Hearing me, she’d drawn away, sitting between the roots of a great, grey tree that had struck fear into me. But there was no fear in those beautiful eyes as she looked at me, the layers of her pale dress spread out around her.
‘Come sit with me, Daniel Sherwood,’ she had said, giving my name opulence.
‘I – I -,’ words seemed to escape me, but I could not stop myself from moving towards her. Her gaze pulled me forward, and at her side seemed like the only place I could be safe. ‘The trees, they will -,’
‘They shall not harm you whilst I am here,’ she said without a quiver of doubt. ‘Now, sit with me.’ I had obeyed, sitting against the tree opposite, my hands cowering in my lap. My heart palpitated against my chest at a place between terror and infatuation.
‘You speak differently to myself,’ I said, her voice unlike one that I had ever known, one that I had pulled from the darkness by.
‘That I do. I learn from your kind, but that was much farther from here. Perhaps my voice is out of place here.’ I thought her empty at that moment, for if there was any substance to her, it was of an entity that I could not recognise. Nonetheless, my foolish heart continued on, fighting my reservations as best they could.
‘It is customary that – I – forgive me, I learn of your name once I have done you the kindness,’
Her pink lips quirked at the edges into an alien smile, ‘how are you so certain that I have a name, Daniel Sherwood?’
‘Do we not all?’
‘Quite,’ she nodded. ‘But does courtesy belong in such a place?’ Looking around me, at the way dry fog cuddled the roots and branches, and how there came a rustling from all around me, I decided that she was correct. Nothing – not courtesy even – belonged in this foul, nefarious place. When I met her eyes again, they were full of intrigue towards me. ‘You fear this place, do you not?’
I nodded. ‘I do. More than death at speed or death of all those around me, I fear death within this forest. Forgive me if I sound distrustful but…I feel reason to distrust such a young beautiful lass who walks across this land without fear.’
‘Wise,’ she said, gesturing admiration. ‘Far better than those before you. Seeing me, their eyes began to lust and they sought comfort beneath my skirts on the forest floor.’ I watched her as she pulled the edge of her skirt up, showing me the smooth flesh of her leg, to her thigh until she stopped and cocked her head at me. ‘What of you? Do you desire this body?’
I was breathless, the words locking tightly in my throat for a while before I could speak. ‘Those that did never left. Whether I do or do not, it would appear my life lies in your palms.’ She moved to stand, and recoiling back, I felt agony in my side and my shoulder, aching my teeth as I clenched to try and subdue the pain.
‘You are in pain, Daniel Sherwood?’ she asked me, and I saw that worry turned her eyes the lightest of blues, a shade shy of white.
‘Ay, a little,’ I had said, and before I could notice, it seemed she was at my side, her hand outstretched to me. So close, I felt weak, and she touched where the pain was highest, the same place that she had first assaulted me.
‘You have never been in contact with my kind, have you, Daniel Sherwood? At least, not to touch,’
‘Is – it that why it hurts?’ My mind ached with the idea that she might not be human, even though her beauty and manner told me exactly so. I was blind to the possibilities, within my haven of ignorance at this time, and if my mind had not been lost to curiosity that day, I know things would be in no way the same.
‘My kind is rather… unique in their abilities. The first is our effect on your kind.’ That was when she pressed down onto my shoulder, my pain surging for a moment as her eyes closed and she murmured words on a language unknown to me. When her eyes opened once more, I had sworn then that they had turned black – all black – like the eyes of a demon that I could not deny she could have been. But when her countenance had become normal again, as had my state, and I had lost all pain within me.