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A bad feeling

Brenzel stopped washing her face, grabbing the edges of the small table where the basin lay to steady herself. She felt as if someone had punched her in the gut, feeling sick to her stomach.

The door opened and Fallon rushed in, holding her stomach, too. “Someone’s dying!”

Brenzel knew it was true. She felt life leaving, then a sense of loss set in, impossible to comprehend. A life extinguished, now beyond a vale through which the living could not go. Like a rising tide, a sense of unstoppable sadness flooded through everything.

Then came a wailing from the other room; Derek was crying.

Did people die in Hala? Bren wondered. No one died here, just like in Elysia everyone was healthy and looked to be in their mid twenties, no matter how old they really were. Something didn’t feel right. In fact, something felt very wrong.

Brenzel dressed, and hurried over to Derek’s room to check on him. When she opened the door, she saw the big man in Fallon’s arms, as she consoled him. He said between sobs, “He’s dead.”

This is just wrong, she thought.


Outside into the street, she sought out someone to ask. Up one street, down another, shops eerily open but deserted. After a while, Brenzel sat down. Where is everyone? Quieting herself inside, she reached out in her mind to their guide, asking, Who died? Nothing. Hello, do you hear me, is everything alright?

Slowly came the answer, Good morning. How did you sleep?

Sensing evasion, Brenzel thought, I feel someone’s died. What’s going on? Derek is crying, what happened?

A long silence.

Brenzel waited, then sensed which direction the sadness came from. She trotted down the deserted streets towards the southern part of the city where they’d first arrived.

As she neared the path that led to the forest, a great throng of people stood gathered ahead. Brenzel had never seen that many Fey in one place before, maybe three times more than were in the amphitheater the other day.

They stood close together, backs to her as she approached, then a voice in her head said sternly, You are not permitted.

Brenzel now experienced a sadness come over her, crushing her spirit, and she stopped for a moment in confusion. She felt like crying, like she stood over an abyss of sorrow so deep that if she fell into it, she would fall forever.

Pushing back harder

Tipping her hat, now in her Hunter attire, she growled in her mind, No! She pushed back at the feeling threatening to overwhelm her.

Stop, the stern voice came again as Brenzel focused more.

Pushing back harder she roared, Get out of my mind! The presence left abruptly.

“Let me through!” she shouted as the Fey made way for her. Coming through the last of them, she saw it. She froze. Feeling like that little girl in the market all over again, she saw the dead body hanging by a rope from the tree. All that shock and horror flooded back as she lifted her hand to her mouth, drawing in a sharp breath. Feeling the silence around her, she looked at the Fey, who stood staring, perfectly still, no emotion showing. A chill went down Brenzel’s spine at their lack of grief. What’s wrong with you people?

How could this be? It made no sense. No one seemed unhappy in Fey, never even a harsh word. Why would someone take their life, or – her blood ran cold – why would they ever execute one of their own?

Who are you people?

As if on queue, all Fey present turned and began leaving. No one said a thing, none acted upset. If there wasn’t someone dead, hanging from a tree, they might have just been going home from a town meeting. Brenzel said, out loud, “What’s wrong with all of you?”

She reached out and grabbed the arm of a man walking past her, accusing, “Did you execute that young man?”

The man looked at her blankly, then began to focus, saying, “What?”

“I said, was that young man a criminal? Did you hang him, or did he kill himself?”

A look of shock came over the man’s face, “We would never execute one of our own; no one commits crimes in Fey.”

Brenzel felt her face flush as her frustration grew. “Then what happened, why is he dead?!”

In her mind, the man spoke. It is the sadness, it took him, that’s all. It happens sometimes, no one knows why. Then the Fey looked at Brenzel with surprise, as if noticing her garb for the first time, saying out loud, “You’re a hunter, aren’t you? Why have you come to Fey? There is no one to save here…what is your business with us?” Then, with eyes looking askance, he declared, “You’re not even Halan, who sent you here?”

Dove send me

The pieces fell into place, as if the jigsaw was finally together enough to guess the rest of the picture. Realizing what was going on, Brenzel said in her mind, It’s time for us to talk Fey, I want to see you in person.

First a wave of confusion, followed by annoyance, and finally disdain from the Fey washed over her mind in successive waves.

And by the way Dove sent me, the Blue Seraph of Elysia, Brenzel added.

Everyone stopped, turned around and stared at Brenzel. That hit a chord. Then all at once they took a step forward toward her. For a moment, it felt like all of them might rush her. Shifting her weight to her back foot, Brenzel focused, feeling violet sparks begin to pour out of her fingertips. Don’t even think about it.

The people hesitated, then, without a word, all turned again as one and continued on their way back to the city.


Didn’t you hear what I just said?

Brenzel ran back to their quarters. Bursting in the door, out of breath, she said to her companions sitting at the table, eating breakfast, “We’re leaving. It’s not safe for us here anymore.”

Derek smiled at Fallon, as she buttered another piece of fresh raisin bread. Then he turned to look at Brenzel. “Good morning Brenzel, how are you?”

“Someone did die, he hung himself on a tree just outside the city, it was awful. There’s something not right with these people> I think they’re controlled by this Fey person.”

“Fallon and I are planning to go swimming again today, would you like to join us?”

“What? Didn’t you hear what I just said?! A man killed himself and I think Fey may have something to do with it!” She stared at Derek hard, then at Fallon. They both looked, blinked, then went back to talking and eating.

“What the?!” Brenzel said, incredulous.

Then came a knock on the door. Derek got up to answer it. Greeting the small group of men heartily, slapping each other on the back as they hugged, the big man left without another word. Rushing to the door, Brenzel called out after him, but he paid no attention, walking away as if he hadn’t heard her at all.

Going back inside, Brenzel went over to Fallon who sat eating, as if nothing had happened. “Fallon, Fallon!” She shook her until she stopped eating and put her hands down. “Do you hear me?”

Looking up at her, the young woman said sweetly, “Why of course. Good morning Brenzel, how are you?”

“Ugh,” Brenzel said as she tipped Fallon’s hat into existent.

Instantly the young woman sat in her hat and Hunter clothes, glazing of her eyes subsiding. Seeing Brenzel, she asked, “When did you get here?” Looking down at her clothes, then back up she asked, “What’s going on? Where is Derek?”

Suddenly, Fallon’s hand rose up, tipping her hat out of sight again. She stood, chair falling backward to the floor, as she pushed past Brenzel, and ran out through the door.

“Fallon, stop!” Brenzel said, running outside after her only to see her disappear into a group of Fey women waiting for her.

Brenzel stood alone in the street, hands on her hips. “Bloody hell.”


Later in the day, he felt her small hand in his, as Fallon skipped around, as he walked, smile broadly. He felt free, peaceful, happy. Stopping by a large, flat bed of low flowers, he envited her down with him, laying back with his hands behind his head, looking up at the blue, cloudless sky above. Looking over at Fallon sitting beside him, she picked a blue one, then she drew its soft pedals across his lips as she giggled. This was such a nice place, Derek thought, perhaps he’d set up a smithy shop, make useful things again.

All his friends were so nice, too, stopping by in his mind, saying hi whenever they felt like it, making him feel respected as an equal. He’d build a nice little house for Fallon, have a family. What a wonderful world, he thought, who could want anything more than Fey?

What A Wonderful World – by Ncho Dimartino Swing