The Summer Marked

By: Rebekah L. Purdy

To Heather, Tricia, Danie, Rachel, Wendy, Jenn, Phil, Laura, Cholle, Traci, Barrett, Chase, and Gabby for helping me get through a rough start to 2015.





Over hill, over dale,

Through bush, through brier,

Over park, over pale,

Through flood, through fire!

I do wander everywhere,

Swifter than the moon’s sphere;

And I serve the Fairy Queen,

To dew her orbs upon the green;

The cowslips tall her pensioners be;

In their gold coats spots you see;

Those be rubies, fairy favours;

In those freckles live their savours;

I must go seek some dewdrops here,

And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

—William Shakespeare





Prologue

Snow fell outside, piling up on the deck, the trees bending beneath the harsh winds. Every winter seemed worse than the last. The bitter chill. The darkness. The attempts to break through the gate surrounding our property.

My gaze flitted to where Salome and Kadie sat playing with their Barbies on the floor, unaware of what hid in the shadows, waiting to burst inside. As much as I wanted to keep Salome ignorant of what lurked in the woods, she needed to know. And soon.

Salome turned her gray-blue eyes on me then set her toys on the floor. “Grandma, will you tell us a story?”

I smiled, setting down my cup of tea. “Well I suppose I could. Why don’t you two come sit up on the couch while I go and grab a book and some hot cocoa for you?”

Once I had the girls settled in with their warm drinks, I hurried to the hidden room, where I produced a key from my necklace. I made sure the girls were occupied before shoving the door open. The last thing I needed was for them to try to sneak inside. There were too many dangerous, magical things bound up in here.

The scent of herbs washed over me as I went to the shelf and pulled the ancient leather bound book down. It had been a long time since I’d had this tome out in the open. Not since I’d recorded the information and put it away for safekeeping. My hand trembled as I held it against me. Perhaps I ought to pick a different story. Maybe one with less darkness.

No. Salome needs to hear this one.

When I got back to the living room, I found Salome and Kadie bundled up in a blanket, sipping their cocoa.

“Are you two ready?”

“Yeah. You can sit right here.” Salome patted a small spot between her and Kadie.

When I got comfortable, I opened the book. The scent of roses washed over me as if I’d strolled into a summer garden. I cleared my throat.

“Once upon a time, there was a small girl who wandered into the land of Faerie. She’d followed the glowing fluttering wings of what she thought were lightning bugs into the woods and up the hill. But little did she know that dangerous creatures stalked her from the shadows. Pixies, red caps, goblins, trolls…they’d recognized her human scent as soon as she crossed the border between lands. And they hungered for her.”

“What are red caps?” Kadie asked, her dark brown eyes wide.

I hesitated, not wanting to scare the girls. “Red caps are a type of goblin. They have red eyes, pointy ears, and wear a red cap, which they keep dyed with human blood.”

Salome scooted closer to me. “Eww…is that true?”

“Yes. Well at least in our story it is.” I prayed that they never ran into any sort of creature like this. Before I could continue, the girls went on to ask more questions about the pixies, goblins, and trolls and after I described each one, I saw the fear on their faces. Better to have them scared than unaware.

“There are lots of monsters in Faerie,” Salome said. “I don’t think I’d ever want to go there.”

I smiled, ruffling her pale blond hair. “Oh, not everything in Faerie is bad. There are beautiful castles, waterfalls, magical horses, tiny fairies who grant wishes, handsome princes, and strong queens. There is darkness, but also light.” My hands gripped tighter to the page. “Maybe I should tell you about the Faerie Queen Genissa and how she saved her people.”

“Wait, what about the girl who followed the lightning bugs into Faerie, what happened to her?” Kadie said, trying to pull a giant marshmallow out of her cup.

“Actually, their stories kind of crossover and intertwine. You see, this girl would become the only one who could save Faerie. Perhaps all of us. Not by fate. Not by destiny. It would be by necessity.”

Salome cocked her head. “But if she’s not the chosen one…”

I couldn’t blame her for being confused. This was a fairytale unlike any she’d ever heard, because this one was true.

“Let me explain,” I said. “There was an evil queen who was trying to destroy all the courts within the fairyland. And the Queen of Faerie knew she had to stop the bad things from spreading. So this child, the one who followed the lightning bugs, when she came into Faerie, Genissa decided to give the girl all of her power and send her into hiding. She knew that one day, this child would grow up into a strong woman and come back and save everyone. But this special girl would become the target of all the bad faeries and they’d want to gobble her up. So Genissa appointed her a guardian to keep her locked away and safe, until just the right moment. You see, Genissa loved her people very much.”

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