“Just tell me where she is!” The elf demanded. “I know that you know.”
L Faba put on her best comforting smile, the kind that would have soothed him and stopped him from asking stupid questions when he was little.
“It’s late, Dandy. Calm down, stay over if you like. We can talk it over tomorrow.” She said. “I mean, look at me, I’m in my nightgown. Let’s rest. I know I need my beauty sleep…”
“No, you don’t.” He said firmly. His words surprised her. It wasn’t like him to be this defiant with her. She let out a sigh. Something was telling her she wasn’t going to get much sleep at all that night.
“If you don’t want to help me look for her, that’s fine, but tell me where she is.” Dandelion continued, ignoring her diversions. “She’s in trouble, I know she is.”
L Faba suppressed a groan. For some inexplicable reason, Dandelion had to latch on to her, of all people. It made no sense, and yet, as the sage of mischief, L Faba knew it made perfect sense. But that didn’t mean she was willing to accept it.
“It’s her own damn fault.” She told him, forcing herself to stay calm. “I’m sure she’ll be just fine. Morgyn’s sorting it out.”
“And you trust them with that?” Dandelion retorted “What’s Morgyn got to do with her being missing anyway?”
“Do you have to ask? Morgyn’s got everything to do with it. Off on another one of their ridiculous self-indulgent adventures in pursuit of what they call love.” L Faba scoffed, briefly forgetting her audience. “If she chose to follow them, that’s on her. How was I to know Morgyn was stupid enough to get tangled up with vampires?”
She regretted her words immediately. Especially after seeing Dandelion’s shocked face.
“Vampires?” He looked at her, wide-eyed. “Vampires have her? Lulu, we need to go help her, now!”
“Do you think she’d do that for you, if your roles were reversed?” She snapped at him.
“Of course she would!” Dandelion burst out. The delusional fool. “And that’s beside the point! She could die! Where are these vampires!?”
“If you think I’m letting you go into a vampire den, you’ve got to be mad!” L Faba ‘s voice jumped up a few octaves.
“So you’ll just let her die? Why do you hate her so much!?” Dandelion yelled back at her. “You know what, it doesn’t matter. Just tell me where these vampires are. If something happens to her, I… I… I’ll never forgive you!”
“And you’ll do what? What do you think you can possibly do for her that Morgyn can’t?” L Faba fully lost her temper, screaming at the top of her lungs. “You think you’ll just show up at their lair and somehow win the vampires over? This is not a joke, and she is not worth risking your life over! Stop trying to insert yourself into things you haven’t got the slightest idea about! Even if the vampires do kill her, maybe it’s justice!”
“Will you two keep it down?” Simeon’s voice was quiet, but stern. “Your screaming alone will rip the realm apart.”
L Faba breathed out. The practical magic sage had brough her back to reality, but it wasn’t him she was concerned about. The look on Dandelion’s face hurt like a thousand daggers.
“I’m sorry, sprout.” She told the elf softly. “I got carried away. I… I’ll help you get your friend back.”
“What in the two realms are you talking about?” Simeon frowned at her. “You’re not going on the same wild goose chase Morgyn is, prodding some ancient vampires, all because of a human.”
“Does everybody in the magic realm always only think of themselves?” Dandelion interrupted him.
“I, for one, am dedicated to putting the realm above all personal selfish impulses. Although maybe I am the only one.” Simeon said coldly, directing his second statement at the mischief sage. “It’s bad enough one sage is at risk, losing two would have catastrophic consequences for the realm. There is no way I’m allowing you to go chasing after some girl with Morgyn gone, L Faba!”
“Oh, so I have to ask for your permission now?” L Faba felt her anger rising again. Perhaps it was wrong to direct it at Simeon, but she didn’t care. “Last I checked, we were equals! I can do as I damn please!”
“You’re being reckless, just like Morgyn. I expected better from you, Luella.” The practical magic sage told her.
L Faba felt her entire body shaking. “Stop acting like you’re my father!” She screamed.
“Then stop acting like a child!” Simeon snapped back. “You’re not going anywhere while Morgyn’s gone, and that’s the end of it.”
“Uh guys?” Dandelion interjected, looking down over the railing. “You don’t need to argue. Morgyn’s back.”
The three of them watched the untamed magic sage materialise at the bottom of the hall, looking dissatisfied.
L Faba couldn’t help but smirk. “Back so soon?” She called out into the foyer, leaning over the railing. “And without either one of your so-called loves. What a shock…”
Her smile fell as soon as she saw Dandelion’s expression.
“Well, Morgyn’s back.” Dandelion said stiffly. “That means we can go, right?”
The elves approached the gothic looking manor just off the main park in Forgotten Hollow. It was exactly the kind of house one would expect to find creatures of the night. Hiding in plain sight, it would appear, L Faba thought.
She still couldn’t believe she let the sprout drag her here. To save her. But what was the alternative? There was no chance a sweet little soul like Dandelion would survive this visit if he were to go on his own.
“Now listen to me, Dandy.” She turned to him, hoping he couldn’t notice her nerves.
“What? We’re here.” He interrupted impatiently. “Let’s go get Cordie.”
“We have to be smart about this, ok?” She tried to reason with him. “We don’t even know how many vampires are inside. But we do know they’re dangerous. So don’t do anything hasty. Just stay behind me, don’t say a word and let me take the lead.”
“Fine.” He said begrudgingly, looking unimpressed. L Faba let out deep sigh, and knocked on the sturdy door in front of them. Here goes nothing, she thought.
A pale woman appeared in the doorway. She already looked agitated. Not the best start, L Faba lamented.
“More non-humans at our doorstep… let me guess, more visitors from the magic realm?” She hissed at them, baring her fangs.
“You’re all the rage in the magic realm right now,” L Faba said sweetly. Which, technically speaking, wasn’t untrue, she commended herself.
“Can’t let Morgyn hog you to themselves, can we? I trust they didn’t give us a bad name…” She tried to gauge the vampires’ disposition. With Morgyn involved, one could never know what kind of impression they left.
“The sage of untamed magic was quite charming,” the vampire admitted. “Although I’m still unsure why they’d possibly want that common girl.”
That was a relief.
“You and me both.” L Faba smirked, ignoring Dandelion’s glare. “Perhaps we could all talk this through, as friends.”
“Why not,” the vampire grinned. “It would appear tonight is just one big party…”
She led them through to the living room, joining two other vampires. L Faba recognised the man. Morgyn’s newest object of desire. He was playing chess with a vampire child.
“Check mate, Micah. You should know by now that you can never beat me.” The little girl said in an eerie way that did not sound like a little girl at all. She looked up. “Delphine? Who is it now?”
“It would appear we have more visitors from the other realm.” Their vampire host explained. “Pardon my manners, in all the excitement of tonight I didn’t even catch your names…”
“I’m L Faba, sage of mischief magic.” She introduced herself.
The vampire child looked up. “So many sages in a single night… such honour for this humble coven.” Nothing about her tone implied honour or humility. Her piercing eyes turned to Dandelion. “Who is he? Your servant?”
“He’s far too unimportant for you to concern yourself with him.” L Faba said quickly.
The child gave her a look that made her feel uneasy. L Faba couldn’t shake the feeling that she could see right through her. “Very well. Please, have a seat.” The girl gestured to the couch.
“My name is Verena, and I am the mistress of this house.” The child informed them. Of course she was. L Faba suppressed a frown. She didn’t have a good feeling about this. Thankfully, at least Dandelion was playing along and staying quiet.
“You’ve already met my associate Delphine. And this here is one of my children, Micah.” Verena finished the introductions. “Now, if you would indulge me, we’ve already learned a little bit about untamed magic from your colleague tonight. Would you be so kind and enlighten us on mischief magic? With the name alone, I can’t help but feel it would pale in comparison…”
L Faba kept her composure. The vampire brat was trying to get to her. She would not let her.
“Morgyn likes to big themselves up.” She told her. “But the sages are equal. In truth, there is nothing they can do that I can’t.”
“Is that so?” The girl tilted her head, seemingly in thought. “Or do all sages have the same tendency to exaggerate?”
The mischief sage took a deep breath. “Mischief magic is in no manner weaker than the untamed school.” She reiterated. “It simply has a stronger focus on tormenting others. Something perhaps someone of your disposition may appreciate.”
“I have no need for additional methods of torment.” Verena laughed. The sound was hearty and sinister at the same time.
“That’s enough!” Dandelion erupted. “Where is Cordie?”
“Ah, so you are after the girl as well,” Verena’s face grew long, although there appeared to be no surprise in her expression. “How disappointingly predictable. Tell me, what is it about this human that makes her so vital to the magic realm?”
“She holds no significance to the realm whatsoever,” L Faba frowned. “Certainly isn’t of any importance to me!”
“Truly? And yet here you are, trying to obtain her.” Verena pointed out with a sly grin. “She must mean something to you. I detect no fondness in her voice, but there’s something… perhaps you’d like to watch her suffer. You did say your school focuses on torment, after all…”
L Faba couldn’t manage a single word. Just calm down, she told herself.
“I’m in a good mood, so why don’t we come to an arrangement…” The vampire child spoke again, breaking the silence. “I’ll give you the girl, in exchange for your elven servant. His blood would be impeccably delicious, I can just tell…”
“Not a chance in any of the realms!” The words flew out of L Faba before she could stop herself. She should know better than to give away her game like that. But it was too late.
Verena just laughed. “You sages are more alike than you care to admit. So unnecessarily sentimental. And so senselessly averse to compromise…”
“Morgyn and I are nothing alike.” L Faba gritted through her teeth.
“Then I’ll make you the same offer I made them, and I’m sure you’ll be far more reasonable.” The girl said. “Bestow the gift of magic on me, teach me what you know. Make me a spellcaster. If it is true that mischief magic is just as powerful as the untamed, I’ll gladly let you walk away with the girl, and your little servant…”
“No!” Dandelion leapt up, screaming at the top of his lungs.
“We don’t have to negotiate with you! You give us Cordie right now!” He yelled. L Faba sighed. Damn the foolish sprout.
“You should be more cautious, elf servant.” Verena said coolly. “You have nothing of value to give me. Other than the obvious, of course. Perhaps I will try how sweet your blood is after all…”
Verena had moved fast, launching right at Dandelion in a dark puff of smoke.
But L Faba was faster. On her feet in an instant, she drew her wand out, aiming it at the vampire child.
The other vampires arose too, but stopped in their tracks at the sight of their mistress turning into a gnome in front of their very eyes.
Of course, it wouldn’t take them long to recover, and clearly, they were not amused by the sight of what happened.
“Dandy, come here!” L Faba yelled at him.
Thankfully, he was in too much shock to protest, and obeyed her without question. She grabbed on to him before he had a chance to do something stupid again.
“Transportalate!” She cried out. Time to get the hell out of there.