The Saetyr claws barely missed Malick as he stepped back rapidly. He quickly drew his two of his pistols and, Thwomp Thwomp, put silver into the creature. It stumbled back clawing at its smoking chest. Malick holstered his pistols and drew out the crossbow slung across his back. The Saetyr was in too much pain to acknowledge Malick as put a silver bolt between its horns.
He was three days out of Mayrin Col, and had begun spotting Saetys in the wilds the day prior. This one had found Malick though he had put silver bolts through the skulls of four others. He was not the only one on the roads either. He had found a few ill-fated travelers and merchants, who had been less equipped than he was to fight off Saetyr.
Malick had just started back down the road when he heard yelling, a scream, and the wolfish howl of a Saetyr. He started quickly towards it, reloading his crossbow as he went.
Two armored men were poking spears at two Saetyr while hiding behind their shields. Hiding behind the men was a young women trying desperately to control her mount. One of the Saetyr grabbed at and snapped the spear one of the men was brandishing. It then quickly swatted at him. He was able to get his shield up but the force took him to the ground anyways. The second Saetyr quickly pounced on the prone man. The second armored man tried run it through with his spear but it was steel, not silver, and the wooden shaft shattered under the pressure of the impact. At that moment Malick was able to take his shot, and put bolt passed through the crown and deep into the spine of the horned wolf head hovering over the prone man. It was dead instantly falling heavily on the fallen man.
Malick slung his crossbow back over his shoulder and reached into his coat for two of his four remaining loaded pistols. The remaining armored man should have had his eyes on the Saetyr instead of on Malick. It slashed at the throat of the armored man shredding what armor was there and then spraying the area with his blood. The woman lost the battle with her horse that turned and ran wildly in Malick’s Direction. In fact, it nearly ran down Malick who had to side step out of its way. Quickly behind it was the now sprinting Saetyr running swiftly on its powerful hoofed legs as well as its wolf-like hands. Malick barely had time to aim. He shot and dove, trying to avoid the Saetyr’s momentum.
The Saetyr wasn’t dead. It was flailing about oddly on the ground though, as the silver burned at the flesh of its skull and shoulders. The fallen man had managed to crawl most of the way out from underneath the dead Saetyr. Malick holster his pistols and drew his silver edged Rapier. Swiftly and with great care he struck, putting the blade through the flailing creature’s skull, then stepping back – creating distance – faster than you could blink. He sheathed the weapon as the other man came to his feet.
Panting, the armored man spoke, “Thessa, where is she?”
“The woman on the horse?” Malick looked back down the road. The horse had thrown her. She was lying unmoving on the ground. The armored man saw her too and started hobbling down the road after her. Malick was much faster to the young woman’s side. She was unconscious, bloodied, and beat up, but alive. He created support for her neck and quickly started to address her injuries.
The armored man caught up, “Thessa? She’s alive? Thank the trinity. Curse that horse. What were those things that killed Milt?”
“Saetyr,” Malick said. “They crossed over from the Fae.”
“What? Is that possible?”
They were able to get Thessa into a stable and comfortable condition and the armored man, whose name was Phillip, went to take care of his brother who had been killed. From Phillip Malick learned that Phillip and Milt had been knights in service to Mayrin Col. Thessa was Phillip’s Daughter, and had just been hired by the stewardess of Mayrin Col. They were on what was supposed to be a quick trip out fishing for their brief overlapping leave.
Alone now, and no longer in hearing distance of Phillip, Malick began some Fae chants that would encourage healing in Thessa. The results were relatively rapid, but Malick was forced to stop because Pillip returned. He had actually told Phillip very little about his reasons for being out here.
“I’m not complaining or anything,” Phillip began. “But you’re not from around these parts. Not dressed like that. What brings a silver slinger this far out of Norliche? I heard Steilina and Ironmore were destroyed.”
“They were,” Malick answered. “It’s not a good place to be right now, I’m just out here by chance really.”
His lies seemed to be believed by the man. “You one of those wicken men?” Phillip asked.
Malick had hopped this man would have been satisfied and not pried further, “Yes,” he answered.
“Heard about you,” Phillip said, looking self-satisfied. “Never thought I would be happy to be making an acquaintance of one. Well, when hunted by the Fae…” He trailed off as if that was a perfectly normal phrase to utter, “How is she doing? Good, I can see cooler in her face.”
“She’ll be fine,” Malick said. “She may even be waking up soon. Here, stay with her, I’ll make sure no more of those Saetyr can find us.”
Malick started shifting through his pack and what he had to use. He had enough incense to create a repellent that would protect them as long they stayed in one place. Again, Malick wanted to keep his Fae use out of sight, so he didn’t start burning the incense till he was in the cover of the trees just off the side of the road. Incense burned as Fae words were spoken. That was when something unexpected happened.
Malick’s Talisma went cold on his chest. “A young man speaks Fae, and expects not to be noticed.” Malick turned around quickly to see a Faery. “What you burn is foul, I want nothing to do with it in my wilds.”
“We are not in the Fae,” Malick said while taking a step away from it. “Your wilds are there.”
“No one owned them, so I took them,” The Faery said sharply. “Not that wilds can really be owned. However, I had peace and then Saetyrs and you! You with your foul smells and Fae words.”
“I can put away the incense,” Malick said.
“The damage is done,” The Faery responded.
“Sorry about that, I have killed seven Saetyr’s today, if that makes you feel any better,” Malick said, desperate for any chance to not have to fight a Faery, whom would likely kill him with ease.
“Seven?” The Faery looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’ve dealt with fourteen, so being half as good at killing Saetyr as me is fairly good. Do you think I will not eat you for being half as good as I am at killing Saetyr? Or those two on the road? Killing Saetyrs has given me a hunger, and fate has given me three annoying humans.”
“Humans aren’t really good tasting,” Malick said taking another step back.
“I know this,” the Faery said. “But that is because I eat humans when I’m hungry enough, does the man eat humans too?”
“What? No,” Malick said. “Wouldn’t you rather eat something tasty? There’s a horse just be down the road a bit.”
“A horse?” The Faery questioned. “Horse does sound better. The man has good taste. Hope I find it, or I’ll be back.” The Faery took off suddenly, flying recklessly through the trees – black and grey butterfly wings beating rapidly.
Malick quickly returned to Phillip, and Thessa who was now awake. “This place is insane,” Malick said. “The barrier to the Fae here must nearly be non-existent.”
“This is brightwood,” Phillips said, as if that explained everything. “Usually it’s safe though even if it is strange.”
“I hope your horse isn’t too far gone,” Malick said.
“Why?” asked Phillip, “So I can catch it and gut it for throwing my daughter?”
“No,” Malick said. “So something else can do that for you.”