//Chapter 1 – Entrance to the Realms//
The entrance to the faery realm was a beautiful thing. Almost a lost garden, so very nearly overgrown. Vines full of color winding everywhere, tangling through a variety of colored blossoms everywhere within sight. So few eyes ever saw the entrance. It’s said only those with fae blood could. I could see it. Yet to my knowledge, I have not even a drop of fae lineage. Or so i thought. This was going to be an adventure that I would never forget. One that I was honestly unaware of the consequences of at the time.
As a photographer, It was my job to find the beautiful in everything. I was quite good at it, though admittedly was growing tired of the scenes I was required to shoot. Too many forced smiles and not enough natural beauty. I was actually quite lost. I had been on my way to work a wedding. A wedding I wanted nothing of. Another June wedding with a couple who I felt would not make their first anniversary. My cynicism was a tangible thing then. Although after finding the entrance, all obligations and responsibility flew from my mind.
The arch looked like it was only held together by strands of ivy and clumps of moss. The stepping stones, though nearly covered by wild grasses and flowers, looked to be vast and many. Yet when i counted there were only nine. I counted three times to be sure. The trees behind the arch looked so exotic, so colorful. I couldn’t even begin to identify all the varieties that were growing there. Yet when i tried to take pictures, none of that came through. The pictures when I reviewed them were missing the exotic, missing the pop of color.
The pictures didn’t show the purple, red, and yellow flowers surrounding the stepping stones. Nor did it show the small creatures flying around in front of the arch. The creatures weren’t birds or insects. What they were I still am unsure, they were a small rainbow of color. I snapped pictures hoping to identify them that way. None were caught by the camera at all. I wouldn’t know all that until much later. I wouldn’t see the absence until the adventure was long over, and I was so very much older. All I knew then was a feeling of serenity. A feeling as though I had come home.
It seemed as though the pictures I could see were never-ending. More beauty lay before my eyes than even now i could describe. Stone steps leading to the left and a lake to the right. Nearly crumbling and ancient the steps drew me far more than the soft blue of the lake. It sparkled with mystery and magic. Somehow the choice never bothered me. I took pictures of the lake, quickly. For I knew that wasn’t the path I was meant to follow. Then with a slight bit of reverence, I climbed the archaic and crumbling stairs. I suppose I should have been more careful, more afraid. However though the steps were near to falling apart, I somehow never questioned whether they would hold me. I was nearly afraid of the wonder I felt. Perhaps I should have been more frightened. Less awed. These are questions it is too late to ask.
She was awaiting my arrival in a simple wooden structure at the top of the steps. Long ebony hair swirling down well past her feet. It was nicely braided and seemed to have a life all it’s own. Translucent wings fluttering far too fast for the eye to see. Wearing a long flowing gown that matched her eyes. At first glance, it really was only her eyes I saw. A rich forest green in color, and full of mirth. Truly I felt her the most beautiful being I had yet seen. In retrospective, I remember everything about her. The porcelain perfection of her skin, the fact that she was so lean and tall. The shimmer of her gown that clung to her curves and puddled about her slender feet. The smile that bloomed from within her and seemed to produce a glow around her.
“Welcome daughter!” Her melodious voice surrounded me. “Daughter? I don’t think I am your child?” I stammered in surprise. She laughed in a musical tone. “Daughter is merely an acknowledgment of blood ties, nothing more.” I think I was too shocked to think at that moment. Her presence was overwhelming. She smiled in a maternal way… “Don’t fret child, soon all will be clear.”
She walked off as if she expected me to follow, and truthfully it never occurred to me not to. I almost felt like I was in a trance. Maybe I was. I still saw the beauty around me. However I no longer felt the urge to take pictures of it. All my focus was on her. Somehow I was disinclined to point the camera at her, even though she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She almost seemed to be gliding. Though her wings never moved. The air was almost alive. I felt more alive then than I ever had.
I, to tell the truth, am not sure how much time passed as I followed her. I am not even sure that time was passing at all. When I got lost I was twenty and though I spent what seemed an eternity in the Fae lands…I have not aged even a day. To the outside world, only a year passed while I was gone. To me however, I think I lived another fifty.
She led me through a very beautiful land, and though I felt eyes upon me, there was no sign of what I would have considered civilization. The few buildings I saw were ruins. Old stone and wood, dilapidated and gorgeous. Overgrown with red, yellow and green mosses and ivy, with the occasional streak of brown and gray. Though I felt myself being watched the only person I saw was her. I had always assumed those who claimed love at first sight were hopeless romantics. Still at that moment, I was sure I was in love. Now, well now I think it may have been a minor obsession.
She led me past a golden river and one of silver too. I was amazed at the differences. I was bursting with questions that I somehow knew would be answered in time. I saw fruit of many shapes and colors hanging low on trees that glowed and moved in a nonexistent breeze. Some of those fruits were shapes I had not seen before. I heard the song of so many birds softly as I went by. Heard and recognized the many tones but really didn’t see them as I passed. All of this was sweetly captured by my mind, for later consideration.
There were also dark places that we passed, places drenched in unreasonable fear. Shadows that seemed to drink the light. Cold that I felt even from a distance. Those too, my mind saved. As places not to go again. For even in the Fae realms there must be balance, light and dark. I would find this out in time. For though I was following a creature of light and beauty, before I would be done with the realm of faery, I would encounter my worst nightmare and my darkest fear. I would also learn how to overcome them both.
She led me over so much terrain. The path though paved seemed to wind over so many differing types of terrain it was difficult to keep it all in context. How much I wanted to stop and look at everything. I was fascinated by even the smallest of plants and lovely little forest creatures that crossed our paths. However, as my guide didn’t seem willing to stop…I hurried along behind. I only hoped that I would be able to explore more thoroughly after whatever she was leading me to. To be perfectly honest I don’t even know how long I followed her.
As I was starting to tire a crystalline building came into view. It was all the colors of the rainbow made into a stone structure. I wouldn’t describe it as a castle, as the structure had too chaotic a shape for any description such as that. It was larger than any building I had yet known. It had points of crystal going out in all directions, reminding me so much of one of those sea urchins. Although on a much grander scale. Although I had always thought of crystal as cold, this place was a permeating warmness that one couldn’t help but feel.
I stopped, awestruck and frozen in place. She turned and smiled. She came over to me and gently took my hand. “Daughter, Come along” she chimed. Somehow the sound of her voice calmed the sudden awe and fear I was feeling. I was again at peace and ready to face the sight in front of me. The light was refracting perfectly of the crystal structure.
She led me in through a doorway that until we were right on top of it blended seamlessly into the wall. I wouldn’t have found it on my own. To me it seemed as though the inside was so much larger than the outside, which was enormous. I kept close to her for fear of getting lost within this gorgeous place. Though I so wanted once I heard what she would tell me to go rambling through its enormity. She led me into a warm and brightly lit room. The room easily could have held my two bedroom apartment with lots of space to spare. There was no furniture, only large soft cushions strewn about. The cushions were single color, but all the colors were there. There were enough cushions for over a hundred people to be comfortably seated. They were spaced close enough together to be able to pass things to each other, however they were far enough apart to not feel claustrophobic.
She settled on one of those cushions, a rich purple one, as though it was the most natural place in the world for her. She waited patiently until I too had settled onto a midnight blue cushion beside her. “Now that we are comfortable” she started with a smile, “You are descended from a Fae or you would not have entered our realms else. Now what answers do you seek? I, Titania, will gladly try to assist in your search. Although daughter, First can you please tell me your name?” Stunned, for a moment I couldn’t remember it. How do you forget your own name? Yet, there I stood drawing a blank.
Taking a deep breath, as my memory returned, I tried to keep from blurting it rudely. “Hello your ladyship, My name is Catelyn Fitzsimmon. As far as I know, there is no Faeries in my ancestry, however I am not inclined to argue that point. Are you truly the Queen Titania of the Fae?” Her face took an amused twist as I spoke my introduction. “Ah Yes, I am Titania. I believe you are the great granddaughter of my daughter. She who chose to leave us out of fear. I have watched her family on occasion. Out of concern or curiosity take your pick. It has been about thirty years since last I peered into the mortal realms. So you must be so young yet.”
“By those standards, I guess I am young…I am a month from my twenty first birthday. I barely knew my Grandmother, so I really can’t say I knew those before her.”