It took most of Ivy’s effort to get out of bed in the morning. She glanced over to Darrick’s side of the bed and frowned. Walking out to the living room, she called out, “Darrick? Darrick, where are you?”
Mary stuck her head out of her room. “Didn’t he come home last night, Mother?”
Ivy shook her head, heading to the kitchen. “Do you know where Jane kept the herbs?”
“Isn’t it in the basket?”
“It’s almost empty. Can you help me search?” She filled a kettle with water and placed it to boil over the fire. With care, she shredded a handful of the herbs in the basket. It looked like there would be enough to last her another day. Throwing the herbs into the boiling water, she inhaled the scent that billowed out around her head. It was probably a trick of her mind, but she felt stronger already. She settled down by the fire with a steaming mug in her hand.
Mary came out of the kitchen, perplexed. “I can’t find it.”
“What time did Jane get home last night?”
“I - I don’t know.”
“What time did she leave this morning?”
Mary admitted that she hadn’t seen Jane at all, hesitantly telling her what had happened the night before, glossing over meeting Charon and talking vaguely about meeting Euthalia.
“The dryad said she was safe? Are you sure about that?” she pressed one last time. Mary nodded. Ivy stared at the fire for a long time.
“Go to your room, Mary.”
“Go to your room, close the door and stay there until I call you.”
As soon as Mary close the door behind her, Ivy laid aside her empty mug and headed to the fireplace. Pulling out a loose brick from above the mantelpiece, she scrabbled in the hole until she found the parchments she had hidden there. She laid them out on the floor in sequence in front of the fire, taking a seat cross-legged in front of them. Silently, she recited the unfamiliar words in her head, trying them out until they fit. Then she chanted.
The imps fell like raindrops from the roof, chattering incessantly. Ivy fell silent as they formed a circle around her, keeping clear of the parchment. She gathered up the sheets, watching them.
"You have not summoned us for years," an old imp, with a shock of white hair and mud-blue eyes said, not quite looking at her.
"I have not had need of you until now."
"And we should help you? Now, after all these years?"
"I have done nothing wrong to you. Did you not enjoy your freedom?"
"We have not had enough to eat."
"What is your price?"
"We could ask for your firstborn... or we could not." They shifted uneasily at the look in her eyes.
"My firstborn is missing, along with her father."
"Pah. We have nothing to do with his kind."
"But you have everything to do with hers. She was last seen by the dryad Euthalia in the Old Kingdom. Find her for me and I will reward you greatly."
Murmurs started amongst them, growing from a trickle to a roar. Ivy glanced at Mary's closed door.
“Quiet,” she hissed. “Will you do it?”
“We will try.”
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An imp is a mythological being similar to a fairy or demon, frequently described in folklore and superstition. The word may perhaps derive from the term ympe, used to denote a young grafted tree.
Originating from Germanic folklore, the imp was a small lesser demon. Imps were often mischievous rather than evil or harmful (demons in Germanic legend were not necessarily evil), and in some regions, they were portrayed as attendants of the gods.
Imps are often shown as small and not very attractive creatures. Their behavior is described as being wild and uncontrollable, much the same as fairies, and in some cultures, they were considered the same beings, both sharing the same sense of free spirit and enjoyment of all things fun. It was later in history that people began to associate fairies with being good and imps with being malicious and evil. However, both creatures were fond of pranks and misleading people. Most of the time, the pranks were harmless fun, but some could be upsetting and harmful, such as switching babies or leading travellers astray in places with which they were not familiar. Though imps are often thought of as being immortal, many cultures believed that they could be damaged or harmed by certain weapons and enchantments, or be kept out of people's homes by the use of wards.
Imps were often portrayed as lonely little creatures, always in search of human attention. They often used jokes and pranks as a means of attracting human friendship, which often backfired when people became tired or annoyed of the imp's endeavors, usually driving it away.
Even if the imp was successful in getting the friendship it sought, it often still played pranks and jokes on its friend, either out of boredom or simply because this was the nature of the imp. This trait gave way to using the term "impish" for someone who loves pranks and practical jokes. Being associated with hell and fire, imps take a particular pleasure from playing with temperatures.
To this end, it came to be believed that imps were the familiar spirit servants of witches and warlocks, where the little demons served as spies and informants. During the time of the witch hunts, supernatural creatures such as imps were sought out as proof of witchcraft, though often, the so-called "imp" was typically a black dog, black cat, lizard, toad, or some other form of uncommon pet.