Cordelia heard Morgyn calling after her but she didn’t stop. Thankfully, she was almost by the shop. She didn’t allow herself to think about what just went down and raced inside the shop instead, darting straight towards Grace. The whole ordeal with Morgyn had already side-tracked her enough.
“Nice of you to finally stop by,” the spellcaster smirked from behind the till.
“Grace, I am SO sorry I’m late! I… I… I don’t have a good excuse.” Cordelia blurted out. “I don’t have any excuse. But it will not happen again!”
“Big night last night, huh?” The corners of Grace’s mouth twitched upwards.
“I figured Morgyn showing up here again could only mean one of two things, either your little date went incredibly well, or incredibly poorly.” The spellcaster studied Cordelia’s face.
“It wasn’t a date.” Cordelia muttered under her breath.
“One of those, huh?” Grace tilted her head. She looked… sympathetic, almost? Her attention turned to the sprites. “What are these? Something like a familiar? Never met a human who had one.”
“No. Not at all. They’re like… the exact opposite.” Cordelia said awkwardly. “It’s a long story.”
The spellcaster seemed intrigued. “You’re full of mysteries today, aren’t you? Either way, sounds like you had a wacky night last night.”
“You could say that.” The redhead sighed.
“You know what you need? A trip to the local pub,” Grace surprised her. “Tell you what, why don’t we head there after work tonight?”
Cordelia stared at her. She was expecting Grace to chew her head off, not invite her for a girls’ night. “So… I’m not in trouble? You won’t tell Darrel I was late?”
Grace rolled her eyes. “I will if you don’t get your butt to work now instead of kissing mine.”
“Thanks Grace,” Cordelia mumbled. “I’ll go get the new brooms…”
The weather turned progressively more miserable and wet throughout the day. Thankfully, the Elixirs and Brews pub was just around the corner.
“Is this why our shop is called the Hex Shop?” Cordelia asked her co-worker. “Because Elixirs and Brews was already taken? I mean, we make potions…”
“I’ve never thought of it that way.” Grace admitted. “But I guess you can have more places in the village where you can fetch yourself something potent.” She added with a grin.
The pub was larger than Cordelia expected. They made their way to the bar. A few of the patrons turned their way, but none of them commented on the sprites. Some of the customers at the shop had noticed them during the day, but only mentioned it in passing. It was odd, for the first time, Cordelia lived in a place where most people around her could not only see them, but also didn’t seem to find their presence peculiar.
“You’re new,” Grace looked the bartender up and down.
“I’ll know your favourite drink in no time.” He winked at her. “What can I get you?”
“Barley Bale. I’m easy.” She said playfully. “What about you, Cordelia?”
“Um, I’ll have a rootbeer.”
“Coming right up.” The bartender flashed a smile and turned to the taps.
“So, is this your local?” Cordelia asked, trying to pretend she knew anything about bars. Other than her glass collecting job in Gibbs Hill, Cordelia’s experiences with pubs had been limited. But the regulars there always referred to the place as their local, so thad had to be a thing, hopefully.
“By default. Not exactly many options in Glimmerbrook. Not like back in Windenburg.” Grace told her.
The name sounded familiar. “Is that where you’re from?” Cordelia asked.
“Yeah. It’s not far from here, really. In case you ever fancy a change of scenery… speaking of which, where did Morgyn take you last night?” The spellcaster changed the subject.
Cordelia glanced towards the other patrons. Grace took the queue. “Let’s go find a table.”
“Well, let’s hear it,” Grace didn’t waste any time, getting back on track as soon as they sat down.
“There’s not much to say. We, um, teleported to San Myshuno-“
“Woah, hold up. San Myshuno?” Grace’s eyes grew wide.
“Yeah. Is teleporting not normal for spellcasters?” By now, Cordelia got so used to nobody batting an eyelid at the most outlandish of things.
“Well, I haven’t learned the Transportalate spell myself yet, but it’s not uncommon. To teleport as far as San Myshuno though… well, you’d need a lot of magical charge. Which is why so many spellcasters live near Glimmerbrook to be close to the portal. And why we sell so many brooms.” Grace explained. “Then again, I bet all the three of the sages can teleport anywhere they want in the world. Imagine that…”
She couldn’t begin to. Up until recently, her world just comprised of the village of Gibbs Hill. Even if she had such a power, Cordelia had no idea where she’d even travel to.
“So, you were in San Myshuno…”
“Ugh, it’s all pretty embarrassing, really.” Cordelia didn’t exactly feel like retelling every detail. “We were at some kind of romantic festival, saw a fortune teller or something like that, and I… sort of tried to kiss Morgyn, and then it all got very awkward.”
“Hm. That doesn’t seem to add up.” Grace looked disappointed. She’d probably hoped for a juicier story.
“I don’t really want to talk about it…” Cordelia’s lips turned into a frown.
“Ok. So, what’s the deal with these glowing flies of yours then? Never seen them before…” Grace volunteered another topic. One Cordelia especially didn’t want to talk about.
She glared at the sprites. They’ve been staying even longer than usual today. Maybe wanting to make up for all the time they’d spent away from her, Cordelia thought bitterly.
“They just tend to show up from time to time,” she said evasively. “That’s sort of the reason I’ve stayed here. Figured I could find some way to deal with them, through this whole magic business…” I guess I was wrong, she thought.
Thankfully, Grace didn’t pry further into it. “I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for here. I mean, you’re in the right place to get help with a magical predicament.”
“Where have I heard that before,” Cordelia uttered under her breath. She noticed Grace look at her funny. “So you moved here from Windenburg, you said?” She changed the subject.
“Glimmerbrook’s the place to be if you’re serious about your career as a spellcaster.” Grace nodded. “I haven’t really dabbled in practical magic, but I’ve trained with both Morgyn and L Faba. Though in the end, I’ve found potions are my real calling. Which is how I landed a job in the Charms’ shop. Story of my life in a nutshell.”
“Hardly!” Cordelia protested. She was curious. “How does one even become a spellcaster, anyway?”
“Most of us are born with the ability. It is technically possible to become one, but it doesn’t happen often. You have to earn favour with all three of the sages, and they perform the rite of ascension on you.”
“No thanks!” Cordelia recalled the trial of elements with Morgyn. If that was anything to go by, the rite of ascension did not sound like anything she would be willing to go through. “So you’ve always been a spellcaster?”
“I’ve always had powers, but my family isn’t magical. I only found out I was one when I met another spellcaster, Tomax. Been friends ever since. It was his idea to move here.”
“To train with Morgyn. And L Faba.” Cordelia added quickly.
“I thought you didn’t want to talk about Morgyn,” Grace gave her a snide eye.
“Listen, don’t get too hung up on Morgyn.” Grace’s tone was warm, though her tone grew a bit more serious, even if only for a brief moment. “There’s plenty of fish in the sea… I mean, have you seen the bartender?”
Cordelia laughed. “I think I’m done with trying to kiss people for a while. Never seems to end well for me.”
“Well if you won’t, I will!” Grace said playfully. “Should we hit the bar for drinks?”
Cordelia actually ended up having a good time that night, in spite of herself. She watched Grace flirt with the bartender once his shift had ended – the spellcaster did so with effortless ease Cordelia couldn’t help but be jealous off.
But Grace didn’t neglect her company. They spent the evening in easy, if perhaps superficial chatter, gossiping about customers and their boss, and Grace crushed Cordelia in a game of foosbal. Cordelia didn’t mind though. It was nice to feel normal, hanging out with a girlfriend.
She hadn’t even noticed at what point the sprites disappeared, but when the two young women made their way out at the end of the night, they were nowhere to be seen.
“Thanks Grace, for tonight… and for letting me off the hook this morning.” Cordelia said, grateful.
“We should do this more often,” Grace agreed. “The going out part, not the you being late for work part, I mean.”
“Deal. And I’ll make up for being late. Say, next time we need to test a potion of nausea, I can do it.” Cordelia offered.
“I suppose the potion and a girls’ night out could have a pretty similar effect.” Grace said with a hearty chuckle. “But don’t worry. If it comes to that, we’ll just sneak the potion into Darrel’s tea or something.”
The two of them left the pub, giggling away.