The Fairy Blight

Part One of the Fairy Blight Saga

Kiera as a fairy child

Kiera looked around at the empty room in the Texas School of Fairies and sighed deeply. The beautiful red and gold silk hangings that festooned the ornate Hall of Fairies looked sad and almost gaudy without the flutter of little fairy wings. She so missed the excited chatter of her students. Eons ago Kiera herself had been a nervous sophomore. She still remembered how carefully she dressed for her first day. The indigo blue velvet pinafore almost matched her big dark blue eyes. Her long dark curls were braided into submission and interwoven with blue velvet ribbons. Both her grandmother and mother fussed over her appearance making sure her unruly curls behaved. Her family was surprised but delighted that Kiera was accepted to the school because mixed species were frowned upon for many centuries. Her mother was a typically beautiful Celtic fairy with long straight dark blond hair and wings with just a touch of pistachio green on the tips. Her father was an outcast from the fairy community.  Kiera was too ashamed to even talk about it. Those dark curls were all his, though, and the dark eyes.

Keira loved her wings which were an iridescent mixture of pearl, blue with a touch of emerald. They were reminiscent of a gem stone or mother of pearl. It seemed so long ago when her blue eyes darkened with excitement at her first sight of the fairy hall. So much had happened since then; human and fairy wars wreaked devastation upon the two species. Over centuries there had been so many fairy blights somewhat similar to human pandemics. In human society viruses usually transmit from animal to human but in fairy life they spread from plants to fairies. The worst in Kiera’s memory was the potato blight of 1800 in Ireland. Much like the human Irish, the fairy folk had to flee to far distant parts of earth to escape the blight. In potatoes it caused a failure of the crop leading to famine but it affected the fairy world differently. Some became blind; others lost their sensory perception leading to much the same conclusion – famine and deprivation.

Now in 2020, the human world is being devastated by a new Coronavirus Pandemic and perhaps coincidentally the fairy world has been struck a deadly new blight – nicknamed Black Shade. It spread from late tomato blight which is related to the Irish potato blight and can affect all nightshade plants. The blight has mutated to cause a devastating browning or desiccation of fairy wings and occasional wing drop. A fairy without wings cannot survive. Only a few short months ago this eerily silent hall had been alive with every hue of fairy, chattering in many languages. Kiera had been shy little fairy when she arrived at The Texas School of Fairies but happily discovered that her classmates liked to share secrets with her. Her sweet face and trusting nature made her an excellent future choice for a school soothsayer akin to a human school counselor.

Fairy Blight

Over decades, as School Soothsayer, she had wiped away despondent tears of homesick fairies and helped them find their true path. Her long dark hair had turned pewter and her eyes were still deep dark blue with just a touch of grey. Kiera had succumbed to Black Shade and her beautiful wings were permanently stained brown along the tips. Thankfully she had recovered quickly – the fairy healers had been quick to find unique remedies for this new blight. Eventually there might be a cure but in the meantime almost all students and pupils had been sent home.  Kiera chose to stay at the school to look after those very few staff and pupils that remained. The panic was tangible at first with anxious parents flying in to pick up their children. Some parents had to ask relatives to make the long journey to collect students if they had suffered wing damage or worse. With every new pandemic there is an initial mystery about transmission but this new fairy blight was passed by touch. Little fairies love to touch each other with hugs, kisses and wing trembling. No matter how many times the headmaster or Miss Kiera warned the students to socially distance it was beyond their limited understanding of how serious this Black Shade could be. Just like human children, fairies bairns needed touch to develop into well-adjusted adults.

Kiera wandered the lonely corridors with too much time to think about her life. She was approaching retirement and wondered how she would adapt to that or an extended closure of the school. She caught a glimpse of herself i an ornate mirror and was startled. Where was that beautiful young fairy that looked just like her father?  Over the years she had come to terms with his failures. He had fallen into the Black Arts using his charm to trick the fairy and human world. Centuries ago he was sent to The Spectral Isle for punishment. It was a shameful time for his family who were proud Baja fairies from Mexico. He had ruined his family’s proud heritage.  Kiera looked just like her paternal Abuela, Juanita. Curiously, it was her father’s choice to name her Kiera which honored her long Irish heritage.  The name Kiera is a feminine version of Ciaran which means dark haired. She looked at her untidy Pewter hair in the mirror and quickly tidied it into a braided plait. Kiera looked at her brown tipped wings with sadness but gratitude for having survived Black Shade.

The fairy world is naturally superstitious and Kiara had to bite her lip with many ill-informed parents.  First the Shade was spread by crows, then toads (both untrue) and every possible portent of doom.  Even though the Healers had quickly established that this was the late Tomato Blight, preposterous theories persisted.  Kiera understood their fears and as a soothsayer did her best to reassure anxious students and their families.  It was easier for Kiera who had lived through wars and pestilence to accept that Black Shade was a natural part of living in this world.  One day, when the worst of this was over, we would grieve for the fairy folks who had succumbed but then move on with lightness in our hearts.  The sun will shine again and the Hall of Fairies would be alive with little fluttering wings.

Postscript

My friends had often asked me when I would write a fairy story about myself so Kiera is my alias.  My father did choose my birth name against my mother’s wishes.  He also dabbled in the Black Arts… Fairy stories traditionally allow us to tell children harsh facts about the world in a style that they can understand.  The sun will shine again.

 

 

The Seamstress Fairy

The Texas School of Fairies

The Texas School of Fairies brought students from far and wide for its excellence in fairie acadaemia.  Some were in, dare I say, boring subjects such as Fairy Law but the departments of Magick and Apothecary Arts was so popular that there was a long waiting list.  The Art of Textiles faculty was the best of all; so renowned that Fairy Royalty used their services for special occasions such as coronations.  You could study weaving, sewing or design of fairy fabrics such as thistledown and beetle silk.  On the student tour even Flax, the most pragmatic of fairies majoring in beetle husbandry, gasped when he saw the Hall of Fabrics.  Every color in nature was represented in delicate material – fuchsia silk and golden velvet draped the walls and vaulted ceilings.  Sumptuous fabrics were strewn across the sewing tables; reams of sapphire, emerald, sepia, and scarlet fabric.

Most students grouped in their natural color or environment; Pacific fairies group were working with sea foam, marine blues and corals.  Piney Wood fairies were cutting deep green and chocolate velvet.  Some of the more gregarious fairies were working outside their element rejoicing in non-native hues such as New England Fall.  Crimson, pumpkin, yellow and copper fabric gleamed like an autumnal sunset.  One little fairy, named Aiya, felt she was in fairy heaven!  She had travelled from her home in Missouri to the Texas School of Fairies but came from a very special lineage.  Her father was a Japanese Maple Fairy with magnificent copper and flame colored wings.  Her mother was a descendent of the much revered Irish fairies.  Humans have a similar reverence for the Irish…  Aiya’s mother was a woodland fairy with long glossy brown hair and fair of face.  Her wings were gentle shades of green from the old country.  Like many fairy parents they met at school when glimpsed each other the Apothecary Arts class.  Their union was not entirely approved of by fairy society as they came from very different family lines but their attraction was so powerful that they moved to the state of Missouri just to be together.

Aiya, which means beautiful silk in Japanese, was a striking mixture of both parents.  Her long dark brown hair gleamed as did her eyes which were almost black.  Her wings were a melange of her parents coloring – deep amber with the palest cicada green.  She was only 12 so her coloring would change after the blossoming and she would choose an appropriate Forever Name.  Aiya was one of very few students chosen to study Textile Arts and she had already displayed a natural talent for couture and sewing.  Just like every other college you have to submit an application and a sample of your talent.  Aiya sewed the most exquisite coin purse in delicate beetle silk.  It was a simple creation but her color choice of deep garnet red with gold embroidery and tassels impressed her tutors.  Monsieur Marcel, head of design, was quite taken with this young fairy’s skills and envisioned a future with one of the Royal Families.  As excited as Aiya was for her tutor’s vision, it seemed intimidating.

Her new friend Ria, from Brownsville on the Texas border, had told her about Selina the seamstress’s workshop in Mexico and to Aiya that sounded exciting enough.  It was a trip to meet family in Japan that sparked her love of fabric and sewing.  One glimpse of a fairy kimono made with spider silk and embroidered with chrysanthemums made Aiya’s heart race.  For years after that she would sketch kimonos and make miniature outfits for her little willow twig dolls.  Aiya had the great fortune to attend a royal fairy wedding in Japan and her grandmother made her a special kimono to wear.  It was silk in a delicate Celadon green with copper leaves embroidered on it. Her Jiji, or grandma, had spent many hours lovingly sewing it for a precious granddaughter that lived so far away.  Aiya’s loved the kimono but was terrified by the pomp and ceremony of the wedding.  She had been instructed to be absolutely silent and bow very deeply when the royal couple walked past.   They didn’t seem like real fairies.  The Princess bride’s formal makeup created a solemn mask – there was no twinkle or sparkle.  Their wedding robes, in scarlet, gold and black for the Prince, were magnificent but stood stiffly to match the seriousness of the occasion.

Aiya’s Dolls

One day, Ria, Blu and Aiya walked into the Hall of Fabrics to a stunned silence.  “What has happened?” whispered the girls.  Just then Monsieur Marcel coughed loudly for attention, “Attention, étudiants féeriques!” Blu, who loved all things French, translated “Attention Fairy Students!” “By Royal Decree, it is my pleasure to announce the arrival of a new student for one semester – her royal highness, Princess Kaida from Japan.  She will arrive tomorrow with her entourage and you will all behave respectfully.”  Aiya blanched as every other student chattered excitedly about this noble arrival.  Ria and Blu were already discussing what outfits they would wear but all Aiya could feel was panic.  Just then, Monsieur Marcel appeared in front of the three girls and said, “I understand that you have attended a royal wedding in Kyoto, Aiya?”  Ria and Blue looked at their friend from Missouri in stunned silence.  Aiya blushed furiously and looked at the floor.  “It would make me very happy if you could accompany Princess Kaida during her visit with us.  We have arranged for her hammock to be put next to yours in the dormitory.  Her parents want her to be treated like any other student”. “It would be my pleasure” whispered Aiya in response to Monsieur Marcel.

As soon as he walked away, Ria and Blu had a torrent of questions for Aiya.  “Was Aiya a Princess?” “What does Princess Kaida look like?” “What was it like to attend a royal wedding?”  She briefly, almost tersely, responded that she was a distant cousin of the Japanese Royal Fairy family, she had never met Princess Kaida and that the Royal wedding was AMAZING (because overwhelming and terrifying did not sound right.)  Aiya ran off to prepare for the next day.  She sat on her hammock and tears rolled down her pretty face.  This whole situation was so embarrassing; she just wanted to be a regular student.  Now she had to babysit a spoiled Princess whose name meant “Little Dragon”.  She slept fitfully that night, endlessly playing out her meeting with the Princess.  Her family would be so disappointed if she didn’t welcome Princess Kaida gracefully.  “I hope she doesn’t breathe fire…”was Aiya’s last waking thought.

The next morning Aiya put on her best green silk pinafore with an ivory blouse; Ria was in a chocolate velvet pinafore and Blu in the palest blue linen.  At 7am, all the students gathered in the Hall of Fabrics anxiously awaiting Princess Kaida’s entrance.  Most Texan students had never even seen a sketch of a Japanese princess so the excitement was tangible.  There was a fanfare of fairy trumpets fashioned from bluebells and Princess Kaida fluttered down with her consorts.  There was an audible gasp from the assembly at her vivid peacock blue kimono embroidered with a red dragon.  Her face was painted with formal white makeup with red lips and her black hair was coiled all over her delicate head.  The principal of the school welcomed Princess Kaida and after the formalities, Aiya was called over to accompany the Princess to the dormitory.  Two of her royal servants followed behind with a golden trunk.  Aiya bowed deeply to the Princess and greeted her formally in Japanese.  Princess Kaida bowed in return and followed Aiya to the dormitory.  Once they arrived, the servants were dismissed and the Princess collapsed laughing onto her new hammock, “Oh, I am so glad that is over, Aiya.  Can you help me out of this kimono?”  Aiya looked at the Princess perplexedly but immediately jumped up to help her.  Princess Kaida then looked her trunk to find a light turquoise pinafore with a similar ivory blouse to Aiya’s.  Then she grabbed Aiya’s hand and rushed to the bathroom. “You take my hair down and I will take off my make-up.”  Aiya carefully took out what seemed like hundreds of pins until the Princess’s beautiful long black hair lay straight to her waist.  With a wipe of a flower puff and witch hazel, Princess Kaida soon washed all remnants of her make-up off.  As she turned around, Aiya gasped in astonishment! Princess Kaida was just a little girl fairy not unlike Aiya, who was a relative after all.  “So, cousin Aiya, what are we going to do first?  Can I meet some of your friends?”  Almost inevitably Blu and Ria were right outside the door and within minutes the four fairy girls were chatting like they had known each other forever.

It was a very busy day, exploring the campus, watching Princess Kaida’s face as she tried Texan delicacies such as root beer and deep fried cactus.  Princess Kaida’s English was perfect but she really enjoyed all the local accents y’alls.  When the sun set Aiya and Princess Kaida settled down into their hammocks.  Within minutes the Princess fell into a deep slumber – even fairies get jet lag.  Aiya reflected with surprise upon her day.  Despite her name and nobility, Princess Kaida was just as much fun as Ria and Blu.  She realized that the pomp and ceremony was just that.  Fairy Princesses were just as real as anyone else.  Aiya fell into a happy sleep dreaming of designing royal kimonos…with dragons on them.

The End

Postscript

All of my fairy stories were written to celebrate a friend’s birthday and include elements of their life.