Canto 3 – The Rooster Riders
When it was decided that there would be three teachers rather than one for the start of Poppy’s magical training, the debate between them was about what to do next.
“I will explain as we head to the stables,” said Flute rather imperiously. Poppy supposed his status as Prince, Prinz in the Zauberin language, gave him that authority to decide things without asking for anyone else’s opinion.
“Not Roosters again?” asked Tod with a pained expression.
“Poppy and I can fly,” added Glittershine.
“Rooster riding is an important skill for life in Tellosian Court. And besides, we need to ride out to Castle Cornucopia to fulfill my duties to the White Stag’s needed magical research. We need riding beasts that can fight back if we are attacked by Cyclopes and Wartoles between here and there. We will be crossing lands contested by the Stoor.”
This was distressing news to Poppy. She hated chickens. They had bird capabilities, but dinosaur temperments. And she remembered from her time enthralled by the Necromancer that the Stoor’s people were always ugly, cruel, and mean. Worse even than chickens.
Of course, the walk down to the stables would take them all the way to the root of the willow tree that had been shaped into Cair Tellos. There they would find two large Rhode Island Red Roosters, their wings strapped down with Fairy saddles to keep them on the ground and ready to ride.
“The biggun is Tannehauser en the little-un is Seltzerwater,” said the naked little stable boy.
“Those are their names?” asked Poppy.
“Yessum,” said the Sylph boy with a proud salute.
Steps made from Slow Ones’ cracker boxes and matchsticks were pulled up to each rooster.
Prinz Flute mounted Tannehauser with Glittershine behind him. Poppy mounted Seltzerwater with Tod climbing up behind her and taking the reins by reaching around her with both arms. To be comfortable in that position, she had to put away butterfly wings with a Wingaway spell. Most Butterfly Children didn’t have the option to put their wings magically away in such situations, but she had never noticed how much of an advantage the spell really was.
“So, we’re going to Cornucopia?” Poppy asked Tod.
“Apparently. King Mouse needs assistance with something that requires some of Prinz Flute’s Invention Magic.”
“Oh.” Of course, Poppy had no Fairy-worldly idea what the heck “Invention Magic” even meant.
Seltzerwater eyed Poppy with one creepy yellow eye before Tod turned its chicken head with the reins and spurred it to make it go.
Poppy wished she were riding naked, the way the Elder Gods made Fairies to be, but even with these clothes on, it felt good to lean back against Tod’s strong chest and feel his quickening heartbeat, knowing he was forbidden to assault her in any way. For the first time in her young life, she was feeling safe and unafraid. And she really was no longer thinking about hitting Tod anymore.
The roosters ran out of the castle gate at a very fast pace.
No Slow Ones were watching, although the massive homes of the gigantic human ones surrounded Cair Tellos. The Slow Ones’ town of Norwall had been built all around the willow tree quite by accident. And the fairies refused to move as their kingdom had been there first. But it mattered little. There were many glammers, disguising magics, that kept Slow Ones from seeing fairies as they really were. The roosters were even hidden from their big Slow-One eyes.
In minutes the roosters were through the wire field-fences and running through the farmers’ fields that made up the bulk of Tellosia’s above-ground territories.
“Did you give Poppy her new spellbook?” Flute shouted at Tod.
“Not yet, but I will do it now.”
Tod reached into his bag of holding and brought out a vellum-covered book made of highly magical pages. Normally it would be a carefully crafted thing made by the hand of the apprentice’s new master. This, however, was an ordinary and rather plain one bought at Oddbod’s Magic Emporium.
“Thank you!” Poppy hugged it to her chest as a treasure she would never part with.
“I’m sorry the Master didn’t make you one with his own hands. Master Pippen is too often thinking only of himself.”
Tod’s face was red at the embarrassing confession.
“Oh, no, Tod. I love it. I have never owned any such thing before. This is something I would never have imagined I could ever own only a year ago.”
“Well, the White Stag says you have many worthy spells to be written in it. Glittershine will help translate them by magic into the spellbook this very evening when we make camp. You really deserve something better.”
“How could one such as I, lucky to even be alive at this point, expect anything finer? I will thank Master Pippen over and over again for giving me a treasure such as this.”
That made Tod smile. He had a lovely smile.