The night was warm and a bit stuffy, but that didn’t stop Jasmine from her walk. It was dangerous walking through the forest at night, but that didn’t stop her either. It never had, and it never would. Hearing the trees softly whisper to each other and seeing the animals carefully creep about was more than worth it. She knew the dangerous creatures that roamed the night, but she was unafraid.
She made her way around the well-trodden path, occasionally dipping her head for low-laying branches. The air was thick and she reveled in it. A slight breeze raised as the trees greeted her, making her shiver at the current on her hot skin. She smiled in return and lightly grazed some leaves as she passed by, her own greeting. Her fingertips left a light green glowing path, slowly fading away after a few moments.
Jasmine’s peridot eyes glimmered in the darkness. She knew she was easily spotted, but she was confident. She got to her destination and simply stood there for a moment, closing her eyes, tuning in with everything around her. She felt the vibrations in the earth beneath her feet, heard the light crunch of leaves as foxes and mice scurried about, smelled the bark of the trees. She held her hands out, welcoming every sensation to her tingling fingertips. A smile crossed her full lips as she tilted her heart-shaped face to the sky, her waist-length fire red hair dangling in waves. She spun in a couple of circles before she let her arms fall at her sides and tilted her head back.
She felt the power building deep within herself, a warm tickling spreading throughout her sinews and filling every crevice of her being. She drew from the resources around her, taking energy. She opened her eyes, and they glowed even brighter. They saw everything; the veins on the leaves of a tree a hundred yards away, a single hair on a fox, a drop of water falling from the sky. She let the power completely fill her, and held it for a few minutes, harnessing. Her pale skin shone from the magic within her.
She closed her eyes again, and prepared herself. With a great thrust of her mind, she shoved all of the energy she had taken back into the earth. A glorious shower of light rain started falling from the sky. It felt so refreshing Jasmine danced a little in the rain and jumped up and down, clapping her hands, ecstatic with her show of magic. She took a seat on the log she frequented every night, and just let the rain pour down on her. It was cool and refreshing, changing the night air from heavy to light. She smiled, embracing the water soaking her midnight blue gown and wetting her hair.
She sat in the rain for quite some time, unaware of the piercing hazel eyes following her every move, shrouded in darkness. He kept his invisibility so she couldn’t see him or feel his presence. When she finally got up and walked away from her celebrated spot in the forest, the cloaked figure followed her.
Jasmine traced paths with her fingers, leaving glowing trails where she touched leaves and the bark of trees. This was her forest, and she was unafraid to leave her mark. She was also confident in her powers to keep an attack at bay and escape. They could never catch her. She lazily wandered back to her house at the edge of the trees. It was made of mud and sticks, and had worked perfectly fine for nearly a century. She didn’t bother looking around her before tracing a pattern in the air to release the force field surrounding her home. She felt the energy waves as the field dropped. She stepped over the circle and retraced the air, putting the field into place once more.
She opened the door made of bark and greeted Sampson, her faithful pet dog, a large huskie with bright blue eyes. She knew the heat of the air had taken a toll on him as she saw his empty water dish. She placed the bowl outside to catch some fresh rain for him and rubbed his head as he lapped up the water. Jasmine yawned, a bit tired after all of her energy work in the forest. She climbed into her bed made of branches and leaves, much like a birds nest. She curled up on her side, her hand under her chin. After a bit, Sampson joined her, resting his head on her hip. She fell asleep and dreamed of the rain.
Jasmine jerked awake, certain something was wrong. She couldn’t feel Sampson’s presence anywhere. She panicked and reached out to test her force field, gasping when it was gone. The door was open and she smelled death. She quickly rose to her feet, reaching out for energy. She couldn’t feel it and she started shaking with fear. The halflings had weakened her defenses and she was powerless. They were sucking the energy from her home. She would hold her head high, she would not be weak. Her palms flat at her sides, her back straight, and her head held high, she started walking out of her house.
A small tremor of dread racked her body as she stopped in front of three cloaked halflings before she could help herself. She knew she could do nothing against these creatures of death and destruction, just as she hadn’t been able to a century and a half ago. She was their prisoner. Jasmine had foolishly thought herself safe, thinking that they hadn’t tracked her. She didn’t think that they would want to.
“We’ve been searching for you, fae,” the middle halfling said, his deep voice making her shudder. It was the voice of evil. Strangely enough, the hazel eyes didn’t look evil like other halflings. Still, Jasmine began to feel afraid.
“Why? The war has been over for decades,” Jasmine said, trying to keep her soft voice strong.
“That is not for us to say,” he replied. “You must talk to the queen.”
Jasmine felt a rush of fear stab her heart, rushing through her body. The queen was the last creature on earth she would ever want to see. The horror of being taken to the queen of halflings made her dread what was to come. She knew it was a mistake to feel afraid when the two halflings on the ends hissed. She felt them draining her energy, drinking in her fear, which made her panic even more.
“Enough,” the middle one said firmly. “We are not to drain her.”
The two stopped feeding off her but she could tell they wanted more. The middle halfling had more control, she felt him resisting taking her energy. Gathering all the strength she could muster, Jasmine said, “I will go with you willingly.” She didn’t have a choice, but going willingly would make it easier on her.
“Good. My name is Gareth. I will escort you,” the middle halfling said, gesturing for her to join him. She took a deep breath and fell into step next to him, the other two walking behind her. Her eyes filled with tears as she saw Sampson, lifeless, on the red-stained grass.
“A necessity,” Gareth stated no remorse in his voice. Jasmine said nothing in reply, knowing Sampson would have defended her to his last breath. She only walked on, crossing the threshold of her circle, desperately wanting to trace her pattern in the air, reinforcing it, but she knew she had no power with these halflings.
As they walked through the forest, Jasmine contemplated the past, longing to trace the leaves as she passed. It was an ache deep within her to refrain. All life was deathly still as they marched through, waiting for the group to pass. Not even the leaves stirred and Jasmine mourned.
She thought of the creation of the halflings, the gravest mistake the fae had ever made. They had wanted to create the perfect blend of fae and human, but created something terrible instead. The good of the fae mixed with the human had made for the worst sort of creature, a creature of pure evil and darkness, with all the power of the fae, twisting it into something dark and perverse. They had turned on the fae, and decimated them. The war was quick and brutal, with many dying. All other fae had fled, going into hiding. It had been so long, Jasmine had figured she was safe. Another tear rolled down her cheek the more she realized how much that wasn’t true for herself, or any other fae. Were the halflings finding others? She had been isolated for so long she didn’t know.
Jasmine tried to calm her pounding heart, knowing they could feel it. She knew they wanted to feed. She wasn’t sure Gareth could protect her from the other two, since he seemed intent on obeying orders to deliver her with no harm. She trudged along in the forest, despondent. She felt defeated. She only wondered what the queen wanted from her. Why not just kill her like they had with so many others?
She desperately wanted to reach out to her native earth magic to calm herself, but she knew she couldn’t. They walked all through the night, the air once again heavy. She wished she could take the energy of the earth and send it back out to cool off. She sighed.
“What is it, fae,” Gareth asked, his deep voice startling her.
“Nothing. It’s just hot,” she muttered.
“Nothing we can do about that,” Gareth said.
“I could,” she said under her breath.
“I know,” he smirked. “I saw you earlier.”
Jasmine felt invaded. Her interactions with the earth and her inhabitants were private, as they had been even when she had been living among other fae. Her mother had told her that her powers were more than others had, so she had been very secretive of what she could do. She shook with rage.
“Calm yourself,” Gareth whispered to her. She at once understood. He was trying to protect her from the other halflings behind her. She took a few deep breaths and calmed her anger. “Good girl.”
They walked on through the forest. Jasmine wondered how long it would be, how far they had to travel. As though reading her thoughts, Gareth said, “It’s about a week on foot. But daylight is coming, we must rest.”
Jasmine felt the energy of the sun coming and allowed herself to smile. Halflings couldn’t stand to be in the sunlight. They were night creatures, shrouding themselves with the blackness, pulling it in around them. They stopped walking as the two halflings set up camp, building a large tent with the darkness, manipulating it. They stepped inside and Jasmine immediately fell upon one of the beds, exhausted from walking all night. She fell into a quick sleep, now assured that Gareth would protect her from the other two.
*Note* This is something that I plan on working on, more than just this one chapter. I hope everyone enjoyed, let me know what you think!!