Rupella is the Peri Queen, mortal ruler of a Magical land inhabited by Peris and their immortal kindred the Elves, Dwarves, Fairies, Dryads, Naiads, and Nymphs. After her secret coronation ceremony, but before the public coronation, Rupella's thrown is stolen by her jealous mother, and she is banished to the giant world.
In a land filled with strange, solid, ugly buildings, with metal beasts spilling toxic fumes into the air, and giants clomping about, Rupella found herself lost and alone. Even the stars were no longer visible in the sky. She had nothing with her but her flower petal dress, and even her wings seemed to have turned invisible, perhaps by some Magic still protecting her. She wandered the dark, hard, dirty streets, dodging the beasts and giants’ feet. Finally, alone and weary, she curled up in a doorstep and cried herself to sleep.
Rupella awoke in the dark hours before dawn. Stiff and cold, every muscle and bone in her body ached from sleeping on the cold ground. Her stomach rumbled, and she knew she had to find food. But where were the berries? Where was the dew to drink? She looked around wildly, and then decided to walk in one direction and hope she found a fruit tree, assuming trees even grew in this strange, horrible place. Eventually, she noticed a small, forlorn, hopeless looking little tree growing on the first patch of earth she had seen since the crows had dumped her here. She knelt delightedly next to it.
“Oh Dryad, oh Dryad, please tell me your sweet name!” she sang to the tree. Giants stomping by cast strange glances at the little figure in the flowery dress talking to the tree, but otherwise paid no notice. Rupella was too delirious with joy to see them. “Dryad! Dryad! Please talk to me! Are you there, little Dryad?” she pleaded. How desperately she longed to converse with her own kind! As the Dryad still didn’t answer, she started to break down, and she cried again, head leaning forward against the little tree.
“Who are you?” she heard a soft little voice ask. Rupella looked up, and her tears transformed into an expression of pure delight as she looked upon the little green eyed, pinkish-purple haired, light reddish-brown skinned Dryad standing before her. She appeared to be only about 4 or 5 years old, practically a baby. Of course, it was a very little tree.
“Oh, little Dryad! I thought you were never going to answer me!”
“You know who I am! Nobody in this place knows who I am! Sometimes I wonder if the stories I heard as a little acorn were just fables,” the Dryad looked whistfully at her.
Rupella laughed. “Little Dryad, I am Rupella, and I am a Peri. I am a distant cousin of yours!” she sang out. “Please, what is your name?”
“My mother tree called me Rodinia,” she said shyly. “I haven’t seen her in a long time. I was sold and stuck here, with only a small patch of earth and no sky and no others of my own kind about me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m alone in the world. When I heard your greeting, I thought you were too good to be true.”
“Sold!” exclaimed Rupella. “What is that?”
Rodinia shook her little head. “I don’t understand it. They gave someone something, and then I came here.”
Rupella frowned. What strange, monstrous beings these giants were. “I will learn more and return. You go back into your tree, and I’ll call you when I’m back.”
Rodinia nodded. “They can’t see me, though, you know,” she whispered, then, as Rupella stared in shock, added, “they can see my tree just fine, but they can’t see me. When I stand in front of them, they walk through me as if I’m not even there.”
Rupella was horrified. How could these giants really not even notice such a lovely little baby Dryad? “I’ll be back,” she promised. Then, squaring her shoulders, she set off to look to see if there might be more of her kind in this strange, cold land.
After hours of more wandering, Rupella had found a handfull more of her own kind, but their reactions were not as she had expected.
“Peri! War-bringer! Have you come to chop us down and burn us?” the Dryads chased her back, throwing acorns at her head.
“Water-poisoner! Have you come kill our fish?” sneered the Naiads.
“Do you intend to cut off the air? Do you think you can really control the wind?” mocked the Nymphs.
Rupella was confused. She thought no one else even remembered the ancient war days Celedhelwen had told her about during the ritual. Why, then, did her own kindred act as though she had come to destroy them? Her thoughts reeling, she suddenly felt the weight of the past day overcome her, and she collapsed to the ground and again, for the second time that day, started to cry. “We don’t do things like that anymore!” she whimpered.
The Dryads, Naiads, and Nymphs looked curiously at each other. They had never actually seen a Peri before, but they had all heard the stories of the burning, poison, death, and destruction that had caused their ancestors to flee the Ancient World. But now, one of the fighters, a Peri, had suddenly appeared in their midst, and she sounded friendly. It was a strange occurrence!
Finally, one of the Naiads approached the weeping Rupella. “For what reason have you come to us?” she asked, in a bubbly voice.
Rupella looked up. “I was crowned the Queen of Periland, but before I could be publicly coronated, I was kidnapped and banished, and now I’m all alone here!” she sobbed.
The Naiad’s face softened and she sat besides Rupella. “Why don’t you begin at the beginning?” she asked softly.
Rupella thought for a moment. How much could she tell them? She had vowed never to tell the story! She shyly replied, “My story is woven with a thread of mystery and an oath of silence. Tell me, then, your story, how you came to be here, why you speak of such evil to me, that I may know how much I can reveal without breaking my oath.”
The group exchanged glances. How much could they really trust this Peri? They looked down at Rupella, who, being tired and hungry and feeling alone and lost suddenly in the world, still had an air of dignity about her. Slowly, they nodded.
“My name is Sparkle,” said the Naiad. “I am one of the voyagers. Have you really never heard of us?” Rupella shook her head, silently, and Sparkle continued. “We left the Ancient Land in search of peace. We had suffered so at the hands of the wars! We never fought, yet we suffered much for the actions of the Peris, Elves, Dwarves, and Fairies! Finally, our ancestors had enough. They sent out their children, our ancestors, the acorns and seeds, the droplets, the puffs of wind, beyond the Ancient Land on the wings of doves and sparrows. Finally, our ancestors arrived here in this land and we settled to live life here as best as we could. So we’ve lived here for thousands of years, passing on the stories of the Ancient Lands to our children and grandchildren.”
Rupella looked at them reproachfully. “You missed one. A little Dryad named Rodinia. Looks to be about four or five years. All alone in the world and scared.”
The Dryads cast uncomfortable looks between themselves. “The inhabitants of this land don’t understand that young trees house baby Dryads. They tend to plant them wherever, even with no older trees around, and then we don’t always know how to find the babies,” they explained, looked slightly ashamed.
Rupella felt sick. These people, not even knowing it, were her responsibility. By rights, they were citizens of Periland, though they knew it not. They should be immortal, living in the beautiful forests of Periland, not dying on the streets in a strange land. “We must end this!” she cried without realizing it.
Stunned, the group stared at her. “And why should we take orders from the Queen of the Peris?” a Naiad demanded, while the others nodded their assent.
“Because Periland, the Ancient Land, is different now!” explained Rupella. “Yes, it’s called Periland now, and yes, the Peri Queen is the ruler of the land, but it’s not because we won the war. It’s so that, by our sacrifice, the rest of our kindred may live in peace.” She went on to explain the history she had learned at her secret coronation ceremony, concluding with, “we keep this secret because we don’t want the Peris to be considered valiant heroes for living mortal lives to pay the price of peace. We want our land to peaceful and prosperous. We want you to come back!”
There was stunned silence throughout the circle. Rupella searched their faces desperately as they one by one retreated back into their trees or streams or into a breeze. “Please don’t leave me!” Rupella cried, fear taking a grip into her heard. What if she never were to converse with her own kin again? What if she never found the way back to Periland?
Disheartened, she made her way back to Rodinia. The little girl came out immediately, eyes bright, searching Rupella’s face instantly. “Did you find anyone?” she asked, swirling her arms in excitement.
Rupella looked down at the child, and she couldn’t bear to disappoint her. “Yes, but we’ll need to go talk to them more,” she said softly. Maybe they would at least talk to Rodinia, if not to her. She took the child’s hand and led her back to the little gap between buildings where she had found the small park.
“If you won’t talk to me, at least talk to her! Take her, teach her, and let me go on my way!” she called out to them. But there was no response. Bending down to look into the trembling Rodinia’s eyes, she said firmly, “They were here, and they will come. They just need time.”
It took longer than Rupella had thought or hoped. Days went by, and then weeks. By and by, Rupella found what the giants called a “job;” she taught dance classes. She was able to use something called “money” (she still wasn’t sure what purpose it served, but the giants all loved it) to buy food and “rent” (these giants and their strange world!) a room in which to sleep. And every day, she took little Rodinia by the hand and took her to the park to see if their kin would come talk to her that day. As the months went by, Rupella noticed a strange change occur. The air became colder and colder, and there was a sharpness she had never felt before. Her arms and legs were covered in blue bumps when she walked, and her feet her. She complained loudly to Rodinia, but the little girl was almost always tired now.
“It’s winter,” Rodinia yawned, trying to stay away.
Rupella frowned. “Winter?” she asked. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this. There’s nothing like this back home. It’s always warm there.”
Rodinia smiled softly. “That sounds nice. I’m going to take a nap now, okay?” And before Rupella could respond, Rodinia had vanished, going back into her tree. No matter how hard Rupella tried, she could not awaken the sleeping little Rodinia. Sadly, she walked back to her little room, feeling more alone than she had felt since that first horrid morning when she was banished to this giant world.
It was another several long months before Rupella saw another of her kind. She kept busy, teaching dance to the children and exploring the bleak and dreary world. She discovered that the giants enjoyed making figures out of rock, much like the Dwarves, and while it was different, it somehow reminded her more of home. Teaching the little giants, however, was the closest to real enjoyment she had during that time. She loved the children; they had such open imaginations and they still believed that anything in the world was possible. They were the most like the Peris, Elves, Dwarves, Fairies, Dryads, Naiads, and Nymphs in that their minds were wide open and their hearts light, happy, and curious about the world around them. Rupella never saw that in their parents and the other old giants stomping about the land. She sometimes wondered if the giants had a special ritual that entailed taking out the imagination, for she certainly did not see how such lovely children could grow to be such unimaginative adults! Always in the back of her mind, too, was the fear of what Limilla and Menea were doing to her beloved realm.
Eventually, however, Rupella started to feel warmer again, and one day, walking past Rodinia, she saw the little girl, taller now, standing there to wait for her.
“Rupella!” the little Dryad cried in delight, running to Rupella and throwing her arms around her.
Rupella laughed and, picking the child up, swung her through the air. “I missed you, too!” she told her friend. “Let’s go see if the others might come talk to us today. “
Rodinia took her hand, and once again, they set off towards the little park. Rupella felt a surge of joy as she saw that the Dryads, Naiads, and Nymphs were once again gathered around the park. This time, instead of running off, they hesitatingly approached the two figures as they entered the park.
“We have been think it over,” said one of the Naiads, “and we believe you. We want to come back to Periland, help you take back the realm, and become immortal. We want to live and dance forever in the beautiful forests..” she stopped short, remembering that Rupella herself would not live forever.
But Rupella laughed delightedly, her voice sounding like little bells in the breeze. “I am so happy!” she sang out, doing a little dance without even realizing it. “I thought I would never get home!”
Together, they planned their return carefully. Some of the older Dryads were friends with birds who nested in their branches. After some time, the birds were convinced to ask their relatives, the swans, to come and help carry the Dryads back home to Periland. The question became how to accomplish this, as these beings were much larger than the seeds and acrons that had been brought out of the Ancient Lands so long ago. Many ideas were considered, including one of suspending the trees on strings between the swans to be carried through the air, which the Dryads vehemently opposed. Finally, they settled on a plan, and got to work.
“Please be careful!” gasped Oaket, as Rupella carefully trimmed her branches back. “That hurts!” Rupella cringed with guilt and promised to try to be gentler, as gentle as anyone could possibly be. It had been decided that the best way to transport the Dryads would be to cut back their branches and trunks and transport only their roots. The Dryads were naturally upset, but the realized they could not simply leave their trees behind as they flew off into the Periland, so they bravely agreed to the plan. Meanwhile, all were practicing and drilling in preparation for what they already anticipated to be a great battle between themselves and the forces of Limilla and Menea.
Finally, all the preparations were finished, and the group of exiles boarded the gracious doves, sparrows, and swans to be carried off back to Periland.
As they flew over Periland, Rupella cringed at what she beheld. There was no laughter, no joy in the land. The creatures plodded about with nearly as little spring in their steps as the giants, and nowhere was the sound of music or the sight of dancing to be heard or seen. Rupella set her face determinedly and gripped her small sword, a gift from one of the giant children (how they had wept at saying goodbye, although their parents had scolded them for believing such tales and frowned upon Rupella). She wasn’t sure where the little boy had found a sword small enough to fit her (she suspected it might have been an eating utensil), but she was happy with it nonetheless.
As the birds landed in front of the Palace, a hush fell over the land, as if the Magic itself was holding its breath. Then, suddenly, Rupella and her friends leapt down, thanked the birds, and charged into the Palace. What ensued was a ferocious battle; the Dryads and the Naiads and the Nymphs dueled and slashed, twirling and bringing their swords against the swords of their Peri rivals. The Peris, however, were unprepared, not expecting to see Rupella ever again, and certainly not to face any resistance. Within minutes, they were rounded up and the returned exiles were standing guard over the disarmed but otherwise unharmed Peris huddled in the corner.
In the center of the chamber, however, Rupella and Limilla still struggled and fought, their swords clanging together and ringing throughout the Palace and most of the realm. They fought ferociously, jumping out of the way of each other’s slashes and darting towards each other to attempt a pass at the other. As they fought, Rupella found it her to ask, “Why?”
Limilla suddenly stepped back and laughed, startling Rupella into also freezing. “Why, you ask? Perhaps because of the ingratitude you showed me! I raised you to be a Queen, but only after my reign was done! I never intended for you to steal the Crown from under my nose! It was supposed to be mine! I am the true Queen of Periland!”
Rupella stared at her. “Mother, you know as well as I do that it is impossible to ‘steal’ the Crown, as you say. Even now, after sitting on your head, it brought me back to it after all these long months!”
Limilla shrieked, and jumped at Rupella with her sword out. But as she did, Rupella felt within a surge of Magic. She lifted her hand, and at that instant, Limilla the Peri stood before her no more. Limilla the harmless butterfly, however, shrieked in rage and fluttered off to find some flower nectar, as the Crown floated itself over and settled on Rupella’s head.
Rupella turned towards the Peris huddled in the corner under the watchful eyes of the guards. “Well, my friends, where are Celedhelwen and the others?”
The Peris squirmed, but, realizing the battle was won, admitted that Limilla had built a dungeon into the ground, and Rupella flew down the stairs, wings trembling indignantly, to release her Ancient friends.
From that point, Rupella’s reign over Periland was long, peaceful, and unevently. The Peri Betrayers, as they came to be called, were sentenced to life in a quiet glen, guarded by Magic, where they could never plot against the Crown again. Rodinia the Dryad grew into a beautiful Dryad, and became the historian of Periland, recording the tales of the realm for posterity (although the Secret of the Queen remained a closely guarded secret). She and Rupella remained close friends for the rest of Rupella’s reign. All the returned exiles drank from the Naiad’s Mirror and felt within them the immortal life spring into them as they did, rejoicing that they had found it within themselves to accept Rupella and come home to the Ancient Land, now their beloved Periland. Rupella always felt that the Crown had chosen her specifically so that she would be exiled, so that she could bring those forgotten stragglers of her kindred back home.
Finally, hundreds of years later, Rupella one day sat up. “It is time,” she whispered softly. She silently floated over the floor of the Palace, feeling within her the call of the Magic and knowing that she must answer. She passed the doors to her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and she smiled, knowing that whenever the Crown chose the next Peri Queen, the realm would be guarded by good wings.
“Rupella?” called a tearful voice behind her.
Rupella turned, and in that instant, she saw not the tall, lovely Dryad who was her dearest friend, but the forlorn little child who had cried to herself in her loneliness with none of her kind around.
“No, sweet little baby Rodinia, I am afraid you cannot come with me this time,” she said softly, tears flowing from her eyes.
“Goodbye!” Rodinia sobbed, throwing herself into Rupella’s arms. Rupella’s heart melted. Stroking the pink-purple hair, she held the woeful Rodinia for a moment, before letting go.
“You will be okay. I will always be there, a star above, watching you.”
“But how will I know which star is yours?” Rodinia wailed.
Rupella smiled. “You will know,” she replied gently, before turning and floating off across the Western Sea into the sky.
And indeed, you can see Rupella, too, looking up at the stars that twinkle in the cold, dark sky. She is now called Polaris, the light by which all in this world are guided.