The darkness spread from the palace like a living thing, and even the most careless of the fae paused to take note and hide. This thing was not Night. Night was the shadow of a familiar friend which they hid in to make her smile and this thing had no respect for the strength of daylight. It was a river in the air, flowing up down and sideways, mocking gravity, a slick conqueror too infantile to even know what it was crushing. Cinth hid under a tree. Mari threw herself into a rock. Joram stole a squirrel’s tail and took it’s place, fluffing himself up.
The darkness passed them in a moment. It ruffled through Joram like a breeze. It felt slick on Mari’s back. The air popped in their ears and the darkness foamed, hissed, and rumbled. Then it was past.
The air was chilly on the other side of it. Joram fluffed himself up a bit more. Then he blinked, hard and fast.
Cinth blinked, eyelashes brushing the tree roots.
Mari blinked. The rock sparks were gone.
She had been surrounded by their clean edges, the little spikes and rods and tears of lit glass that framed the inside of the rock. She could feel them poking at her curiously still, but she couldn’t see them. Couldn’t see her knees or hands or her hair hanging down to tickle her nose. Brushing her hair away, annoyed, she reached for the soft places in the stone where she could slip back out. She had banged her elbow on the way in, so she moved slowly, careful of her corners in the pitch black.
Outside, the breeze kissed her cheeks. She could hear Cinth convincing the dirt to lay flat again with persistent, flat hands, and there was a squirrel cussing at Joram. The day was as dark as the stone had been. Blinking more quickly, Mari pulled at the inside corners of her eyes, as if something had only gotten into them.
“What happened?” she asked.
Cinth stopped, sharp and swift, as if Mari had yelled at her. “What?” she asked.
“What happened?” Mari repeated. “There’s something wrong with my eyes.”
“Can you see?” Cinth asked.
“No,” Mari said.
Joram slid down the tree bark with a scratch and a sigh. “Oh good,” he murmured. “For a moment I thought I’d been cursed by a squirrel.” Twigs snapped under his feet, but just a few.
“A wave of darkness crawls out from the palace, and you’d like to blame it on a squirrel?” Cinth asked. She was laughing, and Mari could imagine her nodding in feigned approval. “That’s canny.”
There was a long pause.
“You can’t see either, can you?” Joram asked.
Cinth hesitated. “No…”
Joram grunted in dissatisfaction. Mari covered her mouth to hold in a laugh.
“So…” Mari said.
“You know who I’m going to blame next?” Joram said, continuing her question.
“Humans,” all three of them said at once, resigned, and a little disgusted. There was probably a wizard involved. Mari was instantly daydreaming of knocking his pointed hat off his head with an oak cane.
“Blind or not, I bet we can make it to the palace,” Cinth said.
“And while we’re there…” Joram said, with a grin in his tone.
“We remind them how small they are,” Mari said, gathering a slow smile of her own. “And how very little we care.”