Gramps cocked one eye in my direction. “Fine, but I want another serving.”
“How about you wait until morning and then you can have some more.” His stomach must have been a never-ending pit if he thought he could fit more inside of it right now.
“One more tonight, and two more in the morning.”
The damn little pixie knew that he had me where he wanted me, but that didn’t mean I had to give in completely. “On one condition.” I poked him gently in the belly. “You don’t sleep in the necklace tonight.”
“Every time you fart, the damn thing vibrates and wakes me up. If you eat any more, we both know what we are in for.”
Gramps sighed. “Yeah, but it’s so worth it.”
Maybe it was worth it for him. For me the smell and the vibrations made it a deal breaker. “So, do we have a deal?”
“A bargain has been struck,” Gramps intoned.
I started working on his next offering as he tried to roll onto his side. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he gave up and just lay there. “So I ask you again, and you’ve sworn to divulge the truth. What’s the deal with this hunt he was talking about?”
“It’s not this hunt or that hunt. It is the wild hunt. The hunt is the most important thing that happens for our people outside the confines of Tir Na Nog. Every hundred years the masters are given one night to hunt. If they don’t complete their task by the dawn’s light they return in failure and all our people suffer.”
There was something tickling in the back of my mind, but it couldn’t be that wild hunt. That was just a myth. Sure it was a myth shared by a lot of cultures in different countries, but it was still just a myth. Or was it?
“Gramps, are you trying to tell me a death omen has been cast over my city?”
The little pixie waved one hand lazily as if he were trying to banish a bad idea. “That’s just something those humans made up. Blame the fairies for all that death. How about take a shower and don’t let the rats into your homes. Of course not, let’s blame the magical beings that live in another realm. Typical. You know how many humans we saved by intervening?”
“Gramps, you’re getting off track.” The sugar must have really been getting to him, he was never this forthcoming with information. I hoped the next bowl didn’t send him into diabetic overload. I still had more questions.
I set his newest offering down in front of him. He looked at the bowl and smiled but still couldn’t manage to stand up. His wings beat weakly against the counter and then he fell back down in exhaustion.
“The wild hunt doesn’t come to spread death. It’s just the opposite really. The wild hunt exists to bring new life.”
I nudged the bowl closer to where Gramps was lying on the counter. “So there isn’t anything to worry about.”
“Not as long as you stay out of their way. The hunt master will not appreciate it if you interfere.” Gramps made it to his feet, but his giant brownie belly made him stagger from side to side like a drunk.
“Why do they call it a hunt then if they don’t kill anything?”
“You humans are always so literal. There are all kinds of ways to hunt that don’t end in death. Plus killing is the last thing they want to do; they are here to take something back to Tir Na Nog. So killing would defeat their purpose.”
I pulled the bowl back from Gramps forcing him to stagger forward a few more steps before he could grab the edge with his hand. “Just get to the point already. Why are they here?”
“For the children of course.” Gramps started to pull himself up the side of the bowl.
“The children!” I knocked Gramps off the bowl and pulled it away from him. “That’s a huge problem, Gramps. We can’t let them come to Salem and steal people’s kids.”
“Why not?” Gramps looked completely confused by my outburst. “It’s not like we could stop the hunt even if we tried.” Gramps eyed the bowl full of dessert that I was now clutching against my chest.
“What do you mean why not? It’s wrong to take someone else children.”
Gramps looked up at me unsure of how to handle my outburst. “Something humans have done to each other for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a practice still going on today.” Gramps gave me the look that said I was about to get a history lecture but then he stopped himself and continued speaking.
“It’s the way it’s always been done, child.” A subtle reminder that Gramps was older and wiser than I was. “There are only so many fairies in Tir Na Nog, and they are at war with one another. We need the human stock to replenish our family lines. Otherwise our entire race would fall, or worse yet we might end up like those banjo guys.”
What in the hell was he talking about now? “Banjo Guys?”
“You know, like that movie we saw.” He strummed his fingers and imitated someone playing banjo. “Anyways, we needed to introduce new blood into our lines. Otherwise we would all be someone’s brother, sister, or cousin.”