An Officer and A Gentleman - Prologue
Jane Austen's Magical Girls
This is a sequel to "Remember the Past...", which you can read here:
Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.
Well, not quite midnight, they would have needed to live further North to actually see the Midnight Sun. Perhaps on the Isle of Mann, or the far North of Scotland, or perhaps even further! Lord, what an adventure that would have been!
Still, it was quite late, well past Lydia's bedtime, and only just growing dark.
Sneaking out of Longbourn at night to battle evil was becoming harder, now that they were no longer all in the nursery. At ten and twelve, Lydia and Kitty were still consigned to the schoolroom, while Mary had gained her own room on her recent fourteenth birthday. They were deemed too old for a night nurse, but Lydia remembered midnight escapades to be easier when there was only one window to sneak out of, rather than three. Mary quibbled that it wasn't actually easier, just easier to arrange, and punctuated the point by looking down and nearly slipping off the branch she had been perched on.
Regardless, there was something causing mischief at a mine not far from Longbourn village, and it did not seem to be the natural conflict between the Company miners brought from Cornwall, and the continental war refugees that made up the shortage. As guardians of the area, it was the Bennet Sisters' duty to go deal with it.
Miss Morris was waiting for them around a bend in the path, driving a cart. "Not the well-sprung carriage you're used to, by any means, but far less conspicuous."
Jane smiled in welcome, "The transformations are conspicuous enough. We will manage."
Manage they did indeed, for the commotion would soon become apparent even to those without the affinity to see what was usually hidden from mortal eyes.
Two little men, gnarled and bent, in clothing that would not have looked out of place on the youngest of mining boys, were locked in battle. Well, perhaps it was not quite a battle, as there were only two participants and no weapons, but certainly a very impassioned brawl. "What are they?"
Mary pulled out her latest in what was quickly becoming an entire shelf of commonplace books, organised by what she considered the alignment of the beings within. Undead, nature spirits, omen, benign, malicious, trickster... the list went on. How Mary had the patience was an ongoing mystery to her younger sisters.
This book appeared to be the one on guardian spirits. Finally, Mary lifted her head in triumph. "A Kobold and a Knocker. A kobold more commonly protects a household, but they are known to guard miners and sailors, too."
Could nothing be ordered simply into groups and stay there? "What is the difference between them?"
Elizabeth, reading over Mary's shoulder, shrugged. "Knockers are from Cornwall, Kobolds from the continent. Perhaps they are fighting over territory?"
Ugh. Lydia spoke French with some degree of proficiency, and read the language fluently, having heard it declared that all the best novels were written in that language. She was attempting to teach herself the German that the royal family were trying very hard to make fashionable, but it was slow progress. From the sound of the shouting, the Kobold was more likely to be German, or at least from the east of Europe.
Lizzy rolled up her sleeves, "Well, we shall get nowhere while they are carrying on like this, and they are liable to begin waking the tenants."
She strode forward, Kitty in her wake, and grabbed both by the collars, knocking their heads together. The action was punctuated by a small explosion in the nearby mine, and a torrent of angry words from the two guardians as they fell backward and away from each other, clutching their skulls.
Lydia did not understand all of what poured from their mouths, between a thick, working-class Cornish accent and German that flew too fast for her to translate, but what she did understand was enough to make her blush, wide-eyed. Jane must have correctly interpreted her expression, because she fixed the two with her most disappointed stare, the one that always made Lydia want to crawl into a badger-hole. "That is quite enough of that, thank you."
They subsided, more sheepish than angry - Jane always had a peaceful way about her - and the Cornish one tugged a lock of his hair in a fashion that might have passed for manners. "Pardon, Miss, but you shouldn't have to concern yourselves with the likes of this one."
That stream of German, Lydia did understand, and translated. "He invited you to take a long walk off a short pier, and said that his people arrived at the mine first, so he should have first claim to the area."
The Knocker made as if to spit on the ground, took one look at Lizzy's face, and stopped himself. "Yer on English shores, boyo, and that gives me precedence!"
Mary appeared to be trying very hard not to roll her eyes. "As I understand, you are both tricksters and guardians to the miners that work here."
The Kobold nodded. "Ja, was ist damit? Seine Mutter -"
The Knocker punched him, and Lydia danced a barrier to keep them apart. "He said, 'what of it?', then started what may have become an insult."
Jane sighed. "Can you not take turns? One plays tricks and the other protects, then you switch? You'll move on when your people do, whenever that happens to be, and need never see each other again."
The Knocker sniffed, "Well, for the sake of the mine, I suppose we can tolerate each other a little longer."
Jane nodded regally, "If you encounter trouble too large for you - I mean no offense, but there is a cursed estate only a few miles away - come find us. We will help."
The Sprites departed, not looking at each other, but no longer aggressive, and Mary rubbed her eyes, though whether from weariness or stress was unclear. "That was far less painful than it could have been."
Lydia agreed, "I am surprised that it was settled without a fight. We are not normally so fortunate."
Jane patted her on the head, before Lydia batted her hands away. "There are times when talking is preferable, and conflict can be solved by negotiation, but that is not always possible. We are Warriors against the Dark, not merely diplomats."
Returning her sleeves to their proper length and attempting to smooth the wrinkled, Lizzy raised an eyebrow. "Sometimes people need a good thump before they're willing to calm down and listen, you mean."
Their eldest sister smiled faintly, "Well, that too."
Mary tucked her book away, making an effort not to look too smug. "Either way, it is always better to know what you're getting into, rather than charging in blindly."
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About the Creator
I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).
I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.
I live in Sydney, Australia
Fantastic!!! Loved it!!!💗💗💕