Tag Archives: #fantasy

Silently Watching At Sunrise

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Early morning shadows hid the fallen angel in the trees that grew beside the picnic tables. There was a still a chill in the air. She drew her majestic black wings around her for warmth. Her throat felt parched. It had been weeks since she had last fed; months since she had last enjoyed some warm, viscous human blood.

Killing a mortal was always high risk. Hunger and desire had caused her to be careless last time. She should’ve taken time to carry the body off instead of discarding it in the dried leaves on the pavement.

She’d heard the shrill shrieks of the dog walker who had discovered the man’s body not long after she had abandoned it. Damn dog!

Well, she’d taken care of it a week or so later. Dog owners were sloppy. The angel had watched, biding her time, until the chocolate brown Labrador was off its lead, running ahead of its slow middle aged owner. The dog’s death had been swift. It had barely whimpered as she had bitten deep into its jugular vein. By the time the owner had caught up, the angel had drained every last drop from the beloved family pet and swooped up into the trees out of sight. She had laughed at the woman’s wails of grief for the dead canine lying on the pavement.

Her attention was brought back to the present as she watched the woman cross the road, heading towards her. The angel had been studying her early morning routine for a few weeks, working out where and when to strike. The woman’s erratic fitness regime had frustrated her. Never the same day two weeks in a row; never the same number of outing s a week; always the same time to within a minute or two. Close surveillance had warned the angel of the routine of others who walked and ran along that section of road so early in the morning.

There was one obvious window of opportunity. It came when the woman finished her run. When she returned to the small secluded picnic spot, she sat down at one of the tables to catch her breath for a moment or two before tackling the steep hill back to her home. She only took a seat though if the sun was shining.

Hunger was forcing the angel to take a dangerous but calculated risk by stepping out into the direct sunlight. For the sake of savouring the sweet ferrous female blood, she was prepared to risk singeing her precious wings. There were only so many rabbits and sheep and deer that she could stomach. Her recent starvation diet had left her feeling desiccated; feeling unfeminine. It was this fact that had decided her that she needed to feast on female hormone filled blood on this occasion.

Calmly, she waited in the shadows for her prey to return. Patiently, she counted the dog walkers, ensuring they all passed her oblivious to her presence. The other two regular early morning joggers also passed, heading out towards the lighthouse

The minutes ticked steadily by.

Silently, she watched the woman approach. There was a sheen of sweat on her forehead. Her cheeks were scarlet, reddened by the effort, and she was breathing heavily. The angel’s nostrils twitched as she tasted the hormone soaked blood in the air around her.

Just as she had hoped, the worn out woman took a seat at the end of the bench in the sun, gasping for air.

Spreading her wings, ready to swoop, the angel suddenly froze to the spot.

The air was filled with a familiar ferrous infused male musk. A scent she had only dreamed about over recent weeks. A perfume that she hadn’t lusted after since her last human meal.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Rhythmic light footsteps were approaching rapidly. He was still a hundred meters or more away. Already her sensitive ears could hear that infernal music that he listened to.

Faced with a choice, she hesitated. Male or female? Decisions. Decisions….

Fate intervened.

Hearing the footsteps, the woman scrambled to her feet and darted across the road out of sight before he reached the picnic area.

Silently, seething with hungry frustration, the dark angel watched as he ran by. Oh how she yearned to sink her fangs into his veins. He was a meal to be lingered over and savoured, not a dinner to be rushed through greed. Like a fine wine, his blood would be sipped until she felt intoxicated by it.

With a soft sigh that could easily have been mistaken for the breeze wafting through the leaves, the angel drew her purple tipped wings around her once more and settled in the shadows to wait for her next opportunity to dine.

 

 

image sourced via Google- credits to the owner

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The Return of an Old Friend -The Imp – part thirteen

It’s been a while since I re-visited the tale of Amber, Jem, Urquhart and the witches but, for those who have been impatiently waiting, here’s part thirteen of The Imp – enjoy!

Clouds were covering the full moon as Amber looked out through the tiny slit of a window. From her tree top cell, she could just make out the convoy of wagons preparing to depart for the portal. In the distance she could see the faint faerie glow of the portal itself. The fairy/elf had watched the wagon train depart for the portal the previous night as she finalised her plans, scarcely daring to believe that she would make her escape through it. In her heart, she knew if she escaped now then she would never be able to return to the fairy kingdom again; knew if she needed help from her family she would need to turn to the elves. The thought chilled her heart but she had no other choice.

A soft knock at the door jolted her back to reality and, as she turned round, Blain entered alone. Her elf senses picked up a small movement to his left but, before she could say anything, the air shimmered and a tall, slender, shadow creature materialised in the room beside them.

“Good evening, princess,” said Blain softly. “I’ve brought you a visitor.”

“Blain!” she gasped. “Where did you find him? He’s perfect!”

Mutely, the shadow creature watched the two friends.

“He’s been staying with the healers for the past month, learning their secrets,” explained her friend. “Chamelle, this is Her Royal Highness, Princess Amber.”

“Charmed,” replied Chamelle, his voice wispy and hoarse. He stared intently at the fairy/elf, his dark eyes boring into her very soul then slowly the air around him began to shimmer. Gradually, before their eyes, he transformed into her mirror image.

“Are you ready to depart?” asked Blain anxiously. “We’ve only a few minutes to spare before they finish loading the wagons.”

“Yes,” replied Amber, lifting her sleeping son and settling him in the travel sling she had improvised from her spare shirt.

Earlier on, she had laid out the items that Blain had smuggled to her a few days before. The rowan twig had been stripped of its bark and fashioned into a magic wand. Curls of bark, soot and some of Amber and the baby’s hair strands lay in the bottom of a small wooden bowl on the table. With a quick glance at her friend, Amber lifted the needle and pricked her son’s thumb with it. Two large drops of blood spilled into the dish. The fairy/elf repeated the action on her own thumb, allowing the droplets of blood to mingle with the soot. Almost silently, she whispered an ancient elvish incantation then dipped the rowan wand into the bowl. A flash of green and red light lit up the room and, when the light returned to normal, the contents of the bowl had liquefied.

Swiftly, Amber dipped the thimble into the bowl then dripped the dark liquid into her son’s mouth. She swallowed two thimble-fuls herself then lifted her cloak.

“Amber?” began Blain, curious to learn what effect the spell would have.

In the blink of an eye, the fairy/elf and the baby vanished.

“Amber?” echoed Blain anxiously.

“We’re here,” she replied from within the invisibility spell. “Time to go. This won’t hold for long.”

 

            When they reached the base of the huge tree that had been her prison, Amber followed Blain through the village to the last wagon in the convoy. It was being loaded with sacks of fancy spun colourful cloth that was coveted by the women at the King’s court. The supervisor had carefully stacked the bags, ensuring that there was a small “cave” created for her to hide in.

“Stay safe, princess,” whispered Blain as he felt her move from his side.

From her hiding place. Amber heard her friend drop a heavy purse into the driver’s hand then felt the wagon lurch forward.

As the wagon passed through the portal into the human realm, the faerie magic broke her elven spell and Amber became aware that she was fully visible to all around. She held her breath, praying that the baby would remain asleep for the remainder of the journey.  The faerie slumber spell cast earlier was holding fast ….for now.

Steadily, the wagons trundled towards the village and the castle.

 

In his tower study, Urquhart stood at his window watching the train of wagons roll in from the portal. The fairy queen had signed off on five wagons per night for eight days. It was the most trade she had sanctioned in the past decade.

The boy wizard watched as the five covered wagons rolled down the narrow village street towards the castle.

His sharp eyes were drawn to the last wagon in the line. There was something about it that attracted his attention; something that was making his wizarding instincts twitch.

Dismissing the thought that flashed through his mind as an improbability, Urquhart returned to his desk and the ancient elven history that he had been studying. He had read it through three times from end to end and was still none the wiser about the fourth gemstone. His gut instinct told him he was searching for reference to a diamond but the history made no mention of one. There was no mention of any other stones, not even a pebble.

Thoughts of the wagon train interrupted him again and the boy wizard wandered back across to the window. A large bowl of crystals sat on a pedestal in the bay of the window. Carelessly, he ran his fingers through them, allowing the smooth stones to trickle through his grasp, as he watched the last of the wagons disappear from view as the entered the castle gates.

 

In the castle nursery, Jem too was standing at the window. The prince had his baby daughter nestled on his shoulder as he watched the fairies begin to unload their trade goods. The baby was restless and, every time he tried to return her to her crib, she squealed shrilly as he moved away from the window.

“What is the attraction with the window tonight, little miss?” whispered Jem as he turned her round in his arms so she could see out.

A movement at the rear of the last of the five wagons caught his eye.

The canvas flap moved aside and a tall, slender figure, clutching something tightly to their chest, stepped down, glanced round then disappeared into the shadows.

The baby squealed and wriggled in her father’s arms.

“Amber,” breathed Jem.

 

 

 

 

It’s The Time of Year For Spooky Tales

Hallowe’en is almost upon us once more.  This week I thought I’d continue a spooky tale from earlier in the year.

If you missed the first part, here’s the link – https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/still-as-a-statue-3/

Enjoy –

Still As A Statue – Part Two

Having worked late into the night editing the photos for her portfolio, she slept through her alarm. It was the noise of the downstairs neighbour clattering in after his night shift that wakened her shortly before eight. In a frantic panic, she had charged through her small flat getting ready in record time.

As she had scampered down the front steps, juggling her bags, camera and a half-eaten slice of toast, rain pelted down on her. Muttering as an icy drop slid down the neck of her jacket, she pulled up her hood and set off for her nine thirty meeting with her tutor.

Despite being tight for time, she couldn’t resist the temptation to pause in the square to take a few more photos. Part of her loved the effect of the rain on the stone. It added more shading and a subtle sheen to some of the effigies. Having spent hours studying the various statues the night before, she scanned the buildings and gardens seeking out the tall male and the girl with the long tumbling curls. She quickly spotted the girl. Unusually, she was on a plinth in the garden, staring down the road that she herself had just rushed up.

The tall, slender male was nowhere to be seen.

An icy chill ran down the student’s spine as, with trembling hands, she stuffed her camera back into her bag.

Her tutor was waiting for her when she came dashing into his small office.

“Sorry, sir,” she gasped, as she dumped her bag on the floor. “Overslept.”

“Relax, Jenny,” he replied. “You’re a whole thirty seconds late. Chill.”

“Oh, I’m chilled,” she declared emphatically. “To the bone! Wait until you see my photos.”

She handed the flash drive to her tutor and asked him to open the file “Moving Statues” that was stored in the “Portfolio Pieces” folder.

Nodding approvingly, he scanned the images one by one, occasionally complimenting her on the light or the angle or the balance of the composition.

“These are fabulous! Just the boost your portfolio needs. Which ones are you going to enlarge and print?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she said, twirling a strand of her coppery red hair round her finger. “Did you notice anything odd about those statues?”

“No. Was I meant to?”

“Sir,” she began nervously, suddenly feeling very foolish. “They move about that square.”

“Move?”

The look on his face told her that he thought she was crazy. Folding his hands in front of him, he continued, “Jenny, statues of that era or any others made of stone aren’t easily moved. It would take lifting equipment to shift some of the larger ones.”

“I know and I know it sounds insane, but I can prove it,” countered Jenny boldly. “Open the file “Changeable Locations.” The proof’s in there.”

Together they sat and studied the numerous photos of the sculptures. Again her focus had been on the tall male and the girl. Both statues appeared in at least a dozen different locations around the square and gardens. Both statues had been photographed in different poses but there was no denying that there were the same ones.

“Jenny, you must’ve Photoshopped these,” accused her tutor as he closed the file.

“I don’t have Photoshop!” she protested. “And I can confirm they move with this morning’s shots that are still in my camera.”

Before her tutor could levy any further accusations, she reached into her satchel and passed him her camera.

“Date and time stamp is on each image,” she stated.

Sceptically her tutor accepted the camera and browsed the pictures that had been captured only an hour before.

“Now do you believe me, sir?”

“I must be losing my mind,” muttered the disbelieving tutor as he switched off Jenny’s camera. “Yes, Jenny. I believe you.”

By the end of the day, Jenny had printed off half a dozen of the images and mounted them, ready to be included in her final portfolio of work. She had also left a copy of all of the files, including the fresh ones from that morning, with her tutor who had promised to speak with a colleague who studied paranormal phenomenon.

Straight after her last class, Jenny rushed off to work. Three nights a week she worked as a waitress in a small family –run city centre restaurant. As it was midweek and a miserable night, business was slow. An hour before the end of her shift, the owner’s wife suggested that she should finish up early and head home.

As she opened the garden gate, Jenny felt the temperature drop. An icy chill swept through her. The light above the entrance was off, leaving the doorway in virtual darkness, despite the lights being on in the two ground floor flats. Quickly she ran up the path and the half a dozen worn stone steps. As she reached to open the large wooden door, she heard a noise behind her.

Slowly she turned round. She found herself face to face with a tall, slender familiar looking man. His skin was alabaster white, almost translucent.

“Hello, Jenny.”

Hanging Out In The Memory Bank

Sometimes when the “real” world gets too much you need to escape into the “Memory Bank”.

The “Memory Bank” is crammed full of precious memories from life.

Some of them are songs. Some of them are food. Some of them are photos

You get the hint.

For various reasons way too private and person to go into here, I’ve spent a lot of time browsing the “Memory Bank” over the past few days.

(And before any friends start to panic, I’m fine. No need to worry. I just needed to get my head round something.)

It’s been fun “hanging out” at the “Memory Bank” while recharged my emotional batteries.

Yes. Some of the memories in there are bittersweet. I’m not going to lie but even they have their own “vault” within the “Memory Bank”.

There’s a few sad ones in there too but I tend to skipped past that “room” in search of happier galleries.

Occasionally memories “skip” rooms as the “real” world twists and turns.

There’s been a degree of memory “sorting and filing” over the last few days too.

Before this becomes maudlin and I’m delving back into the dark recesses of my mind, I thought I’d share a few totally random memories from the dim and distant past.

I mentioned a moment ago that songs conjure up memories. One slightly reckless but precious memory springs instantly to mind whenever I hear the original Guns ’n’ Roses version of Paradis City. Before the intro is over I’m mentally transported back about eight or nine years to a hot sunny morning spent on the town beach at Cape May, NJ. The kids and I had been dropped off by mu uncle for a couple of hours on our own on the beach. I desperately needed a few minutes of music and “me time”. The kids were about six and eight at this point. While they ran off down the crowded beach and played unsupervised in the ocean, I lay in the sun listening to Paradise City on my son’s mp3 player. For those six minutes and forty eight seconds I too was in Paradise. (No children were harmed due to lack of parental attention at that time)

Meringues from a local bakery are another source of early childhood memories. As a wee girl, I remember visiting my mum’s old auntie several times a week. She was a fabulous old lady and she adore children. I must have made the mistake one day of saying I liked fresh cream meringues. On a regular basis thereafter until she passed away, she bought me a fresh cream meringue from the local baker’s. I clearly remember kneeling up on the chair at the table in her small flat, eating my meringue in front of the budgie’s cage. (I’ve no idea why his cage lived on the table)Poor woman sickened me of meringues. Forty years later and I still can’t eat another one but the memories of her kindness and eagerness to please are so sweet.

fresh-cream-meringue

The ”Memory Bank” is pretty stuffed full with photo memories. Mt phone is pretty full with photo memories. My sideboard has a whole section full of photo albums and there are many more in another cupboard and on the book shelves. My laptop too (and external hard drive) has more than its fair share too.

Yes, I admit it, I hoard photos!

It would be virtually impossible to share them all.

I’ll pick one.

Eleven summers ago I took the kids to the USA to visit our American family for the first time and, as part of the two week trip, we spent a day or so in Washington DC. I’d been there as a little girl and was keen to go back to visit places from my own childhood memories. Before we left home, Boy Child, who was only six at the time, had been playing a driving game called Midtown Madness on the X-box. As part of the game, he could “drive” around Washington, DC. Repeatedly he drove his vehicle of choice into the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall. I commented that we’d see the pool while we were on holiday.

The day we visited the Mall, the pool had been drained for cleaning. Lo and behold, its base was covered in tyre tracks. You’ve never seen a little boy so happy to see “his” tyre tracks in real life.

USA 2004 122

Happy memories!

credits to the owner of the GnR video. and to the owner of the Google image of the fresh cream meringue

It’s Been So Long That My Hearing Has Fully Recovered…….

It’s been seventy two days since my last fix. I’m growing twitchy!

Having checked the calendar, there’s still seventy seven days to go until my next scheduled fix. Tragic!

If my maths are correct that is one hundred and forty nine days without a fix!

Far too long! Far FAR too long!!!

I’ll have completely forgotten my way to the 5.25 train to Glasgow by the time 12 November comes around.

Some of you are possibly scratching your heads and muttering “What’s she wittering about now?”

Those of you who follow this blog and those of you who happen to know me or even on occasion accompany me will have guessed.

I’m suffering from a severe drought of gigs! It’s quietly killing me. My hearing’s been almost perfect for weeks now!

The last was Tremonti at my favourite O2 ABC on 15 June.

My next scheduled gig is Crobot at The Cathouse, Glasgow on 12 November.

Daily I’m keeping my eye on the various social media sites for updates on long hoped for tour news.

I’ve scanned my O2 Academy app looking for potential shows.

I’m scouring the music magazines for tour news on a weekly basis.

(Yes, I know, there are countless bands out there touring and playing fantastic shows but a night out at a gig isn’t a cheap night out and I am perhaps being a little picky on economic grounds.)

My diary where I store concert tickets for up-coming shows is very, very empty. There are only my Crobot tickets for November and my Carnival of Madness tickets for Glasgow for February 2016 (still waiting for the Manchester ones to arrive)

Sighs sadly…….

So until things pick up on the live show front, it’s time to plug in the iPod (ok, ok, it’s always on), attempt not to download too much music (Can you actually have too many tunes?), explore new bands/albums and reflect on the memories of shows gone by.

Here’s a few of the special moments that are keeping me going.

music blog 1 music blog 2 music blog 3 musci blog 4 music blog 5

When did you last look up?

How often do we charge through our days without really looking at the world around us?

When did you last go for a walk and look up?

It’s amazing what you notice!

On my daily drive to work I pass a statue of James Watt, the famous Scottish engineer who was born in Greenock (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Watt)

It would appear he enjoyed gardening from the flora and fauna adorning the beautiful building beside him!

Seeing these pretty wild flowers- ok weeds to some folk- made me take a closer look at some of the other buildings along the route.

Here’s the result – the informal roof gardens of Greenock!

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So next time you’re out and about, look up!

The Imp – part twelve

Here’s the next, long overdue instalment of The Imp. Enjoy!

The Imp – part twelve

In a room, illuminated only by a small oil lamp, Jem sat beside his tiny daughter’s cradle, singing softly as he rocked her to sleep. The baby wriggled restlessly until she had turned onto her side to face her father then closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. Loathe to leave her, Jem sat on, watching her gentle breathing with his hand resting on the carved edge of the crib.

High up in her tree top prison Amber was pacing the floorboards with her fractious son. Nothing seemed to settle him at this point in the evening. Night after night he cried himself to a standstill. She had tried everything but to no avail. He wasn’t hungry. He didn’t need changed. He didn’t have wind. He just wailed, a heart wrenching tortured cry. Whispering softly to him, the fairy/elf delicately reached out with her elven magic and probed into his mind. Up until now Amber had resisted the temptation to use magic on the baby but she was rapidly reaching the end of her tether. She was startled to see a clear vision of her sleeping daughter. The baby girl looked to be wrapped snuggly in a soft wool blanket. A hand rested on the edge of the wooden cradle. An adult hand. Jem’s hand. The sight of his signet ring and his long fine fingers brought tears to her eye. Instantly she understood her son’s distress.

The baby boy was missing his twin sister. While she slept, their telepathic connection was severed. It was the unbearable loneliness and the separation that was causing him to wail inconsolably.

“Hush, little one,” she whispered in his mind. “You’ll be together again soon. I promise.”

In his study Urquhart was pouring over the leather bound book. He had read it from cover to cover four times already, desperately seeking more clues about the witch and her sisters. So far he had determined that each witch was tasked with acquiring a gemstone- one from the elves, one from the fairies and one from the mortal men. The last fable in the tome suggested that a fourth stone was needed to connect the three gems. Despite reading and re-reading the six tales, the wizard still had no clue as to what this mystery gem was and not the slightest hint as to where it may be.

Muttering to himself, he opened the bottom drawer of his desk and brought out an ancient elven manuscript. His master had gifted it to him when he completed his apprenticeship, saying he would have need of it in troubled hour. Perhaps this was that troubled hour? The aged elven manuscript was badly faded in places but with a subtle rejuvenating spell, the wizard soon had it restored to its former brightness. Beside him the candle began to splutter as it reached the brass candlestick. Quickly he used the dying flame to light a fresh candle then returned his attention to the manuscript.

As the first light of dawn streaked across the sky, Urquhart found what he had been searching for. After trawling through centuries of elven history he had found a description of a theft that had rocked the gentle race to its very heart. The parchment told a strikingly familiar tale. A beautiful raven haired elf had wooed the newly-crowned and unwed king. He had been completely besotted with her and married her in a lavish ceremony in front of the High Council. Two days after the celebratory feasting ended, the king was found dead in his bedchamber. Poisoned. His new queen was nowhere to be found. Nothing in the room had been disturbed and the door had been locked from the inside. The only item missing was the king’s ceremonial chain of office. It was a heavy ornate gold chain that he used to hold his official royal robes in place. The clasp had been forged by the original elves and at its centre they had set a large emerald in a bed of gold carved oak leaves. Nothing else was annotated in the manuscript as being out of the ordinary apart from the unexplained presence of black crow feathers on the chamber’s window sill.

“Damn and blast,” hissed Urquhart, placing the elven history back in the drawer.

As he stared out of his study window, the wizard recalled a song he had heard the fairies perform at the annual fayre. It was a love song that told of the death of one of the first fairy kings. He had died from a strange malaise after the mysterious disappearance of his queen, following the birth of their twins. The babies, a boy and a girl, were left orphans and deprived of both their parents’ love. One verse of the ballad made mention of a missing sapphire ring that had been the king’s gift to his queen following the birth of their children. The last verse contained a reference to a giant mythical bird carrying the queen away to its eyrie. More feather references.

Suddenly it became obvious to Urquhart that the witch, masquerading as the Lady Karina, had had her black heart set on the ruby that was the centre piece of the king’s crown.

With a flash of inspiration, Urquhart realised that the fourth stone had to be a diamond. Not just any diamond. A mythical stone that had perhaps been connected with all three races in the past; a stone that had long since been lost.

A week had passed since Karina’s return to the family home and she was still trapped in the form of a crow. Her sisters had discarded the cage but her movements were restricted to her own suite of rooms, deep within the mountain. She hadn’t seen daylight for days. Captivity was doing nothing for her humour and she had already bitten three of the household servants as they brought her meagre meals of grain. The last serving girl had apparently lost her finger as a result of a particularly vicious bite.

“Sister, dearest.” Greta’s sharp greeting startled her. “We may have found a solution.”

“You have? About bloody time!”

“Yes,” snapped the elder witch, extending her hand. “Step on and come with me. I’ll trust you not to fly off.”

As she hopped onto her sister’s outstretched hand, Karina felt a gentle tingle of magic round her feet as enchanted shackles held her firmly in place.

“So much for trust, dear Greta!”

“Well, perhaps if you had exercised the same caution, you wouldn’t be in this predicament!”

Silently Karina was carried through the keep’s torch lit corridors until they arrived at a small ornately carved door. It was the door to their brother’s private study. No one had dared to venture inside since his untimely disappearance over a century before. Greta snapped her fingers and the door opened. Once inside the small chamber she released the binding spell and allowed Karina to hop off onto the back of the only chair in the sparsely furnished room. On the desk sat a small dish of seeds and beside it a smoking vial of bright green liquid.

“We consulted the family physick and Isabella found an entry with a potion recipe that should solve you bodily problem,” Greta explained as she poured the smouldering contents of the vial over the bird seed. “Eat, Karina.”

Without a murmur of complaint, the cursed witch flew over to the desk and, perching on the edge of the silver dish, began to eat the sodden seeds. She had expected them to taste foul but was surprised to discover they were sweet, deliciously sweet. Soon the dish was empty.

“Now, we wait,” stated Greta coldly.

Gradually Karina felt a tingling sensation begin to spread through her feathers. She felt as though she was starting to swell. Just as she was on the brink of calling out in fear, there was a flash of blinding green light, followed by a cloud of vile smelling smoke.

When the smoke cleared, Karina stood, naked as the day she was born, in front of her elder sister.

“Welcome back, Karina,” purred Greta as she handed her a dark green velvet robe.

When Amber awoke, her senses told her immediately that someone had been in the room while she had slept. A small package lay on the table, wrapped in a leather cloth. Beside it lay a large bunch of wild flowers and a plate of fresh fruit.

“Blain,” she whispered to herself. No one else would have brought her flowers.

Her son was still sleeping soundly in his plain wooden crib. With a quick check to see that he was alright, the fairy/elf slipped out of bed, crossing the cold damp floorboards in her bare feet and unwrapped the package. In the middle of the leather cloth lay a silver thimble, a long thick needle and a small leather pouch full of soot. Her heart sank. The rowan twig was missing. Without it she couldn’t make use of the other items. Suddenly something in the centre of the bunch of flowers caught her eye. In typical Blain fashion, he had disguised the twig amongst the colourful blooms.

Now she had everything she needed.

Carefully she hid the items under the mattress of her son’s small bed. As she folded the piece of leather, Amber noticed there was a message written in tiny lettering in one corner.

“The portal opens in two days. It will be open for eight days and nights. I will bring you a visitor in three night’s time. Be ready to do what you plan. Time will be short. B.”