What The Rent?

Written to Eseme’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  Dragons Next Door ‘Verse, definition(s) at bottom. 

You heard things about this city, moving in.

People from nearby cities would whisper about the dragons and the ogres and other, darker creatures.

They’d talk about the pixies dive-bombing cars, or something their mother’s cousin’s wife told them about living near harpies.

All cities had some magical-creature presence.  But in most places, it was completely distinct from the human presence.

Sure, this city had Smokey Knoll, but there was no wall.  There was no dividing line, even, keeping the races separate.  There was just a hill you went up and then there were dragons.

Violet  hadn’t been worried. She’d never had a problem with magical beings – her best friend in high school had been half-dweomer, after all. She’d done her thesis on the integration of the magical with the mundane.  And the job paid really well.

After a day where she had to deal with an angry harpy mother who was maybe one-third as obnoxious as the angry human mother on the other side of the argument, a desk that had decided it needed to levitate, four letters-to-the-principal that told her nothing at all useful, including who they were from, and three people from a Council of Concerned Citizens that seemed Concerned that… the students’ grades were slowly but steadily rising?  But somehow had turned that into a threat to close down her school, her district, and anything that involved a harpy in any sense – after all that, Violet wasn’t so sure about this job, the pay raise, the people, or even the city as a whole. She slipped off her pumps, flopped onto the couch…

and looked straight into the eyes of a man no taller than the her hand was long, who happened to be trying to get into the boxed red wine she had on the counter.

Violet blinked, blinked twice, and looked at the man again.  “Let me help you with that. Did you bring your own glass?”

Some part of her brain was screaming.  Harpies and centaurs, sure, but Tinies were mythical.

“Aye,” he squeaked, holding up what she was pretty sure was a Barbie wine glass.  

“All right, let’s see what we can do.”  The normal flow of the box would wash him away, so she filled up her own glass and used a straw like an eyedropper to fill his tiny cup. “You’re a long way from Smokey Knoll,” she offered, casually as she could.  “Cheese and crackers?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

She got herself a generous portion and him a much smaller portion, laid out on the bowl of a plastic spoon.  While she cut and arranged, he sipped from his tiny glass.

“Much longer for me than you, but the thing is, you live in Smokey Knoll, you have neighbors.  All the Tinies want to live there. Me, and Eddie – she lives upstairs – we don’t like that.”

“So – I own a hermitage?”  She thought she might need something stronger than wine.

“Aye, that you do.” The little man’s eyes glimmered at her.  “But ye also share a space with the best spies in all the city, and when it comes to Tinies, that’s saying something.  I heard you’re having trouble with the awful triple-C? Why don’t you sit back and rest your feet, and me and Eddie will do your work?  And after that, maybe leave the remote on a lower shelf? It’s a might of a bother trying to climb all the way up there for it, and you’ve got no cat nor children.”

Violet stared at the tiny man.  “You’re offering to….”

“To pay the rent, as it were.  Nothing illegal, not for Tinies.  Nothing you have to know the details of.  Just put your feet up and drink that wine. I’ll be back before the morning.”

Violet considered the noxious Council of Concerned Citizens, her glass of wine, and the plate of cheese and crackers.  Then, her eyes still on the small man, she sat down, put her feet up, and drank her wine.

She didn’t have a problem with magical beings, after all.  And this one seemed to have good taste in wine.

Okay, let’s see.  Dweomers are entirely-human-appearing magic-users.  Some people shun them. 

Tinies borrowed heavily from The Borrowers 

Smokey Knoll features in many of my Dragons Next Door stories as the place where “Nobody Human Lives.”  As the setting title suggests, there are Dragons living next door to the viewpoint family.

For long-time readers, the CCC are new. So is Violet.  So is her little tenant, and his friend upstairs, Eddie. 

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6 thoughts on “What The Rent?

  1. Well that’s one way to pay rent. And if the Big in the house willingly shares wine and food then helping them keep their job and house seems a good idea.

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