A Fellow Scholar
rating: +59+x

Elewynn crouched upon the uppermost balcony of the Titania Spire of Fata Morgana, her bare feet clutching the smooth white stonework. Beneath her was the Fairy City, silver as moonlight and immaculate as freshly fallen snow. Its gleaming marble towers, impossibly tall for masonry, a product of Seelie spellcraft. Beyond the hundred-foot wall that ensconced the city perimeter was a Quicksilver sea, and beyond that the Nexus gradually blurred into the rest of the multiverse, which appeared as a ground-based, ethereal green aurora to those in the city.

Elewynn stared downwards, musing on how the top of the tower had seemed much closer from the ground then the ground seemed from the top of the tower.

“It’s been a lifetime since I’ve done this,” she said to her sister nervously. “What if I fall?”

“But darling, what if you fly?” Erelynn asked encouragingly.

Elewynn nodded, steeling herself for the jump.

Think of the happiest things,” she sang softly. “It’s the same as having wings.”

An iridescent pair of spectral, diaphanous wings formed over her back out of the aether as she sang.

Think of all the joy you’ll find, when you leave the world behind, and bid your cares goodbye.

With her eyes closed tightly, and her hand clutching her sister’s even tighter, they jumped.

She felt the wind rushing past her at a hundred miles an hour, and had she still possessed her mortal name she soon would have felt the hard stone of the ground. Instead, she felt both the air and the Aeronous aether flowing over her wings, granting her lift and thrust. She felt gravity tug at her a little less, for she was Fae and obeyed or ignored the laws of physics at her fancy. Most importantly of all, she felt an unparalleled sense of pride and elation as she opened her eyes and saw the city and its people blur together as she glided over them.

“I can fly,” she murmured softly. “I can fly!”

“You can fly!”

“I can fly! I can fly!”

They did not, however, fly straight on until morning. Spectral flight was still taxing, and after only a few circles around Fata Morgana, they landed on the soft grass of a park. The twins jumped joyously over the prodigal sister’s first flight since reclaiming her name, hugging and kissing in ecstatic triumph.

“I did it! I did it! I can fly, I can really fly!” Elewynn gasped. “I’m really Fae again. This can’t be real, this feels like a dream.”

“Only because the world you left behind was a nightmare,” Erelynn assured her. “You’re on Blessed Soil again, where you belong.”

Elewynn turned to examine her reflection in a monument of Morgana Silver. She looked much the same as she had when she was mortal, though thinner with more angular features. The irises of her eyes had grown to eclipse the cornea, making them look larger. They were still blue, but their hue was now much more striking. Her skin had grown as fair and smooth as porcelain, while also acquiring an omnipresent blue glint. She wore a shimmering, gossamer dress that was so light it should tear like tissue paper, and yet had just withstood the rigours of flight. Finally, she swept back her midnight blue hair to see her tapered, elven ears. She had wept for joy the first time she had seen her Seelie reflection, and she wept for joy again now.

Erelynn hugged her supportively, wiping the tears from her face.

“It was so hard, not seeing that reflection. Having no one in real life to support me, to have people accuse me of just acting crazy for attention or something. But I knew that I wasn’t what I was supposed to be, that I didn’t even belong in that world, and… oh god, I missed you so much. I didn’t remember you, but I missed you. I was only half a person without you. It must have been worse for you though, being able to remember. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t think on it. It doesn’t matter now. What’s thirty years apart when we have bodies that last centuries and souls that hold their memories from one incarnation to the next?” Erelynn asked. “Timeless beings such as we need not lament the past or dread the future. Only the present matters, and now we’re both where we belong: together.”

Elewynn chuckled, wiping the last of the tears from her eyes.

“Were you always the mature one or am I just a mess from living as a mortal for so long?”

“I was always the mature one. I’m seven minutes older, after all.”

They both laughed, then linking their arms together the twin sisters took a walk through the park they were in.

Elewynn was still trying to make sense of all her reclaimed memories, but the park looked familiar to her. The trees had grey bark and silvery green leaves that made a chiming melody when they were rustled by the wind. The soft grass glistened with eternal dew, the cobblestone paths sparkled with diamond dust, and the strung lanterns and swarms of fireflies glowed in every colour their Fae eyes could see.

Equally as wondrous, if somewhat out of place, was a gentleman with the head of a white rabbit sitting at a toadstool picnic table, pouring over some great tome.

Elewynn sifted through her memories, and yet couldn’t find an explanation for the peculiar park patron.

“Erelynn, who’s that over there?” she whispered quietly. “Is he Fae?”

“I think he’s a Child of the Nameless Queen,” she whispered back. “He must have stolen someone’s name and escaped from…”

She cleared her throat conspicuously instead of finishing the sentence. Elewynn nodded in comprehension. She definitely remembered the taboo of naming those woods that should never be named.

“Well, even if he followed the Winter Queen, he is still our kin. He’s like me, don’t you think? Returned home after a long exile,” she said, gazing at those long furry ears with a sudden sense of comradery. “Can we go talk to him?”

“Talk? Certainly, but please don’t invite him back to our bed. I prefer suitors who won’t shed on our pillows.”

“You have nothing to worry about. I was an Otherkin, not a Furry.”

The twins giggled slightly, and waltzed over to speak to the furry, yet not Furry, Fae.

“Good evening to you sir,” Erelynn said as she and her sister curtseyed.

“And a fine evening to you as well ladies,” he said, rising from his seat, doffing his hat and bowing in proper Seelie etiquette.

“I am Erelynn Levainn, and this is my sister Elewynn. She has only recently rejoined the Seelie Court and we presumed from your form that you have as well. May we join you, and discuss the matter at more length?”

“I’d be delighted, though in my case I must be cautious in discussing my past, lest I be reclaimed by that Forsaken Forest. Please, have a seat.” With a wave of his hand, two stool-sized toadstools rose from the ground to accommodate the two girls. He placed his hat on the table, and when he lifted it back up a tea set had appeared. “Care for some tea? It’s herbal, so it shouldn’t keep you up.”

“That’s very kind, thank you,” Elewynn said, each girl bowing politely before accepting the cups. “You know, back when I was mortal, I never would have approached a strange man in a park at night, let alone accepted a drink from him. I imagine that you had to be rather more cautious yourself, living where you did.”

“I suppose, though the nature of that Unnamed Wilderland often posed more of a threat than any neighbours ever did,” he said as he placed his hat back on his head and began stirring his tea. "The fickle footpath alone was a headache to navigate, rarely taking the same route twice, and may the heavens have mercy on anyone foolish enough to stray from it."

“And how is your name?” Erelynn asked. “You didn’t say.”

“I regret that I cannot tell you my proper name, as I’ve yet to reclaim it myself, but you may call me Dr. Japers.”

“Japers? That’s a rather tart name,” Elewynn said, mulling over the taste as it tainted her tea.

“Indeed. My proper name had a more floral palette to it, I’m fairly certain, but beggars cannot be choosers. I spent 102 years without a name at all.

“Proper or not, it is good to be whole again.”

“Did you lose your name in the war with the Jailors?” Erelynn asked, casually catching a flower bloom adrift upon the breeze and weaving it into her hair.

Japers grew suddenly silent, staring pensively into his tea.

“You know of that?” he asked softly.

“Not much, only that there was a war and that those who followed our Queen’s Sister were left Nameless and unable to walk the Planes.”

“That’s all you need to know then. I won’t burden you with my memories, as much as I’d like to be rid of them. But yes, the Jailors stole my name, and I ended up where all nameless things do, until I borrowed a name from a Jailor.”

“You stole your name from a Jailor?” Elewynn gasped, astonished at his audacity.

“Borrowed, miss. I borrowed his name,” he said ruefully, his head and ears dropping at the memory. “He had done me no harm though, nor meant any harm. He was just a fellow scholar. I do hope no harm befalls him while he wanders The Wooded Wonder. And when I say I borrowed his name, I do mean to give it back, someday. Though I’m not so selfless as to swap places with him, if ever I do reclaim my proper name I will return this one to its rightful owner.

“Enough about all that though. It’s dangerous to speak of The Outcast Outdoors lest out tongues slip and we name something we oughtn’t. I’d very much like to hear how you lost and reclaimed your name. You look to be Titania’s people, and surely you’re too young to have had your name stolen in the war.”

“No, it was a more recent tragedy,” Elewynn nodded solemnly. “Have you learned of the Attack on Hy-Brasil since your return?”

“I had heard of it even when I dwelt among the Untitled Trees, and I have walked there myself since my return. It was heart-breaking, seeing such a once great city lying in ruin and so greatly diminished. How fortunate that Fata Morgana has lost none of its grandeur. But what does that have to do with you losing your name?”

“We were there that day, when the great Quin-Krake laid waste to our home,” Erelynn told him. “In our last life. It’s how we died.”

“Thousands died that day, not only Fae but mortal as well, from all across the Planes. With so many different types of souls, dying in such a sudden and violent matter in a realm outside the Worlds, my spirit got lost in the chaos,” Elewynn said. She whistled and summoned a night lark to her fingertip, petting it softly on the head before continuing. “Erelynn managed to be reborn as Fae, here in Fata Morgana, but I was born to a human mother as a Changeling, and given the name Ellette. I don’t know why I couldn’t find my way back.”

“You did find your way back. It just took you a little longer,” Erelynn assured her, lovingly squeezing her hand.

“Thankfully my dear sister kept my name safe for me all those years, and I was able to reclaim it without much difficulty. The iron in my mortal blood was the worst of it. I had to have an alchemist purge enough of it from my body that I could barely stay conscious, and then once I was returned to my Fae form the little iron I had left made me sick until it too was purged.”

“I can sympathize. Iron is a key impediment for me reclaiming my name as well,” the fairy rabbit said with a sad nod.

“How so?”

“Back during the war, it wasn’t the Jailors who stole our names, but rather The Factory who did so on their behalf,” he began. “Once I was free, I began to research whether they had kept the names they stole or merely destroyed them. I soon discovered that they had indeed kept them, each and everyone, locked up within the heart of The Factory itself.”

The twins gasped slightly at this revelation.

“Iron,” Erelynn muttered in horror.

“Yes. Iron, iron, iron. Miles of rusted iron surround my name, ensuring I will never see it again,” he lamented. “I haven’t completely given up hope, however. I’ve been reading up on The Factory and Nominative Magic, trying to find a way to reclaim what they stole. Maybe there is a way a Fae can walk the halls of The Factory, or maybe there is someone capable of stealing my name on my behalf for sufficient compensation, or perhaps even that The Factory cares little for the names they’ve let lay idle for a century and might be willing to part with just one.”

Japers shook his head and smirked deprecatingly to himself.

“I’m sorry to have darkened your evening with such melancholy talk.”

“Don’t be absurd, we’re the ones who brought it up,” Elewynn said. “My sister and I, we’re royal minstrels. We have the favour of the Queen. We could ask her -”

“No, please. I would not have you risk such a position for my sake. The Queen would not risk attracting the ire of The Factory for the sake of a single citizen, and nor should she. This is my burden alone to bear, and the fact that I have your sympathies is kindness enough.”

“We are Wanderers though, often walking the Ways. If we come across anything that may be of assistance, we’d share it with you readily,” Erelynn told him.

“You really are too kind, especially to a stranger you just met,” Japers said. “Has it occurred to you I may not deserve such kindness? I followed Queen Mab, after all, and she was known for her cruelty. When she ordered us to attack the Jailors I, I…”

“Whatever you did, it was against enemies of the Fae. Just or not, you’ve surely paid for any war crimes with your century in nameless exile,” Erelynn argued. “Besides, you’re not guilty of any crimes against our people, or you never would have been able to set foot within the city walls.”

“And I know what it’s like, maybe not to be nameless but to have the wrong name. To be incomplete, so incomplete you can’t return home, to never be able to call the World you’re trapped in home, to look into a mirror and see that your very reflection is wrong,” Elewynn explained, placing her hand on his. “It’s a privilege to meet another who can understand what it’s like, and I hope that one day you will be able to introduce yourself with your proper name and that I will gaze upon your Fae form. I’m sure it’s very handsome.”

Erelynn nudged her slightly with her elbow, reminding her of their agreement regarding their sleeping arrangements.

“Well, you’ve already shown yourselves to be far too considerate to tell me if it was otherwise,” Japers japed. He noted that the ray of moonlight near the table had changed position since he last looked, and he took out his pocket watch to check the time.

“Are you late, White Rabbit?” Erelynn asked.

“It seems so,” he replied, rising from his seat and placing the teapot back inside his top hat. “I’m sorry to leave so abruptly. Please, keep the teacups as a gift. I did enjoy our conversation, and would appreciate speaking with you again.”

“As would we. Come to our next performance at the Palace, and we’ll take you to the soiree afterwards as our guest,” Elewynn invited. “You’ll no doubt be quite the conversation starter.”

“It would be an honour to be your guest,” he said with a curt bow, picking up his book. “Farewell for now, gentle maidens.”

“And farewell to you, kind sir,” the sisters curtseyed.

The rabbit turned, revealing a tuft of a tail protruding from the top of his trousers. Elewynn watched it bob until he was out of sight, only then noticing her sister looking at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Not a Furry, you said,” she asked in equal parts amusement and annoyance. Elewynn shrugged sheepishly, trying to hide a sly grin.

“Well, you know what they say about guys with long ears,” she said, biting her lip in embarrassment. Her brow furrowed in thought as she contemplated Dr. Japers' situation. "Not a lot of people have escaped from The Factory, have they?"

"No. Fae or not, no one's going to break in to steal a name," Erelynn replied somberly. "Bargaining with The Factory would be his best bet, but as desperate as he is, their price would be steep."

"I'm not so sure. The Factory excels at mass production, but their actual grasp of commerce can be rather daft at times. Swindling them out of a name shouldn't be too hard."

"What are you thinking?"

"During my absence, did you ever cash in that favour The Man With The Upside-Down Face owes us?"

Erelynn groaned at the suggestion.

"If anyone could get something from The Factory for cheap, it's him," Elewynn said.

"You really want to cash in a decades-old favour for someone we just met?"

Elewynn sighed, gazing into her teacup as the leaves formed into runes that were supposed to predict her future, but were usually about as accurate as a fortune cookie.

"As I said, I just know what it's like to lose your name. I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

Erelynn exhaled a small lamentation, unable to bear seeing her sister unhappy.

"I suppose it would be nobler to use that favour to help someone in need then to continue hoarding it until the end of time," she agreed.

"You mean it?" Elewynn asked with a beaming smile.

"I do," Erelynn nodded, finishing the last of her tea and reading the leaves. "It says 'You will succeed in your endeavours so long as you are pure in heart'. I take that as a good omen. What did yours say?"

Elewynn glanced back into her teacup, reluctant to reply.

" 'An Upside-Down frown isn't always a smile'."

Erelynn nodded with a knowing smirk.

"I never could tell with him anyways."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License