Chapter Seventeen

Bright emerald green and bluebells filled Merry's 3-D vision and demi-fae in every color of the rainbow dotted the horizon. The sudden disappearance from his bedroom and reappearance in a field of bluebells left Merry dizzy and he held onto Quinn's arm to steady himself until his vision cleared. When it did, he realized they were standing in a sea of blue beneath the largest tree Merry had ever seen. It stood proud in the midst of the flowers, its massive limbs bowing low to the ground and resting gently in the flowers. The tree branches spanned nearly the entire field.

"Wow," Merry breathed, as he looked up into the canopy.

"Be we oak," Quinn said with pride. "She be as old as time heself."

"How tall is it?"

"She reach the heavens."

Sometimes Merry had trouble reading facial expressions, like right now, and he couldn't tell whether Quinn was serious.

"I spake true," Quinn assured, as he put and arm around Merry and guided him beneath the tree.

Its trunk was massive and Merry guessed it to be at least fifty feet wide. "Wow," he said again as he looked up into the canopy with appreciation, fully enchanted by the tree. Something tapped his shoulder and he turned, thinking it was Quinn.

Quinn leaned against the tree, arms crossed over his chest, watching Merry from six feet away. Merry figured his mind was playing tricks on him and he went back to studying the tree. He turned slowly, admiring the massive branches and rich green leaves of the canopy. Overcome with a sudden desire to spread his arms and spin, he extended his arms, closed his eyes, and began to turn.

Warm sunlight filtered through the tree and felt warm on his skin as he breathed in the fresh air around him. The bluebells parted, allowing his softly shod feet to feel the soft earth beneath him. Bliss filled him as nature seemed to take him into her arms, as if to welcome him home again. He felt secure, no longer afraid, at peace within for the first time in as long as he could remember.

Mid-twirl, something tapped him on the shoulder again. He stopped spinning, momentarily dizzy, and looked around. Nothing. Surely, it was Sadb up to her usual antics. "Stop it, Lady Sadb," he said as he began to twirl again.

Something tapped him on the shoulder yet again. He stopped abruptly, nearly tripping over his feet in the process. This time Quinn laughed. "What?" Merry was defensive.

"Do ye not see what be right above ye?"

Merry looked up to find the very tip of a branch poised to tap his shoulder again. It withdrew quickly, seemingly embarrassed for having been caught in the act.

Merry turned and gaped at Quinn. "No freakin' way!"

Quinn chuckled and nodded. "She wish ye attention."

"I-it's alive?"

"Be certain she be. Top o' the morn to ye, Dáira," he greeted the tree. The tiny branch reached down and began to play with Quinn's hair. A second little branch coyly reached out to meet the first and together they gave a small tug on a lock. Quinn swatted them away. "She be a bit of a prankster, if I do say so meself. Don't be a stone, say hi."

Merry snorted. "Right. Like I'm going to talk to a tree."

"Ye don't greet the lady, she take it as effrontery."

"A whatery?"

"She take offense to ye."

Merry gave Quinn a sidelong glance before looking up into the canopy and offering the tree a small wave. "Hi, Dara," he said softly, skeptically.

The annoying little branch reached out, tickled his ear, and quickly withdrew again. Merry laughed as he shied from it with a hand to his ear.

Quinn put an arm around him and kissed the side of his head. "If ye wish 'im to take a likin' to ye, don't be givin' 'im grief, Dáira."

Suddenly, the bluebells came alive with a cacophony of sounds, an orchestra abruptly set to tuning. Merry winced as the noise filled his ears and looked around for the offending ensemble, but saw only bluebells.

"Th-the bluebells play music?"

"The demi-fae be preparin' for we rade."

"In the bluebells?"

"To be certain. We bells have a fine part in we music."

Ah, okay, that explained everything. NOT. "We're gonna have music?"

Quinn's brows shot up as he looked down at Merry. "How ye expect to have ye a rade with no music?"

"I-I don't know. I've never been to a rah-yay before," he said lamely.

"Surely ye have seen a parade?"

Merry had been to a parade once. His mom took him to the Rose Parade on New Year's Day when he was ten years old. She'd also arranged for him to help build a float. After a week of nearly freezing his ass off in the refrigerated warehouse of the Rose Palace, and coming home every night with flower glue stuck to every part of his being, it was a thrill to finally see the float he helped build in the parade. And Quinn was right. Nearly every float played music as it passed by and there were a ton of marching bands in the parade.

"Yeah, and there was music."

Of course, after seeing the Rose Queen's float, all he could dream about after that was becoming a Rose Parade Queen and wearing a tiara.

Conlaoch suddenly appeared, hovering on the air in front of them. "Lord Conlaoch an Glas, in the service of we Prince of Fairy, He Majesty Quinn Malloy O'Cuinn, son of we Queen Muirgan of we High Court of Fairy, Queen of Flesh and Bone, Bearer of Hands of Fire and Water, reporting, Ye Majesty! We be ready to begin!" he shouted over the dissonance of the tuning instruments.

Quinn winced at the noise. "Ye be sure we instruments be ready?"

"Aye, Sire!"

As if on cue, the cacophony quieted and formed the beginning of something resembling music, and demi-fae floated up from the bells, each bearing an instrument as they set to flight on the air.

The tiny little demi-fae who had dared to question Quinn about the crown appeared, trembling yet again, as she faced him. "I bring he crown, Sire."

"Ye be a good lass, Ethne the Wee."

Out of nowhere, a small crown, well, a tiara really, made of glass and diamonds appeared hovering on the air. Merry didn't think he'd ever seen anything more beautiful.

"Álainn!" Quinn exclaimed.

Merry couldn't help it. He reached out and touched it with a fingertip. "Beautiful," he breathed.

"Aye, be what I say. Álainn."

"Ay-lin," Merry repeated in a whisper.

"Aye, and it be for ye, me Merry." Quinn went to place it on Merry's head and he leaned away.

"M-me? W-why? I'm not a p-prince or anything."

"Ye be me wee dote, me Consort."

The demi-fae gasped and swarmed Merry. They lit on his head, his shoulders, even the tips of his ears, and began to pet his cheek and stroke his hair. It took every ounce of strength Merry possessed not to bat them away.

"What's a Consort?"

"Be what I say," Quinn said with pride. "Ye move off me Merry, now," he ordered the demi-fae as he set the beautiful tiara on Merry's head. It fit perfectly. Quinn stepped back, his eyes twinkling just like they did right before, well, when they did that.

The demi-fae froze mid-air as if someone had stopped time and silence descended on the air. Quinn admired Merry and, after a long moment, he leaned in and kissed Merry's cheek. The cheek that hadn't before been Fairy Kissed, and it began to tingle. "Ye be beautiful, Merry."

Time began again and collective "awwwws" followed by long sighs filled the air.

"We rade!Quinn shouted so abruptly, Merry nearly jumped out of his skin, and music began.
Two white horses flew down to meet them. Flew. Flew. OHMYGOD! Flying horses!

Before Merry could panic, demi-fae carried him aloft and gently placed him on the back of one of the winged creatures. He'd never ridden a horse before, let alone a winged one, and he had no idea what to do. Quinn mounted his horse and, sensing Merry's fear, reached and took Merry's hand in his.

"Use ye other hand to hold he mane, me love." Quinn demonstrated with a fist full of white mane.

"I-it won't hurt it? Isn't it kind of like pulling its hair?"

Quinn chuckled softly. "Be fine, Merry, and ye need hold on tight as we take flight."

"F-f-flight?" Panic built quickly in Merry. "Were gonna fly?"

"Aye. Ye be right ready?"

"No!" As the small word escaped him, the demi-fae took to flight and his winged horse leaped into the air.

Conlaoch suddenly called a halt to the rade. Time stopped, the music came to a screeching halt, and everyone froze, including Merry's winged horse. Okay, it was bad enough that he was half-naked, only bluebells covering his essentials, a tree had tapped him on the shoulder, he was wearing a consort hat, or crown, or tiara. Whatever! Now, he was frozen in mid air on a winged horse. He began to wonder if he was hallucinating.

"What be the matter, Conlaoch?" Quinn asked, anger plain on his face.

Conlaoch gestured to Sadb. "She not spend she five minute with Nolan. We rade canno' proceed lest we have we a leader."

Chapter Sixteen                                           Table of Contents                                        Chapter Eighteen
©2012-2017 Cody Kennedy. All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment