A Strange Visitor

This is chapter 1 of my webnovel, The Elementals: Song of Spirit. If you are  on the wrong chapter, or have just begun to read, click here for the full linked table of contents. And happy reading! ~ JR

Chapter 1

A Strange Visitor

You know those days when everything is perfect? The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s warm and calm and there’s no school and no homework and no chores to do?

Admit it. They can be pretty boring days.

It was one of those perfect, boring days in the middle of summer for three perfectly bored siblings as they lounged on their back deck, wishing they had something interesting to do.

Nine-year-old Kat frowned as she pushed sweaty curls out of her eyes. Her pink and aquamarine terrycloth dress, grass-stained from earlier in the day, was pushed up on her knees enough for her to get her legs through the back deck slats, which then dangled over the edge limply. She wrinkled a freckled nose at the backyard pool their stepfather had raised just the day before. “I’m so hot! Can’t we go swimming?”

“Mom said not until she’s done with her work.” Thirteen-year-old Ellen, the eldest, rolled her eyes from her place at the deck table with a sigh, running her fingers through her long, straight hair and eyeing her cell phone hopefully. Her other hand absentmindedly fiddled with her green-rimmed glasses. “I told you that ten times already!”

“But you can watch us swim.” Quinn, who was six, sat beside Kat, his dirty, scraped legs swinging between the slats. As he spoke, he whistled unintentionally through the gap where his front teeth should be. Unruly locks of hair stuck every which way out from under his always present fireman’s helmet. He, too, eyed the pool with a pout. “You’re old enough.”

Ellen sighed, glancing from her phone to the pool. “I can’t swim yet, you know that.”

“You can touch bottom,” Mae, their twelve-year-old sister, came out of the house with a grape popsicle in her hand. She leaned against the sliding door frame, seemingly oblivious to the heat despite the fact that she wore red and black striped knee socks with her black combat boots and a black hoodie decorated in white skulls. Her short hair was encircled by her signature red bandanna, always worn somewhere on her person. “Heck, I can touch bottom! It’s only a four foot pool.”

Ellen shook her head, though she, too, now gazed at the pool with want, her phone forgotten in the undeniable heat of the day. “Mom said no.”

“Hey, I want a popsicle!” Quinn yelled, jumping up as he saw his sister licking hers.

“Did Mom tell you you could have a popsicle?” Ellen asked in a bored tone, still looking at the pool.

Mae shrugged. “How about you ask her and find out? HEY! Get your own popsicle!” she cried as she jumped away from Quinn’s reach.

Just as Ellen was about to comment, she saw a dark shadow out of the corner of her eye, and jumped back.

Mae laughed. “It’s just a bird, dork.”

Ellen made a face at her sister, then looked back at the deck table where she sat. Sure enough, there was a small brown and white bird standing no more than a few inches away from Ellen’s hands.

The siblings scrambled to gather around the plastic table, fascinated.

“Is it hurt?” Kat asked, concerned.

Ellen shook her head slowly. “I don’t think so.”

“Weird bird, just standing there looking at us,” Mae commented, licking her popsicle.

“Freaky,” Kat agreed.

“Romin!” the bird chirruped. Ellen jumped.

“Excuse me?” she asked the bird, feeling more than a little silly.

“It said, ‘CHIRRUP!’ stupid,” Mae retorted.

“Don’t call names,” Kat said absently, still watching the bird.

The bird, however, was only looking at Ellen, and with a very human expression, at that.

Ellen was fascinated. “Did you say something little bird?”

“Romin,” the bird said again. This time the word was unmistakable.

Ellen jumped.

“Are we gonna swim or just sit around watching a stupid bird all day?” Mae asked, finishing off her popsicle.

“It’s talking,” Ellen said, her eyes never leaving the bird. “Can’t you understand it?”

Kat and Quinn glanced at each-other nervously. Neither said what they were thinking. Mae, however, was less tactful.

“If Ellen’s going nuts, I’m in charge as the next oldest! Muahahaha!”

Ellen glanced at her siblings. “You can’t understand it? It said…”

“She,” the bird corrected.

“Oh. Excuse me Ma’am. She said …”

“What?” Mae laughed. “How do you know it’s a she?”

“She said she was a she,” Ellen replied, only too aware of how silly she sounded. Looking back at the bird, she asked, “What’s your name?”

“Name?” the bird asked, cocking her head.

“Yeah. You know, my name is Ellen, this is Mae, that’s Kat and Quinn. What are you called?”

Mae rolled her eyes, twirling her finger by her head. “Craaaazy!”

“Shhh!” Kat shushed. “I want to see what happens!”

Mae sighed. “Fine. I’m going inside to read. Quinn, ya still want a popsicle?”

Quinn was torn, looking from the bird to his sister back to the bird. Finally, he shook his head. “Ellen says the bird’s TALKING!”

“Ugh. Fine. Have fun being crazy,” Mae said as she closed the sliding door behind her.

“Bird?” the bird asked.

“Is that your name?” Ellen answered.

Quinn moved closer. “What’s it saying?”

“She,” Ellen corrected. “She’s asking me what a bird is. I think.”

She’s a bird!” Kat laughed. “Silly bird!”

“Bird … name?” the bird asked.

Ellen thought for a moment. “No… bird is what you are. Like I’m a person. Don’t you have a name?”

The bird didn’t answer.

“It doesn’t have a name? How sad!” Kat lamented. “We should give the bird a name.”

“Her name is Twwwwp. But she doesn’t know that yet. She’s still very young, you see.”

All three children jumped, having heard and understood this new voice just fine. It did not come from the bird, but rather it was unmistakably male, and seemed to originate from everywhere, though it was far from loud; one could even describe it as tiny. Kat and Quinn snuggled up to their big sister, suddenly frightened.

“Who’s there?” Ellen asked, her voice trembling a bit.

“I’m there, humankin.” The voice was now centralized, coming from a faint shimmer on top of Twwwwp. As the children watched, fascinated, the shimmer slowly materialized into a very small man sitting on the bird’s back like a rider on a horse. He had a greenish tint to his skin, large pointed ears, unusually slanted purple eyes, and bright red hair.  He looked down at his clothes, a white t-shirt, jean shorts and tiny tennis shoes, patting his body in relief. “At least, now I am. I do wish it would take less time to enter The Earthen Plane. It is cursed with such a low well of glamour. I really don’t know how the dwarves do it.”

“What… who… what are you?” Ellen gasped. Kat slowly reached out her hand to touch him; the little man batted it away.

“My goodness! They were right! You are ignorant!” he said, the surprise in his voice unmistakable.

“I… I’m sorry,” Ellen apologized. “I mean, it’s just that…”

“We never see little men that actually move,” Quinn finished for his sister.

Kat cocked her head, thoughtful. “You aren’t a faerie, are you?”

The little man grinned. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am! Now we’re getting somewhere!”

“But faeries have wings, don’t they?” Ellen asked, confused. “You don’t have any wings.”

The little man shook his head, “indeed I don’t. But do all faeries have wings? Come now, I know your mother has taught you better than that!”

The three siblings looked at each-other, trying to remember the things their mother had taught them about faeries. She was a writer, and a lover of myth and lore, especially Celtic, and had talked to her children about all things fae for as long as any of them could remember.

“You’re an elf!” Quinn suddenly exclaimed, grinning. “Right?”

“I knew you would get it! Always the clever ones, you were!” The little man bowed low. “Romin of the Elven Clan Thornhaven, at your service. And I do mean at your service, humankin.” Looking up, he eyed the three confusedly. “Oh, but where are your sisters?”

“Mae’s inside reading, and Rose is napping,” Ellen answered, cocking her head. “How do you know about them? How do you know about Mom? Who are you?”

Romin licked his tiny lips as he thought of an answer. “I do suppose you deserve some kind of explanation, at that. Though I must say I can’t tell you everything. Not even quite everything, I’m afraid.”

“Why are you wearing people clothes?” Quinn asked, laughing. “Elves don’t wear people clothes!”

Romin grinned at the boy. “Now there’s a question I can answer! In order to blend in, of course!”

Kat giggled. “I don’t think it worked very well.”

“No,” Romin sighed, looking at his clothes and shaking his head. “No, it didn’t.” He grinned back up at them with a wink. “Oh well, I like them. I think I’ll play with them a little longer.”

Kat and Quinn giggled.

Ellen sighed. “Let’s stick to the point, OK? Romin, right? Well Romin, who are you and why are you in our backyard? And how do you know ..?”

The elf held up his hand, stopping Ellen mid-sentence. “One question at a time please, though I don’t want to repeat myself so I’d rather you got your sisters out here first?”

“You sound like Mommy,” Kat said, frowning.

Ellen got up reluctantly. “OK, I’ll go get them. Rose has been asleep too long anyway. But you won’t be gone when I get back, will you? Mae would never let me live this down!”

Romin nodded thoughtfully, “Much like Peril Roma; he will be pleased,” he mumbled.

Ellen raised an eyebrow. “What?”

Romin shook his head as if to clear it. “What? Oh! Nothing. It’s nothing. Never mind. Please get your sisters?”

Ellen reluctantly went inside.

*   *   *

“There’s a what on the back table?” Mae asked again, laughing so hard Ellen could hardly understand her.

Ellen, holding a sleepy three-year-old Rose on her hip as she stood in the doorway to Mae’s room, was not amused. “I told you, an elf. His name is Romin Thornhaven, and he wants to talk to all of us. That includes you.”

Mae snorted, wiping her tearing eyes with a nearby bandanna. “Seriously? You expect me to believe that?”

Ellen shrugged. “Come outside and see for yourself.”

Mae eyed her sister, understanding slowly dawning on her face. “You’re not just playing for the siblings, are you? You really believe this!”

Ellen didn’t answer.

With a shrug, Mae put her book down and jumped off her bed. “You do realize that if there’s no elf…”

“I know, I know. I’m your slave forever,” Ellen retorted, leading the way downstairs. “But what if there is an elf?”

“Then I guess I’m your slave,” Mae laughed.

When Ellen didn’t reply, Mae’s laugh stopped short.

*  *  *

“It’s… it’s… it’s…” Mae stammered, pointing at Romin as she joined her siblings on the deck. “I… but… it’s…”

“An elf!” Kat cried, clapping. “Isn’t he cute?”

Romin bowed again. “Sorceress, I am at your service. However, it is not polite to point.”

“Whadda who? Oh yeah. S… sorry. Elf. Sorry elf. Dude, it’s an elf!” Mae stammered, squeezing in between Kat and Quinn at the table. She leaned down close to the little man, eyeing him suspiciously. “What are… who are… what the heck is going ON?”

“We were just getting to that,” Ellen said, having returned to her own seat with Rose on her lap. She looked at Romin pointedly. “Right?”

Rose leaned close to Romin, smiling softly at him. “Hi Mansy!” she said, waving a dimpled three-year-old hand.

“Hello, Enchantress,” Romin answered in such a formal way that the others glanced at their baby sister uncomfortably.

“What’s all this about Mistresses and Enchantresses?” Ellen asked.

“And Sorceresses?” Mae added.

The elf shook his head sadly. “I can’t tell you that, humankin. But I can say that I come to you now because you are sorely needed.”

“Who needs us?” Ellen asked, her voice quiet with awe.

Romin’s fair face darkened with gravity. “All of humanity, Mistress. The entirety of mankind.”

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4 Responses to “A Strange Visitor”

  1. […] to Explore « Blogging for Kidlit 101 Song of Spirit – Chapter 1 […]

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