1 A Torn Wing

Ruby Gardner's only thought was to run. She knew it wasn't a good idea to use her wings in public but it was better to risk being seen by a human than to be caught by her aunt and uncle now.

She was so close to freedom! No way was she about to let them sell her off. So what if she was special? Her powers had never been anything but trouble!

Holding her breath and praying her wings didn't flutter too loudly, Ruby rose into the air and zipped through the trees…right through a broken window of a stone castle that appeared out of thin air.

Hissing in pain, she examined her wings for potential damage. There seemed to be a small tear in one of them. She cursed.

Finding the materials she needed to patch it up wouldn't be easy on the run but if she was lucky, there would be something she could use around here. This place definitely didn't belong to a human so it might have what she needed.

Humans might be the majority but there were more subspecies of magical creatures known as fae blending into their society than they could imagine. Fairies, werewolves, mermaids, elves…

The mermaids typically stayed hidden away in the ocean but everyone else had adapted to hiding in plain sight by using a technique called glamouring. Ruby's glamour had curly brown hair and blue eyes. Simple as can be.

It hid her wings and pointy ears among other things. There was another reason she almost never took it off even among her fellow fairies. It was tied into why she was running away so she didn't like to think about it.

With her wing injured, Ruby couldn't fly anymore so she walked through the castle in search of first aid supplies. Who owned this place, anyway? It was a total dump.

Not only was it filthy but the stones in the walls were cracking, all the furniture was half-destroyed like a werewolf had used it as a chew toy during the full moon, and it smelled terrible. She would think it was a wolf's den if not for the fact that wolves didn't like castles. They were notoriously messy.

Ruby made her way to the kitchen and was even more disgusted than before. Rats. Rats everywhere. Would this place even have what she needed?

She rummaged through the cupboards for a few minutes before she got lucky but they did have at least one of the ingredients she needed to make a wing poultice after all. She was in the middle of searching for the next ingredient when a voice sounded behind her, startling her so much that she knocked her head against an open cabinet door.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?"

Ruby whirled around, rubbing her head. A young man (at least he looked young; you could never tell with fae) with short, messy black hair and brown eyes was staring at her distrustfully.

"Sorry…is this your place?" she asked cautiously.

She couldn't lay all her cards on the table just yet because this guy looked human. But then again, so did she.

"Yes. But you didn't answer my question."

"Ah." Ruby had to think. She couldn't mention that she was a fairy or that she was running away from her greedy family members. An alias might be best for now. "I'm Sapphire Baker. I got lost and happened to find my way here."

He raised an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms over his chest. "Lost? You wouldn't have been able to get past the barrier if you were simply lost. No one can get past that without the blood seal…unless you flew over it."

He noticed the jar of dewgrass she was holding and mused, "I don't think you're lost at all. I think you're a stupid little fairy who flew over the barrier by accident and got hurt. Tell me if I'm wrong, Sapphire Baker, but you definitely have the eyes of a cornered rat."

Ruby scowled. He was a shrewd one. "You shouldn't be comparing me to a rat when you have actual rats in your kitchen. That's really unsanitary, you know."

He sighed. "Yeah. Unfortunately I haven't had time to go on a rat hunt yet. I've only been at this castle for a few days. But enough about me. I want the truth from you, Fairy Face. I don't take kindly to intruders."

Fairy Face? What kind of lame insult was that?

Ruby scrutinized him. The glamour could change basically anything about a fae's appearance so she couldn't guess what he was simply by looking at him. But he did mention a blood seal. The only race she knew of that dabbled in blood magic were the vampires.

"Alright, you caught me. I cut my wing on one of your broken windows. Your castle appeared out of nowhere so it was an accidental break in. But if you don't want random fairies busting in, you might want to find a way to make a dome barrier instead…Fang Face."

Yes, it was lame, but she figured throwing a version of his own stupid insult back at him was the best course of action. She hadn't ever met a vampire before in person so she didn't know any good ones off the top of her head.

Suddenly the man's glamour faded away. His eyes glowed blood-red, his ears grew slightly pointed, and his straight black hair cascaded down his back. The tips of his fangs gleamed when he laughed.

"Okay, I suppose I deserved that one. But seriously. What were you running from? I've never seen a fairy in this part of the forest before."

"Um…I'd rather not say," Ruby hedged. "I really am sorry to impose but I swear I'll get out of your hair as soon as they're gone."

Leaving on foot would be inconvenient but she was used to walking most places anyway because she lived in the heart of a human city. Well, used to. Her aunt and uncle's house wasn't home anymore.

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