Spoiler Alert. This Farseen Chronicles flash fiction takes place when Tempest was still living in the Farseen with Ridge, and Saffron was a child not yet in her teens. There are no plot spoilers in this story.
Tehuti and Kailani huddled in the relative safety of the Kaveri River near the royal residence of Lord Ellwood. His realm was the only one where those who were different could live in peace… if they could garner the good will of one of his half-breed daughters. With their patronage, safety was assured.
The fifteen-year-old twins were outcasts. They had been born in the sea to their mermaid mother. Their tail fins worked just fine but their nymph wings were too flimsy to be of use in the water. They could only swim by holding their wings flat against their bodies and, even then, they were slower than sea merfolk. Once weaned, she sent them to their forest nymph father, where their wings worked great, but their tailfins were useless.
Tehuti looked over at his twin sister, sleeping in the water. She looked peaceful for the first time in… forever. This section of river was not deep, but allowed them to keep their scales wet. He had brought Kailani here when he caught the other nymphs blocking her access to the Eastern Soul River. Her screams of agony had alerted him. The pain of drying scales was nearly unbearable. The nymphs had thought it funny. Father, as always, ignored their pleas for protection from his coterie.
The trip had taken weeks, moving slowly up the river. His mixed heritage left him physically stronger than any merfolk or nymph; Kailani’s had left her weaker. She couldn’t work magic at all. What magic he could wield, he taught himself.
When he heard a noise, he peered through the reeds to find a child sitting in the sand. She looked to be around nine, too young to be Lady Tempest, the ruling fae he hoped to find.
“Mistress Saffron, why aren’t you in court?” The adult fae appeared and dropped gracefully to the sand.
Recognizing Lady Tempest, Tehuti ducked lower in the reeds.
Saffron whined, “Are you here to make me go back? It’s boring.”
“No sister mine, but others might, if only to preen before Father. You should go deeper in the woods to stay hidden, but you must have someone with you.”
“You never took a guard,” she replied indignantly.
“And for that reason I had to kill a werewolf when I was your age. Always enter the woods with a friend, if not a guard.”
Saffron used a stick to draw in the sand and admitted, “All of my friends are too afraid of Father to do anything without approval. Even Clare and Fauna run to father for everything.”
“It sounds to me like you need to make new friends.” Tempest stood and brushed sand from her peasant skirt. “You are not to go exploring without a friend, but remember new friends can become best friends. Trust your heart, for yours is pure and will not lead you astray.” Tempest left.
Tehuti kept very still. It seemed that Lady Tempest had stared at him when she told young Saffron to find a new friend. Probably his imagination; he was well hidden.
Kailani stretched in her sleep and her fin splashed the water.
“Who’s there?” Saffron demanded, but her voice wavered.
Tehuti used his wings to hover above the reeds. “Only me, and my sister who is sleeping. We did not mean to scare you.”
“I’m not afraid. Well, not much,” she conceded before walking past the reeds to the edge of the river, “You are new to my father’s land.”
Tehuti nodded, “Indeed we are.”
“Where were you before? Why did you leave? Where’s your family?” The questions came rapid fire as Saffron eyed the newcomers.
“So many questions, but you didn’t ask what we are,” Tehuti smiled just a little. She was the first person he had met who didn’t immediately demand verification that they were not fully one thing or the other.
“You can only be Tehuti and your sister is Kailani. Your mother is a mermaid and your father a forest nymph, which means you are at home in the sky and the sea. Tempest… er, Lady Tempest, told me your story. It must be marvelous to be you. I’m sure no one tells you what you can and can’t do.”
“’Tis true, no one tells us what to do, because no one cares. I’m sure the rules that are imposed on you are to keep you safe.”
“That only proves you haven’t met Father,” she pouted. She looked over as Kailani woke up and smiled, “I bet you’re the new friends my sister told me to find.”
Kailani scurried to hide behind her brother.
Saffron frowned, “Why do you hide?”
“Forgive Kailani, we were hiding from those who harmed her. When she awoke she didn’t know who you were.”
“Harmed! In father’s realm?”
“No, we came here from the Eastern Realm,” Kailani peeked out from behind her brother to better see the child.
Saffron stood to her full height, “Oh, then you should stay here. None will harm you here.”
Tehuti sighed, “I wish that were so, but we are half breeds as you pointed out earlier. Without the sponsorship of a ruling fae, we will always be in danger.”
“Then I shall be your… patron. That’s what Lady Tempest would say. I shall be your patron and none shall harm thee,” Saffron smiled, pleased with herself.
“I would welcome you patronage, but I think perhaps you should check with Lady Tempest. I don’t want to be accused of tricking you,” Tehuti smiled. He couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Lady Tempest.
“Don’t be silly. She knew you were here, and she approves, or she wouldn’t have left me alone with you. Since we’re friends, we can walk in the woods. She said I could only walk in the woods with friends.” Saffron smiled in anticipation.
“I think it’s a lovely day for a walk,” Tehuti responded.