Festuscato called, “Mousden,” and he put enough compulsion in his voice so Mousden appeared as if out of nowhere. He looked no more than a foot and a half tall, covered in mottled green-gray skin, and sported two bat-like wings which were pumping to keep him aloft. His hands had nails which made them appear claw-like and his naked feet were certainly claws with a prehensile big toe that could cling to the nearest tree branch, or stalactite.
“Harpy-like,” Festuscato mused. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier.”
Mousden spun around several times before he focused on all the new human faces and screamed over and over. Denzel muttered, “Well I’ll be,” while Elowen stared and shook her head like she did not believe what she saw. Festuscato did not even glance at Dibs and Gaius, but he worried about Bran and Patrick. Bran appeared stoic and stood as still as a statue. Perhaps he was in shock. Patrick got more animated
“Father in Heaven, Hail Mary, In Jesus’ name.” Patrick started to say a dozen things while Gaius held him, but eventually curiosity overcame the fear on his face and he felt his heart go out to the young thing that seemed so obviously in distress. Mirowen already got within a foot of the hovering, howling pixie.
“There, there. No one is going to hurt you. Calm down. Stop screaming. You will be all right.” Nothing helped until Mirowen yelled, “Shut-up!” Mirowen threw her hands out and some magic forced Mousden’s lips to close. Mousden’s eyes got bigger than human eyes and they still heard the “Mmmph, mmph,” sounds, but they otherwise had quiet.
“Stay,” Festuscato spoke quickly, sensing that the pixie was about to fly off. Mousden stayed, but against his will, and that made his eyes get really extra big until he turned them on Mirowen who kept saying soothing words. “Please get big,” Festuscato added.
Mousden shook his head, but Festuscato just stared at the pixie until he floated to the ground and changed. He got big, which in his case doubled his size to all of three feet. He appeared as an eight or nine-year-old boy, with pale skin and a few freckles. His brown hair had a slight touch of green when seen in a certain light, but otherwise he looked human enough.
“There you are,” Elowen said suddenly, as a big smile sprang to her lips. It seemed as if seeing Mousden in his natural pixie state did not penetrate her brain. She stepped up to hold and maybe pick up the boy, but Denzel stopped her. He took Elowen’s hand and shook his head.
“I think these people may know where Mousden’s parents may be. It is best to let the boy go.”
“Oh?” Elowen sounded disappointed
“Yes, about your parents,” Festuscato started to speak, but Mousden broke down and began to weep. Mirowen got to her knees and held and comforted him while Festuscato caught the vision from the little one’s mind. Mousden’s tribe got decimated in the Fairy War and he got separated from his family. His parents died, and in fact his whole family got killed in battle, and Mousden just found them a few hours ago, miles away, buried deep in the land. Pixies are very family oriented people. They take a spouse and are faithful as opposed to many humans who only give lip service to the notion of fidelity. But with his family gone, Mousden had no one to look after him. The tribe would not turn him out, but he would remain very much on his own until he came of age.
Mirowen lost her smile as she got out her handkerchief to dry the boy’s tears. “Let’s hope this time I get it right.”
“I don’t understand,” Patrick admitted. “But that Mirowen is certainly a brave woman.”
Festuscato explained a bit of what happened to Mousden’s parents after Mirowen and Elowen took the boy into the house for a tall glass of milk. Then he explained how the fairies like the untarnished woods and soft grasses that go to grain and the flowers. “Fairies generally live in the woods, in the green under the sun. Pixies prefer the fens and ferns, the briars and brambles and thistle grasses that grow in the meadows. They live underground, in the dark, but in the night, they come out and build so-called fairy circles in those meadows, where they make music and dance under the stars and the moon. They are all good people and usually work things out in time, over the centuries, but sometimes they fight. Think weeds in the garden.”
“Still,” Patrick said. “That Mirowen is a remarkable woman.”
“She’s an elf,” Gaius said. “A house elf as I understand it.”
“She was my governess when I was eight, and raised me and Gaius and Dibs and another friend, Felix.” Festuscato rubbed his chin. “She claims now she is my housekeeper, but she still treats me like an eight-year-old now and then.”
Mirowen came out the door to fetch the water bucket and could not resist the response. “Only when you act like and eight-year-old.” she went back inside.
“She has good ears too. Excellent hearing. Did I mention that?”
Patrick patted Festuscato on the shoulder. “I can see I will have to pray for you.”
“As needed,” Gaius responded. “Like every day.”
“Oh, you mean because now you know I consort with devils and demons.”
“Not a chance,” Patrick said. “I saw no devil in that poor innocent boy’s tears. And as for your governess, I have thought several times how fortunate you are to have found a woman so pure and true.”
“No demon would dare,” Dibs said, and looked up at Bran.
They all looked at Bran, but all he said was, “That was very interesting,” and he turned and began to gather the things to set their camp beside the cottage for the night, and the others helped.
R6 Festuscato: Leinster. Festuscato takes Patrick to the heart of Ireland. He stays at the inn and leaves Patrick alone to get on with his work, but there is a fly in the ointment, a certain unhappy pirate. Until Monday, Happy Reading