CHAPTER THREE: The Compass

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CHAPTER THREE: The Compass

Story reached again for her knife and found that the holster’s snap had been knocked open in her fall.

“Get away from me!” Fingers shaking, Story pulled out her knife and waved it wildly in front of her.

The monsters stopped instantly. Shrieking and recoiling as if they’d been burned, they dropped their remaining rocks and backed away from her, melting into the forest like wraiths.

Still on her back, her shaking hand outstretched toward her vanished attackers, Story scanned the tree line looking for any signs of movement. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and her mind was trying to catch up and process whatever it was that she’d just seen.

“Ok, that was weird,” she murmured. They were definitely not human, nor any animal she’d ever seen or heard of, but they were clearly intelligent—she’d seen it in their eyes. They’d wanted to hurt her, to cause her pain. Not to hunt her for food or to defend themselves, but hurt her purely for enjoyment—just as they’d done with the guy they’d been torturing before she arrived.

The tied up guy!

Cautiously, Story got to her feet, her knife hand still extended. She brushed herself off with her free hand, all the while keeping a wary eye out for the return of the monsters.

Finally satisfied that they were gone—at least for the moment—she made her way over to the bound man. He was staring at her as if he was unsure what to make of her. She couldn’t blame him for looking at her strangely; her clothes were torn up, she was caked in dirt, her feet were bare, and her hair was sticking out crazily everywhere. Overall, not her best look.

He’s one to judge. She raised an eyebrow as she examined his appearance; he looked weirder than she did! He was dressed as though he’d just come from a Renaissance Festival. He had on suede boots wrapped up to his knees, brown leggings, and a dark green, sleeveless tunic that left his arms bare, showing off the intricate tribal tattoos that snaked up his left arm.

Story knelt before him to cut the silver-colored ropes that dug into his skin, and she saw his gaze shift to the knife. As she placed the blade against his bindings, they simply fell away, like butter being cut with a hot knife.

The man’s eyes grew wide, and Story gaped at her father’s old knife. She hadn’t thought it was all that sharp. She felt more than heard the man jump to his feet. He backed away from her, never taking his eyes off the knife.

“Wow, that must have been some pretty weak rope to just fall apart like that. I barely even touched it.” Story found herself laughing nervously and snapped her mouth shut. She had a tendency to babble when she was in awkward situations.

The man spat the gag out, and it landed with a wet thud on the ground.

“That was faerie rope. Nothing should’ve been able to cut through it. Nothing but iron that is.”            

At the sound of his voice, Story jerked her eyes away from her knife to look at him. He was staring at her, eyes narrowed, as if he was evaluating her. He had a strange accent—like a thick Irish brogue, but stronger than anything she’d ever heard in any movie. It lilted and rolled, and she almost didn’t understand what he’d said.

Is he even speaking English? The thought made her smile as she swept her gaze over him; she was sure her vanilla American accent, born from years of constantly moving around the country, was just as strange sounding to his ears; unless his accent was just affected, to go along with his costume.

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