The Empress

The Queen of the Flower Fairies awoke within a pink cocoon. She was also known as the Flora Empress and her smile and grace brought life to the fairies in her dominion. Her slender body draped over the soft yellow pollen of the stigma.  Her multicoloured dress of petals lapsed over her legs and hid her bare toes. Tall and wide, pink petals wrapped up around her place of sleep creating a small circular dome.

A bright light hovered on the other side of the petals, warm and inviting it flickered to and fro. The warmth reached the Empress’s slumbering face and her eyelids fluttered as she was roused. She breathed a sigh and raised herself to a seating position. On seeing the warm glow she smiled and waved her arm. In response the petals bowed, opening up the flower chamber to the outside world.

A clear blue sky greeted her and immediately the source of the light spun into view. A sun fairy, full of warmth and light it flitted about with ecstatic energy. The Empress was a practitioner of fey magic and had also been born of it, thus she was able to see the orange flesh of the fairy covering it from tip to toe, the wild hair gently flowing as though underwater and the transparent wings that shimmered like a gown of gossamer. To a mortal or other non-fey creature the fairy would have appeared as a bright light, perhaps not viewable by the naked eye but seen in the peripherals and in the blinding effect of staring at the sun where thousands of such fairies gathered in the sky.

The sun fairy hovered close to the Empress and reached out an arm for her. She took it, gracefully, in her own delicate palm and allowed the sun fairy to pull her into the air. The queen had no wings of her own, but her body was so light and delicate that it was able to drift with ease on a breeze. She pulled her arms around the sun fairy, feeling its inner warmth and revelling in the way its light shined upon her. In the sky all around them other sun fairies danced and played, skimming over the ground and soaring high into the crystal, blue sky.

The Empress and her sunlit suitor floated gently over the pond home of her water lily to the verdant grass close by, soft and supple as the frost of the winter had melted away. All around them a forest of plants poked up from the earth stretching their stems skyward and proffering their sleeping buds towards the Empress.

A crowd of sun fairies gathered to watch as the Empress walked towards the nearest bud. They followed close behind her heating the air, a faint shimmer accompanying their movements. The grass where the Empress trod enlivened and filled with a rich green, replacing the dry yellow of their winter coats. It released, in flurries, dozens of grass fairies hunched over like frogs. They bounded away, long, green mohawks of grass running down their backs.

The Empress stretched out her pale hands, tinted with a chlorophyll green, to touch and caress the hibernating bud. The sun fairies crowded closer and the tip of the bud began to split open. Inside, ruffled up and unfolding on release, were glorious, golden yellow petals. Out from the corona of the daffodil dropped a fairy, male in form and dressed in yellow petals folded to form a militaristic uniform. He yawned as he rose from the ground and on seeing the Empress stood to attention. He raised the small trumpet he held in his hand to his mouth and blew a tribute to the Spring.

The rest of the watching fairies clapped and cheered. The Empress graciously smiled at the daffodil fairy, who blushed feverishly. She repeated the action with the rest of the patch of daffodils, gently stroking the spathe that protected the sleeping flowers and birthing the fairies that slept inside until she had formed a full brass orchestra.

The Empress and her entourage made their way through the rest of the woodlands as she, one by one, encouraged the awakening of the flower fairy population. Rose fairies blossomed from their flowers, dressed in beautiful and seductive reds and whites but holding a thorn dagger close to their hearts. Bluebell fairies, on long, teal wings silently flitted from their cosy bell homes. The dandelions drifted lazily above the crowds wrapped cosily in fluffy clothes and the cowslips brought forth yellow-gloved fairies with a glint of greed in their wide eyes.

The fairies danced and cheered and played and sang together as they celebrated Spring. Mushroom fairies with caps on their heads huddled together and danced in circles. The grass fairies leapt and crawled about. Thyme, parsley and other herb fairies attracted the attention of others with their fragrant scents and brought forth little pots, upside down toadstool caps, in which to cook their fairy feasts. And a pansy fairy milled amongst the throng merrily pairing fairy lovers and bringing smiles to the faces of the lonely ones.

All the while the Empress woke the sleepers, bringing them life of the mortal world with her fey magic. All the gaiety and excitement brought forth more of the sun fairies whose brightness reflected in the blooming flowers and they brought with them a warmth. But as more and more of the golden skinned, fey creatures flew down to the gathering the greater the warmth became.

The flower fairies began to slow, some sitting others growing sluggish in their movements. Yet with ceaseless energy the sun fairies urged them on, dragging unwilling fairies to dance and play with them, they yelped and whooped ignorant of the wilderness’s growing displeasure of their company.

Soon the Empress found herself surrounded by a ring of the jerking and jiving sun fairies. The heat singed the edges of her long, sweeping dress wilting the multicoloured and speckled petals, but try as she might she could not shoo the sun fairies away.

Eventually she called on the leaf fairies who lounged lazily in the canopy overhead. They had pale green skin and a richer green for their clothing. A membrane stretched across their limbs and torso like webbed feet allowing them to glide in the air as they dove to the Empress’s aid. They swept between her and the sun fairies, holding the heat and the blinding light at bay, but able only to provide a brief respite.

Soon the leaf fairies were collapsing under the onslaught, the sun fairies pouted as the men fainted, disappointed in their lack of energy, disappointed that their playmates refused to play anymore. And, just when the Empress was ready to succumb to the unbearable heat, a well-aimed droplet of water hit the original sun fairy in the face as he was reaching a hand out to the Empress once more.

He fell to the floor with an exclamation of surprise. A rain fairy dropped from the canopy overhead giggling and pointing at its victim. It was tall and slender and its blue skin was translucent in the bright light. The sun fairy shock its head clean like a wet dog, then, blowing a raspberry at the rascal rain fairy, it flew away, gliding over the tops of the trees and far away.

The other sun fairies had fallen silent at the spectacle and before they gathered themselves were under assault as a dozen rain fairies followed suit and dropped from over head, hurling drops of water at any and all around them.

Disgusted and horrified at the wetness the sun fairies scarpered taking their light with them. Meanwhile the flower fairies enjoyed the new form of attention, joining in the water fight. Droplets were flung across the wilderness, spat out of mouths and into the air like fountains. A huddle of daisy fairies interlocked arms and danced in a ring beneath the tall, slender arms of rain fairies as they dropped water like sprinkling flour. The Empress brushed herself over with the rain, taking droplets offered to her with great respect by the rain fairies.

The jollity soon got out of hand however. Once again the playfulness attracted greater numbers of fairies, rain fairies, each one bringing with it the precipitation that was its name’s sake. Soon the play turned violent, with droplets being flung at great speed and knocking over the other fairies, stinging and cold.

The flower fairies cursed, some tried to shield themselves under leaves and toadstools vainly. Heather and honeysuckle fairies huddled together seeking protection in each other’s arms.

The rain fairies yelped and stomped their feet on the grounded kicking up mud and dirt. Grass fairies dove into the earth to hide from the onslaught as the water pool up around them. The Empress gave orders and the trumpeter daffodils played a tune that signalled the other fairies to hide. They ran and scampered, flew and leapt from their shelters to their homes. Slipping inside the open flowers and closing them up behind them. The daffodil fairies followed suit and the Empress was left alone amid a throng of rain fairies.

Hurriedly she made her way back to her pond. But she was too late, the freckled pink bloom of the water lily had been dashed and pillaged. Rain fairies stomped over the delicate petals, gleefully tearing them apart and filling the floating leaves with water till they sank into the murk to join silver-scaled and webbed footed pond fairies who eyed them with sadistic glee.

Cut off from her safe house the Empress was subjected to the exuberance of the rain fairies as they splashed in the mud drenching her gorgeous dress in dirt. She tried to run from them but they treated the chase as a game, lolloping on all four limbs like dogs. They followed her and cut her off until she collapsed into the dirt, tired, miserable and alone. Eventually the rain fairies moved on, with only a few late partiers staying behind to drip over the sodden earth.

The Empress wept in her puddle of filth, sadness filling her being until a gentle touch pressed against her back. Wiping away the tears she turned to see three moon fairies watching her cautious and concerned. In her distress the Empress had not noticed the rising of the moon into the night sky. The moon fairies had short statures with wide heads and long, pointed ears. Black, bulbous eyes peered out from their grey skin at her.

She gave a weak smile for the little creatures and they responded in kind with wide, crescent shaped grins. Together they pulled her to her feet then guided her over the mud on their stubby legs. She was brought before a bush with long leaves, still a young plant and on it some unbloomed buds reaching high towards the pale moon.

Still guided by one moon fairy, the other two leapt up and bent low one of the buds of the plant that the Empress could breath life into the fairy dwelling inside. She brushed off the mud and dirt from her dress as best she could before bringing her green fingers to rest on the protective spathe of the bud. It shivered in response, as though breathing a sigh of relief and unfurled to reveal four, buttery yellow petals of an evening primrose. Inside the flower, curled up, rested a fairy, he yawned and stretched his strong arms. The fairy stepped out of the flower and stood statuesque before the Empress. He wore a suit made of woven grass strands with yellow ruffles at the cuffs and neck. He smiled broadly at the Empress and took her hand in his.

The two fairies waltzed to a silent rhythm, gradually stepping and twirling around the evening primrose bush. More moon fairies gathered to watch as the rest of the flowers bloomed in the moonlight. In each one a handsome fairy stood and leapt nimbly to the ground. Around the bush grew moonflowers, with their umbrella like petals, which opened as the couple passed releasing moonflower fairies, demure females dressed in large billowing white dresses. They stepped forth and let their skirts fill with air so that they could float gently to the ground. Each moonflower fairy took up arms with an evening primrose fairy and joined the dance.

The Empress smiled with the motion and the comfort letting the night wear on. A frost fairy came by and lingered at the edge of the crowd with its butterfly wings made of snowflakes. Where it stepped the soaked ground frosted with a web like ice. Slowly it crept towards the gathering and as it did so more of its friends appeared to join it. The moonflower fairies and the evening primrose fairies felt the chill and, saying their farewells, returned to their flowers, the buds closing before the frost fairies draped an icy cloth over them.

The Empress’s suitor bowed low before her and kissed her hand before returning to his flower. She waved after him until the last petal had wrapped him up then turned to see the moon fairies watching her once again. She offered her hand and they took it and pulled her down to the pond once more. There her water lily had been brought back to the surface and the petals collected and washed and pieced back together. The reed fairies that had repaired her home bowed their brown bodies low before her, nearly losing their tall, fluffy hats. She thanked them and stepped from the shore to a lily pad and another and walked across to her home.

She settled into the water lily, curling up amongst its stamen. The pink, freckled petals closed up around her, cocooning her in its embrace. Soon the frost fairies passed over lacing the lily in ice as the Empress slept.

When she awoke once more there was a warm, orange glow hovering outside the pink petals of the water lily chamber.

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