The Huntress

This story is set in a different world called Azure - a world of the most unique creatures from mermaids to unicorns to dragons to another species you must have never heard of - The Hunters. They are an immortal species of ruthless females, extremely proud and emotionless, considering themselves to be above all other species claiming that they do not have any weaknesses. Aria is a great Huntress, having trained for ages. She too considers herself superior and different, not having feelings or any other lame emotion Humans posses, but when Aaron, a young guy from the Human world, stumbles into her world, a lot of things start changing for Aria.

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7. The Horrifying Plan

Aria heard an infernal shriek of panic from behind her back and she immediately registered it to be Aaron's cry for help. Her sharp instincts took over and she swerved the pegasus out of the way of the dragon's fire breath and back towards Aaron, who was shooting towards the ground at top speed. She followed at an even greater speed, determined to reach him before he hit the ground, face contorted in pained concentration until she finally caught up and her pegasus glided smoothly below Aaron and saved him from his dangerous free-fall. He landed on the back of the pegasus with a thump which sounded hard but he was much too relieved to care about that, it seemed.

"I do not remember telling you to follow me," she grumbled as she steered the pegasus the other way. 

"What, I was not going to let you face those dragons yourself."

"I am immortal," she announced. "Whatever happens to me does not matter, I will still live. You, on the other hand..." She didn't get to finish that thought because as soon the pegasus was back up in the air, a dragon breathed fire directly at them. Aria's impeccable instincts were the only reason she managed to swerve them out of its way quickly so they didn't catch fire, but the pegasus had still sustained horrible burns. The creature began screaming in agony as it plummeted towards the ground.

Aria managed to save it from crashing into the ground but the fall was still too great. It threw the two riders onto the ground before writhing and screeching in pain because of the cursed dragon burns. Aria knelt beside it and studied its tormented face. Many a times she had been the cause for this kind of pain for other creatures. Many a times she had been the reason creatures like this had been killed. But at that moment, she did not remember any of that. She did not remember being a Huntress. All she was aware of was that an innocent pegasus was dying and that she had to help it.

She produced a vial of phoenix tears and poured some of it over the pegasus's wounds, which began healing immediately like magic. The creature's breathing became easier and the screeching ceased soon, which obviously meant it was not in deadly pain any longer. But it was still weak, because when it tried to get back on its feet, its limbs wobbled and it fell to the ground again. Aria stroked the creature's smooth skin and whispered things to it in the Azurian dialect. She told it that it needed rest and she kept stroking until the creature slipped into a gentle sleep.

Aria straightened to face Aaron, and when she did, the look on his face took her by surprise. It was a look of smug delight.

"I knew it," he said.

"You knew what?"

"I knew there was this side to you," he grinned. "I always knew. You're not just a Huntress, Aria, you're much more. You tried to put on this brave warrior persona but I could tell you were much weaker on the inside. Your eyes couldn't lie to me, Aria...I saw right through that veil."

Aria felt her face burning again, contemplating the possibility of that being correct. But she did not feel like dwelling on that thought for long so she quickly decided to distract herself and inspect the surroundings instead. They had landed in another side of the wood that was away from the fire still. It was quite peaceful here but she could tell the roaring fire would reach this part soon enough if the other Azurian creatures did not manage to put it out quickly. 

Suddenly, they heard the sound of a few dozen feet running towards them from the other side of the wood. They thought it was a horde of unicorns or other creatures like that but soon they realised it was the rest of the Hunters. They seemed to have run a long way in search of the pair of them. In the lead was Moira, her blonde hair gathered back and her blue eyes shining with grim determination. She leaped towards Aria but instead of words of comfort or inquires of well-being, she offered something completely unexpected. 

"The eye," she announced. "That is where you shoot a dragon. In the eye. The arrows will just bounce off the rest of their thick hides but the eye is unprotected. If we manage to shoot arrows in their eyes, the poison will spread quickly."

Aria quickly registered that. "That is an insane plan, Moira. Do you honestly believe they will let us shoot an arrow in all their eyes?"

"I do not want to hear anything like that," Moira hissed. "All you are supposed to say is 'Very well, we do not have much time to waste. Let us get this done.' "

Aria glowered at her for a while before nodding.

"And we are taking the Human with us." Moira announced promptly.

"What?" Aria snapped. "Not a chance."

"Of course we are taking him, Aria."

"But he is just a newb, Moira!"

"A what?"

"A newb," she repeated. "As in, a newbie."

Moira stared at her. "What in Azure are you talking about?"

"A newbie is someone who is new among a group," she explained quickly. "He does not have the experience or the skill to take on those massive dragons along with us."

Moira grabbed Aria's arm and dragged her out of Aaron's earshot and quickly switched to their own language, maybe so he would not understand. "I have always had a plan, Aria. And you are going to cooperate."

"This insane plan with the eye of the dragons is going to get us all -"

"Oh I'm not talking about that plan. I have a better and far more doable plan in my head."

Aria's expression hardened. She knew Moira too well to believe that if she had double plans and one of them was for everybody to know while the other, no one knew of but them, it had to be a horrifying one. She steeled herself and asked, "What plan?"

"You know enough about dragons and sacrifice to know what I speak of, Aria."

She froze. "No...no, you are not planning to...no!"

Moira stared back at her with the worst impassive expression. She could not have cared less about the terrible idea she had just proposed. "We offer the Human to the dragons as sacrifice. They take the sacrifice, and they do not return for a long time."

Aria felt like her entire being was quivering. "No way! Moira, that is...that is cruel!"

"Aria, you will do as I say. I wish the best for Azure," she said.

"Why Aaron?"

Moira stared. "You seem to have taken up a liking to him, Aria. Is that the case?"

Aria struggled to make eye contact.

"Well, the Human will be sacrificed because he is not of any value to us," she said. "You and I, the rest of our clan, we are precious. If something has to be sacrificed, it has to be the Human."

Aria felt like she would never move, never talk again. She felt loathsome. She felt cruel. If she would cooperate with that, she would truly declare herself a witch without emotions. She recalled Aaron's words from before. I saw right through that veil, Aria. Was there really a better side to herself? Was she supposed to act on it? Or was she supposed to cooperate with Moira's plan and help save her world?  

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