The Pooka’s Day 4

Claudia rummaged through her satchel and set a jumble of tiny packets and bottles on the floor beside Elijah on a handkerchief of homespun cotton. The little folk had cut away the leg of his trousers, exposing a cleaned but very nasty bite wound.

The figurine Claudia had used to summon that “hunter” thing lay at her side.

The mother knelt beside her husband.

Littleberry and his friends huddled in the corner, trying to distract or entertain the two children. They shot Danny worried glances.

Claudia set a short, thick candle at the wounded man’s head.

“Light that candle,” she commanded.

Outside, Egil Greycoat cursed in his native tongue.

One of Littleberry’s friends squeaked with fright.

Danny pinched his brow. As if it weren’t bad enough he was caught in this mess…

“What am I gonna do?” he muttered. “I am in so much trouble!”

“Underhill!” Greycoat barked.

“I said light that candle!” Claudia rumbled. “I don’t have all day!”

Danny stooped over and produced a spark of fire in his fingers—not faery fire, but a real fire that ignited the candle’s wick when he touched it.

“He’s right,” Danny whispered. “You ain’t got much magic left.”

“Plenty to deal with the likes of you,” Claudia said. She began mixing ingredients in a wooden bowl. “Fire magic isn’t exactly my specialty—but that doesn’t mean I can’t turn you into something tasty if the mood strikes me. Understand?”

“Now listen here!” Danny said.

Claudia turned away. She stirred her mixture into a pungent salve while chanting under her breath.

“I ain’t done nothing to you!” Danny continued. “You’re the one trapping my landlord in a magic circle, barging into my house…”

She started rubbing the salve into the wound on Elijah’s leg.

“By oak, ash, and thorn, woman! Egil Greycoat is a pretty important fae in these parts! Sure, I don’t like him, but I’m stuck with him, ain’t I? I figure you and your passengers will be moving out as soon as he’s able to walk.” He gestured toward the wounded man. “But what about me?”

“Underhill!” Greycoat called from outside. “Get me out of here this instant!”

“You see?” Danny said. He shook his head and leaned back against the wall.

Elijah expelled a breath. Claudia caught his wife’s eyes and nodded. She smiled and started to weep.

“Now you listen, Mr. Underhill,” Claudia said. She rose to her feet. “You left open a portal into the Wonder. My passengers knew nothing of this world or its dangers—until now. If it wasn’t Greycoat, it might have been any number of things: ogres, water panthers… I’ll bet there are even horned serpents around here. Am I right?”

“Now, wait—”

“I’ve already told you these people are my responsibility. I promised to see them through to Canada, and I mean to do it.”


Danny sighed. The throbbing pain that had been creeping into his head finally exploded. “Miss Claudia, I understand about keeping promises. I really do. But… Egil Greycoat!”

“Underhill, come thou forth at once, or thou art a dead man!”

Danny crumbled to the floor, his head in his hands.

“What are we gonna do, Danny?” Littleberry asked. “Without you to look after us…”

“I know, buddy. Don’t worry. I’ll figure something out.”

He opened his eyes. Claudia was looking at him. Her expression had softened.

“Don’t you have passengers to look after?”

She glanced over her shoulder. Elijah had drifted off to sleep with his head in his wife’s lap.

“Underhill!” Greycoat shouted, and followed up with a string of curse words.

“I didn’t mean to be rude earlier, Mr. Underhill,” Claudia said. “I’m…rather passionate about my job.”

“Yeah,” Danny said. “I guess I can’t blame you for that. I take it you’re a runaway, too?”

She shook her head. “My mother was a slave. I was born free.”

“Your ma, she escaped up north?”


Danny quirked an eyebrow. “You mean into the Wonder.”

She nodded. “Soon after she met my father. But that’s a story for another day.” Her gaze drifted to Littleberry, who still cowered over Danny’s shoulder.

“These little folk are your responsibility.”

“You might say that,” Danny agreed. “We look after each other. That’s what happens in farm country—you probably know something about that. Neighbors help each other out.”

“You rally together,” Claudia offered.

Danny nodded. “Anybody has a barn to raise or tobacco to cut or hogs to butcher, people are proud to chip in. It’s a point of honor.”

“We’re family,” Littleberry said, puffing out his chest.

“The little folks are the best neighbors you’d ever want, but when it comes to dealing with the likes of Greycoat—”

“You protect them,” Claudia said. “And by putting you in danger, it appears I’ve put them in danger as well. I assure you, Mr. Underhill, that was never my intention.”


Danny sighed. “You got a long hike ahead if you plan to make Salem tonight.”

Claudia stole another glance at her sleeping passenger.

“Elijah needs his rest,” she said. “And it seems I need to help you find a way out of this mess I’ve put you in.”

Puck’s Castle

Via Atlas Obscura:

Some say that Puck’s Castle, in Rathmichael Co. Dublin, was built from sacred stones culled from the nearby Bearna Dhearg (or “ringfort”), but little is really known for certain about the structure today. Because of the “sacred stones” story, Puck’s – an English derivative of the Gaelic “púca” or “pooka” meaning ghost or spirit – is said to be haunted.

The Pooka’s Day 3

Greycoat was on his feet in half a second.

“He doesn’t care about your children, Susanna,” Claudia said.

She nursed a block of wood in her hands, no bigger than a brick. It had been carved into a vaguely human form, but stooped and snarling and angry like a wolf. A tiny mirror, flashing in the moonlight, was fixed to the figure’s belly.

What kind of magic is that? Danny wondered.

The mother hesitated. She opened her mouth to say something, but her words couldn’t find their way out.

“Thou doest these deathlings no service, young lady,” Greycoat said as his eyes trained on Claudia. He flexed the fingers of his right hand. His will-o’-the-wisps grew brighter and bluer.

“M-miss Claudia,” the mother whimpered, “Lige….”

She raised a hand, and the mother held her peace. “I’ve no quarrel with you, sir,” she said. “But those children are my responsibility, not his.” She gestured toward Danny with her chin. “And I mean to get them to Salem before daybreak.”

Greycoat smirked.

“Thou wouldst be wise to leave them be,” he said.

“I was about to say the same thing to you.” She began to chant.

“Thou art loyal, no doubt, and brave. Be thou not stupid. Thou canst not—”

Claudia raised her voice. A mist began to swirl around her wooden figurine.

Greycoat whipped forward his hand to unleash a faery blast.

At the same time, something shot from the figurine—a glowing white ball of mist, but it was as fast as a cannonball.

Greycoat flinched. His blast struck harmlessly high in the trees.

Danny rolled out of the way. The mist had taken form: mostly human, but stooped over like something half-bestial and with an angry scowl. It sported a shield of animal hide on its left arm, and in its right hand it held a war club. It was on Greycoat in a heartbeat, pounding at the elf and driving him back from the cabin door.

Timothy stood stunned. Danny leaped forward and scooped the boy up in his arms.

“This way!” he called to big sister. He grabbed her by the collar and hauled her to the cabin door.

Littleberry just beat him inside. The little person had Claudia’s satchel. He spied where the injured man lay on the floor and hurried to his side. Three other little folk were already gathered around him.

“Tend to your brother,” Danny told the girl. In a second, he was back outside.

By oak, ash, and thorn, he thought. What next?

Greycoat was fending off the mist-man with his sword. The side of his head was swollen and bloody, and he held his left arm close to his body.

Danny couldn’t help but enjoy the beating this strange woman was giving his landlord. Then realization set in.

I am in so much trouble!

He had no love for his landlord, but he sure didn’t need Greycoat’s buddy the Erlking as an enemy.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he called. “There’s no need for—”

“Out of my way, pooka!” Claudia thundered. She advanced on Greycoat with steely determination in her eyes, which never left the mist-man she was controlling.

Greycoat fell to one knee.

“C-can’t we just talk about all this?”

Claudia chanted another command. The mist-man hoisted Greycoat like a sack of potatoes and caught him in a headlock. Claudia smacked him on the hand with her walking stick. He dropped his sword, and she kicked it away.

She walked around the elf and the mist-man, tracing a circle in the ground with the tip of her stick, chanting as she went. Then she reached into a pocket on her skirt, pulled out a small pouch, and strewed a fine, silvery powder around the perimeter.

As she finished her chant, the air shimmered: her magic circle came to life. The mist-man dissolved into fog and blew away. Greycoat’s orbs of faery fire vanished just as quickly.

Greycoat surged forward, but hit an invisible barrier where Claudia had drawn her circle. He recoiled as if from a hot stovetop.

“Underhill!” he spat.

“N-now… Now, Mr. Greycoat…” Danny started. “This lady, sh-she ain’t…I mean, I ain’t never seen her before…and—”

“Get me out of here!”

“Do it and face my hunter.” Claudia held up her figurine. Danny jumped back.

“She’s bluffing!” Greycoat insisted. “No deathling witch can throw that much magic. She’s spent.”

“You’re welcome to test the man’s theory, Mr. Underhill,” she said. The rumble in her voice shook Danny to the core. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Claudia glanced toward the cabin. “I need to see about Elijah. Invite me in.”

Danny’s eyes bounced between Claudia and Greycoat. Even injured, he was seething with anger. “M-miss Claudia, I—”


The Pooka’s Day 2

If Danny never had another visit from Egil Greycoat, he wouldn’t have shed a tear. But there he was, standing outside Danny’s cabin with his arms folded, tapping his toes. His pale skin was only slightly darker than his long, platinum hair. His clothing, however, was dusky gray—topcoat, trousers, riding boots, sheathed cavalry sword at his side.

Above his head floated two blue-white will-o’-the-wisps. They flitted and flickered like living things, casting dim shadows on the ground.

The trunk of the Virginia pine at the edge of the clearing gave Danny, Claudia, and Littleberry a hiding place while they took it all in.

“Underhill!” the elf shouted. His accent was vaguely Germanic. “I would have words with thee.”

When Greycoat was born, people still said “thee.” Apparently, he never saw the need to change.

Danny gestured for Claudia to stay put. It surprised him when she obeyed.

He took a breath. There were four deathlings in his cabin with two or three little folk. One of those deathlings was injured, maybe badly. Danny figured Claudia could do something about his wound if she could get to him, but that was going to be the hard part.

The way he saw it, he had two advantages. One, the runaways were protected behind the threshold of his cabin. It wasn’t much of a threshold: it wasn’t much of a cabin! But every home generates a barrier against magical intruders. And unlike his little folk friends, Danny had never invited Greycoat in. If things went bad—and Danny didn’t see how they wouldn’t—his cabin would give everybody at least a little bit of protection.

Two, Greycoat didn’t know about Claudia. Danny didn’t know how much magic she could pull off, but she was a sight to see against those slave catchers. He’d have to keep her presence a secret if he could.

By contrast, Egil Greycoat only had one advantage: he was Egil Greycoat. He may not have been the match of a powerful sídhe, but Danny wouldn’t have bet against him. He knew too well the elf was powerful, fast, and tricky. Furthermore, he was close to the Erlking of Twear—close enough there’d be hell to pay if anything unfortunate ever happened to him.

More magic. Better connections. And Danny owed him a favor.

He didn’t want to give away Claudia and Littleberry’s position, so instead of just walking out of the woods, he blinked—disappearing and then reappearing half a second later in a flash of superheated dust. He chose a landing spot to Greycoat’s left, in clear view of the cabin door.

“Evening, Mr. Greycoat,” he said. He worked hard to keep his voice calm and light. Nope. Nothing odd going on. Not a thing.

The elf spun gracefully in his direction. His hand found a resting place on the hilt of his sword.

“Ah, Mr. Underhill,” he said. He stared at Danny with his pale blue eyes. “I feared thou hadst forgotten our appointment.”

“I ain’t forgot,” Danny said. “I been busy.”

“Of course. I trust thou hast had a pleasant All Hallow’s Eve? Oh, and happy birthday.”

Danny risked a glance toward his cabin’s door. No signs of movement. Good.

“It ain’t my birthday till tomorrow, Mr. Greycoat. And if I might say, after the last dozen years, I’d have thought you’d figure out I can’t pay the rent right now.”

Greycoat made a slashing gesture, and Danny felt a stabbing pain at his temple. He gasped and fell to one knee as the world spun around him.

“I’ll thank thee to keep a respectful tone, pooka,” the elf said.

Danny looked up at him and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. In the cabin, he heard the shuffling of feet, a stifled groan. His pointed ears instinctively pivoted toward the sound. If Greycoat heard, he didn’t give it away.

“Do not forget, child,” the elf said. “Thou wert the one who bargained with me for seisin of this valley and the mortal world beyond it. Thou wert the one who agreed to my terms: one non-negotiable favor, paid every year on or before the thirty-first of October. Thou art too young to be so forgetful.”

Yeah, I really should have thought that one through, Danny thought.

He tried again. “Be that as it may, I’m busy. Tomorrow’s November first, you understand? The Pooka’s Day. Anything the deathlings leave in their fields after tonight is rightfully mine, but it won’t last forever. If I don’t take it now, I don’t eat this winter.”

“So you keep telling me.”

There was another stifled groan from the cabin, followed by a sharp shushing noise. Another trickle of sweat snaked down Danny’s neck.

“Why can’t you come earlier?” the pooka said. “Why do you always gotta wait until the very last minute?”

“Because I can,” the elf said, and smiled.

“Yeah, that’s what I figured,” Danny muttered.

“Now, down to business,” Greycoat said. “I propose—” He stopped abruptly and whipped around.

Danny gazed at his cabin door. His heart sank.

There was the little boy, halfway outside, one of Littleberry’s friends tugging at his arm, trying to hold him in.

“Thou hast guests,” Greycoat said. His thin lips pulled back into a grin. “Thou didst not tell me.”

“That’s ‘cause it weren’t none of your business,” Danny said.

Greycoat either didn’t hear him or wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he addressed the boy.

“Hello there!” he said, his voice dripping sugar.

The little person, eyes wide with fright, kept pulling on the boy’s arm. The girl, maybe nine or ten, appeared in the doorway and set her hands on her brother’s shoulders. Neither seemed able to pull their eyes away from the elf. The will-o’-the-wisps bobbing above his head had them mesmerized.

“Betsy!” their mother called from inside.

Greycoat dropped to one knee.

“I had meant to demand of thee a mortal child,” Greycoat said. “What sayest thou, Underhill? I would forgive thy yearly debt for two fine changelings.”

“No!” Danny blurted.

“Be sensible,” Greycoat said. “‘Twould spare thee time and effort to give me these. Thou couldst spend tomorrow collecting thy bounty in peace.”

“Well, yeah, but—”

“‘Twould be to their advantage as well, yes? They’re slaves: that much is clear. What have they to hold them to human earth? I could give them their hearts’ desires. Make them great. Powerful. Thou knowest this, Underhill.”

Their mother came to the door. Danny tried to read her tear-stained expression: bewilderment, fear, awe. She’d heard everything the elf had said. She looked over her shoulder. Somewhere in there, her husband lay dying. What could she do for her kids alone in the world?

If Danny had kids, he couldn’t imagine giving them up. But if he thought it would give them a better life?

What was going on inside that head of hers?

Greycoat reached into his topcoat pocket.

“What beautiful children,” he gushed. “I have some chestnuts. Do you like chestnuts?”

He produced a paper sack and poured some nuts into his hand. Faery food. One bite, and keeping those children out of Greycoat’s claws would be a hundred times harder.

The little person grunted, but the boy was too much for him. He pulled free and stumbled onto the grass. His sister shuffled after him.

A second little person appeared in the doorway. “Danny!” he squeaked.

“Now wait right there!” Danny shouted. “Those kids are under my hospitality. You can’t just—”

Greycoat gestured again. Danny bent over and grabbed the sides of his head. Visions of torment passed before his consciousness: sheets of frigid water pouring over him, blinding lights, cold iron spikes piercing his flesh.

“Tone, Mr. Underhill,” he said coolly. “Besides, they are mere deathlings. The Law of Hospitality doth not apply to them.”

“Well, I say it does!” Danny grunted.

“Then what sayest thou to two years’ relief instead of one? Two years for two changelings. ‘Tis only fair.” His eyes never left the children.

“What is thy name, young man?” he whispered.


The little boy reached tentatively toward the treat in Greycoat’s outstretched hand.

“What sayest thou, Madam,” Greycoat asked the mother. “Shall I make thy children free? Shall I take them to a place no slaver can ever reach?”

“Don’t say anything!” A voice called from the edge of the woods.

Claudia appeared.

The Pooka’s Day 1

[Here’s a little treat for Halloween. I hope you enjoy it.]

Danny stopped cold as the end of the woman’s walking stick poked him in the chest.

“We don’t want any trouble,” she whispered. “You can just move along.”

He should have heard them coming—five of them all told, but he hadn’t been paying attention. Too much on his mind. He just charged across the cow path on his way back to the creek, and there they were.

As it was, he barely had time to throw on a decent husk. He was pretty sure they didn’t notice, though, when his ears and nose shortened to more human proportions and the glow faded from his amber eyes.

Whoever these people were, their leader meant business. One of the others sucked in a labored breath. Two more, children, whimpered in the dark.

“M-miss Claudia?” a different woman whispered, “Lige…he ain’t looking so good.” This woman was helping the only man in the group to stand. Danny sniffed the air. Amid the soil and grass and growing things was the unmistakable iron scent of blood. He spied a ripped and bloody trouser leg.

The first woman’s eyes blazed. She and her friends were dressed in dingy, patched clothes barely fit for a brownie. That and their dark skin was all he could make out.

He raised his hands. “Whatever you say, ma’am.” He wasn’t in a mood for any mischief. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He still had three more farms to case before daybreak. But he didn’t have time for anybody else’s mischief. Not tonight. Not with him liable to show up at any minute.

“And not one word, you hear?” The rumble in her voice demanded Danny’s full cooperation.

He was about to say something when he caught the sound of dogs barking.

“Sweet Jesus!” the other woman gasped. The younger child, no more than four years old, started to cry, but big sister slapped a hand across his mouth.

The first woman spun and raised her stick horizontal to the ground.

“Head for the woods,” she ordered. “Go!”

Four shadows stumbled past.

“Those are my woods!” Danny’s throat went dry. Something settled in the pit of his stomach. He was fairly sure he shut the door…

“You want to make something of it, mister?”

“You don’t understand. You ain’t got no business poking around over there. It could be…dangerous.”

“It’s about to be dangerous right here, now that those slave catchers have caught up with us.”

Slave catchers! It suddenly made sense. He’d stumbled upon a group of runaways. Seems he’d overheard something about a new law the deathlings had passed. Folks at the Crawford farm were talking about it. Even in a free state like Indiana, runaway slaves could be rounded up and sent back down south.

There was no way they were going to back down from a fight.

Two hound dogs burst into view. The woman, Claudia, held out her walking stick with her right hand and angled her body away from them. She let a worn leather satchel slip off her shoulder to the ground. Danny dropped to a crouch.

“If you know what’s good for you, mister, you’ll stay nice and still till I say differently.”



The dogs bounded forward.

The woman uttered a word. The nearest dog flew backward with a yelp.

Magic! Danny stood mystified as the woman trained her walking stick on the second dog. She blasted it just as she had the first one.

“You’re a witch?”

“Later,” she said. She held her walking stick upright. “They’re coming.”

Claudia was right: Danny heard the sound of approaching footsteps.

She began to chant a singsong tune.

“You find ‘em, boys?” a man said. He lumbered into view on the edge of the corn field—big and swaggering, with a shotgun in one hand and a lantern in the other. “Chief? Banjo? Here, boys!”

Something told Danny Chief and Banjo were taking the rest of the night off.

Two more shadows joined the first. The woman kept chanting. Her voice was barely audible beneath the cold autumn breeze.

The three men trudged forward a few more steps, but slowly. The closer they came, the slower they got.

The first man toppled to his knees by the time he came even with the first of the unconscious dogs. The second brought his shotgun to his shoulder…but wobbled backward with the effort. A minute later, all three lay on the grass, mumbling and snoring.

“That was some mighty slick conjuring,” Danny said.

“Not now,” the woman said. She had spun around to see where her friends had gone. She gave an exasperated sigh. “They were right there!” she said.

“Uh oh!” Danny said. The others were nowhere to be seen—and Danny had a sinking feeling he knew where they had gone.

“Now, you gotta admit this ain’t my fault!” he said. He looked about frantically. Surely they didn’t…


“I warned you those was my woods.” He started toward the tree line at an easy lope. The woman reclaimed her satchel, hitched her skirts, and followed.

“I would think you’d understand why my passengers needed a place to hide!”

“Yeah, it’s just… Well, maybe you’d better see for yourself.” Danny came to a stop. He wiped his sweaty hands on his trousers.

“See what?”

“Um…” Danny held up his right hand. With an effort of will, he produced an orb of golden flame and held it like a ball.

The woman’s eyes flashed as she jabbed her walking stick once more into Danny’s chest.

“You’re a witch, too?” she said, astonished.

“Not exactly.” Danny looked down. The woman followed his gaze to the ring of mushrooms spread out in a circle eight feet across. A subtle wisp of sparkling dust rose from it like gold and silver fireflies.

When the woman raised her eyes to Danny once more, he had dropped the illusion of a human appearance. He stood before her with his eyes glowing yellow and the points of his ears peaking over the brim of his flat woolen cap.

“You’re one of the Fair Folk.” She said it without fear or amazement.

“A pooka,” he said. “Danny’s the name.”

“And you just…left this portal open? What were you thinking?”

“It’s Hallowe’en!” he protested. “You know how hard it is to shut a portal down proper on Hallowe’en? Plus, I was in a hurry! I still got three farms to visit! But if your friends stepped into the ring, we’d better—”

The witch didn’t let him finish. She just barged into the mushroom ring and vanished.

Danny followed. With his first step, there was a brief shimmer of light and the feel of a gentle breeze on his face. Then everything was back to normal. He had crossed into the Wonder.

The witch was already ten yards ahead of him. She had cast some kind of light spell on the tip of her walking stick—not faery fire, but close enough—and was holding it over her head as she inched along the forest path.

“Susanna!” she called. “Elijah!”

No one answered.

Danny caught up with her. “Miss Claudia, is it?” he whispered. “My cabin is up ahead. Maybe they headed that way.”

Her icy silence was all the answer Danny got.

“And keep it down, if you don’t mind. See, I’m kind of expecting somebody…and…”

She walked away. Danny followed. A minute later, she offered, “Elijah’s injured. He had a run-in with one of those catchers’ dogs. And now this!”

“Look, I tried to tell you to stay out of the woods…”

“Now you listen here,” the witch said, spinning back and drilling a finger into Danny’s chest. Her voice was low, but seething with anger. “Those people are my passengers. They’re my responsibility, understand? If anything has happened to them… Well, sir, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.” Once again, the rumble in her voice got Danny’s full attention.

“Yes, ma’am.”

She continued down the path.

They inched forward. “Elijah!” Claudia softly called, looking this way and that. “Betsy! Timothy!”

“Turn left here, Miss Claudia. That’ll take you to my place.”

“Susanna! Can you hear me?”

There was a rustle in the trees. Claudia aimed her stick at something she thought she saw.

“Probably just little folk,” Danny whispered. “They come around sometimes to bum tobacco or some such. They ain’t gonna hurt nobody.”

Claudia merely grumbled.

Just then a tiny man appeared out of nowhere on the path in front of them. He was barely two feet tall, dressed in buckskins, with his hair held back in a beaded headband. Claudia trained the glowing tip of her walking stick at him, and he let out a stifled peep of fright.

“Shh!” the little man hissed—even though he was the only one to make a sound. Danny reached for Claudia’s hand. She yanked herself free and backed away from both men.

“We got trouble, Danny,” the little man whispered.

Danny gestured for Claudia to hold her fire as he dropped to one knee.

“What’s up, Littleberry?”

“Somebody’s at your cabin.”

“Well, good,” Danny said. “We was looking for ‘em. Four big folks?”

“Not good!” Littleberry said. “Those big folks showed up maybe five, ten minutes ago. But that’s not what I’m talking about.” He leaned in closer. “Greycoat’s here.”

Littleberry shuddered, and his whole body shook. If Greycoat gave Danny the willies, there was no telling what he did to Littleberry.

Danny swallowed. “About time.”

“He just now showed up. I got out the back way and came to find you.”

“Who?” Claudia said.

“By oak, ash, and thorn, don’t he know I can’t pay him tonight?”


“We had a deal. I can’t do him no favors this close to November first! It’s my busiest time of year!”

Danny cursed under his breath.

“Where are the four big folks now?”

“Me and the boys got ‘em inside at your place. We just come by looking for you. We wanted to give you a present, tomorrow being your birthday and all. One of them’s hurt. One of the big folks, I mean.”

“I know.”

“We glamoured ‘em all up as best we could. I don’t think Greycoat saw them.”

“Well, at least that’s something.”

“Hey.” Claudia snapped her fingers in front of Danny’s face. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“Let’s just say I got some trouble with the landlord,” Danny said. “And I’m sorry to say it, Miss Claudia, but it looks like your passengers are stuck in the middle of it.”

“Show me.”

The Mathematics of Vampires

Yes, apparently there is such a thing.

A surprisingly large number of academic studies—as in, more than one—have applied mathematical modeling to the concept of human-vampire co-existence. Using the depiction of bloodsuckers in various forms of media, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to True Blood, these papers look at whether Earth’s vampire population would inevitably annihilate humanity, and, if so, how long it would take.

A Map of Middle Earth with Tolkien’s Annotations

You never know what you’ll find tucked into an old book.

In the 1960s, the British illustrator Pauline Baynes was working on a color map of Middle-earth, the land of wizards, elves and, of course, hobbits. While she was drafting the map, she worked closely with J.R.R. Tolkien, who sent her a copy of a map from a previous edition of Lord of the Rings, covered in notes revealing details of Middle-earth.

Baynes tucked that map into her copy of Tolkien’s trilogy, where it stayed for decades, until, just recently, it was found at Blackwell’s Rare Books, reports the Guardian.


The Faery Folklorist has posted a wonderful introduction to the trows of the Orkney and Shetland Islands. In case you’re not quite up to speed on your trow-lore, the article begins,

According to Saxby and Edmondston’s ‘Home of a Naturalist’ (1888), “This interesting race of supernatural beings is closely allied to the Scandinavian Trolls, but has some very distinctive characteristics of its own. The Trow is not such a mischief-making sprite as the Troll, is more human-like in some respects, and his nature seems cast in a morbid, melancholy mould.”

From there, the article discusses what trows look like, where they live, and the sorts of things they do. There is even a brief but delightful list of trow names culled from Orkney and Shetland folklore.