The Sylvan Path

A pair of young boys are destined to become the Knights of Avalon. But since the Dark Fey Century turned 300 years ago, there was never a pair of boys destined to be such knights ever again... until the next Princess was born.

The woman screamed. Her blood pooled over the sheets, getting absorbed almost instantaneously by the thick, woven cotton. She clutched at her husbands hand, tears spilling from her eyes. 

'I fear...' She panted to the man, 'I fear for the baby's life... Slice her out if needs be... just... make sure she is alive...' 

Yes... whatever it took that baby must be born. Even if it meant the death of her, that baby had to be born. The medic looked at the man, concerned. 

'You must choose, my friend,' whispered the frail old man, his voice barely audible over the woman's screeches of agony and the frantic, tittering medic assistants. 'Your lover, or your child.'

'The child!' The woman snarled, her voice hoarse and scratchy from screaming, 'save my daughter!'

The two men exchanged looks, the medic wondered whether the child would be of female sex, and the other stared at his wife; swallowing back his tears. 

'She has made her decision, and you must honour it.' The medic said sadly, putting a hand on the man's shoulder. 

*.*.*

Fion looked up at the clouds, shielding her eyes from the glaring sun.  It had been exactly eighteen years since she had been born. And, still, her father refused to look her in the eye. She often wondered if it was because he hated her. Because of what happened to her mother. 

'Banphrionsa,' a small fawn piped up from behind her, 'your father wishes to consult you on matters concerning your lineage.' 

'Oh, that's sounds ominous, does it not? I wonder whatever the matter is,' Fion thought aloud. 

The fawn's lips turned upwards in a small smile as he beckoned Fion to follow him, which she did. They ventured far deeper into the castle than Fion expected them to. Usually, when the King requested her presence they met in the Great Hall of Avalon. But these winding tunnels were places Fion was not acquainted with and it worried her, she was sure she knew her home inside out, but the sudden discovery that she did not set her on edge. 

'M'Lord, the Banphrionsa Fion O'Donoghue!' A shrill voice squawked from the farthest side of the room.  Within the mysterious room there were thirteen chairs, each occupied by a fearie of different race. 

'Father.' Fion nodded to the man sitting in the largest chair which was located in the middle of all the others.

'Sit down, Child there is much to explain.' Her father said curtly, nodding to the fawn. The small creature brought forth a stool, on the spindly legs of which, skulls had been crudely carved out. 

'This plain girl is the Gwragedd Annwn?!' 

'Be careful how you speak about your King's daughter!' Roared Fion's father, furious. Everyone in the room seemed to flinch at the sheer ferocity of the King's voice.

Fion had to hide the smug look that crossed her face. Even if her father hated her, he would not stand for insults to be said about his family. Fion looked around the room, absorbing each of the interestingly arranged creatures in it one by one. 

'Let us not forget the reason we have gathered here today!' Boomed a goblin in the tenth chair, 'Fion O'Donoghue, you have been summoned here today to be told of your part in the Prophecy of Avalon! You shall eradicate the Dark Fey with the assistance of the Brother Knights of Avalon!'

Fion stood up slowly, a deep set frown on her face. She looked at her father with large, innocent eyes.

'How are you sure? The archives tell me that there was never supposed to be another woman of prophecy ever, ever again!' Fion shouted, 'how can you be sure that I am the one to carry out such a task?' 

'What the archives did not mention, Banphrionsa, was that there was also never to be a female child in the O'Donoghue blood line again! What more evidence to we need to hold? You have the eyes of a Gwragedd Annwn! You have the voice of a Gwragedd Annwn! Your skills in staying afloat in the water are not that of a normal human!' Another fearie, who had a two meter long neck said brutally, spraying saliva all over the floor.

Fion's bottom lip quivered and she placed her hands behind her back, making a feeble attempt to appear composed.

'If it is the High Council's wish, then it is my command.' She whispered, 'I shall venture out onto this... this quest with my Knights and destroy the Dark Fey! Then I shall return to my fiance, carry out the hand fasting and he shall be king!' Her voice rose dangerously high nearer the end of her speech, so high she feared it would crack. 

Her father's lips gave a small twitch, that couldn't even be classed a smile. But Fion knew her father was smiling at her. He was emitting such radiance. Fion smiled gently, he was proud of her. 

'Bring in the Knight's of Avalon.'

The End

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