Canto 1 – Poppy’s New Digs
It was hard to get her eyes open on that first morning. The White Stag had taken away all the memories of her abuse at the hands of the evil Necromancer, but that hadn’t kept her from having nightmares of nameless terrors stalking her in the darkness. And she wasn’t used to sleeping in a soft bed in the Palace of Cair Tellos, the Willowcastle and Capitol of all of Tellosia.
She rubbed at both of her eyes. She yawned extra large. She then used the reverse of the Wingaway Spell to restore her butterfly wings. She was still naked, and seriously planning to go out like that, looking forward to a nude sky-dance in the morning sunlight. But the enchanted clothing, top and bottom, were still there where Tod had placed them the night before. They were blue and lighter blue with yellow spots on them, a match for the colors of her butterfly wings. But never in her life before had she been forced to wear clothing. Not even the Necromancer was that cruel. Butterfly Children were Fairies made for flying unencumbered by clothing, armor, or any other bindings. They were magical beings meant for a life of joy and unbound freedom.
“So, you are awake,” Tod said, poking his head into the chamber where she had slept.
“Yes. But I’m not happy. Why do I have to be a wizard’s apprentice? And why do I have to wear clothing?”
Tod was a fairly ordinary-looking Sylph with brown hair and large, soulful brown eyes. And he never answered fast, always apparently thinking of all the possible answers before saying anything. That was nothing like the evil Necromancer. He started every answer with a yell, a threat, and an impossibly difficult order.
“When your sister and the White Stag rescued you, you were found to have considerable magical power in your little blond brain. That means you have value. And the White Stag decided to give you to Master Pippen in order to train you with those valuable skills.”
“So, is it like being a student, or more like a slave?”
“Well, I’m the Castle Steward, not an apprentice myself. But from what I can see, it is more like being a slave. But a valuable slave. You will be treated well if you continue to obey.”
“So, I’m to be constantly whipped and told how bad I am. I knew it! How about answering the question about the clothes?”
“I am well aware that Fairies prefer to be nude and natural. But Master Pippen believes that leaves you vulnerable. Everyone who lives in the upper reaches of the Willow Castle must wear magical clothing. One piece to protect you from mind-reading and mind-control. And another piece to protect you from possession, like the Necromancer did to you in the final battle.”
She wanted to beat him with her fists because it seemed so unfair. She had been a slave to the Necromancer, and now that she was free of him for the first time in her life, she would be a slave to Master Pippen. And beating Tod with fists was entirely unworkable as a plan. He was a full three inches tall and stood over her by more than half an inch. And he had training in both hand-to-hand combat and blade combat. She would never land a single light-fisted girly blow.
She picked up the clothing to look at it more closely. It was a two-piece suit, the top part, which would cover her smallish breasts bore the pentagram of wizard-armor. And the blue bottoms that would cover her sit-down parts were stitched with soul-sealing designs. The clothes were much like a Slow One’s swimsuit, the kind the gigantic Slow-One females called a “bikini.” She guessed she could wear something that small since it was made in a way that would not interfere with her butterfly wings.
“I’m going to look ugly in this thing.”
“Try it on. Let’s see.”
She put both parts on with some awkwardness, not being at all used to the idea of wearing clothes.
‘You are actually quite pretty to look at wearing that,” said Tod with a simple smile.
She still felt like smacking him, but the compliment was not unwelcome.
“This place is going to take some getting used to. It’s not like Mortimer’s Mudwallow in any way. I don’t know how to live in a castle or a royal court. Master Pippen will have my head chopped off before the week is out.”
“Poppy, his reputation isn’t really the way he is. He only executes Fairies if they break a minor law or make him really angry for some reason. And besides, I am told you are my responsibility for the time being. Only two of the five apprentices I have taken care of got beheaded. Oh, and one exploded during a magical experiment on the roof. But the odds are still… well, not entirely against you.”
“You should ask my sister, Derfentwinkle, about how that will probably go. I was always annoying or arguing with the Necromancer. And he was a scary and cruel master. Just not as into executions as Master Pippen obviously is.”
“You don’t need to worry overmuch. Both Glittershine and I will be nearby to help you.”
“Who is Glittershine? Have I met him or her yet?”
“You have not… or you would remember. She’s a Butterfly Child like you, but one experienced with Fairy magic and potions.”
“When do I meet her?”
“Now, since you’re awake and dressed. Master Pippen is expecting all of us in the sunroom.”
Poppensparkle was not wild about this new life that had been thrust upon her. But it was better than the painful abuse the stinky old Necromancer had heaped upon her… At least, she dearly hoped that it would be .