The gypsy sprites were currently living on the top of a raised riverbank, where the moss was thick and hanging willow trees provided a bit of shelter for them. Nolan had to follow the wind’s directions to find it, since it was so well-hidden and we’d never been there before. The sprites weren’t called gypsies for no reason–they moved around frequently from camp to camp and that made them very hard to find without help.
We pushed through the screen of willow branches and several startled birds flew up into the air. They were birds of all different species flying as one flock, and that was a clear sign that they weren’t ordinary birds. Even though my ability to see the small folk was impaired, I still knew that a mixed flock often meant gypsy sprites. Knowing this, I concentrated on seeing them for what they really were, and succeeded a couple times in catching glimpses of sprite faces and feet. Most of what I saw, however, was just ordinary birds. I frowned. This was going to be a difficult meeting.
I hopped off Faith and removed her bridle so that she could graze while Nolan–perfectly capable of seeing the small folk–walked over to some of the birds and spoke to them through the wind. He could see the small folk well enough, but he’d never had the talent of speaking their language and relied on the wind to translate for him. That at least gave him the means of communicating, while I couldn’t even use the wind. I was completely deaf and mute–and partially blind too.
I patted Faith’s spotted neck, watching Nolan for a few moments. “I hope this goes well,” I murmured to Faith, and she looked at me with one brown eye as if to ask what the trouble could possibly be. I rubbed her nose and smiled sadly. “Such a sweet girl.” She never seemed to notice whenever Nolan and I were upset with each other. We needed to help the gypsy sprites, though, so avoiding him was out of the question. Sighing, I left Faith’s side and walked over to join Nolan.
He was still talking to one of the sprites–disguised as a brown sparrow–when I approached, so I had to wait for them to finish speaking before Nolan would explain the situation to me. “The chieftain and his daughter are out scouting right now,” Nolan told me, “and they won’t be back for an hour or two. None of the other sprites will tell me what’s going on without the chieftain’s permission.”
I nodded, not too surprised by his last statement. If the chieftain had called us here, then it would be his responsibility to tell us what was happening. But why was he out in the first place? The chieftain wasn’t usually in charge of scouting the territory, and I’d never heard of him taking his daughter along. “Did they say why the chief and his daughter are out?” I asked.
“They’re searching for wounded,” Nolan said, his ears twitching uncertainly.
“Wounded?” I echoed. That was disturbing. If my prediction was correct and we were dealing with a war between the gypsies and the lily-slips, then it was a lot worse than I expected. “So what do we do until the chief and his daughter get back?” I asked Nolan.
He shrugged. “Not much we can do. But we should figure out what you’re going to do. Can you even see them?”
I bit my lip and glanced around. I was still only catching little glimpses of the sprites, nothing concrete. “Not really,” I admitted.
“So there’s no chance of you speaking to them, then. I suppose I can translate for you, but it will be inconvenient.” Nolan sounded unhappy about it and that only made me feel worse about being deaf.
“I was hoping that being here with the sprites would help me get my memory back, so that I can speak to them again. If I spend enough time with–”
I was interrupted by a sudden flurry of wings as a flock of mismatched birds flew through the willow leaves and landed in front of us. Most of the birds were healthy, but I saw blood and scratches on some of them. I recognized the mourning dove feathers of the chieftain’s daughter and caught a glimpse of her very unhappy face. She seemed to say something to Nolan and he responded in turn, but didn’t say anything to me. Left out of the conversation, I looked around at the wounded.
There were so many of them, I realized, with bloody wounds on their anxious faces and missing feathers in patches. It was clear they’d been in some sort of fight, but I couldn’t imagine that the elegant lily-slips would do that much damage. In fact, I was convinced by now that we were dealing with a lot worse than lily-slips.
Nolan was finally ready to speak to me. “It’s very bad,” he said, but I hadn’t needed him to tell me that. “They won’t say anything about the monster that did this to them–not in front of the others, anyways–but the chieftain’s daughter did tell me why she called us here.” Nolan tipped his head, looking confused.
“It’s rather strange,” he said slowly. “They need us to help them rescue the lily-slips.”
Feeling better after my walk and ready for more LotSF! As you can see, I got some sketches done, which made me very happy. Sorry they’re kind of a funny colour. The scanner made them look washed out so I tried to darken them. Ah well, it’s not too bad.
Blegh, Monday tomorrow. Every week has one. Well, off I go to bed.
How do you cope with Mondays?
May you have a restful night in preparation for Monday’s joys.