|She saw him as soon as she walked into the garden. The sun flared in
his silver hair as he stood on the knoll that supported the oak at the
center of the garden. As she watched, he flopped down on the soft
grass and leaned back against the trunk of the great tree. A moment
later, his head snapped to the side, and, following his gaze, Morena caught
a ripple of movement in the bushes. She could see his mouth move, and the
motion seemed more agitated for a moment, then ceased.
Morena yawned, wondering what on earth Farren was doing out there. Shaking her head in fond amusement, she slipped her feet out of her shoes. Hooking the loafers over her fingers, she began picking her way across the soft green toward the garden’s center. Halfway across the grass, she was stopped by a swirl of movement and the calls of small, piping voices. Swarming around her feet were a cadre of ten or twelve diminutive garden fairies. Sighing, Morena squatted down among them, balancing carefully on her the balls of her feet.
“He’s going to eat us, Miss Morena” one informed her breathlessly, twisting a petal of flower skirt between tiny hands.
“He is, he is,” a smaller one insisted, his eyes wide with terror. “He growled at us, and told us we were annoying runts and then he said…” the little creature gulped and leaned forward conspiratorially. “He said,” the small fairy repeated in a stage whisper, “that he didn’t believe in, well, you know, us.”
“And,” Morena lifted her brows, “did anyone drop down dead?”
“Well,” another small fairy spoke up on her left, “not yet, but Penelope isn’t feeling well, and besides he was just, well, rude.”
There was a mumble of agreement from all sides. Morena suppressed a chuckle.
“All right, all right.” She grinned, “I shall speak to the ferocious Farren. But I suggest you just stay away, for your own safety. And,” she added under her breath, “his sanity.”
She looked down at the tiny creatures who clustered around her as though seeking protection. “Now shoo,” she smiled, “I’ve got to go talk to Farren, and unless you want to come with me…”
A chorus of refusals and excuses exploded around her, abating rapidly as the garden fairies disappeared amongst the plants and statuary of the garden.
Chuckling to herself, Morena rocked to her feet. Picking her way around a carved marble water fountain and a large pine tree, Morena found Farren again within her sights, peacefully leaning against the oak, contemplating the sky.
“Well,” she flopped down beside him, “you certainly managed to frighten the garden fairies.”
Silence settled over them for a moment as Farren squinted upward with great concentration.
“It looks like Lockheed.” He declared finally. “That one,” he held up an arm, indicating a fluff of cloud “on the left. See it?”
“Yes.” Morena nodded, “I see it. But the garden fairies…”
“Those,” Farren turned his attention from the cloud, “were not faeries. They were small, annoying insects that needed to be squashed.”
“Honey,” Morena laid her head on the grass, closing her eyes, “they are small and childlike. They are f-a-I-r-i-e-s not f-a-E-r-i-e-s. And no matter what you think of them, there are folks in the house who are very attached to them.”
Farren shrugged. “They can be attached all they want to.” He reached into a pocket of his robes and produced an aerosol can. “I have other plans.”
Morena sighed, “Bug spray?”
“Better than they deserve.” Farren returned the can to its hiding place. “I’ll take out a few if they come back. What are you fussing about, you love them or something?”
“Besides all I did was growl at them and tell them that I don’t believe in fairies.”
Morena rubbed her eyes with her knuckles, shaking her head, “they think that will kill them.”
“Unfortunately it didn’t.”
Sighing, Morena shook her head, “You are awful, you know.”
Farren grinned roguishly, “That’s why you love me.”
Morena gave up, deciding changing the subject was the better part of valour.
“So DragonMom will take care of Percy?”
Farren nodded, “she seemed less than thrilled, but she went for the idea. I met an interesting friend of yours on the way through. Two interesting friends actually.”
“Your buddy Erick Canis dropped in for dinner, and it turned out that he had your little friend Berfert along.” Farren dipped a hand into his pocket and produced a fuzzy purple ball. “Berfert, say hello.” The fuzzy purple ball did not move. “He’s not thrilled.” Farren shrugged, returning Berfert to his pocket. “I got all the supplies, and we’re ready to move. Now, where are we moving to?”
“Well,” Morena propped herself on her elbows. “I talked to the librarian and got some interesting and unpleasant information on your friend Akkash. I’ll pass that along later. As far as the doorbell, things don’t look much more promising. It seems that we have to go visit the doormouse again. The librarian says the whole deal has something to do with mathemagics, and the doormouse is supposed to be the resident expert.”
“All right,” Farren shrugged. “Suits me.”
“Well then,” Morena pulled herself to her feet, “Off we go. And,” she stopped in the midst of trying to brush a bit of moss from her rear, “remind me to tell you about the man’s reaction to the mention of Owen’s soapbox. Now there’s a bit of interesting.”
“Mmm?” Farren raised his brows, “do tell.”
“As I was on my way out…” Morena paused as a small brown shape near
her foot caught her eye and stooping, she inspected it. Amongst the acorns
that littered the ground where they had fallen, was a hazelnut. A
half-memory tugged at the corner of her mind as she fingered the nut, but
it slipped away and, with a sigh, she tucked the hazelnut into her pocket.