Excerpt from My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond
“Six years of service!” I repeated. “I will not release you until you pledge it!”
Did he really stagger, just a little, or was I imagining it?...
“Very well. Be it as you wish.”
He agreed!! My overstrained muscles begged for a break, but I couldn’t let go of him yet; that would be a fatal mistake. I had to seal the deal.
“So do you promise to serve me faithfully for six years?”
“Within the laws of both worlds, that of spirits and of men, yes.”
Within the laws, well, that was fine. The scribe had told me about that. No spirit could break those laws.
“Not to lie to me?”
“And never seek retaliation for being captured?”
“Abyss take you if you break your word?”
Naturally? Was he leaving some kind of a loophole?
“No tricks! Say, ‘Yes, I promise, the abyss takes me if I break my word!’”
He said it.
At last, I could loosen the grip. Oh, my arms, shoulders, back… They’d be aching for days.
The spirit waded to the shore. I cautiously followed, still unable to fully believe it. I did it, didn’t I? I had a gormack now. My own, for six full years.
He sat down on the sand. I figured I’d give him time to accept the unfortunate change in circumstances. I could use some rest as well, so I lowered myself on a large rock a couple of steps away and looked at my prize. He could easily pass for a man, especially now that he’d stopped glowing—a lean young fellow with well-defined features, dressed in a short tunic, breeches, and tall boots. His hair was still flaming orange, but his skin turned the color of regular human tan. I waited for the glow to return, but minutes passed, and it was not happening. Was something wrong?
“Your glow is gone,” I said. “I hope you have not lost all your strength.”
He looked up at me and, quite unexpectedly, grinned.
“That would be a disappointment, wouldn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s just because I am settling in the physical world.”
Well, at least he was not too upset about it.
“Has this happened to you for the first time?”
“I would think those to whom it had happened once will not come to the lake again.”
“You have a point.” I looked him over again and noticed that he had no weapon. “Where is your sword?”
“Always with me.” With that, the shining orange blade showed up in his hand, and before I could blink it was pointed at me. “Why? You want to taste it?”
Uh-oh. So he was a little upset.
“Hey now. You promised to be loyal to me.”
“True.” He smiled and removed the sword. “But I never promised not to throw puns.”
A feisty one. It looked like I’d have to teach him some manners.
“You must do what I tell you, and I’m telling you to be respectful. Is that understood?”
He gave a quick bow.
“Yes, Mr. I-Don’t-Know-What-To-Call-You.”
Well, he had a point here, too. I had not yet introduced myself.
“‘My lord’ or ‘master’ will do very well,” I said, “but if you wish to know my name, it is Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle. Now, what is yours? I assume you have a name, too?”
“Of course. I am Tulip.”
“Tulip?? What kind of a name is that for an evil spirit?”
“I am no evil spirit.”
I gave him a long, hard look.
“…Don’t you joke like that. I appreciate a good bit of humor, but not of the kind that makes one’s heart stop.”
“But I am not joking. I am not an evil spirit, I am what you call a sparkling.”
The world faded before my eyes.
“WHAT?? A sparkling?! Are you telling me I have caught a sparkling?! A goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans?!”
“Well, that’s a rather broad definition, but yes, generally speaking, that’s what a sparkling does. What seems to be the problem?”
I wanted to scream. And I did.
“I WANTED A GORMACK!!!”
“Oops. Your mistake.”
I grabbed him by the tunic collar.
“Why didn’t you tell me who you are?!”
“I do not recall you asking.”<…>
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