Arbo had come a long way from the blithering numpty he was just six years ago. He would be forever in the Godmother’s debt for saving him from a life on the street and right now he had a job to do. After hovering along the edges of the crowd and catching nothing but idle chatter about coming out balls and house parties in the country, Arbo slipped behind the curtain leading to the staff area.
He tried a door that said Dye House and slipped inside. Arbo was met with hot and sticky air as he descended the dimly lit staircase, the sounds of liquid bubbling and churning permeated the air. The Dwarf soon found himself standing amongst tremendous cauldrons with various knobs, dials, and switches at the bottom and ladders reaching to the top.
Acrid odors singed the hairs in Arbo’s nose and, as he reached for a kerchief to shield his face, he heard what sounded like scrubbing echoing throughout the vast chamber. He followed the noise to the back where several empty cauldrons laid on their sides.
“Triz? Oh Triz, you simply will not believe it!” Came a voice accompanied by the patter of slippered feet on the stairs.
Arbo slipped into the shadows as the scrubbing inside one of the cauldrons stopped. A disheveled looking purple Imp stuck her head out and scratched the top of her head between her horns.
“What is it, Poltaa? I’ve got a ton of work to do.” She called in the raspy language of her kind. “And take those slippers off. Madam Vexx will have your hide if you track dirt back into the showroom.”
A green Imp appeared, her long tail swishing behind her as Poltaa all but skipped over. She rolled her large brown eyes before kicking the silk slippers off her taloned feet.
“You have no need to rush, Triz. I doubt ole Ravy Loon will be walking through the door any time soon.”
Triz visibly paled, her blue eyes widening. “Keep that name off your tongue lest you lose it altogether!”
Poltaa chuckled and fluttered to perch atop the lip of the cauldron Triz was cleaning.
“The Dark Fairy cannot harm you, Triz. She’s locked away in the Black Tower until the Prince of Silvermire comes to lop off her head.”
Triz climbed out of the cauldron and stretched, dropping her brush into a pail of water. Her dark wings stretched out and trembled as she gave a mighty roar.
“Ooh, that’s better,” Triz said, cracking her neck. “I know that Poltaa, it’s the witch, not the Fairy that I fear.”
“Poltaa snorted. “Since when are you afraid of humans, magic, or no?”
“Since she nearly tore my horns off for talking to that whiffy overgrown moth the other day. Besides, Madam Vexx is only half human and I’m not so sure about that. Does the seed count as human if the man is already dead when it’s taken?”
Poltaa shrugged. “No idea. I told you dealing with HoneyPetal would lead to trouble.”
Triz growled low. “I know it. I was a fool.”
“Speaking of fools, you’ll never guess why she’s here.” Another voice said.
Both Imps yelped as a third loomed out of the darkness, this one red with black eyes and wings.
“Yiurkit, gods take it, you nearly scared me to death!” Poltaa scowled.
“You need to have a care if you’re going to talk about the witch behind her back.” She grinned. “Incidentally, she’s looking for you. Lady Swancliff wants her daughter’s gown.”
“Suck a duck, I haven’t attached the gems to the neckline yet.” Poltaa hopped down off the cauldron and then frowned. “Oh bats, I never got to tell you the news!”
“So what is it then, Poltaa?” Triz asked, smirking. “Madam Vexx is only a human, remember? You can keep her waiting.”
“It’s your tail if you do. The Godmother’s questions put her in a right foul mood.” Yiurkit said.
“Wait until I get back to tell her, Yiurkit!” She said then scurried upstairs.
Yiurkit threw her head back and laughed, an awful skittering sound that made Arbo’s skin crawl.
“Don’t tell me what? Whose Godmother?” Triz’s eyes widened suddenly. “Not the Godmother?”
Yiurkit nodded slowly, a pointy smile spreading across her face. Triz cackled. “I don’t believe it! Is the Fairy so desperate she called that Mortie Lover to her rescue?”
“So it seems. She kept asking about
HoneyPetal’s visit and about that fat Beryl Fairy who waited for her outside.”
“Too good to step foot in our little
establishment, that one. Said she wouldn’t stoop to slumming.” Triz snarled. “Anyway, I don’t speak to Fairy Godmothers.”
“You won’t have to, the witch was less than helpful. The sprite looked ready to turn her into a pumpkin by the time she walked out!”
The Imps cackled and, wiping her eyes, Yiurkit continued,
“Why would you want to talk to her anyway?”
“Fashion advice? Sparkle Magic is so last season.”
“Ooh, how about a new line of glass footwear? Imagine all those hairless meatbag toes squashed together for all to see!”
“Ew!” Triz screamed with laughter.
Shaking his head, Arbo climbed the stairs again, course laughter echoing behind him.