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Scarlet and the Tale of Two Names

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1

When a baby laughs for the first time, the laugh turns into a silvery flame. It zig-zags down the streets, flies through the woods, and glides over meadows before it turns into a beautiful fairy. Sometimes the fairy born from the laugh is a Wanded fairy, some of them are Great Winged fairies, some can cast spells from their hands. But sometimes the laugh can stray away, feeling the calls of the sea or rather something beyond the sea; the call of Never Land, a magical place that thrives on the imagination and faith of the children. ‘Never’ as in ‘never grow older’. Likewise, the laughs that make it there turn into Never Fairies.

It took me a good few seconds to gain a sense of self. I definitely hit something, pretty hard as well; so much for hoping for a graceful landing. At first, everything was a blur, then things started to take shape. Leaves arching over, filtering out the light of the morning sun, and the scent of the flowers it held, carried around by a gentle breeze, so wonderful. It was like nature’s lullaby, asking me to sleep away the long, tiring journey of the night.

“What do we have here?” I heard from above, waking me from the pleasant trance. A voice that was equally as sweet as sour. I sat up, looking around, but not a clue on whom or where she was. Things being somewhat blurry to me in a distance still did not help either. Up, down, left, right… nobody. Another breeze rustled the leaves above, a bigger one.

“Is someone there?” I asked out loud, standing up and trying to fly away, only to realize I could not. My attempt ended up as but a short leap instead. Of course, pixie dust, never fairies need that to do stuff.

“No need to fear me. After all, my winds brought you here, child.” the voice answered, its source descending from the foliage above. A fairy, much to my relief. She wore a plum sleeveless top and skintight leggings with feathers of a few shades lighter used as a skirt. Her skin was a beautiful ivory, her wings long and sharp like a blade and her dark ponytail waving in the breeze they made behind her. But above all her smile was what stood out the most about her. That smile full of self-confidence and superiority. To this day, it’s hard to forget.


“Thank you.” I replied, stunned for a moment trying to take it all in. My mind roamed around, not knowing whether she is to be trusted or not, to run towards her or away from her, or anything. I just… locked up. She floated to me, eyeing me up and down several times in the process. Her smile turned into a curious frown, followed by one with a subtle disappointment.

“Fly with you. What’s your talent, dear?” she asked, despite giving off the impression she already knew it was not what she wanted it to be. Of course, talent. Every fairy’s first thing to do after their Arrival was to make the Announcement. This was a big moment for everybody. For the new arrival because it was their first interaction with the fairies, and for the talents because after hours if not days of waiting, they could find out if the fairy could be one of their kind.

“I’m storytelling. I mean, I’m Scarlet, my talent is storytelling.”

Gaah, why am I such a goof?! This was supposed to be my big announcement. Well, if anything she was alone so others didn’t know about it, yet. I just hoped I won’t have to do the same in front of a huge crowd. Surely, you could make the Announcement to the fairies one by one, right?

“Oh that’s wonderful, sweetie,” she replied, her voice dripping sarcasm “you should head over to Pixie Hollow right away. The others have been waiting for you for some time. It’s right that way.” she added, pointing towards the dense dark forest. She landed by me, sweeping some fairy dust off her wings to scatter on mine. My wings rose, blooming like a flower and ready to take flight after a couple practice flaps. I bent down, and raised myself into the air alongside her. To my surprise I did not crash, or tumble about, or fly off course out of control. Flying came instinctually.

“Thanks a bunch. Fly with you later…”

“Indeed, fly with you later, dear.” she waved back. I was hoping she’d at least tell her name if I told her mine. However, there was no time; I needed to find the rest of the fairies. As such, the questions remained, circling in a chaotic vortex within my mind on who she might have been or whether she was to be trusted, or if this really was fairy dust. She was so mysterious it unnerved me, and that was putting it lightly.

Everything was unknown, strange and I didn’t feel secure anywhere. The layers of leaves just got thicker, turning everything darker. Plants all started to look dangerous, the fruits poisonous, and distant glints seemed like they came from wild animals. I felt like being thrown into the deep water with this crash-landing. My wings giving out on me did not ease the mood either. I had no choice but to land on a leaf of a blueberry bush. Take a little breather than go on forwards. If only I knew where forwards were. All the woods - no matter how I tried to focus - just looked the same. In that moment I realized I have lost the direction the fairy pointed me, even if it was the right one. I should’ve called for help, but I did not dare.

Then, a fairy flew past me. I did not see her properly but I knew it was a fairy. She did not notice me, should I…? Maybe it’s best if…?

“Over here! Hey!” I screamed out before my mind could spiral down into an endless argument with itself once again. Noticing, she hovered closer.

That fairy was Rosetta. Rosetta was a bit late because she doesn’t like hurrying anywhere. It messes up her hair, and she is more interested in looking appropriate for the new arrival than finding out her talent. It honestly felt really good once I realized that, wish I could’ve appreciated that fact somewhat more back then. As she came into focus I gradually saw more and more detail of her. Pastel pink dress,  a long, darker skirt and pale green bodice. Her brown curls were gorgeous and silky smooth; you could tell she put a lot of effort into each strand of it being perfect.

“Everything okay?” she asked, her accent thicker than the bark of an old tree.

“I’m fine, I just cannot fly.” I replied.

The girl looked around, trying to come up with an idea, or look where the others were, but to no avail. It was simply too dark. We two were the only ones around. It was twice as better than being alone nonetheless.

“Look, stay here, I’ll go get you some help.” she told me, making reassuring hand gestures before flying off. I could hear her shouting ‘I found her!’ and ‘She is here!’ and others all over the woods. Her voice sounded like an old crow’s when she did so, but charming in her own way. With each shout, the woods got noisier and noisier, tiny glows fading in from different directions as if a smaller swarm of fireflies would come this way. Fairies and sparrowmen came in droves, lead by my new antiquance. Ten first, then twenty, then thirty! Their eyes were all glimmering with curiosity, some already measuring me up and whispering their friends, as if they’d all want me for their talent. Now was my turn, now was my time to make the Announcement. The real Announcement. I just needed to breathe first, an inhale, an exhale, and…

“I-I’m Scarlet, I’m a storytelling-talent. Fly with you!”

I did it. Way, way too stressed out but I did it. Disappointed moans and sighs came from the crowd as it dissipated, heading back to their home, disinterested. A small group of fairies looked at one another, nodding and smiling before taking off. Other cliques took a good glance at me before moving on. Only a few remained. A sparrowman carrying a large feather prepared a small cup and a satchel, pouring fairy dust from the latter into the former. Then, with the help of the feather, he fanned the golden dust all over me.

The feeling of your first allotment was near indescribable but I will try my best. Imagine a glittery perfume of the perfect smell. You don’t know what it actually smells like but you’re head over heels in love with it regardless. It electrifies you, makes you feel reborn even. That’s what the real first touch of pixie dust was. I had to shake the tingles off me I felt.

“That should be enough for you today. You’ve landed pretty far from home, I’m surprised you weren’t eaten by a hawk.” he said, taking a quick glance behind him before continuing “I’m Terence by the way, fly with you. This is Rosetta.”

“Fly with you.” added the fae in pink, blushing in appreciation of the gesture. The name fit her. I wondered whether I should’ve told them about the mysterious fairy I’ve met earlier.

“Alright, I got to take these back to the mill, can you show her the way to the Home Tree?” Terence asked her, putting the empty satchel into the pocket of his trousers, and pinning the feather back onto his back in a hurry.

“Oh, of course.” Rosetta replied, flapping her hand in her usual ladylike manner, which turned into an equally reserved waving as the sparrowmen left. It was understandable, if he was a dust-talent he surely must have had tons of work to do.

“Alas, poor Terence.” the last fairy of the flock sighed, floating closer to me. She sprinkled some dust from her wrists, it beginning to sparkle, shine and morph into shapes.

“He’s always rushing after Tinker Bell but she always is out of his reach.” she said, the glowing dust taking on the form of two fairies. Each particle of dust changed from gold to that of a different color, it was almost as if they were truly there, Terence chasing after another girl with a short blonde ponytail. Yet as soon as dust-Terence could touch her, she vanished, scattering into a thousand golden dust sprinkles. A quick brush of her hand scattered the other illusion as well.

“Such a tragedy.”

“Fly with you, I am Lyria. Great to have you in our talent.”

Lyria was Fairy Haven’s most talented storytelling-talent, and she made sure to convince you about that up front. Her flower-gown was of a gorgeous white with pink tips, and her long brown ponytail was held together by many green bands. The feeling was mutual, and I was hard-pressed to resist clapping after a show like this; I merely nodded in return.

Rosetta on the other hand was not so impressed. She rolled her eyes and took flight. She turned back to me, calling me to her with a finger as she hovered away, following the crowd in her measured, slow pace. Every single thing about her oozed manners, it was quite admirable.

“Scarlet, right?” she asked back as I followed her. Though I kind of wished I could just fly about and test the wings to the best of my ability, I was rather afraid of getting lost again. I nodded back. She nodded and hummed back as well, her index finger laid on her chin. Rosetta was measuring me up and down just like that other fairy did, big plans in her eyes. However, unlike that other fairy, she didn’t look like she’d had any bad intentions if not the opposite. That smile was genuine.

“I might have something for you back in my wardrobe.” she chuckled, her pace increasing in her excitement. Dresses, of course; sounded just like something she would be into. Only then did I notice the clothes I was wearing. A simple thin white dress with stray ends in its knee-length skirt. No sleeves, no accessories, nothing special. No surprise she wanted to change it, I would’ve wanted something more elaborate myself too.

“Good thing Rosetta found you, lest you’d have flown straight into the pirates’ hands.” Lyria chuckled. The way she spoke as if she was reading an old book while sounding so casual at once was both clashing and oddly satisfying to listen to.

“I thought Pixie Hollow was that way, or so was I told… I think… I got lost.” I replied, scratching the back of my head.

The two of them shared a glance between one another before exclaiming the answer: “Vidia.”. Vidia was a fast-flying talent who lived away from the other fairies in a sour plum tree at the edge of the forest, and from what I’ve heard from the others later on, there were good reasons behind that.

“Ooh, if I get my hands on that dirty…” Rosetta brew in a quiet fury, taking a deep breath before turning back to me “Don’t bother with her, sugar, you’re in good hands now.”

“Thanks a bunch.” I replied. “You too, Lyria.”

We flew, they lead the way, slowly, easily, following the distant smear that was the rest of the crowd. It made me feel a strange warmth in my heart. I may have already made two friends, and I didn’t even really try; not to mention Never Land whom I also considered as my friend now. It shrunk and expanded at its own will, and was helpful enough to make our flight just a few minutes shorter.

Pixie Hollow, the Home Tree, the beautiful meadows and mountains in the background. I almost shredded tears just looking at it. Picturesque couldn’t even begin to describe it. It was colossal, I can’t stress that enough, stairs carved into its roots leading up to its gorgeous knothole door and from that point upwards, there was everything, I mean, everything you could imagine. Gorgeous root windows, beautiful birch leaf curtains of green, yellow, and even red, and little rooftops of every shape and color made of… too many possible things to list. From some stronger branches, a small object like an oil lantern or a seashell or a gigantic walnut turned into a house was hanging. Some close branches were also connected with ladders made from rope. The entire tree was aglow with light from either the fairies themselves, or various shining star-shaped carvings covered in pixie dust. You could close your eyes and point your finger and you’d always land on something interesting.

As I pushed the knothole’s door open, my jaw dropped at the sight of the lobby. Beautiful, clean and elaborate, the interior of the wooden root was filled with hand-decorated carvings of various leaf and flower shapes. The floor was mica polished so well one could almost make out her reflection in it. Two spiral staircases lead up to the second floor, passing by a series of shining oval windows with curved adornments in-between. The stairs embraced a huge archive of some sort on the wall with a small map of the Home Tree itself underneath, but I couldn’t quite make out the letters until hovered a few flaps closer.

“That’s the directory,” Rosetta leaned in “Your name and room should be on it now.”

The directory was a large paper encased in a brass frame, tangled and wild like the tree’s roots itself. It listed every fairy, her talent, and her room’s location. Since it was in ABC order, I quickly skimmed down towards the bottom, dragging my hand across the paper as I looked through the names.

O-P-Q-R-Rani-Rhia-Ronan-Rosetta… - Garden talent - Room 26 SW Branch

“That’s me.” she chuckled, noticing my pause. I went further down, straight down to the letter S.

Scarlet - Storytelling-talent - Room 34 NE Branch

Scarlett - Pottery-talent - Room 8B NNW Branch

“There’s another one?” asked Rosetta, her and Lyria leaning in closer. She was just as shocked as I was, I didn’t expect somebody with almost the exact same name as mine. Lyria’s curiosity on the other hand turned into a cunning smile that had ‘Interesting.’ written all over it.

“Yep, there is. And she’s not too happy about it, let me tell you.” I heard from the stairs. There stood a fairy in a blue dress adorned by orange petals, brown ponytail and a green pouch around her waist.

“What do you mean ‘she’s not too happy about it’?” asked Rosetta, putting her hands on her hips. She even gave her a little pout to emphasize her annoyance.

“I mean she is quite furious and has been ranting about it since she got word… and might want you to change it.” the other one replied, leaning over the handrail. Something told me she was toning the severity of the situation down a hunch.

“Well, Bess, first of all that is her problem,” Rosetta replied, still keeping her composure much to my awe “and secondly, she is as ‘Scarlet’-ie as it can get, just take a look at her hair.”

“I don’t know Rosetta, if both of them are called the same, people might get confused to who they mean.” explained Bess, shaking her head “Besides, I can’t focus on my work with her grumbling next door, so it’s also my problem.”

“She has a point, you know.” Lyria added. I also nodded in agreement. It might have been an own-goal for now, but we could come up with a solution later. Bess’ struggles were relatable, though from the sound of it, putting the issue aside for long would not have been a very wise idea.

“Well then… I…” Rosetta mumbled. She ran out of counterpoints.

“We’ll figure out something, I just wanted to let the arrival know before Scarlett does.” Bess reassured us in a sly tone, climbing back up the stairs but not disappearing before having the final, final word “By the way she also has red hair. Just so you know.”

“This will complicate things a bit.”

“Oh don’t bother with that, we have something a lot more important in our hands.” Rosetta dismissed her, flinging into the air with her hand.

“Yeah, about that.” interrupted the so far silent Lyria, grabbing me by my shoulders and pushing me away “I have to introduce her to the rest of the talent first.”

Then, without any hesitation, she whirled around, grabbing me by the wrist and pulling me up the stairs. I couldn’t as much as say my farewells. I got the idea; if Rosetta would’ve got a hold on me she’d have never let me out of her closet. Still I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty leaving her behind like that.

My first day in Pixie Hollow was ought to be a long, tiresome one. I could feel it.