The New Adventures of Jamie

by Jamie Mac

Chapter 5

Faeries, Dragons, and More

Meanwhile, as both Jamie and Eric looked around they saw what seemed to be more than the simple fairies of the myths, legends, and tales of the world. Faeries of all shapes, sizes, and colours flitted about the flowers, everything they touched seem to grow ten-fold. Roses with blossoms the size of soccer balls, amongst other magnificent flowers that were growing along the edge of the seemingly endless garden.

Swift and Kyle sat right behind the two boys on an old tree that had fallen and had been carved in the shape of a bench. They watched as the two younger boys took in the unseen world as it really was. It was a world full of life, a bright beautiful world full of amazing creatures. Strange as it was, the skies were clear, the sun was shining, and it was much warmer than where they had just come from. While the boys looked around two large shadows covered them for a brief moment. They looked up just in time to see a gigantic golden dragon closely followed by a purple one flying overhead.

"WOAH! Are they... Is that…?" exclaimed Jamie while pointing at the sky.

Jamie was stunned by how large and truly magnificent the two dragons looked as they flew high above. The dragons then both did a corkscrew maneuver as they flew over and off into the distance.

Kyle looked at them with a huge smile, "When Swift said they could grow as big as a twenty story building, he wasn't joking. That's Fáfnir and Nidhogg, they're off to hunt for food now."

"They'll be gone for a while," added Swift. "Probably hopping over to another preserve. There is far too little game on this one for them to eat. While they enjoy bacon it's not enough to fill them up, it'd be like the four of us sharing a small bag of popcorn at a theatre. We'd all have a sample and that'd be it. It's cool, nobody will see them and we're all safe now from the prying eyes of anyone who might have spotted them."

Eric still looked on in wonder, as he pointed to a faerie no bigger than a ladybug that had flown right up to his nose. The close approach made him cross his eyes and he leaned back from the approaching faerie with the result being a somewhat amusing visage to those watching.

Eric said, "So is like everything we were talking about real? Right down to these tiny little faeries?"

Still somewhat in disbelief as to the world surrounding him, Eric giggled as the tiny faerie touched his nose. This then immediately brought forth a chorus of giggles from all of the faeries nearby as well as the one that had touched him. The laughter coming from the faeries was musical. Each of their voices was in a different key, yet combined together there was a peaceful harmony in the whole. Jamie smiled as he heard it and then finally joined in the joyful laughter as well.

Swift explained to Eric after the musical sounds faded, "Yes Eric, everything is real. There was a time when man believed in this world. You can see it in ancient prehistory. Petroglyphs and cave paintings are a good example of that. You can see it later in some of the Greek mythology, part of that was based on things that the people had seen even if they had not understood. Occasionally you can still see it in more modern works but it's not nearly as common nowadays.

"There was a time when almost all groups of people believed in this world. A lot of their stories and legends originated from things they had seen, or whimsical beings they had encountered. Remember Pegasus, the winged-horse? Or the Dragon of Cholchis that guarded the Golden Fleece? Those are just a couple of examples, but most cultures knew of us in days gone by.

"All that changed however when people began to be forced to believe in a single set of books and just asking a simple question could mean your death. Then everything else was written off as fairy tales, suitable only for telling children and then often as a method of frightening them. Who hasn't heard the tale of the wicked witch that cooks and eats children? Once the age of indoctrination began it wasn't long afterwards that belief faded. Then it was kept only by a select few and in great secrecy for their own safety, which we guard to this day."

Swift sighed, knowing while he was still young he had seen some of the largest changes occur over the last century, with the biggest decline in the current age of technology. While it made it safer for whimsical creatures, it also changed the world so they had to hide in places like the Preserve to remain free. With man forever destroying the earth, all to soon everything, including the whimsical beings would be but a fading memory in some tattered dusty book that no one ever read.

The scene before them was so far from the cold hard world they knew and yet it was right in their own backyard. Jamie looked around and felt that he was fully alive again, that nothing could touch him within the safety of the unseen barrier that enclosed them. He felt warm again inside, a deep down warmth as if a fire was lit deep within which burned away all his pain and discomfort. He looked at Eric as well and he could see that same spark of a new life shining in his friend's eyes. Looking back at Kyle and Swift he saw the same effect, almost as if they had been on the Preserve forever. Turning his eyes back towards the thicket, Jamie kept looking high then low, and was perplexed by what he saw.

"What is the light I see shimmering back where we just came from?" Jamie asked Swift as he pointed at the thicket they had passed through only a few minutes ago.

Swift looked back in the direction Jamie pointed and was somewhat puzzled not being able to see any light. He looked at both Kyle then Eric with the obvious question on his face. They both looked in the direction Jamie was pointing, then looked back at Swift, each shaking their heads negatively, confirming that they too had not seen anything.

"I have to be honest Jamie, what light?" Swift asked while shrugging his shoulders in confusion.

"It looks like a shimmering rainbow. It starts at the ground and goes up beyond what I can see," Jamie replied, while looking up into the sky shielding his eyes with his hands.

"I have an idea ... I'm not positive, but it's possible you're seeing the distraction spell. As we came up nearer to the thicket how did you feel Jamie?" Swift asked, already knowing the answer that would follow.

"Cold, and a bit scared," said Jamie rather uncertain of how to describe the odd sensation he experienced before they entered the Preserve. "It wasn't even like a real fear. I mean I was scared, but this just didn't feel the same. I don't know the word to describe it. It was like I was on a roller coaster, scared but somehow knowing it was just a ride."

"Eric, what about you? How did you feel as we approached the thicket?" Swift asked, trying to build a complete picture in his head as to how best to explain the phenomenon to them.

"A lot like Jamie," Eric replied, not quite sure he was understanding Swift's question. "I think I felt really afraid, and yet it was not like I was really afraid. It felt different somehow. Real, but not real at the same time I guess."

After a moment's thought Swift began, "I think this is one of those few questions that I can answer safely in the open. What you felt outside the barrier is the distraction spell. What it does is muddle the mind. The effects vary from person to person; I don't feel it as much as most people would for example. Yes I know it's there, but I can work my way through it. You both seem to be able to as well to a point. Kyle feels nothing but the gauntlet when he puts that on."

"The gauntlet is the key to the barrier, as we like to call it. Without it, most people would be overwhelmed by the fear or other potent spells that will change a person's mind before they enter the Preserve. It is also one way; if you have noticed your fear is gone. Once you pass through the barrier the feelings vanish.

"Kyle and I, and both you Jamie and Eric, can feel it. Also now that you're aware of it and understand it, if you ever have to come here alone you'll know that you can approach it safely. While you'll still feel some of the effects, they'll not turn you away from the back side of the barrier's entrance."

Pausing for a moment to allow what he said to sink in with Eric and Jamie, Swift waited to see if the boys had any questions. After a few seconds Jamie looked at Swift.

"So what I am seeing is the magic, sorta like I could always see your sword and tattoo?" Jamie queried.

"You're quick Jamie, you've a very sharp mind! It doesn't really surprise me in a way, if you're who we think you are. It answers a lot of questions," Swift replied.

Jamie looking straight at Swift said, "So just who am I? Or who am I supposed to be?"

"I can't say here. I'll explain it more after a while, but for now you're special in more ways than you know, or I for that matter," Swift replied, not daring to say what was in his head.

"Remember what I said at the bus stop Jamie?" Kyle added tapping his ear as he noted a slightly puzzled look that remained on Jamie's face.

Jamie smiled then, shaking his head remembering the conversation that had taken place not too long ago. He was beginning to realize that people with evil intent existed in other forms, not just as his parents. While he thought about it he started to think of several additional questions, but most he knew he would also have to wait on to get answers.

"Okay, I understand we can get to the barrier, but if we want to get out how do we get through that thicket without the gauntlet?" Eric asked Swift.

"Remember how I said some things we can talk about in the open and others we cannot," began Swift. "While it's physically safe here there are beings who can hear us. The barrier prevents most from hearing anything from the outside, but within the Preserve there are some who can almost pick thoughts out of your head. Fortunately, those who would seek such knowledge are dormant."

As the boys continued to discuss the nature of the barrier and the Preserve itself, Eric laid down on the grass and relaxed so he could think about everything that had happened so far that morning. Jamie soon joined him as Swift and Kyle looked on. Although Kyle had been here many times, each time it felt like something new and was always a wonder. He could never get over the feelings he had each time he entered the Preserve. Kyle was also one of the very few young kids who had ever mastered the taming of dragons. It was a very rare gift amongst humans and as he remembered his early days on the Preserve he wondered what Jamie's and Eric's gifts might be. As he sat looking at them breathing the clean clear air, he enjoyed the fact the younger boys were so accepting of this new realm.

Yet as Kyle looked at Jamie he could almost read the younger boy's face and saw the fact that he was still not one hundred percent certain that this was in fact real. After all Jamie had been through in his short life, he had every right to be cautious. Kyle did not deny him those feelings since when he first came to the preserve he had felt the same way, but that changed soon enough for him. Kyle really hoped that Jamie would be one to come around fast and not let the fears of the city and his past weigh him down.

They all settled back on the grass, after all the events that led to this moment a short rest was definitely in order. The boys still looked about with a wonder in their eyes, not unlike a child who had just experienced its first Christmas. Both still had their doubts, but yet they saw and they did believe. Unlike their life on the streets, here was a place that seemed far more safe than that outside the mystical barrier they had traversed. Even though Swift had said this was also a place of some danger, it did not dampen nor lessen Eric and Jamie's enthusiasm for what might lie ahead.

Swift broke the silence after several minutes of just watching the two boys, "Welcome to my world guys, there's much more to see and to show you. Are you ready for a new adventure?"

Eric still smiling, replied, "I am. I want to know everything, from safe to dangerous. I want to learn it all. Hopefully being a big help to you as well."

Jamie added to that as well, "I seem to have some sort of special gift according to you, but I'm more afraid of waking up and finding myself still in the alleyway getting rained on and finding out this is all a dream. I know I see it, I believe it, but it just seems too big for a little kid like me."

Not sure if he was even making sense Jamie continued, "I want to join in this as well, even if I do eventually wake up. This is just way too cool. I would hate to miss out on anything exciting."

Swift smiled, trying to ease the boy's fears of it just being a dream, "Ask Kyle. You've known him as long or longer than me. I understand your concerns, which is why unless someone figures it out we never share this world we protect. You have to have some belief otherwise if you had come in here by accident, everything would have looked just like the forest behind the thicket. Yet if someone did enter without knowledge of what they had seen, they might not live very long even in a state of disbelief. Let's head for the house now."

Both boys looked back at Swift and their smiles saying 'let's get going.' Standing up, they both followed Swift and Kyle down a path out of the flower garden, as it wound back into the forest. It was clear under the trees, much more so than a normal forest, very little underbrush grew here. A tiny stream meandered beside the path, bubbling and gurgling happily, finally turning out of sight to head off in another direction.

The golden sunlight filtered down through the boughs of the evergreens and cedars, illuminating the green mosses on the rocks alongside the path they followed. The last of their doubts fading the more they looked around at the different whimsical creatures they saw. Disbelief was replaced by a wonder for all the amazing things arrayed around them.

Seeing a hoofed creature with a human-like torso, furry legs, and an impressive set of horns on its head waving at them before heading off in another direction, Jamie pointed and in a stunned voice asked, "Is that a satyr?"

"That's Taaggin. He and his friend Dohgyn are probably the most frivolous of the Satyr's. Don't count on them for help if you get in a jam," Swift said.

Then Swift quickly added an important afterthought to that, "Especially if you really need help ... like in a life or death situation."

"But they do have a lot of fun. Ask them to play lacrosse sometime. Oh and be sure to wear plenty of padding," Kyle stated with a chuckle. "They really hit hard and can bruise you good."

They continued down the wide pathway through the airy forest until they came to an overgrown trail that wandered away from the main path. The forest seemed to have become denser in this particular area and even had a slight swampy feel as a thin mist began to gather around their feet.

Kyle stopped and pointed out the path to the boys, "Don't go down that path. There's a swamp hag that lives down there and she'll ensnare you in a trap. We don't know what she really does beyond that since no one has ever come back alive."

Swift nodded in agreement, "Yep, that's her lair, and her domain. So avoid that trail, no matter how tempting it looks. Kyle is right, we know little of her, and she's been there far longer than us."

"So she'll probably roast us alive and eat us?" Eric joked, remembering what Swift had told him just a short time ago.

The others started to giggle, but Swift looked at Eric with a deadpan expression and said, "Yep, we think she prefers cute thirteen year olds with gorgeous hazel eyes."

Eric stopped in his tracks with his mouth hanging open and looked at Swift who gave no clue as to whether he was serious or not. Suddenly Kyle and Jamie could contain themselves no longer and burst out laughing and fell to the ground almost in convulsions. Sudden realization dawned on Eric that he had been had, which sent him into a fit of laughter as well with Swift holding out only a couple of seconds longer.

After wiping the tears from their faces from all the hard laughter they continued down the path. Eric and Jamie took everything in as they went along. It was so different from the mountain woods that surrounded the coastal city they had left behind, as well as the dark forest they just exited. When they walked through what had been a seemingly impenetrable thicket, they never imagined in their wildest dreams how beautiful the world really could be.

Swift pointed out different things along the path they followed while stating, "This is the main path on this preserve. It will take you to almost everything along with several side paths and trails. We'll be turning off this shortly and onto the trail which leads to the house."

"Each of the different whimsical beings have areas that they are tied to," continued Swift as the group took the path leading towards the house. "Some however, like the faeries, are able to cross into other sections. They pretty much roam the whole of the Preserve, except of course the areas held by demons."

As Swift said the word demons, Jamie piped up. "Wait, one sec, demons? As in from hell, and all that Bible stuff?"

"No, the Christian Bible, has it wrong for the most part," explained Swift. "It may have a couple things right, some of its ideas on how to live a good life are things we should all do simply by nature. To a degree it is not unlike Æsop's Fables, but while entertaining Æsop's Fables do not pretend to be an instruction guide to the real world. The Bible on the other hand has some parts that are good rules to live by, other parts are hopelessly out of date because they describe the customs of very primitive cultures, and then a lot of it is just a collection of fables - Noah and the Ark for instance. That's a story that existed for over a thousand years before anyone even began to write down the bits that eventually became the Bible. You can see it in some of the ancient Egyptians' works."

"It's much like what I spoke of earlier," continued Swift. "How disbelief took over in the world. The Bible is one of those reasons why. People, especially those in positions of power, became enamoured with the idea of a single Creator. Having just one all-powerful being, and setting yourself up as his spokesman, made it easy to put limits on people. Calling those limits rules or laws, you could then punish anyone who dared to defy them - or you. It is why so many wars are fought even to this day. Simply because most people believe in those books but nobody understands the meaning, so they twist it to fit their own needs at the time."

Jamie, not trying to be rude, interrupted Swift with a question, "So what you're saying is that some of the books I've read are more factual than fiction?"

Swift smiled, happy Jamie had said that as he continued, "Yes, there are real demons, but they have been dormant for centuries. While some signed covenants to remain peacefully on the preserves, others had to be locked away. A prime example of something that while written as fiction, that people took it as fact, is Dante's Inferno. While Dante was correct on the fact that demons once roamed the earth, and that hell is pure torture, it was only because he guessed and had also looked at some writings that were older still. Based on that knowledge he wrote the works and came up with the nine levels of hell."

"Evil and rotten to the core, demons are destroyers of everything. While faeries nurture and create beauty, demons destroy - they prefer rotten and ugly. They have been around since before man could even walk upright. There is more to tell, but talking about them as well as some other beings in the open can draw their attention to you, which is something you don't want."

Swift stopped his explanation suddenly and looked about him as if checking the safety of the area. As he did this, the boys themselves felt a slight anxiety.

"Okay, so no more on that then!" exclaimed Jamie. "What is safe to talk about in the open?"

"Everybody's health and the weather are always safe topics," Swift replied while he grinned, which promptly got him an elbow to the ribs from Jamie.

"Oww!" Jamie yelped as his elbow collided with something far more solid than Swift's ribs.

"What the heck did I hit that hurt like that?" said Jamie as he rubbed his now sore elbow.

Swift lifted his shirt and under it was another shirt, but made of shiny green-coloured metal, "Sorry I'm wearing Adamant armour. I always forget about having it on, it's so lightweight."

"Woah, more cool stuff! When do I get a sword of my own and some of that armour?" Eric said his eyes lighting up like Christmas tree bulbs.

Swift once again smiled and laughed as they continued walking, "Eric, I might be able to find a leather jerkin that would fit you for now. Since you're still growing regular armour would be very costly."

"What's a 'jerkin?' That's not like ... umm, you know?" Eric asked blushing slightly.

"It's a type of armour made from hardened leather. It's tough, and it will turn most knives. It might even stop small caliber bullets, although I wouldn't test that one myself." Swift said maintaining a serious tone in his voice and trying not to laugh given the serious subject.

"Still cool. When can I get mine?" Eric stated, showing he was very serious about wanting some armour and weapons. Along with wanting to learn how to use them.

The group seemed to have walked quite a ways when they turned onto another path. Finally, in the distance through the trees they could see an old-style home coming into view. It was well kept, and had that Victorian charm, found in some of the older parts of the city they had recently left. Approaching the house from the east they were gradually able to see more detail. In front was a driveway that led to the south, and parked in it were a couple of SUV's and a large red pickup truck.

The lawn and flowers around the home once again put any botanical garden to shame. Faeries flitted about from flower to flower. As the boys approached the house, the door opened and out stepped a much taller and older elf. Looking close to Swift in appearance, the only real difference was that his hair was long and straight, and his eyes a dark emerald green. He looked closer to thirty years of age in that timeless effect of being long lived.

"Mae govannen" He greeted them all as they approached.

Swift and Kyle both responded in the same fashion with Swift bowing low, and Kyle dipping his head. Jamie and Eric looked on, not quite sure what to say but both managed to say 'hello', while following the example of Swift and bowing low to elf that stood before them.

Swift stood up and started with introductions, "Jamie, Eric, this is Thondir. He is the watcher at this preserve. Thondir these are my other two friends, Jamie and Eric, both of whom I have spoken with you about."

Swift's speech was somewhat archaic now as he spoke in more formal tones, "Jamie has known what I was from the first time we met. Although he spent a great deal of time in the libraries to be sure if what he was seeing was what he thought it was."

Thondir turned to both boys," Mae govannen, Eric and Jamie. Welcome to Druhull, one of the preserves we keep and take care of."

"Although it mostly runs itself," he add winking at both boys hoping to put them at ease.

"May gluevoneh …" Eric tried with little success.

Thondir smiled, "Not bad for a first try."

"Mae guvaughnen," Jamie tried as well, bowing a little, since he was not sure how far to go.

Thondir spoke with an elegance that indicated the many years he carried saying, "Not bad either, Little One. You have a presence about you. I cannot quite place it. It has been a number of years. We will figure it out in due time. For now, you all look a bit battered and worn. How about a hot shower, change of clothing, and a decent meal?"

Jamie, somewhat reserved, relying on his sixth sense replied, "It'd all be great but I don't have much of anything and I can't pay unless there is something else?"

Thondir looked at the small boy standing in front of him, then towards Swift and Kyle. He was reasonably sure he had guessed the meaning of Jamie's question, yet wanted to be sure.

"What does Little One mean?" asked Thondir.

Swift was quick to answer, "Life on the streets is hard. Jamie, as well as Eric, and even Kyle in the past have had to do things in order to survive. Not because it is what they wanted but out of necessity."

Kyle added, "When you first met me I told you some of the stories of things that happened to me. Today we ran into the gang that had been causing a lot of the problems for the younger kids on the streets. It also ended before it started. Jamie and Eric have had to do much worse than I did. Both their stories are somewhat like mine - similar in some aspects but yet different for each of them."

Thondir listened intently to everything Kyle and Swift relayed to him. He thought to himself, how depraved and inhumane humanity has become to treat their children like trash – something to be used and abused for money or control. He hoped that soon things would change and that mankind would no longer feel the need to destroy such a precious gift as a child. One that only knew how to give, how to believe, and that trusted adults with their very lives.

Thondir also knew it would be the same with these two boys as it had been for Kyle a year ago. It would take time to wear down the walls they had put in place before they would trust anyone again. Hopefully their time at Druhull would make that transition easier for them.

Thondir looked once again at the boys, he could see the doubts etched into their features plain for all to know and understand. He smiled at them hoping to put them at ease if even only for a few moments. The time had arrived for them to learn to accept the challenges and opportunities of this new world that had been opened up to them.

"Eric and Jamie, there is no pain in this home," began Thondir. "You will find we have plenty to share with you. You will find only kindness here, no payments. Everything is free, I only ask that you learn from us; it is all I asked of Kyle. Welcome to your new home, for now may it serve you as long as you need."

Thondir concluded with a bow and a wave of his hand pointing to the threshold of the beautiful home saying, "Enter of your own free will."

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