An Unexpected Meeting 

Kay Piscon

Aglaia stood on the precipice of the gray-stoned rocky mountain, peering over the pointed ledge to the yellow flowered meadow far below. She could feel the mighty wind pushing at her, making her brown tunic and loose fabric pants flap precariously. Despite her clothes billowing around her in the hot, summer air, she stood tall, so prenaturally still, that she blended into the lush forests behind her. They were the ancient, ash oak trees of Irini, a large, forested island located in the belly of Aglaia’s world. One could find them spread throughout all of the island, with their long, ash-white trunks and equally long branches. At the base of some of those trees, grew black flowers with velvety petals. They had no thorns. They were smooth, and extremely rare and sacred to the High Fae. For these forests and their flowers had been growing on this earth before they came to existence. The ash trees are linked to the flowers’ growth, and the High Fae had found out the hard way, when a greedy court member long ago tried to harvest it for themselves. The entire forest started to die, spreading throughout the land like a drop of ink on a map. It was only when a young court priestess by the name of Iroula stepped forward from her sister’s tower, and single-handedly stopped the plague of death from reaching their lands. No one knows how she did it that day, but the High Fae never forgot, and showed their gratitude to the priestess by naming the side of the land that was saved after her. However, the man that had perished in trying to unearth those flowers, had pulled them in a different part of the land, the eastern side of the island. Aglaia’s people and the High Fae call it the “Forgotten Lands.” For it’s incapability to support life. But Aglaia knew better, there were Fae, High Fae even, living in those lands. She had come across them, when she had dared to chase one of their kind into the bush. They looked just like Aglaia, Fae, with pointed ears, beauty, grace, and immortality, except they didn’t smile, and gave off an air of such hostility that she felt the tiniest bit of dread pool in her stomach whenever she came across them. 

They were dangerous people, savages. Aglaia thought to herself, turning around to face the invisible line that separated both lands. 

Greed is a part of them, passed on by the male who tried to rob the earth of a gift he did not deserve and make it his own. 

Ties with the Forgotten Lands had been tense as of late, they’d always been. And Aglaia found it annoying, the constant withholding of supplies, and the ambushed attacks. And their High Fae King, Queen, and Prince who turned a blind eye to their peoples decreasing sanity. She had been hunting their wayward people who tried to take a flower ever since she was a child. Standing right at this border, waiting to hunt. She was now 518, and part of the elite warrior group that protected the border. Her parents refused to tell Aglaia what made the tiny black flowers so special, but she had heard rumors. Suddenly, she heard a twig snap in the brush ahead of her, and Agalaia moved fast, twirling in place while simultaneously training the arrow she had knocked into place and releasing it. She sniffed the air as she ran to her arrow. Her long, lithe legs making a mark on the black soil, hoping to get the scent of the being, whether they be Forgotten or not. She reached a clearing, where the white oaks trees grew in a circle. Aglaia stopped with a hard skid, and searched the area. Her arrow not in sight. 

That’s odd. Aglaia thought. She felt her canines set in, ripping through her gums. This wasn’t just any regular crosser, but a powerful one. Wary of every single movement in the trees now, Aglaia strained her pointed ears to the maximum, and tried to calm her body. She stood with her back to a tree that rose higher above the rest, and waited, feigning confusion. It was only then when a large shadow moved behind her, leaping in the air, for her. There. Aglaia triumphed, smiling wickedly. Got you. 

She threw herself to the left, hearing the crosser hit the ground and released another arrow, right where the heart should be, and braced herself. But she didn’t hear a sound, no moaning of pain, nothing. Aglaia opened her eyes tentatively, and gasped. Evander, High Fae Crown Prince of the Forgotten Lands, was standing right in front of her. Her arrow in-between his hands. He stood taller than Algaia, wearing a black tunic and pants, the only color of the Forgotten Lands, and a smug smile. His freckled face shining with beads of sweat underneath thick, matted black hair and green eyes. Aglaia narrowed her own brown eyes, fury confronting her features, she didn’t try to hold back the curl of her lip from her teeth when she hissed. 

“What are you doing here?” Her snarl was guttural, and it rumbled through the forest, scaring a group of birds. Evander’s smile dropped slightly, but he stood still. “Nice to see you too, Princess.” Evander acknowledged, bowing his head slightly. Aglaia didn’t return his nod, glaring at him as he smiled, holding out her two arrows to her. “You’re getting sloppy.” He teased. 

Aglaia bared her teeth at him. “Tell that to the man I shot down from your land a few sun’s ago,” Aglaia retorted, snatching her arrows away from Evander and swiftly placing it into her quiver. The wind picked up, ripping her thick sheet of black hair away from her braid. She tried to pin it behind her arched ears, but the wind kept howling, a sign of an incoming storm. Aglaia swallowed suddenly, her throat becoming dry. She needed to get home, now. She couldn’t attack him, that would break the already tensioned treaty.

“You’re standing on our lands.” She said., Evander looked at the ground with a feigned look of surprise. 

“Really? I haven’t noticed. Your land likes to remind me everytime I step on it.” For the soil around Evander’s feet turned grey and dying. He walked towards Aglaia, his powerful figure closing the distance too quickly, and where his feet left, the ground healed. He halted a few inches from Aglaia, and stared down at her. Waiting for her to talk. His forest green eyes showed no signs of hostility, but Aglaia knew better, and balled her fists. 

“Tell me why you’re here.” Aglaia seethed, pulling her steel dagger from her belt and brandishing it between his eyes. He stared at her dagger, and didn’t flinch, although she saw fear creep in his eyes. He was older than Aglaia, and a member of the Forgotten Lands’ Magical Defense. The Forgotten Lands were the only people on the island that could wield magic, which Agalia thought undeserving. He could easily crush the air out of her lungs, but he still stood there, waiting. Agalia couldn’t figure out why the sole heir to the throne was here, alone, in rival lands. Agalia criticized, 

“Should you try to worm your way out of a proper answer, I’ll throw you off the face of this cliff.” Evander had the sense to step away from Aglaia, his easy smile wearing off his handsome face as he crossed his tattooed, muscled arms and explained. 

“I came here on behalf of my father.” He explained, and heaved a great sigh, turning his back to her and walking to his land. His shoulders sagged as he stepped across the line, genuine guilt now etched on his face, but was soon replaced with a cold stare. Aglaia had never seen him like this before, so vulnerable. It made her want to see what would happen if she threw her blade. She couldn’t deny the part of herself that wanted to, the part of a ruler, a protector, knowing that this male was responsible for the constant pillaging and destruction of her people. But she found herself wondering, 

His father? and lowered her blade, but keeping it aimed at him. Evander didn’t miss anything, watching the blade in her hand with casual indifference. 

“We’ve been attacked. The castle’s been ransacked of its wealth, and all the guards are dead. They were killed in a suspicious way, as if they fell asleep. We don’t know who did it, but we have reason to believe they might be coming for you. My father would have come personally, but I beat him to it, he’s staying to protect the castle.” Aglaia’s heart started to beat with every word that rumbled out of him, and before long she found herself pacing, glancing every so often at both of their lands. The sprawling death of one, and the lush green of the other. This is terrible news. She needed to inform Mother and Father fast. An idea suddenly formed in her head, it was unlikely it’d be approved, but there was no other choice. She looked at Evander, who was staring at the yellow meadow that sprawled below the cliff face, the only life that the plague did not smother. She hoped she wouldn’t regret this. 

“I’ll call the forces to meet us at your castle. We need to see the damage ourselves. You head back first, and I’ll meet you there with Mother and Father.” 

Evander blinked once, the only show of surprise he allowed her to see, then turned around and sprinted off to the ruined dirt pathway, leaving Aglaia alone with her thoughts. She clutched her stomach, feeling ill. She breathed in a few times, feeling her body relax, her canines sinking back in her gums, and sighed towards the heavens. She sent a silent prayer to the God that she knew guided her, before sprinting back to her castle.