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Summer's End

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Autumn is not determined by the human calendar, although they would prefer to think such things, as humans always do.

The first day of Autumn is a breath, a taste, a frost-chill whisper of decay in the air. And it is then, when Autumn spills through the air, that the forest prepares for the Autumnal Ball.

The fairy queen throws open the doors of the palace, welcoming her people. The air is filled with the scent of maple and apples, cinnamon and pumpkin, the last bursting berries. Foxes wear their winter coats; bears are ready to feast before settling into hibernation.

Summer attire is shed, and the spirits arrive in fresh garb for the season: pine dryads in the darkest green, skirts tipped in silvery embroidery; whispery birch in gowns of white with crowns of branches on their head. The king’s guard- strong Maple, quick Aspen, clever Gingko- are kitted out in their finest dress uniforms, squadrons of red, yellow, and blazing orange. Holly wears a spray of berries in the curls of her hair.

It is this riot of colors that the Summer Queen sees, as she enters the palace at the stroke of midnight, amongst the dim lights and the pounding drums. She goes to her death there, to ensure the passing of the seasons, but she does so gladly, and with beauty in her eyes.