Author’s Note: This short story features characters from my book Song of a Wingfin. There is backstory from the book, as this takes place afterward, but I fill you in a bit along the way. If you follow my blog, you also know that I love random holidays. This coming Saturday is one that sparked this idea. I hope you enjoy the story and stay tuned for another note from me at the end of part 2, which will be posted tomorrow. Happy reading.

Broo rested his head on his hand, noting how soft the cushion was beneath his elbow. He wiggled his bum deeper into the comfort of the large throne. He had dragged this chair throughout the castle too many times for Enan the Giant, Enan the wimpy teenage human now.

The thought of his enemy being defeated couldn’t even bring a smile to his face. The lanky elf slid from the chair and let his mood align with the droopy wrinkles on his face. The size of a short human man, it took Broo more steps to make his way to the atrium than the previous owner of the castle.

Looking up through the opening to the blue sky, he noticed the longing he used to feel as a prisoner had lingered. He was the master of the castle now and could go outside at any whim, but that feeling of loneliness hadn’t quite left. 

When the giant had been captured, there was a plan put in place to open the other portals to the Human-side. That would be necessary for magic to return to normal, but it would take time. In the meantime, the Gateway in the castle was the most known portal, and Broo ran the castle like the hub it was meant to be. Faekind came from all over to make a trip to the Human-side. Broo had even arranged for the grand hall to be converted into a market where people could sell and trade as they waited for their turn in the Gateway. 

As the master of the castle, Broo felt like he had a purpose again. He felt important and loved. But as more portals across the land opened, there was less need for such a hub. The vendors took their wares and left. Broo would still offer the Gateway of the Grove for public use but only with notice. It was too difficult for him remembering what he lost to keep it open fulltime.

He barely saw a soul for… well, he had lost track of the days. It got to the point that he didn’t even venture to the Human-side. It used to be that he would love sneaking over there and helping the country ladies with their house chores for the exchange of some fresh cream or ‘thank you’ treats. But, the portals had been closed for so long, it seemed few humans even remembered him or the services that Broonies offered.

Illustration by Joseph Benenhaley

A thundering knock on the large wooden door of the castle disrupted his thoughts. He looked up and took a large sigh as he moved through the grand hall to the door. It had been even lonelier since The Eye was returned. He and The Eye were never really friends, but they had formed a camaraderie as the first two prisoners of the giant.

The knocks came again, harder, which merely pushed Broo into a grumpy mood to match the loneliness he felt. He used both hands and pulled the heavy door open wide as he belted his greeting.

“What do you want!?”

As he looked around, he didn’t spy a soul. But then he looked down and saw a brown bag at his feet. He crouched down and cautiously unrolled the top of the bag. He let out a shocked yelp and fell back on his bum.

The bag was full of slugs that were so slimy the bag was starting to get soggy. Then Broo noticed a smiley face drawn on the bag in pencil. Why would someone give him a bag of slugs?! He went to get a flat shovel, scooped the slugs up, and walked them to the edge of the forest.

“Slide off into the shadows before an Ogre finds you and makes you a snack, you wee slime bugs.”

Broo walked back home and thought he saw someone run around the corner of the castle wall but couldn’t be sure. As he approached the heavy door, there was another package waiting for him. This time, he stood back and poked it lightly with the corner of his shovel. It seemed too heavy for slugs. 

He bent down, noticing that the drawn smiley face had a slightly crooked mouth this time. There were little clinking sounds as he unrolled the bag. Looking in, there were broken tea mugs, not shattered, just missing handles. Well, not missing, they were there at the bottom of the bag, just not attached to the mugs.

Broo stood up, ran to the corner of the castle, and scanned the nearby treeline of the forest. There were no signs of anyone.

His grumpy face seemed to frown more than usual as he turned back. Sitting next to the gift of broken tea mugs, was another, larger smiley face bag. Broo stood perfectly still. How did he not hear someone behind him? 

Then, the bag moved.

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