Constellations Over Us – Book 1 – Chapter 4

Constellations Over Us – Book 1 – Chapter 4

Aisling thought her brother was an idiot. An idiot she cared for very much, but an idiot nonetheless. Perhaps that was why she was so concerned when he started spending excessive amounts of time in the woods. He’d never been so obsessed with finishing meals quickly and dashing outside before, not even when they were both trying out weapons for the first time under the watchful eyes of their family. That fool was going to get eaten in the woods, she just knew it. He was being a suspicious little gremlin who was going to get hurt and she, as his five-minutes-older-than-him sister, wasn’t going to have that. She was going to protect him.

Also, she was really, really curious about what was so important out in the woods. Had he found something new? Some new hangout spot like they used to have when they were kids? Or maybe another wild animal friend that he’d try to bring home like that deer when they were both twelve? She may have considered herself a sophisticated, full-grown woman at that point, but she was never above nosy, pervasive, persistent curiosity. Not at all.

That was why, after a hurried conversation with her mother, she’d decided to go follow him out on one of his little excursions. Of course, her mother didn’t totally approve, but that wasn’t going to stop her.

“Be careful out there, Ashie, and remember that your brother’s business is just that: his business.”

“Yep, got it, Mum!” she replied, tugging on her cloak and hurrying out the front door as quietly as possible, hoping her brother wouldn’t see her in the low light of dusk. He was easy to follow because of his white fur, basket of things stolen from the pantry in hand, but her darker fur blended her more easily into the weave of evening shadows, her greatest advantage as a quickly-growing huntress. In heartbeats, she was nothing but a quiet charcoal blur among the foliage.

Glais took so many twists and turns on his path that Aisling felt it was a miracle that he ever made it back home. In the labyrinth of trunks and moss, he was her single guiding light. She’d be lying if she said it didn’t fill her with a sense of nostalgia for younger days, before the questions of who would inherit the estate and what their fully adult lives would look like reared their heads. Those days, she and Glais would wander the woods together for hours on end, swimming in dark water and chasing one another on swift hooves. They’d flop down in the moss afterwards, laughing until their ribs were sore and tears were in their eyes. Fond memories, precious like the family portraits hung in the biggest common room of their home, gathered around the hearth with her aunt and uncle’s portraits reigning high above all.

Aisling felt her heart twist at the thought of those two. Perhaps they’d be back from business in the capital in a few months’ time, but until then she missed them like a dog waiting for its owner to return home from work. She couldn’t help but wonder how they’d react to Glais’ recent secrecy. Probably not well, at least for her uncle. Her aunt was always a little less predictable in that regard.

Her brother stopped in a little clearing among the trees, and Aisling’s eyes widened in recognition. She knew this little hideout well. It used to be theirs when they were small. What was he doing here? Hadn’t they abandoned it when they turned fifteen?

Voices from the brush. One she knew as Glais, the other unfamiliar and androgynous. Immediately, she followed the hunting tactics she’d been taught, crouching silently in the moss and creeping closer to watch from the bushes. Ivory and crimson flashed among the green, met in the middle by a smaller form with messy auburn hair, clad warmly in a sage green sweater. The skin was a color unlike any she’d seen on other Fae before, and it certainly wasn’t shaped like any being she knew walked this realm. Eyes too small and yet pupils too big, a pronounced nose, fingertips as blunt as a child’s training sword…

Her uncle had told her and Glais stories of these things when they were small. Humans, creatures that had been on the other side of the war that brought so much grief to her kind. This one looked much softer than the ones in the illustrations she’d observed as a filly, but the resemblance was unmistakable.

What was one doing here in Tír na Neart, though? Fae-Human War part two? Simply lost like her aunt said they sometimes were? Brought here against the laws? Aisling knew deep down in her bones that she wanted to find out – that she had to find out – and find out she would, even if it took a million years of stalking her brother to do it. The only question right now was how.

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