A chill that did not come from cold swept through Lorna. This was it. She was in debt to a Fae now. He had never been going to change it into straw. He had lied to her. It had all been one big farce. And the gold had been an excuse to let it happen. He had probably planted the gold in her field earlier that year and spoiled the crop as well. How else would he have known to come just now? It couldn’t have been that he had wanted to help or been passing by. No Fae would do that. It was impossible. Fae didn’t care about humans. What had she done? Lowing behind her brought her attention back to the cows. It was starting to snow outside with gusts of cold wind blowing into the barn. Lorna swore and quickly shoved the door shut. She had begun to hope… Lorna let out a shuddering breath as she checked on the cows to make sure they were warm, more by habit than necessity. Upon reaching Ruby, Lorna couldn’t take it anymore. She hugged Ruby around the neck and let out deep shuddering sobs.
Timor rubbed his heads against her leg.
“Should make you go too.” She told him thickly though she knew that the cowardly dog would only come right back.
She didn’t know how long she stayed there but there was suddenly a loud thud outside and Timor whined against her. Lorna quickly dried her face before stumbling outside. What she saw made her mouth drop open in shock. An enormous mound of hay bales stood in front of the barn. She could fill the loft twice over and still have some to spare. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized that the wind had stopped though snow was still falling. Lorna leaned against the door to steady herself as Crow climbed down from the hay bales to meet her.
“I had to go to three different goldsmiths before I could find one that would exchange it for me.” Crow said in an exasperated tone, brushing hay off of himself, “Then I had to go to about every other farmer in the country to get the straw and all of them insisted on being overpaid.”
“I thought… I thought…”
“That I wasn’t coming back?” Crow asked, grinning. “Or perhaps I’d only bring you a minuscule amount?”
“It crossed my mind.” Lorna admitted.
“Boring. Regardless, I held up my end of the bargain.” Crow said with a mischievous smile.
“I-I agree.” Lorna said, though she thought that she must be dreaming.
She was rewarded with a brief flicker of confusion on his face as she headed back into the barn. She started for Ruby then hesitated and went to fetch Crystal, now the oldest in her small herd, instead. She slowly coaxed the older cow outside and to a standstill in front of Crow.
“Here is my first-born cow,” Lorna said, smirking. First-born out of the ones left anyway.
Crow frowned then a slow smile spread across his face and he chuckled softly. “Well-played. You are a clever woman. Perhaps I should have kept you as a servant.”
Lorna opened her mouth in outrage but stopped when he laughed. “I was jesting. But perhaps I shall return and we may spar wits another time?”
“You better not.” Lorna said fiercely. “I’ve had enough of Fae to last me a lifetime.”
Crow grinned as he took Crystal, the old cow turning black except for her eyes.
“We shall see, miss Lorna. A good day to you.” Then both Fae and cow vanished.
Lorna let out a long sigh of relief. Somehow the area seemed empty now despite the staggering amount of hay. And what was she supposed to do with it all?