Oraca

Katherine Ravencry is the changeling child of a sixteenth century king and a beautiful queen of a powerful immortal race. Despite the powerful blood that runs through her veins, Katherine is not important. Until her father is murdered and the civil war breaks out. Katherine discovers that she does, in fact, have a purpose in life that is more than being betrothed to a powerful nobleman. She must fulfill her destiny. Else everyone that she loves will be in danger.

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6. A Walk In The Forest

 

I awoke with the clear and bright morning sunshine on my face. In my sleep-addled state, I initially thought that I was in my own bed back in Oraca, but I soon became aware that this bed was smaller and my surroundings were not what I was used to seeing when I woke up. I rubbed the sleep from the corner of my eyes and rolled my neck and shoulders before pushing away the blankets and sliding out of the bed. Five or so yards away from me was a figure lying down in a much larger and ostentatious bed to the one that I had slept in. Although their face was concealed behind a mass of auburn hair, I knew that it was my mother.

I slid my feet into a pair of a green silk slippers and then, careful as to not wake my mother, I pushed through the folds of the tent and entered the clearing in the forest, which was vacant. I would normally have felt strange to wear only my petticoat outdoors, but I did not feel out of place in my mother's strange world. I went deeper and deeper into the forest, leaving my mother and her people behind me.

Not much time went by before I realised that I was lost in this unfamiliar forest. Tall, thin black figures of trees surrounded me, their disjointed fingers loomed over. With each step, they seemed to close around me. I suddenly felt claustrophobic. I turned around in the direction that I came in, hoping that I would take the right paths.

A twig snapped.

I froze.

“It's just a squirrel,” I murmured to myself. “Just a squirrel that I have disturbed.”

But instinct told me that this was not a typical woodland creature. I carried on walking, but then another twig snapped. It sounded even closer this time. My nerve failed me.

I ran headlong into the forest, deeper and deeper, even further away from the sleeping faeries. I was barely conscious of the lashing branches from the skeletal trees as they sliced at my skin. I could not decide if the sound of crunching debris came from underneath my feet, or whatever it was that was behind me. My breath rasped in my throat and I felt slightly light-headed. I raced on.

I could hear their heavy breathing. They were so close now. My muscles cried out and although I tried to push them harder, they waned. I was taken out from behind.

I fell to the forest floor with a grunt. Someone fell on top of me. I could feel their chest heaving against my back. I tried to scream but I had not yet caught my breath. I struggled, but I was pathetic. Like a fish out of water.

“Get-off-me,” I managed to force out.

“Just-just let me explain,” a breathless male voice. He rolled off me.

I pushed myself into a sitting position and stared at my chaser incredulously. He was not much older than I was. And his eyes were blue, not gold.

“What,” I shook my head. “What the hell?!”

“Yes,” he rolled his eyes. “I am not one of those freaks.”

“One of those 'freaks' happens to be my mother.”

“Snap.”

I pushed myself to my feet and the boy did the same.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

“Caius Forrest,” he grinned. “How ironic.”

Even though I wanted to remain angry, I could not help but return the smile. “I am Katherine Ravencry.”

He held out a hand and I shook it.

“It is dangerous to be out in the forest,” Caius said.

“Yes,” I smiled. “There are a lot of weird people who will attack lone women.”

He shook his head slowly, suddenly solemn. “I am sorry about that but I could not be sure that you weren't one of them,” he pointed in the direction where the elaborately dressed tents were. “I found it really suspicious that someone would be in the forest alone.”

“Then why were you alone in the forest?”

“I was trying to find a way to escape.”

“Why?”

“Because,” he bit his lip. “You really don't know, do you?”

“If I knew then I wouldn't be asking,” I rolled my eyes, exasperated.

Caius began pacing, his hands clenched into fists by his sides.

“You're a Changeling like me. We have a faerie mother who abandoned us at birth and left us with our mortal fathers until, when we were old enough, they brought us here,” he stopped pacing and looked at me. “When did you come here?”

“Yesterday.”

He cocked his head to one side. “It is odd that your mother brought you here the same day that the Queen brought her Changeling daughter.”

“I am the Queen's daughter.”

Caius's face paled. “Oh I am so sorry.”

“What?”

“The reason you were brought here,” he closed his eyes. “You are even more useful to the freaks than I am.”

“I don't wish to boast, but of course I am more useful than you. I have inherited supernatural abilities from my mother, the Queen.”

“That's not what I meant,” Caius said. “Changelings who are of age are permitted to give their blood to the faeries so that their youthful looks can be prolonged, but you... You.”

“What? What about me?”

“The Queen rarely produces a Changeling child, but if she does produce a daughter, then the daughter is very unfortunate.”

“Thanks,” I scowled at him but he ignored it.

“If the Queen eats her Changeling daughter's heart, she grows stronger and the faeries no longer have to live behind the Veil,” his voice shook slightly. “The faeries can live in the mortal world for as long as they want and it is certain that they will cause chaos.”

Caius answered my thought.

“Tonight,” he took a deep breath. “Tonight at the Grand Banquette.”

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