Biddy felt her hackles rising; something was wrong. The youngsters were not as talkative or as boisterous as usual, but she put their strange mood down to the greyness of the sky. Elfin, like mortals are creatures of light, and the overhanging clouds tend to put a damper on them. Still, Tabby had known them for years and she reacted in such a way to strangers.
“Sit down,” Biddy said. “I have to feed the chickens. There is cake in the larder and there’s apple juice if you are thirsty. You know where it is,” she picked up a small basin full of rind and bits of stale bread.
The excuse of feeding the chickens was a ruse, so she could get her thoughts in order. As she scattered the food, she wondered what made the cat react in such a way.
“I’m getting old,” she sighed. “There’s no other explanation. I am losing my powers. It worries me when the cat recognises before I do, that something is wrong.”
Biddy has the gift of second sight, as she was the offspring of an elfin mother and mortal father. Her eyes brighten. Of course, that is what’s wrong with the youngsters.
Corey and Juliet were sitting side by side whispering when she opened the cottage door. They jumped apart and sit up straight in their chairs as she approached.
“Not hungry?” She looked down at the empty table.
“We are a bit,” Corey said. “But we thought we’d wait for you.”
“That was thoughtful,” Biddy eased her aching bones into a chair. “Be a good boy and fetch the cake for me.”
He looked in confusion at the three doors lining the room
“Sit down,” Biddy said. “I’ll fetch it myself.”
They sat in silence, as she uncovered the fruit cake and poured the juice in to three glasses.
“Go on, eat,” she said. “It won’t poison you.”
Breaking off a large piece of the cake, she popped it into her mouth. Corey picked up his slice and bit it.
“It’s delicious,” he said as his teeth sank into sweet fruits and bits of nuts.
“It is,” Juliet agreed.
“Good,” Biddy drank from her goblet. “Now that we have established that, perhaps you’d care to tell me who you are?”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Corey blushed. “We didn’t mean to try and fool you. “It’s just that we’re here looking for answers and since you seemed to recognise us…” his voice trailed off. “Perhaps, if we told you our stories, you would understand,” he said. “Juliet and I met for the first time yesterday, but something drew us together. Will you listen to what we have to say?”
“I’m listening,” Biddy said.
For the next hour they shared their stories about their life and the strange things they both had seen.
“It was the one word that brought us together,” Corey said. “Culdoplin, I’ve heard that name whispered in my dreams and so has Juliet.”
Juliet told her about her shadow self, the girl who looked exactly like here.
“I’ve never seen anyone who looked like me, but I saw the monster dog and the Thing,” Corey added.
“What are you talking about child?” Biddy interrupted.
Corey told her about the alley and the things he had seen.
“A fairy dog sent to protect you,” Biddy nodded.
“It looked more like a monster,” Corey said. “It scared me to death.”
“They’re big, but harmless to the innocent. I could never keep a dog because of them. They see the fairy dogs running wild and take off after them never to return.”
“So, you believe in the fairies?” Juliet asked.
“I am part elfin, my mother married a mortal,” Biddy said. “The Thing you saw was an Ereban.”
“What’s an Ereban?” Juliet asked.
“Keep your voice down, child,” Biddy shushed her. “The skies are overcast and there’s no telling where they might be. Erebans are the worst part of ourselves, be we elf or mortal,” Biddy said. “They are born of our worst traits and thrive on fear and chaos. They roam the world by night. That is when they are their strongest. They creep through the cracks in our minds and spread their venom in nightmares.”
Juliet shivered and moved her chair closer to Corey.
“Why would one of them come after me?” Corey asked.
“It’s never been known before, but there is something stirring and it’s not just you who needs answers.” Biddy stood. “It’s time to go, there’s work to be done.”
“But you haven’t told us anything,” Juliet said.
“I’ll walk to castle with you,” Biddy said. “There is someone I must consult. Come back in the morning. I might have answers for you then.”
“Will you come over to my tent when the others are asleep?” Juliet asked Corey when Biddy left them.
“No problem,” he said. “I doubt if I will sleep tonight.”
It was not a night for being alone, when they knew the truth about the Things roaming the darkness.