She was eighteen years old, and she was a late bloomer, according to her family. Her ‘awakening’ was still to happen, and until then, she was being considered one of the children still. It didn’t bother her, it meant that she had less responsibilities and more time to explore their little kingdom.
Their castle was surrounded by water on one side, and on the other side a big forest with luscious greens, but also pink and yellow flowers. There were trees that she liked to sit in or draw with crooked trunks, because their curves were simply fascinating, and Bella liked playing with the little ones in the meadow and on the purple moss.
The Swan kingdom was one of the smallest in the entire fairy realm and, according to her mother the Queen, it would only take a few more generations to completely disappear. Neighboring kingdoms usually came and stole some of their females to populate their own kingdoms, and the Swans weren’t warriors.
They weren’t defenseless, they had allies, and some of their men fought back, but the Swan kingdom was significantly weaker than others, and it had been a miracle that they had been around for so long. The Swans came over with some vikings when the vikings decided to sail to better lands, in the hope to escape some of the more violent supernatural creatures out there.
And, for a while, it had worked. But they simply did not have the manpower to keep this up. Their current period of peace was only because as a kingdom, that’s with the subjects having a vote, decided that the enemy knocking on their doors was allowed to have all the kingdom’s resources as long as they kept their hands off of the males and females. And they did.
This was before Bella was born, and nobody could quite remember when that arrangement was over, but they wouldn’t give up. Her father was working tirelessly for another kingdom to absorb them as their own, and therefor forfeiting his throne.
It was a shame, though. The kingdom was absolutely beautiful. Peaceful. The skies filled with birds singing and, on days that the veil between all the realms were thin – on days where witches did rituals close to their kingdom, the lights were so pretty too.
Her parents told Bella not to worry and that everything was going to work out fine, so she didn’t. After all, she wasn’t an adult yet. She hadn’t awakened yet and all the burdens of the kingdom weren’t hers to bare. Or to have a say in. And even if she had, she wasn’t sure that her parents would want her voice in the things that mattered.
They were easy going like that.
But she still felt as if she was missing her purpose in life. Her awakening.
Everyone else had a purpose, except for the young ones. Either by living in people’s houses, or nurturing nature, helping witches, and they brought back shiny things. Or cream. Or other items that were shiny and fun to see.
But not her. And that sucked.
She was in her room in the castle when the castle shook, she could hear the water move around violently against the cliffs. Bella rushed to her window overlooking the water and was shocked to see a tiny coral island emerge with a lighthouse on it. She knew it was a lighthouse, because her parents had a painting of it in the main hall, and she also knew what it meant.
It was the door to the other realm, the human realm, and it meant that every fairy who was in that realm was returning home for a few days with goodies and stories. But also, it was Bella’s way out. She was tired of waiting for her awakening. She could wait for her awakening out there, too.
There were a few problems with that idea though.
She hadn’t been taught evasive flying just yet. So whatever was out there in the human world, could actually kill her if she’d fly against it.
Bella also wasn’t quite aware of the human world. Again, this was something to be taught if she’d awaken.
She had zero to none survival skills.
But she was going to do it. She had to be fast, because the lighthouse would disappear after a couple of minutes. Bella quickly got dressed and stumbled towards the tower that lead down to the beach. Her parents, and the guards, would definitely spot her flying out of the window towards the lighthouse. Running and swimming would be better.
She could do this.
Bella was fearless.
She was going to take on the human realm and she was going to find her awakening. Learn along the way.
She could totally do this.
Time to get in trouble and break all the rules. She’ll face the consequences the next time the door would open.
She ran down the stairs of the tower with the exit on the beach, knowing that nobody would come up the stairs, instead, the returnees would take the main road back to the village and castle. She waited until the beach was clear and Bella could already see the top of the white lighthouse become translucent against the clear blue sky, it was about to disappear.
Bella needed to be quick. Her parents would understand, wouldn’t they? Bella sometimes liked getting herself into trouble if she wasn’t with the other young ones or in her room, and yes, her parents would understand.
She’d deal with her parents when she’d return.
Taking a deep breath, Bella started running. By the time she had crossed the beach, swam towards the coral island and taken the steps up, only the door was still standing. Not looking back, Bella launched herself through the door.
Bella fell onto the cold, hard ground, a little sand flying up around her and she was dazed for a moment. Sitting up, she looked around in wonder. Everything was so big!
The trees didn’t have crooked trunks and stood so very tall, reaching into the sky with their branches and green leaves.
She was sitting next to a leaf on the ground and she was amazed by the size of it. Bella got to her feet and started to walk around it in wonder.
Were humans actual giants?
It was strange that they would only be instructed on what the human realm was like after a fairy awakened, Bella felt she was far from being ready to be out on her own, yet she had reached the age of maturity and children bearing.
She made a mental note to start telling her future children about the human realm before their awakening.
If she’d survive the human realm and if she’d find a mate. The mental note would be pointless otherwise.
She crawled underneath the leaf when the ground shook, wondering what was going on. Once the ground stopped shaking, she dared to take a peek and saw giant shoes, leading up to legs in a skirt, leading up to a body, arms, a head and a hat.
Humans were giants!
“You escaped, huh?” The giant was a female. “Tired of waiting? That’s alright, little one.” The giant bend down and put her open hand in the ground. “I was like you, once,” she said with a friendly smile on her face. “My name is Ann, and if you stick with me, I’ll teach you everything there is to know about the humans and their world.”
Bella looked at the woman – Ann – with some hesitation.
“Look, as long as you’re this small, I won’t be able to hear you, but I promise you that you will be safe with me. Fifty years ago I was tired of waiting for the awakening and snuck out, through a different portal, sure, but I wanted adventure and I figured that the awakening would happen wherever I was. Time works different over here, but I eventually found my purpose. And that’s helping pre-awakened fairies like yourself.”
She still wasn’t buying it.
“If you want to stay here by yourself, that’s fine by me. There are some hungry birds around, you won’t survive 24 hours.”
What did Bella have to lose? She wanted adventure, right? Dying on your first day of adventure would be pointless. She crawled from underneath the leaf and hopped into Ann’s hand, who proceeded to put Bella into her breast pocket where she was nice and warm and could look out into the world.
“Now, hang on, the city is a little bit further away, and my cart is just outside these woods,” Ann said before she started to walk. “I am originally from the star kingdom,” she continued. “My mother was a nurse and my daddy a house fairy. All around me I saw my friends awaken, receive their purpose, and I was the one left behind, left helping to keep the younger ones occupied. Until the day I decided to sneak out. I came to the human realm somewhere in California, where I spent a few years before moving here. New Orleans, Louisiana. Beautiful city filled with humans, vampires, werewolves and witches. And, of course, fairies. Fairies like you, or fairies like me. I gave up on being a fairy, humans are so much fun and I met my husband. I couldn’t have him be a fairy as that wouldn’t be fair to him.”
Bella inhaled deeply, she could smell the trees, the water, the sky… some of Ann’s perfume as she was in Ann’s pocket. She could smell the horse that was pulling the cart, too. Little by little, the nature was being replaced by roads and buildings. More carriages. Ann explained to her that the carriages were the way people were getting around and that the buildings were work places, or homes. People lived in cubes. Wooden cubes.
Ann’s home was almost as if she had a forest inside her house. Branches and plants and little houses across the walls. Colors everywhere. “I know you’d like it,” Ann smiled as she looked at Bella flying around. “I know you have a lot to take in, little one, but for us to have a proper conversation, you need to turn yourself into a human.”
Bella froze mid-air and used her wings to keep her flying as she looked at Ann with a questioning look on her face.
“Oh yeah, you can turn into anything you want. Birds, dogs, cats… but right now, I want you to focus on becoming a human. Like me. Just imagine you, taller, without your wings,” Ann said as she reached for a blanket. “If you’re wondering how tall… I think that anything between five or six foot should suffice.”
Yeah, right. She was a fairy, not something else. Bella huffed and crossed her arms over each other.
Ann pinched the bridge of her nose. “They’re still not teaching you anything until your awakening, huh?” She let out a groan. “It’s easy, just focus on being in this room in the right proportions. I’m going to make us some tea,” she said as she walked towards the kitchen. “And when I get back, you’d better be human and talking.”
“It’s easy?!” Bella exclaimed with a sigh and closed her eyes as she did as she was told. She wasn’t even sure why, but it was all part of the adventure, wasn’t it? This woman seemed kind enough, not going to hurt her, and she might actually be helpful. “I want to appear as a human,” she muttered a few times to herself before feeling her body tingle a little and she could feel her feet on the wooden boards of Ann’s home once the sensation was over.
Looking down on her human body, Bella saw the same curves she had normally, just enhanced. Made giant. Every imperfection was now a visible mark. She quickly took the blanket that Ann had left for her and wrapped it around her before looking around for the dress she’d likely burst out of on the floor, but all that was left were tiny pieces.
“Oh, good,” Ann said as she came in with two cups of tea and put them on the table. “Don’t worry, you won’t always be naked when doing this, once you get better at switching between forms, you can actually fabricate clothes as well. Come, sit. What’s your name?”
“Bella,” Bella replied, surprised by her voice, it was louder. Bigger. She sat down in one of the chairs and smiled at Ann. “Thank you for helping me. You didn’t have to do it.”
“As I already told you, it’s my purpose. My awakening,” Ann smiled kindly. “And I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about being here on the human realm. I’m going to teach you about the humans, and what you can do, if you allow me.”
“If you’re sure.”
“And what can I give you in return?”
Ann smiled then. “Nothing, sweetheart. I’m content.”