Microcosms 80

Alrighty, welcome to Microcosms 80! Today’s prompt comes to your courtesy of Ell Meadow. Enjoy!

A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features folkloric fantasy characters, such as dwarves, dragons, elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins, griffins, mermaids, talking animals, trolls, unicorns, or witches, and usually magic or enchantments. While it has become associated with moralistic children’s stories, the original tales were an oral story-telling tradition which were set in an earlier time when the world was ‘magical’, and it is the inclusion of magical elements more than the inclusion of fantastical creatures that is the mark of a fairy tale (or a tale set in the faerie world).

The word ‘fairy tale’ comes from a (mis)translation of “Contes de Fées” by Countess d’Aulnoy were ‘fee’ was a woman skilled in magic, and who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs. These tales originated in the salons of Europe where a vogue for magical tales took hold. These stories involved the retelling of old tales, that not only showcased verbal agility and imagination, but also slyly commented on the conditions of aristocratic life. The decorative language of the fairy tales disguised the rebellious subtext of the stories. Critiques of court life (and even of the king) were embedded in extravagant tales and in dark, sharply dystopian ones. The tales by women often featured young (but clever) aristocratic girls whose lives were controlled by the arbitrary whims of fathers, kings, and elderly wicked fairies, as well as tales in which groups of wise fairies (i.e., intelligent, independent women) stepped in and put all to rights.


To clarify, there is an extra hour tacked on to the back! Due time is 1 a.m.,
EDT. Thanks!


(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact us.)


Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Griffin, setting: Forest, and genre: Fantasy.

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.

*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***


  • Fairy
  • Dwarf
  • Dragon
  • Elf
  • Giant
  • Gnome
  • Goblin
  • Griffin
  • Mermaid
  • Talking Animal
  • Troll
  • Unicorn
  • Witch
  • Forest
  • Cave
  • Castle
  • Ocean
  • Underground
  • In the Clouds
  • Lawn
  • Bridge
  • Your Choice!
  • Rainbow
  • Cottage
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Memoir
  • Thriller
  • Comedy
  • Steam Punk
  • Drama
  • Poem


Judging this week is Kelly Griffiths.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EDT) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

Microcosms 81
Slight delay

38 thoughts on “Microcosms 80

  1. Prompt: Dragon Bridge Crime
    300 Words

    Title: IT’S A CRIME

    Yes, yes, yes, I know you expected a troll under the bridge, but these days with high unemployment rates and lack of jobs it’s hard for a dragon to add to his hoard.

    What happened to the troll? Well I’m sorry to say that I ate him. Not very tasty, but again, with modern legislation about stealing livestock I can’t swoop down and pick out a tasty sheep or two anymore. Farmers want compensation these days; and did you ever hear of a dragon parting willingly with any of his gold?

    So back to business – this is straight stick up. I leap out – like so – and you give me whatever gold you are carrying.

    You aren’t carrying any gold? Only a credit card? Well what good is that? Do you know what the interest rates are on those things? No my son, you need to carry cash – preferably gold – it’s accepted by thieves and crooks everywhere. No problem with currency exchange rates either. Have you seen what the pound is doing? Any way what we have here now is an impasse – you don’t have money and I don’t want to eat you, but I feel like I ought to. It’s how this is supposed to work.

    Three questions? What questions? Oh the troll always allowed three questions. Sorry no, I only have one question – give me your gold or …
    You’d prefer not to be eaten? Well I’d prefer not to eat you, but you don’t have any gold, so again, we are at an impasse. I’m ‘im and you can’t pass.

    You can do an EFT? What do you think I look like? The Bank of blinking Fairy Land? …

    Oops sorry, I didn’t mean to incinerate you, but when I think of banks I get a little heated.

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    1. You made me laugh. Great story. My favorite line, ” you need to carry cash – preferably gold – it’s accepted by thieves and crooks everywhere.”

      1. Love how you write and your creativity. This is my favorite! You can do an EFT? What do you think I look like? The Bank of blinking Fairy Land? …

  2. @billmelaterplea
    Troll; Cottage; Memoir
    299 very thin tales

    The Existential Angst of Skedaddle the Troll and His Sense of Himself in the Wider World

    On the outskirts of the Village of Murk in the County of Pall in a Country so many times conquered that no could recall just who was King, there lived in a small hut made of twigs and mud, a very unusual Troll by name, Skedaddle.

    Though frightfully grotesque, Skedaddle had a few saving graces, not the least of which was an occasionally charming personality, a most irregular trait for a Troll.

    Skedaddle was often found lounging on his porch, sitting somewhat uncomfortably in his chair of thorns, a unique piece of summer furniture built to his specifications by a carpenter friend of long acquaintance, Simeon Sprite.

    When ordering the chair, Skedaddle had stated, in his most unappealing voice, primarily a squeak mixed ever so agonizingly with a squawk, “Simeon, no one expects a Troll to be comfortable in his own skin. Yet, I find myself most afternoons being drawn into conversations, suggestive conversations, with any number of young girls passing by my cottage.”

    Simeon Sprite had no time for Skedaddle’s flourishes. “It’s a simple mud hut, Ske. Trolls don’t live in cottages.”

    Which was true.

    “Good point, “ said Skedaddle. “Not the one I wanted to make …but accurate. MY point is, hut or cottage, these fresh-faced young lasses seem to be spending increasingly more of their ridiculous free time leaning over my picket fence, engaging me in their girlish chatter, expecting me to reciprocate.”

    “With girlish chatter, Ske? I can’t imagine you’re all that proficient at chatter.”

    Which was also true.

    “I can hold my own…but…it is awkward…enjoying myself.”

    “Ske, clearly there’s something missing in their frippish lives if they are drawn to an hideous apparition such as you. Enjoy every moment. Listen well. Say less.”

    “It’s so hard being a Troll. But, sound advice, Simeon. Many thanks.”

  3. Elf/Forest/Memoir

    Fairy wishes and Elven dreams

    Armed with the “Big Book of Flowers for Dummy Elves”, I set off into the Fark Wood, so named by our previous headmaster who was a huge fan of the actual word. I had to brush up on magical potions. Mr. Lefleur was not impressed by my last grade.

    I collected Silver Flower from the Treasure Garden, Bright Weed in the Sunny Corner, and Bone Ivy from the grave yard. The Tangled Tongue was rather rude and I got quite muddy chasing the Spider Parsnip. I was about to leave when I realized that someone was watching me. I whipped my head around. I couldn’t believe it! A unicorn stood between the shadows of the trees carrying the Fairy Princess Kylantha Aenelis. A Hate Privet glared at me while the Screaming Hemlock did just that. A Stinking Medlar tried to settle near a Flying Willow but she flew off in disgust. This all made the Fearful Aspen shake with fright. I whispered the only word I could, as the Spider Parsnip climbed out of my basket and ran off….”Fark!”

    “She looked at me radiating sweet light and laughed. “Your basket is empty young elf. What were you collecting?” “H..h…h…herbs, your magical….er… your magnify…..your magestyness!” She looked at me, her violet eyes penetrating the depths of my soul. “May I join you? I get lonely up at the castle. Do you have brothers and sisters?” Not really,” I answered and she giggled again. She slid off the unicorn and held out her hand. I grinned and shook it, trying to still my fast beating heart. “Call me Kyla!” she yelled over her shoulder as she grabbed my basket and darted off after the Spider Parsnip that had escaped earlier. This was to be the beginning of a great friendship.

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  4. The Last Guardian
    296 words
    Griffin, Forest, Fantasy

    The hateful creature padded closer, head darting to and fro. Its eyes capturing everything and the hideous intelligence behind them was enough to shake the inner chutzpah of even the most gifted warrior. The griffin was feared, and rightfully so, as my brethren had fallen beneath its teeth and nightmarish claws.
    When it first entered the Forest of Gardenia, we stood against it, steadfast and in great numbers, but eventually, after many titanic battles, only I remain. It eyes me carefully, but I remain completely still. Our council had determined that stillness was the only defense against this awful creature, absolute, statue-like stillness.
    The griffin approached, seemingly interested in either my blue coat, or perhaps my stocking cap. I fought the urge to shake, or tremble, and surprised myself with my fortitude. I was staring death in the face, with its narrow face, striped visage, and eyes that carried the vertical slice of blackness that would be the doom of any that stared into them. I couldn’t resist though, those eyes, hinting at feral intelligence and perhaps even some secrets to the universe itself.
    It made a noise, a rumbling from deep within its throat and chest, trying to shake my spirit, or get me to betray my stillness. I remain steadfast, though fear flutters inside me like the swift, darting birds of the forest.
    Finally, the beast makes its decision and my decision to be still saves me. It rubs against me, confused by my stillness. It lays itself down, claiming a swath of sunlight. The battle will be fought another day and I can only hope that I, The last Forest of Gardenia Gnome, can emerge victorious over the evil Griffin, known only in fearful whispers, as The Kitten.

  5. Fairy, Forest, Crime

    @geofflepard 274 words

    Inspector Frolick And The Case Of The Errant Fairy

    ‘Sad day. Sad times.’ Inspector Frolick shook his head.
    ‘When a fairy goes bad…’
    ‘Indeed sergeant. Where did the dust trail end?’
    ‘The enchanted forest. We nearly had her but she’s led a charmed life.’
    ‘I think a spell inside might help.’
    ‘We’ve put a couple of security trolls by the entrance and a spotter griffin is doing some sweeps.’
    ‘What about your sources? Any word from them?’
    ‘Not a lot. It’s a difficult time. The dwarves have been laid off. They’re split on which way to move.’
    ‘Dopey can’t make up his mind. Hansel and Gretel have separated. Tom Thumb’s had a growth spurt and is stuck in his house and Pinocchio’s away having a nose job.’
    ‘What about the usual suspects? Any activity we should know about?’
    ‘You know the BBW is out?’
    ‘Wolfie? When?’
    ‘Two days ago. They accepted his appeal that the evidence was ambiguous.’
    ‘What? There was blood everywhere.’
    ‘But no body…’
    ‘He ate her!’ Frolick sighed. ‘What about the Wicked Witch? What’s she up to?’
    ‘There’s been a bumper crop of poisoned apples and magic mushrooms so her coffers are full. If the dwarves went over to her side, it could tip the balance.’
    ‘Small margins, eh?’ Frolics chewed the inside of his cheek.
    The sergeant waited patiently.
    ‘I suppose there’s no other option?’
    ‘I don’t think so sir, not if you want a happy ending.’
    ‘Alright call the author. I’ll see if he’ll come up with something implausible but morally uplifting to get us out of this mess. Oh and sergeant.’
    ‘Charming called. Something about a missing glass slipper. Can you check with lost property?’

  6. Trevor the Griffin

    Forest/ Griffin/ Fairy tale
    Princess Layla ruler of the forest of witches and elves. Appointed by her parents to find peace and solace between the witches and elves. She has come quite a ways from timid and insecure to a social and confident butterfly that has caught the attention of many in the court and several hearts of knights near and far.
    Her most trusted ally is her best friend, Trevor the Griffin. He is feared by most for the way he looks and his untapped powers that the witches and elves feel will be the end of them. Trevor has no interest in defeating or hurting anyone, he only wants to help Princess Layla to bring these two groups together.
    One day Trevor and Princess Layla are working with the knight of her kingdom, Jean Chambon and the king’s groom of the stool Sir Francis to tap into Trevor’s powers. Trevor is a smart but clumsy Griffin. Somehow he manages to turn all the objects in the room in to elves.
    Little did they know the witches were watching all of this and maddened by the increase in elves. Trevor was really screwing things up now. What was Princess Layla to do? Jean and Sir Frances couldn’t help but snicker at this, now Trevor was no longer the trusted ally.
    Jean could get Princess Layla and Sir Frances could shine brighter in the king’s eyes. Trevor wasn’t giving up. Somehow he turned half the elves into witches and they all fell in love. Best part was he turned Jean in to a witch and Sir Frances in to an elf and they also fell in love. The witches and elves were so pleased with this they promised to always get along and do anything Princess and Trevor wished.

  7. Witch/Underground/Fantasy
    101 words

    Queen Makaria stood before thanatikós’ council, naked and bewitching like a full moon on a dark night. The prophesy had decreed destruction upon Peloponnesus through her. That she desired it was true. That she must die, apparent. This ritual however, required her verbal consent. Her sapphire eyes goggled about, seemingly bored. Raw and terrible wickedness dwelt within. Gaze affixed at her oiled skin enveloped in a halo by the golden sun, Heliast’s lust flowed through him like tidal currents. Dusk to dawn for ages he begged even as the quakes struck and pestilence spread yet, the daughter of Aidoneus spoke none.

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  8. (title) The Princess and the Dragon
    (themes) Dragon/Ocean/Fantasy
    (wordcount) 298

    I am tied to a stake overlooking the ocean waiting to be eaten. You guessed it! I am a princess. And there is the dragon! Right on time too. Been raiding the local sheep farms. Of course, they think that a princess meal is going chase it away. Like I really taste that bad, if we are what we eat I probably taste like lamb.

    ‘So…Left you out here to here to be eaten then?’ The Dragon said conversationally.

    ‘Yes! You have been eating the sheep!’ This, I blush to note, came out a little higher than planned.

    The dragon shrugged, ‘They were just sheep! I would have thought that princesses were ranked higher than sheep.’

    ‘I would have thought so too, but evidently not as well…’

    ‘I am not going to eat you dear! I am waiting for the knight in shining armour to arrive. They make lovely stews if boiled properly.’

    ‘Phfft! They discontinued the knights. Apparently, a princess “has to be her own hero” these days.’

    ‘Whose bright idea was that? What use are knights if they aren’t going around getting eaten heroically?’

    ‘I know! They now have no purpose! I also feel the need to point out that when they are eaten there is less chance of me being eaten! This seems a better deal than this new plan.’

    ‘I hear you… ” There was a moments quiet as both thought about the effect of recent social changes on their lives.

    ‘How about this. I free you and we become a team? We can travel to more forward thinking kingdoms, I can be the terrible beast, you can be the damsel and you can keep the gold and I will eat whatever knights come through?’


    ‘Deal! Us Princesses need to stick together.’

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  9. Dragon/Own Choice/Poem
    Word count: 21

    Ruby love

    Flying dragon
    Swirling in the air
    Gliding left and right
    Not for goat or knight
    But for Mathilde’s ruby heart.

  10. Witch, Underground, Thriller
    300 words

    “Under Bendel’s Sway”

    The calciferous cavern damp slicked her back and sharpened her wits. Dyrina huddled over a stalagmite, stroking the flat of her knife. Her lids drooped against her eyes. She bit the tip of the blade into the heel of her hand and brushed the wound on the pillar of stone. Too many days of running to die in her sleep.

    The boy called out to her. “Mother. Mother. Mother. Mother.” As if she didn’t know Bendel’s evil trick. Was he even a boy? No. No boy could have kept with her for so long. Not even under Bendel’s sway.

    Her glowing sash paled. Magic decayed here faster than under a bare sky, faster even than under a storm. It liked to fade into ancient things—ancient rock and ancient, creeping ways beneath the ground.

    Dyrina severed a pinch of her hair. She fastened it into a tight loop, pulling it nearly into a knot. The words she spoke came from deep within her, deeper than she had reached in many years. It was easier here, under the earth. Even as the magic disappeared readily into the limestone beneath her haggard feet, it poured forth from her body even more easily. She swayed, the last stores of her energy flowing into her spell until she felt closer to the cavern rock about her than to her flesh.

    The creature stepped into the dying light. His freckles stood out as a spot against his nose. But it could not be him. Bendel could not have found her son. He was safe. He was protected. This was something Bendel had made.

    “Mother. Mother. Mother.” It stuck out a tiny hand, the scar on the fourth knuckle clear in the gloom.

    The loop of hair drifted to the floor. Dyrina clasped the boy’s hand.

  11. Title – King Rifki’s worst enemy
    Prompts – Elf/Castle/Memoir
    Word Count – 299
    Twitter – @nancymbeach

    So, here’s the truth. I’m not actually an invisible elf. I’m just a regular elf. Gramma Leojym has a magic concoction that she rubs on me each morning. I don’t know how she makes it. All I can tell you is that she goes in the cellar and comes back up with a jar of goop that smells tart like rotten spaghetti.

    Anyway, I’m so excited to serve in the Legion of Loyalty. Ask no questions, tell no lies. That’s our motto. Our job is to protect the king.

    Each day after Gramma rubs invisible lotion all over me, I slip into the palace when the shutters are unlocked.

    My job is to stand still as a board and study King Rifki’s face. I have learned to recognize the look. As soon as I see the greedy look in his eyes, I scan the room for the red-headed woman. There is always a red-headed woman. As the king starts towards her, I shoot my bow and arrow at any part of his body as long as it is above his chest. He hardly notices. It’s a tiny arrow, really – especially compared to how big he is.

    Barbu notices though. She always notices and gently guides the King away from the distraction and back to his work. The white dust having done its job – making him forget about the red-head.

    I overheard Mama talking the other night. She said if not for us, the people would know who the king really was. Mama says we protect the king from no one but himself. I heard her call him a philanderer, whatever that is. All I know is I get an extra scoop of apple pie when I get home from the castle. And I like apple pie.

  12. Griffin, Forest, and Fantasy
    296 Words
    The Gatekeepers

    In the days of old, when kings and queens ruled the lands, witches and warlocks performed unthinkable feats of magic, griffins overlooked it all. They had one job; to protect the gates and keep the inhabitants of the realm safe. Griffins were the Gatekeepers. The gates were doorways to other worlds. The Gatekeepers made sure that those who sought to cause harm couldn’t cross through the gates, and protected everyone. Over time, the human rulers of the land wanted to use resources from other worlds so they went through the gates to arrange trade routes between portals. Many worlds agreed, and soon these world prospered, but the humans grew greedy. Relations between worlds crumbled, and trading ended. Outrage swept through the people, and they demanded to pass through the gates to attack other worlds. The Gatekeepers would not let them pass. Humans attacked the griffins, leaving destruction in their wake. Griffins began to fall, leaving gates unguarded. The remaining griffins started closing the gates, but the humans never relented. One gate remained, guarded by the last of the griffins. It stood deep in a forest far from the humans’ domain. Witches and warlocks came together and cast protection enchantments around the gate, hiding it from the humans. People began hunting magical creatures, looking for another way to reach other realms. The creatures fled through the gate to safety. Once all magic had been taken from the world, save the griffins, humanity’s greed began to wither away. The griffins knew that this wouldn’t last if they discovered that there was one gate left, so they escaped to other worlds, sealing the gate behind them. Legend has it, that one day, they will return and open the gates when humanity can open their hearts to magic once again.

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  13. Fairy God Mother

    Sorry child, I do not grant wishes. I am merely a fairy. Although I do possess some magical abilities, I do not have the powers to fix your problems in any way. Oh, come now child, don’t cry. Your lot is not so bad. I have seen much worse. I have an idea. Let’s make a pretend cave.

    Grab the cushions off the sofa and stack them there against the chair. Now use the blankets to block out the light. A cave must be dark for the magic to spark. There now child, there’s a smile. You see now? Play and forget your troubles for a while.

    Come now dearie, come inside. Don’t be afraid. I’ll create some light. Oh dear, why do you tremble. That rumbling sound is nothing to be frightened about. Let me take your finger and I’ll lead you in. I must say, you have beautiful hair, and I do apologize for the tangles. Smile darling, in here you are safe from your Ma and Pa’s problems. Walk further inside. It’s much bigger than it appears from the outside is it not?

    Oh child, do not shriek. That deformed creature is friendly as can be. Pay no mind to the uneven exhalations and the drool on his chin. He simply wants to meet you. Didn’t you say you needed a friend? Your parents do fight so often, wouldn’t you like someone to talk to? Balzing understands your pain. Approach him child. Don’t worry. You will become accustomed to the corporeal stench of his breath.

    261 words
    Prompt: fairy, cave, horror

  14. Giant, Cottage, Crime
    212 words


    The roof was heaving. The cottage had crumbling bits and character galore, but it had never started breathing before. Mae held her heavy load of fresh water tight and listened. She could hear a soft round vocalization of distress with every heave. She opened the door and saw a giant man bent double against the ceiling, racked with sobs. On the floor was Mae’s daughter, perfectly still and crushed flat in places a human should not be flat. Mae dropped the buckets of water, and the liquid flooded to her little girl. The giant looked at Mae with fear in his eyes.

    “We just wanted to play,” he said in a voice that shook Mae’s intestines. “Just play.”

    Mae heard voices outside, curious voices that she knew would become shouts for death once they learned what had happened. How many villagers could the giant fight off before succumbing to the angry mob? The giant heard too, his eyes even wider than before.

    “Go,” said Mae in a small voice so strong and steady it surprised her. “Go and I will deal with them.”

    The giant’s face had an expression Mae feared was anger, but after a moment’s hesitation he scraped his way out of the cottage and lumbered back into the woods.

  15. Balance

    It was so noisy, yet so quiet. The forest was calm, but when the boy closed his eyes and focused, he could hear its pulse: the cautious rustling of a squirrel stalking them, the babbling of an unnamed river- and, he could swear, giggling from some of the last forest faeries. He wondered if they wou-

    “Quit dawdling, ya lazy runt!” Father barked, barging in on his trance. “You see what this here is?”

    The boy’s mouth hung open as he stared at the magnificent griffin feather. Pure white, so bright it almost blinded. But where the sun hit it gave a faint rainbow sheen, as if the magic were strong enough to split light itself.

    Father stuffed the specimen in his pocket, snapping and scruffing it. “This feather alone will fetch 10 drakes, boy! Can you imagine what the whole damn bird could buy?”

    Yes, he could: more rum and gambling. With a sigh, he tuned back into the rhythm of the forest. At least here, everything worked in harmony: the plants fed the rabbits and the squirrels, who fed the bears and griffins, and then they would eventually feed the plants. He tossed some breadcrumbs for their furry stalker, happy to be a part of the cycle.

    “Pfft! You’re not gonna tell me what to do…” his father grumbled, clawing a piece of paper from a tree and tossing it to the ground.

    Quietly, the boy uncrumpled it:


    All Hunting of Griffins, of Any Breed, Hereby Prohibited to Halt Their Disappearance

    5,000 Drake Fine and 5 Years Imprisonment to Any Violator

    Decree for the Public Good, Year 760 A.L.”

    He gulped and stared at his father. Hands shaking, he knew he would have to make a choice.

    Griffin, Forest, Fantasy
    299 Words

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  16. Fairy, forest, crime
    296 words

    Sorrel swept her long, silver hair into a couple messy buns behind her pointed ears before pulling the mask over her face. She interlaced her fingers and stretched her arms above her head, eyes hard behind the disguise. Tonight was the night.
    Letting herself out through the trapdoor above her hammock, Sorrel stepped outside and stayed low, closing the door softly. Her narrowed gaze skimmed across the dark forest. She darted to the nearest trunk and clung to the gnarled bark. Certain that the coast was clear, she leapt into the air and fluttered into the leafy canopies above her for cover from prying eyes.
    She met Clarice near the aspen grove in the abandoned owl’s nest.
    “Are you ready?” Sorrel asked.
    “Definitely,” Clarice replied with a crooked grin. She adjusted her mask and they flitted to the edge of the nest. Their neighboring town, Stonebrook, lay below them. The inhabitants slept in their mushroom houses, unsuspecting. Clarice squinted through a polished crystal and set her sights on the vault.
    “Everything is in place,” she remarked.
    “Let’s get to it,” Sorrel said.
    They hopped over the edge and plummeted toward the ground, pulling their translucent wings close to their bodies. The wind whistled in their ears and they barreled toward the vault, opening their wings just early enough to land delicately on the thatched roof. Greta was waiting for them.
    “You’re early,” she whispered. “We just finished preparations.”
    “Great,” Sorrel replied. “Are we ready?”
    “Yes,” Greta replied.
    Thus began the greatest bank heist Stonebrook had ever seen.
    The fairies escaped unnoticed with several pounds of rare sea glass and a hefty reward was released for their capture. To the dismay of the fairies in Stonebrook and to the elation of the thieves, they were never caught.

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