"I won't let you harm this child!"
"It's not even your kin, why would you protect him?"
"His mom will whoop my ass if I don't." -- Anon Guest
Of all the occupations in Human history, childcare has to be among one of the least respected. It is expected to be easy. It is not. Especially when the child being cared for is not one's own. Especially when that child has a fae-wrought destiny.
For those unfamiliar with the Fae, they are most definitely not the tinkly, sparkly, little children in leotards with butterfly wings. There are insectoid features about them. That's how you know they're interfering. By the pricking in your thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
There's just something about human thumbs that makes them want to poke. Nobody's figured out why and the Fae don't involve themselves in civil discussion. If they involve themselves in any kind of discussion, it's only to discover what you've got and figure out how they can get it. The Fae are the opposite of 'nice' in every conceivable way. Which is why Lonnie is wracking her brains to try and figure out how to get herself and little Dae safely home out of Tyrnanog without any significant loss of time, life, limb, or teeth.
If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise...
She had armed herself, of course, with the things she knew the Fae feared. A silver-backed mirror, since mirrors show the truth. A steel blade, since the Fae feared iron. Knowledge, because they didn't actually know everything. The good news was that she had found little Dae. The bad news was that she still had to get the kid out of there.
"I won't let you harm this child," she said, "By action nor inaction. I am his protector."
"Why?" said the Fae who currently looked like a rock star of indeterminate gender and open sexuality. "It's not even your kin. Why do you protect him so fiercely?"
The truth spilled out of her lips. "His mom will whoop my ass if I don't."
The laugh was warm and welcoming. The voice sweet and lulling. "You could both stay with us. You're clever enough to find your way to the heart of Tyrnanog..."
A fly is not clever for finding its way to the heart of the spiderweb... The realisation of the lie helped Lonnie retain her awareness. "I'd be truly clever to get my charge and I properly out of Tyrnanog."
"Oooh, the truth. A formidable weapon in the realm of dreams," cooed the Fae. "Do you want a battle of wits? Riddle for riddle?"
"Wits could be fun," Lonnie allowed. She had lots of riddles. Some that the Fae had certainly never heard of.
The smile was full of sharp, sharp teeth. The Fae were hungry. "If I am I and we are we, what has eyes but cannot see?"
Ooof. Too easy. "A potato, a dictionary, an encyclopedia set, a novel, a blind person? Any of the above?"
"Clever human," cooed the Fae. This was bait and switch for sure. Make her think that she was winning and then pull the rug out from under her feet. She had to remember that these alleged people were dangerous. "Correct. Your riddle."
As I was going to Saint Ives, no. None of the old ones... "A baby born on leap year day, has his eighth birthing day. How old is he?" She could pull the bait and switch too.
"Thirty and two. That's not a clever one at all." The Fae took a deep breath in. "At cock's crow, and seed's sow, at the rising of the sun; one thing cannot be done - what is it?"
"The harvest," answered Lonnie. "It was never a boat, and yet it floats. When it sinks, it is ready to sink again, yet it will rise anew. What is it?"
Blam. That beautiful face flickered, as did the illusion of paradise. Anger boiled just under the surface of that perfect facade. "You... that is not-- I-- I must know the answer!"
"You'll get your answer when my charge and I are back where and when we belong, with no injury to mind or body or soul. Pay your forfeit."
There was rage and fury, but the Fae never forgot a debt they owed. This one had them back where... and when they started, with no further harm. "What. Is. The answer?"
Well. By the next time the Fae kidnapped a kid, more things would change. Lonnie showed them. A frozen piece of pork belly in a sink of hot water floated, and sank when it was thawed and ready for the deep fryer. Once in there, it sank while it was raw and floated once it was cooked.
"Ridiculous," objected the Fae. "I could have thought of that!"
"But you didn't," said Lonnie. "Leave this place, and leave this child to their mortal fate, and leave all the families alone forevermore."
"Done and done," mumbled the Fae, who vanished. "Until we are invited once more."
Lonnie took a deep breath, holding close to little Dae. "See? This is why you don't birthday wish to go to fairyland."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / iridi]
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