Chapter 19: Easily Distracted

“You still haven’t bought anything.” Grace pointed out as the two women emerged from another shop. “That’s not how you go about Winterfest shopping…”

There were a few reasons for Cordelia’s lack of spending. The first was practical; in spite of having a steady salary now, almost every penny she’d earned so far was spent on supplies to build and improve her little shed, as Morgyn had referred to it. And unless she wanted to live in a shed forever, this could probably not change any times soon. Not that she wanted to admit to grace how broke she really was.

The second reason was that she found the town of Windenburg all decorated for the holidays a little overwhelming. Gibbs Hill used to get all sorts of decorations this time of year, of course, but nothing this extravagant. She was finding it hard to focus with all the lights and trees and nutcrackers about. How could one pick a perfect gift with all those distractions around?

“I guess I haven’t seen the right thing to buy yet,” she told Grace. “It’s no big deal though. I’m only shopping for one person anyway.”

“Lucky you!” Grace said. “I wish I was organised enough to only have one present to go… My family’s huge though, so I’ll blame it on that.”

“Yeah. Lucky me.” Cordelia repeated apathetically. She decided against explaining the real reason. Didn’t seem particularly festive.

Thankfully, Grace didn’t seem to be paying attention to her tone. “I’ve gotta say, they really did go all out this year. I don’t remember it being like this back when I lived here… Just look at the size of these trees…”

“They’re pretty impressive,” Cordelia agreed. She wondered if this was what Magic HQ looked like at Winterfest. Not that she’d ever know. Something to ask Dandelion about in the new year, perhaps.

“Come on, let’s take a selfie to commemorate the trip.” Grace suggested, pulling Cordelia closer. “Smile!”

“Not bad!” Grace looked at the screen before putting her phone away. “Now… let’s get that remaining present of yours sorted… what does the person like?”

This was one of Cordelia’s struggles in the shop. “Um… they’re not really materialistic… sugar?”

“I guess a nice tin of biscuits is aa good start… not much of a present, though.” Grace pondered.

She was right, of course, Cordelia thought. Besides, he’d probably get all sorts of nice treats in the magic realm during the festivities.

“He likes gardening.” Cordelia remembered.

“Hmm… maybe some seed packets? Gardening equipment or something?” Her friend suggested.

Cordelia thought about it. The problem with Dandelion living in Sylvan Glade was that he had access to all kinds of strange seeds and plants as it was, probably far more exotic than anything she could get here. And he didn’t seem to lack any gardening gear as far as she could tell.

“I don’t know.” She sighed.

“You know, we passed a Winterfest market just a while back.” Grace remembered, not giving up on her determination. “They have all sorts of knicknacks there, might be just the place for your non-materialistic fella. And if not, at least we can get some mulled nectar or something.” She grinned.

“Sounds like a plan!”

The market was just around the corner, so they didn’t have to walk far.

“Can’t go wrong with clothes, right?” Grace gestured towards one of the stalls. It was predominantly selling appropriately festive attire. “Would he like a reindeer hat?”

Cordelia laughed. “You know what, he probably would.” She could just picture Dandelion wearing something like that. Still, she was keeping her options open.

Grace’s eyes drifted somewhere behind Cordelia. “Oh, would you mind if we check out the book stall on the other side? I think it’s mostly second hand books, but they can have some interesting stuff from what I remember. My mom loves to read, I bet I can find something for her there.”

“Sure!” Cordelia followed. Grace was right, most of the books looked old, probably swapped by much more than just two pairs of hands. Some were barely holding together anymore.

“What did I tell you, some really weird stuff.” Grace scanned the shelves. “A whole book about violins… I mean, it’s pretty cheap I guess, but who’d read that? Some kind of crazy collector, maybe.”

“Actually, I think I’ll get it.” Cordelia beamed after checking the price.

“Oh? You think your guy would be into reading this?” Grace raised an eyebrow.”

“No. But it gave me an idea.” Cordelia smiled at her.

“You’ve got to tell me about this mystery man.” Grace seemed intrigued. “Should we get drinks?”

“Oh, it’s nothing like that. He’s a friend. A really good one.” Cordelia added. They made their way over to the bar and placed their orders.

“Friend, huh?” Grace wasn’t letting it go.

“Don’t read into it.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “If we should focus on anyone’s love life, it’s yours. Whatever happened to that hunky bartender from Elixirs and Potions?”

Grace shrugged. “Not a whole lot. We went on a couple of dates, but we decided to just be friends.”

It was Cordelia’s turn to tease. “Friends, huh?” She threw Grace’s question from earlier right back at her.

A chuckle escaped Grace’s lips. “Ok, that’s fair.” She admitted. “I mean, it’s not that he’s not cute or anything. But I’m not really looking for anything serious, and I can’t risk ruining the only pub in Glimmerbrook if things get messy.”

Cordelia didn’t get that. Why wouldn’t it be worth a risk? But then, she didn’t know the first thing about relationships. She decided to just nod knowingly, pretending to understand.

The bartender placed their drinks in front of them, and they carried them over to one of the free tables.

“I’m just not ready to settle down.” Grace explained, likely picking up on Cordelia’s confused expression. “I’ve got a short attention span, I guess. Nothing wrong with dating around… speaking of which, any more non-dates with Morgyn?”

“Um…”

She told Grace about Morgyn’s visit, their offer to help with the sprites and the magical fireplace. The only detail she didn’t go into was the whole shed living situation that prompted Morgyn’s spell – it was just too embarrassing.

“So, what do you think?” She asked her friend when she was finished with the story.

“I don’t know, Cordelia, it’s all a bit weird.” Grace was still smiling, but there seemed to be a hint of concern in her voice. “Besides, from what I’ve heard, Morgyn… gets distracted easily.”

 “What’s that supposed to mean?” A strange heaviness settled in Cordelia’s stomach. “Like… like you and your short attention span?”

“Wow. I never thought I’d be compared to sage of untamed magic…” Grace took a sip of her drink. “All I know is they take on these protégés… But I have no personal experience with it. My friend Tomax trained with Morgyn for quite a while though and… I don’t know, I just don’t have a good feeling about it.”

Cordelia studied her friend’s face. It seemed Grace’s smile had disappeared. She wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“It doesn’t matter anyway.” Cordelia said finally. “All Morgyn’s doing is helping me get rid of the sprites, that’s all.”

“I guess that’s true.” Grace nodded. “Oh crap, we better get moving if we want to catch our train back to Glimmerbrook!”

The finished up their drinks and hastily left the market. They didn’t talk much on the way to the train station, Cordelia was too lost in thought. They take on these protégés. Whatever that meant, it didn’t really matter – she wasn’t a spellcaster, so it wasn’t like she would ever find out first hand. Maybe that was why Morgyn wasn’t interested in her…

***

As if Cordelia wasn’t already in a strange mood, as soon as she said goodbye to Grace at the station in Glimmerbrook, the sprites decided to welcome her back home. Of course they did, pesky things.

She trailed back to her campsite through the deep snow, trying her best to ignore them. It was no use though, they followed her all the way back home, nibbling at her coat.

“Just… get off me!” She tried to shoo them away, with no effect, of course. As if she’d learned nothing in all these years. The sprites would leave when they wanted to leave, and then come back again. Like they always did. She sighed and headed inside.

Her eyes couldn’t help but linger on the fireplace Morgyn conjured. Morgyn… gets distracted easily…  Why did what Grace said bother her, anyway? It was all so stupid.

She shot an angry look to the sprites. And then it hit her. Maybe their appearance tonight wasn’t that bad of a thing after all…

Morgyn did want to study them up close… all she had to do was toss that strange coin in the fire, and they’d come over. Cordelia pulled the coin out of her pocket, shifting it in between her fingers.

I don’t know, I just don’t have a good feeling about it, Grace’s words echoed in her head.

It almost felt as if the coin was burning in her hand. “You’re a lost cause.” Cordelia told herself out loud. It was clearly true; she was talking to herself like some sort of a weirdo now. That was new. It was all the sprites’ fault, really. All she was trying to do was to get rid of them. And Morgyn was willing to help. That was all there was to it.

She took a deep breath, and chucked the coin in the fire.

What did Grace know, anyway?

17 thoughts on “Chapter 19: Easily Distracted

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  1. Why is the mood so ominous? Is Cordelia reading into it too much? Is Morgyn actually looking out for their own best interest? (Probably actually) I wonder what happened to Tomax though. I was hoping they’d talk a little more about the subject. There’s not much explained or hinting at what Morgyn wants with Cordelia and she really deserves to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will say that if what happened to Tomax was something truly horrible, I’m sure Grace would have probably gone into more detail, and not been so casual when asking about Morgyn in the first place. I suppose Cordelia *could* just ask Morgyn since she’s about to see them. Whether she’d get an honest answer is another story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The plot thickens! 🙂 What is Morgyn up to? 🤔

    I am secretly hoping we get to meet Tomax in the future. Maybe he can shed some light on what happened to him. And I really like Grace. I think she’s a good friend for Cordelia, and I like the balance between her and Dandy. I also like that Grace is getting Cordelia out of her shed and showing her different parts of the world. I think she needs that.

    It’s so sweet that Cordelia got Dandy a gift. I hope he likes it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually haven’t decided if we’ll meet Tomax in person yet – I don’t find im half as compelling of a character as Grace. We’ll see!

      And you’re right about the contrast between Grace and Dandy, she can definitely offer Grace a very different perspective from him, which is so good for Cordelia!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, Windenburg during winterfest is really pretty! It looks like a scene out of a fairy tale ❤

    At the beginning of your chapter, there’s a line: “Just look at the size of this these trees…” I think the ‘this’ doesn’t belong there. =D

    YES. TELL HER GRACE! MORGYN IS WEIRD. For the love of gnomes take her advice here Cordelia! xD Ah, of course she didn't. I like how there's now an extra layer of ominous mystery surrounding the sage, though. I can't wait to find out just what is going on.

    Like

    1. I should employ you for proofreading services — though I have a feeling you’d sneak in stuff like “and then Morgyn threw themselves off a cliff, never to be seen again, while Dandy ruled over the kingdom with his righteous pancake friends…” 😆

      Of course she didn’t listen to Grace, heh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Who, me? Why, I would never. >=3 I’d have them polymorph themselves into a cactus first. Or maybe a cactus with a cushion, now that they have one brownie point.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love a character who is lying to themselves 🙂

    Man, this Christmas setting made me feel so festive. I love it! I know I’m way behind so I’m going to try and catch up a bit before I go too deep into my theories. But I feel like Grace, I can’t shake this bad feeling…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whaaat, Cordelia isn’t lying to herself at all, she totaaally just wants Morgyn to help her with the sprites and has no other hopes whatsover 😇

      Haha, yes, for some reason I decided that what people needed in the middle of summer is a bit of festive cheer with a side of lingering sense of iminent doom 😆 Theories are always welcome at any point 😊

      Like

  5. So Morgyn is a player 😆
    Of course Grace would be worried about Cory then, that she may get hurt. But Cory seems to be the type that doesn’t get easily distracted 😔😏

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alright, this is where the giftgivers shine. It’s time for the gifting rant no one asked for.

    So Dandelion’s main complaint is that he feels lonely, which suggests to me that his primary love language is Quality Time. or possibly Words of Affirmation if he’s been phrasing it as ‘no one talks to me’ instead and I just missed that. And he shows affection through gifts, so Gifts might be his secondary love language.

    This does put Cordelia in a situation, here, because he’s going to say he loves the gift no matter what but he may be quite disheartened if she chooses poorly. The point of the Gifts love language has nothing to do with materialism. The point is for the giftgiver to showcase how much they know about the other person by anticipating their needs or matching their preferences. It can be as simple as making coffee in the morning or handing them a tissue when they’re upset. Clothing and jewelry do work as lasting keepsakes, but they’re two of the trickiest things to get right; a person’s clothing preferences are specific and fine-tuned compared to things where there are fewer options.

    What I would recommend here (FINALLY! Unsolicited advice, my favorite thing!) is a multi-part gift. First off, Quality-Timers love when you set aside time for them, so you can’t go wrong with a vacation. I get the impression Dandy likes to be near water. So a weeklong trip to Sulani would be the bougie option, but a weekend lake trip would work just as well.

    B of all, since she knows Dandelion is disappointed that he can’t spend the holidays with both his friends, cooking something he can bring with him to L Faba’s house—or a breakfast he could eat before he leaves—would be a way to get around that. Personalized homemade sweets would be okay, but she should (a) anticipate sweets being a common gift and (b) realize his poor cooking skills mean he’s more in need of real meals.

    And number C: the problem with both of the previous options, for a Gift person, is that they’re not lasting keepsakes. The ideal gift would be something practical that he could use every day and also suggests some amount of effort and thought went into it. Considering Cordelia’s woodworking skill, a handmade mirror is a good option—though I do get the temptation to instead make, like, a parrot sculpture or a peg leg.

    Highly approve of the violin book as a peace offering to Lulu. She’s got it; she doesn’t exactly need the above rant. But I feel like weighing in because this is serious business for Gifts people, dammit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh. This is fabulous! Some really good advice – for Cordelia and for me, I usually strugle with presents unless I somehow hit a burst of random insporation.

      I would definitely agree that Dandy’s love language is quality time, yes. You’re probably right about the secondary love language too. Damn.

      A Sulani getaway might be slightly out of Cordelia’s price-range, considering she lives in a shed, haha. Maybe they could go camping in Faba’s tent once the weather gets better, though that doesn’t hugely help for the here and now.

      But man, of only Cordelia had access to this guide you wrote! Fingers crossed she figures something half as good on her own.

      Now I’m really curious what you’ll make of what she actually ends up giving him 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure he’ll love whatever she gives him! But being a Gifts person in a sea of PT- and QT-ers, I have this rabid compulsion to speculate on these things whenever the opportunity presents itself, y’know? If the characters are established enough, “what everyone wants for Winterfest” is waaay easier than “what are the laundry list of supernaturals up to this time.”

        (Side rant that no one asked for: ‘Gifts’ as a love language strikes some people as selfish and materialistic, but it also requires very little attention. Part of the isolation is self-imposed because I haven’t talked to my other Gifts friend for months—except on our birthdays—and neither of us care. The relationship bar always seemed to decay waaaay too fast until I put two and two together.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think you’re on to something, what everyone would want for Winterfest should totally be a new character analysis method.

        I feel you, I’m mostly PT myself, but I don’t think Gifts is selfish, on the contrary, you have to be the opposite of selfish to give someone a genuinely good present that’s about them and not about you. Side note, while my language is mainly PT, but I’m not touchy feely with everyone, so I can sometimes slip to Gifts as secondary with people that are not as close – back before WFH days I used to buy my co-workers their favourite box of chocolates when they had a bad day or randomly buy them a card that reminded me of them if I saw one. (Secondary side note, obviously that was reserved for co-workers I like, not all of them, lol.)

        Ah yeah, the relationship bar decay totally is a thing IRL, isn’t it? I’m so bad at catching up with people often enough too but totally expect the bar not to go down and am always surprised – clearly QT is not a language of mine. Mainly I’m just in my head too much 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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