For the longest time this year, summer fluttered her wings against the panes of spring. Now, sunlight lingers long and hot. Afternoons stretch like thrice-pulled saltwater taffy, and the days here at the Kinrowan Estate have become the drowsy, heat-sleepy days of our warmest season. There is no doubt, when the air is heavy and breath comes languid from the lungs — warmth exhaled into warmth, drawn in as warmth again — that those fluttering wings have long since spread, unfurled across the land and become the too-heavy blanket of unfettered summer.
What does one do when the mind and body fall prey to the slow, hot haze of summer days? One waits, of course. One waits for the sun to sink, and for the stars to creep into his vacant seat. One watches the moon rise to hang low and globular in the nighttime sky like overripe fruit, illuminating all of Oberon’s wood. And when the hands of the clock in the KInrowan Hall main entry way meet in the middle of Time — at midnight — one goes to the party.
You may not have realized you were invited: you may not have paid close enough attention to your dreams of late. That’s how such invitations are customarily delivered; in dreams. In fact, you’re invited every year, though also never, as Time shows far less consideration for human convention inside dreams and the realm of the Consort to the Faerie Queen.
But perhaps you have attended our parties, after all. It may simply be that later, waking, you dismissed your recollections as mere fancy, or the common (if dreams are ever common) workings of a mind at sleep. Perhaps you recall dancing with a particularly fine gentleman of a bear? The one in the lavender waistcoat? His great, huge paws rested gentle as thistledown upon your shoulders, and he led you in a most divine waltz beneath the trees. (Though he’s not quite so light upon his feet as the sylph; who would be?)
No? If it wasn’t the bear with whom you danced, might it have been the undine? Not you? Well, if you’re sure. They have beautiful voices, those water nymphs, and there really is nothing quite so lovely as a midnight water-waltz on the banks of the old millpond in Oberon’s wood. Enough Dragon’s Breath Stout and a few turns about the pond, and a man could forget more or less everything he nearly thought he’d hardly ever remembered, almost…
This year we’re keeping the festivities simple. Our twelve bands have been booked, both human and fey (and three who refuse to be classified as either). The instruments await: the pennywhistle, the concertina, the dulcimer, the zither. The autoharp, the theremin, the ocarina and the drum. This year there are mad rumors of an invisible gargantuan harpsichord, to be played by a thousand invisible fingers.
But rumors are just that. Such an appearance (so to speak) remains highly unlikely, in the main.
If good food is what you seek, our twelve over-burdened wicker hampers have been packed. (The things are massive! Someone — we won’t say who — wanted to hire a dozen elephants to bear the load! Elephants, in Oberon’s Wood! Perish the thought. The Ents were more than happy to volunteer for the task, once the need was made clear.) When entering the fey-touched realms, one usually feels more comfortable taking food with, though there are plenty here at the Estate who scoff at the dangers. In fact, more than one on the staff here has been seen to consume quite copious amounts of fey-wrought food, and even more copious amounts of intoxicating beverages of questionable origin. We’ve not lost anyone yet for more than a fortnight, to our knowledge. Faerie prerogative? Perhaps. You’re more than welcome to come find out for yourself; to each his –or her — own. As has already been explained, you’re always invited, and never. It’s up to you.