Chapter Eight

 

Here we introduce the first two Elves, Septimus Sitwell and The Wee One (aka T.W.O., aka Breadcrumb). The chapter is called The Realm: On the Other side of the Gossamer Veil.” Second draft version.

Septimus Sitwell clapped his hands to his head and moaned! “By Varda’s Panties! Another migraine! Who in the human world just poured themselves a kundalini cocktail?”

There was no one to hear him, fortunately, as his blasphemous outburst would have caused his brethren to compose lengthy songs of sorrow asking forgiveness of the most Blessed Lady of the Stars. Septimus was alone – as usual. Elven Hermits generally are, except of course during weekly swap meets, jam making, wine guzzling, tea drinking, tabletop role play games, and management of immortal melancholy classes. His fingernails were trimmed and buffed, his beard was like a film of sheer silk on his chin and cheeks, and he wore shiny black patent lederhosen with black and white wide-striped tights, spike heels, and a tight, sheer black t-shirt. All human-made contraband of course. Septimus had connections. And abilities.

The cost, however, was steep. It took a lot of concentration (as well as the correct use of The Book of Moons and the Alchemy of Space/Time) to tease and coax the molecules of human artifacts from one dimension into another, and then to reassemble them correctly. Septimus never forgot the time he summoned a liposuction machine (which were all the rage in fey realms that year – please don’t ask why) but ended up with a used diaphragm (in its case) and a copy of SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas. Sure, there are collectors who do pay for spontaneous flotsam from the Mortal Coil, and Septimus easily found a buyer, but still, such a disappointment!

But, that’s what Hermits do, don’t they? Summon stuff from other realms and hope to Tulkas it comes out right on the other side. There are worse jobs. However, like his brother Gingevus, Septimus suffered from a chronic case of emanation spillover from the human world. Though he hadn’t stumbled over any doppelgängers yet, he did know that there were certain humans who projected the contents of their unconscious into his mind. He hated it when they did tantra or watched pro wrestling. Both gave him headaches.

“Oh well, what’s the use of robbery when nothing is worth taking?” Septimus said to himself. He didn’t know what this meant, exactly, but it was one of those mortal spillover phrases, and he kind of liked the sound of it. And the sound had a flavor. He liked that too.

He closed his eyes, hoping to ease the pounding pain in his temples, but this was not a day that would prove restful. Within moments there was a loud rap on the door, a sharp sound muffled by white gloves, and his eyes flew open. The sound had a flavor, but the texture was wrong.

Septimus sighed, “Enter. Do.” Another sigh.

The Wee One crept in, as if with delicate compassion, as Septimus was clearly wincing in pain, but then ruined the effect by putting her white-gloved hands on her hips and glaring at his shoes.

“You said you were getting moccasins.”

“I know what I said. And this is what I got. Are you here to talk about my sole? If so, it can wait.” He sighed again.

The Wee One (aka T.W.O.) was a slender, willowy elf maiden, just like in the books. But recently, like the rest of her extended clan, she was spurning traditional velvets and silks for neo-vaudevillian clown togs. Another Hermit (an apprentice, not yet of the Guild) had mistakenly summoned a suitcase that proved to be a game-changing Pandora’s box of fashion. It contained a dozen pairs of black and white wide striped tights (Septimus scored a pair – I told you he had connections), pairs of white gloves, soft red noses, a black and white striped suit, a red wig, and a jar of sticky, clown white make-up. These items, plus several autographed glossies of a punk clown band posed in front of a ferris wheel, had created a whole new subculture in the Faerie Realm’s Lower East Side. The Wee One had been quick to rock the clown vibe and now everyone wanted to be her. She had curled and teased her fawn colored hair and tinted the ends with elderberries and moss. She wore a black bowler hat, white pearl powder on her face, and painted her lips and the tip of her nose with a pigment made of crushed rubies and rose petals. Imported black and white striped tights, the gloves, and a small striped tunic of spider silk (of local origin), completed her look. Her feet, however, were bare.

She was probably here because she wanted something she couldn’t get on her own, Septimus thought. And like most of my people, puns are over her head.

“Sit down, dear. You’re hurting my headache.”

The Wee One wanted to do something daringly clownish but she couldn’t think what. Besides, he’d told her to sit. She sat.

And sat. Like most Elves, she could also be very literal. Septimus waited for her to say something, then realized he’d have to ask her to speak up. “Yes, dear, what can I do for you?”

The Wee One was staring at his shoes. “I think I’d like those.” She looked up, hopefully.

“I’m not sure they’ll fit your dainty feet. But you can try if you like.” He handed the heels to her. As he’d thought, two sizes too big.

“But clowns have big shoes,” she said, disappointment dimming her dainty yet wacky glamour.

“I think they are specially made. But you didn’t come here because I had a new pair of high heels.” Septimus retrieved his shoes.

“Oh. Yes. I came because there’s a Disturbance in the Force.” she paused, “and Papa told me to tell you.”

“A disturbance in the force.” Another spillover phrase. Its flavor was… menacing. Like radishes dipped in nightshade, and force fed to crickets.

“I guess we’ll have to call a Moon,” Septimus sighed again, “but my head is throbbing. Do you think you could let Indigo know? Indigo will tell the rest.”

The Wee One stretched and did a little shimmy and winked. “Okay, Septi, will do.” And she skipped out the door.

There was a time, Septimus thought, that our Moons were bold and full of purpose. There was a time when our human companions sheltered us from forceful disturbances, and in so doing, some grew ripe with ritual and determination. Some even learned to push molecules through the thin places, using the Alchemy of Space/Time. Septimus sighed, then closed his eyes and slumbered at last, dreaming his headache away… dreaming of jam.

Meanwhile, The Wee One skipped blithely over mosses and leaves, over cobbles and wheel-rutted paths. She practiced making clownish movements with her hands, and sometimes stopped to put her fingers to her cheeks, to pull up the corners of her mouth in imitation of a clownish grin. She was pleased with herself. The cats crept from the shrubbery and began to follow her, whiskers aloft and tails held high. They were watching her toes. They would pounce if they could.

For a cat of the Realm, Elf toes are the most fun to chase. But T.W.O.’s toes were too nimble. Indigo was not at home. So she sat on the stoop and waved felines away from her feet. They crouched among the garden gnomes (another imported fashion) and watched her with glittering eyes. They were cats. They could wait.

T.W.O., however, could not. It was not in her nature to sit for long. She must be doing. Certainly she could feel the disturbance in the force that troubled her Papa. It had a smell, and it was not a good smell. It was like that nasty bottle called “Designer Fragrance” that dropped out of the mortal world into the fey and was quickly nicknamed “Elf Vomit.” That bottle was the first clue in the Realm that something had gone desperately wrong in the Mortal Coil. Many faeries died to bring us that information.

Since Indigo was not at home, she, The Wee One, would carry the Message of Assembly to the others. It was a grand plan, and seemed suitably clownish. She beckoned a plump, orange cat, promised it a grasshopper, then placed a charm on its furry head so it would wait and deliver the Message to Indigo. The cat plopped onto the stoop and began to leisurely wash its whiskers.

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Second draft version. Copyright A. Marsh 2018.

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