Pindi sat on a leaf and wrapped her arms around her knees. She rested her chin on top of her knees and pouted. Zoom flew by and said, “Hey Pindi, let’s go for a ride. Hop on.”
“I can’t,” Pindi grumbled. “My mother won’t let me leave the tree. She’s afraid of the human virus.”
“Pindi!” called her twin sister Mindi, “Mother wants to know if you have your mask. You’re not supposed to go outside without it.”
“Its not fair!” Pindi yelled. “We don’t even know if fairies can be infected by this virus, but we’re not allowed to go anywhere or do anything!” She got up and stomped into the grand hall.
“Pindi,” her mother, Queen Caelia said softly, “you know we have to be careful until we know if the human virus can infect us.” Pindi crossed her arms and glared at her mother. She refused to be soothed, even though Queen Caelia stroked her shiny hair while she talked. “You father is in in counsel with the fairy kings from other trees. Some of them are reporting virus infections among their fairies, mostly those who live near big human cities. And we’ve heard stories of animals being infected. We don’t know how this will impact us, so we need to be careful until we have more information.”
“I hate being stuck at home,” Pindi complained.
“You’re not stuck,” Queen Caelia replied, “you’re safe.”
After a moment, Queen Caelia sighed and said, “You can go out with Zoom. Wear your mask and wash your hands when you get home.”
“YAY” Pindi ran out of the grand hall pumping her arms in the air. “Come on Mindi, let’s go. Will you grab my mask?”
Pindi stood on a branch and called Zoom. “We can go! We can fly with you!”
Zoom flew to the branch and waited for the fairy sisters to jump on the hummingbird’s back and flew off. Pindi tied on her mask while they were flying and then shouted “Weeeeeee” as they careened around the garden.
“Let’s go see Intrepid, Dasher, Ka-a, Ribbit, and Xylem. Even Blade,” Pindi said. “I miss everyone.”
“You know we can’t visit,” Mindi warned. “We have to stay far enough away from each other that the virus can’t spread. We’d have to shout at each other.”
“I don’t care,” Pindi replied. “I just want to see my friends, even if all I can do is wave hello.”
“Intrepid is still in Santa Rosa,” Zoom told the fairies. “He likes it up there with his buddies from the bird rescue center. He will be sad to miss seeing you, though.”
“Look, there’s Ka-a! Hi Ka-a, “Pindi shouted, waving wildly. “How are you doing?”
“I can’t chat right now. I’m on sentry duty, “Ka-a said as he cawed out an alert about a person walking a dog along the sidewalk.
“Look, there’s Xylem riding on Dasher,” Mindi said. “Hi Xylem. Hi Dasher.”
Xylem turned and waved; her short dark pixie cut hair framing her cute face. “Hi you two. I miss you.”
“We miss you, too,” the fairy sisters said in unison.
“Let’s start planning our mid-summer celebration. Surely, we’ll be able to gather again by then,” Xylem said.
“Yes!” Pindi yelled. “We can send each other ideas by butterfly. It’ll be fun, and we’ll have something to look forward to. Great idea!”
“We have to go now,” Dasher said. He turned and his long red abdomen gleamed in the sun. “Bye Pindi, Bye, Mindi,” he called as he and Xylem flew off.
“Let’s go look for Ribbit!” Pindi said as Zoom turned towards the gutter.
“Ribbit,” called Pindi. “Ribbit, will you come say hi to us?”
“Ribbit may be hiding in the cool dark drains,” Mindi said. “He doesn’t like warm, sunny days. We may not get to see him.”
“We need to get back soon,” said Zoom. “I am getting hungry from all this flying. You two may be small, but you are heavy on my back.”
“Ok,” said Pindi. “But let’s swing by the pond and see if we can find Blade on our way home.”
Zoom circled the Red Japanese Maple Tree above the pond and found Blade lounging on a leaf. He waved a lazy hand at his cousins. “Hi little fairy cousins,” he called.
Pindi grimaced. She hated to be called a little fairy cousin. “We’re 13 now! We’re not little any longer,” she yelled.
“You’ll always be my little fairy cousins,” said Blade. “I love you guys, even if you are pests.”
“Boy fairies! Pindi scowled. “They think they’re so cool. Humph. Let’s go home, Zoom.”
Back at the Green Japanese Maple Tree, the fairies climbed down from Zoom’s back. “Thank you Zoom!” they called as Zoom left to find his lunch. “We had a great time.”
Mindi turned to her sister. “Let’s start planning our mid-summer celebration.”
“Ok,” said Pindi and they walked into the Grand Hall arm in arm.
Poe is a blind common raven who lives at a bird rescue center. He has a secret life as a writer.
They can take my eyesight but not my memories and not my stories
As soon as he was sure all the handlers had left for the day, Poe got busy. He mentally thanked whoever designed the mews with gravel floors 4 feet deep. He unearthed his typewriter and dug a little deeper for the stub of his cigar. He’d have to ask the free birds who brought him scraps of paper and smuggled out his manuscripts to bring him another stogie soon.
Jazz and Vihar were arguing, as usual. The great horned owls were sisters, but they couldn’t agree on anything. “I was out of the nest first,” Jazz claimed. “That’s because you fell,” Vihar countered. The same argument, every night. Hoot, hoot, hoot, was all he heard as they bickered back and forth. But, they were paying him in mice to write their story, so he would put up with them.
Jumping up on his typewriter, his stogie in his beak, he swiped the cigar back and forth against the side of his mews until it lit. He took a deep breath and got ready to type
“Stop arguing, you two,” Poe croaked around the cigar in his beak. “Jazz tell me how you came here to the rescue center. Vihar, you can add your details after Jazz is finished. I can’t understand you when you both hoot at once.”
Vihar clicked her beak. She was annoyed, but she let Jazz speak first.
“We were living in a nest in a tall tree. Our parents were away a lot, hunting. Vihar and I were trying out our wings, seeing if we could fly. I jumped up and flapped my wings, then a gust of wind caught me, and I couldn’t get back to the nest. I kept flapping my wings, but I ended up on the ground. Some humans saw me and bought me food. I decided I had a good thing going,” Jazz went on. “Humans brought me food. Why should I learn to hunt when I had a ready supply of food delivered at my feet? But after a few days another human came and put me in a box and brought me here.”
Vihar hooted, “I landed on the ground a couple of days after Jazz did. “But I knew what I was doing!” It’s not my fault the wind gusted again.”
“I sat at the base of the tree waiting for our parents. Then some humans walked by and saw me. They brought me food, too. It was much easier to eat the food they brought than to try to fly back up to the nest,” Vihar explained.
“Our parents flew back and saw me sitting on the ground. They waited for a few days for me to fly back up to the next, but those other humans came and took me away in a box, too.” Vihar added.
“Now we live at the bird rescue center. We lived together in the same mews for a long time,” said Jazz. “Then, we started arguing and the humans separated us. Now, Vihar lives next door. That’s fine with me,” she said, clicking her beak.
“If I were living in the wild, I’d stay up in my favorite tree all day. I’d hunt at dawn and dusk. When I got hungry, I’d use my big asymmetrical ears to hear a squirrel skittering through the leaves on its way to its nest. I can see really well, too, so I’d know exactly where to swoop down to catch that squirrel for dinner, grasping it and killing it with my strong talons. They’re much stronger than any human’s. I eat just about anything I can catch.” Vihar added. “So does Jazz. She caught and ate a skunk once.”
“Hey, look what I can do,” Jazz piped in. She turned her head three quarters of the way around her body. “I bet you can’t do that,” she told Poe.
“I can’t see what you just did,” said Poe. “I’m blind, remember?”
“Oh, sorry,” Jazz said. “I just turned my head 270 degrees. I can’t move my eyes, so I move my head instead when I want to see to the side or behind me.”
“Cool,” Poe answered, dancing on his typewriter keys. “I think I’ve got this. I’ll finish typing it and push it through the slit in my wall to my friends on the outside. They’ll take it to my publisher.”
“Pipe down!” Star, a red-tailed hawk, called. “Some of us sleep at night.”
“We’re done for the night,” Poe replied. “You’ll get your turn to tell your story.”
Come to my house in the dark of the moon
On the night when the veil grows thin
Enter, and see what waits within
A blood-curdling scream
Silent wings glide by
A raven, an owl, or a ghoul?
I sit on the porch with my madly carved grin
My candle lights the way in
To my house in the dark of the moon
Guests come creeping along the ground
Slithering through the leaves
Staggering down the walk
Do you hear that skittering in the yard?
Is it leaves being tossed by the wind?
Or something more sinister, stalking?
A pale face swims out of the dark
with round black eyes and very sharp teeth
She’s waiting for you
Is your heart pounding in your throat?
Can you run? Can you hide?
Do you have the breath to scream?
Ignore the tingle on the back of your neck
The shiver along your spine
That sense that someone’s watching you
Look over your shoulder
There’s nothing there
Or is there?
Are you brave enough to walk up the steps?
Come through the door to see what waits
In my house in the dark of the moon
Pindi burst into the grand hall panting, her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath.
“Mother, Father, Mindi, the dragons are back!” Pindi gasped between breaths. “Can we go greet them? Please? There are so many! They’re resting in the Crape Myrtle Trees. Ka-a and his friends made room for them.”
“May we,” Queen Caelia corrected.
“May we go greet them?” Pindi repeated, bouncing from one foot to the other, impatient to get going.
“They’re here early,” said King Bran. “Let’s go speak with them. I’d like to hear about their migration.”
“There are lots of babies and young dragons with them,” Pindi said. “We can make friends.”
King Bran and Queen Caelia flew towards the front of the garden, followed by Pindi and Mindi. They saw hundreds of dragons sitting in the Crape Myrtle Trees. The dragons looked down from the branches, their long necks curving gracefully. Their wings shone with every color of the rainbow. Their eyes were kind.
“Wow!” whispered Mindi. “They’re beautiful.”
“Argan, Feyran, we are happy to see you,” King Bran called to the leaders of the blaze of dragons. “How was your migration?”
“King Bran, Queen Caelia, Princesses Pindi and Mindi,” replied Argan, nodding his head regally. “We are happy to see you. We had to leave our summer lands early. There were huge storms coming. I wanted to be gone before the winds and rains started. We flew quickly, ahead of the storms.” Argan was very formal in addressing the fairies. Fairy was not his best language. He spoke slowly and sometimes stumbled on the words.
“Did you have any trouble along the way?” asked King Bran.
Bored by the adults’ conversation, Pindi and Mindi flew over to a small group of young dragons.
“Hi,” they said. “We’re Pindi and Mindi. Welcome to our land. Let’s be friends!”
The young dragons all spoke at once, none of it in Fairy.
“I guess they don’t speak Fairy,” said Mindi. “We don’t speak Dragon. What shall we do?”
“We don’t need to talk,” said Pindi. We can use signs and gestures. And we can teach each other our languages.”
“Come on, let’s fly,” Pindi called to the dragons as she gestured with her arm. “Let’s go.”
A half dozen young dragons lifted off from the Crape Myrtle Tree and followed Pindi and Mindi.
“What if someone sees us?” Mindi asked.
“Don’t worry,” Pindi replied. “Most humans can’t see fairies, let alone dragons. We’re invisible to them because they don’t believe in us.”
Dragons are much larger than fairies, and they fly faster. Pindi and Mindi flew as fast as they could after the dragons, but they couldn’t catch up. They stopped at the large fir tree to rest.
“I don’t think they know they left us behind,” said Mind, pouting. “I wanted to get to know them.”
Just then, the dragons turned and flew back towards the Crape Myrtle Trees calling to Pindi and Mindi in Dragon.
“We’re here!” Pindi shouted, jumping up and down on a branch. “Over here!”
The dragons heard them and turned as a group, colors swirling like a sparkling rainbow.
One of the dragons nodded towards the fairies, turned her head, and jerked her neck back.
“I think she’s trying to tell us to climb in her back,” said Mindi. “Let’s go.”
Pindi chose a purple dragon and Mindi chose a pink one. They climbed up and the dragons took flight.
Pindi directed her dragon by pulling on her scales to go right or left. Mindi’s dragon followed. They flew until the dragons were tired, then headed back to the Crape Myrtle Trees. The dragons landed on branches and Pindi and Mindi leaped off their backs.
“That was fun!” Pindi said. “Let’s try to talk with the dragons.”
Mindi bowed her head to her dragon and said clearly, pointing at herself, “my name is Mindi.”
She repeated “Mindi” again. Her dragon nodded. She tried to say Mindi, but she couldn’t quite get her mouth around the sounds.
Mindi shrugged and pointed at her dragon and asked, What’s your name?”
“Spark,” said the pink dragon.
To Mindi, it sounded like “sssssparkkkk”. She tried to say the pink dragon’s name with the appropriate number of s’s and k’s. It was hard.
Spark smiled. Mindi’s attempt at saying her name was pretty good.
Pindi pointed to herself and said to her dragon, “my name is Pindi.”
The purple dragon looked puzzled. To her, Pindi sounded just like Mindi. Two fairies with the same name? That was weird.
Pindi pointed to the dragon and asked, “what’s your name?”
“Dazzle,” said the purple dragon.
Pindi tried to pronounce what sounded to her like “sszzazzle”.
Dragons and fairies giggled and tried to say each other’s names until Pindi heard her father call.
“Time to go,” she said. “Goodbye, it was fun flying with you today.”
At dawn the next morning, the blaze of dragons lifted from the branches of the Crape Myrtle Trees and flew south to their wintering grounds in the desert. It was a short stay, but Pindi and Mindi hoped Spark and Dazzle would be back next year.
Dauntless flew towards the north side garden where her brother, Intrepid, told her the fairies lived. She was jealous. Intrepid had met fairies and had even stayed with them while his wing healed. Intrepid was such a typical brother, Dauntless thought. Falling out of the nest while trying to show off because his feathers had grown in. He thought he could fly. He ended up falling and landing on a car.
Dauntless zoomed around the Green Japanese Maple Tree looking for fairies.
“Look”, Mindi called to her sister. “I don’t know that hummingbird. It looks a little like Zoom and Intrepid.”
“I see,” said Pindi. “Let’s go meet her.”
The sisters flew towards the new hummingbird.
“Hello,” Mindi called. “I’m Mindi and this is my sister, Pindi. We live here. Who are you?”
“Hi, I’m Dauntless, Intrepid’s sister. Intrepid told me all about you. I came to see for myself.”
“Intrepid came to say goodbye and to thank us before he left,” said Pindi. “He said he was moving north. I guess hummingbirds don’t always stay close to their homes.”
“No,” said Dauntless. “We’re Anna’s Hummingbirds. We don’t normally migrate, but we do fly around looking for food.
“Intrepid wanted to explore,” said Pindi. “He told us that when he came to say goodbye. He promised to come back to visit.”
“Do you want to meet our friends?” Pindi asked.
“Sure!” said Dauntless.
The fairies and their new friend flew towards the koi pond and the Red Japanese Maple Tree to find Blade. As usual, he was hanging out with his buddies, looking for adventure. Or more likely trouble, thought Mindi. Blade attracted trouble just like Pindi.
“Blade come meet our new friend,” called Pindi.
“This is Dauntless. She’s Intrepid’s sister and Zoom’s daughter.” Mindi explained.
“Dauntless, meet our cousin Blade. He’s a leaf fairy,” Mindi said.
“Let’s go find Xylem” Pindi said.
“Xylem?” Blade responded. “I’ll go with you.”
“Blade has a crush on Xylem,” Pindi whispered to Dauntless. “He doesn’t think we know.”
Three fairies and one hummingbird flew to the front of the giants’ house looking for Xylem. The found her sitting on a branch of the Crepe Myrtle Tree, her chin resting on her fist, looking bored.
“There’s nothing to do,” Xylem sighed. “And, its hot.”
“Come with us!” Blade called. “We’ll go play in the waterfall. It’ll cool us off and it’ll be fun.”
Pindi and Mindi exchanged wide-eyed looks. When had Blade ever suggested doing anything with them? “He must really like Xylem,” Pindi whispered to her sister.
They all flew back towards the koi pond with its wide waterfall splashing down the wall. Dauntless was delighted to hear the water as they flew closer.
Blade flew sideways through the water. “Wow, that was great!” he shouted, shaking the water out of his hair as he landed on the wall and spread his wings to dry them. “Be careful not to get your wings too wet or you’ll fall,” he warned the others.
Dauntless wanted to go next. She danced in the air in front on the waterfall, jousting with her long, pointed beak. She didn’t want to dive through the wall of water like Blade did. She twirled and dove and shook the droplets from her wings when she landed on the wall next to Blade.
Pindi, Mindi, and Xylem counted to three and launched themselves into the waterfall together. They wove in and out of the water, giggling and turning. Halfway through, Pindi got caught in the water and couldn’t fly out.
“Help!” she cried, but her voice was drowned by the sound of the falling water. She tumbled down into the pond. Her wings were completely soaked and were too heavy to fly. Pindi couldn’t swim. She flailed her arms and legs helplessly in the water. “I’m drowning!”
Tigre, one of the juvenile koi swam over to Pindi. He wondered if she was a mosquito. Maybe he could eat her.
“No!” Pindi yelled. “I am not a mosquito. Don’t eat me.”
“What are you?” Tigre asked.
“I’m a fairy,” Pindi managed to say between gasps for breath. “I can’t swim. Please help me to the side of the pond.”
Tigre swam in a circle to see if the other koi were nearby. He didn’t see anyone. He turned his head and looked at Pindi again. “A fairy?” he asked. “I’ve never met a fairy before.”
“Well, I will be happy to introduce you to my friends if I ever get out of this pond.” Pindi said, exasperated.
“Ok, climb onto my back,” offered Tigre.
He swam close to Pindi and she grabbed on to his dorsal fins and dragger herself up. She lay across Tigre’s back, panting.
Tigre swam to the edge of the pond where Blade, Mindi, Xylem, and Dauntless were waiting.
Dauntless flew down to Tigre. She hovered just above the water. “Climb up,” she told Pindi. “I’ll fly you to the wall.”
Pindi was exhausted, but she managed to reach up and grab one of Dauntless’ feet. She hung on tightly as Dauntless rose, turned, flew to the top of the wall. Blade, Mindi, and Xylem flew right beside her.
Pindi collapsed on the wall, heaving for breath. She couldn’t believe what had happened; falling down a waterfall and being saved by a fish. She stretched her water-logged wings to dry them and said a heartfelt thank you to her friends. “You saved me. Thank you.”
“It was our pleasure,” all four of them replied.
“That’s what friends are for,” said Dauntless.
And they all sat on the wall enjoying the sun and waiting for their wings to dry.
This is repost. I originally posted this in January 2019 but I couldn't find it when I went through the archives. It is one of my favorites.
A small wooden carousel sits on the Piaza della Republica in Florence, Italy. It is owned by the Picci family and is carefully attended by a family member. It is a charming, colorful antique carousel with 20 horses and two gilded carriages. The horses stand two by two, leaving plenty of room for parents to stand next to children. The carousel makes people smile. It is magic.
At dusk, the attendant approaches the carousel carrying a box. He has come to remove the feather plumes from the horses’ headdresses and pack them away for the night. The tourists, all but two, are gone, finding their dinners and evening entertainment. One couple remains standing in the shadows of the Piazza, witness to an amazing scene.
“Finally,” sighed Eduardo, “that feather has been poking my head all day.”
“I like the plumes,” said Francesca, “they are like wearing a hat. I feel glamorous.”
“I hope the attendant brings soap and water,” Maria complained, “a little girl dripped ice cream all over my mane and shoulders. I feel so sticky.”
“Look, here he comes with a bucket. Ah, that warm water feels so good.”
“Oh, my aching back. And legs. And neck. And everywhere else,” griped Giuseppe. “Kids these days don’t know how to properly mount a horse. They were kicking me all day. I am getting too old for this.”
“I just love riding round and round, with a giggling child on my back,” gushed Marisol. She was the youngest of the horses.
“I wish we could jump off this carousel and gallop through the streets. We could race, like in the Palio di Siena,” Marco said with a lusty sigh. “It would be so much fun to race flat out instead of bobbing slowly up and down.”
“The horses that run in the Palio di Siena run around in a circle, too,” corrected Luigi. “They’re just faster. And they sometimes run into each other or crash into buildings or spectators. Besides, we have these poles running through our backs. We can’t go anywhere.”
“I can dream, can’t I?” Marco snorted.
“Horses, horses, calm down,” Anna pleaded. “It’s getting dark and I’m tired. Let’s all go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. I wonder if we will get to wear the blue plumes? We’ve been wearing white for months.”
“Good night my lovelies,” said the attendant as he put away his bucket and picked up the box of feather plumes. “Sleep well. See you in the morning.”
The two remaining tourists looked at each other in wonder. “Let’s ride first thing in the morning.” They whispered good night to the horses and strolled away, hand in hand. “I wonder where we should eat dinner.”
Pindi and Mindi were playing on the fence when Zoom flew up to them. He was panicked. “My baby son fell from the nest!” he chirped between gasps for breath. He’s sitting on a car. He’s too young to fly. Plus, I think his wing is broken. Help me!”
They looked at each other in horror and flew to the Crepe Myrtle Tree where Zoom had his nest. There, on top of the giants’ car parked below the tree sat Intrepid, Zoom’s baby boy. He was wedged between the windshield and the hood.
“I’m afraid,” he chirped. “I can’t get out.”
Pindi and Mindi hovered around the baby, calming him as much as they could.
“What should we do?” Mindi asked. “How can we get him back to the nest?”
“If his wing is broken, he needs a healer,” said Pindi. “We can’t put him back in the nest if he can’t fly.”
Mindi looked up. “Oh, No! Here comes the giant. He’s coming to get in his car.”
Pindi and Mindi both flew to the giant and shouted as loudly as they could. “Don’t get in the car! There’s a baby hummingbird on your hood. He’s injured.”
“What? There are two of you?” the giant asked shaking his head. “Am I seeing double?”
“We’re twins,” Pindi shouted. “Will you help us with the baby hummingbird?”
“Can you lift the baby without touching him with your hands and carry him to our healer?” asked Mindi.
The giant nodded. He opened the car door and took out a small towel. Spreading the towel on the windshield, he used a corner to nudge Intrepid onto the towel. Then he gently picked up the towel with Intrepid clinging to it.
“Bring him to our tree,” Pindi said. “Our healer will help with his wing.”
Zoom flew around and around the giant holding his baby. “It will be ok,” he chirped. “The giant is taking you to help.”
“What are you two up to now?” King Bran demanded when he saw his daughters followed by the giant and a frantic Zoom.
“Intrepid fell from the nest and injured his wing. We’re taking him to our healer,” Mindi explained.
Later that morning
“There, there little guy. You’re going to be fine. It will just take awhile for your wing to heal. You’ll be flying in no time,” the healer told Intrepid. “You’ll need to stay with us until you can use your wing again.”
“I want to go home!” chirped Intrepid.
“Listen to the healer, son,” scolded Zoom. “He knows what he’s talking about. I’ll visit you every day, and you can play with Pindi and Mindi while your wing heals.”
Pindi and Mindi took turns playing with Intrepid and feeding honey nectar. Intrepid loved honey nectar and swallowed greedily. He got stronger every day.
Four Weeks Later
“My wing itches,” Intrepid complained. “When will you take off this cast?” he asked the healer.
“Let me check to see how you are healing,” said the healer. “Hummingbirds heal fast.”
“Hmmm,” he said as he gently moved Intrepid’ swing. “I think we can take off this cast today. You will need to be careful with it for another week or two.”
“Hooray!” shouted Pindi, and Mindi. “We can teach you how to fly! Let’s practice. Flap your wings.”
Intrepid stood up straight and flapped his wings. He opened his beak and chirped in amazement when he lifted off the ground. “I’m flying!”
“Careful son,” Zoom cautioned. He had just flown over from the Crepe Myrtle Tree to check on Intrepid. “You’re really good at flying. Take it slow. Don’t get carried away.”
The friends practiced flying every day. After a week, Intrepid was flying up and down and frontwards and backwards, with Pindi and Mindi right next to him. “This is fun!” he chirped.
“Let’s fly to your nest and surprise your father,” Pindi suggested.
Off they flew, towards the front of the house where the Crepe Myrtle Tree grew. Zoom was flitting around the garden, sipping nectar for lunch. He looked up and saw Intrepid flying with Pindi and Mindi. “What?” he asked. “You flew all the way home? That’s amazing. You are a fantastic flyer.”
Zoom and Intrepid said goodbye to Pindi and Mindi and spent the afternoon sipping nectar. All was well again.
The fairies and all the guests at the Summer Solstice Celebration Fairy Ring slept late the morning after the celebration. Or they tried to. Zoom the hummingbird sounded the alarm just after dawn.
“I was looking for breakfast,” Zoom told a tired and disheveled King Bran. “I saw the crows massing in the Crepe Myrtle trees. Raven Feather cawed his war cry. They’ve captured Ka-a and are keeping him imprisoned. They don’t trust him not to help us.”
“Raven Feather and his crows dove at me. I flew up, then backwards to throw them off my tail. Then I came straight here.” Zoom was perched on a branch just outside of the great hall. His feathers were ruffled after his desperate flight.
Yawning and stretching her arms above her head, Pindi wandered into the great hall. “What’s going on? I heard crows cawing.”
“The crows have declared war,” King Bran told Pindi. “This is no place for a young fairy. Leave us now. And stay inside.”
“We should send a battalion of fighters to distract the crows, while a small stealth party flies to their nesting site to dismantle their nests. They are too big for us to fight directly,” said Angus, King Bran’s war chief. “
“We need our allies to help with this battle,” Angus advised. “We can’t do this alone. I have a friend among the paper wasps. They will help. Their stings are very painful and should slow down the crows.”
Crows cawed loudly outside the great hall and strafed over the castle, dropping walnut bombs on the roof. The ceiling shook as crows dropped their bombs. Dust rained down and dishes fell from shelves.
“Come children,” Queen Caelia called. “We’ll go further inside the castle where its safer.” Pindi grumbled, but she followed her mother. She was afraid but didn’t want to show it. Mindi and some of the other small fairies held their hands over their ears as the walnut bombs dropped and the castle walls shook.
“Angus,” King Bran said, “I don’t want you leading the stealth party. I need you here. Choose one of your commanders to go. Tell him to find out what he can about where they’re keeping Ka-a.”
“Seamus, go to the still room and talk with Petiole. We need some potions to disable the crows. Something we can dip our spears and arrows in before we go to battle.”
Blade flew into the great hall, skidding on his landing, his wings crooked and his hair spiking in all directions. “What can I do to help? My buddies and I are ready to fight!”
“Can you throw a spear or shoot an arrow?” King Bran asked.
“Yes, we’ve been practicing, but it was for sport, not war.”
“Get into battle gear and go tell Angus you’re ready to fight.”
Blade wiped the sweat off his brow and turned to dip his arrow into the pot of potion. The noise of battle swirled around him. The whir of dragonfly and hummingbird wings. The whistle of flying arrows. The caws and screams of the injured fighters. Crows were diving and weaving. “Ready, guys,” he said. “Aim carefully. Go for the throat. The potion is potent, but our arrows need to fly true.” He heard a scream and turned as one of his buddies was hit by a walnut bomb and fell. He called Zoom to take his injured buddy to the castle to see the healer.
A dozen paper wasps surrounded a crow trying to drop a walnut bomb. “Move in!” called their leader. As one, they attacked the crow, stinging again and again. The crow flew off cawing in agony.
King Bran stood on top of the fence and readied his spear. “Come closer…closer…closer” he chanted to the crows. “Now!” His spear throwers unleashed a volley of potion-laced spears at the approaching crows. Two fell. The rest turned and flew away.
As darkness fell, Blade dropped down into the fairies’ camp, sore, bruised, bloody, and exhilarated. “We kicked some crow butt today!” His buddies joined his war whoop with less enthusiasm. They were beyond tired. And they were hungry.
“How many casualties, how many injured?” Angus asked. He tended the fire as he asked, nudging almond cakes into the glowing coals. Blade’s stomach growled.
“We lost one,” Blade told him. “I’m not sure how many crows fell.”
“Eat some food and get some sleep. There will be more fighting tomorrow.”
Blade and his buddies bedded down near the fire. Blade was so tired he was asleep almost before his head hit the ground.
The Next Morning
“Go!” Angus yelled as he leaped astride a dragonfly. With a whir of wings, the dragonflies carried the fairy warriors into battle, whirling and swerving to avoid dive-bombing crows. Angus took aim and heaved his spear at a crow that flew too close. The spear hit home, and the crow dropped to the ground. Pumping his fist in the air, Angus yelled in triumph. “Another one bites the dust.”
Ducking to avoid a crow diving at him with its talons out, Angus told the dragonfly to maneuver his way back to the castle for more potion-dipped spears.
Taking a swig of honey nectar, Angus rested for a moment on top of the fence. “We’re holding our own,” he told King Bran, “but we need more fire power if we expect to win this war.”
“The wood nymphs are joining us” King Bran replied. “They are under your command. They have darts and spears with them. Are there enough dragonflies to carry them?”
Angus looked at the battalion of wood nymphs. “Take the long way around and flank them from the other side. Blade and his crew have the rear guard. I’ll take the front. We’ll force them into the center.”
At the castle, Pindi crept silently towards the door. Her mother was busy trying to keep the children calm and no one was paying attention to her. At the door, she whistled for Dasher the dragonfly. When he got there, she whispered her plan in his ear. “We have to go to the crows’ nests to free Ka-a. He will help us fight Raven Feather.”
“Its too dangerous,” Dasher replied. “Fairies and crows are fighting out there. You could get hurt. Or worse.”
“We won’t get hurt. We’ll fly around the back and take the long way. No one will see us.”
“What’s your plan for freeing Ka-a?”
Pindi patted her pack. “I have these nuts dipped in potion. I’ll figure out the rest when we get there.”
“Figures,” grumbled Dasher. “It’s just like you.”
Pindi crept to the nest where Ka-a was help captive. The crow guarding him was threatening Dasher and not paying attention to her.
“Ka-a,” she whispered, “we’ve come to free you. Can you fly?”
“My leg is tied behind me. I can’t reach the twine with my beak.”
“I’ll cut the twine,” Pindi whispered. “Stay still. I don’t want to cut your leg.”
Ducking to reach inside her pack, Pindi drew out the potion-dipped nuts. “These will put your guard to sleep so we can get away,” she said, and tossed them to the side of the nest. “You need to get the guard to come over here and eat the nuts.” Pindi climbed back out of the nest and crouched out of site.
“Guard!, look what I found.” Ka-a called. “Nuts. My favorite.”
“Give me those,” demanded the guard. “You aren’t allowed any food.” Back at his perch, the guard pecked greedily at the nuts. “These are delicious,” he cawed, and yawned deeply. His eyes slowly closed.
“Is he out?” Pindi asked Dasher?
“Yes, it looks like it. Hurry.”
Pindi jumped on Ka-a’s back and they flew.
On their way back to the castle, Pindi told Ka-a what she knew. “The crows are winning. We need more help to beat them.”
“Raven Feather has as many enemies as he has friends.” Ka-a said. “I have friends among the crows who will fight him. I’ll round them up and we’ll meet King Bran at the front. Give me 10 minutes.” Ka-a said as he landed on the fence to let Pindi jump down. “Now, get back inside the castle before you’re missed.”
The War Ends
The battle raged on. The fairies and their allies surrounded the crows and pushed them towards the center. The crows broke towards the far flank and threatened the wood nymphs. Ka-a and his friends flew over to help. Crows fell. Fairies fell and were taken by hummingbird ambulance to the castle healer. Day became night. Night became day. The battle was epic.
Finally, the tide started to turn. Ka-a returned to the fence after dropping walnut bombs on Raven Feather’s crows. “Gave them some of their own medicine,” he cawed. Ka-a was tired and thirsty. His feathers were rumpled and dusty. He ate a quick snack and told King Bran, “Raven Feather is ready to surrender. He has lost too many crows to continue to fight. Hop on. I’ll fly you over to accept his surrender.”
King Bran sat tall on Ka-a’s back as he told Raven Feather his terms. “You and your remaining crows must leave this neighborhood and never return. You must leave Ka-a ands his friends alone. You must not harass fairies or our allies. If you agree to these terms, I will accept your surrender.”
Raven Feather knew he was defeated. He grumbled, but accepted King Bran’s terms. He called his remaining crows and they flew off. Ka-a and his crow friends took over the Crepe Myrtle trees. King Bran thanked the paper wasps, wood nymphs, dragonflies, and hummingbirds for their help. “We couldn’t have won this war without you,” he told them. Then he turned to Pindi. “Daughter, I told you to stay inside where it was safe, but you didn’t. This time I am glad you didn’t listen to me. Thank you for freeing Ka-a. But, next time I tell you to do something, you had better listen.”
Pindi bowed her head and whispered, “Yes father.” But she crossed her fingers behind her back.
There was finally peace in the fairy kingdom.
Zoom and Dasher have been flying all morning, delivering invitations to the Summer Solstice Celebration Fairy Ring. Zoom chirps to Dasher and then lands lightly on a branch of the apple tree in the shade. Dasher grabs a stalk of zebra grass sticking out of the pond. Both sit and rest for a minute. There are more invitations to deliver. Everyone’s invited. Even Pindi’s giants.
“I’m beat,” Pindi complains to her twin sister Mindi. “Mother has had us working all day.”
“I can’t wait for the party,” Mindi replies. “It will be so much fun dancing in the twinkling lights.”
“Girls!’ Queen Caelia cries. “I need you to carry these baskets of treats to the Japanese Lantern. Your father is already there setting up for the party.”
“That’s too much for us to carry,” Pindi says. “I’m calling Ka-a. He’ll help us.”
“Raven Feather won’t like it if I help you,” Ka-a explains to Pindi. “He is still angry that I flew you home on that rainy day. And, he’s humiliated that you and Mindi outwitted him.”
“Oh please! It won’t take more than 5 minutes and you can come to the celebration if you want to.”
Ka-a sighs and lets Pindi climb onto his back carrying the baskets of treats. Mindi climbs up behind her.
As they unload at the Japanese Lantern, Pindi spies Blade and his buddies hanging around the honey mead. “Hey lazy bones! Come here and help. You can’t just hang around and drink honey mead all day.”
“Pindi, don’t be such a pest. We’re busy,” Blade says, but he helps unload the baskets anyway. “What’s in here?” he asks as he lifts the lid of one of the baskets. “Yum, honey treats.”
Pindi bats his hand away. “Stop! That’s for the party.”
The fairies work hard all afternoon getting ready for the big celebration. As dusk approaches, Dasher and his friends fly circles over the pond gobbling up mosquitoes. They look like a rainbow of dragonflies, all with different colored wings; red, blue, glittery gray, spotted. Zoom sits in the Red Japanese Maple tree chirping at Dasher and his friends.
Guests start to arrive. Xylem arrives, her arm still in a sling from her fall. Her wings have healed, and she can fly again. The frogs hop over. Ribbet calls out to the dragonflies not to eat all the mosquitoes. “Save some for us!”
The buffet table is set, and the lights are twinkling.
“Mother, Father,” Pindi calls, “Come and say hi to my giants.”
“These are my parents,” Pindi says to her giants. “My father, King Bran, and my mother, Queen Caelia.”
The giants bow their heads to the King and Queen. “It is an honor to meet you. Thank you for allowing us to join your celebration.”
As darkness falls on the longest day of the year, the celebration is in full swing. Fairies and other magical creatures dance in a circle around the Japanese Lantern. Everyone enjoys the treats and the honey mead. Ribbet leads the frogs in a song. Zoom chirps along. The giants sit at their patio table and watch the celebration.
No one notices the crows start to gather. “Hmph,” says Raven Feather. “Let them celebrate tonight. Tomorrow we attack.
“Faster, Dasher. Fly faster!” Pindi lay on Dasher’s back, her wings tucked close to her body, her hands gripping his shoulders. She was having the time of her life flying around the yard on Dasher’s back while the wind gusted around them.
“I can’t fly any faster, Pindi. Its too windy. I can hardly stay right side up.”
“When is it my turn?” yelled Mindi. “I want a ride, too.”
Reluctantly, Pindi asked Dasher to land so her twin sister could have a turn. Pindi was surprised Mindi wanted to ride. Mindi was usually timid. But, she kept Pindi from getting in even more trouble than she did. That was quite a job.
“Today is our birthday!” Pindi shouted. “We’re 11! We’re having a party later. You’ll come, won’t you? Everyone will be there. Mom and Dad, Blade, Grandma and Grandpa, Angus, Zoom, the frog king and the young frog we helped save. Even Ka-a. But Raven Feather isn’t invited. He’s mean.” Ka-a and Raven Feather were crows. Crows and fairies don’t normally get along, but Ka-a and Pindi were friends.
“We’re waiting until dusk when the fairy lights go on in the garden near our summer home. We can dance in the sparkling light. I think the giants put them up just for us.”
“Of course, I’ll be there,” Dasher answered, slightly out of breath from Pindi’s ride. “I wouldn’t miss it. Will you have mosquitoes? I love mosquitoes. They’re delicious.”
“Mom is making sure we have everyone’s favorite food.” Pindi answered, licking her lips and thinking about honey treats. And presents.”
“Wow, that was fun!” Mindi landed, excited after her ride on Dasher.
“Told you so.” Pindi flew off, intending to fly straight home to see how the party preparations were going. But she thought she heard crying, so she veered towards the sound. Mindi followed.
“Did you hear that?”
“Yes, it sounds like someone is hurt. Let’s go see.”
Pindi shook her head in wonder. Why had Mindi suddenly gotten so fearless?
“Look! There on here on the ground beside the fern. It looks like a wood nymph. She’s bleeding.”
The fairy sisters landed next to the injured wood nymph.
“What happened?” asked Pindi.
“I was flying around the Crepe Myrtle and a gust of wind blew me off course. Then I fell. My arm hurts and my knees are bleeding.”
“I’m Mindi and this is my sister Pindi. What’s your name?”
“We’ll take you to our healer. She’ll get you fixed up.”
“No, please help me get back to my tree. I just want to go home. We have a healer, too.”
“Ok” said Mindi, looking at her sister. “How will we fly holding Xylem? We’re all the same size.”
“I know”, said Pindi, “We’ll get Dasher.” She flew off to find the dragonfly.
“We need your help. We found an injured wood nymph. She needs to get back to her tree, but we can’t lift her.” Pindi explained to Dasher.
Dasher was exhausted after flying the sisters around the yard. He just wanted to rest. But, he waited for Pindi to climb back on his back and flew to the fern where the sisters had found the wood nymph.
“Help is here!” Pindi exclaimed as she climbed off Dasher’s back. “Let’s help you get up on Dasher and he’ll take you home.”
Xylem wasn’t sure about riding on a dragonfly, but she stood up on wobbly, bloody knees, cradling her injured arm. “How am I supposed to hold on? I can’t use my arm.”
“I’ll ride with you,” said Mindi, “and help you hold on.”
“Come to our birthday party later!” Mindi yelled as Dasher took off with his passengers.
At dusk, the party was in full swing. The buffet table was piled with everyone’s favorite treats. Mosquitoes and flies for the dragonflies and frogs. Nectar for the hummingbirds. Honey treats and mead for the fairies. A fairy band played rock and roll. Pindi and Mindi danced and frolicked in the sparkling fairy lights with their friends.
“Xylem! You came.” Pindi shouted, seeing the wood nymph standing on the fence with her arm in a sling. She had brought her parents with her. “Come and meet everyone.”
Much later, laying next to her sister in their leaf beds, Pindi thought their birthday was about perfect.