Drawing a baby asleep in a half walnut shell. Caption reads: “The future, in a nutshell.”

Nutshell short story by Iris Carden

Primrose had never been brave before. But then, she’d never had to.

She was a nursery maid, not a soldier, nor a guard.  Her work had been in the quietest part of the castle.  In a way she was responsible for the kingdom’s greatest treasure, but she’d never imagined any threat to the baby princess.

Queen Rose’s Castle had always been well guarded, although there was no real risk of attack.  Surely no-one would ever attack the Fairy Queen.

No-one would, until someone did.

Lord Rust had led a party of elves to overthrow the castle. 

The fighting was terrible.  The castle guards and the Queen’s soldiers had trained, but had never really fought an invader before. 

Daisy had rushed into the nursery and told Primrose the castle had fallen and Lord Rust’s men were coming for the baby. Then, instead of helping, Daisy had run away.

Primrose, for the first time ever, had been forced to decide on quick action, and to take a dangerous risk.  She’d grabbed the baby, and a basket with everything else she was able to carry, and she had sneaked out through the servant’s entrance. Then she had run, the baby and the basket being too heavy to fly with.

Hearing the sounds of pursuit, Primrose had no choice, but to drop the basket and fly with the baby.

Elves, unlike fairies, were stuck on ground level, so flight allowed her to evade the elves chasing her.

She’d hid in the trees for a while, watching the elves as they searched.  Sadly, she saw them find the basket, with everything she’d been able to pack in the minutes available.  There would be no chance to retrieve it. 

From behind the leaves of a tall tree, she’d watched and begun to think about her situation.

She’d never had to rely on her own resources before.  But there she was, with the tiny, helpless,  future queen depending on her to know how to keep both of them safe. 

As soon as the elves were gone from sight, and she could no longer hear them, Primrose held baby Princess Aster close to her as she flew, further and further than she had ever been before.  Her wings ached. Her arms felt heavy. 

When she could fly no more, she’d stopped in a tree, to rest.  Princess Aster was restless.  She needed food, but that was in the basket. Primrose was exhausted, but knew the baby would need to be fed soon. She held the baby tight and cried. Primrose was a nursery maid.  No one had trained her to be a hero, to rescue a princess. 

Then she heard the gentle hum of a bee gathering pollen.  Forcing herself to fly once more, she followed the sound, then followed the bee back to the hive.  At the entrance, she begged a tiny bit of honey.  “This baby is the child of a queen,” she said to the bees.  “surely your own queen will look kindly on her.”

The queen of the bees did take pity on the child, and both Primrose and baby Aster were given honey, with a tiny bit of royal jelly for baby Aster. 

Feeling a little refreshed, Primrose decided to continue flying.  She had no plan on where to go, but she flew. 

It was dark when she came across the human settlement. 

Primrose suddenly had the most wonderful thought. She would take the princess and hide among the humans.  Neither fairies nor elves would go anywhere near a human habitation if they had a choice.  They would be safe from elves there, at least until she worked out what to do next.

One building seemed to call to her. She didn’t know why. Primrose crept through through a slightly open window.  

This place had a strong smell. If Primrose had known about hair dye, she would have recognised it. She carried the baby through a huge room with white tiles on the floor.  Primrose had never imagined a room could be so big. The next room she found seemed to be a kitchen of sorts, bigger than any kitchen she’d ever seen. Beside that was a store room.  It was huge.

Primrose saw that the gap between the lowest shelves and the floor was large enough for fairies to be in.  This would be their temporary home.  

Primrose searched the kitchen and the store room, looking for things they would need. In a bin in the kitchen was half a walnut shell.  It was the perfect size, to be a bed for the baby princess. She found scraps of food.  

A day before, she would never have considered human’s scraps suitable for the princess, but now the only thing that mattered was that they were alive and safe.

Primrose wondered if the queen was safe, or even alive.  She wondered if the elves were in control of the whole fairy world, and if Lord Rust’s elves were still looking for her and Princess Aster.  She wondered how she would know when it was safe to take Princess Aster home. What were the humans who frequented this place like? Could she and the baby avoid detection?

Those were all problems she would have to solve, her, a nursery maid who had never done anything important ever. 

But for one night, with the future of the fairy world in a nutshell, and herself on a bed made out of a sponge she’d found on a shelf in the store room, she needed to sleep, to recover. 

Orsinius Wishlet Stories

Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.

Series 1 Stories:

Series 2 Stories:

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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