Elegant fluttering wings beat swiftly against the thick and muggy air, their motions laborious and quickly fading into stillness. The tiny body of the insect withdrew into itself, a mournful bellow uttered in microscopic sounds as a final cry of defeat. The sky above became grim and clouded, shadows cast out over the small dead creature's remains, and then out over the land surrounding.
Worn and practically dismantled inside by this sudden drear, not to mention the ripping of his sanity made by his previous journey, a wizened older gentleman gripped a smaller boy's hand in his own. Shaking a bit from the winds now carried by the shadowing clouds, he tugged on the boy a bit to encourage hastier movements. The boy followed a moment his grandfather, losing his footing every now and then on the harsh terrains of the rocky hill that they were descending.
"Come on, Lani, the storm is coming up pretty fast, we've gotta get back to the house." The older man gave another forceful tug, and he thought Lani had found a grip, but then watched as in a split second the boy slipped and knocked his head on a large boulder embedded in the earth. His hands had moved too slowly to catch Lani's fall. Tears stung at his eyes as he watched his grandson fall into unconsciousness.
"LANI!" He shouted, giving him a jolt, though Lani could not wake. The boy's head lolled back on his neck and hung between his shoulders. Blood was rippling out from a small cut under the mess of the boy's red hair. For a moment he looked around helplessly as though someone would rise from the ground and offer a hand, and when no one did he took the boy and cradled him carefully in the crook of his wrinkled arms.
Just beyond the beige meadow that spread out below him he could make out the foggy image of a house, though it was not his destination. Not this time. Sighing, he peered down at the bleeding boy and knew better of himself, then bravely he trekked down the opposite side of the hill to the place of which he had emerged only moments ago.
He had a keen step as he cautiously strode along down the less declivitous side of the hill, coming up to a small groundhog's burrow and tipping the end of his left boot inside of it. Suddenly, something had grasped the end of his foot and then swallowed him and Lani, leaving behind no traces or sounds of their departure. The curious thing about it was that they were both spit out back into a separate world—a world filled with terrifying creatures that looked as though they might eat your head, among other parts of your body if you weren't watching.
A very drawn and very thin little womanly thing came up to greet the man and boy. "Oh my!" The creature cried out, her face looking angry and sad all at once. "What has happened to him, Arthur?!" She touched a spindle finger to the boy's exposed and oozing scalp and then muttered something in another language.
"Don't have a fucking cow, Sybille. He's only hit his head," Arthur was trying to brush this off, feeling a bit responsible and so putting up his defenses.
"Well, I wouldn't have one of those even if I knew what it was! Arthur! He could have—what is it you call them? A recession or something like that—yes, yes something of the sort, isn't it? Arthur?" Sybille wouldn't stop prodding at the poor boy's wound and she constantly had to keep fluttering her wings to keep up with Arthur's fast pace.
"That's a concussion, Sybille," Arthur corrected shortly. Swiveling about he began to mutter under his breath and then turned back to Sybille, "Where is Oak?"
Sybille twiddled her fingers 'round each other and looked off into the distance. She could feel Arthur's eyes boring into her flesh like seething daggers. "What!" She shouted at him, throwing her arms up and flapping her wings wildly in his direction.
"You know where he is. I need his help—"
"OH!" Sybille snorted, crossing her arms over her chest, a determined look of hatred plastered firmly on her face. "You know it, Arthur, yes, yes, you know that I do not like Oak. He is vile and putrid and—OH! Arthur! Please, please. I can help! I can. Really I can!" She smoothed back Lani's hair with her grey-purple hands and continued muttering strange words.
Arthur jerked the boy away from her and called out. "Oak Nu!" Sybille made to cover his mouth but he easily forced the faerie away with the flick of his wrist.
Within a half a moment a small brown creature with golden brown hair and a pointed face came floating down from over a rooftop. His brown eyes glittered curiously at the older man and then glanced down at the boy. The smell of iron filled his nostrils and they flared out then retracted, and Oak cringed away in fear.
"Don't worry. Do I have to remind you that there're only two and a half grams of iron in an average sized person's bloodstream? Fey need at least a quarter pound for it to mean any harm. So stop your baby act and help him." Arthur proffered Lani to Oak, a bit as though Lani were a bit of old repugnant laundry he wanted washed.
For a moment the faerie only gazed at him with a wonder glinting like fire in his eyes. At the moment he reached out his arms to take the boy his heart sunk heavily into the pit of his stomach. There was a peculiarity about this boy that rendered all fears inside of him—he could feel a steady growing power inside Lani. Eyes widening, head reeling, stomach flipping in him, Oak was finally brought back into reality when Arthur dropped the full weight of the boy into his arms. He blinked and looked at the man oddly for a second in time, as though he had just handed him the secrets to the universe.
"He slipped and hit his head, I think he should be fine, but wanted you to do your magic on him. Works a hell of a lot better than fucking human shit we got back at home. Wish things worked there like they do here…" he trailed off as Oak turned his back to him and carried his charge away.
Oak slipped through the solidity of the metal walling of the castle, taking Lani to an aiding room where there were odd smelling medicines and eerie whispers emanating from mounds of smoldering ashen leaves. He set him gently across an upraised cushioned cot. Before setting to his magic he took another long look at the boy, slowly tracing his fingertips along his unseen aura. It was a powerful and magnetic energy that vibrated beneath his hands. Oak could feel every fiber brimming with electricity and he longed to touch the boy's skin, just to taste the power—though he would not take it.
A long breath of air guttered from inside him and he shut his eyes a moment, trying to prepare his own body for a lot of work. Fey were easy to heal since they already had a natural amenity for healing quickly, but humans were much more difficult for there were so many layers to work through, so many cells and atoms to mend together.
As he pried his eyes open to start he realized that the boy had awakened and was now staring up at him, dazed and a bit cross with what had happened to him.
"What am I in here for?" Lani craned his head around to peruse his surroundings. It proved a great strain for him, as he winced and settled his head back down onto the cushion. Feeling the smarting pain of his perforated head, he raised a hand to touch it, but then thought better of it and let his hand fall back on his stomach.
"Had a nasty fall, boy," Oak said with a playful tone in his voice. He turned away from him and busied himself with a jar of grayish green liquid, letting it run through his fingers over and over as it thinned and became less gelatinous. "Last time you'll crack your head, I hope. You might've lost a few important brain cells." Chuckling, he began to rub his slimy palms together until the liquid felt quite hot in his hands.
Lani didn't look even half amused by the faerie's banter. "What're you?"
"A friend…" Oak received a look of reprimand, as though he might be lying, though he wasn't. "A doctor, then?" Another look resembling a disgusting disbelief, though improved a bit by the fact that Lani raised his eyebrows, finding this slightly more believable than the previous declaration. "Fine, good, a doctor is what I am," he said, actually bemused himself, and clapping his heated hands together then placing them on Lani's pulverized head.
Lani screamed out in agony, feeling a burning sear his scalp, and for a while there he thought his hair was being burned from his head by fire, but then the pain ebbed away until it was nothing. The blood in his ears had stopped pulsating, though now he was terrorized by a loud crunching noise reverberating stridently in his head. Clamping his hands over his ears he let out another wail and flailed his legs and elbows about.
Oak looked worried and tried to calm him by straddling him and putting his knees to the boy's chest, but it seemed to only make him more irate so Oak leapt off him and began to gently stroke Lani's hair, shushing him with the light whispers of a soothing spell.
"That's it," Oak lulled, his fingers running through red strands of hair. Crusted blood gathered under his fingernails, though he didn't mind, for he was touching the powerful human with his bare hands and yet he was not taking his soul. How curious…
At last, Lani slowly pulled his hands from his ears and let his face and his body relax into the cradle of the soothing words being sung. It was a beautiful language… so gentle and benevolent… before Lani could even try to hang on to reality he had lost it to sleep.