Birthday Bash – Emrys

Here is my return, with a WIP chapter for a character that hasn’t shown up yet in our blog tale. Sorry for the lethargic post. I have been moving countries!! I am now returned to Canada and am settling in. With the newfound time, I can return to editing and posting chapters. Also, update on my loyal followers, my co-author and I have been working on the draft of Book 5!! It’s super exciting with new material and redrafted old goodies too. I can’t wait to get it published for you folks!

Anyway, without further ado, here is Emrys’ Birthday Bash!

    Every day is fun. Every day is different. I can do so many things here at the Guild. Sometimes, I’m so busy that I forget all about the long boring days in the hospital, staring out the window, wishing I could play. There are so many things to learn, to see, to try. I never knew so much fun existed beyond those four white walls.

    Lately, I’ve been learning with my littler cousins, Lini and Kira. We also play a ton together! They are so fun and creative! The faeries love them and show themselves often to them. My favourite game is hide and seek. It’s so much fun to see who can hide the longest! Lini is usually the first to be found because she can’t stop giggling.

    Now that Andrei and Kat are back, I try to play with them too, but they seem busy. They’re always frowning and worrying about something. I think they should smile more. Maybe then, they wouldn’t have to worry!

    I see them with old friends and new friends all the time. There is a… I don’t know if they’re a boy or a girl, but they have super short hair and is tall with a picture on their arm. They look strong and pretty. Kat and Andrei call them Joni, which my littler cousins says is a boys name, but I’m not convinced. 

    The other new friend is Kat’s littler brother. He has long white hair like… like… snow! Maybe snow. I don’t know. I’ve never seen white hair on a person before. He’s tall, like me but he doesn’t smile much.

    Kat’s friend, Heath, went missing the other day and now he’s back, but he looks a little different. He is supposed to teach me things too, I remember. Now that everyone is on the island again, everyone seems happy, which makes me happy too.

    But… Andrei and Kat are up to something. I can feel it. I don’t know what yet, but I want to find out.

    As each day passes, I try something new, following them around to see what they are up to. Sometimes I follow Andrei to the library and we read for a very long time, until my eyes hurt. Andrei told me I should blink. I think I forgot.

    Sometimes, I follow Kat! Those times are fun! We walk all the way up the long path to the Guild and I tell her about all the things Andrei’s mom is teaching me. Like how to write letters and how to add numbers and how to draw and… and… There’s so much! She never asks me to stop though! Maybe she doesn’t know either and I’m teaching her! Woah…

    When I follow Kat, I get up super early, before the sun even. We meet with Heath and Nik and sometimes other people I don’t know. They work really hard, for hours, using different weapons and other magic things to play fight with each other.

    On the first day, Kat beat the heck out of Nik. I couldn’t stop laughing because he’s so tall and Kat is so small, almost like a faerie. Heath, Selene, and I stood to the side watching. She yelled at him too. I think he must have done something to make her mad! She never yells at me though. Well, almost never. Only when she’s mad. So I think she was mad at him.

    It’s a little strange, being with Heath and Selene together. Sometimes they look at each other but they don’t say anything. I watch their eyes and I almost feel like they’re talking, but I don’t hear anything, no matter how quiet I am. I wonder how someone can talk with their eyes like that.

    Selene is fun to watch the play fighting with. She can move things like me! We play toss without using our hands while the others hit each other with sticks and things. She smiles when we play and I always have fun with her.

    I taught her the hand game that Gwen taught me. We got so fast, I think our hands were a blur until we missed each other and I fell flat on my face. I couldn’t stop laughing even though my nose hurt a little. She laughed too. It was really pretty. Even the faeries think so. When she laughs, many of them gather around to listen, though they don’t often show themselves because of the others.

    I tell Selene about them, the different faeries and what they do and say. She never thinks it’s weird or scary. Not like the doctors in the hospital. She isn’t afraid of me. No one here is, and I like that.

    What’s also really cool about her is she always remembers their names! I only tell her about them once and she can say their names and what they do the next day without any thinking! She’s so smart. I like Selene.

    But, even though I follow Andrei and Kat around, I still can’t figure out what they aren’t telling me. I feel like there’s something. I just… how did Aunty Erin say it? I can’t put my finger on it. Hmm, maybe I haven’t tried using my finger… What if I did? Would that help me figure it out?

    Selene told me I shouldn’t spoil the surprise but I didn’t understand what she meant. I asked her, “What surprise?” And she answered; “If I tell you, it won’t be a surprise.”

    I said to her, “What if I don’t like surprises?” I don’t actually know what a surprise is, or whether I like them or not.

    “You will like this one,” She winks, “Don’t try to figure out what they’re up to. I promise you’ll be happy when they tell you.”

    After that, I stopped trying to figure it out. I like Selene and I think she’s smart, so I think I’ll listen to her.

    We ate lunch one day with Kaitlyn’s littler brother. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. He’s so… so… quiet? No, still. Most people move and use their hands when they talk and their heads shift left and right. Even the faeries don’t sit still when they are saying things, but he is always still, and each move he makes is subtle and slow. If I wasn’t watching I don’t think I’d notice.

    I tried to copy him. Do all the same things he did. It was incredibly hard. I think he noticed, but I’m not sure. I saw the corner of his mouth twitch, so maybe he liked it. I asked him about his hair. I said, “Why is your hair so white?” It really is whiter than snow. Some of the faeries like it and try braiding it.

    “Why is your hair red?” He asked in return.

    I stared at him, trying to think of why my hair was red. I couldn’t figure it out, so I looked to Merigold, sitting on the sugar bowl next to my plate of cheesecake, and I asked her, “Why is my hair red?”

    She laughed, “Because you’re the faerie king and all kings have red hair!” 

    I frowned. “That doesn’t make sense. Kat’s hair is red too,” I told her. “Is she a faerie king too?” Marigold just laughed after that and wouldn’t answer my question.

    I tried asking Kat why. I said, “Kat, why is my hair red?” 

    She thinks about it, “Um… Because you were born with red hair. It’s genetic, I think.”

    I don’t know what genetic is, but it gave me another question for Michael. “Were you born with white hair?” 

    He doesn’t answer, but looks at Kat instead. She pouts, “No, he wasn’t… It’s complicated. Let’s talk about something else.”

    I’ve come to realise that when someone doesn’t know the answer, they tell me it’s complicated and change the topic. Andrei does the same thing, or sometimes tells me to ask Kat. Caroline also tells me it’s complicated a lot. Kaede never says the word so he must know everything!

    Selene never says it either, so I know if I have a question, I can usually ask her. So I did. Next time I saw her I asked, “Why do I have red hair but Michael has white hair?”

    She looked at me with her pretty, pale blue eyes, studying my face, “Michael looks the way he does because he died as a baby, and was brought back to life by dark magic.”

    My mouth fell open when she told me this. “He died? But… he’s not dead now. Is he?”

    “No, he’s not,” She smiled.

    “So, when you die you have white hair?” I continued.

    “No, he was brought back with dark magic,” She frowns. “He’s a unique case.”

    “Unique?” I tilt my head sideways.

    “One of a kind,” She clarified.

    “Like me!!” I shouted. She smiled. “So, why do I have red hair?” I really want to know. My cousins don’t have red hair, and Andrei doesn’t have red hair. For some reason, the question wouldn’t go away. “Mergiold said because I am a faerie king, and Kat said genetics, but I don’t know what that is.”

    Selene hums, “It’s entirely possible that it’s a combination of both.”

    “Both?” I can’t pretend I don’t understand but I had a feeling no one can tell me so that I could. I guess I’ll have to figure it out another way.

    Sometimes, when Merigold is watching me, I wander around the island. I’m never really alone because of all the faeries. They follow me everywhere and lead me around, showing me things I doubt even the others know about. Like, there’s this field around the back of the village with a bunch of wild berries! I went there and we picked them, eating till my fingers were a rainbow of colours.

    There is this path too, that leads down a cliff at the far end of the castle that leads to a cave. At first, it reminded me of the cave where the tall man with the beard, named like the cliff, Cliff, was given new magic. This cave is different though. It is darker and glitters with gems embedded into the wet, brown stone. It’s filled with water, so I walk on top of it as Merigold taught me to.

    Inside, I find men and women, but they are different! They have tails! Long scaly tails like a fish, sort of. Their skin is scaly too and they have spines on their arms and backs. Their eyes glow in the dark and I think I surprise them just as much as they surprise me.

    OH! Is this a surprise? I like this surprise! Maybe I’ll make more friends! I stand on the water, staring at them as they stare at me, neither one of us sure if the other will move. 

    Suddenly, they splash, slipping beneath the surface of the water. I call out to them to wait. “Stop!” I shout, looking beneath me as their figures dive deep into the water below. I want to talk to them… They are so different, unique. I wonder what they are… I sit on the water, hovering over it for many hours, waiting to see if they’ll come back. I’m not sure if I can follow them. I’m not that good of a swimmer but I can hold my breath for a long time.

    Eventually, a kappa comes swimming up to me and we play a game in the cave until I feel better again. When I leave, I look over my shoulder at the water, hoping to see another of the fish people, but there is nothing.

    I’ve had a lot of fun this past week. I walk through the field above the cave, spinning around in circles with the faeries among the wildflowers that have bloomed. It’s so warm and pretty outside, I almost dread to go back home and study. Kat and Andrei say I should keep studying with my littler cousins, but now that the weather is nice, I want to be outside.

    I skip over the path and hum as I walk through the town. I wonder when Kat and Andrei will be back today from their play fighting. They work so hard. I wish they could play with me more.

    Eventually, I round a corner and come to an abrupt halt in front of the footpath that leads to the front door. Something feels… off. I squint at the door, sniffing the air like the dog in The Fox and the Hound did, a movie I watched with Lini and Kira.

    Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of a scene, coloured paper falling all around, like snow. I gasp, not sure what that means. I’ve never seen such a thing. I race to the door, twisting the handle and yank it open.

    I look inside but it seems empty. I lean over the threshold, peering around. Slowly I creep into the house, shutting the door behind me quietly. I kick off my shoes and slowly walk into the living room.

    Suddenly, people jump out from behind the couches and chairs, the table and the doorway, even from behind the kitchen counter. They leap into the air, hands above their heads, shouting, “Surprise!” I hear a popping sound and suddenly there’s hundreds of thousands of little coloured paper prices falling around me from the ceiling, sparks dancing across the lights. 

    I notice then, that the people are everyone! Kat and Andrei, Aunty Erin and Uncle Petre, Lini and Kira, Shay, Nik, and Gwen too! Caroline and Kaede, Heath and Selene, Hitomi and a boy I don’t know so well, I think he’s a Yuu, whatever that is. Michael and Joni hover in the hallway, and Cliff towers over the counter with a big bearded smile. Aunty Ann and Uncle Jeffery are there too, with Min and Shawn, and even Markus is around the back of the table where Scoria and Shimmi, the two little dragons, bounce together.

    My eyes grow wide with shock and my heart jumps wildly in my chest. I’m so surprised I scream! I scream so loud I clap my hands over my mouth to stop the noise. What’s happening? What is this? Why are they all here?

    That’s when I realise they’re all shouting something. “Happy Birthday Emrys!” They chant. 

    Birthday? I want to ask, but suddenly I feel too shy. What’s a birthday? I feel my face turn red and I look around the room, spinning at all the smiling faces. Even the faeries seem to be celebrating, showing themselves to the others without much thought.

    Kat steps up beside me, resting her hand on my shoulder, “Are you okay, Emrys? We weren’t sure if this would be too much.”

    I look at her, dropping my hands. “What’s it for?” I ask in a school voice. Please don’t say it’s complicated.

    She smiles, “You know how you’re sixteen?”

    I look up, thinking. “Oh, yea. I’m sixteen,” I nod with a smile. “I know that.”

    “Right, well, every year you get older. Usually, people celebrate the day they’re born to mark when they’re another year older. Today is your birthday, when you turn seventeen,” Kat explains. “Everyone wanted to make it extra special for you. We brought you gifts, and there’s cake too.”

    It’s so much information, I can’t take it all in. I stare at her feeling like my face has frozen, kind of like Michael’s does, like… all the time. “Wait… How do you know it’s today? Were you there when I was born?” I ask, my eyes bulging.

    Kat laughs, “I wasn’t, but your aunts and uncles were. They remembered.”

    I turn to them with a shocked expression. “Wow!!! This really is a surprise! Hold on! You said… cake?!” I repeat excitedly. I hope it has cream.

    “Yea,” She giggles. “Petre made a special cake just for you!”

    “Really!! Wow!!” I say with a huge grin. I pause, looking back at her. “What’s a gift?” I ask.

    She purses her lips, “Do you want to open gifts first and find out, or have cake first?”

    Oh boy! How do I choose?! I don’t even know what a gift is! But cake… It sounds so good! “Ummm,” I press my lips together, trying my hardest to decide. “Gifts!” I blurt, rolling my lips with embarrassment.

    I hear a murmur of chuckles from everyone as Kat leads me to the chair next to the TV. On either side of it are two floating balloons and a pile of colourful bags and boxes. I sit down, feeling super special as everyone gathers around the living room, facing me. I fidget in the seat, feeling strange under all the attention.

    Andrei sits next to the pile of colourful things and hands me a blue bag with paper sticking out of it. “So, here’s the first gift, from Selene.” I take the gift, staring at the paper with a smile. Everyone watches and I feel… strange. Am I supposed to do something?

    Andrei leans in and whispers in my ear. “You should look inside.”

    My lips make a silent ‘O’ shape and I pull the paper out, peering into the bag. I see the top of something fuzzy and brown with little round ears. I pull my head back and smile at Andrei.

    “Go on, take it out so everyone can see,” He encourages. I quickly pull it out, holding it out in front of me as Andrei takes the bag. It’s a cute little animal. I recognize it from similar toys Lini has. They call it a Teddy Bear. I smile at the little green leafy dress it’s wearing. It looks really cute.

    “Awww,” Everyone sighs in unison. 

    “Wow, so pretty!” Caroline adds.

    “She made it herself,” Heath smirks at Selene. She shrugs modestly.

    “I love it! I’m going to name her… Merigold!”

    “Oh, no you don’t! I don’t want to share names with a toy!” Merigold grumbles from the TV stand.

    “Fine, I’ll name her… Lily!” I decide, because the dress looks like a flower called lily.

    “I think that’s a fine name,” Selene nods with approval. I’m so excited she likes it!

    I set Lily in my lap looking down at her as Andrei hands me another gift, this one wrapped in red and orange paper. I hold the box, not sure what to do with it. The bag was easy, look in and there it is.

    “Pull the paper off,” Kaede whispers loudly. I look down at the paper, noticing the tape. I scratch at the tape, trying to get it off. Finally, it comes free and I rip the paper off the large box. It feels heavy. Andrei points to the tab at the top and I pull open the lid, looking inside. I see a round metal triangle. I don’t know what it is.

    Kat motions for me to pull it out, so I do. I pull out a tall glass container with orange looking goo inside, capped with a metal lid and a base. The room fills with surprised awes.

    I look at Kat. “What is it?” I ask simply. She frowns, looking to Heath for the answer.

    He rolls his eyes, glancing at Selene. “It’s a… lava lamp. Except… it’s real lava,” He smirks, his voice deep and soothing.

    “Wow…” Kat breathes. She looks impressed.

    “That’s not going to melt through the table, will it?” Andrei asks worriedly.

    “No, it shouldn’t. It’s special tempered glass. Perfectly safe,” Heath assures.

    “Cooool!” I smile, staring at the lava trapped inside.

    We speed along, Andrei handing me another bag. This one’s from Gwen. Inside is a very pretty potted plant, with a little stone in the dirt next to it.

    “It’s a silk-cotton seedling, we call a Kapok. It will grow into a tree someday. I am told the faeries of Africa, the Aziza, like this plant. Maybe you will meet one and they will help you take care of the little Kapok,” Gwen informs me. I smile, excited to meet a faerie from her country.

    The next one is from Markus, a heavy book on old faeries. I stare at the many pages hoping I can learn to read fast so I can read it.

Hitomi and Yuu give me a Japanese flute called a fue. I imagine the faeries will love to hear it.

    Cliff bounces as I open his, revealing a little animal figurine, a wolf. He apparently made it himself using Alchemy!

    From Michael I received an enchanted white rabbit’s foot charm. I hold it up, feeling the soft fur in my fingers. Is it really just the foot? Wouldn’t the whole rabbit be safer? Still, It’s interesting.

    Joni’s gift is a unique mini metal sculpture. She also made it herself, made from three different metals all twisted together.

    Caroline and Kaede gift me a phone with everyone’s numbers already saved in it, including a game he made himself called Guardian Go. Apparently, I can find Guardians in the wild and try to catch them! Sounds fun.

    Next is Andrei’s. I open his paper-wrapped gift to find a leather-bound journal and an old pen. He says I can record the things I see or learn inside. It sounds fun. I think I might draw all the different faeries!

    Kat hands me a small box next, and inside is a very pretty charm necklace with her fire mark on it! The chain is silver and I hold it up to show the others. “Can I wear it now?” I ask her.

    “Of course,” She smiles warmly. She takes the chain, unfastens the clasp and leans down to hang it around my neck. I try to look down to see it when she’s done, but it’s difficult. I feel super special, like Andrei, wearing her fire. I can’t stop smiling.

    Finally, are the gifts from Aunty Erin and Uncle Petre, Uncle Jeff and Aunty Anne. I get loads of new clothes, like pants and shirts and even a pair of awesome sneakers. From my littler cousins, I get mitts and a scarf from Kira, chocolate from Lini and Min, and a wool hat from Shawn. Apparently, he knit it himself. It’s got a fun pattern on it in dark brown on a light brown background. On the top is a little puff and two strings hang down over the ears. I put it on, excited to have something I’ve never had before. It’s so soft and warm, I don’t ever want to take it off.

    Suddenly, Caroline looks worried and grabs a tissue handing it to me. I didn’t realise it, but apparently, I’m crying. I’ve never had a birthday before… I’ve never gotten a gift, until now, from everyone. I don’t know how to stop. I’m just so happy!

    Andrei grabs me by the shoulders and laughs. “You’ll be okay, Emrys. We all love you very much. We’re glad you’re here with us, living at the Guild. Are you happy?”

    I sniff, looking at him, then at everyone. “Of course I’m happy. I’m so happy!” I try to smile.

    “You haven’t even had cake yet!” Kat laughs.

    My eyes widen at the reminder. “Cake!!” I shout. Everyone laughs as they disperse, preparing the table for so many people. Uncle Petre winks at me and mouths silently. “Fresh Cream,” I gasp. No… way! 

    Best Birthday Ever!!!

 

By Kayla West

 

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