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“What the hell!” Amber yelled, stepping back from the small fairy that attacked her. I started to move towards her but I felt the other fairy try to tug away from under my boot. Sir Errok glared up at me angrily from the floor.

Amber didn’t seem to need my help. After a short struggle, she threw the second fairy back against the wall with a quick burst of wind. A small female form hit the wall hard and fluttered to the ground. Before it could get up, the orange tabby had launched itself onto its back. The cat’s tail flicked back and forth angrily.

“How many damn fairies are in my house?” she yelled at the prone form. She had a small scratch just beneath one eye and another across the bridge of her nose that was oozing blood, but it looked like the fairy had missed her eye.

I nudged the fairy I’d trapped underfoot. “Answer her.”

Errok looked unhappy, but answered when I shifted my sword closer to his prone form. “Just the two of us,” he grumbled.

“That better be the truth,” I said. “Are you alright, Amber?”

“I think so?” she said, huffing a little. She ran a hand through her hair, brushing it back into a semblance of order.

“Then get the cat carrier before your cat bites her head off, Amber,” I said, pointing at the downed fairy. I hoped she was still alive. “Assuming you want to bring that one back too.”

“Right,” she said, slightly out of focus. “I do. Right.”

She reached into the closet uneventfully, pulling out a cat carrier and holding it up to me. I pointed to the downed fairy first. She looked at the fairy hesitantly.

“I can do it if you stand here,” I said, looking down at a disgruntled Sir Errok. There was a small scuff mark on my boot now, surrounded by a halo of glitter. I wondered if he’d tried to stab my foot when the other fairy attacked.

Amber nodded, stepping on the fairy wing gently. “Does this hurt him?”

“Yes,” the fairy objected.

“Maybe a little,” I said, lifting my foot carefully. “But he already tried to stab me once.”

I passed Amber my sword, taking it in exchange for the cat carrier. The scratches on her face were starting to trickle blood, and I could see that the fae had almost got her eye. Another inch and she’d have been in trouble.

“Isn’t this overkill?” she said, shifting the 4 foot sword. The fairy cringed away from the moving blade.

“It’s cold iron,” I replied. “If he gets uppity, you can just tap it with him.”

I glowered at Errok, kneeling beside his fallen comrade. “And that’ll really hurt, won’t it?”

The little fae grunted at me, but watched me closely out of the corner of his eye. I turned to the small fairy under Amber’s cat. The orange tabby chirped at me happily.

“You’re a good little hunter, aren’t you?” I said, petting the cat behind the ears. He purred beneath my hand. Beneath his paws, the fairy stirred.

“That’s a shame, you’re waking up.” I shifted around, trying to find an angle where she could see me. The fairy had long, silky hair the colour of wheat and leather armour similar to the other fairy. One hand was held around the hilt of her crystal sword.

“Hey!” I said, “Drop the sword.”

Instead of moving her hand, she tightened her grip, pulling it to her. “Why should I?” she hissed. She buzzed her wings under the cat and he lifted one paw curiously. She tried to slash at the cat, but the larger beast batted her down twice, burying her under his fluffy paws.

She lay stunned under the cats attacks and I took the opportunity to grab her fallen weapon. I now had two tiny crystal swords.

“Two reasons you shouldn’t attack me,” I said, pinning the swords through my shirt like a brooch and stepping on one wing. The cat looked at me like I was stealing his toy. “The first being because we have your buddy.”

“The fool got himself caught,” she said angrily, slightly muffled beneath the furry paws.

“She doesn’t seem to like you, Errok,” I commented. The other fairy grunted at me non-committally.

“Right. Well, the second reason is that the Trauermarsch will definitely see that as an attack by the fae, and I’m sure you know what that means.”

Finally the female fairy looked at me properly, straining slightly to get her head clear of the cat fur. She sighed beneath the cat. “Of course it’s you.”

“Trust me, the feeling is mutual,” I said. “You’re lucky this isn’t my home.”

“What are your plans for me, Diabolist?” she said harshly.

“I’m not playing this game again,” I said, sighing. “For now, you’re just coming with us.”

It took some finagling to get the cat off her and the fairy into the cat carrier, but she didn’t struggle too hard. It was hard to overpower someone when you were only the size of a barbie doll. I moved onto Sir Errok next, pinning him underfoot.

“Thank you, Amber,” I said, putting down the cat carrier and taking my sword from her. “Did he behave?”

“Yeah.” She’d rubbed at the small scratches the fairy left, leaving rusty red streaks over her cheek and nose. “Can I go wash up?”

“Go ahead and clean up,” I said. “I’ll handle these pests.”

I glowered at the pair of fairies as she left the room, both cats hot on her heels and rubbing up against her. Maybe they were hoping for that food.

“Are you two going to be difficult?” I asked, kneeling over Sir Errok. They both gave me a look of pure hate.

“I don’t see why we should cooperate,” the female one said, poking her arms out of the wire gate on the carrier. Errok nodded.

“Well, the way I see it,” I said, “There’s two ways I can get you both in the cage. First, I open the cage, this little Missy-”

“Dame Ashlynn Tempest,” the fairy corrected me.

“Alright then,” I said unconcerned. “First method. I open the cage, Dame Ashlynn flies at me with whatever little dagger she has stowed away or tries to escape, I swing this sword that could kill you both and you both end up with cold iron burns and caged.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Dame Ashlynn said. So she was banking on the idea that the fae hadn’t broken our pact yet as well. They might be right… And I’d be in trouble if I was the one to break our pact. Not that this was information they needed to know.

“I’m having a bad day,” I said out loud. “And I’m pretty sure I’ll win the resulting fallout with the Trauermarsch on my side.”

She winced at the demon’s name. “What’s the other method?” she asked.

“The other method is simple,” I said. “You go sit at the back of the carrier, I’ll put Errok here inside, and on the way back, I’ll pick up pizza.”

Sir Errok didn’t look convinced, but I could see Dame Ashlynn was considering it.

“Pizza that you’ll share?” she asked cautiously.

“I could even get you some garlic bread,” I said. “Final offer.”

The fairy flew to the back of the cat carrier and sat down. We were out of the house in another ten minutes.

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