Jimmy stumbles into Springtide, finds himself a toddler, and learns about why it’s dangerous to simply give your name away to faeries. Thankfully, this fairy seems more playful than anything, but is in the market for a new pet.
Springtide: The Naming of the Pet
Jimmy stared down at himself astounded by what he was witnessing. And it wasn’t just himself either. Literally the entire world had changed. But the changes to himself were most shocking. Currently, Jimmy was practically swimming in his own clothing due to in a large part that he was only two years old. Or maybe three? Somewhere between. About five seconds ago he had been in his twenties and then suddenly, a toddler tangled up in his formerly fitting clothing. He also wasn’t in the department store he had been shopping in anymore. Instead, he was in a large meadow full of soft grass and colorful flowers. There was a giant oak tree in the center of the meadow, and he had just come out of a hollow at its base… Right after falling through a mirror.
The mirror in the store, it caught his curiosity, but he didn’t expect this! Just, tucked away in the back corner of the home goods section was a full-length mirror. But what caught Jimmy’s attention was his reflection in said mirror. Instead of reflecting him back as his normal adult self, it instead showed the two-and-a-half-year-old he had been transformed into. He remembered walking up to the mirror and touching it, trying to find out if there was some kind of trick… But when the mirror’s surface offered no resistance and he stumbled forward and fell right through. And then just like that he was a toddler in an open meadow.
And judging by the fact that there were several abandoned piles of clothing nearby the tree, he was far from the first one to arrive here.
Jimmy tried to stand up, he was still old enough to walk, though found is strangely easier than he though it’d be at his age. However, he had the problem of his clothing. As he tried to move forward, he tripped over his own garments falling flat on his face. His clothes threatened to slip right off showing more of his darkened skin than he was comfortable with. He slowly stood up again. Shoes and socks were obviously a lost cause, so he left those behind, and the grass was soft beneath his feet anyway. He would have preferred to keep his pants and underwear, but saw no way to move with those. Instead, he squirmed out of those and remained only in a t-shirt, a t-shirt that was far too large on him and hindered his every move. If he wasn’t careful his shoulders would slip right out the neck hole. But, it would have to do till he found something fitting.
He supposed he could try going through the tree and seeing if it took him back to the store. He was sure there was a kid’s section in there… But he didn’t know if he wanted to go back quite yet. He might change back to his normal age if he did… And well, the suddenness of this was shocking but it was also absolutely amazing. Here he was, in some kind of alternate world, transformed into a little kid. There was no way he was about to turn away from something as amazing as this without learning more.
Jimmy stumbled forward, moving as quickly as he dared. His shirt dragged on the ground and so every step came with a risk of tripping if he wasn’t careful. He wanted to find out what this place was, and see if he could meet anyone else in it. Judging by the other abandoned piles of clothes there had to be others here.
After some time, Jimmy reached the end of the meadow and the start of a forest. In most cases this wouldn’t be a strange sight, but the transition to meadow from forest was bizarre. It was sort of like a patchwork quilt, with two different themed patches right next to each other. And it wasn’t just the forest started abruptly, but it appeared to be later in the day, sometime around dusk within the forest while in the meadow it was midday. That was certainly strange.
But was it any stranger than a magical world that turned people into toddlers?
Jimmy hesitated for a moment. The forest didn’t look dangerous, but he wasn’t sure if that was the place to go if he wanted to find other people and get more information on where he was. Should he try walking through the meadow in another direction? He considered for a few moments, then decided to press on into the forest. He could look somewhere else, but there was no guarantee it wouldn’t be another forest or an even worse place to look. He might as well check around here first before moving on.
Just like in the meadow, the grass was soft in the forest, and even when he stepped on twigs or rocks nothing cut or scratched his feet. It felt like everything was unnaturally gentle here… At least to his body. His shirt on the other hand was now constantly getting snagged on branches and bushes as he tried to walk forward. It was making it difficult to progress. There was a clear trail going through the forest, but at times it got pretty narrow going between the trees.
At one point, Jimmy’s shirt got stuck on a branch, and before he could turn to pull it off, he suddenly felt the shirt pulled from his body leaving him naked and suddenly go flying away from the tree and off the forest trail. Jimmy almost started for it then stopped. Was he sure he could find his way back to the trail if he left it? Well… The thing couldn’t have flown far, it should be fine.
The vegetation was thicker once off the trail, but just like rocks and sticks branches failed to scratch him. He pushed his way through a bush and found a small clearing in the forest with his shirt in the middle of it. He took a few steps forward, only for the shirt to lift into the air and suddenly land atop a rock at the edge of the clearing. Jimmy would have sworn he heard a giggle at the same time.
He paused. He could see the shirt getting snagged on a branch and then flung… But it had just lifted up off the ground and flown away on its own. That wasn’t normal. He squinted at his shirt as it lay on the rock and approached it at a snail’s pace watching for any sudden movements. He got within inches of it, reached out a hand, felt his fingers brush the fabric… And then the shirt flew up into the air again, this time landing in the tree branches above him.
“Seriously?” Jimmy asked as he looked for a good place to start climbing.
“You don’t need that silly thing anyway.” He heard a boyish voice speak up, and quickly spun around trying to find the source of it; but saw nothing. Every now and then a few leaves rustled among the trees but he couldn’t find the speaker.
“But I can’t run around naked!” Jimmy protested.
“Most everyone else does.” The voice seemed amused. “If you’re still shy this must be your first time in Springtide.” There was a hint of glee, and finally the source of the voice revealed itself. Flying out from behind the leaves of the same branch the shirt was on was a small diminutive figure. He stood maybe two inches in height, with bright green hair and matching green eyes. His ears were pointed, but the most noticeable thing about him besides his size were the pair of translucent wings sticking out from his back. He wore no clothing, so was naked as Jimmy right now. The fairy grinned seeing Jimmy stare. “What, first time you’ve seen a fairy before?”
“Well yes!” Jimmy forgot about being naked for the moment with this new discovery. An actual fairy. “You called this place Springtide?”
“I can give you the full details later.” The fairy floated down and landed on Jimmy’s shoulder. “Long story short, magical world, everyone here is a toddler or baby.” The fairy himself looked no older than three.
“That’s amazing.” Jimmy’s eyes were wide with amazement. He couldn’t believe what he was experiencing, and now he might make friends with an actual magical creature. Except… He hadn’t even introduced himself yet in his excitement! That was rude. “I’m Jimmy!” He quickly corrected that. “Who are you?”
“Jimmy?” The fairy grinned, and Jimmy felt a strange tension as his name was spoken. “You are new… Names have power you know, shouldn’t give them so freely. But don’t worry, I won’t share it… After all, you’re kind of cute, I think I’d rather keep to myself.” The fairy floated into the air.
“Wait…. What does that mean?” Jimmy took a few steps back.
“Exactly what it means.” The fairy grinned. “I’ve always wanted a pet… But hmmm, not sure the human look is really doing it for me… You need something else!” The fairy floated in a circle around Jimmy staring at him. “AHA!” Suddenly, Jimmy’s ears suddenly stretched and were covered in black fur. “Rabbit ears perfect.”
“Wait how did you-“ Jimmy started to ask.
“To control the name is to control the thing.” The fairy replied. “But don’t worry, I just want to play with you a bit. I’m not going to hurt you. But… You look weird with just ears by themselves…” The fairy flew around Jimmy again studying him, and suddenly a matching black rabbit tail bloomed from Jimmy’s backside. “There! Much better!”
“H-Hey!” Jimmy protested out of reflex. But… As he wiggled his new tail and reached up and touched his new ears he wasn’t exactly displeased with them.
“We’re getting there…” The fairy mused. “But… You know, you’re still too human looking to seem like you belong in the forest.” The fairy snapped his fingers, and Jimmy nearly lost his balance as his feet transformed into rabbit paws. “Hmmm a bit odd themselves.” The fairy snapped again and suddenly black fur grew in over Jimmy’s legs and went all the way up to his waist just as he had gotten back onto his feet. “Better… But not quite.” One more snap, and Jimmy’s entire gait shifted as he took on a digitigrade stance, standing on the toes of those new paws with his legs now shaped like the hind legs of a rabbit. “PERFECTION!”
“You… You could do all that just by knowing by name?” Jimmy asked; and was glad he had met a fairy that seemed to only be interested in making him fuzzy. He took a few steps forward with his new legs, testing how they worked, and then jumped, making pretty decent height with his hop. “This is… Kind of cool.”
“Glad to see you’re settling in but you know something is still wrong…” The fairy rubbed his chin. “I got it! You’re too big! Sure, your new legs will help you get around the forest a lot easier like a rabbit, but you can’t fit through holes or undergrowth like a bunny. We need to make you just a bit smaller…” The fairy landed on top of Jimmy’s head between his ears. As he did Jimmy felt the ground suddenly come swelling upwards to meet him as he shrunk just as the fairy promised. He was now only about a foot and a half tall. “Ok, I think we’re done. Now, you should be able to move about the forest freely with no trouble at all.”
“I see…” Jimmy sounded far off. He stared down at his own body seeing the new rabbit parts. He was basically a bunny satyr, the size of an actual bunny. And the forest was so large now by comparison to him. Yet, now he could see plenty of paths beneath bushes or tree roots he hadn’t before that he could easily squirm through now.
“All better!” The fairy nodded eagerly. “And as promised, I shall keep your name and share it with no one. So, none of the other faeries shall bother you since they will know that you are mine.” The fairy floated into the air to be eye level with Jimmy. He was still much smaller, but not by nearly as much.
“Wait yours?” Jimmy gave him a quizzical look.
“I own your name, and so own you.” The fairy grinned. “But you don’t need to worry. I want my pet to be happy. You have the entire forest to roam, its fruits yours for the taking! And a safe place to sleep at night… Plus, think of the games we can play.”
“I…” Jimmy hesitated. He didn’t hate the idea. But… To just agree to be someone’s pet. He was hesitating. “What kind of games?”
“Oh, so many. More than you could ever imagine. There’s the usual tag and hide and seek… But tell me, when you were a kid… Well, the first time you were a kid, did you ever play make pretend?”
“Well yeah…” Jimmy responded. “Everyone did.”
“Alright… Imagine everything you played in make pretend is real. That’s Springtide.” The fairy’s grin grew. “There are temples of ancient treasure to be explored, an ocean full of pirates, and big scary Phantoms to fight and take treasure from. And… You can learn to weave any spell you can imagine or build impossible things. So… What do you say my pet, want to go play?”
“I… Yes!” Jimmy couldn’t contain his excitement anymore. He was part rabbit, he was a kid, and he was in a world of adventure. He didn’t mind if being a fairy’s pet was the price for it! He might even enjoy it, plus it meant he’d be taken care of. “But um… What do I call you? I’m guessing you won’t give me your name.”
“Hmmm and ‘Master’ just doesn’t feel right.” The fairy saw Jimmy’s problem. “But a different title will do. You can call me Keeper… Both, as the one who keeps you as their pet, and who keeps you from harm. Now then… Let’s stop wasting time… If you want to see one of those temples there’s one not far from here.” Keeper started to fly further into the woods away from the trails.
“H-ey wait up!” Jimmy took off running after the fairy. Despite his smaller size he had no trouble keeping up. It was easier to move through the woods at this size, and his bunny legs made him much more agile than a human. Maybe it made him strange, but he was enjoying every part of this. He couldn’t help but laugh with joy as he followed the fairy heading out for their first game and adventure. He was going to enjoy this world.
He was pretty sure he even enjoyed being Keeper’s pet.