While trapped in the smelly caves of Silver Acid, one of the ways Sugarplum prevented her conscience from being surrendered to the evil whims of the step-monster, Triciuza, was through distraction. She would distract herself so that she eventually hardly even knew she hated the dreary darkness of her smothered world, nor would she even notice if Triciuza was lurking around. Sugarplum found that the best way to do this was to explore every nook and cranny of the Silver Acid Caves. It didn't take long for Sugarplum to discover all she could exploit from the caves, but she still needed more.
One night, a rather chilly one for the supposed spring, Sugarplum crept out of her small room (located in the scariest hall of Fear Castle) and ran down the fake stairs and on into Death Garden. Some might say this was a rather brave thing for Sugarplum to do, or at least very silly, for there are all kinds of beasts and critters and monsters all through the halls, walls and every room of the castle- not to mention the hovering doom of the step-monster herself, who has been known to take of various grotesque and terrifying forms on her nocturnal rounds. It was neither in Sugarplum's mind, for she'd been doing this for years and there was very little left that she was afraid of. In fact, she didn't begin to feel gulpish until she reached the end of a tunnel that led out of the Silver Acid Caves. She stood there, on the brink of the only world she'd come to know for years, and stared at the beauty of the world she had long ago forgotten. There was a forest with wonderfully smelling gem sprouts, and juju bees dancing around them under the light of the iridescent luna trees. Sugarplum was amazed, it had been a long time since she'd seen anything like she saw that night, and yet...she remembered everything about it- the songs of the stars, the smell of the air kisses and the softness of the feathergras under her feet. Also amazing, the inhabitants there remembered her as well.
" Sugarplum?!" shouted someone from under a mushroom patch.
"Yes?" Sugarplum answered. Not sure who she was answering to- a sudden shiver flew along her spine as the thought of it being Triciuza crossed her mind.
Whatever was hiding under the mushroom patch was not the step-monster though, and they were very excited by her answer. Sugarplum looked at the rustling patch, waiting for the questioner to show themselves. Then, she started hearing quite a number of other voices whispering to each other: some from behind flowers or rocks, some out of nowhere, and a large number from inside the trees. But no matter where Sugarplum looked, nobody was there.
"It's been so long, Sugarplum," said a small, sweet voice.
"Yes, too long!" continued what sounded like a frog.
"So where have you been Sugarplum?" the sweet voice went on...
Actually, all of the voices were talking at once by this point, hundreds and thousands of small voices and big voices, soft and loud, low and high. Sugarplum's head started spinning as all the voices asked where she'd been and how she was and what had happened, why she left, and who she was looking for down on her hands and knees like that? She crawled around on the ground as their questions sang, peeking under rocks and behind mushrooms, inside flowers and outside flowers, any possible place she could think of looking, and she thought of every single space. Finally, exhausted by the perplexity of it all, Sugarplum got back to her feet and sighed, "Who are you?"
There was a brief silence, then playful laughter. Then, in a voice of a million sounding like one, each answered, "We are Everyone." There followed more laughter as each voice that had been one became their own.
Sugarplum thought of their answer, and thought hard for something to say, not a word or sound came to mind. Instead, she exhaled with such a sighing force as to let every drop of aging air out of her elfish lungs and not inhale again until they were done. She folded her ankles together and flopped cross-legged in the middle of a circle of blue beam trees and watched the stars dancing above. Slowly, she slid onto her back, moving her arms behind her head. She bent one knee and kicked her other leg over the top of it and just lay down to enjoy the glowing beauty of her old home. A couple of juju bees flew around her feet, glowing in every shimmery color of the night rainbows. The little voices continued to whisper all around her, until their words turned into melody, and their eerie song filled the glittery night.
Sleep child, sweet child, sleep child tonight.
Sweet child, sleep child, sweet child it's alright.
Soon you will be flying through the clouds,
Who knows where.
With friends you are laughing,
The moon smiles:
Peace is here.
Sleep child, sweet child, sleep child tonight.
Sweet child, sleep child, sweet child it's alright.
Close your eyes you're sliding
Down the rainbow of care.
In the midst of your crying,
The stars shine:
All is fair.
Sleep child, sweet child, sleep child tonight.
Sweet child, sleep child, sweet child it's alright...
Sugarplum found herself walking through the Forest of Nei in a time she was not sure of. The juju bees were no longer buzzing and the luna trees had faded to gray for the day. The sun was in its happy place up in the sky, and the great shady blue beam trees let only the softest of its rays seep through their canopy. The gentle golden dapples kissed Sugarplum's rosy cheeks and warmed her tiny, spry legs as she ran along the path leading to Mirror Lake. She knelt down along the cool banks of the reflecting pool and looked at her child-like self. The shape of her face was much younger than she remembered it being, and her hair was not quite as long as it once will be, but she recognized it as herself, only not the self she is now. Sugarplum smiled at the reflection, then looked around...if she remembered this memory correctly, then this was her birthday, her favorite birthday. She followed the steps she had taken so many years ago- into the lake and out of the lake, over around the side of it and on to the Silver Springs, yes that was the best place to go. The unicorns fancied Silver Springs, and Sugarplum fancied the unicorns. She sat on an old, fallen pleasure tree that crossed the river, and let her feet splay in the cool waters below. Then she waited. How long she had waited before had been forgotten, but this time it seemed like forever, forever until a glint of liquid light flashed between the trees. A splendor of colors ran up to the edge of the river and lowered its head to have a drink. It was a unicorn, yes, but not just any unicorn, it was a rainobicorn. They were every color imaginable, and even rarer than the mystic silvery white unicorns, and the wickedly strong golden unicorns, or even the powerfully handsome black unicorns and the sullenly beautiful blueners and gracies. These were the keepers of the colors of the rainbow, and they rode with all brilliant light. Sugarplum felt she was privileged to get to see this fine specimen of magical beauty, but then she felt nervous as the unicorn started walking towards her. It may be true that elves act as guardians to the fairy Queen's sacred pets, and that those pets in turn are known to show their respect and gratitude by introducing themselves to the Elvin folk, but Sugarplum had never heard of a rainobicorn willingly greeting anything but dragons. She was unsure of how territorial they were, or aggressive, or maybe even lethal (the most magnificent of exquisite creatures are known for their mean streak and edgy attitudes, or their alluring nature with deadly rewards).
The rainobicorn walked right over the water of the river and stood in front of Sugarplum, who was trying hard to not let the creature put any hypnotic spells on her. In words unspoken the rainobicorn whispered hello, and waited for Sugarplum to reply.
"Um, hi," she answered, with half her voice stuck in her throat.
"You are afraid of me, why?"
Sugarplum didn't know how to answer that, for she was not really afraid of him, just of the potential of him, the unknown him. But she also knew that all unicorn-related creatures pride themselves on their ability to know how others feel and what they are thinking, and find it rather disgraceful to try and tell them they are wrong. Besides, maybe she really was afraid of the whole of the beast, and in that case he'd be right.
"I'm afraid of the fact that I don't know you, nor do I know anyone who does," she finally answered, still feeling a bit uneasy, yet confident in her answer and relieved by a realization that in fact she had done all of this before now, but at the time it was still new. She had come out fine the first time, and in order to see what happens next, she had to believe that.
"I'm Brillinig, I am a rainobicorn, and I am safe."
For reasons unknown to herself, Sugarplum believed Brillinig, she believed every word of those few words he said. She apologized for her fear, and watched him as he bent down to get another sip of water. When he was done, she introduced herself.
"Good, so now I'm not unknown, and neither are you. Since we are now friends, come follow me."
In the back of her head, Sugarplum felt she should stay put, or maybe run home. No, the latter would be silly, everyone knows a unicorn can outrun an elf by miles, more like by light years. Staying put wouldn't do any good either, that unicorn was able to walk on water, and had a horn sharper than razor-edged diamonds, which was twice as long as Sugarplum was tall. No it was best to follow, even if it didn't seem quite wise.
Brillinig told Sugarplum to hop onto his back, a rather generous offer from any unicorn, and together they galloped through the Forest of Nei. Sugarplum had never seen the world pass by so quickly, all the glory of the woods melting and blending into a single stream of flowing, glowing colors and sounds. In no time at all they came to the edge of the forest, and Brillinig came to an abrupt stop. Sugarplum had never been here, there were no trees, and there was no grass. The air was thick and damp, and a strange fog hung low to the ground. If the sun was still shining, it could not be seen, a blanket of gray covered the land and the smell of emptiness filled their lungs. If there was a ground below them, Sugarplum could not see that either, it looked just the same as the false sky above and around them, it was as if they had walked into a cloud, like a rain cloud.
"Where are we?" asked Sugarplum.
"Nowhere, this place has not been made yet, that's my job," said Brillinig. He turned his head to look at Sugarplum, who was poking her fingers into the heavy filling of the day, "Are you ready to witness creation?" he asked with a wink and a smile; before Sugarplum could bother deciding whether or not to answer, Brillining bolted through the thickened mass, a trail of blazing color following behind him.
"I think I'm in the mood for a sugar sand desert!" he shouted over his shoulder.
As Sugarplum looked around, she saw the gray muck of fog retract its grip from the air and reveal a sea of glittery sugar sand, each granule trapping the shades of the rainbow. Brillinig was running wild and jumping and dancing and rearing all around. He flew through the air to bring out the brilliance of the startling blue sky, and with a nod of his head called to the sun to shine its brightest rays his way. After his fury of excitement had calmed, and the dunes of the desert had been formed, after the fronds of new palms swayed gently in fresh winds, Brillinig knelt down and touched his horn to the ground. He walked around like that, dragging the tip of his horn in the sweetest sands you'd ever find, waltzing around in a careless fashion, until he found himself back at the place where he started. Once there, he lifted his head back up and nodded to the lopsided, crooked and somewhat misshapen circle, then dipped his horn to the edge again to bring up the crispest, clearest water Sugarplum had ever seen. She looked around at this new place that made it self look older than the clouds, and felt something was missing.
"Where are all the animals?" she asked.
"I do not make animals, they make themselves, and they will find their way here if they want to come. Now, it needs a name."
Brillinig just nodded, and throughout the history books that title was placed on the now ageless region of sand and sky found to the west of the Forest of Nei. They looked at their desert proudly, then casually trotted back toward home. As they neared the Silver Springs, Brillinig turned to Sugarplum again, now nearly sleepy with the awe and excitement of the passing adventure.
"Did you enjoy that?" he asked.
"Yes, quite. Thank you very much," she yawned, smiling sleepily.
"Well, happy birthday Sugarplum, may you store this one in your dreams."
And in her dreams it was found, as Brillinig returned to the fallen pleasure tree and gently slid the sleeping elf off his back, and onto the log. He whispered a nothing in her ear, and glided off between the trees. Sugarplum awoke shortly after, without a thought as to the reality of her story. She looked around and saw she was back where she had started, her wait for a real unicorn sighting was in vain. With a stretch and a yawn she hopped off the pleasure tree and trotted back along the path to home, to the sleeping self in the feathergras resting sweetly.
Sugarplum remembered that day now, it had been vaguely recollected before as a flittering of a dream, the tail-end of an idea. But now she realized that it had been real, she couldn't have imagined something so magnificent. She looked around now, she was just as old as she had aged, and was right where she was last seen being, under the twinkle of singing stars. It was spring here, she could tell. It was easy to tell it was spring here, even in the dark of midnight. All of sudden, she realized that Everyone was quiet, the sweet song had died away, there were no words to the wind.
"Where is Everyone?" she yelled, but there was silence. Sugarplum was still curious as to whom or what exactly Everyone was, but was more upset about the complete silence of the forest now. She stood up and walked along the path she'd followed in her dreamy memory, to the bank of Mirror Lake, all the way to the Silver Springs and up to the old fallen pleasure tree which still laid its gentle trunk across the crest of the river. She stood on the tree and listened to the rush of the water below.
"Feeling better Sugarplum?" the sweet voice of the quickening night had returned.
"Where are you?" Sugarplum asked, still perplexed as to the identity of her host.
Then with that, a million tiny lights surrounded her and the wind brought the voices of Everyone together as the tiny light crystals collected into a star in the shape of a golden fairy who's never fully seen. Sugarplum remembered her now, it was Cozetella, a tiny tinker bell fairy, an old friend to everything, the spirit of the Forest of Nei. Sugarplum cried with the memories of their friendship that had been lost to fear and despair, she was so happy to be there, and yet too sad to truly enjoy it. Cozetella was like a mother to everything that lived in the forest, and she had fought hard to keep Sugarplum there while the rest of the inhabitants were trapped by the fear of the step-monster. Days and days on end she had spent in her chambers working on an antidote for the hypnotizing spell that Triciuza had placed on Sugarplum's father, but by the time she had come close to the perfect solution both Sugarplum and her father had been dragged into the depths of the Silver Acid Caves as slaves to that wicked step-monster. A small army of forest friends had attempted a rather brave rescue of the pair, but they were never heard from again- all that was recovered from their expedition was a small spider silk sword, which has since been placed in the hollow of a story tree, where the tale of those brave friends is retold every night to very attentive crowds. Sugarplum had never known of the sacrifice of the Forest Friends, and as she sat listening to Cozetella tell her all about the events that unfolded after she was taken under, she felt her heart swell with sorrow and her eyes ream with tears. Cozetella let her sparkles gather all around Sugarplum, their warmth comforting the saddened little elf, and hushed her back to calmness.
"So what do I do now?" asked Sugarplum.
"Why, nothing child, there is nothing for you to do right now. Your father needs you sti-"
"No he doesn't! He's been taken in by her; he's lost all other wills. I hardly ever even see him."
"Yes, but he knows you're there, and so, he still needs you. As long as he has you to help him, he'll never be fully engulfed by her fires Sugarplum. That is why you must stay for now, and why you must return shortly- it's nearing morning. But, oh no don't cry Sugarplum, it won't be long, and we have something to help make it easier for you. It is your birthday after all. What, you didn't even know it was your birthday did you? Poor silly little Sugarplum, what you must have gone through down there, barely left with your memories and dreams. Your dreams are memories, remember that, and you have one dream in particular every year on your birthday- you know which one I mean, don't you? Of course you do, it's yours. Anyway, we have a gift for you, to help make your imprisonment a tad bit more bearable."
With that, Cozetella flittered herself through the forest once more, and all the voices of the living and non-living alike called to Sugarplum through the trees. She followed their sounds, until she came to a clearing in the woods. The voices stopped, and so did she. In the middle of the clearing was an old, graying story tree, smiling at Sugarplum with a grin as wide and warm and loving as the smile found on many grandmothers- that's what she was to Sugarplum, as to most of the forest creatures, a great, great, great Grandmother. This particular story tree told only new stories, tales of creation- Sugarplum was born in her withered boughs, as were all elves, and many other lives. Grandmother opened up her branched arms to Sugarplum, and revealed, resting on her rooty lap, a sleeping beast. No, this wasn't just any beast, it was a dragon, and she could tell by its deep rust colored fur, and golden scales- this was a flufringer dragon, a noble and loyal beast. Sugarplum stepped forward, slowly and carefully, eying this magnificent new life. A few of his scales were already staring to form, small and thin, through his silky fur.
"He's yours dear," whispered Grandmother, "he was born for your birthday."
Sugarplum was stunned, and honored- very few gave their gift of life to someone else. For a moment she felt a bit sad, this poor thing would grow up not having his real mother. Where was his mother anyway? She couldn't have wanted to give up such a darling little thing, and Sugarplum couldn't possibly accept a gift from someone who didn't really want to give it. Besides that, how could she bring this thing down to the doom and gloom of the Silver Acid Caves, with the wicked Triciuza's ever-threatening glare?
Grandmother appeared to hear Sugarplum's thoughts, and set her at ease a bit saying, "His mother was killed dear. She had fought against Triciuza long ago and received a horrid wound. She lived much longer than any thought she would, but not long enough to see her darling son hatched. I don't know the details on that end child, for I tell the stories of Life, you'd have to go to the Grandfather to hear the stories of Death, for he it is who comforts us in our passing. But she was a fighter of a flufringer, and had hopes that her son would be able to defeat the step-monster if she failed to do so herself. He's being given to you to fulfill that chance. In the mean time, he will be of great comfort, a friend to keep you company and share your pains. See him child, he wakes."
Wake he did, and a wide one at that, instantly shifting from sleep to play. His fangs had not grown yet- in time they would be to big for his mouth- and his horns and main were all but invisible. But his claws were sharp, hidden in great innocent golden paws, and any viciousness that he may ever emit was still hidden in the depths of his melodic purrs. Quite frankly he reminded Sugar plum of a big orange kitten, and that's what she named him, Bok. The name seemed suited for him, as Everyone and Grandmother agreed, but when the sun opted to give his point of view on the matter, Sugarplum was quickly directed towards home. Dawn was breaking in. Triciuza would be rising soon as well, and it would be best if Sugarplum was up and started on her chores when that happened. Saying their goodbyes as quickly and thoroughly as possible, they parted the elf at the mouth of Silver Acid, and told her to be brave. With tears of memory escaping her lids, Sugarplum disappeared into the darkness again. What she did in there for the next few years no one outside knew, but she knew, and if not for Bok she knew she might not have made it through. You'll soon know what she knew too, but that's not for this chapter to discuss.
Written By: [kamisch]
...for more writings by [kamisch], go see her Library on Deviant Art:) --> http://kamisch42.deviantart.com