Wild Magic, Twilight Magic,
fey your folk were named,
but I bequeath the Elfin Lords,
a rekindling of their flame.
Did you ever happen upon a faerie ring?
When I was a kid, living at home, we had a beautiful mushroom ring that sprouted in the front yard. It was fairly large, but only two-thirds of the way formed as if the faeries had been interrupted before they could finish building their gateway between worlds. I remember waking up and going outside, thrilled to discover that arc of pale mushrooms wet and glistening with morning dew. Had the faeries danced and sang throughout the night, giddily twirling to the enchanted harmony of moonlight, stars and honeysuckle-scented air?
According to legend, faerie rings are doors to the realm of the Fae. Mortals who dared step within, often found themselves trapped, forced into a ceaseless dance with the faeries, invisible to anyone outside. To broach the perimeter of a faerie ring was to invite bad luck, perhaps even death. Tossing wild marjoram or thyme into the circle could sometimes confuse the faeries, allowing those foolish enough to trifle with the ring an opportunity to escape.
For this Mythical Monday, I offer a snippet from ‘ELF-SHINE’ (title to change) an urban fantasy that has been through several drafts over several years and, at some point down the road when I’m satisfied with it, will eventually see the light of day. Here my lead character, Raven Stewart, awakens after following the sound of pipes and flutes into a woodland where he’s been foolish enough to step inside a mushroom ring. Poor guy. I have a feeling it’s not going to be his night. The scene preceding this, ends with him passing out.
A full moon illuminated the glade when Raven regained his senses. With a groan he rolled onto his back, blinking up at a star-strewn sky. A bright ache bloomed in his temples and splintered down his neck, cautioning him to sit slowly.
He glanced to the side, drawn by the strangely-accented voice.
The glade was aglow with soft light, cast from the otherworldly beings gathered around him. Some were small, no larger than his thumbnail, and looked as insubstantial as rice paper. Others, tall and willowy, were dressed in gleaming armor and shimmering cloaks of gold. All had translucent skin, pale-white like the fey Beltane moon, and lavender eyes. He heard the rustle of wings and realized many had the ability to fly. Blood thrummed in his ears, igniting a wild jackhammer beat in his chest. A small orb of glowing blue light bobbed beside him.
A will-o-wisp, his grandfather’s voice echoed inside his head. How many fool mortals has it led to their doom?
“You are different, Child of Man,” a young male with flowing silver hair addressed him. He wore a tunic the color of spring lilacs, belted by a pearl-white sash. His words were foreign, spoken in another language, – – an old language – – but Raven understood them. “On this night we celebrate. What brings you hence?”
Raven wet his lips. His throat was dry. The overpowering scent of clover made his head spin. Around him, tiny creatures danced in the air, laughing in small chime voices.
Although I know what happens to Raven I’ll stop there, having introduced the idea of the danger inherent in stumbling onto a faerie ring. The next time you happen upon an arc of mushrooms in the grass, pause a minute. If you listen closely, you might hear the faraway tinkling of chimes singling the Faerie Court has trailed off in search of hollow hills or twilight meadows where the night breeze and moon shadows conjure magic.