Hey kids! I have been a bloggin’ fool this week. I’m probably just feeling guilty because I haven’t done it in so long. I thought tonight that I’d put up a little excerpt that’s way different than my normal fare. The story is called “Wormwood” and it’s from an anthology called “A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court.” The setting is the antebellum south, a place where one might not expect to find faeries. But one would be wrong, because Robin Goodfellow shows up and helps our heroine get even in a grotesque way straight out of Shakespeare. I hope you like, kiddies!
“Are you going to sit there like that all night? Don’t you know it’s nearly midnight?” Freedom’s head snapped up at the unfamiliar voice. She looked up and a blurry figure stood before her, leaning on one of the gnarly old oak trees. She rubbed her eyes to clear them of the grit that tears sometimes leave behind. “Well?” the voice said again, a touch of impatience tempering its tone.
“Who are you?” she croaked, pulling her knees in tighter. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
The shadow came forward into the moonlight and Freedom gasped. The most beautiful creature she’d ever seen came fully into view. It was a boy, but not a human boy. For a moment she thought he might be an angel. Of course, no angel would have such a mischievous grin. His skin nearly glowed with the light of the moon and his features were fine. His jet colored hair fell in careless waves over his brow and he had a long, slim pipe perched between his lips. The smoke from the end curled around him like a plume of silvery feathers. His only clothing was a pair of mossy green trousers that fell low on his hips, almost a part of the skin underneath. Most amazing were his wings. They looked like skeletal twigs covered in dewy spiderwebs that sprang from his back. They flapped so quickly in the still air as he lit on the branch just over her head. They hardly looked to be moving at all. “I am Robin Goodfellow. And you are Freedom Jenkins,” he replied matter-of-factly, taking a long pull of his pipe. “And now we’re not strangers.”
“How you know my name?” Freedom asked, standing up quick.
“Your sister told me.”
“You know my sister?” He seemed to ignore her question and jumped down to the ground. As he began to pace, Freedom watched him back and forth, unable to tear her eyes away. Was he even real? His silvery skin and almond eyes were like nothing she’d ever seen before and she sat there transfixed. “What are you?” she blurted, not considering her rudeness.
“Me? Well I’m a creature of the forest. Your kind call us woodfolk or sprites…”
“A fairy? You’re a fairy!” Freedom cried, for a moment forgetting about her predicament.
Robin gave a perturbed scowl and turned his nose up snottily at Freedom. “I prefer Fae, for I am, in fact, the prince of all Fae. A most cunning sprite and knavish Puck, at your service.” He gave an exaggerated bow and nearly fell over, making Freedom giggle in spite of her sadness. He stopped and looked up at the girl, his mouth curled into a thoughtful sneer. “You are so very sad, just as your sister said.” He shook his head and inhaled deeply on his pipe again. This time when he exhaled, the smoke formed a sparkling, silver bird that fluttered toward Freedom. Just before it lit on her nose, the bird blew apart into an entire flock that fluttered around her head for a moment before dissipating. “No little child born of the Fae should be so sad as you. It isn’t natural.” With a graceful leap, he alighted on the low bough of the oak and squatted there. “You have a touch of our magic, of course. You and your sister.”
“What kind of root you got in that pipe, Suh?” Freedom asked, her eyes bugging. “If’n we had magic, we be out of this place long ago.” She sighed miserably and put her head in her hands. “It’s hopeless, Robin. Me and Ady gon’ die here and that nasty old Gerald Wilkins is goin’ to git away wit’ his mischief.”
The sprite had a roguish grin that was almost too large and Freedom couldn’t help but return it. “Sometimes magic is hard to see, but it was magic that brought me to you. If you hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have come. What do you think about that, Freedom Jenkins?”
Like it? It’s one of my favorite pieces. If you like it too, the whole book full of faery stories is available from Seventh Star Press! You can click on the picture above or here!