Author's note: This is one of my most recent pieces, and evidently shows my love for anything fantasy. I've... Show full author's note »
EpilogueMarley Jenkins considered the young man who had just walked into his store. He was the kind of person who you would expect to see in a movie. He was certainly handsome enough, with hair of a queer mix of black and blond, strong and nominal features which bordered on proud and haughty rather than conventional delicacy, and piercing emerald green eyes with coal outlines which were often half-hooded, but no one would mistake that for idleness. He had a black-and-blond pigtail that fell down his neck to the middle of his back, a large jade gem in his ear, and wore a tailored grey suit open to reveal a black waistcoat with inlaid silver buttons. He wore leather gloves and twirled a hat in his fingers. Everything about him shouted of richness.
It was the delicate tattoos on his cheek bones that gave him away, Marley Jenkins thought. Even without those he would have been a very obvious person on the street, and he would definitely never pass without notice. No one would dare claim that he was normal. But if he had been human – a real human – he wouldn’t be boasting those red, slit-like marks on his face.
“What may I do for you, my Lord?” Marley Jenkins bowed deeply. Usually his store was a mere antique second hand shop which was seldom visited and Marley Jenkins thought himself that the ancient artifacts were hardly worth considering. But his side job – or rather his one of many side jobs – was anything but unprofitable.
The haughty-looking young gentleman took his time in slowly walking to the front counter, brushing his hands across the numerous dusty statues that lined one side of the store and observing the resulting filth that emerged on the surface of his gloves. He lightly dusted his fingers off, and then came to a casual stop in front of Marley Jenkins, tipping his head upwards so that he looked down his nose at him. He didn’t need to; Marley Jenkins was already so short and bent with age that he found it hard to crane his neck to look at the young man’s face. Even in his young age, Marley Jenkins thought, he would still be far shorter that this man; he was massive.
“I hear you sell stories,” said the young man in a low, smooth voice which practically oozed with self-confidence and drawl. He gazed at Marley Jenkins sharply behind the lids of his eyes. So he was aiming for stories, was he?
“You have heard correctly, my Lord.” Marley Jenkins bowed and shuffled to one of the statues behind the counter; a round, peaceful bronze bodhisattva with four arms. He pressed the crown of the head of the small statue, and as he did, the whole wall behind it rippled open like a shutter to reveal a massive bookshelf with crisp brown scrolls and massive leather-bound books arranged in neat lines.
“What story do you have in mind, my Lord?” asked Marley Jenkins, climbing up in readiness onto a short stool ladder.
“A story about fairies,” drawled the man. Marley Jenkins smiled with a light ‘Ah,’ and pushed the stool over to the other side of the bookshelf.
“We have many stories about fairies, my Lord. Would you like to sample some of them, my Lord?”
“Wings,” said the gentleman suddenly, and Marley Jenkins froze. “I want a story about fairy wings.”
Marley Jenkins licked his lips and uncertainly turned to look at the young man. He was slowly turning his hat in his hands; smiling slightly with his broad lips..
“Wings, my Lord?” he asked. “Well…we certainly do have some ‘special’ books about fairy wings…”
“I neither have time nor place to read a book, old man,” said the gentleman. “I only want to hear a story. Tell me what you know about the wings of fairies.”
Marley Jenkins turned around and sat – or rather fell – with a thump on the ladder stool. “Fairies themselves are a rather intricate topic…but I assume that you already know about them, my Lord?”
“Elusive creatures,” said the gentleman. “Highly magical. They can be divided into four elements, of earth, fire, water, and air. Free-spirited, solitary, and wary of humans. People are lucky if they ever meet one in their lifetime.”
“And the wings,” said Marley Jenkins. “The wings themselves are the most magical thing that a fairy holds. There are rumors…well, one can never know with fairies, but there are rumors that the wings are the source of a fairy’s magic.
“The wings of fairies are made much like a butterfly’s wings; small feathers make up a translucent extension that can extend from three feet outwards and six feet lengthwise. The fairies can hide their wings, so it is very hard to identify one, but most are very small of stature and slight; but masters of disguise. The wings can come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.”
“Hunters,” said the young man in a declaratory way. Marley Jenkins mopped his brow and sighed. It would come to that.
“Hunters are people who hunt for fairy’s wings. Fairy’s wings, you understand, are very magical and can sell for very high prices; they have qualities of being able to heal, provide youth, and give luck to the holder. Each feather can sell for a fortune, but most fairies will die if too many of their feathers are pulled out. And the wings are rendered useless if their owner is dead. Even if only a few feathers are pulled out, though, the fairies are put under excruciating pain and sometimes lose their magic partially.”
The young man looked brooding. “Do different wings have different qualities?”
“Of course, my Lord,” said Marley Jenkins. “It mostly depends on age; the older the fairy, the better the quality of the wings. But, it is rumored that the black wings are the most powerful.”
“Black wings?” asked the young man. “I have never heard of fairy wings being black.”
“That is why I said it was a rumor, my Lord,” said Marley Jenkins with a small bow. “No one has ever harvested black fairy wings before. There have only been fleeting sightings, and those are vague. But there are very solid legends in Fairy Tales that suggest that black wings can practically grant the user anything they wish.”
“Is that so,” said the young man slowly. He crooked an eyebrow at Marley Jenkins. “Anything else worth telling me?”
“Only that fairy wings can only bring you sadness, my Lord,” said Marley Jenkins, bowing so low that he could only see the young man’s shoes. He heard a dry chuckle and a rustle of clothes, then a waft of cold air. He looked up and saw the young man at the door, placing his hat carefully on his head.
“My secretary will arrange a check to be sent in the morning,” he said with an emerald glint in his eye, then turned around and disappeared into the inky midnight black. Marley Jenkins sighed with relief and mopped his brow again. He pressed the top of the round bodhisattva’s head and walked to door which he firmly locked while the hidden shutters of the wall fell into place.
The night held dark, dangerous things.