The Bat-winged Cape
As we walked out of Master Tragedy’s Sorcerer’s tower toward the crafting district of Cair Tellos, I was carrying the huge jar of midnight shadows that Master Eli had given us to have a cape made from for Derfentwinkle. She was carrying the bottle imp, Kackenfurchtbar, in case I needed to test the truthfulness of what Derfie was telling us. But once on the stair to the Stitch-Witches’ Fabric and Sewing Shoppe, I turned to Derfie and set the jar down on a wooden step for a moment.
“Um, ah… Derfentwinkle?”
“Can I… um… give you… ahem… I mean… would it be okay if I… gave you a…” I opened my arms before I said the actual words’
“A hug, Bob?”
I nodded silently, and she grabbed me with both arms and pressed my face against her bare bosom. I felt awkward, but I didn’t pull back. I put both of my arms around her and squeezed her just as hard.
“Because the Erlking’s Wizard nearly cut our heads off before we ever got a chance to…”
“Hug each other like this?” she finished my sentence. She used her empty hand to stroke the back of my head.
We held each other tightly for a few long minutes. Then, suddenly, Anneliese was there.
“Ah, Derfentwinkle, I see you’ve discovered how huggable the nicest Sylvan boy in all of Cair Tellos really is.”
“Are you jealous?”
“Of the hug, maybe. But I can surely share my best boy.”
“Best boy? Not, boyfriend?” Derfie asked.
“Anne is a Storybook and much older than me,” I said, reluctantly releasing my hold on the necromancer’s apprentice.
“Oh, right. Old enough to be your mother, I suppose?”
“Or his grandmother,” said Anneliese with a wrinkling of her nose above a puckish grin. “If you like my almost grandson, then that pleases me.””
“Did you come seeking us?” I asked her.
“Yes, I did. Master Eli told me where to find you two. A pretty little Butterfly Child named Dollinglammer has been asking about you in the residential towers. She seems intent on finding you. Especially you, Bob,”
“We have to go to the stitch-witches to get a cape made for Derfie. But if you come with us, you can take us to her afterwards,” I suggested.
“That would be lovely,” Anne said. “I have been interested to get to know this new Sylph friend of yours, Bob.”
Anneliese, nude as always, was absolutely beautiful. She had longish blond hair which curled wildly, and she never combed it. She was shaped like the fourteen-year-old human girl she was when the Nazis put her to death at Auschwitz. She was now an immortal Storybook thanks to a story her mother told about her, so her beauty would never fade or change.
She put an arm around my neck as I picked up the jar of shadows, and she put her other arm around Derfie, drawing us both close to her.
“Derfentwinkle, my powers as a Storybook are openness and honesty. If you ever need to talk to about the shadows that are inside of you, I’m your friend. I will talk about it with you as honestly as anyone can. And I say this as a guarantee, I can help you.”
Derfie looked down at the ground as we continued into the shop of the stitch-witches.
Bibby-Joon, the elder stitch-witch met us there. She was a Pixie with the upper torso of a youthful woman and the abdomen and spider legs of a large spider.
“We will have the cape done for you in a matter of minutes,” Bibby said. “It will be a very special Batwing Cape just as Master Eli ordered. It will not only protect you from mind control and influence spells, but it will turn into bat wings on command so you can fly. And if you wrap it all the way around you while standing in shadow, you will disappear and remain invisible as long as you do not move.”
We came out of the shop with Derfentwinkle wearing her new protective magic cape.
“It looks very becoming on you,” Anneliese told her.
“Kack? Is the necromancer’s mind control working on Derfie in any way?” I asked the bottle imp just as Master Eli had instructed me.
“No, Bob. Any evil she does now will be entirely her own doing.”
I think that answer made me frown or something. Anneliese put a comforting hand on the back of my neck and said, “Don’t worry, Bob. Everything is as it should be.” Derfie was smiling at the ground. And I couldn’t help feeling how beautiful she was… to me, at least. And worrying about how much control that gave her over me.