I finally caught her.

     She was a mass of tangled hair, rags and spit, kicking and scratching when I carried her back to my hut. Here, where it bordered between Upper Layer and Lower Tier, I was a scrap-collector.

     When I tried to wash her, she fought. I was assailed with doubt. Maybe it was wrong of me to bring in a … wild child. Maybe it was not right. Maybe I should release her and let her go back to whatever she belonged, lived, ate. I wondered what she thought of me: a tall young man or a slender young woman, pale because of the lack of sun.

     Dirt came off her in a pool of black and brown, swirling into the hole. It was a struggle to wash her hair; it was all knotted and gnarled. Washed, it was long and curly, tinged with a natural brown. Where was she from? She looked like a child of four or five, but her eyes were intense, piercing. Like my amber glass shone through with light. (more…)

     A long time ago, in a land of magic and faerie dust, lived a witch.

     She was not unlike any other witch you may have heard of: her grey hair ran wild, her face was wrinkled and spotted with warts, and she wore a black cloak over her humped back. But she wasn’t like any witch the land had ever seen, for her magic had one purpose: to grant your heart’s desire.

     Her career in wish-granting—for lack of a better term—began years ago, when her afternoon tea was interrupted by a knock on her door. It was an odd, shocking sort of sound, for her cottage rarely attracted visitors; nor was she expecting company.

     When she finally opened the door, she was astonished to find a weary traveler who had nearly collapsed at her feet from hunger and exhaustion.


     The spacilisk’s feet hurt. They hurt very badly, in fact. They were so sore that, while he could slither about pretty well, it was hard for him to stop, or turn, or even to get properly started, really.

     Of course, no one understood this, since they were all elves and elves have no idea just how much spacilisks use their feet. They think spacilisks slither and slide and their feet just dangle there for no reason whatsoever, but they’re wrong. A spacilisk’s feet are terribly important, and it is most uncomfortable when they hurt.

     “I need different shoes,” said the spacilisk to his elvish keepers (his name was Craig, which he would have told anyone who asked, which, of course, they did not). But they just looked at him strangely, as though they didn’t understand what he said. They simply couldn’t fathom the fact that a spacilisk needed properly fitting shoes just like everyone else.