A Worm Fanfic

Dreaming of Fairies

By: Grounders10




The spine of the book was brown leather, cracked and rough from time and a lack of proper care. The silhouette of a fairy was embossed in gold at both the top and bottom of the spine. The leather creaked loudly as it was laid down on the kitchen table.

Taylor Hebert brushed a lock of her black hair behind an ear as she ran a hand over the blank front cover of the book. She had found it in a chest in the attic among her mother's things. This was the third book she had brought down to read through. The first pair had been rather dry texts on mythological creatures and plants. She hoped that this one was just a touch less dry.

The teenage girl sat down at the kitchen table and carefully opened the front cover of the book. The first page was empty. She carefully flipped to the next. "There we go," She muttered as the title page was uncovered. "A Treatise on the Arcane and Obscure Truths of the Faerie, By Nathaniel Portman. Circa. 1865. Huh…" Beneath the title in gold leaf that was cracked and faded was another silhouette of a fairy. She traced it with one finger, taking care to not touch the paper.

She flipped the page after spending a few minutes examining the title page. There was no table of contents before she reached the first chapter: 'Myths, Rumours, and Folk Tales'. The chapter name was printed in cracked gold leaf. Leaning forward she started reading.

The book was, it turned out, filled to the brim with information. It was also just as dry and exacting as the other two books had been. It wasn't quite a textbook, but Taylor was certain one of its descendants probably was. Still, for a girl bored on New Year's Eve it was good enough.

She had started reading shortly after lunch and it was getting dark by the time she sat back from the book. Taylor blinked at the dim light that was filtering through the kitchen windows. A glance at the clock hanging by the fridge prompted her to get out of her chair and flick the lights on. With better light, she looked again. It was just after four-thirty.

"Daaaaaad!" She called, "When's dinner?" From the living room there was a loud "Ughle" followed by a surprised shout and a crash. She winced at the cursing that followed. "You okay?" She shouted.

A few moments later her dad stepped out of the living room rubbing his shoulder. "I'm fine Little Owl. Shoulder's a bit sore though," He groaned. He took a seat at the table with a sigh.

"So," Taylor started again, "What's for dinner?"

Her dad heaved a sigh. "Food?" He chuckled at her annoyed look. "How about we order chinese? Almond chicken and a platter of fried rice sounds good to me."

"Sweet and sour pork too," Taylor added, "With some chow mein."

"I'll order it in a few minutes. Ugh," He rolled his shoulder with a wince. "Yeah, it didn't like that. I'll get some pain meds after I make the call. Hmm. Another book?" Taylor blinked at the sudden change in topic and glanced down at the old book.

"Yeah. It's from the same chest as the others," She said, "It's about Fairies."

Her dad stared at the book for a long moment, one hand rubbing his shoulder mechanically. "You know," He said finally, "Your mother was always fond of fairy tales. She'd buy up books on the topic whenever she could."

"I know. She told me a few," Taylor said quietly. The room fell silent. They both loved her mother. Really they did, but ever since her death whenever she came up both of them tended to fall silent.

After a minute or so her dad got up from his chair and walked over to where they kept the take-out menus by the phone. Taylor chewed her lower lip as she watched him order. She scooped up the book and left the room, heading into the living room. She settled down on the recliner with the book in her lap and flicked on the lamp on the table beside it.

Resettled, Taylor returned to reading, occasionally shooting a look towards the kitchen where she could hear her dad moving around. After a few minutes, her dad came into the room with a beer and, shooting her an amused look at the way she had claimed the chair, sat down on the couch. He turned on the TV. The news flowed over the room as they silently did their own things.

An hour later there was a knock on the door as the Chinese food arrived and they were soon seated around the table again, eating quietly. It was an awkward quiet, the sort that Taylor had grown too used to. It was the silence of two people who were unsure as to what they should do or say. It was what their meals were normally like, though it had been gone for most of the Christmas break.

They had almost been a family for a couple of weeks.

It was with guilty relief that Taylor finished her meal and dumped the plate in the sink before scurrying back to her book. It was a dry read, and slow, but very interesting. To her anyway.

Her dad came back to the living room sometime later and turned the TV back on. Hours passed with her reading despite the cheesy Christmas films playing in the background as her dad bounced between channels. He finally switched to the live feed of One Times Square as the new year approached.

Taylor barely paid any attention to the countdown, other than the occasional glance up at the TV. Even when the countdown finished and the ball dropped she merely applauded for a few moments before going back to the book.

She hadn't read everything in the book in detail, though she had read a lot of it. As it was, however, she had reached the end of the book and the notes and credits at the back. She flipped the page a few seconds after the ball drop and after a moment of reading paused.

"Brendan Beltmoor, 4:06am, May 4th, 1944?" She read aloud.

"Sorry?" Her dad asked. She didn't look up.

"I- This is a bit weird," She continued, "October 13th, 1962… 1965, 72… I thought this was a section giving credit to people who helped with the book, but these dates are all long after the book was written…"

"Other readers who signed it?" Her dad suggested.

She shook her head. "No, it's a printed book. It's all printed…" She trailed off as her eyes spotted a very familiar name.

Taylor Hebert, 12:01am, January 1st, 2011

Her eyes started at it for a second before looking up at the grandfather clock in the corner of the room. It was always two minutes fast, without fail. Always. It read as 12:03.

Her eyes went back down to the page. "Taylor?" Her dad prompted, half standing.

"It has my name in it… And this date. At this time," She said, pushing the book away from her. "Taylor Hebert, 12:01am, January 1st, 2011." She repeated. Her dad's eyes went to the clock like hers had.

Then the line with her name on it started to glow gold.

With a squeak, she tossed the book away. It tumbled across the floor, rolling over and over again until it smacked the far wall and fell right side up. It was on a different page, but as a golden glow spread across the book, prompting a string of curses from her dad, the pages flipped back to the list of names.

Her name, and though she couldn't read it from across the room she knew it had to be her name, glowed as bright as a light bulb on the page. There was a sound like the zipper of reality was being undone as the words began to move and peel themselves off the page. They floated in the air, shining with golden light.

"Taylor, RUN!" Her dad shouted, stepping between her and the book. It was a pointless attempt.

The golden words dissolved into a cloud of golden dust and shot forward, passing around her dad like a swarm of bees around a tree, and before she could make an attempt to get up fell upon her. She coughed as the dust settled over her, meshing into her hair, her clothes, and even down her throat as she accidentally inhaled some of it. It faded into her everything with a tingle.

She opened her eyes after a moment to find her dad staring at her. "Is it over?" She asked, before realizing that the book glowing brighter still. "Dad! Book!" She shouted before gasping as something inside her popped like a fizzy drink. A cloud of golden dust exploded out from her and the world suddenly got a lot bigger.


Taylor blinked as the obscuring cloud of golden dust faded, mostly at least. There was a fine layer of golden dust over everything except her. She had fallen forward onto something soft. "Nmmghlr..," She groaned as she pushed herself up. She felt stiff like she'd slept odd but otherwise fine. There was something odd with the ground. It was springy like an exercise mat. As she tried to sit up properly she noticed several things at once.

She wasn't wearing the black sweater and jogging pants she had been before. Instead, she was wearing a very tasteful green skirt, reddish-brown boots, and a white halter top that left her back exposed.

Her hair, which was now hanging into view, and which she could tell had to be hers by tugging on it, was a shocking crimson red that put her old former friend Emma's to shame with its vibrancy. She stared at the lock of hair uncomprehendingly before a twitch from her back caused her to slowly look behind her.

Wings. Wings like an insect. Long enough that they hung to below her knees while folded. They were a vibrant red with highlights of green and thin tracery of silver in geometric patterns mixed through the other two colours. She reached out hesitantly and touched them. She flinched at the sharp, though not unpleasant, sensation.

"I- I- What happened?" She asked. Panic was starting to build. She had been reading, then the ball dropped, then… Where was she?

"TAYLOR!" Boomed the voice of god from high above. She flinched and looked up. And she looked up, and up, and up. A giant stood before her, his frame towering like a literal mountain over an ant.

Her wings twitched and buzzed before falling still as she stared, practically frozen with fear, up at the- was that her dad? She blinked, fear subsiding ever so slightly as the rest of the world came into focus through her disoriented mind. She was still sitting on the recliner.

She looked about, taking in the room. Everything seemed so large. The armrests towered over her and the small imperfections in the leather, which was already quite worn, might as well have been potholes on a highway.

"TAYLOR!" She flinched as the giant moved far too fast for something so large and knelt down to her level. A face the size of a house looked down at her head-on.

"Dad? DAD!?" She shouted as loud as she could. She waved both hands at him. He blinked, an expression of relief forming as she called up to him.

"HOW ARE YOU DOING?" He asked, speaking normally. Idly Taylor's brain spat out the question of whether this was what it was like talking to god? There seemed to be a lot of shouting involved.

"OKAY? STOP SHOUTING!" She shouted back. He seemed to be struggling to hear her at the moment. Was she that tiny now? She started as a wall appeared from beneath the edge of the chair, before relaxing. It was her dad's hand. He held it out for her and she stumbled to her feet on the spongy ground. Her balance was off. She climbed into his hand. His skin was rough and the hand truly gigantic. As she settled on his palm she shivered. She fit into the palm of her dad's hand now.

She was absolutely tiny.

She squeaked as her dad lifted her up. She grabbed at his hand, causing it to twitch a bit as he carried her away from the chair. The chair fell away beneath her as she nervously settled into her dad's palm. The world swayed with each step. Her dad was watching her, his face taking up a lot of the sky.

The ride was short and over soon as her dad lowered her to the tabletop in the kitchen. As she slid off his hand the table bounced and she tumbled to her knees. "Ow," She groaned, rubbing her knees and looking around. She felt her heart nearly stop as she realized her dad had grabbed the book and was putting it down on the table.

The air shook as he pulled out a chair and sat down, leaning down to her level. "Taylor?" He said softly. She looked up. His eyes were full of tears. "Is that you?" She nodded frantically.

"YES! YES! IT'S ME!" She shouted. He held out a finger to her and she grabbed it as she started crying. They sat there for a while. Taylor couldn't say for sure how long, but eventually the tears ran out and she let go, wiping the tears from her eyes as she looked up at her dad.

"What do we do now?" She asked. Her dad made a questioning sound. "WHAT DO WE DO NOW?" She shouted louder. God, she was going to ruin her voice if she had to shout every time she wanted to hold a conversation.

Her dad leaned back, rubbing his face with his hands. Taylor watched him as he took several deep breaths, sniffling as he did. She frowned. "Say something," She muttered.

After a few moments, she sighed and stumbled to her feet. Well, he wasn't being much help. She huffed, wiping away a few sniffles herself. She took a step and swayed a bit. It wasn't too bad, but her balance was definitely off. Of course, it was off. She was a tiny fairy, she even had the wings to prove it. With the change in her hair colour, she had no way to say where the changes might have stopped.

Stumbling a bit she started walking across the table to the book. Her balance improved as she went, going from nearly stumbling to a proper walk by the time she reached the closed tome. She stared at the cracked brown leather binding for a moment. The little flaws and imperfections stood out so easily from so close.

She took a deep breath to steel herself. "So you did this to me. Fix it," She demanded. To her complete lack of surprise, the book stayed completely silent. It was, after all, a book. Why would it talk?

She stared at it with a frown. "Fine," She grumbled, "I'll figure it out myself." She marched the last few steps over to it suddenly found a wall between her and it. She looked up. Her dad had dropped his hand between her and the book with a worried look. She frowned at him and pointed at his hand then the roof.

"It isn't safe," He said.

She scowled. "YOUR POINT!?" She shouted at the top of her lungs.

"No." She huffed and turned back to the hand blocking her way. With a frustrated yell she grabbed the lowest finger and heaved upwards.

His hand went flying.

Taylor stared as her dad's arm flew up and back with enough force to tip him backwards in his chair. He went over backwards in a crash that shook the table and provoked a lot of very loud swearing from him. She winced. "I'm going to be in so much trouble," She mumbled, walking over to the edge of the table. She yelped as one of her dad's hands came up and grabbed the table. The tip of his middle finger clutched the wood what seemed like mere feet in front of her. In reality, it was probably measured in centimetres.

The table rocked as her dad pulled himself up and she fell. "Ow," She mumbled as her dad pulled himself back into view. He looked like he couldn't decide whether to be shocked or annoyed. Shocnoyed maybe? No that was stupid.

"You," He said, with a low level of anger in his voice, "Are so lucky that I'm more worried about you than angry right now young lady."

"SORRY DAD!" She shouted, trying to look as pathetic and sorry as possible. It seemed to work since his expression softened and he sighed.

"I'm worried about you, Taylor," He said, "That book already hurt you once. Let me look."

She shook her head. "NO. NO! IT ALREADY GOT ME! I DON'T WANT IT TO GET YOU!" She shouted, getting to her feet again and waving angrily at him. She could feel her wings spread out behind her as she did so. "DO NOT TOUCH THE BOOK!"

They stared at each other for a long time. Eventually, she huffed and spun on her heels. She marched back towards the book. Her dad got up, but simply found another chair rather than try to stop her.

"Please be careful," He said.

She ignored him irritably. As she grabbed the hefty cover of the book golden light spread from her hands. A wave of golden light that sent little golden sparkles flying into the air spread over the book. Leather, aged and poorly maintained, was restored to pristine condition. New gold filigree spread across the book, replacing the old with a brand new title.

How to be a Fairy Queen

By: Queen Caitrin VI

As the restoration of the book finished it yanked itself free of her hand and floated into the air. She stumbled back as her dad stood up and reached for something heavy. A glance told her he had found a knife.

The book flipped open, dozens of pages flying by until it stopped back on the page with all the names on it. The page had a border, thin black lines that ran an inch from the edge. At each corner, the lines were intercepted by the silhouettes of four stout figures. All four silhouettes were glowing that same golden light as before and were giving off streams of golden dust that floated in the air.

Then a hand, about as small as hers, reached out of the silhouette and grasped the page. The owner, a short stocky figure wearing what looked like plate armour, heaved itself out of the book and immediately let out an undignified shout as he plummeted ten inches to the ground. One by one the other three silhouettes followed suit, depositing four stout men shorter than Taylor on their kitchen table. The book, its magical glow fading, settled down behind them on the table with a thump.

The first one thumped his gauntlet into the tabletop and pushed himself to his knees. "Argh, gah that was unpleasant. Like drowning in honey. Cadog, Hywel, Emhyr, sound off. Everyone good?" He had a long thick grey beard that was heavily braided. A few brown hairs were visible in it. He had a cape that over his shoulders lined with heavy white fur.

The second of the four rolled onto his back. "We're fine Carwyn. Don't know what you were talking about, that was simply bracing," He chuckled, rolling to his feet easily. He was dressed in a loose robe with a belt of heavy metal chains in different colours around his waist.

"Speak for yourself old man," Grumbled the youngest looking of the four as he stood up. "You didn't fall ten inches." He was wearing fine-looking clothing with a bag thrown over his back. His face had many scars and burn marks.

The last one stood easily. "Like ten inches is an issue Hywel. Emhyr, stop taunting the poor lad," He sighed. He was dressed in a set of heavy chainmail with a hammer at his side and a bag across his back. He stretched and yawned. "Ah, that was a good nap. Now, where and when are we?"

"Either way, look snappy. Look who's waiting for us," Carwyn said. The old-looking soldier straightened up, his back cracking loud enough to be heard by Taylor down the table. The other three seemed to take notice of her and immediately straightened, forming a line behind Carwyn as they faced her. As one they dropped to one knee, their heads bowed.

"We Dwarves who served the last Queen of the Fairies now stand ready to serve the next," They intoned as one. "Commanded us oh great one. We hear and obey."

Taylor blinked and stared at them. "What?" She asked.

Then a knife the size of a skyscraper was embedded into the tabletop next to the dwarves, knocking all five of them off their feet. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY DAUGHTER!" Spoke the very angry voice of God.

Taylor sighed and stared at the dwarves as they began arguing with her dad. Somehow he was able to understand them just fine. She waited, neither side seemed to be willing to do anything other than shout. She frowned. She couldn't even make out what the dwarves were saying through the overpowering voice of her dad.

Her world rattling under the voices, she stood and brushed off her skirt. Her wings buzzed irritably as she stepped forward. She took a deep breath then shouted in the loudest possible voice, "SHUT UP!"

All shouting stopped immediately as her shout rattled the windows and silenced the five participants in the argument. All of them stumbled and turned to her as she huffed from the effort. That had hurt her throat a bit.

She marched over to the dwarves. "Who are you?" She demanded as her dad sat heavily in a chair. She didn't even spare him a glance as she loomed angrily over the heavily armed warrior. A small part in the back of her brain asked if this was a good idea, but the larger part of it, the currently angry and frustrated part of it, buried it deep.

The warrior stood straight under her glare. "General Carwyn Pewitt. Formerly of the Last Fairy Court of Wales," He declared immediately, "These are-"

"Don't care," She cut him off with a swipe of her hand, "What do you want, and what does it have to do with THIS." She snarled the last word as she gestured both towards herself and the book.

His eyes widened. "Ah, yes," He sighed forlornly, "Rather a long tale that, but the short of it is the Fairy Courts were being wiped out. This was a desperate thing. Very desperate."

"If I may?" The robed Dwarf stepped forward. He, like his fellow, didn't quail under her sharp glare.

"You are?" She demanded.

"Loremaster Emhyr Morris Your Grace," He bowed deeply, "This. All of this," He gestured to the book and her, "Is the last desperate plan of the last Fairy Court in Europe. Something was wiping out the courts and those that were left gathered together to, well, save the fairy race. Erm, might I ask what year it is?" He looked entreatingly up at her.

"January 1st, Two thousand and eleven A.D." Her dad said before she could. He was leaning forward in the chair, his elbows resting on his knees and his chin resting on his folded hands. He was close enough to hear her.

"Nearly a hundred and fifty years then," The Loremaster observed, "The court of the time decided that fighting off the threat was impossible and sought to instead evade it by ensuring that even in the event of their death there would be a means of continuing the Fairy people. This transformation and our entomement were the result." He paused, noticing her doubtful expression. "Your Grace, I realize our story is more than likely extraordinary and difficult to believe, but it is the truth. We stand here today ready to serve you."

Taylor frowned down at the Dwarf. Fairies? Well, she certainly looked the part. Inches tall with insectile wings. That did fit the general idea of a Fairy to be sure. But Fairies were, like Dwarves, myths. Folk Tales told to explain the unexplainable by farmers and villagers who had no idea what they were dealing with. If they existed before, then why were they considered tall tales?

It was more likely she'd just developed superpowers with a mythical theme. Sentient superpowers who considered her a Queen or something. Still… "Fairies are stories," She said finally.

"Lass, you've just been turned into a Fairy," The chainmail wearing Dwarf, Cadog she recalled, said. She gestured at her. "Pardon my impudence, but yur clearly no myth Milady."

"Then prove it," Taylor snapped, "What is more likely, that I've turned into some mythical creature, or that I've developed superpowers and become some weird Cape." The Dwarves looked at each other for a moment. Despite the frustration that was starting to turn into anger she was able to recognize the looks of confusion on their heavily bearded faces.

"Pardon me again, Your Grace," The Loremaster began, as he turned back to her, "But what is a Cape?"

"A cape," Her dad responded before she could, his voice low, "Is anyone who exhibits powers or abilities not normal for human beings. There have been many with some very strange powers over the years."

"And where do they come from?" Emhyr pressed. The Dwarf was quite curious. "Are all capes human? At least originally?"

"No one knows where powers come from, but to my knowledge, yes. They are all human," Her dad replied, "There isn't much publically available about where powers come from, but there are rumours. I haven't paid too much attention to the facts. There was never much reason to."

The Loremaster nodded, a distinct frown visible beneath his heavy beard. "Curious, but if I may ask, in the absence of fact, what are the rumours?" He asked.

Her dad was silent for a moment as he rested his forehead on his knuckles. She couldn't even see his eyes as he spoke. "There are a lot of rumours, but the ones I hear the most all say the same: You get powers on the worst day of your life. You must live through the single most terrible moment of your life. Then you might get powers."

The worst day of her life. Taylor's growing anger faded a bit, replaced instead by confusion. Today hadn't been the worst day of her life, not by a long shot. That would have been the day her mother died. Today had been average at worst.

"That doesn't make any sense," Taylor said slowly, making an effort to speak loudly, "Today wasn't even bad. It was rather average before now." Her brow furrowed as she tried to think of when she could have gotten powers recently and somehow not noticed. Given how blatant they were she couldn't see how that could have been the case.

She was still thinking about it when the Loremaster stepped forward. "This does make things problematic. I must admit the plan did not account for the possibility of such phenomena," He said.

"Indeed, this is a problem," Carwyn agreed. The elderly warrior ran a hand through his beard thoughtfully. "How can we prove ourselves to be truthful?" He knelt down before her, "I can only ask for a chance to prove our case." The other three Dwarves knelt again with him.

Taylor watched them, her own feelings in turmoil as she considered them. She turned to her dad. "Dad?" She asked plaintively. She didn't know what to do.

Her dad looked up from staring down at the floor. He looked about as lost as she felt. "There's no harm in letting them try, I suppose," He sighed. "It's not like we know where powers come from anyway. Maybe the Fae is as good an answer as anything else."

Taylor nodded hesitantly. It sounded too strange, too unreal even in a world of superheroes and villains. "Okay… Now what?" She looked around at them all, "So I'm… I'm a Fairy and…" She ran her hands through her hair, grasping at the silky strands. "And you're Dwarves. Like the really old myths. Pre-Tolkien… I thought you were supposed to be uglier?"

That produced a few snorts from the Dwarves. "You would be thinking of our more Nordic brethren, Your Grace," The Loremaster said, "I'm afraid tails of their abnormal appearance became uncommonly famous and has been an issue for centuries." He sighed, "As for where to begin. Was this book alone?"

"No, it was in a chest full of… Books. Dad," Taylor spun on her heel to face him, "The books. What if a cape did something to them before they were put into the… chest?" She trailed off as he shook his head.

"That chest was a gift from your mother's mother. They handed it down for over a hundred years and the books came with it when we received it. The only time that chest has been opened in nearly thirty-five years was when we received it a year before you were born. Annette… Annette never did get a chance to go through it properly," Her dad trailed off as they both fell silent.

The Dwarves fell silent themselves, exchanging awkward looks before the youngest of them sighed. "We will need to see the books to proceed," He said, "None of us is exactly ready to navigate a home as large and spacious as this one." He looked pointedly off the side of the table. "And erm... Where are we exactly?"

"The kitchen," Taylor supplied.

Carwyn looked up at the ceiling lights, shielding his eyes with his hand. "That's not the sun. Indoor lighting? And not burning anything either unless I miss my guess. Interesting," He mused. "Magic?"

"Electricity actually," Her dad said, getting up. The table shook a bit as he bumped it on his way up. Taylor took a step back as he loomed over them. "Don't go anywhere," He said after a moment. He turned and walked out of the room into the hall and up the stairs. Taylor watched him go. There was something disconcerting about seeing her dad the size of godzilla.

"Electricity?" The General asked Emhyr.

The Loremaster shook his head. "I've never heard of it."

Taylor slumped to the tabletop. She folded her legs under her and sighed. This was… She looked around at the kitchen that had seemed so average a half-hour before. Now, it was the size of… She couldn't think of anything quite as big as the room seemed to be. Maybe the Empire State building?

Taylor shivered and the finely dressed Dwarf noticed. He walked over and knelt down beside her. "Do you need anything milady?" He asked.

She stared at him incredulously. "Do I need anything?" She repeated, he nodded. She sniffed and looked away. "I don't exactly have anything anymore. Even my bed is too big for me now. I'm a thousand times too small for my clothes. Teacups are bigger than me now." She pointed to the cups by the sink, some of which were now twice as tall as she was.

The Dwarf nodded. "Aye, I can see that milady," He said before smiling confidently from behind his beard. "I am Hywel Rowlands. I was in charge of managing the workmen and non-smith craftsmen. I'll see what we can do once we have more workers."

"More… workers? Like more Dwarves?" She asked.

"Why do you think we asked your father to retrieve those books? Just as we were entomed so were many of our clan," Hywel explained.

Taylor chewed a lip as the other three Dwarves joined them. "It occurs to me, Your Grace," Emhyr said, "That in all of this we have not asked your name."

"I'm Taylor. Taylor Hebert," She said.

"Lady Hebert, it is good to have a name for the face," Said the dwarf in chainmail, "I am Forgemaster Cadog Price. To me answer all the metalworkers of our people. I look forward to creating whatever yur desire is Milady." He bowed deeply and was joined by the General and Loremaster.

"Once we have the people we'll start looking for an appropriate place to build you a place to stay," General Carwyn said.

"Assuming I let you," The words were out of Taylor's mouth before she could consider them. The way the four Dwarves stiffened showed that they hadn't considered that. Or, perhaps, that whoever came up with this plan hadn't considered that the person picked might not want to be a Fairy Queen.

"There is that, yes," Hywel sighed. The Foreman stood up, brushed off his pants and adjusted his collar. "You could easily refuse us."

"Not that it would be in your best interest to do so," Carwyn said. He sat down, crossing his legs beneath him with a grunt.

"Not my best interest?" Taylor asked with a frown. Would they resort to force? That seemed counter-productive when looking for a ruler.

"Not like that, Your Grace," Emhyr sighed as he also sat down on his knees, "I'm sure you've noticed our size, yes?" She nodded. "At a few inches tall there are a great many things; animals, insects, other supernatural beings; who pose a great threat to a Fairy until they learn to control their magic. You are physically as far along as any other Fairy your age would be, but your magic is completely undeveloped. In fact, I would guess that you haven't even tried flying yet."

Her wings twitched at that. "I've only been a… Fairy," She conceded the term, "For… Where's the clock…" She glanced around for the clock on the wall. "Half an hour." That brought a few muttered exclamations from the four Dwarves.

"Then you are especially vulnerable," The Loremaster said, leaning forward, "While you have enough magic to fly, it is going to take days for you to acclimate to your new body enough to even make an attempt. Until you do you are vulnerable to nearly anything. A young Fairy's primary defence is to fly away."

"And you know this, how?" She asked, trying to move her wings consciously. All she managed was a light buzz as they vibrated.

"This is not the first time that a human has become a Fairy, Your Grace," Emhyr said, "While this was a most desperate action, it is not an unprecedented one. Humans have become fairies before, though it was normally done as a mutually beneficial arrangement on both ends."

Taylor gave up on trying to move her wings and they settled down. "You've made your point," She muttered, shivering at the thought of waking up with a spider looming over her.

"It is not our intention to frighten you," Carwyn said. The old warrior looked worried as he leaned forward. "Our duty is to protect you. You are the last hope with which we have been entrusted. Your safety is our greatest priority."

Taylor nodded slowly. So maybe she did need help like this. There was still a question that was bugging her, however. "Why me?" She asked, "There was a list of names on that page. A lot before me, and a few after. I can't imagine you've been giving this speech again and again."

"We would actually have a plan if that was the case," Carwyn sighed.

"The list," Emhyr began, "Was a list of possibilities. Each one contained the enchantment that transformed you, except for the person whose name was on the list. Powerful Fairies can look into the future and divine possibilities. Each name was a person who could have read the book at that time. Had they done so we would have spoken with them rather than you and that would have been it."

"But was it just people who read the book? That's… That's a terrible way to decide a ruler," Taylor protested.

The Loremaster chuckled. "Were that the only requirement then we would have long been serving another. I was told that the spells had been placed not for anyone, but for those they viewed as being the best possible candidates for continuing the Fairy race. And that the moments when they could be activated were the moments that would lead to them becoming the best ruler they could be."

"The best ruler? Me?" Taylor stared at the Dwarf.

"Aye, Your Grace," He nodded, "I can't say that out of all possible rulers you are the best out of them. That is beyond my abilities. All I can say, is that out of the thousands of people who will have held that book and looked at that page, you are amongst a select few who have the potential to return the Fairy race to this world successfully. There were thousands, but in the end, there is only one page of names."

Taylor rocked backwards as she stared at him. She had wanted to know why, but she hadn't considered that it was because she could be an amazing Queen. "I…" She looked around at the four Dwarves. "I don't even know what to say."

"We serve at your discretion," Carwyn said, placing one knuckle on the tabletop and bowing to her. The other three echoed the bow.

"Command us, Queen Taylor," They pronounced as one.

Taylor stared at them for a long moment. She could see them growing tenser the longer she waited to make a decision. "Okay. I will," She finally said. Even if it was only temporary, she'd accept that responsibility. If nothing else, at least it came with guards.

The four Dwarves untensed. "Your orders, Your Grace?" Carwyn asked.

After a bit of thought, she said, "I have no idea." Did they really expect her to snap her fingers and have a brilliant plan immediately?

"Well, I suppose it's a good thing that we do then," Hywel said. The other Dwarves nodded their agreement.

"Well, at least someone does," She sighed. There was a thud up the stairs and she looked up. "And I think that's dad." Down the very far off steps came her dad carrying the dark wooden chest. He was grunting with the effort of moving it.

The chest was carried into the kitchen and set down by the far end of the table. Her dad stood up slowly, his back cracking a couple of times as he did so. He looked calmer than he had when he left the table. "Before I open this thing up, we need to talk," He said. He pulled up the chair at that end of the table and sat down. He tapped the table with one finger, an action that sent tremours through the tabletop. "Taylor, come here, please. You lot, other end of the table."

The four Dwarves bowed then quickly retreated towards the other end of the table as Taylor stood up and jogged the length of the table to her dad who was digging something out of a pocket. She blinked at the house-sized tape measure that was set on the table. "Dad?" She called as she got close, trying to pitch her voice to carry without shouting. It seemed to work since he looked to her as he drew out the tape measure along the table. She came to a stop beside it.

She looked at the yellow metal ribbon with a frown. It was about as wide as she was. Yet another strange thing. "So," She looked up at her dad as he spoke, "Lie down, I want to find out how tall you are now."

"You mean how short I am?" She groused, but obeyed, lying down. She eyed the large ribbon of metal worriedly as her dad carefully took her measurements. All it would take was one incautious movement and she was probably going to lose her head.

After a few moments of careful adjustment, her dad lifted the tape measure and let it snap back into its case. She flinched at the light breeze and the sound of its passing. "Four inches even," He sighed, lowering his head to the tabletop. He kept his voice low. "This… This is a mess Little Owl."

"Yeah, it is," She agreed, sitting up. So she was only a measly four inches now? There were Barbie dolls taller than her now. "What do we do now?" She asked.

"That… I'm not sure," Her dad said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He had taken off his glasses. With a start, Taylor put a hand to her own face. She wasn't wearing glasses and she could see just fine. She stared wonderingly at her own hand for a moment before shaking her head and turning back into what her dad was saying. "... on what they want," He was saying.

"On the Dwarves? Sorry, got distracted for a sec," She apologized at his raised eyebrow.

"Yes, the Dwarves. I assumed you talked about while I was gone?" He asked quietly. She nodded. "And? What do they want the books for?"

"There are more dwarves in the books. Stored like they were."

"How many?"

She shrugged. "I don't know," She admitted, "I didn't ask."

"Did they say what they want from you?"

"They want me to be their Queen. They said my safety was their responsibility," She said.

Her dad raised an eyebrow. "Responsibility, did they use that word specifically?" He asked.

She shook her head. "No… They used priority. My safety was their priority. Why?"

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Wording is important. In legal terms, there is a large difference between responsibility and priority. Responsibilities can be ignored under the right circumstances… What do they want to do with the extra dwarves?"

"Build me a house by the sounds of it. And guard me. Apparently, until I learn to fly I'm really vulnerable as a Fairy. As in insects can hurt me," She shuddered. Getting eaten by a fly or a spider was not on her list of wishes.

"I can't be here every second of the day either," He sighed. "There is another issue I realized while rummaging through the attic."

"What?" She asked, trying to figure out what else could have been going wrong.

"You know how neither your mother or I have been… fond shall we say, of the PRT," He started. She nodded slowly. There had been more than one annoyed or angry rant over the years about the inability of the Parahuman Response Team to reign in the supervillains and their gangs. They usually happened after the gangs did something, the what was usually immaterial, near the Dockworker's Union yard.

He sighed. "I think we need to contact them," He said.

"What? Why?" Taylor demanded.

"You're four inches tall Little Owl," He reminded her, "You can't go to school like this. God, if something happened I have no idea what I would do." He sniffed loudly. It sounded like an elephant trumpeting. "If I keep you here I can buy… two, maybe three weeks before someone starts asking questions."

"Like Winslow would care. The teachers barely do anything," Taylor crossed her arms with a huff.

"I know the school is less than it should be," He admitted, "But we can't make a plan that relies on them being incompetent."

"Yes, we can," Taylor replied.

"It isn't a good plan. We'll get found out at some point. Winslow does still attempt to deal with truancy if you aren't in a gang," He reminded her.

"Lucky me. I'm probably the only person who isn't in one," She deadpanned, earning a sigh from her dad.

"We'll need the PRT's help to get you out of school legally. Also-"

"I don't want to be a Ward," Taylor cut in.

"Honey, I wasn't planning on asking you to be. I want you safe, not running around being a child soldier," He said softly, holding out a finger to her. She leaned against it and sighed.

"Safety isn't… really possible like this, I don't think," She mused. She was four inches tall.

"As safe as possible then," He corrected, "We still need to talk to them. If for nothing else, then getting you out of school. Maybe see if they're willing to help find a tutor instead, or at least help you get homeschooled."

"I guess…" Taylor shrugged. She didn't have the same distaste for the PRT her dad did, but the Wards were a group of teenagers with superpowers. Regular teenagers had enough drama to drown in, what the hell did traumatized teenagers with superpowers have? No, getting involved in that mess was not something she wanted. At all.

"At least something good came from this," She mused, getting a raised eyebrow from her dad. His eyebrows looked so large and weird from her new perspective. Like shaggy dogs wagging their tails.


"I don't have to go to Winslow anymore." He chuckled.

"No, no you don't," He agreed.

"Can you hold off on contacting them until I figure out how to fly? Just in case?" She asked. He hesitated, then nodded.

"I can do that… Every instinct is telling me not to, but I can do that," He agreed. He gently guided her upright with his finger. "I need you to stand." She grumbled but stopped leaning on him.

He waved to the dwarves. "Come over here," He said with a more normal tone of voice that only sounded a bit like thunder. Taylor turned and spotted the dwarves jogging down the length of the table. It didn't take too long before they joined them.

"Your Grace," Carwyn greeted her as they came to a stop. He bowed to Taylor then turned to her father. "Aye, you called Mr. Hebert."

"How much did you hear?" He asked.

The General scratched his chin. "The table is unfortunately small by human standards," He said.

"So everything?"

"Yes," He confirmed.

Her dad sighed. "You said you were a General, I believe?" Her dad asked.

"I defended the Court of Wales for the last century as its highest General," Carwyn confirmed.

"Hmm…" He drummed the table with his fingers, sending small shockwaves through the tabletop. Taylor sat down before they knocked her off her feet. Her balance was still terrible. "You have more people in the books," Her dad stated.

"We do," The General acknowledged.

"How many?"

"I'm afraid I do not know," The greyed dwarf, "Not for certain at any rate. We were placed in the first book created so as to ensure our presence. That book," He gestured to the heavy tome resting further down the table, "Was the linchpin of the entire plan. Assuming the worst case they wanted to make sure that the four most capable of advising the new Queen would be there. Everyone after is considered merely a bonus."

"But you have to have some idea?" Danny pressed with a frown.

"Some," Carwyn admitted, "Loremaster?"

The other dwarf ran a hand through his beard. "Given the news just before our entomement, I would have to say there are at least several hundred others in the books. At most… Well, hard to say. The last census before the collapse placed the clans in service to the Court of Wales at nearly fifty-five million."

"Fifty-five million?" Taylor stared.

"There's no chance of them all being in those books, Your Grace," Emhyr assured her, "At most, the plan called for only our clan of Dwarves, a colony of Brownies, and a number of other important figures. No Fairies were included since there was concern that their presence might have rendered the books obvious to those hunting. Our last census put us at just over one point three million members."

"That's still no small number," Danny noted.

"Quite true. However, we do not intend on letting all of them out at once," Hywel said. The finely dressed Dwarf stepped forward, adjusting the lapels of his jacket. "It is a matter of logistics. While we take much less food than a human we still require places to stay and, frankly, even a mere ten thousand of us would take up an unacceptable portion of this house."

Taylor winced. That would be rather inconvenient.

"The plan is for us to do a staged release. One page at a time," Emhyr said, picking up from his younger companion. "Each enchanted book will reveal its true contents at the touch of a Fairy. After that, it is a small matter of some Fairy Dust to release those stored within each page."

"Importantly," Carwyn added before either of them could ask another question, "This means we can cherry-pick who we want."

"Craftsmen, soldiers, seamstresses perhaps?" Hywel suggested. Taylor looked down at her clothes. She only had the one set.

"The last can wait a bit I think," Cadog said with a shake of his head. "No point bringing them out unless they have tools and materials to work with."

"And we may be able to get something made more quickly anyway," her dad said with a thoughtful look. He sighed. "So, One point three million?"

"At most, Mr- no, Lord Hebert," Loremaster Emhyr corrected himself to startled looks from both Taylor and Danny, "I have no idea how many they succeeded in entoming before they had to flee with what they had managed. Tell me, my lord, do you know if the books are considered to be a complete set?"

Danny shook his head. "No. No, I have no idea. We received them from Taylor's Grandmother. My wife would have known more, but I don't recall having ever been told in the first place."

"A pity," Emhyr sighed, "I assume then that you don't know how many are in the collection or if any had been removed over the years?"

"No, I don't."

"Then I'm afraid I have no way to know how many of our clan are in there," The Loremaster pronounced.

Danny leaned back from the table in his chair. "Your plans then?" He asked.

Carwyn stepped forward. "First, scouts and guards. We need to map your house and the surrounding area. Though I suspect it might take us weeks to map just this home of yours." He looked about with a wondering air. "This is far larger than most human dwellings I have entered in the past. Tell me, are you a Noble, Lord Hebert?"

"Not in the least. Not rich either," Her dad said, having apparently heard them despite the distance between them. Taylor frowned. How were they doing that? And how could she learn it?

"Fascinating. Yes, well based on what I have seen so far it will take days to search and identify all of the paths through it we Dwarves might take," Carwyn continued, "From there we will locate the best site to establish a temporary base of operations and a safe space for our young Queen. Then we bring in the craftsmen and set about construction. Progress from then on shall proceed according to our needs and our means."

"I'd rather you not start punching holes in my walls or playing with the electrical cables," Danny said with a frown.

"The walls would be the best standing structures to build in for the time being," Hywel pointed out, "That said, what is an electrical cable?" Right, nineteenth century. Modern technology was entirely foreign to them.

Taylor pointed to the lightbulbs in the ceiling. "You see those?" She asked, getting nods, "Those are electric lights. They run on electricity and they get it from wires that we run through the walls."

"Most are made of copper," Her dad continued, "And touching an electrified surface has the potential to kill you. If enough power goes through you you can even catch fire." He grimaced, "That's one of the methods we use to kill unwanted insects actually."

As one the Dwarves winced. "Ah. I see then," Cadog grimaced.

"Electricity is basically lightning controlled and directed," Her dad added, "Too much and you die. A little, and you're going to be feeling it for a while. And none of you are exactly large enough to not combust instantly."

"Point made," Hywel muttered. "I suppose my craftsmen shall have to be educated thoroughly then. Are there books that might be made available on this subject?"

"Can you even use human-sized books?" Taylor asked, very curious.

"Not easily, but yes," Emhyr said, "It usually involves a team of Dwarves. Fairies have an easier time of it once they get a handle of their magic." Well, that was nice to hear. It would have really sucked if she couldn't read anymore because people didn't print books in font .01. The idea of being able to relax while reading and have someone else turn the pages was a nice one. Maybe some palm leaves and a really big grape as well? Hmmm…

"Have we reassured you, Lord Hebert?" Carwyn asked, standing tall.

Her dad pinched his brow with two fingers. "Despite my general misgivings… yes. You have," He sighed, "That said, no construction without running it by me. You will research the building codes before building, and build to them exactly. There will be no experimenting with electricity without supervision by me or someone I appoint. And you will not take Taylor out of the house, or into the walls, without my approval or an urgent emergency. Am I clear?" His tone of voice brooked no dissent, and frankly, Taylor agreed with him.

"Very clear Dad," She said, again attempting to pitch her voice so her dad could hear as she answered for the Dwarves. She added her own attempt at a firm look. It was probably pitiful compared to her dad's, but it seemed to get the point across.

The four bowed. "We accept your terms as our Queen wills, Lord Hebert," The General said formally.

Danny nodded. "Good," He said before pushing back his chair a bit and bending over to unlock the trunk. The lid opened with a loud creak. "Is there a particular book you want?"

The three looked to Loremaster Emhyr who sighed. "Let's see… Give me a moment while I try to remember the disguise name… A guide to… no, no… Ah, yes. Is there a book called The Mythical Uses Of Silver?"

There was a lot of rummaging as her dad moved around the books out of sight. "Er… I'm not seeing it… A Compendium of Mythical Metals and their Metallurgical Methods?" He asked.

"No. That should be nothing but craftsmen and enchanters. Not what we need," Emhyr shook his head, "Are you sure it isn't there?"

There was more rummaging. "Nothing. It isn't here," Her dad sighed.

"Damn it," Carwyn muttered, angrily running a hand through his beard.

"General?" Taylor asked hesitantly. He looked up.

"Ah, don't worry about it, Your Grace," He said, "Hopefully they'll turn up eventually. Lord Hebert, what about A History of Legends and War?" He shouted the last bit to her father.

"Uuuh…" There was rummaging, followed by the sound of fumbling and crashing as a few books hit the floor. Taylor winced. She had to wonder if the occupants felt their books being mishandled. "Not seeing it either."

The curse that left the General set Taylor's ears ringing. As she rubbed her ears she paused, noticing two things. First, her ears were definitely ever so slightly pointed. Second, she had understood every word the General had said despite her being very sure it was in a language she did not recognize. As she pondered that mystery the Loremaster suggested another book.

"A Basic Guide to Understanding Fairy Society?" Emhyr suggested.

"That sounds familiar… Yeah, right here," Her dad sat up straight with a weathered red leather book in his hands. Its title was embossed onto the front with brass. "Uhh, do we want to do this here, or somewhere else? The table is a bit high I think."

Hywel leaned over the side, then stepped back quickly. "I would like to add my vote of support to that notion. Can we get off the human table please?" He asked the rest. Cadog snorted.

"It isn't that high boy," The older Dwarf scoffed, leaning over himself. "It's only a table."

"It will still be rather awkward to get down from," Carwyn said, "And I'm sure Lord Hebert has other things he'd rather be doing than standing around lifting dwarves up and down in the middle of the night." He nodded towards the dark windows.

"Let me get a plate. We can move to the coffee table in the living room," Her dad said, tucking the book under one arm as he wandered over to the cupboards and fished out a plate with a low side. He placed it down on the table gently. "Climb on," He said. Taylor scrambled over the edge of the cold ceramic.

"Is this porcelain?" Hywel asked as he climbed on as well. He tapped the material with a knuckled.

"No, just a common ceramic. We keep the nice stuff in a cupboard in the hall. Try to avoid breaking it?" He raised an eyebrow at them as he carried them along. The ride was smoother than the last time, but with her greater awareness of her surroundings, it was somehow almost sickening to Taylor as the plate swayed ever so slightly.

Her dad carried them over to the much lower coffee table in the living room and set them down. He set the book down beside them. "Will this do the light show as well?" He asked as they climbed off the plate.

"That was special for the original book," Emhyr said, "It was meant to ensure that we would be present from the beginning since it was assumed that whoever was transformed would try to interact with the book seeking answers."

"Smart," Taylor noted as she swayed, her nausea from the trip threatening to overwhelm her. Hywel noticed and stepped up to steady her.

"Easy Your Grace, easy," He said soothingly as he helped her find a seat on a nearby pen. It was a bit like sitting on a log.

"Are you alright Taylor?" Her dad asked, leaning down to get a better look.

She waved him off. "I'm fine, just a bit car sick? Plate sick? Ugh," She buried her head in her hands. The nausea was slowly fading thankfully.

"Sorry," He winced.

"This isn't unheard of," Emhyr noted, "Some Fairies don't take well to travelling under someone else's power."

"Thank you, that is so helpful," Taylor snarked irritably as she leaned against the youngest Dwarf. After another minute or so she pushed him away and stood up slowly. "Okay, I'm good," She said. The nausea was practically gone now.

"Should I hold the book up then?" Her dad asked as he sat down.

"It would probably be for the best," Carwyn agreed.

"After I touch it, right?" Taylor asked, getting a nod from Emhyr. She walked over, somewhat unsteady, and touched the corner of the book. It was more than twice as thick as How to be a Fairy Queen. The same golden light from before spread in ripples from where she touched to book. A wave of golden dust spread drifted off the book to sprinkle across the ground as the leather cover was restored to pristine condition and the title changed to say Seventh Colonial in the same brass embossing.

"Seventh…" Carwyn stepped forward, "Step back, Your Grace. Let us set to work locating those we need." She took more than a couple of steps back as her dad leaned over and propped the book up. She found a seat up against an abandoned teacup and watched as they instructed her dad to flip to the table of contents.

It wasn't like any table of contents Taylor had ever seen before. The name of the unit, the Seventh Colonial, was written above a list that itemized those within the book by purpose and then by page.

"Interesting," Cadog spoke up as they scanned the first page, "I see that they did manage to find time to store some materials as well. There, at the bottom of the list."

"Later Cadog, later," Carwyn chided, "First let us secure this location. Unless you see anything that might help right now?" The smith shook his head.

"Unfortunately, no I don't," Cadog sighed, "Most of it is simply materials we won't be able to produce ourselves."

Taylor scanned the bottom of the list herself. What, exactly, was a thrice-bless yew seed? Was it, as the name suggested, a seed for a yew tree? Or something else? Was it intended to be planted, or used for something else? She held her questions. There would be plenty of time for questions later.

"What page do we need General?" Her dad prodded.

"Page fifty if you don't mind Lord Hebert," Carwyn requested. Danny flipped the pages until they reached the desired place. The page was simply a picture of two ranks of ten black silhouettes with the words 'Hunter Cadre' across the top. Five other silhouettes were off to one side of the page distinctly separated from the rest.

The General nodded. "Excellent," He said, "They'll do for tonight. We can get more in the morning, but they should be able to man a perimeter and get to work on scouting the area."

Her dad lay the book down. "Now what?" He asked.

"We need Fairy Dust to get them out. Not too much, however. We don't want to accidentally let out the entire book after all," Emhyr said.

"What is Fairy Dust?" Taylor asked.

Hywel scooped some of the golden dust from the tabletop. "This is Fairy Dust," He said, "Whenever a Fairy, you, in this case, perform magic some amount of it will crystallize into gold. Roughly two-thirds of this will dissipate within five minutes. Nearly all of the rest will lose its magic within a few hours. We don't need to worry about that. Even the stuff that would dissipate can still be used for this."

"There's a ton on the chair. Would that work?" Danny asked, standing up.

"Just a pinch," Carwyn called, getting a nod from her dad as he walked over to the recliner where Taylor had transformed. Now that she was looking at it, she could see a large amount of gold glitter littering the arms and seat of the chair. Her dad took a pinch off the armrest and came back.

"It feels warm," He said as he knelt down beside the table.

"Good, that means it still has magic. Now, sprinkle it gently across this page," Emhyr directed. Her dad did as asked and as the golden dust hit the page small bright lights flared and the dust sank into the paper. A warm feeling rolled off the book as the page lit up. Then, one by one, hands reached out of the now glowing silhouettes.

Twenty-five Dwarves pulled themselves out of the book. Each one was clad in cloth, chainmail, and wore a grey-green cloak over their shoulders. An unstrung bow hung from their back beside their quiver and a sword hung from each belt. The oldest looking among them wore a cap with a red feather in it.

As the Dwarves shook off their disorientation the cap-wearing fellow pushed his way through the milling Dwarves with purpose. He stopped as he reached the end of the book and looked down at Taylor and the four other Dwarves. "Nice to be let out," He said, taking a bow. "Hunt-Captain Gruffydd Harvard at your service, Your Grace. General." He nodded to the General as he rose from his bow.

"Welcome to two thousand and eleven Hunt-Captain," Carwyn greeted, "Yours is the first group let out. We need security for the Queen and scouts."

"My Cadre and I stand ready," Captain Gruffydd declared, spinning to face his men. "In ranks you sorry lot. Our new Queen is watching so shape up. Sergeant, get them organized." He barked the last order to a Dwarf wearing a dark orange cap.

"Aye Captain," He said before shouting his own orders and forcing the dwarves into line. Within moments a two rank deep line had formed with two extra dwarves off either end.

Taylor applauded politely as they saluted. Well, it probably wasn't the right thing to do, but then she wasn't really sure what she was supposed to do. She stopped after a moment, though she did get a smile from the Hunt-Captain.

"So," Her dad spoke up, "This is the group you want to protect my daughter." None of the hunters seemed surprised as he spoke. Then again, they wouldn't have been much in the way of hunters if they couldn't notice the human sitting behind them.

"They should be more than sufficient for tonight," Carwyn said, "Captain, establish a perimeter on this table. Wait before sending anyone out to scout this room."

"Would it help if I set up a staircase of books to climb down?" Her dad asked.

The Hunt-Captain turned to her dad. "That it would. Climbing up and down human furniture is often a pain unless one takes the fast route," He said.

"Fast route?" Taylor asked. The Captain mimed jumping off something with his hands. Joy. "Oh," she muttered. She had to wonder how tough dwarves were.

"I'll get those set up then. Anything else?" Her dad asked.

"Bedding materials if possible. Perhaps some cloth and small sticks? My cadre is skilled at setting up temporary shelters," Gruff suggested.

"I'll see what I can do," Her dad said, getting up. "Keep her safe," He told the group warningly. He left the room and the cadre scattered across the coffee table, scouring it for threats. The Hunt-Captain down from the book and along with the four original dwarves walked over to her.

"Your Grace," The Captain bowed formally as they reached her.

"Hello Captain," She replied politely. She turned to look at the General. "Now what?" She asked.

"Now you get some rest, I think," Carwyn replied, "Once we've got a small shelter set up at least. While you sleep we will make plans for how to handle the situation. We will probably need to speak with your father extensively. Just looking around this home of yours has become quite clear that the human world has changed prolifically since our time."

Taylor nodded and yawned as she thought about what time it had to be. "That sounds good," She said. She leaned back against the teacup with a sigh and closed her eyes as she half-listened to the dwarves as they broke into discussion.

Fifteen minutes later she was asleep when her dad returned with a bag of cotton balls, boxes of toothpicks and tongue depressors from the bathroom, and a sheet of purple cloth from the basement.