Secrecy and avoiding the media were not high on Rulash’s priorities. The fairy king flew over the street filled with tv vans and saw the security men roaming the grounds around Grüger Corp. He frowned and landed atop a tree, catching himself on the branches.
The third floor of Grüger Corp exploded, a fiery orange plume poofing into the sky. Ash and debris showered the lawn, and the gust of wind blew back Rulash’s hair.
“Found you,” he murmured as police sirens blared and camera lights flashed.
Rulash launched himself in the air again and glided around the smoke. He snapped his wings against his back and landed in the burnt out office. “Willow,” he shouted, “where are you?”
He ran deeper into Grüger Corp., the shadows of the security men dancing on the wall. He crept upwards, then into another scorched hallway. Then he crept back to look at a directory mounted by the elevators.
“Hey!” shouted a guard.
Rulash stilled and tried to return to the shadows, but he was already spotted. He curled his fist and threw a seed pod at the ground, which burst into blue pollen. The guards filling the hallway collapsed snoring.
He wrenched open an elevator door and gunshots rained behind him as the doors snapped shut again. Flying up the elevator shaft, Rulash started to count the floors.
A light flashed above him, and he saw a man drop something into the shaft above him. Rulash hurled another seedpod at it, but—OOMPH—the object exploded on impact and sent Rulash hurtling back down the shaft. He caught himself with sticky hands, like a bug, against the wall.
He crawled, quiet, instead of flying and slipped past the open elevator and forced himself into a hallway. With his sticky fingers, he crawled along the ceiling, then pushed into a silent glide over the heads of the security forces.
Dust rained down from the ceiling as another explosion rocked the building.
Rulash watched from above as Willow leapt from the shadows and took down three security guards outside the president’s office.
He almost swooned.
“Willow!” he shouted, gleeful. He landed, and Willow punched at him.
He winced, but the blow was directed over the shoulder at a guard who dropped like a rock.
“Your Highness, what are you doing here?”
“I heard you were in danger!” Rulash pushed threw up a magic shield as some guards opened fire on them.
“I’m not, obviously, you idiot!”
Rulash folded his arms, the baby blue shield shimmering behind him as bullets struck it. “Really.”
“Really,” she snapped.
“Come back with me, Willow. If you’re bored, we could’ve started a conflict against the Swamp Mites! I would’ve done that for you!”
“This is my home now, King. I take cooking classes. I have a job. I have friends.”
“I have friends here too,” argued Rulash as security guards began to bang, harmlessly, against his shield. He thought of Sam in the shelter. He hoped he had called his parents. “And a job.”
“A job,” scoffed Willow. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”
“I’ve had a crazy time in the human realm. Maybe we can talk about it, over coffee?”
“Are you asking me out?” Right now?
“No,” said Rulash, “I just miss you.”
She sighed, furious. “You’re hopeless.”
“I’m not going back,” said Willow. She ripped the door to the president’s office off its hinges.
“Ladies first.” Rulash hesitated. “It does feel a bit strange though, for me to have grown this much and to have come this far…”
“That’s not my problem.” Willow dropped the door. “I’ve gotta save the environment. They don’t care about it here, not really. Not like we do. They’re going to destroy a whole valley.”
“Some of them care,” said Rulash. “They’re not all bad.”
“I know. But this one is. Well, are you coming, or not?”
When they burst through the door, neither Rulash or Willow noticed the journalist lurking in the corner. Willow grabbed the president and dragged him atop his desk.
“I’ll never give in,” the president shouted at Willow. “You can’t intimidate me!”
Rulash stepped behind Willow, his fists glowing.
“Oh, God! There’s two of you? There’s two of you!”
“No army you can summon will stop me,” growled Willow, menacing. “Nothing will stop me.”
“I’m sorry,” wailed the president. “Stop ruining my life! We won’t do it!”
The job down, Willow and Rulash ran for the window. They jumped through the glass and flew away into the night as the media, police, and firefighters stormed below, and their magic vanished.
“I respect you, Willow,” said Rulash.
“I know,” said Willow. “You seem more free somehow with it.”
“Happy Halloween?” tried Rulash.
She rolled her eyes. “Happy Halloween.”
Author's Note: And that's "Burnt Chocolate, Fairy King." Thanks for reading! When you have a free moment, leave a comment below.