The Protectors

A/N: This honestly scared the crap out of me. I’m not a horror writer, but for some reason, I felt like doing something in that genre. Now, this isn’t extreme or anything, because I doubt I could pull off something like that, but (to me) it’s quite, well, terrifying. xD

Warning: Contains graphic details of a gruesome death.

Original prompt:

It was one thing to hear that the fairies weren’t nice. It was another to see them attack a hunter, and strip the flesh from his bones.

“I don’t understand,” I said, quietly, trying not to let my disgust show. I knew that, the moment I showed any signs of anything other than approval, I would be gone for. “I thought…” I couldn’t finish, instead shaking my head. “I just don’t understand,” I repeated.

“So you’ve said,” she remarked, dryly, and I could tell she was unimpressed. “What’s so hard to get? We protect.” She fluttered her wings as she spoke, indicating her irritation towards me.

I let out a sigh. “I know that. It’s just that… The methods…” I gestured with my hand to the remains of the man. I could still see the fear and pain in his eyes, and the echoing scream he let out when they attacked – the cries of agony of a dying, tortured man.

Shuddering involuntarily, I resisted the urge to turn and look. Why was it that, like a magnet, we are attracted to things we know we shouldn’t see or do? I knew what I would see, and I know what I had seen. How could I forget? It only took five of them and thirty seconds. I was always taught that the sharp, needle like points that could be willfully extended from the end of fingers were to help with gripping objects. But they had slid easily into the flesh of the man, piercing through without hesitation, and the grooves caught on the skin, pulling it off as easily as dead bark came off trees.

Lies. All lies.

She laughed, a light tinkering sounds that reminded me of church bells and harps, but it did nothing to sooth me. “Look at you,” she sneered, but it was jestful, and I knew she was regarding my shock with amusement. “You’re adorable when you’re confused. Such innocence, such child-like faith.” She laughed again. “We are protectors of the forest, but that doesn’t make us nice. The sooner you understand that the better – we are not nice.”

I couldn’t – or rather, I wouldn’t. Shaking my head, I moved to the edge of the leaf I was stood on. “I need time,” I muttered, giving my wings a few test flaps before taking off.

Diving and dipping, I navigated through the maze of trees and vegetation, and paused just as I reached the lifeless body of the hunter. It was not recognizable as a human any longer. They had not completely removed everything, and there were still bits and pieces of his insides sticking out. I wretched, but I had not eaten my meal for that day yet, and there was nothing that came out.

I could still see his piercing green eyes staring in permanent horror, and for whatever reason, they had left it alone, instead opting to remove everything else surrounding it. I averted my gaze, turning my head away and, with it, my body, flying to my secret hideaway, chastising myself for looking the entire way.

At the edge of the lake, I sat on one of the branches of a dead tree. It was on the very edge of our boarders, which meant that across the body of water, hunters and humans could freely walk without any consequences, and I shuddered again. We were always told that as protectors of the forest, we would stop those who tried to hurt animals within our borders, but I never knew that meant… That it included such violence.

I was turning twelve in three days. It meant becoming an adult, and therefore, joining the armies assigned to keeping our home – and its inhabitants – safe. Children were never allowed near any vecinitas where hunters broke the laws set by man, until it was deemed safe, and that was the first time I truly understood why.

We were the monsters humans talked about. We were the creatures of horror. We took lives.

I didn’t understand. I was young, and my naivety had been broken, shredded into a hundred thousand different pieces beyond recognition, with no hope of being put back together – just like that poor hunter. Not exactly ‘poor’, my brain reminded me admits the horror I felt. And I knew that, too, was true – he was a hunter, caught trying to shoot an endangered bear.

He deserved everything he got. As soon as the thought crossed my brain, I gagged again, my lip curling upwards in absolute repulsion. They could have killed him quickly, I argued, only to be countered by myself – That wouldn’t have been a good enough lesson. The punishment must fit the crime.

I spent the next ten minutes fighting, debating, with my conscience. Nobody won, but either way, I still lost. I stayed at my place of solitude until the sun set, and then made my way back to my home. My parents said nothing, allowing me to lock myself in my room, but at night, when, unable to sleep, I slipped into the kitchen to get a drink, I overheard my mum reminding my dad about their first time.

If she meant killing, or witnessing, I did not know, but I didn’t want to find out.

My birthday was supposed to be a big deal. I was, after all, moving into my own house and taking other steps to become a responsible fairy. But I couldn’t deal with a celebration, especially not one that meant, soon enough, I would have to do what they had done, what I had seen them do. I refused to show up at my own party. I’m sure people were disappointed, but at that time I did not care.

Still, I reported at my assigned squadron the next day. I heard the whispers – of course I did – about how I was ‘taking too long to adjust’ and that people were ‘starting to get worried’. I shrugged it off. How long did they think I’d take to grow accustomed to the fact that I was expected to, should we come across a hunter, strip him bare of his flesh?

It was not something I ever wanted to do, but I didn’t say that. If I made my fear or my concerns known, they would have kicked me out. I didn’t know what happened to failures, but I knew enough to know that I did not ever want to find out.

That was a week ago. This morning, my group came across a dead eagle. It was my first time seeing a fresh kill, and I couldn’t help but shed a tear for the life loss. It was young, barely having entered mating age, but it would never find a partner. The hole in the middle of its chest proved as much. As I stared at the singed skin around the area the bullet had entered, a seed of rage started to form in the pit of my stomach. How could anyone be so cruel as to kill a magnificent animal as this?

Two hours ago, we found the Hunter, leaning against a tree eating a sandwich as happy as could be. The anger spread upwards and outwards, filling me entirely, and I suddenly realised how much of a fool – of an absolute idiot – I had been. How could I have ever thought we were the bad guys? We were delivering justice – taking a life for a life. What had the eagle ever done to him? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

“It’s relative, anyway,” I murmured to myself, drawing the attention of my leader with my revelation – my epiphany.

He gave me a questioning look. Smiling slightly, I shrugged as I extended the points of my fingers. “Nothing important,” I said lightly.

“If you say so,” he replied, looking around at the other three members of our group to see if they were ready.

They were. On his signal, we attacked, screeching as loud as we could to signal our arrival; this, of course, was for the sake of the animals, letting them know we would always be there to protect – or avenge – them. Leaning forward, I folded my wings a little, giving me the force I needed to dive. Aiming straight for his face, I plunged straight down without hesitation.

His screams filled my ears as I began to rip at his flesh, acting as a driving force. He needed to feel pain, to know what it was like to have his life taken from him so harshly. By the time we were done, there was not much left. We would leave it for scavengers. Ironic, really, how the hunter would end up as the next meal for the very creatures he intended on killing.

But, that was just the way things worked. After all, we are protectors of this forest – our forest. She had only been wrong about one thing: ‘nice’ is but relative.


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