I was waiting for Griever and the Merry Men come back from the town, watching from an old outpost near the edge of the forest. It had gone unused for several weeks as the Night Hawks no longer patrolled the borders or kept a sharp eye on the sheriff's men.
Perhaps we were growing complacent.
I twisted my whip around in my hands, wrapping it and unwrapping it around each finger. I was filled with a kind of, nervous energy. Restlessness. Animals were acting strangely, the Fae were back with a vengeance. Had Robin and his men lured them back here? I scanned the village for the men, but they still hadn't left the tavern.
"If the battle starts to go badly," Kate had said once, "we burn it."
It felt like forever since those words had been spoken. So much had changed so fast since that first meeting, before our first official battle with the fae, before we drove them out. From somewhere in the distance, a strange beast howled, and I turned towards the sound, looking out over the trees. Maybe this time, we would have to burn down our home...
There they were, Griever and the large man they called Little John were leaving the village, led by an unfamiliar man dressed in peasants clothing. Behind them were several other man, and even from this distance, I could see the leader, Robin, was completely drunk.
I was too far to hear what was going on, but I watched Griever stop and unsheathe his sword. It gleamed in the moonlight, and the man shape shifted into a large cat. The Fae, so close to the village. I pulled my knife out of my boot and made to climb down out of the nest-like perch, watching as two more spotted cats came out of the trees. If I ran, I could be there in seconds, but as I looked down to gauge the distance to the ground, prepared to drop, I heard the sound of immense wings flapping overhead. I looked up to see the moonlight blocked by a huge bird. It grabbed me out of the outpost, its talons curled around me, cutting off my gasp of surprise and anger. I watched my knife fall through the trees, and I cursed under my breath for letting it go as the bird flew higher.