Zilli: A Fairy's Tale

by Bob Nailor

An un-edited, first pass written for NaNoWriMo 2004.

Chapter 1: Mushroom Knoll

Zilli uncurled then stretched to ward off the last of her nap's embrace. She quickly glanced about to see if anyone had noticed her waking up. She was alone.

"I think I'll go visit Elder Oak and get his opinion," Zilli whispered.

She tiptoed out of the log into the bright sunlight hoping that her mother wouldn't realize that she was awake; well, at least not until she was out of the village.

"Zilli!" Pritha yelled. "Hey, I thought you were going to be busy this afternoon. What happened?"

"Shush," Zilli hissed. "I'm trying to escape."

"Zilli. Come here, Zilli," the voice cried.

"Your mother's calling you," Pritha said and rushed to catch up with Zilli. "Aren't you going to answer?"

"Of course not," Zilli replied. "She wants me to wipe her wings and I have other things I want to do."

Pritha stopped and stared at Zilli in shock. "You won't? Zilli, you have to. You know very well that every fairy needs to have their wings cleaned. Besides, it will go faster if more than one helps."

"Let her get somebody else to do that chore," Zilli replied. "I want to go out to Elder Oak and talk with him. If you want, Pritha, you can go back and help my mother."

"Zilli!" Pritha yelled. "You are very inconsiderate. I don't know why I waste my time trying to be your friend. I guess the others are right when they call you Silly Zilli. Perhaps I will go back and help your mother."

"Pritha!" Zilli screamed. The wings on her back flared open in response to her anger. "You? You call me Silly Zilli?" She stomped her foot. "Fine! Go help my mother. See what I care. Some friend you are." She turned and continued on her way to Elder Oak. "At least he understands me," she mumbled.

Her fairy feet barely touched the ground as her wings fluttered in anger.

"Oh, enough of this," she said and tilted herself forward for flight. She took one quick look behind her. Pritha was not there. "Fine. I'll just fly to Elder Oak. Besides, it is quicker."

She pushed a lock of hair behind her pointed ear, then lifted daintily into the sky. Her light blue tunic blended with the sky and her dark hair curled and cascaded down her back. Zilli's wings flitted so quickly one was reminded immediately of a hummingbird, in fact, she darted through the air like one.

"I really don't understand why it is my responsibility to clean my mother's wings," she said. "It would have been so nice to just stroll to Elder Oak and talked with Pritha." Zilli sighed. "Well, if she wants to help my mother, I guess that is her decision.

Zilli watched the woods dance by her as she zipped on her way.

"Actually," Zilli thought, "this is even better since I will have more time to spend with Elder Oak and won't have to share any of it with Pritha. I guess it is good that she decided to go back."

The stately tree loomed in front of her and she slowed for landing, making a lovely single toe touchdown before Elder Oak.

"Very nice, Zilli," Elder Oak said. The words reverberated from within the mighty tree.

"Thank you," she replied. She walked quickly to the toadstool and plopped herself on it. "How have things been here?"

"As usual," Elder Oak replied. "Zilli, you always ask me how things are here, yet you must know that I cannot move. Things change ever so slightly here. It is the same every day, just with minor differences like the briar rose has three new blooms and one dead one, the drone grass is a bit taller and the sky is much brighter today, my leaves are enjoying the sunshine."

"Then things have changed," Zilli exclaimed. "Even a new nest would be a change."

"Have you asked Babbling Brook if things have changed?" the old tree asked.

"Oh," Zilli said and hopped off her toadstool and tiptoed to the small flowing stream. "Babbling Brook? How have things been here?"

Zilli listened to the brook wash on with its incoherent nonsense words.

She smiled and looked back at Elder Oak. "I guess you're right, nothing changes," she said laughingly and once again plopped herself on the toadstool.

Elder Oak quivered in mock laughter, his leaves jostling in the movement. "Zilli, you have a great sense of humor. How many times have you asked Babbling Brook that question only to listen to him ramble on?"

Zilli pulled her knees up close to her chin and folder her arms around them.

"Zilli? Is something wrong?"

"Oh, Elder Oak," Zilli said. "Pritha started out with me today but then went back to help my mother clean her wings."

"That is very kind of her, Zilli," the old tree said. "But why didn't you help your mother?"

"I was coming to visit you," the little fairy said. "I wanted to talk with you. If I'd stopped to help my mother clean her wings, I might not have been able to get here."

"That is true," Elder Oak said. "Still, if you had went with Pritha to help her, the two of you could have finished in half the time and then you both could have visited me."

Zilli looked up at the tree and pondered at his words.

"Then it is true," Zilli said. "They call me Silly Zilli."

"Let us dwell on another subject," Elder Oak said. "Why did you come to visit me? You have a question?"

"You are the wisest," Zilli started. "You have lived longer than anyone else that I can think of."

"Possibly true," the old tree replied.

"Not one fairy has left Mushroom Knoll since I can remember, why?"

"Why should they? Everything they need is right here. Mystyk Hills protects its inhabitants and none have ventured forth in a very long time."

"A truth," Zilli said. "Still, there is adventure and I'm sure there are other fairies out there, somewhere. It would be great to meet and share tales with others. We can't be the only fairies in the forest of Mystyk Hills"

"Zilli? I don't think there are any other fairies out there. From what I've heard, Mushroom Knoll is the last refuge of fairies. I think it would be in your best interest to not pursue the idea of others beyond your village."

Zilli leaped off the mushroom and stomped up to the base of the great tree. She pounded defiantly on the thick bark of Elder Oak with her small fist.

"Why? Why does everyone think I'm wrong?" she whimpered. "Silly Zilli, there aren't any more fairies. Silly Zilli, there are monsters beyond our village. Silly Zilli, clean my wings. Silly Zilli, do this... don't do that."

She crumbled into a small heap in a root's knoll and began to cry.

"There. There," said Elder Oak. "Zilli, there is no need to cry."

"Just call me Silly Zilli," she replied. "Everyone else does."

"Oh, Zilli," Elder Oak chastised. "You have a vivid imagination, something unusual in fairies."

"Imagination?" Zilli repeated and wiped her eyes. "Unusual?" She leaned back to look up at the mighty tree.

"Fairies are now considered the imaginary creatures of humans," Elder Oak said. "In the last few cycles of the universe, many things have disappeared from existence. Humans have decided to forget us. When nobody believes in you, well, you tend to disappear. We are protected here in the forest but some day, yes some day, even this forest will cease to exist."

Zilli stood up, placed her hands on her hips and stared at the tree.

"Do you expect me to believe that? We aren't real?" She stomped her tiny foot on the ground then pinched her arm. "Yes, I felt that and look!" She pointed at the ground. "See that? That is the footprint of a fairy. I would say that is real, wouldn't you?"

"That's fine," Elder Oak said. "You've proven your existence to you and me. How do you intend to teach the world? Venture out into it?"

Zilli scooted back onto the toadstool and looked about the area. How could this not be real? Elder Oak loomed before her, a doe and her fawn grazed in the nearby opening. There was a tranquility that permeated the area. Perhaps the wind carried the answer.

"Your sudden silence concerns me," Elder Oak said.

 "Just thinking," Zilli replied. "If we are the last fairies, what can we do? What can I do? I want to exist; to continue to be." She absently stroked her arms and legs. "I mean, I exist."

"Everything ends in its own time," the tree said. "Even the mightiest of oaks falls at some point in time."

Zilli jerked her head to stare at the mighty tree.

"Yes, dear Zilli," the oak tree continued. "Even I will cease to exist in the future. Nothing lasts forever and neither will I. But I digress. What can you do?"

"Yes," Zilli replied. "What can I do?" She crossed her legs and leaned her elbows onto them to rest her head in her folded hands. "What is the answer?"

"Ah, my little one," Elder Oak said. "I don't have the answer to this one. If I did, then the problem wouldn't exist. Each of us must do that which we can to stop it. What can you, a young fairy, do? Learn your craft, Zilli. You are a fairy. Become the best fairy that you can. Be strong and learn everything you can. Knowledge can be a weapon."

"Weapon?" Zilli echoed. "Why would I need a weapon? I'm a fairy."

The old tree sighed or perhaps it was just the wind softly moving through the leaves.

"I weary," Elder Oak said. "I see Pritha coming."

"Please don't tell her what we talked about," Zilli whispered. "Promise me."

"Zilli, this might not be a good idea," Elder Oak said. "To keep secrets from–"

"Promise!" Zilli shouted.

"I promise," Elder Oak said. "Even against my better judgment."

Tree branches shook and leaves cascaded down around Zilli. She jumped off the toadstool and picked up a bright green one.

"This one will be perfect." Zilli said twirling the leaf between her thumb and index. "By the leaf bite," she said and bit the leaf. "There, our promise is locked."

"A very old method," Elder Oak said. "You learned that from which of your fairy magic teachers?"

"No," the fairy replied. "I was taught it by my mother. She was always saying "By the leaf bite" and I finally asked her what it meant. She explained and I asked her to teach me the way of the leaf bite."

"Zilli?" Pritha called.

"I'm over here with Elder Oak," she replied and quickly wove the leaf into her hair.

"Your mother's wings have been cleaned," Pritha said coming into view. "She is really mad at you. She says you should have come back to help."

"Well, Silly Zilli," Pritha said wagging a chastising finger at Zilli while grinning profusely. "Your mother won't let you off the hook too easily."

"I do believe she has learned to error of her way," Elder Oak said. "I explained that it would have taken less time if the two of you had worked together."

"I'm sorry," Zilli said. "Go say hi to Babbling Brook."

Pritha rolled her eyes and ambled to the edge of the stream. Elder Oak and Zilli watched her perform the obligatory greeting. She quickly returned, carrying two lilies filled with fresh water.

"I thought you might be thirsty," Pritha said. She looked up at the old tree. "I know she tends to get very talkative. You are very kind to listen to her prattle on."

"Pritha!" Zilli said.

"Enjoy this, Elder Oak," Pritha whispered to the tree and poured one lily of water. "May this flourish and flow beneath the moss and give you strength." Pritha held the second lily high then began pouring it. "May your leaves and branches enjoy this humble offering."

Pritha turned to Zilli. "Are you finished talking Elder Oak's bark off?" the fairy asked.

"Honestly, Pritha," Zilli exclaimed.

"Well," Pritha said. "I was only hearing what the brook told me. He said that the two of you have been talking incessantly since you got here. So, I guess I'm here to protect Elder Oak and take you back home. Ready?"

"I guess so," Zilli said.

The two fairies hugged the old oak tree then lifted into the air and headed back to Mushroom Knoll.

"You've been very silent, Pritha," Zilli said. "We're almost back to the village and you've not said one word since we left Elder Oak."

"Sometimes that can be a good omen," Pritha said.

"Sometimes it means you know something and aren't going to tell me," Zilli shot back. "So what is happening that you won't tell me?"

"It is something that I shouldn't discuss with you," Pritha said. "I was helping to clean your mother's wings when she inadvertently let it slip out. I really shouldn't say anything."

"Too late," Zilli said. "Tell me or I shall be forced to let Brant know how you feel about him."

"You wouldn't," Pritha yelled and flitted ahead of Zilli. "That was a secret between you and me."

"So tell me what my mother said."

Pritha glanced about to make sure that nobody was within listening distance then hovered very near to Zilli.

"Your mother is concerned about what the Council wants of your attendance tomorrow."

"Attendance?" Zilli said. She floated down to the ground and stood looking up at Pritha. "Why would they want me?"

Pritha gently floated down and joined Zilli, taking her hands into her own. "I don't know why, either," she said. "Just because the Council has summoned you–well, that doesn't mean it is a bad thing." Her eyes flared wide and the blue refracted the color of the sky. "Remember when they called Brant? He received a commendation."

"Yes," Zilli said. "He also found a new location of fairywort. What have I discovered?"

"Perhaps it is for something that you don't realize that you did?"

"And perhaps it is because I am in trouble," Zilli replied. "Go back to the village, Pritha. I want some time to think this over."

"I'm not going to leave you here alone," Pritha said. "Not in your current mood."

Zilli glared at her. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with my mood. I just want to be alone. I was out here alone when I went to see Elder Oak."

"Oh, there you two are," Zilli's mother said coming around the path's corner. "I was wondering if you two had headed back."

"Why are you here?" Zilli asked.

"Well," Zilli's mother said. "I was concerned when you didn't come back but Pritha did. She was a dear to help me clean my wings." She smiled at the fairy. "But, you, Zilli, there is a lot happening right now and you need to be home."

"Home? Why? So I can go to the Council when they call?"

"Zilli!" Pritha yelled. "How could you?" The fairy stomped away, flared her wings and took off toward Mushroom Knoll. "Silly Zilli can't be trusted," Pritha said.

"Well," her mother said. "That certainly didn't go at all like I had intended."

"You have no idea why the Council wants to see me?" Zilli said and started down the path.

"No, dear," her mother replied. She lifted into the air. "I wish I knew. It is starting to get dark, Zilli. We'd best be headed back home. Zilli?"

"Yes, mother," the little fairy replied waited for her mother to join her.

"Perhaps you need a new dress for tomorrow's meeting?"

"Everyone calls me silly and listens to you," Zilli replied. "Maybe I should run away."

"Now don't be silly, Zilli," her mother chastised. "Running away has never cured or fixed anything. It only prolongs."

"See?" Zilli said. "Even my mother calls me Silly Zilli. Whatever could the Council want with me?"

End of tease read...

© Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved
Robert S. Nailor