Fairy Tales of Cliffside: Volume Two
By Corey Daggett
Chapter 7: A Late Night Visit
Deep in the woods, a cabin door slammed. Morris took heavy steps onto the porch, each one thudding against the old planks. Honey followed after him.
“Where are you going?!” she called after him with her shrill voice.
He stopped and turned toward her. The moonlight glinted on his teeth. “I’m going to visit the fairy. She needs to be repaid for what she did to my pets.” He turned away and resumed walking. She ran after him.
“But why worry about them?” she asked, darting in front of him to block his way. “Why not stay with me tonight?” She teetered side to side with her thumbs pulling down on the waist of her shorts. “I’ll make it worth your while.”
“I can only think of repaying the fairy. Nothing else matters until the matter is settled.”
“Who cares?!” Honey exclaimed, thrusting her arms into the air. “So what if they turned your fucking birds into butterflies?! Why can’t you stop obsessing over them and obsess over me instead?”
Morris didn’t respond at first. He stood unmoving for several seconds before letting a quip of laughter escape. “Ooooh, you think you have the power to change my mind? How naive.”
She winked at him. “I have my feminine wiles, after all! It’s how I captured your heart in the first place, isn’t it?”
He ignored her, instead looking up at the canopy of leaves swaying above them. “A fuck-toy is a fuck-toy. When the fuck-toy is broken, you get rid of it and find a new one.” He looked back to her, his eyes glinting with glee. “A fuck-toy that talks back is broken.” He raised his hands and snapped his fingers. The rustle of wings began rushing above them.
Honey held up her hands. “No, wait! I didn’t mean it! We’ll go after them together. We’ll pay them back!”
A wave of black feathers crashed over her from behind. She was knocked over and instantly covered by the birds. They piled atop her, covering her completely. She screamed as they began pecking her. She thrashed beneath them, struggling to break free. It was no use. The birds were hungry. They fought amongst themselves for savory bits of flesh. Since she was keen on showing off her midriff, they went for that first. Blood leaked out from beneath the mound. Her screams turned to wails, then gurgling cries. All the while, Morris laughed uncontrollably. He savored the moment, as it was a moment he’d been looking forward to for a long time. He bellowed with laughter so hard that he doubled over, clutching his abdomen.
Honey’s cries became weaker, then ceased.
Morris regained his composure, wiping saliva from his chin. Then, he resumed his walk through the forest. “Enjoy the meal, my pets. Join me when you’re finished.” A small chuckle escaped him. “We have to pay the fairy a visit.”
Daniel struggled to keep the swirling ball of energy alive. Trickles of sweat ran down his forehead. He’d been holding the sphere for about ten minutes without failing. (Slipha’s exercise routines were rigorous and she was an unforgiving teacher.) As he struggled to make it through practice, she was curled up in a chair across the room reading a book. She spoke to no one in particular as she read. “Oh my. I didn’t know humans were so filthy.” She turned the page, curling a strand of hair around her finger as she read.
Daniel spoke up between labored breaths. “We humans are prisoners to our own desires. I find it both disgusting and beautiful. But I suppose fairies don’t have such weights to bare.”
“Did I say you could speak?” she said without taking her eyes away from the book.
“I apologize, madam...”
“Just shut up and practice.”
He sighed and continued generating the energy sphere. With his mind wandering, it was growing unstable.
Suddenly, a loud thump came from the window. Both of them jumped. Daniel’s energy sphere popped and Slipha nearly dropped the book. “What the hell was that?” she exclaimed, her blood pressure now double what it’d been a moment ago.
They went to the window and pulled the curtain back. There was nothing or no one outside. They searched all around, craning their necks to see as much as possible. “Oh!” Slipha said, feeling relieved. She pointed to the ground beneath the window. “Looks like a bird flew into the window.”
Daniel looked at the bird lying on the ground. “Looks like a raven. Funny, I don’t think that’s ever happened before.”
“Is it dead?”
“Might just be knocked out. Let’s have a look, shall we?”
They went outside. Slipha knelt beside it, looking the bird over. Then, she held out her hands and began healing it. After a moment, the bird awoke and jumped to its feet. It looked back at Daniel and Slipha with black eyes, gave them a squawk of gratitude, then took off into flight.
“That was kind of you.” Daniel remarked.
Slipha shrugged. “It was just a dumb bird that didn’t understand the concept of a window. No reason to let it die.” She ran her hand through her hair and gave it a flip, then went back to the front door. “Time to get back to work.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Daniel followed behind her. They returned to their places in the study. It was a few more minutes before they heard another loud thud against the window.
“Damn it all! Not again!” Slipha threw the book down on the chair and stood up. Daniel didn’t stand up this time, determined to continue his practice. Before she could reach the window, another thump rattled it. Then another. And another. Slipha threw the curtains open. Her breath left her and the color disappeared from her face. She stared in wonder at the black sky.
Daniel turned in time to see the wave of black coming over the tree tops. It looked like a tidal wave of oil rushing toward them. Blacker than a void and shiny. Daniel grabbed Slipha’s waist and yanked her down. As soon as they hit the floor, glass exploded from the windows and rained down on them as a wave of birds flooded the room. There was a mixture of screaming, squawking, tinkling glass, and items crashing throughout the house. The weight of a thousand birds caused the ancient floorboards to strain.
As soon as Slipha and Daniel regained their bearings, they discovered a mass of ravens flittering atop them, picking at their clothing. Anger boiled within her. Slipha stood up, tossing birds off herself, and flew out through the window, using magic to grab Daniel as she went. The front yard was covered in thousands (or perhaps hundreds of thousands) of ravens which reached every corner of the property. She tossed Daniel’s helpless body into the midst of them while she stayed floating in the air. The birds scattered, leaving a small patch of grass for him to land on. He staggered to his feet, looking around in disbelief. Then he looked at his house. Every front window had been broken through and ravens were flying around inside as if they were having a party.
“WHAT THE HELL IS ALL THIS?!” he screamed. He charged energy spheres in both hands, ready to take on every single one of them.
“Wait!” Slipha called, holding a hand out to him. “There’s some kind of black magic going on here.”
“Very astute, little fairy.” A wretched, oily voice came from the birds. It was deep and laced with glee. In front of them, a man stood from beneath the sea of birds. They parted for him as he rose, scattering, flying, then landing on him. They perched on his head and shoulders, but the man paid them no mind.
Slipha’s fists tightened. She would’ve been frightened if she weren’t so blinded by rage. “I’ll destroy every one of your birds and then we’ll see how powerful a sorcerer you are!”
Morris cocked his head. “Oh? Funny. You’re not the one from last night. We’re actually looking for another little fairy.”
Slipha froze. “What did you say?”
“We’re looking to pay back the little fairy and the man who visited us last night and turned my beautiful ravens into useless butterflies. A sad, sad occurrence. My army and I have come to repay the deed.”
“A little fairy and a man, you say?” Slipha glided down until she was hovering at his eye level. “Black hair and a blue dress, right?”
The man grinned wide and broad. “Precisely.”
“And the man was a nervous weakling with shaggy brown hair?”
“I take it you know them?”
“I do.” Slipha smiled at the man with the wide-brimmed hat. His eyes were frightening, seeming to contain every madness on earth. She floated backward a few feet, putting some distance between them, shrugging her shoulders as she did so. “I sympathize with you. I really do. But...”
“I wish I could tell you where they are so that you can go destroy them. However, she is my sister and I’m having far too much fun toying with the man. So it’s in my own best interest to stop you and your birds. Your quest for vengeance will fall short...” She raised her hands to the sky as she ascended. “... to the mighty Slipha, true queen of this world and destroyer of all who oppose.” Morris continued grinning up at her as she spoke. “I am a benevolent queen. I give you one chance to return home. No harm has to come to you or your birds.”
Silence fell. Then, a chuckle came from beneath his hat. Then a laugh. It soon became a bellowing fit of laughter. Slipha peered down at Morris with great hatred, crossing her arms with a scowl on her face. He covered his face with one hand, leaning back, and laughing. Once he’d regained himself, he spoke with calm, oily words once again. “You are entertaining, I’ll give you that. But you aren’t as powerful as you say. And you are no queen. The one true queen is Queen Arany. She is a bright, shining example of power. RAW, UNADULTERATED POWER!” He sneered.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about. But I know for certain that I am the most powerful person in this town.”
“She’s a fairy, too, you know.” He grinned wildly. “The other one seemed taken aback when I told her that.”
That addition did take Slipha aback, but she didn’t let it show. “I warn you.” she sneered. “I’m a hundred times more skilled and powerful than any fairy. Truthfully, I don’t want to fight you. Unfair fights are no fun, like bludgeoning a small child or a dog. So I’ll leave you to my apprentice.” She snapped her fingers. “Daniel, conjure a spell that will get rid of this pathetic mortal.”
Daniel smiled. “With pleasure, my lady.” He reached into his pocket and produced a crystal pendant. He held it out toward Morris.
“Go ahead, Daniel. Conjure me away. Impress your master.”
Daniel began speaking to the crystal. “Percutiō... Iugulō... Exanimō... Perimō... Dēcīdō... Feriō. Percutiō... Iugulō... Exanimō... Perimō... Dēcīdō... Feriō. Percutiō... Iugulō... Exanimō... Perimō... Dēcīdō... Feriō.”
Nothing happened... except that it amused the man. He put his gloved hands together in a slow applause. “Good, good. You’re learning well. I remember when I first learned that spell. I was a young lad just beginning the sorcerer’s path. I used it on a schoolmate when he took something of mine. He exploded like dynamite.”
Daniel stared at Morris, not sure what to do next. “Miss Slipha?” he asked. “Why isn’t he dead?”
“Let me answer that for you.” he said, enthralled with glee. “The devil doesn’t attack his own. And I’ll have you know we’re good friends. You, however, are merely acquaintances.” He lifted his arms, spreading them wide. “I need no words. My birds speak for me.”
Suddenly, the sea of ravens took flight. Wind rushed around Slipha and Daniel. Waves of black crashed against them. The force knocked the wind from their lungs and sent Slipha to the ground. Thousands of menacing birds piled atop them. The victims began flailing wildly to knock them away, but they never stopped coming.
Slipha screamed out in pure rage. She thrust a gravitational wave in all directions, sending bewildered birds hurtling for miles. Once free, she rushed Morris, charging an energy burst in one hand. She held it above her head, screaming as she flew toward her enemy. The sphere was as big as a car, sizzling and crackling, anticipating the target it would destroy. She came within arm’s length and landed before him, thrusting the energy into him. It exploded like a bomb. Her vision and hearing left her.
Staggering backward a step or two, she shielded her face. Slowly, the blindness dissipated and the ringing left. She blinked. Morris stood before her, untouched and still grinning. Slipha gawked at him, speechless.
“Your magic is so cute.” he said, raising his hand, then bringing it down on her. The back of his hand struck her cheek. Its force sent her reeling. She tumbled several feet away until she came to a rest face down in the grass. Ravens jumped on her and began pecking at her clothes, skin, and wings. “If you haven’t figured it out yet...” Morris continued, “... I am also protected by spells. No magic can harm me.”
He began walking toward Daniel. Each of his footsteps sent thuds shimmering through the earth. “Now, about you.” His birds parted, giving him a clear walkway. They fluttered away from Daniel, who lay face-down on the ground. Trickles of blood oozed from the spots where the ravens had been pecking. Morris pushed him over onto his back with his boot. He reached down and throttled him, lifting him up by the throat.
Daniel winced and tried to continue breathing. His eyes were dim and his body weak. Morris sneered in his face. “I’m disappointed by you. As a fellow sorcerer, you should have at least given me a challenge. You deserve nothing but death.”
Slipha swatted at the ravens which pecked and clawed at her. They were persistent and didn’t want to leave her. She reached for the satchel tied to her dress. It was filled with training candies. She grabbed a handful and shoved them in her mouth, hoping they’d give her the energy she needed. She struggled to roll over onto her back. With continued stabs from hungry beaks, her eyes squeezed shut, and her palms out, she reached deep within herself, searching for energy. It slowly came to her. She sent every bit she had to her hands.
The ravens began levitating from the ground. They couldn’t fly or move on their own. They were captive to her gravity magic. They began whirling around and around, caught in a vortex. All of the birds covering the lawn were sucked into the ball. The birds in the house were sucked through the windows and captivated by the ball. Hundreds of thousands of ravens twirled around inside Slipha’s sphere of gravity, helpless to escape. The sphere became larger with each added bird, becoming a looming black cloud in the sky, blotting out the moon. Its shadow covered Daniel’s entire property.
Morris turned from Daniel to see the sight. For the first time, he stopped smiling. His eyes widened and his mouth gaped in wonder. He loosed Daniel, who fell to the ground, and walked toward Slipha.
“Don’t move.” she said as she lay sprawled on the grass. Her voice was shaky and weary. “Come an inch closer and I’ll kill every one of em.”
Morris didn’t stop. He continued walking, knowing she was bluffing. He stopped beside her, peering down on her. “You are more powerful than I expected.”
“You wanted to attack my family...” she struggled to speak as she expelled huge amounts of energy. “... but you should thank me for stopping you. The fairy you met is the weakest of them. The others are like me. We would destroy you.”
“Good. GOOD! I love a challenge. A worthy opponent is something I’ve dreamt of for decades. I want to meet your family. All of them. We will cast spells beneath the moon, creating destruction across the countryside until one is left standing. Such a thing is sweeter than wine and more sensual than fornication.”
Lines of sweat streaked down her face. She couldn’t continue holding them any longer. The amount of energy required to hold the birds was too much. Slipha let go all at once, breathing heavily after releasing the magic. The sphere of birds exploded in all directions, the birds flying around happily in the sky like a swarm of wasps. The swarm cast bizarre, flittering shadows on Slipha as she lay helpless on the ground, too weak to move. Morris peered down at her in glee. “Are you finished entertaining me?” He got no response. “I’m finished playing with you.” He put his boot across her throat, pushing down until she began choking. “What? You can’t fight back? What happened to all the talk you gave me?”
Slipha began struggling to free herself. With her energy failing and unable to breath, she felt fear. She was on the precipice of death and helpless to save herself. Her eyes bulged and her face began changing color. The man was clearly enjoying watching her die, savoring every moment of her struggle to live.
“I will find the other fairies.” he said. “I’ll enjoy toying with them before I kill them. Just like you.”
A sudden pop exploded behind his head. Blood spat out, spraying down on Slipha. Morris tumbled forward and crashed to the earth, his boot leaving her throat. She began coughing and wheezing, breathing as fast as she could. She looked up to see Daniel standing over her. He held a bloodied crowbar like a baseball bat. He stayed ready, prepared for the man to get back up.
Slipha rolled over onto her side and propped herself up on her elbow. “Is he dead?” she asked through a hoarse whisper.
“Probably not.” Daniel answered.
“Kill him.” she said without hesitating. “Kill that son of a bitch.”
Daniel walked over to the unconscious man, raised the crowbar, and prepared to bludgeon him to death. Then, everything became shrouded in darkness. Daniel looked up to see another wave of birds plunging down at him. The birds collided against him, Morris, and Slipha at once. The birds began piling up like sand in an hour glass, flapping and tumbling over one another. They were insane and only had their master’s protection in mind.
The birds took flight again, leaving the group lying on the ground. Slipha, bruised, battered, and weak, struggled to grab another handful of candy from her pouch and stuffed them in her mouth. Daniel slowly picked himself up. He looked over to Morris, who began stirring. Their hearts sank as they watched him rise to his feet. He reeled and staggered as he tried to regain himself. He put his foot down on the crowbar which Daniel had left in the grass.
“You...” he labored to speak. “... You. Despicable. Wretched. Vermin. Filth.”
Slipha picked herself up from the ground and struggled to stand. Her knees shook under her weight. “Wha- what?” she stammered. “You’re just pissed because...” she took a moment to shake the cobwebs from her head. “... because we’re winning.”
“Minor setbacks. I will kill you both tonight.” He reached down and plucked the crowbar from the ground. “Even if I have to resort to barbaric methods.” His usual grin had been replaced with rage. Pure, insane rage. “Your bag of tricks is empty. Your energy is spent. And you don’t have a sky full of allies.” He squeezed the crowbar in his hand tightly. “And when I find your family, I will be sure to present your head to them... right before killing them.”
He turned and leapt to Daniel in one large bound, raising the crowbar over his shoulder as he came. Daniel only had time to shield himself with his arms. Morris slammed the crowbar into his arm. Daniel screamed and collapsed. Morris stood over Daniel and raised the crowbar above his head. The grin quickly returned to his face. “Goodbye, pathetic conjurer!”
“STOP!” Slipha yelled. “I’ll help you!”
Morris held the crowbar above his head, hesitating. “You’ll... help me, you say?” He looked over his shoulder.
Slipha was holding her hand out to him, pleading for him to stop. “I’ll take you to my sisters. Then you can have the fight of your dreams. But you have to let us both live.”
“A desperate plea. Sounds like you’ve finally realized your fate.”
“You’re too powerful to fight.” she continued. “I realize that now.” As she spoke, her hand manipulated the gravity magic she was stirring inside the house. Glass shards that littered the floors began levitating, swirling around in the air like miniature glass tornados. “There’s no way we can beat a sorcerer as powerful as you.”
“Oh?” He turned from Daniel and began approaching Slipha. “Now you’re just trying to manipulate me.”
“Can you blame me? It’s the only thing I have left.”
“You’re an intelligent woman. I would love for you to replace the one I had at home. At least our conversations would be interesting. But then… you’d slit my throat in my sleep, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would. Nothing would make me happier than to see you dead.”
“A shame. What would it have been like for us to meet under different circumstances?” He stopped in front of her, the crowbar now leaning on his shoulder. “Would we have been friends? Would we have been lovers? Would we have spent pleasant nights like this practicing sorcery and discussing the way the world should be?”
“I suppose anything is possible.” Slipha said, the coy smile returning to her features. “I have always been attracted to power. And you are no exception.”
“Just a fact. But what good is power if you don’t keep your guard up?”
He sneered. “True. Even the most powerful men are destroyed by the charms of a woman.”
“Well said.” Slipha said, grinning ear to ear. “If we mark your grave, I’ll put that on your tombstone.”
Morris’ eyes widened as sudden realization struck him. He spun around in time to see a million tiny glass shards hurtling toward him. He had no time to run, they were too wide-spread. He couldn’t call on his birds to shield him, they were still flying too high in the air. All he could do was scream as they ripped through his body. They moved as fast as bullets, tearing through him, piercing skin, arteries, and organs alike. Blood spewed from his back as glass exited him.
As Slipha stood behind him manipulating the broken glass, she kept a wall of gravity up in front of her, shielding herself from the barrage of glass and blood which splattered against it. She burst into laughter. She felt more powerful than she’d felt her entire life, an intoxicating feeling. Her laughter was met by the insane laughter which Morris let out as he was torn apart. As his features were ripped from his bones, he still had just enough left in him to let out a bellowing cackle of glee. He was either enjoying death or enjoying the irony of his defeat.
The glass shards came to an end, the last few ripping fresh holes through his body and tinkling to the ground, adding to the enormous pile of red glass at Slipha’s feet. Morris collapsed, blood leaking from him in all directions. He struggled to speak with what was left of his mouth, now hanging from his face like torn rags. “Slipha...” his voice was weak and slurred his words. “I’ll wait for you in hell… and give you a standing ovation.”
Slipha looked down at him, not saying a word. The little bit of strength left in him failed and his body fell limp. The thousands of birds circling overhead suddenly scattered like they’d been frightened. Within moments, the sky was clear again.
Daniel struggled to pick himself up, propping his weight on his elbow. “Is he dead?”
“Yes.” Slipha answered, her voice void of emotion.
“You did well, Miss Slipha.” he fought to force the words from his battered body. “You’re a cunning sorceress... and you saved my life again.”
“You saved me, too. So let’s call it even.”
Daniel coughed and spat a wad of blood onto the dirt. “Can you heal me?”
Slipha walked over to him. “No. I’m too weak.” She helped him to his feet and put his arm over her shoulder. “It’s time we paid my sister a visit. She owes me.”
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