Huntress [Flash Fiction]
Themes: Fantasy, Fairies, Myth
Mother and babe slept soundly, she beneath a grey blanket and the child nestled in a crib at the foot of the bed. The glass of the bedroom window pane fogged with the heat of Saoirse’s breath as she stared in at the pair. The sleeping woman was fair and beautiful, exactly Odhran’s type. He always picked the finest mortals to bear his offspring.
Saoirse shifted, working feeling back into cold muscles. The plates of her dragon-scale armour flexed to allow movement, and she subconsciously brushed her fingers along the hilt of her starfire blade.
She waited, drinking in the scents and sounds of the dell. Night-crickets sang their circadian symphony to the moonless sky, nocturnal creatures snuffled about in the undergrowth as they hunted for the singers, and somewhere off in the distance an owl let out a mournful hoot. If she closed her eyes, she could believe that she was back in Fey, taking a walk through the Lonely Woods. Only the stink of humanity, and the feeling of magic cruelly tamed, gave any indication that this wasn’t her birthland.
The stars continued their timeless dance across the sky, until The Hunter reached his meridian. Saoirse shivered as the pulse of magic flowing across the Earth’s ancient ley-lines reversed, channelling a swell of aethereal force deep into her bones. She took a deep breath. Straightened her back. Let the magic sing within her.
It was time.
Her mind was one with the forest as she stepped towards the front door. The owl was her eyes, the beasts her nose, and the insects her voice. She drew her blade and wedged it between the door and its jamb. Gentle application of pressure was all she needed; the sword did the rest.
No longer constrained by the laws of mortals, she stepped freely across the threshold, shouldering the damaged door aside. With the power of the owl in her eyes, the inside of the house was revealed in perfect clarity; a small, homely house, little different to the dozens of other houses she had broken into over the years.
A thousand curses upon Odhran’s soul! He wasn’t the first Elven prince to abscond to the Earth after the separation of the mortal and fae worlds, but he was the most determined to avoid capture. When The Sisters of the Long Tooth caught up with him and dragged him back to Fey for his punishment, he would surely regret his actions. Saoirse wished fervently that she could be there, to pay him back for all the bastards she’d had to hunt down.
Her lynxleg boots swallowed the sound of her footsteps as she ghosted towards the bedroom door. There, she paused, ear pressed against the wood, senses strained. All was quiet.
The door opened at her touch. The crib, aflame with magic, was a beacon flaring brightly before her eyes. She stepped closer, close enough to see the creature inside. The elfin child smiled up at her.
Her lips curled into a snarl which she didn’t try to suppress. She wove a glamour over the child’s mind, so that its feeble eyes would see the hazy form of its mother. She’d found, after the first couple, that taking the babes was easier when they were quiet and untroubled.
With the glamour in place she picked up the child, cradling it in her arms, and sent silent thanks that none of her fellow warriors could see her like this. If the choice had been hers she would’ve done away with the abomination right there and then, but Oberon wanted them all retrieved. Why, she did not know. Dared not ask.
A fork of lightning tore across the sky outside the window, a purple-hued flash of light searing her sensitive eyes. The ground-shaking rumble of thunder followed, disturbing the mortal woman on the bed. Curses! Where had the storm come from? The skies had been clear— Unless…
When she delved into her own mind and found the knot of glamour buried deep, her blood ran cold. She lashed out at it with her own magic, hissing with pain as it shattered and sent a fiery backlash racing across her scalp.
The illusion fell away. Not a simple woodcutter’s cottage, but a stately home on flat, open ground. In her arms was not a babe but a bundle of wicker wrapped up in swaddling. From the door where she’d entered the bedroom, two uniformed mortals advanced. When she saw the weapons they held, a violent shiver stole over her.
Instinct prompted her towards the window. She crashed through it, shoulder-first. Landed heavy. Rolled to her feet. Still smarting from the backlash, she groped for whatever magic she could find. Rain, cold and heavy, assaulted her face, running down the scales of her dragon-armour and soaking the clothes beneath.
Her sword was in her hand even before she saw the cloaked figure waiting on the damp lawn. The light of Star-fire, an inferno of amber and gold, erupted from the blade in answer to her call.
“This ends here,” the figure called above the pounding of the rain’s drum. “You will take no more of my children.”
“This ends here,” she agreed. “But you and the abomination will be coming back to Fey to answer for your crimes.”
With the rain pelting her eyes she couldn’t see his face, but she heard the undercurrent of pity in his voice when he spoke again.
“If desire to be free from tyranny is a crime, then I’m guilty. But I won’t go back.”
The sound of ringing metal filled her ears as Odhren drew his weapon, bathing the night with a silvery nimbus. Shivering with cold and wet and something other, Saoirse tightened her grip on her sword’s hilt.
She hadn’t known he possessed a moonblade.
Tuesday means BlogBattle, and this week’s theme is Liquid (in my case, rain) with a genre of Fairy Tale. Go check it out, and maybe participate in next week’s challenge, if you’re so inclined!