The rules were:
Welcome to Character Creation Contest 55 and my attempt to make a more accessible contest. The last two times I've been inspired by my weird image file. This time I'm going more mainstream while trying for something we haven't done yet. For this contest you will be creating an original character and writing a story involving fairies. Simple. I would suggest doing some cursory research if you think all fairies are flowers and sun shine though. They range from good to evil. Helpful to murderous. Fun-size to human size. Don't get me started on the various appearances and forms they come in. The sky is pretty much the limit here.
You may place your story in any universe, any time period. Write it in any style-- humor/horror/sci-fi/romance/noir. Again, anything you can imagine. As long as it is about some type(s) of fairies.
And our fierce contestants are...
Desert Rose; The Legend From Nowhere.
The sun burned like hell. The air was dry like the sand. Sending a horse out in this kind of weather would be cruel.
But Rose passed through the wasteland, unbothered by the heat. Alone.
Finally, after many a day’s traveling, she arrived to the place she had been looking for.
Roger Gulch. The town of desperadoes. Where the toughest, most baddest men of Nowhere could found.
It was quite. The many bullet holes and the red spots on the ground indicate that it not long ago had been less than quiet. Not a sound to be heard on the street. Except for a cheerful whistling. It from the richest man in town; the undertaker who was on his way to his little shop.
Rose found the saloon. Above the door hang a sign with the place’s name: The Mermaid Lagoon.
As she entered the saloon, everyone inside paused at whatever they were doing, looking at the feared lady who had entered the establishment. The bragging men at the bar with dirty beards lost the colour in their faces. The poker playing Indians dropped their jaws as well as their cards, revealing that all four of them had nothing but aces. The piano player stopped hammering the keys and began to bite his nails. The saloon mermaids at the scene joked in their singing. The bartender began to save as many of the liquor bottles as possible before all hell broke loose.
The only one who hadn't noticed Rose was Buffalo Bob. He sat by the bar counter. In his mind, there was no one in the world beside him and his beer mug. He didn't like to be bothered as he sat and pretended that the rest of the world didn't exist.
"Hey, you! Bob! Yeah, I'm talking to you, ugly!"
Bob threw his beer mug at the bar mirror, shattering both. "Who said that!?"
Bob looked down at the bar desk. On it stood a little fairy. She was dressed in a red sombrero and a grey-white poncho with purple stripes and holes on the back for her blue butterfly-like wings. And she looked like she was in a bad mood.
"Can't ya let a man have his beer in peace, shorty?"
"You can drink all you want after you helped my, dirtball."
"Why you little- Don't ya know who I am?!"
"Don't YOU know who I am?!"
"I'm Buffalo Bob, squirt! I'm a wanted man! 2 million and 3 dollars for whoever brings me in, dead or livin'!"
"And I'm Desert Rose. I'm wanted myself! 5 million and 7 and a half dollar for whoever gets me, dead! Now, are you gonna be cooperative or do this have to get ugly?"
"Ugly THIS, shorty!" Bob hammered his massive hand at the desk, attempting to smash Desert Rose like a bug. But the fairy was fast and flew up and kicked him in the face with the force of a horse, sending Bob flying to the other end of the room. With an animal-like roar, Bob grabbed a chair near one of the poker tables and began to sing it around like an angry baseball player. Bob wrecked a few tables, the bar counter, the piano, but no the fairy. Bur Desert Rose hit him, first by rocketing herself in his stomach, taking the wind out of him, then on the chin as she made a uppercut with her tiny but powerful right fist.
Bob landed on his tail. His chin was hurting and his head felt dizzy. The fairy landed on his big nose. "Now then..." She said. "Are you gonna help me? Or maybe you still feel like tussling?"
"No, NO! I give, I give! What ya want from me?"
"I'm looking for someone. And I hear that you are the only one who knows where to find him."
"Who ya talking abo- wait... No... You talkin' about Stinky Pete?! No way, ya crazy dame! I ain't telling ya nuthing! He's mad! Gonna kill me if he knows I rat him out!"
"Well, that's unfortunate for you, Bob. Because if I don't know where to find Stinky Pete ten seconds from now, I shall squeeze you. And I shall keep on squeezing you until your man juices run dry!"
"... He's in Marooners' Rock."
"GOLD! I FOUND GOLD!"
"So what? I found me some diamonds!"
"And I just found chocolate!"
Marooners' Rock were the place where you could find anything. As long as you had a pick axe and enough patience. Stinky Pete's gang were hacking and digging inside the mine, looking for treasures and sweets of all kinds.
"Phew, I'm exhausted..." Birdnose dropped his axe, stretching out. "I'm going out for some fresh air. You wanna come too?"
"Na, I'm good." Hairless kept hacking the rocky wall with enthusiasm. "But how about you go get me a soda?"
"Sure. Chubby, you want something?"
"Be back in a sec." Birdnose picked up a lantern and left.
But he didn't come back.
After a while, the boys had noticed that their friend had been gone for about five minutes.
"What's taking him so long?" Hairless dried his bald sweaty head with the back of his dirty sleeve. "I could use that soda right now."
"Hey, there he is!" Chubby pointed toward a small light that came toward them. "Birdnose, what took you so lo-"
One of the three glass lanterns that laid on the stonefloor shattered in a thousand pieces by a gunshot. It wasn't Birdface who had arrived.
It was a fairy.
A little fairy who had her arms around the handle of a pistol and could just about place her tiny fingers around the trigger.
"Stick 'em up, brats!" She said. "Or I will shoot!"
The two boys exchanged looks. Then Chubby said; "... you ain't for real, are you? Seriously, You are the least threatening thing I've ever seen, and I've seen a kitten when it-"
Chubby and Hairless made a small scared jump as their pick axes were now only half sticks. They both now held their hands above their heads.
"Can the smart talk, or the next bullet will burst that fad tummy of yours, kid!" Rose now pointed her gun directly at Chubby. "Now, you are going to bring me to your boss, or you won't need breathing anymore."
"... I don't like this..." Chubby gulped. "Pete won't be in a good mood, knowing I helped someone find his private home."
"You like holes in your head, kid?"
"Then keep moving."
Chubby led Rose through the secret underground tunnel that only the Long Gone Boys knew about. Chubby was unsure what to be more scared of; the fairy who illuminated the dark tunnel with her glowing body(who also held a gun with it's barrel toward his neck), or whether or not if his boss would be merciful despite him betraying him. After some time, they finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel.
"Please..." Chubby wimped. "Don't make me go in there."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Fine! Beat it! Get outta here."
Once Chubby had left, Rose dropped the gun. Her arms were tired, and they were hurting. Sure, she was tough, but steel was still not too comfortable near her skin.
Rose took in a deep breath. Th years of training, the weeks of searching, all of it was going to pay off today.
She could finally avenge her.
Rose cracked her knuckles and neck, and then entered the underground cave that was the home of Stinky Pete.
It was as if daylight was inside this cave. Orange crystals were attached to the stone walls and roof. Their glow illuminated the cave. On the ground was soft, fresh grass. Dummies were placed around the home of Stinky Pete. They were dressed in blue nightgowns and girlwigs. They had arrows sticking out of their heads. In the middle of the room was a tipi, and next to it, a goat. The animal noticed Rose and began to bleat loudly.
"Shaddap, Wendy." A voice came from inside the tent. It was the voice of a boy. "I already know we have guests."
Out of the tipi came a boy wearing an Indian chief war bonnet. the kid had hair red as fire and a naughty smile.
"You named the goat?" Rose asked.
"Yep. At first I wanted to name it Maimie." Pete nuzzled the goat between it's horns. "But then I decided to name it Wendy instead. Because it's stubborn, won't listen to me, AND it smells. Kinda like her."
"Sentimentality doesn't suit you, Peter Pan."
"Stinky Pete. My name is Stinky Pete. I change my name when I remodeled Neverland into Nowhere."
"Remodeled it?!" Rose grinded her teeth. "You TORE IT APART, then made this... this..."
"What?" Pete began to pick his nose. "I can do with this place as I please. It's mine. So if I get tired of pirates and jungle island, I replace it with the wild west. Goes well with the Indians when you think about it."
"It's not yours! The fairies lived here first! They ALLOWED you to live here!"
"Their mistake. Like it was their mistake to tell me what to do and not to do with Neverland when I made it into Nowhere."
"So you had to kill them all?! Even..." Rose breathing got funny. a tear fell from her left eye. "Even... Tinker Bell?! She did everything for you! She only wanted you to be happy! She loved you! You were her world!"
Pete laughed. "Who the heck is Tinker Bell?"
Screaming like an angry bird, glowing harsher than ever before and filled with rage, Desert Rose flew like a tiny comet toward the boy who would never grow up. Pete laughed as he fetched his tomahawk, ready for battle.
The fairy was sure that this would be the day where she would avenge her love.
The boy was just as sure that this would be the beginning of a beautiful enemyship.
The Court of Daoine Sith
Kanute lifted his hand ordering the trail of Viking warrior he lead to halt, the road they were travelling down blocked by an overturned cart, its cargo long since taken by brigands. Drawing a dagger, its hilt decorated like a serpent complete with a ruby for an eye, Kanute advanced on the wreckage, his two trusted Huskarl bodyguards following their hands on their axes ready for any kind of ambush. As the three men approached the cart, the sound of sobbing could be heard, and Kanute sheathed his blade when he saw that a dark haired Celtic woman dressed in purple was sitting beside the body of a dying man, his face sallow and shrunken as if he’d been starved for months.
“Lady is this cart yours?” Kanute asked softly.
“Aye it is ours.” The woman replied, her soft voice sounding like the peeling of bells mixed with the cooing of doves. Looking up at him with those deep magenta eyes Kantue couldn’t deny that the lady was beautiful, but it was an ethereal beauty, the one that inspired songs and poetry in epic tales rather than the kind you took as a wife or even a mistress. “My love Hal is ill so I drove the horses, but they were spooked and bolted leaving us in the situation we now find ourselves in.”
“My men can right the cart, but we have no horses to spare I’m afraid.” Kanute told her. “We are looking for a man and woman who were coming up from the path over the fells heading towards the Kingdom of Northumberland.”
“You mean the unnatural couple who passed through the court only three moons ago?” The woman gasped as she got to her feet, the morning sun gleaming off the amethyst tiara and necklace she was wearing. “It would not be wise to follow that witch and her thrall.” She suggested, the words fighting against Kanute’s desire to rescue his son. Shaking his head in an attempt to rid himself of the disgusting thoughts about abandoning Ragnar, he saw the man on the floor move his lips slightly, his eyes looking up in an almost pleading manner at the Viking Thane.
“That ‘thrall’ is my son.” Kanute told the woman. “Erik, bring this fellow some water.” He ordered one of his men, who shouldered his spear, and removed a skin container off of his belt and headed towards the overturned cart. “Your lover, are you and he married?”
In response to his question the woman laughed, a beautiful laugh that seemed to waken the birds in the brush on the side of the road, their calls filling the air in a harmonious cacophony before falling silent. “No, I have only known dear Hal for only a few days, he was so strong and handsome back then, but now his strength is fading and the beautiful poems he wrote for me grew sour and bitter.” She added, as Erik bent down next to Hal and put his skin to his lips, the sick man taking a sip before clearing his throat.
“Though fair on sight, there are cruel in heart, they need of love but only take life, take head and arm not with sword or dart, but instead relay on a green wood fife.” Hal groaned his eyes rolling in his head before closing for the last time.
“NO!!!” The woman screamed as she bent to her knees and cradled her dead lovers head in her lap. “Please just leave!” She screamed, tears falling down her cheeks.
“It would be dangerous to do so,” Kanute sighed as Erik took a step back from the corpse and splashed the remains of his water over his hands in a vain attempt to remove the filth of touching the dying man from his skin. “You mentioned a court earlier, we can escort you there to keep you safe from the wild animals and robbers that stalk this accursed countryside.”
“There is sense in your words.” The woman sighed as she shot Erik a tearful look of despair tinged by a hint of lust. “If I must I will go with you, we are not more than a day’s walk away and the court can tell you more about the passing of your son.” She added, as the remainder of the Vikings turned the cart back onto its wheels and pushed it off into the brush.
“This court you mentioned.” Kanute stated as he helped the lady to her feet. “Is it affiliated with the house of Northumberland?”
“No it is part of the Court of the Daoine Sith, we are not allied to or enemies of any of the other tribes, we generally just keep to ourselves although we do give warm welcomes to those who come to our doors in friendship.” The woman explained, as the Viking scouting party headed North up the road towards a hill topped with a dark pine wood on the horizon. As they disappeared from view Hal’s corpse shuddered as the wind swept his remains off the road, followed by a mysterious force that lifted the cart and carried it away out of view.
It was a long hard walk to the hill, although one that was more joyous thanks to the sagas sung by the Vikings. Kanute knew that morale would have been waning as his men moved inland, but now it seemed as if they’d only left home a day ago, ready to claim fame and glory on cruel Britannia’s shores. As the winter sun set, his men set up camp, their faces happy despite the draining march to the trees. The glade they had found themselves in was odd indeed, the forest floor covered with needles of the pines and squat brown capped toadstools arranged in a loose ring at the base of the trees.
“This is an elf ring, we can’t camp here.” Kanute stated, as he drew his dagger and stepped back out of the glade.
“Leanan says this is where her court is.” One of his men murmured, his words echoed by the rest of the Vikings within the ring. Looking at the men of his war-band Kanute could swear that their faces were beginning to look sallow, almost as if the muscle and fat was being drained from them. “This land is full of mist, and is rarely sun kissed.” The man replied. “But on every road we walk there is wonder, let us put down our swords and forgo plunder. Gentle arts are required here, not a visage of war and fear.”
“Who is this Leanan?” Kanute asked, as a cold wind rustled through the tops of the trees, the breeze scattering the birds roosted there.
“She is out guide.” Erik stated from where he was hunkered down with the woman from the road. “Beauty in all guises, a man’s muse to no surprise.” He added, as Leanan kissed him on the lips, Erik’s face ageing as she withdrew. Looking around Kanute realised that his men were all looking in bad shape, almost as if had aged decades in a single day.
“What are you Celt?!” Kanute snarled as he pointed his dagger at Leanan, her eyes glowing magenta as the sun set and the shadows of the pines grew longer, plunging the glade into darkness. Smiling, Leanan got to her feet, the mushrooms of the ring glowing as she did, the trees forming into an arched hall cut entirely from wood and amethyst.
“I am Unseelie, and we have been waiting for mortal lives to stumble into our court.” Leanan hissed, as multiple figures, each holding a long pole with a burning sphere on the end, emerged from the walls, their skin looking wood hewn. The creatures were not ugly, but they were not beautiful like Leanan was, in all accounts they were odd looking, something that was unsettling when combined with the looks of malice and mischief spread across their faces.
“Release my men and we will leave with no quarrel.” Kantue ordered, as he went to one of his men and picked up a one handed axe to complement his dagger, the iron head etched with the face of Tyr, the God of War.
“But you are our winter entertainment.” Leanan purred, as the figures advanced on the Viking party, occasional rhyming verses half mumbled from the drained folk. “First a bit of brutal blood sport for my dear goblins and then some poetry and storytelling for those of the fae that dwell here.” She stated as unseen forces picked up the bodies of Kanute’s men and held them out the way as the Viking Thane was encircled by the goblin folk.
With a scream, one of the creatures swung his lantern at Kanute, the orb of flame leaving a stinging welt on its human victim’s leather armour. Retreating from the retaliatory strike from Kanute’s axe, a second goblin lunged in, this time aiming for the Thane’s legs, its odd weapon only just missing its target. Spinning round Kanute threw his dagger at this new attacker, the blade embedding in the goblin’s wooden chin, black rot spreading like a spider web out from the wound.
“Iron! The mortal animal carries iron!!” The Goblin screamed as his comrades attacked as one, a burning torrent aimed at Kanute’s head. Dropping to the floor and rolling away, Kanute slashed out with the axe, the blade slashing through the nearest goblin’s foot and causing rot to spread up both parts of the severed limb. Getting to his feet, he blocked a swipe from another goblin, before head-butting the creature away and swinging his axe at another attacker, its chest splintering.
“That’s right you foul creatures!” Kanute roared as he felt cold hands on his shoulders before being dragged up into the air. Struggling and swinging blindly with his axe he felt his blade collide with something fragile and fell to the floor. In seconds the goblins were on him, their hob-lanterns discarded as they scratched at him with long fingernails before falling back as the axe was either pressed against their flesh or bit into their wooden frames. Getting to his feet, Kanute saw for the first time that each of his men was being held by a purple eyed man or woman, their clothing and jewellery almost identical to that of Leanan’s.
“So it is no coincidence that you built a hall on an elf ring!” Kantue spat as he ripped his dagger out of one of the quaking goblins. “You are Sidhe, creatures from outside the realm of Midgard! I asked you once, release my men and we will leave, hold them and you will feel the bite of iron in your necks.”
“Release them…” Leanan ordered with a cruel smile, “…release their souls.” She added as each of the Sidhe drained the life out of their hostages, the chamber filled with song and poetry as the Vikings died, the verse turning from sweet and light to bitter until with one final breath they all uttered the same lines.
“Though fair on sight, there are cruel in heart, they need of love but only take life, take head and arm not with sword or dart, but instead relay on a green wood fife.”
Kanute realised he had heard those words before, and that Hal’s last breath had been given to warn him and his men of the foul fae creatures that had dragged them to this dark hall. Looking across the hall Kanute saw a small wooden flute, brought by one of his men to keep morale up on the cold British nights and lunged for it. Before he could reach it however, he felt himself by whisked off his feet, the cold hands of one of the Sidhe grasping onto him, its face missing a hunk of flesh to reveal chipped amethyst crystal underneath.
“You spoke of the bite of iron, but let’s see what happens when you are too weak to carry a weapon.” Leanan hissed as crystal crawled up Thane’s arm, his muscular arms becoming dainty and feminine, his clothes tinting themselves violet as his body became younger and his hair longer, the red streaks darkening to become threads of ebony. “Let’s see how a maiden fares against my dear goblins.” Leanan purred, as Kanute was placed back on the ground, his arms struggling to keep the axe he was holding aloft as the goblins advanced cackling at the thought of exacting their revenge at the indignity they had suffered at Kanute’s hand. Dropping his weapons, Kanute lunged for the flute, his feminine hands wrapping around them as his lips pursed against the mouth piece and blew a single note, the music sending the goblins scampering back to the walls of the hall, their bodies fusing back into the wood.
“You made a mistake, man or woman, Thane or maiden I am still a Viking.” Kanute replied before blowing another note, this one directed at the Sidhe around the hall, their bodies shaking and cracking as the music whirled around them.
“What happened next grandfather?” A child’s voice asked as the fire began to die down. The wizened man smiled and gathered his grandson and granddaughter into his arms as the sun dropped below the sparkling green ocean to the west.
“The Leanan Sidhe, the name for such creatures you see, couldn’t stand the music and shattered leaving their Unseelie Court defeated. Unfortunately I was too later to save my men, and with the death of the Sidhe their hall disappeared with their bodies. I took what I needed and headed north alone dressed and armed as a man.”
“So how come you turned back into a man grandfather?” The little girl asked.
“I had many adventures as a woman as I looked for Ragnar, but eventually I was restored back to my true form by another kind of magic, equally as foul as that of the spell the Sidhe has cast on me. Kanute told them as his grandchildren closed their eyes, as he walked the pair of them back to the nearest longhouse.
“What if the Sidhe return?” The little boy asked.
Kanute smiled before removing a small flute from out of his cloak. “The Sidhe would do well to remember that we know their weaknesses before they would think about returning.” He told the children before looking out at the setting sun, a slight magenta spark glinting off the surface of the water for a second before disappearing for another day.
Even Faeries Die Alone
Hans Grimm, a Kobold fairy, sat in his office above the Cafe der Klabauterman. The cafe was inside an old, ceramic coffee pot and Hans rented one of the rooms on the second floor for his private detective business.
There was a knock on the door. "Who is it?" Hans asked.
"Brought you up a cup of coffee, Stumpy." said Axel Bender as he walked into the office carrying a cup of coffee. Axel was a fairy like Hans, except he had the head of dog.
"Why you gotta call me Stumpy?" asked Hans, looking irritated. "Bad enough I have to limp everywhere I go."
"Oh come on, an old war buddy like me gets to call you that, no one else would dare." reasoned Axel as he set the cup of coffee on Hans desk. "Besides, at least no one calls you a Bottom."
"I'd never call you that word. Did someone call you that?" Hans asked as he grabbed his coffee.
"Not to my face," Axel said. "I get those looks sometimes."
Hans sipped his coffee as he thought about his friend. Axel ran the Cafe der Klabauterman, he was a hard worker and an intellectual. He was born a Child of Cersi, a fairy with animal qualities. In his case, he had the head of a dog. Bottom was the derogatory term applied to the Children of Cersi, a reference to Nicholaus Bottom, the famous donkey headed consort of Queen Titania.
Axel Bender looked at a battle wand mounted on the wall, with the inscription underneath it reading 'Go Forth, Childe, to Learn Fear.'
"To think, I defended these people in the First War of Dreams," Axel stated. "And they treat me like some.."
"We both defended the Garden of Wodan Nation. You were the best damn Wand Runner I ever seen." Hans said, as he got up and put his arm on Axel's shoulder. "Don't let any body make you feel bad about yourself. I wouldn't have made it without you."
Axel smiled at his friend. "You couldn't have run with that bum leg, Stumpy." Hans rolled his eyes and sat back at his desk. Axel continued. "You were a damn good shot with those battle wands though."
"I don't understand why every one calls it the First War of Dreams." Hans said. "There's only been one."
"They say the Second War of Dreams is well on it's way." Axel replied as he grabbed Hans empty coffee cup and made his way out. "Oh, I almost forgot. You have client. She's waiting downstairs."
"Yeah?" Hans asked. "She a looker?"
"You'll like her." Axel winked.
"Send her up." Hans replied.
A beautiful, dark haired, long legged, female Kobold walked into Hans' office. Hans sat behind his desk.
"Hans Grimm, private eye." Hans introduced himself. "How can I help you."
"My name is Gruschenka Mirovich," the lady began. "I'm worried about my brother, Rauber. He's involved with a nationalist political party, the Wilde Jaeger. They're an offshoot of Wodan's Army.."
"I heard of them." Hans said. He knew all about these people. They were Kobold nationalists, many of whom had racist sentiments, especially towards 'bottoms' like Axel. Hans always tried to stay politically neutral but even he didn't like Wilde Jaeger's.
Gruschenka recognized the look in Hans eyes.
"Regardless of what you might think, my brother is a good man." she defended. "He has his political views, you might not like them but I still love my brother."
"I'm not judging." Hans replied. "I don't care about politics. I get hired to do a job, I do it to the best of my abilities. Now, go on. You said you were worried about him."
"Well, he's been making enemies ever since he joined Wodan's Army five years ago. He started rising through the ranks of membership, becoming their main speaker, until he started challenging General Guder's leadership." Gruschenka explained. "Eventually General Guder tried to ban Rauber from Wodan's Army. So Rauber and his friends split off from the party and created Wilde Jaeger."
"So you're worried Guder has it in for your brother?" asked Hans.
"It's not just Guder I'm worried about," she answered. "Rauber has been giving speeches all over the Garden of Wodan, usually at bars and cafes. He's a passionate speaker, riling up the working class. Wilde Jaeger's ranks have been rising dramatically due to Rauber's speeches. With his rise in popularity and fame, more and more enemies are coming out of the wood work. He's been getting death threats from Children of Cersi, the Red Cap Guild and even fellow Kobolds."
"Doesn't Wilde Jaeger have it's own security?" he asked. "I'm not sure why you need me."
"They might keep him safe from outside sources but I don't fully trust them," Gruschenka said as she stood up and put her hands on the desk. "I need an outside eye, a detective, looking into this."
"There's a lot to go on." Hans said. "I'm not sure where to start."
"Rauber is giving a speech this afternoon," Gruschenka said. "He'll be at the Cursed Leg at two. Just go and find out what you can. I want to keep my brother safe. I'll pay you a hundred Oberon coins."
Hans gulped. He usually got paid in Wodan coins, which were less valuable.
"Alright. I'll take the job."
The Cursed Leg was an old huntsman's boot which had been converted into a bar, frequented by Kobold's and other, 'respectable' faeries. There was a sign on the window that read 'NO Bottoms!'
The entire bar was full. Hans stood at the back as he listened to Rauber Mirovich's speech.
"The Garden of Wodan is our country. Kobold country. We are the faeries of Germany. We will join the Wilde Hunt into the afterlife and beyond," Rauber spoke loud and with passion. "The lesser faeries want to make us weaker but we are strong. Don't listen to the bottom lovers or the Red Caps. They want to take what is rightfully ours. The Red Caps plot to steal from us while Bottoms feed themselves off of our hard work.."
Hans couldn't take it anymore. Everyone around him cheered at the hateful rhetoric, while he stood in silence. He walked out of the Cursed Leg.
"Hans Grimm? That you, old Stumpy?"
Hans recognized the voice. He turned to see the familiar face of Arnim Kant, who he had fought with in the War of Dreams. Arnim was wearing his police captain's uniform.
"Hello, Arnim." Hans said, extending his hand. Arnim grabbed it and shook it with gusto.
"Good to see you here," Arnim said. "Are you a Wilde Jaeger too?"
"Just here on a job." Hans answered. "Seems Rauber's been getting death threats. His sister hired me."
"Ah. Good. I'll be glad to get your help on that." Armin said. "Boy, he's quite the speaker, isn't he? I always get excited by him. I think with luck he might replace that fat, old, corrupt Chancellor Caremon, in the upcoming election."
Hans grunted as he lit up a pixie cigarette. "What do you know about these death threats?"
"Well, some people think old General Guder has it out for Rauber but I talked to him, Kobold to Kobold." Armin explained. "He's a good old boy. I think he's fine. Just a little ticked off at Rauber's popularity. He won't harm the 'Dark Prince' of Kobolds. That's what they're calling Rauber these days."
Hans blew a ring of blue smoke. "Who do you suspect?"
"Well, quite a few faeries actually. There's a lot of bottoms that want him dead." Arnim began. "You still keep in touch with dog faced Axel?"
"Yeah!" Hans said, looking Arnim in the eye.
"Well, he was always a good one, I suppose." Arnim said. "Anyway, I've got a dozen wanted bottoms on my list. I'm also worried about the Red Cap Guild. Dangerous bunch of goblins. On the top of my list is that bottom terrorist, Attercroppe, the snake man."
Hans thought about it. It made sense, Attercroppe would want Rauber dead. The snake man was wanted in several nations for fire bombing Kobold business's on behalf of Children of Cersi's rights.
"You think he's in the Garden of Wodan?" Hans asked.
"He was last spotted in the Lost Toy's Woods." Arnim answered. "Between you and me, I'm setting up a raid there tomorrow." Hans finished his pixie cigarette and flicked it into the snow.
"I'll look into it myself, you don't mind?" Hans said.
"Be my guest. Just don't repeat what I said." Arnim answered.
"Of course." Hans shook Arnim's hand again. "Good talking to you."
Hans Grimm walked through the dark woods with his battle wand at his side. Axel had offered to accompany him, since this was a Children of Cersi ghetto but Hans couldn't stomach letting Axel help him with this particular case. Plus, he didn't trust Arnim Kant. He said the raid would take place tomorrow but the police captain was known to jump the gun early. He didn't want Axel getting caught in the crossfire.
The woods were littered with old toys, jack in the boxes, dolls, army commandos, toy cars and trains. Many of the toys were used by the Children of Cersi as buildings and houses.
There were goat headed fairies drinking ale at the Failed Jester, a jack in the box turned bar. Multiple mice fairies ran around the neighborhood, fast little pickpockets who darted into random holes.
Hans walked cautiously towards a spider web strewn neighborhood.
He came upon a wood carved toy shark, some sailor must have made for his boy. It was covered in spider webs. This was the home of Arachne, the spider woman fairy. She was considered the matriarch leader of Lost Toy's Woods. If anyone knew where Attercroppe was hiding, it was her.
He walked up to the wooden shark's teeth.
"You are a brave fairy, Hans Grimm," came a dark, feminine voice from inside the shark's mouth. "Not many Kobolds would dare come this close to the mouth of oblivion."
"You know me?" Hans asked. "Course you do. They say you can see beyond the limits of the eye, that you can look into the future. Then you should know that Ive braved worse than this. When you're fighting a horde of griffon riding skeletons while riding atop a zeppelin or riding a tinkercycle headlong into battle against a minotaur's tank, you learn what fear really is."
"Go forth, childe, to learn fear." Arachne said. "The First War of Dreams."
"First and hopefully last." Hans said.
A scratching sound came from the sharks mouth. Two, long, spindly legs emerged, followed by the rest of Arachne. She had the lower torso of a spider, while her upper body was that of a beautiful, red haired, purple eyed woman.
"You are far more optimistic than I would have believed." She observed. "I like that. So, why are you here?"
"I think you know," Hans said. "I'm looking for Attercroppe. He's wanted by the police for terrorism."
"You think I know where he is?" she asked.
"Like I said before, you know things." Hans said. "You can see beyond your eyes."
"Yes, I can." she replied. "Why should I help you? The Kobolds have treated the Children of Cersi as their lesser's. They call us 'bottoms' because they think we are beneath them. You want me to betray my own kind? For what?"
"Not all Kobolds share that sentiment." Hans said, while Arachne laughed to herself. "Attercroppe is not doing you any good. He makes the Children of Cersi look like.."
"Like what?" she asked. "Like terrorists? Like murderers? Wodan's Army has terrorized us for decades. Now the Wilde Jaeger's have risen in power and they're worse. Don't think I don't know who hired you, Hans. Gruschenka isn't as innocent as you think. You work for the sister of the man who will try to bring destruction to my people."
"Listen, you need to tell me where Attercroppe is." Hans explained. "There's going to be a raid on this neighborhood. Soon. I can stop it if I bring Attercroppe in before that."
"I foresaw this." Arachne said. "There have been raids here before and many to follow once Rauber becomes dictator."
"The police will burn this place to the ground in search of Attercroppe." Hans warned. "This doesn't need to happen."
"Let them come." said a hissing voice from inside the shark's gullet. "I will poison their eyes and burn them alive. Along with you."
Hans ducked as a wad of venom flew over his head. He grabbed his battle wand and pushed Arachne out of the way.
Attercroppe the snake man came running out of the darkness of the shark's gullet towards Hans. He also carried a battle wand and the two exchanged spells. Hans was clearly the more experienced wand slinger. Attercroppe reared his head back.
Arachne grabbed Hans from behind, who dropped down just as Attercroppe spat another wad of venom at him, which hit Arachne in the eyes.
"Guess you didn't see that coming." Hans said as Arachne reeled backwards.
Attercroppe pulled a dagger from his belt and tackled Hans to the ground. They wrestled in the mouth of the toy shark. Finally Attercroppe pinned Hans' neck in between two shark's teeth while he struggled to push the dagger towards Hans' throat.
"This dagger is called the Cruel Truth," Attercroppe said. "A poke from this and the poison will kill you slowly."
Hans held the dagger at bay with his left arm while grabbing his battle wand with his right. He pointed the wand behind Attercroppe and fired an explosive spell. It hit the support beams holding the sharks jaw open, which slammed down on Attercroppe's head, impaling him from the brain through the throat.
Hans shot out the teeth holding his neck with his wand. As he crawled out he looked back at Attercroppe, blood spreading out, his hand still clutched the dagger Cruel Truth.
"Take it." said Arachne from behind him. "It's yours now."
Hans grabbed the Cruel Truth, then looked back at Arachne, whose eyes were swollen shut.
"I have to take you in." he said, then looked at Attercroppe. "Him too. There doesn't need to be a raid."
"The police are preoccupied. There will be no raid tonight or tomorrow." she informed him. "You should head back to town. As fast you can with that leg. Go to the Cafe der Klabauterman. Your friend Axel is in trouble."
The police surrounded the ceramic coffee pot turned cafe as crowds gathered round.
Hans ran up to the police line. He saw Armin Kant and yelled. "Armin. Let me in."
"No can do, Hans." Armin said. "You're too close to this."
"I just caught Attercroppe. He's dead." Hans yelled.
Armin stopped, looked at Hans, then said to his cops. "Alright, let him in. I need to talk to him."
Hans walked through the police line, up to Armin. "What's going on?" he asked.
Armin looked at the blue blood on Hans trench coat. "You did kill Attercroppe. Good job!" looking at Hans' inquisitive eyes he added. "You're not going to like this. Your friend Axel killed a Kobold lady. The one who hired you. Gruschenka Mirovich. Rauber's sister."
Hans didn't believe it. No way could Axel kill her.
Armin continued. "Rauber found her. She was in Axel's bed. Strangled to death."
Armin pointed at a young, handsome, angry Kobold standing and shaking, while talking to the police. It was Rauber.
"What was he doing here?" Hans asked.
"I told him that she hired you to investigate his death threats." Armin explained. "He said he came here to tell her not to hire outside people. I told him he could trust you but he wasn't having it. Anyway, he walked into Axel's room and saw that damn bottom raping and killing her.. Here he comes now."
The crowd started booing and yelling death threats as the police escorted Axel Bender to the police carriage.
Rauber's eyes lit up, he pointed at Axel and started screaming. "He's the one. He raped and killed my sister. That dirty, rotten Bottom. They all need to pay for this."
Hans walked up to Axel, who started crying. "It's not true, Hans. Me and Gruschenka, we've been lovers for the past few weeks. I told her to hire you but I didn't tell you.. or anyone about us. I knew this would happen if he found out. He killed her. Rauber!"
"That's enough!" Arnim yelled as he punched Axel in the gut. "Don't listen to him, Stumpy. It's bottom lies. You'll hang for this, you bottom scum."
The cops hauled Axel into the carriage. The crowd surrounded the carriage. The cops didn't seem to mind.
Hans realized Axel would likely not make it to court, as Rauber's screams for vengeance grew louder and mob rule seemed imminent.
Without thinking, Hans walked casually up to Rauber, stuck the dagger Cruel Truth into his side, then quickly pulled it out and walked away.
In his rage, Rauber didn't seem to notice. His screams grew louder. The poison acted quickly. What Hans did not realize was the poison in the dagger acted as a truth serum.
"He made love to my sister," Rauber screamed. "And she enjoyed it. That's why I killed her. She made love to a dirty bottom. I found her in his bed. I watched them make love through the door and when he got up to get them coffee, I confronted her. She tried to defend herself but I strangled her. I did it to protect the Mirovich name. She was a dirty bottom lover and.."
The crowd looked confused. Their anger at Axel died down. The police didn't know what to do.
Armin tried to silence Rauber but he wouldn't stop. The crowd began demanding that Rauber be arrested.
Armin looked at Hans, who shrugged. "Looks like you should take him in."
The police arrested Rauber.
Both Rauber and Axel were brought into custody but only Rauber stood trial, as he continued to confess to the crime.
Hans sat in his office. There was a knock on his door.
"Come in." he said.
Axel walked in with a cup of coffee and a paper.
"Seems Rauber Mirovich died in jail. Heart failure." Axel said, as he plopped the paper on Hans desk.
Hans looked at it. The poison must have finally reached his heart.
He read further. General Guder took control of Wilde Jaeger and merged them back with the Wodan's Army.
There was a story about Hans capturing and killing Attercroppe. Meanwhile, Arachne had escaped and is still wanted.
"The Second War of Dreams has been prevented, for now." Axel said as he walked to the door, then stopped and looked back at Hans. "Thanks again, friend."
Hans looked at his friend. "What for? Rauber confessed on his own."
Axel smiled. "Yeah, I guess so." He paused, then added. "I really loved her, you know?"
"I know, pal." Hans said, trying to comfort his friend but failing to come up with comforting words.
Axel walked out.
Hans leaned back in his chair as he sipped his coffee, looking at the inscription under his battle wand.
'Go Forth, Childe, to Learn Fear.'
"Oh thank god you're here!" gasped Mrs Gengembre as she stood in the doorway of her house at 1869 Ede Lane in Canterbury. The man in the grey dungarees, black leather apron, carrying a well-worn duffel bag tipped his flat cap.
"Where?" He asked quietly.
"Hmmm," he rubbed his chin. "Step outside Mrs..."
He dropped the bag with a thud, cracked his calloused knuckles before reaching into the bag to retrieve a pair of long copper pincers, a small lantern like device and a black canister labelled 'Folk Smoke'.
"Any pets?" He asked.
"Muffin and Tuffin, my corgi-cross..." She stopped speaking as he thrust a business card into her face.
"My condolences." He shut the door behind him as Mrs Gengembre read the card for the King's Way Pet Crematorium And Remembrance Garden.
"All right you little jingly bastards," he said as he covered his mouth with a well stained handkerchief. "Let's dance."
"What you had Mrs Gangrene, was a gruagach urisk," the man said as he stepped out the front door in a cloud a purple tinged smoke, dangling the lantern device like a landed fish. "Better known as a brownie. Sub group of the fairy, closer towards the goblins. Usually you don't get them this far south."
He nodded and rattled the cage. "Won't be bothering anyone now. You're one of the smart people, Mrs Gangrene, calling us in earlier prevents infestation."
"Dead." He stated flatly. "Folk smoke will do that do that to your average pet. But you've got a nine month guarantee you'll be faerie folk free or my name isn't Jim Reeper. Now, cash or card?"
Jim trudged back to his dilapidated old lorry as he left Mrs Gengembre to her grief and tossed his gear in the side door. He scowled at the vandalism on the sign of his vehicle. Some faerie bastard had glyphitti'd over his name changing it from Jim Reeper's Faerie Removals to Grim Reaper's A Faerie Killing Bastard! He always reminded himself to scour it off but he always ended up traipsing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom clearing out magical little pests from where they didn't belong so it stayed that way. Jim slammed the door shut and checked his well weathered work diary.
"Right, off to Devon."
Jim shook his head as he pulled up at the day care centre. Sitting within the rainbow painted picket fence was a menhir.
"No wonder you've got pixies," he grumbled as he got out and walked to the woman wringing her hands. "You Mrs Tavistock?"
"What took you so long?" She asked.
Jim scratched his scalp through his hat. "If you want to be rude Missus, I'll just go back home an..."
"No!" She cried. "I'm sorry. It's just been hours. All that singing an..."
Jim held his hand up for quiet. The pair listened to the sky. A faint haunting tune danced across the air.
"They're on the last verse," Jim said as he threw open the van and grabbed his gear. "Where'd you last see them?"
"At the bottom of the garden."
Jim grabbed a small seesaw, a well-used glue gun and a handful of lemon sherbets out of the various racks and baskets that lined the van.
"What happens when the singing stops?" Mrs Tavistock asked hesitantly.
"One of two things," Jim said. "If the children didn't cry and played their games then they'll get turned into pixies."
"And number two?"
"I'll catch a gang of well-fed pixies sleeping off a feast."
Mrs Tavistock gasped and watched Jim Reeper stalk into the bottom of the garden.
“Pobel Vian Pixicanus,” Jim said holding up a quartet of very dead pixies by their legs. “Nasty little beggars. Drawn here by that menhir you planted in your garden. Best get rid of it sharpish or they’ll be back.”
“But it cost over four thousand pounds?” Mrs Tavistock replied.
“Then you’ll have a pixie revenge party within the month I guarantee it.” Jim pointed at the seventeen traumatised children, all ashen faced and exhausted from the hours of forced games and singing they endured at the hands of the little people. “Is it really worth it?”
Mrs Tavistock shook her head and burst into tears.
“Right, cash or card?”
“Can’t help me? Why on earth not?” Mr Peck folded his arms in anger. Jim looked at the balding man who had all the characteristics of a beach ball and chewed down his own frustration.
“Because you Mr Peck, have a ferret problem. I deal with fairies and faerie folk. You need an exterminator. And some glasses.”
“Can’t you just get it out for me?”
Jim hefted his bag. “No.”
“I’ll pay you.”
Jim glared at him. “You’re going to have to pay the call out fee for getting me out here to Weston-bloody-super-mare. I delayed a sprite job in Swindon to come here. Wasting my time on rodents.”
“Shut it!” Jim snapped and slammed Mr Peck up against the door. Jim shook as he tried to calm down. “Ferrets are not fairies! I don’t DO ferrets. Don’t do mice, cockroaches, pigeons or any of your garden variety PEST! For that, you need an exterminator.” Jim exhaled and gingerly adjusted Mr Peck’s collar. “Right, seventy-five for the call out, cash or credit?”
“All rise!” The assembled creatures of faerie stood as Titania the Queen of the May fluttered down holding the hand of Una the Queen of Elphame. The two regal fairies landed gently and took their seats upon the diaphanous dais.
“Whatever could be the matter that the whole Gossamer Court be assembled?” Una whispered to Titania.
“My guess is another human has done something to those filthy goblins and they wish to declare war,” Titania replied as she smiled and waved. “Stupid, dirt smelling beasts.”
“Your majesties!” Up stepped Gorloth the Prince of the Gnomes; his red cap under his arm. Titania and Una slowly stopped their crowd gazing and turned to the minuscule round man on bended knee before him.
“Rise Gorloth, son of Bowloth, son of Lentauk,” Una instructed.
“How is your clan?” Titania asked.
Gorloth looked at the them. “They killed my son.”
A silence swept over the court like a wave. Titania subtlety shuddered at her faux pas as Una quietly enjoyed her co-regents error. When it became almost too awkward, Una spoke up.
“The Reaper killed my son!” Gorloth spat. “Along with nine others.”
“This brings his tally to way into the hundreds,” Jareth the Goblin King chimed in from the other side of the court as he fiddled with a glass ball across his knuckles. “But because it’s only the earthen faerie folk, their majesties seem it isn’t important.”
“Watch your tone, Jareth!” Una snapped.
Jareth sarcastically bowed his head. “Yes milady.”
“But what are you going to do about it?” asked Zeref, Lord of the Spriggans, as he arose from his goose-feather chair. “The Reaper hunts us, kills us, and the regents of the Gossamer Court do nothing! It seems Jareth has a point.”
The court erupted into noise as the various faerie folk yelled at each other. The din echoed across the land as goblins accused fairy, sprite challenged brownie, gnome roaring at pixie and banshee confronting sylph and every other combination imaginable. Jareth stood and quietly held his glass balls aloft, then dashing them to the ground making a chandelieric thunderclap.
“Enough! Gentle kin, enough.” Jareth looked across the court. “We, are not the enemy. The one they call the Reaper is. If we fight and bicker between ourselves, we do his job for him.”
“And what do you propose, baby snatcher?” Una asked.
Jareth grimaced at the insult before breathing slowly out his nose, then smiling. “I put forth a motion that we declare war.”
“What?” Titania gasped.
“I Zeref, Lord of the Spriggans, second Jareth the Goblin King’s motion of war. This upstart mud man shall kill no more of us.”
“The Gnomes stand with Jareth!” yelled Gorloth.
“The Will-o-the-wisps back the motion,” hummed a large ball of light zipping about. Titania and Una watched as the Gossamer Court brayed for blood.
“What say you?” Jareth asked, bowing as deep as it was sarcastic. “The Court has spoken. Will you support?”
Titania and Una were caught off guard and on the back foot. To say no to so many opposing factions joining together would spell the end of their reigns. Sensing she could win favour Una stood. “I say war!”
“Are you mad Una?” Titania gasped. “Give it a while and he’ll die of old age.”
“And how many will he slaughter before that happens,” Una replied. “It is time we showed our strength. Listen to them Titania.”
Jim Reeper unlocked the door to his home at the end of Marconi Dr in Yaxley. He dropped his bag and hung his hat up only to pause. “Dexter?”
Jim’s eyes narrowed as he picked his bag back up, when the door suddenly slammed behind him and locked.
“You got a lot of nerve coming here,” Jim said aloud as he stalked up the hall towards the kitchen. Slowly he peered in to see his pet ferret Dexter, bound and gagged and tied to a stake over a boiling pot. The faint whimsical giggle of unseen fairies danced in the peripherals of his ears.
“Time for you to die Reaper,” said a voice from all around him.
“My name is Mr Reeper, you jingly little bastards. And don’t you forget it!”
“ATTACK!” From seemingly every corner of the room came a faerie folk. Teeth barred, tiny weapons at the ready, like a marshmallow full of razor blades. Jim swung his bag taking out of squad of gnomes and pulled out his copper tongs.
“Come on then!”
A squad of fairies pecked at his skull and ears like possessed woodpeckers. Jim grabbed one with the tongs and shook, fairy dust falling off her. He grabbed a handful and tossed it towards Dexter, the yellow glittery powder floated him up into the air and out of immediate danger.
“Let her go!” A fairy screamed diving right into Jim’s eye. He roared and smacked himself in the face, turning the fairy to paste against his forehead and palm.
“Dexter! Get me a beer!” Jim roared as he stomped down on some pixies trying to ankle tap him. The ferret gyrated and wiggled in the air making its way towards the fridge.
“Death to the Reaper!”
Up on a beam of the house sat Titania and Una, watching the fray. “Killing him will only make more come after us.”
“No, killing him will serve as a warning to the others,” Una said.
Wave after wave attacked and each one Jim repelled, but it was getting harder and harder. Most of his gear was in the van and when he did manage to squish one, three more seemed to take its place. “DEXTER!”
The ferret struggled with the lack of gravity as it headed for the fridge.
“Let’s stop that mangy creature,” Una suggested and waved her wand. The ferret fell to the floor and quickly scurried over to Jim’s bag. “Smelly elongated rats.”
A sylph grabbed Jim’s front tooth and yanked it out with a sickening pop as two boggarts took his knees out, the experienced faerie removalist hit the deck. A dozen pixies jumped onto his chest and goblins secured his feet.
The ferret emerged from the bag with a black canister of Folk Smoke.
“Good boy!” Jim said as his pet pulled the ring and filled the house with purply tinged smoke.
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