I would have stayed with her forever, happily wrapped in her sopping embrace – only she was leaving, returning to the surface, and each watery breath was threatening to be my last. As she gracefully slipped away all I could think about was Harla shaking her head with a disappointed scowl; despite her repeated warnings, she knew that one day I would fall for an imp.
It had been ten years since I caught my first, and in that time I had never stopped my own personal exploration of their magical realm. I’d captured some impressive ones too, and we’re not talking their most primal form either; pulsing forces of radiant light with a glowing centre, albeit pretty, just don’t interest me. I’m talking about the highly evolved sprites, taking on shapes we’re all familiar with, and some that are completely absurd.
My first was Tack - a dogged creature with a sharp, pointed nose, responsible for some of the little hiccups affecting the things around us. He didn’t think his tinkering mattered much, and yet it rendered objects quite useless. He was often the cause of punctured tyres and burst balloons - a fairly annoying sprite, which I caught snoozing in the woodland near my home when I was nine. With him a tad aggressive and me in one’s salad days, I soon granted him freedom, but from that day on I was hooked.
My new avocation was encouraged by the place of my birth. Hellaton, the village where I’ve spent all of my days, is home to the entrance to a faerie underworld. Some believe this, most don’t – but it sure explains why they are so commonplace around here. According to the converts, only those with ‘the sight’ are gifted enough to witness such intriguing creatures, and although I’m likely to agree, I also believe that if the little folk wish to be seen, they will be.
I’d been told by many that they hold a trust for the sake of the planet. A growing number were quite disgruntled about having to share Earth’s guardianship with us, angry that we were abusing the planet for our own gain. I often worried about what lay ahead, so I started to treat my hobby as more of a lesson, more as an insight into their world; a world slowly being robbed by man.
It cannot be denied that others before me have suffered sickness, madness, and even death whilst dabbling in the art of elfin enslaver. I once heard of a middle-aged man so entranced by the otherworld he befriended a faery of such dark despair, sinking deeper and deeper into the shadows of despondency that he wandered helplessly onto a railway track and was struck down by an oncoming train. Maybe I should’ve taken up fishing, like my father insisted, but fish are unremarkable at the best of times. The beautiful thing about this pastime is its unpredictability. You have to have your wits about you, as it soon becomes obvious that things aren’t usually as they first appear. Therefore, it’s never wise to trust an imp...