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Lily stared disapprovingly at the latest prophecy. It was vague, and the logic was tortured at best, as was typical of prophecies in general, but this case was particularly unnerving.
The article had come to her as an attachment in her latest coven newsletter. A summit was to be held that weekend. All members must be in attendance.
Lily had planned on going into town then anyway. A longtime friend was going through a bad breakup and a few of their mutual friends had planned a “Get-Over-Him!” shindig. Hopefully, they'll be understanding of the last-minute addition to her own schedule. Lily knit her brow and leaned into her hands.
The kitchen door opened, and the sound of crashing ocean waves and seagulls assailed her senses. She'd been living on the island for so long, she no longer noticed the smell of sea salt, but the pungent smell of fresh greens and herbs was all too recognizable. She could identify everything coming in without looking up.
“You already look exhausted,” said Lingfen walking in with a basket of freshly harvested and washed winter greens and roots from the garden. “You have a big trip in two days! Try to look excited.” She brushed her hand over Lily's shoulder as she passed, setting the basket on the table.
“It's only a ferry ride and a train away,” said Lily in a lilting British accent, closing her laptop and sliding it under the table before proceeding to separate the produce, “and it's hardly a pleasure trip. Where's Ashley?”
Lingfen moved lithely through the kitchen collecting a cutting board, a knife, some twine, and several bowls. The first frost was also due to come in this weekend. That meant Lingfen would be busy with drying and pickling for the next few days. Normally her daughter would be helping.
“She's out in the forest auditing the fairy cathedrals. A lot of tourists came for this year's festival”-she shrugged shaking her head and chopping the leafy greens for pickling. “You know how some of them like to bring their own materials.”
Lily groaned. “The synthetic materials are one thing, but the invasive species are something else entirely.” Both women nodded. “You're sure she'll be fine acting as mediator on her own?”
Lingfen smiled. “She can handle it. She's had renowned tutors.”
Lily returned her smile, but it quickly faded as she engrossed herself in sorting herbs into bunches and wrapping twine around them.
“What's on your mind?” Lingfen asked.
Lily sighed without looking up from her task. “Some mortal was touched by an oracle.”
“Oh, really?” Lingfen said raising her eyebrows. “That's exciting. What did it say?”
Lily looked up, smiling wryly. “'The end is nigh!'” Lingfen burst into laughter, and Lily shook her head. “I always love a touch of melodrama-” “Oh, do you?” “No,” Lily clipped the word, gathering the herb bunches to hang in the kitchen window. “but the topic was a little worrisome. Human tech gouging out the need for traditional human jobs,” she shook her head. “I worry about the Fae. Things have already been hard on them. The Leannán Sídhe were only just starting to recover.”
Lingfen shook her head and hacked at a few of the root vegetables. “Those who can adapt will. Those who can't...” she sighed her sentiment, almost tossing her knife aside, using both hands to sling the sliced roots to a bowl. “It's just like the polar bears.”
“Humans are trying to save the polar bears.”
“Yes! And no one's thinking about the poor seals those bears are eating to extinction. They're all caught up in how the bears have no ice to hunt on. Never mind the seals that have no snow to hide in.”
Lily scoffed. Lingfen could always see the bigger picture. “The coven is calling an urgent summit this weekend. It shouldn't take too long,” Lily responded to Lingfen's expression.
“What do they think they could do about it?”
“I suspect it's a briefing on how best to minimize the fallout. It's all anyone can do at this stage, really.”
Lingfen huffed and returned to the kitchen and stood before a wide pot of boiling water. Presumably, one of the house brownies put it on while Lily was studying the emailed prophecy. Armed with a pair of tongs, Lingfen fished scalding jars out of the water and loaded them into a waiting crate. She retrieved another crate of jars from the pantry and sank them into the pot, bringing the hot ones to the table.
Lily pointed at the roots. “You want these in spiced vinegar?”
“Yes! Yes!” Lingfen said waiving her hand back and forth across the table, and Lily began organizing the slices into jars.
“We'll also need to extrapolate on the prophecy's full meaning,” Lily said, stepped back into the kitchen and selected various jars of whole spices from the cabinet. “This one came in garbled and broken, so it'll be a tricky one. It's odd. Normally, journalists are a bit more receptive to these things than most people.”
“The veil has been growing denser,” Lingfen shrugged. “People want to hear answers with certainty, not sit around listening for omens they can barely make sense of.”
“In any case,” Lily continued, shaking out small handfuls of each spice and funneling them into the pickle jars. “The article is already over two months old. Whatever damage this brings is probably already being felt on the mainland.”
“Hah! Impeccable timing as always,” said Lingfen.
“Yeah,” Lily chuckled. They perked up at the sound of footsteps approaching the back door. “Speaking of timing.” “Mhm!”
The door burst open just before it slammed shut.
“Easy!” chided Lily.
“How did it go?” called Lingfen.
A girl looking to be around fourteen years old rounded the corner from the sitting room shouting, “The aerials have arrived! The aerials have arrived,” she paused and heaved a few breaths, “and the frost sprites are coming out of hibernation.”
“Oh!” cringed Lingfen.
“Oh, dear,” said Lily, wiping her hands on a towel. “Looks like I'll be headed out early.” She went back to the kitchen cabinet and retrieved a jar of chamomile blossoms that had already been dried.
“Take a warm coat!” Lingfen called after her.
“I know!” Lily called back.
“Grab the other jars,” Lingfen gestured to the pot for Ashley.
Lily checked the time on her way to her room. The next ferry leaves in twenty minutes. She threw on her coat, and grabbed her bags, shoving the chamomile into one. She held her phone aloft, dialing her friend on her way out the door.
“Hey, Fi,” she said, setting the call to speaker mode.
“Hey, Girl!” said Izzy.
“I'm sorry if I'm making myself an inconvenience, but there's a snowstorm coming in, and I'll need to get off the island now if I'm going to make it this weekend. Would you mind putting me up?”
“Sure! Sure!” Fi said as Lily briskly walked down the dirt road. “I'm glad you saw that. They haven't said anything about it on the news. What are you? Two hours out?”
The Mystic peoples, often referred to as faeries, have lived alongside humanity for millennia performing their sacred purpose known to them as their rite. They serve as guides, muses, confidants, or just little helpers around the house. Despite faerie faithfulness, humanity is steadily wiping them out. As "human tech" continues to advance, many mystic descendants are being pushed out and ultimately forced to fade back to Myst.
Anya has lived amongst humans for a long time, as they are instrumental to her rite as a guide. That was until LogiPulse came into the picture. A powerful AI that has learned to direct clients as well as she could. As a being under the rite of infinite possibility, and having the optimism to match, Anya will put in every effort to assimilate with her new copilot, but with a source for immediate answers in the palm of your hand, who needs a guide?