The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland #5)

Written By: Catherynne M. Valent

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland #5)

Catherynne M. Valente



For everyone

forever.





Dramatis Personae

SEPTEMBER, a Girl SUSAN JANE AND OWEN, her parents MARGARET, her aunt AROOSTOOK, a Model A Ford SATURDAY, a Marid A-THROUGH-L, a Wyverary AUBERGINE, a Night-Dodo HAWTHORN, a Troll and a Changeling TAMBURLAINE, a Fetch and a Changeling BLUNDERBUSS, a Combat Wombat SCRATCH, a Gramophone THE STOAT OF ARMS

JACQUARD, a Mantelet AJAX ODDSON, a Dandy MERIDIAN, an Ancient and Overgrown Library GREENWICH MEAN TIME, a Security System FIZZWILLIAM, a Bathysphere HUGGER-MUGGERY, an Octopus Assassin SEPIA SIPHUNCLE, a Cuttlefish BROTHER TINPAN, a Monkfish BRUNHILDA, the Greatvole of Black Salt Cavern CONKER, a Wombat BLUESTOCKING, also a Wombat TUGBOAT, a Tobacconist HEMLOCK, a Troll HYSSOP, a Troll LYE, a Golem MAUD, also a Shadow THE WATCHFUL DRESS

DEATH

PAN

CHARLES DARWIN, an Englishman REBECCA, a Human Girl Racers CHARLES CRUNCHCRAB I, King of Fairyland THE MARQUESS, Deposed Ruler of Fairyland PRINCE MYRRH, her Son GRATCHLING GOURDBONE GOLDMOUTH, a Clurichaun (formerly a Baseball) MADAME TANAQUILL, Prime Minister of Fairyland TITANIA, a Fairy Queen HUSHNOW, the Ancient and Demented Raven Lord QUEEN MAB

HALLOWEEN, a Shadow and Queen of Fairyland Below WHIPSTITCH, the Elegant Emperor THE HEADMISTRESS

CURDLEBLOOD, the Dastard of Darkness PINECRACK, the Moose-Khan PENNY FARTHING

THRUM, the Rex Tyrannosaur CUTTY SOAMES, the Captain of the Coblynows Winds THE RED WIND, a War Wind THE BLUE WIND, a Sneaking Wind THE SILVER WIND, a Following Wind THE BLACK WIND, a Fierce Wind THE GOLD WIND, a Blustering Wind THE GREEN WIND, a Harsh Air Large Animals IMOGEN, the Leopard of Little Breezes IAGO, the Panther of Rough Storms CYMBELINE, the Tiger of Wild Flurries PEASEBLOSSOM, the Puffin of Sudden Blizzards BANQUO, the Lynx of Gentle Showers CAPULET, the Jaguar of Soft Showers Numerous Gorillas, Orangutans, Flaming Badgers, Wombats, Octopi, Toads, Spaniels, Ponies, and one Polar Bear





CHAPTER I

THE QUEEN OF FAIRYLAND AND ALL HER KINGDOMS

In Which We Begin Just Precisely Where We Ended, Far Too Many People Talk All at Once, an Emperor Gets Himself Stabbed, Queen September Makes Her Inaugural Speech, and a Wondrous Race Is Scheduled for Thursday Next

Once upon a time, a country called Fairyland grew very tired indeed of people squabbling over it, of polishing up the glitter on the same magic and wonder and dashing dangers each morning, of drifting along prettily through the same Perverse and Perilous Sea, of playing with the same old tyrants and brave heroes every century. Because she was quite a large and opinionated country, and because she was as old as starlight and twice as stubborn, and because she had a mountain range on her left border that simply would not be bossed about, Fairyland decided to do something about it one day in March just after her morning tea.

A vast and hungry country takes tea somewhat differently than you and I. Fairyland’s teatime consisted of a dollop of rain in the Autumn Provinces, a particularly delicate icing of clouds over the Painted Forest, a healthy squeeze of blazing sun in the Hourglass Desert, and a fresh, green wind blowing wild through the streets and alleyways and secret corners of Pandemonium.

The Green Wind sailed through the tufted wool cupolas and brocade bridges and taffeta towers of the capital city. He banked off felt and bombazine memorial statues, twirled on his left toe on the copper silk tip of Groangyre Tower, and stopped to kiss every black lace gargoyle on every rooftop and balcony in the place. He was a handsome thing, with a neat little pointed green beard and dancing green eyes. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver’s cloak, and green jodhpurs—but he had left behind his green snowshoes in his flat in Westerly and swapped them out for green winklepicker boots. Fairyland is warm in March, which is not called springtime, but Bideawhile, for Fairyland has not four seasons, but five and one quarter. In Bideawhile, the bare winter trees put forth tiny paper buds, and on these buds are written secrets, memories, tales only trees can tell.

The Green Wind finished freshening up every curtain and front stoop in town. He straightened his green cravat and soared over the Janglynow Flats, through Hallowgrum and Seresong, stopping only for a short coffee at his favorite crinoline café, and then, without further dawdling, straight through the satin green of Mallowmire Park, to a certain window in a certain palace. The certain palace was called the Briary; of all the lovely towers and castles in Pandemonium, it alone was not made of silk or wool, but of living vines, briars, trellises, and flowers that bloom all year long. The certain window belonged to the Queen of Fairyland.

Pink and yellow peonies chased each other round the window frame. A bluish yellow light fluttered over the walls of the Queen’s bedroom, where wild dahlias of every color crowded together, as close as wallpaper. The light came from a hard-working hurricane lamp on the Queen’s table. The room stood quite bare except for that humble table, two armoires, and the Royal Desk. The Royal Desk was carved out of a single enormous crystal tree that some brave window-maker cut down long ago in the Glass Forest. It still glowed with fiery hot colors though it was a thousand years old and counting. Rich green and violet and scarlet and orange blankets towered on a small thin bed like an embroidered mountain, for the work of a Queen often takes all night long, and even monarchs need naps, from time to time.

But the Queen was not asleep in her bed or at work at her desk. In fact, the Queen had not yet even seen that bed, nor jumped up and down on it even once. The room stood quite empty and prim and full of anticipation, waiting to be useful. The Green Wind made his apologies and sailed out into the sunny sky. He swirled down the buttercup and begonia walls of the Briary, past the tearooms and the coffee-rooms and the saucer-rooms, to quite another window.

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