“I grow weary,” said Myolaena Maetar with a sigh, after we had left the fourth or fifth tavern. “I suppose I shall just kill you and blow up the playhouse.”
“Blow up the playhouse!” I cried. “You can’t do that!”
“I can do that.”
“Well, you shouldn’t…”
“Eaglethorpe Buxton, which is to say me… I mean my friend, put his life into that play. Kill him if you must, but the play must continue. The play is the thing.”
“Just the thing.” I suddenly spotted the sign above the door of the Fairy Font. “And this is just the place.”
“What kind of place is it?” she asked.
“It’s just the kind of place that I… that Eaglethorpe Buxton would visit.
Jumping ahead of the sorceress, I opened the tavern door and allowed her to enter, then followed. Despite the hour, now closer to morning than night, the Font was full of customers—mostly sailors. As I believe I mentioned before, the Fairy Font is known for its nightlife, especially among the rougher crowd. Pipe smoke hung in the air like fragrant fog and drinks were flowing freely.
“Six crowns cover charge,” said the heavily-muscled man just inside the door.
“I’m with her,” said I.
Myolaena threw a small pouch of coins at him. We waded through the sea of humanity and dwarfanity and elfanity and I think one or two trollanity and found an unoccupied table with two stools, where we sat down. The patrons of the establishment, already loud and raucous, began chanting something and pounding their fists on the table.
“This is most odd,” said the sorceress. “They have their drinks. What else do they want?”
“Entertainment,” said I.
“We are not going to have to sit through another play, are we?” She rolled her eyes.
As if in answer, directly above our heads and directly above each of the tables in The Fairy Font, which is to say all over the taproom, small doors opened in the ceiling and little platforms were lowered on chains. When the platforms had reached the tabletops, knocking over quite a few tankards of ale is they did, we could see that upon each was a small basin filled with dark, rich, mud. Sitting on either side of the basin of mud was the tiny form of a fairy, wearing a teeny little robe cut open in the back to allow her wings to stick out.
The round basin of mud reminded me of the mud pies that we used to make as children. My sister Celia and my cousins Gervil, Tuki, and Geneva used to play on the front step of our house, which is to say Cor Cottage just outside Dewberry Hills. Celia was a master piesmith, at least of the mud variety. Interestingly enough, when she grew up, her pies at best could be considered mediocre. Tuki could make quite a fine pie as an adult—all the more strange as her childhood mud pies were the antithesis of Celias, which is to say that they were no good at all. Geneva’s mud pies were better than Tuki’s but not as good as Celia’s, and since she died as a child, no one can tell if she would have grown to be a decent piesmith or not. Gervil didn’t make pies, though he did force me to eat more than a few.
“What are you thinking about?” asked Myolaena Maetar.
“Well stop it. We’re here to find Buxton.”
“And now the moment you’ve been awaitin’” said an unseen announcer. “Fairy mud-wrestling!”
A great cheer filled the room, but then all grew quiet as the audience watched the pair of fairies on each table disrobe.
“I’m Taffy,” said the six inch tall red-head, as she carefully pulled the robe over her gossamer wings.
“I’m Mustard Seed,” said the other fairy.
“I’m enchanted,” said I.
“I’m going to vomit,” said Myolaena.
The two fairies waded out into the mud, which to them was about knee-high, where they wasted no time. Mustard Seed jumped on Taffy, knocking her down and coating them both in the ooze. Taffy grabbed Mustard Seed’s hair and they both rolled across the bowl, squealing in their tiny little voices.
“Come along. We’re leaving,” said the sorceress.
“You don’t like the show?” I was frankly incredulous.
“You hussy!” shouted Mustard Seed, though I don’t know if she was speaking to Myolaena or to Taffy.
“But they’re so cute and wee.”
“I must visit the little warrior’s room first,” said I.
“Fine,” she said. “I will be waiting outside.”
I was loath to leave, but what was I to do. I stepped out back to, um… wash my hands. Then I headed back through the taproom for the front door, stopping just a moment to help Taffy, who was floating face down in the mud, while Mustard Seed was biting her on the foot. When I exited the tavern, I found the sorceress standing with a man. I didn’t recognize him until I got close—it was Ellwood Cyrene.