Tanulia drew the bow across the strings of her cello. The concert was only hours away and she had to get this just right. It wasn’t everyday that she was asked to play for a Naming Day ceremony. Lord Druindar and his Lady Alyndra were throwing the kind of feast for their first born daughter that would be talked about in Cewit Forest for years to come. Which is why her stomach was doing back flips and, if she didn’t stop sweating, she’d have to go home and change into a new gown. One of these days she’d remember to bring a cloth to wipe her hands on. It was hard to look calm and self possessed when she kept rubbing sweaty hands all over the skirt of her gown. The crackle of leaves behind her interrupted her thoughts. “I thought you might like a practice audience.” Gondien jumped lightly onto the log, his plumy, red tail waving gently as he sat down beside her. “Rilien’s on his way as well. He’s just stopping at Lorlis Grove to see if any of the fairies would like to come for a bit as well.” “That’s a wonderful idea Gondien!” Tanulia looked at her friend and smiled. He always knew how to make her feel better. “I’d love to see Kilyn. She’s been awfully busy these days.” The fox laughed. “11 year old fairy boys seem to feel compelled to investigate every square inch of the forest. Panyin’s been keeping her hopping that’s for sure!” The woman drew the bow across the strings, then plucked the top string and turned one of the small pegs by the cello’s wooden bridge to adjust the sound a little. She plucked the next string and did a bit more adjusting, working her way through the strings, one by one until she was satisfied that each string was tuned perfectly. “Kilyn told me she found him stuck in an ant hill the other day. He wanted to see what they did in there and was mad as a hornet when he wedged himself into one of the tunnels. Fairies might be able to furl their wings pretty tightly but the wings don’t disappear altogether!” The elven woman laughed as she pictured poor Panyin wedged into the tunnel like a cork in a bottle. It was probably the only time he’d been still in days. Maybe even weeks. “I know I shouldn’t laugh but that boy is indestructible, not to mention inexhaustible. Luckily for Kilyn, boys seem to settle down a bit by the time they turn twelve.” “Well then, only 9 months to go!” Gondien said wryly and they both chuckled. Tanulia wiggled on the log a little and arched her back, loosening her shoulders. The cello wasn’t quite at the right height so she leaned over and turned the end pin to adjust it, lowering her cello to a more comfortable spot. She didn’t want to regret not taking the time to get the height just right, even if this was just a practice session. They turned, looking behind them as they heard Rilien winging his way towards them. The fox moved over and gave the owl room to land on the log. “Did you find anyone in the Grove?” Tanulia asked as he swooped down. Rilien landed on the log with a small thump and tucked his wings in. He was a lovely caramel brown and his white face had the look of a mask around his big owl eyes. His feathers were satiny soft while the claws at the end of his toes were razor sharp. Rilien was Cewit’s only owl Elder, the others choosing to live in more established elven Havens. There were 12 Havens in all, although over half were fairly new, as elves might reckon age. Cewit’s Haven was only 900 years old. “Alalia and Eloiny will be here any minute and Kilyn’s coming as well. She seems to have lost track of Panyin again though, so she may not stay long if she doesn’t run across him on her way over.” Rilien said. “What’s so funny??” His head swiveled as he looked at Tanulia and Gondien giggling on either side of him. “Tanulia was just telling me about the ant hill escapade” The fox told him. The owl began to chuckle. “That boy really knows how to get himself in trouble alright.” The three laughed together as Tanulia got ready to play. The elf drew her bow across the strings once again. Satisfied that the tone was just right she began playing a few bars of some of the more complicated spots that had her worried. She began slowly and then, as she felt more confident, worked her way up to the proper tempo, replaying the same bits over and over. She winced as she hit the wrong note on a particularly tricky bit and stopped to lean over and note it down on her music. It wouldn’t do at all to make a mistake on a night as important as this one. “Eloiny wanted me to tell you that she’s been asked to create the light orbs for tonight’s ceremony so she’s going to practice a bit more when she gets here. She’s been working on something a little different for this. Instead of just regular white globes she’s figured out a way to fill the centers with flowers.” The brown owl told the elf, as he ruffled his feathers and settled in, making himself a little more comfortable. “Reow!” A tiny screech wafted down from the tree. “What in the world?” Tanulia jumped a little. “Did you hear that ?” she asked the other two. ‘Hear wha. . . ?” before Gondien could even finish his sentence the sound came again and a little louder this time. “Reow!!” “Have any of you seen Panyin? I’ve been looking for him everywhere!” called Kilyn as she flew towards them, her tiny forehead wrinkled with worry. “Reow!!!” Elf, fox and owl looked up into the tree overhead as the sound grew louder yet. Kilyn flew closer, fluttering above them. Light spilled out as a tiny door flew open and a little fairy boy hovered in the opening. “Panyin!” his mother scolded “What are you doing in a pixie house? You were supposed to be home ages ago. And what’s that noise?” Panyin looked at his mom sheepishly. “I found a pixie kitten in the woods and followed her home. Her mom said I could stay for milk and cookies but I spilled the milk all over the kitten. I tried to clean her up but she doesn’t want to be dried off!” Two more fairies flew towards them, a couple of glowing orbs flying along behind. Tanulia waved her bow at them and said hello. It was time to get back to the music. The fox breathed in and laid down on the log, his tail dangling over the side. There was nothing he loved more than cello music. Kilyn continued to scold her son but, when he asked, told him he could stay and listen for a little while as long as he promised to behave himself. Eloiny hovered over Gondien and a tiny orb started to form, shimmering in the gathering shadows. She wanted to make sure the orbs were absolutely perfect for tonight’s ceremony. Gentle Alaia drifted up into the trees and lay with her head resting on her arms. She was very shy and didn’t like to be around large crowds of people so she was happy to be able to enjoy the elf’s beautiful music in peace. A small brown bunny hopped up to the log and and paused. Tanulia took a deep breath. She was surrounded by friends and it was time to make music. It didn’t get much better than that.
A big thank you to Vanessa Smeding my elven cellist, my daughter Crystal for posing for my three fairies and my daughter Holly for the wonderful job she did with the hair and makeup.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into a fairytale composite art piece I’ve given you a tiny glimpse in this video.
Happy New Year to you all!