Torben of Evermore and Fingal of Meridian: The Cake and Other Matters

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write a story where a meal or dinner goes horribly wrong.... view prompt

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Fantasy Funny Urban Fantasy

Stella looked into her refrigerator with well-deserved pride at the home-made German Chocolate Cake she had baked. It was frosted with thick caramel and coconut icing, studded with piped chocolate icing, dark chocolate bars, whipped cream, and raspberries. 

“That looks gorgeous, honey!” cheered Jane as she helped her daughter remove it from the refrigerator. 

“Only the best for Torben and Christine’s first real date,” Stella donned a pair of plastic deli gloves and packed it in a box, which she then placed in a small, well padded picnic basket. “He’ll be along soon to pick it up.” 

“Well, I do have to say you have a knack for this baking thing.” 

“One of my teachers said I should try it. I really enjoyed it!” 

There came a tapping at the back window, which was unfortunately in the bathroom. Stella and Jane went into the little room and wrenched open the window. 

“Hi, Torben! Just a sec and I’ll get your cake.” She bustled out, leaving Jane and Torben alone for a minute. 

“Are you nervous, Torben?” 

“Are you kidding? Me, nervous?” He projected false bravado. “I’m not nervous, I’m petrified. Mom made me drink two tablespoons of Elysium before I left to quiet down my nerves. It didn’t work.” 

“You’ll be fine, Torben!” assured Jane. 

Stella returned with the basket, which she handed out to Torben. “Enjoy your date!” 

“I’ll try, how’s that?” laughed Torben, though he looked like he wanted to throw up. 

As Torben left, Stella turned to her Mom. “Torben sounded happy, but he didn’t look happy.” 

“Welcome to the world of men,” said Jane. 

Rosera waited at the entrance to Evermore for Fingal to arrive. She had been back with her family for a while, and was back to wearing her “normal” clothes. Normal being relative, since she was a Goth. Finally, he emerged, wearing understated clothes as she had requested. Fingal reached out for her, drawing her to him. 

“Sera. I’ve missed you.” 

“I’ve missed you too.” she let him go so she could look him in the eyes. “Are you ready to meet my family?” 

“Yes. I’ve brought a gift for your mother,” Fingal let go of Rosera and pulled a decorative bottle out of his satchel. “Rose oil from Lord Rhodon’s roses.” 

“She’ll enjoy that. And don’t worry, we’ve all heard the stories about faerie from Granny. They’ll love you.” 

Fingal wasn’t so sure.

Torben climbed up the hill where he’d set up the little moonlight picnic for Christine. Strings of paper lanterns glowed on the trees, while battery powered lanterns and citronella warmers lit the ground. Torben set down his baskets, being careful of the one holding Stella’s amazing cake. The Witherspoons had outdone themselves getting everything ready. He still couldn’t believe Hans had granted him his blessing to see Christie! It had been such a shock. And yet here he was, on one of Hans’s many properties around the city, getting ready to have his first real date. 

Christine arrived, dressed in a simple flowered skirt and top with sandals. 

“Hi, Torben,” she said, shyly. 

“Hi, Christie.”

Witherspoon nodded, and disappeared behind a bush where he and his wife could chaperone without being intrusive. 

Torben began setting out the plates and the food, leaving the cake in the basket for safety. That was the crown jewel of the party. 

“Great day, you don’t need to be so twitchy, Tor! You had less nerves climbing on a rope to my balcony.” 

“Yeah, sorry, it’s just, well, I always figured I wouldn’t get a chance like this.” 

“What do you mean?” asked Christine before taking a bite of her sandwich. 

“My dad found my mom, but I never figured I’d find anyone. We’re too busy in Evermore for me to worry about it, and I just sorta assumed nobody would be interested in somebody who… looked like me.” 

“What about Stella?” 

“She’s fourteen. I meant a girl my own age.” 

“Torben, you’re sweet, and gentle, when you wanna be, and tough and scary when you wanna be. Lotsa girls find that irresistible!” She set down her food. “Now, I don’t wanna make it seem like I’m ready to find a preacher, like, right now, we have a lot of getting to know each other first. But I am your friend and I like you.” 

Rosera pulled Fingal into the brightly lit entry room of her family home. Arranged in the entryway was her whole family; six sisters, one with a husband and baby, her mother and father, and granny. The older sisters regarded him with suspicion, the younger sisters with fascination and just a twinge of envy. 

“Wow, he’s hot!” squeaked one of the middle daugters. 

“Evie!” scolded her closest sister, Fingal realized they were twins. 

Rosera gave a slightly irritated glance to Evie, then took Fingal around the room. 

“Fingal, I’d like you to meet my mom, Rachel, my dad Patrick, and my sisters, Rhiannon, Bridget, Olivia, Therese, the twins, Ella and Eve, my granny, Una. Granny’s a Seventh, like me.” 

Fingal shook hands with each in turn, giving a little bow. 

“And this is my Brother in Law, Steve, and my niece, Marie.” 

Granny Una studied Fingal closely. “Ye seem familiar, sir. Were ye ever in Ireland during the Troubles?” 

“The Troubles?”

“A really long sort-of civil war,” explained Rosera. “Granny and Grandda moved here with Dad to get away from them.” 

“Oh, yes, we call them The War of the Darkness in Erin. No, I was not, but I have an older cousin who fought and died there. His hair was more golden than mine.” 

Una’s face lit up. “I saw many faeries in Ireland, but him I’ll not forget. I saw him after a bombing, fighting great black dogs-” 

“Mam-” Patrick tried to interrupt. 

“Ye can’t deny my sight any longer, a faerie stands before you!” snapped Una. “You used to believe me, Paddy.” she sounded hurt. 

“Oh, here we go!” groaned Evie.

“When I was a boy, Mam. How can we be sure he is an elf, anyway? He could be lying, preying on my daughter’s belief in faeries, we don’t know anything about him.” 

Fingal’s eyes flashed. “That humans doubt the fae, I believe. But why would you disbelieve your own kin, your mother and your daughter? Why would they lie, unless you think them mad?” 

Patrick said nothing. 

“As I see it you have three choices. One, your mother has lied to you and taught your daughter to lie, and what purpose would there be in that? Two, your daughter and your mother are mad, evidence would have appeared sooner if that were true, or three, your daughter and mother are telling the truth, and proof is standing before you.” 

“But how can I know for sure?” Patrick challenged. “You look like an ordinary human to me, with pointy ears, but all my daughters have those too.”

“Nothing I could show or tell you would satisfy you. You have to choose to believe, but know this; whether you believe or not, I intend to continue my suit to Rosera.”

Rachel cleared her throat. “Um, would you like something to drink?” 

“Water would be fine, thank you madam.” 

Rosera massaged her brow. One awkward situation avoided, many more to go.

Meanwhile, Torben poured Christine out another glass of lemonade.

“I haven’t had this much fun in forever!” said Christine. “Are you sure there’s nothing in this lemonade?” 

“Just a splash of Elysium for coloring.” Torben drained his glass. 

Christine rubbed her arms like she was cold. Torben took off his hoodie and draped it around her. She nearly disappeared into the folds of the fabric, laughing as she came up again. 

“This thing is huge!” 

“I’m not even done growing yet!” Torben smirked, thinking to himself, “Gosh, she’s pretty.” 

Torben heard some rustling around in the bushes. He sat up a little higher and looked around.

“Tor?” 

“Shh-shh. I heard something.” He picked up a rock he’d been using to hold down their picnic blanket and threw it into the bush. A high pitched shriek followed it. Then, bursting out of the underbrush, came goblins. 

Goblins, greedy, green-skinned foul-tempered vermin flooded the picnic site. Christine screamed as they grabbed her, pinched her, and pulled her hair. Torben grabbed them off himself and her, throwing them as far as he could.

“Ouch! OUCH! You horrid things!” cried Christine. 

“Forget this! They can have the leftovers!” Torben grabbed the basket with the cake, getting a goblin bite for his pains, then Christine. He swept her over his shoulder, then like a moderately sized King Kong, ran for his life. As they ran, Christine smacked goblins away with the sleeves of Torben’s hoodie. 

“Out! Out! Ugh, they’re so gross!” She slapped Torben on the back. “Hey, where are we heading?” 

“Donno yet, we’ll find out when we get there!” 

“Could you at least do a fireman’s carry?!” Christine cried as they sped into the night. 

While the ladies were getting supper ready, Patrick showed Fingal his “man cave.” Many sorts of firearms, a few military looking sabers, and a rather fancy bow shared space with a floor to ceiling bookcase and several fine sets of antlers.

“Saying for the moment, I do believe in your world. Do you know that my daughter was missing for nearly two years?”

“I had not realized it was that long, sir.” 

“Were you in contact with her that whole time?”

“No, for a time, she was the slave of the witch Sycorax.” Fingal looked Patrick in the eye. “Surely Sera would have told you all this.”

“There are things that a girl wouldn’t tell her father. Such as how exactly she met an elf to bring home to mom and dad.”

Fingal relaxed a little. “It’s really quite simple, and your daughter is quite brave-” 

“I know the ballad of Tam-Lin, Fingal.” 

So that was at the bottom of it. Fingal blanched. “Sir, I can assure you that nothing unfitting has passed between your daughter and I. That is forbidden in my culture.” 

Patrick could tell at a glance that Fingal was telling him the truth. 

“You should have just asked me,” said Fingal. “You and I are warriors, not fops who bandy words.” 

When they came out of the room, Sera was waiting for them. She grabbed Fingal by the arm and pulled him aside. 

“What did Dad do to you?” 

“Asked me some questions, that's all.” 

“Did he brandish a gun at any point?” 

“No, why?” 

Sera sighed. “That’s good, Rhiannon told me he did that when she brought Steve home for the first time.” 

“Whatever for?” cried Fingal, scandalized. 

“It’s a custom in my country.” 

“Odd custom,” Fingal muttered as Rachel called everyone to the table.

Torben finally came to a stop and set Christine down so he could catch his breath. 

“Did we lose them, you think?” she asked, looking around.

“Donno yet, whew. Okay, just let me, whew, get a breath or so.” 

Christine sat on a log under a tree, twisting her hands into Torben’s hoodie sleeves. “I hope the Witherspoons are okay.” 

“You kiddin’? Mrs. Witherspoon probably has goblin repellant in her handbag.” Torben looked at the basket. “I hope I didn’t smash the cake all to hash. You should’ve seen it, a thing of beauty!” 

“You were keeping it pretty close hold, there Tor.” 

“Good thing too, otherwise the goblins woulda got it.” Torben sat down next to Christine. “Some date, eh?” 

“Quite frankly, I was sorta waitin’ for the other shoe to drop.” 

Torben snorted. “That’s one thing that never changes. You should never expect things to go according to plan.” 

It was a mildly tense meal at the O'Reilly's. Granny Una seemed bursting with excitement to speak to a faerie again, but kept her peace in order to not cause a fight at the table. Rachel looked sympathetically at Fingal, who went about eating his meal while avoiding the gaze of his host. Rosera looked increasingly uncomfortable. Evie leaned slightly over her plate, fluttering her eyelashes. 

“You know, Fingal,” she began. The Elf looked up. “You have gorgeous- Ouch!” 

Rosera withdrew her fork from her lap and went back to her meal. Her mother set down her glass with a bang. 

“Alright, what is wrong with this family?” she asked, loudly. “This should be a happy occasion, Sera has someone special! So, he’s an odd sort of boyfriend-” 

Rosera turned red and Fingal turned white. 

“But he’s a good man, Patrick. Do you have any hobbies, Fingal?” 

Fingal swallowed hard. “I play the harp a bit.” 

“Well, ye must play for us then! I have my Brendan’s harp, I hope it will suit.” offered Una. 

The prospect of music brought Fingal down a little bit. “I would love to.” 

Torben dragged himself and Christine out of the woods at the back of Stella’s apartment. She sat in his beefy arms with the basket in her lap and her fancy sandals in her hand. 

“Civilization here we come! Come on, we’ll see if Stella will take us in.” 

“Stella lives here? Boy, living right on top of people must be murder.” Christine said. 

“Yeah, you can hear everything, the walls are like paper.” Torben lumbered out of the darkness and toward the side door. 

The halfling set Christine down and knocked at the door. After a moment, Jane unlocked it and came out. 

“Torben! What in the world?” 

“We brought dessert,” he offered weakly. 

“You’re both all over mud and cockleburrs, what- no, I don’t want to know. Come on in!” 

“You’re a class act, Jane.” 

“Thank you, dear. Now, wipe your boots and come inside.” 

July 03, 2021 02:37

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