They were beautiful. And they were deadly.
Delicate scars twisted down the right side of her face and her arm in flower-like swirls, but no matter how softly the star lamps glimmered gold against the emblazoned pattern it didn’t change their purpose. Their power. Their weight which kept her grounded on the forest floor and stilled the fluttering of her gossamer wings.
Her feet ached. Her throat and eyes burned. Her fingers itched for the bow which had vanished from them nigh a week past. But still she press on, slipping through the forest shadows, ignoring the thorns which tore at her tunic and ripped at her legs. A breeze lifted strands of auburn hair, tossing them into her eyes. She brushed them back, her breath coming in quick heaves.
She had until dawn; she had to reach the clearing. If she did; if the Witnesses were there, they’d take her in until her innocence was proven. Until the chains glinting from her skin were removed and her title of archeress of the forest was returned. Until she could return and save her people from the mysterious darkness closing them in.
Behind her, in the distance, a wolf howled. She shivered, pressing forward. Slowly the sun sank. Slowly she sensed the glimmer of the sun on the horizon.
And then she was there, the clearing opening its welcome arms about her. For a moment she swayed unsteadily, then wearily sank to the clipped turf even as a Witness fluttered into view.
“What do you wish for?” The questioning voice was high, like spring bells.
“Sanctuary.” Her voice broke and for the first time she let her gaze travel up her arm to the brand emblazoning her supposed crime of treason. Tears started to her eyes. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t true. But danger was upon the whole forest and she could do nothing. And it was her fault. “Sanctuary and judgment.”