Lighting the Way


Prompted from this post, and sent in to @brothersapart.

This is canon to Fairy Tales, and takes place sometime before Bowman met Jacob and discovered that humans exist.

Approx. reading time: ~5 mins

It wasn’t the first time Bowman had stayed out later than he should. The balmy summer heat and the long sunsets always played tricks on him, prompting him to fly just a little farther. Bowman relished his days out of the village, exploring his forest and learning every tree, every boulder, every animal trail.

At night, by contrast, Wellwood became foreboding and dangerous. Bowman was not equipped to handle the predators that could all but blend into the shadows.

Just his blasted luck that he found himself too far out to make it home before the sun hid its face at last.

He perched on a high branch, wings tucked close and eyes keen for danger. Soon, the hawks gliding far above the canopy would go to sleep, and the owls that drifted like silent ghosts among the trees would wake. If those talons snared around him, there was no escape. Bowman’s heart fluttered in spite of his attempts to remain calm. This wasn’t the first time he’d been caught out after dark.

In fact, he had snuck out when the moon was high in the sky before. It was nothing new.

Tonight, there would be a new moon. The sky would offer no help. Bowman was on his own, and farther away from the usual places he would sneak off to when he was certain his family was asleep.

He grumbled to himself about his own lack of planning. His wings quivered from the exertion of flying most of the day, and almost felt like they were scolding him, too.

With a rustle that sounded so much like the leaves his wings mimicked, Bowman leapt off of his branch and hurtled towards home as quickly as he could. It was a race he knew he’d lose, but any progress he made was still progress.

The next time he landed, the night sounds of the forest had him on high alert. Without the sun to guide him, Bowman’s eyes were nearly blind. Wood sprites simply weren’t adapted to the dark. Bowman might know his forest like the back of his hand, but in the dark he couldn’t see it to catch his bearings.

It was time to Pray.

He snagged a small leaf from nearby on the branch, muttering softly as he separated it from the tree. It might be a precious supply for him, but he didn’t need to be rough with the tree that gave it to him. Bowman huddled down near the trunk of the tree, his gaze flickering back and forth as he rolled the leaf up tightly.

When he had a green scroll shape the length of his arm clutched in one hand, Bowman held it out in front and narrowed his eyes. With a deep breath, he concentrated on something deep within himself, something that all wood sprites carried in their hearts. Then, cautiously and with the fumbling skill of someone out of practice, he opened his connection to the Earth Spirit, the Lady of Life and mother to the wood sprites.

“Earth Spirit, I beseech you for sight,” he intoned. Not every sprite needed the words to direct their Prayers, but Bowman had spent his time practicing flying instead of Praying. Without the words, the magic he borrowed would fizzle out.

With them, the magic flowed into the leaf he had claimed and a web of soft but potent green light glowed out from the veins. With the leaf rolled up, Bowman had created a bar of glowing light to see by, something to get himself home.

It wasn’t a very fancy lantern. Built so hastily and on such short notice, it probably wouldn’t hold together until the morning, but he didn’t need it to. He only needed it to get him home.

With the path before him slightly less daunting and unknown, Bowman stepped off of the branch to glide towards home once more.

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