High in the mountains, where the tree line fades and the cold air snaps, a diminutive figure flitted from branch to branch in the pine trees. The sunlight, caught on pale gossamer wings, refracted rainbows across their surface.
“Skyna, look!” Peri nudged her companion and pointed. Her brown wings hummed with excitement.
Skyna, sleepy eyed and full on pine nuts, glanced up. “What are you going on about? I don’t see anything.”
“There, on the tall pine tree.” Peri hopped up and down on the branch. With a powerful leap and the whir of wings, she bolted from the cover of the boughs and headed across the meadow.
Skyna grumbled, shook the crumbs from her skirt and cautiously trailed after Peri. “Peri, slow down, you know I am not that fast!” She watched the streak of brown and bronze from Peri’s wings dart just over the faded grasses. Skyna redoubled her efforts, stretching nearly flat in flight. She flew well above the dangerous scrub; her bright yellow and silver coloring was a poor camouflage this late in the season.
Peri was nearly to the pines when Skyna saw the flashes of white that had drawn her friend away from the safety of the denser forest. “Peri, stop! You don’t know what that could be! Stop!” Her trill voice was lost the in wind of her flight.
Peri did stop. She had lost sight of her quarry. She scanned the soaring boughs. She flitted from limb to twig. Frustrated, she waved to the Summer fairy. “Skyna, here.”
“You’re daft, you know that?” Skyna was winded and barely able to speak. “I can’t just go cavorting across the meadow!”
“I’m sorry, Skyna.” Peri clasp her friend’s hand remorsefully. “I should have waited. But I could have sworn I saw…” Peri’s voice trailed off to a whisper and her eyes grew wide, “…a Winter fairy.”
On the next branch, behind Skyna, stood a trembling, pale fairy. His bright pink eyes brimmed with tears. “I thought you were sparrows coming to kill me!” The soft baritone voice cracked slightly. His white wings wrapped tighter around his shoulders. He squatted on the branch. “I’ve never seen a sparrow, but grandpa described them slaughtering the Spring fairies.” He shuddered.
Peri hopped to the branch beside the trembling young fey. “Oh no, sparrows are so much larger and ferocious! I’m Peri and that’s Skyna.” Peri stuck out her hands in an excited gesture. “What’s your name? I’ve never met a Winter fairy! Where did you come from?” Peri bubbled questions at the shaken traveler.
“Stop it, Peri.” Skyna settled onto the branch. She pulled Peri down next to her and glared at the Autumn fairy. “Don’t mind her, she is highly excitable.”
Peri stuck out her tongue at Skyna and crossed her arms in pouting, but silent, protest.
“Now, what’s your name and why on earth are you out here now? You stick out like a fire fly on a new moon.” Skyna’s gentle tone seemed to calm his jangled nerves.
“I’m Borgi. I’m not a Winter fairy.” He glanced sheepishly at Peri. “I have albinism. I’m an Autumn fairy with no pigment. No color.” He looked at the two fairies, gauging their reactions.
Skyna smiled warmly, “Well met, Borgi. We come here for pine nuts and to visit before I have to hide from the seasons. Why are you here? Are you lost?” Skyna kept her tone conversational as she handed around tiny bits of honey comb from her pouch.
“Nice to meet you!” Peri piped up with a mouth full of honey. “This is an amazing day! I learned something new! Will you be our friend? I have lots of different friends.” Peri giggled.
Borgi shrugged. “I need friends but I am headed to the snow line to find the Winter kingdom. It would be safer for me to live there.” Borgi hungrily devoured the honey. “The journey has been a lot harder than I planned.” He pulled his wing forward and showed them a ragged rip. “There are so many dangers and I’ve had no help.”
Skyna gently surveyed the damage. “It’s not too bad. I can patch you right up.” Skyna mended the damage with a bit of pitch and cobweb. “How are you going to cross the open meadows until you get to the snow? The forest has cover but out there you’re dangerously visible.”
Peri jumped up. “I know! Camouflage!” She deftly scraped the dust from under the pine bark. “Can I show you, Borgi? Please?”
Borgi nodded and watched as Peri covered one of his white wings with the ruddy dust from the pine bark. The powder turned his coloring a wooden tone that matched the fall colors. “That works great, Peri! Now, I can brave the crossing to my new home. Plus, I know how to come back to visit!”
Peri grinned, “I can go with you and help you wash it off once we find the snow. We don’t want the Winter fairies to think you’re some regular Autumn fairy!”
Skyna gladly gave them her food pouch for the trip. “Be safe you two.”
Borgi whirred his wings. “Thank you, my friends!” He grasped Peri’s hand. “Let’s go to the snow!”