And There Were Three: Chapter Two
The fairy city of Myriada (named because of the myriad of fairies that lived and passed through there) was situated on a magnificent mountain; actually, the whole mountain was but part of the city. The Fairy Queen’s palace was on the mountain, and from there the city wound down and landed at the mountain’s foot, where it spread out for three miles round. This part of the city contained numerous trees and flowers of all kinds, as well as quaint fairy houses, shimmering pools, and stables for the royal unicorns (of course, fairies preferred flying to riding, and the unicorns were usually only used on special occasions). Beyond the walls of the city a few homes were dotted sparingly among many trees and hills that stretched out for miles; and beyond these ran the River of Anomien, or the Anomiada, moving in a wide circle around the city. This river was the guardian of the city, for it was the border of the kingdom, and there were only three ways to cross the roaring water: flying (and only fairies could do that), walking over the bridge of diamonds, which was always watched carefully, or taking a boat across. The last was the most dangerous, for the river flowed fiercely and could easily tear a boat to pieces; also, the beasts of the river, the sea horses, fish, etc. were always ready to attack any who would dare cross the water by boat. They were ordered to protect the city by Anomien, the Water Fairy, who was the Anomiada’s mistress and guardian.
Past the border of the kingdom of the Fairy Queen of Myriada (sometimes called the kingdom of Myriada) lay immense forests and wide plains. Most of the fairies traveled no farther than these forests and plains; in fact, they rarely left their kingdom at all. Because of this, they did not know much about the Wild World where humans lived. Only very few ever explored the world of humans; and when they did, it was usually to visit a relative or friend. That is why fairies in Myriada often thought humans slow, clumsy, fierce creatures, and they couldn’t be bothered with them. So you see why it was strange that Anomien should take such interest in the human boy, and bring him with her to present him to the Fairy Queen.
“Your Majesty!” One of the handmaids of the Fairy Queen rushed into the throne room and knelt at the Queen’s feet. “Your Majesty!” she said again.
Queen Asani turned her head at the address. “What is it, Lyli?” she asked the maid gently. The maid answered, still kneeling:
“Your Royal Highness’ sister, Anomien the Water Fairy, requests an audience with you.”
“My sister? Good news! Send her in at once, Lyli.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” replied the fairy, and with a curtsy, she ran out of the room. Queen Asani hopped off her throne with a sprightly air. She was strikingly beautiful, with the Water Fairy’s same blue eyes and pointed chin, but with midnight hair falling in waves down her back. Upon this raven glory rested a circlet of silver, encrusted with costly jewels. On her delicate figure a violet dress of silk clung. In her dainty, white hand a crystal scepter was held. Her feet wore grey satin slippers that shimmered as she moved. Her wings were transparent, veined with silver that sparkled like diamonds. Though small, she was full of vigor, and she flittered around the room, impatiently waiting for her sister.
The throne room door opened, and Anomien glided in, accompanied by Syla the Earth Fairy, who was carrying the baby. Anomien ran to her sister with a beaming smile. Asani opened her arms to embrace her, but Anomien first held up her finger, and dropped on one knee to kiss the Queen’s hand. This done, she jumped up on her feet and threw her arms around Asani’s neck, who exclaimed joyfully,
“My dear, dear sister! I have missed you, oh very much indeed. But what is the reason for this delightful visit?” Anomien replied, with a wave of her hand toward Syla,
“This baby.” Asani turned toward the Earth Fairy, who performed a deep curtsy, and held out the boy. He gurgled, staring at the Fairy Queen with his round eyes. She in turn stared at him curiously for a moment, and picked him up in her arms to observe him closely. Then she turned, walked to her throne, and sat down still holding the child. Indicating some chairs by her side, she said,
“Please, sit down and tell me all about it.” The other fairies did so, and Anomien proceeded to tell the story. When she got to the part about the finding of the child’s mother, tears ran down her cheek, and she could not speak. Syla then took up the story in this manner:
“So I told Anomien that I had found the baby’s mother. She came and looked, but turned away, for oh, it was a terrible sight, Your Majesty. On the ground lay a human girl, scarce more than seventeen or eighteen years old. She would have been a pretty thing, were it not for the blood on her body, as there was an ugly gash in her chest. Her face, her whole body was extremely pale, though she must have been dead for only a few hours. But, Your Highness, worst of all were her eyes, so lifeless and dead, yet full of pain and fear; unearthly they seemed, yet alive, like those of a ghost or a spirit long dead and rotting in the grave, but come back to life. It was awful. Whoever carried out such a cruel, cruel deed ought to be punished forever, that’s what I say,” and here the Earth Fairy burst into hot tears.
As most people don’t like other people seeing them cry, we will skip this part of the story, and jump ahead a bit. After Anomien and Syla had dried their tears, though their eyes were still red, they all sat silent, except for the baby, who laughed and squirmed and played with the Queen’s hair. They stayed in this manner until Asani, who had been sitting, brooding with her chin cupped in her hand, said,
“Show me the gold box that you found with the baby.” Syla reached into a pocket in her dress, drew out the box and handed it to the Queen, who examined it after placing the infant in her sister’s arms. She scrutinized the box, turning it over in her hands, rubbing the writing with her fingers. At last she said thoughtfully,
“I cannot make anything out, but I have a feeling that the writing on this box contains an important message, probably for this little boy. Leave it with me, and I shall have some of my wisest courtiers take counsel with me. For the present, you may keep the baby with you, Anomien, and at the end of the week, return here, and perhaps I shall have some answers for you.”
Anomien and Syla then stood up, and curtsied to the Queen. Anomien bade her sister farewell, and they left the room, Asani already summoning her wise courtiers. The Earth Fairy and the Water Fairy walked down the city street together, each busy with her own musings. They heeded not the many curious eyes that watched them from doorways and windows. When they came out of the city, Syla bade Anomien and the baby farewell, and flew off toward her home, where she spent the rest of the day deep in thought.
Anomien returned to her home as well, cradling the boy in her gentle arms. Arriving at her house, she gave him something to eat, and laid him tenderly down on a bed of rushes, covering him with a blanket of a similar sort. She kissed him on the cheek, and sang a lullaby to him. Her voice was beautiful and clear, like the splashing of rain drops or the rushing of a quiet stream. His eyes slowly closed, and she softly stole out of the room. She then walked to the riverbank, where she positioned herself on a rock to ponder all that had happened in just a short time. Feeling tears coming to her eyes as she considered the helpless, motherless baby, she started to sing once more. The musical tones soared over the water, mingling with the song of the river, and bringing peace to her troubled heart.