Chapter 1

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The pine chair Nahtaia slouched on needed a good sanding. She would definitely have to replace her stockings after an hour of sitting in it. I'm in trouble now, she thought to herself, eyeing the larger, clearly more comfortable chair on the other side of the desk - the desk that belonged to Moriel, the Faery Forest's Minister of Fae Assignment.

It was the second time in four days that Nahtaia was called for a meeting with Moriel. Last time, it was a scuffle with a local squirrel that earned her the seat before the rather intimidating Minister. She was not looking forward to his scolding gaze as nights were still passing slowly with just the memory of it.

The door creaked open behind her and Moriel entered. With a lump in her throat, Nahty watched as he made his way to the seat, his long, white hair cascading down his back, smooth as silk. After taking his seat, he folded his hands with slender, lengthy fingers and raised ivory eyes to hers.

The heart palpitations began. Those empty, white eyes could bring anxiety up from the most secretive of hearts. That's why they sent the bad little fae to him - because he could guilt trip just by making eye contact. It was his gift.

"Nahtaia," he began in a strong voice of composure. "Must I remind you at every meeting to bring your manners?"

Her brows raised with dumb curiosity.

"Ahem," he cleared his throat and sat up straight.

"Oh," she squeaked, straightening her back and pulling her feet together. "Sorry."

An exhausted sigh came from his pale lips. "Nahtaia, I called you here for a reason. It seems we're running out of-"

"-it wasn't my fault!" Nahtaia blurted in defeat before he could go on. The all-knowing, abysmal eyes of the Minister were just too much. "That half-witted bull stepped into my ring!" she continued. "He ruined the perfect composition! I put so much hard work and focus into growing those mushrooms and he comes prancing about like a dunce!"

Moriel's jaw slowly dropped and his eyes widened. Nahty thought she even saw one of his eyelids twitch.

"You charmed a minotaur?" he croaked, nearly choking on the words.

Nahtaia paused and narrowed her eyes. "What exactly am I here for?" she innocently asked, biting her nail.

"Oh, by the Highest," he moaned, dropping his face into his palms. "I was worried about the dog you turned into a pig, but this?"

"Hey, that wretched animal nipped my wings! I had every right-"

"-you shouldn't be in human territory in the first place! Just because you can use magic of such sorts does not give you the right to! Nahtaia, you..." he stopped short. After taking in a deep breath and accepting the fact that arguing with her would be futile, he continued. "Nahtaia, your assignment was to keep watch over the forest's edge, not go exploring into the neighboring farms. You know how much the humans detest faeries."

Nahtaia's wings flinched. That was not all true but she couldn't very well tell the Minister that. He'd stare the truth out of her in a matter of seconds and everyone knew what happened to faeries that wandered too far into human territory. Banishment.

Goosebumps rose all over her body at the thought of being denied any contact with Lyra, and worse even, losing her wings. Banishment was harsh but believed to be necessary. After all, history proved that humans caused the vast majority of faery deaths and homelessness.

"Nahtaia," Moriel snapped, drawing her out of her hollow gaze. "Are you listening to me? We have a final assignment for you and if you fail or proceed to cause trouble of any sort, you will be punished most severely."