I asked her what she knew of Faerie Kingdoms, of fiefdoms that burned with coppery magic and jasmine. She looked at me languidly, her eyes deep and rich in onyx hue, and walked away.

It was only after she left and I smelt that strange burning in the air, I saw tiny dragons where there had been robins only moments before, and giant cordyceps rose up and began to swallow me whole, that I called out to her and begged for her forgiveness.

I thought of my father, seeing his Princely son begging for his life, and knew he wouldn’t judge me. Those quiet arbor enclaves that hid the doorways to the faerie kingdom had lured many before me, and I had not yet entered. I had heard the stories of jagged castles, magicked from the leaves and branches. Now, of course, they ran with blood.

As she returned I could only watch the strange diaphanous trails on her dress. They moved liked snakes in water, twisting around her ankles and skimming the earth as if testing it, testing if it was worthy of her footsteps.

She looked down upon me, writhing in the long dewy grass of the glade and smiled as I offered her everything, anything, in exchange for forgiveness. Her words pierced into my skull, a driving force that felt like icy rain. An heir for her Faerie Kingdom.

Had I known then what trials my son would face, would I have acquiesced to save myself? I like to think that I would have, but as the earth began to eat me alive, it seems more fair to say I would have given her a thousand heirs simply to survive.