Monday, 21 March 2016

Happiness (A retelling of Maurice Maeterlinck's “The Blue Bird”) - Chapter 4 and 5

Chapter 4 – The Magic Diamond and the Quest

"So the princess became an old woman. Prince Lander took the quest upon himself to find the blue bird and rescue his sister. Since then, he had not returned.” Madam Luna sipped from her mug.
“Why?” Tristan whispered. “Why would Prince Lander do that?”
“Well, isn’t it obvious, Tristan? Prince Lander loved Princess Jana. He wanted to help her that is why.” Michelle replied.
“But she was mean to him. She even joined her so called friends and treated him cruelly. She deserved what she got and perhaps more!”
“But Tristan!”
“He is right, Michelle,” Madam Luna said quietly, “Tristan is right. The princess really did deserve the punishment from the Fairy King; however it was because of her brother Prince Lander’s love that lightened her punishment.”
“Do they know what happened to the prince?” Tristan asked.
“The king and queen asked the servants and they learned he went on the quest for the blue bird. When he did not return, the king had his men search the kingdom for the missing prince, but they could not find him nor do they know where he had gone to. No one, not even those of the neighbouring kingdoms knew either.”
“What can we do?" Tristan asked.
"We could find the blue bird." Michelle suggested. She took the old woman’s hands in hers, “Yes, we could! We’ll find the blue bird and help the princess lift her curse!”
“Michelle!” Tristan protested.
“Don’t you see, Tristan? The king needs our help. If we do find the blue bird then perhaps even the prince would return. Didn’t grandfather and grandmother tell us that when someone needed help, we are to always go and help? Madam Luna needs our help, Tristan. We could take the quest.”
“Michelle, didn’t you hear the part she told us that the journey is dangerous? Because of that the prince disappeared.”
“But Tristan, didn’t you hear the part that the bird could only be found by the one who is willing to go? I’m willing and I want to help!”
Tristan sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “All right! Fine! We will go! But I am going because of my sister. She needs to be safe on this journey.”
Tears of gratitude filled the old woman’s eyes as she reached up and touched his face. “Bless you, young man.” With that she left the room.
“So where do we go to find the blue bird?” Tristan asked after her, “There aren't any blue birds in this part of the land.”
"There is another place." Madam Luna said the moment she returned. In one hand she held a wide brimmed hat of green felt and in the other a golden birdcage. The hat had a matching silk ribbon with a large round diamond at the front holding the ribbon in place.
"There is a realm that could be entered using this hat." Madam Luna held out the hat to Tristan, "Here, try it on."
Tristan took the hat and placed it on his head.
"It suits you, Tristan. Now, slowly turn the diamond to your left."
Tristan did as he was told. The place brightened with a white light that dazzled and shimmered. Then, Tristan and Michelle blinked a few times, rubbing their eyes they wondered if their eyes were playing tricks on them.
The room that had only three people now was crowded with smaller people. A sprite popped out of the sugar bowl glittering white. From the pot of milk spilled a little weepy milk sprite in a flowing gown of cream and white looking shyly at her surroundings. From the water pump a water sprite danced in sheer layers of various shades of blue. A fire sprite jumped from the stove with a snap and a pop, waving and twirling in an array of reds, oranges, and golds. From an old clock at each tick-tock twelve little children the colour of sand stepped out and danced to the beat of time.
“Who are they?” Michelle asked in wonder.
“Perhaps we should ask: what are they?” Tristan corrected.
“Sprites,” Madam Luna explained with a smile.
Tristan glanced at her, and then stared. What he saw was not an old woman but a beautiful young girl about Michelle’s age.
The young Madam Luna had smooth skin the colour of polished rosewood, shiny black hair that flowed in silky waves about her shoulders, her lips were the colour of rose petals in the summer, and her dark amber coloured eyes were bright as stars.
“I told you I was a fairy. And it is rude to stare, young man,” Madam Luna looked up teasingly at him with a smile on her lips.
Tristan blushed and looked away, mumbling his apology.
The fairy giggled.
“Master!” Tristan heard someone shout as he felt himself knocked over by a small figure.
“What –?” Tristan looked down and saw a round face of a short little man with floppy furry ears of a dog. The little man wore a black jacket with a caramel coloured waist coat and brown trousers with a matching coloured tail wagging gleefully, on his feet were black leather shoes.
“It’s me! Tylo! Your faithful servant!” the little man threw his arms around the young man and gave him a slobbery kiss on the cheek. “It’s so good to finally be able to talk to you! I have so much to say!”
“Oh, wonderful! Now that he found his tongue he just won’t shut up!” drawled a female voice.
Tristan turned to see Michelle staring with her jaw dropped at a short little woman. The woman was slender in form with shiny black hair cut in a bob and two pointy black ears of a cat and a long tail. She wore a sleek tunic of black velvet with a rhinestone collar; on her legs were matching leggings of same material and short black suede boots.
The little woman in question was sitting on a chair near the hearth. She leapt down and bowed graciously. “Good evening, mistress!” she purred with a bow, “It is I, your faithful companion, Tylette.”
“Th-th-they – they talk?!” Tristan asked finally finding his voice.
“Our cat and dog?!” Michelle stepped back bumping into a counter. Something thumped gently on her shoulder; she turned to look and gave a shriek.
The bread sprite with his rotund belly and jolly round face smiled as he gave her a friendly wave.
Water and Fire saw each other and glared as Tylo and Tylette began their bickering.
“’Your faithful servant’, my tail!” Tylo growled at Tylette, “You are anything but faithful!”
“At least I don’t smell like someone I know,” the cat added, “and brown noses his master.”
“Why you little –!” The dog leapt at the cat.
The cat quickly sped for the front door, threw it open and ran out of the cottage with the dog hot in pursuit. At the door’s slamming shook a lantern from its stand sending it to the floor. As it fell a strong gust of wind blew making the light flicker just before impact. The lantern crashed onto the floor a bright light filled the place.
“Fire!” Tristan shouted.

Chapter 5 – Lucien

“No!” Madam Luna said, “It is light! Look!”
They all looked for when the lantern hit the floor a bright flash with a swirl of gold and silver surrounded them. All the sprites stopped moving and stared, Tristan and Michelle also watched in awe as gold and silver motes shone brighter and brighter, the brightness spun faster and faster until it gathered to one spot.
Brightness wound like a tall pillar of floss as gold and silver light wound tighter and tighter, then taller and taller until finally it took shape of a person floating in mid air. The spinning faded absorbed by the figure revealing a tall beautiful man dressed in a simple but elegant suit of white and pale grey. He wore a high collared jacket that was dove-grey with white and pale grey piping along the edges; his trousers were the same colour as the jacket with shoes the colour of grey ashes. His hair was something hard to distinguish in colour: in one angle it looked gold like spun sunshine, in another angle it shimmered silver like starlight. His eyes were warm the colour of dark honey and whiskey. He was clean shaven and his skin glowed as if it radiated light itself.
“Wow!” Michelle whispered.
“Beautiful, isn’t he?” Madam Luna said with a wobbly smile.
“What is he?” Tristan asked.
“He is the spirit of light,” the fairy explained.
Light turned and smiled at his hosts.
Dazzled by the smile, Tristan looked away nervously. “I wonder what happens if I turned the diamond the other way,” he said as he touched the jewel on his hat.
“Tristan, wait!” the fairy warned.
The diamond spun. The room shook and wavered briefly releasing a groan of shifting timber and stone, then it righted itself. The moment this happened, the sprites gave a shriek as they flew back to their places of origin. Milk plunged into her pot sending it spinning, Bread back into his basket pulling the cloth over himself, Fire back into the hearth sending sparks into the chimney, Water flew back up the spout from the pump, and all at once the Time sprites dove back into the clock making its hands move in mad circles. The once colourful and bright noisy room was immediately dampened by silence and reduced presence of people.
“What have you done?” Michelle said in horror to her brother.
“What just happened?” he asked.
“By turning the diamond the opposite direction you forced the sprites back, because you had done so too quickly they had very little time to return.” The fairy explained, as a result Madam Luna gasped as she pitched forward. Tristan caught her and saw that she had returned to her old ugly form.
“We’re ho-ome!” Tylo called as he half-dragged and half-carried a bedraggled Tylette through the door with him. Both Tylette and Tylo appeared to have returned from a scuffle that ended in a draw. Tylo had claw marks on his face while Tylette had some patches of missing material on her clothes thanks to Tylo’s teeth.
“You are still in that form?” Madam Luna asked in disbelief.
“I too cannot return, now that the lantern is broken.” Light told them as he looked at the lantern that was on the floor in pieces.
 “Oh no!” Michelle whispered.
“I’m sorry, everyone,” Tristan apologized. “I did not know that this would happen.”
 “There is nothing that could be done. Time is of essence and the blue bird must be found.” With help from Tristan the fairy stood up. “Light, please be a guide for these two and help them find the bird.”
“I will,” Light said with a bow.
“We’ll go too!” Tylo shouted, taking Tylette’s arm and waving it in the air.
Tylette grabbed her arm and gave him a smack across the face.
“Ow!” Tylo whimpered.
“Don’t touch me!” Tylette hissed.

Madam Luna handed them each a small parcel containing a canteen of water, a special cake made of fruits and nuts, and some jerky for the dog and cat.
“Let Light be your guide. Because he is of the fairy realm he knows where to take you. Wherever you hear about the blue bird it is wise to investigate, who knows where you’d find it. Stay with Light and you will find your way home.” The old fairy recommended. “Lastly, Tristan, the diamond on that hat contains Light’s essence; it reveals things their true form if you turn it to your left. Turn it to your right and what you see will go back to normal. Remember: left for true form, right for its original form.”
“Left for true, right for original – I got it.” Tristan affirmed.
“One last thing,” the old fairy raised her hand and said, “May the roads and paths before you be straight. May the winds be at your backs and the sun on your faces. May good watch over you, keep you safe and bring you home safely.”
“What was that?” Michelle asked.
“That was a blessing,” Madam Luna told her, “And now, it is time.”
Upon those words, the two youths, the dog and the cat lead by Light began their journey by taking the main road away from their home.
For the first part, Tylo (as Tylette had complained earlier) was constantly talking to Tristan about various things: catching birds, what birds are good for eating, what birds sing nicely, what kind of bird the blue bird was.
“The blue bird could be any bird I suppose, as long as it is blue.” Tristan said patiently.
“Do you think it would sing? How will the princess get better with it? Does she eat it roasted or in a soup?” Tylo’s tail wagged excitedly as his mouth watered at the mention of food.
“I don’t know, Tylo.”
“Yeah, Tylo, shut up!” Tylette snapped.
“Tylette!” Michelle chided.
“That mutt just won’t shut up!” The cat turned to the dog and said, “Go find yourself a squirrel and leave the poor master alone!”
Poor Tylo looked up sheepishly at his master his ears drooped sadly, “I’m sorry, Master. I didn’t mean to be so annoying.”
Tristan gently gave Tylo a pat on the head. “Don’t worry about it, Tylo. I know you mean well.”
“Squirrel!” someone shouted.
Immediately, Tylo sped off into the trees barking, “Where? Where? Where?”
“That was easy,” Tylette snickered.
“Tylette!” Michelle said.
“What? It keeps him busy.” The cat defended.
Light chuckled amused at the whole scenario. “He will come back,” he assured Tristan.
“I know. He always does.”
“Do you have a name, Light?” Michelle asked.
“Why do you ask?” Light responded.
“It just sounds…strange just calling you by what you represent. I wondered if there was a name we could call you by.”
Light looked at Michelle warmly. “You could call me ‘Lucien’. The name means light.”
“All right then, Lucien it is.” Michelle said with a smile, “It’s a pretty name and it suits you nicely.”

Lucien’s smiled broadened as he led them further down the road.


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