Nana felt the exact moment the banishment curse ceased to be. She was at the Black Jack table in the Rabbit’s Foot Casino. She was winning.
Twelve hours later she stood under a pavilion watching children play on a grassy hill. It had been a refuse pile for shells and bones when last she’d seen it. A midden they called it now.
Nana noted a fairy settling on the picnic bench beside her. He was either brave, or stupid, or expendable.
“What’s your name?” She asked.
“Don’t give me cheek.”
He laughed, a sound like dry leaves rubbing together. “Not cheek. That’s my name. Most people call me NYB.”
“NYB then. So what have I missed over the last five hundred years or so?”
Nana paused on the sidewalk and gazed through the window of the vacant shop. In her mind’s eye she saw the fire pit, the racks for drying fish or skins, the piles of nets for fishing. Her family had once been great hunters. She became a worshiped spirit leader. And now her ancestral home was a failed coffee shop.
“At least the protections are still up,” she muttered to NYB. She’d felt their tingle when she crossed the threshold of town. No hurricane would touch this little village by the bay. The current occupants had aptly named it Safety Harbor. “Too bad they didn’t work on the Spanish.”
“Before my time Gran Nana.”
Nana grunted. “So what offed the little witch?”
“She was eaten by a metal beast.”
“She was hit by a car?”
“And no one could put the banishment back in place?”
NYB craned his neck to look up at her from his perch on her shoulder. “No one could remember why you were banished in the first place.”
Nana cackled merrily.
The council gathered after sunset. Even the Water Nymph Queen, with her froth white wings, made the dangerous trek to attend.
“Spare us,” some called.
“Save us,” others trilled.
The murmurs dimmed.
“Now, I’m back and I’m plenty displeased at having to be gone so long but that doesn’t mean I aim to squash y’all.” She waited until the mutters died down again. “NYB tells me no one can remember why I was exiled in the first place. Good. Bygones. However, this is my home and I intend to reclaim it. You can be with me and I’ll offer the same, and probably better, protection than that old witch, or you can be against me and end up as tasty soup.”
She rode out the inevitable hoots and shouts of outrage.
The head of the Tree Fairies stepped forward, “Can you stop the Humans from destroying our trees?”
The Queen asked, “Can you make them cease polluting our water?”
The silence that followed was louder than the earlier bedlam.
“Look, you can’t make humans do what they don’t want. More you try the more they get stubborn.”
“We’re doomed,” They moaned.
“Naw, I don’t do doomed. Even the worst run of luck has to end sometime. I have a plan but I’ll need your help.”
“Here comes the catch,” someone grumbled from the back.
Nana glared. “Sounds like I have my first volunteer.”
“Whatever you need Gran Nana, you shall have, just keep us safe from the Humans.” The Queen stated. No one voiced an objection.
“Good. I need your wings.”
The very next morning, bright and early, Nana made a phone call. “Hello, Renaissance Real Estate? Yes, I’m inquiring about the Coffee Shop on Main street, Safety Harbor. Yes, that’s the one. I’d like to buy it. Great. Do you take Casino Chips?”