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.