The women were running in the forest, trying not to stumble against the glowing roots of the Faeres Forest. Its vegetation was unique in the world and had barely been seen by any human. But the women weren’t there to admire the feeble light emanating from every living being of the forest. They were in a hurry. And they were not supposed to be there. No human was. But still, they were willing to risk their lives to save her. To save the little girl the youngest of the two had delivered not even hours ago. She was holding the baby tight against her chest, running as fast as she could, ignoring the pain, the fatigue, and the fear. Not the fear they would be caught. She didn’t care about what would happen to her, she knew she had a price to pay anyway. No, what she feared the most was to fail. She feared they would be too late. She feared the Fae wouldn’t accept the deal. She feared her baby, her sweet, small and delicate daughter wouldn’t ever live. When her sister, the one running beside her at this very moment, had finally pulled the baby out, there was no cry, no sound, not even a small breath. She had birthed a corpse. But it wasn’t disgusting that took over her heart. It was despair. And pain. And anger as she never felt before. She wouldn’t let her baby die. Not even if she had to die in return. And that’s probably what would happen. But she didn’t fear death. She had just learned the soul could endure far worse than to die.
It was her sister that stopped first. She seemed to have heard something as she was looking far into the distance, looking for the origin of what she had heard. Then the mother heard it too. Someone had laughed. Impossible to say if it was a male or a female voice. The laughter sounded more like clear and delicate little bells than a genuine laugh. There was no humor or joy in it, it seemed to contain pity and contempt instead. And then it appeared.
Its skin was translucid, allowing the two women to see the veins running through its skin and carrying a blood glowing the same as the forest. It had a humanoid body, but when looking at it, you could see it wasn’t human. Its limbs were too long and seemed to twist like roots. Its fingers without nails were too pointy. And its feet were to elongated, the heels arriving as high as the middle of the shin, just like a deer, or a wolf. It had no hair, not even on its head. Its features looked like the ones of birds of prey: long, angular and scornful. Its eyes were a piercing silver, they almost mirrored what they were seeing in their irises. After gazing at the two women, the Fae took its sight down on the child and smiled like it was amused. “Now, would you look at that,” it purred, “it looks like there are two lost mice in my forest. Do they know its against the law for them to be here? Are they looking to be killed? Or are they bringing me the baby corpse as a snack? No, no, no… Humans are not that kind, history teaches it.”
“I want to make a deal,” said the mother. “I know you can save her. I’m willing to pay the price. No need to chat any longer, just do it.”
“Is the little mouse giving me orders now? How funny! It’s not even supposed to be here and its acting as its ruling my forest. But its rare humans come to me with such luscious deals…”
“You can’t refuse the deal if its fair. And it is, so just go on with it.”
“Right, the mouse knows more than it appears. You can have the deal, but the other one didn’t offer me anything.” It pointed at the sister. “Why should I let the other mouse live?”
“If you let me live,” said the sister, “I’ll let you keep my voice, to assure you I won’t talk, and as a mark of my gratitude for saving the child.”
“Fair enough” muttered the Fae without hiding its disappointment. “Then let’s begin.”
It reached for the baby and the mother hesitated a little bit before letting go of her daughter. Seeing the body of her little girl in the arms of the creature didn’t reassure the mother at all but she tried not to show her worries as Faeres tend to exploit that kind of signs. With surprise, she noted that the Fae didn’t seem to show the same disgust and scorn toward the child as it did with the two women. It looked at it with tenderness and caution instead, as if afraid to break it. The creature then started to chant with no words. Just like the laugh of earlier, the chanting sounded more like bells, but when before it was random and chaotic scores, it now seemed calculated and precise. Slowly, the blueish tones of the baby’s skin became more rose, warmer. Her little chest raised weakly as the mother’s breathing was becoming heavier. It was now too tough to stand or to keep her eyes open, but she didn’t care as she heard the little screams and cries becoming louder. She smiled when she stopped feeling her heart pulsating. She knew it was still beating, somewhere. It just wasn’t hers anymore.
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