Inn Statera by Grace T.

Inn Statera

by Grace Tompkins

A marvelous circumstance seems to come and go. Consisting in fleeing moments, woven together to leave an everlasting effect. They are often disguised, like the shining emerald cradled in stone.

But one thing is certain, after experiencing one- You’ll never be the same.

In the midst of a freezing, weather-beaten evening, a marvelous circumstance is bound to occur.

The sky was filled with a violent storm, clouds huffing and puffing, as a strong wind seemed to make way. Heavy rain shattered on the streets like precious jewels, hitting hard on cloaked figures. Among the raging elements and miserable evening patrons, sat a typical umbrella.

The umbrella, had only been carelessly thrown into the soaked wicker basket minutes before. Here it sits dutifully waiting for it’s master. His master was in the pub, trying to find a place to stay at this hour. He’d been looking for many hours, being kindly turned down due to no space for him to rest.

The umbrella was quite tired. He had known it would be a long night; no matter the weather – When his master furiously gripped the umbrella’s handle and stormed out of his residence. He’d had a forceful forecast come his way, along with prolonged periods, dripping wet, waiting while he could hear his master pleading with shop owners and Innkeepers.

The door wrathfully swung out, hitting the wicker basket, making it rattle. The umbrella’s master exited the Pub, quickly grabbed his umbrella and went into the night.

He didn’t even bother to open his umbrella, he dragged it along across the street, walking with lost hope as the grey mood washed over him.

This is where our story begins- On the dreadful evening that a man cannot find a place to rest.

The man, was a younger fellow named Isaac Shen. Currently attending medical school and was doing quite well at it, if you asked his grandmother. From the age of four, he’d been living with his grandparents. And if you’d ask them why, you’d face a dead silence they wouldn’t address.

And the first thing Isaac asked when he appeared on their doorstep on a wintery day, was to ask them that very question. That, is where things started to go very wrong.

Isaac was raised extremely strict and ruled. His grandfather put honor before everything else, and his grandmother wouldn’t say anything to change that. Life at school was problematic. Being a quiet, English-Vietnamese boy created conflict when he’d get straight A’s in his classes, much to his grandfather’s strong insistence, and would be ‘made fun’ by jealous kids wanting the teacher’s attention. Rude remarks were made about his heritage. Remarks that often could pierce the budding outer shell Isaac began to create. When he would get home, things were just as tough. If he ever ‘lashed out’ at a student for saying something cruel, he would face punishment. Isaac always remembered his grandfather defending his hurtful reprimand. “This is for your own good, Isaac, you will not be like your father was.”

After years and years of that, Isaac started to build the walls to protect himself for ever bringing shame to his grandparent’s name. He started medical school to please his grandparents and suffered every minute of it, making him cold and bitter towards others getting to pursue their “dreams”.

Isaac had stormed out of his grandparent’s house just hours earlier in the evening. His grandparents invited him to dinner as a disguised attempt to monitor his life and school. Isaac wasn’t fooled when they called. He was seeing even clearer when he left. Heated debates and the raising of voices left both grandparents upset and too proud to show it. One man just as equally proud walked out to go anywhere but there.

And after hours of trying to find a room for the night, since his student dormitory was several miles away, and his pride not letting him go back to his grandparents, he was running out of options.

Isaac continued to walk along the streets, angry and depressed. He powered through the weather to find shelter under a covered street front. His eyes darted from one thing to another, seeing a puddle besides him. He could see a distorted image of himself in the puddle- a mess of unruly black hair, a loose collar, and striking blue eyes facing up at him.

“Isaac, you’re a mess.” He said firmly. “What have you done?”

He couldn’t sulk any longer, he stood up, and forded through the wet streets.

That is when he passed the empty alleyway- walking on and stopped mid step.

Isaac wasn’t sure what it was that made him stop, or back up five feet. In fact, Isaac wasn’t a tad bit sure of why he now saw a tiny front to an inn.

Very much confused and surprised, Isaac questioned how a once empty alleyway was now inhabited. He wondered if he might be just imagining things, being tired from walking.

But he felt very much awake.

Isaac, still in denial, walked up to the new building and pressed his hands on the cold brick. He confirmed that it was a solid, real structure he was facing.

The building was simple, with one door, a faded sign above it, and a window with a flickering candle in it. Isaac squinted to read the sign, but the years of hanging relentlessly through evenings like this seemed to wear it thin and faded.

Out of options, and out of his mind, he opened the door to the mysterious in.

He then faced another door, and another, and another.

“What is this trickery?” He thought out loud.

He continued to open more and more doors- red doors, black doors, doors with golden knobs, doors with handles, he had even found a door the color of a bubbly pink.

Being extremely worn out and just plain mad, he furiously stomped his foot and decided to go back, taking the previous door.

Instead of finding another door, he found a long row of bright beads hanging from the ceiling.

Confused and a bit wary, he glided his hands through the beads, leaving a quiet ring as the beads flew past each other. He pushed back the beads and entered through the next room.

What he found was even more surprising- a large, darkened room. Out of some chance Isaac thought he might find the lit candle dancing in the eerie air. Instead of a candle, he was faced with total darkness.

Isaac walked through the room, reaching out his hand, trying to find a switch of some kind. His hands only held midair instead of finding any walls- And now that he thought of it, he realized he couldn’t feel the ground below him. There was absolutely nothing, other then an empty hollow space.

He felt around once more, letting out a huge sigh of suspiration for his failed attempt. He sat down, his legs weary and tired from wandering the streets. He sat confused, how if nothing solid was in this room, how could he sit? He stood up, and slammed his shoe foot into the floor that was very much there. His foot fell through empty hole in the floor- catching his balance off and resulting in him falling forward. His outstretched hands falling on something rather mushy.

“Dear sir, would you mind taking your hands off my face please?”

Isaac coughed up a yelp. “S-sorry, my foot is stuck in the floorboard. I’m afraid I need some help.”

“Ah, perhaps we need some light then?

As a candle set to fire, the room began to illuminate. Isaac could see the richness of the velvet arm chairs by the crackling fire. He could see the stacks of playing cards on the old, unbalanced table. In fact, just as he began to see, he also began to smell and taste again.

He began to see the voice’s beholder as well. A woman of very old age faced him. Having several wrinkles and grey hairs highlight her appearance, Isaac was unsure of her actual age. She had an elegant stance in the way she merely looked upon Isaac. She seemed to be at her most relaxed and certainly, most cheekiness.

Still stuck, Isaac tried to pull himself out. He couldn’t seem to lift his foot from the floor, no matter how hard he tried.

The old woman smiled at him.

“Put your foot further in the hole.” She said.

Isaac raised an eyebrow. “What good would that do me?”

“Plenty, if you’d listened to me.” She stated. “Besides, I believe the rats deserted the floorboards a while ago.”

He sighed, and pushed his foot farther into the hole, and realized all pressure he was putting on it, it slid out perfectly- much to his surprise.

The woman offered Isaac a place to sit at the table, he accepted it cautiously. She seemed like a perfectly nice woman, but something felt very wrong about the circumstances of the meeting.

“My name is May Markle. What is yours?”

“Isaac Shen, Madam.”

“Ha! Please just call me May, no need for formal language my dear boy.”

“Forgive me, mada- May.” Isaac smile weakly. “Out of pure habit, I guarantee you.”

May nodded politely and attempted to talk to the quiet young man. He then joined in out of another pure habit. Both were not in the mood for talking. But, as May was the hostess and Isaac the guest, they were left to speak. They exchanged pleasantries, dreading the silence that would meet them when no one’s lips were moving.

To break the tension, a knock was made on the door.

That is, if the room had a door.

“Ah,” May said. “The rats must not be all gone after all.”

May stood up from her chair, and began to walk amongst the room in a manner much like one of the old detectives Isaac would read about of young. He so earnestly wanted to start looking with her, but his logical state of mind kept his imaginative desires at bay.

“You know, my husband Martin would always read by the fire,” May smiled, glancing at the lit fireplace. “He was such a shy character, diving his nose into a Dickens novel.”

Isaac smiled. “Where is your husband?”

“He’s… either dead or lost. I’m not sure.” She chuckled sadly. “He was gardening one day, I decided to bring him tea. When I went outside, I found his book in the bushes and my Martin gone.”

“I’m sorry,” Isaac mourned. “Did you both run the Inn together?”

She pursed her lip, as if she was in the middle of a thought. “When Inn Statera came to us, we watched over it. Now that he’s gone, it feels… off.”

The knock came once more, this time closer towards the table, May paid no attention and continued her searching. Isaac on the other hand, took the liberty to find out where the noise was coming from.

“May, I believe the noise is coming from the window. “Isaac said, pointing towards the curtain shaded window in front of the table.

May turned and walked towards the window. She checked either side, and clasped her hands on the curtains- pulling them to reveal the window.

Instead, out came the Ginger haired woman carrying a tea tray.

Both May and Isaac jumped, the woman paid no attention and sat the tea on the table. She grabbed a chair and slid into it carefully.

She faced Isaac. “Hello, who are you?”

He was speechless, partly because of the window, and partly the woman that came through it.

He could only reply with a squeak.

The woman was enchanting- she was young, around his age. Long piles of Scarlet hair on her shoulders, with tiny braids and woven vines elegantly placed on her head. Her emerald eyes as shiny as the golden bands and leather bracelets on her arms. Rings adorned her fingers, and crystal necklaces hung over the top of a lacey green dress and cashmere sweater.

She had the most alluring glance, the sparkles in her eyes flickered as her charm strengthen. Bewitching, Isaac felt the powerful force that sparked from her calm laughter after finding him speechless.

May padded Isaac’s back, breaking him from the mysterious spell she had on him. “His name’s Isaac Yen.”

“Shen,” Isaac corrected. “P-pleasure to meet you.”

She titled her head and winked. “My name’s Eleanor, Eleanor Grey.”

He glanced away to study the window, now fixed on finding a logical conclusion.

Eleanor was Irish, which set off some switch in Isaac’s head, there was always something familiar with the accent… he just didn’t know what.

“What brings you here, Isaac?” She asked.

Isaac glanced back at Eleanor. “Huh? Oh, I… I came to find a place to stay this evening.” He shifted in his chair. He shook off the bashful feelings, and turned to May. “May… I also have some suggestions for the entrance, it was rather confusing.”

“Oh, he has suggestions.” Eleanor laughed.

May interrupted. “Why ever was it confusing?”

“You mean to tell me having a myriad of doors doesn’t make it hard to get business, at all?” Isaac asked.

“What? I only found one door at the entrance when I came.” Eleanor said.

“The number of doors, depends on how willing the person is to let fate be their guide.” May answered.

“Fate? That’s rubbish.” Isaac stated.

“Careful Isaac, your English is showing!” May laughed.

Isaac made a face, he lost all interest in being fooled around with. “This whole place is trickery, I believe I can make due in the rain.”

He stood up from the table and two women, scurrying around to find his umbrella. He had left it propped against one of the walls around here, nothing felt real enough to know.

Eleanor slipped her hand from the table and lifted it gently. She threw her hand in a trifle manner, towards the umbrella located now in Isaac’s hands.

The umbrella began to animate, rising into the air and facing Isaac. The umbrella started to stretch itself out- finally ending with a large yawn that belonged to the talking umbrella.

“All that time… unable to speak!” the umbrella said. “Master! Why do you look so pale?”

Isaac had frozen, the umbrella that had just previously laid around in baskets, now seemed to be very much alive- zooming around the room.

“I-is this some sort of joke?” Isaac blared.

“no sir,” The umbrella laughed, he stopped midair from his flying act. “Do I have a name?”

“What?”

“I said. The umbrella chortled. “Do I have a name?”

“I don’t think you do,” Isaac puzzled.

“Well then!” The umbrella cheered. “I shall have one!”

“And what’s is your name?” Eleanor said from behind him.

“My name shall be…” He said “Burt!”

“What a lovely name, Burt.” May smiled.

Eleanor coughed out a giggle.

“Did you do… this?” Isaac pressed, pointing towards the umbrella.

Eleanor only responded with a slight flick of the hair.

Isaac sighed, picked up his umbrella by the handle, and sat back at the table.

“Fix him.”

“Fix him?” Eleanor asked. “How would I do that?”

“You made him this way, I know you did!” Isaac asked. “How did you do it?”

“I’m a witch,” Eleanor said. “I’m able to possess magical ability.”

“Magic? Impossible.”

“And I find it just as impossible that someone so charming as you can be so insufferable.” Eleanor replied.

Isaac scoffed. “And in the few minutes we’ve been together, you’ve come to that conclusion?”

“Perhaps. in this brief time, what are your thoughts on me?”

Isaac flushed. “I find you flighty and impulsive,” He then looked towards the ground. “And alluringly beautiful.”

Eleanor faced Isaac, her cheeks as red as her hair. “Well… Thank you.”

“ahem, I believe this conversation was about, me.” Burt chided.

Isaac clapped. His hands. “Thank you… my umbrella?” He shook his head. “Why did you do this to my umbrella?”

I helped him become this way,” Eleanor said. “He was always like this, you know. Perhaps you should listen to your umbrella next time.”

She seemed quite pleased with herself and so was May, Isaac on the other hand, was rather annoyed. He stormed about the room trying to find the exit. He saw no sight of a door, and was about to stop in frustration- when he remembered the window.

Isaac slid by the window and flung the curtains out of the way. He saw a simple window, and on the other side of it was a large body of water- Fish swimming by the window, away from whatever lived in the ocean’s depths.

Furious, Isaac closed and opened the window again, seeing a safari scene, a castle, field of roses and the shark that had formerly been chasing the fish. The shark lunched at the window and Isaac slammed the curtains shut.

“What is this madness?” Isaac asked.

Looking back at him was May, Eleanor, and the umbrella, having tea- paying no attention to Isaac’s ploy to escape.

“Tea, dear?” May asked him.

He groaned, and sat back at the table.

The cups and teapot sprung to life to fix Isaac a cup of tea. Adding sugar of un-proportionate value and not enough tea at all, the tea set back on the tray, lifeless. Isaac wanted to completely dismiss the idea of ‘flying saucers and teacups,’

Eleanor noticed Isaac’s alarming confusion, and took pity on him.

She offered her hand. “Come with me,”

“To the exit?”

“Well, no.” She smiled. “but if you can handle it, to another room.”

He didn’t have time to decline as she guided him through the room. She opened the curtains once more, this time revealing another room. She climbed through, dragging Isaac with her.

The room smelled of rich lavender, with hints of what could be… cinnamon? Maybe it was cloves? Whatever is was, it smelled quite delightful.

Light poured from the windows throughout the room. The air was musty, and quite damp, with a light dew spread across the main table.

The floors were old and worn, and the walls just as rustic. Hanging from a string, herbs were trimmed and set to be dried on the walls. Isaac deducted that the inquisitive aromas were coming from the fragrant herbs. Some, were spread across a table in the center, scattered amongst the other curious things that laid there. There were books, so ancient that Isaac feared one touch and the pages would crumble away. Then there were bottles and tiny boxes full of spices, their unique flavors and zing seemed to smell foreign, or comforting. A mortal and pestle was full of some rather prominent smelly coriander and dill leaves.

Eleanor took to the modal and pestle and continued to grind up the mixture. Isaac watched her closely, as she did her task a little piece of her vibrant hair fell into her face. Determined, Eleanor ignored the hair and continued her work.

“What is this place?” Isaac asked her.

She didn’t shift her glance from the pestle. “It is my workshop.”

“What do you do, exactly?”

She wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I told you, I am a witch. I use herbs, and other sorts of things in my spells. This is where I do so.”

“So you live at the Inn?”

“Yes, ever Since May’s husband disappeared.” She said.

“Why?”

“She needed someone to stay with her, she’s rather lonely.”

“So you took it upon yourself to do so?” Isaac enquired.  “To stop your own life, to help anothers? Don’t you have any family?”

She faced him. “I have a question for you, Mr. Sherlock Homes. Why are you so nosy?”

“And why are you so vague? First you insist on getting to know me, and now, you suddenly decide to close up?”

She walked to him. “I wouldn’t have, ‘closed up’ if you would have ‘opened up, yourself.”

“If I wasn’t around two, unknown strangers, perhaps I would.”

“Ah, I see. Someone is a bit shy.”

“I am not!” He protested.

“Look at us, we’re acting like quarreling school children.” Eleanor said. “Perhaps we could talk with a warm mug in our hands?”

Isaac calmed down. “I could use some tea, thank you.”

Eleanor laughed. “Tea? How about Coffee, Dear Mr. Shen.” She began to rummage through one of the boxes on the table, bring out two cups. “Tea is for those who want to exchange polite pleasantries and watch the world go by. Coffee, on the other hand, is for those who have real matters to discuss, and have the spirited nature to do so.”

She gathered the cups and took them to a window box, full of dirt. Scooping each one full of the earthy grime and taking that back to the table. She grabbed the mortar and pestle and shook it gently, pouring out steaming water into both cups. Isaac watched in amazement, as a swirls of smoke arose from the coffee baring cups.

She handed him the cup, and found some old stools in the corner, pushing them to the table. She shoved away her work, a few crushed herbs and a daisy chain falling to the ground. Isaac caught the chain and placed it on the table again.

They sipped the coffee quietly. Isaac, a heavy tea drinker found himself betraying his nature. The coffee was so warm, and wonderfully enjoyable. He treasured each sip, as though it was the most amazing thing he had ever tasted.

“Do you like it?” Eleanor asked. “You could say, it has some, ‘earthy’ notes.”

She grinned, watching Isaac hide a cheeky smile. “I do, infact, Miss Grey.”

“Eleanor.” She corrected. “Miss Grey is too extravagant for a common witch, don’t you think?”

He chuckled and regained his posture. “Why are you a witch?”

“Alas, more questions!” She jested but turned to a serious expression. “My mother is- was one, I supposed I followed in her magical footsteps.”

“Are you close with her?”

“No. If I’m honest, she was a much better witch then she was a mother.”

“Oh,” Isaac said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.” She said, turning to the window.

They were quiet again, Isaac didn’t dare to say anything.

Eleanor turned back to him. “What about you? Are you close with your parents?”

“They died, when I was very young.” He said. “My grandparents raised me.”

She offered her own condolences. “That is very noble of your grandparents.”

“Bah. They only raised me because they wanted me to be better then my father was.” Isaac glanced at his feet. “I found out earlier tonight that my father left school and ran off with an Irish woman. They later had me, and of course, my grandparents didn’t approve of any of this. So, they cut him off, including me and my mother.” He kept his glance on his feet. “And now, they might just do the same.”

“That is terrible.” Eleanor shook her head. “Sadly, I know how you feel.”

“Oh?”

“My mother didn’t care for me.” She said. “She was always off, doing who knows what, leaving me alone. Finally, she just never came back, so I ran away and joined a local witch coven, and for years I lived with moody old hags.”

Isaac laughed. “I’m sorry, but that was…”

“Funny? It is.” She grinned, and even laughed a bit herself. “But they were kind to me, and even helped me through school, I graduated early with a degree in Botany.”

“you’re a Botanist?” Asked Isaac. “I always wanted to be one myself.”

“Then why aren’t you?”

“Grandparents wouldn’t approve.” He chuckled sadly. “Maybe, one day.”

She took his hand. “Let’s try some, shall we?”

She guided him to the main table. Gathering up her tools and herbs, Isaac watched her do so. She flipped open one of the old books, the pages brushing against her fingers.

“what should try?” She asked, pointing her finger to the exposed page. “There are color changing recipes, hick-up remedies, love tonics…” She giggled as Isaac’s cheeks flushed with a lovely shade of pink.

“E-eh, is there anything useful in there?” He questioned.

She gasped, toying with him. “Now Isaac, why wouldn’t a love tonic be useful?” She smiled. “some people need a little push to fall in love.”

He rolled his eyes. “Eleanor, I take you as the meddling type. Am I correct?”

She simply winked at him. “If that’s so, then you should watch out!”

He shrugged, glancing back at the book. “What else is in there?”

She flipped through the book. “Aha! Would you like to try something…daring?”

She signaled him to come and see for himself. He took the book in his hands, feeling the worn spine in his palms. He glimpsed the title of the page- “Transformation: Fur to flesh.”

“Are you wanting to?-“

“Yes! Let us try.” She cheered.

This didn’t sound like a good idea, Isaac thought. He fought back the feeling to resist the curious, and went along with it.

“Why not!” He clapped. “What would you have me do, Eleanor?”

“Well,” She began, her eyes scanning through the recipe. “We will need… mint, sage, and dandelion. Some wicket ivy, which I can gather myself. I’ll grab some murth, some sunflower seeds… and koi leaves.”

Isaac raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure this is Botany?”

She chuckled. “Well, it would be, without the magic. Now, it’s Alchemy.” She looked back to the book. “Ah, we’ll need a creature to transform, Isaac, do you mind?”

“Sure, where do I get one?”

“You can go out to the garden, there are plenty of creatures there.” Eleanor suggested, She looked towards the door to the corner.

He nodded, walking to leave.

“Isaac?”

“Yes?”

“Make sure it’s cute!”

He rolled his eyes. “I’ll try my best.”

Isaac opened the door, being immediately blown away. An overgrown wonder greeted him-  Vines and ivy infected everything in its path. Luscious greens filled the cobbled courtyard, spiraling up to the huge arch that led towards more forestry. Isaac could hear a source of water, from its familiar urgency to keeping flowing on. The space was just as mysterious as its history probably was.

As Isaac step through the fallen branches and greeneries, he began to ponder on the impossible task ahead of him. To find a furry, tiny something in a muddle of a maze of overrun vegetation?

And it’s supposed to be cute, to add another variable in this unsolvable equation.

The whole thing reminded Isaac of his own, current situation.

He was trapped in a future, a life already plotted and grown for him. He felt like the creature that somehow could be in here, wandering around, lost and confused.

Something Furry brushed against his ankle. His glance shot down to his feet, he saw a glimpse of a… tail?

The creature slipped into the greenery. Isaac tripped on a vine, taking the opportunity to look, rummaging through the ivy. His hand grazed against some rather wet dirt, and a little ladybug. He gritted his teeth in frustration, mumbling nasty curses toward the creature.

His pants were covered in dirt, loose twigs and leaves in his hair. He sighed and tried to get back up again.

When he stood up, he felt a fuzzy being slide down his pant leg. Isaac panicked, and quickly grabbed the creature.

He cheered and patted himself on the back. He was satisfied with his catch and carried it to Eleanor.

“Your specimen, Eleanor.” He handed her the creature.

“Aha! A ferret! It’s perfect… and such an adorable creature!” She smiled. “Ah, Thank you, Isaac.”

He felt the urge to bow for such an act of persistence.

She clutched the ferret in one hand, as she searched for a vessel to place him in. She found a rusty cage, what used to be gold, was now a dark copper. She slid the Ferret in the cage, and placed him back on the table.

She went back to grinding the mix. Crushing the ingredients, to make the fateful mixture. Isaac started to smell the herbs from the blend, and find his nose confused- smelling both that and the hanging plants close by. The ferret began to edge away from the cage, as if he knew the fate he had ahead of him. When the dry mix was finished, Eleanor took the next step in the recipe.

She gathered her hands together, forming tiny green sparks. She was muttering something under her breath. As she casted her spell, the sparks started to grow into a green fire. Isaac watched her carefully, backing away like the cowardice ferret, afraid of this unknown.

“I’ve got this,” Eleanor reassured, picking up on Isaac’s nervousness.

He nodded. Edging back to the table next to Eleanor. He took a breath of relief, she had this under control.

She smacked her hands together, pulling them out to show a larger, roaring fire about to explode.

“Duck!” She yelled.

Isaac grabbed the cage and sunk down under the table. He could see the chaotic fire above him. After some time, he then heard what sounded like a comical balloon flying, depressing through the room.

“you can come up now!”

Isaac tentatively rose back up. The ferret scared of its wits, flaying about in the cage.

Eleanor laughed quietly, she had the fire in her palms. This time, it flickered calmly. Eleanor placed the fire in mortar. The fire started to mix into the grinded matter. The mixture formed into a waxy, golden substance. Isaac took the ferret, it squirmed in his hands.

Handling it with care, Eleanor tilted the mortar, the deep velveteen liquid dripped onto the ferret’s head. The melted magic making its way through the animal’s fur.

At first, nothing happened. The ferret kept fidgeting and went to keep its nervousness visible to it’s captor.

Eleanor frowned. “You know, I thought it would have sunk in by –“

The ferret froze. There was a sort of whizzing sound, and a loud pop that followed the sudden petrification of the creature.

Isaac lost control of the ferret. It squeaked and slipped from his grasp.

Eleanor and Isaac both went to catch it, but it needed no help.

The creature now had little dragon like wings and was flying upward towards the ceiling. Isaac Grabbed its tail before It bonked its head. The ferret blew coughs of fire from its mouth, along with a piercing shriek. Isaac covered his head and bent under the table once more.

Eleanor slammed her hands against her ears. She bent down as the ferret was zooming through the air. It knocked over pots and plants, torching some of Eleanor’s greenery. The Ferret made a straight line towards Isaac’s very concerned face.

Eleanor stepped in front of him, flinging her hands and conjuring an invisible shield. The Ferret’s fire bounced off of the shield and started spinning in circles. Eleanor took a bundle of stems that had fallen on the ground, and used it to shove it away, she snapped her finger and it froze in midair, like a flying ferret statute.

Eleanor helped Isaac up, they took a breath of relief together.

Eleanor glanced at the burnt rosemary bushel in her hand, she chuckled. “I guess Mary will be getting those roasted herbs after all.”

He gave her a nervous smile. “I guess so.”

Eleanor looked at the table, there was dirt, seeds, and all sorts of items scattered on the table after the ferret’s outbreak. Eleanor went to sweep a pile of sunflower seeds back into their sack. Isaac looked down to see one left and went to grab it.

So, did Eleanor.

Their hands met. They looked at each other, laughing nervously and blushing.

“Sorry!” Isaac blurted.

Eleanor went to reply, but the sudden unfreezing of the flighty ferret caught both of their attention. The creature bolted out of the room, and straight into the main room.

Isaac ran after it, leaving Eleanor in shock, her spell shouldn’t have broken, at least that fast.

She looked down at where the seed was, a little sprout was forming. Eleanor went a bit pale, but shook it off. She had a pesky Fire-breathing Ferret to catch.

When she left the room, she didn’t happen to notice the sunflower growing rapidly in the place of where their hands met.

 

Eleanor entered the room, seeing Isaac trying to regain his breath, an excitable Burt, and May clutching the flying ferret in her arms.

“Oh Eleanor!” May squealed. “Look at this! By far, one of my favorite creations of yours, Eleanor.” She smiled. “Except you, Burt.”

Burt chirped. “Why thank you, Malinda.”

Eleanor bent over to Isaac. Her eyes gleaming as she spoke softly. “Are you alright?”

Isaac’s face colored as she faced him, he shuffled around, and let out a sigh. “I had to chase him around the room, b-before he ended up in the fire!”

Eleanor took Isaac to sit back down, she patted his shoulder.

May interrupted the silence that followed his statement. “What should we name him?”

“May, I don’t know if we should name the ferr-“

“How about Pickles!”

“Or fuzzy!” Burt suggested.

“I quite like Fuzzy,” May chided.

“Yeah, Fuzzy and Burt…” Burt gasped, a huge, umbrella gasp. He opened up, jumping out of his chair. “Does this mean… that Fuzzy is my brother?!”

May and Burt squealed excitedly, Fuzzy spat a couple more flames. Isaac groaned.

“Enough!” He said. “I’m getting a rather large headache.”

“Oh, what’s a headache?” Burt asked.

“Well, in my situation, it’s something you get when there’s something really noisy around. And I’m looking at you, Fuzzy.”

May frowned. “Don’t take this out on Fuzzy, Isaac.”

In the middle of the noise, Eleanor had been folding her napkin into an origami crane. Placing it on her palm and blowing on it. The little paper wings started fidgeting in the air and buzzing around the table. May clapped in delight as the paper bird lifted towards the ceiling.

As Eleanor swayed her hand, the crane would speed up and pick up more wind, letting it glide through the room.

Isaac turned to Eleanor. “As much as I’d like to not believe in it, this magic of yours seems to catch my breath quite easily.”

“I thought it was the witch that catches his breath.” May jested.

Once again, Isaac went red, followed by Eleanor.

May nudged the umbrella, both laughing at the awkwardness of the two. The complement and the mirth found by the two other guests on her behalf made Eleanor lose her concentration. The crane lost control and dive-bombed into the fire.

The fire stretched outwards, resembling a lion. It roared piercingly through the cozy room, scaring half the wits out of the guests. Eleanor stood up and took her teacup, slinging it towards the fire to put it out. Despite the size of the cup, gallons of water poured out, putting out the fire.

“Excellent Eleanor!” May said. “This has been a splendid evening.”

“Are you crazy?” Isaac blared. “There was just a fire in your Inn!”

“Yes, and now there isn’t.” May chuckled.

Isaac threw his head down on the table. “I can’t participate in such lunacy anymore.”

Eleanor grabbed his hand. “Come on, you need to let your hair down.”

He blinked, and suddenly was in the middle of the room, facing Eleanor. They were dancing, swinging to an invisible song. The whole room evolved into glittering gold; a ballroom formed full of elegant strangers in magnificent attire. Champagne glasses clinked, full of overflowing bubbly liquid. A chandelier hung above them, sparkling diamonds and stones fashioned to make a marvelous centerpiece. The scene sharpened with detail as Eleanor an Isaac danced by- the ballroom floor started to swirl, the ceiling rose and became a huge window to the night sky.

Burt, and May sat in the corner chatting, the two had become quite a pair. Somewhere, Fuzzy was flying around, torching some poor guest’s hair.

Eleanor’s dress lengthened, turning a deep shade of olive and glowing in the light. her sweater became a Shaw. The ivy around her head turned to golden leaves and vines, and her hair pinned itself up in an stylish knot. Glitter sprinkled on her cheeks like stars.

She was stunning.

Isaac couldn’t stop staring, he wanted to fight the feeling to dismiss all of this. He wanted so badly to except that this was wonderful, not insanity.

Eleanor turned to Isaac. “I don’t think it was a mistake you ended up at Inn Statera.”

“And why is that?”

“Because of this,” Eleanor replied, referring to the golden ballroom. “I’m not doing this on my own.”

He spun her and she dipped, taking his hand again.

“You must have the ability for magic too, Isaac.” Eleanor smiled.

He blushed. “I’m not so sure about that.”

Eleanor fixed his glance, and both seemed to only be able to focus on each other. As their eye’s exposure intensified, everything else became hazy.

they began to lean in, Isaac continued to battle the feeling that this… this magic around them wasn’t faux or evil, that it was what he had wanted for a long time.

“Isaac, you will not be like your father was.” He heard his grandfather say, in the back of his mind.

He jerked his head away from Eleanor; the scene shattered like broken glass as He and Eleanor were further away from each other. Now only them, May, Fuzzy and the umbrella stood in the darkening room.

“I’m sorry,” was all he managed to get out. “I just can’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“Believe,” Isaac said. “Believe that all of this can be possible, god… it’s all so fast- I can’t…”

“You can,” Eleanor pleaded. “You can! This is all real, magic, everything.”

She offered him her hand, he went to take it, but he pulled his hand away.

“I-I cannot.” He said. “It goes against everything I know.”

Eleanor sighed. “If that is what you wish.”

She miserably sat down by the fire and wouldn’t get up for quite a while. Isaac felt guilt burn in his chest.

His pride had won, and he was going to suffer for it.

He walked to May, not forgetting why he came in the first place. “Can I have a room, for the night?”

May frowned, she took a key from her pocket and slipped it into Isaac’s hands. “Enjoy your stay, your room’s up the hall.”

Isaac thanked her and resisted the urge to go back to Eleanor as he stepped up the stairs. If only he hadn’t felt the night’s tiring effects begin to creep in as he unlocked the door to find a warm room awaiting him. Isaac sunk into the bed and his eyes started to seal shut.

 

A splash of water awoke him the next morning. Alarmed, he lifted his head to find himself on the same street he had been the night before, this time on a sunny morning, alone. No Burt, no May, no Fuzzy.

No Eleanor.

He began to panic; how would he apologize to Eleanor? He was wrong, so very wrong.

He had passed up a marvelous opportunity. What was he going to do?

Isaac faced the wall where the Inn had been- he now only saw the alleyway that had been there before.

He was crippled with sadness, he had let his pride once again decide for his behalf.

And pride certainly isn’t a good judge of character.

“Isaac?” he heard behind him.

“It can’t be…” He whispered.

Behind him, was Eleanor. He turned and ran to embrace her warmly.

“I’m sorry,” He said. “I’m so sorry-.”

“Isaac,” She stopped him. “I realized something.”

“What is that?”

“The reason you were at the Inn,” She said. “Was because it needed something.”

“Oh?”

“It needed a balance,” Eleanor said. “Between reality and magic, logic and emotion.” She grabbed his hand. “But, it wasn’t just the Inn that needed balance.”

He puzzled.

“it was me,” She said. “Everything we created together… needed both of us to bring into existence. This morning, I went into the greenroom to see a sunflower. A sunflower where you and I, ah, touched.” She then took his hand. “I think fate brought us together, because we’re both seeds in need of sunlight.”

He sighed. “So did I.” He smiled. “Someone so stiff as me could use a little magic.”

smiled. “See? You can believe.”

“And it took a mysterious Inn and a ‘charming’ witch to help me see that.” He smiled back, offering his arm to her. “Shall we?”

She took his arm. “I think we shall.”

And as the two walked together, the marvelous circumstance ended. Leaving a balance set by an unlikely couple, A woman and her new lovely friend to shield her from the lonely cloud above her, and that said umbrella to tell a story that no one could ever believe.

But out of all of this, one more thing can be certain.

We all were never the same.

 

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