By the time Nolan and I got back to my house, we were both soaking wet. My hair hung in strands on my shoulders and Nolan’s feathers were slicked flat with the rain. We shook ourselves on the front porch, scattering droplets through the air and sprinkling each other. He laughed as he wiped the raindrops off his forehead, looking refreshed by being out in the storm, but I could barely stop myself from shivering. It was a good thing my satchel was waterproof, or my books would have been ruined and I would have had to strangle Nolan for getting us caught in the rain.
“Do you want to come inside to warm up or dry off?” I asked him, unlocking the door. We went into the foyer and I shut the door behind us, temporarily closing off the patter and chill of the storm. The thunder growled, a bit lower now than before, and I waited till it had passed before offering, “I could get you a dry sweater or a raincoat.”
He shook his head, water running off his chin, and said, “I’m happy to walk through pouring rain. Unlike some people.” Grinning slyly, he jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow and tilted his head down mischievously. “Are you going to make it till morning or will I come to find you just a blob on the floor, completely melted away?”
I rolled my eyes and unlaced my boots. “I’m fine, thanks,” I muttered, kicking them off and peeling my soaked hoodie from my body. “Want anything warm to eat or drink before you go?” I asked him, shivering and with goosebumps all up and down my arms.
“Nuh-uh,” he replied, lips twitching in a grin. “Go make a fire,” he said, turning to leave. “You’re about to freeze up on me.”
I rubbed my arms, only too eager to do as he suggested, and said, “All right, suit yourself. Don’t get pneumonia or anything.”
“I’ll try not to,” Nolan said with a broad smile, opening the door and stepping onto the porch. “G’night.”
“Night,” I said softly, standing at the door to watch him trot out into the downpour. I waited till he’d left the path through my yard and had started along the road before closing the door and going back inside. Wasting no time, I immediately got to work on building a fire. Once that was done, I went to the mantle and took down a stack of six leather books.
In these six books, I’d poured pages and pages worth of my knowledge of the small folk. I’d documented races and tribes, habitats, magics, customs and cultures, songs, traits, descriptions of all sorts–anything I thought would be useful. I had full-colour photographs and sketches, letters, pressed flowers and leaves, and even scraps of fabric tucked between the pages. Almost everything that I knew and had taken the time to write down was contained in these books, but I had realized while writing the sixth book that the amount that was left was still so broad, still so much left untouched. I had stopped then, unsure how to proceed.
I now opened the third book, flipping to where I had marked the page with a bright blue feather. The gypsy sprites. I had some sketches of them, and a few blurry photographs, mostly of the chieftain’s family and the family that I’d lived with during my visits. I had been with their tribe two or three years ago, having been sent an urgent message that a child had fallen ill and needed healing. I ended up staying for close to four months, travelling with them and learning their ways, and it had been an uplifting experience. The most important thing to a gypsy sprite was enjoying good stories and good songs.
I thumbed through the pages I’d dedicated to the tribe and tried to guess at why they were calling me back now. It likely wasn’t another illness; with summer coming on, the sprites would be brimming with health and joy. The chances of it being some other injury were also slim, seeing as how they were a careful people who could more or less take care of themselves, so the likeliest cause was some sort of outside conflict. And if I had to guess at that, I knew exactly what to choose: the lily-slips.
Lily-slips were a beautiful, elegant, mysterious race, and they knew it. Proud, arrogant, self-absorbed, they had an outwardly indifferent attitude towards other races. They walked where they wanted to, no matter who was in the way, and always believed that their rights came first. They were at times insufferable to deal with, and so it was no surprise that the gypsy sprites, who often travelled through lily-slip territory, often confronted the snobbish creatures with hostility. For a race like the gypsy sprites which believed that the land was everyone’s to share, they had a strong hate for any races who thought they owned the rights to a place.
There had been war between the lily-slips and gypsy sprites before, many years ago, but that had ebbed as the years passed and was now mostly reduced to the occasional skirmish between a small group of them. These were usually resolved without much trouble, but every now and again a particularly bad dispute would require outside help to end it. It seemed like this was the case now, and it would have to be a bad fight indeed for someone like me to be called in. Knowing it was a long walk for me to reach them, the gypsy sprites typically only called me if it was absolutely necessary.
Dispute or no dispute, I was looking forward to the trip. I hadn’t seen the gypsy sprites in a year or more, and they always made for cheerful company. I also hoped, faintly, that they might help me get my hearing back. They were a people full of music, and songs were always easier for me to remember than spoken phrases. There was a chance that some small fragment of their melodies might spark a memory, and that that memory would grow to full remembrance…
Exhaling deeply, I closed the book and stared at the lowering flames in the fireplace. Wait for the new day to come, I told myself. You never know the song until it’s already been sung.
Not too much to say today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s new day, though–hopefully a day in which I can catch up on my sleep and my reading and my writing. Catching up is nice. I often feel like I’m three steps behind where I should be.
Any weekend plans to share?
May your next new day be full of bright songs and happy tunes.