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Submission by: Ina Manley

Cruel Humanity

Once upon a time, four words that seem to have introduced every fairy tale I was told as a child. We'll continue that tradition here. For this is a fairy tale, even if it's not suitable for innocent ears. This is a story of innocence, or the preservation of it. There are few innocent beings in our world. Though each of us were born innocent, most lose that quality before they've spent a full year in their newly discovered fumbling forms. The closest thing a person can achieve to a babe's magic of innocence, is purity. Which, in itself is a rare and beautiful thing.

Once upon a time, in a place not so far away (from the heart), a beautiful young girl sat on a river bank singing a sweet melody of love and laughter. Before her, the Clear River, a strip of crystalline waters divides the kingdoms of Valoria and Canisare.

Unknown to the girl, a group of pixies, hidden under a wild rose bush, dance to the wondrous rhythm of the music. The whimsical fairies had been placing early morning dew drops on a patch of dove white lilies, when they head Kalli's soft voice being carried on a cool breeze. The combination of her voice, long golden curls and youth, made for a liquor no pixie could pass up, to them it was as if honey dripped from her lips.

The scene looks like something plucked straight out of heaven, but all was not well on the east bank on Clear River. The girl's singing swiftly deteriorated into sad mutterings and then a torrent of tears. Kalli had not been singing out of joy, but to try and dispel the horrid images that were running through her mind. The fey ceased their dancing to peer past petal and thorn to look at the girl, who was now shaking as if possessed. Two twin rivers poured down her face, eager to join their larger brother flowing gracefully before them.

Cobweb, the eldest of the fairies looked around at his brethren, "Elucid, slyest of all our fellows, sneak away with one of her tears to show us her sorrows." The pea-pot-pixie obeys without question, returning in a moment with a handful of warm salty sadness. The pixies gather round the their brother and stare deeply into the drops on his hands, which begin to tell their tale. The fairies see the events of the previous night through Kalli's eyes. The first thing they see is her mother busy cooking at the hearth of their cottage home. Then her older sister enters the room carrying their twin baby brothers in her arms. They sleep peacefully, smiling a blissful smile that belongs only to those new to the world. The endless love Kalli felt for her family brings sighs from many of the fey. "Sarah when will papa be home?" the pixies hear the girl ask. "Soon Kalli, it's almost dark and father would never leave us alone while the sun sleeps," Sarah answered confidently, but several hours pass and there is no sign of the family's provider. Dinner sits cold on the table waiting for the hunter to return. "Can we eat now momma?" the young girl ask impatiently. "Now Kallista, you know better than that, we must wait for your father," Kalli's mother frowns. One of the babies begins to bawl and his brother soon follows suit, but mother rocks them back to sleep singing the same melody that had drawn the fairies to the girl. She sings the song all the way through twice, by then the babes are fast asleep.

"Father must have killed a great stag, nothing else would have taken him so long to drag home," the confidence has all but drained from Sarah's voice. "Kalli, be a dear and fetch more wood for the fire," the girls' mother says setting the twins back down in their crib. The little blonde hops up pulling back her hair, the same way she's seen her mother do it countless times, "Yes momma," she skips out into the night to gather fuel for the hearth.. After a few minutes in the grove behind the cottage , Kalli returns with an armload of logs.

A large 'thump' is heard from inside the house, it is immediately followed by screams from all four occupants. The girl dumps her burden and runs to the closest window to a catch a glimpse of cold reality that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Her father, a bear of a man, lays lifeless in a pool of his own blood at the threshold. Three wicked forms dance about the room, performing their heinous acts. "Goblins!" Elucid cries out upon the sight of one of the creature's twisted face. "Demons!" Tranci, another of the young sprite shouts, turning away from the grim images before her, but Kalli's eyes are locked on the horrid sights. The fragile young girl was not spared the coming visions of death.

"Silence," the elder fey chastises, trying desperately to hold the spell's integrity.

One of the beasts kicks over the crib. Then smashes the first twins soft skull under his boot heel, while his brother is tossed screaming into the dying flames of the hearth. His screams are the most terrifying sound the girl has ever heard, they ring in her ears like thunderclaps. Kalli tries to run, but she can't even blink. The bloodcurdling sound holds her fast, as she watches her mother and sister brutalized and violated by the creatures. Soon all her family is dead, but that does not keep the beasts from continuing their work. Finally she breaks free from the spell of death, and takes flight to the forest. Not caring if branches tare at her hair and skin, she charges through the dense plant life, putting as much distance between herself and the demons that took her family, before she falls unconscious from fear and exhaustion.

The vision ends.

Cobweb takes the tear from Elucid's hands, allowing a few of his own to fall into pool of grief, "Such sorrows our world has never seen. Tranci, guide this human sapling to our Elysium Fields.

Tranci's gossamer wings begin to flutter and she takes to the air. Kalli lets out a small 'gasp' as she sees the pixie. The fair-haired fey's body begins to glow as if there were a star in her belly, she shines bright a torch in the soft light of the steadily rising sun. The girl is immediately entranced by the light, and blindly follows the fairy along the river's edge.

"I will take this to our king, surely he will know what should be done. The rest of you make dew drops of your tears before the sun is high," the wise old pixie stares down at his hands in disbelief for a few moments, then makes his way towards the Mother Tree, ancient home of the fey.

In the gaudily decorated great hall of the fey, Cobweb approaches the king's servant, a fairy with the legs and horns of a young , "Puck, I must speak with our lord, King Oberon!"

"Why old Cobweb, what troubles you so?" Puck asks concerned over his friends grief.

The old pixie 'sighs' and says, "The greatest grief I have ever seen. Oberon must see these," he raises his cupped hands, "Before they dry!" For the first time in his long life, Cobweb sees Puck's mischievous smile disappear from his childlike face. It is replaced by a dread look of terror, "Yes this way," he opens the large doors, carved from the innards of the Mother Tree, behind him and motions for the elder fey to proceed. Cobweb hears Puck's cloven hooves follow him into the king's audience chamber, an enormous room (by fairy standards) whose walls are lined with tapestries woven from spools of silver and gold.

King Oberon sits upon a crystal throne that looks to have sprouted from the ground beneath him. The thrown to his left, that of Queen Titania, is empty. He wears a troubled look that matches that of the pixies before him. Cobweb says nothing, but reaches out to share the liquid grief with his king. "What's this?" Oberon asks reaching out. The tears, eager to tell their story once, again answer for the old pixie.

"I understand your concern Cobweb," the king says letting the tears fall to the floor, and looking up to face his sometimes counselor, "But no demons or goblins be these. This heinous act was committed by men. Men who wore masks because they were too cowardly to show their faces, but men just the same. Queen Titania has seen these days coming, foretold of a time when men would forget about our magic, when honor and chivalry would only exist in stories of old. She's been driven mad by these visions. Our time has past, the world will become a cold and uncaring place, and there is nothing any of us can do."

"But there must be something sire! What of the girl, she is no longer an innocent, but we have both looked into her heart, and it is pure."the old pixie begs.

"She is human, as she grows she will become like the others, corrupt and filled to the brim with hatred." Oberon replies with venom in his voice. "Not if she were to learn the ways of the fey, then she would grow to be as kind and gentle as she is fair. We must try." Cobweb retorts.

"Very well, Puck, take the child, Kallista high into the mountains and teach her our ways."

"Yes your grace, I shall leave immediately," Puck exits the hall with purpose in his stride.

Queen Titania burst into the room with a wild look in her emerald eyes, "The time has come we are all doomed!" The queen of the fey disappears in a burst of blinding light. "Tiger Lily," the king calls to one sprites floating in the corner of the chamber, "Spread the word, tell the fey they must leave this place, if they can bare it. To stay in the Elysium Fields means death!" Oberon looks to the elder pixie, "And what of you Cobweb, will you leave the field behind?"

"No your grace, I was born out of the Elysium Fields, and I will die with them." the elder stands firm.

"Then come with me now, and witness our demise."

Between the Elysium Fields and the Clear River.

"Valoria and Canisare have gone to war," the king states as the crystalline waters take on a polluted look and the poppies of the field begin to wither, then crumble to dust, "It is a war of greed and hatred, humankind has finally reared its ugly head!" A tide of festering blood surges down the river, Cobweb, King Oberon and all the fey in the Elysium Fields, disappear in wisp of bittersweet smoke .

To Belle for being pure of heart.

copyright 1998 Jason M Manley

Comments and or replies might be directed too: Ina Manley

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