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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5. Why do you do it?

Aria did not remember feeling like this any time in her life before, and she had lived for an eternity. In fact, she did not remember feeling anything much at all. But right then, a sense of something she would describe as fear and anxiety was surging through her. It was an inexplicable feeling. Why was she feeling this way? She had been hunting for ages and ages and she had never felt...never felt 'guilty' about it. Then why did it bother her so much that a mere Human had said something so ignorant about her superior skills?

That was cruel. The words kept playing in her mind...

She forced her feet to walk forward, through the brambly bushes and past the tall trees, past the usual noisy pixies and the chirpy starbirds that pecked at the bubbleberries growing on low branches of the trees. She didn't pay anything much attention. She just wanted walk on and on until she found him. She did not know why she wanted so badly to make him understand. She did not know if she understood it herself. But she had to try. She just had to. So she waded through the exquisite wood in pursuit of the Human, well past midnight, not realising for how long she had been walking. Aaron was nowhere to be found. Not in the cluster where all the other Hunters resided. Not near the place of practice. Nowhere! A dreadful possibility was creeping up to her. What if she had found a way back home? She shuddered a little and asked herself - when did she start caring anyway?

But then finally, she found him. He was by the Lake of Night - a cold, still sheet of pure silver water, gleaming in the moonlight and washing anyone nearby with a sense of being in a calm paradise. He was sat on a rock, gazing at the sky, apparently not having noticed Aria. A mermaid was floating in the water just at the shore of the lake, folded arms resting on a small rock and batting her eyelids at Aaron, flaunting her perfect porcelain skin and honey-coloured mane that fell elegantly over her shoulders. Aria gave her an instinctive glare which she promptly returned, along with scoffing noises of derision. Aria chose to ignore her and sat beside Aaron on another rock. He still didn't acknowledge her presence.

Aria did not know what to do, what to say, how to make him understand...she just stared at the same spot he was staring at, and saw what he had been gazing at so intently. Yes, she heard the roars again, which sent another set of annoying shudders down her spine, but this time there was more. The velvety night sky ignited in flying red sparks and jets of enraged fire shooting upwards from a source she knew to be a deadly dragon but it was not in her line of vision. Aaron looked as concerned as she was. This was bad news. If those dragons were around, they were sure to be wreaking havoc. And if they chose to trample the wood they were in, a lot of things were going to go wrong. Terribly. 

"Don't bother with me," Aaron's voice suddenly sounded and Aria left her musings behind. "I'm not hungry anymore, you know. I don't think I'll ever be."

"Oh, but why not?" the mermaid tutted, without giving Aria a chance to speak. "Lost your appetite, handsome? Don't bother telling her. She's a Huntress, they don't understand. They never do."

For some insane reason, that comment made Aria feel extremely disturbed. But she chose to ignore it anyway, just like Aaron was. She looked at him. His sandy brown hair swept his forehead, almost hiding the perfect emerald gems he had for eyes. His face, which was usually always lit with a smile, was now cold and expressionless. Much like hers. She felt sick. Was that all she was? A cold, cruel creature?

He didn't say anything else to her, so she supposed it was she who ought to say something now. But what? She did not have any experience dealing with emotional conflicts like these. In facts, this was as new to her as it could have possibly been. What was she supposed to say that would make him feel better? But before she could decide, the irritating mermaid started flirting again.

"Sooo," she chirped annoyingly. "What's your name, handsome?"

"Aaron," he sighed. Aria had no idea why that lifted her spirits, but somehow the idea that Aaron was not interested in the mermaid or her silly attempts at flirting made her feel...good.

"Why do you do it?" he suddenly said, making the mermaid jump so that there was a splash of silver water. But Aaron looked directly at Aria this time. "Why do you do it anyway?"

"Why do I do what?"

"Why do you hunt?"

He looked at her for a long time, but she had no answer. It was difficult to explain. She did not need meat, so hunting for food was not the answer. She did not find any kind of pleasure in hunting, so that was not the answer either. Then what was it? Ever since she remembered, she had been hunting all sorts of creatures...sometimes to defend her home but most other times just because she was used to it. Was it a kind of addiction? No, it couldn't be. Only Humans and such weaker species got 'addicted' to things. That could not be the answer either.

"Why do you hunt, Aria?" This time, there was something other than disgust in his voice. There was concern. His eyes clearly showed that he desperately wanted her to say something - something that would make sense and something that would justify her cruelty.

"Why do I hunt?" she repeated. "I hunt for the same reason you have to breathe. I hunt for the same reason you have to eat. I hunt for the same reason you have to sleep." She paused, giving him a chance to soak it in. "Hunting is a way of survival for us. We were born to be like this, just like you were born to be Human. We do not hunt because we want to. We hunt because we have to." She looked at his face, searching it for a trace of comprehension and then sighed dejectedly. "I knew you would not understand."

There was a pregnant silence and then finally he spoke. "No. Actually, I do understand." He looked at her surprised face and smiled slightly. "You know what, it's fine. Hey, I can't blame Harry Potter for doing magic, can I?" He chuckled but Aria didn't get the joke, so her dropped it.

"That's it?" the mermaid shrieked. "You forgive her, just like that? Come on, Aaron! You can do a lot better than that!"

But he was not paying her any attention. Aria locked eyes with him and stayed like that for quite some time. It was not exactly a pristine moment with the infernal roars sounding in the distant and the fire spraying the night sky with dangerously furious colours, but she felt strangely complete again. As though that smirk on Aaron's face that she used to hate so much was all that she needed to feel better.

"Oh heavens," the mermaid tutted dramatically. "Get married if you fancy each other that much." And with that she dived back into the water, leaving Aria and Aaron in a very embarrassed state. She felt something strange happen to her right then. Her cheeks grew hot for some reason which gave her an odd tingly feeling somewhere in her stomach. Was she really blushing? That was something meek Humans did, something uncharacteristic of brave Hunters. More than the embarrassment of having done something so mightily stupid and disgraceful, she felt a scary possibility tugging at her mind, creating a sense of panic and disbelief. Was she becoming Human?

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