CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE
Wednesday morning — 8:01 a.m.
A happy child, Katy skip-walked toward her classroom. Paddie gave her a nod before he went into the classroom next to hers. She smiled at him and went into her classroom.
Her last name was “Marlowe” now so that meant that her assigned seat was in the middle of the room. Sometimes, she wished her last name was “Zarlowe” so she could be in the back row. She grinned at the made up name “Zarlowe.” If that was her last name, her first name would probably be “Xaty.”
She giggled a little bit as she went to her seat. She liked all of the people in her class, and they liked her in a kind of stand offish way. At least they invited her to their birthday parties.
Katy liked birthday cake.
And Valentine’s Cards.
But Paddie was her best friend so that was that.
Katy set her backpack straps on her chair and nodded hello to her neighboring kids. Still a small child, she slipped into her seat and looked up to the front for the first time. She scowled.
There was a fairy standing at the front of the class.
Feeling her eyes, the fairy looked up at her. The fairy had made every effort to pretend to be human. Her reflective white skin was covered with some kind of makeup. She wore a boring outfit and what Katy’s mommy called “sensible” shoes.
This was a bad fairy from some place that was here to hurt her.
Katy was on her feet.
“Be gone, fairy,” Katy said.
The fairy snarled at Katy. But Katy pointed at her.
“You are not welcome here,” Katy said.
“I am your substitute teacher,” the fairy said.
“You are here to kill us or take us hostage,” Katy said.
Turning to her class, she said, “Get behind me.”
Katy was well known to these kids. They didn’t hesitate to do what she told them to do. Every child in her class hopped out of their seats and ran to stand behind Katy. When they were safely behind her, Katy build a force field in front of them.
“Leave here now and you will not be hurt,” Katy said.
“Human child, what could you possibly do to me?” the fairy asked.
Katy clapped her hands and the Marlowe School protective ghost appeared at the door. The ghost looked at the fairy and then nodded to Katy. The ghost disappeared.
The fairy hissed and stepped toward Katy.
Katy simply grinned at the fairy.
“Turn around,” Katy yelled to her class. “Cover your eyes!”
When she was sure that the children turned around and covered their eyes, Katy simply opened her hands. The fairy popped and blew to bits in a flash of light. The pieces of the fairy fizzled and turned to dust.
Katy released the protective shell. The kids turned around.
“You can go back,” Katy said.
A little giddy, the children laughed and talked their way back to their seats. The protective ghost appeared with the janitor who swept up the front of the classroom. The principal arrived just as the janitor was leaving.
“Where is your substitute teacher?” the principal asked.
“She didn’t show up.” The teacher’s pet in the front said in such an earnest tone that the principal believed her.
“But I saw her,” the principal said.
“She must have gotten lost,” the boy sitting next to the teacher’s pet said.
The principal looked at the two children and then at the class. Every child nodded in agreement.
As far as the children remembered, the substitute teacher had never arrived.
“Well, we’ll see what we can do about that,” the principal said. “Will you children stay here in your seats while we sort this out?”
Looking like perfect angels, the children nodded. When the door closed, the kids started laughing and talking again. Katy took out the can of brownies Delphie had given her for her class. The teacher’s pet jumped up and went to the class refrigerator to get the little milk boxes and some oat milk for Julio. The kids ate brownies and drank their milk until the principal returned.
She looked at the brownies, the milk, and the children. She opened her mouth to say something about Julio but then saw that he was drinking his oat milk.
“It seems like there was some trouble next door,” the principal said.
“Paddie!” Katy hopped to her feet.
The principal looked at Katy and shook her head.
“Everyone is just fine,” the principal said. “There is no reason for concern.”
Katy wavered for a moment, unsure if she should sit down or check on Paddie. The principal pointed Katy to her seat, so she sat down.
“We’re going to combine the classes with the older kids,” the principal said. “The older kids said that they’d love to have you. And, I know how much you love those days. Doesn’t that sound fun?”
The kids cheered. Katy grinned. Today was going to be a great day.
Wednesday morning — 8:01 a.m.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The fairy assassin slipped up to the door of Jeraine’s new condominium. She listened at the door for a moment before using magic to open the locked door. The fairy assassin slipped through the door and closed it without a sound.
She stopped at a mirror in the hallway and assessed her outfit. Her dark hair was tucked up in a bun. Her bright white skin radiated with light. Her dark eyes were wide and large. She wore a skintight black outfit. Smiling at her own beauty, she turned to move into the condominium.
Hecate was standing at the end of the hallway.
The fairy squealed with terror and tried to race out of the condo.
Using magic, Hecate caught the fairy by her unseen wings. Hecate lifted the fairy off the ground.
“You tell your leader this: If you come here again, I will destroy every single fairy in your Queendom just for the fun of it.” Hecate gave the fairy a terrible smile. “As it is, I haven’t had my coffee yet. I’m not in the mood to destroy an entire race.”
She leaned forward to the fairy.
“Of course, I may change my mind,” Hecate said in a low angry voice. “Be gone.”
The fairy disappeared.
Jeraine opened his bedroom door. He looked at Hecate and then around the area.
“What just happened?” Jeraine asked.
“Fairies,” Hecate said.
“Did they come for our cookies?” Jeraine asked.
Hecate smiled at him. Jeraine yawned and went back into his bedroom
Hecate went to make coffee.
Wednesday morning — 9:04 a.m.
“I didn’t even see her!” Paddie said. “She came up behind me and reached for …”
Paddie gestured to what looked like a fake wooden sword, but was actually the Sword of Truth.
“I was sitting at my seat,” Paddie said. “And she just reached for it.”
The toes haired boy gave a rueful shake of his head. He was now taller than Katy but slight.
“What happened?” Charlie asked.
“She blew up,” Paddie said. He nodded. “That’s what happened when you touch a Sword of Power and don’t have its permission. Or at least that’s what Uncle Nelson told me.”
“She blew up?” Tink asked.
“Bits of flesh and much all over everyone,” Paddie said.
All of his older kid friends, which were mostly Katy’s family, made faces like they were disgusted. They were seated in a circle “sharing their morning” with each other. The older kids teacher thought it might help the littler kids if the older kids listened to what had happened.
Of course, Katy’s class had no memory of anything happening.
“Gross,” Paddie said with nod. “The girl behind me started screaming at the top of her lungs. She had to go home. The rest of us had to change into our gym clothes.”
“What did the principal say about what happened?” Nicole asked.
“She didn’t say anything,” Paddie said. “When one of the know-it-all girls tried to tell her, she just said, ‘That’s nice.’”
“Weird,” Charlie said.
“Really weird,” Nicole said. “Do you think she’s in league with the fairies?”
“I don’t trust her,” Nash said. “We used to have another principal but she retired. This one is probably a fairy or a fairy sympathizer.”
“She’s not,” Katy said with a shake of her head.
They turned to look at her. The door opened and the principal came in the room. Teddy cleared his throat but Paddie beat him to it.
“What is she?” Paddie asked in a low voice.
“She’s a Titan,” Katy said in the same timber. “Leto. She’s the sister of my Granddaddy’s first wife. He calls her ‘Sister.’ She was looking for something to do in the modern world and Granddaddy encouraged her to apply.”
“Auntie Valerie hired her,” Katy said with a nod. “She likes being here with us and I heard Mommy say that she was a surprisingly good principal.”
“What do we call her?” Nicole asked. “We can’t just call her ‘Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis’!”
“She’s going by Latona Palio,” Katy said.
“I’m Mrs. Palio,” the principal said. She smiled at the children. “I was wondering if I might speak with Miss Marlowe here and Mr. Hargreaves.”
Charlie stood up in front of her. He towered over the “woman.”
“Not without us,” Charlie said.
“If you’re attempting to protect these children, you should know that they do not need your protection,” Mrs. Palio said with a soft smile. “I do like your efforts. I need to speak to them about this morning.”
“Not without us,” Tink said and stood up.
“Great-Auntie Latona?” Katy asked.
Surprised by Katy’s words, Mrs. Palio’s head jerked to look at her.
“It’s okay if they come,” Katy said. “They know everything.”
Mrs. Palio blinked at Katy for a moment and then looked Charlie, Tink, Nash, Teddy, and Noelle. Her eyes lingered on Ivy.
“My aunt’s an Oracle,” Ivy said, evenly.
“That makes more sense,” Mrs. Palio said. She smiled. “I have yet to meet her. Actually, I haven’t done much since I’ve been in town. There’s so much to do here.”
Mrs. Palio looked around the room and smiled.
“I need to speak with Miss Marlowe and Mr. Hargreaves in private,” Mrs. Palio said. “If you need to come, then come along. The morning is young and there’s much to do.”
She waved to the children and they followed her out of the classroom. They went down the hallway to the office. When they’d reached Mrs. Palio’s office, she waved for them to take seats. The seats multiplied until there were enough seats for all of them. Katy and Paddie sat closest to her desk.
“Now,” Mrs. Palio said. “Can you tell me what happened this morning? Please be precise and specific. What you say will be a part of our filing with the fairy police.”
“Fairy police?” Nash asked.
“Is there such a thing?” Teddy asked.
“Yes, it’s something Prince Finegal spent his summer setting up,” Mrs. Palio said. “Now, Katy?”
“Our substitute teacher was a fairy who wanted to kill me,” Katy said. “I protected the class and then got rid of her.”
“Is that all?” Mrs. Palio asked.
“I got rid of my class’s memory of it,” Katy said.
“Good thinking,” Mrs. Palio said. “And you, Mr. Hargreaves?”
Paddie explained what happened.
“And what is so special about the sword?” Mrs. Palio asked.
“It’s the Sword of Truth,” Paddie said.
Surprised, Mrs. Palio looked each person in the face to see if they were lying.
“How?” Mrs. Palio asked.
“Maughold gave it to Paddie while they were on the Isle of Man,” Noelle said, repeating the story she’d heard at least a hundred times. “Then he became Keenan. He still lives on the Isle of Man but he’s not a scary man.”
“After living with us for a while,” Charlie said.
The children nodded in agreement.
“He had white eyes,” Paddie said.
“I see,” Mrs. Palio said. She held out her hand. “And the charm?”
“It was …” Paddie started.
“Shush,” Mrs. Palio said. “I need to speak with the sword.”
They waited in awkward silence while Mrs. Palio held out her hand in the direction of the sword. After a few minutes, Mrs. Palio said, “I see.”
Mrs. Palio looked around the room at the children.
“It’s very nice to meet each of you,” Mrs. Palio said. “It’s clear that the fairies want to drag you into their war. They believed that school was their best bet. But you stopped them.”
“What about my brothers?” Katy asked.
Mrs. Palio gave her a warm smile.
“They saw your grandmother and left,” Mrs. Palio said with a chuckle.
“That sounds about right,” Katy said.
The other kids chuckled.
“Well, you all did really well,” Mrs. Palio said. “You may return to your classroom.”
They were almost out of the room when Mrs. Palio called Paddie back. Katy went with him.
“Take care of her,” Mrs. Palio said.
“Katy takes care of me,” Paddie said.
“The sword,” Mrs. Palio said. She smiled. “She was mine for a very short period of time. She deserves a protector such as you. In the meantime, the defenses of the school are being fortified. You should not have another disturbance such as this morning.”
“Katy?” Tink asked from the doorway.
“Yes, Tiffanie, you may take them back with you,” Mrs. Palio said. “Will you tell Hedone that I am here?”
“First thing,” Tink said.
“I will look forward to seeing her again,” Mrs. Palio said. “Oh and …”
The children looked up at her.
“I would very much like to see my sister,” Mrs. Palio said.
“She’s here today,” Katy said.
“Rachel brought Cleo to school again?” Tink asked.
“She has to give a report,” Katy said with a nod.
Mrs. Palio intently watched the interaction. Katy looked at the principal.
“She’s invisible,” Katy said. “But you could get her from Rachel. She’s in Kindergarten. Your sister is a cat now.”
The principal gave them a vague nod, so the children left the room. They were nearly back to the classroom when Tink spoke.
“That was odd,” Tink said.
“Strange,” Paddie said.
Katy nodded in agreement. Tink pushed open the door to the classroom and they all went inside.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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