the cavern.
Sunlight flickered into the cavern in iridescent waves, growing dimmer as it filtered deeper into the enclosure. Piper took a moment to let his eyes adjust and study his surroundings. The cavern floor was slick with moisture from the spray and sloped down toward the cascading water.
He looked up to check on his companions. Lynx was nowhere in sight. Redd-Leif waited near the back of the cavern. If it weren't for the light shimmering with a silver-blue tinge on the Fae's skin, he would have been invisible in the shadows. Silver-blue skin? I thought that only happened in direct moonlight. Piper proceeded cautiously, looking at his feet and testing his footing as he moved upward so he wouldn't slip. Thankfully, the rock floor was pitted, uneven, and covered in soft moss, which made it easier to find footholds. Redd-Leif reached out and took Piper's hand to help him navigate the last few steps.
"Thank you!" Piper shouted, but he couldn't hear his own voice above the din of the waterfall.
Redd-Leif seemed to understand and nodded, then he turned and disappeared into the rock. Piper hesitated. Was this some sort of faerie magic? He put a hand on the wall in front of him. It was solid. From the side, Redd-Leif reached out of the shadows and pulled Piper toward him.
Hidden at the back of the cavern was a natural passageway about thirty meters long formed by a break in the rock that created two opposing walls. The ceiling rose several meters above. The resulting corridor was wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side, though Piper chose to follow a few steps behind Redd-Leif. The ground in the passageway was dry and fairly level, and the roar of the rushing water diminished with each step. At the end of the passageway, Piper could see Lynx standing in the sunlight looking off into the distance.
"Is this the entrance to the faerie realm?" Piper asked when they were about halfway down the corridor.
Redd-Leif turned and walked backwards a few steps. "Unofficially, my boy. Many of us do consider the falls the border to our lands. We will be at the official entrance in a few minutes."
When he stepped into the sunlight next to Lynx, Piper shivered. He hadn't realized how chilly the air had been inside the cavern until he felt the warmth of the sun on his skin. And was that a bird singing? He sighed in gratitude to be able to hear again.
"Glad you finally made it, Piper. You almost missed them." Lynx pointed across the clearing. "Beautiful, aren't they?"
Piper gasped. "It's a group of faeries, isn't it? Can we get closer? I've always wanted to see a faerie up close."
"Technically, they're called a frolick of faeries," Redd-Leif corrected.
"A frolick?" Piper looked puzzled.
"Yes, and please don't gape. Fairies consider themselves quite normal and get irritated when others stare at them. Don't they, Lynx?" Redd-Leif raised an eyebrow in Lynx's direction.
"Yes, Papa. It's just I get so excited to see them." To the side, Lynx whispered to Piper, "I don't get to see faeries very often so it's hard not to stare. It gets me in trouble every time."
Redd-Leif sighed. "But it's still impolite, Lynx."
Lynx shrugged. "I know." Then his countenance brightened. "Look, they're coming this way. Hold still, Piper, so you don't scare them."
Redd-Leif chuckled. "Great advice, Lynx. Let's see if you can follow it."
The faeries flew over and surrounded the three of them. Their bodies looked like perfectly proportioned mini elves, ranging in height from one to three inches. Their colorful wings varied with each invividual. Some were as transparent as dragonfly wings; some were as vibrant as stained glass windows. Their voices were lyrical and pleasant to the ear, especially after the deafening roar of the falls.
Piper's eye grew wide. "Wow. They're gorgeous."
One faerie broke free from the others and flew over to examine Piper. "Did I hear them call you 'Piper?'"
She clapped her hands. "Oh, magnificent! I am the first to greet you, son of Summerstorm." With that, she flew closer and kissed Piper on the cheek. "Welcome, Piper. We are thrilled you are here."
"Thank you." Piper smiled and put a hand to his cheek where the faerie had kissed him. "I am happy to be here." And he was happy, happier than he'd been in some time.
While faeries came to greet him one-by-one, Piper noticed Redd-Leif conversing with several faeries as if they knew each other well. Lynx seemed especially pleased when one faerie kissed him on the cheek, but the faeries scattered when he let out a yelp of joy.
Redd-Leif laughed. "It seems Lynx is having trouble containing his excitement."
Lynx shrugged. "Sorry, Papa."
Redd-Leif gave Lynx a playful scowl then turned to the faeries. "It's been a pleasure visiting with you, my friends, but I am afraid we need to be on our way." He nodded to the fairy that had kissed Piper. "By your leave, noble one."
"Of course, my gallant friend. It is always a pleasure." She gave him a bow in mid-air.
There was a chorus of farewells and good wishes as Redd-Leif lifted his pack to his shoulder and started down the path, Lynx in tow.
Piper took one last look at the faeries, a huge smile on his face, and hurried to join the others.
|The book continues with The Piper, part 27. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
Cast of Characters
Piper = A musical apprentice, just turned age 15.
Rupert = A musical apprentice. Piper's friend, age 14.
Grand Master Raymond Acker = Head of the music guild. Piper's grandfather. Recently deceased leaving Piper an orphan under the care of the music guild.
Captain Burkehart = Captain of the Guard at Castle Welf
Redd-Leif Summerstorm = A Fae
Master Braun = Troubadour recently promoted to the rank of Master in the music guild at Castle Welf
Sheba = an enchanted creature in wolf form
Blue-Gale = Redd-Leif's brother
Melodica = an Elven female
Raven = Elven; master hunter
Lynx = Ten-year-old son of Redd-Leif and Melodica Summerstorm
Fair Folk = Refers to non-human races sometimes considered magic such as elves, Fae, brownies, sprites, gnomes, dwarfs, etc. Also called elementals.
Thank you to MoonWillow for use of the artwork
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