Prompt: STARTER SENTENCE: “I slowly peeled back my eyelids and immediately wished I was still out for the count”
Word Count: 1,500 words (total word count: 1,030)
Deadline: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 8:30 pm EST
I slowly peeled back my eyelids and immediately wished I was still out for the count. I could see them there, out of the corner of my eye, hovering in my peripheral vision. I felt a tugging on my clothes as one of them rifled through my pockets. It turned its face toward me, a face I at first glance found beauteous, and smiled a wicked little grimace that exposed vicious, jagged teeth. The effect was horrifying. I flinched as another flitted past my face on shimmering wings. The sound was reminiscent of the buzz of a wasp, low and dangerous.
It was all a ridiculous mistake. I opened my mouth to speak, but there was no sound except a rasping croak. Slowly, as my brain caught up with the rest of my body, I remembered that one of the things about fairy-folk was their surprising ability to disarm and disable. That's why they were used so often in castle defense systems these days. If you made it through the enchanted forest, past the sleeping dragon, through or over the moat-that-wasn't-a-moat...then you faced the fairy muscle.
I'd barely registered the crudely carved signs emblazoned with "Beware! Farae!" posted in the courtyard. I was in a hurry. I got careless, dismissing the first pixie with a wave of my hand. I now began to understand the price of my haste. The little brutes began rifling through the possessions they had taken from my tunic, chittering and keening like crazed little birds. Apparently they had found my invitation, signed with the High Duke's own mark. I waited, still immobilized, for them to apologize and release me to the meeting to which I'd been summoned. But the excitable noises continued, just out of my line of sight, and nothing happened for some minutes.
With considerable effort, I rolled my eyes up as far as I could, just in time to glimpse one of the larger fairies, still no more substantial than a large chicken, take several coins from a heavy purse full of the month’s levies I was to be delivering. Alarmed, I attempted to twist, to rise to my feet. Nothing. I managed to utter an incoherent grunt, catching the sprite's attention. It sneered at me and handed the gold off to another one of its brethren. The two who had been studying the pages of my royal documents walked past, dragging my scroll case in the dirt behind them.
I became quite enraged. They were holding me captive! Me! Even official business of the Crown was not enough to protect one from rogues these days, it seemed. Dark times, indeed. Insulted, and uncertain of what the fairies were planning to do with me, I again tried to move. Despite straining with what felt like every modicum of my strength I lay there, still as a stone. I felt my situation was hopeless. What an insulting gesture, to be captured and tormented by fairie-folk. If I lived to see the sun set I doubted I'd live down the shame of being treated like a common trespasser.
A commotion beyond my line of sight caused an increase in volume of the squawking of the fairie guards, and then suddenly they were flitting past my face, spitting what were undoubtedly epithets. A pair of heavy boots stomped through the dust near my head, and then a large face appeared in front of me. From fairies to trolls, such was my luck. Suddenly, I was lifted by a massive hand, and thrown across a broad shoulder.
After a circuitous route that took us through the stables and up what seems to have been several flights of stairs, I was deposited unceremoniously onto an expensive carpet of very fine weave. Attempting to move, I found I was no longer paralyzed. I rolled into a sitting position and began to massage my numb toes through my stockings, the fairies having stolen my boots along with whatever else they could carry.
A series of girlish giggles accompanied by the sound of whispers brought my head around to a vision that filled my heart with pure dread. I turned to find that the damned troll had delivered me to the chambers of the High Duke’s three very lovely daughters. The maids perched daintily upon a bench by the room’s high windows, discarded needlepoint at their feet, and batted their lashes and smoothed their bodices in a most distracting fashion. To my dismay, I began to perspire. Admittedly, the room was quite warm. But I was also very nervous. If I were caught in this tower, it would surely be my head.
Looking around, I attempted to find a suitable escape route. I assumed the troll had barred the main door as he exited the room, and what purpose it had for depositing me there I couldn't begin to guess. The only other option was the far window, which was open to the afternoon breeze. Apologizing profusely, I bowed courteously, being a gentleman of the royal household, and then took a running leap. I had not realized quite how far up this particular tower was, and as I glanced down, discovered that it was located directly over the moat-that-is-not-quite-a-moat. The water isn't what broke my fall. It was the mermaid. I'm lucky to have gotten away; she wanted to introduce me to her parents! You know her father carries a trident...
And so, that's what happened. I swear on my honor, as a gentleman of the royal household. My dear, it has been a most trying day. I could use another pint, if you'd be ever so kind. Can you place that on my account, my love? Seeing as some light-fingered fairie bastards took off with my belongings. Even my boots. They were my best ones. I did mention the bit about the boots, yes? There's a girl. It's going to take a couple of rounds to work up the nerve to explain to the king how I lost his tribute for the High Duke's eldest daughter's dowry. Not to mention my lovely boots. Just keep the mead coming. You know I'm good for it. As good as my word.