Author note: Today, on "When Plotbunnies Attack!"

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For some time, the entrance to the Other Realm had been guarded by two vicious wolves, famed to be ruthless guardians that would not let anyone pass. It was unclear why this was necessary, because between the hora of sadistic fairies and Mad Trif's locusts, two ill-tempered canines would've been a traveller's last problem, but nobody bothered to point anything out.

Every day, Mad Trif would casually walk out, pet each wolf on the head and return to his "bug testing field", as he put it (people were just glad to see him go, because his fascination with insects quite plainly freaked them out), so the wolves' efficiency was often questioned.

Nobody had tried entering the Other Realm in eons. It wasn't exactely unexpected, as the only way to enter would've been to jump over the deepest ditch in the world (and people knew when that happened, because the ditch had the odd habit of screaming when someone tricked it) or passing the Saturday Water, which could only be accomplished by riding a magical log, blessed by fairies. All in all, nobody knew if the log even existed anymore and the fairies that blessed it were surely bitter old hags by now, randomly herassing passer-bys and sending them on dangerous quests (maybe that was what happened to visitors?).

At any rate, nobody suspected they'd receive any more visits from brave young lads in search of fortune, a princess to marry or a kingdom to save. All in all, Other Realm-ians were forgotten.

At least, they thought so until one day, when a small indistinguishable dot on the horizon proved them wrong.

"Hey, Todosia, what's that?" one of the fairy's delicate voices asked.

"I don't know. Looks like something moving. Might be a deer."

"Oh... But it's an open field. Don't deers live in woods?"

There was a pause in the hora's perpetual dance.

"You think it's a handsome adventurer?" Margalina asked, wagging her eyebrows suggestively.

"Oh, I hope so," Lemnica chipped in. "Can't remember the last time I tempted one!"

Though risking to delve into giggling and speculation, the hora began their circling dance again. Though they never felt tired, they were revigorated and swung enthusiastically, moreso than before.

It was with some disappointment they discovered it wasn't a handsome adventurer that would interrupt their dance. It was, instead, a short and stout curly-haired woman, garbed in travelling clothes, carrying a satchel over her shoulder. She wore a large hat, with a gold-and-black feather sticking out in what could be described as an angry manner.

By the time she approached, the fairies begrudgingly stopped their dance and stubbornly set themselves in the woman's path.

She was not impressed.

"Is this the way to the Other Realm?"

The fairies scoffed.

"Well, since you ask..."

"Could be... Might not..."

"See, we don't visit the neighbours often..."

"How should WE know?"

While the fairies mumbled sourly, the newcomer's eyes darted around, skewering them with their gaze. By the time their half-hearted replies ran out and a bitter silence settled, the woman was eerily calm and composed.

Her hand shot out like an arrow, making a grab for the nearest fairy, Ruja.

"OUCH! My HAIR! My freakin' HAIR! LET GO!"

Before any of her sisters could react, Ruja was violently pulled to her knees next to the woman.

"Let me introduce myself. I am Mara. I've had a very bad week and I've come to the conclusion that, if all fairies on the face of the earth would drop dead, people would hold a party to celebrate and I'd be the first to attend."

"My HAIR! Why can't you people pick on Ruxanda for a change? Ow-ow-ow-ow..."

Mara ignored Ruja's extremely annoying high-pitched voice and continued. "Now, you wouldn't want to lose a sister because some other hora and their stupid log caused me trouble, would you?"

The fairies shook their head, their mood turned just as foul as Mara's.

"Good girls. Which way to Other Realm?"

"That way..."

"Over the hill."

"Through the swarms of locusts."

"Past the wolves."

"Down the giant crevasse."

"Can't miss it."

Mara's eyes darted again. She decided she was satisfied with the answer and walked through the small group. Once she passed them all, she let go of Ruja's hair, who was still complaining loudly.

"Wait, why are you going there?!" one of the fairies asked, alarmed.

Mara turned around and tore something out of her satchel. She waved the travelling journal around violently and yelled,

"I'm a folklorist and my editor wants something consistant. Got a problem with that?"

Everybody shook their heads in a panicked manner. No problem.

"Good," Mara huffed and walked on.

The fairies resumed their dance, glad to see the crazy lady gone.

Mara walked on, not at all sure what swarms of locusts meant.

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Explicatory note: This is based on Romanian fairy-tales. Unfortunately, they are diverse and often inconsistent (how DO you get to the Other Realm? WHERE is the Other Realm and WHAT the hell is it?), so I made some (read: most) things up and combined a whole lot of others... The wolves are actually a nod to Dacian culture; and yes, there is a character named Mad Trif in Romanian mythology/ folklore. I found him in Victor Kernbach's dictionary of mythology and he apparently has a very confusing role as the patron of either locusts or wolves. A hora is actually a dance, but fairies are often said to perform it, and quite franky: "a group of fairies" just doesn't have the same literary pretenciousness as "a hora of fairies".

Other than that, a whole lotta inside jokes.