There are pixies in the bushes, along with the creatures with the golden eyes. They’re getting braver now, and a few let me glimpse a peek at their furry faces. They look a little like cats hiding amongst the flowerbeds. They watch us, terribly interested in our meanderings.
We walk until the gardens grow wild, and I begin to wonder if we haven’t gone past the castle grounds. And then, we stop.
“What do you think?” Brahm asks, gesturing toward a tiny one-room cottage in the trees. It looks like a caretaker’s shed, or perhaps a child’s playhouse.
Overgrown trees nearly cover it with their limbs, and massive peonies spill light pink blooms onto the stone step.
Brahm pushes through the brush at the side of the small building, looking for something. A moment later, he returns with a key. After he unlocks the door, he pushes it open and gestures for me to go in first. “You’ll have to lean down to enter, but I promise this doorway is passable.”
“It’s dark,” I point out.
Nodding, Brahm extends his hand toward the cottage. Light suddenly glows from within.
“Such a useful trick,” I tease him. “I think I’ll have to keep you.”
He laughs under his breath as I duck down and step inside. When I straighten, I inhale slowly.
There are books everywhere—stuffed into a tiny bookshelf, piled onto the floor, even stacked on a chair in the corner. There’s an old coat-of-arms on the wall, and a group of hand-carved figurines that look like they were crafted by a child. An assortment of daggers and a short sword. A golden cup and a wooden plate. It’s a strange collection of eclectic things, and yet it seems everything here was treasured.
“What is this place?” I ask, my eyes sweeping over the space.
“Father built it for me when I was young,” he says. “Drake and Eleanor had their garden, and Sabine has a hidden room in the sapphire wing. This was mine.”
The place where Brahm spent his childhood.
I venture deeper inside, looking at all the things he collected as a boy.
“May I?” I ask, pausing in front of a small silver box.
He’s preoccupied with the contents of a basket, but he waves, giving me permission.
I open the box, wondering what he might keep in something so precious, and I nearly laugh out loud when I discover its secret.
“Acorns?” I ask.
Brahm glances over, smiling though he doesn’t answer.
“Are they magical?” I prod. “Enchanted, perhaps?”
“They’re just acorns.”
Another container holds small rocks, and then I find a pile of pinecones.
“Why did you collect all of this?”
“The natural world holds its own sort of magic. Seeds, like acorns and those found in pinecones, contain raw energy. Rocks are connected to the earth.”
“Do the Fae pull all their magic from the world around them?” I ask.
Brahm shakes his head, still shuffling through the basket. “No. We have our own. Those things just act as a booster. They’re more helpful when we’re young and still clumsy with our magic.”
“What did you use them for?”
“I enchanted trinkets, mostly.”
“Like the things the Fae merchants sell in Kellington?”
He nods. “Nothing with true magic—just little charms, more amusing than useful.”