There was something magic about first snow. The conviction didn’t falter in Cordelia, even now, when she lived in an undeniably magical area in the literal sense of the word. But when the snowflakes came from the sky that evening, she couldn’t help but feel a childish giddiness.
Of course, she had to think about the practical side as well. It was a good thing she’d finished the roof on her little house the other day. The snow was a definite announcement of winter, and she could feel the chill in her bone. So after admiring its’ beauty for a while, she headed over to her cooking area to try to warm up by the fire.
Cordelia wasn’t the only person admiring the beauty of the falling flakes that evening. One untamed magic sage stopped in their tracks for a brief moment before approaching her camp site to appreciate the nature’s scene.
They didn’t dwell on the falling beauty for too long, however. Morgyn didn’t exactly get a chance to look around on their first visit, so their attention soon turned to the pathetic dwelling nestled in the trees.
The tiniest shack that didn’t even have glass in the windows did not seem to offer much cover from the elements. Was it even big enough to fit a bed? Was there more to the place that they were missing?
Morgyn’s eyes traversed the camp site, spotting Cordelia light the fire at a makeshift fire pit.
“Is this how you live?” The sage asked, although a confirmation hardly seemed necessary.
The girl’s gaze lifted up to the sage in surprise. “Morgyn? What are you doing here?”
“I’m making good on my promise to help with the sprites,” the sage told her, still looking around. “Although now that I’m here, it would appear there are more pressing matters that need tending to.”
“Like what? The sprites aren’t even here tonight.” Cordelia was confused by the sage’s words.
“You look like The Little Match Girl. It’s depressing.” Morgyn told her.
She didn’t understand what they were talking about. “What girl?”
“Never mind. Aren’t you cold out here?” The spellcaster asked.
“Oh, it’s warm down by the fire. Sit down, you’ll feel it.” She smiled, gesturing towards the empty spot on the bench. Morgyn obliged, taking a seat beside her.
“I could conjure an actual house for you, if you like.” The sage offered. “Technically that sort of thing is Simeon’s area of expertise, but there really isn’t much to it.”
Cordelia got defensive. “What’s wrong with my house?”
Morgyn’s eyes shot back to the little shack. “It’s missing.” They pointed out. “You won’t last the winter living in a shed.”
The girl frowned. She may have referred to her dwelling as a shed herself on occasion, but she didn’t appreciate her work being insulted.
“It might not compare to your magic headquarters, but it’s mine.” She stood up for her little shack. “I built this. Have you ever built anything? I mean built, with your own hands, not conjured with some magic hocus pocus.”
Morgyn’s lips curled into an amused smile. “The magic hocus pocus can be quite effective. But I’m not trying to discount your creation. I’m merely questioning its purpose.”
“You haven’t even seen it properly!” Cordelia protested.
“That is fair. Let’s see it, then.” Morgyn was up on their feet.
She hadn’t anticipated that. It was one thing to have the generous and enthusiastic Dandelion in her home, but letting Morgyn see it… she was suddenly not so sure of it. She jumped up, running after the sage.
“Wait, I wasn’t really expecting visitors…” She tried to dissuade them from stepping inside the shack. Unfortunately, her words seem to only achieve the opposite.
“Worried I’ll uncover your dirty little secrets?” The way Morgyn said that made her blush. The mage chuckled to themselves and carried on, opening the door. At least she had a door now, Cordelia thought as she followed them inside.
“It’s functional, I’ll give you that.” The sage commented.
Cordelia suddenly felt embarrassed. Who was she kidding? Morgyn was right. She was sleeping in a shed. And she didn’t even have a real bed. She could feel the draft coming in through the glassless window. Still, she wasn’t quite ready to admit defeat.
“Would you like to have a seat?” She motioned to the cot she used for sleeping. “It’s more comfortable than it looks… look, I know it’s not much. But it’s a start.”
Morgyn surprised her. “You must be very handy. Have you ever built something like this?”
“Not to this extent.” Cordelia confessed. “I’ve always made things… clay animals, wooden toys, that sort of thing. A few pieces of small furniture. But not a… shed.” She sighed.
“There’s no doubt you are a skilled crafter.” Morgyn told her. “And I understand the pride and sense of accomplishment that comes with creating something of your own. But it would be my personal preference if you didn’t freeze to death this winter… Tell you what, allow me to make one small addition. I won’t touch anything that’s already in place.
She couldn’t help but feel curious. “Ok.” She gave them a small nod.
The sage stood up and went back outside.
A fireplace appeared right next to Cordelia. Although it didn’t look like just a fireplace. An ornate mirror crowned the mantel, and beautiful crystals decorated the bottom.
“Morgyn! How did you do that?” Cordelia exclaimed when the sage returned inside.
“With a smidge of hocus pocus.” Morgyn smirked.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to-“
“Shall we test it?” The sage didn’t pay attention to her stumbling over her words. “You may have noticed this is not an ordinary fireplace. The crystals inside it are using magical energy to emit heat. Meaning that unlike a real fire, there is no danger of your wooden hut burning down. That means you’ll never need to extinguish the fire. At least not till after the winter’s passed.”
Morgyn hovered their hand above the crystals, causing them to set ablaze. But the flame was a neon blue colour. Cordelia reached out with the palms of her hands.
“It is warm!”
“Of course it’s warm.” A hint of irritation briefly cropped up in Morgyn’s voice. “I’m not the mischief sage to give you a fireplace with no heat. Now, on to the sprite matter. You said they make you act a certain way…”
Cordelia’s embarrassment returned. At least Morgyn didn’t repeat the whole throwing herself at people line… She didn’t take her sight off the fire. “They sprites don’t control me, per say. They just… like certain kinds of behaviour.”
“Do you know what they seek?”
“They enjoy jokes and mischief. And, um, romance.” She added awkwardly.
“The romance part I’ve gathered from your… previous information,” Morgyn’s lips twitched upwards slightly. “The mischief, though, that’s new. I take it you don’t want to seek assistance from our mutual friend L Faba…”
“Oh god no,” she blurted out sincerely. She could tell the sage was amused.
“I wouldn’t really say L Faba is my friend,” Cordelia added, unsure why she felt the need to state the obvious.
Morgyn laughed softly. “I wouldn’t exactly call her a friend either. I can be prone to exaggeration… Anyway, I’m all for theory, but I really need to observe the sprites in action if we’re to make any progress.”
They took Cordelia’s hand. She was suddenly very aware of her heart beating.
But it wasn’t what she thought. All Morgyn did was press some kind of coin into her palm.
“When the sprites next appear, toss this coin into the fire.” They instructed her. “I’ll come over to have a closer look.”
She cleared her throat. “Right.” She turned her attention to the coin to avoid Morgyn’s piercing gaze. She’d never seen whatever currency it was, if it was a currency at all. It was no ordinary Simoleon, that was for certain.
“I better take my leave.” Morgyn said unexpectedly.
“Wait! Morgyn… thank you!” Cordelia called out.
But the sage was already gone, as if they disappeared into thin air.
Author’s note: The Little Match Girl is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. If you’re not familiar with the story I’m unsure I’d recommend it as it’s one of the most depressing works of fiction I’ve ever read.