This story continues a series of short fiction exploring some of the Faerie Shepherds and Shepherdesses within my fantasy world. Read below the story for further explanation and head over to the Tales of the Faerie Shepherds if you’d like to read more!

I can smell death.

Occupational hazard, I suppose. I am shepherd of the death faeries after all.

Of course, all humans can smell it. Some have lost the ability over the millennia. Some choose subconsciously to block it. Others, though … they know.

The smell comes in waves: it ebbs and flows; it rushes the nostrils, and then it recedes. Perhaps that’s why the humans with the ability find it confusing, disorienting. A constant crashing onslaught would be harder to ignore, more certain, far more dynamic.

This scent is also not wholly unpleasant, aside from the whole “death is eminent” aspect. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not eager to bottle it and make candles and room sprays. I said not wholly unpleasant.

The scent trickles in on a sweet, redolent note, innocent, soft, faint … somehow familiar.

The next wave comes more bitter, discordant, lilting toward unpleasant. The fetor expands until, like a swimmer held beneath a wave’s onslaught, the victim of the fetidness prays for deliverance and one more breath of pure, clean air.

And then, as soon as it came, the odor is sucked back into the void but not before that initial sweet bouquet turns and sprays behind the remnants of rot—like roses after a funeral whose grief ran too long.

For the decades I’ve kept watch over these faeries, I’ve become almost accustomed to the incense of death. That is until the fragrant harbinger of doom wafted around the only woman I’ve ever loved.

Death’s Bouquet” Copyright © 2023 by Joy E. Rancatore. All Rights Reserved.

What do you think about this world of mine that I’m building? If you enjoyed this story, please head over to my site to read the entire Tales of the Faerie Shepherds series.

This month’s story flowed from the inspiration of a delightful monthly online writing prompt, #BlogBattle. As you will read on their site, “Blog Battle is a monthly writing prompt meant to inspire writers and entertain readers.” To read several outstanding stories inspired by January’s prompt, “Dynamic,” head on over to the BlogBattlers site!

You may just find a new favorite author to follow!

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