Celeste awoke from her dreamless slumber, with a perpetual ache folded around every nook & cranny of her small body. When she finally fully re-gained her consciousness and became more alert, she found that the deep green thorns were still binding her body so tight that they could be considered as a medieval method of torture. She heard the sound of a key turning slowly in a lock in some far corner of the room, making a slow screeching metallic sound as it collided past all the nibs & coils.
Two earth fairies that she recognized from the forest stepped towards her with an unusual grace. “Had their limbs not resembled the gnarled branches of oaks before? ” she thought. There was something about them in the light of the room, something that changed their features, made them bloom almost. She had heard something before about the earth clan’s ability to change depending on their environment, Celeste supposed that being within the sunny confines of the Sky Village they took on more beautiful features, just like flowers in the summer. When surrounded in this golden light they were epitomized pulchritude in its purest form.
“The Queen wishes to speak with you, Air Fairy” one of the warriors said. “This way please...”
“Uhm, I’m a little...stuck” replied Celeste whilst gesturing to the thorns & nettles embedded in her legs.
“Oh, Right” he clicked his fingers and she was released. Celeste exhaled slowly, taking note of the feeling of freedom as she took in each little breath. Then she noticed she was still holding the ancient mask in her hand, she flinched as she remembered the Queens warning.
They walked through endless corridors, though there was non of the typical mundanity she had come to expect when walking through official halls. It was like walking through the passageway to heaven, everything gained angelic qualities; the guards looked as though they were floating through the spaces. Then they reached a dark mahogany door, intertwined with a thousand daisies of varying size & colour. Celeste couldn’t be sure whether it was the work of an amazing architect or merely yet another gift from the sun.
“Welcome to the Sky Village, child. We have been awaiting your awakening for quite some time now, it’s our own fault really, the sleeping venom in the thorns was much stronger than we had anticipated. I apologise if the long time you spent in hibernation has bothered you at all...” the Queen said , power & sophistication exuding from her like the sweet scent of freshly blooming roses in the spring. She gave Celeste a meaningful look, with a thousand different expressions woven into her face like an ancient tapestry - hope, welcoming, expectancy and concern.
She had been shocked by the other fairies beauty, but the Queen was something else entirely. Her face beheld so many god-like features that it was almost blasphemous; Of course she now realised that this was because they drew all of their power from the earth and they were essentially the embodiment of nature. In the sunlight this element of their biology was magnified ten-fold. Celeste could not possibly imagine why these stunning creatures would ever need her help for anything - there seemed to be nothing they were not capable of, nothing far away from their oaken grasp. Yet, this Queen looked at her as though the entire world was cupped in her tiny hands.
“I...uh....wh..well...I...” Celeste was completely incoherent, her lips blossoming with words to say but each time she opened how mouth to respond they would wither away and decay. She thought perhaps this was an after effect of the venom, but deep down she knew the real reason for her hesitance was that she was completely intimidated by her presence.
She was not even of any importance within her own clan, let alone amongst the royal family of the Earth fairies. She was an outcast; the only reason she was allowed to even breath the same air as the others of her kind was because of a mere technicality. Otherwise she would have burned in the flames of punishment just like her mother & father.
“Do not be afraid Air Fairy. I apologise if I was a little sharp with you earlier, we have no reason to harm you and certainly have no need to harm you either. We have a proposition for you, but first you must agree to our terms” The Queen spoke in an oddly relaxing tone.
“We...Well, um...what are these terms?” Celeste replied cautiously.
“The first of our conditions, is that you agree to all of the terms before you know what the rest are...” She smiled, a twitch broke through on her lips as though she was laughing at something private.
“I don’t suppose that I have much choice, so I guess the answer is yes.” she muttered whilst keeping her eyes steadily focused on the floor.
“I suppose you dont really, do you?” She spoke in a thoughtful tone. “In that case I will now show you how to master the use of the mask” .....