This week, the final week, our challenge was to add the final 200 words to a story. I chose The Fair Folk’s Favour and wrote the 200 required, but I wasn’t quite done. After editing it down, it ended up being a bit over 300. I had quite a bit of fun with this one! The players who contributed to this story are Strange Corners, Mckkenzie, Justice, and Simon B. As always, my contribution is at the end.
The Fair Folk’s Favour
The wolves came in. That’s what happens when you leave the front door open at night, which is exactly what I did. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I was in the kitchen warming up some midnight milk for myself when I saw their shadows slinking along the hallway, breaking up the moonbeams across the floor. I heard their panting, smelled breath most foul. I froze, of course. But–and I guess this was stupid of me but I still had my wits about and what else was I to do with them–I tried to figure out just by looking at their shadows if these wolves were scared, bored, or hungry.
You’d think the hungry ones are the most dangerous, but these aren’t ordinary wolves. And if they were bored, I was as good as dead.
Very quietly, I shut off the gas. Stove dials would make too much noise, and so would my bunny slippers. I slid the biggest knife we had from its place in the wooden holder with the brood of ducks on it before I realized that one, I tended to focus on the most mundane things when I am scared, and two, I sure as hell didn’t know how to wield a knife.
Well, not against wolves like these anyway. It just wasn’t in me. They couldn’t help that they’d been corrupted any more than I could help fixing what had been done. Why did this always seem to happen? I was planning a quiet few years this time with no conflict, no involvement in anything. The wolves were always the first to come. I knew they’d be followed by elves, dwarves, pixies — all needing my help and here we’d go again.
I clenched my teeth and sliced the big knife over the palm of my hand. The blood flowed and I cupped my hand to collect it. Then I watched the milk turn pink as I turned my hand over the saucepan.
I lifted the pan in absolute silence and squatted down to cast the grisly mixture across the floor. The wolves smelled it immediately and closed in to lap it up. I didn’t move a muscle, counting on the distraction to keep them interested until they started to change. Luck was with me and it didn’t take long. Their matted fur smoothed and their rank panting mellowed to something not much worse than dog breath. There were three of them and they padded over to surround me, nuzzling my skin with their night-chilled noses.
“Good boys,” I mutter. “Go.”
They stare up at me as though they expect something else.
“Go!” It is a harsh command, but they linger. Why? I have nothing more to give them.
My heart thuds in my chest when I realize what the pack is – not hellhounds, werewolves, or skinchangers. These are Cu Sith, and it’s taken me this long to see the greenish tint in their dark fur.
I don’t expect to be alone, but my breath still catches when I look up: Melvina.
This is why you don’t leave the door open. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
“Maleficent thing,” I say, “you tricked me.”
She wears embroidered brocade. Impractical for the weather, but the Sidhe have no need for practical things.
“Such silly magic,” Melvina shakes her head when she sees the pink paste on the floor. “A child’s trick. It would not work against beasts of the Fair Folk.”
“I did not know they were the Sidhe’s hounds,” I reply.
“You say our name?” Melvina grimaces.
“I have your wrath already. What do you want?” I answer.
I snort incredulously, not realising my stance is considerably diminished by my choice of footwear. I glance down for a barely a second but it’s enough for Melvina to notice. She smirks.
“Don’t be so quick to dismiss the idea,” she continues. “Your threshold was unwarded. If malice was my intent, you would already have breathed your last.”
A fair point, but not one that helps me relax. Any sort of contract with the Sidhe should not be taken lightly; their word is quite literally their bond. “And should I refuse?”
“We leave, I and they. And you close your door.” Melvina flashes the briefest of smiles.
My reply is worded carefully. “And what consideration for me?”
Melvina nods, as if approving. “The three thralled here.”
I shake my head, glancing at the beasts roaming my kitchen. The smallest of the Cu Sith lies clumsily at my feet.
“You know I can’t keep the bonded,” I say.
“Free them, then.” Melvina’s words are clipped by an impatience I’ve never seen in her. I’m suddenly curious.
“And what do the Sidhe ask?” I realise I’m still holding the knife.
“Not the Sidhe. Me.” Melvina steps forward, her gaze cast to the floor. She takes a deep, measured breath, and for the first time my would-be enemy seems frail and small.
Her eyes meet mine, and the tiny moment of weakness is over. She speaks softly.
“I want you to kill me.”
I laugh. “I can’t do that. I would have the Sidhe at my doorstep in an instant. Besides, killing the likes of you requires runed weapons that are unfortunately hard to find.”
Melvina smiles. A bundle wrapped in worn leather appears in her hands, seemingly pulled out of midair. She places the bundle on the counter beside her and it begins to unroll, exposing runed daggers one by one. A black sword is the last weapon, and I know its runes protect against rebirth. Silently, the weapons rise into the air and fly, point first, straight at me. I step back, but the weapons freeze in midair, hanging silently between us. She laughs quietly as she walks around the weapons, gently fingering the hilt of the sword as she moves.
“As you can see, I have come prepared.”
I shake my head.
“The Sidhe want me gone. I won’t be missed.”
She scoffs. “He was right.” She turns to leave.
“Does it matter?”
I thrust my hand out toward the weapons, throwing the full force of my magic against them. The blades spin around and race toward Melvina. Fanning out at the last instant, each dagger sinks into an extremity. Once again the sword hangs in mid air. Melvina spins around, her face contorted in pain. Black smoke streams from the dagger wounds. She breathes heavily as her strength drains away.
“Ridding you from this land is the biggest favor of all!” I grab the sword hilt from the air and drive it through her chest. She screams as the black smoke envelops her, taking her eternal soul with it. As the smoke dissipates, the steaming weapons clink to the floor. The wolves stand and nod their thanks before disappearing into the hall, the soft click of the door closing following soon after, leaving me alone in the quiet house.