Cordelia didn’t understand. Over a week had passed since the magical night at Von Haunt Estate, and she hadn’t heard a word from Morgyn. It made no sense. Of course, nothing involving the untamed magic sage ever seemed to make sense, but how could they have gone from sharing that incredible first kiss to radio silence?
She dragged herself from work, trying not to think of them… and failing miserably. Crossing the bridge behind the Hex shop just reminded her of that time she yelled hear head off at the sage, and once she got to her little shack, she could hardly ignore the massive fireplace Morgyn had conjured.
She considered paying Dandelion a visit, but she was well aware the elf was fed up with her babbling about the sage. He was already underwhelmed when she recounted the events of the masquerade ball, and grew progressively more irritated at the mention of the spellcaster as Cordelia turned more and more frantic throughout the week.
Grace was much more enthusiastic when she’d learned of Cordelia’s crazy New Year’s Eve, but when Cordelia started to fret about Morgyn’s silence, Grace just shrugged it off.
Maybe they were both right. Maybe she was turning crazy.
Morgyn was a busy person. That was all there was to it. Maybe she was just getting worked up over nothing… after all, why should the sage be the one to seek her out? She could go to them just as well. Sure, she had no more magical coins to summon them, but she certainly had the means of visiting. All she had to do was casually pop by the Magic HQ, find Morgyn and laugh off how silly she’d been…
That, or confirm that the sage in fact never wanted to see her again, a little voice inside her head said.
She wandered through the headquarters, but there was no sight of Morgyn studying old tomes or practicing their magic on one of the balconies.
Where could they be? Cordelia stared at the empty cauldron in front of her absent-mindedly. Crazy. She was going crazy.
“Looking for something?” The high-pitched voice made her jump.
Of course the sage Cordelia wanted to see the least had to be the one she’d stumble across. She instinctively took a step further from L Faba.
“I was just leaving,” she mumbled.
To Cordelia’s surprise, L Faba did not sneer at her; on the contrary, she smiled. If Cordelia didn’t know any better, she could almost believe she’d made the mischief sage’s day.
“Please, you had no intention of leaving whatsoever.” L Faba said, her grin growing wider. “I know exactly why you’re here.”
Cordelia had no choice but to play for time. “And why is that?” She asked with hesitation.
“Why, you’re looking for Morgyn, aren’t you?” L Faba leaned in closer, nearly as if she was going to let Cordelia in on a juicy secret, just between them girls. It was bizarre. What was with this conspicuous demeanour?
There was no point in lying. “I am. Are they… around?” She looked up at L Faba awkwardly.
“Afraid not,” L Faba’s voice sang. She was enjoying this a little too much, Cordelia realised.
“Right. Well thanks for your help.” The girl muttered, readying to retreat back indoors.
“Are you not going to ask where they are?” The mischief sage studied Cordelia’s face.
Don’t do it, Cordelia told herself. Don’t indulge her. This is exactly what she wants… But she couldn’t help herself. “Where?” Her voice was so quiet she could barely hear it.
“Morgyn is off doing what Morgyn does best.” L Faba purred. “Gallivanting in pursuit of yet another romantic interest. So fresh, so new, so different from the ones before… Until the next one comes around, naturally.”
“You’re lying!” Cordelia burst out, her voice suddenly flying up several octaves.
“Am I?” L Faba tilted her head slightly, relishing in Cordelia’s outburst. “It’s nothing personal, sweetheart. It’s rinse and repeat. I’ve seen this cycle play out far too many times. For all the talk of the untamed, Morgyn is rather predictable. It would appear we’re at the start of a fresh loop. They’ve got it bad this time it would seem, they’ve been away for days…”
“Liar!” Cordelia interrupted. “That can’t be true! I know that the sages aren’t allowed to leave the magic realm for an extended period of time… if there’s not three sages in the realm, it will get torn apart or something…”
“Your concern for our realm is touching.” L Faba smirked. “Funny that Morgyn’s little trips didn’t seem to bother you when they were for you.”
She’s manipulating you, Cordelia reminded herself. “I have no reason to believe you. Why would you be telling the truth? I know you can’t stand me!”
L Faba didn’t as much as flinch. “Oh, you aren’t wrong there, darling. I understand why you’d feel that way. I am the mischief sage, tricks are my domain, and I love seeing you squirm. So I must be lying…”
The sage’s lips were still curled into a smile, but her eyes were ice cold. Cordelia couldn’t look at her anymore. She brought her gaze down to that necklace of L Faba’s, so similar to her own. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. Life lesson, if you will, free of charge.” The sage continued. “I’ve been around for far longer than you have. And while a lot can be achieved through deceit, there is nothing in this world that hurts as much as the truth.”
Cordelia’s heart sank. The mischief sage had won. She’s lying, Cordelia tried to convince herself once more. But she wasn’t so sure anymore.
L Faba took a moment before delivering the final blow. “Tell you what, don’t take my word for it. The new love interest Morgyn’s chasing after is in some town called Forgotten Hollow. I gather it’s not that big of a place, and not that far from Glimmerbrook either. Take a little field trip. See for yourself.”
Cordelia felt like she made a mistake as soon as she left the Forgotten Hollow station. She’d grossly underestimated how long the train ride would take, making it far later in the day then she would have liked. She probably only had a couple of hours… to do what, exactly? Walk around town and ask passers-by if they had seen a charming gender-fluid spellcaster?
Not that she could see any people around anyway. The town centre looked oddly deserted.
Don’t be ridiculous… or at least, don’t be any more ridiculous, Cordelia scolded herself. She had officially lost the plot. And it wasn’t even the sprites that drew her insane in the end. She clearly shouldn’t have come here, but it was too late now. The least she could do is not get paranoid about the empty streets. See some sights, grab some food, head back home. Stop acting like a crazy stalker girlfriend – when she wasn’t even Morgyn’s girlfriend. And Morgyn probably wasn’t even here…
Her eyes landed on a bakery sign. A sandwich sounded pretty good… or maybe a tart, even. She headed for the door.
“Mmm, delicious!” She heard a woman say as she entered. Cordelia turned around. Was she imagining it, or had the woman smelled her?
“Sorry, what did you say?” She turned to the woman quizzically.
“That our pastries are delicious.” The raven-haired woman told her, licking her lips. “Why don’t you come in for a quick bite?”
“Is this your bakery?” Cordelia looked around the small room. The place had seen better days. The furniture was worn, and the wallpaper had peeled in several places.
“In a manner of speaking.” The woman shrugged. What did that mean? Cordelia couldn’t shake a horrible tightness in her stomach. She felt… like the way the strange couple’s presence made her feel at Von Haunt Estate, she realised.
She cleared her throat. “Actually, I’m not that hungry.”
The woman gave her a look that made her skin crawl. “Who said anything about you?”
Perhaps it was paranoid, but Cordelia was not planning on staying alone with this woman for another minute. She bolted for the door. The bakery owner didn’t stop her. Maybe it was all in her head after all.
But why take the risk?
Cordelia ran from the bakery and through some park, only stopping when she’d made it all the way to the other side. It dawned on her that it had already gotten darker than she’d realised. Did it get dark this early in Glimmerbrook? She wasn’t sure.
And then she noticed her. A little blonde girl, right at the edge of the park. Didn’t look older than Cordelia had been when her mother died. What was she doing here all on her own? The more Cordelia had seen of Forgotten Hollow, the less convinced she was that this was the kind of place a little girl should wander alone…
She made her way to the child.
“Hey there,” she greeted the girl in what she hoped was a friendly, non-threatening tone. “What are you doing here all by yourself? Are you lost?”
The girl’s head turned towards her slowly. There was something eerie about the movement that Cordelia couldn’t quite put her finger on. The child was still avoiding her gaze.
“Lost?” The girl repeated. “Me? No. But you are.”
It was only when Cordelia saw her eyes that she realised just how big of a mistake coming to Forgotten Hollow had been.