Adhene made his way through the old forest to the clearing, careful not to make a sound. The wind ruffled his long, golden-blond hair and he grimaced, hoping the breeze wouldn’t carry his scent to the creature he so carefully stalked.
She dozed in her apple tree, and her grayish skin and wild, tumbled brown hair blended into its bark. If he was anyone else, he wouldn’t have been able to see her. Even another fey sometimes had to strain to see the Dryads in their trees, but Adhene was elven; he drew his power from the earth and her living things and he could sense even the smallest variation in her rhythms.
He ghosted nearer, smug that it had been so easy. An airy voice stopped him in his tracks. “Out for a stroll elf?” He tried to look unaffected as he stared into eyes the color of the sky.
“You are fortunate,” he said lightly. “If I was hunting you, you would be dead.”
She unfolded and dropped to the ground, coming to stare up at him, hands on her hips, and a defiant look in her eyes. “Just try it,” she dared.
Adhene moved with the grace of a dancer, grasping both of her arms as she tried to dart behind her tree. She struggled, but he towered over her. It was no contest. He bent, bringing his mouth to her throat, his lips curving upward as he felt the rapid pulse beneath her smooth silvery skin.
She gave up struggling and melted into his embrace as he trailed kisses along her neck and shoulder. Standing on her tiptoes, she ran her fingers through his hair, making no protest as he bore her down onto the carpet of wild flowers that grew near her tree.
Adhene made his way back to Underhill with a song on his lips. He was a creature of sunshine and growing things, and life radiated from him, bright and vibrant. He had nearly reached the hill when panic rose up within him. Something foul was in his forest, something choking and evil. Pain sliced through his head, and a panicked cry for help echoed in his mind.
He knew. He denied it, even as he turned on a heel and dashed back the way he had come, flowing toward the far end of his territory like the wind through the trees. But he was too late- far, far too late.
The meadow lay in ruins, scarred and twisted by the tracks of the big trucks that had trundled through the place. He stared at the sawed off stumps of the trees, something rising through him. His eyes found the silvery skin of the apple tree where it lay on the ground. A group of humans were sawing the wood into more manageable pieces, joking and laughing as they went about their work, oblivious to the beautiful creature that lay murdered behind them.
The rising feeling crested inside Adhene and a gray numbness settled over him. He calmly walked into the meadow, dropping the glamour that kept him from the humans. They stared at him in surprise- a beautiful, robed man with hair like sunshine, and eyes like emeralds. It would be the last sight they ever saw. The light inside him was extinguished as he painted the meadow red with their blood.
Turning his back on the scene, he said a word and magic settled over the meadow. The small creatures in the area scurried out of the way, just as all the fallen trees burst into flame. Cleansing fire washed away all traces of the humans, and a creature of light and goodness with darkness in his heart began to follow the tire tracks back toward town.
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