She imagined she must not have been out for long, but when she did finally open her eyes, she was now alone in the cave.
She sat slowly, and rubbing the back of her neck and her forehead, she gave a groan and leaned forward, collecting her thoughts.
She had to get out of here.
She would run. Even if she got lost - or what the hell ever - she had to make an attempt.
She got to shaky feet and made her way over to the strange leather cloth that covered the doorway.
It was pitch black and stuffy down the halls as she peered out. Fear gripped her heart, made her want to heave, but she stumbled out in the hot hallway and squinted to her left and right.
She hesitated but for a moment.
What if that strange short creature was out there? What if Ura was waiting in the dark?
Her overwhelming desire to be out and free outweighed her fear of the unknown however and she moved out into the black hall.
She chose left.
Something about this way seemed right. She needed to get to the surface, and for some reason she thought this way would lead her to safety.
It was so dark. Too dark. She couldn't even see her hand that reached out in front of herself, and she heard her own breath tearing from her dry throat.
She scrapped shaky hands against the stone tunnel and she half ran, half stumbled down the path.
She didn't know how long she ran down the pitch black tunnels for. It felt like forever.
But her instincts must have been right.
She began to cry with pure relief at the glint of light through the small gap a few feet above her head.
It looked like where she had been 'lured' in. She climbed unsteadily up what felt like rocks towards the hopeful ray of light and clawed at the earth, trying to dig her way out.
She felt her nails bending and splitting as she raked at dirt and pebbled, but she ignored the pain and the tiny trickles of blood that began to wind slowly down to her knuckles on both hands.
The dirt opening slowly widened as she dug away at the earth, and she grabbed at newly exposed tree roots, threading her hands through them and the earth she pulled herself painfully up and out of the hole.
She dragged herself into the dim light of the setting sun and panting heavily, she looked frantically about herself.
Which way was home?
She had to get her bearings. Surely it was left again to the path. She couldn't remember.
She was going to run the whole damn way home and then call the police. Whoever the freak of nature was that had captured her, he was going to pay.
Pity she didn't get much further than that thought.
A different thing now stood in front of her, clothed in what looked like leather, leaves and twigs.
He definitely wasn't human. He was shorter than her. Maybe 5'5? And with a decidedly green tinge.
black eyes watched her through strands of greasy long dark hair.
I'm insane, was the thought that crossed her mind as she began to run. She had to be a blubbering mess in an institution somewhere. This wasn't normal.
"Mine!" Was the hiss that sounded in her ears as she was tackled to the ground.
"No. You not his yet – now mine!" He repeated in that frantic hiss.
Yep. She had to be crazy.
Sara struggled, hit, kicked, bit, and did everything to get this freak of a thing off her.
The altercation mustn't have gone for long however when she suddenly heard a mans voice cry; "What the hell!?"
The creature made that same strange hiss again and Sara screamed, twisting and kicking up at the creature trying to wriggle away.
She saw the hiker then, running towards them, with what looked like a branch used for walking long trails in his hand.
Something niggled in the back of her mind as she scrambled to her feet, trying to get away from her would be abductor.
The hiker looked so familiar… had she seen him somewhere before?
He was of medium height, sandy haired and what looked like dark eyed (though she couldn't be certain in this light) and clean cut.
When he spoke again however, it didn't sound like any language she knew and her heart dropped down to her stomach.
The creature was on her again, and now had her by the throat, his grip tightening, making her claw at his freakishly long fingers, gasping for breath. She felt something cold and sharp against the base of her neck.
My God… I'm going to die, the thought skimmed across her consciousness and tears welled in her eyes as she tried to focus on what she first thought was a hiker.
"Do you speak the common-tongue?" the handsome man asked clearly, in a curt, tight tone.
Sara felt the thing that held her tense and then nod.
"Yes. Who be you?"
"Lukarii. Or Loki, if it pleases you. And you?"
"Brukka. Son of Makka."
"So Brukka, what exactly are you doing with that pretty handful there, eh?"
"She is mine", Sara heard the flat response close to her ear. "Taken though not marked – I have claimed her as mate."
She felt her heart leap in her chest, and she tried to cry out, but the creatures strong hand planted against her lips stopped her from saying more than a desperate mumble.
"Lords," the stranger said throwing his arms in the air and rolling his dark eyes, "what is with Fae just up and kidnapping women all the time? A little bit of a chase is good and all, but truthfully it is more fun if they come to you willingly in the end. Trust me."
"I do not understand."
Brukka shook his head, as if shaking his confusion away. "Leave. Not your concern."
"A kidnapped woman is always my concern." Lukarii answered bluntly. "Please, lower your sword. I will not take her from you. I just wish to speak with you both – and you are frightening her holding that knife to her throat like that."
The creature released his grip on her mouth long enough for Sara to rasp out, "I'm not his! I'm Ura's!"
She wasn't entirely sure why she used that choice of words, but immediately a flash of understanding lit up the stranger's eyes and his hand darted under his coat and a dagger was in his hands in an instant.
"Tut-tut Brukky-boy…." He said with mock exasperation and a grin, "this one is marked by one of the purebreds – what are you thinking? They will have your head."
"No!" The kidnapper snarled. "Not marked by Urashaiel. Not claimed. No law has been broken."
Loki's dark eyes darted to Sara and a mischievous grin lit up his face, "So Ura wasn't up to the occasion eh? Well in that case, I might just claim her for myself, no?"
And with that Sara found herself face down in the dirt, spitting out dust from her mouth and struggling to her feet while the stranger and the creature grappled, knives flashing in the dim light.
She had barely gotten to her feet however, frightened and confused when she saw that the stranger had the attacker on his stomach with his head pulled back and dagger at his throat.
"So now, Brukky – can I call you Brukky? – are we going to be nice little forest dwellers and leave the girl be, hmmm?" Sara stared at the scene in complete astonishment and saw the dark haired, green tinged man nod quickly, fear flashing in his black eyes.
Loki released him with a grin, tousled his hair and then stood. "Good boy. Now, off you go, back to your cave and stay there before I tell any of what you just attempted to do to Ura's woman."
The creature did not look twice. He was up on his feet and scampering through the trees before Sara could blink.
"So, I don't think we have formerly been introduced?"
Sara jumped back when the tall handsome man spoke into her ear, a cry escaping her lips before she could stop it.
"I'm Loki", he was continuing on, unfazed, extending his hand to shake as if their situation was the most natural in the world, "a pleasure to meet you."
His accent was similar to hers – he didn't sound at all like one of them. He even looked almost completely human. It was only through the strange experience she had just had that she could somehow sense the extra light in his eyes and strange accent – as well as those strange ears.
"S-Sara..." She blinked in absolute wonder as Loki took her hands and shook them, a grin that she was already used to spread across his face his eyes twinkling. He picked up his abandoned hiking stick and then said with a warm smile, "Let us get you back to Ura then, shall we?"
The man named Loki must have felt the fear that radiated from her and from her voice and he stopped instantly, eyes concerned. "No? I thought you said you were his?"
"Not by my choice. Tell me how to get back onto the trail. I need to go home. Now."
But it was too late. He was there, dancing through the trees, face black with rage.
He spoke fiercely in his language and Loki bowed low, speaking back respectfully and quickly. Whatever was said seemed to placate Ura a little, and he held out his hand to Sara.
"Is what Lukarii says the truth?" he asked in a tight voice after he and the other man conversed for a while. "Did he save you?" Sara looked to Loki, pale-faced and when he nodded tensely she nodded back to Ura and suffered him to put his arms around her in a brief and rare show of emotion.
"I am grateful." His voice was a soft whisper in her ear and Sara tensed with wonder. Grateful… why?
He released her as quickly as he had hugged her however and he turned to Loki, "Thank you." He said in English. He continued on in his own tongue however and then Loki grinned and nodded and Sara was herded between the two of them back towards where she had come from.
She struggled briefly, but Loki took an arm with an apologetic smile and Ura also held fast, so she didn't bother. Her legs hurt, her back ached and her eyes were blurry with lack of sleep and darkness was quickly falling on the forest. She wouldn't get far if she tried to run now.
Meanwhile, Loki conversed with the fierce Dark-Elf in his language, curious.
"You should not leave her alone until you have marked her as yours, my Lord. You were lucky I was coming to visit my mother in the Hindervale, else Brukka would have taken her in a muddy ditch somewhere before you realised what had happened."
Ura looked down at the young human woman between them and sighed.
"I have been foolish in waiting."
"You could still let her go free."
Ura's eyes burned fiercely at this and Loki held up a hand in surrender, "I am not saying that you should, but if you wished her happiness, you could do so. There is a human woman to the South with my Cousins and she never uttered a word of their existence while she was back in the human realm. Some humans may be trusted to hold their tongues – despite what other Fae may say."
Ura nodded. "I have heard tell of that one and the Princeling Halcore. Have they found peace together?"
"As best a mortal can with an immortal." Loki answered truthfully. "I understand she does find life difficult sometimes when it comes to understanding my cousin's ways and moods... but… they are both happy I believe. Yes."
Ura nodded once. "She is blessed to have him. They are not our equals, Lukarii. I do what I do now with the Kaylii because I must… to ensure the bloodline is strong and the best it can be-"
"I thought that would include keeping mortals out of the equation. That is the insult other Fae have attacked me with when they want to try and wound me with words…"
"No. Their blood helps us survive the changing times. Else we will fall and disappear like the autumn leaves with the coming of winter. You will be strong when the change comes, Lukarii. Better than the others"
"But pure bloods will not be?"
Ura said nothing further and Loki inwardly sighed.
Fae really did come in all flavours.