G.I.A.N.T. Collections #2.1
Veran had just ended a tiring day of work. Work, work, work; work yesterday, today and tomorrow. I should probably tell you what he does, shouldn’t I? He worked in interior decoration. He worked mainly on placement and had to move furnishings himself sometimes, despite the team he had. He had to furnish a whole manor since the early morning and still had several rooms remaining. Before he even opened his front door, his coat and cravat came off. In his room, he undid his shirt and leaned forward on the vanity, exhausted. More wavy strands of his hair hung down his shoulders and over his face, having come loose from his already loosely tied ponytail. His cravat dangled limply from his hand as he looked down at it sadly- it was given to him by a friend who had died probably five years ago.
She was a beautiful lady and had made him so happy whenever they were together, until a great fire took her life away. It burned everything, reducing all in its way to ashes…now, he only had memories and that cravat to remember her by. At times, Veran blamed himself for her death. If only he had stayed with her at her home just after being given the elegant material, rather than immediately leave for an appointment for a client. If only he knew it would happen. He shook his head slowly as he lowered the cravat down on the wooden finish. With a yawn, he readied for bed.
His eyes watched the dancing flickers of the candle that lay on the coffee. The room would have been completely dark if not for that little candle. Veran sat on a leather recliner, leaning forward on his lap with his chin on his clasped hands. He was thinking about the rooms of the manor and how to furnish them just right. Scuttling and scraping sounds caught his attention suddenly. His head turned sharply to face where he thought he had heard them. Looking around, he saw that his door was closed. It grew silent once again. Veran shook his head at himself and sighed. He took up the candle from the table and placed it back down on his bedside table. Lifting the covers off his bed, the scuttling sound returned, only now it was much closer. He lifted his head as it was and watched closely for any sign of movement…nothing. He rolled his eyes at such a thought and slipped into bed.
A tiny blue dot on the wall was a focus point for him before falling asleep. In his mind, the blue dot grew and became a screen where pictures formed in his head…about his late friend, Tania. She looked back at him with her gentle smile and gave a little wave. Veran smiled softly and watched as her image faded. With a tired sigh, he turned on his side to sleep, letting the candle burn down to its last inch of wax.
Tania ran to him; into his arms. There they stood in a field of flowers, surrounded by colour and delicate aromas. She looked into his eyes, smiling beautifully as she did. Her copper hair ran down her lovely shoulders and to her waist. Veran looked down at her shorter figure and caressed her cheek tenderly. But then, her smile faded and the field began to burn. A mighty blaze arose and swallowed her whole,
‘TANIA! NO!’ Veran cried,
‘My flesh…my blood…’ her delicate voice only said…
Veran shot up straight, panting with sweat running down his face. His eyes were as wide as plates as he looked at the familiar blur speck on the wall,
‘A…A dream…’ he told himself, ‘It…it was just a dream,’
His heart slowed down as he recovered. He wiped his face and swallowed, covering his face with his hands. Why did she haunt him? Why did her lovely face haunt him as it burned her flesh? His dream; her flesh, her blood. A message?
‘Tania, are you trying to tell me something?’
Silence. He sat there in silence, the candle still burning but wearing down. He looked up at the ceiling and collapsed back down on his bed with a thump! Her flesh, her blood…she was screaming in pain, wasn’t she? Only, she didn’t scream at all. Veran turned on his side again, trying to get back to sleep when he saw a tiny figure in front of him. He looked at her curiously, lifting his head a little, then smiled softly. It was a little girl, only a little less than two inches tall. She was probably only five, maybe six years old with cutely curly red hair and freckles dotting her cheeks and nose. The hem of her dress was torn and wet as if she had been wandering around outside for weeks. Her big, emerald green eyes looked up at him fearfully as she backed away slowly,
‘Why hello there,’ he greeted her gently.
The girl just kept walking back, unknowingly heading towards the edge of Veran’s bed. Just as she was about to take the final step back, Veran reached out and caught her before she could fall. She was so tiny that her sharp little scream was just barely a squeak,
‘Watch where you’re going, little one,’ he said, sitting up and looking down at her in his palm, ‘We wouldn’t want you as part of the carpet, would we?’
She shook her head, trembling with fear. She felt so cold to the touch; Veran never knew something, rather, someone could get so cold. He tried to soothe her, hushing her tiny sobs,
‘Don’t be scared, I won’t hurt you. Are you lost?’
She nodded, her clasped hands touching her cold, blue lips. Her eyes sparkled with tears and relief as she began to recover and calm. Veran smiled with relief himself as he felt her grow warmer in his hand. Eventually he lay back down and lowered her onto his chest,
‘How about…I take you to wherever it is you’re going tomorrow?’ he suggested, tired.
The girl thought for a moment then nodded again. She hopped down off his hand and onto his chest, wondering what he wanted her to do,
‘Alright, well, find somewhere to sleep; make yourself comfortable…’ he yawned, ‘I’ll just go on ahead…okay?’
He wanted to help her then and there, but he was just so tired right now. He felt her slide down his torso and onto the soft mattress. She pitter-pattered her way up to his head and wandered into his hair. He soon felt her snuggle up to him, just at his jaw. Veran smiled and fell asleep.
The girl, rather, the faerie soon awoke with a start, greeted by the early morning sun on her face. Veran was doing up his cravat with the aid of the vanity mirror when he saw her sit up on his pillow. He turned his head to her and smiled,
‘Good morning, little one,’ he said, ‘Did you sleep well?
The faerie examined herself before looking up at him. She nodded quickly, a thankful look upon her face. Veran walked over and crouched down so that their eyes would meet,
‘Are you hungry?’
Her stomach responded before she could herself. Veran chuckled lightly and held out his hand to her. The little creature looked embarrassed as she crawled into his hand. She gave a startled squeak as Veran stood up suddenly, falling back on the soft, fleshy surface of his palm,
‘Sorry about that,’ Veran said, ‘So do you have a name?’
She looked up at him and opened her mouth but she closed it and looked down sadly at her lap. Veran looked down at her with concern and asked what was wrong. The girl indicated to her throat and shook her head,
‘Oh…’ Veran said quietly, ‘You can’t speak,’
The girl nodded and continued to gaze down at her lap. Veran thought for a while and suggested that she spell it for him,
‘I’ll give you some letters and you point out the letters of your name. You know how, right?’
Her face brightened and she nodded up at him, the first smile he had ever seen on her face. Veran smiled back down and gently scratched her head with a finger.
Veran placed her down on the table and prepared a simple breakfast for them both. The girl only wanted fruit so he gave her a grape to suck on. She dove into the sphere, digging her teeth hungrily into the burgundy flesh and sucking the juices like a vampire, despite it being the size of a large ball to her. Veran’s eyes widened as he watched her massacring the single grape with her little mouth; it was as if she hadn’t eaten in years! He placed his plate of toast and a piece of paper down on the table and sat down. The girl stopped suddenly and looked up at him, slowly turning her head to face him. A pink blush appeared on her cheeks with embarrassment again. Veran patted her head and led her to the piece of paper. Printed were letters small enough for her to point to and large enough for him to see,
‘Okay, your name, little one?’
She nodded and walked to T then to A…N…A…N…I... She stopped at E and looked brightly back up at Veran. She grew concerned and curious as she saw the look on his face, as if trying to make out what she had written. Had she gone too fast?
‘…Tananie?’ he said eventually, thoughtfully, then shook his head, ‘I’m sorry. It just seems familiar to me…may I call you Tanie? As a nickname,’
Tanie nodded and pointed critically to Veran’s own plate. He laughed and nodded,
‘Alright, alright. I’m eating,’ he picked up one slice, ‘Tell me…did your mother name you?’
Once again Tanie nodded and sat down, waiting for his next question…but he kept quiet, nibbling at his breakfast.
He looked down at her and couldn’t help but think about his friend Tania: Tanie sat on his hand, looking and comparing it with her own. How couldn’t she remind him of Tania? Their names were so similar with one another; they both had red hair…and those same glittering green eyes. There were some differences though; Tanie had bigger eyes and a rounder face than Tania. There was, of course, the size difference too. No way was Tania only inches tall; she wasn’t a faerie. Veran spread his fingers out while Tanie sat on the back of his hand. She gave a little jump of surprise then looked at them curiously. Veran gave a smile and let her play with his fingers for a while.
He perched Tanie on his shoulder once he slipped on his vest over his shirt. It wasn’t as nippy or cold that morning as it was for the past few days so he didn’t need his coat. Veran apologised to her,
‘I just remembered that I had to continue an appointment this morning,’ he said, ‘So I can’t take you…wherever you need to go just yet. Is that alright with you? Can you wait for a while?’
Tanie nodded willingly, not minding at all. Her tiny hands gripped his neck tightly as Veran began to walk out. He didn’t even know where she was heading and still she didn’t mind. Veran felt Tanie’s grip tighten as they passed several people and several yappy little dogs in ladies’ arms. Once feeling her tremble, Veran took her back up in his hand, curling his fingers inwards as to act like a barrier. She looked around the surroundings again, feeling safer in Veran’s hand; peeping through his fingers like a prisoner in a fleshy cell. Her tiny movements tickled his palm, sometimes causing his hand to twitch suddenly.
Opening the manor door, Veran- and Tanie- were greeted with loud, tired yawns. Veran wasn’t surprised to see his team half-asleep. Every night, they would stay up late and drink…despite their knowledge of waking up early the next day. Tanie looked up at Veran worriedly,
‘I know. It’s hard to believe that I work with them,’ he set her down on a nearby table and rolled up his sleeves, ‘Just stay here so I know where to get you when we can leave,’
The little faerie nodded, a sign for Veran to take his leave.
*~* Tanie’s POV *~*
She watched her human friend stride off to join his "team". He had told her about what he did as a "career", she recalled him saying, and she found it odd that humans would move their furnishings to add appeal to their homes. Frankly, she would rather the wilderness. Such strange beings humans were but very, very big. She felt so weak sitting in Veran’s hand, so small and helpless; he could have crushed her in an instant if he wanted to, but he didn’t and she knew he wouldn’t. In that refuge, she felt so warm and safe from the hazardous world of the humans.
Her poor, poor dress. Tanie grabbed the sides of her skirts and lifted them up as she looked at her dress. Torn at the hem and the brown-orange colour fading, her skirt hung limply in her hands. Her bodice was dirtied, wet and closer to brown than its usual white. Tanie sighed. After travelling from home and all the way here, she should have expected this. Where was she going? She was trying to find someone very close to her but who she barely knew. Odd, isn’t it? Her mother didn’t know what she had planned though. Mama must be worried sick…
Tanie frowned and looked about. What was that sound? She felt a presence nearby…something large…something that seemed very interested in her…
She spun around and screamed. A massive, furry creature towered above her, its sharp green eyes showing its interest and hunger. The monster licked its furry lips, wetting its whiskers in the process, and bared its white teeth. Tanie had to flee but where?! She and the creature stood on a small wooden dresser with only the ground surrounding its base like the moat of a castle; a drop at her size would surely kill her. She had to think! FAST! The creature slowly made its way towards her, its tail swishing from side to side. Tanie backed away, watching out for a dreaded edge of the dresser-top. Suddenly, the furry behemoth pounced. Tanie ran forward desperately and it flew over her, sliding off the dresser upon landing,
‘MEOW!’ it hissed.
Tanie had some time but not much. She knew that it could easily come up on the dresser again so all she had to do was to leave before it found her. Looking around, she spotted large purple curtains, hanging all the way up then down to the marble floor. Gathering up all her courage, the faerie sprinted and leapt off the edge to grab the velvet fabric. Quickly, she slid down, catching a glimpse of the furry creature leaping back onto the dresser. She landed with a bump on the floor and quickly hid behind the curtain. She heard the hungry, taunting cries of the monster- it was playing with her- and then,
‘Dukey! There you are!’ a stocky woman elaborately dressed cried, picking up the creature with ease, ‘I was looking all over for you! You silly, silly kitty! It’s time for your lunch,’
‘Meow!’ it replied happily and the woman carried it away with it purring in her arms.
Tanie watched from behind the curtain the monster being easily carried in the human’s arms. Her heart raced within her chest even as she tried to recover from her scare. She sighed and gave a worried groan as she tried to look around for Mr Veran. No one else seemed to be around and the room was completely empty, except for the beautifully polished furnishings. Suddenly, she heard a squeak and chattering. What now? Her bottom lip shuddered as she slowly turned to look behind her. She gasped as she stared into the black voids that were a grey creature’s eyes. It wasn’t as big as the "kitty" but it was bigger than her…and looked hungry too. Its tail flicked sharply from side to side like a whip as it sat there looking at her. Tanie sped off, trying to find her friend. The grey creature followed closely behind, squeaking and chattering quickly.
WHY DID HUMAN STRUCTURES HAVE TO BE SO BIG?! Tanie ran like a lunatic across the marble floor, heading for the closest doorway she could find. What were mere steps to humans were kilometres of land to such a tiny creature and she was huffing and puffing before she was even close to the door. As she finally reached it, the door swung open violently. Tanie ducked just in time, seeing the grey creature being batted away by the heavy wood and fly through the air,
She released her head from her arms and looked up. Her face brightened as she saw a familiar figure towering over her, staring down at her in surprise,
‘What’re you doing down there?’ Veran scooped her up into his hand, ‘And why’re you sweating?’
She could only collapse. Her arms and legs were like jelly, shivering and completely unable to hold her up. Veran gave a soft smile and patted her head. He lowered her tired little body into his pocket and let her rest.
*~* Veran’s POV *~*
Finally! Back home after hours of planning and moving, Veran started a fire in the lounge. He fished Tanie out of his pocket and held her in his hand as he sat down on the couch. She neatened her red curls and looked up at him, looking much better then she did earlier on,
‘I’m sorry,’ he apologised again, ‘I didn’t realise how long it would take today…by the way, where are you headed?’ Veran thought for a minute. She was mute so she couldn’t just tell him then and there, ‘Can you write? I mean, you can read…’
Tanie nodded brightly with a smile and was lowered down onto the coffee table, standing between Veran and the fire. He stood up and went to fetch some paper and the smallest pen he could find. As he scrounged around for paper in his study, he wondered what a mute, wingless little faerie would be doing away from her Circle. He burrowed under mounds of his design papers to finally get a clean sheet. Upon returning to the lounge, Veran found Tanie looking at her arm…
*~* Tanie’s POV *~*
I'm getting there! I'm getting there! i'm just trying to remember the original plot!!! >< gah! This one is in no specific POV, it's just normal now, but it's the continuation of the last post:
He had managed to bring down the swelling of Tanie’s arm with a little piece of ice cube. The little faerie had fallen asleep long before he had taken the piece away, now a little nub swimming in cold water. Veran blanketed her with his cravat, holding his head in one hand as he watched her sleeping on the vanity. She shifted slightly, letting her scratched arm slip from under the blanket and into the open. Veran’s eyes immediately caught sight of its redness and sighed. Whatever scratched her must have had its nails blunted or the little faerie’s arm would have been cut right off. He shook his head.
She had taken a huge risk coming here but the town was just too dangerous for a little creature like Tanie. Even if Veran accompanied her- rather, she accompanied him- she could easily be stolen from him if he wasn’t careful. She was a mere doll, an object…Veran didn’t want to think about what others might do to her. He was going to have to back down completely from his promise and take her back home. Besides, a man whose face was unknown to her might probably be a little difficult to find. He might even be dead!
‘I’ve put off helping you find your father twice now, little one,’ Veran lifted the cravat’s hem to touch her cheek, ‘But you need to go home,’
And what about Tanie’s mother? Veran hoped she didn’t think her daughter had been kidnapped. Laying his arms down, his head following and resting on top of them, he kept his eyes on the sleeping faerie. A wave of sleep came down on him and he was overcome by darkness…
A disembodied voice called out something that was inaudible. Veran’s eyes opened instantly. A single light suddenly shone on him while his surroundings were bathed in black; he was a solo actor performing to the darkness itself. The voice called again but it was as if the caller was submerged in something thinner than water. Veran looked around desperately for the person but stood his ground,
‘Who’s there?’ he cried,
‘a…a!’ responded the voice,
‘Where are you?’
Veran took a step forward but his foot met with no floor. He quickly took it back, his heart pounding at the thought of where he might have ended,
‘ "Mama"?’ he picked up the voice immediately, ‘Tanie?’
Veran awoke with a start, his head shooing up from his arms and his heart racing within his chest. Tanie was in his dream, or at least her voice. "Here, Mama!" Tanie did not sound lost, rather, she was beckoning her mother to come to her. But there came no reply. Something deep in Veran’s gut told him that this dream and his previous one were connected…involving Tania and Tananie... Veran shook his head. It was impossible. Tananie’s mother was still alive…wasn’t she? He frowned…he didn’t even know about the little creature’s mother. Looking down, he had expected to find her still sleeping, but there she sat, curled in Veran’s cravat like a cocoon and wide-eyed in surprise,
‘You alright, little one?’ Veran pulled her closer, almost scooping her up from behind,
‘Tanie…saw Mister Veran upset…while he slept,’ she replied, still speaking slowly, ‘Tanie wanted to see what the problem was…and then Mister Veran sat up all of a sudden,’
Veran chuckled lightly, scratching her head with a finger. It was then he noticed that a faint ray of pale yellow light illuminated the room. Turning towards the window, the sun had barely risen over a silhouette that was the horizon,
‘And why’re you awake so early?’ asked Veran to the little faerie.
Tanie shifted her hands under the cravat, feeling the fabric between her fingers. She seemed troubled, gripping the fabric tightly enough to see the creases she made,
‘Mama has…the same ma-te…mate- ’
‘Material,’ Tanie nodded, ‘She has the same material as this,’
Veran slipped his fingers under a little corner of the cravat and lifted it. So her mother was still alive. There was no way that there was a connection between Tania and Tanie,
‘Fey Cotton is very rare but I’m sure your mother doesn’t have trouble getting what she needs,’
Tanie shook her head and released her grip on the fabric, ‘She sews many things…even if she is blind,’
Veran frowned, taking his cravat back and feeling the fabric between his own fingers. It was a mixture of silk and cotton- so soft and unsuspecting to be the strongest fabric in the world,
‘…she doesn’t know that you’re gone, does she, Tanie?’
Tanie was hesitant to reply. She bit her lips and looked down. She shook her head slowly. Veran did up his cravat and sighed. How such a little creature could get into much trouble, he didn’t know,
‘C’mon,’ he curled his fingers gently around her tiny figure, almost hugging her whole body, ‘I should get you back home,’
‘B-But…’ she settled into his palm as he opened his hand,
‘Your mother must be worrying about you, little one,’ Veran told her immediately, ‘And it’s much to dangerous for you to stay here,’
He lifted her arm to remind her of what had happened before. It was more than enough of a reminder; a single pink line came down her arm, poking out like a worm that had not been squashed completely flat. Tanie sighed and nodded, taking her arm back and covering it up again with her sleeve.
Faeries were situated in the Minyr Forest nearby, but rarely found. It wasn’t so much of an endangerment circumstance as it was fear and a concern for safety, that is, Poachers. Hundreds of years of faerie poaching had driven the little creatures into hiding from any being from gnome to giant, anyone bigger than them. Although faerie poachers no longer remained, only the elves were trusted. Veran knew this just as well as any faerie or faerie expert, and was careful not to provoke anything, especially with a faerie child grasping a collection of strands of his hair as she enjoyed the view from high above.
The forest always created a feeling of being watched to any foreigner who entered. However bright the sun was, the forest remained dark- even shadows lurked in the shadows. Veran swallowed nervously as he took the step that led him into the collection of dark trees and their finger-like branches,
‘Tanie, you’re gonna have to tell me where to go, alright?’
He sensed that she nodded, ‘Keep forward, Mister Veran,’
He did so, walking slowly and making sure his hand touched the rough trunk of a tree. Something moved swiftly in the bushes, something small. Veran stopped, turning his head sharply toward the sound. Tanie squeaked in surprise at his sudden move then found herself being wrapped in gentle fingers,
‘Sorry about that,’ Veran apologised, holding her in his palm, ‘I- ’
A faint call, ‘Tananie!’
‘Tananie!’ a call from another voice,
‘Tananie!!!’ a whole crowd of calls, ‘Tananie!!!’
Veran smiled hopefully and sighed. He didn’t really like Minyr Forest and stepping in brought back memories. Tanie looked up at him sadly as he knelt and lay his hand down for her,
‘Go on, they’re looking for you,’ he nodded in the direction of the voices, ‘Not far to go,’
‘Thank you, Mister Veran,’ the faerie bowed sadly, ‘…I…will miss you,’
His smile softened and her lifted her chin up with a finger, ‘I’ll miss you too, little one,’
‘Tananie!!!’ the crowd grew closer.
A bush rustled suddenly, Veran stood up quickly and flinched as a tiny being ran cautiously out. It was a woman- a faerie. Creamy-skinned, her curly red hair flowed down like blood from a wound. Her eyes were as black as black, almost hollow voids on her face. Her face…Veran’s eyes furrowed as he focused on her face, her eyes facing forward blankly,
‘Tananie, is that you?’ the woman panted,
Tanie ran up to her and took her waist, ‘Yes, Mama!’
The woman kept her blank eyes forward, hugging Tanie and stroking her hair with a huge smile of relief on her face. It suddenly changed to a look of shock,
‘D-Did you just speak???’
‘Yes, Mama,’ Tanie buried her face into her mother’s tummy, ‘I wanted to speak to my friend and I did. I can talk now,’
Veran gulped as she referred to him. Slowly now, he began to back away but still kept focused on Tanie’s mother’s face. He flinched as she lifted her head up slightly. Her black eyes seemed to stare directly at him, locking on to his face. Veran stumbled back in shock, quickly catching himself on a tree. His heart raced, he shook terribly and all colour flushed from his face,
‘YOU! STAY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!’
In his horror, he had been surrounded by very hostile elven archers…
A dozen arrows were aimed at him, all beautifully designed but deadly. Tall, elegant beings carried bows or swords, all ready to attack in one swift move. Veran broke out of his trance, his eyes shifting from one arrow to another. An elven man emerged from behind a dark tree, standing behind the two faeries. Tanie herself was in shock, looking around quickly, shifting her gaze between the giants,
‘Tananie, what is happening?’ her mother asked quietly, worriedly.
Tanie was about to speak until the elven captain intervened, causing them both to jump in surprise, ‘What is your business here in Minyr, human?’ he asked.
Veran breathed in deeply and regained the clarity of his mind, ‘I was just returning a lost faerie back to her home. I had no intention of inflicting any harm,’
Tanie felt her mother grow rigid as Veran replied back to the captain. She looked up to her the thoughtful frown on her mother’s face,
‘Then I ask you to leave the young fey and her mother now,’ the captain responded as politely as he could,
‘My thoughts exactly,’
The elves lowered their bows and looked to the 4-inch faerie woman. Veran followed suit then looked to the elven captain- the captain looked annoyed, scowling,
‘You know this human, Tania?’
‘Tania?’ Veran swallowed, his heart racing, ‘I thought you- ’
‘Yes, I know him,’ she interrupted him quickly, ‘He…he is a very close friend of mine,’ she blushed though she fought the urge to cry, ‘Kequen, please…we will meet you back home,’
The captain kept quiet and gestured his men to drop their arms and leave. They marched behind him, Kequen managing a bitter look back before disappeared among the trees,
‘Do not be long,’
Tanie released her arms around Tania and ran to Veran worriedly. He smiled, looking down at her tiny form as she reached the spot right in front of his boot,
‘Are you alright, Mister Veran?’ she asked desperately,
‘Yes,’ he chuckled, ‘I’m fine little one,’
Lifting his head, he found Tania standing her ground, her hands clasped in front of her and a gentle smile on her face. Veran almost unconsciously scooped Tanie up quickly and headed over to his dear friend, his cheeks pink and warm. The little faerie was bewildered at his sudden change of expression,
‘Veran,’ Tania still stared ahead even as he approached, ‘I-Is it really you?’
He knelt back down, placing Tanie back down to her feet and staring down at Tania. She was tiny and blind…but just as beautiful as she was 5 years ago. Though her eyes stared blankly ahead, her warm smile melted his thundering heart,
She opened her mouth to speak, and then laughed lightly, ‘I was about to say how nice it was to see you again but…’
And she could still laugh at herself. His chest seemed to tighten and he swallowed; he had missed her so much. To hold her again, even in one hand, would be the most he could ask for. Her face grew sullen as she beckoned Tanie back to her, looking right at her, knowing where she was. Veran helped Tanie off his lap and she joined her mother,
‘We had better head back and join Kequen. Veran, would you come with us?’ she asked with a sad smile, ‘We can talk at home,’
Veran held Tania as she sat in his hand, while Tanie took her place in his hair, enjoying the view from a human’s height. They were silent all the way except for Tanie’s little voice chiming for Veran to turn or keep heading forwards. Though dark, he was able to see the wonderful smile on Tania’s face every time her daughter spoke- every word was like a beautiful note of a happy songbird,
‘Left, Mister Veran, and we are there,’ but she still spoke slowly, trying to get her tongue around the pronunciation.
The very first opportunity to turn was indicated by a small archway of dark, twisted tree branches. Veran picked Tanie out of his hair before he bent down and looked down the dark path. Thick braches intertwined like black ivy around each other, creating a sense of death and gloom of any who dared walk the dark path. Definitely not something one would expect to be the entrance to a faerie’s home,
‘Er…are you sure, Tanie?’
She nodded certainly. Veran shrugged and took a deep breath in, needing stay bent over as he made his way down the path. With Tananie in her arms, Tania took the opportunity to lean back on Veran’s great chest as he leaned forward. She had missed the warm, steady beating of his heart, now huge and thunderous against her ears, but could still make her feel at ease.
The path was a never-ending tunnel of darkness and branches. The trees swayed though there was no wind. Their finger-like branch ends clawed at him, some scratching through his shirt and into his skin. Veran ignored the sharp little pains, a new feeling coming almost every second, and continued onwards. Like the elves, it was as if the trees themselves did not welcome him in their domain. A small speck of bright blue light ahead hastened his pace. With each step the light grew and grew. He was almost there when a "claw" scratched at his face, just at his eye, and he stopped,
‘V-Veran?’ Tania sat up, ‘Are you alright? What happened?’
‘He got scratched, Mama!’
‘No, no, it’s okay,’ Veran gently touched the scratch and looked at his fingertips, ‘…nothing to worry about,’ and he took the last final steps.
The light engulfed them all in a warm, blinding embrace of blue. With his free hand shielding his eyes, he stopped as the light faded in fear of trampling on anything in the faerie town. Still a little blinded, he heard frightened gasps and terrified screams around him. Veran’s eyes finally adjusted to normal light and he flinched a little as tiny faeries, almost all children, ran away. Kequen suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere, just behind tiny houses and making sure he stayed on the narrow streets. He looked quite peeved,
‘Tania, what is the human doing here?’ he narrowed his eyes at Veran.
Tania had followed the elf’s voice and faced him, now standing and shooting a furious glace. Kequen's party surrounded him, holding their weapons at the ready. One of them took up the frightened little creatures into his hands, trying to calm them. Tania replied with an eerily calm tone,
‘As I have said, Kequen, he is a very close friend of mine. He is welcome here as a friend…is he not?’
Despite her diminutive size compared to him, a raised brow and a tilted head was intimidating him. Tanie leered at him in the same way, holding her mother’s hand in hers. The elven captain held his tongue as he and Tania (and Tanie) had a stare-down. Veran noticed Kequen’s fist clenching in anger; his knuckles whitening as his fist tightened further. He turned on his heel sharply and headed through an archway behind him,
‘Do as you please, human,’ he waved his hand, ‘Jarett!’ he faced the elf comforting the faeries, ‘Watch the faeries…and the human…’
Jarett gently lowered the now calm children back down on the ground and carefully made his way to meet Veran. The faeries either joined their mothers, or guardians, or resumed their games. Jarett stood maybe an inch or two below Veran’s height but still managed to look the same height as him somehow. His blonde hair was cut attractively short, letting out the brightness of his blue eyes. He smiled warmly towards Veran,
‘Do not mind Captain Kequen,’ he said, his voice as gentle as a breeze, ‘Being the one responsible for all the faeries in the Sanctuary is a bit of a strain,’
Veran nodded with understanding, suddenly feeling a small trickle down his cheek. With a finger, he stopped the trail, wiping whatever it was onto his finger- blood,
‘Yes, the trees are quite violent toward outsiders. Come on,’ Jarett led him out of the Sanctuary and through another, taller archway than the "Entrance".
‘This whole part of the forest is made up of rooms, isn’t it?’ Veran dabbed at the scratch on his eyes with a damp cloth as he used the mirror as an aid.
Jarett had led him to the Aid Room so Veran could tend to his scratches. The light of the candles and the wooden walls gave the room a pleasant golden aura. A small wardrobe stood at the foot of the small bed, filled with patient robes and towels. Jarett sat on the small bed with Tania and Tanie beside him. He raised his head,
‘Yes, actually. The trees had allowed us to build quarters and other rooms near the Faerie Sanctuary. It is much easier than to try to squeeze ourselves into the Sanctuary, no?’ he chuckled,
‘Yeah, I guess so,’ Veran winced at the last dab on his wound, keeping the towel there for now, ‘So…if it’s a Sanctuary, what’re you guys doing here? I mean, not even the fiercest animals will attack faeries, and no one’s a Poacher anymore,’
Jarett’s face fell and he kept quiet. Tanie hugged her mother tightly, burying her head into her chest. In the silence, Veran turned with a worried look on his face. A small sound thinned the awkward air surrounding them- Tania sighed. Veran’s brow furrowed- he knew what that meant,
‘Why do you think there are so many children compared to adults in the Sanctuary?’ Jarett said sadly, ‘Their parents have been taken from them; the children are left because of their lack of magic. The Sanctuary was built- though this may sound crude- to group any faeries left behind in the forest. It is a new home for…those who remain,’
‘We all thought it was the Great Fire, 5 years ago, that was responsible for so many of the missing,’ Tania lightly touched the very top of her cheek, just under her eye, ‘But then others went missing and only the children were left crying and terrified. It was only a few years ago that Jarett, Kequen and the others built the Sanctuary,’
Veran noticed Tanie staring downwards blankly but terrified. Even in her mother’s embrace the little creature trembled, her arms around Tania’s neck tightening. He had never seen her so frightened…yet nothing was there,
‘They refuse to speak of what had happened, or what the criminal looked like,’ he heard Tania continue, but only barely; her voice having to compete with Veran’s thoughts on Tanie, ‘Even within the Sanctuary. Poor things, they’re just so scared,’
Tanie’s eyes watered and she lay her head on Tania’s chest. Indeed…they were scared…
Jarett held Tanie in one cupped hand while Veran held Tania in his. It had been years since he and Tania had even spoken to one another so it was time to catch up! Veran was given directions to the little river near the Sanctuary to speak privately with her and he didn’t hesitate to leave. Jarett and Tanie waved them off, the little faerie quite bewildered by their eagerness,
‘I heard the others are playing Hide and Seek,’ Jarett chuckled, seeing her face.
Tanie immediately brightened and she clapped her hands with glee.
The trees violent clawing had calmed to gentle strokes on Veran’s skin as if they had grown to trust him. More light seemed to pass through the dark pillars and entanglements of leaves, illuminating the leafy path Veran walked. He and Tania began to recall the times they had created mischief back in the town. He ducked down as he reached a low archway and continued on up until the bank of the river. There he sat on a smooth rock and carefully placed Tania on his lap, keeping his finger for her to hold as she adjusted. He stared at her still beautiful smile as he blank eyes trailed off, staring at the space beyond Veran’s shoulder.
Only the gentle trickling of river water rolling along the rocks and stones- quieter and gentler than the pouring of a fountain- was to be heard. Tania released his finger and laid her hands onto her lap, enjoying the peacefulness of the river. Veran still stared at her in disbelief. Before, she was big enough to wrap her arms around him in a hug. Now…she could only hug his thumb at the most…but she would always be the same as she was 5 years ago,
‘Veran?’ she said suddenly, ‘Are you okay? You are awfully quiet,’
Veran raised his head and nodded, only then remembering she lacked the sense of vision, ‘Er…y-yeah, I-I’m fine. No problems…’ he felt a heaviness on his heart and sighed, ‘Tania, w- ’
‘I was meaning to tell you,’ her voice was so soft that she was almost inaudible, ‘When I gave you your cravat, I so much wanted to tell you…but I could not gather the strength. When I returned home, I told myself that I would tell you the very next day…’ she stopped and swallowed down something in her throat,
‘…the Great Fire,’ Veran said softly,
She looked up at him, ‘Yes,’ her blank eyes grew solemn and wet and she lightly touched her cheek, ‘It was that very fire that took away my eyes. I just felt I could no longer tell you what I truly was…and that…’ she lay a hand on her lower belly, looking down.
Veran’s eyes followed her hand and focused on her stomach. She had born a child…Tananie was 5 years old…
Tania shut her eyes and bowed her head. She was a statue of perfect flesh and bone but nothing could stop the tears that ran down her cheeks. She nodded slowly, as ashamed as a failed hero. Tania trembled even as she sat on her friend’s knee. She sat on his knee. Veran was so big now; she was somewhat in relief that she couldn’t see him now. But worst of all, she couldn’t even tell him that she was pregnant with his child. There she was in her world of darkness, completely unaware of what he was doing or what he was going to do,
‘I used my magic to hide the bump…I was just so scared of how you would react. But I knew you are were kind, gentle, caring man, Veran! I really did! And…and I can feel that you are that same kind man you were years ago. I am so sorry…’ she squeaked.
Veran gently wiped her cheek with his thumb- she jumped on contact. He drew back in surprise and smiled,
‘Tania,’ he said gently, lifting her chin a little with his finger, ‘I’m not mad; I understand completely. You wouldn’t have wanted anyone to know,’
Tears continued to roll down her cheeks, clear tiny rivers on her skin that sparkled like the river itself. Her cheeks rose up to a small smile,
‘Y-You are not angry?’
‘No,’ he whispered, and picked her up into his hands, ‘I’m just glad that you’re alive…and that Tanie is too,’ he added with a smile.
Tania kept her gaze up at him, now bright and shining. It was as if the same great burden on their hearts had been lifted, but something else stayed with them instead- a warmth. A tender warmth they both felt for each other. They were together again and happy to stay with each other as they were,
‘I love you,’
Kequen’s quarters were closest of all to the Sanctuary, but just like any of the other hollows, the forest-rooms. Rounded and wooden, the interior consisted of his bed, a wardrobe and a desk and chairs. It was simple, small and clean. The many little candles on his desk illuminated the whole room, not too bright nor too dim,
Kequen paced a length of 2-metres in front of Jarett, walking back and forth. His brow was furrowed in a grimace as his eyes moved about as if counting every crack in the wooden floorboards. Jarett had never seen him so disturbed; ever since he had seen Tania ogling Veran. He had always been so calm and collected…Jarett’s suspicions grew as the younger elf waited for what his captain had to say,
‘I do not trust that human,’ Kequen continued eventually, his tone as sharp as shards glass, ‘I fear for the safety of the faeries,’
Jarett was completely in contrast to Kequen’s thoughts, ‘If I may speak my mind, Captain- I feel a kindness, almost purity to Veran. You have seen how he gently handled Tania and Tananie…’
Kequen’s head turned as quick as a snake’s strike, his voice even sharper, ‘And what if it is a trick?! How do we know for certain that the human, this…this Veran has not brain-washed Tania into saying that they are close friends??? No faerie has the courage to make contact with a human, let alone befriend one!’
Jarett fell silent, but not because he could not answer the Captain; he knew exactly what to say. He had always doubted Tania’s thoughts about Kequen but now he believed her. His suspicions became certain- Kequen had feelings for Tania…and that he hated humans. There was no doubt that seeing the one he loved being held in the hands of a human made his blood boil. Jarett was more concerned about Veran’s safety…
‘I…I will be sure to watch him, Captain…’ he bowed,
‘Be sure that you do, Jarett. And if a single faerie is missing…’ Kequen turned to face the wall. He raised his head and merely said. Jarret feared what he would command him to do, ‘Kill him,’
Jarett was still, his eyes shut and his head turned away. His fist curled into a tight ball, his knuckles growing white as he gathered the strength to say his response. He fought his conscience to say it…
At the border of the Sanctuary, by the boulder that looked like a throne, in faerie standards, a small circle of friends listened eagerly to Tanie’s story. The circle closed in, the faerie-children leaning forward on their hands towards Tanie. They looked worried, their eyes as wide as human coins, staring at her with their hearts pounding within their little chests,
‘Did you tell him?’ Nimus sounded as if it were a matter of life and death, ‘Did you tell him, Nanie?’
‘Please says that you didn’ts Nanie,’ Djana took Tanie’s hands into her own trembling ones,
‘N-No, I did not tell Mister Veran,’ Tanie rubbed her arm nervously as their eyes stayed on her,
‘Tell me what, little one?’
The young faeries jumped and scrambled back in fright. Above them towered a certain human with his arms folded over his chest and his head tilted curiously. He looked over hundreds of feet tall to the tiny creatures but he was a gentle giant, and they knew it from what Tanie had told them. The children gazed in awe at his bigness; his hugeness- he was even bigger than Jarett. Tanie sighed, relieving herself of her shock and smiled up at him as happy as a puppy. Veran lowered down and addressed the other children,
‘I heard that it’s time for lunch, little ones,’
As silent as anything, except for the scrambling of their little feet on the ground, the tiny faeries ran back into the Sanctuary. A large hall awaited them, the aromatic dishes waiting to greet them all…and their stomachs.
Tanie skipped up to Veran and greeted him with a laughing hello. Veran gently patted her head and scooped her up. She sat there in his palm, shifting her look from one shoulder to his other shoulder and frowned,
‘Where is Mama, Mister Veran?’
‘She’s just a little tired, my dear. She’s at home resting,’
‘Okaaay,’ Tanie said with a smile, giggling as he stood up.
Her cuteness was just too much and he couldn’t help but tickle her tiny belly with a finger. Tanie giggled hysterically, falling onto her back and trying desperately to push the great digit away. Veran took his finger away eventually- when rivers of tears ran down her cheeks- and sat her back up. The little faerie let out the last little laughs of her fit as she wiped her eyes with her loose little fists. She sensed something about him, a great joy. Her heart fluttered like the wings of a thousand butterflies. A smile formed suddenly on her lips but she didn’t know why. She could feel this joy…but how?
‘I have always thought that she was born a mute- I am still in wonder how Tananie is now able to speak,’ a voice said from behind Veran. He turned and met with Jarett, ‘She is the only one of the children who can speak…or wishes to,’
There was tension in the air surrounding Jarett, like some sort of inner conflict, Tanie noticed. Her face fell slightly in worry as he approached them,
‘I know not of what you did, Veran,’ he placed a hand on Veran’s shoulder, ‘But I hope it convinces the other children into speaking again,’
‘Yeah, she’s improved dramatically…’
Tanie was oddly silent, even for a quiet faerie. Veran still nodded with a smile even as the tiny faerie’s grip tightened on his shirt. She managed a smile as Jarett scratched her head and walked past,
‘There something wrong, Tanie?’
Tanie shot her head up, her mouth open. A single word was about to escape…but she shut her mouth again, looking down at her lap again. Veran lifted her chin with a finger, his eyes meeting hers,
‘They can speak,’ he assumed, taking his finger away, ‘Can’t they?’
Tanie nodded slowly, ‘The ma-…the Poacher said that if they told who it was…he would come back…and…now they are scared to talk anymore,’
‘You know who it is, don’t you, Tanie?’
The little faerie sat still, keeping silent. Her mind raced, telling her to say or not to say. Brow furrowed and eyes shifting slightly, she answered quietly,
‘I promised not to tell anyone, Mister Veran,’
Veran only smiled warmly, chuckling lightly, and stroked her cheek, ‘That’s fine…you don’t have to tell me right now,’
A pink blush appeared on her little cheeks and he held his finger in her hands. She was still so surprised at how gentle he was. His fingers, as thick as tree trunks, could easily crush her yet she held one in her tiny hold…while another one managed to poke her tummy and tickle her again.
Veran would tell her later…