Selestra 20, 16th year of Emperor Itomas II (PA 105)
During the course of the previous two years I had grown in skill and thinking myself to be above the safety measures that my master had placed upon me I went seeking the doom that could have been mine if I stepped off the road to the right instead of to the left.
The weather was beautiful with the sun shining through the leaves and a slight breeze cooling me. The undergrowth was tangled with the dead leaves of ages past. Here and there I saw black footprints in the brown detritus. There were numerous animals heading in the same direction I was heading, but none of them heading out. This was the right place.
As the numbers of tracks increased, my pace slowed until I was barely moving forward at a crawl. The stench of the beast, a sort of spicy scent that lodged itself in my nostrils, permeated the air. I could hear the sounds of the sleeping beast. It was a deep sound like a huge bellows sound coming from the cave up ahead.
“And what has my trap captured today?” a deep voice said from behind me.
I rolled over on my back and looked up at the beast behind me, and all at once the nature of this trap came to me. The scent wasn’t the beast. It was a drug. If I hadn’t been out on the woods for so long, I would have recognized it sooner. The scent of Faerie is unforgettable, and I could smell it winding in through the smells of incense. The bellows was blowing it from the cave, and creating a miasma around me.
In the future, I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely upon luck like this. It was a trap crafted to capture anyone but me, a person who had used Faerie with many of my past clients. I’d never been a heavy user, but I knew the effects that it had, and I could try to ignore the effects.
Seeing the beast in front of me looking like a being of light was almost enough to destroy my focus.
“I’m not captured yet,” I said with a smile.
“Oh, really? How are you going to beat me?”
“Well, I see you’re not the mindless beast I took you for, but the problem is; neither am I.”
“You’re on your back. I’m standing over you. What sort of position is that?”
“I’ve been on my back before. I’ve spent years being the prey of men much like you.”
“But I’m no man.”
“You are a hunter, aren’t you? It’s all the same. You like to believe that you’re in control.”
People like to think of Rangers as being creatures of the bow. He saw my muted clothing and my longbow and he, I am sure, thought himself safe. He saw my missing eye and thought I would be unable to properly attack him, wouldn’t be able to kill him at this range.
I put my hand against his knee to give myself a perfect point of reference.
“Oh, you think that your little charms…” he began and then I thrust hard and deep with my own dagger. He collapsed around my arm and I continued to dig and twist and stab.
When I rose above him and he lay writhing on the ground I felt a little sad. He really was a magnificent creature. I had a lesson I needed to learn here, and that was twofold: You don’t play with your prey and there is never a good reason to be overconfident. I was saved that day because he had made the same mistakes I’d made. I’d capitalized upon them better, however, realizing my mistake before he realized his. I ended him as he lay there and walked back to my current home, thinking about the lessons this day had almost not been able to teach me.