Cordelia flapped her arms around wildly in an attempt to fight off the sprites. “Get away, you pesky creatures!” She yelled.
“Morning!” Dandelion greeted her. “Are these your sprite friends?”
Cordelia stared at him, temporarily distracted from the sprite’s calls for attention. “They are NOT my friends.” She gritted through her teeth.
“It’s just, you made it seem like they’re the worst thing in the world, but they just sort of look like torch bugs… enchanted torch bugs, I guess. Hey there, little guys!” He waved at the sprites.
“Don’t! Don’t encourage them. These torch bugs are responsible for the death of my mother. They don’t care about anything and anyone, other their own amusement.”
The elf was taken aback. He paused, collecting his thoughts. “I’m sorry. That’s… well, I wouldn’t know, but it doesn’t sound nice. So… what do they do, exactly?”
“They are eternally bored, so they won’t stop until you’ve given them what they want. They seem to like mischief, or romance. But neither of those things can really happen when you’re under pressure.” She glared at the sprites.
“Hmm… well, I can’t prank you now, because you’d be expecting it.” Dandelion mused. “And I don’t really want to kiss you. No offense.”
“None taken,” she let out a bitter laugh. “Believe me, I understand. I’ve pretty much thrown myself at people I wasn’t interested in just to please the sprites. I’ll just… go. Get these pests out of your meadow.”
“No, wait, I have an idea!” The elf interjected. The sprites fluttered around them. Were they intrigued? Displeased? One could never quite tell.
“You know that friend of mine whose tent you’ve been sleeping in? Well she knows… magic,” he lowered his voice, shooting a quick look to the sprites. They didn’t seem to react. “I mean, I do to, but not in the same way she does. So if anyone can figure out how you can get rid of them, it will be her. Or someone she knows. Let me tell you, her friends are-“
“Does this friend of yours live far?” Cordelia interrupted. She was reluctant, was the leopard print tent owner really someone who could know how to remove a curse that had been haunting her for years?
“Yes… and no. It’s complicated.” Dandelion pursed his lips. “The important part is it wouldn’t take us long to get there. We just have to go out to Glimmerbrook, and then-“
“Glimmerbrook?” She wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
“The little village in the woods where you came from? Only way to get here, at least as far as I know.” Dandelion shrugged impatiently. “But anyway, you in?”
The sprites nibbled at Cordelia’s shoulder. “Yes. Definitely. I’d try anything.” She told him.
“Well this isn’t quite what I expected.” Cordelia shivered.
They’d been greeted by grey skies and lighting as soon as they climbed out of the tree passage.
“Oh yeah, it never rains in Sylvan Glade, so you can never fully know what to expect when you go out,” Dandelion explained. “But it’s kind of nice, don’t you think? You wouldn’t even need to shower on a day like this!”
She felt her clothes soaking through. “Right. We better move it, fast. Where to?”
“Follow me!” The elf set off, spreading his arms wide to soak in the water.
“Wee!” Dandelion squealed. “This is awesome!”
“You are insane” Cordelia yelled after him. But she didn’t stop running. Every now and then, she’d look over her shoulder. Sure enough, the sprites followed too.
“How much further?” She called out.
And then she saw it. A large archway with strange symbols on top, and even stranger glow within it. She stopped in her tracks. “What in the world?”
“Told you it was complicated. My friend lives in the other realm.” Dandelion said, as if that statement was supposed to make sense to her.
Cordelia had witnessed her fair share of insanity in her life, arguably more than most, but this was a bit much, even for her.
“Wha- The other realm? What do you mean? There are more… realms?”
“Well at least two, clearly,” Dandelion gestured to the portal. “I don’t really know how it works. It will make more sense when we get there. Well, maybe not. I don’t know if it makes that much sense. But you’ll get to see it, right? Can’t really see do that without going in…”
And with that, he wandered straight into the portal.
A beam of light emerged as he approached, and seemingly swallowed him. Just like that, the elf was gone.
Cordelia took a deep breath. She spotted the sprites catching up in the distance. “Well, things can’t really get much worse,” she told herself, as she stepped into the shallow water.
She got close enough to the portal to touch it. Anxious, she reached out and lightly placed the tips of her fingers on the mist. Her whole hand vibrated. She could feel her body drawn ahead, but she wasn’t moving her legs. A purple mist surrounded her.
For a moment, everything turned bright.
And then she found herself in the other realm.
“Dandelion! What- where- are we floating in space?” The more she looked around, the more the panic set in.
“I guess so? But you could say the same thing about, earth, right? It’s floating in space… you just don’t get to see that as well as you do over here.”
It was hard to argue with his logic. “I… suppose that’s true.” She admitted.
Dandelion already stopped paying attention. A look of shock spread across his face “Oh no! This is bad… behind you!”
Turned out he was just playing another one of his pranks on her, causing Cordelia to scream as he spooked her, to his sheer enjoyment. The damn sprites would love that… “Wait… the sprites!” Cordelia exclaimed. “They didn’t follow us here!”
“See? This trip is already a success!” Dandelion said proudly. “Never doubt an elf! Or, always doubt an elf… we do lie, from time to time. But those other times, you should not doubt me!”
“O-kay then… so, where do we find this friend of yours, now that we’re here?” Cordelia gave up.
“Oh, she should be right in this massive manor in front of us. Can’t miss it, really,” He gestured towards the impressive building in front of the portal. “You ready?”
Cordelia shook her head. “Not in the slightest…”
“Great, let’s go!” Dandelion was already ahead of her.
She followed him up the tall staircase. He stopped once he opened the door, and she didn’t dare enter – it was enough to be on a giant floating rock, surely she wasn’t being too out of place feeling a bit apprehensive to walk into some unknown person’s house. Especially since something was telling her this wasn’t going to be just any house…
“Cordelia! Come on in!” Dandelion called after here. “Quit dragging your feet, we’re here for you, remember? Hmm, now where could she be?”
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Do I look pensive? I’ve always wanted to see the day I’d be described as pensive… Ha!”
“Dandy!” A woman with pink hair called out from across the room. She was sat on the other side of the large hallway, talking to someone. Dandelion made his way to her.
“Dandy, good to see you!” She leapt up from her chair, interrupting her conversation. “So good to see you again!”
“You too, Lulu!” The elf smiled. “You look magical. Duh!”
She let out a high-pitched laugh. “HQ makes anyone look magical. Us all being spellcasters and all…”
Cordelia observed from afar. Spellcasters. Was that some kind of a mage? Everyone in the building was a mage? Honestly, why does anything surprise me anymore, she pondered.
“…and the name is L Faba now, remember?” The woman corrected Dandelion.
“Yeah, I do remember. It just doesn’t sound like much of a name,” He shrugged.
“It adds to my mysterious vibe. Besides, what would be the point of becoming a sage if you couldn’t even make up a cool new name for yourself? Speaking of which, I trust you remember Morgyn Ember?” She gestured to the mage with wild golden locks sat next to her.
“Something tells me your Dandelion has an agenda, L Faba,” Morgyn spoke, eyeing Cordelia up and down. “Who’s your friend, little elf?”
Cordelia finally dragged herself over and gave them and awkward wave. “Uh, I’m Cordelia. Blackwell.”
L Faba turned her attention to Cordelia. “Dandy, you’ve brought a human over? How very curious…”
“Cordelia needs your help, Lulu, err, L Faba,” the elf offered in the way of explanation. “She has a problem, a curse; these evil little things that look like torch bugs appear from nowhere and make her do things like throw herself at people…”
“Dandelion!” Cordelia snapped at him. She was horrified. Perhaps she could dig herself a hole in the ground and disappear into it…. This was a magic realm, after all, wasn’t it?
“Torch bugs that make you throw yourself at people, can’t say I’ve heard that one yet. It does sound like quite the peculiar problem,” L Faba smirked.
“That’s not exactly the full story,” Cordelia attempted to explain herself. “They’re not really torch bugs, they’re beings called sprites. They sort of look like… illuminated moths, I guess.”
“So… torch bugs?” L Faba raised an eyebrow.
“Oh quit torturing this poor girl, L,” Morgyn interfered on Cordelia’s behalf. “They don’t sound too different from motes.”
“Oh, they don’t quite look like motes,” Dandelion interjected. “Similar, I guess. I’m not sure if they’re edible…” Once again, he got lost in his train of though.
Another mage joined in on the conversation, an older mean with dreadlocks. “I feel like I’m missing out on something here.”
“Simeon, darling, we’ve just been discussing this human’s predicament; she appears to be cursed by a small type of fae called sprites.” L Faba filled the newly arrived mage in. “Dandelion here suggested she should try eating them, while Morgyn is being dreadfully boring comparing them to motes. Honestly, such a dull approach to the situation… If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they’re trying to channel you, Simeon.”
“I haven’t heard you contribute with anything, L Faba, sweetheart.” Morgyn’s bright green eyes pierced through L Faba.
“I regret getting involved in this conversation already,” Simeon shook his head.
“Are any of you actually going to suggest anything to help my friend?” Dandelion broke off their bickering. Cordelia felt a sudden burst of fondness for the elf – he just said what she’d been thinking but didn’t dare speak out loud.
“Don’t worry, little elf, your friend is in the right place,” Morgyn’s lips curled into a grin. “If the three of us can’t help her, no one can. Though let’s be honest, my area of expertise is the most likely to be of service here…”
L Faba rolled her eyes. “Morgyn here is implying that just because they’re the sage of untamed magic, they’re the most powerful of the sages, but it doesn’t work that way…”
“Of course, because mischief magic is clearly the answer here,” Morgyn turned to L Faba, voice dripping with sarcasm.
“From what Dandy said it does sound like these sprites might possess mischief magic…” L Faba protested.
“Enough bickering already!” Simeon stopped their quarrel. “You two are making my head hurt… If you two can’t control your egos, I’ll have to ask the elf to escort his guest out of the magic realm.”
L Faba pulled a face. Morgyn leaned in towards Cordelia, whispering: “And this is why practical magic is a dud.”
Cordelia was speechless. She could barely follow what was happening in front of her own eyes.
“Don’t punish Cordelia, Lulu,” Dandelion pouted at his spellcaster friend.
“Don’t worry, Dandy. Since Morgyn wants to play saviour, I’ll be the bigger person and let them handle this hot mess.” L Faba said in an overly sweet voice.
“How incredibly gracious of you,” Morgyn smirked. “Now, I propose we put my mote theory to the test. If you follow me down to the centre of the room…”
Cordelia was not so sure. The centre of the room looked an awful lot like a ritual circle, and she didn’t have the best of experiences with those… but she’d come this far. It couldn’t have all been for nothing.
When they stood on the ornate floor, Morgyn pulled out a wand and started waving it around, muttering something. Panicked, Cordelia’s eyes sought Dandelion, but he didn’t seemed phased at all.
A ray of sparkles exploded around Morgyn, and the symbols on the ground below them lit up.
Cordelia’s eyes burned for a split second, and she saw a flash of blue light, then everything got back to normal. Well, normal being a relative term on that particular day.
“Neat, your eyes were like blue light bulbs for a bit there!” Dandelion beamed. She looked at him in horror, “They’re not any more, if that worries you. Not sure why though. It would be pretty cool to have light bulbs for eyes…”
“I have granted you mote sight.” Morgyn told her. “Collect seven motes around the realm and bring them back to me, and I shall look into whether they can be used to counter your curse.”
Motes. The realm. Mote sight… “That’s all you’ll give me to go on?” Cordelia pulled a face. She instantly regretted running her mouth, did she really want to risk irritating this apparently powerful mage?
To her surprise, Morgyn just smiled. “Greedy. I like it. But I also like initiative. You want me to try to help you? Least you can do is gather some ingredients.” And with that, the sage twirled around and left her to her own devices.
“Don’t worry, Cordelia, I know what motes look like.” Dandelion told her. “I’ll help you look for them.”
That warm feeling filled Cordelia again. “Dandelion, you absolute gem!” She beamed at the elf.
For the first time since meeting him, he looked surprised. “Oh, gem, me? Really? I’ve never been called that before.”
“Well then you’ve been spending your time with fools.” Cordelia told him. Not much of a friend, this Lulu, she thought. She wasn’t sure what to make of the mischief sage. Or any of the three, really.
But she sure was grateful to have Dandelion by her side. Maybe, just maybe, her luck was finally turning.