I brought my hand up to touch the glowing blue spot on my cheek, illuminated by the silver bell on the counter. This would take weeks to come off. I sighed dejectedly. "Fucking pixies."

"Cassidy, let's go." Damien growled as he stumbled downstairs, lugging a large bag over his shoulders. I pivoted on the spot to face him, a finger prodding the blue patch of pixie spit.

"I can't. Look at this." I whined, jabbing meticulously at my face.

"Just cover it up with a bandage or something." He growled at me. "We need to go now, Cassidy."

Wordlessly, I picked up one of the many scattered bandages on the counter. Making a point to ruthlessly rip open its paper encasement, I quickly removed the adhesives and stuck it to the spot on my face. I watched triumphantly as Damien's jaw dropped slightly.

"It glows through the bandage?" He mouthed weakly. "It can do that?"

"You kook, of course it bloody well can." I snarled, ripping off the bandage.

"This will ruin everything." He moaned, sinking into a heap on the floor. I smirked at him.

"Told you we should've killed the little twit."

Damien sighed, absently running a hand through the fringe of his hair. "We'll have to do a small bewitching charm."

"No," I glared at him, brushing the disorganized bandages away to lean my hands against the counter. "You are disastrous with charms. Leave it to the pixies."

"We have to do this, Cassidy." Damien frowned. "The crowd is starting to believe again."

I rolled my eyes. "Fine. I'll just say it's a tattoo."

"It's glowing."

"It's a special, oil-based tattoo."

"Do you honestly think people will buy that?" Damien snorted.

"I don't have my hopes that high for humanity, not if they believe elfin creatures are traipsing around their lawns all the time."

Damien paused thoughtfully.

"Well then, we have a plan."

"My house, I have been hearing strange noises inside it." An overweight, heavily mustached man gesticulated wildly. Damien nodded, as if actually paying deep attention. "At night, things go patter-pat and bump."

And to make it even more hilarious, the man said this in a very thick Spanish accent. Couple that with the incessant flapping of his arms, and you have a very angry walrus. I watched as Damien reached into his bag, grabbing a fistful of gold glitter to scatter about the front door of the house.

"Pixie dust," He exclaimed loudly to the crowd, continuously flinging the glitter everywhere. "To lure the poltergeist out of it's hiding."

"And, the earth of the ground." He kicked the soft earth a la David Beckham, spraying dirt all over the cream door and leaving angry brown splotches. "To encourage the poltergeist to return to it's natural domain." Here, Damien shot me a pointed look. Clearing my throat, I squeezed my way through the large crowd which had begun to form.

"If you don't mind, good sir, might I have a look at the house?" I recited robotically. Damien frowned, eyes narrowing in ill-disguised contempt. I gave a miniscule shrug of my shoulders. Hey, I banished fearsome creatures of the dark; acting? Not so much.

"Be my guest," he motioned for me to step inside, casting apprehensive looks at the pixie spit on my face. I plodded awkwardly forward, stopping just as I entered the door.

"Oh look, a pipe." I said dully. "I have a strong feeling the noise's came from this pipe right here."

The man shuffled forward, shoving Damien aside to reach me. He reached up to tap the pipe. I clenched my fists together, creating a mental image of the sloshing water inside. Immediately, a loud whooshing sort of sound occurred, followed by a small thud of something solid getting caught in the pipe. I relaxed my clench fists, smiling smugly. Score one for the Elementalist.

"The girl is right," The man boomed, turning around to face Damien and the growing crowd of advancing neighbors. "Why, it's probably just the old, rusty piping system."

Damien frowned, feigning a look of despondence. The man reached over and jovially patted him on the back. "I am sorry to have wasted your time with the old paranoia of an aging man." He let out a small cough, casting a quick glance to his former spanking off-white door, which was now covered in mud and glitter. "About the uh, pay …"

Damien cracked a small smile. "At least we from the Dahlia do handywork too, other than getting rid of your insolent poltergeists, of course."

"Great," I grunted, trying to get a grip on the wrench through all the sweat forming on my palm. "No more business for a good month now."

Damien rolled his eyes at me. "Don't dramatize; we can still offer repair services."

"Who," I panted, still struggling with the stubborn pipe. "would want any form of service from a crazy old cow like you? Shit this, can I please use magic?"

"Shut it," Damien hissed at me, casting a quick look around the room. I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head.

"Nobody's here, you crackpot."

"You can't know that for sure," He quickly resumed his meticulous scrubbing of the door, casting quick glances over his shoulder.

Ignoring my partner's sudden bout of idiosyncratic behavior, I closed my eyes, steadying myself against the wall. A various collection of loud clunks followed as they made their way along the length of the pipe.

"Cassidy," Distantly, I could hear Damien's angry hisses at me. Paying no mind to him, I started humming, successfully drowning out his subsequent angry hisses. I listened closely as the clunks gradually faded to placid silence as whatever object entrapped in the pipe made it's journey to the sewer system. Satisfied, I opened my eyes slowly, squinting against the fluorescent lights.

"See, all done. And that would've taken hours with this stupid thing."

"Cassidy," Damien was still hissing. I was met with the mental image of an enraged cat with very bad dental hygiene. I made a note to invest in a puppy.

"Let's just go home," I whined. "We've successfully staunched the flow of business, waded knee-deep in elbow grease and met the human incarnation of a walrus. Let's just call it a day."

Damien raised an eyebrow skeptically before finally letting out a sigh. "Okay," He threw the sponge back into the soapy expanse of the bucket next to him. "Let's go home."

Almost gleefully, I tilted my head back and let out a whoop, nearly tripping as I descended the ladder. Damien eyed me warily as my feet finally made contact with the ground.

"Wait," He raised a finger, lightly tapping the bridge of my nose. "One last thing."

Turning around, he made a quick scan of the room. Rolling my eyes, I settled into one of the plush armchairs. Satisfied, Damien cocked his head to one side. "We know you're here."

A red streak whizzed by, bouncing around the room like Superball on crack, all the while muttering vaguely. Damien raised his hand, palm-first, and the red streak immediately halted, revealing a gangly thing full of tangled limbs.

"Hey, hey." It flapped it's arms as it hovered in mid-air. "What's this now? New friends? Ooh, I do like new friends. New friends, new friends." The thing muttered to itself as it floated back and forth like it was pacing. "When was the last time I had new friends? Hmm."

"Yeah, we can be friends." Damien said charmingly. The poltergeist stopped mid-pace, turning it's long head around to get a better view of it's subject.

"Joy! Happy joy!" It wailed, circling Damien. "Happy, happy, joy, joy!"

"Do you want to play a game?" Damien said smoothly. "It's really fun."

"Yes, games, ooh. Games are fun."

"Right," Damien murmured, casting a quick look at me. Instinctively, I formed wisps of solid smoke at the edges of the room. Poltergeists were very capricious creatures, their moods constantly changing as fast as birds could shit. Along with a ridiculous amount of magical strength to cause havoc, they were immensely annoying to deal with. "Okay, but we're going to have to go to a very special place to play." Damien sucked in a deep breath. "Do you understand?"

The poltergeist nodded happily, whizzing by even faster. Tentatively, I let the smoke edge it's way closer. Just a little bit –


"TRAITORS!" The poltergeist screeched. I met the wall behind me with a loud thud as a streaming red bolt hit me. Wheezing, I blearily jumped back to my feet, vaguely noticing Damien taking cover underneath the dining table.

"Wanted to be friends with me, huh. Trying to betray me with your smoke." More red bolts flashed, upturning furniture and leaving deep impressions in the walls. "I'm having enough fun here. Should stay here, oh yes. Here is good."

"What is happen …" I caught sight of the man from earlier come trudging down the stairs, halting in astonishment as he took in the unfolding pandemonium before him.

"Cassidy," Damien's voice cracked, the urgency clearly etched.

Turning my attention to the streaming blur of red, I tried to properly solidify my smoke; but the damn thing kept tearing through it before I was even halfway finished.

"I can't," I screamed back. "Too little time."

"Well think, damn it."

Frowning, I scrutinized the room, trying to see the past the whizz of red bouncing across of it. I wasn't telepathic, so the furniture was out of the question. Besides, half of it was already shredded, thanks to the effectiveness of an enraged poltergeist. I caught sight of the owner of the house slumped at the bottom of the staircase, most likely Damien's doing. The house was completely deprived of any elemental beneficiary, asides from the impalpable soft trickling of water as it traveled through the pipe right above my head. Hmm.

"Cassidy," Damien screamed, boldly running from furniture to furniture as he sought some form of protective enclosure, the dining table having since blown-up.

The clumps of smoke slowly separated, forming a slight haze across the room. I watched as it gradually intensified, slowly blocking out everything, making the room look like the screen of a TV set with very bad reception. The subsequent bangs of furniture exploding consequently stopped altogether.

"I can't seeeeeee." The poltergeist wailed. "Seeeee, can't seeee."

A loud screech of metal ripping ensued, followed a seemingly solid lariat of water. Now for the more delicate part. Carefully parting the smoke, I anxiously probed around for signs of the untimely poltergeist. Abruptly hitting something solid, I quickly clamped down on my lip as I retracted immediately. The stupid thing took no notice, instead picking up its preceding wails of sudden blindness. Relieved, I edged the lariat forward and gently coiled it around the spindly thing, constricting it tightly around the bony body.

"What is this?" It moaned. "It's cold, cold. Badly cold! Get it off! OFF."

I cleared up the remainder of the smoke, and was met by the cataclysmic remains of the house. Gulping, I turned around to find Damien glaring at me, dusting himself off as he emerged from behind an unrecognizable piece of furniture.

"Wonderful job, Cassidy." He replied smartly. "I wonder how we'll fix his memory up, not to mention the neighbors as well."

I gave a small huff. Okay, granted, I did take my time, but regardless of which, I still saved his sorry ass. Turning to walk out of the door, I answered with a superficial flick of my hair, reaching out with my other hand to point at the luminosity on my face. "Pixies, my friend. Pixies."

A small child tugged relentlessly on the sleeve of his mother, shooting glances at the approaching lady. Taking no heed of her son's sudden interest in this stranger, she reprimanded him softly and shook him off.

"But ma," He whined. "Her cheek's glowing."

Glaring at the boy, I leaned down to level his gaze with mine. "Yes, kid. And I'm the one hiding under your bed; I'm the one making those sounds at night. And I'm the one that's gonna be the death of you."

"Jacob," His mom hissed, protectively wrapping an arm around him. She gave a rueful glare. "Don't talk to strangers." She gave my face a curious look before muttering to herself, "Tattooed delinquents."

I flashed her a toothy smile as I pushed the swinging door of the Garnet open, the combined magical energy radiating off the various inhabitants making me recoil slightly. Even after two years of loyal beverage-buying, the explosion of energy here still managed to set me back slightly.

I proceeded to elbow my way through the crowd, apologizing to the more petite of creatures as I treaded on a mass of tails, legs, and occasionally, some heads.

"Watch it, human," A pig-like snout blocked the rest of my view. Leaning back slightly, I frowned at the minotaur.

"Sorry, buddy. Kind of in a rush here."

He grumbled, reluctantly making way for me to pass. I smiled at him before hurriedly squeezing my way through the crushing crowd.

Under normal circumstances, said minotaur would've most likely grasped me by the head while progressively squeezing it until my eyeballs popped. And then, said minotaur would've most likely brought me back to his tribe for a light snack of human brains and whatever other organs took their fancy.

Which was why I was still stupefied over the wonderful control pubs like the Garnet exuded over their customers.

Finally catching sight of a bob of platinum hair, I started waving my arms frantically. "Demelza!"

The girl immediately turned around while expertly balancing a tray of doubtful-looking green blobs. "Cassidy!" She smiled happily as she weaved through the crowd, collecting an assortment of longing stares as she did so.

Demelza was part sprite and Fae. In other terms, she was genetically blessed with invidious beauty, her skin glowing about as much as my cheek. I smiled as she wrapped her arms around me, inhaling her intoxicatingly sweet fairy smell.

"Angry pixie?" She frowned as she lightly poked my cheek.

I nodded mournfully. "Stupid thing made so much trouble. Oh, by the way, I'm sure Damien would've been exceptionally happy to see you." I watched as Demelza's face colored a light pink. Happy was an understatement; so was ecstatic. Damien was quite fairly obsessed with the fairy.

"A lot of work, huh?" She levitated the tray, sending it to rest on the bar-top.

I shrugged. "Just your typical imperative pixie and the annoyance of a poltergeist." I paused before adding thoughtfully, "Which, by the way, I shouldn't have left Damien alone with."

"Y—you what?" Demelza stuttered, eyes widening into crystal-clear purple orbs.

I waved a hand reassuringly, almost knocking a buzzing brownie. "He'll be fine, I suppose. All he has to do is drag it back and send it home. The thing's probably traumatized, anyway."

The only good thing about poltergeists was their tendency to surrender almost instantly. Many people had a common misconception that they were stubborn, impossible things; but it was the quite contrary, really. They were a lot like stupid children who – amazingly – shut up instantaneously after a good beating.

Demelza smiled, a look of relief washing over her face. Immediately upon realizing this, she straightened up and flustered with the hem of her skirt. "Oh, that's uh, that's good. What would you like, love?"

I bit my lip, considering the options. "Is it on the house?"

Demelza smiled warmly at me. "Of course it is."

"One goblet of spitfire, thanks." I snickered happily as I settled into one of the barstools. The bartender eyed me with reservation as he polished a glass with a bedraggled cloth.

"What're you looking at?" I snapped at him, leaning my elbows on the counter to get a better look. He seemed human enough, lanky with the slight build of a runner. He gave me a crooked smile and set the glass down. Wordlessly, he reached over and pointed to the inevitable – my cheek.

"Listen here, squirt," He raised his eyebrows at my acknowledgement of him. Ignoring him, I ploughed on. "I got this –" I pointed at my cheek to emphasize my point. "— from a whole army of rebellious fairies. Technically speaking, I came out unscathed."

"Impressive … lieutenant," He chuckled, placing a large glass of bubbling, red liquid in front of me.

I grabbed it defensively and raised it to my lips, chugging down the sizzling runny drink. Tilting the cup all the way back, I finished with a flourish as I slammed it back down on the counter, grinning drunkenly.

The bartender raised his eyebrow skeptically. "You really shouldn't do that."

"I'm fine," I waved a hand at him.

"So …" He pushed my cup away, setting his hands on the edge of the bar as he leaned towards me. "You know Demelza, huh."

I shrugged. "She's a good friend. I was her bouncer for a solid year."

"You work here?" He cocked to his side at this sudden piece of information.

"Worked," I corrected. "I'm assigned to the Dahlia now."

He nodded slowly, picking another glass to polish. "What are you?"

"Elementalist," I replied confidently, puffing my chest out in pride.

"You passed the exams?"

I opened my mouth to retort, leaving it agape as I tried to think of a suitable defense. Finally, I slouched in defeat. "No."

He smiled wryly at me. "I thought so." He murmured, turning to melt into the beads which separated the kitchen from the bar before I could throw my cup at him.

Disgruntled, I stood up and started snaking my way back through the crowd. Just as I was a mere few feet from the door, a figure suddenly stood on the table, enticing the crowd to compress even more. Suffocating between a centaur and a bored-looking Fae, I was forcibly turned against the tide of the crowd to face the speaker. I craned my neck back to peek longingly at the door.

"Fellow creatures!" He boomed, gesturing grandly. "For years now, the more dismal of our lot have been compulsorily sent away from this land." He paused, licking his lips. "Who are these beings to unjustly sentence us to their heart's contents?"

He was met a roar of approval from the crowd as several fists punched into the air. Trying to remain as obscure as possible, I tentatively inched my way to the door. A riot wasn't the best of places for the aforesaid human to be in.

"We must fight back! Let the disdain of our voices be heard!" He bellowed, shaking his fist in apparent rage. I could see the top of a closed coin-bag peeking out from the pocket of his trousers. Behind him, several questioning figures stood at the alert.

"We've had enough. For decades now –"

"Enough," An angry voice snarled. Tip-toeing over the heads of the crowd, I could see the familiar swoosh of blonde hair making it's way to the speaker's makeshift podium. Oh no.

"The Garnet," Demelza continued, giving angry glares at the crowd. "Is a neutral zone, like most other pubs. I suggest you lot get out before you attract unwanted attention from the officials."

The crowd started murmuring, their previous outrage at being subdued forgotten. I didn't blame them – the officials were a scary bunch of people at best. The atmosphere at the pub was getting dangerously tensed. Making a subconscious decision to make a dash for the door, I took a step forward before a familiar voice cut me off.

"That's right," The bartender heaved himself onto the counter. God, what was with these people and speeches? "The officials this, the officials that. When is it going to end?"

I let out a groan as the crowd immediately shuffled forward, their attention captured by this new speaker. I was inevitably shoved along.

Demelza shook her head, placing her delicate hands on her hips. "Kailan."

Kailan shrugged, grinning cheekily.

The man next to Demelza harrumphed loudly, dragging the attention back to himself. "People of the Dark and Light alike."

"This," He sucked in a breath, gesturing towards Lucas. "Is Kailan Rhiannon, our hope for the future."

I stiffly turned my head around to face him, Kailan. He caught my gaze, giving me a wry smile.

"Turns out you'll have your battle with fairies after all," He winked at me. "Lieutenant."