My Time with the Seelie (book)

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My Time with the Seelie
A Ranger's Tale

One day while hunting in the old woods where few rarely go, I stumbled across the most wonderful and terrible thing I have ever beheld. The memories are already vanishing from my mind, and I fear that soon they will be lost entirely if I do not preserve them in writing. Even if my memory fails me, however, I know that I have forever been changed.

Tracing the steps of a wayward deer, I found a forest clearing I had never been in before, though through experience I believed I knew every inch of these woods. The small clearing was carpeted by rings of little white fungus stalks with orange-spotted caps. Beams of light filled the air, dappling the forest floor and illuminating specks of dust dust, giving it an almost ethereal quality. As I stepped into the clearing, my foot caught in a circle of mushrooms and reality seemed to melt away and be replaced by another. It was there I met the Seelie, the most magical of the fae folk.

As the worlds blurred, I was greeted by a small Seelie faerie that introduced herself only as Rose of the Seelie court. She was tiny, less than a foot tall, and would have easily fit into the palm of my hand. With wings like a crimson butterfly and dressed in a fine but tiny gown, she seemed to be brimming with magic from head to toe. Her hair and clothes matched her namesake, a deep red that was almost purple. She said that she found mortals very amusing, and would like to show me the Seelie court since I was already there anyway.

As I passed through their land, I found it very unusual. It is the same in many ways to the real world, but everything seems more alive, as if enchanted by an old and unusual magic. There are plants there that I have never seen before, huge trees, broad leaves, and strange flowers. I am not certain whether it is all a creation of the fae themselves, or if it's another world entirely. What I do know is that I was not able to wander as I pleased -- I once attempted to head north and too far away from their court. However, I simply ended up in the place I started, as if I had gone in a circle. My tiny host chided me.

I met many more of the Seelie fae on my way. Some wanted me to do simple tasks for them, such as fetching water or picking plants. If I pursued these tasks, I often found that they were far more tricky than I knew, though some were as simple as they requested. The fae truly seem to place no value whatsoever on material possessions, and will regard a shell as highly as a piece of animite. They seem to treasure shiny or colorful things in particular, and once they set their mind on something it is very hard to dissuade them. I lost a copper bracelet to one of them once she found she could see her own reflection in it.

As I made my way through their domain, I met many more of their kin. To watch them at play is more lovely a dance than one you would see at a ball, and they sometimes shine with motes of light. Seelie are petty to the point of almost being childish at times, and are quite apt to play pranks on visitors to their domain. More than once I found myself tripped suddenly and landing in a stream, or with my hair mysteriously tied in pink ribbons. Trying to hold them responsible for anything at all is fairly impossible, and to gain something as basic as food to eat, I had to make it all a part of their games.

I found out that though their days seem care-free and fun-filled, they are also at war, of sorts, with another faction called the Unseelie. To be honest, I found very little difference between the two except that the Seelie show a tiny bit more restraint at the outright malicious pranks. The Seelie hold themselves as better than their kin, and they seem to "war" with each other by playing pranks on each other, more vicious than most they reserve for their own side. Frankly, though, I did not see much of the Unseelie and I tried to avoid them, as I did not want to upset my hosts.

Time behaves strangely in the realm of the Seelie. A day may pass in the faerie realm while a year passes in reality, or several years can pass in their realm while reality does not move at all. Sometimes phantoms of times past could be seen in their realm, and sometimes old wars would spring up around me, fought as intensely as if they were real then vanishing upon the first light of dawn. There were times when I felt like a lonely stranger in their world, but other times when they welcomed me to feasting and merriment, and I danced with the Faerie Queen. However, though their domain feels timeless, it is not invulner- able, because the Unseelie have burned part of their forest and have made more than one attempt to poison their waters.

Reality also behaves very strangely in their domain. There were times that I could reach up and touch the stars, which revealed themselves to be tiny diamonds shimmering in a black expanse of the finest ebony and jet. Sometimes gravity failed to keep its grasp, and I would float helpless until the area decided to right itself again. At other times the trees would come alive and dance with the fae, joined in by the rivers and the forest creatures. At night, the mist clung to the ground in whorls and tendrils, flooding the trees with shadow and timelessness, and drenching the strange flowers in the morning dew.

One experience in particular holds a deep memory within my heart. A small faerie gave me a quest to bring her the golden heart of life's stone. I did not know what she meant, and she would give me no further hints, saying that it would spoil the prize. In time, I decided that she meant a geode and eventually found one, but she turned up her nose, even when I opened it in front of her and showed her the golden quartz inside. I went off again on my search, asking many, but none would give me hints. Finally I returned to her empty-handed. When I did, she looked at me curiously and said, "Didn't you know? I just wanted breakfast." It turned out that she had really asked for an egg. Perhaps the most difficult task of all was to leave their domain. In truth, I very did not want to. But all dreams must come to an end, and I had family to return to. More difficult than deciding to leave was convincing my hosts to let me go. The Seelie are loath to let guests go, especially interesting ones. I am sure that it would be easier to escape if I were more boring. Eventually I had to treat it as a game as well, fooling my hosts into opening a doorway back into reality for a game of hide and seek. As I left, I found my horse still standing there, as if I had not been gone even ten minutes.

If I happen upon that strange forest, I shall try to find them again. But more and more, I have trouble convincing myself it wasn't all a dream.