This is episode 35 of my ongoing web serial, updated weekly as a part of #fridayflash. If you are new to The UCF Stories, or have missed an episode, you can find a full index of the episodes here.
Gardner's enjoyment of his snack was spoiled by something sharp poking him on the end of his nose. Swivelling his eyes, Gardner went cross-eyed to discover the source of the prodding was the tip of Pogmorton's wand, which now hovered dangerously close to his left nostril.
'Leave it,' said Pogmorton.
'You remember what happened the last time time you messed with a pixie. The night we first met, as I recall?'
'Yesh,' mumbled Gardner, his mouth still full of Twinkle's neck.
'Then put the fairy down.'
Gardner released his grip on Twinkle's neck and shuffled reluctantly backwards, his eyes still focused on Pogmorton's wand.
There's something not quite right about that pixie, Gardner thought, he's never been quite right since he came back.
Pogmorton extended a hand and pulled Twinkle to her feet.
'Thank you,' said Twinkle quietly.
'Don't thank me yet. If anything happens to Rushalka, I'll make you wish you'd never been born. Now, get down those stairs.'
Pushing Twinkle before him, Pogmorton made his way through the trapdoor back into the basement. As they reached Swazzle's hut, Pogmorton shoved Twinkle onto the front step.
'Wait here, I'll get The Book.'
As he walked away, Pogmorton tossed an angry look back at her, which yapped and ran around her feet snarling.
'If you move, it'll shred your wings,' Pogmorton offered by way of an explanation.
Twinkle visibly paled.
* * *
Creeping silently through the small door next to Rev Beresford's fireplace, Pogmorton emerged into the priest's study. The vault he had created the night he died hung in the air near the sofa. Pogmorton scrambled onto the arm of the sofa, pulled out his wand and began a ritual of immense complexity that involved many intricate wand gestures.
As the ritual reached its conclusion, Jamieson appeared from behind the sofa carrying a dustpan and brush, just in time for Pogmorton to shout, 'Catch!'
The Book winded Jamieson as it landed on him, but what upset him more was the fairy hand that landed full in his face, dripping blood down the front of his second best tunic. Jamieson let out a shriek, shook the appendage from his face and, glaring at Pogmorton, vanished.
Pogmorton grabbed The Book and Twinkle's hand and dashed back to the basement, where he found Twinkle exactly where he'd left her, still guarded by the angry look. He threw Twinkle her hand.
'Alright, alright, but call that thing off first.' Twinkle gestured towards the angry look.
Pogmorton let out a low whistle and the angry look's ears pricked up. It turned and scampered towards him, climbed the front of his clothes and re-attached itself to his face.
'Get brewing that antidote.' Pogmorton pushed Twinkle ahead of him into Swazzle's hut and stood over her while she set about brewing. By the time the antidote was ready, Rushalka was wreathed in sweat and clawing at her bedclothes, gasping for water. She recoiled visibly at the sight of Twinkle when the fairy approached her bed, and it fell to Pogmorton to lift the cup to his sister's mouth. Rushalka greedily sucked down every drop then collapsed back against her pillows.
After a few moments a warm glow seemed to settle about Rushalka, the sweat evaporated from her brow and her breathing eased.
'She'll be alright now,' reassured Twinkle.
'She'd better be.'
* * *
Rushalka was recovering nicely as Pogmorton escorted Twinkle out through the air brick onto Goddess Rising's back step.
'Here's The Book.' He handed it over. 'Now piss off.'
Twinkle took to the air, flapping furiously to gain height under the additional heavy weight of The Book, and buzzed low over the back yard wall just as Swazzle and the Draig returned from their stroll.
'Was that Twinkle I just saw leaving?' said Swazzle as the Draig nuzzled Pogmorton's leg.
'Yup. I had to give her The Book.'
Swazzle was aghast.
'She poisoned Rushalka. I had to.'
'It's alright though,' there was a gleam in Pogmorton's eye as he fished around in his pocket before holding up a small spherical object. 'She can't do a thing with it. She's bollocks'd 'cos I've still got the key.'
Swazzle recognised the walnut shell they had appropriated from Simeon some weeks previously. A smile began to twitch at the corner of his mouth.
Peals of pixie laughter rent the night air, the Draig lolloping in happy circles at their feet.
'You do realise she'll be back?' said Swazzle between sniggers.
'Of course she will.' Pogmorton dabbed tears of laughter with his handkerchief. 'And when she does, I will kill her.'
One look into Pogmorton's eyes left Swazzle in absolutely no doubt he meant it.
'No-one hurts my sister and lives.'