On the third day of the month of sweet-dew the Fairy Chieftain Bax called a meeting of the Fairies of Dawnhill.
When all the fairies were seated and quiet, Bax spoke to his friends, his voice full of sadness. "My beloved fairies," he began, "Most of you have noticed, I am sure, that our numbers are growing smaller and smaller. Fairies have been disappearing since a year ago today."
"Our mother left us," spoke up a very young fairy, "And she has never returned. All my younger brothers and sisters have died."
"Our son has been gone for a month," a fairy man called out, "And he is nowhere to be found."
"Silence, please, and hear me," Chieftain Bax said softly, "The fate of the missing fairies has been discovered, and it is sad news. There is a young witch among the humans who has been capturing fairies. She eats fairies. All the fairies who have disappeared have been eaten by the witch."
The fairies on the hill began to weep at that. Chieftain Bax waited patiently for his fairies to calm down, before he continued his speech.
"Oca found this out by listening in on some humans talking. There is a witch who has been eating fairies, they said, and that is giving her terrible magic powers. They say that she is very beautiful, and that she helps other humans with her spells, but they do not trust her. The help she gives is usually something evil, causing pain and suffering to help someone get revenge against one who has hurt him."
"What can we do?" asked Towy, a young boy fairy, but one strong and brave, and always sad since his parents and his little sister fairy vanished. He too cried when he found out that his parents and sister had been eaten. But unlike the rest of the fairies, he was more filled with anger and determination to stop the witch, than overcome with sadness.
"Oca and I have found a way we think may save us before there are no more Fairies of Dawnhill. Oca, would you explain it to all?"
Oca, Dawnhill's scientist and wizard, stood up. "There is an ancient method for disguising a fairy as a human," he explained. "It is both painful and unhealthy, but it may be our only hope. If a fairy can impersonate a human, find the witch and become the witch's servant or slave, he can send a message back whenever the witch is going to try to capture one of us. Then we can avoid her, until her magic powers are gone. But besides the pain and injury and illness it will certainly cause, it will be very dangerous. If the witch should discover that he is really a fairy, she will eat him up at once."
Little Towy stood up and said, "I will do it."
All the fairies looked at him in amazement. They knew Towy was brave, but they were still surprised. Bax looked over at Oca, and asked, "Do you think he is too little?"
Oca motioned for Towy to come to him. Towy walked up to Oca. Though he had just shown himself to be the bravest of all the fairies, he couldn't keep from shaking as he stood before Oca. He didn't know yet how much it was going to hurt, but he did know just how dangerous it would be to spy on the fairy-eating witch.
Oca pinched Towy on the wing very close to where it joins the back. The pain brought a tear to Towy's eye, but he didn't cry out. "It might be a good idea to send a little boy," Oca said. "Since his wings are so small, losing them will not drain as much of his energy. Also, the witch might be less suspicious of a child."
Bax agreed, and nodded his head. All the fairies clapped and cheered for Towy. Towy liked being a hero.
They decided the operation would be performed at dusk. They had to plan to do it quickly, for they didn't know who would be the next fairy to be captured and eaten. It could even be Oca.
Towy was very excited all day, with all the fairies shaking his hand and praising him for his bravery. But that evening, as he had supper with the fairies he lived with since he lost his family, he started getting worried. The time was less than an hour away, and he was so nervous he had trouble eating.
Dusk finally arrived. Oca came to take Towy away to be changed. Bax came with them too.
Oca's daughter Wev was waiting for them, by the statue of Dunerre Goblinslayer the Berserker. Wev had the knifeblade hidden under a blanket.
Oca led Towy by the hand to the statue. "Put your arms around the statue," Oca told him, "And hold it as tightly as you can."
Towy did as Oca told him. Dunerre Goblinslayer was a great hero of the fairies of Dawnhill, though nobody had seen him for a long time. Holding onto his statue made Towy feel braver. Towy hugged the statue with his arms and legs, and squeezed his eyes shut.
Wev gave Oca the knifeblade, and as fast as he could, Oca chopped off Towy's beautiful wings. Towy jumped, but it didn't hurt quite as much as Towy was afraid that it would. Wev took a towel and held it against the wing stubs, to stop as much as possible the yellow liquid that was coming out. Oca then used the same tool to cut off the pointy tops of Towy's ears. He trimmed them until they were the size of human ears. That did not hurt as much as having his wings cut off. Oca took a bandage and wrapped it around Towy's head around his ears. They were bleeding normal fairy blood, not the strange yellow liquid that came from the wing stubs. Not even Oca knew what that yellow stuff was.
"That part's all over," Oca said. Towy relaxed his arms and legs. He slid down the statue and sat on the ground. Oca cut a square bandage, and put it on the wing stubs. Then he and Wev wrapped soft cloth around Towy's chest to hold the bandage in place. "Make sure the bandage stays tight on your back," Oca said to him. "Your back will never heal. You have to try to keep the yellow fluid from leaking out. The more of that you lose, the weaker you will become. Your ears will heal alright, and will stop bleeding quickly." Oca loosened that bandage and said, "They've already stopped bleeding. Just be sure your hair covers the scars around the tops of your ears." Towy's ears had stopped hurting.
Wev helped Towy put on the human-style clothes and shoes that had been made for him. Then Oca threw growth dust on him. The dust caused him and his clothes to grow to the size of a 7-year-old human boy for a year. Bax advised Towy to use the human name "Tony". It was midnight when Towy (Tony) left Dawnhill on his dangerous mission.
End Chapter 1
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