Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Hidden Village
Meanwhile at an island paradise in another universe.
“Ahhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa!” Dr. Callyco let out a laugh. “This ice cream is so good. I can’t we get this every night and it’s all covered by the-“
“Um…” Dr. Cutie Pup was sitting across from Dr. Callyco at a table overlooking the beach. The gray wolf quickly prodded the orange kitten.
“What? Oh! Right! A new tale! Well… I am definitely prepared! You see… This ice cream is um… Secret ice cream! Yes, that’s right! Secret. It will forever be a mystery from where it came.”
“Right…” Dr. Cutie Pup slowly turned to look at the restaurant they were outside of.
“The thing about secrets is well people don’t want you to know them.” Dr. Callyco explained. “Rather it be the source of secret ice cream, a personal detail about their life, or the location of something. And sometimes, once you learn a secret, your life changes forever.” Dr. Callyco paused it. “So… think I saved it?”
“I really think you just shouldn’t have mentioned the ice cream.” Dr. Cutie Pup stuck his tongue out.
“Whatever! It’s fine! Everything is fine!” Dr. Callyco explained. And so, let me introduce our second tale.”
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Hidden Village
Zach had been gifted a drone not too long ago. It wasn’t exactly something high on his priority list of things he wanted, but he also knew it would be rude to react negatively to a gift like that. Besides, even if he hadn’t wanted one previously it didn’t mean he couldn’t think up stuff to do with it now.
Zach currently sat at the edge of the forest. He moved his messy pale brown hair out of the way of his glasses so he could easily see his phone screen. It showed whatever was on the drone’s camera. Aside from his glasses, he wore a simple pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Right now, the drone in question was hovering just a few feet away looking at him. He could see himself on his phone. And he could barely hear the drone. That was nice. It meant it was less likely to scare off animals.
Content everything was working Zach grabbed the controller for the drone and began to operate it. He was going to fly it through the forest and attempt to get some video of the animals, preferably doing something cute. But, he couldn’t really think of a better use of the drone than having your own private nature documentary. Perhaps he should narrate it? Maybe next time. He had to focus on the controls. He was still learning to fly this thing and last thing he wanted to do was crash it somewhere in the forest and break it. He needed to focus on steering it.
Zach moved his cell phone where he could see it laying down so he could see what the drone saw, then he slowly moved it into the forest. He could hear the sounds of birds coming from the forest, as well as coming from the speaker on his phone. He quickly muted the phone, so he wasn’t hearing it twice.
And if the phone hadn’t been muted, he might have heard something like a mirthful laugh when suddenly his drone spun around in the air out of control.
“What the!?” Zach fought the controls trying to steady the thing. He must have hit a tree branch or something. Lovely. If there were any animals close by they had likely been scared off now. Several birds flew out of the trees disappearing from the forest. Well, he could still carry the drone deeper into the forest, see what he could find.
As Zach continued his remote exploration another strange thing happened. The camera image started to flicker every now and then and get blurry. Zach quickly put the drone in hover mode before he could crash. Flying blind could only lead to disaster. Maybe his drone needed glasses too. While hovering though, only half the screen was blurry. He slowly spun the drone in place away from the blurred image. Suddenly, everything was normal again. He spun it back, the image of a bunch of trees and bushes as far as the eye could see suddenly become very blurry. Testing something, he rotated the camera more and more and eventually it was clear again. For some reason, there was just one specific area of the forest that didn’t show up right.
Well! Now things had gotten a lot more interesting. Zach very slowly had the drone approach the blurry part of the forest. He moved it as slow as possible as he couldn’t quite make out where tree branches ended and wanted to make sure that if he did bump one that he did it at a slow enough speed to avoid breaking anything.
The further into the forest he got, the blurrier the image got. Soon it was nearly impossible to see anything on the camera but a mess of colors. And then it moved forward, and for a very brief image there was a clear picture of a much more colorful version of the forest. Trees with leaves of every color and flowers growing on everything. But Zach could barely process what he saw before the image went blank roughly a half second after appearing.
Error: Unable to Find Drone
“And I crashed it.” Zach groaned. He had just found something too! But why was the camera acting all weird? Well, he was going to have to go into the forest if he wanted his drone back. He switched from the camera feature of the app to GPS so he could locate its exact point.
Error: Unable to Find Drone
“Well, that’s not good.” Zach muttered. Wherever the drone was it was either completely offline or something was blocking the signal. Probably the former. He doubted there was a faraday cage in the forest. But that didn’t leave Zach completely in the dark. He could track its location history. Wherever that cut off had to be close to where the drone crashed.
The main issue with his search was that the forest was not being cooperative. There weren’t a ton of pathways or game trails through the forest. Many areas were so thick with vegetation it made proceeding impossible. Especially since a lot of these plants had thorns or thistles. As a result, Zach had to take a rather indirect winding path through the forest. Eventually though it seemed impossible to proceed unless he was willing to go through some neck high underbrush.
He shut his eyes, and silently hoped there no poisonous plants or animals hiding in said underbrush. And then Zach ran through as fast as he could. It took him a full minute to get to the other side and he must have had a dozen scratches on him from branches, a hundred thistles stuck to his body and so many jabs from thorns. But he had made it to the last known spot the drone had been. It should be somewhere around here. As well as whatever it was he saw before the drone crashed.
Zach glanced around. Nothing in the forest looked blurry in person. There must have just been something odd that impacted the camera. Maybe the sun reflected off something in a strange way? Zach wasn’t a physics expert he didn’t know what caused the problem. All he knew was it was somewhere around here. He began to dig through bushes, climb trees and check branches but there was no sign of anything. As he did he became aware of something.
It was completely silent where he was. No birds, no wind, not even the buzzing of a fly.
“Okay…” Zach felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Some sense telling him he was somewhere he shouldn’t be. He wanted to find the drone and get out of here as fast as possible. He glanced around the area trying to figure out where else it might have crashed.
Then he noticed something strange. In one direction, the forest was completely still. In another, the branches could be seen swaying in the wind. As Zach moved closer to the moving branches he could suddenly hear the forest again. Birds, bugs and wind. He retreated back to near where the drone crashed and complete silence. There seemed to be a specific stop where the trees stopped moving altogether. As if it was a photograph.
Zach nervously stepped forward. Briefly, all of his senses were overwhelmed. There were just noises and colors coming from everywhere all at once. It was a complete overload he couldn’t make sense of it. There was only one thing he could make out. A voice in his head that briefly muted out all the other senses.
‘What is the name of the one who seeks entry?’ The voice asked.
Zach wasn’t sure what to make. But, he thought about the question. His name was Zach. As soon as he finished the thought, the overwhelming sensations ended. Zach stumbled forward and could see and hear normally again.
And now he could see for real what his drone had caught before crashing. It was like he was in a different forest. One where leaves could be any color. Some were even gold or silver. The ground was covered with flowers, being much easier to traverse than the rest of the forest. It was all beautiful. Zach looked behind him, and the colorful forest abruptly ended where the normal forest began.
Not far from where Zach made his entrance his drone lay among the flowers. Zach started to move to go get it, then looked at all the flowers. He didn’t want to trample them. It was weird. It wasn’t that he’d normally just walk through a bunch of flowers crushing them, but as he looked at these it felt like he was being told not to. And that was a problem because the flowers were everywhere. He couldn’t take a single step forward without stepping on one and couldn’t bring himself to do that.
“Zach, was it?” A youthful voice asked. “Do you need help?”
“I can’t get my drone without stepping on the flowers.” Zach glanced around. Who else was here? And how did they know his name.
“You told us when you came through.” The voice teased, as if it knew exactly what Zach had thought. “I suppose someone should clean up the mess… But, the flowers are very protective of themselves. I doubt any human has the willpower to overcome them. Very well, I’ll help you get through.”
“Wait, what does that mean? Who are you? Where are you?” Zach didn’t get an answer. Instead, his clothes suddenly started to get a lot baggier on him. “Huh?” His glassed tipped off the front of his nose and fell to the forest floor. The forest became as blurry as it was on the drone camera. He bent down feeling around on the ground trying to find where they landed. As he did, he felt his shorts fall to the ground and his shirt started to grow really heavy. Then, said shirt, now gigantic fell on top of him and Zach couldn’t see at all.
Eventually, he stumbled his way out of a sleeve. Everything was blurry, but he could tell he was looking at a different scene. He was also aware of being naked. He didn’t mind, but the fact that it happened by his clothes getting bigger on him was concerning. He took a few steps forward and stumbled over a pebble and fell over.
“Hey, don’t you watch where you’re going?” The voice from earlier asked.
“I can’t!” Zach shouted in annoyance. “I can’t see without my glasses.”
“Glasses? Ohhh that’s why you were wearing those.” The source of the voice grew quiet as they were deep in thought for a moment. “Hmmm, I heard for humans vision gets worse as you get older, so the opposite ought to be true right?”
“What are you talking about? What is going on?” Zach demanded. As he did, he felt his body changing. He felt better. More energetic. Like years of stress were just melting out of his body. And as it happened. His vision suddenly cleared up. And he could see fine, and now fully understand what happened.
Before him was a forest of flowers as tall as trees with plenty of room for him to walk between the flowers without bothering them. The clothes he had been wearing were in a pile behind him and were basically a small mountain made out of cloth. He had shrunk! But that wasn’t all! The fact he could suddenly see. His legs wobbled a bit and he fell onto his bottom. He glanced down at his body. He was a toddler! Maybe three years old at most! It was well before he needed glasses, so that was why he could see again. A toddler and probably only an inch tall. How had this happened? He looked around the world in awe. It was a little frightening, but also exhilarating. The world had just become a lot more adventurous. And, being a little kid it was just hard to not feel excited for the possibilities.
“Better?” The source of the voice finally revealed itself. A green haired boy with translucent green wings coming from his back landed on the ground in front of Zach. A faerie! An actual real faerie! He looked like he was maybe six years old… Which currently made him twice Zach’s age. Also like Zach, he was naked right now. But unlike Zach, the faerie had never worn clothes in his life.
“Ugh.” Zach struggled to his feet. Balancing was a little harder and that had caught him off guard when the change first happened. But now that he was aware of what happened he found he could stand and walk fine. He compared his height to the other kid. Based on the fact the other kid wasn’t that much taller Zach could only assume he was the normal size for a faerie toddler. Just lacking the faerie part.
“Now you can go get the thing.” The faerie grinned. “Come on, let’s go get it out of here.” He fluttered towards the flowers.
“Wait… I just…” Zach didn’t know what to do. A large part of him wanted to go along with this. But even if he did, it wasn’t like he was going to be able to do anything about the drone at this size.
“Hey!” The faerie came back when he saw Zach wasn’t following. “Come on! I know where the thing landed!”
“Uh… Ok…” Zach walked after the faerie as it fluttered through the air but remained below the flower buds. “Who are you?”
“Nice try, like I’d tell you that.” The faerie stuck his tongue out.
“What are you-“ Zach stopped as his brain recalled faerie folklore. He understood at once the power of a name.
“I mean you gave me your name, that’s why I was able to do this to you.” The faerie chimed happily. “You should be happy I’m a benevolent faerie and just trying to help. If you had run into a mean one you might be a fieldmouse running from a hawk right now.”
“You’re helping me? You made me a tiny toddler!” Zach explained.
“Yeah!” The faerie nodded. “Genius! Right? The flowers are the second line of defense of our world. They put out an aura that makes people admire them and become distraught at the idea of walking over them. Buuuuut, there’s nothing preventing you from walking under them. And since I already had your name and could do what I want it was no effort at all to make you tiny enough to move forward.”
“And I’m a toddler because…” Zach started to ask.
“You couldn’t see, remember?” The faerie asked. “I mean, I knew sight was a thing that was worse when you get older, but I don’t really know a ton about human physiology so I wasn’t sure how much younger you needed to be. If you still couldn’t see it’d be pointless. But if I made you too young where you couldn’t walk or talk then we wouldn’t be able to get rid of the thing. So, I left you just on the cusp of three centuries old.”
“Uh, I think you mean three years.” Zach couldn’t help but snicker. “I mean, no one lives for centuries.”
“Humans don’t?” The faerie looked confused. “Then what age is considered an adult?”
“Legally 18, though most people don’t consider you one until at least 21.” Zach explained.
“What!?” The faerie seemed in shock. “that’s not even old enough to be capable of anything! How do humans get about when they would barely have the strength to crawl anywhere!?” Then the faerie paused. “But wait, you were clearly centuries old when I found you.”
“I think faeries and humans might age at different rates.” Zach couldn’t help but give an amused smile.
“Ohhhhh that would explain a lot… So this is like three years for you? Wow… You age a hundred times faster? That must be rough.” The faerie looked thoughtful for a moment. “Tell you what, since I already have your name I’ll just turn off your ability to age for the next hundred years. Then we can turn it back on for a year and flip it off.”
“You can do that, just stop me from aging?” Zach asked amazed.
“I can do all kinds of things.” The faerie grinned.
“Well…” Zach knew as a responsible adult, he shouldn’t be saying this or even thinking it. But he wasn’t an adult right now. “You don’t HAVE to turn my ability to age back on. I mean, I’m fine staying like this.”
“I have no problem with that, you’ll definitely be lighter to carry.” The faerie grinned as they continued through the flowers.
“So uh… What do I call you if I can’t get your name?” Zach asked.
“I go by Clover.” The boy said. “Cause I like to think I bring good luck. I mean, I did let you through the first barrier after all. First one overwhelms all your senses until you fall unconscious then you can easily be relocated unable to make any sense of what happened. After you gave me your name, I gave you entrance to get past it.” Clover paused. “Oh, but you probably shouldn’t give your name to everyone in the village. Not everyone is as nice to humans as I am. Actually, probably gonna get a lot of trouble for this.”
“You will? Why?” Zach asked.
“Cause I was supposed to be watching the barrier today to make sure no one came through. That’s always so booooring. So I slipped outside for a bit.” As he spoke Clover fell from the sky and landed on the ground walking next to Zach. “Then… The thing showed up! And flew right through! It was like the barrier that was supposed to mess with its senses didn’t overwhelm it at all! I don’t know what it was! But not only was it able to go right through the barrier, but it even managed to land on some of the flowers. What kind of creature is it?”
“Um…” Zach understood now why the camera image had gone so blurry before it crashed. “It’s not a creature just a drone.”
“But I know it could see! Cause I’m certain that sense was being messed with even if nothing else worked.” Clover insisted.
“Well… See it’s got a camera…” Zach explained. “And actually a microphone too but I had the audio turned off. But basically…” He tried to think of a way to describe how technology worked to someone who had no concept of it. “It’s like a tool that let’s me see things far away. It’s not alive but whererver it goes I can see. At least I could until it crashed.”
“So it’s like some kind of scrying spell.” Clover mused. “Well, there we go that’ll be what we call you. Little Scry. For your ability to see things far away.”
“Well I can’t actually quite do it like that it’s not magic or anything-“ Zach tried to object.
“Regardless of how you do it Scry you’re an amazing person. Now come on we’re almost there.” Clover gestured ahead.
The drone looked like a flying saucer as it stood in front of the two of them. It was like the size of a house.
“So… How do we make it move?” Clover asked.
“Oh, there’s an app… On my cell phone…” Zach paused. “Which is back with my clothes.”
“Oh… So, we just need to go back?” Clover seemed slightly annoyed.
“Well no… The thing is fried it doesn’t work anymore. I think your barrier did more damage to it than you thought.” Zach crossed his arms as he thought. “Everything I could see through it got blurry, and then I was cut off from it. It’s not going to move on its own…” Zach paused. “And… I can’t move it while I’m this small. You’re gonna have to make me big again.”
“If I do that you’ll be stuck unable to reach it! Remember, the flowers?” Clover asked. “Isn’t there some way you can command it to go away?”
“No! Humans don’t have magic like that! Can’t you move it with a spell or something?” Zach asked.
“If I could do that I wouldn’t have had to let you through the barrier!” Clover protested. “Most of the thing is benign… But there’s some iron in there somewhere… As a result my magic can’t touch it.”
“So… I can’t move it because I’m either going to be too small or stuck unable to move past the flowers… And your magic can’t touch it…” Zach considered. “Maybe…. If we got a bunch of other faeries out here we could drag it out together?”
“No! No! No! There’s no need for that!” Clover insisted. “We’ll just… Make some new flowers to hide it underneath. I can do that. Can’t make flowers grow from it but I can certain make flowers grow around it.” As he spoke he raised both hands and giant stalks erupted from the ground all around them. Zach looked up just in time to see orange and red petals unfold. “There… Out of sight out of mind.”
“Why not just get help to move it?” Zach asked.
“Yeah, I’d rather not be grounded for all eternity.” Clover spoke. “And my mom could do that. She knows my true name. She gave it to me after all. So, she could easily make me stay six centuries old and in my room forever if she wanted. No one needs to know this thing got through the barrier while I was on guard… And no one definitely needs to know I let a human through on purpose to try to help with it.”
“You sound like a kid just trying to stay out of trouble.” Zach teased.
“I am a kid trying to stay out of trouble!” Clover responded. “I’m trying to prove I’m responsible enough to go outside the barrier, so they said if I could do a good job watching the barrier for a week they’d let me… But I got curious sort of left for a bit, saw you thing flying through the forest, followed it, and then it went through the barrier! I was sort of freaking out at that point.”
“I see…” Zach realized that Clover was a little bit of a troublemaker. But, it didn’t seem he had any malice behind it.
“Well let’s get back to the village.” Clover grinned. “No point walking around here all day. The flowers are prettier seen from above.”
“Wait… What about my stuff? And how do I go back to normal?” Zach asked.
“Oh… Yeah, that’s not happening.” Clover shook his head. “Anyone who sees the village can’t leave without having their memory wiped. And I’m not good at that. I’d wipe the wrong things. If we have someone else wipe your memory they’re gonna see your memories of us hiding the thing and that’s not good.”
“So… What… I live here now?” Zach tilted his head.
“Huh… I guess you do.” Clover tilted his head. “Wow, I did not think any of this through. Sorry about that.” He bowed his head. “I guess if you wanna tell the grown ups so they can erase your knowledge of the village properly and leave I’ll understand. I don’t wanna be grounded but… I don’t to hurt you either.”
“It’s fine.” Zach grinned and reached out to give Clover a hug. He hesitated a moment to make sure Clover was okay with it before hugging him. “I don’t mind staying, and I’ve already made a friend, right? Plus… I really would be ok with you just not turning my ability to age back on ever.”
“You never wanna grow up?” Clover thought for a moment. “Oh I get it, you are clever. You know if you live in the faerie village you’d have to go to faerie school with the rest of us. I just started this year. But at three centuries… Erm years, you’re too young to attend. So, you get to stay home and play all day. Maybe I should make you as old as me just out of spite.”
“Or you could make yourself younger.” Zach stuck out his tongue.
“Not a bad idea, I’ll consider it Scry. Now, hold still.” Clover moved behind Zach and grabbed him beneath each arm. “I’m gonna fly you home.”
With that he took off, and soon they were above the field of flowers. Seeing them from above, with the flowers so large, Zach couldn’t think of a more beautiful sight he had seen in his life. Then, they reached the village.
It turned out the colorful trees were full of tiny houses built into them as well as a network of bridges going between all of them. That was good for Zach, unlike the faeries he had no wings. So, it was nice to know he’d be able to get around.
Clover flew down to a house shaped like a mushroom but made from some kind of colorful stone. He shifted how he was holding Zach so that he was now holding the toddler to his chest with one arm under Zach’s legs and the other across his back.
“Mom I’m home!” Clover shouted. “And I have a new little brother! Or pet! Really both.”
“Pet?” Zach asked. Though he wasn’t insulted by the idea.
“You don’t think size and age are the only things I can change about you, do you?” Clover grinned.
“Clover? What did you do?” An older faerie with longer green hair marched into the room. She looked to be in her thirties, so who knew how old she actually was. Three thousand assuming the aging rate stayed the same. But if they could turn their ability to age on and off and even reverse it, who knew?
“Well, this human somehow made it through the barrier! I think dumb luck tried to run straight when his senses were being overwhelmed! Saw the village! But… I tricked him into giving me his name, made him small and young and figured we would keep him!”
“Why don’t we just erase his memories of the village and change him back to normal?” Clover’s mother asked.
“Uh well…” Clover was failing to think up a good lie.
“I wanted to stay!” Zach interrupted. “I mean… I just learned faeries and magic are real… This is like a whole other secret world I never knew existed. Why would I want to live among humans when there are real faeries?”
“Fair point. Humans are droll. No offense.” Clover’s mom shrugged. “Very well. You can keep him. But… You’re completely responsible for taking care of him. I don’t want to see Scry mistreated or ever neglected or you will wish grounding you was the worst punishment I could do.”
“Wait… How did you know I call him Scry…” Clover turned pale as he realized that his mother knew of his actions.
“I trust you’ll take good care of Scry. Make sure the other kids don’t bully him for not being a faerie.” Clover’s mom grinned. “Thank goodness it was only one human who came through… And not some kind of recording device.” Her voice became stern as she looked down at Clover. “I trust you’ll be very caring of Scry, and take protecting the border seriously.” With that his mother walked off with a wicked grin.
“She knows.” Clover was confused. “How does she always know!?” He shoulders sank. “Can never get away with nothing. Guess there’s no reason for you not to go back to normal.”
“I wasn’t lying, I’d really rather stay here.” Zach grinned.
“Really?” Clover immediately cheered up. “Well then… I’ve never had a little brother or a pet. I have all kinds of ideas for games we can play.