"This is so cool. Are you going to start a riot? There hasn't been a riot since... forever! Actually, I don't even know what a riot is, but it always sounds so exciting when mum and dad talk about the rioting hordes in the old days." Muggy's voice raced to keep up with the speed of her movements. She weaved in and out of her older brother's rapidly moving legs, dodging body pops, complicated high kicks and exaggerated Irish dancing feet flicks.
Her brother, Badoo, tried his best to ignore her. Younger siblings, they were nothing but trouble. It wouldn't be so bad, but Muggy was the youngest pixling in his family and seemed to think she had to look out for him. But Badoo was fed up of Muggy always getting under his feet. His paggle had a thing to do and it just had to be done. He'd been practising his steps and he didn't want to get it wrong. Now Muggy was threatening to bolas his feet from under him with her gyrations around him. Badoo kicked her unceremoniously out of his way and she bounced off several other pixies before landing in the fountain with a frog sized splash.
Muggy blew water out of her mouth like a water spout as she doggy paddled to the edge of the fountain. She briefly glanced up at the shadow of the looming cathedral before scrabbling over the lip of the fountain. As Muggy dangled upside down for a brief moment before leaping to the ground she saw a tufted ear ooze up out of the granite paving next to the fountain. Her already bulging eyes bulged further. As the hell hound's body emerged piece-meal, manticorae and other grotesqueries seeped up through the stones and took corporeal form. Muggy shrieked with pure delight.
From his vantage point on the roof of the cathedral Rufus watched the action below. Young pixies always wandered round in paggles but this was different. They milled seemingly aimlessly by the fountain in the main square. Their eighteen centimetre high bodies were covered in images like nothing Rufus had ever seen before. He blinked to zoom in closer. Their pink and orange tinged skin was covered in a series of chunky white ticks; interlocked letters, a y interlocked with an es and an el; stylized crocodiles and words he did not know the meanings of in elaborate fonts. These letters and images covered their bodies so fully that he could scarcely see the original pixie tones beneath them.
Under Rufus' watchful eye the milling paggle of pixies began to create an intricate formation which he realised was specifically designed to distract. Distraction was not the usual method of mischief engaged in by pixies. Who or what did they want to distract in particular? The effect of all those letters whirling en masse made his head spin till he forced himself to look away momentarily.
This mass gathering of pixies made the quartz in Gargoyle Rufus' system fizz like he was being acid etched. The familiar tingle had served him well throughout history. It never failed him. A millennium ago it had warned him of things to come when Faetaera's very existence was threatened. He did not like the implication of the crackle emanating through his column. Rufus relayed the information through to headquarters.
The twins were almost immediately beside him, one on either side, their fingers resting lightly on each of his ears. Janelle and Benelle were never far from each other. The further apart they drifted the more they seemed like two halves rather than a whole. They spoke simultaneously, as always. "This doesn't look too good Ruf."
Rufus' gravelly voice rumbled with agitation. "You're not wrong there. Will you employ the pixie containment net?"
The double echo of the twins was like a sigh. "Not sure it will hold them. What have we got, about sixty in total down there?"
"I count sixty three and a quarter. Someone's got a younger sibling down there."
"Who do you suppose they're trying to distract?" Both twins were leaning forward as they observed the paggle below. "Could be us."
"True." Now that he knew not to look directly into the distraction pattern, Rufus did not shift his gaze from its edge which was growing more complicated with each moment.
"Better try the net then." The twins deployed the net. "See you around Ruf."
They were no longer there, their voices just a linger in the air.
Down in the square all hell broke loose. Rufus considered helping the twins but they were old hands at dealing with mayhem so he stayed put. When, for a brief moment, the denizens of hell pushed through the outer edges of the pixies' distraction pattern he was about to fly into the breach. But the twins pooled their resources, snapping off disjointed limbs and claws, clamping snarling jaws. In a whirlwind of motion they did what it would take an entire cohort of foot patrol an hour to do. Rufus wondered, not for the first time, where Larell had recruited the pair from. Twin entities were never seen within city limits. It took no less than four nets to get the paggle under control and the visitors from hell back where they belonged. Larell would have to start recruiting to enlarge the force even more. J and B were an exceptional team. If only the Citadel's security had more of them. This kind of altercation only proved things were getting worse.
Rufus liked the quiet life. When you'd lived as long as he had you saw a good many things and there came a time when you hankered for a bit of peace. He wasn't sure he could take another big event like the War to End All Wars. He sighed and began to de-stone. Larell would want to review his vision link with him directly. It was time for a big rethink.
As Rufus made his slow but measured way along the roof tops to his meeting with Larell he felt the old stone in him crunch and crumble in a new way that warned of an end to all things. It wasn’t that he feared his own end coming. Instead it was the end of all things he felt saddened by. For his Queen to strive so hard to keep their world from drifting apart only for it to be happening again. Was this an inevitability? He longed for the knowledge of the ancients.