The fairy paths are a collection of enchanted trails coursing through the Neverwood. They are, in a sense, the veins of Neverland, wherein all the absurdities of a child's mind thrive most vibrantly. As its name would suggest, it was often made use of by the fairies. Goblins are a fairly common sight as well. One can usually find them stealing to and fro, hands full of shiny, ill-gotten gains. Just up above in the canopy hangs the Spider's Gallery, where the black widows weave a tangled web of lies resembling their late husbands, and garden gnomes are often seen smoking their pipes amongst forget-me-nots growing along sharp intersections with Memory Lane. These are but a touch of the many things you might find there.
But at the very heart of the island itself, is a heavenly place where all the paths converge, and deer graze rather peacefully. It is called Seasons Glowing, and it is the home of all Neverland's fairest creatures. This is where the children are now headed as they proceed along their witty adventure.
"I can't believe we're actually here!" Sarah said. "It's like a dream come true."
"A very queer dream." said a worrisome Nowah.
The statement was in fact very true, as the current state of affairs on the fairy path was in utter disarray. Flowers didn't know whether to bloom or wilt, and instead perpetually shifted from doing one to the other. Pixies abandoned their sand boats and raced happily upon the ground, which at face value, would not have seemed so weird had we not known about the queen's proclamation of 1770, when Mab decreed that Pixies were no longer permitted to tread upon the ground lest they sink through like water. Also, Tidbit was sure he had just seen a grey fox slithering on the ground somewhere. We found that quite odd too.
"This is awfully queer," the lost boys said.
They had all been on the path on many occasions, and every time there seemed a method to the madness; but not now. Sarah, on the other hand, knew nothing of how a fairy path was supposed to look, thus she was more inclined to believe things were just as it should be. "What's wrong with it?" she asked. "Seems silly enough to me."
"This is too silly," Nowah replied. "Also, there is not a single fairy to be seen."
"Yes, I suppose that's true," Sarah replied. "Nowah, you don't think anything bad has happened to them, do you?" Nowah remained stoically silent. "Oh dear."
The children furthered down the path taking into account all the curious things happening along the way. They even passed a band of lost pirates who were wandering in hopes for the shore. At first Sarah was frightened, but then Southpaw kindly explained to her that this crew could do nothing to them as they were already slain. Afterward she was terrified. But by and by, all the children came to the same conclusion: the fairies were gone.
What could have drove them all away, they thought. Sarah and Nowah walked a ways in front of the others. She was going about helplessly with imploring eyes that looked like they would soon give into tears. "Don't worry, Sarah," said Nowah. "I promised, didn't I? We'll find the fairies."
"I believe you." she said, "It's just, I just wonder what state they'll be in when we finally do find them." The two of them took notice of the Lost Boys who were now huddled amongst themselves, speaking in a very secretive manner that had you wanting to know.
"It's possible," whispered Southpaw.
"You wanna do it?" asked Thrice.
"Yeah!" replied Nimble. "Let's do it!"
"Sounds like a long-shot," said Half-right. "but what else can we do? I vote yes!"
"Okay, but after, can we eat?" Tidbit complained. "I'm hungry."
"What on earth are you all whispering about?" Sarah asked. However, they did not hear her, and were already fully engrossed in their newest topic of conversation: what to eat afterward. Southpaw wanted to catch a few rabbits, but Tidbit had grown tired of eating bunny stew. Half-right had cravings for lion tail, but he worried he'd be unable to cut it off before the lion took his tail first.
"How about pheasants and bread?" asked Nimble.
"That sounds good!"
"I'll find some honey to mix with it."
"Oh boy, I can't wait."
Finally Nowah had had enough of it. "Lost boys," he shouted, "stand forth and speak your mind." At once, as if by instinct, the lost boys lined up in order from biggest to smallest, and saluted. "What are you lot going on about?"
Tidbit was always the spokesman in these situations thus he, very timidly, stepped forward out of line. "Well, you see," he said. "I was hungry, but Southpaw wanted bunnies "" "
"Not bunnies," Southpaw retorted. "Hares! There's a difference, you know?"
"No!" said Nowah. "Before that?"
They all had to think very hard as the thought had already escaped them. "I remember," said Half-right, the sharpest of the bunch, "We wish to clean it up!"
"Clean what up?" Nowah asked.
"The fairy path, of course."
Sarah's eyes lit up. "Oh, how brilliant!" she said. "Absolutely brilliant!"
Nowah scratched his head. "It is?"
"Don't you see, Nowah?" she said. "My mother would always reward us for doing our chores. Perhaps if we tidy up the fairy path, the fairies might return to see it anew and be so grateful that they'll grant us a wish!"
"Oh, quite clever, my Lost Boys," Nowah admonished. "But, you really think it'll work?"
"We might as well give it a try." said Tidbit.
The others stood silently, as the final decision laden always on the firstborn. Nowah thought on it with his eyes scanning over their hopeful, imploring eyes.
"Oh alright," he said. "Let's give it a shot."
The children immediately formed a circle and they drew out their plan of action in the sand. The boys went here and there, putting all the wrongs and rights, and making all the maybes fairly certain. Sarah took offense when they asked her to speak with the flowers on their behalf, saying that, contrary to popular belief, there was no alliance between ladies and flowers. But eventually the pouting boys got to her and she made the trip.
After all was said and done, she found rest on what she though was a very large mushroom. She laid back and relaxed, watching the warm, soft rays of light break through the canopy. She then let got, allowing her thoughts to revolve around her mother like the halo over an angel. "Mother," she said. "Soon, you see, I'll save you." Then a smirk came upon her face. "All will know that fairies do exist. Maria and Ceria will both be exposed for the liars they are. I can't wait to see their faces."
As if a karmic punishment for elating in the ruination of another, a growing rumble ran through the ground like that of an earthquake. As the object beneath her began to raise, Sarah saw that she was in fact, not seated on large mushroom, but the ear of a very large beast! This was not just any beast. Not like the tigers that prowl the Indian Jungle or the neighbors dog behind the fence. This was a woodland troll. Trolls love to dwell in dark, damp places, but every now and then, they will rise out of their homes to eat. And as you know, trolls have a foul reputation for being creatures of unsavory tastes. This included fairies and children!
It had all become painfully obvious to Sarah now why the fairies had left, and why they would not return for some time. Sarah leapt off just in time as the horrid creature rose to it's feet. It stood nearly fifteen feet tall, covered with warts and scabs and dry, flaky skin. It roared it her with a frightening pitch. Sarah fled immediately, but it did her little good, for the troll was quickly after her, and gaining fast.
It pushed small trees aside, almost clean off of their roots just to get to her. Sarah kept distance by swerving this way and that way, ducking out of the way of its large, grubby hands. It finally came that she entered a part of the path wherein a cluster of Never Trees grew. Of course Sarah did not know they were Never Trees. All she knew was that there was a hole in all of their trunks; large enough for her to crawl through and hide inside.
"Roooar!" said the Troll. "Tortuba will eat you, little girl!"
"No you wont!"
Sarah quickly scuttled inside, but the troll, powered by its ferocious hunger, uprooted the tree easily and crushed it to pieces. Strangely, it soon found that the little girl was not there littered amongst all the broken shards of wood. Sarah was quite surprised herself when she fell out of the hole of a nearby tree. She and the Troll both scratched their heads at this. But soon after, they were at it again. Sarah ran in circles, eventually leaping into yet another tree for safety. Just as before, the tree was uprooted and smashed to pieces, and just as before Sarah came flying out the hole of another tree. This went on and on until finally, there was only a single tree left. When Sarah crawled inside this one, she went nowhere.
"Oh, no!" she cried.
"Oh yes!" said the troll.
Sarah covered her mouth so as not to scream when the large troll stuck it's very long nose in the hole to smell her. "What's this Tortuba smells?" said the Troll. "This lovely sent of grassy and hills and warm summer bread. Tortuba shall taste its sweetness down to the bone!" As fate would have it, right behind her head Sarah felt a large piece of wood protruding out. Sarah broke it off and too that chance to stab the troll deep inside the nose.
The troll roared again, this time, in agony. "Tortuba's precious nose!" it shouted in a nasally tone. "Get it out! Get it out!"
Sarah slowly peeped out of the hole in the tree. She watched as the troll went about writhing as it fruitlessly tried to pull out the splinter from its nostril. However each time it reached in, it would only serve to drive it farther inside.
"It serves you right!" she shouted, feel quite triumphant at the moment. But soon the ongoing cries of the troll began to break through her armored shell, and puck on the soft, supple strings of her heart. Sarah soon found herself beginning to pity the troll. She saw a hurting, misunderstood creature, whose displeasing nature was merely a direct result of its own never-ending loneliness.
"I-if you promise," she said. "If you promise not to eat anymore children, and especially fairies, I will consider removing the thorn from your nose."
The large troll fell to his knees, kowtowing. "Tortuba swears! No more children "" no more fairies! I shall take the goats and sheep instead."
"Come closer," Sarah said. "Closer still. Okay now, stop."
The troll was a disgusting thing, and til this day we could not tell you how she persuaded herself to do it, but Sarah plunged both her arms deep into the troll's left nostril, felling around it's slimy interior for the stick she had driven inside. All the while she kept a lingering eye on the troll, who seemed to be getting tickled by it. "I've almost got it," she said, gaining a firm grasp with both hands. "Just a little while longer."
"Hurry," the troll pleaded.
With a firm grip on it, Sarah braced her foot on the tip of the nose and pulled as if she wished to be the next queen of Camelot. But with every tug, the troll became more and more tickled, and soon he rose to his feet, sweeping Sarah off the ground and into the air.
"What are you doing?" Sarah screamed.
"Tortuba sorry," he said. "but "" the girl "" it tickles too much!"
"Oh no," Sarah replied.
The troll had to sneeze, you see, and Sarah was right in the forefront. Should we describe the sick and ghoulish sight of it, or detail the stench it ooze, you may be prompted to forfeit both dinner and lunch today. So perhaps it would be better to let your imagination fill in the gaps of our story "" fill it in like the grayish green, lumpy, slimy, muck that it was.
One might expect to see Sarah rising from the aftermath gagging, but she was more pleased than anything. "Well," she said, wiping her face. "It's out!"
With a strong swipe Sarah was instantly lifted in the air and hugged. "It's gone!" said the troll with a smile not even a mother could find charming. "It did it! The lovely girl has taken the pain away."
Sarah began laughing herself. "You've sure changed your tune," said Sarah. "Now I expect you to keep your promise."
"Tortuba keeps his promises, you'll see "" ah, what is its name?"
"Me?" Sarah replied. "I'm Sarah Isabella Lovely. Nice to meet you; Tortuba is it?"
He nodded. "Tortuba and Sarah "" friends?"
"I should say so," she replied. "But Tortuba, I have something important to ask you; friend to friend."
"Yes? What is it?"
"Would you happen to know what happened to all the fairies here? You didn't, by any chance, happen to eat them all, did you?"
"No!" said the troll. "Tortuba came her looking for fairies to eat, but there was very few, so Tortuba lay in the shadows waiting for more to gather. That was when Tortuba saw the thieves and their mother."
"Mother?" Sarah said.
"They stuffed all Tortuba's fairies into cages. When Tortuba come out, the mother and her thieves attacked. Tortuba ate three of them, but then the mother wanted to make a deal with Tortuba. She promised to share half her fairies with me, but the moment Tortuba turned his back, she drove a knife into it!" The troll frowned. "Still hurts."
Sarah was baffled. It was the captain of that crew, she thought; that evil-hearted, excuse of a woman. Sarah did another favor for the troll and asked if she could remove the knife herself. Reluctant at first to agitate it, the troll permitted Sarah to do it. Soon she found her suspicions were correct when she saw the cutlass driven into his back, and the golden inscription on the hilt of the blade.
"GT," she said under her breath. "That's Gilly Thorn!"
"Quickly, please," said the Troll.
Sarah pulled it out with a single yank, and the troll let out a mighty roar. The sword itself took Sarah both hands to hold. "There," she said. "much better." A moment of peace fell, but would soon be undone, for suddenly trouble had arrived in the form of a pack of lost boys racing towards them.
"Oh no," Sarah said.
Tortuba set his savior aside on the branch of a tree and roared at the Lost Boys whom he thought was there to harm Sarah. The children naturally assumed the troll was attempting to devour Sarah, and they flew at him like flies over a pile of dung, attacking from every which direction so that in a full instant, the troll was overcome.
Sarah was slightly horrified at how different the Lost Boys appeared now. This was much different than their battle with the Currumpaw. There was not an ounce of playfulness in there movements nor was there even a competitive smirk on their faces. A dark shadow casted over their faces from which the dark green glint of their eyes could be seen piercing out. Nowah was no exception, far from it. No other had quite a fearsome look as he. His green and blue eyes held a deathly gaze more savage than the rest.
No battle plans or formations were called out; each child somehow knew exactly what to do. Half-right darted circles around the great beast to serve as a distraction, while Southpaw hung from thick vines, cutting here and there with every swing. Thrice and Nimble nipped at its ankles like feral alley cats, and Tidbit launched whatever he could get his hands on. All the while, Nowah lay stalking in the brush like a jaguar, bracing himself for the opportune moment to come in for the kill.
Sarah leapt out of the tree when she saw this. We should not take this time to mention to her that the height of the fall was enough to break a leg, for she did not notice at all. In fact she ran with a swift courage just as Nowah broke from the brush and sprinted towards the troll. Somehow Sarah stopped him in time, tackling Nowah to the ground.
"Stop please!" she shouted. "Stop at once, I say!"
At that moment every soul in the area ceased, even leaves falling to the ground froze in midair from sheer amazement. Peace returned, as did the calmness in the children's eyes.
"Sarah," Nowah whispered as she lay on top of him. "What are you doing?"
Sarah rose quickly and embarrassed. After the battle was over, and all misunderstanding settled and resolved, Sarah, the Lost Boys, and the Troll sat in the most pathetic manner on the side of the path, quietly waiting for what seemed like forever. They watched all four seasons come and go, which happened every hour on the path. But with each passing moment, their hopes of seeing the fairies return on their own accord died a little.
Finally, one of them spoke up.
"I have a thinkings!" said Tidbit.
"What is it, Tidbit," Nowah replied.
"Perhaps the fairies are no more, and the have all died."
If you can you believe, Tidbit actually expected to be praised for thinking outside of the box. Instead, upon seeing the horrified looks upon all their faces, he began to wish he had a box to hide in.
"That's awful!" said Thrice.
"Yeah!" Nimble added.
"Tortuba is sad now."
"Why would you say that?" said Half-right. "And right in front of Sarah, too."
Tidbit cursed his foul mouth. "It was just a thinkings," he said. "I swear! It doesn't mean it's true. Sarah, honestly, I didn't really mean it."
"It's okay," Sarah said. "Really. I already know what happened to the fairies."
"You do?" said Nowah.
"Yes. They were kidnapped by the villainous pirates." Sarah stood and held out the tempered cutlass with beautiful wavy patterns on the steel like those of the Barada.
"I have seen that blade before!" said Half-right.
"I have dodged that blade before!" said Thrice.
"I have fled from that blade before!" said Nimble.
"I have clashed with that blade before!" said Southpaw.
"I have four buttons on my waistcoat," said Tidbit.
Nowah rose up from his seat with a serious countenance on his face. As he touched the blade gently with his finger he found the slightest layer of fairy dust caked on to it. "That proves it," he said. "It was Captain Thorn that done it."
"Oh no," said the lost boys. "She gives us the creeps."
"I'll give her my blade," Nowah threatened.
It was then that Sarah realized how Nowah must have felt in that moment, for fairies, as whimsical and ridiculous as they were, were the only thing close to a mother he knew. The firstborn whistled loudly, and all at once, seven goats came leaping out the brush. The children mounted one of their own and were soon on their way.
Sarah was the last to leave. She could not do it so unceremoniously like the others; not after making a new friend.
"What shall you do now?" Sarah asked. "Will you return home?"
"Tortuba has friends now, and he likes the feel of the sun on his face. Tortuba will stay here and protect the path that Sarah has fixed until the fairies return."
"No eating them," she reminded.
"Tortuba keep promise."
Sarah smiled. "Ok then," she said. "farewell Tortuba."
"Fairywell lovely girl."
Sarah strapped the cutlass to her back, mounted her goat, and scuttled off into the woods.