Characters Environments 
Author Marian Parisher-Nichols
Poems and short stories, free to read.
"When I write, I shoot from the hip!"
   Home      ~Phantasyland Tales~      Ch 1 of Tracks in the Snow.

Chapter One of; Tracks in the Snow.


The Enchanted Garden had fully recovered from the disaster that had befallen it earlier that year. The Golden Rose was blooming and safe within the Crystal Dome. The Sprites were diligent in their duties and the Garden was a small paradise, with the four seasons bringing their own unique beauty to the Garden and to the Realm. Spring flowed into Summer, Summer into Autumn, and now Autumn was easing out to make room for Winter. This first day of Winter also delivered the first snow.

During the night, the Snow Pixies initiated their icy ballet across the realm. These small entities were seldom ever seen by other residents of the Realm, due to their exceptionally miniature size; they were the weest 0f the fairy family, barely larger than a dime. These tiny ballet dancers wore gowns of delicate snowflakes; their head crests were frost, with crystal slippers, and pale bluish skin. Their hair was silvery strands of ice crystals, which flowed around them as they danced. Their wee pixie faces had slanted light blue eyes, an upturned nose, a perky mouth and teeny pointed ears. They carried wands of icicles, and any area they touched with their wands, froze instantly. They drifted down from the snow-laden clouds, guiding the flakes of snow to the earth and then returning to escort more flakes. Their ballet was danced to the sweet music of chimes created by the ice


crystals striking each other, producing a pleasant but faint tinkling sound. This musical serenade could be heard across Phantasyland; it had a soothing effect and could lull the crankiest baby to sleep.

As the Snow Pixies twirled and swirled, they were aided by none other than the North Wind; yes, it was time for his return visit to the Realm. He supported the wee pixies and helped lay the snowflakes evenly across the land. The North Wind had a reputation of being somewhat boisterous but, with these small pixies, he was as gentle as a summer breeze. Without the North Wind’s aid, the Snow Pixies’ job would be a bit more difficult.

They danced all through the night, by dawn they had completed their excursion and retired for a wellearned slumber, leaving a white glistering sheet spread uniformly across the once brown and green surface. It was a whole new Phantasyland.

The Mermaid Sisters spent the cold months in the heated waters of the Garden Pool. Ole Sol rose, casting pink and blue hues across the snow. He greeted the first being that appeared, as was his custom. “Ho there, Mermaid Sisters!”

Carolanne had surfaced through the glassy waters, creating only negligible ripples across the Pool. “A fine morning to you as well, my dear Friend. It seems we have had a visit from the Snow Pixies last night.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” chuckled Ole Sol. “The North Wind gave them a bit of a lift. I saw just a bit of their dance as I rose.”

Carolanne was joined by her four sisters, who also greeted Ole Sol. They exclaimed their amazement at the overnight snowfall. The little snowbirds with their blue grey feathers and white underbellies, hopped about the garden searching for bits of fallen millet and other grains that were spread by the wind. They were joined by the other bird of winter, the red cardinal.

Their antics created bird prints in the snow, but it was soon noticed by the mermaids, that other, larger, more human-like tracks were also in the snow. These tracks formed deep crevices in the sleet leading around the edge of the Garden Pool, which the sisters followed to see where they might lead. The tracks led up to the small pool where the little Golden Fishes had their own private home in the Garden.

An inspection of the Golden Fishes’ pool revealed that the largest goldfish was missing. “Oh no,” cried Carolanne.

“What is it?” asked the others simultaneously.

“Can’t you see? The little Golden Fishes are upset! And I do not see their king, the large goldfish,” explained Carolanne. She swam to the edge of the Golden Fishes’ pool, separated from the rest of the pool by a stone wall built within the Garden Pool.

“Oh little goldfishes,” she spoke in fish language, for all mermaids spoke the language of all water creatures. “What has happened to Kingfish?”

Several little gold fishes popped their heads above the surface and one answered, “Gulp, he has been snatched from the pool as we slept during the night. We heard his cry which alerted us.”

“Did you see who kidnapped the Kingfish?” asked Carolanne.

“It was very dark, for Miss Lunar was in her new phase and cast no moonbeams on the Garden, but we know that some of the pool’s water was taken as well and it and the Kingfish captured in a Mason jar. We saw it when it was scooped into the water, capturing our King at the same time. After that, we saw no more.

We must have Kingfish back.”

“We will inform the Queen,” said Carolanne.

“Oh thank you,” replied the fish and dived back beneath the surface. After all they were fish, and could not stay out of the water for long.

The Mermaid Sisters swam through the underground stream that connected all waterways to the Enchanted Garden, emerging around the throne inside of the Palace.

The Mermaids then called out for help, “Help! We need help in the Garden!”

Their cry was answered by Dragonfly. He was up early as was his custom, and responded to the cries. He hastened to them, thinking, ‘Something is terribly wrong that has upset the Mermaids.’

Reaching them, he asked, “What’s wrong, Carolanne?”

“There has been a kidnapping during the night. The little golden fishes have lost their Kingfish,” she exclaimed. “Will you tell the Queen?”

Without further delay, Dragonfly did so.

 

***************

 

In fact, the whole Realm was alerted by the North Wind, who carried the news all through the land. The Potter Sisters were summoned to the Crystal Palace. They arrived by way of their winterized coach, the one pulled by the Pegacorn, Shadow, a black filly, with white wings, and silver mane, tail, hooves and spiral horn. She was a beautiful sight when she unfurled her wings and flew gracefully upon the wind. After the five sisters had dismounted, the coach’s groom, the Brownie, BoBo, took the rig to the stables.

The five sisters, Switch, Pitch, Mitch, Flitch and Quitch Potter were dressed for the cold winter’s day. Each wore long flowing cloaks of their favorite color, with hoods that were trimmed in fur.

Queen Sleyvia held court in the Enchanted Garden by the Enchanted Pool. Lady Fae Fairy, Fairy Elle Bleu, Jenna, the Sprite and Dragonfly were also present. The fairy folks too were dressed for the chilly days. Wearing variations of knitted wool, cotton and the white bark of the birch, their trousers, knee breeches, long gowns and muffs kept them warm.

“Thank you all for coming so swiftly,” said the Queen. “Mischief has befallen the Garden. There are strange tracks in the snow and the King Golden Fish has been kidnapped!”

“Yes,” provided Dragonfly, “I followed those tracks and they lead to the Majestic Oak at the far end of the Garden. There’s an opening at the tree’s base, a newly dug hole, leading into the underground. I wanted to enter but thought better of it; after all I was alone and knew not what to expect.”

Switch Potter was most upset, as the little Golden Fishes had been in her charge for ever so long. “My little Golden Fishes, this is horrendous! What can a goldfish do for anyone? They shall feel my wrath!” She stamped her boot firmly into the soft packed snow.

“Then how best to solve this riddle?” asked Pitch Potter.

“I will see if the hole can be probed,” said Mitch.

The old oak tree had grown forever in the Enchanted Garden. It was broad in girth, and its limbs and branches stretched far over the garden. In spring and summer birds nested in its branches and squirrels galloped across its limbs in a never-ending game of tag. Its acorns provided winter store for the squirrels. The Sprites had homes in the many knotholes of the oak, which, when dug out, were large enough for a Sprite to sleep. But now there was a man-size hollow in its side. They gave closer inspection to the tracks.

“This cannot be,” wondered Mitch. “Look at these tracks. This is a big, big man and he wears no shoes. I do not know what to make of this.”

Mitch placed her red-booted foot in one of the tracks; the footprint swallowed her foot and Mitch did not have dainty feet. “Why, he is a giant!” she exclaimed.

Jenna, the Sprite said;

 

“My word

This is obscure!

 

A giant that lives inside of a tree?

Oh, but this simply cannot be.

 

A trick is surely played

Upon the Realm this day.”

 

“Yes, a trick,” agreed Lady Fairy. “Someone plays a joke on us. It is so funny.”

“I fear not,” said Queen Sleyvia. “For we still have the missing Kingfish of the little Golden fishes. If that is part of a joke, I do not find it humorous, no, not humorous at all!”

“I will go down into the pit,” said Mitch. “Just far enough to see where it leads, if indeed it leads anywhere. It’s probably just a hollow, and goes no further than we see.”

Everyone watched Mitch as she placed a foot into the opening; immediately she was thrown out and backwards, literally flying through the air and landing with a thud in the deep snow.

Unhurt but somewhat flustered at this embarrassing position in which she found herself, Mitch, with help from Quitch, was assisted up from her supine position in the snow. After a second to gather her wits and brush the snow from her backside, she said, “The opening is protected by a force field. I could feel it like a giant hand blocking it and throwing me.”

“What magic is this?” inquired Queen Sleyvia.

A cloud of falling snow suddenly appeared, and emerging from it, was none other than Goldenspirit. She had a knack of appearing with knowledge of the situation and was always prepared with a solution. “I’ve learned of this, and it has a flaw,” she spoke, answering the Queen’s question. “It will prevent larger animals from entering but something as small as a

fairy could get through.”

“A teeny tiny fairy?” asked Fairy Bleu.

“Yes, in fact, several could enter unnoticed, if they followed one after the other while holding hands,” stated the Oracle. “They should stay close to the walls, without touching them. I think they could get far with ease.”

“I cannot order a fairy to go,” said the Queen, “but I do ask for volunteers.”

Dragonfly flew forward, “I will go, oh Queen. I am most curious as to whom or what has created this havoc in the Realm, and on the first day of winter and with our first snow. I will go alone, there’s no need to endanger any other fairy.”

“You will not,” exclaimed Lady Fae Fairy. “I will go with you.

 

“Count me in as well

For my anger doth swell!” Said Jenna the Sprite.

 

“If you all go, then so will I,” said Fairy Elle Bleu.

“If you four are sure,” said Queen Sleyvia. “I wish there was a way for us to see what is happening inside the oak.”

“There is,” said Goldenspirit. She reached out into the air and plucked something from it; she held it up. “I will loan them the All Seeing Eye.” She held between her thumb and forefinger, an eye, a round ball with the eye on one side, an eye that moved from left to right, as it gazed upon all that were there. Goldenspirit then took her staff with its crystal sphere, and an image formed in mid-air. It was what the eye was seeing. “This is good,” said the Queen. “Who will carry the

All Seeing Eye?”

“I shall,” said Lady Fairy. “I am the most responsible.”

Goldenspirit took the eye, and attached it to a golden chain, which Lady Fairy hung around her neck. “Do we go now? I see no need in waiting.”

“Yes,” said Queen Sleyvia. “Replenish your fairy dust and be sure your wands are fully charged. Then off with you.”