74 Chapter 74 Stella“s Dream
She had been the top hunter of her tribe. The number of times she had pulled off feats never before done by any other were uncountable by the elders. They almost revered her. Because of her desire to please them, and to prove herself to all who believed in her, she decided that none of the humans should be allowed onto their land. Unfortunately, the elders disagreed with her.
It had once been, that they would hunt and kill the humans for sport, then return with them to the tribe, and divvy up the meat for all to enjoy. She remembered a great number of times when she had fed on the flesh of a human, drunk on the wine of her people, and dancing beneath the full moon of the sky. But something had changed, and she couldn't figure out what.
Sylva had convinced those in her hunting party, her most trusted friends, to follow her after she had left the elder lodge. She did not tell them that she had been forbidden to raise her spear to the humans. They wanted the trade between them to foster. Such fools. Couldn't they see that the humans were nothing more than scavengers? They would take everything they could until there was nothing left. Already the number of trees felled to those greedy humans outnumbered the trees they had felled out of necessity. The sprites were fleeing them, and the things they brought in trade were inferior to their own goods. If only things would return to the way it had been. A tasty leg or arm, marinated over a fire, with a warm mug of wine…but those times were long gone. The humans were now beings of thought, not to be hunted as animals.
Stalking through the trees, she heard the ravens call the warning. Humans had entered the forest. She would hunt them down and destroy them before they could further the dealings between the elders. Surely if they never arrived, the elders would be forced to see what she saw every day. The elders had ceased to walk the forest paths. The sounds and sights of the forest were fading from their memories, as the greed of the humans clouded their judgements and darkened their hearts.
Whistling the call to arms, her hunting party sped to her side as they rushed through the trees to find the offending humans. Their blight on their forest would be ended this day. The lies silenced forever.
There, several were racing on horseback. They must know that they were hunted. She had warned them not to return, and yet, here they were. Speed would not save them this time. She, and her hunting party, had long ago learned the secrets to running as swiftly as any deer. Knocking arrows to their bows, they closed in on their speeding forms. Not even the foul beasts they rode on would be allowed to live. They had given up their freedom to serve these abominations.
Their arrows flew swiftly and found their marks. The dead were scattered like leaves. The leader lay on his back, gasping for air, like a fish thrown onto the bank. She wasted no time in drawing her sword and dealing him a death blow. Twisting it for good measure, she was disgusted to see a spark in his eyes as they landed on her. These humans were too easily controlled. What could the elders possibly see in them?
Cleaning her blade, Sylva noted a message for her, grasped in the talons of an owl. It was from the elders. Her heart beating a strange rhythm she wasn't familiar with, she answered the call. Her hunting party remained behind to clean up the mess of the dead. It would do no good to leave such evidence lying about in their forest.
The elders awaited her in their lodge. A foul scent was in the air, that caused her nose to wrinkle. It was a scent she didn't recognize. In the dim light, the red of their eyes were evident, and it was obvious they were furious.
"You have gone against the council."
"Only for the good of the people," she tried to say, but they ignored her.
"These humans outnumber us ten to one, and you kill them still for sport! If we did not try so hard to smooth matters over with diplomacy, they would overrun our forest and kill us all!" growled one of the elders.
She stood stiffly. If she was allowed to hunt them as she pleased, they would not have grown so numerous. Obviously, they were a pest that needed to be controlled, but the elders did not see it that way.
"You have had your way for too long. We have been too lenient on you. The people like you, Sylva, but we can not allow you to ignore our orders."
"If your orders were for the good of the people, I would not have to go against them!" she stormed, unable to keep her thoughts to herself any longer.
"You will be banished to the Island of Memories. Never again will you see these lands." They spoke as if she hadn't said a word.
There was murmuring from the people who had come to witness her trial. She really was loved by the people, and it was obvious they did not agree with this ruling. The Island was reserved for their most serious of offenders. She was the best hunter they had. Who would protect them if anyone chose to attack them?
She sneered at the elders, unconvinced of the truth of their words. How could the people allow them to do such a thing?
"Why do this? I am the tribe's best hunter!"
"Your refusal to do as ordered, makes you a threat to the people of this tribe."
"For going against the will of this council, and for putting your own desires before the safety of the people you swore to protect, you are cursed from this day forward."
No! This couldn't be happening! The realization of what they were doing, finally registered. Chains appeared out of no where as they all started chanting. People in the crowd started shouting in anger, but all she could hear was the chanting. The chains wrapped around her, immobilizing her struggles.
"You shall suffer until your last days on the island. Your life force will dwindle with each new location the island moves to. You will never again be able to draw on the life force of others, until this life is over. Any time you try to harm another, you shall bear their pain, for the remainder of this life. You will fall in love with the one who you have hurt the most."
With the completion of the curse, everything went black. She opened her eyes, expecting to see the vines and trees, of the island she had been banished to, but Stella saw only white. Snow had started to fall gently as she slept.
Sitting up, she spied Joseph poking at the small fire. He seemed lost in thought. He was the human she had killed when she was Sylva. He was the one she had hurt the most. She refused him time and again to the island, when his life was so bad. She had been his only brightness in a life that sucked, and she had refused that brightness to him.
Thinking about all of the horrible things that had happened to her in this life, and how he had saved her from that, made her hurt for him and all the pain she had caused him. It was up to her to make his life brighter, when she had refused that to him so many times. Determination flared to life in her eyes as she know knew what she had to do.