Ionait and Ivar are sister and brother who live in the fair and beautiful land of Ireland.
Ionait, the older of the two, is nearly thirteen years old. She has deep black eyes full of sincerity and seriousness, but also of kindness and absolute honesty. Her dark hair falls about her shoulders in gently curling ringlets tinted with red that ever toss about in the winds of the Emerald Isle. She is a lady in every way and loves the swish and the feel of full skirts. While she loves tales of fairies and adventure, and is ready to accomplish whatever is necessary to do what is right, she tends to be cautious and thoughtful before trying anything of importance. She also strives to consider a situation before responding to it, but will lose her temper with difficult persons. However, she is a very sweet girl with a tender and understanding heart that knows no bounds.
Ivar, Ionait's brother, is ten years old. His hair is of a dark brown with strong Irish red interspersed throughout, and will merely flutter in the breeze. His eyes are brown with gentle subtleties of a soft gray. Almost nothing could perturb Ivar, for he is perfectly patient and very easy-going. He is also completely selfless and kindly considers first and foremost the desires and feelings of others and wouldn't complain or resist a thing for his own comfort or pleasure. He is ever curious and eager to acquire more knowledge of our beautiful world, and ready to take risks to discover something formerly unknown. Like his sister, he also loves stories of magical lands and those that dwell there and wishes ardently to one day find a means of traveling to visit such people and places.
Both are very strong and moral persons, and have been blessed with parents and grandparents who lead beautifully pure and good lives to guide their paths and enrich their minds and hearts and promote the excellence, necessity, and performance of virtue. The children both have practiced behaving in cheery manners that such genuine smiles that would melt one's heart are ever upon their lips, each a touch of gentleness so frequently forgotten and lost in many people of today. Ionait and Ivar are simply satisfied and contented to be children, wishing to be neither older nor younger, and each striving for perfection of heart and spirit. Thus, each finds his or her best friend in the other.
Ionait and Ivar are very close to their grandfather, whom they call Daideo (pronounced DAD-o). He lives in a small cottage on the edge of a vast forest with their grandmother, whom they call Maimeo (pronounced MAM-o). He is the one that tells them many fairy-stories about the beautiful and magical land of fairies. What is more, the tales that their grandfather tells Ionait and Ivar are not just 'tales', but true recollections of their grandfather's experiences in Fairyland. During the telling of these tales, and at many other times, their grandfather takes the children on frequent excursions into the forest to walk and talk and especially to look for trails or signs of the little folk, for it is in that forest, which seems so quiet and far from everything but the peace of nature, that it seems most likely a sprite would find his purest pleasure. And even if it were not for the possibility of seeing a fairy, Ionait and Ivar still would not exchange those hours spent with their grandfather in the forest for anything in the world, for the children always find their truest form of joy in the silence and greatness of that forest, so immense and rich and peaceful. Even after years of such searching they have not yet seen nor found a fairy. Still, Ionait and Ivar treasure and love the stories, and believe in them whole-heartedly, as they always had since their grandfather had first begun his tale-telling, despite the fact that their parents and even their grandmother think the yarns harmless nonsense.
My main characters live in Ireland in a time when there were no telephones, or televisions, or even cars. Most modern inventions would be later attempted. They live in Greystones with their parents, but they love to visit their grandparents who live on the outskirts of Tomnafinnoge Woods in Wicklow County. There are no neighbors within miles aside from the birds and cheery creatures of Tomnafinnoge. This majestic forest, composed mainly of oaks, stretches farther than the eye can see. While its trees grow so mightily and bravely that the forest floor is covered with clusters of greenery, many little paths lead the inquisitive either to dead ends, in oddly-shaped circles back to where they began, or to the depth and density of its woods where only those who know it well could ever make their way out again.
It rains nearly every other day in Ireland, but this does not mean 'indoor' time, for the rain is beloved by many villagers. These villagers around Tomnafinnoge are mainly shepherds, and, when it rains, they go out bundled up in their coats and boots to drive their sheep to the pastures. Of course this is sometimes a bother and discomfort more than a pleasure, but there are always delicious things to eat and drink on the shepherd's return home as well as a cheery, crackling fire that make the cold, wet outdoors more than tolerable.
The ladies of this time and age are skilled in needlework and put much pride and joy (as well as time and effort) into their hand-made projects produced with the wool spun from their own sheep. Those men who are wealthy enough to own horses are great riders and spend much time galloping about the empty fields and pastures for pleasure and through the paths of Tomnafinnoge to hunt.
As a group the Irish people of Wicklow County love their lives of quiet and frequent solitude, which helps to build bonds of love and trust among families that shall never be broken. Also deeply implanted in their hearts is the love of the splendor and greatness of music. Their little gatherings and parties are made even more pleasant occasions with a handful of musicians with their fiddles, penny-whistles, and other instruments of original make. And, perhaps most of all, the Irish folk love the beauty of Wicklow County and Tomnafinnoge that provides much deepening and enriching of their souls, drawing them closer to the Creator.
Some of the people whom Ionait and Ivar meet are Glaisne and Lassar.
Glaisne is a leprechaun. He is very old, though any leprechaun is old because they are almost immortal. Also there were only so many leprechauns that were created in the beginning of time, and no more have come into being since. He is a short little man, standing only about two feet high. His eyes are gray-blue, and his hair is gray, though traces of its former red in Glaisne's younger days are still visible. He goes about dressed in a tattered green-gray jacket and trousers, with worn-out stockings and shiny black shoes with silver buckles. He has a short reddish-gray beard, a pointed nose, bright pink cheeks, and a twisted mouth. He is a cobbler, as are all leprechauns, and is also a keeper of the fairies' treasure. However, the fairy-folk, for the most part, despise the leprechauns, and would ban them from the Fairy Kingdom if it weren't for their useful profession of shoe-making and their honesty in the protection of the fairy-treasure (leprechauns are very trustworthy in this respect, for they have no desire to possess any wealth, nor do they see much use in gems and gold). Because of the hatred of the fairies, and because leprechauns have an inner pull to solitude, the little men live far from civility and any other creatures, normally dwelling in the farthest corners of the fairies' world all on their own. Glaisne is very fond of beer and loves to sit on his porch in the early morn and at sunset with his pipe in hand (this is one of the things the fairies dislike so much about leprechauns, for their pipes, called 'dudeens', are always filled with the most horrible-smelling tobacco). He is a rather crusty and cantankerous old fellow, and never seems to be content in the presence of others. He lives all alone in a small house at the base of a hill in the one of the farthest corners of Gray Man's Hills in the Irish End. And so, Glaisne, living all alone and far from everything as he does, has no friends, or even acquaintances. All he wants is to continue to make and sell his shoes in peace and quiet, though something in the depth of his heart is always making him feel that something is missing in his lonely life.
Lassar is a far darrig, or 'red man', as we would say in English. He is a rather young fairy, being probably about twenty or so in our human years. He is also short like Glainse, though he stands about an inch or two higher than the leprechaun. His black eyes sparkle with merriment and mischief as well as dishonesty. He has bright pink cheeks, a cherry nose, and a bright smile. His face is clean-shaven, and his head is covered in brilliant red hair. He wears clothes of a very similar style to Glainse, though everthing is red, save for his shiny black shoes with fancy golden buckles. His whole attire, unlike Glaisne's, is rather tidy and has a very crisp, new appearance. Lassar has no place he calls 'home', because he is constantly roaming throughout Fairyland and even our world, and depends on the hospitality of others for meals and a place to sleep, which they are always sure to find (this will become more clear as you read more about these ornery little creatures). A far darrig's life structure is very different from that of a leprechaun, for they might be considered 'bums', as they do no work at all. Instead they spend their time in playing tricks, which they are so exceptionally fond of doing, particularly if the one receiving the prank is a human being. However, the fairies (especially those in high places) all hold far darrigs in high esteem, loving their cheery dispositions and their pranks, and will hardly ever refuse a far darrig anything. Also, because far darrigs are so loved by the wealthy and royal fairies, those in lower places are very wary of these creatures and will bend to their every will. This makes many if not most far darrigs rather arrogant and too self-absorbed. Leprechauns must be especially careful of these sprites, because Glaisne and his kind are already so despised that they fear they might be cast out if they anger one of the far darrigs. And so, the far darrigs generally feel free to do as they please, and Lassar is no exception. He loves to use his 'power' over such as Glaisne to torment and tease and much as he likes. He is also ready to say or do whatever is necessary to get what he wants, and feels that he is the most perfectly splendid person. However, deep within his heart he never does find himself quite perfectly happy, and yet he doesn't want to consider the reason why.
In the forest of Tomnafinnoge, there are many paths and plenty of lush greenery surrounding the narrow roads. But beyond these trails the forest looks strange and even eerie, so Ionait and Ivar (and any other curious pedestrians) never venture farther than their boundaries. However, though it appears so dark and dense, in its deepest recesses there is a great clearing with little more than a few trees sparsely scattered about and great clumps of rich, green bushes. In this clearing, there is a particular little bush which just so happened to be the one chosen to serve as a passage to another world. For a few moments in time, it provided Ionait and Ivar the opportunity to enter the Land of the Fairies.
"Where am I?" thought Ionait to herself.
She was apparently surrounded by water, and there was no light. In fact, it was so dark that she could only tell that she was in water by the feel of it. She panicked for a moment as she realized that one cannot breathe under water!
But then she found she could.
"Strange," she thought.
But then there was no time to think, for she felt bubbles on her hand from something exhaling beside her. Next moment something long and slimy brushed against her back and legs, and she felt she wanted to scream, but couldn't. She struggled to move, perhaps to find her way back up above the water. As she was not a swimmer, she flung her arms and kicked her legs madly in her fright, and badly bruised her left knuckles against a hard, flat object that didn't respond to her blow in the least.
Her curiosity overcame her fright for a moment, and she reached out to find what she had hit. There, before her, was what appeared to be a large, round tube, like a water pipe, but less rough and more solid than an ordinary pipe. It was as big around as she was tall, and felt deliciously cool and smooth. In the hope of finding light, she felt her way along it for a while, traveling to her left, pulling herself along with her hands. Somehow it grew darker as she went. This went on for quite some time, then, suddenly, she realized that the weight of the water that had previously been pressing upon her had been lifted, and she was no longer surrounded by its moist feel. In fact, she wasn't even dripping! She wasn't swimming any longer either, but walking along a tunnel that was rounded at the bottom. It had come upon her so gradually that she wasn't sure how long she had been out of the water.
All of a sudden, there appeared a faint glow ahead of her. This glimmer of light grew, and it appeared to Ionait that a small lantern, in the far distance, was steadily approaching her.
The radiance allowed Ionait to see for the first time just where she was and what her surroundings were like. She found that she was treading along a tube or tunnel made of glass, glass so pure and clean that, when she looked down, it appeared that she was merely walking in water! And water, as she had guessed, surely surrounded the glass tunnel. As she looked down, a squid-like creature squirmed past the tube, and Ionait shuddered to think that a similar sea-animal had recently touched her.
Then the light drew much closer, and she saw a girl approaching, bearing a twinkling lantern. The girl was dressed in a light and glimmering gown which appeared to be made of wisps of pink clouds. She almost tiptoed, as though in an effort to be silent, and she hadn't any shoes or socks. Her face was bright and beautiful, and framed in long and lovely blond curls. Her blue eyes glittered in the lantern's light and her hands which bore it were fair and dainty.
But what Ionait chiefly noticed about the girl were two twinkly, glittered wings which fluttered softly every so oft. This filled her with great surprise and delight, and an anxiety to know of the girl, who was undoubtedly something extraordinary.
The girl, when she was about twelve paces or so from Ionait, lifted her lantern and asked, in a voice of gleaming silver, "Child, who are you, and how have you come upon the realm of the Glass Palace of the Fairies? I am the guard of the eastern wing, and I demand to know of your personage."
When Ionait, who was too overcome with happiness to find her voice, did not answer, the girl said again, "How have you come? Surely you could not have broken the enchantment of these glass walls and come upon us by force, for it would be impossible for any human to enter by the secret passage without the key."
"I...don't know," said Ionait, her heart still pounding, "I thought I was outside this glass tunnel, but suddenly found myself here within. I assure you I know not of the secret passage of which you speak."
Ionait's face glowed so beautifully that the girl lowered the lantern, and the crisp and suspicious tone left her voice as she said, "I believe you, Child. But it makes no sense to me, I who know every inch of this Palace and saw to the building of its every nook and cranny. I must get you out, however, before trouble becomes of this."
"But aren't we in Fairyland?" asked Ionait, "I thought that fairies aren't allowed to help humans return to their own world if they once enter the land of the fairies."
"No," a cloud of pain and sorrow swept across the girl's face, "No, this is not Fairyland. There is much there that we want no part of, and which we can do nothing to change. But, of course, the humans' world is too dangerous on the surface, so we built our Glass Palace far below the waters. Here, there is peace, and goodness, and we are safe."
"But you left Fairyland!" Ionait was perplexed, "Why would any sprite leave her homeland?"
"Child," the fairy, once again, looked sad and distraught, "There is much in life that makes no sense. We left because things were strange, and times were not as they once were. We were not happy as we had always been, and so we left, in search of a better life."
"But enough of this," said the fairy, a little gruffly, despite the fact that Ionait caught the glimpse of a diamond tear trickle down her cheek, though it was quickly wiped away, "The main thing now is to bring you back to the surface.
"But first - this still confuses me dreadfully - are you sure you did not come in through the secret door?"
"No, I truly didn't," Ionait said slowly and thoughtfully, "Though it was all very strange. I just suddenly found myself walking along this passage after having been in the watery depths outside for quite some time. I didn't even try to get in!"
"No...perhaps it is not so strange as all that," said the fairy, as if half to herself, "I have heard of a privilege bestowed upon certain humans, and those find their way to the fairies as if drawn by a magnet! But when we first met, you looked as though you hadn't yet met a fairy, so this couldn't be the case."
"No, you are the first, and perhaps will be the only one I'm ever to meet," said Ionait, and then added, "And, in fact, might I ask your name, for I shall want to remember you in years to come. My name is Ionait."
The fairy smiled, "I am called Ordovia. But now, Ionait, we must hasten to the surface, before any other sees you here. Though, perhaps that would not be safe," the look of careful suspicion reappeared on her face, "You will never forget the location of the door if I let you out by it."
"I shouldn't ever breathe a word to any save my brother and my grandfather," exclaimed Ionait with great eagerness and enthusiasm.
"That's what any human would say," said Ordovia in reply, "And yet I see no other way. I shall blindfold you until you are safely out of the Palace. You must promise not to remove the handkerchief before I give you leave."
At this, the fairy produced a small, dainty cloth of pure white which smelled beautifully of roses.
"Oh, please!" begged Ionait, before Ordovia had tied the kerchief, "I do not know where this secret door lies, but if it lies on the opposite side of the palace, mayn't I see first of your dwelling?"
"In fact, it lies behind you," Ordovia gestured away from herself and over Ionait's shoulder. She then added, as disappointment clouded the cheerful expression on Ionait's face, "But I don't see much harm in showing you a room or two. After all, all the others are asleep, and I could see you out long before they awaken."
Then, slipping her dainty hand in Ionait's, the fairy led her swiftly down, down as the glass tunnel dropped ever deeper into the water. Soon, Ionait saw ahead a change in the shape of the tunnel. It grew higher and broader, and, in a moment, she found herself in a pretty room of glass!
The room was probably about twice as high as Ionait was tall, and the walls, ceiling, and floor were wholly and beautifully constructed of glass. There was a little glass desk, a couch and coffee table, and a few lovely oddments here and there. On the desk was a shiny lantern, very like the one that Ordovia held in her hand. Ionait felt it was a beautiful place.
"This is my 'head-quarters', I suppose you might say," explained the fairy, "I shall take you to the kitchen, and maybe a few more rooms."
Ordovia found herself so pleased at the joy and delight that Ionait found in everything, that she took her to more than just a few rooms. Ionait saw nearly everything that there was to see in the Glass Palace, save for the bedrooms where the other fairies slept peacefully. In fact, though it was hardly discernable far below where they were in the ocean's depths, the sun began to rise, and so did the other fairies.
Ordovia realized just before it was too late, and hurried Ionait to her chamber on the eastern edge of the Palace. She found her lantern to be nearly extinguished, so she picked up the one that sat on her desk, which still twinkled brightly. The fairy then led Ionait softly up the glass tunnel.
They crept along until Ordovia knew they were out of ear-shot, and then she brought forth the white cloth from her pocket. The tunnel was softly perfumed by the sweet scent of roses from the handkerchief. It touched Ionait as being a beautiful as well as a magical fragrance.
"Now, I must blindfold you and take you to your own world before anyone discovers I'm missing," began the fairy.
Then she looked into Ionait's eyes and said, "I can't believe the simplicity and kindness with which you have treated me on this venture. If there have ever been any other humans like you, how much we fairies have missed!"
"Thank you so much for the tour," Ionait said with a smile, "It was so kind of you, and I shall remember it for the rest of my life. Oh! My brother will be so sorry to have missed this! How I wish he were here!"
Ordovia lifted the cloth to Ionait's eyes and began to tie it in back. The darkness was quite overwhelming to Ionait at first, and she found that, in spite of the flicker of the lantern, she could only truly tell her position by the touch of the cool walls of glass.
"Perhaps you will find a way here again," said the fairy thoughtfully, though somehow her voice was muffled, "Here - take this lantern, for it contains a magic that may light the way to our dwelling. I should be pleased to see you again, and to meet your brother."
Ionait felt the lantern placed in her hand, but she could scarcely feel it. And all during the fairy's kind words, Ionait found that she could catch less and less of what was said, though she did hear the possibility of returning to the under-water palace. Her heart leapt at this, but then she no longer felt the touch of the fairy's hands behind her head, nor the gentle breeze produced by the continual flutter of her wings.
"Ordovia!" cried Ionait in dismay.
"...that we might meet again!" Ionait heard the fairy's silvery voice saying, but now Ordovia's voice came from some distance.
The next moment, the world seemed to tilt, and topple over, and Ionait lost her grip on Ordovia's lantern. She felt it slip and crash, and a gust of something that felt glittered and even, somehow, magical, fall all about her, and whip through her hair and even her blindfold.
"Ordovia!" Ionait called again, but this time there was no answer at all.
Ionait anxiously ripped off the kerchief, and found she was sitting up among blankets on the floor of her grandparents' cottage!
There was Ivar lying asleep beside her, and the old couch on her left by the wall and Maimeo's wooden rocking chair right by it. She even caught a glimpse of Maimeo's wondrous kitchen through the doorway away in front of her. She had simply been dreaming!
There was no sign of any fairy-dust, or the lantern, or Ordovia's white handkerchief.
Ionait lay back on her pillow, and watched the morning light creep into the room. Then she sat up again suddenly, as it dawned upon her. The room smelled sweetly of roses.