Friday, September 15, 2006

Under the Pondweed: Linnette

* * *
    Pendula had spotted them and backed up so that the bulk of his porcupine-like body completely closed the mouth of the cave entrance to the underground castle.  The great pendulous mane of snakeheads came erect, as did the pointy quills on his body.  The lion eyes were fiery red and followed them as they circled overhead.  The snakeheads, now erect, bobbed and weaved and followed them as well. Sassy had imagined they might slip past Pendula when they first saw him, for he hadn't looked large or scary and there was room between him and the entrance to fly in, but now she saw this was hopeless.  No way could they just get past.
    "Could there be another way in?" Lonnie whispered.   Sam circled around looking.  The mountain rose in sheer cliffs above Pendula, up and up. 
    "Look," Sassy said, excitedly, "what is that?"  Sam climbed, stretching his long wings.  Far above Pendula, there was a ledge and what appeared to be a narrow opening.  Sitting on the ledge was a single rattlesnake as thick as Sassy's arm.  But the opening was high enough that the rattlesnake probably couldn't reach them, if they flew in right at the top.
    Sam dove for the opening. It was dark inside.  If there were other snakes, or monsters, they couldn't see them.  The cavern turned to the left and far in the distance was a faint light.  Sam flew toward the light.  Sometimes his wingtips brushed the cave wall in the darkness.  Sometimes fluttery wings of what must have been bats brushed against their faces.  But they flew on toward the light.  Gradually, the cave brightened a little, and they could see magnificent stalactites, stalagmites and huge columns.
    After a while, they saw that the light came from two huge torches burning on either side of another entrance, this one a rectangular doorway hewn from rock.  The torches were clutched by iron hands with long clawed fingers that emerged from huge oaken doors that were dark with dampness and mildew except for a dark teardrop shaped area burned and stained from the flame of the torches.
    Sam flew through the open door and voice called, "Halt!  Who goes there?" They saw no one at first.  Then they saw a figure sitting in the shadows at a low table.  It was a woman.  A very small woman, smaller even that Lonnie and Sassy.   She didn't look too dangerous, but for some reason, Sassy imagined she had special powers.
    "We are Sassy, Sam and Lonnie," Lonnie said.
    "We come in friendship," Sam said.
    "We want to speak to the King of the dwarves," Sassy said.
    "You've come to the wrong place," the woman said.  "This is a gateway to the realm of the Faery folk."
    "May we speak to you without harm?" Lonnie asked.
    "You may speak. If you offer us no harm, we will not harm you."
    Sam, who had been circling and hovering settled to the cave floor and Lonnie and Sassy scrambled off.  They towered over the woman, who came only to Sassy's waist.
    "Are you a fairy?"  Sassy asked, "I thought Fairies had wings and would fit in the palm of my hand."
    The woman, who had looked like a normal human only smaller, stepped into the air and flew up to sit on Sassy's shoulder.  She was smaller than before, and huge butterfly wings waved slowly at her shoulders. They were golden and glowed faintly in the dark cave.
    "I thought the Faery Folk were just like humans only smaller and more magical," Lonnie said.  The woman stepped off Sassy's shoulder, grew larger again, and suddenly disappeared.
    "Are you still here?" asked Sam. The woman reappeared.
    "What's your name?" asked Sassy?
    "You can call me Linnette.  I cannot give you my true Faery name right now.  Tell me, what is your business with the dwarves?"
    * * *
written while walking at Barry Park today.

I'd like to remind you that this is a first draft. 

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