The old man’s beard moss hung heavy on the trees. I almost didn’t recognize the forest at first. “What happened to you?” I asked.
The eldest tree sighed, his shoulders slumping under the weight of his regret, or maybe just the moss. “Don’t ever make fun of a wizard’s beard,” was all he would tell me.
Clusters of youthful brownies milled about the moss, shaking hands and learning names. The first days of fae college were always so tricky.
White threads of water escaped the pool with a giggle, carving their way through moss and splashing over rocks. The Pied Piper of Gravity grinned at their fun as he played on his pipe and led them along.
Lumpy pillows of verdant green were scattered everywhere. “Messy, messy fairies,” grumbled a goblin, picking them up and setting them to rights.
There she slept for far too long, turned to stone: an ancient relic of a fossil record that had forgotten her. No true love’s kiss for her to wake, no thawing of flesh from ice, she was stone and it was stones that built the earth, that housed the moss, and cupped the pathways carved by water. So long as she was stone she was safe, and she was stone forever.
The moss maidens wove all night, making a shaggy shelter for the lost and orphaned children at the foot of the forest’s loneliest tree. In the morning soft sunlight flickered on the dewy moss when they awoke, amazed to have found themselves a home at last.
He looked down, pretending their words hadn’t hurt him. The moss growing upon him for the past century or so knew better. It couldn’t think of anything to say, so it hugged him a little tighter and let him know he wasn’t all alone.
The moss fairies hid behind the castle, waiting for the goblins to pass by. As soon as they did, the fairies leaped from their hiding place and stole the pots and kettle the goblins wore on their heads as helmets. The goblin chased them all over the forest, until twilight fell and they all made friends again, returning the pots and kettle and sharing their dinners before scurrying off to their homes for a sleep, ready to begin again tomorrow.
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