The Faerie Ring

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


A short story written for Reaper's 'Bring The Action' competition.

Submitted: November 11, 2017

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Submitted: November 11, 2017

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The Faerie Ring

Her lungs were on fire, her legs had gone beyond pain, but still Emily ran. The soldiers were behind her, but she could hear that they were gaining on her; and fast. If they caught her, Emily knew that would be the end – if not of her life, then of her life as she knew it.

She turned off the path, pushing her way through ever thicker bushes and undergrowth. If something snagged at her hair, her clothes, she did not let it slow her but endured the rip. The trees were massive now, closely packed; the sun did not make much of an impact.

Emily paused, placed a hand on a tree-trunk to steady herself. She breathed heavily, in and out. Where to go? If only she knew. A muttered curse sounded, alarmingly near; she could not delay a moment longer but had to run NOW. Up ahead, she could see a brighter patch, and it was towards that she decided to head.

Pushing her legs to keep on moving, several times Emily found herself almost falling flat on to her face, only managing to stay on her feet with a struggle. When she burst through into the clearing, her speed increased. She did not notice the ring of stones until her front foot was already inside.

“Stop! Put your hands up or I’ll shoot!” A soldier had broken through the forest just seconds behind her.

Emily thought of stopping but her back foot landed inside the ring and everything went instantly black.

* * * * *

Slowly, Emily found herself regaining consciousness. Had she been shot? There was no way the soldier could have missed from where he was standing. She kept her eyes shut and let herself feel. There was no obvious pain, but then, if she was dead would she even notice it?

Very slowly, very cautiously, Emily opened one eye and then the other. She was laying flat on the ground staring up into an unusually bright blue sky. She sat up, examined her arms, checked her legs, looked for signs that she was or had been bleeding. Then she reached up and gingerly felt all the way around her head, in search of bumps or bruises. Whatever had happened, it seemed that she had miraculously escaped unharmed.

But where was she? And how did she get here? These were questions she had to figure out if she was to be able to return home and warn her family in time. Emily pushed herself up on to her two feet and looked around. This was not like any path she had ever seen before.

The path looked like it was made of sand, but it was solid, not dusty with loose grains, but glistening with a pink tinged sheen. And everything looked so bright, so vibrant. The grass looked almost emerald and again had a shine to it; it was almost as though someone had come along and painstakingly polished every blade. She bent down and touched a blade and drew her hand away sharply. Blade was an appropriate name to use for this grass as the cut on her finger was as deep and as straight as if she had pressed it against a razor-blade.

Instructing herself to ‘Keep Off The Grass’, and sucking the blood from her finger, Emily slowly made her way along the path. She stopped suddenly and looked all around when she thought she heard a sigh. There was no one there, nothing at all had appeared that wasn’t there a moment a go. Telling herself that it was just her imagination, Emily set off again.

She had not gone much further when she came upon some flowers. Their stems were tall, strong, and their ruby red blooms reached just below her waist. Their scent was sweet, yet calming; Emily found herself wanting to breath it in. And those flowers were so beautiful. How nice it would be to pluck one and to carry it along with her, breathing in the calmness as she went.

She didn’t get so far as to reaching out for it before it dipped towards her and....bit her! There was no other way of describing it, even though she saw no signs of any teeth. Emily pulled her hand away quickly and moved to the middle of the path. The petals of the flower were speckled with her blood, and the droplets were already darkening to almost black.

Keeping her hands close to her sides and staying to the middle, Emily carried on along the path. She was just wondering what had happened to the soldier when something whizzed past her ear. Someone, or something, was shooting at her.

* * * * *

Whatever it was stopped, turned around, and headed straight back towards her. It stopped about an inch from her nose, looking at her with it’s almost human-looking eyes. A faerie! Emily was speechless with disbelief and wonder. There, in front of her, was a very real, definitely alive, faerie.

A smile began to spread across her face until the faerie returned her smile, revealing fangs and a forked-tongue that lashed out like that of a lizard.

Emily squealed, lashed out with her hand to knock it away. She hit it, not hard, just enough to move it out of her way, and once more she took to her feet, running as fast as she could. She could hear the pursuit, this time a humming of rapidly beating wings instead of tramping footsteps and curses.

How could she get away this time? Even the vegetation was after her blood here, wherever ‘Here’ was.

There was nothing for it but to keep on running along the path as fast as her feet would let her until she found somewhere to hide, to shelter. But she was never going to out-run these faeries. Already she could feel them clinging to her clothes, wrapped up in her hair.

She reached up and swatted as she ran and did not even notice the tale male figure step out in front of her. Not until she ploughed straight into him and found herself held gently.

* * * * *

“Pelosko, ekt ampo!” He sounded cross as he spoke sternly to the faeries. They stopped their pursuit but chittered and hovered around Emily, clearly not happy to have their fun interrupted. Several of them grabbed at her hair, plucking strands to take with them as they angrily withdrew.

The tall man stepped back but kept his hands on her shoulders. Emily looked up and found herself face to face with the most handsome man she had ever seen. But ‘man’ might not be the correct term. His face was lightly longer, more pointed, and his eyes had an almost oriental slant. His ears, pointed where they peeked out from behind his curtain of hair, were what gave it away.

“Thank you for saving me. Are you an....elf?”

The tall figure bowed slightly and smiled. “Andallagh, at your service, madam.”

“Andallagh!” Emily found herself almost whispering his name. “What a beautiful name. Mine is nothing quite so extravagant, I’m afraid....Emily.”

“Emeelay,” he pronounced it, making it sound somehow special and exotic. “Please, walk with me. You will be quite safe when you are in my company.” He looked straight in to her eyes before continuing; “I’m sure you must be hungry.”

If Emily noticed the crows that croaked and took flight then she gave no sign. She did not want this man, this elf, to remove his hand from her shoulder. She was safe, she was warm, and he brought even more glitter to a landscape that was already sparkling with magic.

Andallagh made her feel safe and secure. Somehow he managed to make her feel beautiful, desirable, and as they walked along side-by-side she thought how nice it would be to stay next to him forever.

* * * * *

Time didn’t seem to exist any more, or, Emily thought, perhaps it just did not matter. She had no idea for how long or how far they walked together, before another elf, a female, appeared, wanting to speak with Andallagh.

The two elves moved apart from Emily and though she strained her ears so that she could listen, she could not understand what she heard. They spoke in another language, the like of which she had never come across before. There was no denying it; she felt jealous, resentful. Andallagh belonged by her side and once he moved away from her, some of the magic and good feeling disappeared.

How much longer were they going to stand there talking? Emily moved off to the side of the path, kicking her shoes on the ground as she went. When she found herself suddenly flying up in the air, she was so startled she could do no more than let out a squeak of surprise that was silenced by a hairy hand before it left her mouth.

After being pulled roughly higher and higher up in to the tree, Emily found herself looking in to two large deep eyes. The creature the eyes belonged to looked like a cross between a very large sloth and an over-grown koala. She was even more surprized than when she’d been seized when the creature spoke in perfect English.

“Do not be alarmed. I mean you no harm. Do you understand?” It had a deep voice, a kind voice, but a strangely sad one too.

Emily, unable to reply, nodded her head.

“You have somehow wandered in to Faerie, and it is not safe for you here. I will show you the way home before it is too late.”

Emily struggled against the beasts arms. She could still see Andallagh; how come he had not even noticed that she had disappeared? She wanted to call out to him but it was impossible, and the beast was moving further off into the trees, taking her with it.

“Listen to me. Andallagh will make you his queen for a while. All your memories of your real life will fade and you will become nothing more than a willing servant, waiting to carry out his wishes. You would not be the first and you would certainly not be the last. The next time an innocent finds their way to this land he’ll be there, feeding off their emotions. That’s what he does. And that is where the sparkle comes from.”

As the distance between herself and Andallagh increased, Emily felt a little bit more of her real life return. There was blood, bleeding, and things were not too friendly; yes, she remembered that now. And there was a chase of some sort.....what?

Soldiers! They were after her, chasing her. She had to get home and warn her family of their approach but now she was here and they were there...

The creature, maybe sensed the madness was receding, because he removed his hand from her mouth. “How am I going to get home?” Emily sobbed.

The creature carried on through the trees, almost carrying her as he leaped from one tree to another. He was so sure-footed the thought that they might slip, crash to the ground, only occasionally flickered its way into her mind.

“I know the way. We are almost there.” The creature paused for a moment as though weighing up its words. “You have to remember that here in Faerie, things are often not as they seem. You are going to have to trust me.”

At that, the creature stopped moving. Emily found that they were high up on the last tree before what looked to be a very deep lake. There was a very steep drop to reach its surface.

“What do I have to do? You have not even told me your name.”

“My name is Halldagron. I am Andallagh’s brother, or was, before I saved someone and earned myself this punishment.” At Emily’s shocked expression, the creature seemed to smile. “Do not worry, I am quite used to this new life, and he no longer has the ability to control me.

Now, Emily, what you have to do is trust me and just jump!”

“What? Down there? Are you crazy? Trying to kill me or something?”

“It is the only way.”

“No, I don’t believe you. I can’t do it.....I’m sorry but I’m terrified of.......ARRRRGH!

Halldagron had betrayed her. He had thrown her out of the tree and she was going to hit the water and drown.

* * * * *

Emily sat up, shook her head. Had she fallen, hit it, knocked herself stupid?

Somehow it seemed that she had gained on the soldiers. She could still hear them giving chase but from a distance. Getting herself up on to her feet, she ran along the track as fast as she could get her legs to move. She’d make it in time, she was sure of it, if she just managed not to trip on any more roots.

 

 

(2175 words)

 


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