“You’ve got about five.”
“Alright,” he says, happy to have that. “What is the Bitterblossom?”
She shakes her head, somehow easy enough for him to see. Odd—but now that he’s thinking about it, she doesn’t sound anything like he expected. “I figured you’d be high-pitched and need to yell.”
“Simple magic,” the faerie says. “Your ears can’t hear what we sound like to each other. Allows us to talk in a room full of you and you’d never have a clue.”
“Me being able to see you so well? Magic?” he asks. The faerie nods. “Okay, so, the Bitterblossom. You going to tell me about it?”
“Give me a second.” She launches from the flower sprig, zigs and zags in chase of a fly. The fly spots her, dives, climbs, darts, but it’s no use. She follows its each maneuver, grabs its wings, kicks the body free, and returns. All in about two seconds. Then starts eating one of the wings like it’s an oversized piece of lettuce.
“Gah. That’s good? A fly? You know what they eat?”
“Oh please—the things I see you humans eat? You wish you could have fly’s wing.” Crunches into another bite.
“Like a cross between seaweed and beef jerky, love the stuff. Fun to catch too.”
A trio of fae arrive in the flowers. I see them talking, but can’t hear anything. “How long do I have?”
“About three minutes.”
“Okay. If you won’t talk about the blossom, would you at least comment on your magic? How’re you able to work with memories and dreams so well? Even the most advanced mages only begin to scratch the surface of that magic. Seems your kind plays with matters of mind as easy as a master sculpture forms rock.”
“Wasn’t always that way. Took us eons.”
“E…Ah…I’m sorry—you said eons?”
“Oh, no. Don’t do that. Not advisable.”
“But, eons? What were you doing all that time?”
“Started with the muck—in it. That’s where we were born. Once formed, we learned how to work fire. Cook, bend metal, stay warm, live. Once we had light, we realized too much fire ends the world. We needed to learn how to control the flame, set it aside, and find ways to grow. We spent time in the green. Learned so very much from the swamp things. Grew great trees, tended gardens that elves would kill to even just see. But we were reclusive, quite alone, and we wanted to learn about the greater world, the universe, and beyond even that.”
“Indeed. So we began helping, showing other races small things we learned. Taught them fire when they needed it, showed them gardening when they mastered the first. In this work we learned the benefit of friendship, allies, and the joy of seeing another’s happiness. The joy of a man able to cook for his family. The beaming glow on the face of a mother picking fruit she grew from a seed—that’s beauty.”
“And what does this have to do with how you work with dreams and thought?”
“You’ve got a minute. I’ll see if I can get there for you before I have to leave.”
“We needed a challenge. The how we got to where we are now would take too long. I’ll simply say that we spent a great deal of time in deep introspection. Now we reside between the two extremes. The decay of matter, and the ethereal. There’s a point where matter transforms into mind, that’s our home.
You started this by asking about the Bitterblossom.”
“I’ll go ahead and give you this. It grows where you least expect it to, and we water it with souls of the lost.” She winks, and as one the faeries take flight.
There’s more of them than he’d noticed, far more They keep coming. His mouth hangs open, there’s so many. Dozens. There’s no body to feel, no hands, no legs, or arms, only a cloud of sensation and that’s starting to catch in the breeze. There’s a flower growing from his chest, it shimmers vivid purples, azures, diamond dusted ebony. As his memory flows into the wind he smiles. The faerie was right, he didn’t expect the blossom there at all.