Mixt did admit that Nakishdan didn't exploit his recovery as much as he might have. There was a certain amount of running around, bringing him cups of tea, and several instances of him purchasing unnecessary items from Kawaii-Land, the Cutest Online Store, then pretending he'd forgotten about it due to his poor health, but mainly, he took his affliction stoically, and recovered without too much complaint. He'd arrived back in present day London in a poor state. Surgery in 1969 had saved his life but rather than allow him to recuperate there, the Department decided to bring him back as quickly as possible, fearing more historical disturbance if he remained in the past for too long. Once in London he lay in Mixt's mansion, pale, bandaged and weak, but recovering.
Mixt came into Nakishdan's bedroom, carrying a parcel. 'This just arrived from Japan.'
'What is it?'
Mixt ripped off the sticky tape and opened the parcel. 'Super-cute panda pillow.'
'I don't remember ordering that,'
Mixt smiled. 'I'm sure you don't.'
'Better try it out anyway.'
Mixt placed the pillow under Nakishdan's head.
'Good pillow.' Nakishdan was pleased with his new acquisition. Nakishdan's continual desire to have expensive kawaii items shipped over from the other side of the world had caused arguments in the past, but on this occasion Mixt didn't object. Nakishdan had been fighting at her side when he fell. He deserved a new pillow.
'Any word from the Department?'
Mixt shook her head. Both Ms Darben and Agent Duluth had been in contact, checking on Nakishdan's health, but there were no orders and no assignments. Rainith's whereabouts were currently unknown. She'd also been severely wounded but had regained her health quickly. By the time Nakishdan had been well enough to travel, the fairy had disappeared.
'I'm worried about her.'
Nakishdan frowned. 'I suppose I am too. Even though I don't like her.'
'That Elf almost killed her. Rainith should stay out of his way. But she won't.'
They both knew that Rainith would not avoid a confrontation. From what they'd seen, and learned later, that could only end badly. Noutan was the deadliest sword-fighter in the Elvish and Fairy realms.
'Maybe Fourteen Trees and Geeda Lala can keep her hidden.'
Mixt shook her head. 'She won't let them.'
There was a playstation beside Nakishdan, connected to a monitor at the foot of the bed. Since Nakishdan had regained a little strength they'd been making good progress through Star Metal Planet, their favourite game.
'Let's play the next mission. You can share my new pillow.'
'I don't think it's big enough,' said Mixt.
The door bell rang. Mixt went off to answer it. It was quite a long walk along the corridor, in Mixt's huge house. She arrived back holding another parcel from Japan. She opened it.
'Super-cute polar bear pillow.'
'I don't remember ordering that.'
Mixt clambered onto the bed and sat beside Nakishdan. She pressed the button on her controller to switch on the playstation. 'Are there any more pillows on the way?'
'Hard to say. I was in a lot of pain when they brought me back. Delirious, probably.'
'I don't remember you being delirious.'
'Very delirious. If I ordered any more items I can't be held responsible.'
Rainith the Red's fury had reached a level that she could no longer express. Noutan, brother of the deceased Elvish swordmaster, had tracked her down and fought her in the sky. He'd defeated her, running her through with his blade and sending her plummeting to earth. She'd survived only because 47 Jeng had managed to hide them all, escaping at the last moment by moving one year into the future. Despite the severity of her wounds, Rainith had recovered quickly in 1971, thanks to the prompt application of the Fairy King's special nectar. As a result of this the fairy was now in permanent state of rage in which she was barely able to communicate. That an enemy had dared to pursue and attack her was bad enough. That she'd been defeated was intolerable. There was now only one thing on her mind. She had to find Noutan and kill him.
With Rainith were Geeda Lala and all of 47 Jeng, who'd arrived to help them in their struggle against Mathematician Girsin and 102 Woo. 47 Jeng, comprising three rather small schoolgirls, were no match for the fighting prowess of their opponents, but were very talented in all aspects of historical mathematics. Rainith demanded that they return her to the present day.
'We really shouldn't do that,' said Fourteen Trees.
'It's very dangerous to perform any temporal manoeuvre,' said Eight Trees.
'Girsin will notice it and bring 102 to attack us,' said Two Rays of Sunlight.
'I don't care! Send me back!'
47 Jeng were against taking any sort of risk and Geeda Lala agreed with them. She tried persuading Rainith to say in 1971 for a while, till the risk diminished, hoping that her friendship with the fairy might persuade her. It was no use. All notions of friendship or anything else had departed from Rainith the Red's mind. All she was interested in was killing Noutan.
'But what if you do find him?' asked Fourteen Trees. 'Won't he just stab you again?'
Rainith dismissed this. 'He took me by surprise. I'll kill him next time.'
The girls of 47 Jeng were dubious. They'd seen the arial combat. They knew that Noutan was more powerful than Rainith.
'If we send you back, Girsin will be alerted. He might find Geeda,' said Two Rays of Sunlight.
'That's not my problem!' raged Rainith. 'I never volunteered to look after her! You brought me back here without asking, now send me home!'
Geeda was disappointed to hear Rainith dismissing their friendship as if it were nothing, but remained silent.
'If you don't send me back right now, I'll walk into the busiest street I can find, and start changing from human size to fairy size,' said Rainith. 'That should make plenty of historical disturbance.'
47 Jeng and Geeda Lala withdrew to confer. Each of them wore tall blue hats with long tassels. 47 Jeng had originated as an after-school club in the world of the Kesh, dedicated to millinery. After a long, whispered discussion, Fourteen Trees spoke to Rainith. 'Very well, we'll send you back, even though it's dangerous. If we're lucky, we can perform the necessary mathematics and then hide ourselves again before Girsin gets here.'
All three produced the tiny screens that seemed to sprout from their palms, and began making entries. Rainith felt herself becoming transparent as she faded from view in 1971. Moment later she appeared in Trafalgar Square, in the present day, in her fairy size, on top of the National Gallery. She smiled, or thought she did. To any observer it would have seemed like a twisted grimace.
'Noutan. I'm coming to kill you.'
Origath the Herbalist sat in the topmost branches of the boundary oak tree at the southeastern corner of the fairy kingdom of Mercia, waiting. He waited only a few hours before spotting a tiny flying figure skimming over the trees towards him, barely visible in the twilight. He extended his wings and rose in the air to intercept the incoming fairy, who's face was mostly hidden by a grey hood.
They hovered in the breeze.
'What are you doing here?'
'Preventing you from entering the Kingdom, being arrested, imprisoned and possibly worse if the King is in a bad mood, which, in matters concerning you, he usually is.'
'How did you know I was coming?'
Origath didn't reply. He was Origath, wise fairy. He knew things. They descended, landing in the oak tree where they were hidden from view. Rainith didn't withdraw her hood. Her wings disappeared behind her cloak.
'I take it you were coming to see me?'
Rainith the Red nodded.
'You want to know how to find Noutan the Elf.'
'Where is he?'
'I don't know. Somewhere in Elvish Wiltunscir, presumably, but no one in Mercia could tell you where.'
'Then thanks for nothing,' said Rainith, ignoring the fact that Origath had made the effort to intercept her on the edges of the realm, to protect her from the King's wrath.
'I do have a suggestion. The market at Under Green Hill. Traders from Wiltunscir travel there. You might be able to pick up information. Do you know it?'
Rainith shook her head.
'Do you know Sheer the Seer?'
'I've heard of her.'
'She lives by the Oak at the Brook, five miles south of the red boundary marker at the southern point of Mercia. It's easy to find. She could give you directions to the market.'
Origath produced a small bottle from his bag, and handed it to Rainith. 'The King's Special Nectar. A present from Princess Sorena.'
Rainith muttered her thanks. In her present state of mind, she found even that difficult to do, and it was barely audible.
'When you meet Sheer she'll offer to look at your future, for a price,' said Origath. 'She's a good seer. But I wouldn't waste your gold.'
'It doesn't take a seer to know that Noutan is going to kill you.'
Fourteen Trees, Eight trees and Two Rays of Sunlight, otherwise known as 47 Jeng, all belonged to a very advanced society. Finding themselves housed for the moment in 1971, in Geeda Lala'a squat in Ladbroke Grove, they were puzzled at the lack of amenities.
'It's no use just repeating the name of your favourite food over and over,' as Geeda Lala told them. 'It won't appear on a hover tray.'
'The how do people eat?'
'They cook their own food. But before that they have to go to shops and buy it.'
'Where's the med panel?' asked two Rays of Sunlight, arriving in the living room. 'I want to change the colour of my eyes.'
'There aren't any med panels. You can't change the colour of your eyes.'
It was all very puzzling to the young visitors, but not necessarily that upsetting. They were young and adaptable, and quite courageous, given that they'd followed Fourteen Trees through space and imaginary time to help Geeda Lala. They sat in a circle on cushions in the bare living room while Geeda explained to them what life here was like.
Two Rays of Sunlight looked around her, and giggled. 'It's like living in a cave. It's an adventure.'
'Are people here uploaded somewhere?'
'But what if they die?'
'Then they just die. And they don't come back.'
That was a shocking piece of news.
'So we have to be extra careful,' added Geeda.
'But we're uploaded and stored at home. Wouldn't we be all right?'
'Maybe. I'm not sure what would happen if Girsin defeated us. He's got so much calculating power we might just be wiped out here and never get home. So the one thing we can't risk is Girsin and 102 finding us. We can't make any historical disturbance at all. We have to stay here till it's safe to move.'
The girls nodded. They knew Geeda was right. It was scary, but as Two Rays of Sunlight had said, it was an adventure.
'47 Jeng will not wilt,' said Fourteen Trees, with some pride, and her young companions all contrived to appear resolute.
Eight Trees picked up a music paper, something she'd never seen before. She looked at the picture on the cover. 'Who's that?'
'Marc Bolan,' Geeda Lala told her. 'From T Rex.'
'Can we see a holo?'
'No holos here, I'm afraid.'
'Then how do you see music you like?"
'You go to gigs,' said Geeda. 'That's why I came her in the first place. I wanted to get in a crowd and see real bands and jump up and down.'
Eight Trees studied the picture, then showed it to the others. 'Then I want to see Marc Bolan.'
'I want to see him too,' said Fourteen Trees,
'So do I,' said Two Rays of Sunlight.
They all looked at Geeda Lala. Geeda didn't seem that enthusiastic. 'He's not really one of my favourites…' Noticing the rather angry stares being directed towards her, she shrugged. 'OK. Lets see where he's on, we can get tickets.'
The young members of 47 Jeng all looked happy, and began to enjoy their adventure more.