Adeline rose to consciousness but did not open her eyes. She was too afraid.

Was this death? It felt a lot like life and pain, and that confused her.

She cracked open a blurry, red tinted eye and was even more confused at the swirl of grey and green around her. The rocking motion of her body told her she was riding a horse.

Blinking cleared her vision for just a few seconds and she saw the blood. Coating every inch of her skin and clothes.

A deep unsettled feeling sunk its razor-sharp hooks into her conscience and stomach. She knew something bad had happened and was just clear minded enough to realise that she wasn't the only one in control. And that terrified her.

She stared and stared at the blood. It was like she had been dipped in a tub of blood at a slaughter house. Her feet in the stirrups were the only thing keeping her from toppling off the horse, as her strength had left her long ago. Her forehead still burned with fever and chills peppered her skin beneath the dried blood.

Her head felt lighter than a cloud and she knew deep down that she was never going to make it out of the woods alive. She lay against the horse's neck and closed her eyes, ignoring the pain as best as she could.

oOoOoOo

She woke encased in soft cotton sheets, the temperature just right for snuggling. The morning sun shone through the window, bathing her face in light.

She opened her eyes and blinked away the blurriness before taking in her surroundings. The room was small and smelled … oddly clean. The memories of what had happened crashed through her and she slowly peeled away the sheets, worried she'd be still covered in blood.

Her skin was clean, and she was wearing a strange looking gown. Her manacles were gone, but the marks where they had been were still there though. She would have scars.

She knew better than to try to get out of bed in her condition, so was content to stare at the white wall beyond her bed and wonder where she was.

The door opened, and two men wearing military uniforms entered the room. She tensed, being reminded of the two knights, but a quick look at their beautiful faces confirmed that it wasn't the knights.

Her fear spiked as she noticed their pointed ears peaking out from their long hair, but she bravely held in her scream. Her shining eyes said enough about her fear. These men weren't men, they were males. They were Fae, the immortal enemies of the human species.

The one on the right spoke. 'Hello, human.'

Adeline swallowed and winced at her dry throat. 'Hello. Where am I?'

'You are in the infirmary ward at the palace barracks in Fayoak.' He said, his green eyes shining with pride.

She groaned. 'What happened?'

'We found you half dead in the forest. We were hoping you could tell us the rest.' He said.

Her fear receded a little. 'You saved my life, thank you both. Uhh—right. What happened. Well, all I remember is leaving Flodon and finding a job at an Inn. I can't remember what happened next but then I woke up in a cell, where …'

She began to cry, and both males looked uncomfortable and unsure of what to do.

'I was tortured for information because they believed I was some sort of spy and then I was executed. I woke up in the forest.' She finished, willing herself to be strong.

The one of the left spoke. 'What about all the blood?'

Adeline couldn't remember anything but darkness. 'I don't know what happened, one moment I was on the platform and the next I was in the forest. I'm sorry, but I do not know.'

They nodded. 'Thank you, human. We just wanted to see that you were alright. We'll be back later to check in on you.'

'Adeline.' She said with as much smile as she could muster. 'And thank you.'

'Anytime.'

She was left alone for a few minutes after that before a healer came in. The petite woman was very beautiful, as she guessed all Fae were and was clad in a white robe.

The healer gave her a tonic and removed her gown by undoing the ties at the back of her neck to change the dressings on her back. She explained the extent of her injuries; internal bruising and bleeding, a few broken ribs, concussion and deep laceration on her back, splintered bones in her shins as well as fever, which she was already aware of.

The healer, Nina had already healed most of the damage with her magic and informed her that she was on the home straight with her healing. Adeline was pleased to hear this and thanked her profusely.

She was given breakfast and another tonic which sent her back off to sleep.

oOoOoOo

When she woke up again, she felt the most rested she had ever felt in her whole life. It was like the sun was shining outside and the birds chirping in the trees outside the window, and indeed that was exactly what it was.

Nina helped her to the bathroom and left her to it, coming back a few minutes later to help her back into bed. She was informed that her wounds were healing well, however, she would be left with severe scarring, but she didn't care. She was alive and that was a miracle.

The green eyed male, Badrick, came back as he had promised, but without his friend. He smiled at her and asked how she was doing.

'So, after I'm all healed,' she asked him, 'what'll happen to me? I can't go back home and the knights will find me if someone spots me.'

He considered for a moment. 'You could stay in one of the spare rooms in the barracks. I'm sure the blacksmith will be happy to have another assistant. Or you could work in the stables, or the kitchen, or helping with the paper work. I'll ask around for you.'

'Thanks. I owe you everything.' She said with a sad smile.

'Not everything.' He reminded her, pushing his brown hair over his shoulder.

'Right.'

'You've shown me that humans aren't trash. We haven't had contact in over a century, and most Fae are too hesitant to cross the border because you tend to act like a bunch of headless chooks when it comes to anything related to us. You didn't scream when you saw me.' He said with a sigh.

'If I may ask, what was the invasion all about? We've been told all about how horrible you were and all the killing and beasts, but what was it actually about?'

He ran his hand through his hair. 'That wasn't the Fae in general, but an extremist group known as the dursenye, who believe that anything below themselves doesn't deserve to live. The funny thing is, that if our army hadn't intervened and stopped the dursenye, the humans would have been annihilated within a year and yet you still hate and fear us.'

It was like they were speaking on behalf of their race, but neither of them took offense.

Adeline blinked. That couldn't be right, but she knew he was telling the truth.

'I didn't know. We weren't told. No one was.' She said. 'So, all this time we've been terrified that you'd return to kill us all, when really, it was you that saved us.'

He nodded.

'Damn that's twisted.'

'Yes, it is.'

oOoOoOo

It was a week before she was released from the ward, and taken to the barracks by Badrick, who got her settled in. The Fae, upon seeing her would stare at her, but she understood why it was so weird.

Badrick had asked around as he said he would, and the only department that would accept her was the Blacksmith, whose heart was bigger than a horse's. Adeline was nervous as she approached his workshop for the first time, but as the blacksmith looked up and smiled, she knew she was safe.

He went out to greet her, putting his hand out. 'It's nice to finally meet you, miss Adeline.'

She took his hand politely. 'Thank you for taking me in.'

'It was nothing. I usually don't employ assistants, but when I heard about you, I figured you were in a strange world with nowhere to go and no purpose.' He said, watching her face fall slightly. 'But I know you'll be my best assistant yet. You have a look about you, you're used to hard work without complaining. It is admirable.'

'I guess, sir.' She said.

'Call me Maddox.'

He showed her around the workshop, which was larger than it appeared from the outside and was filled with weapons, three forges, reserves of ore and alloys and benches and anvils. It was just like in the books she had read.

'For now, I'd like you to polish the weapons I made this morning.' He said, pointing to the small pile of swords and daggers on one of the benches.

Maddox ran her through the steps and she caught on quickly. She took a seat, grabbed a dagger and began the process by wiping it down with a rag. The steel was already gleaming in her hand, but she added a couple drops of solvent to the surface and got scrubbing, being careful not to cut herself. She again wiped it down before grabbing a clean rag, dabbing it with a protective oil and began to polish the steel.

There was something strangely mesmerising about the repetitive work, just like knitting.

Once she was done with the dagger, she could see her reflection in its surface and if she was being honest, she looked terrible.

She was still scared and shaken from her near-death experience, and her hollow black eyes somewhat betrayed her fear. Maddox had been informed, and mercifully, as curious people usually would, didn't ask her about the gory details.

She had become terrified of the dark and needed to sleep with the strange Fae lamps on in her room. Darkness was followed by pain and blood, and she was petrified she would black out again and wake up covered in blood or in a torture cell. On multiple occasions she had tried to tell Nina or Badrick about how she thought the darkness was related to the murder she was accused of and waking up covered in blood, but whenever she broached the topic, she would forget what she was talking about. She would then be felt in a confused daze for hours after.

Sometimes she even forgot about her family back home, which scared her.

To distract herself, as well as to be polite, she listened to Maddox's stories about the great Fae wars and how the killing blow of the enemy king was dealt by a blade of his making. She later learned that Maddox was one of the greatest blacksmiths on the continent but was to humble to say so upon meeting her.

Once she was done with the weapons, he ordered her to open a crate under one of the worktop benches against the wall and sharpen the weapons inside using a machine of his own making. He called it a grindstone, which was spun using a foot pedal, and sharped weapons quickly, but less effectively than a whetting stone. Once she had sharpened those weapons, he showed her how to use a whetting stone and she again got lost in the work, even beginning to enjoy it. As well as Maddox's gentle company, which was greatly appreciated.

After she was finished, the blades were so sharp they could cut through anything, apart from metal that is. They were made from Fae steel, which was far more refined and durable than human iron the knights held in their holsters.

She felt honoured to be in his workshop and knew deep down that she didn't deserve it. Let alone to be sharpening his weapons, so she paid extra attention to her quality and sharpened and polished effectively, but thoroughly.

Very thoroughly.

After her day was over, she felt tired but content, and as she settled down for bed, she felt the best she had since that night.

The next day there was a crate of rusty blades to be scrubbed clean and polished and once she was finished, there was another. And then sharpening.

The pounding of Maddox's hammer was constant, but it didn't bother her, she was used to it. Sweat coated his skin and he hadn't had a break in hours, so she fetched him a large glass of water from the tap, which he downed in a few seconds.

'Thanks.' He said and handed the glass back.

'You looked like you needed it.' She said as a knock sounded at the door.

It was Badrick.

'The King wants to meet you.' He said, and Adeline fumbled with the glass, nearly dropping it.

Maddox smirked, but she was too surprised to notice. 'What? I'm not worthy to meet a king.'

'Sure you are.' Maddox offered. 'He may be our king, but he's flesh and blood like the rest of us. You'll be right.'

She smiled gratefully in his direction. 'Do I have to get dressed or anything?'

Badrick shook his head. 'No, you're fine. Let's go.'

She nervously walked beside him as they entered the palace. Females walking the halls in groups of three eyed her jealously as they saw Badrick walking beside her. She wanted to tell them to go right ahead and that she wasn't any competition to them. Sure, Badrick was handsome and kind, but she didn't see him in a romantic way. Heck, she was just settling into a new world with another species, romance was not on her mind.

As much as she tried to hide it, the Fae still made her nervous. Her whole life she was indoctrinated with horrific depictions of the Fae, and that couldn't be erased in a week.

She followed him into a strange small room and watched curiously as he turned a large dial on the wall. The floor began to move upwards and she clung to Badrick for dear life as they passed many floors, her eyes wide with wonder.

'How is this possible?' She asked, and he chuckled.

'It's called an elevator. It's lifted and lowered by a pulley system, but some are operated with magic.'

'What sort of magic?'

He shrugged. 'Magic used by the Old Fae, or Fortifae if you will, but us regular Fae only have elemental magic. Granted, elevators could be maneuvered by wind, but unfortunately that wasn't a gift given to us by the gods, presumably because wind isn't tethered to the earth, so not tethered to its people.

The elevator came to a halt and they stepped out. She felt a little bit wobbly on her feet, like the floor was moving beneath her feet and he smirked at her.

'It can have that effect on people.' He mused and set off down the carpeted hall. 'This way.'

They walked through the second door on the right, which led into a large room, filled with bookcases and documents. The next thing she noticed, was the figure sitting behind a large carved desk.

He wore no crown, but she knew deep in her gut that this male was a law unto himself. A King.

He smiled at her and she panicked slightly, smiling nervously back. She was so privileged to be living on royal grounds and to be meeting the king.

'Welcome to my home.' He said authoritatively, yet warmly.

'Thank you, your majesty.'

He nodded. 'How do you like your new job at the blacksmith?'

She was taken aback by his question, why would any king care about her life? 'I like it very much.'

He nodded again. 'And where are you from, Adeline is it?'

She nodded. 'Flodon, I grew up in the orphanage.'

'Interesting.'

Her brows creased, but she couldn't find any words to say. He stood from his chair and leaned against the desk.

'And how did you end up here? Humans never usually cross the border.'

Adeline swallowed. 'I left Flodon and walked to Holmfirth, got a job at an Inn and then blacked out and woke up in a dungeon cell. I was accused of murder,' she grew quiet, 'and they tortured me for information about what the Fae were supposedly planning, so I made up a story so they'd stop whipping me. I was executed, but then woke up in the forest, before waking up again in the ward. Now I'm here.'

He rolled his eyes. 'Badrick.'

Faster than she could fathom, he had her bound from head to toe in rope.

She looked down at herself and squeaked in surprise, momentarily struggled before staring at Badrick. 'What is this?'

Where on earth he got the rope was beyond her.

The King sighed. 'She has tried so many rutting times that it's not even entertaining anymore.'

'I—I'm sorry?' Adeline stammered.

'Oh not you. My ex-wife, whose inside you.'

Her brain nearly imploded. 'What do you mean by that?! How could that be possible?'

The king laughed. 'Why do they always say the same thing?'

'Explain.' She demanded.

The King sighed, not at all bothered by her tone. 'My physio ex-wife, Kilthrial got married to me two hundred years ago and right from the beginning, was a manipulative, calculating piece of trash. She tried to poison me, twice, before having the palace invaded by some Fortifae mercenaries, who were under her control. I later learned that Kilthrial Jularnion wasn't her name, but Kilthrial Koveyar, Queen of Erivale. She was a shape shifter, and made me believe she was Fae, but she was Fortifae and already married. I tortured her mercenaries and found out that she was to marry me and kill me, effectively seizing hold of my empire. So, I did something … pretty bad and tore her soul from her body. Her soul is inside your body right now.'

'She uses women as hosts, usually Fae, but this time human, which is out of character, but I give her credit for trying to be resourceful. They are usually left half dead in the forest for us to find. Us, being nice, take them in to save their lives before she uses their bodies to try to kill me. I'm guessing she set you up to be executed so you wouldn't leave the Fae realm, fearing you'd be executed again if you went back. Such a clever woman, yet … not clever enough it seems.'

Adeline blinked. It made sense.

Her memory fuzzed and soon she looked at Badrick and the King in confusion. 'What were we talking about?'

The King clicked his tongue. 'Let's tried the sacred water this time.'

Badrick nodded before slinging her over his shoulder like a sack of wheat.

She yelped and tried to struggle, but she was coiled in rope. He was somewhat careful not to knock her head on the door way as they stepped into the elevator.

'Some advice for next time Kilthrial,' the King mused as he leaned again the rail, 'maybe try to erase all of their memory so we can't piece it together.'

Adeline frowned. Who was the king talking to?

The elevator went down many floors, until she was sure they were past ground level, but they kept on going down.

She was carried out of the elevator, her head pounding from being practically upside-down. A normal human man wouldn't be able to carry her with such ease, but then she remembered they were stronger than bulls.

They entered a room with a strong odour she couldn't place.

'Will I live?' She asked.

The King and Badrick swapped glances. 'Uh—yeah.'

Adeline wasn't convinced and began to panic as Badrick carried her over to a large marble pool, filled with what she assumed was 'blessed water'. The strong smell grew more intense as they neared the pool and she wriggled, trying to get away from it.

'Please! Please, I don't want to die again! Is there another way?' She pleaded as he held her over the water.

'No.' The King said sternly. 'Proceed.'

The freezing water burned her skin as it saturated her pants, then her waist and then she went under. The rope prevented her from reaching up for air, and she waited for Badrick to lift her head out the water, but he never did.

Once she realised this, she began to panic and struggle as much as she could. Her lungs screamed for oxygen, but it wasn't available, and after they couldn't bear it anymore, they instinctively inhaled the water. She couldn't cough, for that would require breathing in air.

Betrayal and regret that she couldn't live was what she felt as her vision slowly faded into nothingness. As did she.