This is continuation of a story that started as a writing exercise, My Scene. It is coming in flashes, both literally and figuratively.
One story note: During a clean-up and initial revision of the first five parts, I decided to change the governing body that Derek reports to. Instead of the rather cliché “Wizard King” I’m going with “The Pentacle”. The nature of this entity will be revealed at a later date.
A quick background: I am Derek Nantan, a North American Marshal in the service of the Pentacle. My territory ranges from the continental divide in the west to roughly Chicago in the east. I was tasked with helping Amy Hatcher, an Oscar-winning actress, by ridding her of a stalker that a local shaman suspects to be a warlock.
“By what name should I call you?” I asked knowing that the sprite would not give me its real name. Real names hold power. Especially in the paranormal community.
“Gypster is a name I am known by.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Gypster. I’m Derek.”
“I know who you are,” Gypster said as he stood up. “You’re an enforcer for the Pentacle.”
“Marshall,” I corrected. “I help to keep the magical community in line so the Norms don’t panic. You wouldn’t want a bunch of children running around with butterfly nets looking for the sprites that they used to think were Fairy Tales?”
Gypster flinched and took a step back. His face scrunched up and shook his head. The fey despised the term fairy tales.
I squatted down so Gypster didn’t have to crane his neck so much to speak with me.
“Am I correct to assume you are aware of the evil that is active in this area of late?” I asked.
The sprite shuddered before answering which told me more than any answer he would give.
“You are correct. It first appeared about twenty suns ago. At first it just wandered about, not doing much of anything. Then, it became interested in the woman at the ranch.”
“And how long ago was that?”
“Um, about twelve suns ago I think.”
That fit with the time that Amy and her staff had said the first of the carcasses had shown up.
“Do you know who this evil is?”
Gypster shook his head. “No. I don’t know its name. I don’t want to know its name. I don’t even want to see it.”
Gypster started to pace. He gnawed on a fingernail.
“Its dark…really dark.” The sprite said. “You know what I mean?”
I watched him fidget. He seemed to grow more agitated as we talked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I know dark.”
You did not become a marshal for the Pentacle without having faced down and defeated some very dark critters. That was the nature of the job, to track down and dispose of dark threats to the Norms. In general, humans don’t even believe in things that go bump in the night. The vampires and werewolves currently popular with film makers and writers of fiction are very real. However, those nasties are on the lower few rungs of the threat ladder that calls this plane their playground. At least vamps and wolves can be killed. I’d run into a few summoned creatures that the best I could hope for was to banish them back to their home plane. The fact that Gypster was using the pronoun it and not he or she did not escape me.
“Do you know how it came here?”
“No,” Gypster replied.
The sprite cocked his head as if he heard a sound and stared off into the darkness. I noticed that Lola, as well, was looking out toward the arroyo to the south. I didn’t hear anything but both Gypster and Lola have radar-like hearing. No doubt something was moving out there.
“No, I don’t,” Gypster repeated after a moment.
He seemed a distracted so I maybe I could get a straight answer to my next question. “What are you doing out here on this dark night?”
Gypster replied quickly. “I delivered an invitation to the brownies who care for this house.”
My mouth must have fallen open because Gypster looked up at me and seeing my expression, stomped his foot and muttered something under his breath.
I closed my mouth studied the sprite for a moment. He was looking everywhere but at me.
“Are you saying that Amy Hatcher has house brownies?”
“Ah, no. I’m not saying that.”
“Really? Let me rephrase my question.” I chose my words carefully. “Did you say that you delivered an invitation to brownies who are caring for the house that Amy Hatcher lives in?”
Gypster looked up and tipped his head from side to side. Finally, he looked at me with sheepish eyes and said, “Speaking literally I’d say yes. That is what I said.”
“Interesting.” I filed that away. Someone was holding out on me. Either Amy or one of her staff had to not only believe in, but actively nurture a relationship with the fey for house brownies to stick around.
“Who was the invitation from?’ I asked.
“That I am not at liberty to say.” Gypster punctuated his answer by crossing his arms.
I suspected that the invite had come from a member of the Seelie Court that ruled over the light side of the fey community. It didn’t matter at this point so I let it drop. Lola must have become bored so she leapt from the fence post and with a few slow flaps of her wings vanished silently into the night.
“Are you aware of any fey or other immortal who would have a reason to scare or injure Ms. Hatcher?”
This time Gypster thought before he spoke. “I am not aware of anyone of the long-lived, who would have reason to do her harm.”
I nodded at Gypster. that was about all I could expect him to answer that might be of help. I knew better than to thank him as he would take that as a sign that I now owed him a favor. It was never wise to owe a fey for anything.
“You have done your Queen and your people proud today,” I said. “You have fulfilled our agreement. Be well, Gypster.”
The sprite stood up straight and puffed out his chest at my comment. “And you as well, Marshal. May your days be light and lively.”
We nodded to each other and he simply disappeared.
I stood and continued on my way following the fence around Amy’s property. It was nearly midnight when I approached the main compound from the east. The closer I get to the compound the more I felt that natures balance was way off. When I reached the cars my hackles were at attention and my eyes were glued on the barn doors. I reached into my shirt pocket and withdrew the Apache Tear.
The size of a racket ball the stone was my power orb. All wizards used some form of orb to help channel the energies that they utilized. There was a slight glow coming from the center of the stone. As I approached the barn door, the glow became more intense. I held the orb behind my back and opened the door to the barn.