Cordelia woke up in a terrible mood. But when she finally left her tent, she was greeted by a huge frog with shiny turquoise and lime green stripes. The frog was in a terrarium, not lose, so it didn’t quite get there on its own. She could only think of one person that would bring a frog to her…
Sure enough, Dandelion emerged from within the tree trunk.
“So, I know you’re mad at me, and I think I’ve figured out why.” He plunged into a speech. “I shouldn’t have said it would be fun to keep you as a pet… even though pets are fun… but you’re not really a pet. The frog is a pet… so I brought you a pet… so…. Truce?”
She couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle. “I’m not mad at you. It was a long day, back in the magic realm. And no, you shouldn’t keep humans as pets, but… Maybe L Faba had a point, about me not treating you quite right either. So, truce.” She smiled.
“Sweet!” The elf exclaimed. “So, with that whole pet thing out of the way, I was thinking… maybe we could be friends instead?”
“I’d like that, Dandelion,” Cordelia said with a warm smile. She could definitely use a friend.
“Oh, since we’re friends now, you can call me Dandy,” The elf said giddily. “Like friends do! I don’t know what we’ll call you… Cordie?”
She laughed. “Cordelia is fine.”
“I’ll work on it… Oh, this is exciting, new day, a new friend…. Dandelion strikes again!” He looked very proud of himself.
“So, friend… since you’re a local, I wondered if you could give me some advice on Glimmerbrook.” Cordelia said. “I can’t exactly live in a tent forever. Summer’s almost over… I’ll need to get a roof over my head before the weather turns. And to do that, I need tools. Any idea where I could get my hands on some?”
“Well, we do have a village shop…”
That sounded promising. “Perfect! How do I get there?”
“I’ll take you.” The elf offered. “It’s not far. And this time, there’s no portal travel involved.”
“And here we are.” Dandelion stopped in front of a small cottage. “The Hex Shop.”
“The Hex Shop?” Of course it was, Cordelia thought.
He nodded. “Yup. The Charm family owns it. They’re important around here or something. Lived in Glimmerbrook for generations.”
“Right.” Something was telling Cordelia this wasn’t to be your average village shop.
Her suspicions were confirmed as soon as they entered. The shop’s assorted goods ranged from unusual, like crystals, herbs and butterfly wings, to items Cordelia couldn’t even identify… strange orbs, staffs and… was that a huge cauldron under the window?
“Welcome to the Hex Shop, the oldest shop in Glimmerbrook,” A man with a distinctive nose greeted them.
“Well, it is the only shop in Glimmerbrook,” The young blonde on his side pointed out sheepishly.
“But that doesn’t mean our items aren’t of the highest quality,” the man added. “I’m Darrel Charm, and this is my fiancée Emilia. Anything in particular that you’re after today?”
The enthralled way Darrel gazed at his fiancée made Cordelia wonder if their engagement was new. Not that it mattered. She was here for a reason.
“I was hoping for some woodworking tools,” She explained.
“Hm, woodworking.” Seemed this wasn’t what Darrel expected.
“You know, like a saw, a hammer, some nails… that sort of thing.” Cordelia said helpfully.
“I’m familiar with the concept.” Darrell said stiffly before the professional grin returned to his face. “Well, it’s not our usual stock, but I’m sure we can do something for our customers.”
That was great news. Of course, there was one small problem… “Err, I was just wondering… I’m new in Glimmerbrook, so I don’t exactly have much to my name yet… is there any chance I could just borrow the tools for now, rather than buying them? I will repay you as soon as I-“
“You’re telling me you don’t have any money?” Darrel’s smile dropped off completely now.
“No money, but we might still be able to pay,” Dandelion jumped in. “Cordelia does have a pretty uncommon frog, the surfer leaf kind, if you were willing to trade?”
To Cordelia’s surprise, Darrel seemed to consider the offer. The again, seeing the shop’s goods on offer, frogs did seem like the kind of thing they would sell here. Except…
“I’m sorry, the frog is not for sale,” Cordelia told Darrel. “It was a gift from a friend, I couldn’t give it up.”
“Really?” Dandelion’s face lit up.
“Quit… wasting… my… time!” Darrel huffed, clearly trying to keep himself from yelling in front of other customers. “If you have no money and nothing worth trading, then it’s really simple: Get out of my shop!”
“Come on Darrel, it sounds like – Cordelia, was it?” Darrel’s fiancée looked at Cordelia before continuing. She gave a slight nod. “Cordelia just seems to be in need of a helping hand. You’ve shown me so much kindness since I arrived here, so I know you can do the same for her…”
Darrel huffed and puffed some more, but clearly, he couldn’t say no to Emilia. “What did you have in mind, my love?”
“Well, you’ve been saying that the two of us have had to spend far too much precious time in the shop lately, and Grace can’t exactly run the place on her own. And Cordelia here could use a job, by the looks of it.” Emilia shared her idea. “So, if you hire her, we get more free time, a new employee, and potentially an extra paying customer down the line. How does that sound?”
“I suppose that could work,” Darrel admitted begrudgingly.
Cordelia hadn’t expected to leave the place with a job offer, but Emilia wasn’t wrong, she desperately needed to earn some money.
“I promise that if you hire me, I’ll do my very best!” She turned to Darrel.
He sighed. “Fine. Let’s give it a try.” He turned to Cordelia. “Come back tomorrow morning and report to Grace. She’ll show you the ropes. And don’t make me regret this.” “I won’t let you down!” The girl promised.
“That worked out well!” Cordelia grinned when they exited the shop.
“You think? We didn’t even get your tools,” Dandelion pointed out. “But I’m glad you’re keeping the frog.”
“Me too,” She nodded. “And I’ll get my tools soon enough, now that I’ve got a job.”
“Mission accomplished, I guess,” the elf said. “Actually, while we’re here, let’s just swing by the garden…”
Cordelia followed him through the side gate, past the scarecrow. He opened the lid of the beehive at the back.
“Hey there, little bees!” He greeted them gleefully.
“Uh, Dandy, that doesn’t seem like the best idea… shouldn’t you be wearing some sort of a protective outfit like beekeepers do?” Cordelia instinctively took a step back as the bees flew out.
“It’s fine!” He objected. “They love me, look!”
Bizarrely, he was right. To Cordelia’s awe, he played with the bees for a while and then proceeded to harvest the honey without getting stung once. Maybe it was an elf thing, she pondered.
“Yum!” He licked his lips. “So sweet! You wanna taste some?”
“Uh, maybe later, when we’re back home.” And away from the beehive, she thought.
“You know what your problem is, Cordie? Sorry, I haven’t come up with a better nickname yet, so you’re stuck with Cordie for now,” He interrupted his own train of though apologetically. “But anyway, your problem is that you need to live a little.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I live plenty… it’s what humans do.” She informed him. Sure, life as he knew it was quite different from hers, but everyone couldn’t live inside of a tree and open beehives with bare hands…
“Do they? You’re the only regular human I know, and you always worry. It sounds tiring.” Dandelion pointed out with a slight shrug.
“Not always… I’ve just not exactly had many opportunities to be carefree,” Cordelia explained. What did he know?
“Ok. Look behind you. There’s an opportunity right there.”
She turned around, puzzled. “That’s a fountain.”
“Sure. And if you follow my lead, it will turn into an opportunity. To live a little.” He told her with a wide grin before jumping right in.
“I’ll teach you about living!” She ran after him.
She laughed harder than… well, in a long time. You had to give Dandelion one thing, he’d brought so much light into her life. Leaving Gibbs Hill was the best thing she’d done in her whole life. Sure, her experiences in Glimmerbrook have been… unorthodox, but she had so much to be thankful for…
And then she spotted it. A sprite, shining bright green, right between her and Dandelion.
“Dandelion,” she hissed, stopping in her tracks. “Look over here!”
“Oh!” The elf stopped splashing her and examined the sprite. “It looks different from the ones that came to Sylvan Glade.”
“I think… I think they’re happy.” She realised.
“Ooh, that makes sense! But this is great!” Dandelion’s lips curled into a wistful smile.
“They’re happy because you’ve actually entertained them, they like it when you have fun… But if that’s the case, it’s easy! Just stay happy, and they’ll be happy! Easy!”
She watched his excited face. He didn’t understand. How could he understand… to him, the sprites were just shiny little fairies that wanted them to have fun.
But she knew better. She could never forget the night when they took her mother away. She could never be happy with them flapping in her face, a constant reminder of the pain they’d caused…
“You don’t get it. I don’t care if they’re happy! I just want them gone!” She cried out.
And then she did the only thing that seemed to keep them at bay, although only temporarily. Run away.