1.7

          ‘What – are – you?’ Finally, I had demanded, leaning away from her as she stood high above me.

          ‘You would not understand what I am if I was to tell you. I am more than you can understand -,’

          ‘I am no fool, have we not already said this? Fools die in this place, and yet I live to breathe another breath to you.’

She turned from me, her back pressed against the tree where she had once sat, her pale hands caressing the bark with a gentleness that had unnerved me. ‘I shall admit you have impressed me, Daniel Sherwood. So I shall say this. What I am is beyond anything you would believe, as are the gifts and powers I can bring. Your world would condemn me, no doubt, and they have in the past to my sisters and brothers,’

          ‘So, what are you? A witch or a demon?’

          ‘Perhaps neither and perhaps both. As I have said, I may not have a name for who I am just as I may not for what I am -,’

          ‘You use riddles! You aim to confuse me and make me feel as if I am inferior! But I am not, my lady, and I do not deserve to die here!’

          ‘Why not?’ Her tone had been soft with the same curiosity that I had sensed before. It seemed as if in one moment, she thought she knew everything about me, yet in another, she knew nothing.

She had confused me, for how was I to know why I should not die? How was I to distinguish myself, and to plead that I was a person with virtues deserving of life?

          ‘I – I have a wife, my lady, and two children who depend upon their father -,’

          ‘And if you had never bore children or become weighed down by a gealltanas? If they are your only claim to life, what if they did not exist?’

          ‘Then I – I suppose I would admit that…I would not quarrel my death, my lady.’

For reasons I could not understand, it made her smile and she approached me again, but I was less afraid, though to see her still quickened my blood.

          ‘Allow me to ask you a question. If I was to tell you that if I asked you to do whatever I said, you would have no choice but to do it, what would be your answer?’

I rose, an action she did not expect, but she remained standing, firm and confident as I met her on level ground, myself almost a head taller.

          ‘I would reply with a question, and ask would you order me still if I consented in the beginning?’

Her lips parted, wonder in her eyes, a colour dark like the fulgent waves of the night, unendurable in their torment. ‘So…different…’ I felt her close to me, and I stiffened. ‘Are you aware that if I had not found you and allowed you into my presence, the trees would have eaten you?’

I remember how fast my blood had felt in my veins, shaking my limbs as if my mind was telling me to run while there was still a chance. But I did not move, I only remained beside her, and answered, ‘I am grateful.’

A great temptation washed over me to hold onto her, her beauty overwhelming me, and every fibre in my body screaming out for her touch, yet before I could reach out, and even as her hand had brushed the air against mine, she had turned into the fog behind us, down into a recess of the forest. I followed, feeling as if there was no choice, under her spell or not, I still cannot confirm.

The End

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