To reflect the listener (and of course the reader) aging, the recaps get more and more complex as they wear on, because of course the series was published over 11 years. Sense made? Good.
DISCLAIMER: Not Eoin Colfer.
The Metal Boy
Here we are again, little one. Are you sitting comfortably? We're so much older now, so much wiser, but it's good to return to the old stories once again. Ready?
Once upon a time, the last time we were here, the Fair Folk had taken their knives and their magic and cut the memories out of the little metal boy and his patchwork man. They did it to protect their people, little one, don't get angry. The fire fairy and her guide occasionally missed the little metal boy and the patchwork man, just as they missed her and the guide in return, even if they didn't realize it. Fire remembers what it forges, and what is forged cannot forget the fire.
The quest / lost treasures / the pixie returns
Once upon a time, in another tale, a princess was kissed and she awoke, and knew all was well because her kingdom had waited for her. In our stories, little one, it is not always that easy to wake up. There was much sleeping amongst the fair folk, deep underground, and much awakening at that. The ice pixie slept in her cell, and the fire fairy slept uneasy because she had decisions to make.
She tossed and turned and worried as her guide, a man like a father to her, asked her to join the Round Table. The fire fairy knew this was the right decision to make, but the knights of the Round Table bowed and scraped and groaned under the responsibility of caring for the Fair Folk, buried under duty and care and kept deep underground. You know, little one, the fire fairy did not like to be underground. And still she tossed and turned, and sometimes she missed the little metal boy and his patchwork man.
Amongst our people, little one, the metal boy (for he was not little any longer) had slipped back, his gears shiny and ticking, his skin polished and hard. His memories of fire and ice and dragons slept under layers of magic, and his patchwork man felt something was missing. The dragon in his soul cried out for gold, but his little tin heart wavered at the sight of his glass mother asking him to be happy. Because, in the end, happily ever after is the only way to be. Our metal boy did not know that yet, little one.
And then the ice pixie, remember her? She awoke, and she escaped. Then she did the cruelest deed possible. She had the fire fairy's guide, a man like a father to her, murdered in front of the fire fairy's eyes. Don't cry, little one, for he died bravely and for a good fire fairy fought off the ice pixie's taunts and flew to the metal boy and patchwork man, who did not remember any of it. The patchwork man stitched himself up and found himself remembering our tale, but the metal boy could not trust himself to remember.
No, little one, he only trusted himself, and after a talk with a magic mirror he was our metal boy again, with dents and bumps and still the fastest spinning gears. And they would fight, and win again, but the victory was not a happy one. The fire fairy lost her crown, and her patchwork man, and it seemed they would live ever after, but not happily.
The journey back / found families / Abbott
"But whatever the consequences are, I will bear them, because the alternative is too terrible."
Once upon a time, before the times of our tale, there was a family that grew weary of our mortal world and so hid, out of our time, behind the silver moon. But their spell began to fail and they began to fall out of time and down to earth. There was a little imp made of fire and stone, and he wished to fall and find friends amongst the other Fair Folk.
There was a golden-haired maiden, her skin shiny as the metal boy's had once been, and his gears spun in all sorts of directions when he saw her, if you know what I mean. They fought, first as enemies, the golden girl against the metal boy and fire fairy, over the little imp. But then an evil sorcerer took the lot, and so they all fought together, against him. And though they won the battle, they lost the war.
You must understand, there were more things at work, little one, and the fire fairy, and the metal boy, and their new little imp friend fell through time, and space, and found the family that had hidden themselves away behind the moon. Oh little one, they came so close to losing everything, but the metal boy would not let that happen. He would not let the fire fairy die.
His gears span and he came up with a plan and picked up the family's sword, and yes, he saved her because he loved her, his best friend, and a world without the fire fairy was a world not worth considering. He fought off the family and brought the fire fairy home, to the joy of the Fair Folk and the surprise of his own people.
Though they had lost much when they returned to our place and our time, the metal boy found himself an older brother, and the fire fairy found herself a place underground, and they both found themselves content. They were happy, little one, but this time it wasn't ever after.
Time changes / the kiss / opal koboi
"'Of course I saved you,' she said. 'I couldn't do it without you.'"
Once upon a time, the metal boy (who was slowly becoming a man, and a good one at that) and the fire fairy were living happily, content, and safe, one on top of the world and the other beneath it. Then it was discovered – the metal boy's glass mother was breaking, shattering into a thousand pieces, and there was nothing they could do.
The metal boy's gold father journeyed to the south to find a wise wizard, and the patchwork man traveled to the north to find a wise witch, but the metal boy called his fairy friends to him and journeyed to a place only a few had been before, to find a creature long lost in our time, a lemur.
He and the fire fairy traveled back in time, back before the beginning of our tale, to when the metal boy was still little, his gears newly formed and tick-tick-ticking away like lightning. The metal boy looked upon his younger self and hated him, and pitied him and what he once was. The fire fairy remembered how she had felt towards the little metal boy when he had locked her in the room in the earth, and wondered at how much her feelings had changed.
The metal boy had to fight harder than ever before, for himself and for his glass mother but he found himself trapped and injured and on the verge of death. Don't look so scared, little one, this was a normal Tuesday for him. But this time, the fire fairy fixed him and this time, she kissed him. That doesn't make it the end of the story, even though most fairy stories end with a kiss.
Where was I? Yes. They kissed, and there was sparks, because what else happens when fire meets metal? The metal boy (who definitely felt like a man at that point) spun his gears once again and realized that they would need to defeat the ice-pixie once again, for she had taken the lemur for herself. And so, gears whirling two-times-over, the metal boy teamed up with his younger self, fought off the ice-pixie and brought the lemur to his slowly splintering mother.
And so little one, though the pair would say differently, things had changed between them. The metal boy's mother knew of the Fair Folk, and the fire fairy was left once again to thrash out her feelings towards the metal boy. And so once again, they all lived, and did so happily, but it wasn't ever after.
Gosh it was hard to render The Time Paradox in a way that wasn't completely nonsensical…the Atlantis Complex is providing a similar challenge :)
Thank you all for your wonderful reviews, they really brightened my day after a tough time at school. The final chapter will be up soon!