“Hush!” the wizened old woman whispered to the excited child next to her. “It will happen soon, but we must be cautious or they will not welcome you.”
Theresa almost vibrated as she tried to contain her excitement, which would normally come out in bursts of giggles and songs. She knew that she would never be given another chance if she ruined this opportunity, as Wise Mother chose her apprentices with care, and dismissed them quickly if they proved unable to handle the Magic. Theresa had dreamed of learning more about the Magic from the first moment she watched as Wise Mother shared a story in the village center, including images drawn in the sky that showed the adventure to all. Theresa stared at the images and wished she knew how to create such beauty.
“Theresa, look,” Wise Mother whispered as quietly as possible, her breath tickling Theresa’s ear with each word. “They are here.”
Theresa watched in awe as the fairy ring of mushrooms began to glow, a light that emanated in many colors from the heart of the mushrooms. She lost any urge to sing or move as a faint hum filled the air, seeming to come from everywhere at once. Later Theresa would try to remember the tune so that she could sing it, but it eluded her with the complex beauty of nature singing. Wise Mother explained that it was indeed nature, the grass, the trees, the mushrooms and the earth sang with the joy of the coming meeting.
Eventually Theresa noticed that a variety of small beings had appeared in the glowing circle. Each one was indescribably beautiful and unique. She recognized them only from the lore and stories handed down at the village story circle. Fairies representing every color of the rainbow, and some colors with no names. Tiny gnomes, their wrinkled faces sparkling with joy. Brownies, whose stick-like bodies almost blended in with the color of the earth. There were other creatures as well, that Theresa could not identify.
Suddenly a silence fell, at the appearance of the largest of the fairies whose beauty and glow surpassed all the others. Her wings seemed to shine with flowing colors that sometimes looked like water shimmering, and sometimes like the twinkle of stars. All the tiny creatures bowed their heads toward her, and even the Wise Woman shifted and kneeled, pulling Theresa down.
The Fairy Queen spoke with a voice like butterfly wings, that seemed to enter straight into Theresa’s head bypassing her ears.
“Who have you brought, my young friend?”
At first Theresa was confused, as Wise Mother was anything but young. She was older than the oldest grandfather in the village, and he remembered her as being old even when he was a child. Her wisdom showed in every crinkle of her face and her eyes were hidden by the deep folds of age. But, Theresa realized, compared to these creatures who seemed to be simultaneously ancient and youthful, Wise Mother might indeed be young.
“I have brought someone to be blessed by you,” Wise Mother answered. “I think she is the next person to protect your gift.”
“Are you sure?” The Fairy Queen asked.
“I am sure,” Wise Mother replied. I have tested her, and she has passed each one with strength.
“Then we shall bless her.”
With that the humming began again and grew as all the creatures moved toward Theresa, in a way that startled her.
“Do not be afraid,” Wise Mother whispered, looking deeply into Theresa’s eyes.
The fairies who could fly surrounded her head and her shoulders. The others reached up and touched as high as they could.
With each touch, Theresa felt a sense of warmth move through her body, toward her heart and her mind. Suddenly, the world seemed to shift, and the woods surrounding them took on a sharper appearance. The hum became words, that she could understand. She felt at peace and the urge to lie down and sleep.
When she awoke on the forest floor the creatures were gone and the mushrooms were simple mushrooms again. Wise Mother sat next to her, looking down with tears in her eye and a smile on her face.
“You now have the Magic too. You are, indeed, my heir.”
And so Theresa’s story began . . .