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I ran through the woods, the ground blurring beneath me. A shadow followed me, zigzagging between the tall pine trees with me. I bent forward, sprinting faster over broken twigs and crackling leaves. Bushes and flowers disappeared as I raced through the forest. Nothing could stop me. Nothing. I was invincible.
I laughed, throwing my head back as I continued to run. The shape behind me howled with me. I glanced back and saw he was gaining on me. I gritted my teeth, and ran even faster. I caught sight of a tree with thick branches and smiled. This time, I had the upper hand.
Running towards the tree, I vaulted myself onto its lowest branch. Swinging myself upwards, I grabbed onto the next highest, then the next, and the next, until I was at the very top. Looking down, I saw the beast that had been chasing me scratching the tree dejectedly. He moaned, then circled the tree three times and lied upon on the leafy ground. I smiled triumphantly.
He had given up.
At the sight of the surrender, I climbed carefully down back to the ground. The second I had cleared the last branch, I was tackled by the huge, furry gray mass that was Skor.
“Skor! Get off!” I laughed as he licked every inch of my face. The wolf had been my closest friend ever since I had arrived in this woodland. He had taken care of me, and I him, as we both had grown up with one another.
The friendly wolf yelped in response, slowly stepping off of my body. I sat up and hugged him, his gray fur soft against my pale skin.
‘You ran faster today. It seems you’re building up some stamina. Finally.’
I laughed in response to his speech. “Thanks for the encouragement.”
‘I do pride myself on my ability to bring optimism to anyone and everyone’s lives.’
I grabbed the fur around Skor’s neck, but smiled as I did. “Let’s go back home, Oh-Bringer-Of-Sunshine.”
He grinned at me, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. ‘You’re just too stubborn to admit that I’m right. You never did like compliments.’
“Just stop talking Skor. You’re giving me a headache.”
We raced each other to the hidden lake in the forest. It wasn’t really a lake, more like a…really large brook. It was more or less deep, and it was where Skor and I made our home, as well as other animals.
I laughed as Skor jumped into the lake, getting both him and me wet. A few of the other animals emerged from their homes when they heard the noise we were both making.
‘What’s going on?’
‘It’s Fae! She’s back!’
The other animals came out and gathered around me, wondering what I had brought back for them. Skor and I always took yearly trips to different places in the forest, most extremely far away. It was a way for us to find and explore new areas, and for the other animals to get what they needed that were too far of a distance for them to travel.
I smiled at them, sitting down and going through my leather bag. I pulled out all sorts of things, from Weedle Berries to Fron Juice. I told them about where Skor and I had gone, mainly places away from civilization. I’ve been to the Provinces before, heck, I used to live in one of them, but that was before I was thrown out for being…different.
The Provinces were a group of different villages, towns, and sometimes cities all located around a central government city, called the Alliance. After the War between the States that happened in 3045, the government banded together and separated the people into different categories. There were the Aristocrats, the Dratns, the Norms, and the Unforgivables. The Aristocrats led the operation by being the richest and most elegant of the four. The Dratns and the Norms were average people, neither extremely wealthy nor extremely poor, the Dratns slightly higher only because of the fact that they could serve the Aristocrats. The Unforgivables, however, were criminals who had gone against the law, and not slightly either. They were people who had fought against this new way of governing, and had paid with their lives for it. No one really knew what went on in the Province that kept them hostage, and no one really wanted to know.
Because knowing in a Province was like fighting a war you’d never win.
That’s what happened to me. I was born on the exact second of a solar eclipse, right when the moon covered the sun. Because of that, I was given the power to speak to animals. But because of that, I was thrown out of my Province. For understanding and knowing too much. The animals in the forests took me in, and Skor became my family. I don’t usually visit the Provinces, but sometimes, I have to, so that I can get fabric and things.
I don’t steal them. Most of the time. With my pale skin and almost white hair, I can blend in pretty well. No one pays any attention to the girl buying things at a stall.
But apparently, someone did.
I caught them out of the corner of my eye. They were pretty quick, for someone who had probably never ventured into the forest before. I dropped the bag with the other animals, and motioned to Skor. He followed me as I ran away from the clearing, towards a far off tree. I sensed the unwanted visitor behind us.
Climbing up the tree, I gestured to Skor to keep running, making it seem like I was still ahead. Sure enough, the stalker believed it.
As he came running by the tree, I jumped in front of him, shocking the living heck out of him.
He fell on the ground, and I stood next to him, glaring. “Who are you, and why are you here?”
The boy, he looked about my age, sat up, coughing and sputtering, getting leaves out of his mouth. They decorated his long black hair, too, and his green, button-up shirt that was a requirement of the Aristocrats had gotten dirt on it as well. When he opened his eyes, they matched the green that was his shirt.
I stared at him. He stared at me. I glared. “Stop following me.” I turned and left him sitting there. But a few seconds later…
“Hey! Wait up!”
I whirled around to face him, spitting fire. “I thought I told you to STOP FOLLOWING ME.”
He held out a hand. I looked at it, confused. “You shake it.” He said. I glared again.
“I know. I’m not stupid.”
“I never said you were.” I shook his hand slightly, but he grabbed my wrist and sat down, dragging me with him.
“What are you doing?”
“I want to tell you what you want to know.”
I shook my head. He looked slightly shocked. “If I know who you are, then I can kill you. It’s safer if you don’t tell me.”
He shrugged. “Fine with me.”
We sat in silence for a while. I would’ve run away if I could, but he still held my wrist in a strong grip, and I’d rather sit there with him than break the wrist I used for chopping things and climbing trees.
“How did you find me?” I asked suddenly. His eyes widened.
“Well…I see you sometimes in the market…and I decided to follow you back to the woods…my mother normally tells me not to, but I was just curious…”
“Are you an Aristocrat?”
“…No.” He looked worried. He was a horrible liar.
“I don’t murder Aristocrats, you know. I just wondered because of your shirt.”
“How did you know that Aristocrats wear this?” He glanced at his shirt, fixing it a bit.
“I used to be one.”
“Used to?” His voice was laced with confusion and curiosity. His grip on my wrist fell slightly, enough that I could escape.
“Used to.” I stood up, wrenching my hand out of his now loosened grip. Then I ran as fast as I could towards where Skor was.
Hopefully, I wouldn’t see that boy again.
For my sake, and for his.