Happy Wednesday! Here's another update from yours truly in the Wednesday Briefer's flash event. This week I used a cabal in my story as my prompt. Enjoy!
Take Flight Part 14
“Ow.” Okay, sex felt more than great during but afterward… Birch groaned on his way into the grotto. He made a beeline for the pool.
Muscle aches aside, Birch felt good physically. Sayer getting hauled out of bed by Croll for some sort of fae-ish cabal in the early morning hours had certainly upset his mood. The damn man wasn’t Sayer’s best friend, he was! Birch dunked himself. The water closed over his head. Birch’s heartbeat thudded in his ears over the sound of the water over his body on its way out of the pool.
When he’d woken Birch had been in a great mood, until he’d realized Sayer was leaving with Croll. When were they going to have time to talk? Everything in his life was changing so fast. He’d moved home, Sayer had come back, and now he wasn’t really on the same Earth he’d always known. Beside and behind was how Sayer had described it, like images overlaying each other.
Sayer had barely explained anything about the fae realm before they’d been interrupted. If only he could understand what was going on around him, Birch wouldn’t feel nearly so lost. That hole inside him was gone, now that he and Sayer had done the bond thing, but even that didn’t make a lot of sense to Birch.
Changelings. Fae with pointed ears and androgynous beauty, dwarves with an affinity for metal, tiny sprites with glittering wings… someone had glimpses of the truth. How?
And what the hell was up with these so called Darklings? Sayer had mentioned wild magic, as if magic was a living force.
Birch’s lungs were burning and he had no answers for his questions. He rocketed upward out of the water, gasping in a huge breath as he broke the surface.
Birch spun around. “You scared me!” His heart thudded.
“Sorry.” Sayer sat cross-legged by the deep side of the pool. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I told Croll to handle the Ghillie Dhu.”
“More bad magic?” Birch swam to the edge of the pool.
“No, the tiny sprites were just up to their usual tricks. They guard the pathways from the occasional person who makes it through the veil, and they like tricks. They’d captured a pair of humans and were teasing them. It seems like more and more people can see past our illusions these days.”
Birch rested his arms against the gray stones ringing the pool. He rubbed Sayer’s knees. “You sound worried.”
“I am. The wild magic is making it harder to keep our secret. What if a Darkling gets away from the fae realm and attacks the humans? The guards have managed to stop it so far, but we know so little about why this started or how the darkness keeps spreading. Darklings lost in the wild magic attack at every fae in their vicinity, friends, family… it doesn’t matter.” Sayer’s voice dropped to a whisper and then broke.
“Is that what happened? With your parents?” Birch hated to ask, but something told him he needed to know.
“Yes. I loved my parents, but they were blind to the changing times. I wanted to be with you in the human realm because eventually humans will find out about us, I’m sure of it. I’d had a fight with my parents over a human that had wandered onto the path to the capital somehow and sat on a spriggan.”
“What’s a spriggan?”
“Think creature who can morph their body. They’re kinda… blobs, that can float in the air or sink and become hard as stone. At least until you sit on them and they capture you.”
“Disturbing, I’m sure.” Having a rock grab onto your ass and not let go would freak out anyone.
Sayer nodded. “The spriggan had never strayed on that path. It was another incident in a long line of weird behavior for fae across the realm. I wanted the guard to investigate, but they wanted to keep it quiet. I followed their decree, reluctantly after they left for their annual retreat. The summer after we graduated high school, was the last I saw them. They never came back, not as themselves.”
Birch could guess. “They became Darklings?”
“The first, as far as we can tell. Since then the effects on the fae have been growing.”
His poor… what was Sayer to him? Boyfriend? Partner? King? Birch sighed. “I’m sorry to bring up bad memories, but I had a thought under the water.”
Sayer caressed his face. “Yeah?”
“Do you know what I was doing, the day you came back?”
“No.” Sayer leaned down and kissed him.
“Mmm.” Birch smiled then stretched up on his tiptoes to get another kiss. “That’s nice.”
“But you’re distracting me.” Birch chuckled when Sayer shrugged and grinned. “It’s important, okay?”
Sayer dropped his hands into his lap. “Fine, I’ll be good.”
“Thank you. Now, as I was saying, that day I was researching damage to an ecosystem downstream from a logging site. One of the problems was a toxin in the water that was causing a blight on some of the plants growing alongside the stream.” Birch raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t understand,” Sayer said. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“As I understand it, your magic isn’t just your magic, right? The forces in your realm that fae use flow through everything and everyone.”
“Yes. Our abilities shape the way we can use it, but the magic is everywhere.”
“What if this problem isn’t the fae, or the magic itself, but something outside the fae realm poisoning your realm?”
Sayer blinked slowly. “I-I never thought of that.”
“And you said you had more magic, and more abilities than anyone else in the fae realm, right? What if that’s why your parents were the first Darklings? They could control the other fae, just as you can. Through them… all fae are vulnerable. So we should ask who’d want to gain control of the fae realm?”
Now check out the other great updates by my fellow Briefers: