Tales of the Hyperion: The Secret World

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The Fairy Doctor

September 2008

Talia looked down at the sidewalk as she walked, trying her best to step only once between the cracks. She was not really worried about running into anyone. She could see ahead of her through her peripheral’s well enough to know when to move out of the way and there were only a few people walking down the street this early in the afternoon. She would prefer to take the bus home instead of walking all the way but the school busses only ran after school and she did not have the money to take the city bus every day.

Part of Talia was in a hurry to get home and was ready to sprint as fast as she could but the other part knew that she did not have any plans once she got there and was taking it as slow as possible. There were no game that she was dying to play or book that she wanted to read. She did not even like video games that much and reading just made her sleepy.

“Maybe I should have taken a full schedule this year,” she grumbled to herself. Having only a half schedule had seemed like the thing to do when making her schedule at the end of last year. She only needed to take four classes her senior year and by putting them all in the morning she was done with school just after 12. What she had not considered was how boring her life actually was.

School had only been going for a month and her life had consisted of waking up, going to school, heading home, eating lunch, and then watching TV for the rest of the day. Rinse and repeat. It had not taken long before it got really dull.

Talia thought things might have been different if her friends had done the same thing as her and only had half days.

She sighed. Who was she kidding? She really did not have friends. She had people that she would hang out with while she was at school. No one that she felt any real attachment too.

“I can get a job,” she mumbled.

Talia noticed that she had stopped walking. Frowning she looked up taking in her surroundings. She was standing in front of a house like building with a stone wall around the lawn with an open metal gate in front of the entrance. There was no driveway nor any place for a car to even get in that she could see.

Talia saw a copper plaque next to the gate. Leaning in she held up her hand to block the sun light stopping the glare so she could read it.

There was an engraving of a raven under the words;

‘Morgan: Fairy Doctor’

Fairy Doctor? Talia straitened her back. What was a fairy doctor?

Probably some New Age shop or something. She shrugged planning on not giving it another thought as she crossed the threshold of the gate and headed inside. She would just take a look around. Not like she had any other place that she needed to be. It might be good for a laugh at least.

A bell rang as she opened the door. Inside looked like a front porch to a house not the inside of a shop.

“Hello?” Talia called out starting to feel a little uncomfortable.

“Welcome.” The voice was a woman’s Talia could tell that but she was not sure where it was coming from. At first it sounded like it was right beside her but it also felt like it was coming from deeper in the shop. “Please take off your shoes.”

Talia looked down at her feet and the small carpet next to the door that had a few pairs of shoes on it.

This was a weird shop.

She used her toes to slip off her shoes and kicked them in the direction of the carpet area as she walked through the door in front of her. She looked around the next room. There was no display items or register. There was only a small round table with two chairs in front of a large window with closed, red drapes.

The door on the other side of the room opened. “Hello. Glad you could make it.” The woman in the doorway was tall and skinny with a very defined figure. Her hair was long and black falling down to her lower back. She had on a silver dress that was form fitting, flowing out past the waist. The V-neck was a little revealing but not overly so. The opening showed the Raven tattoo that she had on her chest around her left breast.

“Um hi.” Now Talia felt very uncomfortable. She shifted her weight from side to side. She had no idea what she was doing there or why she gone inside in the first place. “I saw your shop and thought I would take a look around.”

“Is that right?” The woman walked over to one of the chairs at the table. “And what makes you think that this is a shop?” She pulled the chair back not making a sound.

“Well…” Talia stopped herself. Why had she thought this was a shop? There was no sign that had said so. For some reason when she saw this place she just instinctively knew it was a shop.

“You’re not wrong.” The woman gracefully sat down in the wooden chair. “This is my shop. Why don’t you take a seat?” She held out her hand gesturing to the seat across from her. It was already pushed out ready for her to sit in.

“Oh I don’t know. I can’t stay long.” This had been a mistake. She should just leave.

“Is that right? Tell me, what is it that you have going on that is so urgent that it takes up your time?”

“Well,” the woman had her there. The only thing waiting for her at home was reruns of TV shows she only kind of liked and had already seen.

“Please, have a seat.” She motioned to the chair again.

“Alright,” Talia slipped off her backpack that was super light due to the lack of textbooks and set it down next to her as she sat down in the chair. “But I really can’t stay long.” Talia folded her arms across the table leaning forward trying to get comfortable.

The woman folded her hands in her lap, her back perfectly straight. She had not taken her eyes off of Talia the entire time. She was not even sure that the woman had blinked. “Don’t worry this interview shouldn’t take long.”

“Interview?” Talia’s eyes widened. “What interview?”

The woman gave a slight amused smile with only half her mouth. “The interview for the job of course.”

“I think there is some mistake. I am not here for any job interview.” Talia started looking for a fast way out. She knew this had been a mistake.

“If that is true then why are you here?”

“Look I really have to be leaving.” Talia grabbed her backpack sliding her arms through the straps as she stood up.

“That’s alright. You can start tomorrow.” The woman had not moved an inch. She just continued to stare at Talia with her piercing gaze. “Please come here right after school is over. It’s not good to be late on your first day.”

Talia did not even bother with a response as she bolted for the door. Her hand was on the doorknob before she even knew it. Forgetting to grab her shoes she turned around trying to slip them on while still standing.

She could not get out of there fast enough. She had no idea who that woman was or what she was talking about but Talia knew the sooner she was out of there the better.

Outside Talia looked around at the street in front of the shop and realized that she had no idea where she was. This was not anywhere near where she lived. Had she taken a wrong turn while she was walking home? Maybe she should pay more attention as she walked.

It did not matter. She was never going to come back to this place again.

Talia tightened her grip on the shoulder straps of her backpack. She was standing in front of the shop. Her toes just shy of the gate entrance. She had intended to go straight home after school but her thoughts kept returning to the shop and before she knew it she had wound standing in front of it yet again.

She could not be seriously thinking about going back in there. She had no idea what kind of work that creepy woman had in store for her. Who knew what kind of things that woman did or what kind of people she catered too.

She stepped across the threshold of the gate for a second time and walked down the path to the front door. She would try it out for a day. She could leave if things got weird or something. The least she could do was see how much this job paid. After all it did not look busy so she was sure that it would be a fairly laid back job. If she was going to sit and do nothing all day she might as well get paid while doing it.

The bell rang as she opened the front door. She looked around as she kicked off her shoes and placed them on the rug. Still gripping her backpack as she walked into the room that she had been in yesterday. It was just as empty and bare of anything other than the table and two chairs as it had been yesterday.

“Hello?” Talia called out. Maybe nobody was here.

“Welcome back.” The voice of the woman came from a different door way this time. One that Talia had not seen the last time. “You are right on time.” She was wearing a blue dress today with a raven design imprinted on the bell. Her hands clasped in front of her.

“I figured I would at least see what kind of work it was before making up my mind.” Talia said the words but somehow they seemed hollow. She had no idea why she was here.

“Why don’t we start out by telling me your name,” the woman said.

“Right sorry. I’m Talia.” She gave a quick wave of her hand not sure what the proper thing to do was. They were too far away to shake hands but walking across the room just seemed awkward.

“You should not give out your real name so easily,” the woman said. “Names have power and that power can be used against you if you are not careful.”

Talia stood there with her mouth open. What was this woman going on about?

“You may call me Morgan. I am a Fairy Doctor. And this,” She looked down at a gray cat at her feet. “Is my partner Dom. If you ever catch him smoking inside please tell him to do it outside. He says he forgets but I just think he is just being lazy.”

The cat looked up at Morgan and gave a loud meow at her.

“Your cat smokes?” Talia gave an uncomfortable laugh.

“Dom is not a cat.” She had a straight face as she spoke. “He is a Domovic, he only appears as a cat when people he doesn’t know are around.”

“And what’s a Damavic?” Talia was not sure she wanted to know the answer.

The woman looked at her like Talia was the clueless one. “A Domovic is a house Fairy.” The cat gave a loud meow. “Sorry a house Fey,” she corrected. “He gets so touchy when people now a days call him a fairy.” The cat sat down abruptly sticking his nose in the air.

“You are telling me you think that your cat is a Fairy?”

“I don’t think he is.” Morgan tilted her head a little to the side. “I know he is.”

Well that settled that, this woman was completely nuts.

Morgan looked down at the cat. “Dom why don’t you show Talia around the shop. When you are done we can talk a little bit more.”

The cat stood up and started heading for the door that Talia had seen Morgan use the other day. Morgan gave a smile at Talia. “You can leave your backpack with me if you would like.”

Talia was not sure if she should be parting with her stuff in case she decided to take off but she found herself slipping it off her back and handing it to her. “Thank you,” Talia said.

“You should not thank people either.” Morgan grabbed one of the arm straps. “It implies that you are now indebted to the person.”

“Then what should I say?” She had never been told not to thank someone before.

“If you do not know what you should say, then it is often best to not say anything.”

Talia opened her mouth to say something but closed it, her words dying on the tip of her tongue. Pursing her lips together she walked to the door where the cat was waiting.

As soon as she opened it the cat trotted into the next room. It looked like any living room would with a couch and recliner with a large wooden coffee table in the middle, but where a TV would normally be there was only a bookshelf.

The cat did not pause as it took a quick left and headed toward a hallway. Ignoring the cat Talia stood there for a moment taking in the room. The couch looked comfortable enough though it seemed a little dated. There was a small wooden statue of a raven sitting on an end table between the couch and recliner.

A loud meow grabbed Talia’s attention. The cat was standing at the entrance of the hallway looking at her giving a loud meow every few seconds. “Alright I’m coming, sorry.”

Talia headed for the cat with a brisk pace. As soon as she got close the cat walked off down the hallway. All the doors were closed but when Talia would stop to open one the cat would start hissing at her. Getting the message Talia just followed.

The cat turned a corner to the right at the end of the hallway where there was a sliding door. The cat sat in front of the door looking at the crack where the door would open. Talia reached out half afraid the cat would hiss at her again but as soon as the door slid open the cat trotted inside. It was a bedroom that looked bigger than many studio apartments. There was a large king size bed that had drapes hung around it like she had seen in old time movies.

There was a dresser and a large mirror along the side as well as more bookshelves filled with old looking books. On every bed post there was a carving of a raven along with a water color picture of one hanging on the wall over the head of the bed.

“Is this Morgan’s room?” Talia asked.

The cat gave a single meow before turning and walking out of the room walking between Talia’s legs. Talia clumsily tried to turn around without tripping over the cat and followed him out of the room. She took a few steps out when the cat started hissing at her.

Talia jumped back holding her hands up. “What? I didn’t do anything?”

The cat trotted to the open door and pawed at the frame glaring at Talia while he did so. Timidly Talia reached out and closed the door. As soon as the door slid closed the cat turned around and started walking again. Talia did not have time to think as she tried to hurry on after him.

The cat stopped at one of the doors they had passed before. Talia turned the knob opening the door and the cat trotted inside. It was a lot smaller than the other room. In fact everything in the room was smaller. The bed looked like it was built for a baby, and the dressers and furniture were all miniature as well.

“Is this your room?” She looked down at the cat. It looked back at her and gave a gleeful meow.

Turning the cat walked out again, this time Talia closed the door as soon as she left and the cat did not stop as he headed for the door across the hall from the last one. This room had a single double bed in it and very little else. The dust made it look like the room had not been used in quite some time.

“Is this some kind of guest room?” Talia asked. The cat did not say anything just gave her an apathetic look before heading back out.

Closing the door behind her Talia headed after the cat no longer even questioning the logic of having a cat as her tour guide. The cat led her across the living room through the kitchen into a large washroom like area with a washer dryer and chest freezer.

The cat sat in front of a box next to the door that led outside. Talia looked in the box and found a pair of slippers.

“You want me to put these on?” She asked. The cat looked up at her and gave an affirmative cry.

She sighed pulling the slippers out she slipped them on as the cat pawed at the door.

Turning the knob the door swung in side and the cat headed off. Making sure the door was closed behind her Talia followed the cat across the back yard. The grass was cut low and the lawn looked well maintained and had a brick path leading to another building. It looked older than the main building and was a bit bigger. The front door was dark wood and the handle were rusted. All the same it turned smoothly as Talia twisted it and the door opened in without even a creak.

The cat dashed inside. The building was dark and the widows all had wooden shutters on them blocking out the sunlight. Talia looked around for a light switch but could not find one. The cat meowed.

“Yeah, yeah I’m coming.” She said not even bothering to look at the cat as she gave up trying to find a light.

The porch area mirrored the one in the main building, only everything here was made out of wood and there was a stuffed raven mounted on the top of the door frame. She stared at it as she walked into the next room when the cat started hissing at her again.

“What now?” She looked around trying to figure out what she did. Looking down she saw the slippers that she was wearing. “Oh right sorry.” She took them off and placed them next to the door. Not that she understood the concern. The wood floor looked like it had not been cleaned in years.

The cat stuck its nose in the air and walked on. The next room was large and had no other adjoining rooms that Talia could see. It was filled with shelf upon shelf of old junk. There were empty frames for pictures and boxes that were tied closed with a simple string.

Talia reached out to grab one of the pieces when the cat started hissing like he never had before. Her hand shot back in surprise. The cat was glaring at her baring it fangs as it hissed at her.

“Don’t touch. Got it.” Talia let her hands fall to her side in an overly dramatic motion. “See? Not touching anything.”

The cat seemed satisfied and continued walking further in. The cat did not stop long enough for Talia to get a good look at anything so she figured that the cat just wanted her to get familiar with the area.

What was she saying? She was talking like the cat was a person. She had to admit that it was smarter than she had first given it credit for. It had obviously been very well trained.

The cat led her back outside and into the first building.

“All done?” Morgan asked as they walked back into the first room Talia had been in. She was sitting at the table a cup of tea in front of her. There was another cup in front of the other seat and Talia assumed that was meant for her.

The cat gave an affirmative meow and curled up under Morgan’s chair.

“You’re just in time.” She said putting her tea cup on its saucer. “Talia could you please show our guest in.”

“What guest?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth the bell on the front door rang.

Talia moved to the door. There was a middle age woman standing in the door way looking around like she did not know where she was. She was wearing a business outfit with a long skirt that was tight around her legs, going down past her knees. Her hair and makeup looked like they had been hastily done and her eyes had dark circles under them.

“Hello, and welcome,” Talia greeted.

The woman seemed to snap out of her confusion noticing Talia for the first time. “Oh hello. I’m sorry, I am not quite sure how I got here but I just thought that maybe you could help me.”

“I don’t know if I can help you but I am sure the owner can. If you would please take off your shoes and follow me, I will take you to her.”

The woman looked more confused than Talia was as she cautiously slipped off her heels putting them next to Talia’s shoes by the door.

Talia tried to hide her stiffness as she led the woman to the table, moving the chair out for her to sit.

“Thank you,” the woman said to her as she sat down.

Talia gave her a nod and took a few steps back unsure what she should do next. Morgan did not give her any instructions or give her any kind of signal that she needed to leave so she decided to just stand there. This was a good opportunity to see what this shop was really all about.

“How can I help you?” Morgan asked.

“Um, I am not sure what kind of shop this is or if you can help me but I am desperate enough that I will try almost anything.” The woman put her hands around the tea cup in front of her but she did not drink from it.

“Why don’t you tell me what the problem is?” Morgan’s voice was cool and calm her eyes staring at the woman unblinking.

The woman put her hands in her lap clenching her skirt. “It started about two months ago. I would wake up in the middle of the night to a loud sound. I would go and investigate but there was nobody there.” The woman loosened her grip a little as she spoke. Morgan did not move, she only sat there perfect posture staring straight ahead.

“This happened a few more times and I thought that maybe I had a rodent or something. So I set out a few traps. I would hear them go off at night and when I would wake up in the morning the food in the traps would be gone but there was never anything in them.”

The woman wiped off her palms on her skirt like they were sweating a lot. “After that things just got worse,” she continued. “I would wake up and my sink would be full of dirty dishes. Things like bottles and cans would be scattered around the house. I would clean it up but every morning it would be worse than before.”

Morgan gave a nod as if that was expected. “Do you live alone?” she asked.

“No, I have a roommate. She was my friend in college but she is a flight attendant so she isn’t home very often. I lock the doors every night,” the woman continued her voice on the edge of panic. “All the windows are closed, there are no signs of anyone breaking in. I have changed the locks twice but nothing I do seems to help. The police just blew me off saying that I was imagining things, but I know that someone is doing this to me. Please you have to do something.”

“That ring on your finger,” Morgan motioned to the silver ring on the woman’s hand. “What does it mean to you?”

“What my ring?” The woman looked at the ring on her right hand. “It was a gift from a friend. It’s not worth that much but it holds a lot of sentimental value.”

Morgan nodded. “Good, that should do fine then. In exchange for that ring I will help you take care of your problem.”

The woman paused looking at the ring on her hand as she thought it over. Finally she took the ring off and slid it across the table. Morgan picked it up and examined it. Satisfied she put the ring down on the table in front of her.

“You have a Skank living in your home.” Morgan said.

“A skank?” The woman frowned. “My roommate has had a lot of boyfriends but I wouldn’t go so far as to-”

Morgan held up her hand. “You misunderstand.” she put her hand back in her lap. “A Skank is a type of fairy. It is harmless and won’t do anything to hurt you but they enjoy living in a mess. Your roommate probably inadvertently picked it up on her travels and it came to live with you.”

The woman did not say anything probably not buying into what Morgan said.

“Every month buy a CD and leave it as an offering,” Morgan continued. “Stick with classical or hard rock. It will take offence if you offer anything considered commercial and that will only make things worse.”

Were Sknaks supposed to be the Hipsters of the fey world? Talia thought.

“I don’t want to appease it, I want to get rid of it.” The woman cried nearly slamming her hand on the table.

Morgan held up her hand cutting her off again. “The job of a Fairy Doctor is to bring harmony between humans and Fairies. Skanks are not dangerous as such I cannot condone using any means of removal. Give it a CD once a month and it will stop trashing your home. If the day comes that the CD is no longer taken that means the Skank has moved on from your home.”

Morgan stood up from the table grabbing the ring and sliding it off the edge before palming it. “Talia please show this lady out and then clean up the table.” She turned and headed for the door to the living room. The cat seeing her leave got to his feet and chased after her.

“This way,” Talia said trying to put on a smile to hide the fact that she herself was completely lost.

What just happened?

After the woman left Talia picked up the two tea cups by the saucers and headed into the living room. Morgan was laying on the couch a laptop resting on her stomach, her blue dress covered the entire half of the couch hiding her feet. Even though Talia knew it should look ridiculous somehow she seemed more elegant then she had ever been. The cat was laying on the recliner next to the couch a book open in front of him.

“Just put those in the sink, Dom will take care of them later,” Morgan stated resting her arm on top of her head pointing to the kitchen.

The cat shot its head up glaring at Morgan.

“You’re the one who gets upset when things aren’t put away in the proper place.” Morgan said using the touch mouse to scroll over something that she was looking at on her computer.

The cat’s glare lingered for a moment then went back to looking at the book.

Talia walked into the kitchen putting the cups in the sink.

What had she gotten herself into?

She turned to walk away but decided that the cat would probably be mad if she did not at least clean the cups first. She reached out grabbing a wash cloth, turning on the water with her other hand.

She was finishing up the first cup before she realized what she had just thought.

“What am I doing?” She put the cup back in the sink. “That cat can’t put dishes away? He can’t get mad at me for not cleaning them? He’s just a cat.”

Talia put her hands on her head as if that would make this all somehow less crazy. Why was she even here? She had not even wanted to come here. And why was she so willingly doing anything asked of her?

“Hey Talia.” Morgan’s voice called out from the other room. “There is some juice in the fridge. Could you pour me a glass? The cups are above the sink.”

“Sure thing.” Talia reached up and grabbed a glass from the cupboard and headed for the fridge. She walked out to the living room handing Morgan the cup of juice.

Morgan smiled as she took the glass taking a sip.

Talia stood there not sure what she was supposed to do.

“Still full of doubts are we?” Morgan put the glass down on a coaster on the coffee table.

“Do you really blame me?” The words seemed bitter for some reason.

“Not really. After all Fairies do everything in their power to keep their presence hidden from the human world. They have spent a long time convincing Humans they don’t exist.”

“Why did you take the woman’s ring though? She said it wasn’t very valuable so you won’t get much if you sell it. It was only valuable to her.”

Morgan set the laptop down on the coffee table relaxing on the couch her hands folded on her stomach. “That is exactly why I took it as her payment.” She opened he palm revealing the ring. “The only value any item has in this world is the one that we give it. Money has no real intrinsic value. In fact money itself has almost no value to it no matter the circumstances.”

Talia crossed her arms. “I know a lot of people that would disagree.”

Morgan let her hand fall to her chest as she placed the back of her other hand on her forehead. “The idea of money may have value but if I were to take a dollar bill and exchange it for another dollar bill you would have no lasting attachment to the bill that you just lost. The value was not in the bill itself but in the assumed value that it held.

“Now take this ring for example.” She held up the ring toward Talia making eye contact with her for the first time. “To anyone other than that woman this ring is just a cheap department store ring, but to her it was worth far more. However if I were to exchange this ring for another one that looked exactly the same it would mean almost nothing to her. The value that this ring holds is in this ring and this ring alone.”

“Well I would like to be paid in non-valuable money if you don’t mind.” Talia still was not convinced but as long as she got paid she didn’t see the harm in it.

Talia stopped. How much was she getting paid? She was not sure that minimum wage would be enough to put up with this kind of stuff every day. On top of that what was her work schedule?

Morgan yawned stretching her arms over her head before using her hands as a pillow. “And here I thought alleviating your boredom was your payment.”

“You mean I’m not getting paid?” Talia raised her voice a little in her frustration.

“I told you. I am paying you by getting rid of your boring life.” She closed her eyes like that was nothing special and was going to nod off. “That is adequate compensation is it not?”

“Well I would rather get paid in the paper money with no value, thank you very much.” Talia was angry now. How could she have ever been so stupid? She should have never come back here. She knew this woman was crazy. “Besides what makes you think I have a boring life?”

Morgan opened her eyes and stared at Talia unblinking. “Because you are here now.” Her stare was cold and piercing. “You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.” There was something frightening about the way she looked at Talia and it made Talia feel very uncomfortable. The only thing she wanted at that moment was not to be in that room.

“I’m leaving.” Talia walked over to where Morgan had put her backpack. She grabbed it not bothering to put it on as she headed for the exit.

“Bring some Pepsi when you come in tomorrow.” Morgan did not even look at Talia as she walked out. “Can is fine just make sure it’s cold. Nothing worse than warm soda.” She just kept on talking even as the door closed.

Who did she think she was? Talia clenched her teeth together. Thinking that after telling her that she was not getting paid that she could then order her to buy something for her. Like she was ever coming back to this place ever again.

Talia tightened her grip on the plastic sack she held in her hand.

“What am I doing here?” She shifted her weight uncomfortably as she stood in front of the gate of Morgan’s Shop.

She had said that she was never coming back to this place again. Yet not only was she here, she had stopped at a gas station and picked up a bottle of Pepsi.

Talia bit down on her knuckle. What was wrong with her?

“Hello.” A voice snapped her out of her thoughts.

Talia turned and looked at the tall man walking towards her. He had on a leather coat and black fedora that she had been seeing more and more of recently. He was gripping a half-finished glass coke bottle in one hand while the other was shoved into his coat pocket.

“Do you know anything about this place?” The man pushed the rim of his reflective sunglasses up with his finger not letting go of his bottle.

“Yeah,” Talia sighed. “It’s run by some crazy woman who thinks her cat is a Fairy and a worthless ring is more valuable than money.” Just hearing her say those words reminded her how crazy all of this was.

And yet here she was again.

“Is that right?” The man set his jaw and stared intently at the building. After a moment he smiled at her. “Well thank you for your time.” He ran his finger down the brim of his hat and continued walking down the sidewalk.

Talia stared at him as he walked by. Was he not going to go inside to check it out? She shrugged shifting the sack to her other hand and walked toward the shop.

The bell rang as the door opened. She bent over taking off her shoes, putting them in their spot next to the door. She waked past the reception room toward the door of the living room. With a sigh she opened the door and walked inside.

“I’m here.” She said before she even looked around.

“Oh good.” Morgan was laying on the couch just like yesterday reading a book. This time she was wearing skinny blue jeans with a bedazzled bird on her thigh and a pink tank top that clung tightly to her body accentuating her curves. She looked up from her book at Talia, “Did you bring me my Pepsi?”

“It’s right here.” She pulled out one of the bottles from the sack and handed it to her.

Morgan pressed the bottle on her cheek. “Oh it’s nice and cold, just like I asked.”

“I also got some milk for the cat.” Talia pulled out a second bottle.

“Oh that is so sweet of you. How did you know Dom liked milk?”

Talia glared at Morgan not sure if she was joking. “Because he’s a cat.”

There was a hiss as Morgan opened her Pepsi bottle. “Dom is not a cat, he’s a Domivic, a house guardian.”

“Yeah whatever.” She shrugged off her comment. “Where is the cat anyway?” She looked around the room but did not see him anywhere.

“He is doing some work in the storehouse. He had to find a place to put that ring from yesterday.” She took a long drink from her bottle. “Feel free to put the milk in the fridge he’ll get it later.”

“Whatever.” At this point she no longer cared.

Talia shut the fridge door pulling out the third bottle from sack opening it with a hiss as the carbonation escaped. She walked into the living room sitting down in the recliner.

“Oh you got yourself one as well?” Morgan was back to reading her book.

“I figured I might as well.” She took another sip.

“So you like Coke instead of Pepsi do you?”

Talia shrugged again. “It’s not like I really have a preference one way or another. I just felt like Coke today.”

“You know many people who don’t care would just grab two Pepsis as it would be faster and more covenant, but you…” Morgan peered over the top of her book gazing at her. “You went out of your way.”

“Is that a problem?” When had Talia become so comfortable around Morgan?

“No.” There was a slight smile on Morgan’s face hidden behind the book. “It is just interesting that’s all.” She went back to reading.

Talia sat in the chair drinking her Coke looking around the room. She had never actually taken the time to look over it before. She saw a small frame hanging on one of the walls that she had not noticed the other day. Inside looked to be some sort of old paper that had strange writing on it. Where the name would normally be at the bottom there was a sketch of a bird.

Talia looked at it a little closer squinting her eyes. It actually looked like a Raven.

The bell rang causing Talia to jump a little.

“Could you please make our guest some tea?” Morgan had already been moving, her book resting on the coffee table. “I have a feeling that this might take some time.”

Talia walked into the reception room carrying the two cups of tea on their accompanying saucers. There was a man sitting across from Morgan. He was extremely well built and was wearing some sort of fur coat but Talia found it hard for her to really pay attention to it. He had dark black hair that was tied in the back but still managed to hang inches off the ground.

That must be a pain to wash, not to mention heavy.

“I must say I am surprised.” Morgan said as Talia put the cup down in front of her. She continued to talk as if Talia was not even there. “I never thought I would see the day that a Ghillie Dhu entered my shop. I had been told there were not many of you left.”

Talia put the second cup down in front of the man. He gave her a slight sneer but otherwise did not pay any attention to her.

“I wouldn’t be here if I thought I had any other choice,” the man said not even touching his tea. “But a Fairy Doctor helped us once before so I thought I would at least try one now.”

“And what is the problem?”

“Humans!” He pounded his fist on the table. “Humans are the problem. They have no respect for this land or the people that have lived there for centuries.”

“That seems to be an American thing.” Morgan took a sip from her tea cup never breaking eye contact with the man. “But that has been the case for a long time now. So why are you here now?”

The man calmed down a little taking a breath. “Recently my clan had to relocate to a new place after being driven out of our old homes.” He leaned back in his chair. “We moved into a park with a large forest area believing the humans would not be so quick as to destroy their own land, but once we got there we found that it was…” He searched for the right word, “Tainted.”

“Do you know what the cause of this taint is?” Morgan pushed the tea cup forward giving her room for her hands that she folded gently on the table.

The man shook his head. “We only know that it is making our young sick. Our best guess it is some kind of pesticide or something the humans have put into the ground.” He sighed his shoulders slumping. “We Ghillie Dhu are few as it is. To lose a single of our children would be… unbearable.”

“Have any others become sick?”

The man gave a slight shake. “Not yet. But children’s magic are weaker. It could be that even the adults will get sick soon.”

“Tell me, does it get foggy in that park at night?” Morgan‘s question seemed a little out of place considering the circumstances.

“It does.” The man looked at Morgan not sure what that had to do with anything. “That is one of the reason that we chose the park. It makes it harder for humans to see us when we are out as well as keeps them away at night.”

“I see.” Morgan leaned back in her chair clasping her hands in her lap. “And what are you willing to pay for me to cleanse this place for you?”

The man hesitated, not sure if he wanted to go through with this. Stealing himself he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a burnt stick, no bigger than six inches, with strange writing carved into it. The writing almost looked like it glowed even in the light of the room. He put it in the middle of the table and sat back waiting for Morgan to take it.

Morgan looked at the stick in front of her for a moment, not moving from her position. “I see. Are you absolutely sure about this? Once you accept the price there is no getting this back.”

“I am aware.” The man said getting to his feet. “Just find out what the problem is and fix it before any of our children die. I am sure you will find the humans are doing something that is causing this, the Hyperion even said as much when he refused to help us.”

There was a flicker that ran across Morgan’s face. “The Hyperion knows about this?”

“Yeah for all the help he was. Worthless human.” The man spat out the words like a curse.

“And what did the Hyperion say exactly.” Morgan’s voice was even but had a bit of edge to it.

The man thought about it for a moment. “He said that his job was to kill evil fey that have broken the Laws of Oberon and prevent fey kind from being discovered as such he had no authority in this matter.”

Morgan took a deep breath. “I see. Well I can promise you,” she reached out and grabbed the stick pulling it towards her. “I will solve this problem one way or another.”

The man did not look convinced and stormed out of the shop. There was a bit of strange aroma left in his wake. It smelled a lot like grass or moss. Talia crinkled her nose as she started to clean up the untouched tea cup.

“Tell me Talia, do you know of Gold Grove Park?” Morgan had not moved from her chair. She was sitting there looking at the door moving the stick in her hand.

To Talia’s surprise she did. “Yeah that’s the campground where all the sightings of Bigfoot are.”

“Bigfoot you say?”

“Yeah,” Talia laughed at the absurdity of it. “But for all the people that have claimed to see it, there has never been any proof of him being out there. There was a special on TV about it, a few years back.”

Morgan looked deep in thought. She placed the stick down in front of her and looked at Talia. “Do you have any plans for tonight?”

“Not really.” She narrowed her eyes. “But I still have school tomorrow.”

“Don’t worry you should be home before midnight.” There was something behind Morgan’s smile. For some reason Talia got the feeling that this would not be as simple as Morgan made it sound.

Talia rubbed her arms, trying to warm herself up, but no matter how much she tried her teeth still chattered. The light from the flashlight was bright but it did nothing to cut through the fog.

“You should have brought a coat,” Morgan said. She was still wearing the same outfit from earlier that day, only now she had on a pair of reflective sunglasses. The cold and the dark did not seem to bother her in the slightest.

“It’s not even fall yet. Why would I need a coat?” Talia did her best to stop her teeth from chattering long enough to talk but she could not stop it completely.

They were in the park and it was long after sunset. It was a clear night not that Talia could tell with how thick the fog had gotten. She hoped that Morgan knew where she was going because Talia was sure that if she had been alone she would be lost in no time.

“You’re right.” Morgan put a hand on Talia’s shoulder. “Why don’t you head over there?” She pointed down a path. “There should be an information station that way. I am sure that it will be warm inside.”

Talia nodded and started heading off. She looked back and saw that Morgan was not following. “Are you not coming?”

She smiled and waved goodbye. “I’ll come get you in a bit. I have something I need to do first.”

Talia thought about arguing but she was too cold to bother and started walking. She looked at the ground trying her best to stay on the path. If she strayed off the trail there would be no chance of her finding her way again.

“Wait.” Talia stopped. “Any information station would be closed this late at night.” She spun around but Morgan was already gone, disappeared into the fog.

Talia bit her lip. She thought about chasing after her but she had no idea what direction she had gone. Her only chance was to keep going and hopefully find someplace to hunker down.

She sighed setting off again. The fog never let up as she walked, and she could never see more than five feet in front of her. She would blow on her free hand trying to warm it up before shoving it into her pocket or putting it between her armpits but within seconds her fingers would be numb.

Her legs started to hurt from all the walking. She would have thought she would be more used to it after walking home all those times.

Talia looked at her watch. She had been walking for almost twenty minutes. That seemed like a long time to be walking and not have found anything. She figured it was possible that she had just passed the station and decided to turn back. As she walked she would stick one hand in her pocket while the other held the flash light. Once the hand got to cold she would switch.

Talia stopped looking around. “Where am I?” This was not the way she had come she knew that. She was only backtracking so how had she managed to end up someplace different? Panic started to set in. She was lost.

Talia pulled out her cell and flipped it open. She would just call someone. She raised it in the air and spun on her heels a few times. “Of course.” She closed it putting it back in her pocket. “Of course there wouldn’t be a signal.”

She stood there trying to think what she should do. If she stayed on the path she was sure that eventually she would find a road or a building. Though she had heard stories about people who walked off the side of a cliff in weather like this, or fall into a ditch breaking their leg so they couldn’t get out.

Her flash light started to flicker. “No, no, no. Don’t you dare die on me now.” She shook it a few times hitting it with her palm. The light flickered a few more times than died. With the light dead she couldn’t see anything around her and became overly aware of all the sounds around her. Most of them were sounds she couldn’t place so she was sure they came from some beast that craved her flesh.

Talia fell to the ground hugging her knees. “Great,” She said starting to get scared. “What do I do now?” Tears started to build in her eyes. “Stupid Morgan. Sending me out here all alone.”

“Are you lost little girl?” The voice scared Talia and she had to suppress a scream.

“Who’s there?” Talia sprung up and looked around her searching for the source of the voice.

“I am a friend.” The voice was deep obviously belonging to a male. It seemed to reverberate and echo around her making it impossible to know what direction it was coming from. The gruffness and the mispronunciation of words made it seem like English was not this person’s first language. “What are you doing out here this late at night?”

That was a good question. What was she doing out here? “I was with a friend,” she said. “We got separated and now I don’t know where she is or where I am.”

It was pitch black, even without the fog Talia doubted that she would be able to see the man but she still spun around in place looking for him. She could not even tell what direction his voice was coming from.

“Are you camping here?” The voice was calm and soothing and just listening to it made Talia feel better, more at ease.

Talia shook her head as if he could somehow see her. How did he see her? She wondered. He did not seem to have a flashlight, she would think that she would be able to see the light if he did.

“Alright then,” he continued. “I will take you to the Ranger Building. There is usually someone on duty. They can get you home.”

Talia’s heart beat with excitement but then she froze. What if this guy tried to rape her? This guy was wandering around the forest at night alone without a flash light. Who knows what kind of freak he was. But despite the roughness in his voice it seemed calming and friendly enough. For some reason she was not actually afraid of the man.

“I am going to take your hand now,” the voice said. “Don’t be scared.”

Despite his warning she still jumped when the rough hand took hers. It was huge, the man must be a giant. His arm hair brushed against her arm. It was coarse and thick.

Oh no. This man was a freak.

Despite her worries she clung to the man’s hand like a life line squeezing it as hard as she could. The man started walking leading her through the forest. Talia had no idea how this man could tell where he was going without a light but his stride was confident and she knew that she was better off following him then trying to find her way on her own.

“I thought it might be you Urisk.” Morgan’s voice seemed to cut through the fog like a knife. It was sharp and crisp making Talia jump. “That was the only reason I could think of that the Hyperion wouldn’t get involved.”

The fog cleared around them letting the light of the moon in, illuminating the forest around them. Talia saw Morgan standing in a small clearing in the forest the moonlight seeming to make her glow.

“Morgan!” Talia almost cried at the sight of her as she let go of the giants hand and ran towards her. Morgan did not resist as Talia wrapped her arms around the woman and buried her face into her shoulder.

“It’s alright.” Morgan reached up putting her hand on the back of Talia’s head and stroked her hair.

“How do you know my name?” The booming voice seemed to have a threatening ring to it now.

“I apologize, we have never met before.” Morgan let go of Talia and took a slight step forward but Talia still held on to her arm afraid that if she let go she would disappear again. “I am Morgan the Fairy Doctor. I have been hired to find and cleanse the forest of a taint that is harming the Ghillie Dhu children.”

“A fairy doctor?” The aggression seemed to drain out of his voice. “And here I thought that all of you were extinct.” He chuckled like something he had said had been funny.

“Not quit,” Morgan said seeming to share in the joke.

While Talia could see Morgan now, she still could not see the man. She could only see his silhouette. She had been right, he was a giant well over seven feet tall. He had a full head of hair that puffed out around him and seemed to move despite the fact there was no wind.

Talia tightened her grip on Morgan’s arm. Morgan did not resist but she did not acknowledge her either.

“I am sorry about the children. I really am,” the voice boomed. “But they chose to live here. And there is nothing that I can do to stop my curse.”

“Yes, that is what I figured,” Morgan nodded. “You were exiled from the Seelie Court after you put the life of a human over the life of another Fey. They stripped you of your noble title and cursed you so you could no longer use magic to disguise yourself.”

Morgan held up her other hand opening her palm bringing it close to her mouth she blew on it. A firefly like light floated out of her hand and like it was floating on the wind the light drifted toward the man. The yellow light illuminated the man’s features. He had a shredded pair of pants with no shirt. He was built like a mountain and his skin looked green in the light.

Talia blinked her eyes then squinted. It did not appear green, his skin actually was green.

The light stopped at the man’s face. He had a long black beard and ram horns curled around the side of his head.

Talia covered her mouth to keep herself from screaming.

“Without your magic,” Morgan continued. “You cannot live with the humans who you gave up everything to protect and the curse makes sure that no Fey will ever be able to stay close to you.”

The giant hung his head. “For me to even speak to another fey could kill them and if I were to leave this forest I would be found out by the humans before I could get someplace safe. For a fey to even live near me for long periods of time will cause them to become sick and eventually die.”

He took a step forward. “Please.” Talia flinched in fear thinking he might try something. Seeing Talia’s fear he stepped back. “Please tell the Ghillie Dhu to move before their children die.”

“I can’t do that,” Morgan said. “I was hired to find the source of the corruption and purify it.”

“That’s not possible,” the man clinched his fist. “That is unless you intend to murder me.”

“Never.” Morgan’s voice was soft and calming. “I have sworn to never take another life, human or fey, again.”

The man seemed to relax but he had a narrow gaze. “So you are that Morgan the Fey Doctor. How are you still alive after all this time?”

“You are not the only one to ever be cursed,” Morgan said. “But that is not relevant to the here and now.”

The man crossed his arms taking a deep breath. “Alright, speak and I will listen. How do you plan on purifying this sickness? Can you break the curse that I have?”

“Sadly the payment I received was not great enough for that. However,” Morgan reached into her pocket and pulled out the stick the man had given to her earlier that day. “If you infuse your magic to this it should prevent your curse from causing them any more trouble.”

“But that’s their…” the giant almost seemed mesmerized by the stick. “How did you get that?”

“It was their payment.” She held out the stick letting the man come and take it from her.

He slowly walked forward. This time Talia did not flinch though she couldn’t help but hold her breath in fear as he got closer. He reached out his hand to take the stick from her. “But if it is their payment then why give it to me?”

“You need not worry about that.” Morgan said letting go of the stick. “That should be enough correct?”

The giant examined it for a moment then nodded. “Yes I do believe that with this, I should be able to keep them unaffected by my curse. So long as they keep their distance from me.” He brought the stick close to his chest as if it was a fragile child. It looked like a toothpick in his hands and that he could break it if he made the slightest movement. “Thank you,” he said as the light in front of his face dwindling as the firefly light dimmed.

“It was what I was hired to do. There is no reason to thank me.” Morgan grabbed Talia’s hand and started to lead her through the forest.

Talia looked back at the giant. He was still standing there cradling the stick. As they moved the fog rolled in again and after a few seconds he had disappeared. Even though he was out of sight Talia thought she could still hear the man thanking them. His words seeming to echo in her mind.

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Talia did not know where they were going but she figured Morgan knew and she would just follow her.

“So how will we know if it worked?” Talia said breaking the silence.

“If the Ghillie Dhu don’t return to our shop then that means that it worked,” she said simply.

“It’s an amazing coincidence that the very thing that they needed to save them was the thing they gave to you as payment to save them.”

“You think it was a coincidence do you?” There was a slight chuckle in Morgan’s voice. “I do not believe there is coincidence in this world. There is only inevitability. Every action is another step on a path that leads us to a predetermined destination.”

“Doesn’t leave much room for free will does it?”

Morgan laughed. “You know what? I know someone who said the exact same thing once. He was never a big supporter of the idea of predetermination. He said it is only through free will can we hold people accountable for their actions. As well as have any hope for the future,” she sighed. It looked like talking about this only brought her pain for some reason.

Talia sighed squeezing Morgan’s hand while looking at her cell to check the time. “It’s a good thing you found me when you did. If you hadn’t there would have been no way to get me home before midnight.”

“Oh I never lost sight of you.” She held up her free hand. There was a flapping of wings as a Raven flew down and landed on her wrist. “I was watching you the entire time. I knew that Urisk could not ignore a girl lost in the woods so I figured that would be the fastest way to lure him out.”

“Wait.” Talia planted her feet causing Morgan to get yanked back a little. As Morgan stopped the raven melted into the air and Talia thought she saw it slide up her arm. “You sent me out there to get lost on purpose?”

“You weren’t in any danger,” she assured her. “I was right there with you the entire time.”

“That’s not the point. I was alone and lost. I started to cry I was so scared that I would never be found.” Just recalling it made her tremble. She broke her grasp on Morgan intending at yell at her but as soon as her hand left hers goosebumps broke out all over from the freezing cold of the night air.

Instinctively she reached out and took Morgan’s hand, warmth spreading through her body.

Morgan just smiled bringing Talia in close to her and wrapping her arm around Talia’s shoulders. “I’m sorry you were scared.” She looked down at Talia. “So what do you think of Fairies now?”

Talia bobbed her head. “There might be some truth behind them.”

The man sitting at the table looked terrible. He was pale and frail. There were sores all over his arms that he was trying to hide with a long sleeve shirt. He was probably in his late twenties but the lines on his face and the circles under his eyes made him look thirty years older. Every time he tried to lift the tea cup off the table his hands would start to shake and the tea would spill all over the table.

“Sorry,” the man said putting the tea cup back down.

“It’s perfectly alright.” Morgan’s voice was flat as she sat upright her hands folded in her lap. She stared in the man’s eyes never seeming to blink. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans with a long sleeve, purple, V-neck shirt. At the right angle you could see the tips of the wings and the beak of the Raven tattoo on her chest.

Talia stood in her normal spot behind the man ready to assist if needed. She had gotten used to this routine over the past two weeks.

“When did the problems first start?” Morgan asked the man.

The man thought it over for a moment. He seemed to be having a hard time thinking straight. “It’s hard for me to really say. At first it just seemed like a little bad luck. I thought it was just all in my head but things have gotten worse. Food that I just made is spoiled, spiders in my shoes every morning.”

Morgan held up her hand cutting him off. “Give me your best guest.”

“It would have been middle of May so,” the man did the math in his head. “Almost four months now.”

“Tell me, what is your profession in life?”

“I’m a grounds keeper at several places around the city. I work for-”

“That’s all I need to know.” She cut him off before saying anything else. “Can you recall if you worked on the 11th of May this year?”

“Eh, maybe. I can’t quite recall.”

Talia pulled out her cell phone and opened the calendar. Flipping back to the month of May she held it in front of him to see.

“Yeah that’s right I did work that day. I worked the day before and after as well.”

Morgan gave Talia a nod which was the closest thing to a thank you Talia would ever get.

“Now tell me, are there any Lilacs or Blackthorn Bushes that you maintain?”

“Yeah, one place has a wall of Blackthorn Bushes, in fact that was the place I was working that day if I recall correctly.”

Morgan gave a satisfied nod. “It would seem that you have angered a Lunatishee Fairy.”

“Ah what? How did I do that?”

“Lunatishee are small fairies that live in and maintain Blackthorn Bushes. To trim a black thorn bush on May Day is a grave offence.”

“But May 1st is May Day,” the man protested. “I don’t even work on May Day.”

Morgan smiled nodded in understanding. “That is true now but in olden times the spring festival that we now call May Day was held on the 11th. Old Hallows Eve was also held on the 11th if you would like to know. It wasn’t until the integration of the Christian holidays did these dates change.”

“But I didn’t know that.” The man screeched his voice horse. “It’s not my fault.”

“Lunantishee, like most, do not view ignorance as a reasonable defense.” Morgan stiffened her body and raised her chin a little.

Talia knew that look. This was the part where Morgan would take her price. Sometimes the price would be nothing big but other times her price would be something very valuable to the individual. Talia sometimes wondered if her prices were a bit high for what she gave.

“You play the guitar correct?” Morgan asked.

“Yeah I do. I’m not that great but I enjoy it a lot.” The man was a little confused by the question and shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Then that shall be my price for helping you,” Morgan stated.

“My guitar?”

“No.” Morgan’s gaze narrowed. “Your ability to play the Guitar.”

The man raised an eyebrow. He obviously did not understand. “So you want me to never play the Guitar again? And then you will help me?”

“You may play the guitar if you wish but you will never be able to make music with it.” Morgan’s voice was cold. “No matter how much you practice, or how hard you try, you will never be able to play music with a guitar.”

The man obviously was not convinced but he nodded. “Alright just fix this for me.”

Morgan leaned over and looked at the cat who was laying under her chair. “Dom, could you bring me a Tall’nu Ring from the store house.”

The cat got up and trotted toward the door. Talia opened it for him and he darted out. She closed the door as soon as he was through turning back to face the table as she waited.

The man’s confusion and doubt were rising but he remained quiet. They sat there in silence for several minutes waiting for the cat to return.

There was a scratching sound at the door. Talia turned and opened it. The cat was standing in front of the door with a ring box in front of him. Talia reached down picking it up then moving to the side to let the cat pass back into the room.

Talia set the small ring case down on the table in front of Morgan. She opened the box without even looking at Talia. She pulled out a silver band ring with a single red stone pressed in it.

“Hold out your left hand, palm up,” she ordered. The man obeyed holding out his hand. Morgan placed the ring in his palm. “Now slide the ring on any finger on your right hand except your thumb.”

“You sure it will fit?” The man looked at the size of the ring comparing it to his fingers.

“It will fit on any finger you put it on don’t worry.”

The man gave a week shrug and slid it on to his ring finger. “Now what?”

“Now return to the Blackthorn Bush and show the Lunantishee that you wear this ring.”

“But I have never seen one before how can I-?”

“Do not worry about it. As long as you are in front of the Bush they will see you.” Morgan placed her hands back on her lap.

“And that’s it?” The man sounded skeptical but there was also hope in his voice.

“That is it, but from this day on you can never take that ring off. Once you do the misfortune will return and there will be nothing that can be done to stop it.”

The man nodded standing up. Talia moved to the door to hold it open for him. The man stopped turning back to Morgan. “What about the price?”

“I have already taken it from you,” she said.

The man just shook his head and walked outside.

Talia held the outside door open for the man giving him a smile as he walked out. Talia followed him with her gaze as he walked passed the gates.

Just as he passed the wall Talia noticed a man standing on the other side of the street. He was wearing a black coat, fedora and sunglasses. He wasn’t headed anywhere, he was simply standing on the other side of the street staring at the shop.

Talia frowned shutting the door. With the sunglasses on it was impossible to know what he was looking at but Talia knew he was watching the shop.

Talia sighed walking back into the reception room.

Morgan gave out a loud groan as she stretched her hands over her head. “I am starving,” she declared. “What do you say we go and get something to eat?”

“Morgan do you know that man outside?” Talia asked ignoring Morgan’s previous question.

“Oh, and what man would that be? Is he handsome?” Excitement and curiosity crossing her face.

Talia walked over to the window pulling the drapes aside enough so she could see out. “The man over there,” her voice trailed off as she pointed at the place the man was supposed to be.

Morgan‘s face was right next to Talia‘s, her long black hair falling on Talia‘s shoulder. “Do you see this man right now?” She asked in a concerned whisper.

“I swear he was there just a second ago.” Talia looked down the street hoping that she would find the man.

Morgan stood up straight putting a reassuring hand on Talia’s shoulder. “I believe you, don’t worry.” Her playful tone gone. “If you say there was a man there then I am sure there was. Have you seen this man before?”

Talia nodded. “Yeah I saw him here two weeks ago. He asked me what I knew about this shop.”

“And what did you tell him?”

“I didn’t know much then so I only told him what I thought at the time.”

Morgan let out a laugh. “You mean you told him that I was crazy.”

Talia hung her head ashamed a little. In her defense who wouldn’t have thought she was crazy.

Morgan reached over putting her arms around Talia resting her cheek on the top of Talia’s head. “It’s fine. It really is.” She let her go giving her a smile.

The bell rang as the front door opened. Morgan shot a glance at the door the look of surprise on her face. This was the first time that Talia had ever seen someone enter the shop and Morgan not be ready for them.

The cat shot to his feet, fur standing on end as he stared intently toward the front door.

“Hello?” came a female voice.

“It’s alright Dom.” Morgan scooped up the cat and placed him on her shoulder. “Talia go see to our guest.”

There was a worried tone in Morgan’s voice. There was something about this person that had both Morgan and Dom on edge and that in turn put Talia on edge. But she did as she was told and walked toward the front door.

“Welcome.” Talia tried to sound warm and friendly as she opened the door to the patio.

“Hello.” The girl standing in the patio area had on a bright energetic smile as she stood in the door way. She had dirty blond hair that was tied into a pony tail. She had on black eyeliner and rose colored blush. There where diamond studs in her ears and several silver rings at the middle, two on her right and one on the left. There was a matching ring in her left nostril. Around her neck was an extremely gaudy silver necklace with a black stone in the center.

She looked to be of high school age, though Talia had never seen her before. She was wearing a woman’s leather coat that was made for style more than warmth or practicality. She had on tight blue jeans that had holes in the knees but Talia could tell from experience that the tares where there by design not from use.

“If you would please take off your shoes and follow me,” Talia smiled.

“Sure thing.” The girl bent down untying her boots with record speed. Slipping them off, she placed them on the mat and followed Talia inside.

Morgan sat in her usual seat, her hands folded in her lap. The cups that had been on the table earlier were now gone leaving the table bare. Talia could not see Dom anywhere and she thought maybe Morgan and put him in the other room.

“Hello and welcome.” Morgan gave a slight nod. “What brings you here today?”

“Oh my god.” Without an invitation the woman pulled the chair out and sat down. “You are just like my friends said.”

“Your friends?” Morgan gave an inquisitive look.

“Yeah, they like told me about how you could like talk to Fairies and spirits and stuff.”

“Is that right?” Morgan’s brow furrowed as a shadow fell around her eyes.

The girl did not seem to notice and just kept on talking or rambling. “Yeah and like you see there is like this guy I like but he just like ignores me, so I was like wondering if maybe you like knew like a spell or potion that could make him you know…”

“Like, like you?” Morgan finished her mocking tone not quite hidden. Not that this girl seemed bright enough to notice.

“Yeah.” The girl crossed her legs at the ankles leaning back in the chair totally relaxed. “He doesn’t have to like, like like me or anything, just like enough that he will like ask to go out with me.”

Morgan did not move as the woman talked, but her stare was cold and dark. This wasn’t like normal where she would have an almost apathetic look, this was something else. Annoyance for sure but maybe also a little bit of anger, maybe even worry.

“So like what do you say? I got like fifty bucks on me. Will that be enough?” The girl stopped talking but she looked like she was about to burst at any moment.

“I am sorry,” Morgan said. “I don’t know who told you about me but that is not the kind of thing that I do.”

The girl looked confused then disappointed. “Ah you sure there isn’t like anything you can like do? Like a charm or something? Like a ring or necklace? I’ll even take like a magic coin if it will help.”

“Such things do exist.” Morgan seemed to be mulling something over. “But…” her voice trailed off like she just thought of something. “I might have something for you.” Morgan stood up. “Please wait here while I retrieve it.”

“Okay cool.” The girl smiled bouncing a little in her seat. The door closed as Morgan left and the girl gawked at the room around her.

Talia thought about maybe going after Morgan but it was already too late for that. If she left now she would just be being rude. Not that this person really seemed to take much interest in common courtesy.

“I would have thought that there would be more stuff,” the girl said.

Talia pursed her lips together and nodded not really interested in making idle conversation.

“So can you like do magic too?” The girl asked. “Are you like her apprentice or something?”

Talia sighed. “No I am just a part timer.”

“Really? That is so awesome.” The girl sure was perky. The thought made Talia look at the girl’s breasts that were accentuated by the tight black shirt she wore. They were bigger than Talia’s and for some reason that just annoyed her more. Morgan having bigger breast sure, she was older and more mature, but this girl was the same age as Talia. Not that Talia had much to work with.

“Hello?” The girl had her head cocked to the side leaning down a little so their eyes were in line with each other. “My eyes are up here.”

Talia blushed. She had been spacing out and not paying attention.

She was about to say something but the door opened as Morgan walked through.

“Thank god,” Talia whispered breathing a sigh of relief.

“Sorry for the wait.” Morgan put a hand on Talia’s shoulder as she pasted by sitting down in her chair.

“It’s fine.” The girl smiled Talia now forgotten. “Did you find something?”

Morgan nodded putting a plain metal ring down on the center of the table. The girl stared at it obviously disappointed.

“Is that it?” She asked leaning in to examine it closer.

“Just put it on and when you are near the boy he will be drawn to you,” Morgan assured.

“But it’s so tacky.” The girl sighed looking up at Morgan. “Can I get one that’s got a bit more flash?”

“Sorry, that’s all I have.”

The girl looked at the ring mulling it over. Apparently getting the boy to like her and not messing up her fashion were just as important to her. The girl stood up without even touching the ring. “I’ll think about it.” She gave Morgan a slight nod. Talia thought the girl looked impressed though she had no clue what the girl would be impressed about.

“Sure.” Morgan said her face still cold. “It will be here waiting for you.”

“Later.” The girl gave a single wave and headed out the door.

The tension in the air seemed to dissolve as the girl left. Talia heard a weird growl coming from the window.

“Yes, she’s gone,” Morgan said leaning back in her seat. The cat jumped out from behind the curtain landing on the table. The cat gave a long meow.

“I don’t know who she was.” Morgan said seeming to answer the cat. “But I know one thing.” She reached over picking up the ring. “She won’t be coming back for this anytime soon.” She put the ring in her pocket.

Morgan looked over at Talia with a warm smile. “So where do you want to go eat?”

“You are paying for this right?” Talia looked over the top of her menu at Morgan who was sitting across the table from her. “And with actual money?”

Morgan still wore the purple V-neck and blue jeans but she had put on her reflective sunglasses. Unlike their trek through the forest at night she was wearing them in the daylight, and with the glare from the sun shining on their faces Talia wished she had a pair.

They were sitting at an outside table at a local restaurant. They had been sitting there for about five minutes. Morgan had not said much since they left the shop. There was something that was still bothering her about the girl from earlier, Talia could tell.

“Oh you mean you’re not paying for this?” Morgan pushed out her lower lip pouting.

“And how do you expect me to do that?” Talia rolled her eyes. “My boss pays me in lack of boredom.”

Morgan smiled, taking a sip from her coffee cup. “You seem no worse for wear.”

“Never said I was. I am just saying don’t expect me to pick up the bill anytime soon.” She raised the menu up, blocking her view of Morgan.

Talia lowered her menu glancing over it after hearing nothing from Morgan for a while. She was staring off at nowhere.

“Is something wrong?” Talia asked.

“Nothing, just thinking about that girl from earlier.” Her voice was soft and distant.

“Well I guess it was inevitable,” Talia shrugged. “After all most people don’t believe in fairies in this day and age and the ones that do think of them like Tinkerbell or something,” Talia smiled. “That’s what I thought your shop was like when I first went in.”

“Yes but she said she heard about me from her friends. What friends could those have been? And after all of that she didn’t take the ring.”

Talia decided not to say anything else. There was obviously more going on than Talia could understand. She had taken a ‘just go with it’ attitude for things like this. Morgan had told her that there would be lots of things that she would not understand and probably could’t so Talia figured this was just one of those times.

Morgan had not said a whole lot while they ate, and Talia was not one to force the issue. Morgan’s mood seemed to improve with a full stomach however and she was upbeat and giddy again, skipping down the sidewalk humming to herself.

“Hey Talia.” Morgan stopped staring at the gas station up ahead. “Let’s get something to drink.” Without waiting for Talia to answer she took off.

Talia speed on after her smiling along the way. She did have to admit her life was no longer boring.

By the time Talia went inside Morgan was already at the back looking over the bottles of soda, her nose pressed against the glass like a child looking at sweets.

Talia wondered how old Morgan actually was. She looked like she was in her mid-thirties but at times she acted much older, then like now she seemed younger than Talia.

“We should get some Milk for Dom as well,” Morgan said opening the glass door feeling the bottles of Pepsi making sure they were cold. “Wouldn’t want him to feel like we forgot about him.”

“How come Dom never comes with us? I would have thought he would want to get out every once and a while,” Talia asked.

“Domivic are bound to the house that they guard,” Morgan said picking the Pepsi that she wanted. “To leave the house would be a dereliction of his duties.”

“How did you two meet?” Talia stared at the drinks trying to decide on the one that she wanted.

“Oh,” Morgan spun on her heels a bottle in each hand. “The short story is that he was looking for a place and I was just setting up my shop so I invited him to stay with me. I would have preferred a Bwbach to be honest, they are a bit better at house hold tasks but they can be a bit moody and have a tendency of throwing people.”

Having made their selections they walked to the register placing the drinks on the counter.

“Will that be all for you?” The gas station attendant asked scanning the drinks.

“Actually.” Morgan put a hand on Talia’s shoulder. “There are glass Coke bottles in the fridge over there. Could you grab two of them for me?”

Talia frowned a little confused but she obediently grabbed two glass bottles and brought them back to the counter.

“Would you like a bag for this?”

“Yes.” Morgan smiled watching the drinks being put in a bag. She nodded with a smile taking the bag heading outside.

Once they were in the sun Morgan reached into the bag pulling out Talia’s drink and handed it to her.

“Thank you.” Talia said taking the bottle and opening it.

“You shouldn’t thank people.” Morgan gave Talia a chastising look.

“Force of habit.” Talia apologized. “But is it really such a big deal?”

“How about we find a place to sit shall we?” Morgan walked ahead reaching into the bag grabbing her own drink.

Talia followed behind sipping her soda as they walked. Morgan walked into a small park area and sat down at one of the tables under a roof area setting the sack down on the bench. “Sit here Talia.” She pointed to the spot next to her.

Not questioning Talia sat down letting her arms lay on the table holding her soda with both hands.

Morgan took a long drink giving a refreshed breath putting the half-finished bottle down on the table in front of her. “While you do not have any magic to bind you,” Morgan continued. “There are still Fey out there that can use a thanks to bind you to them. You should also be a bit more guarded about giving out your name.”

“But I have spent my whole life without any problems. Why would it change now?” Talia asked.

“Because now you are a part of the world of magic.” The voice was close and directly behind them. Talia jumped in surprise but Morgan rested a hand on Talia’s leg reassuring her that it was alright. “Even if it is only slightly.”

The man walked around sitting down on the other side of the bench. Talia recognized him as the man who had been watching the shop. He was still wearing his black fedora and leather coat along with reflective sunglasses that mirrored Morgan’s.

“It has been a while Hyperion,” Morgan said. The two stared at each other for a moment both of their eyes hidden behind their sunglasses. “You are terrible at following people you know. I noticed you back at the restaurant.”

The man shrugged. “Who is to say that I didn’t want to be noticed?”

“Fair enough.” Morgan nodded relaxing a little. “Care for a drink?” She pulled out the glass Coke bottle handing it to the man.

“How did you know that I…” the man closed his mouth mid-sentence turning his head a little. He had an amused smile as he took the bottle from her. “Alright, I will admit that is impressive.” Without even using a bottle opener he put his hand over the top and with a pop the lid came off.

“Would your friend like one as well?” Morgan asked pulling out the second bottle. “I didn’t know what she liked so I just go a second Coke.”

The man smiled at Morgan taking a drink from his bottle. Placing the bottle on the table the man turned waving at someone behind him. “I must say you look exactly the same since the last time I saw you,” he said turning back around.

“As opposed to you who looks completely different.”

“That’s because I am not the same person, in more ways than one.” The man gave out an exaggerated sigh as he leaned back a little. “But then I guess we both have our curses to bare.” He let out a breath through his nose as he leaned forward on the bench. “Just so you know I have started calling yours the Faust’s Curse.”

Morgan chuckled. “As long as you don’t start calling me Faust, I guess it’s alright. But can you even call what you have a curse anymore?” Morgan asked. “It‘s not much of a curse if you bare it by choice.”

The man nodded. “As true as that may be, I never asked for my curse I just chose not to get rid of it when I had the chance. My curse not only forces me to do my job it allows me to do it better than anyone else could. Your curse on the other hand-”

“Is that for me?” a female voice cut the man off. She was standing right in front of Talia but somehow she had not seen the woman until just now.

“That it is.” The man leaned back turning his head and smiled at the woman.

Talia realized that it was the woman from before. She was still wearing the same outfit and had all her piercing but she looked older now, not as high schoolish. Her demeanor had also changed. She had dropped the smile and overly bouncy posture.

“Hello again.” The woman said sitting down. “Sorry about before. Got to say, nice move with the iron ring. If I had even touched that much iron I am sure it would have broken my illusion.” Using only her thumb the woman popped the top of the bottle the lid fling off. She stared at Morgan with an amused smile, taking a long drink. “I honestly didn’t think any human could see through my glamour.”

“Don’t count yourself out just yet,” Morgan said. “I didn’t see through it, I was just playing off of a hunch.”

“Out of curiosity,” the man held up his hand as if he wanted to ask a question. “What gave her away?” He pointed at the woman sitting next to him.

“There were several things,” Morgan said. “The first being that she acted far to preppy and air headed for how she dressed.”

“Yeah that was my bad.” The girl smiled scratching her cheek. “I just kind of went with it.”

“But the largest thing was that she said she came to my shop for a love spell.” Morgan continued fiddling with the drink in her hand. “The only people who can enter my shop are people who genuinely need the help of a Fairy Doctor.”

“I see.” The man said taking in her words. “Well I think introductions are in order.” The man changed his demeanor a little having a bit more energy in his words. “I’ll start. My name is Riley.”

“Riley?” Morgan frowned. “I was under the impression the current Hyperion’s name was Ryan.”

“That was the last Hyperion.” Riley nodded a little sadness on his face. “He died a few years ago in the reemerging of the Under the Hill fiasco that happened.”

“And you can call me Salina.” The girl said cutting Riley off before he could say anything more on the topic. “And I must say it is a pleasure to meet you Morgan. My dad has told me all kinds of stories about you.”

“Not all of them good I would imagine,” Morgan nodded. “You seem to already know who I am.” She gestured to Talia. “This is Talia. She works at the shop.”

“Right the girl who was looking at my boobs the whole time,” Salina grinned.

Talia blushed with embarrassment. “I wasn’t looking at them the whole time.”

Riley gave an amused snort.

“I didn’t say I minded.” Salina gave Talia a sinister smile.

Riley smacked her on the head with two fingers.

“Ouch.” Salina rubbed her head.

“You must make your father so proud,” Riley said.

“I doubt it,” Salina sighed. “I have been nothing but a disappointment for most of my life.”

“Most?” Riley looked over his sunglasses at Salina.

“So what is this all about, Riley?” Morgan brought the conversation back on topic. “Have I done something to warrant the wrath of the Hyperion?”

“Not in so many words.” Riley said his voice losing all playfulness as he turned back to face Morgan. “I was asked to investigate a person claiming to be a Fairy Doctor. I was to see if they were real or not. After all just about everyone one is claiming now a days that they can use magic, see spirits and the like.”

“You could have just asked,” Morgan said. “There was no need for the ruse.”

“Except he couldn’t find you,” Salina laughed.

Riley nodded. “It’s true, while I knew exactly where you were supposed to be. When I went there all I could see was an empty lot. I tried many different things in an attempt to see through the illusion but nothing worked. So I asked Salina to help me.”

“He couldn’t even see through a simple don’t look here spell.” Salina was deriving pleasure from Riley‘s failure. “And I didn’t even have to use magic to see through it.” She gave out a long cackle.

“I wouldn’t consider that as an achievement,” Morgan stated. “The spell around my shop is very powerful. It took years to weave it so that only precise kind of people can see through it.” She looked at Salina. “Only those who have need of a Fairy Doctor can see my shop.”

Talia glanced at Morgan. If that was true then the only reason that Talia could see the shop was because she too needed the help of a Fairy Doctor.

Salina’s face became serious. “Wait. Why would I need a Fairy Doctor?”

“I have no idea,” Morgan said. “But when you figure that out you now know where to find me.”

Riley had a bit of a smirk on his face. “I am glad to see that you are doing better Morgan. Have you maybe come to terms with your guilt a little?”

Morgan shook her head. “No.” She took a deep breath closing her eyes. “Instead I have been burring it deep down inside me.” She put her elbows on the table letting her chin rest on her interwoven fingers. “What about you? You seem to be doing better as well.”

Riley smiled. “I was forced to come to terms with my grief after I had a psychotic breakdown from trying to repress it.”

“I was there for that.” Salina chimed in. “It was fun to watch.” She stared at Riley mockingly as she took a drink from her bottle.

“I am happy my pain brings you entertainment,” Riley said. He gulped down the last of his Coke setting the empty bottle on the table. “Thank you for the drink. I think my job is done here.” He stood up fixing his coat.

Salina not finished with her Coke stood up with it still in her hand. “Don’t be expecting a thank you from me any time soon.” She held up the glass in toasting fashion before starting to gulp it down.

“See I never know how I should actually say good bye to you,” Riley laughed. “Saying to have a good day could be a death sentence for you.”

“Would that be so bad?” Morgan asked flatly. Talia looked at Morgan in shock. Her voice gave no indication of humor or playfulness. “Oh and Salina.”

Salina turned back around. “Yeah?”

“I’ll see you soon.” Morgan’s voice was cold and flat. It sent a shiver up Talia’s spine and by the look on Salina’s face she had a similar reaction.

“Are you sleeping again?” Talia asked as she walked into the living room setting her backpack down in the corner.

Morgan stirred from her nap on the couch putting her arm over her eyes. “Just five more minutes.” She waved Talia off with her other hand before it fell to her side.

Talia looked over at Dom who was laying on the recliner an open book in front of him. Dom looked up at her giving her a slight nod before going back to his book.

“And what are we reading today?” Talia carefully lifted the cover up so she could read the title without losing the page. “Pride and Prejudice.” She set it back down. “Awe Dom I never would have thought you would be into the chick flicks.”

The cat gave a long meow at her.

Talia pulled out the Pepsi from her plastic sack and pressed it against Morgan’s neck. Morgan shot up from the couch with a scream. “Don’t do that.” Morgan said snatching the bottle from Talia. “Only been here for four months and you already think you can harass the boss.” She had an angry look on her face as she opened the bottle and starting chugging down its contents.

“This from the same said boss who naps all day.”

“Humans are active during the day.” She gave a refreshed sigh. “Fey are active at night. That means I am always open.” She put the bottle down on the coffee table in front of her laying back on the couch. “So I have to get sleep whenever I can.”

“Whatever.” Talia sighed heading for the kitchen to make herself lunch.

“By the way Talia.” Morgan was already half asleep. “We are going Iele hunting tonight so be sure and grab a coat.”

“Can I come?” The female voice sounded just as asleep as Morgan’s.

“Sure,” Morgan said.

Salina shuffled out of the hallway wearing a white tank top and sport shorts. Her hair looking like she had just woken up. She had been coming to the shop a lot since the day in the park but usually later in the day near evening. This was the first time Talia had seen her this early in the day. And she looked like she had spent the night.

“Just don’t invite your father, I would like to do this without anyone dying,” Morgan said.

“Sure, sure. Doubt he would come anyway.” Salina scratched her head as she took the Pepsi from the Coffee table and took a drink from it using the back of her hand to wipe her mouth.

Morgan moved her arm off her eyes so that she could look at Salina. “Don’t think so little of your father.” Her voice was cold and stern. “He would come if you asked. In fact there is very little he wouldn’t do if you asked.”

Salina nodded putting the Pepsi back down bending over and tapping Morgan’s leg telling her to move them. Morgan obliged curling them closer to her chest giving room for Salina to sit down. As soon as Salina sat down Morgan stretched her legs back out resting on Salina’s lap.

“You two are so much alike. It‘s no wonder you are friends.” Salina yawned leaning her head back.

“Misery likes company,” Morgan said.

Talia walked into the kitchen opening the fridge for something to eat. It had been a very interesting four months for Talia. Every day she would come to the shop after school and the days she didn’t have school she would still spend at the shop.

She still had no idea what Riley had been talking about when he had said that Morgan was cursed, and she still had no clue who Salina’s father was but Salina and Morgan talked about him a lot. Morgan never explained what it meant that Talia could see the shop or why she had hired her in the first place.

In the end though Talia didn’t care. She was having the time of her life now and that was all that mattered. She would worry about any problems she may have when they came up, until then she would just have fun now.

The cursed are not meant to find happiness…

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