By: Aaron E. Smith

Freed, he pushed himself backwards into the woods yelling, “Bloody yes, I wish for the safety of the woods!”

The sweet voice giggled then. “You are one to test your luck it seems.”

From thin air, a diminutive nymph appeared before him, and walked toward the edge of the woods.

The rest of the dogs and their masters had begun cautiously circling the large stone near the edge of the woods. Simeon even locked eyes with one of the men, a haggard, bearded man gripping a long-hafted axe.

The nymph began waving her arms in a circular pattern, humming a deeply melodic song. Her voice and motions were graceful, and precise.

“Be silent,” she whispered. “They will not see you.”

Simeon could have sworn he and the bearded man had locked gazes, but now the man’s eyes scanned the forest in puzzlement. The dogs paced nervously, but came no closer than the edge of the trees, sensing some hidden danger. The men urged them closer, but none moved. The dark-colored mastiff reluctantly began to creep nearer, but the nymph snapped her finger suddenly and the whole pack turned tail and ran toward the distant village.

The men exchanged fearful glances and began to back away, cautiously clutching their weapons. The bearded man’s face grew bitter and motioned for the rest to leave. He leveled one last gaze into the wood then retreated with the others, spitting as he backed away.

“You may have your life today Naijan, but the Fey will have it forever!”

Sitting silently, Simeon watched the men fade into the distance. The nymph stood silently watching as well, a few paces in front of him, subtly swaying back and forth. She was knee high he figured, and nude as a newborn babe. Though his focus was on the men, he kept finding his gaze upon her. The nymph’s tender skin glistened like gold in the fading sun, the scent of honeysuckle all around her. He soon forgot his concern for the men, captured by her hypnotic swaying. For long moments, he uttered no words, ushered no thoughts, nor made any movements.

His reverie was broken by the nymph’s sensual giggle, as she renewed her woven gesture/song.

Simeon averted his eyes from her, looking instead for the men in the distance. There was no one else in sight. The day’s fading light told him they had probably long been gone. The shadows of the hillside overlapped with the shadowed wood, driving what little light was left away. He repositioned himself to relieve the pain in his legs as the nymph continued her spell. Clearly she was doing something, he knew, but what that was he could not understand. Then it occurred to him, that he was still a long way from safety.

The forest was much darker now. Weak beams of light still pierced the treetops in places, but they were growing fainter by the moment. The vegetation within the wood was more lush than any he had seen before; it’s soil rich with minerals. Simeon had been born into the wilderness, and raised to understand its offerings. His clan, the Naijan, were largely nomadic and had traveled over large portions of the southlands, yet many of the flora and fauna before him were unfamiliar. If there were any doubts about the nature of this wood before, they were settled then.

The nymph finished her enchantment and turned to face him. Slowly she sauntered closer, pulling her long sparkling hair away from her breasts as she walked. He gazed upon her longingly, without shame or trepidation. His heartbeat quickened, and he felt he should reach out for her. When he did, she unfolded willowy translucent wings and flew the remaining distance to him, hovering before his hungry eyes.

“I have helped you mortal,” she cooed softly. “Now you will help me.”

Her tiny-slitted cat eyes froze him in place, drawing him further away from awareness. He struggled against her attention briefly, but quickly abandoned any resistance at all. She smiled at his passive surrender, pleased with his adulation. Many hours passed before she allowed his gaze to leave hers.

Simeon blinked as the nymph released her hold upon him, but held fast to her seductive gaze. Rising full before his eyes, the nymph drifted closer to him, allowing the light of the moon to wash over her. She came so close to him he could feel the flutter of her wings upon his cheek.

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