Sally the fairy threw open the doors of the Council Building so hard that crumbs of bark were shaken loose.
"Merlana Mizzenwort!" she cried. "We have something to discuss, this instant!"
Lillitow Hammeren raised his head slowly from the papers before him. He gestured at the empty room. "Do you see Merlana anywhere?"
"Hiding, is she?" Sally snapped.
"There was not a great deal to sort out after this meeting, and I was quite capable of handling it. Merlana has gone home." Lillitow rusted his wings irritably. "In any case, oughtn't you be starting on your quest, not wasting time having chats?"
"My—chats--my quest!" sputtered Sally. "It is nothing of the sort!"
"We all must perform our allotted tasks," said Lillitow. "Nothing would ever get done if everyone shirked as much as you. Do get on with it." He bent over his papers again.
"I—you—we'll see about that!" Sally turned on her heel and flapped off.
Merlana's house was the highest in the town. Sally stormed inside, not bothering with knocking.
Merlana turned from the window and raised an eyebrow. "Goodness, how rude."
"You!" said Sally. "How dare you send me off to fix your mistake!"
"Well, I certainly can't go myself." Merlana looked innocently surprised. "I'm needed to run Fairyland, although we really must find a more suitable name for this village. I regretfully pass the honor on to you."
"I shan't have anything to do with it." Sally crossed her arms.
"It is indeed a pity that you were the one selected, by the extremely fair and decisive vote we took." Merlana shook her head sadly. "You are terribly inept, and it's quite likely you'll bring us a weak Safekeeper, or one that can't hold any spells at all. That will be simply dreadful."
"I certainly wouldn't be as foolish as that," said Sally in indignation. "Neither would I be so careless as to drop a highly valuable Safekeeper when I was flying it to the lake."
"I'm delighted that you realize how important it is!" said Merlana. "Indeed, without it, the twig supporting the beetles' enclosure has already snapped. It is most terrible. Fortunately, since you'll be gone for a time, we'll be able to keep the beetles in your house! How perfectly it works out."
"Sparkling snowflakes!" Sally almost shrieked. "Merlana Manywarts, you simply—"
"Oh, dear me. Such a temper you have." Merlana raised her hands helplessly. "It is dreadful to think of. I'm sure you will bring us a Safekeeper that's as touchy as you are, and utterly dismal at its job."
"I will bring one ten times better than the old one, and you shall never be allowed to touch it!" Fed up with the conversation, Sally flung herself out of the doorway. She was halfway home before quite realizing what she had said.
To be continued...