Kali pulled the weathered bag strap back onto her shoulder as she ran over the old troll bridge. Through the tall trees she saw the sun touching the almost invisible horizon. Harvest festival started just after sunset. Thinking of the hot pastries and sticky fruit she loved made her mouth water. She might even try a taste of the honeyed mead this year. Kali wore her best shirt with the elaborate stitching on the sleeves she had learned to do this year. But bare feet flying down the dirt path took her past the silent fairy ring to Greenside Village.
The fairy ring was tended by the village with the usual offerings of fruit, nuts and craft. The amount decreased each year that the fairies stayed away. Some villagers believed they would not return. Only the elders remembered how much the fairies made the festivals magical. Just their fickle blessings were unwanted. Blessings were a double-edged sword. Hew, the last child blessed by the fairies, ended up crippled from only a stubbed toe.
A flicker of movement caught her eye when she stopped to place her offering at the fairy ring. Kali turned slowly as she tried to find the source. It took her a few seconds to see the skittish Fawn that stared at her, his one hand clasped tightly around a small tree trunk. Kali fell over backwards and landed on her backside in surprise.
“Good day… a … Sir Fawn… may I be of service?” Her heart pounding, Kali stammered the almost forgotten greeting to the fairy kin, as she scrambled to get back on her feet.
A sudden giggle escaped the Fawn, his brown eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth. “Good day young one, I seem to require your help. My name is Hest of the Half End Fawn Circle,” the Fawn introduced himself with a small bow.
“I am Kali Weaverskin of Greenside Village, how may I help thee?” She curtsied. Formal greetings with the fairy kin were most important. If offended, a fairy would lay a dire curse on you.
“Miss Kali Weaverskin of Greenside Village, I seem to have inadvertently become entangled with a vicious thorn,” the Fawn said. A look of pain flashed across his face. Kali glanced down to see a large thorn sticking out the back of the hoof.
“I will do my utmost to remove the thorn that troubles you, Sir Hest, Fawn of the Half End Fawn Circle,” Kali said. Fear pounded in her heart and pulled her throat tight. She squatted next to Sir Hest and gently picked up his hoof. She took firm hold of the thorn. One sharp jerk was all she needed to pull the thorn free. With a whisper and a wink the Fawn disappeared.
Kali stumbled back in shock. Did she truly hear him say bless you child?
Dusk pressed firmly down around her as she picked up her bag. She ran like never before to tell Grandma Aimes what happened.
Writing order: Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa), Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Anna Zhigareva (Scot), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus) Cynthiaclaire (Nigeria), Hemali Ajmera (Ind) Donna McTavish (NZ), Gabrielle Burt (NZ)