At long last, you've finally done it. You found her.
Standing in a ring of colorful mushrooms, the Faerie Queen in a long dress of gossamer fabrics opens her jewel-like eyes and smiles at you. Her skin shines and great, irridescent wings unfurl behind her.
"Greetings, Mortal. I am the Faerie Queen, and this is my domain."
She spreads her arms out to either side in delicate gestures to the glittering forest around her.
"Because you have been clever enough to summon me, here, I am hereby able to grant you a boon. What would you ask of the Faerie Queen?"
[[I want riches and power!]]
[[Can you tell me the secrets of the forest? Of the mortal world?]]
[[What is the meaning and purpose of life?]]
[[Make me into a Faerie, like you!]]The Faerie Queen's smile twists into a smirk.
"I'm a faerie, not a genie."
[[No, really. Give me riches!]]
In that case, [[Can you tell me the secrets of the forest? Of the mortal world?]]
In that case, [[What is the meaning and purpose of life?]]
In that case, [[Make me into a Faerie, like you!]] The Faerie Queen's smirk drops completely and she folds her arms.
"Mortals are so predictable. Here, I can give you the wealth of the forest. Gold and jewels and rare furs. Does this please you?"
On second thought, [[Can you tell me the secrets of the forest? Of the mortal world?]]
On second thought, [[What is the meaning and purpose of life?]]
On second though, [[Make me into a Faerie, like you!]] "Ah, precious mortal," the Faerie Queen tilts her head and her eyes crinkle in the corners. "Your world is full of beauty. But it is also full of danger. If I give you this knowledge, then you must swear to use it in a way that will not put you in harm's way. And that you will not harm the natural order, in kind."
Then, [[I want riches and power!]]
Then, [[What is the meaning and purpose of life?]]
Then, [[Make me into a Faerie, like you!]] The Faerie Queen folds her hands before her and her warm smile cools into a smile of pity. "Oh, mortal. Do you understand what you ask of me? Perhaps these answers are best left in the dark. Perhaps they were put there for a reason."
[[I want to know.]]
You're right, instead [[Make me into a Faerie, like you!]]
You're right, instead [[I want riches and power!]]
You're right, instead [[Can you tell me the secrets of the forest? Of the mortal world?]] A devious flicker crosses the Faerie Queen's eyes as she processes your words.
"Really? You want to give yourself, body and soul, to the Faerie realm and become one of my subjects?"
Actually, [[I want riches and power!]]
Actually, [[Can you tell me the secrets of the forest? Of the mortal world?]]
Actually, [[What is the meaning and purpose of life?]] The Faerie Queen shuts her eyes and the magic forest around you is replaced by the natural woods where you first found the faerie circle. But instead of a ring of mushrooms and flowers you see a massive pile of gold bars, bulging sacks of multicolored gems, and great stacks of neatly folded furs in pristine condition!
It takes you some time to gather all the resources and take them back home, but getting rid of it in exchange for wealth and power takes almost no time at all.
You want for nothing after that. Everything that money can buy is just at your fingertips. Your home is lush and comfortable, you provide for your family with the best education, jobs, and extravagent gifts. You drink coffee with the social elite and show up to as many red carpet events as you like.
But you never return to the woods where you found the Faerie Queen, or any deep, forgotten woods again. There is nothing for you to explore out there that wouldn't come with an entourage or ruining your nice, new clothes.
Are you content with no more mysteries in your life? With delegating every conflict to someone you pay to stand at your side, having your every desire handed to you on a platter, and rubbing elbows with anyone who is anyone? Is this the life you are satisfied with?
[[I am satisfied.]]
[[Meet the Faerie Queen]] again.Congratulations.
[[Meet the Faerie Queen]] and play again?The Faerie Queen's smile grows impossibly wider as she leans close to you, taking your chin in her delicte fingers and tilting your head up. You both begin to levitate off the ground as faerie light and magic swarms around you, and then it seeps into you. The light travels through your skin and down to your bones, and in a moment that lasts both forever and only the blink of an eye, you are transformed!
Your body is lithe, small, and wings protrude from your back like dainty flags. The world around you is full of magic: woven into the ground, the sky, through the bloodlines of the forest that surrounds you. What's more, the magic seems to flow through you as well. You can taste the colors of it, smell the magic like wafts of earthy breezes.
This magic is subtle and rather simple to learn. You make many fairy friends, forgetting all about the life you had once before. You may even find love among them, as faeries are affectionate and passionate.
But there is a grim price you learn of, far too late for you to change your mind.
The Faerie Queen is a commanding and terrifying presence in your life at all times. Her thoughts become your own, then her desires, and eventually you are so bonded with her that she can manipulate your will into hers. Sometimes this means that you'll lose a few fae days to doing tedious labor that keeps forests and fae temples hidden from mortals, but sometimes it is more sinister.
You and your fellow fae have a reputation as being mischevious, and sometimes you come to your senses with the stolen goods of mortals, or with the sounds of their bones breaking from a fall ringing in your mind, or even tending to a stolen baby.
Is this what you want? You never need fear age and withering strength, and the magics of the world are literally at your fingertips, but sometimes that power is used for purposes you might not desire, and have no control over. Are you satisfied with this life?
[[I am satisfied.]]
[[Meet the Faerie Queen]] again.The Faerie Queen moves in a blur, sweeping you up and opening the world around you into beautiful scenery. At her side, you soar over vast canyons, lush valleys, by glistening waterfalls, and to the top of the highest, snow-capped mountains.
When you and the Faerie Queen return to where you began, a sense of understanding fills your mind and warms your body. The fae world dissappears around you and you are back in the woods where you first found the faerie circle. Yet, this time you look at every tree, rock, and mushroom around you and you know its name. You know how old each tree is, the composition of every rock, and the capabilities of every plant.
You set out to adventure the world, mezmerised by the places that the Faerie Queen showed you and determined to go there yourself. You notice that every time you set out for another adventure, nature is more hospitable and welcoming to you. You almost never trip or find yourself in the grip of poisonous leaves. Small animals trust you to get close, and predatory animals give you a respectable birth. You never feel that you are in great danger with them.
Of course, the more time you spend in nature the further you get from society and civilizations. You sometimes make it a point to be as isolated from human contact as possible while on a journey. You see all the beautiful, magnificent sights of the world, and you see them alone.
Is this how you want to spend your days? Are you satisfied with the appreciation you have, but never share?
[[I am satisfied.]]
[[Meet the Faerie Queen]] again.The Faerie Queen nods, unclasping her hands to take yours in them. Her skin feels cool to the touch. Your gazes lock onto each other, and all at once your mind's eye is flooded with visions.
You see every moment of your life go by in a blur, but you somehow process it all in real-time. You remember your greatest triumphs, your lowest pitfalls, the worst pain you've endured, and all the pains you've eased in others. You see how you learned from the world around you, everything from how to walk to how to look for a Faerie Queen in the woods.
The Faerie Queen brings you back to the moment with a soft touch on your cheek.
"The meaning of life is not one single thing. Life changes. Perhaps, then mortals might find meaning in adapting to the changes, in seeking out new solutions to old problems. And once those solutions become old problems, letting go and advancing further onward. This is something mortals can do that the immortal fae do not understand. To be mortal is to be fleeting, as immortals are imutable. Mortals are always mobile and growing, while immortals hold constant."
She wipes a tear from her cheek.
"And the purpose of your life is not something to seek and to find. Your life's purpose is the gift of life that is given to you when you are born. Mortals always strive to claim something greater than themselves. This can be admirable, but so often do they forget that being alive makes you worthy."
You pause, still stunned by all that you've seen like a perfect story in your mind. Why did you never put the pieces together before? How could you have forgotten the simple times? A well of emotion springs open inside you.
The Faerie Queen presses her lips to your temple. For a second, your heart flutters as moments of her own life intertwine with yours. Her magic weaving around the air in a chorus of fae music, the first time she saw a mortal, how she looked upon you when you called her to the faerie circle.
Then, she is gone. The faerie circle is gone.
[[Touch your temple.]]
[[Look for the Queen and the circle.]]A cool spot on your skin draws your attention and you bring your fingers to it.
Your memories return to their fragmented state, settling into disjointed experiences that must have happened to you just as easily as they could have happened to anyone else. But there is a sense of understanding about you, now, when you think back on yourself and your past.
That feeling extends to your future when you reflect on it. You find that a sense of confidence you didn't have before when undertaking new challenges, and your friends and family often come to you for sage advice that you seem to draw from deep inside yourself.
But you can't remember what happened to you in those woods, or the words of the Faerie Queen - if you ever met her.
Is this a gift, or a curse? What did she do that made you forget and change? Are you satisfied letting the memories be forgotten?
[[I am satisfied.]]
[[Look for the Queen and the circle.]] You scramble to the forest floor. Goosebumps rush across your flesh and lift your every hair on end. Tears fill your eyes, sometimes, but you blink them away.
As you scour the dirt and twigs, you realize you are pulling up dead leaves. Then you are digging up handfulls of snow. The snow melts and you uproot small flowers as they bloom.
Time loses all meaning. You have to find the Faerie Queen, you have to find out what she knows. You have to ask what the future holds. You have to wring everything she knows from her with your bare hands...
One day, you look at your hands and you see that they are wrinkled and bloody. They have been for a long time.
You are tired. You lie amongst the piles of dirt and bare patches of dead grass you've created over all these years. Your heart tries to beat out of your chest.
Is this the end?
[[I am satisfied.]]
[[No, not like this.]]You have to let go. So you do. You loose your breath, and another one doesn't come.
Sometimes to go forward, you must look backward. [[Meet the Faerie Queen]]