Act I: Red
Chapter 2: Exposition
As with the stranger, Sakiya found that the landscape was stripped of any kind of recognizable life, save for the flora. No memories had returned to her in the short time since then, so for the time being she decided to cease thinking about it and focus on what was happening in the now.
This became easy enough as the forest soon broke. The leather-clad woman stepped out into the oddly open field that appeared to be something out of a poem; the grass was a lush green with various colored flowers scattered throughout, there wasn't a single tree interrupting the view, she could hear sounds of a large river somewhere to her right. But the oddest sight by far was a point of interest she had hoped to see before night fell. A building.
From its appearance, it seemed to be a decently sized log cabin of sorts. It was two stories and faced the supposed river. As she neared it she noticed three entrances - two in the front and another along the side. There were several windows on the second floor. In the front there appeared to be some sort of fire pit, and several yards beyond that, a well. A house? She wasn't sure; there was no sign or message anywhere to indicate anything else.
"You're allowed to walk inside, you know. It won't kill you."
Internally Sakiya lunged out of her skin upon hearing the sudden voice, but physically she kept her composure and merely stiffened her neck. Casually, as to keep her defense up, she turned from the building to face the origin of her scare. There was no guessing where it came from. The voice came from a woman who was unwelcomingly standing not even a foot in front of Sakiya, smiling broadly as if she was the happiest creature in the world. Her hands were folded behind her back.
Sakiya quickly surveyed the odd lady. The most apparent feature was that she seemed to have an affinity for the color white, opposite to the other oddity she met earlier. Her skin was deathly pale, matching her neck-long hair and silken dress. Following her notice of this, however, came the more bizarre attribute that made Sakiya question why she was so focused on a color: the woman had wings. Silver butterfly wings.
"There's going to be no end to this, is there," Sakiya said, mostly to herself. The white woman giggled in the most obnoxious and inhuman way possible.
"I take it you met some of the others already? You have the appearance of a girl bereft of different culture," she replied in the same manner as her laugh. "Perhaps we can further your awareness inside? I'd love to indulge myself with a human."
Every muscle in Sakiya's body screamed for her to take a step back, to reclaim her personal space, but some nagging thought in the forefront of her mind was demanding otherwise. She instead kept a straight face and glanced to the building.
"I take it then that this is your house?" came the question.
There was nothing, no change, not even a hint of affirmation or confusion on the face or body of this boisterous, yet undoubtedly beautiful, creature as the inquiry was posed.
"Let's discuss that inside."
Sakiya didn't bother to respond. At first she remained motionless, now realizing that she was most likely still dreaming which would explain the lack of any sharp recollection of past experiences, but the awkwardness of the exchange forced an equally painful smile across her lips. She nodded politely and consciously as to not collide with the woman's own head, and with this she powered through the first step to lead into the second, finding herself walking to the main entrance of the wooden structure.
There was no door; instead, the opening was an archway, and inside were several stools, chairs, and benches. Along the wall was what Sakiya perceived to be a bar of some kind, which stretched to the right of the thin room. To the left, the room sharply turned to continue in the direction she was facing, quickly helping her realize that this wasn't a room, but a hallway. A second archway was situated on the inside and in the middle of the two entrances, which led into a great hall. There was another bar, only this time seemed to be stocked with several kegs and other appliances. Scattered throughout were many tables with benches, and along the back wall stood a humble fireplace. The ceiling extended to the second floor, which showed a balcony overlooking the main room that gave Sakiya a view of several closed doors.
"By now you've most likely come to terms with what this place actually is," Sakiya's new acquaintance chimed in after letting her make observations. "No, this isn't my home. But it is out of the way of any prying eyes."
Sakiya then took a minute to digest all of the information and implication laced with it before attempting to formulate a proper response.
"Slow down. I don't have a clue where I am, what I'm doing here, and who you are. So I'm going to ask politely that you explain everything to me, otherwise I'd rather find someone who will," Sakiya finally stated in a bold manner. She didn't want to offend the seemingly well-mannered butterfly lady, but if push came to shove, she was more than willing to squeeze as much as she could out of anyone willing to talk. The man from earlier obviously did not fit that criteria.
The woman, who had dropped her sweet smile upon entering the establishment, brought it back up again and repeated the same child-like giggle as before. She then moved from one side of the room to the other, although this time without walking. Her wings did all of the work.
"You are in the second of the only two taverns within the land. I watched you walk here, which you should know unless you have the memory of a log. And since you do not have any clear alliances yet, due to the amusing fact that you do not recognize me, you may refer to me as Avelia," the woman finally answered, all without even attempting to mask the entertainment she was shamelessly sucking out of the situation. Sakiya placed a hand on her hip and leaned one against the mantle of the empty fireplace. She did not share the same enthusiasm.
"So then, Avelia, can I assume that you know a lot more about where we are?" she asked.
"Of course," Avelia politely responded.
"Then why did you want me to come inside? If you wanted to actually tell me what's going on I'd hate to think you're just using the information to play around with me."
Avelia lowered her smile to an arrogant smirk before wiping the front of her dress and taking a seat on one of the benches. It seemed to Sakiya, though, that she did not actually want to do this, as she was only barely touching the wood, but did so in an attempt to appear somewhat cooperative. The winged woman then crossed her legs and placed her hands on the top knee.
"Please. I hardly have the patience to play games with someone who obviously would not like to partake in them," she answered. "I did not lie to you; I brought you in here to escape the voyeurism of those who are not as friendly as I. This tavern is neutral territory."
"Neutral to who?" Sakiya asked quickly, sensing heavy implication that something bigger was going on while the two were talking.
Avelia once again giggled.
"May I ask for your name first? I've answered that myself in the hopes that you'd return the favor. I haven't seen a human in a while."
"It's Sakiya," she answered. "And did you know that every sentence you say sounds like it has a double meaning?"
"I could say the same of you, Sakiya. Although I am more inclined to believe that everyone speaks in dual-meanings and those less adequate at reading thoroughly only scrape by hearing the surface of what's being said," Avelia said.
Sakiya moved off the mantle and crossed her arms.
"You can relax. I am only being cautious."
"Cautious. Of. What?"
Avelia shifted in her seat and smirked once more, only this time it was more out of curiosity than arrogance.
"So you really are unaware..." she started. "Outside of this tavern, there is a small feud going on between a handful of basic powers. You just happened to appear during a time of supposed rest."
Sakiya loosened her arms and frowned in slight surprise.
"You're saying I woke up in the middle of a war? Why? What's it about?"
"Oh, hm..." Avelia sounded as she relaxed her form, her face going into a daze. "I don't quite recall the details, but I'm sure it was something pointless and silly. Control over the land, unrest between cultures, the typical sort of reasons idiots and their pets typically squabble over. It's all extremely dry, so I try not to have anything to do with it."
"Is that why I'm here, then? To participate in a war?" Sakiya continued to question. "Who are the contenders?"
Avelia sighed and stood up, brushing her dress off again. "Child, I apologize for my rudeness, but you are a tad boring. Is that all you do? Ask questions?" The winged woman chuckled as she floated next to Sakiya with a cold smile, staring into her eyes before turning to the empty fireplace. She wrapped her hands behind her back again. "The ones that I was concerned about peeking you may call the Rogues. And the ones they are so obsessed with you may call the Legion. Both of which are made up almost exclusively of women, although the latter is led by a male. And yet, despite this, they try to flex their muscles to frighten each other... and me."
Sakiya kept her gaze on her, as it was becoming more apparent that Avelia wasn't telling the whole truth.
"And you? Are you part of this... 'feud'?" she asked.
Avelia smiled broader.
"I'm going to assume you are," Sakiya said, tearing her eyes from Avelia to see why she was so fascinated in the stonework of the hearth. "You also didn't answer my question. Is this why I'm here?"
This caused Sakiya to glare back at Avelia, but surprisingly, she only met air. The winged woman was no longer standing there. She then circled around to see the rest of the tavern, but found that she was alone. But before any frustration could make it out of a glimmer within her mind, she felt the delicate, chilling hands fall on her shoulders.
"You may wish to choose a side, Sakiya," Avelia whispered motherly, "Because soon you may be forced to."
Once again Sakiya turned to find nothing. Determined, she ran outside, searching the fields for any sign of the woman she was talking to. Upon realizing that this was a fruitless effort, she knew she was merely being played with. However, if the strange woman was telling the truth, she did gain some important information.
And it was at this moment when Sakiya locked her eyes on a single figure that stood out among the green - a black one. The figure of the man she met a few hours before, standing at the edge of the forest and staring in the direction of the river. If he had seen her, he did not show it.
As he began to walk, Sakiya hoped that what she had learned would be more than enough to bargain answers from him.
Glossary - Day 1
- The Stranger / Race: Human / Status: Active
- Sakiya / Race: Human / Status: Active
THE FAE COURT
- Avelia / Race: Fae (Fairy) / Status: Active
- The Tavern: Establishment in between the Fae Forest and Rogue Woods.