Thumbelina: Perspective of the Swallow

During the peaceful period of the magical medieval times, there lived a gentle, sweet swallow, noble messenger of the king of the flower spirits. He went by the name of Strifefeather. Living in the beautiful place of the Field of Flowers, this blue-tailed fellow flew to kingdoms far and wide, delivering his Majesty's royal messages. Strifefeather had been given a high rank, and was ultimately trusted by the king. Which is why, one winter day, Strifefeather was assigned a dangerous task…

I shuddered as I flew towards the Land of Snow. His majesty, King Chamberlain, had just sent me off to deliver a very vital piece of information to give to our allies in the North. It was my job to make sure that word got out to the Snow King. As friendships between kingdoms were pretty hostile right now, I was sure that our enemies from the Realm of Fire would send phoenixes to hunt me down. As I soared higher and higher into the clouds, I kept on sneaking glances behind me, convinced that something was following my tail feathers. However, nothing was there, and as a brave subject of the Field of Flowers, I shrugged off my fears. After all, I, Strifefeather, would not flee from any mission.

To reach the Land of Snow, I knew that I had to first leave the boundary of my kingdom, and then fly past the Land of the Dead. My bright red head shook with nervousness, as I knew that it was going to be a nightmare. All of the elders say that if anybody utters a single sound in its eerie silence, they are as good as dead. After that, if I manage to pass the boundary alive, then would I have to travel a few hours' trip overhead the vast Mythical Forest, which they say is quite peaceful, except for the occasional rampaging of wild beasts. Beyond the Mythical Forest, lies the Kingdom of Grass, a quiet place where all the little critters, such as mice, make their homes. Finally, after passing over the Kingdom of Grass, there is the Land of Snow. It will take several days to reach the Snow King's icy palace.

As I traced the route frantically in my head, aware the Land of the Dead was rapidly approaching me, I heard a shriek. Whipping around, I expected to see a whole flock of phoenixes flashing towards me. Thankfully, what I saw was a little less threatening: ravens. A whole bunch of huge, mangy birds came zooming at me. I was petrified. Mentally scolding myself, I reminded my forgetful brain that ravens ruled over the Land of the Dead, so of course they'd want to chase me out before I entered their territory. Well, bad luck for me, I thought. I'd better put on speed so that I can leave them in the dust. With that thought in mind, I flapped my wings faster, knowing full well that a raven's speed was no match for my swallow speed. Within moments, I had entered enemy territory and was almost flying at the speed of sound, aiming at nothing but to get out of the wretched silence hanging over me like a fly caught in a spider's web. In the distance, I heard the cawing of ravens craving for my blood. Lucky for them, they were the only creatures who wouldn't fall dead if they made a sound. Afraid that the ravens would catch up, I didn't stop, although I was completely exhausted, due to my burst of energy. At last, I managed to drop safely in a tree just outside the Land of the Dead; I had entered the Mythical Forest.

The Mythical Forest was a very green place to be. All around me, I saw trees, trees, and more trees. All of the trees were still green even though it was the middle of winter. I took a little break, taking my time to find some tasty bugs to satisfy my hunger pang. Suddenly, I sensed an evil presence behind me. Whirling around, I spotted my worst enemy: phoenixes. They were flaring with fire; no doubt they were sent by the Realm of Fire to try and disrupt my journey. They must have found out from the Realm's crystal balls that allow them to survey everything within a thousand mile radius. With a horrified cry, I soared into the air again, attempting to lose the phoenixes with complicated weaves in the sky, remembering my training as a hatchling. Unfortunately, my training didn't work, as the humongous birds didn't even slow down. I tried to streak away, just as I had when the ravens were tailing me. "Oh, no," I muttered. "I'm still weak from my outburst a while back. I haven't got the strength to out-fly them." So, I instead kept flying at a steady pace, placing my life in the talons of destiny. If it was my fate that I would be killed on this mission, then so be it.

Fighting hard not to panic was no easy task. The phoenixes were closing the distance fast. I could feel their flames scorching the back of my sore neck. The next thing I knew, they were on me. Thorn sharp talons scraped at my spine as the first fire bird attacked. I would have probably been shredded to bits if I hadn't dodged the second strike. Screeching an alarmed cry, I shot away from my attackers, ignoring the pain and exhaustion that was harboring me. The phoenixes followed in pursuit. A jolt of fear sprang through my pain-racked, small body. Relax, I thought to myself. You'll be entering the Kingdom of Grass very soon. The little creatures there will take care of you. Sure enough, I saw the last line of green trees just beyond a small stream. Feeling encouraged by the sight, I glanced back to check in on my enemies. What a big mistake. The birds of fire took advantage of that tiny distraction, and quickly formed a formation to cut me off from my route. With a caw, I flashed this way and that, desperately trying to reach the Kingdom of Grass. Just as I crossed the border overlooking the two territories, the leader of the flock of phoenixes crashed into my wing. Blood began to flow. The blow was enough to send my weakened state plummeting into the grass below. The last few sensations I felt was my wing burning, and landing with a thud in darkness.

When I finally came to, I opened my eyes to the blurry image of a petit but beautiful girl. She was about half the size of my body, with long, wavy golden hair. The girl had an elfish face, with soft features; when she smiled, the whole world seemed to light up. I tried to move, but the mysterious girl shook her head, smiled gently, and started to sing. Ahh, what a melodic voice! Her voice slowly lulled me back to sleep, soft and sweet. It sort of reminds me of home, I thought drowsily, as I drifted off.

I woke up with a start, feeling terror spreading through my chest. My dreams had taken me back to that horrible moment, where the leader phoenix had sent me crashing down to earth. Out of nowhere, I noticed that the peculiar girl from before had appeared by my side, carrying a bunch of herbs. "Oh, you're awake?" she whispered. "I'm relieved. Now I know that you're feeling better, little swallow," she murmured, stroking my blue feathers that were covered with grit. "So how was your sleep?"

"It was fine," I managed to say. "Just, who… where…" I stuttered, unable to continue.

"My name is Thumbelina," the girl answered. "I was kidnapped from my home and brought to be a wife of an ugly toad, but I escaped and ended up here-in the Kingdom of Grass. As for where you are," she continued, "you are in an underground tunnel made by a wealthy old mole. I discovered you here about a few weeks ago. I saw that you had injured your wing, so I decided to secretly take care of you-although I'm not supposed to."

I twisted my head to attempt to get a good look at my wing, but the pain of doing so made me wince. Giving up, I lay my head down on the dusty ground again. "Well, since you've rescued me, and filled me in on who you are," I told Thumbelina, "you might as well know my story. My name is Strifefeather, and I'm a messenger of King Chamberlain of the Field of Flowers. I was given a mission to pass on a piece of information to our allies in the Land of Snow, but on the way, I was attacked by a flock of phoenixes-fire birds," I explained, noticing that Thumbelina was a bit confused. When she nodded, I went on. "Their leader crashed into my wing, and I remember falling down here. After that, I'm not sure what happened. I guess I blacked out."

Thumbelina patted my feathers sympathetically. "That's tough," she murmured. "I'm really glad I found you, Strifefeather." Hearing her utter my name for the first time sent shivers up my spine. "You would have died for sure if you hadn't received any medical help."

I dipped my head gratefully. She was right. Without Thumbelina, I wouldn't be alive right now, and I wouldn't be able to deliver the message on to the Snow King. Glancing up, I looked at Thumbelina. "Well, thanks for your help," I chirped. "Now, I should really get going on my mission." However, Thumbelina put her tiny hand in front of me before I could get up.

"Strifefeather, you shouldn't go yet," she warned. "It's only two weeks before the end of winter, so I think you should stay here for a while. After all, you're not going anywhere with that injured wing," she added, noticing the expression on my face."

"All right, all right," I relented. "I'll remain here for the next two weeks until I fully recover. When the time comes, however, you can't stop me from going, Thumbelina."

Thumbelina looked shocked. "Of course I won't!" she exclaimed. Lowering her voice, she added unhappily: "I couldn't anyway, even if I wanted to, because I am engaged to that grump old mole. He'd never let me off for taking care of you and then keeping you here."

"Then why don't you leave?"

Thumbelina looked at me with sadness in her eyes. "The field mouse who is taking care of me took me in when I had nowhere to go. I can't just leave her."

Her words touched my heart. Well, that just shows how kind and loyal Thumbelina is. "Well then," I finally chirped. "I suppose you're right, if you put it that way. So let's just enjoy these last two weeks together." Thumbelina smiled as she looked up with tears in her eyes.

The next two weeks passed by fairly quickly. Thumbelina and I spent many fine hours talking and singing while she helped me regain use of my wing. At last, the weeks were over, and the season had crossed into spring. Thumbelina came outside with me to watch me depart from the Kingdom of Grass. "Good luck", she whispered, stroking my head one final time. "I wish you well. Be sure to complete your journey!"

"Don't worry, I certainly will!" I whistled. "Are you sure you don't want to come with me, Thumbelina?"

She shook her head wistfully. "I cannot leave the field mouse," she replied softly. "The most I can do is keep my promise to her and marry the mole."

"Very well," I said, acknowledging her words. "Thank-you again for rescuing me, Thumbelina. Maybe we can meet again someday."

"Maybe," she agreed. I called my farewells to her as I soared off into the air, relishing the feel of wind against my tail feathers. In no time at all, I had safely crossed the border into the Land of Snow, and in a few freezing days, reached the Snow King's palace. I successfully delivered my message from King Chamberlain, and flew onward towards my home. As I passed over the area where Thumbelina lived, I wondered if she was married yet. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look. Landing on the cushiony ground, I spotted Thumbelina just by a blossoming flower, her face teary. With a chirp of excitement, I skimmed over the grass, gliding over to where she was. When I reached her, her eyes lit up with uncontainable joy. Wrapping her arms around my neck, she cried tears of relief. "Oh, Strifefeather," she sobbed. "I missed you so much! Tomorrow, it's my wedding, and I really don't want to marry the old mole!"

"Fly away with me, Thumbelina," I urged her. "Fly away with me to the Field of Flowers, where there are no pitch-black tunnels, and you can see the sun and flowers all day!"

Thumbelina gazed up at me with hope in her eyes. "Really?" she whispered her voice barely audible.

"Really," I promised." With that, Thumbelina climbed onto my back and together, we streaked towards the Field of Flowers without looking back. Lucky for us, the whole way, there were no enemies or obstacles to overcome. In a day, we had made it back to my home with all the breezy flower spirits bustling around. "Which flower do you want to land on?" I questioned. Thumbelina immediately pointed to a striking purple tulip.

"That one," she replied without hesitation.

"Good choice," I chirped approvingly. "You are really going to be surprised at who your new neighbor is."

"Who?" Thumbelina asked eagerly, clinging on to my neck feathers. We landed on the purple tulip as the regal blue buttercup opened slowly beside it. I slid Thumbelina gently off my back and looked respectfully at the figure emerging from the shadows.

"Presenting to you… the one and only… Prince of the Field of Flowers!" I boomed in my best messenger voice. The Prince fully stepped into the light and he and Thumbelina gazed at each other, as they instantly fell in love. After a long moment, the Prince did something surprising. Only a few moments of gazing at each other had passed before he approached the girl who had saved my life and softly proposed a question:

"Will you become my princess?"

Thumbelina's eyes glowed as she replied: "Yes, I will." Then as if one, all of the citizens of my land began to cheer and stomp, surrounding the new couple who were shyly holding hands. Thumbelina glanced my way and mouthed: Thank-you. I dipped my head to her and my heart glowed with happiness at the sight of the enthusiastic crowd. Turning away after a couple of moments, I took off towards King Chamberlain's palace. There, he congratulated me on completing my mission and giving his son a wife. The King then promoted me to a higher rank, much to my joy. Now, I fly around as the King's personal assistant, and spreading this story to anyone depressed I come across. As for Thumbelina? Well, she is living a life of luxury and royalty by the Prince's side. I see her often, when I zip around the palace aiding out King Chamberlain with his many orders. Overall, we are all doing extremely well, and this was my experience of a lifetime.