Published on 2012/11/25

Fairy Sacrifice

Fayne Riverdale

The fairies hovered solemnly in a circle around their sacred stone. The stone sat at the top of a hill from which they could see in every direction. They were focused on a dying forest below, the branches of the trees had turned white with death and tattered leaves caked the ground. These fairies were the protectors of the forests of this world and the time had come once again to choose who would take on the perilous burden of savior.

No one really knew how the forests became infected, but without warning, a forest could turn bad. In a matter of weeks a healthy, thriving wood would turn into the depressing ruin that lay below them. The protector fairies’ duty was to heal the heart tree at the core and return the forest to health. The quest was to be undertaken by only one fairy, to minimize the spread of infection.

In a bowl were many petals, all colored a dull brown. Each fairy pulled a petal from the bowl and when they did so, the petal would take on its natural color. Whoever drew the red petal was to take on the burden of savior. First blue, then green then the third fairy, Ellie, drew the red petal.

The other fairies all looked at Ellie with sad eyes as she slowly fluttered away from her sisters and down the hill. They all knew what needed to be done and promised to wait for her return at the edge of the forest.

Ellie made her way through the woods, dead leaves rustling on the ground in the faint breeze. Overhead, the branches were stark and lifeless, their brown having faded to a dull white. Each tree looked like the skeletal claws of a monstrous beast. A chill was in the air, despite the day being warm. The animals of the forest had long fled, leaving only the insects and carrion. She summoned her resolved and slowly flew further and further into the forest.

At the centre of the forest, the heart tree stood. Even in sickness, the heart tree was a regal sight, tall and with huge roots that bound the other trees together under the forest floor. However it also suffered the infection, its great branches and roots turning white as they slowly crumbled. At the base of the tree was a small hollow, the entrance to the heart, where Ellie slowly flew.

Inside the trunk she found the tree's giant green heart. Part of the heart was blackened and sick, and its function was irregular. Stuttering bursts of the tree’s green sappy blood were pushed down into the roots of the tree along dark green vessels. The sound of the irregular beating reverberating off the trunk walls, the discordant music of a dying heart.

Ellie cried silently, she couldn’t bear to see the tree like this, but she also cried for herself for she knew what must be done. To heal the tree, Ellie would need to consume the infected parts of the heart and absorb the sickness into her. Once purged, the heart could begin to regenerate on its own.

Ellie began to nibble at the decaying part of the heart. She bit into the exterior of the dead flesh. It tasted dry and bad, the flesh of the heart flaking off in her mouth, as she cracked through the crusty shell. She struggled to swallow the first mouthfuls, but resolutely held her stomach under control so she could digest the decaying flesh.

The heart was large and her fairy stomach small. The task took hours. Over time she started to weaken as the infection took hold in her own body. Dark rings surrounded her eyes and her hair felt like straw. Most of the fat from her bones was wasting away, leaving her thin and gaunt.

After almost a day she was done, it was now up to others. Without aid she would succumb to the evil inside her. She staggered out of the tree, through the forest and out towards the hill. The other protectors were waiting for her and when she saw them she collapsed to the ground from exhaustion.

The protector fairies raced to her aid shouting her name. They picked Ellie up and carried her limp body to the sacred stone, high up on the hill. They laid her out flat, where the rays of the sun beamed down on the stone and her. Holding hands, the fairies formed a ring and tried to summon the sickness away.

They hovered above her, holding hands, for a full day and night. During the rest of the day, her condition appeared improved, but when night came and the moon shone on Ellie, her skin looked sickly pale, the sickness was slowly taking her away.

Then, at the dawn of the new day, as the new sun shone down, Ellie began to stir. The fairies broke their ring and cried tears of happiness. Ellie was weak but managed to sit up, smiling at her sisters as they hugged her and thanked her for her sacrifice.

Over the next days, both Ellie and the forest recovered. After a week, the protectors flew back to the forest together, one with her arm around Ellie, who was still too weak to fly for long. Even from afar, the forest was a healthy sight, the trees were tinged with green, not a dead leaf or white branch in sight.

Once they arrived, it was clear that life had returned. Birds flew and chirped in the trees. The branches were turning back to a vigorous brown, with new sprouting of green branches and leaves. The forest was a sea of returning color.

They made their way to the centre to see the heart tree. They listened against the tree and could hear the rhythm of the heart beating smoothly. The sound was like music, Ellie and her sisters laughed and danced. The infection was gone. Another forest had been saved and no sisters had been lost.

Fayne Riverdale is a fantasy author who lives in Brisbane, Australia. Her personal website is at