• A solid thump was heard from my room, shaking me from my book. Thinking I had imagined it, I started to sink back into the trance I entered whenever I read a book. Just as I found my place, a rustle-thump whispered softly around the house. Irritated, I memorized the page number of my book and started towards my room.

    ‘It’s probably the cat trying to break something. Again,’ I thought. The week before, my cat had broken my bedroom lamp, leaving me stuck with dim candles as my only source of illumination. I had gotten a new lamp just yesterday. I hoped that the cat wasn’t trying to destroy it.

    About half-way down the hall, I froze. My floorboard had creaked. The loose floorboard in my room only creaked when something heavy - a little heavier than my dad’s dog – stepped on it. It was my warning for when my brother tries to steal the money I had hidden. The only problem was that my brother and parents were with the dog at the river. The river was half way across town. Nobody else was home. Just me. Just me and an intruder.

    I thought of all the weapons training my parents had insisted on me and my brother learning. My best weapon, the bow and arrow, were in my room. I had been taking sword fighting and short-sword fighting lessons, not fencing - too flimsy and proper – but we didn’t keep the blades at home. They were at the arena. There were knives in the kitchen, but they were awkward and off-balance. Besides, I hadn’t started the dagger portion of blade fighting. Staff was available, but that was also in my room. All that was left was hand-to-hand combat. I hoped the intruder didn’t have a weapon. If he did, I was a goner.

    I crept farther down the hall, being careful to not step on the rebellious floorboards. When I reached the end, I paused to listen to what was going on. I only heard what could easily have been mistaken for the sound of a breeze passing through my window or my cat playing around.

    Slowly, I opened the door to my room. The intruder turned to face me as the old hinges squealed in protest for being moved. I winced as I heard it, but my focus immediately shifted to my opponent.

    It was a boy. He looked to be about 17 years of age. He had dark, tousled hair and pale skin. He wore all black as though it was night, and he held in one hand a dark bag filled with my jewelry and the money I didn’t keep in my pockets. What caught me off-guard, though, were his eyes. They were a strange green, phosphorescent. The pupils were slit like a cat’s. He was one of the fey.

    I hesitated a second, giving him the advantage he needed. He raised his other arm, pointing a gun. I knew I was going to lose, but I panicked. I kicked out, but he seemed to anticipate the move. He ducked, and while I was still off balance, fired the gun.

    An explosion sounding louder than a bomb resounded through my home. A bullet, glinting of several metals, buried itself in the doorjamb by my face. Scared out of my wits, I turned and ran. The boy gave chase. I ran a block, two. I was still running, even ten minutes later. I had run so far, I didn’t know where I was. The boy had probably stopped chasing me at the third block, but with my over imaginative mind, I kept seeing him chasing me, always about to fire the gun he had held.
    When I finally stopped running, I was in a part of town I had never seen before. It was a place where nobody wanted to live. The buildings were old and rundown, half of them covered in graffiti and random paint. The building across the street had half a rotted roof, the other half caved in or sagging badly. I immediately turned around to try and find my way back, walking past beggars that asked piteously for spare change.

    As I always did when somewhere strange, I pretended to be deaf. It works surprisingly well. I knew how to speak in sign language, so I could at least fake out anybody trying to do something funny. If they didn’t get the hint, well, I could fight.

    However, after a couple hours trying to figure out where I was, I gave up. I was tired and hungry, and just wanted to go home. Mum and Dad were probably freaking out by now. I didn’t have a boyfriend and didn’t have any reason to run away, so I was never out after dark unless I was in the pool. The near-full moon was already a quarter ways up into the sky.

    I walked into a random diner and ordered a rare steak. The waitress looked at me funny. I looked down and realized why. It was my clothes: a pair of black-camo Army kapris and a black-camo Army vest over a black tank top. I had my Army boots (spray-painted black) on and had black nail polish. I also had a black-camo bandana on and my steel spider-bites were black as well. With my grey-black eyes, it looked like I was an emo Army chick. Irritated and embarrassed, I glared at the waitress. She immediately left.

    I looked around and thought that there was something strange. I couldn’t quite name it; I could just tell that something was off. The waitress returned with my steak. I was half-tempted to just pick it up and eat it with my hands and teeth, but I was had some manners. I cut off a large chunk of meat and stuffed it in my mouth. Hey, I never said how well-mannered I was.

    While I was eating, I thought back to the house. The faery boy had a gun, I was sure of it. The problem was, all guns were made of steel. Steel had iron in it, and iron was poisonous to all fey. Yet the boy was holding the gun, shooting it, and he had no gloves. It was too bizarre.

    I unfocused my eyes as I ate, zoning out of the mortal world completely. Then I saw it. The diner didn’t look like a diner at all from this point of view. The walls were made of trees; the roof was a mass of woven vines. I looked at the waitress again, eyes still glazed and unfocused. She was a satyr. Goat legs came out from under her skirt and her furry, drop-shaped ears rested more towards the top of her head. The chef came out from the kitchens to talk to her. The chef was a pixie; she had skin as green as the vines above and wings that glittered with rainbow colors like an oil slick.

    No wonder I was getting funny looks. This was a faery diner. Usually rare steaks are served to the Weres, and I looked nothing like a Were. Usually the Weres had gold or green eyes, the same style as a cat’s or dog’s eye. If anything, I looked like a storm fey, with my black and grey clothing and grey-black eyes. The only things storm fey ate were snow and morning dew.
    “Allo,” I said. “Don’t you fey usually keep to the Great Planes area? There aught to be too much iron in these parts for your liking.”

    The satyr looked at me funny again, and then asked, “You can see us? You have the Sight?” I nodded. “Are you fey?”

    “Nah,” I responded. Then I thought. “At least, I don’t think so… Prolly not. I have some friends who are fey, though.” She looked doubtfully at me. “A nixie. And a Were. Oh, and a kelpie taught me how to swim.” Now she just stared. “I was raised by fey. They adopted me. Mum’s a dryad and Dad’s a kelpie.”

    The pixie started laughing, a light, bubbly laugh that tinkled all around the diner. I resisted the urge to do so with her. Fey laughs are infectious. Once you start laughing with a fey, you can end up doing so until you die. Unless, of course, the fey likes you. Then it’s a whole different story.

    “Nice story, mortal. Almost had me going there. A mortal raised by fey? Impossible!” She giggled again. “Those who we choose to keep are changelings, and they never age. We keep them as playthings. You aren’t a changeling, you are too old. Now, what’s the truth?”

    I refocused my eyes. Now that I knew the truth of the place, the glamour came of easily without my trying. “Living with fey for so long means that I cannot tell an untruth. I’m telling the truth. Ask Mum. You could. At least, you could if I knew where I was…” I fell silent.

    The pixie laughed again. “We know where you are,” she said. “We can tell you.”

    “Fey never do anything for free. What’s the price?” I asked.

    The satyr laughed at my suspicion. “You have to play a game with us. If you win, we will tell you where you are and how to get home. If you lose, you have to stay with us. How does that sound?”

    I shrugged. “Sure, just as long as there are no faery tricks.”

    “Such suspicion! No faery tricks! We swear!” Their laughter bubbled from their throats again.

    They took me to the river nearby. One of them cut their finger on a thorn and wiped the blood off with an oak leaf. She tossed the bloody leaf into the river and whispered something. A kelpie summons. Kelpies were water horses that lure people under water and drown them for fun.

    “A kelpie? What does a kelpie have to do with the game?” I asked.

    “The kelpie has a big part. The game is that you must tame the kelpie before the sun rises!” Both of the fey burst out laughing.

    “Fine,” I replied. The kelpie came up out of the water, its moss-green hide black in the moonlight.
    “You summon me?” he asks.

    “We are playing the game again! Here is the player!” The satyr was getting annoying with her high-pitched giggles.

    The kelpie whinnied in excitement. I didn’t bother to go get a bridle; I jumped strait on his back. He was so startled that he tried to buck me off. He remembered what he was doing and what was riding him. As he started wading back into the water, I jumped off. I was waist-deep in ice-cold water, but it didn’t faze me at all. “You are in my element, my territory. You have no commandment over me, mortal.” He warned me.

    “I am Gync Tamare! I am the Heir of Laiminead the King of the Kelpies of the Fresh Waters! You cannot harm me, kelpie. I have commandment over you. Now, I order you to allow me to ride upon your back, and you shall be tame. You shall not try to throw me off or drown me,” I said as I pulled out a scroll of ash bark, worn and soft as cloth. “This scroll contains proof that I am Heir to the Throne of the Kelpies of the Fresh Waters. Now, do as I command!”

    The fey on the shore stared, wide-eyed as I rode the kelpie, now tamed, onto the shore. “I believe you owe me some directions,” I told them as innocently as I could.