The Wood King

Trying to keep her tiny heart from breaking through her chest, the briar Faerie marveled at the great tree where the Wood King lived.

/Unworthy am I to look on such things/, she thought to herself in shame.
Fae of all kinds fluttered vibrantly about the tree, for the Wood King loved all of the creatures in his wood
Orange and blue flashes if light darted about.  Pysks and Nifta’s stood as centries with sticks fashioned into spears.  A wooden staircase circled to the top of the tree, where the branches fanned out in every direction, as though reach and drawing the whole Wood it itself.
Brimble and Woodstock nodded to other animals and gnomes who were about their business.  They all smiled and nodded to the briar faerie, and she did not understand why.
Feeling the thorns around her dress tighten around her body with each inhale of nervous wonder, she feared fainting might occur.
Woodstock smiled, “Be still, little one.  Breathe.  He will love you and set you and your sisters free to roam his kingdom.”
“But the things I do?  I cannot.  He would not be pleased with me.”  She said as her throat tightened.
They entered the large tree by the door, freely.  Which seemed unnatural to the faerie.  One so great should not let the Wild freely roam their castle.  What happened if the Wild ones meant harm?  Harm like she had produced?  How would the King defend his wood?
They continued walking into warm bright light eminating from the center of the tree.
As they got closer, her hearing enhanced as her eyes began blacking out.  The rush of terror was too great, she felt herself drifting, unable to catch herself.
Brimble caught her as the tiny body fell lifeless into his hand, “The poor dear.  I hope the King knows what to do with her.”
The Wood King sat in a maginificent chair of gold and white, which appeared very much like a tree.  His hair flowed down his shoulders, under a crown of silver.  His face was warm and friendly, eyes shining with mirth and joy.  The room was full of happy little creatures singing and dancing, eating, sitting at the Wood King’s feet–  And then his eyes fell on Brimble and Woodstock.  A deep sadness overtaking his features.  The Wood King stood slowly, walking to them before they had a chance to speak.
He knelt down – for he was at least five of Brimble’s height – and spoke softly, “What beautiful creature have you brought to me?”
His voice was calming, soft, gentle.  As though a river of water flowed from his throat.
“She has fainted, my King.  She came from the Briar.  We brought her to you so you might help her and her sisters.”  Replied Woodstock, holding his hands out so the King might take the faerie.
“The Briar?” The King frowned, still visibly saddened.  Blowing gently on the tiny being, her glow brightened as she began to flutter her eyes.
Realizing she the size of the hand she now laid in, the faerie jumped up, her wings fluttering so fast, they could be heard above the sounds in the room.

“The Wood King!”  She exclaimed in alarm.
His face softened into a gentle, understanding smile.  “Briar Faerie.  But this is not your name little one.  Tell me what troubles you?”
Feeling calmed and soothed by the King, she dropped her eyes, “I am Angelica.  I fled from the terrible crow in the Briar, because he was angry with me.”
“And why was he angry, little one?”
“He locked my sisters and I in a cage.  We escaped several times, but this last time he put on a bell, so he might know when we escaped again.  I alone made it out, and I took the cursed bell and flew away.  I flew so fast, I hadn’t realized I’d come to your wood.
“He pursued,” she continued, “I dropped the bell as I drove from the sky, and landed at the mercy of your subjects.  They do not know what I am.”  Her voice became soft, “Or what I do.”
The Wood King reflected on these things he’d been told, his face tightening with thought.  “What do you do, my sweet one?”

A single crystal tear fell from her eyes, “I kill.  I make poisons for the Crow, and he slips them to his enemies.  I collect the herb.  I know which ones will be instant, and which will be painful.  I know how to cause blood to pour from the body unexpectedly.”
Surprised by such a powerful confession, the room went silent.  The silence became painful to endure as the King continued to think.
“Do you enjoy knowing these things?”  He asked gently.
A shutter rattled her entire being, she dropped to the floor sobbing, “I do not!”
Everyone waited to see what the King would do, though most of them already knew.
“And do you wish to stop doing these things?”  He spoke again, sitting down with his legs crossing.  He leaned forward onto his propped arms.
She nodded.
“Then stop.  Tell me where your sisters are so I might save them too.”
“You–” she looked up into his face, “you would rescue us?”
His gaze became intense, a broad smile split his face, “Why should something so beautiful be locked away to do horrible things it does not wish to?”
She didn’t understand, but sat slowly up, folding her wings as she paid attention.
“Little Angelica, you were not meant to be enslaved by a crow, to do his evil biddings, you were meant to commune with the world around you and give it life.  How could I not rescue you and your sisters?  That is not what you were intended for.”
“If it pleases the King,” she began slowly, “my sisters are at the center of the Briar, where the dead tree leans and it’s roots enslave the ground.”
The Wood King nodded, “You heard her,” he directed his attention to the griffins, dragons, and pheonix who were perched contentedly along the walls on high shelves.
“Go and bring me these faeries, and that horrible Crow who keeps them locked up.”

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