Rosabella and I grew closer. We soon became close friends. I still had to go on trips through the realms and leave for the Fae realm, but it made our time together more precious. I would visit her for five months every year. I finally understood why humans cherished their time together with their loved ones. Counting down the hours, minutes or even seconds. It was interesting.
Too soon Rosabella grew up to be a beautiful girl. Innocent green eyes, slightly tanned skin, flowing black hair and rosy, red lips. She was a Fae’s dream. She was also becoming a woman, growing up faster than I wanted her to. Each year meant that she was closer to death’s door.
We didn’t really interact with humans, as the humans lived far from the forest. However, when Rosabella was about fifteen, humans began to explore the forest. They built a small village, that soon grew into a bustling town. Even a powerful noble family built a manor on the outskirts of the forest.
The forest had been our sanctuary, but soon it became a hunting ground for the wealthy. Where they could hunt exotic creatures and carry them around like trophies. A type of sport they enjoyed very much.
We soon also had to hide out in our cottage whenever we heard their hunting horns. I enchanted the cottage so that the human eye would miss it easily . It was a blessing, stopping humans from coming to the cottage. That was until Rosabella spotted a boy while wondering the forest when I was away. She fell in love with him.
Every week she would sit in a tree and watch him silently as he helped the men with his hounds. It turned out that he was a groom named Jason. How I hated him. I wanted all Rosabella’s attention, and he slowly took her from me little by little. I know it was selfish, but I’m a selfish Fae. A very selfish Fae. It’s my very nature.
One day we were walking to the forest’s waterfall for a picnic. It was an incredible place, water flowing into an enchanted river that led to the Fae realm and various flowers that bloomed all year round. Sometimes animals would come by to drink the water. It was a tranquil place that Rosabella and I would spend time together and relax.
When we finally got to the waterfall, Rosabella began to pick some of the flowers. I walked to the water’s edge and was setting the basket down, when the King’s men suddenly surrounded us. I knew it was them because they were the only ones who hunted this far into the forest. Most would stay away from this place. Out of instinct, I ran towards Rosabella and we both pulled out our weapons. Rosabella a pair of daggers and me my trusty bow.
Let me tell you now – I was not going to let Rosabella live in this forest without some weapons training. A girl like her needed a fighting chance when living in an enchanted forest. She was under my protection, but you never know with Fae. We love pretty things, and Rosabella was a beautiful human girl. A thing to some Fae, food to others.
Laughing, a man jumped down from his horse. He looked middle-aged with greying hair and a thick white and black bread. His fair skin was covered in expensive silks and he wore many jewels. From his outfit alone, you could see that he was a noble. A really stupid one too. You didn’t wear fancy things in this forest unless you want to be killed or worse.
He walked up to us smirking. I could see the confidant reeking off him. He probably thought that we were going to be easy to tame. I notched an arrow in my bow, aiming it at him. The men around us stepped forward, pulling out their swords. He was stupid but powerful human. It was going to be hard to get away with hurting him. So, instead I pulled Rosabella behind me, hiding her away and glared at the men. Smirking still, the man raised hand and said, “Everyone put your weapons away.”
The men dropped their weapons, but I still kept mine raised. Fat chance, I thought. I was going to protect Rosabella to the death. Not that I am easy to kill. Glaring at the man, I slowly began backing Rosabella towards the waterfall. If we got into the water, we could get safely away from everyone. No need to shed any blood.
Seeing that I was not going to cooperate, the man said calmly, “You need not be frightened. I am King Andrew. Now, please do calm down. We just want to know what two lovely ladies such as yourself are doing in a dangerous forest. Do you not know that Fae scum live here?”
Rosabella gasped silently. She knew that I was Fae. Grabbing my arm to keep me focused, she pulled me slowly back with her. We finally made it to the waterfall’s edge. Rosabella was ready to go when a hound ran towards us. I tensed not wanting to harm the creature but feared for Rosabella’s safety.
She froze as a groom appeared to stop the hound. Jason looked at her. I didn’t really care about the blushing between them at the time. I should have seen the signs sooner. But King Andrew’s name was ringing a bell in my head instead. My focus was on the danger in front of us.
The king narrowed his eyes at us when we didn’t answer. “Ladies, are you slaves to the Fae scum? Or are you that scum yourself? Perhaps you know the famed Huntress. Do you speak this tongue. Maybe another.”
We both stilled as we heard the name. Rosabella knew I was named the Huntress, but she didn’t know exactly what I did. Okay, she knew I hunted monsters, but not other beings. Sometimes humans themselves. That as a Punisher Fae, my job was to avenge those that place a curse on someone before dying. The Furies were the most famous among the Punisher Fae.
The king meanwhile repeated his questions in four other human languages. As he continued to speak, it suddenly clicked why the king and his men were in the forest. They weren’t just hunting Fae and the other creatures in this forest for fun, they were trying to find me.
That was when I also realized the man before us was the father of Prince Davis. The one I had slaughtered and hang on the palace gates a few years back. For abusing those who were defenceless against him. A few had even cursed him before dying.
Not realizing the danger and trouble we were in, Rosabella widened her eyes and said, “No, your Majesty. We just come to the forest a lot. Fetching the magical water and sometimes gathering plants and herbs. Selling them to the local market. We make a living like that.”
“I see. So, then why is my hound going mad. He only goes this mad when he catches the scent of the Huntress. I had him trained to only be able to attack when he smelled her scent.”
So, maybe leaving my arrow with a handwritten note on it in his chest probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. But I had to list his crimes somehow, so that people wouldn’t do the same. Also, it helped to explain why I killed him and was my trademark in the Human realm, at least for my identity as the Huntress.
Signalling his men, the king began to advance more towards us. “So, I am going to ask you again. Are you Fae or slaves to some Fae scum?”
Suddenly his men moved closer to us, completely trapping us. The waterfall behind us was the only opening left. They all had their weapons out again. They probably thought that we wouldn’t jump into the water. I pulled Rosabella closer towards me. and replied to the king in a timid voice, “Please don’t ask us. We will be in trouble if we say who we are. Our master is horrible.”
Rosabella who quickly caught on to what I was doing nodded. “Please sir. Our lives are already miserable. She won’t spare us if we talk to you about her. She has ears everywhere.”
The girl was brilliant. Knowing what to do without knowing everything. I wanted to kiss her. As I thought it, I felt weird. I’d never wanted to kiss someone before. The thoughts, however, quickly disappeared as the king spoke again.
“So, you are slaves to the Huntress.”
We both slowly nodded, casting our eyes down on the ground. We had to act like damsels in distress. It was stupid, but I needed to distract them so we could make our escape in the water. We slowly lowered our weapons. The king started to soften. The men backed away and weapons put away. “Ladies, please stop fearing that scum. We will protect you.”
Rosabella was trembling. This was really scaring her. Knowing that one false move could get us hurt, I mumbled, “Sir, please just let us go. We will not say anything.”
“And let two beautiful girls wonder around in this forest. Serving that cruel witch. No, you shall come with us. You can probably find a better life. The castle could use you.”
“We will come” Rosabella said suddenly. I finally saw she was looking at the groom when she said it. It was shocking.
Looking at the king, I asked, “May I speak to my sister privately please?”
He nodded and moved a distance away with his men. I turned to Rosabella. Whispering, I said, “Rosabella, we cannot go.”
“No, you cannot leave.” She hissed back. “This is my chance. To live with other humans peacefully. Not hiding and fighting. You having to leave me because you have to do your duty to a mother that abandoned you.
Fighting, killing, cursing as she sees fits.” I flinched as she spoke the words. She knew that I had a complicated history with my mother.
“She’s just using your powers for evil. Come with me. You will see life is better this way. You could act human. Be my real sister, get married. Not living in this damn stupid forest only having each other. I want to marry, have kids, and just worry about what’s for supper. Not if I’m going to be supper. Anyway, I’ve been meeting Jason when you were away in town. I want to be with him. I’ve actually have been waiting for a chance to talk to you about it.”
I took a step back. This was how she felt. She wanted to live her life with humans. Not with me. Not in our forest. If only she knew about what I’d done to get this forest. To make it ours. It was like being stabbed it the heart with every word. She had finally chosen a human over me.
I felt myself slowly grow numb. “Is this how you truly feel? Do you want to marry Jason and live with other humans? You don’t want the life we live? You know I cannot live as a human.”
She turned away from me and whispered, “Fer, I was living your life. Living alone for seven months, without seeing another person. I only saw humans when I was with you or when I went to the town to visit Jason. Please stop making live your life. I don’t have your immortality. We aren’t even the same species. I’m going to die one day and if I keep living like this, I’ll never experience anything. I want to know what life is like outside this stupid forest.”
Looking at her, I saw she was serious. I sighed. This was going to happen. I was warned. But as usually I didn’t listen. I could not fight it. She wanted what I could never give her. I thought she was okay with the way we lived. She had never said anything to me. I was upset. All, I wanted was for her to be happy. Even if it meant…
I took my necklace chain off and handed it to her. A golden bird shaped locket hung from it. She took it from me and gave me a confused look. “It will summon me if you whisper my name into it. I’m sorry I forced you to live a life you didn’t want. You should have told me sooner. I would have changed sooner.”
“I want you to be happy Rosabella. I really hope human life works out for you. Call if you need me. Goodbye, and remember that I never left you alone for those seven months. I had someone watching you, taking care of you.” My heart broke apart with each word.
Turning around, I jumped into the water. But not before I heard her scream for me to come back. That there must be another way. Jason was holding her back and the men standing around looked shocked. Her screams and crying face shattered my broken heart more. Not wishing to bear it anymore I welcomed the darkness.