There’s nothing Suzy loved more than riding through the sky in style. Finding the perfect vehicle, she picked a brightly colored fall leaf, dressed in the brightest reds, oranges, and yellows. Hopping on top of it, she tipped it up, catching the tail of the blowing wind, and away she flew.
Riding the waves of the wind currant she dipped up and down, side to side…her tickling laughter could be heard echoing through the blue sky as she steered her leaf to her favorite place, Heidi’s house! Wouldn’t her dear friend be happy to see her. Taking her mind off of where she was going, she suddenly came to an abrupt halt, spiraling to the ground and landing on her face with an indignant plop. Rolling on her back, she brushed the hair out of here face, and staring down at her was a very annoyed looking Heidi. She seemed to have a red mark on her forehead…hmmm…ooooh dear.
Grinning up at Heidi, Suzy stood up, and flapping her wings, flew up to Heidi’s face. “I can fix that ya know.” Taking out her wand, she drew back her hand to fix her landing mark that she’d left on her friend’s face.
Quickly taking a step back and putting her hand up to ward off any “fixing” Suzi was planning, Heidi quickly said, “No, no! That’s okay. I can do it myself.” Waving her hand over her sore forehead, the mark and pain disappear. Taking a deep breath as she muttered a prayer for patience, she smiled and asked, “What brings you here on this fine fall morning?”
Landing in Heidi’s outstretched hand Suzi replied, “Well…I’m on vacation from my mandatory fairy retraining, ya know, seeing as how I’ve had a few mishaps, and I was thinking about how nice it would be to see my bestie. So here I am!” Settling in Heidi’s palm, Suzi looked at her nails as if there was something interesting on them. “Ya know…I hear there’s a huge fall festival going on for elementals and witches. I thought maybe you’d like to go with me.” Looking up from her nails she excitedly continued. “There will be contests and stuff, and I can show you all I learned! What do you say? Wanna go?”
Frowning, Heidi thought about declining. The festival was something that the elders had conjured up in order to entice those who chose to keep to themselves, those who were powerful and had lived longer than most of the so called elders, out into the open in hopes to talk them into joining the counsel, or find out some of their secrets. Personally, she thought, as one of those powerful witches who kept to herself, it was more a way to find their weaknesses or force of to agree to the restrictions that they had put on the rest of the magical community in order to control them. “I don’t know. You know how I like my privacy, only allow a few special individuals into my home. It’s why I live deep in the forest, away from prying eyes. If I go to the festival, they may think they could come and visit me whenever they want.”
Suzi’s smile disappeared, only to be replaced by a deep frown. “But Heidi…I’m not allowed to go without a sponsor. And if I don’t go and prove I won’t screw things up, they will take away my magic.” A small tear fell down her cheek, and the tiny drop landed on Heidi’s skin. One dropped followed the other as the little fairy began to cry in earnest, head bent, and shoulders shuddering, as she cried her eyes out. Finally able to catch her breath, she raised her tear filled eyes, a dirt streaked face up to Heidi. ” Please….”
Making her decision, Heidi gently wiped the tears away as she smiled down at Suzi. “How can I resist those big blue eyes. We will go and…,” her smile turned into a grimace, “see if you can stay out of mischief. Give me a minute to change into something more presentable.”
Carrying Suzi into the house, Heidi set her down on the kitchen table while she went to change out of her gardening clothes into a dress and walking shoes. Grabbing her cloak and basket she stopped by the door and asked, “Are you ready?”
Barely being able to contain her excitement, Suzi quickly flew over to Heidi and landed on her shoulder. Not wanting to wait another minute, Suzi decided to use a new talent she acquired. Closing her eyes, she visualized where she wanted to go and seconds later they were on the outskirts of the festival’s giant field. The only problem being was Heidi was sitting on a high branch in an ancient old tree, barely keeping her balance when she realized where she had landed. Unfortunately, she was terrified of heights. Closing her eyes, she muttered several angry swear words, and proceeded to take some slow deep breaths. Opening one eye she peered around for a place to land, and once calm she levitated gently down to the forest floor. Once firmly on the ground she looked around for Suzi, intent on killing her once she found her.
“Suzi!” she called out with a voice edged in anger. “Where the hell are you?!” Hearing a timid voice calling out here name, she looked in the general direction the sound had come from and spotted Suzi…hanging on a thin branch, skirt caught in the tree. Wanting to laugh out loud, but not wanting to hurt the little fairy’s feelings, Heidi sent a bolt of lightening to the small branch, causing the branch to break and sending Suzi spiraling down to the ground. Heidi had her revenge on the irresponsible little brat.
“New trick I see,” Heidi commented sarcastically, as she absentmindedly brushed a few flecks of dirt off her skirt. “I’m guessing you didn’t stay long enough to learn how to land properly.”
Pick herself up off the ground for the second time today, Suzi brushed off her butt and looked up at Heidi. “Jeez…when did you get so mean?”
“There is a difference between mean and teaching a lesson, little one,” she replied patiently. “That,” she pointed up at the tree, “was a lesson. What did you learn from it?” she asked, eyebrow raised.
“I learned you are mean…,” Suzi muttered.
Clearing her throat Heidi asked, “Excuse me? I missed that.”
Thinking twice about responding in a rude manner, Suzi replied, “I said I learned I should be more thorough with my teleporting. Sorry.”
“And maybe pay more attention in your lessons. No come on,” Heidi smiled as she straightened her cloak. “Let’s go see what the festival has in store for well-intended pixie and a mistrustful ancient witch.”
“Follow me.” Flying in front of Heidi, Suzi led them to a table where three rather comical looking witches with sour expressions sat waiting. “We have to sign in here.” If looks could kill, Suzi would have been reduced to ashes. “What?” Suzi squealed. “It’s not that long a line.”
Trying hard to quell her desire to explode, Heidi raised her eyes to the heavens while tapping her foot, praying to the Goddess for patience. The one thing she hated almost as much as heights, was waiting in line. Suzi wisely kept silent.
When the others waiting in line saw who was behind them, they quickly moved out of the way, bowing and giving greetings as they did.
“Good morning, Mistress.”
“I’m sorry, I did not see you, Mistress. Please. Go ahead.”
“So good to see you, Mistress.”
Smiling politely, Heidi greeted each in return as she slowly walked to the table where there was a sheet of parchment. “Good morning, Agatha. So good to see you.”
Snorting, Agatha, who sat in the middle, her expression growing ever more sour even though she tried to smile, said sweetly. “Mistress Heidi. I did not expect to see you here, as you rarely travel outside your wood.” Glancing at Suzi who smiled brightly at the witch as she hovered just over Heidi’s shoulder, she added. “You seem to have an unwanted…guest.”
Glancing at Suzi, her smile softened. “Not unwanted.” Heidi turned back to the three in front of her who were eyeing Suzi as if she were something vile. Making a mental note to keep an eye on her little friend, for elementals were hunted by those who used dark magic for their magical little bodies, Heidi turned her now fierier eyes to the three…ladies in front of her. Smile still pasted on her face as she watched with some satisfaction as the women paled considerably, she replied just as sweetly, “I would be sorely put out if anything…untoward happened to Suzi.”
Those who were standing around them trying to act like they were not watching or listening took a healthy step back. The message was clear. The three witches at the table were on their own if they decided to cross the sorceress in front of them. The two on either side of Agatha tried to distance themselves without moving from their chairs. Scowling at the two imbeciles, Agatha turned her glare towards Heidi. While powerful in her own right, she was not suicidal. She also knew Heidi well enough to know the threat was not aimed at her, but those around them. “Keep your wand in your skirts, mistress,” she spat, keeping up the pretense that Heidi was not her favorite creature in this Goddess forsaken world. “While there are those who would rather be a stain on the ground, I am not stupid. Your little companion is safe from me.”
Her smile broadened, Heidi inclined her head in a show of respect and acknowledgement. “Thank you, Agatha. I knew you one of the more intelligent ones. Good day.” With a slightly dimmed smile at the other two, Heidi motioned for Suzi to follow and they entered the festival grounds.
“What was that all about?” Suzi whispered in Heidi’s ear when she perched on her shoulder.
“A warning,” Heidi answered pretending to look at the wares at the first booth they encountered. Where she did not need a new basket, she had to admire the craftsmanship.
“What kind of warning?” Suzi asked perplexed.
“One I will tend to later. Be Careful little one. We are not alone.”
“Well, of course we’re not alone!” Suzi groused looking at the hundreds of people milling around them. “There are people everywhere,” she exclaimed rising into the air and throwing up her arms in a gesture to take everyone in, and causing more than one person to turn their eyes towards them.
Closing her eyes, once again praying for that patience she seem to never have, Heidi slowly moved to the next booth. “And now they all know we are here, too.”
“Oh,” Suzi said quietly, drifting down until she once again sat on Heidi’s shoulder, realizing what she had inadvertently done. Hunching in on herself, she groaned, “Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Heidi smiled, tilting her head to gently bump the pixie. Then, in Suzi’s mind, she whispered, Those who are looking for us knew we were here the moment we arrived. Out loud, Heidi began to talk to the pixie about more mundane things. What her stores needed, a pretty piece of material, the weather.
Hiding behind a group of birch trees, two trolls stood together watching the arrival of Mistress Heidi and her obnoxious pixie Suzi.
“We must go quickly to Master!” Grindle whispered .”He will want to know of the witch’s arrival.”
Turning to leave, his friend Thorn grabbed his arm go halt her progress. “No…wait! We need to find out more. Listen!”
The conversation between Heidi and Suzi drifted over to the troll’s big pointy ears as they took in every word. Crooking his finger, Grindle motioned for Thorn to follow. They steadily kept pace, staying hidden behind each tree they came upon. Knowing what would happen to them if they were caught by the witch.
There were every imaginable creature, and some unimaginable as they were thought extinct, at the fair. As Heidi took in her surroundings, noting those who paid them no attention and those who paid a little too much attention, she listened to Suzi as she chattered excitedly in her ear.
“I thought griffons were extinct!” Suzi cried darting towards the huge half lion half bird creature who was preening itself as it sat in one of the grassy clearings dotted around the fair.
With a flick of her wrist, Heidi jerked Suzi back just as the griffon snapped its beak at her.
“Careful now,” she warned. “While the griffon is a majestic creature who, unless provoked, would not hurt one who meant no harm,” she cooed as reached up to pet the creature’s head. Bowing, it closed its eyes as she rubbed between them, a gentle purr emanating from its chest. Glancing at Suzi while she scratched, she said, “You are merely a snack. You must be careful, little one.”
Glancing over at the forest, she stared directly where the two trolls stood gawking. Terror filled their eyes as they realized they had not been as careful as they thought. Quickly looking at each, they nodded in consent and ran in separate directions. Regardless of their short stubby legs they possessed great speed and appeared to have just disappeared in a rapid blur.
Too preoccupied with the large creature who was once again eyeing her as if she was something tasty, Suzi pulled at the hood of Heidi’s cloak.
“Maybe we should look at something else,” she gulped.
Giving the Griffin one last pat, a small satisfied smile on her face, Heidi nodded and they moved on. At the next stall was a young witch by the name of Elena who Heidi had allowed in her small circle of people she called friends. With the demeanor of a shy young woman, Elena was anything but. Shrewd and almost as distrustful of others as Heidi, she picked one of her healing balms in a small clay jar with a cork stopper and handed it to her.
“You are being watched, it seems,” Elena mused.
“So it seems,” Heidi answered looking at the bottle before putting it in her basket. Pretending to look over some of the dried herbs hanging from the stall post, she continued. “It has been long since I have been in town. Who do those two belong to?”
Elena leaned forward, signaling for Heidi to do the same.” Rumor has it the trolls are working for a very powerful Warlock, a name I would rather not repeat. But I can tell you, you must stay away from him at all cost.”
“And why would that be?” Heidi responded, raising an eyebrow.
Carefully looking around as if to make sure no one was listening Elena continued in a hushed voice ” He is evil incarnate. Some say he is the Devil himself. And among other things, he’s responsible for the death of many of the pixies and the fairies..so please take care of your little pet.”
Visibly wincing at Elena’s careless words, Heidi quickly corrects the girl’s assumption. “Suzi is not my pet, but I thank you for the warning. We will be careful.” Paying for the item, Heidi wandered off into the crowd, bracing herself for the outburst that was inevitable.
The little pixies face was as red as the berries on the bushes scattered throughout the forest. Just as Suzi was about to release her rage, Heidi lifted one finger, and placed it to her lips, immediately silencing the tirade.
“The trees have ears little one, and they are listening.”
“But Heidi she has no right…”
The look Heidi directed at the still angry pixie shut her outburst right down. Expelling a deep sigh, Suzi pointed to the woods beyond the fairgrounds. “We can find a spot to put up our tent in here.” And taking the lead she flew ahead of the ancient witch to find a resting spot for them both.
After approving of the spot, that was a good distance away from the majority of the fair goers, Heidi gathered her magic, and with a few words and a flick of her wand a simple tent appeared where the space once stood empty.
“After you little one.”
Flying through the open flap Suzi gasped in surprise. The inside of the tent appeared twice as large as the outside would have you believe. The inside came equipped with all the comforts of home. Looking around in amazement, Suzi spotted a hollowed out tree stump with a thick cushy pillow inside of it and red velvet curtains that covered the opening. “For me?”
A genuine smile stretched across Heidi’s face. “Yes dear one, for you”
Suzi could not contain her excitement as she flew around the tent, bouncing off the sides of the heavy canvas material, until she bounced into one of the lanterns that contained a burning candle. Just as the lantern came crashing to the ground, Heidi grabbed it and set it back on the table. Stopping mid-flight Suzi cleared her throat. “Um…I think I’ll go check out my bedroom.” and quickly darted behind the curtains.
Sighing, Heidi walked over to the table and set her basket down on top before emptying its contents. Taking time to prepare a mid-day meal, she then sat down and took out the last content lying quietly on the bottom of the basket.
“What is that?” Suzi asked fluttering over to where her plate of nuts and fruits waited for her.
“A note that someone slipped into my basket when they thought I was not looking,” Heidi mused, opening it.
“What does it say?” Suzi asked before popping a juicy piece of peach into her mouth.
“It seems to be a warning of some kind,” Heidi frowned.
Grabbing another piece of the delicious peach, Suzi fluttered over to perch on Heidi’s shoulder so she too could read the note. “Is it from that witch who called me your pet?” she growled.
“No,” Heidi answered absently.
“The nerve of some people,” Suzi snapped before shoving the piece of fruit into her mouth. “Me! A pet!” she continued as she chewed. “I should have turned her into a toad for such an insult. Or maybe a goat. What do you think?”
As she talked juice dribbled down her chin landing on the front of Heidi’s dress. Glancing at the dots of juice that now stained the paper down to the mess that was staining her top, Heidi frowned. The pixie had every right to be angry. She just wished it was not with a mouth full of fruit.
Not waiting for Heidi to answer, Suzi continued her tirade as she lifted off of Heidi’s shoulder to land near her plate where she picked up a slice of grape.
“Maybe I will go and turn her into a mouse and feed her to the gryphon. Then we’ll see who is a pet and who is….”
Tuning her out, Heidi looked at the paper once again. There were four words scrawled across it. Four words that confirmed what she feared. That the festival was a trap. What she had not considered was, it was a trap set solely for her. The question was, who had laid it.
A cry of surprise followed by a crash brought Heidi out of her musings. Twisting towards the sound, she saw a flickering glow from one of the tents inner doorways. Muttered a curse, she quickly rose to put out what she was sure was a fire in the kitchen.
Fluttering to the floor, forgotten in her haste, the note softly landed on the rug, it’s words facing the tent’s canvas ceiling.
You will be mine.
Copyright © 2020 Heidi Barnes & Suzanne Carey
We are not sure when each chapter will come out or how many there will be. We actually live across country from each other, as in on opposite sides of the continent, so our schedules are not exactly in sync, but we will do the best we can.