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Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…28

Edith ran her hand down the front of her T-shirt.  “What a night,” she whispered to herself.

“Is Merlin up?” asked Pansy.  “I’d like to talk to him.”

“I haven’t seen him,” muttered Edith, wishing that her head would stop pounding.

“Will you let me know when he appears?”

“Immediately,” nodded Edith, biting back a scream.

Pansy bowed and flew off,  just as Chicago and Tilly came slowly into the room.

“My head is killing me,” moaned Tilly, leaning against the counter.

“Mine too,” groaned Chicago.

“It was the Golden Ratio,” said Edith, reaching under the counter.  “They taste fantastic and alter reality but this is what happens a few hours after you stop drinking them.  Here, take two of these and you’ll be fine.”

Chicago handed Tilly two yellow pills and took two for herself.  Edith poured water for them and said, “I just took a couple and I feel better already.”

“Great party,” said Chicago, her eyes starting to sparkle.  The drummer was…”

“Gorgeous,” sighed Tilly.  “So beautiful.  I saw you two dancing, if that’s what you call it,” she laughed.  “He looked at you like you were food and he was starving.”

Chicago chuckled.  “Faeries can be like that sometimes.”

“He was a faerie?” asked Tilly, surprised.

“Have you ever seen a human male who looked like him?”

“Good Point.”

“Ah, my love,” said Merlin, once again appearing next to Edith.  “You were amazing last night.  That T-shirt, well, let’s just say it’s my favorite piece of clothing.”

“Pansy wants to see you right away,” snapped Edith.  “You’re meeting with her father in two hours.  I’ll tell her you’re here.”

“What would I ever do without you?” said Merlin, smiling broadly.  “I mean that,” he said, moving closer to her.  “I really don’t know what I would do without you Edith and that’s no small thing coming from me.”

Edith turned toward him, grabbed him, pushed him against the wall behind the counter and kissed him until she was holding him up.  She smirked, let go of him, watched him slide to the floor, tugged at her torn T-shirt and winked at the Chicago and Tilly, who were standing there with their mouths open.

“I’m here,” said Pansy.  “What’s wrong with him?” she asked, starting at Merlin, who was sitting on the floor with his eyes closed.

“Give him a minute,” said Edith, kicking him gently with her foot.  “Pansy’s here, get up.”

“Do you have the red feather?” she asked.

Merlin nodded.

“Please give my father this note as well,” she said softly. “I’ve spoken to my mother again and she said that my brother is backing the war but my father doesn’t think the time is right. He understands that the faeries are not behind him and that my brother is simply young and looking for power,” said Pansy sadly.  “My mother is going to talk to him again but doubts that she will be able to change his mind.  My father, on the other hand, may listen to reason.  This note may sway his decision.”

“Thank you,” said Merlin.  “Your father is a god man.”

“He is,” said Pansy, moving to leave.  “I await your return, Merlin.”

Merlin bowed again and slipped the note into his pocket.

Three orders slid into the “request for books” basket.  Edith looked a them, typed in the titles and the books appeared on the counter in a neat stack.  The white dog trotted in, pulling his cart and stood quietly while Edith gave him instructions and a bone.  “Be sure you don’t go into Mr. Carter’s room, he’s a werewolf and I don’t want him thinking you’re cute,” said Edith.  “In fact, Tilly, will you go with him please?  Just to be sure.”

“Of course,” she answered, following the dog out of the room.

Chicago said farewell and headed to her Reading Room to see if there were any Tarot decks that wouldn’t catch on fire.

“Edith,” said Merlin.

“I know you’ll do your best,” said Edith, not looking at him.  “If anyone can stop the war, you can.”

“The dragons are coming with me,” he said.

“For protection?” asked Edith, a little surprised.

“No,” he said, taking her hand in his.  “In case something goes wrong, they can alert you to the fact that the war has already begun.”

“That is unacceptable,” she said, pulling her hand away, her voice catching in her throat. “I won’t hear of it.  You better be here for dinner, or else.”

“I’ll do my best,” smiled Merlin.  “But just in case, I love you Edith,” he said, sliding a ring across the counter.  “It doesn’t mean we are engaged, so don’t start throwing things at me.  It just means I love you.”

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…27

“Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Tilly, a shocked and sad look on her face.

“There are some things one needs to find out for herself,” said Edith.

“I just never thought…”

“Thought that they were the ultimate predator?  Vicious killers?”

“Yes, I never thought that,” said Tilly.

“Well they are,” said Edith calmly.  “If they were bigger they could take down a full grown velociraptor.  They never stop eating.  They can fly backward, forward and upside down.  They get almost one hundred percent of their prey and they do it, not by chasing it, but by knowing where it will be.  They fly ahead and wait for the prey to arrive.  They capture their prey, crush it and eat it.  They have serrated teeth and their mouths open to the size of their head so they can eat everything they catch.  They have thirty thousand eye facets and a three hundred and sixty degree view of the world.  In other words, they can see EVERYTHING at the same time. They can focus on one thing and see everything else.  Their wings work independently of each other, they can hover, eat while in the air and they can swarm. As I said, they are the ultimate predator and if they were bigger, all that would be left of us would be a few cave paintings because they would have eaten us before we could have done anything else.  The larger ones still bite us and the babies begin killing immediately.  Adults eat butterflies, when pressed, and they eat smaller dragonflies, if they have to.  Most of the time they eat a lot of flies and misquotes.”

“How do the faeries tame them?”

“They don’t.  They put spells on them.  There’s no way to tame a dragonfly.  If the spell breaks the dragonfly will eat the faerie,” said Edith.  “It’s what they do.”

“What’s wrong with Tilly?” asked Chicago, dropping more ashes onto the counter.

“She just got back from visiting the dragonfly stable,” said Edith, scraping the ashes into the bin.

“Ah,” said Chicago, putting her arm around Tilly.  “I’m so sorry.  We are all shocked when we find out what they are, believe me.”

“But they’re so pretty,” moaned Tilly.  “I just thought they were sweet and loving.”

“No Til,” said Chicago.  “They’re killers.”

“You look beautiful this morning,” said Merlin, popping into view next to Edith.  “What’s wrong with Tilly?”

“Dragonflies,” said Chicago.

“I see,” said Merlin reaching out to touch Edith. “Sorry Tilly, they would kill you in a minute if they were a bit larger.”

Edith slapped his hand away and grabbed a donut off the plate on the corner of the counter.  “You always know just what to say,” she hissed.

“What?” said Merlin.  “It’s true,” he continued, handing Tilly a donut covered with sprinkles, grabbing a chocolate covered one for himself.  “They’ed kill all of us if they could.”

“Any news on the war?” asked Chicago.

“I have a meeting with the King of the Silver Court tomorrow at noon.  We are going to discuss the issues.

“What does that mean?” asked Tilly.

“It means he’s going to give me his demands and tell me what he wants,” answered Merlin, licking the frosting off of his fingers, then he grabbed Edith’s hand and tried to lick the frosting off of her fingers as well.

“STOP THAT,” said Edith.  “You’re so needy for a wizard.”

“I’m not needy, I’m in love.” smiled Merlin.  “Surely you know the difference.”

“Over a thousand faeries moved in last night and more might be coming,” said Edith, straightening the papers in front of her.  “Blue Bell said they don’t want war.”

“The overwhelming majority of faeries do not want war,” said Princess Pansy, flying to the counter.  “We don’t wan’t to enslave or live among humans.”

“I get that,” said the White Cat, leaping into Edith’s arms.  “Humans break easily, they tear, can barely see or hear, they’re slow and they can’t fly or even leap to the top of a bookcase.  They need to be warm and they don’t do well in the dark. Most of all, they have very few skills, other than their natural ability to destroy everything around them.”

“While true,” said Pansy, ” that’s not the point.  The Faerie Nation doesn’t want war, the few faeries in power do.  Those with power don’t care about what the rest of us want and if they declare war, the faeries will be forced to fight.”

“Is there any chance of averting the war,” asked Edith, staring at Merlin.

He shrugged.  “There’s always a chance, no matter how slim.”

Pansy stepped forward and handed Merlin a tiny red feather.  “When you meet with my father tomorrow, give this to him and tell him that if he declares war he will be fighting against the daughter he said he loved.  It is difficult, almost impossible, for faeries to reproduce and it won’t work in his favor if I am killed by his own hand.”

“Pansy,” said Merlin.

“Do it,” she said.  “My mother would never forgive him if I was hurt, or killed, and never is a long time where I come from.”

“Thank you,” said Merlin.  “I will do as you ask.”

Pansy bowed and disappeared.

The White Cat rolled out of Edith’s arms onto the counter.  “You people,” he said. “If you just napped more and played with mice you wouldn’t have all these problems.”

“He’s right,” said Chicago, laughing.

“Well,” said Merlin, “tonight is the last night of the convention, so the party should be spectacular.  “In the meantime, I’m going to talk to the dragons and do some war things.  Edith, my love, I’m wearing tight and torn blue jeans and a tight black t-shirt that reads MAGICK ROCKS, so if you want to coordinate your clothing…”

“Have fun with the dragons,” sighed Edith, shaking her head.

“The t-shirt is really tight, so are the jeans,” he snickered, “and I’m wearing my cowboy boots, just so you know.

Chicago and Tilly burst into giggles and Merlin walked away smiling.

Cat walked in and sat next to the White Cat.  “Humans,” he said.  “They live in the moment and are ready to party even though they are on the brink of war.”

“I thought I saw you go into the Philosophy Department again,” hissed the White Cat.

“I like it in there,” he said.  “It’s quiet and I can read in peace.”

“I’m going to find a warm lap,” said the White Cat, standing up.  “Want to come along?”

“No thanks,”answered the cat, rubbing against White Cat’s side.  “I’m going to stay here and see what happens next.”

 

 

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…26

“Merlin?” yawned Tilly, rubbing her eyes.  “Where’s Edith?”

Merlin looked at Tilly, a sheepish grin on his face.  “I’m letting her sleep in,” he whispered.

“You don’t have to whisper.  She can’t hear you from here,” said Tilly, putting her head down on the counter.  “That was some party and Edith is definitely a Rock and Roll Goddess.”

“She’s that and more,” agreed Merlin dreamily.  “But I don’t seem to be able to do her job,” he continued, shuffling papers around, picking things up and putting them down. “I don’t know what anything means.”

“No one knows how to do her job,” sighed Tilly, her eyes closed.  “The Bookstore only makes sense to her.”

“What time did you go to bed?” snickered Merlin.

“I didn’t.  That’s why I’m falling asleep on the counter.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t wake me,” said Edith, walking into the room, pinning up her hair.  “I’m going to be so far behind.”

Merlin smiled at her and Tilly laughed out loud.  “I think he loves you, Edith.”

“Yes, well,” said Edith, reading a memo.  “Ah, Dali left.  He said he didn’t feel that we fully appreciated his work.”

“He’s right,” said Tilly immediately.

“I know,” snickered Edith, as she fed book requests into the machine and watched the stacks on the counter grow.

“You were beautiful last night,” said Merlin, as he reached out to touch Edith’s face.

“Thank you,” she said, slapping his hand away,  “but it’s possible that you just had too much to drink.”

“I remember every detail,” he smiled.

“Okay,” she said, facing him, hands on hips.  “Don’t you have a war to stop?  Set up a conference with the faeries or…”

“Fine,” said Merlin.  “I’ll let you get back to work.   Can you send breakfast to my room, as well as something for the dragons?”

“I just did both of  those things and if you don’t hurry your oatmeal will get cold.”

“Is there granola on it?”

“Yes.”

“A banana?”

“Of course,” said Edith.

Merlin turned quickly, grabbed Edith, bent her backwards over the counter and kissed her.  Pink and red hearts rained down upon them just as cat walked in and said, “AGAIN?”

Edith shoved Merlin so hard he flew into the wall behind him.  The air was knocked out of him for a second or two but he just kept smiling.  Once he was able to breath and walk at the same time he told everyone he was going to his room to do war things.  No one tried to stop him.

Chicago came in with Lance and told Edith that she finally found a Tarot deck that didn’t go up in flames when she touched them.  She shuffled the card and laid out one of her  spreads on the counter.

“Where’s the Round Table everyone is always talking about?” asked Lance, watching Chicago turn over a few cards.

“It’s in the Great Hall, next to Merlin’s room,” said Edith, checking book titles. “Degas wants more waterlilies.  Honestly, I think he must be eating them.”

“Who cares if the table is round?” said Lance, confused.  “What’s the deal?”

“A round table means there’s no head of the table.  No seat of honor.  It’s a table of equality, where everyone is the same,” explained Edith.”

“But wherever Arthur sits is the head of the table, since he’s the King and our leader, right?”

Edith woke up the White Cat, who was curled up in a wicker basket containing more book orders and handed him a slip of paper.  The cat hissed, unwound and stretched.  He picked up the paper and went on his way.  “Lance, in theory the table makes you all equal, that’s the whole point of it.  No one is higher or better than anyone else, not even the King.”

“That’s just silly,” smiled Lance.  “He’s the King, he is automatically higher, no matter where he sits. We are who we are.  Chairs and table configurations don’t change that.”

“It’s a gesture,” said Edith.  “A symbol of equality.  It’s an attempt to say we are all just a bunch of guys talking to each other.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he muttered, walking away.

“The dragons have stopped circling,” said Tilly.

“They’re having a snack,” said Edith, placing another stack of books into the White Dog’s basket.  “Did you visit the dragonflies?”

“That’s my next stop.”

“You’re in for a treat.  Be sure to grind up a few sugar cubes for them.  They love sugar.”

“Don’t we all,” said Tilly, sticking a piece of bubble gum into her mouth and heading for the kitchen.

“I don’t see how we can avoid war,” said Chicago, staring at the cards.

“Let’s hope the cards are wrong,” said Edith.

“You know they’re never wrong,” said Chicago gently.  “But perhaps if I ask a different question….”

“Edith,” said Pansy, suddenly standing in front of her.  “I just heard from my mother.”

“Good morning,” said Edith, looking at the very serious princess.  “What did she have to say?”

“The troops are amassing,” said Pansy.  “War looks imminent.”

 

 

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…25

The dragons screamed and flew lower, alerting Merlin that something was amiss.

Pansy held up her hands.  “It’s just the others,” she said in a panic.

“The others?” asked Edith.  “What others?”

“I told the faeries, who disagreed with the King, that they could come here and to fight or be safe.  They’re here. I TRIED to tell you but with all the interruptions, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.”

Edith opened the door and saw over a hundred faeries standing quietly, waiting to be invited in.

“Uh,” said Pansy, looking sheepish.  “More may be on their way.”

“I see,” said Edith, turning to stare at Merlin.

“Come in, come in,” he said smiling.  “There’s room for everyone.”

“There is?” asked Edith, watching the faeries pouring through the door.

“Yes, yes,” he said happily.  “I just added a huge dormitory onto the back of the building a minute ago. Plenty of room for everybody.”

“Please follow Tilly,” said Edith, pointing to her.  “She will show you were to put your things and help you settled in.”

“I will?” asked Tilly, a lost look on her face.

“Yes, just follow cat, he knows where to go.”

“This way,” said Tilly, waving her ams above her head.  “This way, please” she said walking behind cat.

“I see faeries, pinned to a wall, like beautiful butterflies,” said Dali, making a square in front of his face with his hands.  “Yes, like butterflies, a collection of faeries but with rats biting their feet and a dead tree in the background, it’s branches holding more faeries.  And a snake, dripping blood from the feet of the fae…”

“Dali,” said Edith.  “PLEASE go into the other room.  It’s quite crowded in here and it would be greatly appreciated if you would MOVE.”

“As you wish,” he said, “but there will be flowers, yellow with pink centers and bees….”

“How long is he staying?” asked Merlin.

Edith shrugged.  “Too long.  He creeps me out sometimes.  Faeries like butterflies?”

“He has a vision that only he can see.”

“Everything is melting all the time,” sighed Edith, “and he always wants me to hang his pictures in the foyer over my counter.”

Merlin laughed.  “I think the melting just shows us that nothing is static and….”

“Excuse me,” said a lovely faerie.  “Where can I stable my dragonfly?”

“There is a dragonfly stable in the back,” said Merlin, pointing to his left, “behind your quarters.  You will find everything you need to make her happy.”

“Thank you,” said the faerie, who got back into his saddle and aimed his dragonfly at the back door.

“Look,” said Chicago, dumping more ashes onto the counter.  “Another deck.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” asked Lance.  “Is there anymore cake?”

“No and no,” sighed Edith, reaching in the wire basket on her desk.  “Degas wants a water lilly in his room and three books on the color blue.”  Edith put the paper into a contraption that seemed to eat the order and suddenly the books were on her counter with a note saying that the waterlily had been delivered.  The dog came by and Edith put the books into his basket and he trotted off.  Suddenly, music blasted so loudly that Chicago covered her ears.

“What’s THAT?” she screamed.

‘THE PARTY’S STARTING,”yelled Merlin.

Edith walked to the front door and turned the lock.  She had a wicked smile on her face and snapped her fingers.  Merlin looked at her low cut black sequined dress and army boots and inhaled loudly.

“Shall we?” she asked.

Chicago laughed.  “You two need to get a ROOM.”

Merlin grabbed Edith and kissed her with such passion that red hearts floated above their heads.  The White Cat walked in and shook his head.  Tilly came in to tell Edith that the faeries were where they were supposed to be but stopped to watch roses fall from the ceiling.  Merlin pulled away and Edith straightened her dress.  “Dance?” she asked, staring into his eyes.

“Anything,” whispered Merlin.  “Anything at all.”

Tilly had her hands over her heart.  Chicago stood smiling.  The White Cat had fallen asleep and all seemed right with the world, which is always the perfect time to PARTY, you know, when all seems right with the world, only for a few hours.

 

 

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium 24

“Look at this,” said Chicago, dropping a pile of ash onto the counter.

“What is it?” asked Edith.

“My FAVORITE TAROT CARDS,” said Chicago LOUDLY.  “I was asking about the…wait, who is she?” asked Chicago staring at Pansy.

Introductions were made and tea and chocolate cake appeared on the counter.  Chicago poured, Edith passed out lavish slabs of cake and the faerie flew to the top of the counter and settled down.

“I mean you no harm,” said Pansy, staring at the cake, which was three times as big as she was.

“Just eat what you can love,” said Edith, licking the thick chocolate from her lips and refilling her fork.

“Thank you,” said Pansy.  “As I was saying, my brother and the King feel that they should expand their territory into the human world.  I told them I disagreed.  I reminded them of the reasons we left this land in the first place, all those thousands of years ago.  They said that things have changed since then.  Our magick is more powerful than ever and humans are destroying the planet.  In the beginning the King simply wanted to put a glamour over all of you to make you less violent, although we are more violent than you are,” she said sadly.  “In different ways, of course, but we are.  The Queen, who is good and kind, wanted to save the seas, the animals, the land and the air.  Many of us agreed with her but some of the others saw only gain and profit for themselves.  They don’t care about the water, the animals or the land and air.  They want to enslave you for their own purposes.  And they can.”

“They sound like politicians,” snapped Tilly, who was leaning against the arch into the other room.  “I don’t want to be enslaved any more than I already am and I want some cake, please.”

“Help yourself,” said Edith, who snapped her fingers and sent a slice to Merlin.

“You don’t seem afraid or upset,” said Pansy.  “Did you understand what I said?”

“Yes, of course,” said Chicago, her mouth full of cake.  “Best cake EVER,”  she said groaning softly.

“I agree,” sighed Edith.

“This is delicious,” muttered Tilly, running her finger through the frosting.

“Uh,” said Pansy. “Enslavement of your entire race.  That’s a BAD thing.”

“Merlin won’t let it happen,” said Edith smiling.

“I don’t know if he can stop it,” said Pansy quickly.

“Don’t know if I can stop what?” Asked Merlin, reaching for the cake.  “Never had cake this good,” he said, putting a quarter of the cake onto his plate.  The cake immediately filled the empty space with more cake.

The faerie sighed.  “I don’t know if you can stop the fae from taking over the humans.”

“Sure I can, Princess,” laughed Merlin.

“Princess?” said Chicago.

“You’re Princess Pansy Willow Tree?” asked Tilly.

The faerie reddened and tried to look invisible.

“She is,” said Merlin, giving her a hug.  “You’re all grown up Pansy and you’re as beautiful as your mother.  How is Wisp O’ the Willow?”

“She’s fine, thank you, sir,” said Pansy.  “But my brother and father are going to enslave the humans and I want to help you stop them.”

“When you were born,” said Merlin, “I held you in my arms.  Your mother and I have always been good friends, you know.  Anyway, she told me that you were a warrior, someone special.  That you would grow to be a guiding light for the Silver Court.  We both knew from your first breath that you were something wonderful.”

“Thank you, sir, but how are you going to stop them?”  asked Pansy, impatiently.

“Wow, who’s the princess?” asked cat.  “I haven’t seen her around here before,” he said slinking across the counter.

While more introductions were made,  Dali walked in.  “I will paint you,” he said, to the princess.  “Your wings tattered and torn, with blood running over ticking clocks and an anteater eating apples under a giraffe who is standing in the rain.  I can see it,” He said, his arm already painting in the air.  “I see it all, yes, and maybe the American dollar in the background, on fire, burning…?

“Sounds wonderful,” said Edith, hoping to cut the description short.  “Can’t wait. Why don’t you get started.”

“Yes, I’ll start now,” he said, leaving the room. “Maybe more blood, thick and red, dripping from the dollar…” he whispered to himself as he went.

“How do you get ANYTHING done?” asked Pansy, frantically.  “There are constant distractions and interruptions, you can’t even finish a sentence, let alone have a full conversa…”

“Have you seen Arthur?” asked Lance, sticking his head into the room.  “Is that cake?”

“No, I haven’t seen Arthur and yes, that’s cake,” said Edith, fixing a plate for him.

The Princess gave up and lay flat on her back, mumbling to herself.  Meanwhile, Chicago was telling Merlin how her cards went up in flames when she asked a question about the faeries.  Lance said that he was feeling back to normal but didn’t remember ever leaving Camelot.  He licked his fork and asked for more cake.  The White cat returned, a mouse riding on his back, and jumped up to chat with cat.  Everything was going splendidly when suddenly, the dragons let out a roar that knocked books off the shelves and made the cake disappear.

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…23

Merlin shoved a crisp peanut butter cookie into his mouth, raised his left hand, mumbled two or three words, crumbs falling down the front of his robe, and made the domed ceiling of his room disappear.  The dragons flew toward the opening and began to circle.  He drank an entire cup of Orange Daisy tea and poured another.  Then he began to pace.  Every now and then he dragons called to him, just to let him know they were still there.  He waved at them and walked through the shadows they cast on the walls and floor.

“Any news?” asked the White Cat.

“Not yet,” said Edith.

“Dali painted a picture of Tilly with tulips falling out of her mouth and a kangaroo and baby elephant in the background.  All of them look as if they are melting.”

“I saw it,” said Edith.  “He wanted me to hang it right here,” she said, pointing to the wall next to her.  “I told him it was too….”

“Someone is lurking in front of the door,” said the cat, jumping off the counter to the floor, his tail swishing back and forth.  “Smells funny.”

“Get back,” hissed Edith, reaching under the counter.  “Move!”

The white cat ran behind the counter and peeked around the corner, as Edith walked toward the door, the  baseball bat held tightly in one hand.  She reached for the doorknob just as the door opened and a young girl, her wings pink and perfect, bumped into her as Edith swung the bat, taking out half the doorjamb.

“I claim sanctuary,” said the girl softly, stepping inside, eyeing the splintered wood.

“What?” said Edith, her heart pounding.

“Sanctuary,” she repeated.  “I claim it.”

“But you’re a faerie,” said Edith.

“Yes.  I know that.”

“Well, of course, you know that,” mumbled Edith, lowering the bat.  “My name is Edith.”

“I’m so very pleased to meet you Miss Edith.  I am called Pansy Willow Tree.  I’m from the Silver Faerie Court.”

“Are you hungry?” asked Edith.

“No,” smiled Pansy.  “But thank you for your kindness.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.”

The White Cat sniffed at the faerie’s legs and the hem of her tunic.  Then he wound around her a few times, rolled onto his back and began to purr.

“I saw the dragons circling,” said Pansy.  “I knew Merlin would be here.”

“Why would you think that?” asked Edith suspiciously.

“I came to help.”

“Help with what?”

“I want to help Merlin stop the faerie’s from subjugating the human race.”

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…21

“I told you not to drink Blue Moon,” sighed Edith, watching Tilly stagger into the room.

“What gave it away?” whispered Tilly, squinting, trying to hold her head on with her hands.

“Your lips are blue.”

“Oh.  Oh, yeah.”

“Did you have fun?” asked Edith, merrily.

“I can’t believe Jimi dedicated the Star Spangled Banner, to YOU.”

“Why not?”

“Is there anyone you DON’T know?

Edith thought for a minute and then said, “No, I don’t think so.”

“Greatest concert EVER,” said Tilly, lowering herself to the floor.  “No doubt about it.”

“Yes, it was wonderful,” agreed Edith, a far away look in her eyes.

“You can really sing.  You rocked the house,” smiled Tilly.  “I thought Keith was going to take a bite out of you.”

“Oh, no.  We don’t do that anymore,” said Edith, warmly.

“You and Keith? When do you have the time?  You’re always HERE!”

“I Hop dear.  I Hop,” she snickered, putting books into the White Dog’s basket.  “Please take these to room 309,” said Edith, to the Dog.  “Tell the recipient that I’ll send tea up in a moment.”

The White Dog nodded and toddled away, pulling his wicker cart behind him.

“Who’s in 309?” asked Tilly ”

“You’ll find out tonight.”

“Last night I saw Miss Marple in the hallway leading to the Room of Mysteries.  It’s possible that I just drank too much Blue Moon, however, so don’t take my word for it.”

“She’s here.  She’s working on a case and needed some information,” said Edith.  “Sir Gawain is here as well.  His steed is in the barn.”

“He brought his horse?”

“He rode his horse,” said Edith.

“Old school?” asked Tilly.

“Definitely,” nodded Edith.

“Merlin certainly had the crowd’s attention when he spoke about the war,” sighed Tilly.  “No one wants to go to war.”

“Some do, that’s the problem.”

“Can’t we all just live together peacefully?  Why can’t the faerie folk live with us in this reality, they seem very nice.”

“They can’t live with us for several reasons,” said Edith.  “They have too much power for one thing.   They could use their magic on humans and no one would even know.  They feel that we are far less than they are, and if you consider their magick, they’re right.  But humans have things they don’t have.”

“Such as?”

“We can lie,” laughed Edith.  “They can’t.  But they can twist words and make you believe they are saying something they aren’t.  We don’t have Rulers we must answer to but they are gorgeous, graceful and faster than you can imagine.  They don’t like humans except as prey or to use in their games.”

“Ah,” smirked Tilly, “the good the bad and the beautiful.”

“Very beautiful.  Amazingly beautiful,” said Edith. “But more than that, they could take over, use us for procreation, and turn us into their servants and make us like it.  The faeries you have met are under a geas that prohibits them from using magick on humans, or tricking them in any way.”

“So, if there’s war and the faeries win….”

“Yes, Tilly, things will go badly for humans.

You have no idea how badly,” hissed the Cheshire Cat, his smile appearing over the end of the counter.   “I’m hoping they win,” he purred.

Edith placed a pinch of Nip under the smile and watched it disappear.

Edith, my love,” said the cat, coming in to view, rolling in the Nip.  “You spoil me.”

“I spoil everyone Ches,” said Edith, rubbing his ears.”

Did you see the invisible trio last night?” he asked, flopping on to his side.  “I was one of the only ones who could see them.”

Edith and Tilly snickered.  “Of corse you were,” said Edith.

They’re here, you know,” said the Cat, lazily.  “More Nip, pleeeezzzzee,” he begged, his eyes starting to close.

Edith gave him another pinch and said, “Who’s here?”

The Cat looked around and waved her closer with his front paw.  “The Fae.  I saw three of them at the party last night.”

“Free Fae?” asked Edith.

The cat nodded and fell asleep.

“They’re here,” said Edith.  “They got into the Bookstore.  That means they got through the Wards, through the Magick.”

“That’s not possible,” said Tilly, grinning.  “No one can do that, right?”

“MERLIN,” screamed Edith.

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…20

“Tilly…your arm,” said Chicago, reaching for her.  “The mark where your dragon used to be is filling in.”

“It started a few days ago, but I can’t make out what it is,” said Tilly, staring at the beginning of her new tattoo.

“Another dragon perhaps?” asked Chicago.  “That would make sense.”

“I don’t know,” sighed  Tilly.  “It’s like the Angel statue’s wing.  Everyday I hope her wing will be  bigger and I suppose it is, but it’s taking sooooooooooo long to grow.”

“I feel your pain,” laughed Chicago.  “You did a good job with Sig, by the way.”

“I couldn’t help myself,” laughed Tilly.   “Hey, do you think Merlin has a thing for Edith?”

“Certainly not!” said Chicago, rather loudly.  “Why?  Do you think he does?”

“Maybe.  He’s always watching her and he brings her little gifts.”

“They would make a cute couple,” said Chicago, thoughtfully, tapping her lips with her finger.

“Who would make a cute couple?” asked Edith,  walking up to the counter, grabbing a hand full of papers.

“You and Merlin,” snickered Tilly.  “You guys are adorable together.”

“I told you, there’s nothing going on between us,” said Edith breezily.

“Tonight is the first night of the Unusual Things Convention,” said Chicago.  “Has everyone arrived.”

“Not quite,” said Edith, checking her list.  “We are short a few Covens and there is a pack of weres’ that haven’t signed in yet.”

“What kind of weres’?” asked Chicago.  “I know the wolves are here.”

“Chickens,” said Edith.  “Werechickens.”

“Is she kidding?” asked Tilly, looking at Chicago hopefully.

“I rarely kid,” said Edith, continuing to sort things into piles.

“What’s on the agenda for this evening?” asked Chicago, changing the subject.

“Werechickens?” asked Tilly, once again. “Seriously?”

“Yes,” said Edith. “Seriously.”

“Are they adorable or vicious?” asked Tilly.  “I mean, they could go either way.”

“Both,” answered Edith.  “They can peck harder than you would believe and they use their talons as weapons.  They have human intelligence,  that’s what truly makes them dangerous.  And stop saying werechickens!”

“It’s really hard not to say it,” sputtered Tilly, covering her mouth with both hands.

“Do your best,” said Edith firmly.  “In answer to your question, Chicago, there will be live entertainment, a banquet, and a short Show and Tell.  During the Show and Tell different groups will preview what’s to come tomorrow night when they unveil their latest inventions.”

“Live entertainment?” asked Tilly.  “Who?????” she squealed, jumping up and down.

“Queen, Aerosmith, a group called Tin Robot, Bono, The Bloody Pines and a few others. Personally I like Tin Robot but I’m a big Queen fan so….”

Tilly was speechless.  “Am I dead?” she whispered, pinching herself.

“I would have noticed,” said Edith, stamping the date on several invoices.  “Although around here it is sometimes hard to tell.”

“It’s like a dream come true, I….”  Tilly sat on the floor.  “Werechickens and Rock and Roll Gods.  It doesn’t get any better than this.”

“I hope that’s not true,” laughed Chicago. “And you’re not supposed to say werechickens.”

At that, Tilly and Chicago started laughing hysterically

“They are normal human beings who just happen to morph into chickens,” said Edith.  “Now, can we please change the subject.”

“Do they like candy corn?” whispered Tilly, falling backward in another fit of hysterics.

The gray cat walked into the room and stared down at his gurgling friend.  “What’s with her?”

“Never mind,” said Edith, watching the cat climb onto Tilly, looking for a place to nap.

“Werechickens,” said Chicago.

The cat grinned…widely.  “I love those guys,” he purred, licking his paw.  “Just love them.  Did you know that chickens can run pretty fast?”

“NO CHASING, OR STALKING, remember?” said Edith, a bit more loudly than she had intended.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, but the gleam in his eyes implied something entirely different.  “Are the hens coming along?”

“Three of them,” said Edith.

“Lizzy?” asked the cat hopefully.  “She’s beautiful and a lot of fun.  She’s pure white when she turns.”

“Yes,” sighed Edith, putting her head in her hands.  “I have so much to do and none of it has to do with chickens.”

“Excuse me,” said Merlin.

“Oh, sorry,” said Edith, straightening her Tin Robot t-shirt.  “What can I do for you?”

“Uh, I can actually think of any number of things you could do for me, but all of them are best left for later,” he whispered wickedly.  “I’ll need time on tonight’s schedule to talk about the possibility of war,” he said, suddenly solemn.

“I’ll pencil you in,” said Edith.  “Is eleven, okay?”

“Yes, thank you.  Eleven will be perfect,” he answered, bowing slightly and opening his robe to show her his Stones t-shirt.

“The Rolling Stones?” she asked, taken back.  “Well, that explains a lot.”

“I like Keith Richards,” chuckled Merlin.  “I think he’s going to live forever.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” asked Chicago.

“Yes,” chuckled Merlin, “but not in the same body.”

 

 

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…19

“Tilly this is…”

“Yeah, I know who it is,” she said.  “How’s it hangin’ Sid?”

“I haven’t used the name Siddhartha in a very long time,” said the smiling man.  “But I’m fine, thank you.”

“Whatever,” snapped Tilly, taking in his bald head, slim form, beat up sandals and worn jeans.  “I have questions.”

“Yes?”

“Yes, Prince.  I mean you were a Prince, right?”

“At one time, yes.”

“You were a Prince when it all started, when you found out that the people outside of your compound didn’t have what you had.”

“Yes, that’s when it all began,” he said quietly.

“Okay, now here’s the thing.  You had a wife and two kids, if I’m not mistaken.”

“I did.”

“And you deserted them so that you could do YOUR own thing.  You left them and never looked back.  I doubt that’s what your wife had in mind when she said, “I do,” or whatever you guys say.”

“Tilly,” said Edith.  “He’s our guest.”

“So?  This is a BOOKSTORE, a place of learning and I’m trying to learn.”

“You’re absolutely correct,” said Edith.  “Please continue.”

“You left your wife without a husband and you left your children without a father, so you could sit under a bodhi tree and feed your own ego.  That’s what it was, of course,  because you simply forgot about the commitments you made to the people you gave your word to, those who depended upon you, those you said you loved.  You turned your back on them them, so you could do your OWN THING.”

“Uh…” he stammered.

“Then you picked up followers along the way…all males, of course, because your generosity and awakening didn’t INCLUDED FEMALES.  And aren’t real leaders supposed to shun followers?  Followers are not the sign of a leader they are the sign of an egomaniac.”

“I must agree,” said Edith.

“You spent the rest of your life being waited on, meditating, hanging out with your home boys, who surrounded you and hung on your every word.  They cried when you finally died.  You’re not a leader Sid,  but I’ve learned that people will believe anything and simply look the other way when things become uncomfortable.”

“Eh, er….”

“You never even saw your children again.  You allowed men to follow you, men who left THEIR families to starve and be abused and you didn’t care, after all the only ones left behind were women and children.  I think you’re a bad person Sid.  You twisted things around for your own benefit and no matter what you say, the life you lived was the real truth.   You were selfish and thoughtless and, by the way, you should let your hair grow back.  Some men look great bald, you’re not one of them.”

With that Tilly turned and walked away.

“I agree with her one-hundred percent,” said Edith.  “Now, how may I help you?”

“I don’t feel welcome here,” said Sid, looking down.

“Yes, well, I can understand that.  The truth does hurt sometimes, doesn’t it,” she sighed.

“I was only trying to…”

“Find yourself?  Make a name for yourself?  Help others, with the exception of your own family, I mean?  Something like that?”

“Yes, something like that,” he said.  “You have a statue of me in the other room.”

“We do, but you’re wearing a party hat and a fake nose with a mustache” said Edith merrily.  “Now that that’s all out of the way, would you like some breakfast?”

“Just tell Merlin I stopped by.”

“He’ll be sorry to have missed you, I’m sure,” said Edith, already looking down at her notes.

“Good riddance,” said Chicago, walking into the room.  “I never liked that guy.  He acts humble but underneath….”

“I know what you mean, but he’s gone now, so we can get on with things,” said Edith brightly.

“Tilly was great,” smiled Chicago.

Edith laughed.  “She was fabulous.”

“I finished Sigmund’s readings.”

“And?”

“Well, you know about ‘client privilege,’  and all that, but let me tell you, he’s another one who fell for his own garbage.  The guy’s a loon and yet, people followed him and like Sid, even now there are those who can’t let go of what they once said.”

“Sad,” said Edith, shaking her head.

“Destructive,” said Chicago

“That too.”

“Is there any of that great coffee cake left in the kitchen?”

“There is,” nodded Edith.  “Shall we have some at the counter?”

“Absolutely,” said Chicago happily.

Edith O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…18

“Everyone,” said Merlin, “this is Lance.”

“Who ARE you people?” asked Lance, pulling on the doorknob in an effort to escape.

“Lance, this is Edith, that’s Tilly and the cat is Snowball.”

“The door won’t open,” cried Lance hysterically.

“No, of course, it won’t,” said Merlin kindly.  “Edith, Tilly and Snowball, this is Sir Lancelot,  Knight of the Round Table.”

“Hi Lance,” they said, staring at the distraught man who had turned toward them and flattened himself against the door.

“Please let me leave,” he begged.  “I didn’t do anything, I have money.”

“Well you slept with Guin,” said Tilly.  “So you DID do that!”

Edith gasped.

“You know my wife?” asked Lance, calming a little.

“Guinever’s your wife?” asked Tilly, shocked.

“Yes, do you know her?”

“I know OF her,” she answered flatly.

“Now, now children, let’s not jump to any conclusions.  The story isn’t what you’ve heard it to be,” said Merlin, trying to put his arm around Lance’s shoulder, to no avail.

“So she wasn’t married to King Arthur?”

“Well, yes, she was married to Arthur,” said Merlin sheepishly.

“So?” asked Tilly, her hands on her hips.

“Lance is, shall we say, a bit disoriented.  That can happen when Hopping from one place to another.  This seems to be a rather severe case of dislocation but a nice cup of tea and some of those little white cookies will help.”

“Tea?” said Lance.  “Are you insane?  I want to get out of here,” he shouted again, pounding on the door.

Merlin lifted his hand and Lance yawned and slid to the floor.  “Poor fellow,” he sighed.  “He’ll feel better when he wakes up.”

“And about Guin?” asked Tilly.

“Another time, if it’s alright with you,” said Merlin.   “I need to see to him, and Edith….”

“Yes?”

“Sir Gwain will be the last to arrive.  He’s always late.  He still feels the need to get someone to watch over the Holy Grail whenever he leaves.  It’s not there but he refuses to face that fact.  At any rate, please send him to my rooms if he gets here anytime soon.”

“I will,” said Edith.

“You know that I need everyone I can get to fight, if war is declared.  I’ve called in Arthur and the Knights, as a last resort,” he said sadly.

“And the Lady of the Lake?”

“Arthur has Excalibur.  I’m hoping that once the faeries know that Arthur and the Knights are willing to fight, we can settle things peacefully.”

Edith nodded and shot a stern look toward Tilly, who was absolutely bursting with questions about Lance and Guin.

“Up you go,” said Merlin, pulling Lance to is feet.

“Did you say you had cookies?”  mumbled Lance.

“Indeed,” said Merlin.

“Everything you need will be in your room,” said Edith.

“What would I ever do without you?” he said, half carrying Lancelot from the room.

Tilly looked at Merlin, then at Edith.  “Gak,” said Tilly.  “Merlin has a THING for you Edith!”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Edith, filing some papers in red and blue folders.  “He doesn’t and that’s the end of it.”

Snowball, laughed and jumped off the counter.  “Hey, don’t look at me,” he said, walking past Tilly.

“Don’t you think this is weird?” asked Tilly, leaning on the counter.

“Which part?” asked Edith.

“I just saw Merlin dragging Lancelot through the hallway,” said Chicago, shuffling a deck of cards in her hands, as she walked toward the counter.

“You KNOW Lancelot?” asked Tilly.

“Sure,” said Chicago, laying down the spread.  “We go way back.”

“How far back?” asked Tilly.

“We dated for awhile but he’s always been in love with Guinie.”

“You mean Arthur’s WIFE?”

“Well sure,” said Chicago, “Guin was Arthur’s wife at Camelot, but that was a different time and place.”

“But….” sputtered Tilly.

“Who’s the reading for?” asked Edith, watching Chicago study the cards.

“I’m still trying to help Sigmund but honestly, I don’t think there IS any help for him.”

“Too bad,” said Edith.

“He’s so strange,” said Tilly.  “I hate the way he chews on those cigars day and night.  One look at him and you can see where all of his misguided theories came from.”

Chicago and Edith laughed.  “That’s the truth,” they said.

“Oh, by the way.  Buddha arrived last night,” said Edith casually.

 

 

 

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