This is the first of my five-part novelette The Great Kasdran and the Fairy Queen that I am going to post here and on Wattpad on Sundays. There is adventure, action, some drama, and a bit of romance against a mythological, legendary backdrop.
Cover illustration is by the amazing Brenda Failache. I thank Hális Alves for all the help since the birth of this story years ago until the final fixes.
If you like it, leave a comment, share it, and recommend it to someone!
The Great Kasdran and the Fairy Queen – Part 1
No queen was more beautiful and mighty than the Queen of the Fairy Kingdom. No man was becoming famous faster than Kasdran. He was young, and thus adventurous and daring as he was supposed to be. His name was spreading across the Realm like wildfire, and the stories of his deeds were growing bigger and earning flavors of legend. It was the time when the tales of the Great Kasdran and his faithful henchman Bompius became part of the folklore of the Realm. This is the story of how Kasdran met Alynna and the Fairy Queen, and of his adventures in the Fae World.
By then, he was known by the names of Great Kasdran and Sword Sorcerer. He was mastering magic and also the art of war. He had proved himself as the greater swordsman of his time, and thus took Bompius, a lighthearted heavy weighted young man – even younger than he was – as an apprentice. But the Great Kasdran himself had much to learn yet.
When Bompius decided to return home and visit his family, the Sword Sorcerer made his way to one of the oldest lands upon the earth: the Elder Forest. Few who went in came back, and fewer returned with their sanity untouched… for the forest was the dwelling of strange creatures and whispered fears.
The Great Kasdran stepped into the deepness of the Elder Forest, eager to unveil its mysteries. However, as he wandered by roots and vines and large trees, it became harder to recognize the paths he took. All of a sudden, the Sword Sorcerer realized the Elder Forest was playing tricks on him. The heart of the forest was a maze; nightfall was coming, and he was lost.
He tried to climb trees, but none was willing to let him do so. Branches and vines put him back on the ground. Kasdran decided to run in one direction and see where it might lead. Daylight was fading away very fast – soon started to rain. He knew the Elder Forest seemed not to like him, thus fear grew up in him about what might happen at night.
The Great Kasdran saw a light amongst the trees as he ran by. He approached the brilliance before one of the largest trees he had ever seen in his life – there was something amidst the roots of the tree, and he wanted to know what it was. The glowing diminished and Kasdran pulled the object from the roots. It was a sword. A very old sword, but shining young; the blade was as old as the world, and many ages it would yet outlast.
That sword was no ordinary artifact: it held a mind, a consciousness. The Great Kasdran felt it, and it spoke to him. One mind to another, the sword told him to help the Fae people for they were in great peril. The sword would be faithful to Kasdran as long as he did so and it deemed him worthy. The Sword Sorcerer agreed, but asked where to go, for he was lost.
The sunlight returned to the sky, and the rain ceased. The Great Kasdran could even see a rainbow through the high leaves of the forest. Then an ethereal voice spoke from a distance, “Who are you and what brings you to this sacred land?”
The Sword Sorcerer could not see anyone near, yet the voice was close.
“My name is Kasdran. I am lost. I did not intend to come deep into this land.”
“Yes, you did. Otherwise you would be somewhere else.”
“The trees gave me no other choice.”
“I gather they also made you plunder their treasures, like the one you hold.”
“This sword wanted to be found. It spoke to me. It told me the Fae people are endangered, and it desires to aid them through me.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, it is. I swear I am telling you no lie. To whom am I speaking?”
The wind blew gently, and Kasdran beheld a young woman step out from behind a tree. Her dress was green with strands of glittering silver, and her hair was red like the sunset sky. She was the fairest woman he had ever seen.
“I am called Alynna. I am here in the name of the Queen. Her orders are to bring her the one who defiled the late King’s resting place. And that is you.”
“That was not my intention whatsoever, lady Alynna!”
Alynna stared at him for a moment, and said, “That was indeed you intention at some point, for you have the sword of the King in your hands. Words fail you, lost thief.”
“I could place it back where I found, but I am facing a dire situation. Your people’s safety is at stake…”
“The Fae are not my people. What makes you think that?”
“How is it possible you are not a fairy? There cannot be a human woman as beautiful as you.”
She stared at him again, her blue eyes looking deep into his. “You will not flatter your way out of this thievery, then do not try again,” she said. “Be silent and follow me. The forest will not let you run away; that would be foolish.”
“Where are we going to?”
“The Fae World. You will answer to the Fairy Queen herself.”
The Great Kasdran followed Alynna into the forest. She walked amidst the trees as if she knew every one of them. Not long later, Kasdran noticed the trees were changing: they were becoming white; the leaves were green, but also red and yellow; the orchids were colorful – some colors he had never seen.
“Is this the Fae World?” Kasdran asked.
“Yes. We just passed under the portal.”
“What portal?” Kasdran looked up but saw nothing but the twilight sky.
“The rainbow. We can create rainbows from the hair of the Queen and travel between worlds as we please.”
They walked atop a hill in a clearance of the forest. The line of trees ended not distant ahead, and an endless plain ran until the horizon. Nevertheless, what grasped the Great Kasdran attention and made him bewildered was a titanic tree that spread itself into the sky, high above the mountains and over the clouds. Its branches went on and on all directions, shading a large part of the visible lands.
“That is the Primal Tree,” said Alynna. “It is told that all life sprung from there, in this world and in others. The Fae say it is the heart of all things. Many men cross the frontiers of the worlds in a quest to obtain one fruit from the Primal Tree. None survives. The Fae allow them not.”
“Why? Why they seek the fruits and why the Fae take their lives?”
“The fruits grant unimaginable power. Although one cannot prevent oneself from eating the fruits until one dies, and it always happens, the Fae are very protective about them. Great damage can be done before one dies. You see, the fruits are cursed; they call it the Curse of Desire. The Fae are not affected, they do not grow in power nor die. Mankind does both.”
“How long it takes the curse to kill one who defies it?”
“Minutes of agonizing pain, lost thief,” she answered, then looked at him. “Why? Do you seek the fruits?”
“I truly do not. Many years yet I intend to live.”
“For your own sake, it is good to hear so. Now, come. That is our destination.”
Alynna pointed not to the Primal Tree, but to somewhere away from it. She meant where a great amount of clouds were assembled, it was known as the Mountain of Clouds. It rose from the very ground, the clouds floating low and touching the earth, and ascending above all mountain peaks; only the Primal Tree was higher. Amidst the sunlit revolving clouds, there stood towers and gardens, bridges and waterfalls – the Palace of the Fairy Queen.
The Great Kasdran and Alynna crossed the plain, and they came to the Mountain of Clouds sooner than he imagined. There was some spell in action, he knew. Also, Kasdran observed the sun had not moved in the sky.
“Time passes slowly here, lost thief,” Alynna answered the question he did not ask. “Seasons last decades; Spring is ending; but do not expect the sun to walk the sky. Where Day is… shall ever be day. And thus it is where the Night is fallen. In the Fae World, Day and Night are forever.”
The Great Kasdran took a deep breath and smelled the scent of the endless fields, of unknown sweet flowers, carried by winds that run since the earth was born. In the western horizon, the stillness of the eternal night was somewhat frightening. From the nightside of the sky until near its brightest part, stars by the thousands drew mysterious and strange constellations – strange, for the stars were moving, and thus shaping the constellations anew from time to time.
Alynna walked up the first cloud of the mountain before them like it was solid. The Sword Sorcerer assumed that was work of magic, and he followed her, but his foot only trespassed the cloud right down to the ground. He could not go up the magical mountain.
“What is happening, lady Alynna? Why can I not follow you?”
“You can, you merely do not know it. There is no magic streaming in these clouds. They are like any other, but you must believe you can walk upon them. You must know you can, and then you will follow me.”
He tried one, two, three times, but to no avail. He could not stand on the clouds. No one could. Nonetheless, there was Alynna proving wrong the rules of the world of men. Kasdran focused on her, on seeing her doing the impossible – on seeing that the impossible was possible indeed. He concentrated, and finally tried believing. He could step up on those clouds; it was known perfectly possible – it was happening right in front of him.
Alynna raised her hand, waiting for him a few steps above. She smiled for the first time since they met. He would never forget this moment, or her smile.
The Great Kasdran took the first step, and the cloud held his foot. He smiled back at Alynna and started walking upwards. They held hands during much of the climbing, but by reaching the first stairway she released his; they were high in the sky, and into the Palace of the Fairy Queen.
Alynna lead them amongst the treelike columns on ice colored floors, and white stone walls, balconies, statues and bridges were everywhere to be seen until they went through a yard, with a crystal clear pond where tiny fish of all colors swam. On the way there, Kasdran saw few Fae creatures (little flying blue fairies by the pond and wind spirits at the entrance), and the palace seemed quite uninhabited and more silent than he expected.
“Do not let the sun and the beauty of this place fool you,” said Alynna. She was serious, and sadness escorted her words. “These are dark days for the Fairy Kingdom.”
“Why do you say so?”
“You shall see.”
They left the yard and entered a wide hall in the greatest tower of the palace. The light was weaker as if sunlight had been forbidden to come completely in. Dead flowers aligned along the round walls. Darkened branches and vines entwined the grey and shattered stones of the tower. On the other side of the hall, there was the Fairy Queen sitting on her throne of precious stones and dead leaves.
The Fairy Queen was incomprehensibly beautiful. Her smooth skin was pale blue, and she was taller than any men Kasdran had met. Her silky dress floated like water waves and was tied to her body with diamonds and crystals of many shapes. The dress skirt was of silver, green, and violet enormous butterfly wings. The Queen had a long and hypnotic hair; all colors could be found in it, but it changed according to her mood. It was of cold tones now, from dark green to the deepest blue.
The crown of the Fairy Queen was unlike any other one that men or women had ever worn. It was made of dazzling strands of crystal spreading over her hair with little stars shining bright in turns.
Alynna complimented the Queen and instructed Kasdran to kneel. He did so, and looked up to the ruler of the Fae people. His eyes met hers, and the Great Kasdran could see they were as deep as the ancient roots of the world. They were dark purple like a remembrance of a fire long extinguished. There was sadness in them that could not be measured.
“I see the sword of my long lost King.” Her voice was a winter wind, cold and sharp. “Is this the intruder and plunderer I commanded you to bring me, Alynna?”
“Yes, my Queen,” she answered. “Though he was lost, and did not know the worth of the sword.”
“Did you see it or you were told so by him?”
“Both, my Queen.”
“You shall pay with your life for desecrating my sacred land, intruder. You are not the first and certainly not the last to perpetrate such offense.”
“I beg your pardon, my Queen,” Alynna intervened. “But I would like to suggest another punishment for this man… a more useful one to Your Highness. My Queen could send him away to retrieve the stolen royal jewelry… since Your Highness will not allow the fairies to travel to the Night Lands. My Queen should consider that the sword of the King could not be handled or taken from its rest by an ordinary man.”
The wind whispered across the royal hall and a shadow grew beside the throne. There appeared a Fae Lord, black of hair and grey of robes. He possessed a white scepter with a crimson round stone on its top, which he kept caressing constantly.
“The human girl defies your ruling, my Queen,” he said. “Again. Perhaps she desires your throne for herself…”
“This is outrageous, Counselor!” Alynna protested. “I am only advising the Queen in the best interest of the Crown.”
“That is not your role in this court, human girl,” said the Counselor. “That is mine, and mine alone.”
“Enough,” declared the Queen. “I reckon your wisdom, Alynna. And I agree with you. I shall overpass the Kingdom’s laws considering this unusual circumstance. Rise, and present yourself, young man.”
The Great Kasdran rose, and faced the Fairy Queen with serenity and respect, and a hidden relief. He said, “I am Kasdran. Some call me Sword Sorcerer. I found the sword of the King not knowing whose it was. It told me of a danger afflicting the Fae people, and it is willing to be mine once I aid the Fae. I intend to do so; gladly, if that is the wish of Your Highness.”
“It is my wish. Instead of taking your life away, I command you to set away to the Night Lands, for I am certain it was the Yllysh who stole my possessions. They dwell in the dark of the world, torturing the weak and plotting against me. Follow the River of Songs, and you will come upon their dominions. My jewelry is hidden away by Vyanlystr the Vile, somewhere in the Fortress of Dread. Beware, for they do not know mercy. Retrieve my treasure and bring it back to me, thus you shall be cast free.”
“I shall, Your Highness.”
“Excuse me, my Queen,” said the Counselor, caressing the scepter’s crimson stone as he spoke. “May I add my own idea to your decision?”
“What would that be?” asked the Fairy Queen.
“Perhaps it is too much to ask of this young man to set out alone to such unfriendly place in a world that is strange to him. My Queen could improve his chances of success by sending the human girl alongside him. After all, she knows our world.”
“Indeed, my Counselor,” agreed the Queen. “Your advice is welcome as always, and quite wise. Alynna, you must go with him. Share the burden of this quest and you will also share its rewards. It is settled. Depart!”
Alynna understood it was useless to argue with the Queen, so she bowed and left with Kasdran. The Counselor and Alynna had grown a strong disapproval of each other throughout the years – that was clearer than ever now.
“Where do we find the River of Songs?” Kasdran asked as they went down the Mountain of Clouds.
“Everywhere,” said Alynna. She called upon the wind, and it brought her a giant, golden leaf from the Primal Tree. She put it on the ground, and they stood on it. Kasdran wondered if she was also a sorcerer or if all who lived in the Fae World were able to perform such magic. “If you sing, the River will come to you,” she said. “In what way, it depends on the song. All waters run west; we will reach our destination. Sing me a song, lost thief.”
And so did the Great Kasdran. He sang one of the most popular ballads of the Realm, The Queen of My Heart. Streams of water flowed towards them from every way around. Suddenly, a river came into being and carried them on the leaf away to the Night Lands.
[End of Part 1]
Part 2 comes next sunday. See you!