It was just after midnight when Twinkle slipped out of the kitchen’s postern door, down the steps and into the courtyard. The sounds of drunken revelry from her UCF induction party drifted down through the castle’s open windows, but Twinkle knew she needed to keep a clear head and so had drunk only one glass of Marigold nectar.
It was a clear night, stars saluted her name and the echo of a new crescent moon hung like quicksilver against black velvet as Twinkle crept along under the courtyard wall.
The dark hours were Twinkle's favourite time, alive with a celestial splendour she would often stare at for hours, lost in her own thoughts. She felt a deep sadness for the Big Folk who saw only a fraction of that beauty, and for whom the moon was but a fleeting visitor for much of the time. Her race, like all magical creatures were, she thought, truly blessed as they were able to see the full majesty of the stars and the silvery visual echos of the moon which trailed across the night sky long after She had passed on her nightly journey.
No sense in flying such a short distance she thought, especially with the noise her wing beats would make, easily detectable by the sensitive hearing of the guards. She’d never quite understood why the Big Folk apparently couldn’t hear fairies in flight when to her, Fairy Flight made much the same noise as the buzzing of a bumblebee on the wing.
Gripping tightly the small, hessian-wrapped package in her hand, Twinkle skirted round the margins of the courtyard, dodging from one patch of shadow to the next until she reached a small, arched door on the far side.
The storeroom door swung open easily on oiled hinges, though the Creak Charm made Twinkle start, it sounded awfully loud against the silence at this hour. Slipping quickly inside, Twinkle carefully eased the door closed, then waited a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the darkness.
‘Pssst!’ she whispered, ‘Where are you?’
‘Oh, great,’ Twinkle muttered under her breath, ‘Now where the…’
‘Here,’ hissed a voice, ‘Over here.’
Twinkle picked her way round piles of sacks and boxes towards the back of the storeroom. Rounding a particularly precarious stack of barrels she came face to face with the object, or more accurately objects, of her search.
‘We thought you weren’t coming,’ whispered Swazzle, while Pogmorton shot a filthy look in Twinkle’s direction.
Twinkle, judging her timing to perfection, swatted the filthy look out of the way, sending it spinning off into the darkness where it connected with something immoveable, and expired with a soft squeak accompanied by a faint smell of farts.
‘That’s quite enough of your Pixie magic,’ said Twinkle angrily, ‘I came as soon as I could.’
‘Don’t mind him,’ soothed Swazzle, ‘he’s still got a touch of heartburn from those candy cane bullets of yours.’
‘You’re a fine one to talk,’ interrupted Pogmorton, ‘you were saying only a minute ago how you still had a blinding headache.’
‘I know, I know,’ said Swazzle raising a hand, ‘It’s only because I’m a bit out of practice.’
He turned towards Twinkle’s puzzled expression, ‘That Glamour we had to use takes a bit out of you, and having to part the two hemispheres of my brain at that speed is enough to give anyone a headache.’
‘Never mind the explanations,’ insisted Pogmorton, rounding on Twinkle, ‘Have you brought it?’
‘Yes, it’s here,’ replied Twinkle, handing the small package to the Pixie.
‘Everything go alright on your end?’ said Swazzle, fishing around in his pocket.
‘Yes, thanks,’ Twinkle grinned, ‘I’m in!’
‘Here,’ said Swazzle, shoving something into Twinkle’s still outstretched hand.
‘What are these?’ she said, looking curiously at the two small spheres resting in her palm.
Pogmorton sighed, ‘You really do have a lot to learn. Shove ‘em in the furnace instead of our bodies, they’ll leave enough Essence of Pixie behind, just in case anyone wants to check if we really have been disposed of.’ He looked pointedly at Swazzle, ‘We really ought to be going.’
‘Oh, yes. Right,’ said Swazzle and, accompanied by two faint popping sounds, Swazzle and Pogmorton disappeared before Twinkle’s eyes.
‘Thank you,’ she called softly after them before slipping out of the storeroom and creeping purposefully in the direction of the furnace room. As she stole towards it, Twinkle couldn’t help but wonder what the Pixies could possibly have wanted with the contents of that package.
[Author's note: I have re-written a couple of paragraphs towards the beginning of this story as a result of the kind email I received from Tim VanSant, who quite rightly pointed out the inaccuracy relating to the moonphase as I had originally written it. In correcting this, I hit upon an idea which, I hope, adds a little more depth and colour to the way fairies perceive our world. Thanks Tim!]