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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Creativity Forum --> Personal Creations --> The Fey Ring (short story)
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Celediel
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 22/9
104 Posts


The Fey Ring (short story)

This brief story fills in background and other details for a character I'm developing. I would love feedback!

----------------

It was a still, dry day as Tenacity rode down the dusty trail. The barest breeze came across the river, rustling the leaves in the trees just enough to startle a pair of sparrows in the distance. The sun glinted off her brassy armor as she removed her gauntlets and tied them to the saddle's horn. Her light-brown hair was tied back in an immaculate braid despite the perspiration on her forehead. With her right hand, she swiped a just-starting-to-roll drop away from above her eye and stopped to finger the shock of pale blonde at her temple. She surveyed the horizon and saw no signs of life anywhere. She heaved a sigh and watched her horse a while longer.

"I think we're ready to take a break, don't you, Dilly?" She said, leaning forward to talk into her dapple-grey mare's ear. The Percheron was named Diligence, but no one was present to hear the impropriety. Even with her closest traveling companion, the sojourning young knight hesitated to be too familiar.

The trip from the last town had taken the better part of a week, and the weather had been exhausting every day. Even without a need to eat and needing merely a couple hours' sleep each night, the heat of each passing day wore on her mind and numbed her other senses.

Diligence whinneyed gently and shook her head, turning gently off the path in the direction of the water. The marshy edge of the river had been drying out for a while now, but was still tangled and soft. Tenacity dismounted to make crossing the distance less precarious. This part of the river's edge was mucky and stank, but the flies lessened and the smell improved as the pair descended and crossed the few hundred feet.

She felt herself drawn toward a particular willow tree about 50 feet downstream. "This spot looks perfect. No, not here, farther down," she said, tugging lightly on the reins when Diligence tried to lower her head to the water. "Fine, do as you will here, I'll be..." Tenacity drifted off, letting the weathered leather fall from her fingers as she wandered closer to that spot.

The mushrooms in the grass seemed out of place for high summer, but she took no notice as she found the highest, driest spot to sit down. Almost immediately, the temperature started to drop and a strange, swirling breeze picked up. A strange noise, like a squirrel's giggling, came to her ear. She furrowed her brow for a second, but then relaxed as her green eyes unfocused. She stretched out on her back and stared into the branches.

She shivered.

"I didn't think it would be so much cooler here in the shade," she said to no one in particular.

"Stupid!" No one in particular replied.

"You stuck now!"

"Ha! Another one freezing like the blade!"

The tiny voices chittered from up in the tree, but Tenacity couldn't summon the energy to concentrate on finding the speakers. She shivered again, longer and more violently. Something was seriously wrong now, she realized. It got harder to breathe as her breastplate started to rime with frost. She tried to sit up, but instead rolled onto her side as another fit caused to her to convulse and curl up. Mist was starting to roll off of her armor and soak her dark blue tabard. "What's happening?" she managed to choke out as the wracking cold forced her to collapse face-first into the damp dirt.

"This always happen! They so stupid!"

"They never learn!"

"This one probably not tasty. Too lean!"

"Lean good! Chewy! Last longer!"

"No! Fat! Tasty!"

"What? You can't... eat me!" she gasped, trying to get her hands underneath her to prop herself up.

"We can! We will!"

"No one gets away!"

"Even one that wanted to stop us had too much shiny," one of the voices said, with a touch more malice than anything prior.

Tenacity's mind whirled through the biting cold. She could barely breathe. In the ground under her, she saw a sword's hilt. Diligence was looking in her direction with animal curiosity. There was a... hand? Some bones in the dirt were visible, too. She wondered how she had missed that. All of a sudden, a brutal clarity surfaced, borne by her will to live. If these things were killing travelers, they had to be stopped. She focused on the heat in the air around her and not on the sapping chill of her metal armor. The next time the cold overwhelmed her muscles, she controlled her fall so that her arms crossed, hands fumbling for the buckles. It was almost completely unbearable and the cold burned her bare skin whenever it touched. A good thing I wear long sleeves and a high collar, but my hands will take so long to heal. She shrugged away worries about the consequences and tore the straps open. She kicked violently and let the freezing shell halves fall open around her as she sprawled in the dirt. The hot air which had been so torturous before felt like a refreshing balm after the tomb-like freezing feeling of the chilled armor.

"What?!"

"No, no, no!"

"Dinner!"

Her white-hot rage flared as her eyes snapped open. The paler skin of the scar on the ridge of her left cheek fairly glowed against her flushed and shining skin. Her gaze centered on the little green chattering carnivores. Her own sword was attached to Diligence's tackle, so the one at hand would have to do. She reached over her head and wrenched it out of the dirt, never taking her eyes off the creatures, who were scrambling around. "Your search for a hiding spot is in vain, demons!" she shouted through clenched teeth as she got to her feet. "I'll chop this tree down and burn it all! You won't get away! You have to pay for these crimes!"

"No crimes!"

"So angry!"

"Gods!"

Their exclamations reached a terrified fever-pitch as they leaped from branch to branch.

"No gods will hear your or help you now. Abominations don't get mercy."

"Joking!"

"Pranks!"

"We be good! You took bad thing out. Please no pain."

"Bad thing?" Tenacity looked at the black longsword she now held. It was brutally simple and masterfully made but held an air of indifference she couldn't place. There was no doubt about its purpose. When she looked back to the things, they were huddled together in the highest crotch of the willow, pulling fronds around each other. Their watery-blue eyes were huge with terror and followed her slightest movements. "Why is it bad? And why do you think I would trust you?"

"So cold! Hurts everything, burns us. So sad."

"Burns you? Wait, I--"

"You take, you go, we gift you special stick?"

"You still haven't told me why I should trust you. You honestly haven't been eating people? Why would anyone joke about something like that?"

"We think funny. Cannot help. Make jokes."

"So this is really dangerous for you? It doesn't hurt me," she waved the sword toward them and they cringed. "Why stay here, so close to something poisonous?"

"Home," they said in unison.

"Our home through circle," one continued, pointing out a ring made up of dark red mushrooms that was mostly concealed by the long grass. "Weak mind fell in. Dropped cold blade. Shut us out."

The tiny thing seemed on the verge of tears and Tenacity's temper had cooled as her body temperature rose again. She lowered the sword and asked, "You couldn't help because of this? You can't even get close to it?" She took a step back.

"We never hurt on purpose. Make jokes about sad thing."

"Been here years. Watch weakest ones rot. Wash away."

"Cannot leave. Not want to stay." They had calmed considerably and talked more carefully. They inched down the branch a little more with each step that took the woman farther away.

"You take pointy thing. Think 'more' around hurt things. Only gift we have," the biggest one said and tossed a white rod with blue crystals on the ends at her feet. The three leapt the last few feet from the lowest branch and vanished into the air in the center of the mushrooms.

Tenacity didn't realize how quiet things had been until the buzzing of flies resurfaced and the world seemed to return to normal speed around her. She leaned down and pulled her breastplate toward her with the sword's point, trying to stay as far away from the ring as possible. Picking it up, she saw her reflection in one of the bright surfaces. Her face was smeared with dirt and her hair was sticking out in odd places. She sighed and strode back to her horse. She pulled her pack open, got her soap and mirror out, and disrobed before getting into the river.

Watching the sunset from that night's camp, well away from the weeping willow with the strange fairy circle, she dried her freshly-washed clothes near the fire. She polished her armor and checked the bells strung around the camp one last time before lying down and closing her eyes for the night. "You're a silly horse, Diligence. We're going to have to teach you to be more proactive because I bet things just get weirder from here on out."

Diligence snorted softly in retort.

Tenacity sighed, "I've been saddled with an idiot."


Posted on 2009-04-14 at 14:42:20.

Deucalion
RDI Fixture
Karma: 70/16
582 Posts


Very nice

Saddled with an idiot.


Not sure if *sigh* or lol goes with that line.


Posted on 2009-04-15 at 10:18:26.

Celediel
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 22/9
104 Posts


sigh

With eyes rolling so hard they'd fall out if they weren't already shut.


Posted on 2009-04-15 at 11:07:16.

Savrit
Veteran Visitor
Karma: 16/11
165 Posts


...

Tenacity is definitely someone I look forward to adventuring with. Her personality is engaging and the relationship with her horse hilarious. Someone once told me that horses full grown have about the mental maturity of a three year old. Not exactly the terrible two's but they keep life interesting.

I'd love to see you post more of these short stories about the whole family that you have created.


Posted on 2009-05-25 at 22:26:24.

   
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