Once upon a time, flowers lived long lives. They are now known to be fleeting, for the most part. They bud. They bloom. They grace the world with their beauty. And then they die. But it was not always so. They lived long lives indeed. Longer than creatures with many legs. Longer than creatures with four legs. Longer than creatures with two legs. And sometimes, even longer than the long-lived beings of the deep.
I didn’t earn what happened to me. The curse that fell on me was meant for another. That’s what happens when petty warlocks are reckless with their magic.
“There they are again—don’t look!”
Yolie froze, mid-fold, and snapped her head forward again to look at Luxe. “Who?”
Luxe glanced up over Yolie’s shoulder. “You know who…Burgundy.” He glanced back down at the socks that he was rolling. “So, are we going to do it?”
A restless fairy grew bored one day and created a restless trinket, imbuing it with all of the fairy’s magic. The magic was all bent toward one purpose, to grant the bearer of the trinket three wishes.
The form the trinket first took was as a pendant, which the fairy gave to a human acquaintance with only three instructions…or warnings.
“First, the wish itself will only have power over you. Second, whenever you make a new wish, the old wish will vanish. And third, once the final wish is made and granted, the trinket will leave your possession.”
“Okay, okay, so the story goes, this king sent his daughter over the sea to a distant land to secure an alliance with a country that was formerly their enemy. And with her, he sent gifts and such.”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know if these people did dowries. Anyway, the gifts included the usual stuff you’d expect, precious metals and precious stones, coins, and jewels. And the one big gift, the real gift, you might say. A crown made for the prince, and set with a very special one-of-a-kind jewel. A jewel that was sent by the heavens. A jewel that could shine without sunlight. But this king had angered the gods, so they ordered the sea fairies to destroy the ship and drown the king’s daughter—“
Legend says that the draugamunninn were once human. They were a practical but severe people who after suffering one terrible winter too many, and after failing to feed themselves with their own hands and their own labor, began to pray to their old gods for relief. But their prayer was not answered by a god.
It was answered by a demon.
The couple had thirteen children by the time they were finished siring. One by one, as each child came of age, they were sent out into the world to seek their fortunes and their purposes for themselves. To each child their parents gave one gift to help them on their way. And upon receiving their gifts, each child proclaimed their grand aims.
“Where did you go?” the giant asked, smiling as she peered down at the ogre and the elf.
“Madhaluna,” the ogre said, “but so many couples go there for their honeymoon that people just call it…” She glanced at the elf.
The elf smiled. “…Honeymoon City.”
I was nervous. Okay…yes, obviously. Obviously I was nervous. This one, I really, really wanted. Based on the description. Field investigation and research. Constant travel, mostly domestic, but some international travel might be required. Opportunities to advance, to earn further education, to earn money. But best of all, I would not be able to talk about the details of my work—with rare exception—with anyone outside of the organization. No details meant no criticism from my…beloved family. But you can’t always be sure from just a description. I tried not to get too excited.
When her auntie died, far sooner than she should have, Subira inherited three things from her. One was a blessing. One was a curse. The third was a quest. The curse is what killed her aunt. And the curse would kill Subira too unless she completed the quest before the number on the clock that her aunt gave her reached one thousand and six.