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Story 2

Melinda Moore

Melinda Moore lives in Albuquerque, NM: The Land of Enchantment. Possessing a love of adventure, she has been a dancer, professional musician, music educator, recipe creator, parent and now published author. She gives away designer coffee on her blog as well as running a monthly writing contest based on photographs.

You can visit her at Enchanted Spark, or read an excerpt from her first novella A Sunset Finish at Jupiter Gardens Press.

A street musician dating a Prince? What could go wrong with that? Throw in a vindictive Queen and a swarm of pixies, and you have Pixie Plague. Sit back and let the mayhem begin.



Pixie Plague


by Melinda Moore



     Playing fiddle in the band for the Pixie Plague was a dragon crap job. Of course, the queen made a big fuss over the musicians and told them that they were on their way to fame, but everyone knew the virtuosos would flee the kingdom if required to play. It was no secret why I got chosen this year: the queen barged into her son's room without knocking, and I was in bed with him.

     “Roger, I need your help finishing the roster--” Queen Lydia ended the sentence with a scream. Honestly, we'd been snatching kisses all over the castle for a year; she shouldn't have been so shocked. “You strumpet! You'll be the dragon sacrifice if you don't leave right now. Guards!”

     Roger and I fumbled and slipped off the sheets as we tried to get our clothes back on. He was quicker with his pants than I was with my dress and said, “I don't think she qualifies for the dragon sacrifice anymore.”

     “Roger!” I exclaimed.

     “What? I was trying to help.” His sky-blue eyes filled with confusion, making him maddeningly cute.

     “I think it would help more if you told her you just proposed to me.”

     “Proposed!” The queen screeched. The guards grabbed me and dragged me over the rug and out of the room. “My son will be marrying a princess! Not a fiddling trollop!”

     The guards released me and looked away as I tied and buttoned myself back to decency and blinked back the tears over my engagement that had been as short as a pixie thimble.

     “Best be off to your quarters, Miss Gillian,” said one of the guards. “She'll be in a snit for awhile now.”

     “Was she there to make the roster for the Pixie Plague?” I asked. Even in the despair of the broken tryst, the word roster filled me with horror. I knew they needed at least one new fiddle player this year.

     The guards looked at each other and then at the floor. “Bugger,” I said and ran down the stone hallway of the castle.




     “Fleeber jinkle gee!” cried Dolores. Her nonsense echoed around the great hall that had already been emptied of all its tapestries in preparation for the plague. Dolores was the bodhran player and leader of the band. She'd been playing seven years for the Pixie Plague and had the scars to prove it: purple striped hair, emerald nails and a silver-sequined mask permanently attached around her eyes. I smiled at her because I sensed she was happy, but I had no idea what she had just said. “Gah, sorry,” she continued. Talking in tongues was another danger of playing for the Pixie Plague. “I can't believe you're in the band, Gillian! You're Master Sturm's favorite.”

     My shoulders slumped. “The queen wants me as pixie fodder to dissuade her son from marrying me.”

     There were snickers from the band, but Dolores slapped me on the back. “Well, the rest of us criminals are happy you're here, even if you're doomed to play in fairs forever more and nevermore in the palace.” Dolores did a sweeping bow.

     “But not all the pixie spells are permanent are they? Don't the sorceresses counter them when it's all over? I mean some of you look normal.”

     A woman in the back who obviously kept up with castle rumors giggled and said, “They're not going to counter any spells for the girl who got caught with her knickers down in the prince's bed.”

     Just then, I heard a swoosh followed by a thunk. An arrow with a note in it was sticking straight out of my fiddle case. I looked up to the floor above, but only saw Roger running into the shadows. I ripped off the note as the rest of the band gathered around me, about fourteen musicians jostling to read the only love letter I'd received since being caught by the queen yesterday.


     My Dearest Gilly,

          Mother is beyond reason and has invited a princess to     observe this year's plague with me. I'm hoping that once     the pixies have all flown off, I can talk to her again and     convince her that you are the only one I'll marry. No      matter what you see, know that my heart is yours.


     All my love,



     Dolores patted my back sympathetically, but a man with a harp said, “So no worries. If you see the prince drooling over the princess’s bosom, remember he's wishing it was yours.”

     The group snorted in consensus as I tore up the note and said, “Let's play.”




     A few days before the first full moon of spring, a ball was held in honor of the Pixie Plague band and the actors who played the parts of the royal court. Dolores had spent hours with the curling tongs on my red hair, and it cascaded down my back entwined with ribbons. I was feeling resplendent in my green gown until I saw the princess. Ropes of blond hair were braided and wound on top of her head like a crown. Her gown had a pink lace overlay that dozens of servants must've spent a year making. Of course, the tops of her breasts were rounded over the neckline. Though not drooling, Roger was staring straight at them while pouring her wine. His younger brother Thomas was trying to butter her bread, and I smiled when he missed the bread and buttered her gown instead.

     I stood and stared and stared and stood. Roger didn't even look up to see if I was somewhere about. I think I would've gawked all night at the giggling princess if Dolores hadn't grabbed my hand and placed it in the hand of the harp player. He led me out for a reel, but I didn't even acknowledge him. As I hopped and twirled, I glimpsed dimples and caresses between my prince and the pink harlot. I was about to run up and tip the table over on them when a guard ran in and shouted, “The pixies are coming! The pixies are coming!” Trust the pixies not to stick to the schedule.

The guests in the ballroom parted to allow the musicians and actors out. Before I got to the double doors, an arm encircled my waist and stopped me short. I was twisted around and met eyes with the traitor prince. “You look gorgeous tonight,” said Roger.

     “I didn't even think you had seen me,” I said, trying to keep a tone of disdain in my voice. I looked over his shoulder and saw the princess watching us with narrowed eyes.

     “Sorry--I have to appear to be trying to like the princess for Mother's sake.”

     “You were very convincing.”

     “I'm sure I'll get a lecture for this--” He planted a kiss on my lips before releasing me. “Just try not to come back puce.”

     I started to reply, but the princess stepped up and whispered to him. I couldn't understand the words, but her breath looked like pink worms slinking into his ear. The princess was a sorceress?

     “Get away from him!” I yelled as I shoved her.

     The queen grabbed my earlobe and dragged me towards the door. “You stay away from my son. Get out there and do your job, and don't expect any magic to help you when it's done.”

     “But she's a sorceress,” I yelled as a guard pushed my fiddle case to my chest.

     “That's not possible,” said the queen. “Princesses aren't allowed to learn any trades. Now get out there, or I'll have you evicted from the kingdom.”

     I ran across the drawbridge, trying to figure out a way back into the palace. Before I could turn to run around the outside of the moat, the harpist grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the lake.

     I shouted in protest until I saw Dolores in the middle of the meadow that had been furnished with tables for a feast. She was atop a table and playing her bodhran, her black hair whipping out behind her. The moon gave her a golden outline, and she looked like a goddess opening a gateway to the fairy realm. I couldn't let the band down. Maybe towards the middle of the night I could slip away to break the princess's spell.

     Dolores's rhythmic strikes drove us forward. When we neared her, she yelled, “To the lake!” She ran and jumped off the end of the table as we continued on. Looking across the water, I caught my breath. In my twenty years of life I had never seen the entrance of the pixies. Since I was five, I'd played in a strolling minstrel group along the streets of the kingdom for the benefit of any pixies that made it over the wall. The fog that hung perpetually at the far end of the lake had a purple rip across it. As it widened, a rainbow of glowing dust spewed out of the mist. Soon, the dust looked like different- colored stones skipping across the lake, but not just a few: thousands.

     “Gilly!” yelled Dolores over her own drum beats. “Get your fiddle out!” I looked around and realized I was the only one frozen in awe. Everyone else was already playing. I unlatched my case and rosined up my bow while Dolores continued to yell at me. “Remember, don't breath the pixie dust. And if you do, don't ever, EVER sneeze three times in a row!”

     My bow struck my strings, and I entered the fray of the welcoming reel. The herald pixies arrived, no bigger than my thumbnail. Some of them formed two lines to dance on top of my fiddle. Several had already taken to twisting Dolores's hair, while still more adorned the clothes of the rest of the band, making them look like Yule trees with colored candle flames. I started to giggle and thought it wasn't nearly as bad as I’d feared.

     And then the swarm arrived.

     I watched the pixies attach themselves to the band like they were bees on a beekeeper. They crawled in and out of the pipers' pipes, slid along my fiddle strings, and filled all the other instruments until there was silence except for the twitter of the pixie voices. I looked behind us and saw servants flinging food onto the tables and the actors straightening crowns and bodices before taking a seat.

Pixies loved music and knocking chaos into structure. Our whole performance was supposed to simulate a formal royal gathering, so the swarm would leave the rest of the kingdom alone. Once they realized they had stopped the music, they flew out of the instruments and towards the feast. We took up a jig as another wave of pixies arrived, but they had already learned the lesson from the first wave and only crawled over our bodies instead of our instruments.

     After the third wave arrived, the party really got started. Before I turned away from the lake, I noticed a golden light in the middle of the mist. I didn't ponder it long. I was too busy wondering how I was ever going to get back to save Roger from the sorceress princess.




     Servants were donkeys; the false court was half life-sized chess pieces, and the musicians were scattered in various groups around the tables playing different songs. Pixies at my feet forced me to dance away along with a mandolin player and a pipe player. I scrambled as the pixies made the mandolin player modulate, but another group of pixies didn't like that and turned him orange. To avoid an all out war, I changed songs to a bawdy madrigal that attracted even more pixies to our group. Their little voices sang to the tune, sometimes in human tongue and sometimes in fairy tongue. I didn't care just so long as I was still human.

     To show their approval I think, my gown was changed all manner of times as well as my fingernail color and jewelry. After a particularly fast jig, a dozen pixies flew over me and shook pixie dust onto me. I tried to hold my breath before it reached my face, but a gust of wind blew at that moment. “Achoo!” Once. “Achoo!” Twice. I stopped playing and held my bow below my nose. Three times and I would be their slave. A pixie jingled in front of me, waiting for the final sneeze. I felt the dust settle, and the threat passed. Then the pixie zoomed right up my nose. “Achoo!” Three times. The pixie flew out, shaking off the snot.

     My vision blurred until everything looked like a chalk drawing at the beginning of a rain shower. “Zonky Zane!” cried a chorus of pixies, and I knew what they meant. They were telling me welcome.

     I awaited their orders, but they were arguing too much about what to do with me to give me any. Suddenly bored, I wandered away and found the actress queen laughing and drinking what was sure to be pixie wine at this point. I decided she should be dancing. My bow, thick with pixie dust instead of rosin, rolled over the strings to begin a quadrille. I smiled as the actress queen stood up to dance. It occurred to me that maybe I could make the real queen start dancing too. The pixie language was floating like a cloud in my mind. To them, spells and language were one. I reached into the mist of my thoughts and pulled out the exact words I was looking for. I sang something about the fake queen and real queen moving together. A buzz in my head told me I had succeeded, and a swarm of pixies was all over me. “The real queen? The real queen? This is not the real queen?” reverberated in my ears.

     In my normal state, I might've thought I erred; instead, I doubled over in laughter. In the pixie tongue I said, “We've been tricking you for centuries. The real court is on the roof of the barbican, watching us through a magical dome.”

     Pixies love to trick but hate to be tricked. The news of the deception rippled through them. Not only could I hear it and understand it, but also I could see the pixies' spark of anger as the news reached them. Some of the sorceresses must've seen all the pixie sparking too because they came running out from their hiding places behind bushes and rocks. “Play a lullaby,” ordered the pixies when they saw the sorceresses.

     It seemed like I had a choice; their bidding was not the ultimate law. It was more like the pixie dust made me amenable to whatever they suggested. And also, I wanted to see the queen's face when the pixies stormed the castle.

     Pastel colors escaped from my bow and wound around the sorceresses as my strings sang a sleepy tune. I started to yawn, but a pixie jingled in my ear. I opened my eyes wide in time to see the sorceresses fall to the ground. More began coming out from closer to the castle.

     “To the barbican!” I yelled, jutting my bow forward like a sword. Amidst the cheers of “Huzzah!” I heard a twitter of “No!” from far away, most likely the band members. I didn't care. A sorceress princess had my prince, and I was going to use the pixies to save him.

     I played a march on my fiddle as the pixies hoisted me through the air. Bunches of pixies fell to the earth from the sleep spells cast by the sorceresses, but there were far too many pixies to make much difference.

The invisible dome that covered the barbican looked like stained glass crackling everywhere as the pixies blanketed it. They set me at the top of the dome, and we all started a jig. My fingers bobbed and weaved over the strings of my fiddle, and my feet tapped and scuffed the dome along with thousands of pixie feet. My head shook at a loud pop, and I started to fall, but the pixies caught me before I hit the ground.

     Then the twittering voices stopped; all was silent.

     Most of the court had fled to the lower levels of the castle. The queen was still dancing in circles to the music of my earlier spell. What had made the pixies pause was the pink hussy of a princess. Roger was hanging onto her waist like they had been interrupted mid-dance, and he was looking at her like he used to look at me: with love and adoration. Behind her, enormous, glowing, pink butterfly wings unfurled. They beat slowly through the air and lifted the two of them off the ground. She was a fairy princess? What was she doing here? The last time any of the fairy court had appeared in our kingdom, we had gone to war with them for a century.

     She pressed Roger's head against the pillows of her bosom while she smiled at me and said, “I think I'll take him back with me. He's a delicious human.”

     I noticed the pixies hedging backwards in fear of their mistress, but rage and the pixie dust in me were a powerful concoction. A particularly nasty limerick about warts popped into my head and was out of my mouth before the pixies could gasp as one. Warts appeared across the princess's face, arms and hands: big ones with hair growing out of them as if she were a witch.

     “Eeek!” she screamed and let go of Roger.

     I had to drop my fiddle to catch him, and we both ended in a cushion of crinoline as my skirt was crushed to save us.

     The princess started spinning like a top with steam coming off of her. “This way!” cried the pixies. They cast a rainbow from the barbican to the ground and pushed us down it. We rolled and rolled until we stopped in the middle of the lawn where music was still playing and a golden light was swinging the raven-haired Dolores around in a reel. The band switched to a slow sarabande, and I saw that Dolores was dancing with a fairy prince. His wings glowed with a golden light, and he was more handsome than Roger in the same way that the fairy princess was prettier than me.

     The princess's shrieking grew until I thought my eardrums would burst. She flew right next to me and grabbed Roger to start dancing the sarabande. Cured of the warts I had given her, she looked even more radiant next to the prince's glow. The way the fairy prince and princess ignored each other and fawned over their human partners, I knew they were having a fight. They’d abduct Roger and Dolores to the fairy world and use them as toys to make each other jealous.

     The pixie dust still twitched in me. The pixies were overcoming their fear and dancing around the lawn, twinkling to the rhythm. I didn't have my fiddle, but I still had my voice. When the music stopped, I didn't wait for them to start a new song. I began a ballad about a lost fairy prince and a fairy princess searching the hills and valleys of the human world to find him.

     The fairy prince and princess continued to twirl with their human partners, but I noticed their pink and golden lights swirling more and more together. The royal fairies eyed each other, danced close enough to touch and finally released their human partners. The fairies danced over the lake and beyond the veil with their pink and gold lights entwining.

     My song faded. Roger slipped his hand into mine. The pixies sprinkled their dust over the lawn, and everyone fell into a magical slumber.




     In the morning, all of us woke at the same moment, shaking off the dew that was beading on our skin. The pixies were gone; most likely they had dispersed to cause trouble in the other kingdoms of the human world.

     “Fleeber jizzle,” said Dolores.

     “I know. We should,” I said. The rest of the band nodded in agreement.

     “What do you mean?” said Roger, taking my hands.

     I looked at him and said, “Last night was kerplutzle. You were under the fairy princess’s spell, and I was under the pixie spell, but throughout it, the music was amazing. Your mother is never going to accept me as your wife, and I don't want to be in a castle doing nothing all day. I think I'm going to hit the road with them and become a troubadour. I thought I loved you more than anything, but I don't love you enough to have a miserable life with you.”

     Roger gaped. Everyone else stood up and started gathering their instruments. Maybe Roger would do me one last favor and retrieve my fiddle. “I'm coming with you,” he said.

     “What?” A string on a harp broke in time with my word. “But you're the prince. You have to stay and become king one day.”

     He waved his hand. “My brother can be king. He'll be thrilled. You need someone to book your engagements and manage your money. I'm a wizard at that.”

     I gawked at him and said, “Fershizzle.”

     “I love you too,” he said before pulling me in for a kiss.





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