Hill-Of-Beans glared at the old tom who would not budge for kick nor treat.
HOB sighed and enticed a nearby kitten to be his mount. Kittens were quicker but less predictable. He might get to his destination or he might end up chasing pigeons.
None-Your-Business came around the dumpster on his tortoiseshell and snickered at HOB’s struggles.
HOB finally got situated and maneuvered his frisky mount alongside NYB’s.
“Let’s get this over with.”
NYB agreed and led the way.
“Virgin fairy wings? Where does she think we can find any virgin fairy wings, let alone twelve?”
HOB choked. “Across the gray divide.”
“Yes. Tonight it will be safe to cross.”
“How? The metal beasts roar down at all hours.”
“Gran Nana swears tonight the beasts will be shunned and we’ll be able to cross.”
“You’ll get us both killed.”
“Not if we go when Gran Nana says and be back before the explosions stop.”
HOB yanked the reigns so hard the kitten hissed. “Explosions stop?” He paled. “Is it Boom Day?”
NYB grinned. “Yep.”
They rode in silence, or rather NYB rode in silence. HOB spent most of the time cursing at the kitten as it scampered through a hedge nearly dislodging him.
Eventually they made it to the divide and sure enough the beasts rattled up and down.
Just when HOB began to despair the beasts thinned down to a trickle and then stopped entirely.
Their zig-zag dash across earned little notice from the humans filling the strip.
NYB guided his mount easily through the thickest clumps of brush. By the time he called a halt HOB was sure his under-wings were broken. He was equally sure he was flying back, rules and risks be damned.
HOB heard them before he saw them. Their soft laughter melded with the sloshing waves. There were near twenty frolicking about, teasing the fiddler crabs and annoying the terns.
“How do we get their wings? We’re not about to start some fairy war are we?”
“No. The ones with clear wings are virgins.”
HOB noted most of the wings were clear. Good start.
The sounds of humans grew louder behind them and they loosed the cats just as the nymphs realized things had changed up on the shore. As one they darted to the safety of the rocks.
NYB just grinned and sauntered slowly towards the shore shedding clothing as he went.
HOB staggered to the edge of the gray divide as the first light smudged the east. It was just as well the cats had bolted he couldn’t have ridden to save anyone’s life. Strapped across his back were four pairs of clear wings. NYB, a few paces behind, had four as well.
“You could’ve warned me.” HOB groused as they laid down in the wet grass.
“What, that their wings fall off when they lose their virginity?”
“No,” HOB groaned. “That there aren’t any male water nymphs.”