“Paradox!” Amber said in a scolding tone. The orange tabby cat looked up at her, chirping happily with his captured prey.
“No no,” I said, holding up a hand. “He did good. Didn’t you, kitty?”
The cat mewed at me and I walked up slowly, not wanting to startle him. When I was close enough I placed one booted foot onto the gossamer wing, kneeling down over the tiny body.
“Hello there,” I said to the small fairy that the cat had pinned. “What are you doing here?”
“Get your infernal beast off of me!” the fairy chirped. I was pretty sure I had never met this fairy. He struggled against his own wings, trapped beneath the weight of the cat. The orange feline looked at me questioningly and I scritched him under the chin.
“But Paradox here did so well,” I said as the cat began to purr. “Who’s a good kitty, defending your friend’s home?”
Amber took a hesitant step forward. “Rachael?”
“Yes?” I asked, looking up from my hostage.
“What is that?”
“What?!” the fairy yelled. “I have a name, you fat cow!”
“What did you call me?” Amber advanced angrily.
“I called you a cow, fatty!” the fairy yelled back.
“I weigh like, 100 lbs!” she raged. “That’s practically underweight!”
“Amber!” I said warningly. “You’re so tiny that a stiff breeze could knock you over, but you’re arguing with a fairy over your weight.”
“So we just let him insult us?” She asked.
I nodded at her. “He can’t really hurt us. Pick up your cat?”
She still looked unhappy as she bent over to pick up the orange tabby, placing the cat on the bed. The fairy leapt into action, trying to get up until it noticed I was standing on his wing.
“I take it back,” the fairy said to me. “You’re clearly the hippo in here.”
“Aren’t you just a charming little knight?” I said, leaning over. Now that the cat was out of the way, I could see the fairy clearly. He was maybe 6 inches tall, with golden blonde hair and pale leather armour. Several inches out of his reach, there was a long splinter of clear crystal in the shape of a sword. I picked up the tiny sword gently.
“Unhand my weapon!” the fairy yelled, grabbing at the sword ineffectively. I held the glorified hatpin over his head.
“What, this little thing?” I said, swishing it around. It made a lovely singing noise as it cut through the air. “Why would you need this? We’re just going to have a nice little chat, you and me.”
“The fae are under no obligation to deal with you, Diabolist,” the fairy said, crossing his arms. “You made your thoughts on the matter quite clear at our last moonlight ball.”
“I’d say the fae broke our pact quite soundly when you stole the Falconer’s books out of the Artemis Public Library,” I said. “Or did you all think that I wouldn’t consider an attack on my library to be the same as an attack on me?”
“Will your pet demon see it the same way?” the fairy countered.
In truth, I had no idea. They hadn’t glamoured me, just the staff around me, so there had been no direct attack on me. They had interfered with relics under my protection though, which should be enough. Hopefully I’d remembered to extend the pact to items under my custody. But it wouldn’t do to let the fairy know my uncertainty. I grinned at the little fae, moving to stab the palm of my hand with his sword. “Shall we summon him and ask?”
“No!” he yelled in panic and I paused the sword. The fairy’s face twisted back into a semblance of self control. “Perhaps we can have that discussion after all.”
“Excellent,” I said. “Amber, come over here.”
The girl came over, kneeling beside the fairy. “You aren’t really going to summon a demon in my bedroom, are you?”
“Depends on whether he wants to cooperate,” I said. “Come introduce yourself.”
“Umm… I’m Amber Seren,” she said to the fairy. “What’s your name?”
The fairy glowered at her, and I leaned over menacingly, stabbing my sword into the carpet near him. He flinched as I put more weight on his wing.
“Sir Errok Fox, at your service,” he grumbled resentfully and I leaned back a bit.
“Um,” she looked at me expectantly.
“He broke into your house,” I said. “You get to lead this discussion. He already knows my name.”
“Right,” Amber said. She sounded unsure of herself. “Um, why’d you break in, Sir Errok?”
“You were spotted at the home of the Water Master Kinder last night,” Errok stated.
Amber looked confused. “And?”
The fairy looked up at me. “Is she slow?”
“Most humans don’t consider that to be a good reason to invade their homes,” I told the fairy. “Elaborate.”
He sighed, turning back to her. “And the fairy queen hoped to learn more about you.”
“What?!” Amber said. “Why?”
“I’m not privy to that information,” the fairy said grumpily.
“Well what do you know?” Amber asked,
The fairy crossed his arms. “I know the full moon is in three days. I know that the grass is green and the water is blue and that fire burns. I know that my queen has a plan and that Amber Seren is protected by two beast from hell. I know that the one you call Paradox is orange and the one you call Squee is black and white. I know that you own 16 pairs of underwear, 7 of which are black, 2 of which are red, 3 of which are purple, 1 of which is pink lace and-”
“Okay, that’s enough!” Amber said, turning pink herself. “Why were you in my underwear drawer?”
The fairy gave me a look of askance, as if Amber were a minor nuisance he wanted to be rid of. I leaned further in on his wing with a stern look and he sighed.
“Because the fairy queen hoped to learn more about you.” He looked at Amber like he thought she was a moron.
“Are all fairies this annoying?” Amber asked me.
“Generally yes,” I replied. “Ask him what the fairy queen’s plan is.”
“Uh… Can’t you?” Amber asked. Behind her, the orange tabby cat meowed, scratching at the closet door.
“He invaded your domain,” I said, “and was caught. He now owes you a debt.”
The fairy humphed. “That is a gross over-simplification.”
“Close enough,” I grumbled. “Just ask.”
“Uh, What is the fairy queen’s plan?” Amber asked, trying to shoo the cat away from the door.
The fairy scowled. “I am not privvy to that information.”
“Do you know anything?” Amber yelled.
“I know the full moon is in three days. I know that the grass is-”
“Right, right, I caught that,” Amber said impatiently. “Are fairies deliberately annoying?”
“Generally yes,” the fairy said, mimicking me.
Amber sighed . “Is he going to tell us anything new here?”
“Maybe not to us,” I said. “What would you like to do with him?”
“Why is this my decision?” Amber asked.
I sighed. “Your house. Your rules. What do you want done?”
“Could we like, take him back?” Amber asked. “Maybe Kelcie can talk to him?”
“Yes, we can,” I said, standing up without moving my foot off his wing.. “Do you have a cat carrier or something?”
“Yeah.” She got up, walking towards her bedroom closet where the cat was still pawing.
She opened the door and a flurry of wings and hair flew at her.