Hello! Today is a short story set in the Mistwood's world. You get to meet Brennus and the winter king. I hope you enjoy this intro into this world. Happy reading!
The Winter King’s Hunter
The amulet around his neck hung cold against his chest. It was supposed to protect him but he wondered if it really would. He touched the amulet just to see if it would come to life. The silver felt cold at his touch. He wondered for a moment if he should go any further.
But when he looked into the forest so quiet and peaceful, he found himself taking steps further in. It was like he was already under spell. Brennus took a deep breath and filled his lungs with the cold air to clear his mind. He would not let them take him. Having his bow ready he took to the path and followed it.
The quietness was almost too much for Brennus as he started to feel the hair on the back of his neck stiffen. He could feel the invisible eyes watching his every move. He huffed determined not to let them shake him. It was a game to them as everything was. Brennus made the decision that he would not be their chosen play thing today.
Suddenly the trees above trembled with a slight breeze that picked up. Brennus took a quick survey of the trees above him for any sign of them. They could burst out of thin air in a heartbeat. He touched his amulet again but nothing. It laid cold against him. For a slight moment he worried if he would make it out of the forest. Would he ever see his family again?
Brennus quickly dismissed any such thoughts and continued on his way. If he stuck to the path that he knew would lead him to one of their homes, he would be alright. All he had to do was kill one with his silver tipped arrow. The rest would scamper. Then he would have his prize.
Glimpses of the knoll caught his sight. From his distance, it looked like no one had been around. No broken branches or tracks anywhere. That worried him slightly but if not that home then there was one up ahead. He stopped a few feet from the knoll where the entrance was and waited for a moment behind a large tree.
“Are you looking for someone?”
Brennus jumped whirling around aiming his bow. Standing not far from him was a tall white bluish haired faerie. He grinned. “Hunters aren’t supposed to be jumpy.”
Brennus stared into cold black eyes that shimmered in the winter’s bright light. He froze as he aimed the arrow at the faerie. By the way he was dressed, Brennus was guessing he was a court faerie. He would be worth more. So why wasn’t the arrow leaving his bow.
The faerie sighed. “Put your bow down and let us talk. We both know you will not shoot that arrow.”
Brennus gripped his bow tighter and concentrated on pulling back and letting the arrow fly. He took one deep breath, pulled back and let it go. He made the mistake of closing his eyes when he let it go because when he opened them, the faerie was gone. Brennus looked all around him and above him to see where he had gone.
“Not a bad shot but I don’t recommend closing your eyes.” Brennus could hear amusement in his tone. God he was this creature’s plaything now. Before he could pull another arrow out, the faerie pulled out Brennus’s arrow out of the tree.
Brennus was ready for anything. The faerie examined the tip of the arrow and made a face. “That’s nasty.” He glanced over at Brennus. “Isn’t it?”
He sauntered up to Brennus who dared not move. “Would you like this thing back so you can try again?”
Now he was only a few feet from Brennus. He saw the faerie grip the arrow and before Brennus could move out of the way, the faerie had flung the arrow striking his shoulder. The pain raced through his body almost sending him to his knees.
The faerie was now in his face. “Are you going to listen to me this time?”
Brennus clutching his arm nodded. He grinned back at him. “Good, because we have lots to talk about. Come walk with me and I might take care of that arrow in your shoulder for you.”
Brennus stumbled forward with the faerie. His shoulder was burning and he wanted to badly pull the arrow out but he knew he would bleed even worse and the poison on the silver arrow would soon be entering into his body. Brennus had to think fast or he would be dead before they took too many more steps.
His vision was starting to blur and that was when they stopped. It was like the faerie knew. He whirled around in front of Brennus and took hold of the arrow and pulled it out with one swift move. He placed his white long fingers up against the wound. Brennus looked down at his shoulder. The faerie had long black claws that could easily rip his shoulder to pieces.
Words of dark magic entered into his head making him almost fall but he caught him before he fell. The faerie helped him stand up. “You should be fine now. Can you see me better?”
Brennus looked into his black feral eyes and nodded. He smiled back at him revealing a row of sharp teeth. Brennus started to question himself about this quest he had taken. He wasn’t five minutes into this forest and he already was defeated. Determination bubbled in the bottom of his gut. He would not go anywhere with this faerie. The next arrow would meet its intended target. Brennus promised himself that.
The faerie led him to a clearing that Brennus had not ventured to. This part of the forest was unfamiliar and it made Brennus uneasy. He couldn’t go any farther with him. But it was like the faerie read his mind. He stopped and looked back at Brennus. “So, my hunter still wants me dead. What is it with your kind wanting to hunt us?”
“You steel us,” blurted out Brennus.
“Don’t you think that is a strong word? Your kind come in here and get lost and for some reason can’t find their way out.”
Brennus shook his head.
“What? Is that wrong? Would love to hear your version and maybe while you are telling me I can teach you how to aim that silver arrow.”
“I don’t trust you.”
The faerie grinned. “You should because without my guide, you will never find your way out of here.”
Brennus looked back searching for the path they had just taken and then eyes glanced down. His chest tightened. There was no snow in the tracks. He looked back at the faerie. “You trapped me.”
The faerie shrugged and then sauntered up to Brennus. “Give me one of your arrows.”
“You want to stab me again?”
“No, I think you learned your lesson. You will listen to me.”
He held out his hand for the arrow. Brennus knew he had no choice. He handed him one and with one quick movement the faerie took it and put it in his own bow and aimed it at a tree quite a distance away. “See how I’m standing? This is how you do it.”
Brennus watched as he pulled back on the bow and fired the arrow and Brennus watched the arrow fly through the air and hit its target. He looked back at Brennus. “Now you try.”
Brennus took out his arrow and copied him. He let it fly through the air but it didn’t’ make it to where the faerie had hit his tree.
“Not bad, with a bit of practice, you could do it. But I see you have no more silver arrows.”
Brennus gritted his teeth. He knew he couldn’t retrieve the arrows. All he had was the wooden ones but then he remembered. He had one more arrow. One of white ash.
He looked back at the faerie. “I guess you won.”
Brennus watched the faerie. He didn’t grin or smirk. “Is that an amulet around your neck?”
Brennus didn’t answer him. Suddenly the wings of the faerie snapped out making Brennus almost fall. “Give me that amulet and I will let you go. I will lead you safely out of the forest.”
“I’ll give it to you when we reach the edge of the forest to where I came in.”
The breeze kicked up snow around Brennus’s feet. He could hear the gurgling caw of a raven nearby.
“Let’s follow our friend then.”
They walked side by side. Brennus kept thinking how he would get the arrow. All he had to do was stab him with it. He didn’t even need his bow. Snow started to fall making visibility hard to see. All Brennus could see was the large black raven flying through the snow above them.
Brennus sighed with relief when he saw the path that he had followed when he entered the forest. He could feel the faerie’s eyes on him. He chose not to look at him and kept to the path. It wasn’t long they were at the first knoll where Brennus has stopped at and where he met the faerie. His blood was on the ground still. It hadn’t snowed here covering up his blood.
The faerie smiled. “Let me see the amulet.”
Brennus knew that he had to this sooner than later. He slipped off his pack with the arrows and looked down at his arrows.
“Something wrong? Or are you missing one of your arrows? Like this one?”
When he looked up he saw the faerie with the ash arrow in his hand twirling it around in his long fingers.
“I know what you are thinking. How did he do that? And most of all how did he know about the ash arrow?” He made a sad face. “You know what this means don’t’ you? Your little hunt was a bit of a failure wasn’t it? That’s too bad.”
“You said if I gave you the amulet I would be led safely out of here.”
“Oh yes I said that didn’t I?”
Brennus reached up to the amulet and it was gone.
“I believe I have what you are looking for.”
Brennus looked over at him. The amulet was in his hands. He was defeated and he knew he would die this moment and never see his family again.
In a split second, the faerie was in his face. He place the amulet back around his neck. Then he cupped Brennus’s face with his cold hands. “Now listen to me. This amulet that you wear will never be taken off. Do you hear? When I summon you, you will come to me. You are a part of my court now hunter and you will call me your king.” He let go of his face and Brennus gasped. The winter faerie suddenly had all his arrows in his hands. He tucked them back in his pack with the rest of his arrows. He picked up the pack and handed it to Brennus.
“Follow the path and you will be home.”
Brennus took the pack and slid it over his shoulder. Gripping his bow, he went past the faerie and took the path that led out of the forest. Just before he left the forest, he glanced back. The faerie was still standing there in the distance watching him.
Brennus touched the amulet and it warmed in his hands. He smiled to himself. Then he looked at the faerie and he knew that he could hear him. “My king,” he whispered.
When he was back in his own territory, he felt different. He looked back again but there was nothing and his mind was blurry. Did he even go in or did they do something?
Brennus shook his head. He slipped his pack down and saw all his arrows there. He obviously hadn’t hunted anything. Brennus took a deep breath. He would try again and one day he would be successful.