He always had nightmares. Very vivid ones, very… touchable. Like he could feel the coarse, cold and metallic texture of theirs. They always revolved around his family. How they survive, if something happens to him on the hunt. Of course, his father could hunt as well, he was much more experienced. But his right leg wasn’t good enough, an old scar coming through muscle, slowing him down.
This night, as two previous ones, Tiyan was afraid to fall asleep. Night meant darkness and darkness attracted monsters. He was aware that his house, made of wood, won’t be a problem for the fey kind. Glass windows were merely a nuisance, wood, old and maybe solid, but the fey had spells, which could lure him out. He would go willingly, and that scared him most.
He was slowly losing his mind, which, for him, happened very fast. But for the first time as well, he escaped the fairy clutches and didn’t know what they really wanted from him.
He would prefer them come, even if that meant fight, or death. Acting was always better than waiting. He was used to acting, to tearing life from the world, which was trying to push him to the ground. Waiting for looming danger was like allowing to be hunted, not being a hunter himself.
Each night he was promising he wouldn’t sleep, and each night he was knocked off his feet by simple tiredness. He was awake in the morning, looking at woods lighted up by the faint, winter sun and wondered, how long it will take before his questions will be answered. Maybe a year? A year, living in constant fear.
Tonight, he managed to stay up until midnight. But that was enough for his tired body and he simply collapsed on the chair, hands hanging on the sides, and open mouth.
The moonlight seemed to cocoon him up, in a bubble of light. And Tiyan entered the dream realm, which soon will make him trash and scream.
Mina was carried somewhere.
Carried by enemies, tangled in vines, in a cacophony of laughs, which reminded him of his own incident in the woods. Tiyan ran after her, ran fast, but the grass seemed to catch his feet, like wanted to swallow him and bury in black soil.
Mina cried and cried, sometimes it looked like he was close, but then, he heard her from a different direction, he tried to go there, and then grass again was opening its gaping mouth.
“Poor boy, poor man!” he heard mocks but they mixed with Mina’s screams and soon he couldn’t place which is which. He stopped, not knowing where to go, panic bubbling in his chest.
“Poor boy” he suddenly heard just near his ear. Something, a power of unknown kind, forced him to look at the ethereal wonder that was hanging in the air, just next to him.
The woman was tiny, even smaller than a cat. Her beautiful, opalescent wings looked like glitter in the darkness, shining with light which seemed to come from within her. Her face was perfection incarnate, a triumphant smile dancing on her lips, when she was stiffling a laughter.
She wore nothing that could hide her body, she was bare under a thin gossamer dress.
“Poor boy, can’t save the sister, must be disappointed with himself.” she laughed, the other laughters joining her from the darkness.
“Release her, I will do whatever you want me to” said Tiyan, trying to not feel cold sweat trickling down his back.
“Release her?” her big eyes opened wide. “Why? We are having so much fun.”
“Please… just, do not harm her.” Tiyan shivered at the word “fun”.
“But she was already tasted, very young and delicious.”
Tiyan forced himself to not scream, that would only show his weakness before the fey. Tasted. Tasted. Tasted, it rang in his head, with a bell-like sound.
“Please, I know it’s me who you want.”
“He is tasty too. But protected. Protected, so we can’t feed on him.” laughed the tiny fey. “But we still can drink the fear, drink the despair. LOOK.”
His head snapped back and the same force as before, made him turn again and then, his throat clenched, his muscles tensed, his whole being wanted to just disappear.
Mina was held in a cage made of vines, roots were closing around her like a trap and Tiyan couldn’t even see her through them. Yet, the trail of blood leading to the vined prison, was obvious enough, to guess, that he can’t count on her safety. Then he heard a muffled voice, a silent cry from the trap, and his skin crawled. The vines around her seemed to move and rustle, squeezing her even harder, more blood trickled between the crevices.
They fey around her giggled and looked at him with intensity. Sick enjoyment in their eyes.
“Please, no…” he uttered and this time, turned back, by his own will.
“It’s me! It was me, who you wanted! It’s me who escaped. Why do you do this?” but he knew why.
Because they wanted to.
Because they could.
Because nothing could stop them.
“He wants to save her?” grinned the winged woman. “So, he wakes up. Maybe he will make it in time.”
Tiyan suddenly opened his eyes, Wide, like not believing he is here, not in this nightmarish place from before. The moonlight danced on the walls, everything slept – his house, his family… even the woods slept, dreaming rotten dreams.
But he remembered the fey’s words.
Maybe he will make it in time.
He caught the clothes, fast, faster than lightning, wore the boots and even faster left his room. Nothing indicated that something wrong was going on, even Tiyan’s dog slept with righteous sleep. But Tiyan felt, just felt, this is not going to end well.
He ran into Mina’s room, and his heart skipped a beat. The bed was empty. Fumbling, he rushed to search for her in the house, but she wasn’t there as well and Tiyan already knew that she left the house, because fairies lured her out. She would never go outside at night, she knew how dangerous it was.
He fell from the house and running forth, he called his sister, with more and more fear in his voice. He didn’t dare to lose the house from sight, not now, but he tossed around between the trees, like a maddened hare.
He felt as his body refused to work, his breath ragged, his hands trembling, his mind writing scenarios of death and pain.
“Mina!! For goddess’ sake!”
The darkness looked thick, even with moon shining above him and he knew, he really knew, it all was planned.
Something you cherish the most. They know your nightmares. And biggest fears.
He heard it only, because the woods were silent, like a pillow made of softest feathers.
Her voice was muffled. Resigned.
He didn’t want to turn back. He knew that everytime he turns back, he sees horrors.
But he had to.
And he did.