Valley of the Faun

The following is a short story I wrote as part of a larger fiction piece. I hope you enjoy. -GM Potter

Karla stared at the dark faun in front of her.

It wasn’t possible.

He couldn’t be here.

He wasn’t real, he didn’t exist.

“So, do you want to come with me?” he asked, offering her his hand.

Karla looked around her squalid apartment. Only five minutes ago, she had been curled up by the small window of her fourth-floor walk-up when she wished for something magical to happen. She had wished on the first star she saw for someone to come and whisk her away.

There had been a blinding light and her mirror showed a sunny, grassy meadow instead of reflecting her room back at her. As she was looking through the window to another world, a beautiful creature scampered up and stepped through.

He was tall, and lean on the upper half of his body. He had silky black hair that curled at the tips and the slightest little nubs of brownish-black horns. His lower half was covered in silky black fur with twisted legs. They were the legs of a goat.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” the faun said, snapping her back to reality. “You are the one who was foretold to bring peace to our realm.”

“I’m not foretold to do anything, I’m a stocker at a grocery store.”

The faun looked impatient. “If you will not come with me, I will be forced to leave without you, closing the portal forever,” he turned to go. “You will never know happiness if you don’t come with me.”

The faun paused at the threshold of the mirror, waiting for her to change her mind. Karla bit her lip and took another look around her tiny home.

“I’ll come with you,” she blurted. “Just give me another minute to pack up some things.”

The faun smiled and nodded.

Karla hurried into her bedroom. She grabbed a duffle bag and stuffed it with clothes before an idea occurred to her. She could wash clothes, but did they even have tampons where ever she was going?

The creature she’d been talking to wasn’t even human, he might not even know what a period was, much less what to do about it.

Karla ran to her bathroom and dumped the entire contents of her stash into her bag. She was due in another week and she doubted very much that being in a magical realm would keep Aunt Flo at bay.

Her task finished, Karla returned to the faun. She hoisted her bag over her shoulder and followed him through the mirror.

A bright light split the room and then shrunk down to a single point in the center of the mirror.

It was midday in the other realm. At first, she thought there was a kaleidoscope of butterflies in the clearing, but, as she got closer, she realized that they were fairies.

Karla laughed and clapped her hands like a little child.

The fairies swirled and danced around her, weaving in and out of her hair and fingertips.

She was here, and this was real. She had read fairy tales like some people read the Bible. It was gospel, sacred. She had spent her whole life dreaming of coming to a place like this, but she never thought, even as a little girl, that it would happen.

The faun followed her, a few paces behind, watching.

He was a little worried when she didn’t drop everything and run through the portal like the others had, but he got her here just the same.

Breagadoir would be pleased.

The faun clapped his hand on Karla’s shoulder. She turned around, smiling.

“We really must get to the castle.”

“There’s a castle?” Karla asked, barely able to contain her glee.

“Of course, do you think we just live in the wild woods like savages?”

Karla blushed and apologized for insulting him.

He led her down a path, deep into the valley. Nestled in the center was the largest, grandest castle Karla had ever seen.

The faun smiled at her cry of awe and led her to the front gates.

There was another faun, this one russet colored, waiting at the gates. He was holding a long pike, but he lowered it as he saw them approach.

“At it again, Amadain?” asked the other faun.

The first faun, who Karla now took to be named Amadain, hissed at the pike wielding one and hurried her through the gate.

There were dozens of fauns milling about the courtyard, but they all stopped dead when they saw Karla.

The fauns closest to her dropped to their knees and covered their eyes. Karla looked to Amadain in question, but he just laughed.

“They show their reverence to you, as you were foretold as our savior.”

Karla blushed and lowered her eyes, it was flattering, but it seemed unnecessary. She wasn’t anyone special.

“You have been long awaited,” Amadain said as if he heard her thoughts.

Karla was led to a great bed chamber, the sort fantasy illustrators reserved only for the fairest princesses. The room was dominated by a four post bed that seemed to be carved from still living trees which dropped delicate petals on the off white velvet bedspread. There were ropes of braided fresh flowers swagged across the ceiling.

“Do you like it?” Amadain asked.

Speechless, Karla nodded and dropped her duffle bag on the plush carpet of moss and flowers.

Amadain smiled and left her alone in the room. Karla thought she heard the click of a deadbolt, but at that moment, she was hit with how tired she was.

She crossed the room to the bed and climbed beneath the covers. Within seconds, she was sound asleep.

She woke several hours later to Amadain gently shaking her shoulder. His large, brown eyes were inscrutable as the peered at her from under long lashes.

“Lady, it is time for the Great Feast,” he said.

Karla looked down at her tshirt and sweat pants. “I’m not dressed for a feast.”
“There are some dresses in the wardrobe that should fit. You have-”
“Been foretold,” Karla finished getting up. She had padded over to the wardrobe before she wondered where her shoes were. She turned and looked at the faun.

“I took the liberty of removing your shoes,” he began. “You will not need them here.” He turned on his heel and left the room.

She didn’t notice, but her bag was gone, too.

Kat was puzzled by the comment, but all thought left her mind when she opened the wardrobe. There, front and center, was an silky, ivory, Grecian gown with what appeared to be living roses along the neck.

She pulled the gown from the rack and held it to her chest. She quickly stripped out of her clothes and pulled it on over her head.

It fit like a glove. Karla looked around for a mirror, but found none. It seemed odd that in this opulent room, there would be no mirror, but she dismissed it as her own vanity and left the room.

Amadain was waiting for her just outside the door. He looked at her and his eyes widened with pleasure. “I was hoping you would pick that one.”

He held out his arm and Karla took it, letting him escort her to the Great Feast. He led her to a large central terrace, surrounded on all sides by the walls of the castle. Flowering vines climbed up the walls and perfumed the air.

In the center of the terrace, with chairs and tables arranged all around in concentric circles was what looked like a well. It was a large, low, circular stone wall that surrounded a pit. Karla couldn’t see what was inside, but she couldn’t imagine it was anything other than a well.

Amadain grabbed her hand suddenly and spun her around as the music of a hundred lyres and panpipes filled the air. They danced for what felt like hours or seconds at the same time.

The music stopped abruptly and Amadain let go of Karla. He, and all the other fauns dropped to their knees as someone new entered. He was a head and shoulders taller than Karla and his lower half was covered in graying fur. Across his torso, a crimson sash was slung.

“Greetings, Lady. I am Breagadoir, King of the Valley of the Faun.” His voice was loud and deep. His eyes were intense and he seemed to look right through her.

Karla dropped into a curtsey and averted her eyes.

“Stand, dear Lady,” he said. “Tonight, you shall bow to no one.”

That seemed to be the cue that the other faun needed to get up. In perfect unison, they all scrambled to their feet. Those who were playing resumed, and several fauns lined up to take a turn to dance with Karla.

The dancing was wild and free, and, as she danced, each new partner brought her a golden goblet of sweet red wine.

No matter how much she drank, she couldn’t seem to get enough. Each new dance partner introduced himself with a goblet, and she drank thirstily of each one.

The last faun to dance with her was Breagadoir. He presented her with a flagon of wine, which she took and drank in three swallows. The other fauns cheered at this, but Breagadoir raised his hand to silence them.

“It has been foretold, Lady, that you would come and save us.”
“And so I have!” Karla slurred cheerily. “You are welcome!”

The fauns cheered.

“Are you willing to do what it takes to save our people, Lady,” Breagadoir asked.

“It’s Karla, and yes!”

The fauns cheered again.

“Then it is time,” the king said extending his hand. “Come with me.”

Karla took his hand and walked crookedly beside him. He led her to the well at the center of the terrace.

A pair of fauns carried a large, lit fire pit to the edge of the well. At Breagadoir’s command, they tossed it in. There was a second of pause before the whole thing went up with a slight explosion.

Karla cooed. The well produced a bright green fire that licked its way up into the night’s sky. She took a step closer.

It was uncomfortably hot this close to the fire, but she took another step.

Breagadoir looked at Amadain and smiled.

Karla climbed up the side of the low stone wall and stood at the edge of the green fire.

She took a deep breath and swan dived into the flames.

The fauns cheered, louder than before.

Little balls of green light erupted from the well and floated the the fauns. Breagadoir was the first to catch his. He popped it into his mouth and swallowed.

Green light radiated from his body until it was almost blinding. As it dulled, there stood a much younger and viril Breagadoir.

“Well done, Amadain. She was even better than the last.”

Amadain smiled and bowed as he ate his own ball of green light.

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