DRYADS, FAERIES, NYMPHS
I stare at the dead body in disgust, my boss, Marty Graham looks over it with a certain clarity and calmness I wish to possess as a detective one day. I try to hide my grimace as he stands up and looks at me.
“Minete, its fine to feel queasy, I felt like that on my first days to.”
He places a firm hand on my shoulder and gives a comforting nudge. “You get used to it. Now tell me what’s the first thing you see on the body.”
I step a little closer to the body, forcing down my gag. Apart from the horrible mutation of every part of her body, there was nothing out of the ordinary from the usual brutal murders. I bend down to look at the many wounds closer. From afar it looked like she was covered in countless deep slashes from a knife of some kind but dotted among them were small bite marks and flesh was ripped away to reveal bone. Graham must have seen the curious look on my face as I stood up because before I could reply he said-
“odd, isn’t it? Bite marks. Incredulous. From my first thought I would say psychopath and cannibalism… but no person’s bite marks could possibly be that small unless it was a crazed child.”
Graham paces back and forth before stopping in the centre of the room, a hand on his chin, his face pensive.
“Minete, I want you to search the house for me, put your skills to the test today.” I nod my head and stride off to the room adjacent to the loungeroom, the bedroom. It was simple, clean and smelled faintly of coconut. On the wall above the bed was a picture of a gorgeous ancient castle in Ireland. Down below the world home was written in cursive. She must be Irish.
I begin to move onto the next room down the wall when I notice a bright red object beside the door, half-heartedly hidden behind a broken lamp. I walk over to it and pick it up. A red cap, blood was smeared along the top and I stand up abruptly. This could be a very useful lead. I look over it to see if I could find a manufacturer, nothing. Not even a tag. I begin to turn so I could hand this over to Graham when I notice something peculiar. It was the earthy smell of a forest and the material was soft, too soft, and shimmering ever so slightly. My heart seems to stop dead in its rapid beating and my breath comes out shallow, it can’t be
Red caps. Conniving, merciless and murderous little devils. No, not devils, faeries. I’ve always had an avid fascination with Faeries and folklore and whatnot, but never believed any of it, well most of it to be true. I have this dreadful feeling that this may change. I stuff it into my deep jacket pocket, calm my nerves and walk back to Graham.
“Find anything Minete?”
“No, nothing of interest. The house is an absolute pigsty though.”
“Mhm, very true.”
He began walking to the door, a certain unnerving glint in his eye. I walk on after him, eager to finish for the day.
Another call was called in for me and Graham.
Murder, once again.
Mutilation, once again.
Red cap, once again.
What was different was the female detective standing over the dead body as walked through the door. She looks up and her striking green eyes seem to pierce into my very being. She was long and slender, almost willowy like. Her hair was a deep brown and so curly, wild like. I look over at Graham and he was staring at her with a poorly hidden intensity. Did they know each other?
“May name is Ava minph. I work for a secret organisation and I’ve been assigned to help you as these murders have been going on for too long. Three heads are better than two.”
Her voice was hard, matter of fact, a force not to be reckoned with. Graham sighed in exasperation before striding over to Ava. He looks over his shoulder at me.
“Minete I need you to search the backyard, see if you can find any traces of entry.”
I nod my head, obedient as always, but something seemed off. I walk toward the back door and slip off into a room close to the two detectives.
“Ava, this is not the time to interfere!”
“Greswald, it is. She can continue her training back home, training that is essential.”
“It is NOT essential yet. She is not ready for Faerie.”
“Did you just say Faerie.” I squeak, stepping out from my hiding place before I even knew what I was doing. I clamp a hand over my house, eyes wide and look between the them. They exchange a glance; a silent conversation seems to briefly pass through them before Ava places a careful hand on Graham or… Greswalds shoulder.
“She is ready.”
I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to be ready for, but I followed the very stiff-backed pair as we strolled from central park.
I was definitely not ready. We stopped in the centre of a small wooded area of the park, smack bang in the middle of the clearing. I could hear the willows whispering, tickling my ears with soft lullabies and it was, to say the least, unnerving.
Willows. Couldn’t. sing. But with the red cap a burning reminder of the possibility of its origin, I was second guessing my thoughts.
Oh yeah, I was second guessing now. Ava transformed, fluorescent glitter seeming to fall away from her body, what was left was a very naked woman. She kept all her original features, brown hair, bright green eyes but her skin colour was tree bark brown. No wait, I take a step closer in bewilderment, her skin was literally bark and her hair was the shape of willow trees. She stared at me, her head cocked to the side and eyes bright with poorly hidden amusement. I was standing in front of a dryad
“is your name really Ava?” I mentally slapped my forehead. That’s what you ask?! Your standing in front of one of the most ancient mythical creatures and you ask If her name is Ava?
She lets out a breathy laugh as I stand there warring with my inner thoughts.
“No darling, my faery alias is Caelia. Your faery alias is Alura.”
“Wait my faery what now?!”
I look over to Graham, staring silently at all of this unfold. He regards me with his usual clarity but… you have to be kidding me. Graham is no longer Graham. His hair flows to his elbows in straight, silvery waves. His eyes are a stark gold, the corners slightly upturned. His cheek bones jutted prominently from his face and as he opens his mouth to speak, I notice elongated animal fangs. Faery, Graham was a faery.
“Apologies for not informing you sooner Alura, but we had to know that you were ready.”
“ready for WHAT?”
I look between both of them, my eyes wide and to them, most likely wild looking. Caelia gave a soft sigh and turned her back to me. She lifted up her arms and circled them around gracefully. She looked over her shoulder at me.
“All will be revealed.”
She opened up her arms wide and the space in front of her shimmered and then the scenery seemed to just fall away, like a veil. My stomach wasn’t feeling very good about this and I was inclined to agree.
What was now before us was a never-ending dark forest, fluorescent mushrooms and glowing flowers dotted the surrounding of looming trees and a winding dirt path. Caelia stepped through, Graham followed and then I did, albeit hesitantly. Hold on.
“Graham can’t be your faery alias, what am I calling you now?”
I squeaked. “Gelid. THE Gelid, prince of the north, of the winter fey, second son of Queen MAB!”
He stares at me, his emotions unreadable. Typical. His cold and distant personality makes so much sense now. Winter fey are evil, merciless and fearfully cunning. The red cap murders pop back into my mind and my heart skips a beat. Have am I now casually strolling to my own death? I look over to Caelia, practically bouncing along the path
Summer fey. Gentle, kind, caring, still cunning considering their fey but their species are a much brighter bunch. What was she doing with Gelid?
“All will be revealed.”
My head snaps up to look at her.
“did you read my mind?”
She laughs and shakes her head. “You said it out loud.”
“Oh.” I steal a glance toward Gelid, unsurprisingly emotionless.
A stream can be heard in the distance and Caelia steers us toward it. The water is crystalline clear, and according to Gelid was drinkable. I was about to bound toward it and take a large, sloppy gulp but Caelia put a firm hand on my shoulder.
“Alura, before you go. Just prepare yourself for your reflection.”
My heart drops and no I cautiously inch toward the edge. A loud gasp escapes my lips and I rear back, falling onto my bottom. I cant be seeing what I’m seeing. I steel myself and look over into the water again. I touch my ears, from the bottom all the way to the point. My eyes are a deep hazel, ringed with gold and my hair was a soft green colour, like that of an untouched meadow. My skin was eerily glowing a faint moon white colour and I didn’t recognise myself anymore.
I tried to calm my beating heart.
“I don’t understand.” I whisper, standing up slowly and forcing my unfamiliar eyes away from my reflection. I look between the them.
“I don’t look like me at all.”
Caelia puts both her slender hands on my shoulders and begins to walk me back to the path, my legs unable to do it on their own. When get back onto the solid ground of the beaten path, she begins to speak.
“You are not… like other faeries. You are unique and one of the last of your kind. You are by origin a nymph, but you are… mutated.” I frown and she shrugs. “I can’t put it any other way. Your mutation has allowed you to completely embody another species, in human terms, you are a shape shifter. You can be whatever you want to be. Normal faeries like me a Gelid are only able to “shift” into a human and I’m putting that erm in very lightly. We use glamour, which is a type of magic that envelopes us to make us appear as looking different, but our natural body is still whole under that sheen. Your body on the other hand, changes in its entirety. Bone structure, muscle, flesh and so forth. Understand?”
I numbly nod my head. Understanding but not at the same time. I understand the details but what I don’t understand as me. I silently process all the information before speaking up.
“Wy am I here though? Why have I been in the human realm and where is the rest of… my kind?” I look ahead, never turning my head to look to either of them. For some reason I can feel that they would have pity in their eyes. I’m so confused.
A soft sigh escapes Caelia’s lips. My heart drops, I can hear exactly what she is going to say to me.
“All will be revealed.”
My head droops and I hug my shoulders. My eyes scan the surroundings as my mind tries to process everything that’s happened in the span of a day. The trees slowly turn from their luminous night-time glow into a brighter golden colour. The flowers blooming now around the path are breathtakingly colourful and the grass is lush and green. I look behind me to see that the forest we just passed through has an eternally hanging darkness above it. My heart flutters as recognition filters through my, I whip my head around to look in front of me, this is summer’s forest. Gelid places a hand on my shoulder and gently steers me through an abnormally tight cluster of trees and we emerge into a secluded clearing.
I stop dead in my tracks, the nudge from Gelid seemingly distant. A throne made from branches and vines lay before me and sitting atop it is a beautiful golden-haired woman. Her hazel eyes held powerful authority in them, and her hand grasped a sceptre, pulsating with raw magic.
My voice does not feel like my own as she nods her head with recognition at me. I faintly register the small group of other fey surrounding the clearing, and the heavily armed golden guards that flanked either side of the queen.
“Princess Alura of the nymph race. Welcome home.”
Something seemed to have triggered inside of me, so real that I’m knocked back. Memories of another life flash before my eyes.
A young me, the nymph me, playing in the fields of the little forest.
Explosion, destruction, powerful beings from a different realm filter through a forced portal.
Death, so much death.
Light, the summer fey castle. I’m being held lightly by… Gelid.
The queen stands before me, I bow deeply, my wounds straining. She tells me to rise.
“You are being hunted; your power is too useful but not strong. Not yet. I am sending you to the human real, Gelid will take care of you, although your memories will be erased. Do you accept?”
I sit up, blinking the memory away in front of me. My breathing comes out ragged and I stumble as I try to stand. Gelid catches hold of me and places me upright. The Queen looks at me with a comforting smile playing on her lips.
“My name is Alura Malthinis, ruler of the nymphs!”
“Correct Alura, you are also ruler of the mutants. For this reason, I need your power.”
I stare at her in confusion. My confusion turns into fear as I hear the clang of swords being drawn out from their sheaths. I feel the cool metal of a sword at my throat and my eyes widen as I see it is Caelia who wields it.
“I-I don’t understand.”
“My Queen needs your power to save us from the dark mages and their warriors of death. They infiltrated our realm through a ripple between us and them. They were locked away, only to be released and someone from YOUR kind who thought they could subdue the unholy army. You. Did. This!”
“Caelia, n-no I –d”
My words were cut short. A hand wrapped around my waist and yanked me away from the sword at my throat. I was hauled over a strong shoulder and the beautiful scene turned retched as the Queen screamed orders to run after me and my saviour. Caelia’s eyes were filled with bloodlust.
“G-Gelid what… is going…on?” My words were hard to get out as I bounced on his shoulder.
“I will explain when we are out of this mess.”
My mind was reeling. My home is no longer my home.