The wing tore from the fairy’s back easily, the wound raw and bleeding.
Caspian ground his teeth and ignored the pitiful fairy now that he was done with her. The small effervescent wing glowed with blue specks of dust, simple and beautiful. Caspian crushed it in his hand, the form of the wing crumbling into fine dust, and held it stoically in his palm while he reached for a water pouch that lay abandoned a few feet away, never taking his eyes off the dust. He upended the pouch, where two small drops of russet-colored water slowly dripped out, merging with the dust to create a lumpy paste, which Caspian then * into his mouth, the euphoric effects taking effect almost immediately.
The gusty winds that had settled in Nawala since Caspian had awoken that morning slowed to a gentle breeze, the cool air kissing his face as it went by, the gray clouds thinned, the line of sunshine that was realm’s source of light coming into view.
Caspian hated that sun. He had ever since he’d been condemned to live on the island.
“You can go now,” Caspian said to the fairy, a petite little creature, the native inhabitants of Nawala, the realm of Souls. The creature stared at Caspian for a while, her almond-shaped eyes unblinking. Wings did not grow back, and doubtless, the fairy would become easy prey for anything that hoped for an afternoon snack. But, she was only a caregiver; it was the most common role a fairy could take, and to be fair, there wasn’t really any flying that needed to be done when one was taking care of the Auktross.
Or at least, that was what Caspian told himself when he ripped off their wings for his own personal use.
Caspian leaned back against a boulder, staring out into the sea that surrounded the island.
Occasionally, he’d see a large fin break the surface of the water before plunging back into its depths.
The dust worked its literal magic, Pan’s peripheral vision turned fuzzy, out-of-focus. He’d been in a foul mood since he’d lost another of his Wanderers’ in the never-ending fight with the mermaids, those ghastly creatures, two days ago, and the dust was doing a great job of relaxing his muscles, slowing his thoughts, his mind.
“Caspian,” a soft voice sounded in his ear.
Caspian shot up, whirling to face a fairy, though it wasn’t the type of fairy that worked alongside the Auktross. Those fairies had more human-like features, where-as Cobb, and the handful of others like her was a Scout. She had the ability to travel between realms, the boundaries of each posing no challenge for her as it would have any other.
Cobb was tall for a fairy, almost eight whole inches and her body was made up of plates similar to pine cone bristles, stacked closely upon and next to each other over the entirety of her body-except her back, where the plates loosened to allow her wings free reign-resulting in a face that was all angles and sharp corners. Her skin was a mottled purple, a simple design that allowed her to blend in with her surroundings, and her wings were lavender in color, skinny and tall in stature.
She stared at the lingering dust particles Caspian had on his hand, face impassive. “I have something to discuss with you, Caspian,” she said, meeting his eyes. If he looked closely,
Caspian could see the crisscrossing maze of yellow and green specks that made up her striking eye color.
“Later,” Caspian said as he stood, took a deep breath of crisp morning air. “I have plans for today.”
“You assume that your plans are more important than what I have to speak to you about?” Cobb asked, her eyes narrowed to fine slits.
Caspian waved off her anger, threw a handful of dust from the pouch fastened to his waist into the air. He lifted off the ground slightly, the feeling of weightlessness settling over him like a long-lost friend. “That’s because they usually are,” Caspian muttered, rising higher into the air.
He knew what she wanted to talk about, but the idea of inter-realm travel at the moment caused his stomach to twist in knots. If he dwelt on that subject for too long, the doubts and the worries would fester and cloud his mind.
Nawala was quite large, a great expanse of hills and mountains and trees and streams. It had taken him three weeks to go from one side of the island to the other, albeit walking, and had noted that the Auktross was in the center of everything, its deep-rooted roots literally holding the entire island together.
That magnificent tree rose from a valley in the middle of the island, beautiful and serene in its bid to one day join the sky, strong branches reaching outward as if for the hope to eventually cover the entire island in its rich canopy of thick, rounded leaves, varying shades of greens and browns. It was the center of this tree that he flew towards. The closer he got, the better he could see the deftly built huts of twigs and branches tied together by thick corded vines. There were about two dozen of these structures built into the Auktross, most small enough for two people to rest comfortably, while there was one that was much larger than the others.
It was there that Caspian settled, walking a path of wooden planks he had installed three years ago. Four years in Nawala and he’d hardly made any improvements to his dwelling, as a part of him always hoped that he’d end up back on Arcturus, doing what he had been born to do.
But, that was only wishful thinking.
“What exactly are your plans, Caspian?” Cobb asked, appearing at his shoulder. Caspian jumped slightly, still unaccustomed to the scout’s uncanny ability to disappear and reappear.
The annoying little bug had followed him around for the last nine moon cycles, always by him, always listening, always watching. It was unsettling, to say the least.
“None of your damn business,” Caspian growled, pushing aside two ten-foot tall leaves that acted as doorways, interconnected to all other huts by a series of walkways and ladder. The room was large enough to house three or four beds, though there were none in sight, in fact, most of the room was almost completely void of furniture. There were various objects strewn about the floor, including a multitude of glass spheres, wherein laid luminescent gray rock, most placed in a large wicker basket, though a few were haphazardly placed around the room.
He kicked one such orb and it rolled to the edge of his room, balancing precariously on the wooden slats. Caspian watched it for a second, wondered if it would fall to the ground, crack upon its surface, the negative emotion of a soul’s last thoughts finally free.
It didn’t fall, and Caspian turned away from it to focus on a wooden sword, fastened to the thick branch that held together Caspian’s rather pathetic home, a dark chestnut color, sharp and lethal. The sword had been made with a root of the Auktross, an old one that Caspian had pried from the ground, snapped, and had then spent the next couple of days crafting it into a weapon of simplicity and beauty. The combination of the Auktross and Caspian’s own magic had infused the wood with perfect balance, a blade that never dulled, and though it was wood, it cut through flesh with ease.
Caspian lowered the bokken from its resting place, placed it in the holder on his back. He glanced at Cobb, then sighed. “There’s a meeting with the mermaids if you must know.”
“Mermaids?” Cobb said, swinging her legs back and forth. “I suppose mermaids are rather important,” she sniffed, folding her arms across her chest, eyes never moving from Caspian’s face. The way she watched him made Caspian uneasy. He’d never really been truly lonely in this realm, especially after he’d began creating Wanderers’, but even with near constant companionship, Caspian found himself feeling alone, abandoned, frequently. Much more frequently than he liked. And here was this tiny creature, watching and analyzing his face, eyes boring into his head, hoping to catch his thoughts, those deep, dark, buried thoughts that
Caspian didn’t even want to visit except on his darkest days.
Sometimes he felt like she was doing this intentionally to make him uncomfortable.
And then he remembered that fairies were curious by nature, though only scouts showed the determination to get the answers to their questions even if it meant following their current fixation around and around and around.
“It’s the annual Bridge meeting,” Caspian said, stepping to an open edge of his room, where no vines and branches blocked his way out. He let himself fall to the ground, barely stopped in time to ensure he didn’t end up as a mess of broken bones and blood. The rich green grass greeted him, the tips brushing against his face, the hum of the Auktross filling his mind. Now that he’d cleared his head with the fairy wings, the voice and soul of the Auktross was more in tune with his own.
He could feel its happiness, its despair, its pain. At the moment, it only greeted him with a serene thrum, receding to the back of his mind so that he could concentrate on the task at hand: the mermaids.