I present to you the first of a series of short fiction following some of the Faerie Shepherds and Shepherdesses within my fantasy world. Read below the story for further explanation.

Ripples rumpled the moon’s brilliant reflection in the center of Lystan Lake. Two young women drank deeply of nature’s beauty as a mist crept toward them. No ordinary women, these sisters carried secrets and guarded powers no one who knew them suspected.

The one with dark, curly brown hair leaned back against a large fallen log. The book in her hand rested idly on her fingertips. A smile played around her pink lips as she watched the water in front of them. Memories of its depths whispered around the edges of Marin’s mind.

The other lay, legs tented to match the mountains beyond—her mountains. She stared wide-eyed at the moon bathing her in its beams. Her book rested open on her chest as her mind climbed the highest peaks far, far away. The last time Montana stood at the top of her favorite ridge, she hadn’t been alone … nor had it ended well.

Marin drew her eyes away from the water’s circles to survey her sister. She sighed.

“Time will heal your heart, baby sister.” She scooted over to grip the hand of the sister-friend she’d prayed for when she first learned the word lonely. “The water could help heal your soul if you’d join me for a moonlight dip.”

Montana’s laughter overflowed, unexpectedly lyrical despite her melancholy aura. “I’m not falling for that one again. Last time you convinced me to skinny dip, we had our clothes snatched by Caipharnia and his band of mischievous faeries.”

“But I did manage to make you smile and laugh for a moment.” Marin tousled the long, thick hair fanning out in an unruly headdress on the ground around her sister’s round, pale face.

Montana sat up and shook out her locks with another music box laugh. “You always do.” Rising to survey the mirky expanse before them, she frowned at the mist, still crawling down from the towering mountains and around the water’s edge.

“What does your heart tell you?” Marin peered up at the seemingly fearless girl before her, knowing she carried more fears hidden within than most.

“My head tells me Mac Tearlach is a shepherd of far deeper magic than I.” A resolved exhale confirmed she had heard the question correctly. “My heart cries out for him. It always will. For now, though, what evil floats in this drifting miasma?”

The fog had reached the moon’s reflection and sped up. It now barreled toward the sisters as it blanketed the water between them. Its appearance no longer opaque, the greenish tinge roiled and churned even as it released a hissing, rattling moan. Its evil raced ahead and gripped the hearts of the girls as they fumbled to retrieve their books.

In a series of uniform movements, they opened the books wide on their opened palms, breathing deeply from their depths before singing a duet powerful enough to carry far across the lake and up the heights beyond.

Unisomuntia; unisomuntia, Dhae. Gun ta ti potestaê twon sumti … neun!

The books blazed as they shrunk and stretched and swirled into a mass of glowing runes, spiraling about until they wrapped around each sister’s right arm. The tattoos’ gleams pulsed as arms raised against the attacking force. The brume had risen high, stacking into a widening funnel directly in front of them, yet rooted in the lake’s edge.

The radiant glare intensified—Marin’s iridescent pink; Montana’s glaring red—as they repeated their proclamation, singing against the malignity before them. Louder and louder rose the sisters’ song as the twisted mass of horror diminished … slowly at first. As the sisters reached their crescendo, the hostile cloud dissipated.

High on the power flowing within them, the sisters poured forth their mirth in echoes around the lake. Their joyful song bounced off rocks and trees and set leaves and grass blades to dancing along with them. Throwing caution to the wind—Trickster Fae be ignored—they shed the flowing folds of their autumn gowns before sinking into the lake’s depths to celebrate with the mer-Fae and the many creatures they cared for and commanded.

As the sun stretched up from her bedclothes to replace her meeker sky sister, Marin and Montana emerged from their night of watery frenzy. Their smiles showed the state of their hearts. As she always did after deep dives under the water, Marin glowed. Her dark skin shone in the day’s infant light. Even Montana’s face looked lighter, less strained than usual.

Between their discarded clothes on the log sat a tall, dark-skinned young man. His black braids brushed his waist, and the feathers tucked into each revealed his bond with winged creatures. Deep brown rune tattoos covered his bare chest and showed striking similarities to the ones on the girls’ arms. Elsu considered the women before him with a stoic expression. Their laughter faded under his stern demeanor.

But, when his sparkling white teeth parted to release a blast of merriment, the women joined him.

“You’re welcome, by the way.” He tossed each one her clothes, and they unsteadily slid into them. In response to the unspoken questions in their eyes, he explained, “Caipharnia hopped at this chance you offered him, but I stopped him before he and his friends could call the Gan Ceanach to steal your affections. He’s raising his mischief to a dangerous level lately. All the semi-wretched creatures are.”

“Did you see the spreading murk?” Marin asked.

“I felt the evil infesting our nature and struck out for the vile source. When I heard your song, I took wing and arrived soon after your celebratory dive.”

“Do I understand the meaning of this disturbance across the nature realms?” Montana pinned Elsu with a seeking gaze.

He nodded to confirm her suspicions. “Elspeth has reached the Temple. Her training has begun.”

“May Dhae guide her,” Marin breathed as she clutched her sister’s hand.

“Beneath the Green Corn Moon” Copyright © 2018 by Joy E. Rancatore. All Rights Reserved.

I’d love to hear what you think about Marin and Montana and Elsu! My hope is that you’re drawn to these characters from this tiny window into their world. I plan to share more of their story “out in the wild,” so to speak, here on my blog. My goal is to gift you a monthly story post. We’ll see how that goes! Thank you for reading!

This month’s story flowed from the inspiration of a delightful monthly online writing prompt, #BlogBattle; though I am not “officially” participating this month since I procrastinated a great deal. As you will read on their site, “Blog Battle is a monthly writing prompt meant to inspire writers and entertain readers.” To read many outstanding stories inspired by the month’s prompt, “Moon,” head on over to the BlogBattlers site! You may just find a new favorite author to follow!

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Beneath the Green Corn Moon by Joy E. Rancatore, a fantasy short story.