High above the forest floor, Poppy leaned with her back against the trunk of a large oak tree. Upon awakening, she was once again more than a little confused with her surroundings but more so with the influx of memories of a lifetime of being a human male. The doctor inside of her couldn’t shake the idea that this was all just some drug-induced dream. Lying in ICU, Matt’s body was sure to be subjected to quite a number of medications. There were plenty of pharmacologic mechanisms that produced drug-induced dreams but Poppy concluded with a giggle that turning into a twelve-inch tall fairy was probably not listed as one of the usual side effects.
The green haired pixie realized that Elaine would be having the time of her life with all of this. Matt on the other hand, tried to appreciate the world around him but it always seemed beyond his reach. While he was quick to see the difficulties and horrors of life, she saw beauty and good in everything. Even when she was dreadfully ill with cancer, Elaine was quick to crack a joke with her doctors or give him her best smile. That wonderful smile saved Matt on too many occasions, bringing him back into the light.
Standing on top of the tallest branch, Poppy closed her eyes as the whole forest awakened around her. While enjoying the warmth of the rising sun, the young pixie couldn’t decide whether this was really a dream or not. Looking down at her obviously female figure, the whole gender thing, which should be somewhat traumatic, wasn’t. She was obviously a fairy but there was another self, a male self, who was the newest Neurosurgeon at Eastside Medical Center. Who was she really? Could she be both Matt and Poppy? With a giggle, she threw herself into the morning air. Deep philosophical thoughts were probably not the purview of pixies. Making a decision, Poppy decided uncharacteristically to just go with the flow. It was most likely a trauma-induced dream anyway, if it was real. The green haired pixie smiled, then it really wouldn’t matter. Either way she was sure it would all work out eventually.
As the sun rose higher in the morning sky, movement far below caught Poppy’s attention. Something on the forest floor felt wrong. Diving out of the sky, the green haired pixie glided towards the forest floor far below. Even in the dim light, she spied a half a dozen or so ugly grey goblin like figures moving through the thick underbrush. Quietly landing on a branch, the young pixie couldn’t help but notice that all of the goblins were paying close attention to keep out of the sunlight. The way they moved through the underbrush, she was immediately reminded of the Marine Force Recon teams Matt knew in Vietnam. Watching the interlopers from high above, Poppy realized that they were searching for something. Leaping off the branch, the young pixie flew silently overhead. Positive that whoever the creatures were, they were up to no good.
Quite unawares of the observer above them, the eight greyish goblins quickly traveled through the forest. They had been travelling for the better part of the night and knew that they were way behind schedule for their rendezvous.
“Kernow, you’re late.”
Kernow and his companions came to a stop. Sitting on a small outcropping of rock, smoking a long white pipe, an ancient looking goblin scowled at them contemptuously. Unlike his companions who wore a mix of clothing, the goblin in front of them was well-armored wearing layers of thick lizard hide.
“We had further to travel this night than you, Menadue”
“That’s no excuse; you know how much I dislike the sun. You…are not alone.” Menadue jumped to his feet and threw a handful of black objects into the sky, directly towards an unseen adversary.
“I don’t see anything.”
“Because you’re a fool.” Menadue growled. Jumping to the forest floor, he examined the trees above him. “Come out pixie, I know you’re up there.” Looking at each other, the goblins nervously drew long bronze blades. Where there was one pixie more were sure to follow.
Poppy didn’t say a word as she slipped behind the trunk of a tree high above the creatures. Silently she thanked Laurel. Remembering how she moved in the air allowed Poppy to spin out of the way of the razor-sharp darts. Quickly the young pixie made a decision and glided down towards the forest floor. Now hiding just above the group of goblins, she examined the one called Menadue. One of the first things Poppy noticed, besides the heavy lizard hide he was wearing, was that the creature was well armed. Along with the black darts that flew from his hands, the goblin had pulled from his belt a beautiful slightly curved silver sword. What surprised Poppy was that the sword seemed to be calling out to her.
“She’s smarter than all of you.” Menadue eyed the rising sun with disdain. “We can’t talk here.”
Poppy slipped behind another tree to watch as the goblins below started to fearfully back away from Menadue. Laughing at their cowardice, the ancient creature seemed to gather the darkness about him. In a burst of shadows, the gloom thickened and one by one, the goblins vanished.
Well over a dozen pixies busied themselves inside Morgan Rynder’s home much to the amusement of her sister Breyana. At any one time, there were always a handful of the little fairies coming in and out of the house. When Morgan was home, their numbers usually doubled.
Sitting in front of a coffee table, the eighth grader diligently worked through a series of algebraic equations. Off to the side of the young Irish witch, a green haired pixie made herself comfortable. After the grey goblin like creatures vanished, Poppy was able to find a group of her sisters playing in the forest. When the young pixie began to explain what she witnessed, the group immediately dragged her out of the forest and through the town of Skogshaven. Poppy reflected that after the accident, Matt must have been transported to the ICU at Eastside Medical Center. If that was true, then her ‘other’ body was just up the road. The thought disturbed and fascinated the Doctor part of her all at the same time. Now they were waiting until their Clan Chieftain returned.
Deciding that she hated waiting, Poppy walked over and looked over the young girl’s homework with interest. “Lady Breyana, question number seven should be 11x – 23.”
The young girl smiled at the pixie. “Poppy, please just call me Bree.” Looking over her homework, the teenager began to check her math. Bree was surprised that the new pixie watched her work; normally even her guardians didn’t seem very interested in her school work. Going through the formula once more, Bree found the green haired pixie was correct. “Wow, thanks Poppy. How about this one, can you tell me where I should start?”
As the two worked together, Bree was thrilled for the quick math tutoring by the green haired pixie. Normally, she would have to wait until her sister Morgan or mother came home. What was helpful, Poppy didn’t simply hand out the answers but worked with her on understanding the algebraic formulas and why they worked. “Too bad you’re not my math teacher.” Closing her book, Breyana smiled. The thought of a twelve-inch tall pixie teaching her class was pretty funny. “My teacher Mrs. Armstrong is really nice in all but she isn’t very patient with those who don’t get it at first.”
While concentrating on her English homework, the front door flew open. Bree smiled as her sister entered the house. It was difficult to imagine that Morgan was actually only a few years older than she was. Most of the time the sixteen year old acted her age, at other times Morgan was very much the Princess of the High Sidhe Court. Bree frowned; as usual, her sister was on her cell phone apparently having a discussion with one of the Sidhe nobility. Lately it seemed that only time Morgan was free from having to deal with the problems of the Fae was when she was in school. What was it this time, trolls kidnaping children, knockers going on strike, water sprites trying to drown people in the Connecticut River or was it an Unseelie invasion?
Taking off her maroon Boston University jacket, Morgan dropped her backpack and greeted her sister. “Comtesse Cliona is still having problems with her new roommate.”
The Irish witch giggled. Oh, it was just Cliona.
“I’m glad you’re amused.” The Princess sighed; the poor Sidhe girl had been calling her almost every afternoon since the start of the winter school session. The Comtesse was a lovely person but Morgan didn’t need to hear about every one of Cliona’s problems. Suddenly Morgan felt bad. She knew that the young Sidhe was just lonely. Morgan decided she would have to talk to her mother Rebecca. Perhaps she could get Cliona to stay over at the house a couple of weekends a month. Bree would like that. The North Carolina private school wasn’t all that far away when you travelled by way of the Fae Realm.
Walking into the kitchen, Morgan grabbed two bottles of apple juice, handed one to her sister and started to rummage through her own backpack. “So how was school today?”
As the two girls sat next to one another discussing the day’s activities, Morgan began to look over Bree’s math homework. “Cool, so you didn’t need my help.”
“Actually, Poppy helped, your Highness.” Iris one of Breyana’s pixie guardians said excitedly.
“Your Highness.” As best as she could, never having done it before or even the thought of it crossing her mind, Poppy gave the Sidhe Princess her best curtsey.
Morgan smiled warmly as the green haired pixie curtsied in front of her. “I wasn’t aware that pixies were familiar with algebra. Then again I shouldn’t be all that surprised.” Looking over to Bria, the Chief of the pixie Clan who inhabited Skogshaven, the Fae Princess asked. “Would you mind if Poppy continued to help Bree with her homework?” The pink haired Clan Chieftain had been at school with Morgan all day, one of a dozen pixies that usually followed the Princess.
Bria shook her head. “If she doesn’t mind, I don’t.” She gave the new fairy a questioning look. Xera had told her about the unexpected appearance of a Gan-ainm.
“Oh sure sounds like fun.” Poppy giggled; positive she thought she heard Morgan mumble something about how can math be fun.
Grinning, the Princess of the Summer Court suddenly stood in front of her with a book in hand. “So Poppy, how are you with Trigonometry?”
Later that night, a much smaller group of fairies sat in the kitchen once everyone had finally fallen asleep. Poppy rather enjoyed spending the evening with the Rynders family. Morgan’s mother Rebecca seemed very involved with her two daughters. It was nice to see the three of them sit down for a family dinner. For the last forty years Matt had lived alone with his wife, although they loved each other very much the sound of children was something they both missed. Poppy sighed, looking back they should have adopted.
“Spriggans appearing in the woods isn’t all that surprising.” Zinnia, one of Breyana pixie guardians made a face. “We trade with them on occasion.”
Used as guardians of Fae treasures since ancient times those Spriggan families who lost their hordes, or had none to watch, became nomadic. As a family they would travel from place to place stealing or trading for items they needed. Since they often brought rare items with them, they were grudgingly welcomed although one made sure to check one’s wings after a trade, lest they be stolen.
“I am not interested with the others; it’s the one with the blade that concerns me.” Bria frowned.
“Menadue” Eglantine, the Clans second in command grumbled. Spriggans like many Fae were amoral at best; however, there were some families that held allegiance to the darker Fae cousins of the Unseelie Court. Over the Summer Bria and her sisters did battle with one such family.
The Clan chief nodded.
“Why does he have that blade?” Poppy knew that Menadue was not the owner of the weapon.
“Pixie treasure.” Eglantine slammed her fist on the kitchen counter.
“We don’t exactly have Queens.” Bria explained to Poppy. “However, at times of great peril the clans call forth a Phríomh Ard, a High Chief. One of our greatest was Samphire who did battle with the Aes Sidhe against the hated Fir Bolgs.”
“Is that her blade?”
“We believe so.”
Laurel snuggled against Poppy. She was very happy when she found that her friend had returned. “What was with the shadows? I didn’t think Spriggans were particularly magical.” Like all Fae, they had magic but from the story about the meeting with Menadue, it didn’t seem normal for one to gather shadows and completely disappear.
A purple haired Pixie named Syringa, rolled a huge chocolate chip cookie towards the group. “It’s the Praghas Fola.” Syringa broke off a piece and began to pass it around.
Poppy stared at the cookie in amusement for a second then frowned. “Blood Price?” She didn’t like the sound of that.
“On the night of a full moon the chosen are bathed in blood. After the ritual, until the next full moon they are able to wield dark powers.” Bria shook her head sadly.
Looking back, Poppy realized that the other Spriggans didn’t have the same feel as Menadue. The reason why she knew they were moving in the underbrush was that they felt alien, outside to the woods. Menadue on the other hand had entirely different feel, “Whose blood” Poppy asked, then realized she really didn’t want to know.
“The blood of the innocent.”
Doctor Alexander Dumas stood next to the ICU bed of his latest patient. He had not known Doctor Dobson personally but knew his work. Like others of his generation, he was a pioneer in neurological medicine. Although there was always a chance of full recovery, most likely the doctor was not going to be the same man he was before the accident.
“Praghas Fola” Matt said barely above a whisper. The nurse who was monitoring his IV looked over to Doctor Dumas who smiled.
“That one is a fighter.” Doctor Dumas was surprised his patient could even talk. From the tests taken so far, if Doctor Dobson ever recovered long months of physical therapy and speech therapy were in his future. Even so, the good doctor would probably never walk again due to the spinal damage, broken bones, and the many other injuries taken during the accident. It was a miracle that the Neurosurgeon actually survived the accident much less survived the last three surgeries.
Leaning over his patient, Doctor Dumas began to explain. “Doctor…Matt, I’m not sure if you can hear or understand what I am about to tell you. We are about to put you into a drug induced coma, I am concerned with your cerebral pressure.” Doctor Dumas knew that there was some controversy over the treatment but he didn’t see a lot of choice. Looking at the nurse, he nodded.
What the doctors and nurses didn’t see hovering near their sleeping Neurosurgeon was an orange haired Pixie.
Authors Notes: A special thanks to djkauf for a little elvish editing. If you like the story please leave a Kudos, if you have the time I would love to hear from you. Thanks to all for reading! - Elsbeth
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