There was nothing to do, absolutely nothing and when you have absolutely nothing to do, you have all the time in the world in your hand, your mind is idle and you start thinking devilishly. As the saying goes - an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Same thing happened with Flicker. He was the tiniest of the Green fairies and the youngest - just thirty-two years old which is like one tenth of their lifespan.
What is a green fairy, you ask?
Image courtesy- clipartix.com
Well, they are invisible creatures, sparkling and twinkling like the stars at night. You might mistake them as the stars or the firebug in the dark. The Green fairies look like little human beings with fine wings that vibrate at a very high frequency. Their wings glow green when they vibrate, which is when they are flying. They have two antennas on their heads, protruding from their hair. Each Green fairy has antennas of different shapes and sizes. These antennas help them sense better in the dark. They have large eyes and long pointy ears. They are about four inches tall, in average, from head to toe. The tallest of them had been six inches tall whom they called the giant. The smallest is Flicker who is only three inches tall. They have long fingers, but very short toes.
They live deep in the forest, invisible to human eyes, in the trees, in the bushes, in the grasses and in the flowers. They eat fruits and drink nectar and fruit juices. They live in families, generations together. Their houses are lighted with magical embers that only they can produce. The clothes they wear are woven from leaves and grasses. Their jewellery is made from flowers.
They are ruled by the king and queen fairies, King Shamrock and Queen Kelly-Green. The king, a fine fairy of hundred and seventy-two with darker green colour, is ever ambitious and very fond of music. His queen, just ten years younger, is a beautiful fairy having a lighter green colour. She is very fond of jewellery and as the flowers dry out in a few days the king has to keep a constant supply of flowers in his palace.
No, you don’t want the fairy queen to be angry.
They don’t have shops or malls or supermarkets, but they have galleries and play fields and farms and gardens. They too have schools for they are an educated lot.
Our little friend, Flicker, had decided to drop school for one day. It was not the first time that he had taken this decision. He flies out of school anytime he wants. That day he had decided to steal into the apple forest. He had seen someone going in there. He stopped at the gate, gave a good three sixty degrees turn and dropped straight to the ground. Two elder fairies were leisurely floating out of the gate. Flicker peeped above the little bush he was hiding behind and heaved a sigh. They were Gourmet and Dasher. Gourmet was hundred and five years old and Dasher was ninety. If they saw him hiding behind the bush they would have sent him back to school by his wings. Gourmet was almost round in the middle and very fond of juice, especially grapes. He always carried a small bottle by his waist. Dasher was more healthy and fond of fast sports. No one had been able to out-fly him so far.
Flicker waited for some time after they had left and then swiftly flew inside. The orchard was huge having a hundred trees and he had to find his quarry in it. All he had seen was a red streak, but he knew he was not wrong.
It was her.
Her name was Scarlet. She was only twenty-five years old; two and a half inches tall and the most sparkly of her kind. She had long red hair touching her feet, long round wings like water drops and large and brown eyes. Her antennae were like two balls that nodded in every direction like balls on a spring. She was beautiful, Flicker thought, but he had never been able to talk to her. It was not their language since they had a common language. It was not that they didn’t know each other for they knew each other very well but the reason that Flicker couldn’t speak to her was that she was a Red.
The Red fairies were just like the Green fairies only that their colour was red instead of green.
The Red fairies didn’t come inside the territory of the Green fairies and the Green fairies didn’t go anywhere near the Red kingdom. They were not to speak to each other under any circumstances.
There are many laws that the fairies, both Red and Green, follow, bend and break, but there was one law, mother of all laws as it was called, that no fairy would ever dare to break. If any fairy was found guilty of violating the mother law, then he or she would be banished from the kingdom. They are taught about the rules at schools from a very young age. They are made to understand the importance of a regulation, its necessity and of the penalty that would be inflicted on them if they tend to break any of them.
Almost twenty Green fairies and fifteen Red fairies had been banished in a span of three hundred years. Flicker, being just a kid, knew of the rule. His mother, like every other mother, had warned him of the danger in talking to a Red fairy. You shouldn’t even look at one, she had said. But what Flicker couldn’t understand was why he should not talk to a beautiful fairy-like Scarlet. The Red fairies sparkle all over. Their wings don’t glow.
He flew on top of the tree and hid behind an apple. From there he could see Scarlet flitting from tree to tree. She looked from one apple to another looking for something specific. Then she stopped at one point, near an apple almost as red as herself and as large as herself. She looked around her and then pulled it by hugging it with both her hands. She couldn’t even reach her other hand on the other side. Her wings flapped at high speed pulling the branch down, but the apple didn’t break from the branch. Then suddenly her hands slipped. The branch sprang upwards and Scarlet, owing to the potential she had gained, was tossed backwards. She went into the branches of the tree behind her and fell through it. Flicker could distinctly hear the twigs breaking. Scarlet landed on the soft grass below. She lay still. Flicker wasn’t the only one to hear the breaking of twigs. BarrelTop, the keeper of the orchard, had heard it too. He came rushing to the tree. Flicker quickly flew down and covered Scarlet with the biggest leaf he could find and then lay on top of it, massaging his head.
BarrelTop looked at the mess and frowned at Flicker.
“You were supposed to be in school, Flicker,” he said. He had a heavy voice. His antennae were shaped like barrels giving him the name. He was eighty years old and very pale green in colour. “What are you doing here?”
“Came for my lunch,” Flicker said. “Can I please have that apple?”
He pointed at the one Scarlet had been trying to break. BarrelTop shook his head and flew up for it. Taking the chance Flicker peeped under the leaf. Scarlet was stirring, but her eyes were still closed. Flicker dropped the leaf as BarrelTop came down with two apples.
“Here,” he tossed them towards Flicker and then nodded towards the gate. “Go back to school.” Flicker nodded and BarrelTop went away. Flicker picked up the leaf and whispered, “Are you alright?”
Scarlet nodded. Flicker extended the apples. Scarlet, at first scared of this Green fairy, didn’t even try to stand up. Flicker looked right and left and went under the leaf. Scarlet crouched even further.
“Don’t be scared,” Flicker said. “Take this before he comes back.”
Scarlet stretched her hand and quickly took away the apple. She murmured a thank you too. Flicker stepped back from under the leaf. A second later Scarlet stepped out. She was shy and looked down at her feet. She was wearing a tunic made from pink lotus having a belt made from a blade of wild grass.
“Go,” Flicker urged. He was scared that they would be discovered. Scarlet, her cheeks were cherry red now, took one or two steps and then shot up and almost disappeared.
Somewhere deep in the forest, on the other side of the narrow, dusty pathway, was sitting a Red fairy, with a bamboo flute in his hand, his eyes looking up into the night sky. He went by the name of Piccolo. He was looking at Orion, the hunter. There was a light breeze that night. The trees were murmuring among themselves. The sky was clear, the moon was high and Piccolo started to hum. He had a sweet voice, musical and full of soul.
The moon is rising high,
In the night sky,
The stars shine bright,
With all their might.
Tomorrow it will be, Another day to see,
For you and me darling, Just for you and me.
He hummed the lines a few times and then touched the flute with his wet red lips and blew into the hole. A sweet soul touching tune floated along with the wind spreading far and wide into the forest. Slowly and gently it melted into the night air, becoming one with the forest.
The Red fairy king, King Ritzy, was sitting by the window of his palace tree and reading a book. Ritzy put down the book and looked up. The music of the night came in through the window. Ritzy is a tall, four inches, and broad fairy of exactly a hundred years. He is dark red in colour and quick with the sword. He loves to read books and listen to music.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” His queen, Queen Folly, said. She is a beautiful young fairy of ninety-five. She was combing her red hair near the mirror then. “Can we go on vacation?” She asked.
“No dear,” Ritzy said. “The centipedes are crawling all around the pear gardens. We have to drive them out.”
The Red fairies are a fighting lot. They make strategies, create new weapons, plan their defences but never attack. The Green fairies are more peace loving and they tend to talk out of situations while the Reds let their swords do the talking.
The centipedes were enemies of both fairies. They are ghastly creatures crawling in the mud. They eat away the fruits and trees and destroy all the food.
While the Green fairies had made a deal with them the Red fairies had decided to drive them away. The queen shuddered. “So many fairies will die,” she said.
The scales of the centipedes are stronger than the weapons the fairies had and to harm or kill a centipede they had to go under them.
Ritzy was well aware of this, but there was no other way.
“Can’t we make a deal with them like the Greens did?” Foley asked. Ritzy stood up from his chair and floated lightly towards his queen.
“No,” he said in a heavy voice. “We can’t. We will...” There was someone at the door.
“Who is it?” Ritzy turned his head.
The curtains parted and a little Red fairy walked in. “Hello father,” she said. “Hello, mother.”
“Scarlet?” Her mother said. “Come in dear.” Scarlet came in. “Dinner is ready,” she announced.
On the farther side of the Red Kingdom, even further from the Green, resided the centipedes. They were thousands of number and ruthless killers. They ate fairies for breakfast. Their king, Killipide, was the longest of them all. He ate roaches for dinner and ate more than one at a time. These centipedes destroyed the gardens and farms that the fairies had. They are not afraid of anything except… well, everyone is afraid of it. It was fire.
About a thousand years ago when the Red and Green fairies used to live together – oh, yes there was such a time – these were not so many in number. There had always been wars between the centipedes and the fairies. On one such war, when the centipedes were almost victorious, one of the Red fairy soldiers cut down the head of the then centipede king with the help of a Green fairy soldier.
At the end of the battle, after the remaining centipedes were driven out and peace was restored, it was time for honouring the heroes. But the then king, a Green fairy, Glum-Ore, had something else in mind. He honoured the Green fairies only and not the Red ones. This hurt the sentiments of the Red fairies and they protested, peacefully. Glum-ore ordered his soldiers to force out any protesters by any means. In the process, many of the Red fairies got injured. The Reds, thus disrespected and insulted, separated from the Greens and had remained separated ever since.
The Red fairies had always been brave and courageous and ready for war. The Greens, however, are a bit laid back and lethargic. They are more of artistic mind and cultural. Just like Palette, a Green fairy of one fifty is an artist. He sat on his settee by the window with a plate of colours in his left hand, a paintbrush in his right hand and white blank canvas in front of him. His eyes were on the sky, his mind even further away.
There are few fairies, both Red and Green, who can perform magic. These fairies are called Gremlins. They are said to be blessed with the rare gift of nature and they tend to the king and queen and help in ruling the kingdom. It was this magic that had kept the centipedes away. Both the fairies had put up a magic wall around their kingdom that had helped them to detect any unwanted entries.
That day a gremlin going by the name of Four-Finger – for he had only four fingers in his left hand – had detected Scarlet coming into the Green kingdom. Four-Finger was soft at heart. He had seen Scarlet come and go before but he had not reported. She is merely an infant and how could he see her banished? But that day when Scarlet was leaving another gremlin, Pulsar, had seen her too. Pulsar was good at heart but very strict with rules. He was also Flicker’s grandfather.
The Gremlins have their Headquarters in the tree beside the palace tree. There are seven Green Gremlins who have magical powers. They are called the supreme. There are other fairies with magical powers too and they are called Pixies. Pixies have less magical power and they help the gremlins in performing their tasks.
When Pulsar entered the chamber Four-Finger was teaching two pixies how to create fire by snapping one’s thumb and forefinger.
“Pixies,” Pulsar called gently. He has a heavy voice. He is the head of the Gremlins. He is five inches tall and has a silver beard. The three fairies looked up and then stood up. “Kindly wait outside the chamber.” The two pixies bowed and left the chamber. Pulsar put down the scrolls he was carrying and turned to Four-Finger.
“Well, Four-Finger,” he smiled. “How was the day?” “It’s good, Pulsar,” Four-Finger said.
“Haven’t seen any Reds around, have we?” Four-Finger swallowed.
Pulsar sat down on his chair at the head of the table.
“Sit,” he said. Four-Finger sat down. “It was that little red one, wasn’t it?” Four-Finger nodded.
“Scarlet,” he said, “isn’t it?” Four-Finger nodded again. “What are you going to do?”
“She is just a little kid,” Four-Finger murmured.
“I know,” Pulsar patted his hand, knowing how soft-hearted Four-Finger was. “But it’s important that she learns the rules at a young age.”
Four-Finger made to rise, but Pulsar waved him to sit. “I’ll talk to the majesty.”
Flicker was waiting at the dining table when Pulsar came in. Flicker being the youngest was his grandfather’s favourite. He flew up from his seat and hugged Pulsar from behind.
“Caught you, grandpa,” he giggled. “Caught you again.”
“Yes, sonny, you caught me again,” Pulsar patted his head and smiled. He made a circle in the air and tapped it on the top. A ball dropped down onto the floor. “There you go.”
Flicker picked up the ball and flew out the window. He loved his grandpa’s magic balls. When you throw them towards the sky, they go high in the air, keep afloat there for some time glowing like a fireball and then burst open like a firecracker sprinkling shards of various shapes and colours all over the forest. Flicker liked to catch them as the fell.
The forest was quiet and asleep. Flicker came out till the Great Tree. The Great Tree, a banyan, is the oldest of all trees and is right at the centre of the forest. Its equidistance from both the kingdoms and belongs to no one. This tree is home to hundreds of birds. They are all Flicker’s friends.
He flew to the top the Great Tree, looked around and threw the ball as hard as he could towards the sky. The ball zoomed up about miles in the air before it stopped. It glowed like the moon. Then it burst. As it burst it lighted the forest like a day. Flicker dashed for the first flake but stopped midway. The flake landed on his head and then disappeared. But Flicker didn’t notice that. His eyes had fallen on a little sparkly thing behind a leaf of the banyan tree. It was shivering. Very carefully Flicker came down to it and even more carefully he lifted the leaf.
There she was: The little Red fairy of the Red Kingdom.
“Scarlet!” the name slipped out of Flicker’s lips. He quickly covered his mouth and hid behind the leaf himself. Scarlet, on her part, started looking up and drew the leaf towards herself.
“What do you want?” she asked, wiping her tears.
Flicker peeped round the edge of the leaf. “Why are you here?”
Scarlet sniffed a little bit and wiped her nose. “Your grandfather had seen me come to the apple orchard yesterday. He informed my father and I am banished,” she explained and started to cry again.
Flicker lowered the leaf and stood on the twig, his head hanging low. He was very fond of this little fairy. As he saw her cry he felt like crying himself.
“Don’t cry, Scarlet,” he said slowly. “See, this is a no fairy land. It doesn’t belong to the Reds or the Greens.” He said trying to sound as confident as he could. “You can stay here.”
“I am scared,” Scarlet confessed.
Flicker was sacred himself. But then he knew someone. His name was Red-Tail for he had a red spot on his tail. He was a sparrow living in a tree just two trees away from the Great Tree.
“Come with me,” Flicker said and flew off. Scarlet, not understanding what Flicker meant, followed him slowly.
Red-Tail was home having dinner with his wife Flare. They were just discussing how long the worms were that Flare had been able to dig up when Flicker came calling at their nest.
“Hope I am not interrupting,” he said and curtsied. Red-Tail was more than pleased to see him. He flew out of his nest followed by his wife.
“Flicker Fairy,” he said spreading his wings. “What’s brings…” his eyes had fallen on Scarlet. “What is a Red doing with you?”
Flicker narrated his story and Flare shook her head. “Poor kid. So she has no home to stay?” Flicker and Scarlet shook their heads. Flicker asked, “Can she stay with you?”
“He banished her?” This was the fourth time that Four-Finger asked the same question. “His own daughter? She is just a kid.”
Pulsar nodded but said nothing. He had not expected Ritzy to banish his own only twenty-five years old daughter. The news had spread all over the fairy kingdom. Some said it was a right thing to do for a righteous king. Some said it was cruel to banish a little fairy of twenty-five. She was barely an infant.
Flicker’s mother, CarPoly, a very dark Green fairy, was worried to her wings. She was sure the Green king would banish Flicker too. But Flicker was not worried about that. He knew Scarlet would be safe and she was in No-Fairy Land he could meet her whenever he wanted.
As days went by Scarlet and Flicker became friends. They met at night, spoke about their lives in their respective kingdoms, Flicker even told Scarlet all that he learnt at school. The sparrows didn’t mind having them in their nest. They made friends with other birds like the Jacobin cuckoo going by the name of Coots and a white-browed coucal calling himself Karl. The snowy owl named Hooter and the elf owl named Picket were their every night’s company. The ruby topaz hums around them whenever they were flying together deep in conversation. She calls herself Ruby. About a mile north of the Great Tree was a lake. It is called the Lake of Souls. Its water remains as still as a mirror and just like a mirror you can see your reflection in its water.
Every night Scarlet and Flicker used to fly to the lake. There they met the great hornbill. He was a kingfisher and his name was Yellow-Beak. There they met the pair of white swans, Cygnus and his wife Cygnini. They are always seen together. There was a black swan too. He is called Lustre because of the glaze his feathers throw off.
With time the two fairies became very fond of each other. They found so much common in them that they began to wonder what could have kept the Greens and the Reds separated for so long. On the nights when Flicker could not come Scarlet used to sit by the Lake all by herself and listen to the stories the swans had to tell.
On one such night when Flicker had not come, Scarlet was sitting alone by the lake. Cygnus and Cygnini were not there yet. Lustre had just swum by her wishing her a good evening.
The water was still like a mirror and the night sky was recreated in its reflection. She could almost count the stars. Once or twice the stillness was broken as the wind made tiny ripples on the surface. Scarlet was searching for the constellations she had read in school and the ones Flicker had shown her when a star broke and fell. Scarlet flew up and looked around. The forest was quietly sleeping. The night owls were wooing somewhere in the west, the crickets were chirping merrily. She could even distinguish Cypher, the long-tailed cricket of the Green kingdom. He chirped the loudest and always had a different rhythm altogether.
She could even hear Piccolo sing the night song and Banjo, the pale green fairy playing his mandolin in his own tune.
Then something flew by her. She whirled around but there was no one.
“Flikei?” She called. “Is that you?”
Only the wind tapped the leaves on the trees. Something whizzed past her.
“Flicker?” She called again. “Please don’t scare me like that.”
Something flipped over her head and a leaf dropped down. Scarlet wrapped herself in her arms and flew towards the tree.
The big tree, with hardly any leaves, its branches sprawling in every direction, looked ghostly. It was very dark that night, a new moon night. Both the kingdoms would celebrate the night in an hour. Maybe that was why Flicker hadn’t come.
Scarlet looked around her and shivered.
“Hello? Is anyone...”
“She is a fairy,” a voice said. It was husky and very dry.
“Does she have blood?” Another grumbling voice said. Scarlet turned this way and that but could not see anyone. She, very slowly, started to come down but then two eyes opened in front of her. They were red and cruel. Scarlet turned and dived but something caught her and pressed her against the branch.
“A Red fairy!” It said. Scarlet let out a scream on seeing the pair of canines shining behind its lips. It was a Bat.
He flapped his wings and made a strange sound. Immediately, five more bats appeared behind him.
“What have you got, Canny?” one of them asked.
The one bat called Canny, he was the one holding Scarlet, smiled. “A Red fairy. We will…”
He couldn’t finish his statement. Something hit him and pushed him against the tree. The other bats were so stunned that they looked at each other and then at Canny and his attacker.
“Fly away,” a thin strained voice said. Scarlet startled on hearing Flicker’s voice. “Flicker?” she could barely see him behind those black wings of the bat.
The other bats looked about themselves and the moment Scarlet spoke they grabbed her from all sides. Then something hit one of them on the head and he fell down. The others looked about themselves but saw nothing. Then another Bat was hit by something flying, but couldn’t see anything. They were now scared. They let go of Scarlet and flapped away in any direction they could. Then Scarlet saw Hooter fly down and grab Canny by his claws and threw him away from the groove where he was trying to strangle Flicker. He looked carefully downwards and then turned.
“Get him,” he said. “He is here.”
Two fairies, one Green and one Red, came down and gently lifted Flicker in their arms and carried him out of the groove.
It was a big tree, a full grown maple tree, almost golden in the autumn. Deep inside its branches were grooves where the fairies lived. There were Green fairies and Red fairies living together and Scarlet looked at them with awe. She was sitting beside the bed where Flicker was lying. He was asleep. There were scratches on his arms but he was otherwise alright. An elderly Red fairy lady was attending to his injuries. Her name was Raspberry for her antennas looked like raspberries. There was a Green fairy named Chi. He was young, only eighty, and was a pixie. Behind him were an elderly Green fairy with long silver bread and even longer hair. His ears were pointy and his antennas were perfect spheres. He was called Elixir. He was two hundred years old and was a potion brewing fairy. At that moment he was brewing a potion for Flicker.
There were other fairies too. Scarlet could see them peeping through the windows. Then she saw Ruby. She hummed into the room and perched on the chair.
“How is he?” she asked.
Raspberry smiled gently. “He will be fine by morning. He is a tough fairy. He is our Flikei.” Scarlet looked amazed.
"You know him?” she asked.
“We know you too, a young princess,” Chi said and bowed. Scarlet looked all around her. “Do you stay here? Together?” “Yes,” Chi said. “We were all banished and we came here.”
Ritzy stood by the window and looked at the stars. In a minute the celebration would begin. Everyone would be celebrating with fireworks and crackers. Everyone would be smiling and cheering and enjoying with their families and he would join them as their king but he wouldn’t be enjoying. He knew he would laugh but not be happy. He would light the first lantern that was hung at door but there wouldn’t be any light that night. How could there be when his dear little girl wasn’t there?
The door opened and his queen came in. She had cried for so long that her eyes seemed to have lost their brightness. Ritzy turned to her and sighed.
“I am sorry, Folly,” he said. “But…”
Folly forced a smiled and wiped a tear that had appeared so suddenly. “I understand. It’s time.”
Hand in hand they came out of their trees. There would be a crowd of fairies. The king would light the first lantern and one by one everyone would light their lanterns and take them home. But that night there were none. Ritzy and Folly stood in front of the crowd that had gathered at their doorsteps empty handed. There was no smiling or laughing or cheering. There were only sad faces and misty eyes that looked at their king with sadness and compassion. Ritzy lighted the lantern. For minutes he looked at it and then turned and slowly went inside. Folly watched the little fire for some time longer, wiped another tear and went away. One by one, the other fairies, their head hanging low, left the palace tree. The door to the palace tree closed and the new moon night was dark once again. Only one tiny dot of light flickered in that darkness. Piccolo blew into his flute again.
No moon in the sky,
No stars to watch.
No light to look at,
It’s a dim dark world.
No song to sing tonight,
No song to praise.
None, my dear princess,
None, my lost grace.
Presto, the sentry fairy of the Green kingdom was flying high that night. He watched the whole incident from the top and dashed towards the Green fairy palace tree. Shamrock was waiting for him. Presto bowed and narrated the whole incident.
“It’s awful,” Kelly-Green said.
“Tell everyone,” Shamrock said, “that we are not celebrating this new moon night. If anyone wants to hang a lantern he might.”
Presto bowed and zapped away again. He zipped and zapped from one place to another and that was why he got the name Presto.
That night there was no lantern lit in the Green kingdom either.
Four-Finger sighed standing by the window. “I feel terrible, Pulsar. I feel responsible.”
Pulsar nodded absentmindedly. He had his mind set on other things. Flicker had not returned yet and he couldn’t trace him. He knew that Flicker went away somewhere every night and he came back before midnight but that night he hadn’t. Pulsar was hovering up and down the room when a pixie flew in, his wings almost falling off.
“Danger,” he said and painted.
Pulsar and Four-Finger caught him and sat him down. Four-Finger gave him some juice to drink. “What danger?” Pulsar asked.
“Centipedes,” the pixie said. “They are approaching the Lake of Souls.”
Both the Gremlins startled at the news. Pulsar asked: “how many?” “Thousands,” the pixie said. “They look horrible.”
Pulsar flew off.
King Shamrock and Queen Kelly-Green was sitting on a leaf outside their bedroom and counting the stars when a guard fairy asked for permission to come in.
“Gremlin Pulsar wishes to meet the king, your highness.”
Shamrock looked up at the sky. It was long past midnight. Why would Pulsar want to meet him then? He nodded at the guard and told him to ask Pulsar to wait at the hall.
Pulsar was again hovering to and fro in the hall when Shamrock came in. Pulsar bowed to the king.
“The centipedes are approaching the Lake of Souls, sir,” he said without any preamble. Shamrock, taken aback by the sudden news, startled and then frowned. “Are you sure Pulsar?”
“Yes,” the Gremlin nodded. “I am sure. And if they are approaching the Lake of Souls then the bats will be with them.”
Shamrock didn’t need to be reminded of that. He thought only for a moment and then called in a guard.
Flicker sat up on the bed and scratched his head. He looked around and found Scarlet sitting by him. She was smiling but there were tears in her eyes.
“Scarlet?” Flicker asked. “Are you alright?”
The little fairy nodded. “Thank you, Flicker. You saved my life.”
Flicker smiled broadly and sprang up from the bed. “Let’s go and see the celebration.”
Elixir came in at that moment. He saw Flicker and smiled.
“So,” he came near. “Our little Flikei is up and flying again.”
“Yes,” Flicker nodded bobbing his two antennas. “We are going to see the celebration.”
Elixir smiled tenderly. “There is no celebration, my dear.”
Scarlet and Flicker looked at each other and then they both started as a noise came from outside. It was Hooter and he was wooing as loudly as he could. Beside him was Ruby and she was flapping so hard that her wings almost vanished. Elixir came out and looked about.
“What is it Hooter?” he asked. “You scared the wings off my back.”
Hooter came down and perched on a branch. “The bats are circling on the other side of the Lake. The centipedes must be nearby.”
The three fairies could feel their skin crawling. Scarlet grabbed Flicker’s arm. Flicker swallowed hard. Elixir flew straight up as high as he could and stopped when he could see the other side of the Lake. The forest was swathed in a blanket of darkness. The Green kingdom was on his right and the Red was on his left. At the centre, there was the Great Tree and down to the north was the Lake of Souls. Beyond the Lake was the Dead Forest of the centipedes. He could see the bats circling the entrance of the Dead Forest.
Slowly he came down. By that time others have gathered there too. “What is it Elixir?” Raspberry asked.
“The bats are circling,” he said. “The centipedes are coming.” “What are we going to do?” Raspberry’s voice choked.
“We can’t fight,” Chi squeaked.
“We need to warn the kingdoms,” Scarlet said. She was scared but her voice was steady. Flicker came forth.
“I can warn the Greens,” he said. “And the Reds.”
“They are coming closer,” Coots came flapping his wings. “They are on the other side of the Lake. The bats are ready to carry them across.”
“We are doomed,” Ruby dropped on the branch next to Hooter.
Picket flew in. “I see a fairy go into the Red kingdom. It’s Dasher.” Everyone looked at the other.
Suddenly the coucal, Karl, yelled and flew away. Something dropped from the sky. Everyone looked up and found the bats dropping the centipedes one after the other. Everyone flew away in any direction they could, Flicker caught Scarlet and dashed for the sparrows’ nest. He shoved her inside.
“You will be safe in here,” he said.
“What do you mean?” Scarlet turned around. “Where are you going?”
“Well someone needs to make sure they don’t get into the kingdoms.” Flicker shrugged. Scarlet caught hold of his hand. “But we are just kids. What can we do?”
Flicker scratched his head. “I don’t know. But if we can warn the kingdoms they can at least protect themselves,” he said and then added doubtfully, “I hope.”
The bats dropped the centipedes near the Lake and flew away to bring more. Lustre watched them come and go. He hated the bats but he hated the centipedes more. He looked back and found Cygnus and Cygnini.
“Well?” he asked. “Do we sit here with our wings clipped?”
Cygnus was looking at the arms as they crawled on the ground. “No,” he said. “We will fight back but right now we can’t do anything. We need the fairies’ magic.”
Lustre nodded and turned back to the bank. The centipedes had grown in number.
Yellow-Beak, the kingfisher made himself available on the tree closest to the Lake and started counting the numbers. Picket and Hooter started to circle the Lake. The centipede paid no attention. They crawled their way towards the Great Tree. Suddenly a streak of green light shot across the sky. Everyone – the owls, the kingfisher, the banished Red and Green fairies, the sparrows, the swans, even the bats and the centipedes – looked up at the sky. The green streak of light showed again and then again and then again.
The centipedes raised their heads to see and saw the Green warrior fairies flying in circles. Out of the circle came Viridian. He was a Gremlin, like Pulsar. He floated downwards gradually and then settled a foot above the first centipede.
“I would like to speak with your King,” he said. He was the Green kingdom’s spokesman.
The centipede that Viridian addressed growled and turned to speak. After a while, a big, fat and large centipede approached. The other centipedes moved aside to make space for him.
“What do you want?” he asked in a rumbling kind of voice.
Viridian held his head high. “Killipide,” he spoke. “I, on behalf of his highness, Shamrock, want to remind you that we had a deal. We paid you fifty apples and a hundred oranges this full moon night. And besides, you can’t tread on this land.”
Killipide spat on the soil and grinned.
“Tell your Shamrock that we had a change of mind. From now on we only have fairies on our menu.”
He said and all the centipedes started laughing. Flicker could feel his bones shivering.
Viridian listened quietly for some time and then nodded. “Very well,” he said and zoomed up. No sooner did he do so hundreds of green flashes hailed down from the sky.
A few centipedes that were not ready got caught in the green flames and turned and twisted. Others coiled themselves into their shells.
The centipedes were more prepared this time. They drew out their spikes and started firing at the fairies. A few fairies, who were not expecting a counter attack, got caught in them and fell down to the ground.
“I can’t watch this,” Scarlet said and hid her face.
“Can’t we do something?” Flicker asked Elixir. “You are a Gremlin.”
There were flashes of green lights as the Green fairies flew in and out of the centipedes’ cluster trying to kill them. Yellow-Beak was picking up as many centipedes as he could and dropped them into Lake drowning them forever. But that was not enough.
“I don’t care what happens,” Picket said. “I am going to smash these cities for good tonight.” “Don’t be in a haste my friend,” Elixir said. “They are more in number. Look.”
They looked the way Elixir pointed and saw more and more centipedes being carried across the lake.
“Can’t we stop them from coming?” Flicker said.
“We can’t,” Raspberry said. “Cygnus, Cygnini and Lustre can stop them.”
“Then why aren’t they?” Scarlet pleaded.
“Because they need our magic,” Chi said. He had just flown down from the top branch. “They need the combined magic from both the Red and Green fairies and only then they can stop the centipedes. The creepers are gaining on the fairies.”
“I don’t care,” Flicker said. “I don’t care what the law says but I am going to fight.” “And how are you going to do that?” Hooter asked.
The cries from the battle below were blood-chilling.
Flicker looked at the battle below and then dived but he didn’t go far. Something caught him from behind and stopped him from flying any farther. He found himself surrounded in a red ball. Everyone turned round and found the Red king Ritzy floating a little above with his minister, Cerise. Cerise was a Gremlin and it was he who was holding Flicker.
“You, my little fairy,” Ritzy said, “are going nowhere.”
Everyone after having swallowed the fact that the Red king was actually there, bowed. Elixir came forward and bowed. “Sire, we are honoured to have you here.”
“The honour is mine Elixir to see you again. Now if you would excuse me,” he said and made to go when a green glow descended from above.
Shamrock came down followed by Pulsar.
“I wished it was a happy new moon night, Ritzy,” the Green king said.
“I wish the same,” Ritzy said and turned to Cerise. “Well, you know what to do.”
With that word, Pulsar and Cerise flew up towards the lake.
The battle was raging on with the centipedes killing more fairies by the minute. Flicker flew up to see and found more centipedes being dropped by the bats. But what caught his eyes was Pulsar and Cerise circling over the lake and the swan couple and Lustre sitting at the centre stretching their necks upwards.
Scarlet flew up beside Flicker.
“Look over there, Flikei,” she pointed at the other end of the Lake. “The bats just keep on coming.” “Scarlet,” Flicker said scratching his head. “If we can stop the bats, we can stop the centipedes from coming.”
“Bats hate lights,” Coots said from behind.
“But it’s the dead of night,” Scarlet said and rubbed her hands in distress. Suddenly sparks flew out of them.
Both Flicker and Coots looked surprisingly at her. “How did you do that?” Coots asked.
Scarlet had no idea. She rubbed her palms again and again sparks flew out of them.
“Wait,” Flicker said. “Clap. Clap very hard.”
Scarlet struck her palms together as hard as she could and lightning flashed from them.
“Perfect, Scarlet,” Flicker hugged her. “You are a Pixie. I have an idea.”
Flicker flew back to the tree where others were. There he shared his idea.
“Grab a branch everybody,” Hooter said. “A twig for you Ruby.”
Karl flew above everyone with a long branch and yelled at the top of his voice. “Let’s get this done with. The featherless bats will learn never to cross the Lake after this.”
They flew across the lake where Scarlet was waiting with Coots.
“Alright, Scarlet,” Flicker said. “Light them all up.”
One by one Scarlet lighted the branches. Little by little there was light. More birds from the Great Tree came to join. As the number grew it became brighter.
“Let’s drive the bats out of here,” Picket screamed and they flew towards the other side of the Lake, together. Seeing the lights the bats started to flee dropping the centipedes wherever they could.
Scarlet and Flicker were more than happy. They went round and round holding their hands in happiness before something snatched Flicker away and buried him into the bark of a thorny tree.
It was Canny.
He was angry that the other bats had fallen prey to the birds and were fleeing away. He clawed Flicker by his neck and bared his canines.
“You will die tonight, little fairy,” he said. Flicker closed his eyes in fear.
“Let him go,” Scarlet yelled from behind. She was not scared. Candy turned to see her and laughed. He closed his grip on Flicker’s throat. The little Green fairy almost fainted. But Scarlet was ready. She clapped her hand so hard that the flash of lightning cut across the air casting Canny away from the tree and into the Lake. The lightning had pushed away Scarlet as well. She hadn’t learned to brace herself yet. She hit something and looked up to find Chi holding her from behind. Elixir brought Flicker up in his arms.
“You two are very brave,” he smiled. “But these bats and centipedes are stronger.” “Look,” Chi said pointing at the Lake. It was a sight to watch.
After the bats had retreated the centipedes were falling short in numbers. No matter how much they curled up the fairies, both Red and Green found one or the other way to hurt them. Then came their nightmare. Cygnus, Cygnini and Lustre spread their wings over the Lake of Souls. Their wings covered almost the half of the lake. Then they flew over the forest and came circling down towards the battle. The fairies left the centipedes alone and dashed off. And the centipedes started crawling in every direction they could. But there was no escape for them. At first, Cygnus folded his wings behind him and came down in a headlong dive. Just above the battlefield he abruptly spread his wings creating a shockwave. It flattened the centipedes, even blew away some of them, disarming them at the same time. The king, Killipide, raised his fans and screamed.
“This is unfair,” he cried. “This is unrighteous.” “No,” Lustre said from above. “This is justice.”
He spread his wings wide. His feathers were like on silvery fire. They glowed so bright that it seemed like a hundred moons were shining together amidst the forest. He blazed and clapped his wings forming a flash that swept over the centipedes burning them. After the light subdued there was no sign of the centipedes left. Only the wounded and injured fairies were seen lying on the ground. Cygnini came down slowly and spread her wings over them showering them with a soft glow. One by one the fairies woke up and then stood up, their wounds healed completely.
The battle was won. The centipedes were defeated.
Pulsar and Cerise returned with Ritzy and Shamrock behind them. Ritzy was leaning over Shamrock for he had hurt his left wing. Raspberry swiftly flew over to the king. Ritzy smiled softly as the Red fairy attended to his wound.
Viridian glanced at Shamrock and, as the later nodded, flew up to hover above everyone.
“Tonight, on a new moon night, we have defeated the centipedes,” he said. “We the fairies. Not the Greens or the Reds but the fairies,” he said and bowed. “By His Majesty’s wish, we, the Greens, offer our hands to the Reds in friendship.”
All the fairies looked at each other.
Shamrock looked up. “Well Ritzy,” he said. “I think we have done enough damage already. It’s time that we unite. Only then we can survive.”
Ritzy glanced at Cerise and then at Elixir. They both nodded. He turned towards his daughter being comforted by Chi and smiled.
“Shamrock,” he said. “The doors at Red kingdom are already open.”
Well, folks there you have it. Ever since then the Red and the Green fairies have lived like friends. The mother of all laws was dissolved. Piccolo and Banjo play the night song together now.
If Piccolo sings blowing into flute:
Merry days are back,
Nights glittering with stars,
Fairies dance and sing,
Clipping their wings.
We are one again, we are again one,
The forest is blessed, the wrong has been undone.
Banjo adds striking his mandolin:
Happy days are back.
All sunny and bright,
Bang bang we party,
All day and night.
Cypher dances to their tunes. Palette had painted almost the whole of the palace tree of the Red kingdom. All the banished fairies were reunited with their families. Flicker and Scarlet meet at the Great Tree every night and fly down to the Lake of Souls to hear stories from the swans.
Oh, and if you see the tiny little light in the forest remember they are not fireflies but lanterns that the fairies hung at their doors on every new moon night.