The Fall of Faerieland: Part Two
As they ran and ran (or, in Aracione’s case, hovered after her owner), Finna’s eyes glazed over with fear and the instinct all pets have hidden inside was unleashed. She ran down the fields, avoiding the many trees. She would never run that fast again in her life, but she was unaware of it at that time. Later, the only thing she could recall was one thought ringing in her head, “Danger! Danger!”
The wild side of the other Ogrins of the village had also been revealed, and now they caught up to her. There seemed to be no end to the stretching shadow that had spread over all of the area that would be flattened. They just had to get to the other side of it, faster, faster!
At last the falling land made impact. The pack of Ogrins had just barely made it out of the impacted zone, some farther than others, and an unfortunate one or two not even at all. Finna was literally just out of the shadow when the earth-shattering *SLAM* rang in all the Ogrins’ ears. She was flung forward and landed hard on the grass, and stayed there in cold darkness for two days before she came back to consciousness and a changed world.
That was the first thought that came to mind, and at first Finna did not understand why she thought it. Before she could wonder this further, her attention shifted to the pain in her head and her limbs, everywhere. She moaned and tried to open her eyes. As soon as she did, they filled with tears, but again she could not explain this. She found she had not broken anything and weakly supported herself with her arms. That was when she saw what was burning.
It was Aracione! She’d gotten tired, poor thing, and had at last collapsed on the ground, setting the dry grass ablaze. It must just have happened, because the fire was only very small and Aracione had not yet awoken. The smoke was making Finna’s eyes water, and that was why they had filled with tears when she’d opened them.
Quickly, and wincing from her sore legs being used so suddenly, she stood and stamped out the fire. Afterwards, Finna sat down and blew on the bottom of her paws. Then she began to think - “What happened?”
The first thing she thought was, “Danger! Danger!”, the same thing that had been ringing in her head as she ran. There was something to build on; what had she been fleeing from? “Think, Finna,” she urged herself. She had only to look behind her.
The kingdom. The fallen kingdom. It’d crushed her village! Her home! All the places she’d known all her life! Finna didn’t know what to feel. But as she looked around, she noticed there were no other Ogrins in sight. So she knew she had to find her people, first of all.
She woke Aracione, and slowly but surely made her way far down the forested plain. She at last saw a few forms on the horizon; buildings? She pursued her destination faster and saw, to her relief, a few Ogrins keeping watch. She sprinted, wincing, up to them, and they seemed to rejoice at seeing her.
“Are you from the Ogrin Village?” they asked excitedly. Finna nodded happily. “Wonderful!” they cried. “They are showing up, one at a time, from the wreckage site. Welcome to Stopgap Town.”
“Stopgap Town?” Finna repeated.
“Yes,” the Ogrins said with a laugh. “It’s a silly name others have seemed to have given this temporary village of ours. All of us here are from the Ogrin Village, and we are looking for all survivors of the crash of... well, whatever it was that crashed. As we said before, welcome! Please come in: your parents must be worried. What are their names?”
Finna told them the names of her father and mother.
“Did they... you know, make it away in time?” Finna asked timidly. She was scared of the answer.
“Yes!” the Ogrins replied after checking a list they’d made on a long piece of paper. Paper and ink were the pride and joys of the Ogrin Village; one of the villagers fleeing must have had some in his pocket. “They’re staying in Hut Seven. Don’t worry, I’m sure the village will be rebuilt and returned to its former glory in no time at all.”
Finna nodded gratefully at them and entered through crude wooden arches to her new temporary town. It had a hastily build but sturdy wood fence of logs around the entire village, and there were ten huts made of mud and twigs and grass. The sturdiest hut had a dozen Ogrins always going in and out with wild berries and roots. A large fire pit was dug in the middle of the ground, and Ogrins bustled past her with an, “Excuse me, please,” laden armloads of firewood from the forests. An eleventh hut was being built as Finna came in. Ogrins are good builders and do not tire easily. Finna thought they must have toiled day and night to build ten huts and a fence in only two days.
The first hut the tired Ogrin wandered into was the busiest one. It was a storage space, apparently, for the food being gathered. Finna walked up to an Ogrin who appeared to be manager; he was writing things down on a piece of paper while watching others deposit berries and roots inside.
“Excuse me,” Finna asked.
“What is that you’ve got, Archibald? Six ripe apples? Well done!” the manager applauded a beaming red Ogrin. He turned to Finna, saying, “What is it you need, miss?”
“Well, I just arrived, and--” Finna began, but the manager interrupted.
“My warmest welcomes to Stopgap Town.” He smiled. “It’ll be a shame if we have to leave it behind and settle somewhere else, don’t you think? The land is as good here as in the old village, and the Elder is considering staying here permanently once we find out what is going on.”
“The Elder!” Finna gasped. “Is she alright, then?”
“She’s fit as a Calabat,” the manager replied. “Nothing is going to stop that Ogrin in a million years - not even the million years itself, most likely, if you know what I mean!”
The Ogrin laughed at his joke. “So, what is it you need?” he asked.
“The Ogrins guarding the entrance said my parents are staying in Hut Seven,” Finna explained. “Where would that be?”
“Right over there,” the manager said, pointing to one of the huts. “Just count them from the left to right and you’ll be fine. Good luck!”
Finna thanked him and she and Aracione rushed over to the hut the manager had pointed towards.
“Mother! Father!” she cried before she even reached the entrance. Suddenly Finna’s mother was rushing out to meet her, and hugging her so tight Finna could barely breathe.
“Finna,” her mother cried. “We didn’t know where you were or if... if...”
Her mother sobbed into Finna’s fur.
“I was at the far field,” Finna explained. “And we started running when we saw where that... thing was going to land. I must have been knocked out when it crashed. Mother, what was that thing? It looked like a whole different world!”
“No one is sure.” Finna’s mother shook her head. “But we’re all safe; that’s what counts.”
Even though Finna was glad her parents were safe, she still felt very empty inside. Stopgap Town got bigger every day as more dazed inhabitants of the Ogrin Village showed up and needed room to stay. Finna longed for her old home back, her old way of life, and all the old landmarks she’d known. Flotsam Fin was no more, nor was the far field or any of the fields for that matter. And her little grove... it brought tears into Finna’s eyes just thinking of the trees flattened that she used to climb and the flowers crushed that she used to pick for her mother. All of it was gone, and, like most people who live in troubling times, Finna wished it to be all a dream.
The mysterious land that had crashed into Ogrin-Haven was also recovering, slowly but surely. The grand pink towers on the horizon were steadily growing stronger and taller. Sometimes, faint music could be heard on the wind coming from the Fallen Kingdom (that is what the Stopgap Town residents had come to call it).
“Music,” Finna thought bitterly. “Celebration music! They are celebrating after they’ve destroyed our homes and fields and springs.”
Finna was sad nearly every hour of the day as she longed for her village. Her cold feelings towards the mysterious inhabitants of the Fallen Kingdom grew not unlike the way the Elder had described rumors growing. Good things come in time, but bad things grow fast.
One night Finna spent without sleep. She was crying silently into the pile of grass that the Ogrins used as beds. She wanted so badly to be in her silent woodlot again, to fall asleep in the grass with the radiant sun warming her dark fur. Finna wanted her world back.
“Curse the beasts that live in the Fallen Kingdom,” she muttered to herself. A good voice inside of her said, “Now, Finna, you don’t mean that!”
“Yes, I do,” she sobbed quietly. “They took our part of the world away from us. I wish I could give them a piece of my mind!”
Just moments later, a soft purple light appeared by the side of Finna’s bed. She rolled over and covered her mouth so she wouldn’t wake the others when she gasped. There floated a glowing scroll right in the air! After a few seconds of initial shock, Finna timidly reached forward and grasped the scroll with both paws. A wax seal prevented the paper from unrolling. It was a deep, royal pink embossed with a magical-looking crown. Finna carefully broke the seal. It seemed a shame because it was so pretty, but Finna wanted to read the words on the parchment. The handwriting was beautiful, with looping and perfect letters. Finna whispered the words to herself.
“You have been summoned to Faerieland by Queen Fyora,” she read. That was simply the entire message! There were no more words, save a few where the signature should be. “All hail the Queen of the Faeries!”
No sooner had Finna read the words than she simply disappeared in a puff of colored, glittered smoke, like a book a pet is through reading. So silent was her leaving that none of the Ogrins with whom she shared a hut awoke. A few smiled and their dreams became pleasant as the glitter from the smoke settled on them.
To be continued...