(5 of 5. Originally posted on December 29, 2023 for the prompt “Midnight Promises.”)
Monica flipped on the lights in her little candy shop, and surveyed the damage. Crumbs, flakes, and hard sugar fragments mixed with shards of glass all over the counters and the floor. A tiny winged woman in a green dress lay in the middle of the debris, dripping iridescent blood from a wounded thigh.
Monica picked up the woman and set her in a clear spot on the counter. “What happened? Is it done? Did you defeat the gremlins?”
“Not done. An agreement they have, and it wards them. They use weapons of iron.” The fairy grimaced. “I must ask of you a boon.”
“We’ve already agreed that you can be here, and fight them,” Monica bent down to get a better view of the fairy’s face. She wished she could smell honesty, like they seemed to. Anything to help her decide how far to trust this one. “What more could I do to help you?”
“They made a bargain with your mothers-child, to make this place their home. It shields them from the iron within these walls.” The fairy coughed, and spit out a drop of metallic fluid. “This place belongs to you now. You share the blood of the one who made the agreement. End the bargain. Withdraw their protection. Allow me to taste your sorrow, to refresh my strength. Then the iron will burn them again, and I may defeat them.”
“How do I do that? And how can I trust you? What do you offer me?”
“This place is yours. They must come when you call. Summon them. Revoke the bargain,” The fairy shuddered, and coughed again. “You may trust me because of my offer. I will give you my true name.”
Monica laid the back of her hand on the counter next to the fairy. “Agreed. I will revoke the gremlin bargain, and let you taste my sorrow for long enough to refresh you.”
“My name is Ndrille.” The fairy climbed into Monica’s palm. It rubbed its face against her skin. The wound on its thigh closed.
Monica stood, keeping Ndrille balanced in her hand. “I summon the gremlins who are bound to this place. Come and speak with me.”
A thin, scratchy voice answered her from the depths of a dark cabinet. “We are here. What do you want?”
Monica spun to face the voice. “First, I want to see you.”
A tiny human figure stepped into the dim light at the front of the cabinet. It wore a shiny candy wrapper as a dress, and held a sewing needle in one hand. It held its other hand in front of its eyes, as if the dimmest of light hurt them.
Monica squinted at the figure. “It’s a fairy!”
Ndrille hissed. “Not a fairy. Not anymore. Corrupted. Trust them not. Fairy blood binds them to speak true words, yet they bend the truth to deceive. They make midnight promises, dark as the starless sky. Feed, in the blackest hours, on the sorrow they’ve wrought. Can you not smell it on them? They stink as if bathed in the tainted water that flows through human homes.”
“We keep our word. It’s not our fault the humans make careless bargains,” The gremlin sneered. “What do you want, human?”
“I want you all out,” Monica said. “I formally revoke all agreements made by my sister regarding this property. You have no rights here. Be gone.”
The gremlin shrieked. It threw the needle away and licked its hand.
The moment the needle left its hand, Ndrille attacked. The two creatures morphed into sparks, spinning in circles around the room. A dozen other sparks joined them, chasing each other across the walls and ceiling. One by one they flew out through the door that Monica had forgotten to close.
A calico cat trotted in, with a limp body in a candy wrapper hanging from its mouth.
“Nancy,” Monica exclaimed. “Take that thing back outside! I don’t want to see another one of those in here, ever again.”