Canto 4 – The Road to Cornucopia
The rooster riding was easier than Poppy had anticipated. These chickens were not quite the same as the ones she had known back in the Necromancer’s city of Mortimer’s Mudwallow. And Seltzerwater and Tannehauser were both apparently smarter than any chicken she had known in the Necromancer’s little river town.
Still, the first day’s progress was slow. The cornfields that they navigated were often obstructed by foxes, pheasants, and an occasional farmer on a tractor.
They would end up making camp along the southern bank of the creek the Fairies called Pallas’s Slow Water. They were somewhere to the West of Mortimer’s Mudwallow. Poppy’s sister, Derfentwinkle, was now the ruler of the Mudwallow after helping the good Fairies to capture it and destroy the evil Necromancer. It made her wonder why Flute hadn’t led them there for the first night’s rest. They would surely be welcome. But maybe he had some reason for not wanting her sister to know she was traveling with her new masters.
As camp was set up by Flute and Tod, Glittershine and Poppy settled the roosters. Their reins were tied to long ropes of at least three English-measure feet so the roosters could scratch for weevils, aphids, ants, and worms. Glitter was talking softly to Tannehauser, so Poppy tried talking to Seltzerwater.
“You were a very good boy, Seltzer. Tod let me guide you with the reins and I had no problems controlling you. You are very unlike the chickens we had in Mortimer’s Mudwallow.”
“I understand you had a very hard life in your previous home,” Glitter broke into her conversation with Seltzer. “Can you tell me a little about it?”
“Very little. When Derfie, my sister, rescued me from there, the White Stag entered my mind and removed most of the memories of the times when the Necromancer abused me. And since that was almost all of the times I was ever with the Necromancer, I can’t even remember his name.”
“That must have been terrible.”
“Yes. Even with the memories removed, I still have nightmares.”
“You know that you and I are supposed to work on your spellbook this evening. To do that, we must remove the garments that shield our minds and bodies…”
“Oh, good! I will get to be naked once more.”
“I was afraid that your trauma might prevent you from doing that. I understand that the Necromancer controlled your mind and body…”
“Yeah. But I was always freeist whenever I could take wing with nothing on my body but sunlight. These clothes are the things that make me panicky and uncomfortable. I don’t remember it, but the Necromancer had strange fetishes that involved putting things on me.”
“Well, I am glad it won’t be a problem then. There’s a space under those purple thistles that will work fine for our session of magical translations.”
Poppy was delighted to bounce over to the indicated thistle patch and shed what little clothing she wore. Glittershine had a double-layer riding dress on, and that took her longer. She was, however, quite graceful and beautiful once she was nude. And she took care of laying out the spellbook and writing quills.
“Poppy, you must say or sing the spells in your magical imagination. The spells will come to me by magic, and I will let them flow through me, so that I might write them down on the paper. That is how we translate the magic within you into words in your spellbook.”
“What is magic… exactly? What is it made of?”
“That’s a very good question. In fact, that is part of Prinz Flute’s magical quest. We have talked endlessly with the White Stag about codifying magic in a way that makes it like the Slow Ones and how they developed the thing called Science. It allows them to have their talking wires and tellybizhions and caddylacks and things.”
“So, Science is Slow One Magic?”
“Or Fairy Magic is Fairy Science.”
As they got into it, Poppy sang out the beautiful magics she held inside, the ones the Necromancer never found out about. And none of the magic the Necromancer taught her was still there in her head, messing up her mind with muddy magic.
Page after page after page filled with Poppy’s own signature magic. By the time she could remember nothing more, half the spellbook was already full.
“You have an amazing amount of spells here for an apprentice, Poppy. But your strongest spells seem to all be about polymorphing.”
“Yes, changing the shape of other Fairies, animals, other Fairy creatures, and even probably yourself. You can actually change Butterfly Children into birds and back again if you need to. You can give wings to frogs and spider-legs to rabbits. Though, I doubt we will ever have a need for that.”
“I suppose I can use my imagination. But, my imagination might turn a little dark at times… thanks to my past.”
Glitter smiled at Poppy as Glitter slipped her clothing back on.
“We have set up separate lean-tos for each of us. We need to get in them and sleep. Flute and I will share the watch during the night. You two have to recover from the magic generation,” said Tod with obvious concern for how tired they both looked.
“In the morning, then,” said Glitter.
And the temporary camp settled down for the night.