The rough tip of the quill scratched against the recycled paper, and the warm glow of fire emanated from the centre-piece of the living room; an old, painted stove with three tiers. The solid, sturdy base, where the fire itself nestled, was his favourite. When the fire glowed, his soul felt as though it did, too.
The second tier was full of memories. Mingling with the smoky wood scent, sweet tones of dried herbs and apple tickled the air. He was reminded of his childhood, spent apple picking in a nearby orchard.
There were several decorations hanging among the herbs - old photographs, ornate clocks, brass curlicues. Most of them had belonged to his grandfather.
All his memories with that man were around this stove. Whether they had been sitting with fresh apple pie and a pot of tea, or whether they had been wrapped in blankets before bedtime, many a story had been shared there.
His fae stories were always the most detailed, enchanting narratives. The realms that his words had woven were so vivid, so real. He had never met anyone else with such a storytelling ability.
The warmth of the fire seemed to vanish as the boy recalled his lost family member. He pushed another log into the flames, watching as they engulfed it.
This was home. A simple, cosy hideaway. Living off the grid had been his family's way for almost a century, and he loved that. It was rewarding, to wake up to a bright dawn, drink a steaming mug of herbal tea, and spend the day nurturing life. That was how he had always thought of his garden. Not just a sustainable way to live his life. A way to bring more life to the world. That was important to him.
He sipped his drink thoughtfully, and began to read his completed journal. His thoughts often wandered as he wrote, and although it was never the intent of his reflections, he enjoyed discovering what he was truly thinking in the process. It allowed him to access parts of his mind that he did not consciously.
Today's writing was mostly about his grandfather. His wizened hands, his kindness. It was only after reading the page that the boy realised how deeply his heart ached. It had been three years, but still, he grieved.
He closed the book, and, with the calloused skin on his thumb, traced the embossing on the cover. A simple two letters. FF. The boy assumed that the designer had planned to use this book themselves, and that was why their initials were on it. They had always fascinated him. He pondered this again as he put the fire out.
As he pondered, his eyelids drooped. A warm fire, comforting tea, and nostalgia had sent him to sleep, his first dream a mere sentence.
"At dawn we will rise"
As his eyes flickered open, sensitive to the light, he began to stretch his stiff joints. Sleeping on the sofa never did his body any favours. One day, he would learn to go to bed after he finished writing.
His peaceful slumber rapidly turned to alert alarm as he saw that the room was not as he had left it. His precious treasures were scattered across the floor. Photos of his grandfather, ornaments full of nostalgia, even his journal, had been used to create a pathway. He stood cautiously and began following the path. It led him to the garden door, which he was reticent to open given the ominous energy surrounding him.
Still, he couldn't hide by the stove forever. He pushed the door open, barely noticing as it scraped the heads off a clump of toadstools.
The sight greeting him was one that sent nausea to his stomach and confused tingles down his spine.
Directly in front of him, stood a tall, majestic being with sharp, angular cheekbones and soft brown waves to their chin. Their pointed features and tall, muscular build seemed so familiar, and yet so foreign.
Their clothing was unlike anything the boy had ever seen. brass plates covered their chest and shoulders, whilst green, flowing cloth and brown, shiny leather covered most of their body. Ethereal. That was the word that sprung to mind.
Flanking this person, were six others in similar attire. None of them seemed quite so stately, almost as though they perceived themselves to be worth less.
"Can I help you?"
It was a genuine offer. Perhaps they were in need of assistance. His question was not to be answered, however. Rough hands grabbed him from all directions, and dust began to swirl in his vision, drying his throat and hurting his skin.
When it finally cleared, he was in a room made of white marble and gold detailing. It appeared to be a hall, fairly plain aside from the throne that was partially hidden by his captors. Simple coats of arms hung from the walls, but the room was too dark to be sure what they were. He supposed that this was what ancient throne rooms had looked like.
Any other time, he would have wanted to look around properly. But there was something more interesting to him. His focus was exclusively fixed on the golden throne in front of them. Despite being in a dimly lit room, despite being partially hidden by his snatchers, and despite being heavily cloaked, the figure sitting in it was, unmistakably, his grandfather.