“When you say ‘tenants’, do you mean these creatures actually pay rent?” I asked as the creatures started emerging from the forest once more. “The fey? Not in money, but they do tend the forest for you.” replied Aaliyah. She took my hand and started pulling me into the woods, and I found myself wondering what she had gotten me into. She often acted on my behalf without consulting me first, but she hadn’t steered me wrong yet that I knew. Keeping up with her was so impossible for me that I wasn’t certain I’d know if she ever did make a mistake. “Are the fey dangerous?” I asked, completely uncertain what to make of them. “That would depend how you want to define ‘dangerous’, boss-man, sir. If someone were to attack your land, they would learn how dangerous fey can be. If you don’t harm them, they won’t intentionally harm you.” she replied. The word “intentionally” stuck out to me. “Alma seemed to harm the land a bit with her fire. Do they only guard the forest?” I inquired. Smiling up at me, Aaliyah said, “They can feel her magic and recognize her as one of their own, albeit a scary one.” Her emphasis on “scary” was said in such a playful manner that I wasn’t certain the fey regarded Alma as scary at all. “If the fey can’t talk, how do you know all of this?” I asked. I didn’t feel we had traveled all that far yet, but the forest was thick enough that I no longer could see my home. No wonder even Alma couldn’t see them here.
“I’m the daughter of a linguist, boss-man, sir. Communication is easy for me.” she explained with an adorable grin. Then she said, “That being said, most people can communicate with the fey easily. Very easily, in fact. You’re just blocking them out.” I looked at her incredulously as I asked “What? How?” Aaliyah pointed to a large rock, partially covered in moss for no apparent reason. Then she plopped onto the ground. I realized she probably meant for me to sit on it. When I moved to do so, the rock started moving as if it were malleable and being reformed. I jumped back, ready to defend myself, only to notice two extremely large eyes staring at me from a human-like face. “She’s been sitting there, pouting for months. They’re really emotional creatures.” I took a seat by Aaliyah and asked “How do I communicate with them?” She smiled up at me and said, “You tend to block everything out, ignoring the world as best as you can. You need to stop. That habit of yours has guided your magic to block out certain types of communication.” Was she saying… “Are you saying the fey are telepathic?” I asked. “Not as most people think of it, but yes. Just relax, boss-man, sir, and pay attention to this girl. She wants to know you. They all do.” replied Aaliyah. I hadn’t noticed the others were around us. “Aaliyah, what are they doing?” I asked, but she crossed her arms and gazed up at me without saying a word.
“Hello.” I said out of habit as I gazed around. There wasn’t much light around us, causing me to catch glints of animal-like eyes amongst shadowy shapes. Wait. The light was moving. Floating through the air above me was a girl no bigger than the width of my hand with luminescent wings. As I watched her, she landed on my nose, tickling it with a feather touch. I managed not to sneeze, but I felt I was going cross-eyed looking at her. She was smiling at me. “Stop fighting, boss-man, sir. Just relax. The flickering images in your head aren’t your own.” stated Aaliyah. I tried, but I was feeling stressed out between what happened with Alma and news of my magic going out of control. The fairy, for lack of a better word, hugged my nose. I closed my eyes and started to meditate. “Ouch!” I yelled. Aaliyah had pinched me! The fairy was flying wildly around my head now. “Wrong sort of meditating, boss-man, sir. Don’t look inward. Look out.” demanded Aaliyah. She was right. I had been about to block everything out. I wanted to relax. Still, I trusted Aaliyah. She always had some way of knowing what was happening. Even Alma seemed wary of upsetting my little friend. I shut my eyes and listened, my body naturally relaxing. I tried to hear the breathing of those around me. I strained to hear if there were insects buzzing or other sounds of the young night.
Then I was flying. My eyes sprang open, seeing the scene before me as it was, but there in my head I was hand-in-hand with the little fairy flying around the woods at day, feeling the air rushing against me. The rock girl on whom I almost sat was hugging my leg, and I knew her happiness. A little man that seemed to be made of wood was skipping in front of me by a stream. I couldn’t make sense of anything as more and more images and emotions seemed to flood my head. The girl from the pond was kissing me and pressing against me; an image, I assured myself, but one that was more pressing to me than the others. I shut everything out and found myself breathing heavy. “That one does like you a bit much I suppose.” claimed Aaliyah. “You… you saw that too?” I asked. She nodded. I felt completely embarrassed and incredibly shocked at the idea of a little girl having seen such a vision. “Don’t worry, boss-man, sir. She’s just like that. Ever since she snuck into the house during the ghost hunt, she’s been crazy about you.” explained Aaliyah, not making me feel even slightly more comfortable about the situation. Seeing the girl nearby and trying not to think about that particular image too much, I asked “How do you make sense of all that? I felt so overwhelmed.” Aaliyah shrugged and told me “You’ll be able to handle it much better later with a bit of practice.”
What took Aaliyah a “bit of practice” would probably take me the rest of my life to perfect. Everything seemed to come easy to her. “Well, I’m glad the fey aren’t so overly affected by my magic.” I admitted, finding a bright spark in this wild night. “Actually, they are.” claimed Aaliyah. “What!?” I asked, horrified at what I was doing to them. No one should be forced to like another creature. Aaliyah crawled onto my lap and hugged me. “There-there, boss-man, sir. They don’t get emotionally overwhelmed, and they’ll always give you space when I’m around.” claimed the little girl. “Why do they give you space?” I asked. She smiled and told me “The fey see me differently than you do, boss-man, sir.” I found myself again wondering about the little girl on my lap. She was a genius in every field, a cybernetic assassin for hire, and friends with fey. How did she experience so much in so little time? At Aaliyah’s urging, I tried communicating several more times over the course of hours, but I felt quickly overwhelmed each time. “Why did they all gather here on my land?” I asked after the latest attempt. Still sitting on my lap, Aaliyah told me “They’ve been here for as many years as the ghost stories surrounding this place, boss-man, sir. They stay here because they’re safe in these woods. You literally have an enchanted forest in your back yard. Pretty cool, huh!?” Cool, yes, but also worrisome. What did Alma think of this? She surely noticed.
Then I remembered Emma first telling me about her fey blood. She thought the fey were extinct. Aaliyah herself said these were the last. “Does Alma know about this?” I asked. Grinning, Aaliyah told me “You’d be surprised what that girl can miss, boss-man, sir. Someone a bit more clever even than her placed the enchantment here. No offense, but you could search for years and never notice it even now that you know about it, boss-man, sir.” I smiled and said, “Good thing I have a secretary far more clever than me. How did you find out about it?” She shrugged, yawned, and told me “I know who placed the enchantment.” Given what she’s said about this forest, I had no doubt. “Any chance you’ll introduce me to this person some day? I could obviously learn a thing or two from someone capable of this.” I told her. She just nodded, obviously on the verge of sleeping. Assuming Alma didn’t pick a fight, she might want to learn from this person as well. In a world filled with myths and legends living just out of sight, I needed to stop being certain I knew anything. My eyes were growing heavy as well. I wanted to head home, but I wasn’t sure the others would be safe from me if I did. I really didn’t like affecting the minds of others. Tonight was going to be a long one, and I wished I at least had a tent with me. Still, things could be worse.