Burning Bright (Ivy Granger), p.1E.J. Stevens
By E.J. Stevens
Published by Sacred Oaks Press
Copyright 2014 E.J. Stevens
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Table of Contents
Pronunciations are given phonetically for names and races found in the Ivy Granger series. Alternate names and nicknames have been provided in parentheses. In some cases, the original folklore has been changed to suit the city of Harborsmouth and its environs.
Banshee: ban-shee (Bean Sidhe, Bean Sìth)
Barguest: BAR-guyst (Bargheist, Black Dog)
Bean Tighe: ban tig
Béchuille: beh-huh-IL (Bé Chuille)
Bheur: ver (like air)
Brownie: BROW-nee (Bwca, Urisk, Hearth Faerie, Domestic Hobgoblin)
Bugbear: BUG-bayr (Bug-a-boo, Boggle-bo)
Bwca: BOO-kuh (see Brownie)
The Cailleach: kall-ahk (The Blue Hag, Cailleach Bheur, Queen of Winter, Crone, Veiled One, Winter Hag)
Cat Sidhe: KAT shee or kayth shee (Faerie Cat, Cait Shith, Cait Sith)
Ceffyl Dŵr: keff-EEL dore (Kelpie King, Ceff)
Chir batti: CHEER bhut-TEA
Clurichaun: kloor-ih-kon (clobhair)
Cu Sith: KOO shee
Each Uisge: erk OOSH-kuh (Water Horse)
Emain Ablach: EH-van ah-BLAH
Faerie: FAIR-ee (Fairy, Sidhe, Fane, Wee Folk, The Gentry, People of Peace, Themselves, Sidhe, Fae, Fay, Good Folk)
Fear Dearg: far DAR-rig (The Red Man)
Fionn mac Cumhaill: FIN mac COO-will
Forneus: FOR-nee-us (Demon, Great Marquis of Hell)
Fragarach: FRAG ah roch
Gaius Aurelius: GUY-us aw-REE-lee-us
Galliel: GAL-ee-el (Unicorn)
Ghoul: GOOL (Revenant)
Glaistig: GLASS-tig (The Green Lady)
Griffin: GRIF-fin (Gryphon, Griffon)
Hamadryad: ha-ma-DRY-ad (Tree Nymph)
Hob-o-Waggle HOB-oh-WAG-gul (Brownie, son of Wag-at-the-Wa)
Hy Brasil: HY bra-ZIL
Ignus fatuus: IG-nus FATCH-you-us
Jenny Greenteeth: JEN-nee GREEN-teeth (Water Hag)
Kelpie: KEL-pee (Water Horse, Nyaggle)
Leanansídhe: lan-awn-shee (Lhiannan Sidhe, Leanhaun Shee, Leannan Sìth, Fairy Mistress)
Leprechaun: le-pre-khan (leipreachán)
Loup garou: LOOP guh-ROO
Mab: MAB (Unseelie Queen)
Manannán mac Lir: MAH-nah-nahn mac leer
Mauthe doog: MOW-thee DOO
Mermaid: MER-mayd (male Merman)
Merry Dancer: MER-ree DAN-ser (Fir Chlis)
Murúch: mer-ook (Merrow, Moruadh, Murúghach)
Oberon: OH-ber-on (Seelie King)
Peg Powler: PEG POW-ler (Peg Powler of the Trees, Water Hag)
Pixie: PIK-see (Pisgie)
Pooka: POO-kuh (Phooka, Pouka, Púca, Pwca)
Redcap: RED-kap (red cap)
Roca Barraidh: ROH-ka BAR-rah
Sidhe: SHEE (see Faerie)
Succubus: SUK-you-bus (male Incubus)
Tech Duinn: tek DOON
Tir na nOg: TEER na NOHG
Tir Tairngire: TEER TEARN-geer
Titania: ti-TAY-nee-uh (Seelie Queen)
Tuatha Dé Danann: tootha DAY da-NAN
Tylwyth Teg: TILL-with TEEG (Seelie Court)
Vampire: VAM-pyr (Undead)
Will-o’-the-Wisp: WIL-oh-tha-wisp (Gyl Burnt Tayle, Jack o’ Lantern, Wisp, Ghost Light, Friar’s Lantern, Corpse Candle, Hobbledy, Aleya, Hobby Lantern, Chir Batti, Faerie Fire, Spunkies, Min Min Light, Luz Mala, Pinket, Ellylldan, Spook Light, Ignus Gatuus, Orbs, Boitatá, and Hinkypunk)
Yue Fei: yweh-fay
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
-William Blake, The Tyger
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
-Shakespeare, Sonnet XIX
Welcome to Harborsmouth, where monsters walk the streets unseen by humans…except those with second sight.
Whether visiting our modern business district or exploring the cobblestone lanes of the Old Port quarter, please enjoy your stay. When you return home, do tell your friends about our wonderful city—just leave out any supernatural details.
Don’t worry—most of our guests never experience anything unusual. Otherworlders, such as faeries, vampires, and ghouls, are quite adept at hiding within the shadows. Many are also skilled at erasing memories. You may wake in the night screaming, but you won’t recall why. Be glad that you don’t remember—you are one of the fortunate ones.
If you do encounter something unnatural, we recommend the services of Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective. Co-founder of Private Eye detective agency, Ivy Granger is a relatively new member of our small business community. Her offices can be found on Water Street, in the heart of the Old Port.
Miss Granger has a remarkable ability to receive visions by the act of touching an object. This skill is useful in her detective work, especially when locating lost items. Whether you are looking for a lost brooch or missing persons, no job is too small for Ivy Granger—and she could certainly use the business.
We can also provide, upon request, a list of highly skilled undertakers. If you are in need of their services, then we also kindly direct you to Harborsmouth Cemetery Realty. It’s never too early to contact them, since we have a booming “housing” market. Demand is quite high for a local plot—there are always people dying for a place to stay.
Ever play whack-a-mole with a jincan? No? Well, then aren’t you the fortunate one. Not only do jincan look like overgrown caterpillars with pointy teeth, but they also breed like bunnies and have a knack for undermining integral weight-bearing structures, leaving piles of rubble in their wake. Oh, and they smell like rotten eggs when squished—just my luck.
I scanned the cratered parking lot and sighed. Ever since Jenna was shipped off to Europe on some top-secret Hunters’ Guild mission, Harborsmouth’s supernatural pest problem had grown out of control. Jenna was one of the youngest members in the Harborsmouth Guild office and, as such, was responsible for the less desirable hunting jobs—like taking care of a nest of jincan. Now that she was gone, that job fell to the private sector.
I tightened my grip on the iron hammer and scowled. With Jenna gone, and the Guild in no hurry to find a replacement, jobs had come rolling in. I guess I should have been happy for the work, but no amount of money would make this feel like a real case. These jobs were just trumped up pest control. I’d much rather be working a case that required more than whacking some creature over the head. Better yet, I wanted more time to focus on the search for my father.
I’d recently learned that I was half-fae and that my deadbeat dad was Will-o’-the-Wisp, or Willem as my human mom knew him, King of the Wisps. Most of my life I’d spent feeling abandoned by the guy, which pissed me off. My psychic abilities had labeled me as a freak and an outcast, relegating me to the sidelines where I watched other people live their safe, happy, normal lives. Even my mother and step-father had distanced themselves from their freak daughter. To say I had abandonment issues was an understatement.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered, in a search for answers about my awakening wisp abilities, that my dad had been a victim too. He’d been tricked by a demon, possibly Lucifer himself, to carry a cursed lantern that brought disasters wherever he walked the earth. In an attempt to keep me and my mom safe, Will-o’-the-Wisp had left Harborsmouth. Now I not only needed to find my father, I desperately wanted to.
But time was running out. As if my psychic gift and second sight weren’t bad enough, I was growing into a whole new set of wisp abilities that I had no idea how to control. And fae who can’t keep their supernatural side hidden from humans don’t have a long lifespan—even for immortals. If I don’t find my father soon, I’ll be facing a fae firing squad. In fact, I could already feel the chill of fae assassins breathing down my neck.
Yeah, sorting out my family issues and finding a way to control my wisp powers should have been my one and only task, but information doesn’t come cheap. It takes money to grease those kinds of gears, hence my jumping at the chance to fill the void that Jenna had left in her wake. Jobs like these paid in cash and favors, both of which were in short supply since beginning my search for answers.
As it was, I was accruing debt with the wrong people. Take, for example, my debt to the vampire master of Harborsmouth. I’d promised to work one case of that pompous, old dust bag’s choosing. Yeah, that was bound to go well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’d made not one, but two faerie bargains with The Green Lady. I just knew the glaistig would be calling in her favors soon. I’d caught her guards watching me more than once. I knew she was keeping tabs on her investment and that scared me worse than the threat of faerie assassins.
Unfortunately, the vamp and the glaistig weren’t the only ones I’d made bargains with over the past few months. Their bargains were just the most likely to result in death or insanity. By comparison, my alliance with Sir Torn and the local cat sidhe was a walk in the park. And that was saying a whole lot about just how potentially deadly my bargains with The Green Lady and the vampire master of the city really were. Torn was a shadowy, feline, pain in my ass who obviously thought my roommate and business partner was catnip—like I didn’t have enough to worry about.
One of the caterpillar creatures burst up through a pile of rubble to my left and, with a blur of writhing golden fur, ducked inside the ruins of a video store. Damn, these things were fast. I ran toward the alley at the back of the store, hoping to corner the jincan before it escaped back into the ground or into the multi-level parking garage. Chasing the jincan around in that warren of concrete and steel was something I’d like to avoid. There were fae who liked to inhabit those shadows and I’d rather not come toe to toe with any of them.
I gulped air as I came around the back of the building, scanning the area around the dumpster and metal exit door for signs of the jincan. No eight foot caterpillar here. Maybe I’d been wrong to think it would come this way. Heck, it could be tunneling through the shop floor this very moment. In fact, I could hear a rhythmic thud coming from inside. Crap, I wouldn’t collect my fee if I let this critter slip away.
I spun on my heel, ready to sprint back down the alley when a furry steam-train came barreling through the cinderblock wall. The owner of the strip-mall wasn’t going to be happy. There was hardly anything left of the place. Too bad I had more to worry about than pissing off my clients.
I needed to stay alive.
A chunk of concrete whizzed past my head and I ducked into a crouch. I blinked away the dust and debris that filled the air and honed in on the creature’s location. There, it was halfway through the wall, its head already dipping into the parking garage.
“Oh no, you don’t,” I said. “Hey, Goldy, over here!”
The jincan raised its head and gnashed its large, brown teeth. Oh yeah, that’s attractive. These critters could use some serious dental care.
With a bellowing cry it lunged toward me. I jinked to the right, avoiding those nasty teeth with a few feet to spare. As the creature’s momentum carried it forward, I lifted the hammer, bringing it down at the base of it
Smelly jincan goo hit me square in the face, on bare skin. I froze, hammer locked in unmoving gloved fingers, as a vision held me rigid in its icy grip. I tried to calm my breathing and ride it out. It wouldn’t do me any good to fight it, and I needed to get this over with. If another jincan came along while I was imprisoned by the goo-induced vision, I’d be getting an up close and personal look at those rotting, pointy teeth.
I’d be caterpillar food for sure.
In fact, it looked like I’d be fed to this guy’s queen if he had any say in the matter. Oh, goody.
Psychometry is a funny thing. If a strong psychic imprint is made on an object, then someone with my rare gift can read the information that’s left behind. In this case, the caterpillar goo was giving me a vision whammy that made my stomach churn. This jincan had three images playing on a compulsive loop and the message of what drove the beast was clear. He wanted to kill, eat, and mate—not necessarily in that order.
And, oh boy, the gal he wanted to impress was a golden-skinned, furless grub the size of a semi truck. Protect the Queen, feed the Queen, and mate with the Queen. Oberon’s eyes, I needed brain bleach.
Oh yeah, this vision was no joyride—they never were—but visions of jincan males lining up to hump their gelatinous queen? That was sure to give me nightmares. Damn that shit was nasty.
I gagged and shook off the last of the vision. Psychometry is a bitch of a psychic gift, but the thing is, sometimes it comes in handy. Now I knew how to stop these creatures from destroying another city block, even if it was out here in the suburbs. I just needed to squash their hive leader, and I knew right where to find her.
Aware of the gathering gloom, I sprinted into the parking garage. For the second time today, I wished that Jenna hadn’t pissed off the Guild and got herself shipped off to Europe. This was one job where I could use some backup. The obese hive leader didn’t seem like much of a threat—heck, she looked like a pulsating marshmallow—but I was pretty sure the masses of horny jincan males I’d seen in my vision weren’t about to welcome me with open arms, even if they did have about twenty extra sets of the damn things.
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