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The Fae Princess' Hidden Fate

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Blurb

CURRENTLY ON-HOLD.

The last thing Layla expected when she snuck out of the palace was to stumble onto an injured enemy of the fae, a human.

Accidentally she invokes an ancient power which binds her and the human.

As if that wasn't enough, her father announces her betrothal and Layla suddenly finds herself swept into a roller coaster of emotions. To add up to it? She meets a Dragon king who has her feelings confused and her world completely wrecked.

She was suddenly swept into mystery, betrayal and heartache as she struggles to fight for those she loves.

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1.
I had never treaded so deep into the forest before; so deep. It seemed like only trees watched over this part of the land, looming over me. I ran beneath their roots, which was spread apart like two giant legs, noosed by coils of moist branches. The forest sparkled with lushes of green. Even the rocks that littered the forest were coated with a darker shade of green, as though they were older than the forest themselves. I had never seen green bursting with so much life, except in paintings, and they covered the sky like a canopy, letting only the finest beams of sunlight pass through, and the bravest drops of rain. I did not mind the rain, in fact, I loved it. The pitter-patter sounded like children's feet playing in the forest, as the rain battered the trees, and it urged me to keep running. I did not care that my dress was drenched in rain and that my mop of hair was wet like cleaning rags plastered to my face. I was getting closer to the caves, I could feel it. The caves I had always heard the stories sing of. They said it was centuries old, and magical, and sparkling water dripped from its roof; the dripping called to me from the distance. I could sense it with my fae powers, and I wanted to keep running until I got there. After being grounded in the palace for the past two months, this run filled me with so much joy, already feeling like the best birthday ever. "Your highness, please, you have to stop," Abigail called from behind me. Her voice came out in desperate gasps, and I was sure that sooner or later, she would fall. So much for taking her on this run. I looked back at her, and she was right behind me, struggling to keep up. She ducked beneath a tree and paused to pant for a while, before looking up at me and pressing on. I whipped my head forward and kept running too, stamping the dark soil. "Just a little more and we're done," I shouted back, turning into a sharp bend where the canopy seemed thinner, and the sunlight fell gloriously, mixed rain that reflected the sun as though each drop was pregnant with a beam of light. Old leaves and twigs crackled and snapped under my steps, and the wind wheezed against my ears, daring me to run faster. I lifted my dress, to leap over a hole, filled with tar-like water. The hem of my dress was wet with mud and tattered where thorns and low branches had clawed at it, but I did not complain, even though I would have to answer to my mother when I returned home. Still, I did not want to worry now. It had been so long since my last run, and I wanted to live through every second of it, cheerfully, grinning like it was my first time truly alive. "Your high...highness... please," Abigail yelled again. We had just come to a clear opening, with fewer trees and more low-cut grasses of vibrant colors, making me grin. I slowed my steps when I arrived at this area with more light; not to marvel at the pink and yellow flowers, or the grasses holding fresh dew, but because something was wrong. It hit me, like a kick in my guts, forcing me to take notice of it. It was all around the plain field, like a strange aura hovering over me, and around me, and washing over my skin and tickling my ears, whispering. "Do you hear it?" I asked Abigail when she reached my side. She bent over and panted so hard, the sound began to irk me. I hushed her, holding her lips shut so I might focus on the strange sounds. As a fairy, I was born with a heightened sense of hearing and could pick up the slightest sounds, like a shark sniffing a drop of blood, and I could see in the dark; it allowed me to triumph during every hide-and-seek game as a child, running around the forest and hiding in the bushes. I shut my eyes, concentrating all my energy on my ears, and I listened. The sound was a voice faint, weak, almost like a falling leaf. There was no way I could make out its words, but one thing was certain: It was no Fairy. My heart rushed in my chest, with excitement warming my cheeks. I wanted more, to know what it was. I needed to hear more, to pick up the source of the voice. I concentrated harder, blocking out my other senses so only my hearing functioned. Then I blocked out other distracting noises; Abigail slapping my hand off her lips, bees buzzing and dancing on nectars, rain drumming on the leaves, and birds twittering like an orchestra until my ears focused on the voice and amplified it. It was like a groan, of something in distress, and it came from the far left of the clearing. I opened my eyes to see. There was a shelter of some sort, formed by fallen trees, and branches, and twigs and leaves, all perfectly intertwined to form a cave-like structure as though nature had built it itself. It was small, but it had enough room for two people if they cuddled tightly enough. Something was there. There was a pair of feet peeping out, but it wasn't a Fairy's feet. Perhaps an injured animal or some extraterrestrial creature. Abigail and I walked; I tiptoed, but Abigail did not seem to care about discretion, and her feet crunched twigs. I treaded closer, enough to see traces of red on the leaves, slowly washing away with the rain. Blood. Abigail held my arm, so I signaled her to stay back, which she did eagerly, scurrying away like a scared kitten. "H...Help." The Voice. It was still weak, but it was much audible now. It was strained like a cry to the gods, and urgent like it would die if I delayed a second longer. My steps slowed, unwilling to move further, and yet my heart was excited to see what laid there. Maybe something wondrous from one of Mother's stories, or maybe something that might pounce on me. Adrenaline rushed my body, fuelling my curiosity. Mother always said my curiosity would put me in real danger someday if I did not control it. Maybe she was right, but it would not be today. I swallowed a large lump of saliva, and picked a stick from the ground, holding it like a lance, ready for defense. "Help..." The voice groaned again, before a spasm of violent cough echoed around the clearing, despite the rainfall. I tried to move forward, but Abigail restrained me, clutching my dress from behind. I turned to her and scowled. "Let go," I said. "I have no time to waste. Whoever is there needs help." "I refuse to allow you to do that," she said, gripping my dress even tighter. This time, she tugged and pulled, trying to drag me away. "I said let go." I yanked at my dress, ripping it free. "Great. Now I have another question from Mother, piled to the list of queries I'll receive." The rain wasn't stopping and I started to regret sneaking out for a run. I did enjoy the rain, but this time, it had gone on for way too long. I'd suffer the cold when I arrived home. But that was the least of my worries. I ran to the shelter. The frailest creature I had ever seen laid there with his eyes shut, shivering in the cold. It was young that much was obvious, but it wasn't a fae like me. He has the same features I have but lack the distinct characteristics of a fae. It's skin color. He was fair, with no pinch of color. It was something different I had never seen before, and it muttered words I could not make out. It coughed again, and dark blood sputtered from its mouth like it had a disease, and more droplets of blood were scattered around the shelter. "Abigail," I whispered, afraid that my voice might startle it and make things worse. "Come and see this." I knelt beside it, staring like it was one of my paintings. Even with the ripped shirt on his body, I could see a huge gash beneath in its stomach, with blood oozing freely pooling the wound like an overflowing bowl. The metallic stench rushed into my nostrils, piercing. Its right leg had a huge gash too and looked as though its flesh had been chopped off by something, or someone. "Human," Abigail said, towering above me. She leaned forward to look over my shoulder. "It's a male human. You have to get away from this vile creature, quickly." "I won't leave him like this. We have to help him." "Your Highness, you can't do that! You don't know what these creatures are capable of. We need to go before he wakes up and destroys us." Abigail reached forward to grab my arm, but I refused to yield. "You can leave if you wish," I told her, "but I'm staying right here. Look at him, he cant be as vile as that. I am going to help him." I had to hold him to pull him out. I had to touch him. I stretched my hands, but my fingers hovered over his flesh and my heart won't stop thumping in my chest. I had to touch him. His skin was muddy, partly covered in dark soil, like he had been living in the forest all his life. What if he had a disease crawling on his skin and I get infected it? What if he attacked me upon touch? I looked around for my stick, but I had dropped it when Abigail ripped my dress. I exhaled and poked my little finger against his belly. Nothing happened. I tried again, and again until I was convinced it was okay for me to touch him. I put one hand on his neck and the other on his thigh, then carefully tried to pull him out of the dirty mud he was stuck in. "If you're going to stay, then the least you can do is help," I said to Abigail, without turning to look at her. Abigail hesitated for a while, but she joined. With her help, I was able to pull the human from the mud. A chubby worm crawled in his hair, without much thought, I hit it away with the back of my hand. Oddly enough, Abigail played with the humans long, dirty nails, without saying anything. She was lost in a world of her own, admiring a creature we had never laid eyes on, but read a lot about in books about mythical creatures. Different thoughts skipped through my mind, like stones across a lake, as I felt for his skin. I wanted to learn more about him; I wanted him to open his eyes and say words to me; I wanted to tell him my name and hear him say it with his fat, fleshy lips; I wanted to know where he came from, and more importantly, how he crossed over to this realm? And in that moment, I forgot all my worries. I forgot rain was falling on my back like arrows until I snapped back to reality when a shiver ran through my spine like a cackle of fire burning off the wood. We had to leave the rain. "Help me undress him," I finally said. "What?" Abigail shot me a look like I was crazy. "You can't be serious." "I'm only going to check his injuries. I can hold in my curiosity until he's well enough to answer my questions." "Y...Yes. Your highness." And even then, Abigail hesitated, not so eager to undress the strange human. Her fingers trembled like she was about to perform her first surgery, but she soon gained control and touched the hem of his cloth. We took off the upper layer of his rag to checked for more injuries, and there were cuts all over his body like slashes from a blade. He did not move, but his heart was beating steadily so I didn't panic. "Are you going to heal him?" Abigail whispered, her words laced with fear. I groaned; she was becoming irritating. "Should we let him die?" "But that's not how things are done. If you help him, he becomes indebted to you and has to pay a huge price for that." "Whatever price he pays won't cost his life. Besides, he asked for help himself, so I'm not imposing it on him. Now, enough of the lectures, please." Abigail quickly shook her head and nodded. I had grown-up with her. Despite her being my personal maid and Lady in waiting, I still look out and reach to her as a friend. "Let's move him to our hideout. I need a place where I can focus on healing him." Abigail Frowned. I wasn't surprised that she would. In fact, I was anticipating it. She never liked any of my ideas, and she always had a reason why I was being ridiculous. "You're taking a stranger to our hideout?" she said. "You're breaking the girl code, Princess." "You're beginning to irk me with your small talks," I snapped at her. Abigail sighed and nodded her head. I grabbed his forearms, so I could keep an eye on his face, in case his eyelids twitched, and Abigail held his legs. We lifted him and moved him with grunts, for he was heavy like a log of wood, and I had to strain all my muscles to keep him suspended. Abigail didn't seem to be having much luck either, her face was screwed up like she was chewing a bitter herb. The rain waned into a drizzle, accompanied by a soft wind that picked up dead leaves and rustled branches. Forest animals screeched in bushes, running around with tiny legs, as though getting ready to play. I held unto the humans arms tighter, more eager to leave the forest, the animal noises were even more irritating than Abigail. We passed through a foggy habitat where squirrels would hide in the trees, to shield their fragile bodies from the rain. One of the squirrels chirped as we walked, spying on us from a tree branch, hiding in the leaves. It kept chirping, and the more it did, the clearer I understood it. It was chuckling, laughing at our dilemma. I wanted to poke it for that. One of the perks of being a fae was I could understand some animals, and because squirrels are quite intelligent creatures, they were easier to read Also, I had kept a good number of them as a pet, and I had picked up a few of their body languages. By the time we reached the hideout, the rain had completely stopped. We stopped by our secret treehouse. Only Abigail and I knew of its existence. It was unlike any other treehouse across the land. This one was literally a tree-house. Instead of placing a wooden house in the tree branches, ours was built within the tree trunk. It even had a door and a window, all made of wood. The large tree we used had thick branches sprawled across its body, wavy and encircling, which gave us a sense of security. We used to litter dried leaves all around the tree, to alert us if anyone was coming. But now that it was the rainy season, and the leaves were less crunchy, we had to find an alternative. I opened the door with my foot and we stepped inside. It wasn't so spacious inside, but it was enough to house two giggling girls playing hide-and-seek. It was dark inside, and the air was dry and choking. But Abigail pushed the window open using her head, and sun rays poured into the room with some fresh air. It had been a while since we last came here, and it now stunk of dead rodents and wet wood. A squirrel jumped out from behind a table and scurried out the door. I had been grounded at home for two months, so leaving the palace to be here was not even an option. I only got to leave the palace when I went to school. Besides that, I was always indoors. Mother and Michelle made sure of that. "Let's put him down here," I said, nodding at a spot where the sun rays concentrated, like a spotlight. It would be easier to see him there. Soon, dark would befall us, which meant preparation for my birthday must be done already, and any moment from now, Mother and Michelle would turn the palace upside down to find me. My priority right now was to heal the human boy and return home, before a search party comes for us. Abigail dropped his legs, even before I was balanced enough to let go of his arms, forcing all the weight on me. I staggered, hitting a drawer carved into the wall of the tree-house, and I ended up crashing with boys' head on my laps. It was in this drawer I stored most of my drawings and paintings, and where Abigail kept her jars of potion. My face fell into a pile of squirrel poo. "I'm sorry, he was just too heavy," said Abigail. I grunted, pushing the boy's head away, but gently. "Not enough reason to drop him off on me, you know," I said through gritted teeth. I tore away the last piece of clothing clinging to his body and wiped the poo off my face with it, which only smeared more dirt on my body. My face scrunched in disgust and flung the piece of cloth away, while Abigail stood there just staring at me. I turned to the human's bare torso, observing how wretched the injury was. It's a miracle his heart was still beating. I needed more light, so I turned to lit the lamps in the treehouse. "If you heal him now, you're going to exhaust yourself and drain all your energy," Abigail said. "Layla, do you think he is worth it?" "Of course," I said while looking around for clean sheets. "Are we now dropping the honorifics?" Abigail pouted her lips and slumped on a couch behind her. Joshua had made the couch for me, and it had taken him two days to complete it. He had to fetch the wooden materials from the forest and build it inside the treehouse, while I brought him cookies and milk from the palace. I pulled a sheet from a bed opposite the couch. The sheet was fairly neat and velvety, for I had taken it from the palace as well, but it would serve. "Now, let's clean the injuries and get to work." I pointed at the drawer. "Can you get that potion of yours that will make him unconscious?" "Of course," Abigail said, as she stood, and walked away. Soon, she returned with a bowl of water and more white clothes, while holding a jar of a greenish substance. "Is that it?" I asked her, cleaning the blood with the sheets of clothes and water. "Yes." Abigail unscrewed the jar. "Hold his head up so I can feed him." I obeyed, but his head kept dropping to one side. I had to grab both sides of his face to keep his head in place. Getting the potion down his throat was the tricky part. I pressed his cheeks open, forcing his lips to part, and tilted his head backward. Abigail poured some of the potion into his mouth, and I shut his mouth, forcing him to swallow. "Clean the injuries," I told Abigail, then I ripped my dress to my knees for comfort. It was already ruined, and beyond saving. If I was lucky enough to sneak back to the palace without Mother spotting me, burning the dress would be the first thing I would do. I sat by his head, gently cradling his head on my lap and I closed my eyes, bringing total darkness upon me. I chanted for a while, and the darkness grew weaker, lighter, and rays of a bright light managed to seep through my eyelids. It was the glow from my healing hands. It was working. I open my eyes and place my hand on each of the injuries. Before long, they sealed like they were never there. "That wasn't hard, was it?" I rose, grinning smugly, proud of myself. "Now, let's go back before it's too late. We have a party to catch." Abigail was already out of the door. But I couldn't leave just yet. I stood by the door and turned to the boy one last time before I whispered; "You're in my debt. And I'll make you repay it when the time comes. Remember the name, Layla."

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