Ch. 3.1 — Jay circled in the air high above the castle. His eyes were even better than an eagle’s, and he noted the details below him with growing anger. “I was right. Everyone was invited except for me.”
South of the castle in the meadow, a great feast had been set out on tables, with dozens of cakes, cookies, and pies for dessert. Colorful streamers fluttered in the breeze. To one side was a large wagon, painted blue with gold stars, and pulled by a team of four white horses. The wagon was piled high with colorful wrapped gifts.
A great crowd had gathered in the courtyard of the castle, spilling out the gates and down Main Street. People crowded onto balconies and leaned out from the windows. Some even sat on their roofs, waving flags and cheering. Above their heads blue banners with golden stars flapped in the summer breeze. The Royal Musicians sat on the West Balcony and played triumphant music.
A large stage had been erected in the courtyard, with comfortable chairs on a dais along the back for the royal family and special guests, and a raised platform towards the front where the baby nestled in a cradle. The royal family was dressed in their finest clothing, blue with embroidered gold stars along the edges.
Jay counted a witch, a wizard, two dwarfs, two elves, two gnomes, two fey, a pair of hobbits, a werewolf, a mermaid in an enormous portable sea shell filled with water, and even a small giant among the special guests on the stand. The trolls and their allies were not represented, of course.
“How do you like that?” growled Jay. “They didn’t even prepare a place for me to sit.”
Ch. 3.2 — The Gifts — King Frances lifted the baby up so that everyone could see him. The sound on the stage had been magically amplified so that everyone in the town could hear. Even Jay, from high above, could hear each word.
“Friends and neighbors, welcome to our son’s name day. I present to you Prince Ezra!”
The crowd cheered and waved flags, and the musicians played a cheerful march.
“We shall now have the Presentation of the Gifts.” King Frances laid the baby in the cradle and went to stand by Queen Natalie.
The crowd quieted, for this was a familiar and enjoyable tradition. Whenever a child was born, his family’s friends and neighbors gathered together to eat and give gifts. If they were important people, they invited someone with magic to give a special gift to their baby. And if that family happened to be royalty, then each of the magical kingdoms was invited to send at least one guest, for their gifts were wondrous.
One by one, eight representatives from the magical folk came forward and bestowed their gifts on the baby prince, amid great applause and cheering.
Timora, the Queen of the Fey, was the first to come up the steps to the cradle. “I bestow upon Prince Ezra one favor from the Fey, to be called on when he needs it most.”
Jay snorted. Everyone knew that the Fey were tricky, and their gifts had a tendency to go wrong.
Next came Bob, the giant. “I give to Prince Ezra great Strength.”
King Winky of the gnomes stood up. “What’s strength without coordination? The prince shall have Agility.”
“Strength and agility are good,” said Brimhold, the dwarf. “But the prince will also need Courage.” The dwarves in the crowd cheered and banged on their shields.
Marin, a serious-looking prince from the Elves, stood up. “Every man needs to be able to use his abilities for good. I give the prince Wisdom.”
Four guards carried the sea shell forward, containing the beautiful mermaid queen. “If ever the prince visits our lands beneath the sea, he shall have the ability to swim and breathe under water.”
Everyone gasped and cheered. Even Jay was impressed by that one.
One of the hobbits approached. “What is a life without song and laughter? On behalf of the hobbits, I present the prince with this flute.” He laid a handmade wooden flute in the cradle.
MacQuire, the werewolf, stood and approached the cradle. Everyone watched uneasily, for their alliance with the human kingdom was recent. “I am honored to represent my people here today,” said MacQuire in a deep, rough voice. “I give the Prince safe passage through our lands, and if ever he is in need, he may call on us for help.”
The crowd cheered and clapped. MacQuire bowed and stepped back.
As each gift was given, Jay grew more and more angry. He should have been invited. He should be down there giving the baby prince his gift. Instead, the royal family had ignored him – insulted him. Jay ground his teeth together. Well, fine. There would be no good gift from him today. His anger grew into a red rage.
Finally, when there was just the wizard and the witch left, Jay couldn’t stand it anymore. He folded his wings and dropped from the sky.