Beware the faeries that roam through this land,
With mischief and mayhem in mind.
Enchanting, enticing, they’ll take your hand,
But sooner or later you’ll find
To your detriment and likely dismay
Your wife and your family gone
For only a foolish man trusts the Fey
And he always ends up alone.
Aurelia’s tinkling laugh sounded as the bard finished his poem. With fiery hair and a cherub’s face, she looked to be around twelve years old. But she was much, much older. Seven hundred twenty-six, to be exact. For, you see, she was a faerie herself. None of the humans around her were aware of this, because their folklore painted faeries as diminutive people with insect wings and she looked nothing like that. Of course, many of the Fey were small, about the length of an adult’s forearm. But not her.
If one looked closely, one might see her proportions to be that of an adult human, rather than a child, but no one noticed. Adults in the human world paid scant attention to the children, which suited Aurelia well. Those who noticed her laughing merely assumed she did not understand the poem.
Humans had such silly notions. If they just opened their eyes, they might see a different world…but they did not have time. The poor worked hard each day only to collapse in their beds at night. The rich were too self-absorbed to see anything but their own reflections. Children saw, but adults didn’t believe them. Perhaps if the adults listened to children’s views more, their folklore would be more…accurate. So many ifs.
Aurelia stood with the crowd and wandered through the rest of the town’s market. On nearly every doorway was a piece of iron, said to ward off mischievous faeries and witches. Shaking her head, she began skipping toward the dense wood at the edge of the town.
A single cottage stood just inside the trees near the stream. Behind the cottage a single child, near the age of seven or eight, played with her doll. She looked up at Aurelia.
“Hello!” she called.
“Do you want to play with me?”
“I would love to.” The little girl seemed lonely and Aurelia had nothing else to do, really.
They played with the doll, splashed in the water, and the little girl, whose name was Diana, pelted Aurelia a torrent of questions. Aurelia showed Diana how to make a crown of wildflowers, and Diana showed Aurelia how to play knucklebones. Several hours passed before Diana’s mother returned from the market.
“Mother! Come meet Aurelia. She’s my new friend.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Diana’s mother glanced in her direction, but then looked up at the sky. “Won’t your parents be searching for you? It is almost dark.”
Aurelia giggled, but Diana answered for her. “Aurelia doesn’t have any parents anymore. She was a princess, but now she’s a queen. She can do whatever she wants to do.”
“A queen? Queen of what?” Her mother seemed amused at Diana’s explanation. It was good to see she fostered her daughter’s imagination. Aurelia made a mental note to remember her. It is a very good thing to be remembered by a faerie. When a faerie remembers you, blessings and good fortune follow wherever you go.
“Why, she’s the Queen of the Faeries!”
“Truly? I thought the Queen of the Faeries was Titania.”
“No, that was Aurelia’s grandmother. She died almost four hundred years ago. And then Aurelia’s mother was the Queen. And she was…what was her name again?”
“Marinia,” Aurelia answered, smiling serenely. How she loved mortal children. They could be excited over small things, and they enjoyed life as it came.
“Oh, yes. Marinia. And she died only twenty years ago, so Aurelia’s been the Queen since.” Diana smiled, proud.
“I see,” her mother said, still humoring her.
“And guess what else! Aurelia said I could visit with her and the faeries, but only if you said it was okay. They’re really not bad and they don’t want to steal little children.”
For the first time, Diana’s mother seemed to realize how serious her daughter was. She stared at Aurelia for a long moment.
“How did you know faeries want to steal little children?” she asked Diana, without turning from Aurelia’s face.
“Aurelia told me that’s what humans believe. But it’s not true. They only like to play and they choose us because children can see what they really are. I can see how she glows, but she says you can’t.”
Diana’s mother paled.
“Please don’t be alarmed,” Aurelia said, her soft tone designed to put the adult at ease. “I will go now if that is your wish.”
“But…I thought iron…” she looked helplessly toward the doorway, over which a horseshoe was nailed.
Aurelia laughed. “There is more iron in a handful of the earth than at the blacksmiths in all of England. Why would it cause us harm, when we live in it?” She turned to little Diana and blew her a kiss. “Dearest, it was wonderful spending this day with you. May you always remember me.”
As she walked out, the horseshoe fell to the ground and she laughed again. Diana and her mother watched as Aurelia’s form disappeared, only a few steps from their cottage.
“Where did she go?” Diana asked.
“I don’t know.” Her mother pulled her from the doorway, shaken.
Aurelia arrived in a glen, lit by thousands of tiny lights. Her subjects danced in the night to celebrate her return. She called to Solaris, her royal advisor.
“See that the cottage at the edge of the wood is remembered.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
Aurelia turned and joined her subjects, dancing in the moonlight.
From that day forward, Diana and her mother never wanted for anything, and they never forgot the faerie from the wood.
So remember this, I tell you true,
view a faerie with no fear.
For I can promise if you do,
you’ll live in wondrous cheer.