02/12/2020 Snippet, ANSTEORRA RANGERS.

Not included: a throwaway line about gator-spirits that makes me want to write an entire story around the concept. A deep country elf with a gator-spirit buddy, off fighting magical crimes. Kind of like Silver John, only I wouldn’t try to duplicate any of the accents.

It turned out that Mike’s new friend Malma Jefferson did know more than his share of marsh-witches. He could hardly avoid it, seeing as he was one himself. Malma seemed surprised that the Rangers were surprised to find that out. “It’s not a secret,” he said to them. “I thought you knew, Captain.”

“They didn’t really brief us much, Mr. Jefferson,” Mike said dryly. “What with the river staggering around like a snake with a broken back, and all that. We’re lucky we got told you were all elves.”

“Okay,” said Malma. “I guess that makes sense.” Malma looked a little disappointed; but then he smiled. “So that’s why you didn’t ask me about the Hellfair!” he said. “Okay, yeah, that makes me feel better.”

Mike had told Jimmy and Nita that they could ask questions without permission, just as long as nobody was talking over anybody else. So it wasn’t really a breach of what the Rangers called ‘military decorum’ when Nita leaned forward and said to Malma “So you know what this thing is?”

“Sort of, ah, ma’am?” replied Malma, visibly trying to read Nita’s military insignia, and just as visibly failing. “I know what it was: a Hellfair.” He saw their blank looks, and said “Sorry. A halfaer, a river-fish spirit? I think it was maybe one of the real old ones, from the dawn of the First Age.”

Nita whistled, then explained to the two humans, “He means about AD 2100 or so. Collapse of the old world, birth of magic, all of that.” Turning back to Malma, she went on “So what do you know about this kind of spirit, Mr. Jefferson?”

“That’s most of it, ma’am. I never saw the real big Hellfairs up close, ‘cuz they’re real mean-tempered. Bite you as soon as look at you, and they got lots of teeth to bite with. You get ‘em in the parts of the rivers people don’t use much. A few of ‘em. They don’t get on with folks.”

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