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 the Golden Birds

Chapter One of The Golden Birds

 

Ole Sol shone brightly on this autumn morning as the West Wind playfully tugged the leaves from the trees, sending them soaring across the ground in loops and swirls. This was a most beloved season, with its changing colors and changing weather. The Realm knew that it was now time for winter’s preparations. At this point, the trees were in their full fall splendor, reds and golds abounded, with the falling leaves pirouetting as they floated to the soft brown earth; piles of them were swept together for later incineration. At summer’s exit, all the flowering plants had dropped their blooms, and their foliage browned and disintegrated to enrich the earth for the next growing season. The apple trees’ branches were heavy with fruit, which was being gathered in heaps into bright green baskets. Other fruit and nut trees also saw their bounty harvested and stowed away.

In the fields, the hay was baled, the corn was harvested, and the wheat tied in sheaves, all made ready for winter storage. Bright orange pumpkins dotted here and there among the dried corn stalks. They were harvested, to be carved into Jack-o-Lanterns for the upcoming All Hallows Eve celebration and for next month’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Pitch Potter was out early on this morning and busy already in her small garden. She harvested the


last of the fall flowers, mums, goldenrod and roses, with a few apples, and loads of pecans.

“Mitch is about rather early,” said Pitch as she watched her sister sashay to earth on her broom. Mitch, who always insisted upon getting every hour of her beauty sleep, would not be rambling around at this hour unless something was afoot.

“Oh Pitch, have you heard about the small bird?” she enthused as she came nearer. Mitch was dressed for a nice fall morning; she wore a purple silk shirtwaist frock with a bright red hooded cloak flapping about her, as the wind swept across the garden. Pitch saw that she had on a pair of bright ruby red highheeled shoes. Mitch was flamboyant in her style, but that was Mitch for you.

“What bird would that be?” replied Pitch, continuing to work in her garden.

“The bird with the golden feathers that was seen in the Queen’s garden,” said Mitch, as though shocked that Pitch was so uninformed. “I was visiting with the Queen last evening, when we saw the bird perched beneath the Majestic Oak. We were quite surprised because it was a new visitor to the garden. I told the Queen I would get my sisters together this morning and we would go to the Palace to investigate the new arrival.”

“A golden bird you say?” asked Pitch, with a disbelieving tone. “Uhmmm, there’s never been a bird with gold feathers; it would be unable to fly. Gold is much too heavy for feathers.”

“Never you mind that,” said Mitch, with annoyance at Pitch’s practicality. “There is a bird with golden feathers in the Queen’s garden and I don’t care a twit that you don’t believe me!”

“Sorry Mitch, if you say there’s a bird with gold feathers, then who am I to doubt your word. Come let’s get the other sisters and visit the Palace to see this magnificent bird.”

 

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

 

Later, the five Potter sisters arrived at the Palace of Queen Sleyvia in their coach, which was drawn by the flying Pegacorn, Shadow. BoBo, the Brownie was the groom who cared for the rig and filly and now took it to the stables.

The gardens were maintained by the sprites with help from the five mermaid sisters and a touch of magic. The Potter Sisters immediately saw the small gold-feathered bird hopping beneath the Majestic Oak. The bird was chirping but it was more than the usual song of a bird, it had melody and rhythm and cast a spell upon anyone that heard its song. It wasn’t a spell of malevolence but of benevolent serenity. Pitch stared at the bird; she hadn’t seen this species in a very long time. Although its colors were incorrect, it markings testified to it being a Nightingale. Its feathers glistened and the precious metal pinged faintly as the bird hopped about.

“Oh my, yes! What a beautiful fowl,” exclaimed Pitch. “Its song is mesmerizing. Do you not recognize the species? That is a Nightingale,” she said, as she glanced towards the Palace. “We should see the Queen.”

Inside the Palace, the Potter Sisters awaited the appearance of the Queen. Switch used this time to jive Pitch about her new haircut. “My! My! Pitch, what happened to your long black hair?”

Pitch chuckled, “Do you like it? It’s called a wedge cut, so much easier to care for.” Pitch patted her new hairdo; it was upswept in the back and the front fell forward before sweeping backwards, emphasizing the white streak running from the front of her hairline to the crown where it blended in with the darker hair.

“I might not have recognized you, Pitch,” continued Switch, “if I didn’t know you already; but that haircut is quite lovely on you. The queen of the fairies is taking so long to get here that she must be riding a snail! Mitch, I do miss you when you go wherever it is you go these days.”

“Oh Switch I have missed you too,” answered Mitch. “Please tell us about the bird. I do hope it is good news but I have a strange feeling that it isn’t, especially with Lady Fairy, Fairy Bleu and Dragonfly nowhere to be found. I wonder if the Queen knows. Did you talk with Goldenspirit? The bird’s song is so beautiful; makes you want to cry and smile at the same time. Oh, please tell us quick about the bird, before I start crying.”

“Pitch is correct, that is a Nightingale,” replied Switch. “While we wait for Her Majesty the Queen, let’s sing. ♪Fa la, la,...tra-la-la.♫”

“Look! There’s Queen Sleyvia now,” said Mitch.

The Queen of the fairies was a small being, as fairies often are. She was only about twelve inches tall and used her delicate dragonfly wings to flutter about. She was small, but her Crystal Palace was large; after all, many creatures and beings visited the Queen and not all of them were as small as the fairies.

Queen Sleyvia often chose her attire according to the seasons and today was no different. Her dress was stitched-together maple leaves, girded at the waist by a twisted vine. Her slippers were also constructed of maple leaves. Her dragonfly-like wings reflected the colors of her gown. As a queen, she had four wings rather than the average two of most sprites and hers were extra large and looked much like a royal robe. Seeing the five Potter Sisters, she hastened to her throne to converse with them.

“Good morning to you, Sisters,” she said after settling onto her crystal and silver throne. But before her greeting could be returned, she spoke again, “This concerns the small bird which Mitch and I saw last evening in the garden. It is most unusual to see and hear a songbird after dark. But most strange of all, is that its feathers are of gold. I do not know this strange bird or the song it sings.”

“I sent a message by the West Wind to Goldenspirit in the Lost City,” said Switch. “Hopefully we will hear from her soon.”

As on cue, a fine mist formed in the center of the receiving chamber and Goldenspirit emerged. She was dressed in her usual golden cloak with the hood low on her brow. “Sorry I was so long in responding to your request, Switch. As you know, I have been living in the Lost City. I was engrossed in the deciphering of the scrolls unearthed there. Also, I have taken time to learn of this golden bird. It is indeed a Nightingale but it is cursed. The Nightingale song is not its usual repertoire. It is actually a well-known melody from the mortal world, Beautiful Dreamer, written by Steven Foster in the late 1800s. The message this song reveals is that the bird is in a dreamlike state, or under a spell.”

“Cursed?” said Pitch. “How is it cursed? Is the bird itself cursed or has another entity been enchanted and turned into this golden bird? And why? We need to know more before any attempt is made to remove the curse.”

“Gotta catch the bird first,” said Mitch. “How do you go about catching a bird? I have heard that to sprinkle salt on its tail will prevent it from flying.”

“That means getting pretty close to the bird,” reasoned Quitch. “Can you sneak up on a bird? I wager none of us can. Besides how do we know the bird wants to be un-cursed?”

Mitch interrupted, “As we flew to the Palace, we saw the Ditch-Witch near the Garden gate; she hid when she saw us. I wonder if she has seen the bird.

Maybe she knows more than we do.”

 

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

 

The Ditch Witch was a small, plump old crone with a greenish cast to her complexion, and a purple hue to her thick mane, upon which sat a black, conoid hat. A unibrow accented her large yellow green eyes. Her nose was long and narrow, with a pale thin mouth, and uneven yellowed teeth. She wore a floor length burgundy frock with red and black striped stockings and black ankle boots. She carried her broom beneath an arm.

Ditch Witch was scheming; she too had seen the golden bird, she first saw it on the banks of her frogfilled ditch and, riding her broom, had followed it to the Enchanted Garden. Hidden behind a tall birch, she watched the bird in the garden.

 

“Hippie Bobbity Bog,

I live in a ditch with frogs.

 

Frustrated at the gate I stand, But can’t enter Phantasyland.

 

I’ve seen this bird flying, Of that, I am not lying.

 

Its song is magical, And it’s beauty, classical.

 

It, I must possess,

To share with my best,

 

Friend, the Troll, Who is so bold!

Oops, there’s the sisters five, I better hide.

 

Hippie, Bobbity Bog,

I’m the Ditch-Witch, living with frogs.”

 

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

 

“Hey, Lady Fairy, it’s me again, Dragonfly. I finally made it here with the rest of you. Whooo-Hooooooo! With all the trials and tests I have been through…” sighs Dragonfly, “I am beat. I am just hearing about this golden bird. Where’s Fairy Bleu?”

(Dragonfly was a sprite; his wings were sheer but slightly tinted a fawn color. He was fourteen inches tall, and wore a greenish-blue shirt, dark green knickers and elfin boots. Perched upon his golden locks was a Bycoket, which is a small cap with a short peaked top and turned up rim. Jutting out from the left side of the cap was a greenish blue tail feather of a Peacock. A feather from the tail of a Peacock, when freely given, gave the beneficiary uncanny good luck. And Dragonfly seemed to have the best luck ever.)

“I have not seen her,” said Lady Fairy. “I received a summons from the Queen by way of the West-Wind. Did you not get yours?”

“It seems she has forgotten the magic word for unlocking the gate,” said Queen Sleyvia.

“Oh, when did you enable a magic word?” asked Flitch Potter. “We entered no information.”

“I had Goldenspirit cast a spell over the palace,” explained the Queen. “Ever since the Troll snuck into my bedchamber and stole the Crystal Pyramid…I felt I needed more protection. She has placed large crystal spheres in one of the guest bedchambers. It will now be the communication chamber, where certain fruits and nuts have hidden within them a magic eye which sends images back to the crystals. All areas of the Palace and Enchanted Garden and the Courtyard are now closely being observed at all hours. Which reminds me, I have for each Sister an Enchanted Ruby, from the Mountain of Fire, it can be used to send messages by way of the Wind far quicker and to a specific person, images as well, if you wished. Come with me and I’ll show you.”

Queen Sleyvia, followed by her subjects, entered the newly renovated bed chamber room, where several elves acted as operatives of the system. One wall had a line of crystal spheres which were focused on different areas of the Enchanted Gardens; there was the Enchanted Pool, home of the mermaids, and Kingfish and his subjects, the Golden Fishes. There was the Majestic Oak, used as a home for the Sprites who tended the Garden; there was the Garden itself in its entire splendor with views of the front, back and sides of the Palace as well as of rooms within the Palace. The Queen spoke briefly to one of the elves, giving the information for Fairy Bleu.

“The magic eye is panning the area now,” explained the Queen, “and it has focused on the DitchWitch. Yes, she is indeed there and is peeking over Fairy Bleu’s shoulder trying to hear the new magic word. I am sure the Troll is not far off.”

On the monitor’s screen, they saw the Ditch Witch, (unbeknownst to Fairy Blue,) leaning over the fairy’s shoulder but she was unable to hear the magic password and hid again behind the birch tree.

“I have a butterfly net at home, maybe we can use it to catch the golden bird,” said Mitch continuing the conversation as though uninterrupted.

“It might work,” said Queen Sleyvia. “I have one as well. The net was spun for me by the Palace’s spiders that live in the basement. It is stronger and will not harm the golden bird. It might work, if we are stealthy enough. You know birds are very alert; they must be for many creatures prey on them. If indeed it is a Nightingale, we must be careful when listening to its song. Its song can lull you into a deep sleep. Remember Rip Van Winkle? It was a Nightingale’s song that put him to sleep for twenty years, of course the rum he drank helped.”

“I thought that was just a fable,” said Quitch.

“Many fairytales told in the mortal world are often true accounts from Phantasyland,” explained Queen Sleyvia.

“But tell us about magic rubies,” said Pitch. “The ruby is mine and Mitch’s birthstone and we own one already. How do they differ from the regular ruby?”

Just then, Jenna the Sprite entered the sanctuary with Fairy Bleu in tow. She explained how she helped Fairy Bleu with the new magic word and where to whisper it to the gate’s ear.

 

“Fairy Bleu was so sad,

Her magic word was bad,

 

I helped her with her new spell,

And now all is well.”

 

“Hi everyone,” said Fairy Bleu. “I really missed all of you. I was starting to think that I would never get inside of the Palace or see my friends again.”

The two fairies were welcomed and Pitch said, “We would never allow that to happen, little Bleu. Phantasyland would not be the same without your pure blue heart.”

The elves had given each sister their new rubies and they all were inspecting the angular cut of the stone, unusual for a ruby for they were most often used as a smooth round oval.

This stone can do all you say?” asked Pitch. “I simply must learn to use it.”

“You will be instructed in their use before you leave,” said the Queen. “I know you will find their

convenience indispensable once you learn their function.”

Only the human inhabitants of Phantasyland received the enchanted ruby, the wee folks had magic already and still carried on as before. The Wind was the most common and easiest way to send messages.

 

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

 

After a luncheon with the Queen, they reassembled outside in the Enchanted Garden to evaluate the Nightingale’s situation. The Nightingale hopped beneath the Majestic Oak, still singing its lovely, if melancholy, song. Lady Fairy ventured a might closer as she placed a finger to her lips to indicate for the others to be still and quiet. She got within a few feet of the bird before spooking it and causing it to fly into a tree, dropping a small slip of paper as it did. Lady Fairy scooped it up and winged back to where the others waited.

“Hey you guys,” she said, “the bird dropped this,” and she gave the paper to Goldenspirit. “Mitch, are you going to try to catch the bird with that net?” she asked.

“That’s the plan,” replied Mitch stepping away from the group.

“Mitch, you can’t do much in those high heels,” said Pitch bringing everyone’s attention to the redjeweled slippers.

“Do you like my new red high heels?” asked Mitch lifting one foot slightly to show better the shiny ruby red slipper.

Goldenspirit pondered the slip of paper then said, “This is a poem, but it is more than that. It is also a spell. I have read the poem to myself with no ill effects but should it be read aloud, it would activate the curse. I do not know at this point what the curse is, but I dare say I would not chance it.”

“Are we ready to attempt a capture of the golden bird?” asked Queen Sleyvia. “Mitch, are you going to make the capture?”

“I will give it my best try,” replied the pompous sister, “I must be careful though, just had my nails done. Wouldn’t want to break one.” As she spoke she held up her hands with the hot-pink painted fingernails.

“Mitch, you must remove those high heels, you know you can’t run in them,” said Pitch again noticing the shoes.

“Listen sisters,” Pitch turned her focus from Mitch’s shoes to the others, “I have an idea. The golden bird sits in a pear tree, see, it nibbles on a pear. While it is distracted, we will surround the tree,” and Pitch proceeded to do just that, indicating that her sisters should do likewise. “Come, move quickly now! But be quiet, we don’t want to scare it away. Quitch, cover your head; with that bright red hair of yours, the bird is sure to be scared and could fly off before we can catch it.”

Quitch rolled her eyes as she pulled the hood of her cloak over her auburn locks. The five Potter Sisters surrounded the tree, holding hands, except for Mitch who held back and said, “I can’t! I’m scared! Here Switch, you take the net and catch the bird. I don’t want to take off my shoes and I might break a fingernail. Besides, you can run faster than I can, Switch. Here, catch it. I’ll watch. Come on Flitch, let’s run!”

Mitch grabbed Flitch’s hand and began pulling her along with her. Flitch shook herself loose and exclaimed, “No! You run if you can in those shoes.”

Her sisters looked at Mitch in exasperation. “Mitch!” exclaimed Pitch. “What are we to do with you? It was your idea and now you back out? You could have snared the golden bird. You shouldn’t worry about your nails, they will grow back. Okay Switch, see what you can do. Everyone, hold hands again! Let’s

hope Switch can catch the golden bird.”

 

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

 

So while the Potter Sisters were attempting to catch the golden bird, Goldenspirit and the fairies watched at a distance.

Lady Fairy found it hilarious, she said, “Hey Dragonfly, did you see that? Oh, it’s so funny! I knew Mitch would not take off those red high heels. Oh, wow! She threw the net to Switch. See it flying through the air? Watch out, Switch!”

The note had been passed between the fairies, hoping to see if they could understand what the curse could possibly be. Fairy Bleu was examining the poem when a gust of wind grabbed hold of her.

“Help!” Fairy Bleu cried. “The wind is pulling me away. And I can’t turn loose of the poem. Jenna! Dragonfly! Lady Fairy! HELP!”

This strong gust of wind surprised everyone and the sisters were halted in their attempt to capture the golden bird as they saw the small Fairy Bleu being swept off by an ill wind, with her shouts for help fading into the distance.

 

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

 

“Hey, isn’t that Fairy Bleu being blown away?” asked Mitch. “Dragonfly and Jenna are trying to help her. But they can’t and she still has the note. She’s being taken out of the gate. The wind is blowing way too hard! Switch, hurry, net the bird. Oh no, Flitch will not let go of my hand. Now the tree is swaying. The golden bird is not touched by the wind. What is going on here?”

True, although everyone was being affected by the ill wind, the golden bird sat still and unmoved by the gale.

“It is most unusual weather we’re having,” shouted Pitch over the roar of the tempest. “Fairy Bleu is blown out of the gate. We can’t help her now. Dragonfly and

Jenna are going with her. Poor Fairy Bleu.”

 

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

 

Fairy Bleu caught hold of a low branch of the birch tree that grew just inside of the Garden Gate and managed to save herself from being completely swept out of the Enchanted Garden. By now, Dragonfly and Jenna had caught up with her and seized the fairy’s hand as they too held onto the tree branch.

Jenna, the Sprite shouted,

 

“Not to worry little Bleu.

Dragonfly and I have you,

 

We’ll not allow the wind,

To blow you away again.”

 

“Here, Dragonfly,” said Fairy Bleu, “Take this poem. I believe it is the source of this harsh wind!”

“I’m here too, Fairy Bleu,” said Lady Fairy. “Move Dragonfly! It takes all my strength to fly in this wind and I don’t want to knock you down! I’ll take the poem and give it to the Queen.”

As she spoke, she slammed into Dragonfly throwing him nearly to the earth. Dragonfly fought to stay aloft and shouted, “Too late Lady Fairy! You’ve knocked me down! Fairy Bleu is crying again! There’s so much going on. I’m sure that poem will curse us! Oops! I best get out of the way, here comes Lady Fairy again and she’s out of control! I know she’ll break something!”

Lady Fairy was caught by this ill wind and was doing loop the loops towards Dragonfly again. She shouted as she was blown by, “Dragonfly! We must help Fairy Bleu. She went out of the gate.”

“Yes, Lady Fairy!” shouted Dragonfly. “I am fine now, really. Here! Got it! I have the poem.”

The situation would have been hilarious had not it been so dangerous. The fairies were clinging to a branch of the birch, with their tiny selves flapping in the wind like flags! Lady Fairy was tossed head over heels several times, becoming a living projectile as she bounced off of Dragonfly. Then she too grabbed the birch a bit higher in the branches and held on for dear life.

At that moment, Fairy Bleu ceased crying and began to laugh, a wild hysterical laugh!

“This is no time to laugh,” shouted Lady Fairy who found Fairy Bleu’s mood swings somewhat confusing. “Stop your foolish laughing and concentrate on getting out of this wind. I can’t hold on much longer!”

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the wind ceased!

 

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

 

Meanwhile, the Potter Sisters continued their efforts to catch the Golden Bird.

“Here Mitch, catch this snake!” shouted Switch as she tossed a garter snake at her sister. “It’s the only way to catch the golden Bird.”

Mitch cringed as she was forced to grab the snake to keep it from landing in her bouffant hairdo.

“Oh, you’re such a baby,” said Switch. “Not to worry! This one is magic. It was conquered by our beloved Pitch. All we Sisters must touch the snake and now it’s your turn.”

“If you insist,” snarled Mitch. “Snakes are not my thing.”

“Okay, Mitch, throw the snake at the bird,” instructed Switch. “It will entwine itself around the bird, securing it so that it can’t fly. I will then throw this net over it. Pitch has a cage ready.”

Mitch tossed the garter snake; the snake quickly wrapped itself around the golden bird, which entrapped it, and both snake and bird fell to the earth. Pitch rushed over and retrieved both snake and bird. “All right!” shouted Pitch. “I have the bird!” Pitch tapped the snake on its head and the snake vanished. Pitch then placed the bird into the cage.