Author's Note: Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Faerysworn world. Tamwyn (the girl version) here with chapter three. Enjoy!
Kerri walked through the grass, staring at her feet. She just knew that the cat would run across her path at any moment…
A noise caught her attention and she looked up. The only thing she saw was a flash of red between the trees. Kerri stared at the gap in the limbs hard. Completely forgetting about the white cat, she moved toward the woods. When she got closer, she stopped and peered into the darkness.
A hand, perfectly white and sculpted, appeared out of the shadow, a finger crooked. The hand was beckoning her forward, into the forest. Kerri reached out her own hand, straining to touch it…
Kerri woke with a start, her eyes flying open. She looked around, panting heavily. She groaned with annoyance when she looked at the clock. 7:54 a.m. She ran a hand over her face, sighing. Another dream, and not about the cat this time, either.
She knew that the hand in the dream belonged to the red-haired woman from the field. Who else could it belong to? As she climbed out of bed and slipped into her jeans, Kerri knew she had to go back to the field. The only problem was that she had promised Tamwyn she would wait for him.
But what did that promise really mean? He was, after all, an almost-stranger…
No. She had to go up there and find out what was going on for herself. It couldn't wait any longer.
After a quick breakfast of bread and fruit and the ever-amazing cup of coffee, Kerri set off for the field. It was a short walk, and she made it there by about ten o'clock.
The sun filtered lazily over the tops of the trees, casting the field in a near-dusk light. The tall grass swayed and rippled, dancing around her as she walked out to the center of the clearing. The only sound was that of the wind blowing. Kerri looked around, taking it all in. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, sighing. There was something calming about this field, something that seemed to take a weight off of her chest.
"It is beautiful, is it not?"
Kerri gasped and spun, thinking Tamwyn had shown up early. Instead, a woman was walking toward her. The same woman, she realized, from the day before. Backing away, Kerri caught a glimpse of violet eyes gazing back at her. She sucked in her breath.
"Who--- Who are you?" she stammered.
The woman chuckled pleasantly and smiled a charming smile. "Come and sit with me, my dear."
Kerri found herself sitting down before she could even think about it. Somewhere in the back of her mind she realized that this woman was having the same effect on her as the cat had. Her ears were buzzing and her head felt light… It was like having tunnel vision. All she could see was the woman in front of her. She didn't even notice that the chair she was sitting on had appeared out of nowhere.
"Who are you?" she asked again. The woman smiled.
"I am called Bryona," she said. Her voice was warm and smooth, liquid. Kerri liked it. Bryona reached out and touched a lock of Kerri's hair, and she didn't shy away from the woman's touch. Her hands, like her voice, were calming.
"You were here yesterday," Kerri said.
"You saw me?"
Kerri cocked her head, feeling completely at ease for reasons she didn't know why. "I dreamt about you."
Her brow furrowed. "What do you want with me?"
Bryona smoothed out her long silk dress and then folded her hands on her lap. Kerri couldn't help but stare at those hands, they were so white and perfect…
"I came here for you."
Kerri's gaze snapped back up to the woman's face. "Me? Why?" The buzz in her brain seemed to increase as a tiny piece of reason crept in: how did this woman know so much about her?
"I've come to tell you what you are," she answered, smiling like she knew what Kerri was thinking.
Kerri frowned. Her head was starting to hurt, the buzz was so loud. "What do you mean?"
Bryona nodded slightly, pursing her lips. "Do you believe in faeries, my dear?"
She had to smirk at that one. "If I say 'no' will one fall down dead somewhere?"
Bryona smiled again, but this time there was something malignant in her eyes. Kerri instantly felt a chill creep up her spine and her head throbbed. "I guess so," she muttered.
And as the whining in her head kicked up the decibel count, it all came together.
"Are you a faery?"
Bryona nodded, her eyes still holding that dark hint of something nasty.
"Oh. Wow." She stared in wonder at the woman. A faery? She certainly didn't look like Tinker Bell, but there was something different about her. Something not right. She frowned again. "So what do you want with me?"
"I've come to tell you what you are," she repeated, her voice sweet, but her expression souring. She held up her hand when Kerri opened her mouth to say something and snapped, "Peace, child, I will tell you!" When Kerri sat back, thoroughly chastised, Bryona spoke again. The meadow went silent; the incessant whine in her head even ceased long enough to catch her words.
"You are Faerysworn."
Kerri frowned as the noise returned full force. "I'm what?"
Bryona smiled, and this time amusement shown from her eyes. "You are threatened."
Kerri shook her head, partly for the confusion, mostly because of the screaming in her ears. "What are you talking about? What's Faerysworn? Who's threatening me?"
The amused smile turned into a grin, and goose bumps appeared on Kerri's skin.
"By what?" she asked again, harsher, but the woman continued to grin, unfazed. In fact, she looked downright giddy.
Kerri's eyes widened as her heart rate sped up. "How---?"
But the woman was no longer there; she had disappeared in the blink of an eye. The chairs had gone as well. Kerri was left standing in the field, as if the woman had never been there at all.
But she had been there, Kerri was sure of it. Her head was killing her from the buzz that had filled her head, and now the meadow seemed uncannily silent from the absence of it. She had words in her head, words that meant absolutely nothing to her, and yet they sparked some kind of memory in her brain. Fear, hatred, resentment… the feelings flooded her, but she had no idea what any of them meant. She was sure they weren't her feelings. All she felt was confusion. But Bryona had to have been real. She knew about the cat…
Her head snapped up and she saw Tamwyn walking toward her. The braids were back, and the expression on his face wasn't as happy as she could have hoped for; at most he looked resigned. Any smile he might have had for her was lost as he saw the confusion etched on her face.
"What's wrong?" he asked, coming to stand in front of her. "You look like you've just seen banshee."
"I'm guessing that's the Irish equivalent of a ghost," she said, holding her head. What the hell had just happened?
Tam laughed shortly, then said, "No, really, ya look… not well."
"I saw her again, Tam."
He visibly paled. Kerri looked up and met his eyes.
"You have to tell me, Tam. Who was she? Why don't you like the woods?"
Tamwyn sighed. "I don't know who she was, Kerri---"
"Then tell me what she was! She was just here! She said---" Kerri paused. Should she tell him about Faerysworn? Would he know what it meant? She sighed. No, definitely not. "She said she was a faery."
Tamwyn nodded, a frown on his face. "A Sidhe."
"Sidhe. Faery. The Folk." He shook his head. "They're all the same thing."
Kerri stared at him in amazement. "So… they're real?"
He nodded again. "Real as you an' me, but not in the same way."
"I don't get it."
Tam sighed again and stuck his hands in his pockets. "Like what you hear in the tales. Come an' go as they please. Don't live in either this world or the next." His eyes glazed over. "But they're not all nice and lovely as the tales say they are."
"No 'three wishes' gimmick?"
He shook his head. "No. They're evil."
Kerri paled. "Evil how?"
He shrugged. "They kidnap children and replace them with bits of dried wood. Take a man and keep him in a Hill for a night and then let him go only to find a hundred years have passed and his family is gone. Make you their slaves. Ruin your crops. Sour your milk---"
"Okay, I get it." She sighed. That would explain the nasty look in Bryona's eyes. "So… so why the trees? That's the deal with those?"
"Faeries again. Its not so much trees or forests themselves. Just this particular wood."
"What's wrong with it?"
Tamwyn shifted uncomfortably. "A ring of Standin' Stones. They were built a long time ago, in the middle of the field that used to cover this whole county. My granda says that the faeries took it from the Druids that built it, when the priests tried to take it back, the Folk enchanted a forest around it, to keep humans out." He stared at the forest and frowned. "It's cursed."
"Cursed?" That would explain the voices…
"One more question."
He looked relieved. "All right, go."
"Do faeries sometimes turn into animals?"
He frowned. "I suppose. Why?"
Kerri shrugged. "No reason."
But Tamwyn didn't buy it. "Kerri, what else did ya see? Why were ya really in the wood?"
She looked up at him and snapped. She was suddenly spilling everything, about the cat, the dreams--- everything except Faerysworn. How could she explain that to him when she didn't even know what it meant? What ever it was, it couldn't be good. Tam seemed afraid of faeries--- hated them, even. She wasn't about to risk the chance for a friend. She didn't need another person hating her.
When she'd finished, Tam stared at her wide-eyed.
"You followed a cat?"
"Yeah, I know. It was stupid."
"Stupid? Kerri, that was bloody mental!"
She glared in her own defense. "I get it. It was a bad idea."
"What would you have done if I hadn't found you?"
"Probably kept running 'til I fell off a cliff. Is that what you want to hear?"
He glared back. Kerri sighed.
"I don't wanna argue. I just… I'm confused." She laughed, short and slightly manic. "This hasn't exactly been the greatest vacation."
"Kerri, I'm sorry, but ya can't just go runnin' around the county after cats."
"Lemme guess, there's something dangerous about felines, too."
"I'm serious, Kerri."
She looked up at him and examined his face. The look in his eyes told her that he was being serious, but a nagging voice in the back of her mind kept telling her the cat was worth chasing after.
"I know, Tam, but---"
"But nothin'! Ya can't, Kerri, the woods are too dangerous for someone like you!"
"And what makes you so special?" she snapped back. "Why aren't they dangerous for you? Why were you in the woods yesterday?"
Tamwyn stared at her and took a step back, then seemed to change his mind and moved until he stood inches from her.
"That's none of your business," he hissed.
Kerri glared up at him with all she had. Why was he being so damned secretive? Why wouldn't he tell her one little thing? A part of her reminded her that he was probably right, it wasn't her business. They weren't exactly friends, were they? But he'd been with her this far. Why couldn't he tell her?
"Fine," she hissed back. "Don't tell me." She turned to walk away, but Tam reached out to stop her. And then the unthinkable happened.
Time slowed to a halt just as his fingertips grazed her skin. His touch left a peculiar burning sensation, but Kerri ignored it. The fuzzy feeling in her ears was back, and Kerri spun around. Tam was standing there, arm outstretched, but immobile. She stared at him a moment, the looked around him.
Prancing through the grass was the white cat. It looked up at her, flicked its tail, and bounded into the woods.
Tamwyn grabbed her arm.
But she was already running after it.
"Tam, don't you see it?" she called, sprinting across the field. "The cat!"
And Tamwyn had seen it. A chill crept across his skin, and then he bolted after her.
The minute he stepped into the trees, they seemed to close in on him. In an instant he gripped the key that hung from his neck. The iron felt cold and hard, and Tam clung to the feeling. His ears were starting to ring and his limbs felt heavy. He concentrated on Kerri, who was far ahead of him, struggling not to lose sight of her.
Something whispered close to his ear, an incomprehensible sound. It made him want to turn back, but he pushed forward. A flash of red across his vision. Tam gripped the key tighter. He couldn't fall under their spell like Kerri had…
Tamwyn looked ahead of him again, then stopped dead. He'd reached a small clearing, and in the open space, buried amongst the trees, was the ring of standing stones.
And Kerri was inside.
Completely unaware that she was standing in the very ring Tam had deemed "cursed," Kerri stared down at where the cat had been. More than pissed that it had once again disappeared, she began to pace back and forth. Hot tears stung her eyes.
She'd almost had it…
She was going crazy, that was the only explanation for it. She had gone completely round the bend. Hardly three days in a foreign country and she was losing her mind. Chasing cats? Had she left her brain at home?
"What the hell was I thinking?" she muttered.
"I'd love to know meself!"
Kerri spun around. Tamwyn was walking toward her, rage practically radiating off of him.
"I told ya! Ya can't---" But before he could finish, he froze, his face paling. Kerri didn't have to ask, because the same feeling had crept over her as well. A chill went up her spine and goose bumps erupted across her skin. Tamwyn grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him just as the air inside the Stones crackled and disappeared.
He began pulling her to the edge of the ping, muttering something in Gaelic under his breath. Kerri's skin prickled, and something drew her eyes back to the ring's center. Her breath caught.
A group of men and women were standing in the ring, all dressed in strange and colorful clothing. And their eyes were fixated on Kerri.
Her mouth opened and she tried to say something, but Tamwyn spoke for her, his voice full of malice.
Author's Note: Let's all give three cheers for the entrance of plot! Do forgive me for the wait, this particular chapter needed a lot of revision. So, in the next chapter: FAERIES!!!