Cordelia was more than aware of Grace’s quizzical gaze on her, but she tried her best to ignore it and focused on the magical fire under the cauldron. It was only her first day back at the Hex Shop. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for it, but the distraction of the work tasks seemed to be helping.
It had taken her more than a week to even brave leaving Sylvan Glade. It felt so safe there. Especially when Dandelion told her there was some kind of protective magic over the place that prevented anyone with harmful intentions from coming in.
The elf filled her in on his side of the events of the last few days. He’d gone to visit her on the day she took her ill-fated trip to Forgotten Hollow, but she wasn’t home. At first, Dandelion assumed she was just out, likely with Morgyn. But when she hadn’t returned that night, or even the following day, he knew something was wrong.
Cordelia was shocked to learn that Morgyn wasn’t the only sage to have paid the vampires a visit as the elf recounted his own trip to Forgotten Hollow with L Faba. She must have already been in the catacombs at that point, too deep below the house to overhear any visitors. But hearing Dandelion say that L Faba even cast some kind of a spell on the vampire leader… Cordelia found it hard to believe the mischief sage would go to any kind of length for her.
And so, when Dandelion asked if it was in fact L Faba who prompted her journey to Forgotten Hollow, Cordelia hesitated. It was clear the mischief sage wanted Cordelia to get her heart broken by going to Forgotten Hollow, but if she had intended for her to fall into the vampires’ grasp, why would she then try to save her? It all made very little sense to Cordelia, and Morgyn’s involvement in the cause of the whole ordeal was too painful for her to think about.
Thankfully, Dandelion did not insist on discussing any of it. The days went by in the Glade, with the two of them spending time in the elf’s garden, swimming in the pond, cloudgazing, and naturally, eating ample quantities of pancakes.
But Cordelia knew she couldn’t stay in the magical meadow forever. Staying with Dandelion was lovely, but it felt like she was just avoiding real life. She eventually took the tree passage back up, sped by that big new house Morgyn had conjured and paid a visit to her workplace.
She fully expected for Darrel to fire her on the spot – she hadn’t shown for work for a couple of weeks at that point. But he turned out oddly understanding, welcoming her back without question.
Darrel told her that the sage of the untamed themselves had vouched for her, and while Cordelia doubted Morgyn would have explained the full nature of where she had been, for some strange reason Darrel appeared sympathetic. It was all quite strange, and very unlike Darrel, but Cordelia decided not to question it.
Grace, however, didn’t look like she was ready to let the matter go.
“Come on then, spill the beans.” The spellcaster turned to Cordelia over the large bubbling cauldron as soon as Darrel left the shop. “Where have you been for the last few weeks, and why did Morgyn deliver a Darrel a sick note for you – or whatever they did to turn Darrel into Mr Compassionate?”
“I was… not very well.” Cordelia took inspiration from the sick note comment.
Grace arched an eyebrow. “You expect me to believe that? Nothing about this whole thing sits right.”
Cordelia turned her gaze to the potion. Grace sighed. “I thought we were friends. But whatever. Keep your secrets.”
“It’s not that!” Cordelia protested. “I just… it’s kind of a long story. And not one I can quickly explain in between helping customers.”
“Pub after work?” Grace suggested.
Cordelia did not feel ready to go somewhere so public and exposed like that. She felt safe enough in the shop, in the light of the day, but a pub filled with strangers at night…
“I’d rather not.” She said. Grace’s face fell. “Could we maybe go over to yours?”
“Oh. Sure,” The spellcaster perked up. “You’re lucky, Tomax and I just cleaned the place the other day.”
Lucky, Cordelia thought. Maybe she was, considering she spent two days trapped in a house full of vampires eager to drain her dry, and somehow got away with her life. But she definitely didn’t feel it.
“Woah! That’s… insane!” Grace’s eyes were wide as Cordelia finished her story. “I can’t believe you went through all that… I think I’d just tell Darrel to stuff it and never go anywhere if I were you.”
“It’s not like I can keep hiding forever.” Cordelia shrugged. “And if I did, I’d never stop thinking about it. Being at work actually kind of helped. I need to keep busy.” She realised how much she wanted to carry on with her woodworking to keep her mind off things. But that would mean going near that new house…
“As if Morgyn would allow a vampire to move to Glimmerbrook.” Grace carried on. “I’ll be looking over my shoulder every time I’ll go to the pub now, knowing there’s a killer vamp out there, hunting…”
“I don’t think Micah would actually kill anybody… I hope.” Cordelia said uncertainly.
She reminded herself of what she knew about him, and his conversation with Verena she’d overheard. Not only that, he actively saved her from a vampire house, didn’t he? And surely Morgyn wouldn’t really unleash a cold-blooded killer on Glimmerbrook?
“If you say so,” Grace didn’t seem convinced. “I mean, you’re the one that’s supposed to live with him, I guess. Which, again, complete insanity! What the hell is Morgyn thinking?”
“Oh good, you guys are talking about my favourite person, huh?” A man’s voice said from behind them. “Maybe I’ll just come back later.”
“Oh hey, Tomax!” Grace greeted her friend. “About time you met Cordelia, but honestly, there’s bigger fish to fry than introductions – you won’t even believe what happened…”
“If Morgyn’s involved, I can believe anything.” Tomax rolled his eyes. “And I don’t wanna know. Just leave me out of it.”
“You know, Grace, maybe it would be best to leave this just between the two of us.” Cordelia turned to her friend.
Bizarrely, she was starting to regret sharing her vampire ordeal with Grace. If Grace passed that story on… The thought of a town full of spellcasters being aware of a vampire in their midst made Cordelia worry for Micah’s safety. Which was an absurd thought. Why should she be concerned for the safety of a vampire?
Cordelia wasn’t sure. But she did owe him, didn’t she? It was probably that.
“Anyway, like you said, Morgyn wouldn’t put all of Glimmerbrook at risk. So just trust them.” Cordelia said in spite of herself.
Tomax scoffed from the corner of the room. Cordelia turned to him. She still remembered what grace had told her about her housemate and the sage of the untamed on their shopping trip to Windenburg.
“You and Morgyn used to date, right?” She asked him awkwardly.
“If you can call it that, I guess.” Tomax replied, sounding unenthused. “I don’t know if Morgyn really dates anyone. They just move on to someone new, someone they find more interesting, someone that needs fixing more than you do.”
Cordelia had to admit that sounded a whole lot like what L Faba had told her. How did the sage put it? There is nothing in this world that hurts as much as the truth.
“Anyway, none of it matters.” Tomax brought Cordelia back to the present. “I’ve got more important things to worry about than Morgyn. Like my own magical training. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll become a sage myself. That would show them…”
Didn’t exactly sound like somebody that had moved on, Cordelia thought, but she didn’t say anything. Who was she to judge?
Visibly annoyed, Tomax seemed to have changed his mind about sitting down with them. He stomped out of the room and left the women to themselves, clearly unimpressed by the topic of choice.
“I’m sorry, he’s normally not this grumpy.” Grace said. “Touchy subject.”
“I get it.” Cordelia shook her head.
“Anyway, where were we… you still saying we can trust Morgyn not to put as all at risk?” The doubt in Grace’s voice was apparent.
“I don’t know about Morgyn,” Cordelia admitted. “But I hope you can trust me. Micah isn’t dangerous.”
“You really think so?” The spellcaster asked. “But if you’re so convinced about that, why wouldn’t you share a house with him? Especially one that’s by the sounds of it much nicer than your original one.”
“That… is a good point.” Cordelia muttered.
Of course, she could think of several good reasons. But she was so confused now. She didn’t even know where this instinct to protect Micah had come from. It was utterly ridiculous. Like a vampire needed her to protect him. But she couldn’t help it.
“I guess you’ve given me something to think about.” She continued, looking directly into Grace’s eyes. “But Grace, I’m serious. Everything that I told you… I told you as a friend, in confidence. Please promise me you won’t tell anyone about Micah.”
“Fine.” Grace agreed begrudgingly. “I promise. But I’m totally carrying garlic on me from now on…”
Cordelia had no idea if that would make any difference or not, but she nodded profusely regardless.