“Where are we?” Cordelia looked around once the flash from the spell subsided.
Once she’d thrown the coin into the fire, Morgyn did materialise in her little shack shortly after, but apparently had no intentions of lingering, teleporting them both away instead.
She looked around. Those tall buildings around looked familiar. Of course, wouldn’t most big cities look similar in that respect? Surely it wasn’t… “Are we back in San Myshuno?”
“You’ll be pleased to know I’ve researched what festival is on thoroughly.” Morgyn said with a slight smirk. She couldn’t quite tell if the sage was taunting her or not.
“What festival is that?” Cordelia looked towards the lanterns and stalls scattered across the plaza.
“Humour and Hijinks.” Morgyn informed her. “You said the sprites enjoy jokes and mischief. They should get a decent dose of both around here.”
Cordelia’s throat felt dry. “Wait… is that why you took me to that romance festival?” She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know the answer. How did Morgyn always find a way to make her feel like an idiot?
“Admittedly that one was a bit of a waste, with the sprites not even being around on the night.” Morgyn shrugged. What was that supposed to mean? Did or did they not know what festival was due to take place during their last visit to the city, then? The sage’s comment didn’t seem to indicate much to Cordelia either way…
“Anyway, how about we actually make use of this one?” Morgyn interrupted her stream of thought.
“Uh, right. What do we do?” Cordelia asked.
“I believe the whole concept is set up as a competition of sorts. We need to join a team, the Pranksters or the Jokesters.” Morgyn’s explanation was oddly serious for a festival where the main point seemed to be people making fun of each other. “Which do you think the sprites would prefer?”
Good question. Cordelia looked at the fluttering fae. The sprites have seemingly made it their mission to turn her life into one big joke… clearly their favourite type of fun was the kind made at somebody else’s expense. “The Pranksters” She said.
Morgyn ushered her towards a drink fountain apparently used for declaring a team. It looked like they had to get in line, though.
“Gemma?” Morgyn was always hard to read, but the surprise in their voice was evident. Cordelia couldn’t blame them. What the hell was Gemma Charm doing here? And how did she get all the way to San Myshuno?
“Morgyn, hi!” Gemma greeted the sage loudly, ignoring Cordelia. “I’ve been practicing the transportalate spell Simeon taught me, as you can tell.”
Morgyn seemed taken aback. “You’ve teleported this far? At your age? That’s unheard of.”
“What can I say, I’ve got a gift?” Gemma shrugged. Humility did not appear to be one of her traits. “Maybe you should teach me something more advanced.”
“I’m sure we can make that happen in the future.” Morgyn told Gemma. Cordelia felt sick. Grace’s warnings came flooding back to her. Was Gemma to become one of Morgyn’s protégés ‘in the future‘? And what did that involve, exactly?
“Anyway, I’ve got company now.” Morgyn continued, nodding towards Cordelia. A wave of relief washed over her. Maybe she was just being paranoid…
“Is that what you’d call… this?” Gemma eyed Cordelia up and down, finally acknowledging her presence, then let out a fake sounding laugh.
“Good to see you again, Gemma.” Cordelia muttered. She was not going to stoop to Gemma’s level. She recalled what Morgyn said about her. Jealous of little Gemma Charm? She’s a child. Regardless of whether there was truth in the sage’s words or not, Cordelia had no intentions of Morgyn seeing her as a child.
“Again?” Gemma parroted after her. “Have we met before? Guess I can’t remember, seeing as you’re a nobody…” She turned to the sage. “Why would you waste your time with her, Morgyn?”
“I’ll see you later, Gemma.” Morgyn smiled at the girl. Cordelia couldn’t figure out if they were being patronising, or if they actually enjoyed Gemma’s obvious vying for attention. Maybe a bit of both, she decided.
Whatever the case was, Morgyn proceeded to grab Cordelia’s hand and led her away from Gemma.
“Well that was an interesting start to the evening.” The remarked, glancing at the sprites. “I wonder what your sprites make of that.”
Cordelia was overwhelmed. Between Morgyn holding her hand, the sprites flying around uncontrollably and Gemma still clearly staring at them from the distance, she couldn’t make up her mind on how to feel. She turned her head back slightly to see what Gemma was up to.
She saw the girl’s face turn from irritation to joy. It would appear Gemma had hit a sudden burst of inspiration. The young spellcaster took out some kind of a ragdoll.
“What the heck is she doing?” Cordelia whispered to Morgyn, letting go of their hand.
The sage glanced back at Gemma. “Oh, it would appear she got herself a voodoo doll. My guess would be she’s planning to use it on you.” There didn’t seem to be any concern in Morgyn’s voice.
Cordelia’s eyes grew wide. “Wha… she’s what?” She stared at Morgyn. Did the sage really not care?
A laugh escaped Morgyn’s lips. “Relax. Have you not learned that these festivals are nothing but gimmicks yet? It’s not real… she can’t really cause you any harm with that thing.”
She did not feel particularly reassured. “So… voodoo dolls are not real?”
“I didn’t say that.” Morgyn told her, their tone still far more casual than Cordelia would have liked. “But San Myshuno is not where you’d go to get yourself one.”
That didn’t answer Cordelia’s question. Where was? And why did Morgyn know about that kind of thing? Was it considered untamed magic? Or a different type of magic altogether?
“Come on, lighten up. I’ll show you what I mean.” Morgyn beckoned her to a small stall selling what appeared to be souvenirs.
Cordelia did spot a stack of those dolls on a shelf behind the vendor. “Hi, um, do you sell voodoo dolls here?”
“Sure do,” the woman nodded, looking bored. “§900 a pop. Can’t guarantee you’ll be on the winning team to get one at the end of the night, after all.”
“What? You mean everybody on the team that wins gets one?” Cordelia raised her eyebrows.
“Forget I said that.” The woman said quickly. “You buying or not?”
Morgyn leaned in towards her. “What did I say? Gimmicks.” They whispered. It had to be true. After all, if Gemma’s voodoo doll was real, shouldn’t she feel something by now?
She scanned the other merchandise, her eyes lingering on a small disc. Some kind of a bell? “What’s that?” She asked the vendor.
The woman sighed. “A joy buzzer. You can use it to give people a little shock. Not as imposing as the voodoo doll, though.” She tried to make her pitch. Seeing the price tag on the joy buzzer, even Cordelia could understand why.
Her mind slipped to Dandelion for some reason. She could bet the elf would enjoy a practical joke gadget like that. “I’ll take it.” She told the vendor. “I’ll make do without the voodoo doll, though.”
They finally headed to the drinks fountain afterwards.
“Ugh, that’s sickly,” Morgyn shuddered after taking a sip.
Was it, Cordelia wondered? The drink was sweet, but not unpleasant. Perhaps she’d gotten far too used to Dandelion’s food. “I don’t think it’s too bad.”
“I’ll pop by the bar and get something to wash it down with,” the sage told her. “Do you want anything?”
She shook her head. “I’m good.”
Morgyn wandered off. Just her and the sprites for now. As per usual. Or at least so she thought.
“You don’t learn, do you?” Gemma Charm seemed to appear out of nowhere. Perhaps she did – wasn’t that the spell she said she’d been practising? Teleportation…
“I told you to back off from Morgyn!” Gemma didn’t beat around the bush. “What could the sage of untamed magic see in a nobody like you anyway?”
“I thought you said you didn’t remember me.” Cordelia pointed out.
“Don’t play dumb!” The girl snapped.
“I’m not playing anything!” Cordelia protested. She had a sudden burst of inspiration. “You know what, Gemma? You’ve clearly got it all figured out. I won’t stand in your way. Morgyn’s all yours. Congratulations.” She reached out to shake Gemma’s hand.
Cordelia didn’t feel particularly proud of the satisfaction she felt from the look on Gemma’s face. But it wasn’t like the joy buzzer could really hurt the girl. Besides, hadn’t the spellcaster been trying to use voodoo on her?
“Sorry Gemma. I was just kidding. Morgyn’s no more yours than mine. Maybe I should have joined the Jokesters instead…”
“Ugh, you’re literally the worst!” Gemma grumbled, but she didn’t wait for Cordelia’s response.
Cordelia couldn’t help but feel a little bad as she watched the girl walk away, muttering to herself. She did deserve it, didn’t she?
“What did I miss?” Morgyn found their way back from the bar. “Your sprites look different.”
She looked at the fae. The mage wasn’t wrong, the sprites had turned a vibrant turquoise blue. She’d never seen them like that.
“Huh.” She tried to decipher the sprites’ mood. “I think they’re… inspired?” She could see how they would feel that way, those darn things. Made her feel all the more guilty about her actions towards Gemma.
“Intriguing… any ideas what you happened to do that made them so?” Morgyn asked.
She decided not to make herself look like a pathetic jealous little girl as Gemma had. “I’m not sure.”
The rest of the night seemed to fly by. Cordelia hadn’t learned much about Morgyn during their time at the festival, it felt more like having a guide with her rather than anything else. But perhaps that was what came with the role of a sage, she mused. It was Morgyn who noticed the sprites have gone. The fae seemed to have a way of disappearing once she’d stopped paying attention to them.
Regardless, the night had gone far better than the romance festival trip. Cordelia hadn’t forgotten about what Grace told her earlier that day, but she couldn’t get herself to bring it up and potentially ruin their evening. She turned her attention to the fireworks that had just started going off instead.
“What’s going on?” She asked, not taking her sight off the pretty lights.
“I’m assuming a winning team is getting their ovation.” Morgyn said, sounding indifferent.
The winning team. The Pranksters or the Jokesters? Did her little prank on Gemma contribute, Cordelia wondered? “Who won?”
The sage shrugged. “Does it matter?”
The fireworks above them exploded in a sea of light.
“Wow!” She’d never seen a display that extravagant. She turned upwards to take it all in. Morgyn was watching as well, in spite of apparently not being as taken with it all as she was.
When the fireworks finished and Cordelia finally tore her eyes from the sky, she realised the vendors had already started to tear the festival stalls way. The night was drawing to a close. She wasn’t ready for it to end.
“Thanks for taking me here, Morgyn. I’ve had a good time… It has been good, right?” She stumbled over her words.
“I’d say it’s been productive.” The sage nodded.
“Productive,” she repeated, failing to hide her disappointment. “Is that all you think it was?”
“Cordelia, what would you like me to say?” Morgyn looked into her eyes.
What did she want to hear? She felt so silly. The sage had made it clear all they were interested in was assisting her with the sprites, and nothing else. Why was she so adamant on ending the night the same way their last visit to San Myshuno ended? She was at a loss for words.
“Listen, I understand what you’re trying to ask.” Morgyn eventually helped her out after a moment of awkward silence between them. “I even understand where those expectations are coming from. They are not… completely unfounded. But-”
Was she hearing what she thought she was? Not completely unfounded. She was not going to let that go.
“Why does there have to be a but?” She pouted. Maybe she was just a little girl like Gemma after all.
Morgyn took her hand into theirs, for the second time that night. “I’ve been known to break a few hearts; I don’t particularly want to add yours to the list.”
What sort of a reason was that? “That’s a little… conceited, don’t you think?” She attempted to laugh it off.
The corners of Morgyn’s mouth twitched upwards. “Maybe. Doesn’t make it untrue.”
Cordelia wasn’t willing to give up that easily, not now. Her hand was still in Morgyn’s. She thought back on what Grace said. “You get distracted easily.” She repeated what Grace told her earlier.
She couldn’t quite gauge Morgyn’s reaction. “Hm. I suppose that’s one way of putting it.” The mage said.
“Maybe you should let me worry about my own heart.” She said quietly, looking directly into Morgyn’s eyes. She wasn’t sure where her courage had come from. But it wasn’t like she could really make a bigger fool out of herself at this point, was it?
Morgyn let out a sigh. “You’re a strange one, aren’t you?” Not what she hoped their reaction would be.
“Strange is not a bad thing. All the best people are.” Morgyn added, seeing her face. “Anyway, the festival’s over. Let’s get you back home to Glimmerbrook.”
Not exactly the outcome she wanted, but not complete failure either, Cordelia figured. At least teleporting back to Glimmerbrook meant they’d have to get closer to each other. All in all, things could be worse. As Morgyn had put it, she’d consider the night ‘productive’.